The Third and Last Interview with Smerdyakov

When he was half-way there, the keen dry wind that had been blowing early that morning rose again, and a fine dry snow began falling thickly. It did not lie on the ground, but was whirled about by the wind, and soon there was a regular snowstorm. There were scarcely any lamp-posts in the part of the town where Smerdyakov lived. Ivan strode alone in the darkness, unconscious of the storm, instinctively picking out his way. His head ached and there was a painful throbbing in his temples. He felt that his hands were twitching convulsively. Not far from Marya Kondratyevna’s cottage, Ivan suddenly came upon a solitary drunken little peasant. He was wearing a coarse and patched coat, and was walking in zig- zags, grumbling and swearing to himself. Then suddenly he would begin singing in a husky drunken voice:

“Ach, Vanka’s gone to Petersburg
I won’t wait till he comes back

But he broke off every time at the second line and began swearing again; then he would begin the same song again. Ivan felt an intense hatred for him before he had thought about him at all. Suddenly he realised his presence and felt an irresistible impulse to knock him down. At that moment they met, and the peasant with a violent lurch fell full tilt against Ivan, who pushed him back furiously. The peasant went flying backwards and fell like a log on the frozen ground. He uttered one plaintive “O-oh!” and then was silent. Ivan stepped up to him. He was lying on his back, without movement or consciousness. “He will be frozen,” thought Ivan, and he went on his way to Smerdyakov’s.

In the passage, Marya Kondratyevna, who ran out to open the door with a candle in her hand, whispered that Smerdyakov was very ill, “it’s not that he’s laid up, but he seems not himself, and he even told us to take the tea away; he wouldn’t have any.”

“Why, does he make a row?” asked Ivan coarsely.

“Oh, dear, no, quite the contrary, he’s very quiet. Only please don’t talk to him too long,” Marya Kondratyevna begged him. Ivan opened the door and stepped into the room.

It was overheated as before, but there were changes in the room. One of the benches at the side had been removed, and in its place had been put a large old mahogany leather sofa, on which a bed had been made up, with fairly clean white pillows. Smerdyakov was sitting on the sofa, wearing the same dressing-grown. The table had been brought out in front of the same so that there was hardly room to move. On the table lay a thick book in yellow cover, but Smerdyakov was not reading it. He seemed to be sitting doing nothing. He met Ivan with a slow silent gaze, and was apparently not at all surprised at his coming. There was a great change in his face; he was much thinner and sallower. His eyes were sunken and there were blue marks under them.

“Why, you really are ill?” Ivan stopped short. “I won’t keep you long, I won’t even take off my coat. Where can one sit down?”

He went to the other end of the table, moved up a chair and sat down on it.

“Why do you look at me without speaking? I’ve only come with one question, and I swear I won’t go without an answer. Has the young lady, Katerina Ivanovna, been with you?”

Smerdyakov still remained silent, looking quietly at Ivan as before. Suddenly, with a motion of his hand, he turned his face away.

“What’s the matter with you?” cried Ivan.


“What do you mean by ‘nothing’?”

“Yes, she has. It’s no matter to you. Let me alone.”

  By PanEris using Melati.

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