T wo T r:chapter-2.tex

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\Title[Chapter 2]{Chapter II. He Gets Rid Of His Eldest Son}

You can easily imagine what a father such a man could be and how he would
bring up his children. His behavior as a father was exactly what might be
expected. He completely abandoned the child of his marriage with Adelaïda
Ivanovna, not from malice, nor because of his matrimonial grievances, but
simply because he forgot him. While he was wearying every one with his
tears and complaints, and turning his house into a sink of debauchery, a
faithful servant of the family, Grigory, took the three‐year‐old Mitya
into his care. If he hadn’t looked after him there would have been no one
even to change the baby’s little shirt.

It happened moreover that the child’s relations on his mother’s side
forgot him too at first. His grandfather was no longer living, his widow,
Mitya’s grandmother, had moved to Moscow, and was seriously ill, while his
daughters were married, so that Mitya remained for almost a whole year in
old Grigory’s charge and lived with him in the servant’s cottage. But if
his father had remembered him (he could not, indeed, have been altogether
unaware of his existence) he would have sent him back to the cottage, as
the child would only have been in the way of his debaucheries. But a
cousin of Mitya’s mother, Pyotr Alexandrovitch Miüsov, happened to return
from Paris. He lived for many years afterwards abroad, but was at that
time quite a young man, and distinguished among the Miüsovs as a man of
enlightened ideas and of European culture, who had been in the capitals
and abroad. Towards the end of his life he became a Liberal of the type
common in the forties and fifties. In the course of his career he had come
into contact with many of the most Liberal men of his epoch, both in
Russia and abroad. He had known Proudhon and Bakunin personally, and in
his declining years was very fond of describing the three days of the
Paris Revolution of February 1848, hinting that he himself had almost
taken part in the fighting on the barricades. This was one of the most
grateful recollections of his youth. He had an independent property of
about a thousand souls, to reckon in the old style. His splendid estate
lay on the outskirts of our little town and bordered on the lands of our
famous monastery, with which Pyotr Alexandrovitch began an endless
lawsuit, almost as soon as he came into the estate, concerning the rights
of fishing in the river or wood‐cutting in the forest, I don’t know
exactly which. He regarded it as his duty as a citizen and a man of
culture to open an attack upon the “clericals.” Hearing all about Adelaïda
Ivanovna, whom he, of course, remembered, and in whom he had at one time
been interested, and learning of the existence of Mitya, he intervened, in
spite of all his youthful indignation and contempt for Fyodor Pavlovitch.
He made the latter’s acquaintance for the first time, and told him
directly that he wished to undertake the child’s education. He used long
afterwards to tell as a characteristic touch, that when he began to speak
of Mitya, Fyodor Pavlovitch looked for some time as though he did not
understand what child he was talking about, and even as though he was
surprised to hear that he had a little son in the house. The story may
have been exaggerated, yet it must have been something like the truth.

Fyodor Pavlovitch was all his life fond of acting, of suddenly playing an
unexpected part, sometimes without any motive for doing so, and even to
his own direct disadvantage, as, for instance, in the present case. This
habit, however, is characteristic of a very great number of people, some
of them very clever ones, not like Fyodor Pavlovitch. Pyotr Alexandrovitch
carried the business through vigorously, and was appointed, with Fyodor
Pavlovitch, joint guardian of the child, who had a small property, a house
and land, left him by his mother. Mitya did, in fact, pass into this
cousin’s keeping, but as the latter had no family of his own, and after
securing the revenues of his estates was in haste to return at once to
Paris, he left the boy in charge of one of his cousins, a lady living in
Moscow. It came to pass that, settling permanently in Paris he, too,
forgot the child, especially when the Revolution of February broke out,
making an impression on his mind that he remembered all the rest of his
life. The Moscow lady died, and Mitya passed into the care of one of her
married daughters. I believe he changed his home a fourth time later on. I
won’t enlarge upon that now, as I shall have much to tell later of Fyodor
Pavlovitch’s firstborn, and must confine myself now to the most essential
facts about him, without which I could not begin my story.

In the first place, this Mitya, or rather Dmitri Fyodorovitch, was the
only one of Fyodor Pavlovitch’s three sons who grew up in the belief that
he had property, and that he would be independent on coming of age. He
spent an irregular boyhood and youth. He did not finish his studies at the
gymnasium, he got into a military school, then went to the Caucasus, was
promoted, fought a duel, and was degraded to the ranks, earned promotion
again, led a wild life, and spent a good deal of money. He did not begin
to receive any income from Fyodor Pavlovitch until he came of age, and
until then got into debt. He saw and knew his father, Fyodor Pavlovitch,
for the first time on coming of age, when he visited our neighborhood on
purpose to settle with him about his property. He seems not to have liked
his father. He did not stay long with him, and made haste to get away,
having only succeeded in obtaining a sum of money, and entering into an
agreement for future payments from the estate, of the revenues and value
of which he was unable (a fact worthy of note), upon this occasion, to get
a statement from his father. Fyodor Pavlovitch remarked for the first time
then (this, too, should be noted) that Mitya had a vague and exaggerated
idea of his property. Fyodor Pavlovitch was very well satisfied with this,
as it fell in with his own designs. He gathered only that the young man
was frivolous, unruly, of violent passions, impatient, and dissipated, and
that if he could only obtain ready money he would be satisfied, although
only, of course, for a short time. So Fyodor Pavlovitch began to take
advantage of this fact, sending him from time to time small doles,
installments. In the end, when four years later, Mitya, losing patience,
came a second time to our little town to settle up once for all with his
father, it turned out to his amazement that he had nothing, that it was
difficult to get an account even, that he had received the whole value of
his property in sums of money from Fyodor Pavlovitch, and was perhaps even
in debt to him, that by various agreements into which he had, of his own
desire, entered at various previous dates, he had no right to expect
anything more, and so on, and so on. The young man was overwhelmed,
suspected deceit and cheating, and was almost beside himself. And, indeed,
this circumstance led to the catastrophe, the account of which forms the
subject of my first introductory story, or rather the external side of it.
But before I pass to that story I must say a little of Fyodor Pavlovitch’s
other two sons, and of their origin.