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It would be difficult to explain exactly what could have originated
the idea of that senseless dinner in Katerina Ivanovna's disordered
brain. Nearly ten of the twenty roubles, given by Raskolnikov for
Marmeladov's funeral, were wasted upon it. Possibly Katerina Ivanovna
felt obliged to honour the memory of the deceased "suitably," that all
the lodgers, and still more Amalia Ivanovna, might know "that he was
in no way their inferior, and perhaps very much their superior," and
that no one had the right "to turn up his nose at him." Perhaps the
chief element was that peculiar "poor man's pride," which compels many
poor people to spend their last savings on some traditional social
ceremony, simply in order to do "like other people," and not to "be
looked down upon." It is very probable, too, that Katerina Ivanovna
longed on this occasion, at the moment when she seemed to be abandoned
by everyone, to show those "wretched contemptible lodgers" that she
knew "how to do things, how to entertain" and that she had been
brought up "in a genteel, she might almost say aristocratic colonel's
family" and had not been meant for sweeping floors and washing the
children's rags at night. Even the poorest and most broken-spirited
people are sometimes liable to these paroxysms of pride and vanity
which take the form of an irresistible nervous craving. And Katerina
Ivanovna was not broken-spirited; she might have been killed by
circumstance, but her spirit could not have been broken, that is, she
could not have been intimidated, her will could not be crushed.
Moreover Sonia had said with good reason that her mind was unhinged.
She could not be said to be insane, but for a year past she had been
so harassed that her mind might well be overstrained. The later stages
of consumption are apt, doctors tell us, to affect the intellect.

There was no great variety of wines, nor was there Madeira; but wine
there was. There was vodka, rum and Lisbon wine, all of the poorest
quality but in sufficient quantity. Besides the traditional rice and
honey, there were three or four dishes, one of which consisted of
pancakes, all prepared in Amalia Ivanovna's kitchen. Two samovars were
boiling, that tea and punch might be offered after dinner. Katerina
Ivanovna had herself seen to purchasing the provisions, with the help
of one of the lodgers, an unfortunate little Pole who had somehow been
stranded at Madame Lippevechsel's. He promptly put himself at Katerina
Ivanovna's disposal and had been all that morning and all the day
before running about as fast as his legs could carry him, and very
anxious that everyone should be aware of it. For every trifle he ran
to Katerina Ivanovna, even hunting her out at the bazaar, at every
instant called her "/Pani/." She was heartily sick of him before the
end, though she had declared at first that she could not have got on
without this "serviceable and magnanimous man." It was one of Katerina
Ivanovna's characteristics to paint everyone she met in the most
glowing colours. Her praises were so exaggerated as sometimes to be
embarrassing; she would invent various circumstances to the credit of
her new acquaintance and quite genuinely believe in their reality.
Then all of a sudden she would be disillusioned and would rudely and
contemptuously repulse the person she had only a few hours before been
literally adoring. She was naturally of a gay, lively and peace-loving
disposition, but from continual failures and misfortunes she had come
to desire so /keenly/ that all should live in peace and joy and should
not /dare/ to break the peace, that the slightest jar, the smallest
disaster reduced her almost to frenzy, and she would pass in an
instant from the brightest hopes and fancies to cursing her fate and
raving, and knocking her head against the wall.

Amalia Ivanovna, too, suddenly acquired extraordinary importance in
Katerina Ivanovna's eyes and was treated by her with extraordinary
respect, probably only because Amalia Ivanovna had thrown herself
heart and soul into the preparations. She had undertaken to lay the
table, to provide the linen, crockery, etc., and to cook the dishes in
her kitchen, and Katerina Ivanovna had left it all in her hands and
gone herself to the cemetery. Everything had been well done. Even the
table-cloth was nearly clean; the crockery, knives, forks and glasses
were, of course, of all shapes and patterns, lent by different
lodgers, but the table was properly laid at the time fixed, and Amalia
Ivanovna, feeling she had done her work well, had put on a black silk
dress and a cap with new mourning ribbons and met the returning party
with some pride. This pride, though justifiable, displeased Katerina
Ivanovna for some reason: "as though the table could not have been
laid except by Amalia Ivanovna!" She disliked the cap with new
ribbons, too. "Could she be stuck up, the stupid German, because she
was mistress of the house, and had consented as a favour to help her
poor lodgers! As a favour! Fancy that! Katerina Ivanovna's father who
had been a colonel and almost a governor had sometimes had the table
set for forty persons, and then anyone like Amalia Ivanovna, or rather
Ludwigovna, would not have been allowed into the kitchen."

Katerina Ivanovna, however, put off expressing her feelings for the
time and contented herself with treating her coldly, though she
decided inwardly that she would certainly have to put Amalia Ivanovna
down and set her in her proper place, for goodness only knew what she
was fancying herself. Katerina Ivanovna was irritated too by the fact
that hardly any of the lodgers invited had come to the funeral, except
the Pole who had just managed to run into the cemetery, while to the
memorial dinner the poorest and most insignificant of them had turned
up, the wretched creatures, many of them not quite sober. The older
and more respectable of them all, as if by common consent, stayed
away. Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin, for instance, who might be said to be
the most respectable of all the lodgers, did not appear, though
Katerina Ivanovna had the evening before told all the world, that is
Amalia Ivanovna, Polenka, Sonia and the Pole, that he was the most
generous, noble-hearted man with a large property and vast
connections, who had been a friend of her first husband's, and a guest
in her father's house, and that he had promised to use all his
influence to secure her a considerable pension. It must be noted that
when Katerina Ivanovna exalted anyone's connections and fortune, it
was without any ulterior motive, quite disinterestedly, for the mere
pleasure of adding to the consequence of the person praised. Probably
"taking his cue" from Luzhin, "that contemptible wretch Lebeziatnikov
had not turned up either. What did he fancy himself? He was only asked
out of kindness and because he was sharing the same room with Pyotr
Petrovitch and was a friend of his, so that it would have been awkward
not to invite him."

Among those who failed to appear were "the genteel lady and her old-
maidish daughter," who had only been lodgers in the house for the last
fortnight, but had several times complained of the noise and uproar in
Katerina Ivanovna's room, especially when Marmeladov had come back
drunk. Katerina Ivanovna heard this from Amalia Ivanovna who,
quarrelling with Katerina Ivanovna, and threatening to turn the whole
family out of doors, had shouted at her that they "were not worth the
foot" of the honourable lodgers whom they were disturbing. Katerina
Ivanovna determined now to invite this lady and her daughter, "whose
foot she was not worth," and who had turned away haughtily when she
casually met them, so that they might know that "she was more noble in
her thoughts and feelings and did not harbour malice," and might see
that she was not accustomed to her way of living. She had proposed to
make this clear to them at dinner with allusions to her late father's
governorship, and also at the same time to hint that it was
exceedingly stupid of them to turn away on meeting her. The fat
colonel-major (he was really a discharged officer of low rank) was
also absent, but it appeared that he had been "not himself" for the
last two days. The party consisted of the Pole, a wretched looking
clerk with a spotty face and a greasy coat, who had not a word to say
for himself, and smelt abominably, a deaf and almost blind old man who
had once been in the post office and who had been from immemorial ages
maintained by someone at Amalia Ivanovna's.

A retired clerk of the commissariat department came, too; he was
drunk, had a loud and most unseemly laugh and only fancy--was without
a waistcoat! One of the visitors sat straight down to the table
without even greeting Katerina Ivanovna. Finally one person having no
suit appeared in his dressing-gown, but this was too much, and the
efforts of Amalia Ivanovna and the Pole succeeded in removing him. The
Pole brought with him, however, two other Poles who did not live at
Amalia Ivanovna's and whom no one had seen here before. All this
irritated Katerina Ivanovna intensely. "For whom had they made all
these preparations then?" To make room for the visitors the children
had not even been laid for at the table; but the two little ones were
sitting on a bench in the furthest corner with their dinner laid on a
box, while Polenka as a big girl had to look after them, feed them,
and keep their noses wiped like well-bred children's.

Katerina Ivanovna, in fact, could hardly help meeting her guests with
increased dignity, and even haughtiness. She stared at some of them
with special severity, and loftily invited them to take their seats.
Rushing to the conclusion that Amalia Ivanovna must be responsible for
those who were absent, she began treating her with extreme
nonchalance, which the latter promptly observed and resented. Such a
beginning was no good omen for the end. All were seated at last.

Raskolnikov came in almost at the moment of their return from the
cemetery. Katerina Ivanovna was greatly delighted to see him, in the
first place, because he was the one "educated visitor, and, as
everyone knew, was in two years to take a professorship in the
university," and secondly because he immediately and respectfully
apologised for having been unable to be at the funeral. She positively
pounced upon him, and made him sit on her left hand (Amalia Ivanovna
was on her right). In spite of her continual anxiety that the dishes
should be passed round correctly and that everyone should taste them,
in spite of the agonising cough which interrupted her every minute and
seemed to have grown worse during the last few days, she hastened to
pour out in a half whisper to Raskolnikov all her suppressed feelings
and her just indignation at the failure of the dinner, interspersing
her remarks with lively and uncontrollable laughter at the expense of
her visitors and especially of her landlady.

"It's all that cuckoo's fault! You know whom I mean? Her, her!"
Katerina Ivanovna nodded towards the landlady. "Look at her, she's
making round eyes, she feels that we are talking about her and can't
understand. Pfoo, the owl! Ha-ha! (Cough-cough-cough.) And what does
she put on that cap for? (Cough-cough-cough.) Have you noticed that
she wants everyone to consider that she is patronising me and doing me
an honour by being here? I asked her like a sensible woman to invite
people, especially those who knew my late husband, and look at the set
of fools she has brought! The sweeps! Look at that one with the spotty
face. And those wretched Poles, ha-ha-ha! (Cough-cough-cough.) Not one
of them has ever poked his nose in here, I've never set eyes on them.
What have they come here for, I ask you? There they sit in a row. Hey,
/pan/!" she cried suddenly to one of them, "have you tasted the
pancakes? Take some more! Have some beer! Won't you have some vodka?
Look, he's jumped up and is making his bows, they must be quite
starved, poor things. Never mind, let them eat! They don't make a
noise, anyway, though I'm really afraid for our landlady's silver
spoons . . . Amalia Ivanovna!" she addressed her suddenly, almost
aloud, "if your spoons should happen to be stolen, I won't be
responsible, I warn you! Ha-ha-ha!" She laughed turning to
Raskolnikov, and again nodding towards the landlady, in high glee at
her sally. "She didn't understand, she didn't understand again! Look
how she sits with her mouth open! An owl, a real owl! An owl in new
ribbons, ha-ha-ha!"

Here her laugh turned again to an insufferable fit of coughing that
lasted five minutes. Drops of perspiration stood out on her forehead
and her handkerchief was stained with blood. She showed Raskolnikov
the blood in silence, and as soon as she could get her breath began
whispering to him again with extreme animation and a hectic flush on
her cheeks.

"Do you know, I gave her the most delicate instructions, so to speak,
for inviting that lady and her daughter, you understand of whom I am
speaking? It needed the utmost delicacy, the greatest nicety, but she
has managed things so that that fool, that conceited baggage, that
provincial nonentity, simply because she is the widow of a major, and
has come to try and get a pension and to fray out her skirts in the
government offices, because at fifty she paints her face (everybody
knows it) . . . a creature like that did not think fit to come, and
has not even answered the invitation, which the most ordinary good
manners required! I can't understand why Pyotr Petrovitch has not
come? But where's Sonia? Where has she gone? Ah, there she is at last!
what is it, Sonia, where have you been? It's odd that even at your
father's funeral you should be so unpunctual. Rodion Romanovitch, make
room for her beside you. That's your place, Sonia . . . take what you
like. Have some of the cold entrée with jelly, that's the best.
They'll bring the pancakes directly. Have they given the children
some? Polenka, have you got everything? (Cough-cough-cough.) That's
all right. Be a good girl, Lida, and, Kolya, don't fidget with your
feet; sit like a little gentleman. What are you saying, Sonia?"

Sonia hastened to give her Pyotr Petrovitch's apologies, trying to
speak loud enough for everyone to hear and carefully choosing the most
respectful phrases which she attributed to Pyotr Petrovitch. She added
that Pyotr Petrovitch had particularly told her to say that, as soon
as he possibly could, he would come immediately to discuss /business/
alone with her and to consider what could be done for her, etc., etc.

Sonia knew that this would comfort Katerina Ivanovna, would flatter
her and gratify her pride. She sat down beside Raskolnikov; she made
him a hurried bow, glancing curiously at him. But for the rest of the
time she seemed to avoid looking at him or speaking to him. She seemed
absent-minded, though she kept looking at Katerina Ivanovna, trying to
please her. Neither she nor Katerina Ivanovna had been able to get
mourning; Sonia was wearing dark brown, and Katerina Ivanovna had on
her only dress, a dark striped cotton one.

The message from Pyotr Petrovitch was very successful. Listening to
Sonia with dignity, Katerina Ivanovna inquired with equal dignity how
Pyotr Petrovitch was, then at once whispered almost aloud to
Raskolnikov that it certainly would have been strange for a man of
Pyotr Petrovitch's position and standing to find himself in such
"extraordinary company," in spite of his devotion to her family and
his old friendship with her father.

"That's why I am so grateful to you, Rodion Romanovitch, that you have
not disdained my hospitality, even in such surroundings," she added
almost aloud. "But I am sure that it was only your special affection
for my poor husband that has made you keep your promise."

Then once more with pride and dignity she scanned her visitors, and
suddenly inquired aloud across the table of the deaf man: "Wouldn't he
have some more meat, and had he been given some wine?" The old man
made no answer and for a long while could not understand what he was
asked, though his neighbours amused themselves by poking and shaking
him. He simply gazed about him with his mouth open, which only
increased the general mirth.

"What an imbecile! Look, look! Why was he brought? But as to Pyotr
Petrovitch, I always had confidence in him," Katerina Ivanovna
continued, "and, of course, he is not like . . ." with an extremely
stern face she addressed Amalia Ivanovna so sharply and loudly that
the latter was quite disconcerted, "not like your dressed up
draggletails whom my father would not have taken as cooks into his
kitchen, and my late husband would have done them honour if he had
invited them in the goodness of his heart."

"Yes, he was fond of drink, he was fond of it, he did drink!" cried
the commissariat clerk, gulping down his twelfth glass of vodka.

"My late husband certainly had that weakness, and everyone knows it,"
Katerina Ivanovna attacked him at once, "but he was a kind and
honourable man, who loved and respected his family. The worst of it
was his good nature made him trust all sorts of disreputable people,
and he drank with fellows who were not worth the sole of his shoe.
Would you believe it, Rodion Romanovitch, they found a gingerbread
cock in his pocket; he was dead drunk, but he did not forget the

"A cock? Did you say a cock?" shouted the commissariat clerk.

Katerina Ivanovna did not vouchsafe a reply. She sighed, lost in

"No doubt you think, like everyone, that I was too severe with him,"
she went on, addressing Raskolnikov. "But that's not so! He respected
me, he respected me very much! He was a kind-hearted man! And how
sorry I was for him sometimes! He would sit in a corner and look at
me, I used to feel so sorry for him, I used to want to be kind to him
and then would think to myself: 'Be kind to him and he will drink
again,' it was only by severity that you could keep him within

"Yes, he used to get his hair pulled pretty often," roared the
commissariat clerk again, swallowing another glass of vodka.

"Some fools would be the better for a good drubbing, as well as having
their hair pulled. I am not talking of my late husband now!" Katerina
Ivanovna snapped at him.

The flush on her cheeks grew more and more marked, her chest heaved.
In another minute she would have been ready to make a scene. Many of
the visitors were sniggering, evidently delighted. They began poking
the commissariat clerk and whispering something to him. They were
evidently trying to egg him on.

"Allow me to ask what are you alluding to," began the clerk, "that is
to say, whose . . . about whom . . . did you say just now . . . But I
don't care! That's nonsense! Widow! I forgive you. . . . Pass!"

And he took another drink of vodka.

Raskolnikov sat in silence, listening with disgust. He only ate from
politeness, just tasting the food that Katerina Ivanovna was
continually putting on his plate, to avoid hurting her feelings. He
watched Sonia intently. But Sonia became more and more anxious and
distressed; she, too, foresaw that the dinner would not end peaceably,
and saw with terror Katerina Ivanovna's growing irritation. She knew
that she, Sonia, was the chief reason for the 'genteel' ladies'
contemptuous treatment of Katerina Ivanovna's invitation. She had
heard from Amalia Ivanovna that the mother was positively offended at
the invitation and had asked the question: "How could she let her
daughter sit down beside /that young person/?" Sonia had a feeling
that Katerina Ivanovna had already heard this and an insult to Sonia
meant more to Katerina Ivanovna than an insult to herself, her
children, or her father, Sonia knew that Katerina Ivanovna would not
be satisfied now, "till she had shown those draggletails that they
were both . . ." To make matters worse someone passed Sonia, from the
other end of the table, a plate with two hearts pierced with an arrow,
cut out of black bread. Katerina Ivanovna flushed crimson and at once
said aloud across the table that the man who sent it was "a drunken

Amalia Ivanovna was foreseeing something amiss, and at the same time
deeply wounded by Katerina Ivanovna's haughtiness, and to restore the
good-humour of the company and raise herself in their esteem she
began, apropos of nothing, telling a story about an acquaintance of
hers "Karl from the chemist's," who was driving one night in a cab,
and that "the cabman wanted him to kill, and Karl very much begged him
not to kill, and wept and clasped hands, and frightened and from fear
pierced his heart." Though Katerina Ivanovna smiled, she observed at
once that Amalia Ivanovna ought not to tell anecdotes in Russian; the
latter was still more offended, and she retorted that her "/Vater aus
Berlin/ was a very important man, and always went with his hands in
pockets." Katerina Ivanovna could not restrain herself and laughed so
much that Amalia Ivanovna lost patience and could scarcely control

"Listen to the owl!" Katerina Ivanovna whispered at once, her good-
humour almost restored, "she meant to say he kept his hands in his
pockets, but she said he put his hands in people's pockets. (Cough-
cough.) And have you noticed, Rodion Romanovitch, that all these
Petersburg foreigners, the Germans especially, are all stupider than
we! Can you fancy anyone of us telling how 'Karl from the chemist's'
'pierced his heart from fear' and that the idiot, instead of punishing
the cabman, 'clasped his hands and wept, and much begged.' Ah, the
fool! And you know she fancies it's very touching and does not suspect
how stupid she is! To my thinking that drunken commissariat clerk is a
great deal cleverer, anyway one can see that he has addled his brains
with drink, but you know, these foreigners are always so well behaved
and serious. . . . Look how she sits glaring! She is angry, ha-ha!

Regaining her good-humour, Katerina Ivanovna began at once telling
Raskolnikov that when she had obtained her pension, she intended to
open a school for the daughters of gentlemen in her native town T----.
This was the first time she had spoken to him of the project, and she
launched out into the most alluring details. It suddenly appeared that
Katerina Ivanovna had in her hands the very certificate of honour of
which Marmeladov had spoken to Raskolnikov in the tavern, when he told
him that Katerina Ivanovna, his wife, had danced the shawl dance
before the governor and other great personages on leaving school. This
certificate of honour was obviously intended now to prove Katerina
Ivanovna's right to open a boarding-school; but she had armed herself
with it chiefly with the object of overwhelming "those two stuck-up
draggletails" if they came to the dinner, and proving incontestably
that Katerina Ivanovna was of the most noble, "she might even say
aristocratic family, a colonel's daughter and was far superior to
certain adventuresses who have been so much to the fore of late." The
certificate of honour immediately passed into the hands of the drunken
guests, and Katerina Ivanovna did not try to retain it, for it
actually contained the statement /en toutes lettres/, that her father
was of the rank of a major, and also a companion of an order, so that
she really was almost the daughter of a colonel.

Warming up, Katerina Ivanovna proceeded to enlarge on the peaceful and
happy life they would lead in T----, on the gymnasium teachers whom
she would engage to give lessons in her boarding-school, one a most
respectable old Frenchman, one Mangot, who had taught Katerina
Ivanovna herself in old days and was still living in T----, and would
no doubt teach in her school on moderate terms. Next she spoke of
Sonia who would go with her to T---- and help her in all her plans. At
this someone at the further end of the table gave a sudden guffaw.

Though Katerina Ivanovna tried to appear to be disdainfully unaware of
it, she raised her voice and began at once speaking with conviction of
Sonia's undoubted ability to assist her, of "her gentleness, patience,
devotion, generosity and good education," tapping Sonia on the cheek
and kissing her warmly twice. Sonia flushed crimson, and Katerina
Ivanovna suddenly burst into tears, immediately observing that she was
"nervous and silly, that she was too much upset, that it was time to
finish, and as the dinner was over, it was time to hand round the

At that moment, Amalia Ivanovna, deeply aggrieved at taking no part in
the conversation, and not being listened to, made one last effort, and
with secret misgivings ventured on an exceedingly deep and weighty
observation, that "in the future boarding-school she would have to pay
particular attention to /die Wäsche/, and that there certainly must be
a good /dame/ to look after the linen, and secondly that the young
ladies must not novels at night read."

Katerina Ivanovna, who certainly was upset and very tired, as well as
heartily sick of the dinner, at once cut short Amalia Ivanovna, saying
"she knew nothing about it and was talking nonsense, that it was the
business of the laundry maid, and not of the directress of a high-
class boarding-school to look after /die Wäsche/, and as for novel-
reading, that was simply rudeness, and she begged her to be silent."
Amalia Ivanovna fired up and getting angry observed that she only
"meant her good," and that "she had meant her very good," and that "it
was long since she had paid her /gold/ for the lodgings."

Katerina Ivanovna at once "set her down," saying that it was a lie to
say she wished her good, because only yesterday when her dead husband
was lying on the table, she had worried her about the lodgings. To
this Amalia Ivanovna very appropriately observed that she had invited
those ladies, but "those ladies had not come, because those ladies
/are/ ladies and cannot come to a lady who is not a lady." Katerina
Ivanovna at once pointed out to her, that as she was a slut she could
not judge what made one really a lady. Amalia Ivanovna at once
declared that her "/Vater aus Berlin/ was a very, very important man,
and both hands in pockets went, and always used to say: 'Poof! poof!'"
and she leapt up from the table to represent her father, sticking her
hands in her pockets, puffing her cheeks, and uttering vague sounds
resembling "poof! poof!" amid loud laughter from all the lodgers, who
purposely encouraged Amalia Ivanovna, hoping for a fight.

But this was too much for Katerina Ivanovna, and she at once declared,
so that all could hear, that Amalia Ivanovna probably never had a
father, but was simply a drunken Petersburg Finn, and had certainly
once been a cook and probably something worse. Amalia Ivanovna turned
as red as a lobster and squealed that perhaps Katerina Ivanovna never
had a father, "but she had a /Vater aus Berlin/ and that he wore a
long coat and always said poof-poof-poof!"

Katerina Ivanovna observed contemptuously that all knew what her
family was and that on that very certificate of honour it was stated
in print that her father was a colonel, while Amalia Ivanovna's
father--if she really had one--was probably some Finnish milkman, but
that probably she never had a father at all, since it was still
uncertain whether her name was Amalia Ivanovna or Amalia Ludwigovna.

At this Amalia Ivanovna, lashed to fury, struck the table with her
fist, and shrieked that she was Amalia Ivanovna, and not Ludwigovna,
"that her /Vater/ was named Johann and that he was a burgomeister, and
that Katerina Ivanovna's /Vater/ was quite never a burgomeister."
Katerina Ivanovna rose from her chair, and with a stern and apparently
calm voice (though she was pale and her chest was heaving) observed
that "if she dared for one moment to set her contemptible wretch of a
father on a level with her papa, she, Katerina Ivanovna, would tear
her cap off her head and trample it under foot." Amalia Ivanovna ran
about the room, shouting at the top of her voice, that she was
mistress of the house and that Katerina Ivanovna should leave the
lodgings that minute; then she rushed for some reason to collect the
silver spoons from the table. There was a great outcry and uproar, the
children began crying. Sonia ran to restrain Katerina Ivanovna, but
when Amalia Ivanovna shouted something about "the yellow ticket,"
Katerina Ivanovna pushed Sonia away, and rushed at the landlady to
carry out her threat.

At that minute the door opened, and Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin appeared
on the threshold. He stood scanning the party with severe and vigilant
eyes. Katerina Ivanovna rushed to him.

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
General Fiction
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