PART III > CHAPTER I
Raskolnikov got up, and sat down on the sofa. He waved his hand weakly
to Razumihin to cut short the flow of warm and incoherent consolations
he was addressing to his mother and sister, took them both by the hand
and for a minute or two gazed from one to the other without speaking.
His mother was alarmed by his expression. It revealed an emotion
agonisingly poignant, and at the same time something immovable, almost
insane. Pulcheria Alexandrovna began to cry.
Avdotya Romanovna was pale; her hand trembled in her brother's.
"Go home . . . with him," he said in a broken voice, pointing to
Razumihin, "good-bye till to-morrow; to-morrow everything . . . Is it
long since you arrived?"
"This evening, Rodya," answered Pulcheria Alexandrovna, "the train was
awfully late. But, Rodya, nothing would induce me to leave you now! I
will spend the night here, near you . . ."
"Don't torture me!" he said with a gesture of irritation.
"I will stay with him," cried Razumihin, "I won't leave him for a
moment. Bother all my visitors! Let them rage to their hearts'
content! My uncle is presiding there."
"How, how can I thank you!" Pulcheria Alexandrovna was beginning, once
more pressing Razumihin's hands, but Raskolnikov interrupted her
"I can't have it! I can't have it!" he repeated irritably, "don't
worry me! Enough, go away . . . I can't stand it!"
"Come, mamma, come out of the room at least for a minute," Dounia
whispered in dismay; "we are distressing him, that's evident."
"Mayn't I look at him after three years?" wept Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"Stay," he stopped them again, "you keep interrupting me, and my ideas
get muddled. . . . Have you seen Luzhin?"
"No, Rodya, but he knows already of our arrival. We have heard, Rodya,
that Pyotr Petrovitch was so kind as to visit you today," Pulcheria
Alexandrovna added somewhat timidly.
"Yes . . . he was so kind . . . Dounia, I promised Luzhin I'd throw
him downstairs and told him to go to hell. . . ."
"Rodya, what are you saying! Surely, you don't mean to tell us . . ."
Pulcheria Alexandrovna began in alarm, but she stopped, looking at
Avdotya Romanovna was looking attentively at her brother, waiting for
what would come next. Both of them had heard of the quarrel from
Nastasya, so far as she had succeeded in understanding and reporting
it, and were in painful perplexity and suspense.
"Dounia," Raskolnikov continued with an effort, "I don't want that
marriage, so at the first opportunity to-morrow you must refuse
Luzhin, so that we may never hear his name again."
"Good Heavens!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"Brother, think what you are saying!" Avdotya Romanovna began
impetuously, but immediately checked herself. "You are not fit to talk
now, perhaps; you are tired," she added gently.
"You think I am delirious? No . . . You are marrying Luzhin for /my/
sake. But I won't accept the sacrifice. And so write a letter before
to-morrow, to refuse him . . . Let me read it in the morning and that
will be the end of it!"
"That I can't do!" the girl cried, offended, "what right have
you . . ."
"Dounia, you are hasty, too, be quiet, to-morrow . . . Don't you see
. . ." the mother interposed in dismay. "Better come away!"
"He is raving," Razumihin cried tipsily, "or how would he dare!
To-morrow all this nonsense will be over . . . to-day he certainly did
drive him away. That was so. And Luzhin got angry, too. . . . He made
speeches here, wanted to show off his learning and he went out crest-
fallen. . . ."
"Then it's true?" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"Good-bye till to-morrow, brother," said Dounia compassionately--"let
us go, mother . . . Good-bye, Rodya."
"Do you hear, sister," he repeated after them, making a last effort,
"I am not delirious; this marriage is--an infamy. Let me act like a
scoundrel, but you mustn't . . . one is enough . . . and though I am a
scoundrel, I wouldn't own such a sister. It's me or Luzhin! Go
now. . . ."
"But you're out of your mind! Despot!" roared Razumihin; but
Raskolnikov did not and perhaps could not answer. He lay down on the
sofa, and turned to the wall, utterly exhausted. Avdotya Romanovna
looked with interest at Razumihin; her black eyes flashed; Razumihin
positively started at her glance.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna stood overwhelmed.
"Nothing would induce me to go," she whispered in despair to
Razumihin. "I will stay somewhere here . . . escort Dounia home."
"You'll spoil everything," Razumihin answered in the same whisper,
losing patience--"come out on to the stairs, anyway. Nastasya, show a
light! I assure you," he went on in a half whisper on the stairs-
"that he was almost beating the doctor and me this afternoon! Do you
understand? The doctor himself! Even he gave way and left him, so as
not to irritate him. I remained downstairs on guard, but he dressed at
once and slipped off. And he will slip off again if you irritate him,
at this time of night, and will do himself some mischief. . . ."
"What are you saying?"
"And Avdotya Romanovna can't possibly be left in those lodgings
without you. Just think where you are staying! That blackguard Pyotr
Petrovitch couldn't find you better lodgings . . . But you know I've
had a little to drink, and that's what makes me . . . swear; don't
mind it. . . ."
"But I'll go to the landlady here," Pulcheria Alexandrovna insisted,
"Ill beseech her to find some corner for Dounia and me for the night.
I can't leave him like that, I cannot!"
This conversation took place on the landing just before the landlady's
door. Nastasya lighted them from a step below. Razumihin was in
extraordinary excitement. Half an hour earlier, while he was bringing
Raskolnikov home, he had indeed talked too freely, but he was aware of
it himself, and his head was clear in spite of the vast quantities he
had imbibed. Now he was in a state bordering on ecstasy, and all that
he had drunk seemed to fly to his head with redoubled effect. He stood
with the two ladies, seizing both by their hands, persuading them, and
giving them reasons with astonishing plainness of speech, and at
almost every word he uttered, probably to emphasise his arguments, he
squeezed their hands painfully as in a vise. He stared at Avdotya
Romanovna without the least regard for good manners. They sometimes
pulled their hands out of his huge bony paws, but far from noticing
what was the matter, he drew them all the closer to him. If they'd
told him to jump head foremost from the staircase, he would have done
it without thought or hesitation in their service. Though Pulcheria
Alexandrovna felt that the young man was really too eccentric and
pinched her hand too much, in her anxiety over her Rodya she looked on
his presence as providential, and was unwilling to notice all his
peculiarities. But though Avdotya Romanovna shared her anxiety, and
was not of timorous disposition, she could not see the glowing light
in his eyes without wonder and almost alarm. It was only the unbounded
confidence inspired by Nastasya's account of her brother's queer
friend, which prevented her from trying to run away from him, and to
persuade her mother to do the same. She realised, too, that even
running away was perhaps impossible now. Ten minutes later, however,
she was considerably reassured; it was characteristic of Razumihin
that he showed his true nature at once, whatever mood he might be in,
so that people quickly saw the sort of man they had to deal with.
"You can't go to the landlady, that's perfect nonsense!" he cried. "If
you stay, though you are his mother, you'll drive him to a frenzy, and
then goodness knows what will happen! Listen, I'll tell you what I'll
do: Nastasya will stay with him now, and I'll conduct you both home,
you can't be in the streets alone; Petersburg is an awful place in
that way. . . . But no matter! Then I'll run straight back here and a
quarter of an hour later, on my word of honour, I'll bring you news
how he is, whether he is asleep, and all that. Then, listen! Then I'll
run home in a twinkling--I've a lot of friends there, all drunk--I'll
fetch Zossimov--that's the doctor who is looking after him, he is
there, too, but he is not drunk; he is not drunk, he is never drunk!
I'll drag him to Rodya, and then to you, so that you'll get two
reports in the hour--from the doctor, you understand, from the doctor
himself, that's a very different thing from my account of him! If
there's anything wrong, I swear I'll bring you here myself, but, if
it's all right, you go to bed. And I'll spend the night here, in the
passage, he won't hear me, and I'll tell Zossimov to sleep at the
landlady's, to be at hand. Which is better for him: you or the doctor?
So come home then! But the landlady is out of the question; it's all
right for me, but it's out of the question for you: she wouldn't take
you, for she's . . . for she's a fool . . . She'd be jealous on my
account of Avdotya Romanovna and of you, too, if you want to know
. . . of Avdotya Romanovna certainly. She is an absolutely, absolutely
unaccountable character! But I am a fool, too! . . . No matter! Come
along! Do you trust me? Come, do you trust me or not?"
"Let us go, mother," said Avdotya Romanovna, "he will certainly do
what he has promised. He has saved Rodya already, and if the doctor
really will consent to spend the night here, what could be better?"
"You see, you . . . you . . . understand me, because you are an
angel!" Razumihin cried in ecstasy, "let us go! Nastasya! Fly upstairs
and sit with him with a light; I'll come in a quarter of an hour."
Though Pulcheria Alexandrovna was not perfectly convinced, she made no
further resistance. Razumihin gave an arm to each and drew them down
the stairs. He still made her uneasy, as though he was competent and
good-natured, was he capable of carrying out his promise? He seemed in
such a condition. . . .
"Ah, I see you think I am in such a condition!" Razumihin broke in
upon her thoughts, guessing them, as he strolled along the pavement
with huge steps, so that the two ladies could hardly keep up with him,
a fact he did not observe, however. "Nonsense! That is . . . I am
drunk like a fool, but that's not it; I am not drunk from wine. It's
seeing you has turned my head . . . But don't mind me! Don't take any
notice: I am talking nonsense, I am not worthy of you. . . . I am
utterly unworthy of you! The minute I've taken you home, I'll pour a
couple of pailfuls of water over my head in the gutter here, and then
I shall be all right. . . . If only you knew how I love you both!
Don't laugh, and don't be angry! You may be angry with anyone, but not
with me! I am his friend, and therefore I am your friend, too, I want
to be . . . I had a presentiment . . . Last year there was a moment
. . . though it wasn't a presentiment really, for you seem to have
fallen from heaven. And I expect I shan't sleep all night . . .
Zossimov was afraid a little time ago that he would go mad . . .
that's why he mustn't be irritated."
"What do you say?" cried the mother.
"Did the doctor really say that?" asked Avdotya Romanovna, alarmed.
"Yes, but it's not so, not a bit of it. He gave him some medicine, a
powder, I saw it, and then your coming here. . . . Ah! It would have
been better if you had come to-morrow. It's a good thing we went away.
And in an hour Zossimov himself will report to you about everything.
He is not drunk! And I shan't be drunk. . . . And what made me get so
tight? Because they got me into an argument, damn them! I've sworn
never to argue! They talk such trash! I almost came to blows! I've
left my uncle to preside. Would you believe, they insist on complete
absence of individualism and that's just what they relish! Not to be
themselves, to be as unlike themselves as they can. That's what they
regard as the highest point of progress. If only their nonsense were
their own, but as it is . . ."
"Listen!" Pulcheria Alexandrovna interrupted timidly, but it only
added fuel to the flames.
"What do you think?" shouted Razumihin, louder than ever, "you think I
am attacking them for talking nonsense? Not a bit! I like them to talk
nonsense. That's man's one privilege over all creation. Through error
you come to the truth! I am a man because I err! You never reach any
truth without making fourteen mistakes and very likely a hundred and
fourteen. And a fine thing, too, in its way; but we can't even make
mistakes on our own account! Talk nonsense, but talk your own
nonsense, and I'll kiss you for it. To go wrong in one's own way is
better than to go right in someone else's. In the first case you are a
man, in the second you're no better than a bird. Truth won't escape
you, but life can be cramped. There have been examples. And what are
we doing now? In science, development, thought, invention, ideals,
aims, liberalism, judgment, experience and everything, everything,
everything, we are still in the preparatory class at school. We prefer
to live on other people's ideas, it's what we are used to! Am I right,
am I right?" cried Razumihin, pressing and shaking the two ladies'
"Oh, mercy, I do not know," cried poor Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"Yes, yes . . . though I don't agree with you in everything," added
Avdotya Romanovna earnestly and at once uttered a cry, for he squeezed
her hand so painfully.
"Yes, you say yes . . . well after that you . . . you . . ." he cried
in a transport, "you are a fount of goodness, purity, sense . . . and
perfection. Give me your hand . . . you give me yours, too! I want to
kiss your hands here at once, on my knees . . ." and he fell on his
knees on the pavement, fortunately at that time deserted.
"Leave off, I entreat you, what are you doing?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna
cried, greatly distressed.
"Get up, get up!" said Dounia laughing, though she, too, was upset.
"Not for anything till you let me kiss your hands! That's it! Enough!
I get up and we'll go on! I am a luckless fool, I am unworthy of you
and drunk . . . and I am ashamed. . . . I am not worthy to love you,
but to do homage to you is the duty of every man who is not a perfect
beast! And I've done homage. . . . Here are your lodgings, and for
that alone Rodya was right in driving your Pyotr Petrovitch away.
. . . How dare he! how dare he put you in such lodgings! It's a
scandal! Do you know the sort of people they take in here? And you his
betrothed! You are his betrothed? Yes? Well, then, I'll tell you, your
/fiancé/ is a scoundrel."
"Excuse me, Mr. Razumihin, you are forgetting . . ." Pulcheria
Alexandrovna was beginning.
"Yes, yes, you are right, I did forget myself, I am ashamed of it,"
Razumihin made haste to apologise. "But . . . but you can't be angry
with me for speaking so! For I speak sincerely and not because . . .
hm, hm! That would be disgraceful; in fact not because I'm in . . .
hm! Well, anyway, I won't say why, I daren't. . . . But we all saw
to-day when he came in that that man is not of our sort. Not because
he had his hair curled at the barber's, not because he was in such a
hurry to show his wit, but because he is a spy, a speculator, because
he is a skin-flint and a buffoon. That's evident. Do you think him
clever? No, he is a fool, a fool. And is he a match for you? Good
heavens! Do you see, ladies?" he stopped suddenly on the way upstairs
to their rooms, "though all my friends there are drunk, yet they are
all honest, and though we do talk a lot of trash, and I do, too, yet
we shall talk our way to the truth at last, for we are on the right
path, while Pyotr Petrovitch . . . is not on the right path. Though
I've been calling them all sorts of names just now, I do respect them
all . . . though I don't respect Zametov, I like him, for he is a
puppy, and that bullock Zossimov, because he is an honest man and
knows his work. But enough, it's all said and forgiven. Is it
forgiven? Well, then, let's go on. I know this corridor, I've been
here, there was a scandal here at Number 3. . . . Where are you here?
Which number? eight? Well, lock yourselves in for the night, then.
Don't let anybody in. In a quarter of an hour I'll come back with
news, and half an hour later I'll bring Zossimov, you'll see! Good-
bye, I'll run."
"Good heavens, Dounia, what is going to happen?" said Pulcheria
Alexandrovna, addressing her daughter with anxiety and dismay.
"Don't worry yourself, mother," said Dounia, taking off her hat and
cape. "God has sent this gentleman to our aid, though he has come from
a drinking party. We can depend on him, I assure you. And all that he
has done for Rodya. . . ."
"Ah. Dounia, goodness knows whether he will come! How could I bring
myself to leave Rodya? . . . And how different, how different I had
fancied our meeting! How sullen he was, as though not pleased to see
us. . . ."
Tears came into her eyes.
"No, it's not that, mother. You didn't see, you were crying all the
time. He is quite unhinged by serious illness--that's the reason."
"Ah, that illness! What will happen, what will happen? And how he
talked to you, Dounia!" said the mother, looking timidly at her
daughter, trying to read her thoughts and, already half consoled by
Dounia's standing up for her brother, which meant that she had already
forgiven him. "I am sure he will think better of it to-morrow," she
added, probing her further.
"And I am sure that he will say the same to-morrow . . . about that,"
Avdotya Romanovna said finally. And, of course, there was no going
beyond that, for this was a point which Pulcheria Alexandrovna was
afraid to discuss. Dounia went up and kissed her mother. The latter
warmly embraced her without speaking. Then she sat down to wait
anxiously for Razumihin's return, timidly watching her daughter who
walked up and down the room with her arms folded, lost in thought.
This walking up and down when she was thinking was a habit of Avdotya
Romanovna's and the mother was always afraid to break in on her
daughter's mood at such moments.
Razumihin, of course, was ridiculous in his sudden drunken infatuation
for Avdotya Romanovna. Yet apart from his eccentric condition, many
people would have thought it justified if they had seen Avdotya
Romanovna, especially at that moment when she was walking to and fro
with folded arms, pensive and melancholy. Avdotya Romanovna was
remarkably good looking; she was tall, strikingly well-proportioned,
strong and self-reliant--the latter quality was apparent in every
gesture, though it did not in the least detract from the grace and
softness of her movements. In face she resembled her brother, but she
might be described as really beautiful. Her hair was dark brown, a
little lighter than her brother's; there was a proud light in her
almost black eyes and yet at times a look of extraordinary kindness.
She was pale, but it was a healthy pallor; her face was radiant with
freshness and vigour. Her mouth was rather small; the full red lower
lip projected a little as did her chin; it was the only irregularity
in her beautiful face, but it gave it a peculiarly individual and
almost haughty expression. Her face was always more serious and
thoughtful than gay; but how well smiles, how well youthful,
lighthearted, irresponsible, laughter suited her face! It was natural
enough that a warm, open, simple-hearted, honest giant like Razumihin,
who had never seen anyone like her and was not quite sober at the
time, should lose his head immediately. Besides, as chance would have
it, he saw Dounia for the first time transfigured by her love for her
brother and her joy at meeting him. Afterwards he saw her lower lip
quiver with indignation at her brother's insolent, cruel and
ungrateful words--and his fate was sealed.
He had spoken the truth, moreover, when he blurted out in his drunken
talk on the stairs that Praskovya Pavlovna, Raskolnikov's eccentric
landlady, would be jealous of Pulcheria Alexandrovna as well as of
Avdotya Romanovna on his account. Although Pulcheria Alexandrovna was
forty-three, her face still retained traces of her former beauty; she
looked much younger than her age, indeed, which is almost always the
case with women who retain serenity of spirit, sensitiveness and pure
sincere warmth of heart to old age. We may add in parenthesis that to
preserve all this is the only means of retaining beauty to old age.
Her hair had begun to grow grey and thin, there had long been little
crow's foot wrinkles round her eyes, her cheeks were hollow and sunken
from anxiety and grief, and yet it was a handsome face. She was Dounia
over again, twenty years older, but without the projecting underlip.
Pulcheria Alexandrovna was emotional, but not sentimental, timid and
yielding, but only to a certain point. She could give way and accept a
great deal even of what was contrary to her convictions, but there was
a certain barrier fixed by honesty, principle and the deepest
convictions which nothing would induce her to cross.
Exactly twenty minutes after Razumihin's departure, there came two
subdued but hurried knocks at the door: he had come back.
"I won't come in, I haven't time," he hastened to say when the door
was opened. "He sleeps like a top, soundly, quietly, and God grant he
may sleep ten hours. Nastasya's with him; I told her not to leave till
I came. Now I am fetching Zossimov, he will report to you and then
you'd better turn in; I can see you are too tired to do
anything. . . ."
And he ran off down the corridor.
"What a very competent and . . . devoted young man!" cried Pulcheria
Alexandrovna exceedingly delighted.
"He seems a splendid person!" Avdotya Romanovna replied with some
warmth, resuming her walk up and down the room.
It was nearly an hour later when they heard footsteps in the corridor
and another knock at the door. Both women waited this time completely
relying on Razumihin's promise; he actually had succeeded in bringing
Zossimov. Zossimov had agreed at once to desert the drinking party to
go to Raskolnikov's, but he came reluctantly and with the greatest
suspicion to see the ladies, mistrusting Razumihin in his exhilarated
condition. But his vanity was at once reassured and flattered; he saw
that they were really expecting him as an oracle. He stayed just ten
minutes and succeeded in completely convincing and comforting
Pulcheria Alexandrovna. He spoke with marked sympathy, but with the
reserve and extreme seriousness of a young doctor at an important
consultation. He did not utter a word on any other subject and did not
display the slightest desire to enter into more personal relations
with the two ladies. Remarking at his first entrance the dazzling
beauty of Avdotya Romanovna, he endeavoured not to notice her at all
during his visit and addressed himself solely to Pulcheria
Alexandrovna. All this gave him extraordinary inward satisfaction. He
declared that he thought the invalid at this moment going on very
satisfactorily. According to his observations the patient's illness
was due partly to his unfortunate material surroundings during the
last few months, but it had partly also a moral origin, "was, so to
speak, the product of several material and moral influences,
anxieties, apprehensions, troubles, certain ideas . . . and so on."
Noticing stealthily that Avdotya Romanovna was following his words
with close attention, Zossimov allowed himself to enlarge on this
theme. On Pulcheria Alexandrovna's anxiously and timidly inquiring as
to "some suspicion of insanity," he replied with a composed and candid
smile that his words had been exaggerated; that certainly the patient
had some fixed idea, something approaching a monomania--he, Zossimov,
was now particularly studying this interesting branch of medicine--but
that it must be recollected that until to-day the patient had been in
delirium and . . . and that no doubt the presence of his family would
have a favourable effect on his recovery and distract his mind, "if
only all fresh shocks can be avoided," he added significantly. Then he
got up, took leave with an impressive and affable bow, while
blessings, warm gratitude, and entreaties were showered upon him, and
Avdotya Romanovna spontaneously offered her hand to him. He went out
exceedingly pleased with his visit and still more so with himself.
"We'll talk to-morrow; go to bed at once!" Razumihin said in
conclusion, following Zossimov out. "I'll be with you to-morrow
morning as early as possible with my report."
"That's a fetching little girl, Avdotya Romanovna," remarked Zossimov,
almost licking his lips as they both came out into the street.
"Fetching? You said fetching?" roared Razumihin and he flew at
Zossimov and seized him by the throat. "If you ever dare. . . . Do you
understand? Do you understand?" he shouted, shaking him by the collar
and squeezing him against the wall. "Do you hear?"
"Let me go, you drunken devil," said Zossimov, struggling and when he
had let him go, he stared at him and went off into a sudden guffaw.
Razumihin stood facing him in gloomy and earnest reflection.
"Of course, I am an ass," he observed, sombre as a storm cloud, "but
still . . . you are another."
"No, brother, not at all such another. I am not dreaming of any
They walked along in silence and only when they were close to
Raskolnikov's lodgings, Razumihin broke the silence in considerable
"Listen," he said, "you're a first-rate fellow, but among your other
failings, you're a loose fish, that I know, and a dirty one, too. You
are a feeble, nervous wretch, and a mass of whims, you're getting fat
and lazy and can't deny yourself anything--and I call that dirty
because it leads one straight into the dirt. You've let yourself get
so slack that I don't know how it is you are still a good, even a
devoted doctor. You--a doctor--sleep on a feather bed and get up at
night to your patients! In another three or four years you won't get
up for your patients . . . But hang it all, that's not the point!
. . . You are going to spend to-night in the landlady's flat here.
(Hard work I've had to persuade her!) And I'll be in the kitchen. So
here's a chance for you to get to know her better. . . . It's not as
you think! There's not a trace of anything of the sort,
brother . . .!"
"But I don't think!"
"Here you have modesty, brother, silence, bashfulness, a savage virtue
. . . and yet she's sighing and melting like wax, simply melting! Save
me from her, by all that's unholy! She's most prepossessing . . . I'll
repay you, I'll do anything. . . ."
Zossimov laughed more violently than ever.
"Well, you are smitten! But what am I to do with her?"
"It won't be much trouble, I assure you. Talk any rot you like to her,
as long as you sit by her and talk. You're a doctor, too; try curing
her of something. I swear you won't regret it. She has a piano, and
you know, I strum a little. I have a song there, a genuine Russian
one: 'I shed hot tears.' She likes the genuine article--and well, it
all began with that song; Now you're a regular performer, a /maître/,
a Rubinstein. . . . I assure you, you won't regret it!"
"But have you made her some promise? Something signed? A promise of
"Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of the kind! Besides she is not
that sort at all. . . . Tchebarov tried that. . . ."
"Well then, drop her!"
"But I can't drop her like that!"
"Why can't you?"
"Well, I can't, that's all about it! There's an element of attraction
"Then why have you fascinated her?"
"I haven't fascinated her; perhaps I was fascinated myself in my
folly. But she won't care a straw whether it's you or I, so long as
somebody sits beside her, sighing. . . . I can't explain the position,
brother . . . look here, you are good at mathematics, and working at
it now . . . begin teaching her the integral calculus; upon my soul,
I'm not joking, I'm in earnest, it'll be just the same to her. She
will gaze at you and sigh for a whole year together. I talked to her
once for two days at a time about the Prussian House of Lords (for one
must talk of something)--she just sighed and perspired! And you
mustn't talk of love--she's bashful to hysterics--but just let her see
you can't tear yourself away--that's enough. It's fearfully
comfortable; you're quite at home, you can read, sit, lie about,
write. You may even venture on a kiss, if you're careful."
"But what do I want with her?"
"Ach, I can't make you understand! You see, you are made for each
other! I have often been reminded of you! . . . You'll come to it in
the end! So does it matter whether it's sooner or later? There's the
feather-bed element here, brother--ach! and not only that! There's an
attraction here--here you have the end of the world, an anchorage, a
quiet haven, the navel of the earth, the three fishes that are the
foundation of the world, the essence of pancakes, of savoury fish-
pies, of the evening samovar, of soft sighs and warm shawls, and hot
stoves to sleep on--as snug as though you were dead, and yet you're
alive--the advantages of both at once! Well, hang it, brother, what
stuff I'm talking, it's bedtime! Listen. I sometimes wake up at night;
so I'll go in and look at him. But there's no need, it's all right.
Don't you worry yourself, yet if you like, you might just look in
once, too. But if you notice anything--delirium or fever--wake me at
once. But there can't be. . . ."