A Little Demon

Going in to Lise, he found her half reclining in the invalid chair, in which she had been wheeled when she was unable to walk. She did not move to meet him, but her sharp keen eyes were simply riveted on his face. There was a feverish look in her eyes, her face was pale and yellow. Alyosha was amazed at the change that had taken place in her in three days. She was positively thinner. She did not hold out her hand to him. He touched the thin, long fingers which lay motionless on her dress, then he sat down facing her, without a word.

“I know you are in a hurry to get to the prison,” Lise said curtly, “and mamma’s kept you there for hours, she’s just been telling you about me and Yulia.”

“How do you know?” asked Alyosha.

“I’ve been listening. Why do you stare at me? I want to listen and I do listen, there’s no harm in that. I don’t apologise.”

“You are upset about something?”

“On the contrary, I am very happy. I’ve only just been reflecting for the thirtieth time what a good thing it is I refused you and shall not be your wife. You are not fit to be a husband. If I were to marry you and give you a note to take to the man I loved after you, you’d take it and be sure to give it to him and bring an answer back, too. If you were forty, you would still go on taking my love-letters for me.”

She suddenly laughed.

“There is something spiteful and yet open-hearted about you.” Alyosha smiled to her.

“The open-heartedness consists in my not being ashamed of myself with you. What’s more, I don’t want to feel ashamed with you, just with you. Alyosha, why is it I don’t respect you? I am very fond of you, but I don’t respect you. If I respected you, I shouldn’t talk to you without shame, should I?”


“But do you believe that I am not ashamed with you?”

“No, I don’t believe it.”

Lise laughed nervously again; she spoke rapidly.

“I sent your brother, Dmitri Fyodorovitch, some sweets in prison Alyosha, you know, you are quite pretty! I shall love you awfully for having so quickly allowed me not to love you.”

“Why did you send for me to-day, Lise?”

“I wanted to tell you of a longing I have. I should like some one to torture me, marry me and then torture me, deceive me and go away. I don’t want to be happy.”

“You are in love with disorder?”

“Yes, I want disorder. I keep wanting to set fire to the house. I keep imagining how I’ll creep up and set fire to the house on the sly, it must be on the sly. They’ll try to put it out, but it’ll go on burning. And I shall know and say nothing. Ah, what silliness! And how bored I am!”

She waved her hand with a look of repulsion.

“It’s your luxurious life,” said Alyosha, softly.

“Is it better then to be poor?”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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