The Brothers Karamazov
5. So Be It! So Be It!
THE elder's absence from his cell had lasted for about twenty-five minutes. It was
more than half-past twelve, but Dmitri, on whose account they had all met there,
had still not appeared. But he seemed almost to be forgotten, and when the elder
entered the cell again, he found his guests engaged in eager conversation. Ivan
and the two monks took the leading share in it. Miusov, too, was trying to take a
part, and apparently very eagerly, in the conversation. But he was unsuccessful
in this also. He was evidently in the background, and his remarks were treated
with neglect, which increased his irritability. He had had intellectual encounters
with Ivan before and he could not endure a certain carelessness Ivan showed
"Hitherto at least I have stood in the front ranks of all that is progressive in
Europe, and here the new generation positively ignores us," he thought.
Fyodor Pavlovitch, who had given his word to sit still and be quiet, had actually
been quiet for some time, but he watched his neighbour Miusov with an ironical
little smile, obviously enjoying his discomfiture. He had been waiting for some
time to pay off old scores, and now he could not let the opportunity slip. Bending
over his shoulder he began teasing him again in a whisper.
"Why didn't you go away just now, after the 'courteously kissing'? Why did you
consent to remain in such unseemly company? It was because you felt insulted
and aggrieved, and you remained to vindicate yourself by showing off your
intelligence. Now you won't go till you've displayed your intellect to them."
"You again?... On the contrary, I'm just going."
"You'll be the last, the last of all to go!" Fyodor Pavlovitch delivered him another
thrust, almost at the moment of Father Zossima's return.
The discussion died down for a moment, but the elder, seating himself in his
former place, looked at them all as though cordially inviting them to go on.
Alyosha, who knew every expression of his face, saw that he was fearfully
exhausted and making a great effort. Of late he had been liable to fainting fits
from exhaustion. His face had the pallor that was common before such attacks,
and his lips were white. But he evidently did not want to break up the party. He
seemed to have some special object of his own in keeping them. What object?
Alyosha watched him intently.
"We are discussing this gentleman's most interesting article," said Father Iosif,
the librarian, addressing the elder, and indicating Ivan. "He brings forward much
that is new, but I think the argument cuts both ways. It is an article written in