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> CHAPTER III

The fact was that up to the last moment he had never expected such an
ending; he had been overbearing to the last degree, never dreaming
that two destitute and defenceless women could escape from his
control. This conviction was strengthened by his vanity and conceit, a
conceit to the point of fatuity. Pyotr Petrovitch, who had made his
way up from insignificance, was morbidly given to self-admiration, had
the highest opinion of his intelligence and capacities, and sometimes
even gloated in solitude over his image in the glass. But what he
loved and valued above all was the money he had amassed by his labour,
and by all sorts of devices: that money made him the equal of all who
had been his superiors.

When he had bitterly reminded Dounia that he had decided to take her
in spite of evil report, Pyotr Petrovitch had spoken with perfect
sincerity and had, indeed, felt genuinely indignant at such "black
ingratitude." And yet, when he made Dounia his offer, he was fully
aware of the groundlessness of all the gossip. The story had been
everywhere contradicted by Marfa Petrovna, and was by then disbelieved
by all the townspeople, who were warm in Dounia'a defence. And he
would not have denied that he knew all that at the time. Yet he still
thought highly of his own resolution in lifting Dounia to his level
and regarded it as something heroic. In speaking of it to Dounia, he
had let out the secret feeling he cherished and admired, and he could
not understand that others should fail to admire it too. He had called
on Raskolnikov with the feelings of a benefactor who is about to reap
the fruits of his good deeds and to hear agreeable flattery. And as he
went downstairs now, he considered himself most undeservedly injured
and unrecognised.

Dounia was simply essential to him; to do without her was unthinkable.
For many years he had had voluptuous dreams of marriage, but he had
gone on waiting and amassing money. He brooded with relish, in
profound secret, over the image of a girl--virtuous, poor (she must be
poor), very young, very pretty, of good birth and education, very
timid, one who had suffered much, and was completely humbled before
him, one who would all her life look on him as her saviour, worship
him, admire him and only him. How many scenes, how many amorous
episodes he had imagined on this seductive and playful theme, when his
work was over! And, behold, the dream of so many years was all but
realised; the beauty and education of Avdotya Romanovna had impressed
him; her helpless position had been a great allurement; in her he had
found even more than he dreamed of. Here was a girl of pride,
character, virtue, of education and breeding superior to his own (he
felt that), and this creature would be slavishly grateful all her life
for his heroic condescension, and would humble herself in the dust
before him, and he would have absolute, unbounded power over her!
. . . Not long before, he had, too, after long reflection and
hesitation, made an important change in his career and was now
entering on a wider circle of business. With this change his cherished
dreams of rising into a higher class of society seemed likely to be
realised. . . . He was, in fact, determined to try his fortune in
Petersburg. He knew that women could do a very great deal. The
fascination of a charming, virtuous, highly educated woman might make
his way easier, might do wonders in attracting people to him, throwing
an aureole round him, and now everything was in ruins! This sudden
horrible rupture affected him like a clap of thunder; it was like a
hideous joke, an absurdity. He had only been a tiny bit masterful, had
not even time to speak out, had simply made a joke, been carried away
--and it had ended so seriously. And, of course, too, he did love
Dounia in his own way; he already possessed her in his dreams--and all
at once! No! The next day, the very next day, it must all be set
right, smoothed over, settled. Above all he must crush that conceited
milksop who was the cause of it all. With a sick feeling he could not
help recalling Razumihin too, but, he soon reassured himself on that
score; as though a fellow like that could be put on a level with him!
The man he really dreaded in earnest was Svidriga´lov. . . . He had,
in short, a great deal to attend to. . . .

*****

"No, I, I am more to blame than anyone!" said Dounia, kissing and
embracing her mother. "I was tempted by his money, but on my honour,
brother, I had no idea he was such a base man. If I had seen through
him before, nothing would have tempted me! Don't blame me, brother!"

"God has delivered us! God has delivered us!" Pulcheria Alexandrovna
muttered, but half consciously, as though scarcely able to realise
what had happened.

They were all relieved, and in five minutes they were laughing. Only
now and then Dounia turned white and frowned, remembering what had
passed. Pulcheria Alexandrovna was surprised to find that she, too,
was glad: she had only that morning thought rupture with Luzhin a
terrible misfortune. Razumihin was delighted. He did not yet dare to
express his joy fully, but he was in a fever of excitement as though a
ton-weight had fallen off his heart. Now he had the right to devote
his life to them, to serve them. . . . Anything might happen now! But
he felt afraid to think of further possibilities and dared not let his
imagination range. But Raskolnikov sat still in the same place, almost
sullen and indifferent. Though he had been the most insistent on
getting rid of Luzhin, he seemed now the least concerned at what had
happened. Dounia could not help thinking that he was still angry with
her, and Pulcheria Alexandrovna watched him timidly.

"What did Svidriga´lov say to you?" said Dounia, approaching him.

"Yes, yes!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna.

Raskolnikov raised his head.

"He wants to make you a present of ten thousand roubles and he desires
to see you once in my presence."

"See her! On no account!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. "And how dare
he offer her money!"

Then Raskolnikov repeated (rather dryly) his conversation with
Svidriga´lov, omitting his account of the ghostly visitations of Marfa
Petrovna, wishing to avoid all unnecessary talk.

"What answer did you give him?" asked Dounia.

"At first I said I would not take any message to you. Then he said
that he would do his utmost to obtain an interview with you without my
help. He assured me that his passion for you was a passing
infatuation, now he has no feeling for you. He doesn't want you to
marry Luzhin. . . . His talk was altogether rather muddled."

"How do you explain him to yourself, Rodya? How did he strike you?"

"I must confess I don't quite understand him. He offers you ten
thousand, and yet says he is not well off. He says he is going away,
and in ten minutes he forgets he has said it. Then he says is he going
to be married and has already fixed on the girl. . . . No doubt he has
a motive, and probably a bad one. But it's odd that he should be so
clumsy about it if he had any designs against you. . . . Of course, I
refused this money on your account, once for all. Altogether, I
thought him very strange. . . . One might almost think he was mad. But
I may be mistaken; that may only be the part he assumes. The death of
Marfa Petrovna seems to have made a great impression on him."

"God rest her soul," exclaimed Pulcheria Alexandrovna. "I shall
always, always pray for her! Where should we be now, Dounia, without
this three thousand! It's as though it had fallen from heaven! Why,
Rodya, this morning we had only three roubles in our pocket and Dounia
and I were just planning to pawn her watch, so as to avoid borrowing
from that man until he offered help."

Dounia seemed strangely impressed by Svidriga´lov's offer. She still
stood meditating.

"He has got some terrible plan," she said in a half whisper to
herself, almost shuddering.

Raskolnikov noticed this disproportionate terror.

"I fancy I shall have to see him more than once again," he said to
Dounia.

"We will watch him! I will track him out!" cried Razumihin,
vigorously. "I won't lose sight of him. Rodya has given me leave. He
said to me himself just now. 'Take care of my sister.' Will you give
me leave, too, Avdotya Romanovna?"

Dounia smiled and held out her hand, but the look of anxiety did not
leave her face. Pulcheria Alexandrovna gazed at her timidly, but the
three thousand roubles had obviously a soothing effect on her.

A quarter of an hour later, they were all engaged in a lively
conversation. Even Raskolnikov listened attentively for some time,
though he did not talk. Razumihin was the speaker.

"And why, why should you go away?" he flowed on ecstatically. "And
what are you to do in a little town? The great thing is, you are all
here together and you need one another--you do need one another,
believe me. For a time, anyway. . . . Take me into partnership, and I
assure you we'll plan a capital enterprise. Listen! I'll explain it
all in detail to you, the whole project! It all flashed into my head
this morning, before anything had happened . . . I tell you what; I
have an uncle, I must introduce him to you (a most accommodating and
respectable old man). This uncle has got a capital of a thousand
roubles, and he lives on his pension and has no need of that money.
For the last two years he has been bothering me to borrow it from him
and pay him six per cent. interest. I know what that means; he simply
wants to help me. Last year I had no need of it, but this year I
resolved to borrow it as soon as he arrived. Then you lend me another
thousand of your three and we have enough for a start, so we'll go
into partnership, and what are we going to do?"

Then Razumihin began to unfold his project, and he explained at length
that almost all our publishers and booksellers know nothing at all of
what they are selling, and for that reason they are usually bad
publishers, and that any decent publications pay as a rule and give a
profit, sometimes a considerable one. Razumihin had, indeed, been
dreaming of setting up as a publisher. For the last two years he had
been working in publishers' offices, and knew three European languages
well, though he had told Raskolnikov six days before that he was
"schwach" in German with an object of persuading him to take half his
translation and half the payment for it. He had told a lie then, and
Raskolnikov knew he was lying.

"Why, why should we let our chance slip when we have one of the chief
means of success--money of our own!" cried Razumihin warmly. "Of
course there will be a lot of work, but we will work, you, Avdotya
Romanovna, I, Rodion. . . . You get a splendid profit on some books
nowadays! And the great point of the business is that we shall know
just what wants translating, and we shall be translating, publishing,
learning all at once. I can be of use because I have experience. For
nearly two years I've been scuttling about among the publishers, and
now I know every detail of their business. You need not be a saint to
make pots, believe me! And why, why should we let our chance slip!
Why, I know--and I kept the secret--two or three books which one might
get a hundred roubles simply for thinking of translating and
publishing. Indeed, and I would not take five hundred for the very
idea of one of them. And what do you think? If I were to tell a
publisher, I dare say he'd hesitate--they are such blockheads! And as
for the business side, printing, paper, selling, you trust to me, I
know my way about. We'll begin in a small way and go on to a large. In
any case it will get us our living and we shall get back our capital."

Dounia's eyes shone.

"I like what you are saying, Dmitri Prokofitch!" she said.

"I know nothing about it, of course," put in Pulcheria Alexandrovna,
"it may be a good idea, but again God knows. It's new and untried. Of
course, we must remain here at least for a time." She looked at Rodya.

"What do you think, brother?" said Dounia.

"I think he's got a very good idea," he answered. "Of course, it's too
soon to dream of a publishing firm, but we certainly might bring out
five or six books and be sure of success. I know of one book myself
which would be sure to go well. And as for his being able to manage
it, there's no doubt about that either. He knows the business. . . .
But we can talk it over later. . . ."

"Hurrah!" cried Razumihin. "Now, stay, there's a flat here in this
house, belonging to the same owner. It's a special flat apart, not
communicating with these lodgings. It's furnished, rent moderate,
three rooms. Suppose you take them to begin with. I'll pawn your watch
to-morrow and bring you the money, and everything can be arranged
then. You can all three live together, and Rodya will be with you. But
where are you off to, Rodya?"

"What, Rodya, you are going already?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna asked in
dismay.

"At such a minute?" cried Razumihin.

Dounia looked at her brother with incredulous wonder. He held his cap
in his hand, he was preparing to leave them.

"One would think you were burying me or saying good-bye for ever," he
said somewhat oddly. He attempted to smile, but it did not turn out a
smile. "But who knows, perhaps it is the last time we shall see each
other . . ." he let slip accidentally. It was what he was thinking,
and it somehow was uttered aloud.

"What is the matter with you?" cried his mother.

"Where are you going, Rodya?" asked Dounia rather strangely.

"Oh, I'm quite obliged to . . ." he answered vaguely, as though
hesitating what he would say. But there was a look of sharp
determination in his white face.

"I meant to say . . . as I was coming here . . . I meant to tell you,
mother, and you, Dounia, that it would be better for us to part for a
time. I feel ill, I am not at peace. . . . I will come afterwards, I
will come of myself . . . when it's possible. I remember you and love
you. . . . Leave me, leave me alone. I decided this even before . . .
I'm absolutely resolved on it. Whatever may come to me, whether I come
to ruin or not, I want to be alone. Forget me altogether, it's better.
Don't inquire about me. When I can, I'll come of myself or . . . I'll
send for you. Perhaps it will all come back, but now if you love me,
give me up . . . else I shall begin to hate you, I feel it. . . .
Good-bye!"

"Good God!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. Both his mother and his
sister were terribly alarmed. Razumihin was also.

"Rodya, Rodya, be reconciled with us! Let us be as before!" cried his
poor mother.

He turned slowly to the door and slowly went out of the room. Dounia
overtook him.

"Brother, what are you doing to mother?" she whispered, her eyes
flashing with indignation.

He looked dully at her.

"No matter, I shall come. . . . I'm coming," he muttered in an
undertone, as though not fully conscious of what he was saying, and he
went out of the room.

"Wicked, heartless egoist!" cried Dounia.

"He is insane, but not heartless. He is mad! Don't you see it? You're
heartless after that!" Razumihin whispered in her ear, squeezing her
hand tightly. "I shall be back directly," he shouted to the horror-
stricken mother, and he ran out of the room.

Raskolnikov was waiting for him at the end of the passage.

"I knew you would run after me," he said. "Go back to them--be with
them . . . be with them to-morrow and always. . . . I . . . perhaps I
shall come . . . if I can. Good-bye."

And without holding out his hand he walked away.

"But where are you going? What are you doing? What's the matter with
you? How can you go on like this?" Razumihin muttered, at his wits'
end.

Raskolnikov stopped once more.

"Once for all, never ask me about anything. I have nothing to tell
you. Don't come to see me. Maybe I'll come here. . . . Leave me, but
/don't leave/ them. Do you understand me?"

It was dark in the corridor, they were standing near the lamp. For a
minute they were looking at one another in silence. Razumihin
remembered that minute all his life. Raskolnikov's burning and intent
eyes grew more penetrating every moment, piercing into his soul, into
his consciousness. Suddenly Razumihin started. Something strange, as
it were, passed between them. . . . Some idea, some hint, as it were,
slipped, something awful, hideous, and suddenly understood on both
sides. . . . Razumihin turned pale.

"Do you understand now?" said Raskolnikov, his face twitching
nervously. "Go back, go to them," he said suddenly, and turning
quickly, he went out of the house.

I will not attempt to describe how Razumihin went back to the ladies,
how he soothed them, how he protested that Rodya needed rest in his
illness, protested that Rodya was sure to come, that he would come
every day, that he was very, very much upset, that he must not be
irritated, that he, Razumihin, would watch over him, would get him a
doctor, the best doctor, a consultation. . . . In fact from that
evening Razumihin took his place with them as a son and a brother.



Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Category:
General Fiction
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