in her eyes rather than part with it. And what torture, what torture that debt has been to him!” Alyosha exclaimed in conclusion.

The prosecutor, of course, intervened. He asked Alyosha to describe once more how it had all happened, and several times insisted on the question, had the prisoner seemed to point to anything. Perhaps he had simply struck himself with his fist on the breast?

“But it was not with his fist,” cried Alyosha; “he pointed with his fingers and pointed here, very high up.…How could I have so completely forgotten it till this moment!”

The President asked Mitya what he had to say to the last witness’s evidence. Mitya confirmed it, saying that he had been pointing to the fifteen hundred roubles which were on his breast, just below the neck, and that that was, of course, the disgrace, “A disgrace I cannot deny, the most shameful act of my whole life,” cried Mitya. “I might have repaid it and didn’t repay it. I preferred to remain a thief in her eyes rather than give it back. And the most shameful part of it was that I knew beforehand I shouldn’t give it back! You are right, Alyosha! Thanks, Alyosha!”

So Alyosha’s cross-examination ended. What was important and striking about it was that one fact at least had been found, and even though this were only one tiny bit of evidence, a mere hint at evidence, it did go some little way towards proving that the bag had existed and had contained fifteen hundred roubles and that the prisoner had not been lying at the preliminary inquiry, when he alleged at Mokroe that those fifteen hundred roubles were “his own.” Alyosha was glad. With a flushed face he moved away to the seat assigned to him. He kept repeating to himself: “How was it I forgot! How could I have forgotten it! And what made it come back to me now?”

Katerina Ivanovna was called to the witness-box. As she entered something extraordinary happened in the court. The ladies clutched their lorgnettes and opera-glasses. There was a stir among the men: some stood up to get a better view. Everybody alleged afterwards that Mitya had turned “white as a sheet” on her entrance. All in black, she advanced modestly, almost timidly. It was impossible to tell from her face that she was agitated; but there was a resolute gleam in her dark and gloomy eyes. I may remark that many people mentioned that she looked particularly handsome at that moment. She spoke softly but clearly, so that she was heard all over the court. She expressed herself with composure, or at least tried to appear composed. The President began his examination discreetly and very respectfully, as though afraid to touch on “certain chords,” and showing consideration for her great unhappiness. But in answer to one of the first questions Katerina Ivanovna replied firmly that she had been formerly betrothed to the prisoner “until he left me of his own accord…”she added quietly. When they asked her about the three thousand she had entrusted to Mitya to post to her relations, she said firmly, “I didn’t give him the money simply to send it off. I felt at the time that he was in great need of money.…I gave him the three thousand on the understanding that he should post it within the month if he cared to. There was no need for him to worry himself about that debt afterwards.”

I will not repeat all the questions asked her and all her answers in detail. I will only give the substance of her evidence.

“I was firmly convinced that he would send off that sum as soon as he got money from his father,” she went on. “I have never doubted his disinterestedness and his honesty…his scrupulous honesty…in money matters. He felt quite certain that he would receive the money from his father, and spoke to me several times about it. I knew he had a feud with his father and have always believed that he had been unfairly treated by his father. I don’t remember any threat uttered by him against his father. He certainly never uttered any such threat before me. If he had come to me at that time, I should have at once relieved his anxiety about that unlucky three thousand roubles, but he had given up coming to see me…and I myself was put in such a position…that I could not invite him…And I had no right, indeed, to be exacting as to that money,” she added suddenly, and there was a ring of resolution in her voice. “I was once indebted to

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.