"Out of my lodgings! At once! Quick march!"
And with these words she began snatching up everything she could lay her hands on that belonged to Katerina Ivanovna, and throwing it on the floor. Katerina Ivanovna, pale, almost fainting, and gasping for breath, jumped up from the bed where she had sunk in exhaustion and darted at Amalia Ivanovna. But the battle was too unequal: the landlady waved her away like a feather.
"What! As though that godless calumny was not enough—this vile creature attacks me! What! On the day of my husband's funeral I am turned out of my lodging! After eating my bread and salt she turns me into the street, with my orphans! Where am I to go?" wailed the poor woman, sobbing and gasping. "Good God!" she cried with flashing eyes, "is there no justice upon earth? Whom should you protect if not us orphans? We shall see! There is law and justice on earth, there is, I will find it! Wait a bit, godless creature! Polenka, stay with the children, I'll come back. Wait for me, if you have to wait in the street. We will see whether there is justice on earth!"
And throwing over her head that green shawl which Marmeladov had mentioned to Raskolnikov, Katerina Ivanovna squeezed her way through the disorderly and drunken crowd of lodgers who still filled the room, and, wailing and tearful, she ran into the street—with a vague intention of going at once somewhere to find justice. Polenka with the two little ones in her arms crouched, terrified, on the trunk in the corner of the room, where she waited trembling for her mother to come back. Amalia Ivanovna raged about the room, shrieking, lamenting and throwing everything she came across on the floor. The lodgers talked incoherently, some commented to the best of their ability on what had happened, others quarrelled and swore at one another, while others struck up a song....
"Now it's time for me to go," thought Raskolnikov. "Well, Sofya Semyonovna, we shall see what you'll say now!"
And he set off in the direction of Sonia's lodgings.
Raskolnikov had been a vigorous and active champion of Sonia against Luzhin, although he had such a load of horror and anguish in his own heart. But having gone through so much in the morning, he found a sort of relief in a change of sensations, apart from the strong personal feeling which impelled him to defend Sonia. He was agitated too, especially at some moments, by the thought of his approaching interview with Sonia: he had to tell her who had killed Lizaveta. He knew the terrible suffering it would be to him and, as it were, brushed away the thought of it. So when he cried as he left Katerina Ivanovna's, "Well, Sofya Semyonovna, we shall see what you'll say now!" he was still superficially excited, still vigorous and defiant from his triumph over Luzhin. But, strange to say, by the time he reached Sonia's lodging, he felt a sudden impotence and fear. He stood still in hesitation at the door, asking himself the strange question: "Must he tell her who killed Lizaveta?" It was a strange question because he felt at the very time not only that he could not help telling her, but also that he could not put off the telling. He did not yet know why it must be so, he only felt it, and the agonising sense of his impotence before the inevitable almost crushed him. To cut short his hesitation and suffering, he quickly opened the door and looked at Sonia from the doorway. She was sitting with her elbows on the table and her face in her hands, but seeing Raskolnikov she got up at once and came to meet him as though she were expecting him.
"What would have become of me but for you?" she said quickly, meeting him in the middle of the room.
Evidently she was in haste to say this to him. It was what she had been waiting for.
Raskolnikov went to the table and sat down on the chair from which she had only just risen. She stood facing him, two steps away, just as she had done the day before.
"Well, Sonia?" he said, and felt that his voice was trembling, "it was all due to 'your social position and the habits associated with it.' Did you understand that just now?"
Her face showed her distress.
"Only don't talk to me as you did yesterday," she interrupted him. "Please don't begin it. There is misery enough without that."
She made haste to smile, afraid that he might not like the reproach.
"I was silly to come away from there. What is happening there now? I wanted to go back directly, but I kept thinking that... you would come."
He told her that Amalia Ivanovna was turning them out of their lodging and that Katerina Ivanovna had run off somewhere "to seek justice."
"My God!" cried Sonia, "let's go at once...."
And she snatched up her cape.
"It's everlastingly the same thing!" said Raskolnikov, irritably. "You've no thought except for them! Stay a little with me."
"But... Katerina Ivanovna?"
"You won't lose Katerina Ivanovna, you may be sure, she'll come to you herself since she has run out," he added peevishly. "If she doesn't find you here, you'll be blamed for it...."
Sonia sat down in painful suspense. Raskolnikov was silent, gazing at the floor and deliberating.
"This time Luzhin did not want to prosecute you," he began, not looking at Sonia, "but if he had wanted to, if it had suited his plans, he would have sent you to prison if it had not been for Lebeziatnikov and me. Ah?"
"Yes," she assented in a faint voice. "Yes," she repeated, preoccupied and distressed.
"But I might easily not have been there. And it was quite an accident Lebeziatnikov's turning up."
Sonia was silent.
"And if you'd gone to prison, what then? Do you remember what I said yesterday?"
Again she did not answer. He waited.
"I thought you would cry out again 'don't speak of it, leave off.'" Raskolnikov gave a laugh, but rather a forced one. "What, silence again?" he asked a minute later. "We must talk about something, you know. It would be interesting for me to know how you would decide a certain 'problem' as Lebeziatnikov would say." (He was beginning to lose the thread.) "No, really, I am serious. Imagine, Sonia, that you had known all Luzhin's intentions beforehand. Known, that is, for a fact, that they would be the ruin of Katerina Ivanovna and the children and yourself thrown in—since you don't count yourself for anything—Polenka too... for she'll go the same way. Well, if suddenly it all depended on your decision whether he or they should go on living, that is whether Luzhin should go on living and doing wicked things, or Katerina Ivanovna should die? How would you decide which of them was to die? I ask you?"
Sonia looked uneasily at him. There was something peculiar in this hesitating question, which seemed approaching something in a roundabout way.
"I felt that you were going to ask some question like that," she said, looking inquisitively at him.
"I dare say you did. But how is it to be answered?"
"Why do you ask about what could not happen?" said Sonia reluctantly.
"Then it would be better for Luzhin to go on living and doing wicked things? You haven't dared to decide even that!"
"But I can't know the Divine Providence.... And why do you ask what can't be answered? What's the use of such foolish questions? How could it happen that it should depend on my decision—who has made me a judge to decide who is to live and who is not to live?"
"Oh, if the Divine Providence is to be mixed up in it, there is no doing anything," Raskolnikov grumbled morosely.
"You'd better say straight out what you want!" Sonia cried in distress. "You are leading up to something again.... Can you have come simply to torture me?"
She could not control herself and began crying bitterly. He looked at her in gloomy misery. Five minutes passed.
"Of course you're right, Sonia," he said softly at last. He was suddenly changed. His tone of assumed arrogance and helpless defiance was gone. Even his voice was suddenly weak. "I told you yesterday that I was not coming to ask forgiveness and almost the first thing I've said is to ask forgiveness.... I said that about Luzhin and Providence for my own sake. I was asking forgiveness, Sonia...."
He tried to smile, but there was something helpless and incomplete in his pale smile. He bowed his head and hid his face in his hands.
And suddenly a strange, surprising sensation of a sort of bitter hatred for Sonia passed through his heart. As it were wondering and frightened of this sensation, he raised his head and looked intently at her; but he met her uneasy and painfully anxious eyes fixed on him; there was love in them; his hatred vanished like a phantom. It was not the real feeling; he had taken the one feeling for the other. It only meant that that minute had come.
He hid his face in his hands again and bowed his head. Suddenly he turned pale, got up from his chair, looked at Sonia, and without uttering a word sat down mechanically on her bed.
His sensations that moment were terribly like the moment when he had stood over the old woman with the axe in his hand and felt that "he must not lose another minute."
"What's the matter?" asked Sonia, dreadfully frightened.
He could not utter a word. This was not at all, not at all the way he had intended to "tell" and he did not understand what was happening to him now. She went up to him, softly, sat down on the bed beside him and waited, not taking her eyes off him. Her heart throbbed and sank. It was unendurable; he turned his deadly pale face to her. His lips worked, helplessly struggling to utter something. A pang of terror passed through Sonia's heart.
"What's the matter?" she repeated, drawing a little away from him.
"Nothing, Sonia, don't be frightened.... It's nonsense. It really is nonsense, if you think of it," he muttered, like a man in delirium. "Why have I come to torture you?" he added suddenly, looking at her. "Why, really? I keep asking myself that question, Sonia...."
He had perhaps been asking himself that question a quarter of an hour before, but now he spoke helplessly, hardly knowing what he said and feeling a continual tremor all over.
"Oh, how you are suffering!" she muttered in distress, looking intently at him.
"It's all nonsense.... Listen, Sonia." He suddenly smiled, a pale helpless smile for two seconds. "You remember what I meant to tell you yesterday?"
Sonia waited uneasily.
"I said as I went away that perhaps I was saying good-bye for ever, but that if I came to-day I would tell you who... who killed Lizaveta."
She began trembling all over.
"Well, here I've come to tell you."
"Then you really meant it yesterday?" she whispered with difficulty. "How do you know?" she asked quickly, as though suddenly regaining her reason.
Sonia's face grew paler and paler, and she breathed painfully.
She paused a minute.
"Have they found him?" she asked timidly.
"Then how do you know about it?" she asked again, hardly audibly and again after a minute's pause.
He turned to her and looked very intently at her.
"Guess," he said, with the same distorted helpless smile.
A shudder passed over her.
"But you... why do you frighten me like this?" she said, smiling like a child.
"I must be a great friend of his... since I know," Raskolnikov went on, still gazing into her face, as though he could not turn his eyes away. "He... did not mean to kill that Lizaveta... he... killed her accidentally.... He meant to kill the old woman when she was alone and he went there... and then Lizaveta came in... he killed her too."
Another awful moment passed. Both still gazed at one another.
"You can't guess, then?" he asked suddenly, feeling as though he were flinging himself down from a steeple.
"N-no..." whispered Sonia.
"Take a good look."
As soon as he had said this again, the same familiar sensation froze his heart. He looked at her and all at once seemed to see in her face the face of Lizaveta. He remembered clearly the expression in Lizaveta's face, when he approached her with the axe and she stepped back to the wall, putting out her hand, with childish terror in her face, looking as little children do when they begin to be frightened of something, looking intently and uneasily at what frightens them, shrinking back and holding out their little hands on the point of crying. Almost the same thing happened now to Sonia. With the same helplessness and the same terror, she looked at him for a while and, suddenly putting out her left hand, pressed her fingers faintly against his breast and slowly began to get up from the bed, moving further from him and keeping her eyes fixed even more immovably on him. Her terror infected him. The same fear showed itself on his face. In the same way he stared at her and almost with the same childish smile.
"Have you guessed?" he whispered at last.
"Good God!" broke in an awful wail from her bosom.
She sank helplessly on the bed with her face in the pillows, but a moment later she got up, moved quickly to him, seized both his hands and, gripping them tight in her thin fingers, began looking into his face again with the same intent stare. In this last desperate look she tried to look into him and catch some last hope. But there was no hope; there was no doubt remaining; it was all true! Later on, indeed, when she recalled that moment, she thought it strange and wondered why she had seen at once that there was no doubt. She could not have said, for instance, that she had foreseen something of the sort—and yet now, as soon as he told her, she suddenly fancied that she had really foreseen this very thing.
"Stop, Sonia, enough! don't torture me," he begged her miserably.
It was not at all, not at all like this he had thought of telling her, but this is how it happened.
She jumped up, seeming not to know what she was doing, and, wringing her hands, walked into the middle of the room; but quickly went back and sat down again beside him, her shoulder almost touching his. All of a sudden she started as though she had been stabbed, uttered a cry and fell on her knees before him, she did not know why.
"What have you done—what have you done to yourself?" she said in despair, and, jumping up, she flung herself on his neck, threw her arms round him, and held him tightly.
Raskolnikov drew back and looked at her with a mournful smile.
"You are a strange girl, Sonia—you kiss me and hug me when I tell you about that.... You don't think what you are doing."
"There is no one—no one in the whole world now so unhappy as you!" she cried in a frenzy, not hearing what he said, and she suddenly broke into violent hysterical weeping.
A feeling long unfamiliar to him flooded his heart and softened it at once. He did not struggle against it. Two tears started into his eyes and hung on his eyelashes.
"Then you won't leave me, Sonia?" he said, looking at her almost with hope.
"No, no, never, nowhere!" cried Sonia. "I will follow you, I will follow you everywhere. Oh, my God! Oh, how miserable I am!... Why, why didn't I know you before! Why didn't you come before? Oh, dear!"
"Here I have come."
"Yes, now! What's to be done now?... Together, together!" she repeated as it were unconsciously, and she hugged him again. "I'll follow you to Siberia!"
He recoiled at this, and the same hostile, almost haughty smile came to his lips.
"Perhaps I don't want to go to Siberia yet, Sonia," he said.
Sonia looked at him quickly.
Again after her first passionate, agonising sympathy for the unhappy man the terrible idea of the murder overwhelmed her. In his changed tone she seemed to hear the murderer speaking. She looked at him bewildered. She knew nothing as yet, why, how, with what object it had been. Now all these questions rushed at once into her mind. And again she could not believe it: "He, he is a murderer! Could it be true?"
"What's the meaning of it? Where am I?" she said in complete bewilderment, as though still unable to recover herself. "How could you, you, a man like you.... How could you bring yourself to it?... What does it mean?"
"Oh, well—to plunder. Leave off, Sonia," he answered wearily, almost with vexation.
Sonia stood as though struck dumb, but suddenly she cried:
"You were hungry! It was... to help your mother? Yes?"
"No, Sonia, no," he muttered, turning away and hanging his head. "I was not so hungry.... I certainly did want to help my mother, but... that's not the real thing either.... Don't torture me, Sonia."
Sonia clasped her hands.
"Could it, could it all be true? Good God, what a truth! Who could believe it? And how could you give away your last farthing and yet rob and murder! Ah," she cried suddenly, "that money you gave Katerina Ivanovna... that money.... Can that money..."
"No, Sonia," he broke in hurriedly, "that money was not it. Don't worry yourself! That money my mother sent me and it came when I was ill, the day I gave it to you.... Razumihin saw it... he received it for me.... That money was mine—my own."
Sonia listened to him in bewilderment and did her utmost to comprehend.
"And that money.... I don't even know really whether there was any money," he added softly, as though reflecting. "I took a purse off her neck, made of chamois leather... a purse stuffed full of something... but I didn't look in it; I suppose I hadn't time.... And the things—chains and trinkets—I buried under a stone with the purse next morning in a yard off the V—— Prospect. They are all there now...."
Sonia strained every nerve to listen.
"Then why... why, you said you did it to rob, but you took nothing?" she asked quickly, catching at a straw.
"I don't know.... I haven't yet decided whether to take that money or not," he said, musing again; and, seeming to wake up with a start, he gave a brief ironical smile. "Ach, what silly stuff I am talking, eh?"
The thought flashed through Sonia's mind, wasn't he mad? But she dismissed it at once. "No, it was something else." She could make nothing of it, nothing.
"Do you know, Sonia," he said suddenly with conviction, "let me tell you: if I'd simply killed because I was hungry," laying stress on every word and looking enigmatically but sincerely at her, "I should be happy now. You must believe that! What would it matter to you," he cried a moment later with a sort of despair, "what would it matter to you if I were to confess that I did wrong? What do you gain by such a stupid triumph over me? Ah, Sonia, was it for that I've come to you to-day?"
Again Sonia tried to say something, but did not speak.
"I asked you to go with me yesterday because you are all I have left."
"Go where?" asked Sonia timidly.
"Not to steal and not to murder, don't be anxious," he smiled bitterly. "We are so different.... And you know, Sonia, it's only now, only this moment that I understand where I asked you to go with me yesterday! Yesterday when I said it I did not know where. I asked you for one thing, I came to you for one thing—not to leave me. You won't leave me, Sonia?"
She squeezed his hand.
"And why, why did I tell her? Why did I let her know?" he cried a minute later in despair, looking with infinite anguish at her. "Here you expect an explanation from me, Sonia; you are sitting and waiting for it, I see that. But what can I tell you? You won't understand and will only suffer misery... on my account! Well, you are crying and embracing me again. Why do you do it? Because I couldn't bear my burden and have come to throw it on another: you suffer too, and I shall feel better! And can you love such a mean wretch?"
"But aren't you suffering, too?" cried Sonia.
Again a wave of the same feeling surged into his heart, and again for an instant softened it.
"Sonia, I have a bad heart, take note of that. It may explain a great deal. I have come because I am bad. There are men who wouldn't have come. But I am a coward and... a mean wretch. But... never mind! That's not the point. I must speak now, but I don't know how to begin."
He paused and sank into thought.
"Ach, we are so different," he cried again, "we are not alike. And why, why did I come? I shall never forgive myself that."
"No, no, it was a good thing you came," cried Sonia. "It's better I should know, far better!"
He looked at her with anguish.
"What if it were really that?" he said, as though reaching a conclusion. "Yes, that's what it was! I wanted to become a Napoleon, that is why I killed her.... Do you understand now?"
"N-no," Sonia whispered naively and timidly. "Only speak, speak, I shall understand, I shall understand in myself!" she kept begging him.
"You'll understand? Very well, we shall see!" He paused and was for some time lost in meditation.
"It was like this: I asked myself one day this question—what if Napoleon, for instance, had happened to be in my place, and if he had not had Toulon nor Egypt nor the passage of Mont Blanc to begin his career with, but instead of all those picturesque and monumental things, there had simply been some ridiculous old hag, a pawnbroker, who had to be murdered too to get money from her trunk (for his career, you understand). Well, would he have brought himself to that if there had been no other means? Wouldn't he have felt a pang at its being so far from monumental and... and sinful, too? Well, I must tell you that I worried myself fearfully over that 'question' so that I was awfully ashamed when I guessed at last (all of a sudden, somehow) that it would not have given him the least pang, that it would not even have struck him that it was not monumental... that he would not have seen that there was anything in it to pause over, and that, if he had had no other way, he would have strangled her in a minute without thinking about it! Well, I too... left off thinking about it... murdered her, following his example. And that's exactly how it was! Do you think it funny? Yes, Sonia, the funniest thing of all is that perhaps that's just how it was."
Sonia did not think it at all funny.
"You had better tell me straight out... without examples," she begged, still more timidly and scarcely audibly.
He turned to her, looked sadly at her and took her hands.
"You are right again, Sonia. Of course that's all nonsense, it's almost all talk! You see, you know of course that my mother has scarcely anything, my sister happened to have a good education and was condemned to drudge as a governess. All their hopes were centered on me. I was a student, but I couldn't keep myself at the university and was forced for a time to leave it. Even if I had lingered on like that, in ten or twelve years I might (with luck) hope to be some sort of teacher or clerk with a salary of a thousand roubles" (he repeated it as though it were a lesson) "and by that time my mother would be worn out with grief and anxiety and I could not succeed in keeping her in comfort while my sister... well, my sister might well have fared worse! And it's a hard thing to pass everything by all one's life, to turn one's back upon everything, to forget one's mother and decorously accept the insults inflicted on one's sister. Why should one? When one has buried them to burden oneself with others—wife and children—and to leave them again without a farthing? So I resolved to gain possession of the old woman's money and to use it for my first years without worrying my mother, to keep myself at the university and for a little while after leaving it—and to do this all on a broad, thorough scale, so as to build up a completely new career and enter upon a new life of independence.... Well... that's all.... Well, of course in killing the old woman I did wrong.... Well, that's enough."
He struggled to the end of his speech in exhaustion and let his head sink.
"Oh, that's not it, that's not it," Sonia cried in distress. "How could one... no, that's not right, not right."
"You see yourself that it's not right. But I've spoken truly, it's the truth."
"As though that could be the truth! Good God!"
"I've only killed a louse, Sonia, a useless, loathsome, harmful creature."
"A human being—a louse!"
"I too know it wasn't a louse," he answered, looking strangely at her. "But I am talking nonsense, Sonia," he added. "I've been talking nonsense a long time.... That's not it, you are right there. There were quite, quite other causes for it! I haven't talked to anyone for so long, Sonia.... My head aches dreadfully now."
His eyes shone with feverish brilliance. He was almost delirious; an uneasy smile strayed on his lips. His terrible exhaustion could be seen through his excitement. Sonia saw how he was suffering. She too was growing dizzy. And he talked so strangely; it seemed somehow comprehensible, but yet... "But how, how! Good God!" And she wrung her hands in despair.
"No, Sonia, that's not it," he began again suddenly, raising his head, as though a new and sudden train of thought had struck and as it were roused him—"that's not it! Better... imagine—yes, it's certainly better—imagine that I am vain, envious, malicious, base, vindictive and... well, perhaps with a tendency to insanity. (Let's have it all out at once! They've talked of madness already, I noticed.) I told you just now I could not keep myself at the university. But do you know that perhaps I might have done? My mother would have sent me what I needed for the fees and I could have earned enough for clothes, boots and food, no doubt. Lessons had turned up at half a rouble. Razumihin works! But I turned sulky and wouldn't. (Yes, sulkiness, that's the right word for it!) I sat in my room like a spider. You've been in my den, you've seen it.... And do you know, Sonia, that low ceilings and tiny rooms cramp the soul and the mind? Ah, how I hated that garret! And yet I wouldn't go out of it! I wouldn't on purpose! I didn't go out for days together, and I wouldn't work, I wouldn't even eat, I just lay there doing nothing. If Nastasya brought me anything, I ate it, if she didn't, I went all day without; I wouldn't ask, on purpose, from sulkiness! At night I had no light, I lay in the dark and I wouldn't earn money for candles. I ought to have studied, but I sold my books; and the dust lies an inch thick on the notebooks on my table. I preferred lying still and thinking. And I kept thinking.... And I had dreams all the time, strange dreams of all sorts, no need to describe! Only then I began to fancy that... No, that's not it! Again I am telling you wrong! You see I kept asking myself then: why am I so stupid that if others are stupid—and I know they are—yet I won't be wiser? Then I saw, Sonia, that if one waits for everyone to get wiser it will take too long.... Afterwards I understood that that would never come to pass, that men won't change and that nobody can alter it and that it's not worth wasting effort over it. Yes, that's so. That's the law of their nature, Sonia,... that's so!... And I know now, Sonia, that whoever is strong in mind and spirit will have power over them. Anyone who is greatly daring is right in their eyes. He who despises most things will be a lawgiver among them and he who dares most of all will be most in the right! So it has been till now and so it will always be. A man must be blind not to see it!"
Though Raskolnikov looked at Sonia as he said this, he no longer cared whether she understood or not. The fever had complete hold of him; he was in a sort of gloomy ecstasy (he certainly had been too long without talking to anyone). Sonia felt that his gloomy creed had become his faith and code.
"I divined then, Sonia," he went on eagerly, "that power is only vouchsafed to the man who dares to stoop and pick it up. There is only one thing, one thing needful: one has only to dare! Then for the first time in my life an idea took shape in my mind which no one had ever thought of before me, no one! I saw clear as daylight how strange it is that not a single person living in this mad world has had the daring to go straight for it all and send it flying to the devil! I... I wanted to have the daring... and I killed her. I only wanted to have the daring, Sonia! That was the whole cause of it!"
"Oh hush, hush," cried Sonia, clasping her hands. "You turned away from God and God has smitten you, has given you over to the devil!"
"Then Sonia, when I used to lie there in the dark and all this became clear to me, was it a temptation of the devil, eh?"
"Hush, don't laugh, blasphemer! You don't understand, you don't understand! Oh God! He won't understand!"
"Hush, Sonia! I am not laughing. I know myself that it was the devil leading me. Hush, Sonia, hush!" he repeated with gloomy insistence. "I know it all, I have thought it all over and over and whispered it all over to myself, lying there in the dark.... I've argued it all over with myself, every point of it, and I know it all, all! And how sick, how sick I was then of going over it all! I have kept wanting to forget it and make a new beginning, Sonia, and leave off thinking. And you don't suppose that I went into it headlong like a fool? I went into it like a wise man, and that was just my destruction. And you mustn't suppose that I didn't know, for instance, that if I began to question myself whether I had the right to gain power—I certainly hadn't the right—or that if I asked myself whether a human being is a louse it proved that it wasn't so for me, though it might be for a man who would go straight to his goal without asking questions.... If I worried myself all those days, wondering whether Napoleon would have done it or not, I felt clearly of course that I wasn't Napoleon. I had to endure all the agony of that battle of ideas, Sonia, and I longed to throw it off: I wanted to murder without casuistry, to murder for my own sake, for myself alone! I didn't want to lie about it even to myself. It wasn't to help my mother I did the murder—that's nonsense—I didn't do the murder to gain wealth and power and to become a benefactor of mankind. Nonsense! I simply did it; I did the murder for myself, for myself alone, and whether I became a benefactor to others, or spent my life like a spider catching men in my web and sucking the life out of men, I couldn't have cared at that moment.... And it was not the money I wanted, Sonia, when I did it. It was not so much the money I wanted, but something else.... I know it all now.... Understand me! Perhaps I should never have committed a murder again. I wanted to find out something else; it was something else led me on. I wanted to find out then and quickly whether I was a louse like everybody else or a man. Whether I can step over barriers or not, whether I dare stoop to pick up or not, whether I am a trembling creature or whether I have the right..."
"To kill? Have the right to kill?" Sonia clasped her hands.
"Ach, Sonia!" he cried irritably and seemed about to make some retort, but was contemptuously silent. "Don't interrupt me, Sonia. I want to prove one thing only, that the devil led me on then and he has shown me since that I had not the right to take that path, because I am just such a louse as all the rest. He was mocking me and here I've come to you now! Welcome your guest! If I were not a louse, should I have come to you? Listen: when I went then to the old woman's I only went to try.... You may be sure of that!"
"And you murdered her!"
"But how did I murder her? Is that how men do murders? Do men go to commit a murder as I went then? I will tell you some day how I went! Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her! I crushed myself once for all, for ever.... But it was the devil that killed that old woman, not I. Enough, enough, Sonia, enough! Let me be!" he cried in a sudden spasm of agony, "let me be!"
He leaned his elbows on his knees and squeezed his head in his hands as in a vise.
"What suffering!" A wail of anguish broke from Sonia.
"Well, what am I to do now?" he asked, suddenly raising his head and looking at her with a face hideously distorted by despair.
"What are you to do?" she cried, jumping up, and her eyes that had been full of tears suddenly began to shine. "Stand up!" (She seized him by the shoulder, he got up, looking at her almost bewildered.) "Go at once, this very minute, stand at the cross-roads, bow down, first kiss the earth which you have defiled and then bow down to all the world and say to all men aloud, 'I am a murderer!' Then God will send you life again. Will you go, will you go?" she asked him, trembling all over, snatching his two hands, squeezing them tight in hers and gazing at him with eyes full of fire.
He was amazed at her sudden ecstasy.
"You mean Siberia, Sonia? I must give myself up?" he asked gloomily.
"Suffer and expiate your sin by it, that's what you must do."
"No! I am not going to them, Sonia!"
"But how will you go on living? What will you live for?" cried Sonia, "how is it possible now? Why, how can you talk to your mother? (Oh, what will become of them now?) But what am I saying? You have abandoned your mother and your sister already. He has abandoned them already! Oh, God!" she cried, "why, he knows it all himself. How, how can he live by himself! What will become of you now?"
"Don't be a child, Sonia," he said softly. "What wrong have I done them? Why should I go to them? What should I say to them? That's only a phantom.... They destroy men by millions themselves and look on it as a virtue. They are knaves and scoundrels, Sonia! I am not going to them. And what should I say to them—that I murdered her, but did not dare to take the money and hid it under a stone?" he added with a bitter smile. "Why, they would laugh at me, and would call me a fool for not getting it. A coward and a fool! They wouldn't understand and they don't deserve to understand. Why should I go to them? I won't. Don't be a child, Sonia...."
"It will be too much for you to bear, too much!" she repeated, holding out her hands in despairing supplication.
"Perhaps I've been unfair to myself," he observed gloomily, pondering, "perhaps after all I am a man and not a louse and I've been in too great a hurry to condemn myself. I'll make another fight for it."
A haughty smile appeared on his lips.
"What a burden to bear! And your whole life, your whole life!"
"I shall get used to it," he said grimly and thoughtfully. "Listen," he began a minute later, "stop crying, it's time to talk of the facts: I've come to tell you that the police are after me, on my track...."
"Ach!" Sonia cried in terror.
"Well, why do you cry out? You want me to go to Siberia and now you are frightened? But let me tell you: I shall not give myself up. I shall make a struggle for it and they won't do anything to me. They've no real evidence. Yesterday I was in great danger and believed I was lost; but to-day things are going better. All the facts they know can be explained two ways, that's to say I can turn their accusations to my credit, do you understand? And I shall, for I've learnt my lesson. But they will certainly arrest me. If it had not been for something that happened, they would have done so to-day for certain; perhaps even now they will arrest me to-day.... But that's no matter, Sonia; they'll let me out again... for there isn't any real proof against me, and there won't be, I give you my word for it. And they can't convict a man on what they have against me. Enough.... I only tell you that you may know.... I will try to manage somehow to put it to my mother and sister so that they won't be frightened.... My sister's future is secure, however, now, I believe... and my mother's must be too.... Well, that's all. Be careful, though. Will you come and see me in prison when I am there?"
"Oh, I will, I will."
They sat side by side, both mournful and dejected, as though they had been cast up by the tempest alone on some deserted shore. He looked at Sonia and felt how great was her love for him, and strange to say he felt it suddenly burdensome and painful to be so loved. Yes, it was a strange and awful sensation! On his way to see Sonia he had felt that all his hopes rested on her; he expected to be rid of at least part of his suffering, and now, when all her heart turned towards him, he suddenly felt that he was immeasurably unhappier than before.
"Sonia," he said, "you'd better not come and see me when I am in prison."
Sonia did not answer, she was crying. Several minutes passed.
"Have you a cross on you?" she asked, as though suddenly thinking of it.
He did not at first understand the question.
"No, of course not. Here, take this one, of cypress wood. I have another, a copper one that belonged to Lizaveta. I changed with Lizaveta: she gave me her cross and I gave her my little ikon. I will wear Lizaveta's now and give you this. Take it... it's mine! It's mine, you know," she begged him. "We will go to suffer together, and together we will bear our cross!"
"Give it me," said Raskolnikov.
He did not want to hurt her feelings. But immediately he drew back the hand he held out for the cross.
"Not now, Sonia. Better later," he added to comfort her.
"Yes, yes, better," she repeated with conviction, "when you go to meet your suffering, then put it on. You will come to me, I'll put it on you, we will pray and go together."
At that moment someone knocked three times at the door.
"Sofya Semyonovna, may I come in?" they heard in a very familiar and polite voice.
Sonia rushed to the door in a fright. The flaxen head of Mr. Lebeziatnikov appeared at the door.
Lebeziatnikov looked perturbed.
"I've come to you, Sofya Semyonovna," he began. "Excuse me... I thought I should find you," he said, addressing Raskolnikov suddenly, "that is, I didn't mean anything... of that sort... But I just thought... Katerina Ivanovna has gone out of her mind," he blurted out suddenly, turning from Raskolnikov to Sonia.
"At least it seems so. But... we don't know what to do, you see! She came back—she seems to have been turned out somewhere, perhaps beaten.... So it seems at least,... She had run to your father's former chief, she didn't find him at home: he was dining at some other general's.... Only fancy, she rushed off there, to the other general's, and, imagine, she was so persistent that she managed to get the chief to see her, had him fetched out from dinner, it seems. You can imagine what happened. She was turned out, of course; but, according to her own story, she abused him and threw something at him. One may well believe it.... How it is she wasn't taken up, I can't understand! Now she is telling everyone, including Amalia Ivanovna; but it's difficult to understand her, she is screaming and flinging herself about.... Oh yes, she shouts that since everyone has abandoned her, she will take the children and go into the street with a barrel-organ, and the children will sing and dance, and she too, and collect money, and will go every day under the general's window... 'to let everyone see well-born children, whose father was an official, begging in the street.' She keeps beating the children and they are all crying. She is teaching Lida to sing 'My Village,' the boy to dance, Polenka the same. She is tearing up all the clothes, and making them little caps like actors; she means to carry a tin basin and make it tinkle, instead of music.... She won't listen to anything.... Imagine the state of things! It's beyond anything!"
Lebeziatnikov would have gone on, but Sonia, who had heard him almost breathless, snatched up her cloak and hat, and ran out of the room, putting on her things as she went. Raskolnikov followed her and Lebeziatnikov came after him.
"She has certainly gone mad!" he said to Raskolnikov, as they went out into the street. "I didn't want to frighten Sofya Semyonovna, so I said 'it seemed like it,' but there isn't a doubt of it. They say that in consumption the tubercles sometimes occur in the brain; it's a pity I know nothing of medicine. I did try to persuade her, but she wouldn't listen."
"Did you talk to her about the tubercles?"
"Not precisely of the tubercles. Besides, she wouldn't have understood! But what I say is, that if you convince a person logically that he has nothing to cry about, he'll stop crying. That's clear. Is it your conviction that he won't?"
"Life would be too easy if it were so," answered Raskolnikov.
"Excuse me, excuse me; of course it would be rather difficult for Katerina Ivanovna to understand, but do you know that in Paris they have been conducting serious experiments as to the possibility of curing the insane, simply by logical argument? One professor there, a scientific man of standing, lately dead, believed in the possibility of such treatment. His idea was that there's nothing really wrong with the physical organism of the insane, and that insanity is, so to say, a logical mistake, an error of judgment, an incorrect view of things. He gradually showed the madman his error and, would you believe it, they say he was successful? But as he made use of douches too, how far success was due to that treatment remains uncertain.... So it seems at least."
Raskolnikov had long ceased to listen. Reaching the house where he lived, he nodded to Lebeziatnikov and went in at the gate. Lebeziatnikov woke up with a start, looked about him and hurried on.
Raskolnikov went into his little room and stood still in the middle of it. Why had he come back here? He looked at the yellow and tattered paper, at the dust, at his sofa.... From the yard came a loud continuous knocking; someone seemed to be hammering... He went to the window, rose on tiptoe and looked out into the yard for a long time with an air of absorbed attention. But the yard was empty and he could not see who was hammering. In the house on the left he saw some open windows; on the window-sills were pots of sickly-looking geraniums. Linen was hung out of the windows... He knew it all by heart. He turned away and sat down on the sofa.
Never, never had he felt himself so fearfully alone!
Yes, he felt once more that he would perhaps come to hate Sonia, now that he had made her more miserable.
"Why had he gone to her to beg for her tears? What need had he to poison her life? Oh, the meanness of it!"
"I will remain alone," he said resolutely, "and she shall not come to the prison!"
Five minutes later he raised his head with a strange smile. That was a strange thought.
"Perhaps it really would be better in Siberia," he thought suddenly.
He could not have said how long he sat there with vague thoughts surging through his mind. All at once the door opened and Dounia came in. At first she stood still and looked at him from the doorway, just as he had done at Sonia; then she came in and sat down in the same place as yesterday, on the chair facing him. He looked silently and almost vacantly at her.
"Don't be angry, brother; I've only come for one minute," said Dounia.
Her face looked thoughtful but not stern. Her eyes were bright and soft. He saw that she too had come to him with love.
"Brother, now I know all, all. Dmitri Prokofitch has explained and told me everything. They are worrying and persecuting you through a stupid and contemptible suspicion.... Dmitri Prokofitch told me that there is no danger, and that you are wrong in looking upon it with such horror. I don't think so, and I fully understand how indignant you must be, and that that indignation may have a permanent effect on you. That's what I am afraid of. As for your cutting yourself off from us, I don't judge you, I don't venture to judge you, and forgive me for having blamed you for it. I feel that I too, if I had so great a trouble, should keep away from everyone. I shall tell mother nothing of this, but I shall talk about you continually and shall tell her from you that you will come very soon. Don't worry about her; I will set her mind at rest; but don't you try her too much—come once at least; remember that she is your mother. And now I have come simply to say" (Dounia began to get up) "that if you should need me or should need... all my life or anything... call me, and I'll come. Good-bye!"
She turned abruptly and went towards the door.
"Dounia!" Raskolnikov stopped her and went towards her. "That Razumihin, Dmitri Prokofitch, is a very good fellow."
Dounia flushed slightly.
"Well?" she asked, waiting a moment.
"He is competent, hardworking, honest and capable of real love.... Good-bye, Dounia."
Dounia flushed crimson, then suddenly she took alarm.
"But what does it mean, brother? Are we really parting for ever that you... give me such a parting message?"
"Never mind.... Good-bye."
He turned away, and walked to the window. She stood a moment, looked at him uneasily, and went out troubled.
No, he was not cold to her. There was an instant (the very last one) when he had longed to take her in his arms and say good-bye to her, and even to tell her, but he had not dared even to touch her hand.
"Afterwards she may shudder when she remembers that I embraced her, and will feel that I stole her kiss."
"And would she stand that test?" he went on a few minutes later to himself. "No, she wouldn't; girls like that can't stand things! They never do."
And he thought of Sonia.
There was a breath of fresh air from the window. The daylight was fading. He took up his cap and went out.
He could not, of course, and would not consider how ill he was. But all this continual anxiety and agony of mind could not but affect him. And if he were not lying in high fever it was perhaps just because this continual inner strain helped to keep him on his legs and in possession of his faculties. But this artificial excitement could not last long.
He wandered aimlessly. The sun was setting. A special form of misery had begun to oppress him of late. There was nothing poignant, nothing acute about it; but there was a feeling of permanence, of eternity about it; it brought a foretaste of hopeless years of this cold leaden misery, a foretaste of an eternity "on a square yard of space." Towards evening this sensation usually began to weigh on him more heavily.
"With this idiotic, purely physical weakness, depending on the sunset or something, one can't help doing something stupid! You'll go to Dounia, as well as to Sonia," he muttered bitterly.
He heard his name called. He looked round. Lebeziatnikov rushed up to him.
"Only fancy, I've been to your room looking for you. Only fancy, she's carried out her plan, and taken away the children. Sofya Semyonovna and I have had a job to find them. She is rapping on a frying-pan and making the children dance. The children are crying. They keep stopping at the cross-roads and in front of shops; there's a crowd of fools running after them. Come along!"
"And Sonia?" Raskolnikov asked anxiously, hurrying after Lebeziatnikov.
"Simply frantic. That is, it's not Sofya Semyonovna's frantic, but Katerina Ivanovna, though Sofya Semyonova's frantic too. But Katerina Ivanovna is absolutely frantic. I tell you she is quite mad. They'll be taken to the police. You can fancy what an effect that will have.... They are on the canal bank, near the bridge now, not far from Sofya Semyonovna's, quite close."
On the canal bank near the bridge and not two houses away from the one where Sonia lodged, there was a crowd of people, consisting principally of gutter children. The hoarse broken voice of Katerina Ivanovna could be heard from the bridge, and it certainly was a strange spectacle likely to attract a street crowd. Katerina Ivanovna in her old dress with the green shawl, wearing a torn straw hat, crushed in a hideous way on one side, was really frantic. She was exhausted and breathless. Her wasted consumptive face looked more suffering than ever, and indeed out of doors in the sunshine a consumptive always looks worse than at home. But her excitement did not flag, and every moment her irritation grew more intense. She rushed at the children, shouted at them, coaxed them, told them before the crowd how to dance and what to sing, began explaining to them why it was necessary, and driven to desperation by their not understanding, beat them.... Then she would make a rush at the crowd; if she noticed any decently dressed person stopping to look, she immediately appealed to him to see what these children "from a genteel, one may say aristocratic, house" had been brought to. If she heard laughter or jeering in the crowd, she would rush at once at the scoffers and begin squabbling with them. Some people laughed, others shook their heads, but everyone felt curious at the sight of the madwoman with the frightened children. The frying-pan of which Lebeziatnikov had spoken was not there, at least Raskolnikov did not see it. But instead of rapping on the pan, Katerina Ivanovna began clapping her wasted hands, when she made Lida and Kolya dance and Polenka sing. She too joined in the singing, but broke down at the second note with a fearful cough, which made her curse in despair and even shed tears. What made her most furious was the weeping and terror of Kolya and Lida. Some effort had been made to dress the children up as street singers are dressed. The boy had on a turban made of something red and white to look like a Turk. There had been no costume for Lida; she simply had a red knitted cap, or rather a night cap that had belonged to Marmeladov, decorated with a broken piece of white ostrich feather, which had been Katerina Ivanovna's grandmother's and had been preserved as a family possession. Polenka was in her everyday dress; she looked in timid perplexity at her mother, and kept at her side, hiding her tears. She dimly realised her mother's condition, and looked uneasily about her. She was terribly frightened of the street and the crowd. Sonia followed Katerina Ivanovna, weeping and beseeching her to return home, but Katerina Ivanovna was not to be persuaded.
"Leave off, Sonia, leave off," she shouted, speaking fast, panting and coughing. "You don't know what you ask; you are like a child! I've told you before that I am not coming back to that drunken German. Let everyone, let all Petersburg see the children begging in the streets, though their father was an honourable man who served all his life in truth and fidelity, and one may say died in the service." (Katerina Ivanovna had by now invented this fantastic story and thoroughly believed it.) "Let that wretch of a general see it! And you are silly, Sonia: what have we to eat? Tell me that. We have worried you enough, I won't go on so! Ah, Rodion Romanovitch, is that you?" she cried, seeing Raskolnikov and rushing up to him. "Explain to this silly girl, please, that nothing better could be done! Even organ-grinders earn their living, and everyone will see at once that we are different, that we are an honourable and bereaved family reduced to beggary. And that general will lose his post, you'll see! We shall perform under his windows every day, and if the Tsar drives by, I'll fall on my knees, put the children before me, show them to him, and say 'Defend us father.' He is the father of the fatherless, he is merciful, he'll protect us, you'll see, and that wretch of a general.... Lida, tenez vous droite! Kolya, you'll dance again. Why are you whimpering? Whimpering again! What are you afraid of, stupid? Goodness, what am I to do with them, Rodion Romanovitch? If you only knew how stupid they are! What's one to do with such children?"
And she, almost crying herself—which did not stop her uninterrupted, rapid flow of talk—pointed to the crying children. Raskolnikov tried to persuade her to go home, and even said, hoping to work on her vanity, that it was unseemly for her to be wandering about the streets like an organ-grinder, as she was intending to become the principal of a boarding-school.
"A boarding-school, ha-ha-ha! A castle in the air," cried Katerina Ivanovna, her laugh ending in a cough. "No, Rodion Romanovitch, that dream is over! All have forsaken us!... And that general.... You know, Rodion Romanovitch, I threw an inkpot at him—it happened to be standing in the waiting-room by the paper where you sign your name. I wrote my name, threw it at him and ran away. Oh, the scoundrels, the scoundrels! But enough of them, now I'll provide for the children myself, I won't bow down to anybody! She has had to bear enough for us!" she pointed to Sonia. "Polenka, how much have you got? Show me! What, only two farthings! Oh, the mean wretches! They give us nothing, only run after us, putting their tongues out. There, what is that blockhead laughing at?" (She pointed to a man in the crowd.) "It's all because Kolya here is so stupid; I have such a bother with him. What do you want, Polenka? Tell me in French, parlez-moi francais. Why, I've taught you, you know some phrases. Else how are you to show that you are of good family, well brought-up children, and not at all like other organ-grinders? We aren't going to have a Punch and Judy show in the street, but to sing a genteel song.... Ah, yes,... What are we to sing? You keep putting me out, but we... you see, we are standing here, Rodion Romanovitch, to find something to sing and get money, something Kolya can dance to.... For, as you can fancy, our performance is all impromptu.... We must talk it over and rehearse it all thoroughly, and then we shall go to Nevsky, where there are far more people of good society, and we shall be noticed at once. Lida knows 'My Village' only, nothing but 'My Village,' and everyone sings that. We must sing something far more genteel.... Well, have you thought of anything, Polenka? If only you'd help your mother! My memory's quite gone, or I should have thought of something. We really can't sing 'An Hussar.' Ah, let us sing in French, 'Cinq sous,' I have taught it you, I have taught it you. And as it is in French, people will see at once that you are children of good family, and that will be much more touching.... You might sing 'Marlborough s'en va-t-en guerre,' for that's quite a child's song and is sung as a lullaby in all the aristocratic houses.
"Marlborough s'en va-t-en guerre Ne sait quand reviendra..." she began singing. "But no, better sing 'Cinq sous.' Now, Kolya, your hands on your hips, make haste, and you, Lida, keep turning the other way, and Polenka and I will sing and clap our hands!
"Cinq sous, cinq sous Pour monter notre menage."
(Cough-cough-cough!) "Set your dress straight, Polenka, it's slipped down on your shoulders," she observed, panting from coughing. "Now it's particularly necessary to behave nicely and genteelly, that all may see that you are well-born children. I said at the time that the bodice should be cut longer, and made of two widths. It was your fault, Sonia, with your advice to make it shorter, and now you see the child is quite deformed by it.... Why, you're all crying again! What's the matter, stupids? Come, Kolya, begin. Make haste, make haste! Oh, what an unbearable child!
"Cinq sous, cinq sous.
"A policeman again! What do you want?"
A policeman was indeed forcing his way through the crowd. But at that moment a gentleman in civilian uniform and an overcoat—a solid-looking official of about fifty with a decoration on his neck (which delighted Katerina Ivanovna and had its effect on the policeman)—approached and without a word handed her a green three-rouble note. His face wore a look of genuine sympathy. Katerina Ivanovna took it and gave him a polite, even ceremonious, bow.
"I thank you, honoured sir," she began loftily. "The causes that have induced us (take the money, Polenka: you see there are generous and honourable people who are ready to help a poor gentlewoman in distress). You see, honoured sir, these orphans of good family—I might even say of aristocratic connections—and that wretch of a general sat eating grouse... and stamped at my disturbing him. 'Your excellency,' I said, 'protect the orphans, for you knew my late husband, Semyon Zaharovitch, and on the very day of his death the basest of scoundrels slandered his only daughter.'... That policeman again! Protect me," she cried to the official. "Why is that policeman edging up to me? We have only just run away from one of them. What do you want, fool?"
"It's forbidden in the streets. You mustn't make a disturbance."
"It's you're making a disturbance. It's just the same as if I were grinding an organ. What business is it of yours?"
"You have to get a licence for an organ, and you haven't got one, and in that way you collect a crowd. Where do you lodge?"
"What, a license?" wailed Katerina Ivanovna. "I buried my husband to-day. What need of a license?"
"Calm yourself, madam, calm yourself," began the official. "Come along; I will escort you.... This is no place for you in the crowd. You are ill."
"Honoured sir, honoured sir, you don't know," screamed Katerina Ivanovna. "We are going to the Nevsky.... Sonia, Sonia! Where is she? She is crying too! What's the matter with you all? Kolya, Lida, where are you going?" she cried suddenly in alarm. "Oh, silly children! Kolya, Lida, where are they off to?..."
Kolya and Lida, scared out of their wits by the crowd, and their mother's mad pranks, suddenly seized each other by the hand, and ran off at the sight of the policeman who wanted to take them away somewhere. Weeping and wailing, poor Katerina Ivanovna ran after them. She was a piteous and unseemly spectacle, as she ran, weeping and panting for breath. Sonia and Polenka rushed after them.
"Bring them back, bring them back, Sonia! Oh stupid, ungrateful children!... Polenka! catch them.... It's for your sakes I..."
She stumbled as she ran and fell down.
"She's cut herself, she's bleeding! Oh, dear!" cried Sonia, bending over her.
All ran up and crowded around. Raskolnikov and Lebeziatnikov were the first at her side, the official too hastened up, and behind him the policeman who muttered, "Bother!" with a gesture of impatience, feeling that the job was going to be a troublesome one.
"Pass on! Pass on!" he said to the crowd that pressed forward.
"She's dying," someone shouted.
"She's gone out of her mind," said another.
"Lord have mercy upon us," said a woman, crossing herself. "Have they caught the little girl and the boy? They're being brought back, the elder one's got them.... Ah, the naughty imps!"
When they examined Katerina Ivanovna carefully, they saw that she had not cut herself against a stone, as Sonia thought, but that the blood that stained the pavement red was from her chest.
"I've seen that before," muttered the official to Raskolnikov and Lebeziatnikov; "that's consumption; the blood flows and chokes the patient. I saw the same thing with a relative of my own not long ago... nearly a pint of blood, all in a minute.... What's to be done though? She is dying."
"This way, this way, to my room!" Sonia implored. "I live here!... See, that house, the second from here.... Come to me, make haste," she turned from one to the other. "Send for the doctor! Oh, dear!"
Thanks to the official's efforts, this plan was adopted, the policeman even helping to carry Katerina Ivanovna. She was carried to Sonia's room, almost unconscious, and laid on the bed. The blood was still flowing, but she seemed to be coming to herself. Raskolnikov, Lebeziatnikov, and the official accompanied Sonia into the room and were followed by the policeman, who first drove back the crowd which followed to the very door. Polenka came in holding Kolya and Lida, who were trembling and weeping. Several persons came in too from the Kapernaumovs' room; the landlord, a lame one-eyed man of strange appearance with whiskers and hair that stood up like a brush, his wife, a woman with an everlastingly scared expression, and several open-mouthed children with wonder-struck faces. Among these, Svidrigailov suddenly made his appearance. Raskolnikov looked at him with surprise, not understanding where he had come from and not having noticed him in the crowd. A doctor and priest wore spoken of. The official whispered to Raskolnikov that he thought it was too late now for the doctor, but he ordered him to be sent for. Kapernaumov ran himself.
Meanwhile Katerina Ivanovna had regained her breath. The bleeding ceased for a time. She looked with sick but intent and penetrating eyes at Sonia, who stood pale and trembling, wiping the sweat from her brow with a handkerchief. At last she asked to be raised. They sat her up on the bed, supporting her on both sides.
"Where are the children?" she said in a faint voice. "You've brought them, Polenka? Oh the sillies! Why did you run away.... Och!"
Once more her parched lips were covered with blood. She moved her eyes, looking about her.
"So that's how you live, Sonia! Never once have I been in your room."
She looked at her with a face of suffering.
"We have been your ruin, Sonia. Polenka, Lida, Kolya, come here! Well, here they are, Sonia, take them all! I hand them over to you, I've had enough! The ball is over." (Cough!) "Lay me down, let me die in peace."
They laid her back on the pillow.
"What, the priest? I don't want him. You haven't got a rouble to spare. I have no sins. God must forgive me without that. He knows how I have suffered.... And if He won't forgive me, I don't care!"
She sank more and more into uneasy delirium. At times she shuddered, turned her eyes from side to side, recognised everyone for a minute, but at once sank into delirium again. Her breathing was hoarse and difficult, there was a sort of rattle in her throat.
"I said to him, your excellency," she ejaculated, gasping after each word. "That Amalia Ludwigovna, ah! Lida, Kolya, hands on your hips, make haste! Glissez, glissez! pas de basque! Tap with your heels, be a graceful child!
"Du hast Diamanten und Perlen
"What next? That's the thing to sing.
"Du hast die schonsten Augen Madchen, was willst du mehr?
"What an idea! Was willst du mehr? What things the fool invents! Ah, yes!
"In the heat of midday in the vale of Dagestan.
"Ah, how I loved it! I loved that song to distraction, Polenka! Your father, you know, used to sing it when we were engaged.... Oh those days! Oh that's the thing for us to sing! How does it go? I've forgotten. Remind me! How was it?"
She was violently excited and tried to sit up. At last, in a horribly hoarse, broken voice, she began, shrieking and gasping at every word, with a look of growing terror.
"In the heat of midday!... in the vale!... of Dagestan!... With lead in my breast!..."
"Your excellency!" she wailed suddenly with a heart-rending scream and a flood of tears, "protect the orphans! You have been their father's guest... one may say aristocratic...." She started, regaining consciousness, and gazed at all with a sort of terror, but at once recognised Sonia.
"Sonia, Sonia!" she articulated softly and caressingly, as though surprised to find her there. "Sonia darling, are you here, too?"
They lifted her up again.
"Enough! It's over! Farewell, poor thing! I am done for! I am broken!" she cried with vindictive despair, and her head fell heavily back on the pillow.
She sank into unconsciousness again, but this time it did not last long. Her pale, yellow, wasted face dropped back, her mouth fell open, her leg moved convulsively, she gave a deep, deep sigh and died.
Sonia fell upon her, flung her arms about her, and remained motionless with her head pressed to the dead woman's wasted bosom. Polenka threw herself at her mother's feet, kissing them and weeping violently. Though Kolya and Lida did not understand what had happened, they had a feeling that it was something terrible; they put their hands on each other's little shoulders, stared straight at one another and both at once opened their mouths and began screaming. They were both still in their fancy dress; one in a turban, the other in the cap with the ostrich feather.
And how did "the certificate of merit" come to be on the bed beside Katerina Ivanovna? It lay there by the pillow; Raskolnikov saw it.
He walked away to the window. Lebeziatnikov skipped up to him.
"She is dead," he said.
"Rodion Romanovitch, I must have two words with you," said Svidrigailov, coming up to them.
Lebeziatnikov at once made room for him and delicately withdrew. Svidrigailov drew Raskolnikov further away.
"I will undertake all the arrangements, the funeral and that. You know it's a question of money and, as I told you, I have plenty to spare. I will put those two little ones and Polenka into some good orphan asylum, and I will settle fifteen hundred roubles to be paid to each on coming of age, so that Sofya Semyonovna need have no anxiety about them. And I will pull her out of the mud too, for she is a good girl, isn't she? So tell Avdotya Romanovna that that is how I am spending her ten thousand."
"What is your motive for such benevolence?" asked Raskolnikov.
"Ah! you sceptical person!" laughed Svidrigailov. "I told you I had no need of that money. Won't you admit that it's simply done from humanity? She wasn't 'a louse,' you know" (he pointed to the corner where the dead woman lay), "was she, like some old pawnbroker woman? Come, you'll agree, is Luzhin to go on living, and doing wicked things or is she to die? And if I didn't help them, Polenka would go the same way."
He said this with an air of a sort of gay winking slyness, keeping his eyes fixed on Raskolnikov, who turned white and cold, hearing his own phrases, spoken to Sonia. He quickly stepped back and looked wildly at Svidrigailov.
"How do you know?" he whispered, hardly able to breathe.
"Why, I lodge here at Madame Resslich's, the other side of the wall. Here is Kapernaumov, and there lives Madame Resslich, an old and devoted friend of mine. I am a neighbour."
"Yes," continued Svidrigailov, shaking with laughter. "I assure you on my honour, dear Rodion Romanovitch, that you have interested me enormously. I told you we should become friends, I foretold it. Well, here we have. And you will see what an accommodating person I am. You'll see that you can get on with me!"
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 Svidrigailov, he might be said to be permanently thinking of Svidrigailov. From the time of Svidrigailov'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 Svidrigailov. 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 Svidrigailov. 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 Svidrigailov 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, Svidrigailov was busy making arrangements for the funeral. Sonia too was very busy. At their last meeting Svidrigailov 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. Svidrigailov 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 Svidrigailov's orders it was sung twice a day punctually. Svidrigailov 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 Svidrigailov.... 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."
"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.
"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."
"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.