The Brothers Karamazov HTML version
Book III: The Sensualists
1. In the Servants' Quarters
THE Karamazovs' house was far from being in the centre of the town, but it was
not quite outside it. It was a pleasant-looking old house of two stories, painted
grey, with a red iron roof. It was roomy and snug, and might still last many years.
There were all sorts of unexpected little cupboards and closets and staircases.
There were rats in it, but Fyodor Pavlovitch did not altogether dislike them. "One
doesn't feel so solitary when one's left alone in the evening," he used to say. It
was his habit to send the servants away to the lodge for the night and to lock
himself up alone. The lodge was a roomy and solid building in the yard. Fyodor
Pavlovitch used to have the cooking done there, although there was a kitchen in
the house; he did not like the smell of cooking, and, winter and summer alike, the
dishes were carried in across the courtyard. The house was built for a large
family; there was room for five times as many, with their servants. But at the time
of our story there was no one living in the house but Fyodor Pavlovitch and his
son Ivan. And in the lodge there were only three servants: old Grigory, and his
old wife Marfa, and a young man called Smerdyakov. Of these three we must say
a few words. Of old Grigory we have said something already. He was firm and
determined and went blindly and obstinately for his object, if once be had been
brought by any reasons (and they were often very illogical ones) to believe that it
was immutably right. He was honest and incorruptible. His wife, Marfa
Ignatyevna, had obeyed her husband's will implicitly all her life, yet she had
pestered him terribly after the emancipation of the serfs. She was set on leaving
Fyodor Pavlovitch and opening a little shop in Moscow with their small savings.
But Grigory decided then, once for all, that "the woman's talking nonsense, for
every woman is dishonest," and that they ought not to leave their old master,
whatever he might be, for "that was now their duty."
"Do you understand what duty is?" he asked Marfa Ignatyevna.
"I understand what duty means, Grigory Vassilyevitch, but why it's our duty to
stay here I never shall understand," Marfa answered firmly.
"Well, don't understand then. But so it shall be. And you hold your tongue."
And so it was. They did not go away, and Fyodor Pavlovitch promised them a
small sum for wages, and paid it regularly. Grigory knew, too, that he had an
indisputable influence over his master. It was true, and he was aware of it.
Fyodor Pavlovitch was an obstinate and cunning buffoon, yet, though his will was