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The Brothers Karamazov

8. The Scandalous Scene
MIUSOV, as a man of breeding and delicacy, could not but feel some inward
qualms, when he reached the Father Superior's with Ivan: he felt ashamed of
having lost his temper. He felt that he ought to have disdained that despicable
wretch, Fyodor Pavlovitch, too much to have been upset by him in Father
Zossima's cell, and so to have forgotten himself. "The monks were not to blame,
in any case," he reflected, on the steps. "And if they're decent people here (and
the Father Superior, I understand, is a nobleman) why not be friendly and
courteous with them? I won't argue, I'll fall in with everything, I'll win them by
politeness, and... and... show them that I've nothing to do with that Aesop, that
buffoon, that Pierrot, and have merely been taken in over this affair, just as they
He determined to drop his litigation with the monastery, and relinquish his claims
to the wood-cutting and fishery rights at once. He was the more ready to do this
because the rights had become much less valuable, and he had indeed the
vaguest idea where the wood and river in question were.
These excellent intentions were strengthened when he entered the Father
Superior's dining-room, though, strictly speaking, it was not a dining-room, for the
Father Superior had only two rooms altogether; they were, however, much larger
and more comfortable than Father Zossima's. But there was no great luxury
about the furnishing of these rooms either. The furniture was of mahogany,
covered with leather, in the old-fashioned style of 1820 the floor was not even
stained, but everything was shining with cleanliness, and there were many choice
flowers in the windows; the most sumptuous thing in the room at the moment
was, of course, the beautifully decorated table. The cloth was clean, the service
shone; there were three kinds of well-baked bread, two bottles of wine, two of
excellent mead, and a large glass jug of kvas -- both the latter made in the
monastery, and famous in the neighbourhood. There was no vodka. Rakitin
related afterwards that there were five dishes: fish-soup made of sterlets, served
with little fish patties; then boiled fish served in a special way; then salmon
cutlets, ice pudding and compote, and finally, blanc-mange. Rakitin found out
about all these good things, for he could not resist peeping into the kitchen,
where he already had a footing. He had a footing everywhere, and got
information about everything. He was of an uneasy and envious temper. He was
well aware of his own considerable abilities, and nervously exaggerated them in
his self-conceit. He knew he would play a prominent part of some sort, but
Alyosha, who was attached to him, was distressed to see that his friend Rakitin
was dishonourable, and quite unconscious of being so himself, considering, on
the contrary, that because he would not steal money left on the table he was a
man of the highest integrity. Neither Alyosha nor anyone else could have
influenced him in that.