The Brothers Karamazov
11. Another Reputation Ruined
IT was not much more than three-quarters of a mile from the town to the
monastery. Alyosha walked quickly along the road, at that hour deserted. It was
almost night, and too dark to see anything clearly at thirty paces ahead. There
were cross-roads half-way. A figure came into sight under a solitary willow at the
cross-roads. As soon as Alyosha reached the cross-roads the figure moved out
and rushed at him, shouting savagely:
"Your money or your life!"
"So it's you, Mitya," cried Alyosha, in surprise, violently startled however.
"Ha ha ha! You didn't expect me? I wondered where to wait for you. By her
house? There are three ways from it, and I might have missed you. At last I
thought of waiting here, for you had to pass here, there's no other way to the
monastery. Come, tell me the truth. Crush me like a beetle. But what's the
"Nothing, brother -- it's the fright you gave me. Oh, Dmitri! Father's blood just
now." (Alyosha began to cry, he had been on the verge of tears for a long time,
and now something seemed to snap in his soul.) "You almost killed him -- cursed
him -- and now -- here -- you're making jokes -- 'Your money or your life!'"
"Well, what of that? It's not seemly -- is that it? Not suitable in my position?"
"No -- I only-"
"Stay. Look at the night. You see what a dark night, what clouds, what a wind has
risen. I hid here under the willow waiting for you. And as God's above, I suddenly
thought, why go on in misery any longer, what is there to wait for? Here I have a
willow, a handkerchief, a shirt, I can twist them into a rope in a minute, and
braces besides, and why go on burdening the earth, dishonouring it with my vile
presence? And then I heard you coming -- Heavens, it was as though something
flew down to me suddenly. So there is a man, then, whom I love. Here he is, that
man, my dear little brother, whom I love more than anyone in the world, the only
one I love in the world. And I loved you so much, so much at that moment that I
thought, 'I'll fall on his neck at once.' Then a stupid idea struck me, to have a joke
with you and scare you. I shouted, like a fool, 'Your money!' Forgive my foolery --
it was only nonsense, and there's nothing unseemly in my soul.... Damn it all, tell
me what's happened. What did she say? Strike me, crush me, don't spare me!
Was she furious?"