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PART VI > CHAPTER I

A strange period began for Raskolnikov: it was as though a fog had
fallen upon him and wrapped him in a dreary solitude from which there
was no escape. Recalling that period long after, he believed that his
mind had been clouded at times, and that it had continued so, with
intervals, till the final catastrophe. He was convinced that he had
been mistaken about many things at that time, for instance as to the
date of certain events. Anyway, when he tried later on to piece his
recollections together, he learnt a great deal about himself from what
other people told him. He had mixed up incidents and had explained
events as due to circumstances which existed only in his imagination.
At times he was a prey to agonies of morbid uneasiness, amounting
sometimes to panic. But he remembered, too, moments, hours, perhaps
whole days, of complete apathy, which came upon him as a reaction from
his previous terror and might be compared with the abnormal
insensibility, sometimes seen in the dying. He seemed to be trying in
that latter stage to escape from a full and clear understanding of his
position. Certain essential facts which required immediate
consideration were particularly irksome to him. How glad he would have
been to be free from some cares, the neglect of which would have
threatened him with complete, inevitable ruin.

He was particularly worried about Svidriga´lov, he might be said to be
permanently thinking of Svidriga´lov. From the time of Svidriga´lov's
too menacing and unmistakable words in Sonia's room at the moment of
Katerina Ivanovna's death, the normal working of his mind seemed to
break down. But although this new fact caused him extreme uneasiness,
Raskolnikov was in no hurry for an explanation of it. At times,
finding himself in a solitary and remote part of the town, in some
wretched eating-house, sitting alone lost in thought, hardly knowing
how he had come there, he suddenly thought of Svidriga´lov. He
recognised suddenly, clearly, and with dismay that he ought at once to
come to an understanding with that man and to make what terms he
could. Walking outside the city gates one day, he positively fancied
that they had fixed a meeting there, that he was waiting for
Svidriga´lov. Another time he woke up before daybreak lying on the
ground under some bushes and could not at first understand how he had
come there.

But during the two or three days after Katerina Ivanovna's death, he
had two or three times met Svidriga´lov at Sonia's lodging, where he
had gone aimlessly for a moment. They exchanged a few words and made
no reference to the vital subject, as though they were tacitly agreed
not to speak of it for a time.

Katerina Ivanovna's body was still lying in the coffin, Svidriga´lov
was busy making arrangements for the funeral. Sonia too was very busy.
At their last meeting Svidriga´lov informed Raskolnikov that he had
made an arrangement, and a very satisfactory one, for Katerina
Ivanovna's children; that he had, through certain connections,
succeeded in getting hold of certain personages by whose help the
three orphans could be at once placed in very suitable institutions;
that the money he had settled on them had been of great assistance, as
it is much easier to place orphans with some property than destitute
ones. He said something too about Sonia and promised to come himself
in a day or two to see Raskolnikov, mentioning that "he would like to
consult with him, that there were things they must talk over. . . ."

This conversation took place in the passage on the stairs.
Svidriga´lov looked intently at Raskolnikov and suddenly, after a
brief pause, dropping his voice, asked: "But how is it, Rodion
Romanovitch; you don't seem yourself? You look and you listen, but you
don't seem to understand. Cheer up! We'll talk things over; I am only
sorry, I've so much to do of my own business and other people's. Ah,
Rodion Romanovitch," he added suddenly, "what all men need is fresh
air, fresh air . . . more than anything!"

He moved to one side to make way for the priest and server, who were
coming up the stairs. They had come for the requiem service. By
Svidriga´lov's orders it was sung twice a day punctually. Svidriga´lov
went his way. Raskolnikov stood still a moment, thought, and followed
the priest into Sonia's room. He stood at the door. They began
quietly, slowly and mournfully singing the service. From his childhood
the thought of death and the presence of death had something
oppressive and mysteriously awful; and it was long since he had heard
the requiem service. And there was something else here as well, too
awful and disturbing. He looked at the children: they were all
kneeling by the coffin; Polenka was weeping. Behind them Sonia prayed,
softly and, as it were, timidly weeping.

"These last two days she hasn't said a word to me, she hasn't glanced
at me," Raskolnikov thought suddenly. The sunlight was bright in the
room; the incense rose in clouds; the priest read, "Give rest, oh
Lord. . . ." Raskolnikov stayed all through the service. As he blessed
them and took his leave, the priest looked round strangely. After the
service, Raskolnikov went up to Sonia. She took both his hands and let
her head sink on his shoulder. This slight friendly gesture bewildered
Raskolnikov. It seemed strange to him that there was no trace of
repugnance, no trace of disgust, no tremor in her hand. It was the
furthest limit of self-abnegation, at least so he interpreted it.

Sonia said nothing. Raskolnikov pressed her hand and went out. He felt
very miserable. If it had been possible to escape to some solitude, he
would have thought himself lucky, even if he had to spend his whole
life there. But although he had almost always been by himself of late,
he had never been able to feel alone. Sometimes he walked out of the
town on to the high road, once he had even reached a little wood, but
the lonelier the place was, the more he seemed to be aware of an
uneasy presence near him. It did not frighten him, but greatly annoyed
him, so that he made haste to return to the town, to mingle with the
crowd, to enter restaurants and taverns, to walk in busy
thoroughfares. There he felt easier and even more solitary. One day at
dusk he sat for an hour listening to songs in a tavern and he
remembered that he positively enjoyed it. But at last he had suddenly
felt the same uneasiness again, as though his conscience smote him.
"Here I sit listening to singing, is that what I ought to be doing?"
he thought. Yet he felt at once that that was not the only cause of
his uneasiness; there was something requiring immediate decision, but
it was something he could not clearly understand or put into words. It
was a hopeless tangle. "No, better the struggle again! Better Porfiry
again . . . or Svidriga´lov. . . . Better some challenge again . . .
some attack. Yes, yes!" he thought. He went out of the tavern and
rushed away almost at a run. The thought of Dounia and his mother
suddenly reduced him almost to a panic. That night he woke up before
morning among some bushes in Krestovsky Island, trembling all over
with fever; he walked home, and it was early morning when he arrived.
After some hours' sleep the fever left him, but he woke up late, two
o'clock in the afternoon.

He remembered that Katerina Ivanovna's funeral had been fixed for that
day, and was glad that he was not present at it. Nastasya brought him
some food; he ate and drank with appetite, almost with greediness. His
head was fresher and he was calmer than he had been for the last three
days. He even felt a passing wonder at his previous attacks of panic.

The door opened and Razumihin came in.

"Ah, he's eating, then he's not ill," said Razumihin. He took a chair
and sat down at the table opposite Raskolnikov.

He was troubled and did not attempt to conceal it. He spoke with
evident annoyance, but without hurry or raising his voice. He looked
as though he had some special fixed determination.

"Listen," he began resolutely. "As far as I am concerned, you may all
go to hell, but from what I see, it's clear to me that I can't make
head or tail of it; please don't think I've come to ask you questions.
I don't want to know, hang it! If you begin telling me your secrets, I
dare say I shouldn't stay to listen, I should go away cursing. I have
only come to find out once for all whether it's a fact that you are
mad? There is a conviction in the air that you are mad or very nearly
so. I admit I've been disposed to that opinion myself, judging from
your stupid, repulsive and quite inexplicable actions, and from your
recent behavior to your mother and sister. Only a monster or a madman
could treat them as you have; so you must be mad."

"When did you see them last?"

"Just now. Haven't you seen them since then? What have you been doing
with yourself? Tell me, please. I've been to you three times already.
Your mother has been seriously ill since yesterday. She had made up
her mind to come to you; Avdotya Romanovna tried to prevent her; she
wouldn't hear a word. 'If he is ill, if his mind is giving way, who
can look after him like his mother?' she said. We all came here
together, we couldn't let her come alone all the way. We kept begging
her to be calm. We came in, you weren't here; she sat down, and stayed
ten minutes, while we stood waiting in silence. She got up and said:
'If he's gone out, that is, if he is well, and has forgotten his
mother, it's humiliating and unseemly for his mother to stand at his
door begging for kindness.' She returned home and took to her bed; now
she is in a fever. 'I see,' she said, 'that he has time for /his
girl/.' She means by /your girl/ Sofya Semyonovna, your betrothed or
your mistress, I don't know. I went at once to Sofya Semyonovna's, for
I wanted to know what was going on. I looked round, I saw the coffin,
the children crying, and Sofya Semyonovna trying them on mourning
dresses. No sign of you. I apologised, came away, and reported to
Avdotya Romanovna. So that's all nonsense and you haven't got a girl;
the most likely thing is that you are mad. But here you sit, guzzling
boiled beef as though you'd not had a bite for three days. Though as
far as that goes, madmen eat too, but though you have not said a word
to me yet . . . you are not mad! That I'd swear! Above all, you are
not mad! So you may go to hell, all of you, for there's some mystery,
some secret about it, and I don't intend to worry my brains over your
secrets. So I've simply come to swear at you," he finished, getting
up, "to relieve my mind. And I know what to do now."

"What do you mean to do now?"

"What business is it of yours what I mean to do?"

"You are going in for a drinking bout."

"How . . . how did you know?"

"Why, it's pretty plain."

Razumihin paused for a minute.

"You always have been a very rational person and you've never been
mad, never," he observed suddenly with warmth. "You're right: I shall
drink. Good-bye!"

And he moved to go out.

"I was talking with my sister--the day before yesterday, I think it
was--about you, Razumihin."

"About me! But . . . where can you have seen her the day before
yesterday?" Razumihin stopped short and even turned a little pale.

One could see that his heart was throbbing slowly and violently.

"She came here by herself, sat there and talked to me."

"She did!"

"Yes."

"What did you say to her . . . I mean, about me?"

"I told her you were a very good, honest, and industrious man. I
didn't tell her you love her, because she knows that herself."

"She knows that herself?"

"Well, it's pretty plain. Wherever I might go, whatever happened to
me, you would remain to look after them. I, so to speak, give them
into your keeping, Razumihin. I say this because I know quite well how
you love her, and am convinced of the purity of your heart. I know
that she too may love you and perhaps does love you already. Now
decide for yourself, as you know best, whether you need go in for a
drinking bout or not."

"Rodya! You see . . . well. . . . Ach, damn it! But where do you mean
to go? Of course, if it's all a secret, never mind. . . . But I . . .
I shall find out the secret . . . and I am sure that it must be some
ridiculous nonsense and that you've made it all up. Anyway you are a
capital fellow, a capital fellow! . . ."

"That was just what I wanted to add, only you interrupted, that that
was a very good decision of yours not to find out these secrets. Leave
it to time, don't worry about it. You'll know it all in time when it
must be. Yesterday a man said to me that what a man needs is fresh
air, fresh air, fresh air. I mean to go to him directly to find out
what he meant by that."

Razumihin stood lost in thought and excitement, making a silent
conclusion.

"He's a political conspirator! He must be. And he's on the eve of some
desperate step, that's certain. It can only be that! And . . . and
Dounia knows," he thought suddenly.

"So Avdotya Romanovna comes to see you," he said, weighing each
syllable, "and you're going to see a man who says we need more air,
and so of course that letter . . . that too must have something to do
with it," he concluded to himself.

"What letter?"

"She got a letter to-day. It upset her very much--very much indeed.
Too much so. I began speaking of you, she begged me not to. Then . . .
then she said that perhaps we should very soon have to part . . . then
she began warmly thanking me for something; then she went to her room
and locked herself in."

"She got a letter?" Raskolnikov asked thoughtfully.

"Yes, and you didn't know? hm . . ."

They were both silent.

"Good-bye, Rodion. There was a time, brother, when I. . . . Never
mind, good-bye. You see, there was a time. . . . Well, good-bye! I
must be off too. I am not going to drink. There's no need now. . . .
That's all stuff!"

He hurried out; but when he had almost closed the door behind him, he
suddenly opened it again, and said, looking away:

"Oh, by the way, do you remember that murder, you know Porfiry's, that
old woman? Do you know the murderer has been found, he has confessed
and given the proofs. It's one of those very workmen, the painter,
only fancy! Do you remember I defended them here? Would you believe
it, all that scene of fighting and laughing with his companions on the
stairs while the porter and the two witnesses were going up, he got up
on purpose to disarm suspicion. The cunning, the presence of mind of
the young dog! One can hardly credit it; but it's his own explanation,
he has confessed it all. And what a fool I was about it! Well, he's
simply a genius of hypocrisy and resourcefulness in disarming the
suspicions of the lawyers--so there's nothing much to wonder at, I
suppose! Of course people like that are always possible. And the fact
that he couldn't keep up the character, but confessed, makes him
easier to believe in. But what a fool I was! I was frantic on their
side!"

"Tell me, please, from whom did you hear that, and why does it
interest you so?" Raskolnikov asked with unmistakable agitation.

"What next? You ask me why it interests me! . . . Well, I heard it
from Porfiry, among others . . . It was from him I heard almost all
about it."

"From Porfiry?"

"From Porfiry."

"What . . . what did he say?" Raskolnikov asked in dismay.

"He gave me a capital explanation of it. Psychologically, after his
fashion."

"He explained it? Explained it himself?"

"Yes, yes; good-bye. I'll tell you all about it another time, but now
I'm busy. There was a time when I fancied . . . But no matter, another
time! . . . What need is there for me to drink now? You have made me
drunk without wine. I am drunk, Rodya! Good-bye, I'm going. I'll come
again very soon."

He went out.

"He's a political conspirator, there's not a doubt about it,"
Razumihin decided, as he slowly descended the stairs. "And he's drawn
his sister in; that's quite, quite in keeping with Avdotya Romanovna's
character. There are interviews between them! . . . She hinted at it
too . . . So many of her words. . . . and hints . . . bear that
meaning! And how else can all this tangle be explained? Hm! And I was
almost thinking . . . Good heavens, what I thought! Yes, I took leave
of my senses and I wronged him! It was his doing, under the lamp in
the corridor that day. Pfoo! What a crude, nasty, vile idea on my
part! Nikolay is a brick, for confessing. . . . And how clear it all
is now! His illness then, all his strange actions . . . before this,
in the university, how morose he used to be, how gloomy. . . . But
what's the meaning now of that letter? There's something in that, too,
perhaps. Whom was it from? I suspect . . .! No, I must find out!"

He thought of Dounia, realising all he had heard and his heart
throbbed, and he suddenly broke into a run.

As soon as Razumihin went out, Raskolnikov got up, turned to the
window, walked into one corner and then into another, as though
forgetting the smallness of his room, and sat down again on the sofa.
He felt, so to speak, renewed; again the struggle, so a means of
escape had come.

"Yes, a means of escape had come! It had been too stifling, too
cramping, the burden had been too agonising. A lethargy had come upon
him at times. From the moment of the scene with Nikolay at Porfiry's
he had been suffocating, penned in without hope of escape. After
Nikolay's confession, on that very day had come the scene with Sonia;
his behaviour and his last words had been utterly unlike anything he
could have imagined beforehand; he had grown feebler, instantly and
fundamentally! And he had agreed at the time with Sonia, he had agreed
in his heart he could not go on living alone with such a thing on his
mind!

"And Svidriga´lov was a riddle . . . He worried him, that was true,
but somehow not on the same point. He might still have a struggle to
come with Svidriga´lov. Svidriga´lov, too, might be a means of escape;
but Porfiry was a different matter.

"And so Porfiry himself had explained it to Razumihin, had explained
it /psychologically/. He had begun bringing in his damned psychology
again! Porfiry? But to think that Porfiry should for one moment
believe that Nikolay was guilty, after what had passed between them
before Nikolay's appearance, after that tŕte-Ó-tŕte interview, which
could have only /one/ explanation? (During those days Raskolnikov had
often recalled passages in that scene with Porfiry; he could not bear
to let his mind rest on it.) Such words, such gestures had passed
between them, they had exchanged such glances, things had been said in
such a tone and had reached such a pass, that Nikolay, whom Porfiry
had seen through at the first word, at the first gesture, could not
have shaken his conviction.

"And to think that even Razumihin had begun to suspect! The scene in
the corridor under the lamp had produced its effect then. He had
rushed to Porfiry. . . . But what had induced the latter to receive
him like that? What had been his object in putting Razumihin off with
Nikolay? He must have some plan; there was some design, but what was
it? It was true that a long time had passed since that morning--too
long a time--and no sight nor sound of Porfiry. Well, that was a bad
sign. . . ."

Raskolnikov took his cap and went out of the room, still pondering. It
was the first time for a long while that he had felt clear in his
mind, at least. "I must settle Svidriga´lov," he thought, "and as soon
as possible; he, too, seems to be waiting for me to come to him of my
own accord." And at that moment there was such a rush of hate in his
weary heart that he might have killed either of those two--Porfiry or
Svidriga´lov. At least he felt that he would be capable of doing it
later, if not now.

"We shall see, we shall see," he repeated to himself.

But no sooner had he opened the door than he stumbled upon Porfiry
himself in the passage. He was coming in to see him. Raskolnikov was
dumbfounded for a minute, but only for one minute. Strange to say, he
was not very much astonished at seeing Porfiry and scarcely afraid of
him. He was simply startled, but was quickly, instantly, on his guard.
"Perhaps this will mean the end? But how could Porfiry have approached
so quietly, like a cat, so that he had heard nothing? Could he have
been listening at the door?"

"You didn't expect a visitor, Rodion Romanovitch," Porfiry explained,
laughing. "I've been meaning to look in a long time; I was passing by
and thought why not go in for five minutes. Are you going out? I won't
keep you long. Just let me have one cigarette."

"Sit down, Porfiry Petrovitch, sit down." Raskolnikov gave his visitor
a seat with so pleased and friendly an expression that he would have
marvelled at himself, if he could have seen it.

The last moment had come, the last drops had to be drained! So a man
will sometimes go through half an hour of mortal terror with a
brigand, yet when the knife is at his throat at last, he feels no
fear.

Raskolnikov seated himself directly facing Porfiry, and looked at him
without flinching. Porfiry screwed up his eyes and began lighting a
cigarette.

"Speak, speak," seemed as though it would burst from Raskolnikov's
heart. "Come, why don't you speak?"



Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Category:
General Fiction
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