“I can sit up. Ah, you put me out; Ah! this trial, this savage act, and then they are all going to Siberia, some are getting married, and all this so quickly, so quickly, everything’s changing, and at last—nothing. All grow old and have death to look forward to. Well, so be it! I am weary. This Katya, cette charmante personne, has disappointed all my hopes. Now she is going to follow one of your brothers to Siberia, and your other brother is going to follow her, and will live in the nearest town, and they will all torment one another. It drives me out of my mind. Worst of all—the publicity. The story has been told a million times over in all the papers in Moscow and Petersburg. Ah! yes, would you believe it, there’s a paragraph that I was ‘a dear friend’ of your brother’s—, I can’t repeat the horrid word. Just fancy, just fancy!”

“Impossible! Where was the paragraph? What did it say?”

“I’ll show you directly. I got the paper and read it yesterday. Here, in the Petersburg paper Gossip. The paper began coming out this year. I am awfully fond of gossip, and I take it in, and now it pays me out—this is what gossip comes to! Here it is, here, this passage. Read it.”

And she handed Alyosha a sheet of newspaper which had been under her pillow.

It was not exactly that she was upset, she seemed overwhelmed, and perhaps everything really was mixed up in a tangle in her head. The paragraph was very typical, and must have been a great shock to her, but, fortunately perhaps, she was unable to keep her mind fixed on any one subject at that moment, and so might race off in a minute to something else and quite forget the newspaper.

Alyosha was well aware that the story of the terrible case had spread all over Russia. And, good heavens! what wild rumours about his brother, about the Karamazovs, and about himself he had read in the course of those two months, among other equally credible items. One paper had even stated that he had gone into a monastery and become a monk, in horror at his brother’s crime. Another contradicted this, and stated that he and his elder, Father Zossima, had broken into the monastery chest and “made tracks from the monastery.” The present paragraph in the paper Gossip was under the heading, “The Karamazov Case at Skotoprigonyevsk.” (That, alas! was the name of our little town. I had hitherto kept it concealed.) It was brief, and Madame Hohlakov was not directly mentioned in it. No names appeared, in fact. It was merely stated that the criminal, whose approaching trial was making such a sensation—retired army captain, an idle swaggerer, and reactionary bully—was continually involved in amorous intrigues, and particularly popular with certain ladies “who were pining in solitude.” One such lady, a pining widow, who tried to seem young though she had a grown-up daughter, was so fascinated by him that only two hours before the crime she offered him three thousand roubles, on condition that he would elope with her to the gold-mines. But the criminal, counting on escaping punishment, had preferred to murder his father to get the three thousand, rather than go off to Siberia with the middle-aged charms of his pining lady. This playful paragraph finished, of course, with an outburst of generous indignation at the wickedness of parricide and at the lately abolished institution of serfdom. Reading it with curiosity, Alyosha folded up the paper and handed it back to Madame Hohlakov.

“Well, that must be me,” she hurried on again. “Of course I am meant. Scarcely more than an hour before, I suggested gold-mines to him, and here they talk of ‘middle-aged charms’ as though that were my motive! He writes that out of spite! God Almighty forgive him for the middle-aged charms, as I forgive him! You know it’s…Do you know who it is? It’s your friend Rakitin.”

“Perhaps,” said Alyosha, “though I’ve heard nothing about it.”

“It’s he, it’s he! No, ‘perhaps’ about it. You know I turned him out of the house.…You know all that story, don’t you?”

“I know that you asked him not to visit you for the future, but why it was, I haven’t hear…from you, at least.”

“Ah, then you’ve heard it from him! He abuses me, I suppose, abuses me dreadfully?”

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