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> CHAPTER V

"Of course, I've been meaning lately to go to Razumihin's to ask for
work, to ask him to get me lessons or something . . ." Raskolnikov
thought, "but what help can he be to me now? Suppose he gets me
lessons, suppose he shares his last farthing with me, if he has any
farthings, so that I could get some boots and make myself tidy enough
to give lessons . . . hm . . . Well and what then? What shall I do
with the few coppers I earn? That's not what I want now. It's really
absurd for me to go to Razumihin. . . ."

The question why he was now going to Razumihin agitated him even more
than he was himself aware; he kept uneasily seeking for some sinister
significance in this apparently ordinary action.

"Could I have expected to set it all straight and to find a way out by
means of Razumihin alone?" he asked himself in perplexity.

He pondered and rubbed his forehead, and, strange to say, after long
musing, suddenly, as if it were spontaneously and by chance, a
fantastic thought came into his head.

"Hm . . . to Razumihin's," he said all at once, calmly, as though he
had reached a final determination. "I shall go to Razumihin's of
course, but . . . not now. I shall go to him . . . on the next day
after It, when It will be over and everything will begin
afresh. . . ."

And suddenly he realised what he was thinking.

"After It," he shouted, jumping up from the seat, "but is It really
going to happen? Is it possible it really will happen?" He left the
seat, and went off almost at a run; he meant to turn back, homewards,
but the thought of going home suddenly filled him with intense
loathing; in that hole, in that awful little cupboard of his, all
/this/ had for a month past been growing up in him; and he walked on
at random.

His nervous shudder had passed into a fever that made him feel
shivering; in spite of the heat he felt cold. With a kind of effort he
began almost unconsciously, from some inner craving, to stare at all
the objects before him, as though looking for something to distract
his attention; but he did not succeed, and kept dropping every moment
into brooding. When with a start he lifted his head again and looked
round, he forgot at once what he had just been thinking about and even
where he was going. In this way he walked right across Vassilyevsky
Ostrov, came out on to the Lesser Neva, crossed the bridge and turned
towards the islands. The greenness and freshness were at first restful
to his weary eyes after the dust of the town and the huge houses that
hemmed him in and weighed upon him. Here there were no taverns, no
stifling closeness, no stench. But soon these new pleasant sensations
passed into morbid irritability. Sometimes he stood still before a
brightly painted summer villa standing among green foliage, he gazed
through the fence, he saw in the distance smartly dressed women on the
verandahs and balconies, and children running in the gardens. The
flowers especially caught his attention; he gazed at them longer than
at anything. He was met, too, by luxurious carriages and by men and
women on horseback; he watched them with curious eyes and forgot about
them before they had vanished from his sight. Once he stood still and
counted his money; he found he had thirty copecks. "Twenty to the
policeman, three to Nastasya for the letter, so I must have given
forty-seven or fifty to the Marmeladovs yesterday," he thought,
reckoning it up for some unknown reason, but he soon forgot with what
object he had taken the money out of his pocket. He recalled it on
passing an eating-house or tavern, and felt that he was hungry. . . .
Going into the tavern he drank a glass of vodka and ate a pie of some
sort. He finished eating it as he walked away. It was a long while
since he had taken vodka and it had an effect upon him at once, though
he only drank a wineglassful. His legs felt suddenly heavy and a great
drowsiness came upon him. He turned homewards, but reaching Petrovsky
Ostrov he stopped completely exhausted, turned off the road into the
bushes, sank down upon the grass and instantly fell asleep.

In a morbid condition of the brain, dreams often have a singular
actuality, vividness, and extraordinary semblance of reality. At times
monstrous images are created, but the setting and the whole picture
are so truthlike and filled with details so delicate, so unexpectedly,
but so artistically consistent, that the dreamer, were he an artist
like Pushkin or Turgenev even, could never have invented them in the
waking state. Such sick dreams always remain long in the memory and
make a powerful impression on the overwrought and deranged nervous
system.

Raskolnikov had a fearful dream. He dreamt he was back in his
childhood in the little town of his birth. He was a child about seven
years old, walking into the country with his father on the evening of
a holiday. It was a grey and heavy day, the country was exactly as he
remembered it; indeed he recalled it far more vividly in his dream
than he had done in memory. The little town stood on a level flat as
bare as the hand, not even a willow near it; only in the far distance,
a copse lay, a dark blur on the very edge of the horizon. A few paces
beyond the last market garden stood a tavern, a big tavern, which had
always aroused in him a feeling of aversion, even of fear, when he
walked by it with his father. There was always a crowd there, always
shouting, laughter and abuse, hideous hoarse singing and often
fighting. Drunken and horrible-looking figures were hanging about the
tavern. He used to cling close to his father, trembling all over when
he met them. Near the tavern the road became a dusty track, the dust
of which was always black. It was a winding road, and about a hundred
paces further on, it turned to the right to the graveyard. In the
middle of the graveyard stood a stone church with a green cupola where
he used to go to mass two or three times a year with his father and
mother, when a service was held in memory of his grandmother, who had
long been dead, and whom he had never seen. On these occasions they
used to take on a white dish tied up in a table napkin a special sort
of rice pudding with raisins stuck in it in the shape of a cross. He
loved that church, the old-fashioned, unadorned ikons and the old
priest with the shaking head. Near his grandmother's grave, which was
marked by a stone, was the little grave of his younger brother who had
died at six months old. He did not remember him at all, but he had
been told about his little brother, and whenever he visited the
graveyard he used religiously and reverently to cross himself and to
bow down and kiss the little grave. And now he dreamt that he was
walking with his father past the tavern on the way to the graveyard;
he was holding his father's hand and looking with dread at the tavern.
A peculiar circumstance attracted his attention: there seemed to be
some kind of festivity going on, there were crowds of gaily dressed
townspeople, peasant women, their husbands, and riff-raff of all
sorts, all singing and all more or less drunk. Near the entrance of
the tavern stood a cart, but a strange cart. It was one of those big
carts usually drawn by heavy cart-horses and laden with casks of wine
or other heavy goods. He always liked looking at those great cart-
horses, with their long manes, thick legs, and slow even pace, drawing
along a perfect mountain with no appearance of effort, as though it
were easier going with a load than without it. But now, strange to
say, in the shafts of such a cart he saw a thin little sorrel beast,
one of those peasants' nags which he had often seen straining their
utmost under a heavy load of wood or hay, especially when the wheels
were stuck in the mud or in a rut. And the peasants would beat them so
cruelly, sometimes even about the nose and eyes, and he felt so sorry,
so sorry for them that he almost cried, and his mother always used to
take him away from the window. All of a sudden there was a great
uproar of shouting, singing and the balala´ka, and from the tavern a
number of big and very drunken peasants came out, wearing red and blue
shirts and coats thrown over their shoulders.

"Get in, get in!" shouted one of them, a young thick-necked peasant
with a fleshy face red as a carrot. "I'll take you all, get in!"

But at once there was an outbreak of laughter and exclamations in the
crowd.

"Take us all with a beast like that!"

"Why, Mikolka, are you crazy to put a nag like that in such a cart?"

"And this mare is twenty if she is a day, mates!"

"Get in, I'll take you all," Mikolka shouted again, leaping first into
the cart, seizing the reins and standing straight up in front. "The
bay has gone with Matvey," he shouted from the cart--"and this brute,
mates, is just breaking my heart, I feel as if I could kill her. She's
just eating her head off. Get in, I tell you! I'll make her gallop!
She'll gallop!" and he picked up the whip, preparing himself with
relish to flog the little mare.

"Get in! Come along!" The crowd laughed. "D'you hear, she'll gallop!"

"Gallop indeed! She has not had a gallop in her for the last ten
years!"

"She'll jog along!"

"Don't you mind her, mates, bring a whip each of you, get ready!"

"All right! Give it to her!"

They all clambered into Mikolka's cart, laughing and making jokes. Six
men got in and there was still room for more. They hauled in a fat,
rosy-cheeked woman. She was dressed in red cotton, in a pointed,
beaded headdress and thick leather shoes; she was cracking nuts and
laughing. The crowd round them was laughing too and indeed, how could
they help laughing? That wretched nag was to drag all the cartload of
them at a gallop! Two young fellows in the cart were just getting
whips ready to help Mikolka. With the cry of "now," the mare tugged
with all her might, but far from galloping, could scarcely move
forward; she struggled with her legs, gasping and shrinking from the
blows of the three whips which were showered upon her like hail. The
laughter in the cart and in the crowd was redoubled, but Mikolka flew
into a rage and furiously thrashed the mare, as though he supposed she
really could gallop.

"Let me get in, too, mates," shouted a young man in the crowd whose
appetite was aroused.

"Get in, all get in," cried Mikolka, "she will draw you all. I'll beat
her to death!" And he thrashed and thrashed at the mare, beside
himself with fury.

"Father, father," he cried, "father, what are they doing? Father, they
are beating the poor horse!"

"Come along, come along!" said his father. "They are drunken and
foolish, they are in fun; come away, don't look!" and he tried to draw
him away, but he tore himself away from his hand, and, beside himself
with horror, ran to the horse. The poor beast was in a bad way. She
was gasping, standing still, then tugging again and almost falling.

"Beat her to death," cried Mikolka, "it's come to that. I'll do for
her!"

"What are you about, are you a Christian, you devil?" shouted an old
man in the crowd.

"Did anyone ever see the like? A wretched nag like that pulling such a
cartload," said another.

"You'll kill her," shouted the third.

"Don't meddle! It's my property, I'll do what I choose. Get in, more
of you! Get in, all of you! I will have her go at a gallop! . . ."

All at once laughter broke into a roar and covered everything: the
mare, roused by the shower of blows, began feebly kicking. Even the
old man could not help smiling. To think of a wretched little beast
like that trying to kick!

Two lads in the crowd snatched up whips and ran to the mare to beat
her about the ribs. One ran each side.

"Hit her in the face, in the eyes, in the eyes," cried Mikolka.

"Give us a song, mates," shouted someone in the cart and everyone in
the cart joined in a riotous song, jingling a tambourine and
whistling. The woman went on cracking nuts and laughing.

. . . He ran beside the mare, ran in front of her, saw her being
whipped across the eyes, right in the eyes! He was crying, he felt
choking, his tears were streaming. One of the men gave him a cut with
the whip across the face, he did not feel it. Wringing his hands and
screaming, he rushed up to the grey-headed old man with the grey
beard, who was shaking his head in disapproval. One woman seized him
by the hand and would have taken him away, but he tore himself from
her and ran back to the mare. She was almost at the last gasp, but
began kicking once more.

"I'll teach you to kick," Mikolka shouted ferociously. He threw down
the whip, bent forward and picked up from the bottom of the cart a
long, thick shaft, he took hold of one end with both hands and with an
effort brandished it over the mare.

"He'll crush her," was shouted round him. "He'll kill her!"

"It's my property," shouted Mikolka and brought the shaft down with a
swinging blow. There was a sound of a heavy thud.

"Thrash her, thrash her! Why have you stopped?" shouted voices in the
crowd.

And Mikolka swung the shaft a second time and it fell a second time on
the spine of the luckless mare. She sank back on her haunches, but
lurched forward and tugged forward with all her force, tugged first on
one side and then on the other, trying to move the cart. But the six
whips were attacking her in all directions, and the shaft was raised
again and fell upon her a third time, then a fourth, with heavy
measured blows. Mikolka was in a fury that he could not kill her at
one blow.

"She's a tough one," was shouted in the crowd.

"She'll fall in a minute, mates, there will soon be an end of her,"
said an admiring spectator in the crowd.

"Fetch an axe to her! Finish her off," shouted a third.

"I'll show you! Stand off," Mikolka screamed frantically; he threw
down the shaft, stooped down in the cart and picked up an iron
crowbar. "Look out," he shouted, and with all his might he dealt a
stunning blow at the poor mare. The blow fell; the mare staggered,
sank back, tried to pull, but the bar fell again with a swinging blow
on her back and she fell on the ground like a log.

"Finish her off," shouted Mikolka and he leapt beside himself, out of
the cart. Several young men, also flushed with drink, seized anything
they could come across--whips, sticks, poles, and ran to the dying
mare. Mikolka stood on one side and began dealing random blows with
the crowbar. The mare stretched out her head, drew a long breath and
died.

"You butchered her," someone shouted in the crowd.

"Why wouldn't she gallop then?"

"My property!" shouted Mikolka, with bloodshot eyes, brandishing the
bar in his hands. He stood as though regretting that he had nothing
more to beat.

"No mistake about it, you are not a Christian," many voices were
shouting in the crowd.

But the poor boy, beside himself, made his way, screaming, through the
crowd to the sorrel nag, put his arms round her bleeding dead head and
kissed it, kissed the eyes and kissed the lips. . . . Then he jumped
up and flew in a frenzy with his little fists out at Mikolka. At that
instant his father, who had been running after him, snatched him up
and carried him out of the crowd.

"Come along, come! Let us go home," he said to him.

"Father! Why did they . . . kill . . . the poor horse!" he sobbed, but
his voice broke and the words came in shrieks from his panting chest.

"They are drunk. . . . They are brutal . . . it's not our business!"
said his father. He put his arms round his father but he felt choked,
choked. He tried to draw a breath, to cry out--and woke up.

He waked up, gasping for breath, his hair soaked with perspiration,
and stood up in terror.

"Thank God, that was only a dream," he said, sitting down under a tree
and drawing deep breaths. "But what is it? Is it some fever coming on?
Such a hideous dream!"

He felt utterly broken: darkness and confusion were in his soul. He
rested his elbows on his knees and leaned his head on his hands.

"Good God!" he cried, "can it be, can it be, that I shall really take
an axe, that I shall strike her on the head, split her skull open
. . . that I shall tread in the sticky warm blood, break the lock,
steal and tremble; hide, all spattered in the blood . . . with the
axe. . . . Good God, can it be?"

He was shaking like a leaf as he said this.

"But why am I going on like this?" he continued, sitting up again, as
it were in profound amazement. "I knew that I could never bring myself
to it, so what have I been torturing myself for till now? Yesterday,
yesterday, when I went to make that . . . /experiment/, yesterday I
realised completely that I could never bear to do it. . . . Why am I
going over it again, then? Why am I hesitating? As I came down the
stairs yesterday, I said myself that it was base, loathsome, vile,
vile . . . the very thought of it made me feel sick and filled me with
horror.

"No, I couldn't do it, I couldn't do it! Granted, granted that there
is no flaw in all that reasoning, that all that I have concluded this
last month is clear as day, true as arithmetic. . . . My God! Anyway I
couldn't bring myself to it! I couldn't do it, I couldn't do it! Why,
why then am I still . . . ?"

He rose to his feet, looked round in wonder as though surprised at
finding himself in this place, and went towards the bridge. He was
pale, his eyes glowed, he was exhausted in every limb, but he seemed
suddenly to breathe more easily. He felt he had cast off that fearful
burden that had so long been weighing upon him, and all at once there
was a sense of relief and peace in his soul. "Lord," he prayed, "show
me my path--I renounce that accursed . . . dream of mine."

Crossing the bridge, he gazed quietly and calmly at the Neva, at the
glowing red sun setting in the glowing sky. In spite of his weakness
he was not conscious of fatigue. It was as though an abscess that had
been forming for a month past in his heart had suddenly broken.
Freedom, freedom! He was free from that spell, that sorcery, that
obsession!

Later on, when he recalled that time and all that happened to him
during those days, minute by minute, point by point, he was
superstitiously impressed by one circumstance, which, though in
itself not very exceptional, always seemed to him afterwards the
predestined turning-point of his fate. He could never understand and
explain to himself why, when he was tired and worn out, when it
would have been more convenient for him to go home by the shortest and
most direct way, he had returned by the Hay Market where he had no
need to go. It was obviously and quite unnecessarily out of his way,
though not much so. It is true that it happened to him dozens of times
to return home without noticing what streets he passed through. But
why, he was always asking himself, why had such an important, such a
decisive and at the same time such an absolutely chance meeting
happened in the Hay Market (where he had moreover no reason to go)
at the very hour, the very minute of his life when he was just in
the very mood and in the very circumstances in which that meeting
was able to exert the gravest and most decisive influence on his whole
destiny? As though it had been lying in wait for him on purpose!

It was about nine o'clock when he crossed the Hay Market. At the
tables and the barrows, at the booths and the shops, all the market
people were closing their establishments or clearing away and packing
up their wares and, like their customers, were going home. Rag pickers
and costermongers of all kinds were crowding round the taverns in the
dirty and stinking courtyards of the Hay Market. Raskolnikov
particularly liked this place and the neighbouring alleys, when he
wandered aimlessly in the streets. Here his rags did not attract
contemptuous attention, and one could walk about in any attire without
scandalising people. At the corner of an alley a huckster and his wife
had two tables set out with tapes, thread, cotton handkerchiefs, etc.
They, too, had got up to go home, but were lingering in conversation
with a friend, who had just come up to them. This friend was Lizaveta
Ivanovna, or, as everyone called her, Lizaveta, the younger sister of
the old pawnbroker, Alyona Ivanovna, whom Raskolnikov had visited the
previous day to pawn his watch and make his /experiment/. . . . He
already knew all about Lizaveta and she knew him a little too. She was
a single woman of about thirty-five, tall, clumsy, timid, submissive
and almost idiotic. She was a complete slave and went in fear and
trembling of her sister, who made her work day and night, and even
beat her. She was standing with a bundle before the huckster and his
wife, listening earnestly and doubtfully. They were talking of
something with special warmth. The moment Raskolnikov caught sight of
her, he was overcome by a strange sensation as it were of intense
astonishment, though there was nothing astonishing about this meeting.

"You could make up your mind for yourself, Lizaveta Ivanovna," the
huckster was saying aloud. "Come round to-morrow about seven. They
will be here too."

"To-morrow?" said Lizaveta slowly and thoughtfully, as though unable
to make up her mind.

"Upon my word, what a fright you are in of Alyona Ivanovna," gabbled
the huckster's wife, a lively little woman. "I look at you, you are
like some little babe. And she is not your own sister either-nothing
but a step-sister and what a hand she keeps over you!"

"But this time don't say a word to Alyona Ivanovna," her husband
interrupted; "that's my advice, but come round to us without asking.
It will be worth your while. Later on your sister herself may have a
notion."

"Am I to come?"

"About seven o'clock to-morrow. And they will be here. You will be
able to decide for yourself."

"And we'll have a cup of tea," added his wife.

"All right, I'll come," said Lizaveta, still pondering, and she began
slowly moving away.

Raskolnikov had just passed and heard no more. He passed softly,
unnoticed, trying not to miss a word. His first amazement was followed
by a thrill of horror, like a shiver running down his spine. He had
learnt, he had suddenly quite unexpectedly learnt, that the next day
at seven o'clock Lizaveta, the old woman's sister and only companion,
would be away from home and that therefore at seven o'clock precisely
the old woman /would be left alone/.

He was only a few steps from his lodging. He went in like a man
condemned to death. He thought of nothing and was incapable of
thinking; but he felt suddenly in his whole being that he had no more
freedom of thought, no will, and that everything was suddenly and
irrevocably decided.

Certainly, if he had to wait whole years for a suitable opportunity,
he could not reckon on a more certain step towards the success of the
plan than that which had just presented itself. In any case, it would
have been difficult to find out beforehand and with certainty, with
greater exactness and less risk, and without dangerous inquiries and
investigations, that next day at a certain time an old woman, on whose
life an attempt was contemplated, would be at home and entirely alone.



Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Category:
General Fiction
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