The Brothers Karamazov
4. The Confession of a Passionate Heart -- In Anecdote
"I was leading a wild life then. Father said just now that I spent several thousand
roubles in seducing young girls. That's a swinish invention, and there was
nothing of the sort. And if there was, I didn't need money simply for that. With me
money is an accessory, the overflow of my heart, the framework. To-day she
would be my lady, to-morrow a wench out of the streets in her place. I
entertained them both. I threw away money by the handful on music, rioting, and
Gypsies. Sometimes I gave it to the ladies, too, for they'll take it greedily, that
must be admitted, and be pleased and thankful for it. Ladies used to be fond of
me: not all of them, but it happened, it happened. But I always liked side-paths,
little dark back-alleys behind the main road -- there one finds adventures and
surprises, and precious metal in the dirt. I am speaking figuratively, brother. In
the town I was in, there were no such back-alleys in the literal sense, but morally
there were. If you were like me, you'd know what that means. I loved vice, I loved
the ignominy of vice. I loved cruelty; am I not a bug, am I not a noxious insect? In
fact a Karamazov! Once we went, a whole lot of us, for a picnic, in seven
sledges. It was dark, it was winter, and I began squeezing a girl's hand, and
forced her to kiss me. She was the daughter of an official, a sweet, gentle,
submissive creature. She allowed me, she allowed me much in the dark. She
thought, poor thing, that I should come next day to make her an offer (I was
looked upon as a good match, too). But I didn't say a word to her for five months.
I used to see her in a corner at dances (we were always having dances), her
eyes watching me. I saw how they glowed with fire -- a fire of gentle indignation.
This game only tickled that insect lust I cherished in my soul. Five months later
she married an official and left the town, still angry, and still, perhaps, in love with
me. Now they live happily. Observe that I told no one. I didn't boast of it. Though
I'm full of low desires, and love what's low, I'm not dishonourable. You're
blushing; your eyes flashed. Enough of this filth with you. And all this was nothing
much -- wayside blossoms a la Paul de Kock- though the cruel insect had
already grown strong in my soul. I've a perfect album of reminiscences, brother.
God bless them, the darlings. I tried to break it off without quarrelling. And I never
gave them away, I never bragged of one of them. But that's enough. You can't
suppose I brought you here simply to talk of such nonsense. No, I'm going to tell
you something more curious; and don't be surprised that I'm glad to tell you,
instead of being ashamed."
"You say that because I blushed," Alyosha said suddenly. "I wasn't blushing at
what you were saying or at what you've done. I blushed because I am the same
as you are."
"You? Come, that's going a little too far!"