The Brothers Karamazov
2. At His Father's
FIRST of all, Alyosha went to his father. On the way he remembered that his
father had insisted the day before that he should come without his brother Ivan
seeing him. "Why so?" Alyosha wondered suddenly. "Even if my father has
something to say to me alone, why should I go in unseen? Most likely in his
excitement yesterday he meant to say something different," he decided. Yet he
was very glad when Marfa Ignatyevna, who opened the garden gate to him
(Grigory, it appeared, was ill in bed in the lodge), told him in answer to his
question that Ivan Fyodorovitch had gone out two hours ago.
"And my father?"
"He is up, taking his coffee," Marfa answered somewhat drily.
Alyosha went in. The old man was sitting alone at the table wearing slippers and
a little old overcoat. He was amusing himself by looking through some accounts,
rather inattentively however. He was quite alone in the house, for Smerdyakov
too had gone out marketing. Though he had got up early and was trying to put a
bold face on it, he looked tired and weak. His forehead, upon which huge purple
bruises had come out during the night, was bandaged with a red handkerchief;
his nose too was swollen terribly in the night, and some smaller bruises covered
it in patches, giving his whole face a peculiarly spiteful and irritable look. The old
man was aware of this, and turned a hostile glance on Alyosha as he came in.
"The coffee is cold," he cried harshly; "I won't offer you any. I've ordered nothing
but a Lenten fish soup to-day, and I don't invite anyone to share it. Why have you
"To find out how you are," said Alyosha.
"Yes. Besides, I told you to come yesterday. It's all of no consequence. You need
not have troubled. But I knew you'd come poking in directly."
He said this with almost hostile feeling. At the same time he got up and looked
anxiously in the looking-glass (perhaps for the fortieth time that morning) at his
nose. He began, too, binding his red handkerchief more becomingly on his
"Red's better. It's just like the hospital in a white one," he observed sententiously.
"Well, how are things over there? How is your elder?"
"He is very bad; he may die to-day," answered Alyosha. But his father had not
listened, and had forgotten his own question at once.