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The door was as before opened a tiny crack, and again two sharp and
suspicious eyes stared at him out of the darkness. Then Raskolnikov
lost his head and nearly made a great mistake.

Fearing the old woman would be frightened by their being alone, and
not hoping that the sight of him would disarm her suspicions, he took
hold of the door and drew it towards him to prevent the old woman from
attempting to shut it again. Seeing this she did not pull the door
back, but she did not let go the handle so that he almost dragged her
out with it on to the stairs. Seeing that she was standing in the
doorway not allowing him to pass, he advanced straight upon her. She
stepped back in alarm, tried to say something, but seemed unable to
speak and stared with open eyes at him.

"Good evening, Alyona Ivanovna," he began, trying to speak easily, but
his voice would not obey him, it broke and shook. "I have come . . . I
have brought something . . . but we'd better come in . . . to the
light. . . ."

And leaving her, he passed straight into the room uninvited. The old
woman ran after him; her tongue was unloosed.

"Good heavens! What it is? Who is it? What do you want?"

"Why, Alyona Ivanovna, you know me . . . Raskolnikov . . . here, I
brought you the pledge I promised the other day . . ." And he held out
the pledge.

The old woman glanced for a moment at the pledge, but at once stared
in the eyes of her uninvited visitor. She looked intently, maliciously
and mistrustfully. A minute passed; he even fancied something like a
sneer in her eyes, as though she had already guessed everything. He
felt that he was losing his head, that he was almost frightened, so
frightened that if she were to look like that and not say a word for
another half minute, he thought he would have run away from her.

"Why do you look at me as though you did not know me?" he said
suddenly, also with malice. "Take it if you like, if not I'll go
elsewhere, I am in a hurry."

He had not even thought of saying this, but it was suddenly said of
itself. The old woman recovered herself, and her visitor's resolute
tone evidently restored her confidence.

"But why, my good sir, all of a minute. . . . What is it?" she asked,
looking at the pledge.

"The silver cigarette case; I spoke of it last time, you know."

She held out her hand.

"But how pale you are, to be sure . . . and your hands are trembling
too? Have you been bathing, or what?"

"Fever," he answered abruptly. "You can't help getting pale . . . if
you've nothing to eat," he added, with difficulty articulating the

His strength was failing him again. But his answer sounded like the
truth; the old woman took the pledge.

"What is it?" she asked once more, scanning Raskolnikov intently, and
weighing the pledge in her hand.

"A thing . . . cigarette case. . . . Silver. . . . Look at it."

"It does not seem somehow like silver. . . . How he has wrapped it up!"

Trying to untie the string and turning to the window, to the light
(all her windows were shut, in spite of the stifling heat), she left
him altogether for some seconds and stood with her back to him. He
unbuttoned his coat and freed the axe from the noose, but did not yet
take it out altogether, simply holding it in his right hand under the
coat. His hands were fearfully weak, he felt them every moment growing
more numb and more wooden. He was afraid he would let the axe slip and
fall. . . . A sudden giddiness came over him.

"But what has he tied it up like this for?" the old woman cried with
vexation and moved towards him.

He had not a minute more to lose. He pulled the axe quite out, swung
it with both arms, scarcely conscious of himself, and almost without
effort, almost mechanically, brought the blunt side down on her head.
He seemed not to use his own strength in this. But as soon as he had
once brought the axe down, his strength returned to him.

The old woman was as always bareheaded. Her thin, light hair, streaked
with grey, thickly smeared with grease, was plaited in a rat's tail
and fastened by a broken horn comb which stood out on the nape of her
neck. As she was so short, the blow fell on the very top of her skull.
She cried out, but very faintly, and suddenly sank all of a heap on
the floor, raising her hands to her head. In one hand she still held
"the pledge." Then he dealt her another and another blow with the
blunt side and on the same spot. The blood gushed as from an
overturned glass, the body fell back. He stepped back, let it fall,
and at once bent over her face; she was dead. Her eyes seemed to be
starting out of their sockets, the brow and the whole face were drawn
and contorted convulsively.

He laid the axe on the ground near the dead body and felt at once in
her pocket (trying to avoid the streaming body)--the same right-hand
pocket from which she had taken the key on his last visit. He was in
full possession of his faculties, free from confusion or giddiness,
but his hands were still trembling. He remembered afterwards that he
had been particularly collected and careful, trying all the time not
to get smeared with blood. . . . He pulled out the keys at once, they
were all, as before, in one bunch on a steel ring. He ran at once into
the bedroom with them. It was a very small room with a whole shrine of
holy images. Against the other wall stood a big bed, very clean and
covered with a silk patchwork wadded quilt. Against a third wall was a
chest of drawers. Strange to say, so soon as he began to fit the keys
into the chest, so soon as he heard their jingling, a convulsive
shudder passed over him. He suddenly felt tempted again to give it all
up and go away. But that was only for an instant; it was too late to
go back. He positively smiled at himself, when suddenly another
terrifying idea occurred to his mind. He suddenly fancied that the old
woman might be still alive and might recover her senses. Leaving the
keys in the chest, he ran back to the body, snatched up the axe and
lifted it once more over the old woman, but did not bring it down.
There was no doubt that she was dead. Bending down and examining her
again more closely, he saw clearly that the skull was broken and even
battered in on one side. He was about to feel it with his finger, but
drew back his hand and indeed it was evident without that. Meanwhile
there was a perfect pool of blood. All at once he noticed a string on
her neck; he tugged at it, but the string was strong and did not snap
and besides, it was soaked with blood. He tried to pull it out from
the front of the dress, but something held it and prevented its
coming. In his impatience he raised the axe again to cut the string
from above on the body, but did not dare, and with difficulty,
smearing his hand and the axe in the blood, after two minutes' hurried
effort, he cut the string and took it off without touching the body
with the axe; he was not mistaken--it was a purse. On the string were
two crosses, one of Cyprus wood and one of copper, and an image in
silver filigree, and with them a small greasy chamois leather purse
with a steel rim and ring. The purse was stuffed very full;
Raskolnikov thrust it in his pocket without looking at it, flung the
crosses on the old woman's body and rushed back into the bedroom, this
time taking the axe with him.

He was in terrible haste, he snatched the keys, and began trying them
again. But he was unsuccessful. They would not fit in the locks. It
was not so much that his hands were shaking, but that he kept making
mistakes; though he saw for instance that a key was not the right one
and would not fit, still he tried to put it in. Suddenly he remembered
and realised that the big key with the deep notches, which was hanging
there with the small keys could not possibly belong to the chest of
drawers (on his last visit this had struck him), but to some strong
box, and that everything perhaps was hidden in that box. He left the
chest of drawers, and at once felt under the bedstead, knowing that
old women usually keep boxes under their beds. And so it was; there
was a good-sized box under the bed, at least a yard in length, with an
arched lid covered with red leather and studded with steel nails. The
notched key fitted at once and unlocked it. At the top, under a white
sheet, was a coat of red brocade lined with hareskin; under it was a
silk dress, then a shawl and it seemed as though there was nothing
below but clothes. The first thing he did was to wipe his blood-
stained hands on the red brocade. "It's red, and on red blood will be
less noticeable," the thought passed through his mind; then he
suddenly came to himself. "Good God, am I going out of my senses?" he
thought with terror.

But no sooner did he touch the clothes than a gold watch slipped from
under the fur coat. He made haste to turn them all over. There turned
out to be various articles made of gold among the clothes--probably
all pledges, unredeemed or waiting to be redeemed--bracelets, chains,
ear-rings, pins and such things. Some were in cases, others simply
wrapped in newspaper, carefully and exactly folded, and tied round
with tape. Without any delay, he began filling up the pockets of his
trousers and overcoat without examining or undoing the parcels and
cases; but he had not time to take many. . . .

He suddenly heard steps in the room where the old woman lay. He
stopped short and was still as death. But all was quiet, so it must
have been his fancy. All at once he heard distinctly a faint cry, as
though someone had uttered a low broken moan. Then again dead silence
for a minute or two. He sat squatting on his heels by the box and
waited holding his breath. Suddenly he jumped up, seized the axe and
ran out of the bedroom.

In the middle of the room stood Lizaveta with a big bundle in her
arms. She was gazing in stupefaction at her murdered sister, white as
a sheet and seeming not to have the strength to cry out. Seeing him
run out of the bedroom, she began faintly quivering all over, like a
leaf, a shudder ran down her face; she lifted her hand, opened her
mouth, but still did not scream. She began slowly backing away from
him into the corner, staring intently, persistently at him, but still
uttered no sound, as though she could not get breath to scream. He
rushed at her with the axe; her mouth twitched piteously, as one sees
babies' mouths, when they begin to be frightened, stare intently at
what frightens them and are on the point of screaming. And this
hapless Lizaveta was so simple and had been so thoroughly crushed and
scared that she did not even raise a hand to guard her face, though
that was the most necessary and natural action at the moment, for the
axe was raised over her face. She only put up her empty left hand, but
not to her face, slowly holding it out before her as though motioning
him away. The axe fell with the sharp edge just on the skull and split
at one blow all the top of the head. She fell heavily at once.
Raskolnikov completely lost his head, snatching up her bundle, dropped
it again and ran into the entry.

Fear gained more and more mastery over him, especially after this
second, quite unexpected murder. He longed to run away from the place
as fast as possible. And if at that moment he had been capable of
seeing and reasoning more correctly, if he had been able to realise
all the difficulties of his position, the hopelessness, the
hideousness and the absurdity of it, if he could have understood how
many obstacles and, perhaps, crimes he had still to overcome or to
commit, to get out of that place and to make his way home, it is very
possible that he would have flung up everything, and would have gone
to give himself up, and not from fear, but from simple horror and
loathing of what he had done. The feeling of loathing especially
surged up within him and grew stronger every minute. He would not now
have gone to the box or even into the room for anything in the world.

But a sort of blankness, even dreaminess, had begun by degrees to take
possession of him; at moments he forgot himself, or rather, forgot
what was of importance, and caught at trifles. Glancing, however, into
the kitchen and seeing a bucket half full of water on a bench, he
bethought him of washing his hands and the axe. His hands were sticky
with blood. He dropped the axe with the blade in the water, snatched a
piece of soap that lay in a broken saucer on the window, and began
washing his hands in the bucket. When they were clean, he took out the
axe, washed the blade and spent a long time, about three minutes,
washing the wood where there were spots of blood rubbing them with
soap. Then he wiped it all with some linen that was hanging to dry on
a line in the kitchen and then he was a long while attentively
examining the axe at the window. There was no trace left on it, only
the wood was still damp. He carefully hung the axe in the noose under
his coat. Then as far as was possible, in the dim light in the
kitchen, he looked over his overcoat, his trousers and his boots. At
the first glance there seemed to be nothing but stains on the boots.
He wetted the rag and rubbed the boots. But he knew he was not looking
thoroughly, that there might be something quite noticeable that he was
overlooking. He stood in the middle of the room, lost in thought. Dark
agonising ideas rose in his mind--the idea that he was mad and that at
that moment he was incapable of reasoning, of protecting himself, that
he ought perhaps to be doing something utterly different from what he
was now doing. "Good God!" he muttered "I must fly, fly," and he
rushed into the entry. But here a shock of terror awaited him such as
he had never known before.

He stood and gazed and could not believe his eyes: the door, the outer
door from the stairs, at which he had not long before waited and rung,
was standing unfastened and at least six inches open. No lock, no
bolt, all the time, all that time! The old woman had not shut it after
him perhaps as a precaution. But, good God! Why, he had seen Lizaveta
afterwards! And how could he, how could he have failed to reflect that
she must have come in somehow! She could not have come through the

He dashed to the door and fastened the latch.

"But no, the wrong thing again! I must get away, get away. . . ."

He unfastened the latch, opened the door and began listening on the

He listened a long time. Somewhere far away, it might be in the
gateway, two voices were loudly and shrilly shouting, quarrelling
and scolding. "What are they about?" He waited patiently. At last
all was still, as though suddenly cut off; they had separated. He
was meaning to go out, but suddenly, on the floor below, a door was
noisily opened and someone began going downstairs humming a tune.
"How is it they all make such a noise?" flashed through his mind. Once
more he closed the door and waited. At last all was still, not a
soul stirring. He was just taking a step towards the stairs when he
heard fresh footsteps.

The steps sounded very far off, at the very bottom of the stairs, but
he remembered quite clearly and distinctly that from the first sound
he began for some reason to suspect that this was someone coming
/there/, to the fourth floor, to the old woman. Why? Were the sounds
somehow peculiar, significant? The steps were heavy, even and
unhurried. Now /he/ had passed the first floor, now he was mounting
higher, it was growing more and more distinct! He could hear his heavy
breathing. And now the third storey had been reached. Coming here! And
it seemed to him all at once that he was turned to stone, that it was
like a dream in which one is being pursued, nearly caught and will be
killed, and is rooted to the spot and cannot even move one's arms.

At last when the unknown was mounting to the fourth floor, he suddenly
started, and succeeded in slipping neatly and quickly back into the
flat and closing the door behind him. Then he took the hook and
softly, noiselessly, fixed it in the catch. Instinct helped him. When
he had done this, he crouched holding his breath, by the door. The
unknown visitor was by now also at the door. They were now standing
opposite one another, as he had just before been standing with the old
woman, when the door divided them and he was listening.

The visitor panted several times. "He must be a big, fat man," thought
Raskolnikov, squeezing the axe in his hand. It seemed like a dream
indeed. The visitor took hold of the bell and rang it loudly.

As soon as the tin bell tinkled, Raskolnikov seemed to be aware of
something moving in the room. For some seconds he listened quite
seriously. The unknown rang again, waited and suddenly tugged
violently and impatiently at the handle of the door. Raskolnikov gazed
in horror at the hook shaking in its fastening, and in blank terror
expected every minute that the fastening would be pulled out. It
certainly did seem possible, so violently was he shaking it. He was
tempted to hold the fastening, but /he/ might be aware of it. A
giddiness came over him again. "I shall fall down!" flashed through
his mind, but the unknown began to speak and he recovered himself at

"What's up? Are they asleep or murdered? D-damn them!" he bawled in a
thick voice, "Hey, Alyona Ivanovna, old witch! Lizaveta Ivanovna, hey,
my beauty! open the door! Oh, damn them! Are they asleep or what?"

And again, enraged, he tugged with all his might a dozen times at the
bell. He must certainly be a man of authority and an intimate

At this moment light hurried steps were heard not far off, on the
stairs. someone else was approaching. Raskolnikov had not heard them
at first.

"You don't say there's no one at home," the new-comer cried in a
cheerful, ringing voice, addressing the first visitor, who still went
on pulling the bell. "Good evening, Koch."

"From his voice he must be quite young," thought Raskolnikov.

"Who the devil can tell? I've almost broken the lock," answered Koch.
"But how do you come to know me?

"Why! The day before yesterday I beat you three times running at
billiards at Gambrinus'."


"So they are not at home? That's queer. It's awfully stupid though.
Where could the old woman have gone? I've come on business."

"Yes; and I have business with her, too."

"Well, what can we do? Go back, I suppose, Aie--aie! And I was hoping
to get some money!" cried the young man.

"We must give it up, of course, but what did she fix this time for?
The old witch fixed the time for me to come herself. It's out of my
way. And where the devil she can have got to, I can't make out. She
sits here from year's end to year's end, the old hag; her legs are bad
and yet here all of a sudden she is out for a walk!"

"Hadn't we better ask the porter?"


"Where she's gone and when she'll be back."

"Hm. . . . Damn it all! . . . We might ask. . . . But you know she
never does go anywhere."

And he once more tugged at the door-handle.

"Damn it all. There's nothing to be done, we must go!"

"Stay!" cried the young man suddenly. "Do you see how the door shakes
if you pull it?"


"That shows it's not locked, but fastened with the hook! Do you hear
how the hook clanks?"


"Why, don't you see? That proves that one of them is at home. If they
were all out, they would have locked the door from the outside with
the key and not with the hook from inside. There, do you hear how the
hook is clanking? To fasten the hook on the inside they must be at
home, don't you see. So there they are sitting inside and don't open
the door!"

"Well! And so they must be!" cried Koch, astonished. "What are they
about in there?" And he began furiously shaking the door.

"Stay!" cried the young man again. "Don't pull at it! There must be
something wrong. . . . Here, you've been ringing and pulling at the
door and still they don't open! So either they've both fainted
or . . ."


"I tell you what. Let's go fetch the porter, let him wake them up."

"All right."

Both were going down.

"Stay. You stop here while I run down for the porter."

"What for?"

"Well, you'd better."

"All right."

"I'm studying the law you see! It's evident, e-vi-dent there's
something wrong here!" the young man cried hotly, and he ran

Koch remained. Once more he softly touched the bell which gave one
tinkle, then gently, as though reflecting and looking about him, began
touching the door-handle pulling it and letting it go to make sure
once more that it was only fastened by the hook. Then puffing and
panting he bent down and began looking at the keyhole: but the key was
in the lock on the inside and so nothing could be seen.

Raskolnikov stood keeping tight hold of the axe. He was in a sort of
delirium. He was even making ready to fight when they should come in.
While they were knocking and talking together, the idea several times
occurred to him to end it all at once and shout to them through the
door. Now and then he was tempted to swear at them, to jeer at them,
while they could not open the door! "Only make haste!" was the thought
that flashed through his mind.

"But what the devil is he about? . . ." Time was passing, one minute,
and another--no one came. Koch began to be restless.

"What the devil?" he cried suddenly and in impatience deserting his
sentry duty, he, too, went down, hurrying and thumping with his heavy
boots on the stairs. The steps died away.

"Good heavens! What am I to do?"

Raskolnikov unfastened the hook, opened the door--there was no sound.
Abruptly, without any thought at all, he went out, closing the door as
thoroughly as he could, and went downstairs.

He had gone down three flights when he suddenly heard a loud voice
below--where could he go! There was nowhere to hide. He was just going
back to the flat.

"Hey there! Catch the brute!"

Somebody dashed out of a flat below, shouting, and rather fell than
ran down the stairs, bawling at the top of his voice.

"Mitka! Mitka! Mitka! Mitka! Mitka! Blast him!"

The shout ended in a shriek; the last sounds came from the yard; all
was still. But at the same instant several men talking loud and fast
began noisily mounting the stairs. There were three or four of them.
He distinguished the ringing voice of the young man. "They!"

Filled with despair he went straight to meet them, feeling "come what
must!" If they stopped him--all was lost; if they let him pass--all
was lost too; they would remember him. They were approaching; they
were only a flight from him--and suddenly deliverance! A few steps
from him on the right, there was an empty flat with the door wide
open, the flat on the second floor where the painters had been at
work, and which, as though for his benefit, they had just left. It was
they, no doubt, who had just run down, shouting. The floor had only
just been painted, in the middle of the room stood a pail and a broken
pot with paint and brushes. In one instant he had whisked in at the
open door and hidden behind the wall and only in the nick of time;
they had already reached the landing. Then they turned and went on up
to the fourth floor, talking loudly. He waited, went out on tiptoe and
ran down the stairs.

No one was on the stairs, nor in the gateway. He passed quickly
through the gateway and turned to the left in the street.

He knew, he knew perfectly well that at that moment they were at the
flat, that they were greatly astonished at finding it unlocked, as the
door had just been fastened, that by now they were looking at the
bodies, that before another minute had passed they would guess and
completely realise that the murderer had just been there, and had
succeeded in hiding somewhere, slipping by them and escaping. They
would guess most likely that he had been in the empty flat, while they
were going upstairs. And meanwhile he dared not quicken his pace much,
though the next turning was still nearly a hundred yards away. "Should
he slip through some gateway and wait somewhere in an unknown street?
No, hopeless! Should he fling away the axe? Should he take a cab?
Hopeless, hopeless!"

At last he reached the turning. He turned down it more dead than
alive. Here he was half way to safety, and he understood it; it was
less risky because there was a great crowd of people, and he was lost
in it like a grain of sand. But all he had suffered had so weakened
him that he could scarcely move. Perspiration ran down him in drops,
his neck was all wet. "My word, he has been going it!" someone
shouted at him when he came out on the canal bank.

He was only dimly conscious of himself now, and the farther he went
the worse it was. He remembered however, that on coming out on to the
canal bank, he was alarmed at finding few people there and so being
more conspicuous, and he had thought of turning back. Though he was
almost falling from fatigue, he went a long way round so as to get
home from quite a different direction.

He was not fully conscious when he passed through the gateway of his
house! he was already on the staircase before he recollected the axe.
And yet he had a very grave problem before him, to put it back and to
escape observation as far as possible in doing so. He was of course
incapable of reflecting that it might perhaps be far better not to
restore the axe at all, but to drop it later on in somebody's yard.
But it all happened fortunately, the door of the porter's room was
closed but not locked, so that it seemed most likely that the porter
was at home. But he had so completely lost all power of reflection
that he walked straight to the door and opened it. If the porter had
asked him, "What do you want?" he would perhaps have simply handed him
the axe. But again the porter was not at home, and he succeeded in
putting the axe back under the bench, and even covering it with the
chunk of wood as before. He met no one, not a soul, afterwards on the
way to his room; the landlady's door was shut. When he was in his
room, he flung himself on the sofa just as he was--he did not sleep,
but sank into blank forgetfulness. If anyone had come into his room
then, he would have jumped up at once and screamed. Scraps and shreds
of thoughts were simply swarming in his brain, but he could not catch
at one, he could not rest on one, in spite of all his efforts. . . .

Crime and Punishment by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
General Fiction
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