“Ah, how I love you for saying you believe me. And you are not lying one little bit. But perhaps you think that I am saying all this on purpose to annoy you?”

“No, I don’t think that…though perhaps there is a little desire to do that in it, too.”

“There is a little. I never can tell lies to you,” she declared, with a strange fire in her eyes.

What struck Alyosha above everything was her earnestness. There was not a trace of humour or jesting in her face now, though, in old days, fun and gaiety never deserted her even at her most “earnest” moments.

“There are moments when people love crime,” said Alyosha thoughtfully.

“Yes, yes! you have uttered my thought, they love crime, every one loves crime, they love it always, not at some ‘moments.’ You know, it’s as though people have made an agreement to lie about it and have lied about it ever since. They all declare that they evil, but secretly they all love it.”

“And are you still reading nasty books?”

“Yes, I am. Mamma reads them and hides them under her pillow and I steal them.”

“Aren’t you ashamed to destroy yourself?”

“I want to destroy myself. There’s a boy here, who lay down between the railway lines when the train was passing. Lucky fellow! Listen, your brother is being tried now for murdering his father and every one loves his having killed his father.”

“Loves his having killed his father?”

“Yes, loves it, every one loves it! Everybody says it’s so awful, but secretly they simply love it. I for one love it.”

“There is some truth in what you say about every one,” said Alyosha softly.

“Oh, what ideas you have!” Lise shrieked delight. “And you a monk, too! You wouldn’t believe how I respect you, Alyosha, for never telling lies. Oh, I must tell you a funny dream of mine. I sometimes dream of devils. It’s night, I am in my room with a candle and suddenly there are devils all over the place, in all the corners, under the table, and they openthe doors, there’s a crowd of them behind the doors and they want to come and seize me. And they are just coming, just seizing me. But I suddenly cross myself and they all draw back, though they don’t go away altogether, they stand at the doors and in the corners, waiting. And suddenly I have a frightful longing to revile God aloud, and so I begin, and then they come crowding back to me, delighted, and seize me again and I cross myself again and then all draw back. It’s awful fun, it takes one’s breath away.”

“I’ve had the same dream, too,” said Alyosha suddenly.

“Really?” cried Lise, greatly surprised. “I say, Alyosha, don’t laugh, that’s awfully important. Could two different people have the same dream?”

“It seems they can.”

“Alyosha, I tell you, it’s awfully important,” Lise went on, with really excessive amazement. “It’s not the dream that’s important, but your having the same dream as me. You never lie to me, don’t lie now: is it true? You are not laughing?”

“It’s true.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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