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The Brothers Karamazov

10. Both Together
ALYOSHA left his father's house feeling even more exhausted and dejected in
spirit than when he had entered it. His mind too seemed shattered and unhinged,
while he felt that he was afraid to put together the disjointed fragments and form
a general idea from all the agonising and conflicting experiences of the day. He
felt something bordering upon despair, which he had never known till then.
Towering like a mountain above all the rest stood the fatal, insoluble question:
How would things end between his father and his brother Dmitri with this terrible
woman? Now he had himself been a witness of it, he had been present and seen
them face to face. Yet only his brother Dmitri could be made unhappy, terribly,
completely unhappy: there was trouble awaiting him. It appeared too that there
were other people concerned, far more so than Alyosha could have supposed
before. There was something positively mysterious in it, too. Ivan had made a
step towards him, which was what Alyosha had been long desiring. Yet now he
felt for some reason that he was frightened at it. And these women? Strange to
say, that morning he had set out for Katerina Ivanovna's in the greatest
embarrassment; now he felt nothing of the kind. On the contrary, he was
hastening there as though expecting to find guidance from her. Yet to give her
this message was obviously more difficult than before. The matter of the three
thousand was decided irrevocably, and Dmitri, feeling himself dishonoured and
losing his last hope, might sink to any depth. He had, moreover, told him to
describe to Katerina Ivanovna the scene which had just taken place with his
It was by now seven o'clock, and it was getting dark as Alyosha entered the very
spacious and convenient house in the High Street occupied by Katerina
Ivanovna. Alyosha knew that she lived with two aunts. One of them, a woman of
little education, was that aunt of her half-sister Agafya Ivanovna who had looked
after her in her father's house when she came from boarding-school. The other
aunt was a Moscow lady of style and consequence, though in straitened
circumstances. It was said that they both gave way in everything to Katerina
Ivanovna, and that she only kept them with her as chaperons. Katerina Ivanovna
herself gave way to no one but her benefactress, the general's widow, who had
been kept by illness in Moscow, and to whom she was obliged to write twice a
week a full account of all her doings.
When Alyosha entered the hall and asked the maid who opened the door to him
to take his name up, it was evident that they were already aware of his arrival.
Possibly he had been noticed from the window. At least, Alyosha heard a noise,
caught the sound of flying footsteps and rustling skirts. Two or three women,
perhaps, had run out of the room.