"Did you know Lizaveta, the pedlar?"
"Yes.... Did you know her?" Sonia asked with some surprise.
"Katerina Ivanovna is in consumption, rapid consumption; she will soon die," said Raskolnikov after a pause, without answering her question.
"Oh, no, no, no!"
And Sonia unconsciously clutched both his hands, as though imploring that she should not.
"But it will be better if she does die."
"No, not better, not at all better!" Sonia unconsciously repeated in dismay.
"And the children? What can you do except take them to live with you?"
"Oh, I don't know," cried Sonia, almost in despair, and she put her hands to her head.
It was evident that that idea had very often occurred to her before and he had only roused it again.
"And, what, if even now, while Katerina Ivanovna is alive, you get ill and are taken to the hospital, what will happen then?" he persisted pitilessly.
"How can you? That cannot be!"
And Sonia's face worked with awful terror.
"Cannot be?" Raskolnikov went on with a harsh smile. "You are not insured against it, are you? What will happen to them then? They will be in the street, all of them, she will cough and beg and knock her head against some wall, as she did to-day, and the children will cry.... Then she will fall down, be taken to the police station and to the hospital, she will die, and the children..."
"Oh, no.... God will not let it be!" broke at last from Sonia's overburdened bosom.
She listened, looking imploringly at him, clasping her hands in dumb entreaty, as though it all depended upon him.
Raskolnikov got up and began to walk about the room. A minute passed. Sonia was standing with her hands and her head hanging in terrible dejection.
"And can't you save? Put by for a rainy day?" he asked, stopping suddenly before her.
"No," whispered Sonia.
"Of course not. Have you tried?" he added almost ironically.
"And it didn't come off! Of course not! No need to ask."
And again he paced the room. Another minute passed.
"You don't get money every day?"
Sonia was more confused than ever and colour rushed into her face again.
"No," she whispered with a painful effort.
"It will be the same with Polenka, no doubt," he said suddenly.
"No, no! It can't be, no!" Sonia cried aloud in desperation, as though she had been stabbed. "God would not allow anything so awful!"
"He lets others come to it."
"No, no! God will protect her, God!" she repeated beside herself.
"But, perhaps, there is no God at all," Raskolnikov answered with a sort of malignance, laughed and looked at her.
Sonia's face suddenly changed; a tremor passed over it. She looked at him with unutterable reproach, tried to say something, but could not speak and broke into bitter, bitter sobs, hiding her face in her hands.
"You say Katerina Ivanovna's mind is unhinged; your own mind is unhinged," he said after a brief silence.
Five minutes passed. He still paced up and down the room in silence, not looking at her. At last he went up to her; his eyes glittered. He put his two hands on her shoulders and looked straight into her tearful face. His eyes were hard, feverish and piercing, his lips were twitching. All at once he bent down quickly and dropping to the ground, kissed her foot. Sonia drew back from him as from a madman. And certainly he looked like a madman.
"What are you doing to me?" she muttered, turning pale, and a sudden anguish clutched at her heart.
He stood up at once.
"I did not bow down to you, I bowed down to all the suffering of humanity," he said wildly and walked away to the window. "Listen," he added, turning to her a minute later. "I said just now to an insolent man that he was not worth your little finger... and that I did my sister honour making her sit beside you."
"Ach, you said that to them! And in her presence?" cried Sonia, frightened. "Sit down with me! An honour! Why, I'm... dishonourable.... Ah, why did you say that?"
"It was not because of your dishonour and your sin I said that of you, but because of your great suffering. But you are a great sinner, that's true," he added almost solemnly, "and your worst sin is that you have destroyed and betrayed yourself for nothing. Isn't that fearful? Isn't it fearful that you are living in this filth which you loathe so, and at the same time you know yourself (you've only to open your eyes) that you are not helping anyone by it, not saving anyone from anything? Tell me," he went on almost in a frenzy, "how this shame and degradation can exist in you side by side with other, opposite, holy feelings? It would be better, a thousand times better and wiser to leap into the water and end it all!"
"But what would become of them?" Sonia asked faintly, gazing at him with eyes of anguish, but not seeming surprised at his suggestion.
Raskolnikov looked strangely at her. He read it all in her face; so she must have had that thought already, perhaps many times, and earnestly she had thought out in her despair how to end it and so earnestly, that now she scarcely wondered at his suggestion. She had not even noticed the cruelty of his words. (The significance of his reproaches and his peculiar attitude to her shame she had, of course, not noticed either, and that, too, was clear to him.) But he saw how monstrously the thought of her disgraceful, shameful position was torturing her and had long tortured her. "What, what," he thought, "could hitherto have hindered her from putting an end to it?" Only then he realised what those poor little orphan children and that pitiful half-crazy Katerina Ivanovna, knocking her head against the wall in her consumption, meant for Sonia.
But, nevertheless, it was clear to him again that with her character and the amount of education she had after all received, she could not in any case remain so. He was still confronted by the question, how could she have remained so long in that position without going out of her mind, since she could not bring herself to jump into the water? Of course he knew that Sonia's position was an exceptional case, though unhappily not unique and not infrequent, indeed; but that very exceptionalness, her tinge of education, her previous life might, one would have thought, have killed her at the first step on that revolting path. What held her up—surely not depravity? All that infamy had obviously only touched her mechanically, not one drop of real depravity had penetrated to her heart; he saw that. He saw through her as she stood before him....
"There are three ways before her," he thought, "the canal, the madhouse, or... at last to sink into depravity which obscures the mind and turns the heart to stone."
The last idea was the most revolting, but he was a sceptic, he was young, abstract, and therefore cruel, and so he could not help believing that the last end was the most likely.
"But can that be true?" he cried to himself. "Can that creature who has still preserved the purity of her spirit be consciously drawn at last into that sink of filth and iniquity? Can the process already have begun? Can it be that she has only been able to bear it till now, because vice has begun to be less loathsome to her? No, no, that cannot be!" he cried, as Sonia had just before. "No, what has kept her from the canal till now is the idea of sin and they, the children.... And if she has not gone out of her mind... but who says she has not gone out of her mind? Is she in her senses? Can one talk, can one reason as she does? How can she sit on the edge of the abyss of loathsomeness into which she is slipping and refuse to listen when she is told of danger? Does she expect a miracle? No doubt she does. Doesn't that all mean madness?"
He stayed obstinately at that thought. He liked that explanation indeed better than any other. He began looking more intently at her.
"So you pray to God a great deal, Sonia?" he asked her.
Sonia did not speak; he stood beside her waiting for an answer.
"What should I be without God?" she whispered rapidly, forcibly, glancing at him with suddenly flashing eyes, and squeezing his hand.
"Ah, so that is it!" he thought.
"And what does God do for you?" he asked, probing her further.
Sonia was silent a long while, as though she could not answer. Her weak chest kept heaving with emotion.
"Be silent! Don't ask! You don't deserve!" she cried suddenly, looking sternly and wrathfully at him.
"That's it, that's it," he repeated to himself.
"He does everything," she whispered quickly, looking down again.
"That's the way out! That's the explanation," he decided, scrutinising her with eager curiosity, with a new, strange, almost morbid feeling. He gazed at that pale, thin, irregular, angular little face, those soft blue eyes, which could flash with such fire, such stern energy, that little body still shaking with indignation and anger—and it all seemed to him more and more strange, almost impossible. "She is a religious maniac!" he repeated to himself.
There was a book lying on the chest of drawers. He had noticed it every time he paced up and down the room. Now he took it up and looked at it. It was the New Testament in the Russian translation. It was bound in leather, old and worn.
"Where did you get that?" he called to her across the room.
She was still standing in the same place, three steps from the table.
"It was brought me," she answered, as it were unwillingly, not looking at him.
"Who brought it?"
"Lizaveta, I asked her for it."
"Lizaveta! strange!" he thought.
Everything about Sonia seemed to him stranger and more wonderful every moment. He carried the book to the candle and began to turn over the pages.
"Where is the story of Lazarus?" he asked suddenly.
Sonia looked obstinately at the ground and would not answer. She was standing sideways to the table.
"Where is the raising of Lazarus? Find it for me, Sonia."
She stole a glance at him.
"You are not looking in the right place.... It's in the fourth gospel," she whispered sternly, without looking at him.
"Find it and read it to me," he said. He sat down with his elbow on the table, leaned his head on his hand and looked away sullenly, prepared to listen.
"In three weeks' time they'll welcome me in the madhouse! I shall be there if I am not in a worse place," he muttered to himself.
Sonia heard Raskolnikov's request distrustfully and moved hesitatingly to the table. She took the book however.
"Haven't you read it?" she asked, looking up at him across the table.
Her voice became sterner and sterner.
"Long ago.... When I was at school. Read!"
"And haven't you heard it in church?"
"I... haven't been. Do you often go?"
"N-no," whispered Sonia.
"I understand.... And you won't go to your father's funeral to-morrow?"
"Yes, I shall. I was at church last week, too... I had a requiem service."
"For Lizaveta. She was killed with an axe."
His nerves were more and more strained. His head began to go round.
"Were you friends with Lizaveta?"
"Yes.... She was good... she used to come... not often... she couldn't.... We used to read together and... talk. She will see God."
The last phrase sounded strange in his ears. And here was something new again: the mysterious meetings with Lizaveta and both of them—religious maniacs.
"I shall be a religious maniac myself soon! It's infectious!"
"Read!" he cried irritably and insistently.
Sonia still hesitated. Her heart was throbbing. She hardly dared to read to him. He looked almost with exasperation at the "unhappy lunatic."
"What for? You don't believe?..." she whispered softly and as it were breathlessly.
"Read! I want you to," he persisted. "You used to read to Lizaveta."
Sonia opened the book and found the place. Her hands were shaking, her voice failed her. Twice she tried to begin and could not bring out the first syllable.
"Now a certain man was sick named Lazarus of Bethany..." she forced herself at last to read, but at the third word her voice broke like an overstrained string. There was a catch in her breath.
Raskolnikov saw in part why Sonia could not bring herself to read to him and the more he saw this, the more roughly and irritably he insisted on her doing so. He understood only too well how painful it was for her to betray and unveil all that was her own. He understood that these feelings really were her secret treasure, which she had kept perhaps for years, perhaps from childhood, while she lived with an unhappy father and a distracted stepmother crazed by grief, in the midst of starving children and unseemly abuse and reproaches. But at the same time he knew now and knew for certain that, although it filled her with dread and suffering, yet she had a tormenting desire to read and to read to him that he might hear it, and to read now whatever might come of it!... He read this in her eyes, he could see it in her intense emotion. She mastered herself, controlled the spasm in her throat and went on reading the eleventh chapter of St. John. She went on to the nineteenth verse:
"And many of the Jews came to Martha and Mary to comfort them concerning their brother.
"Then Martha as soon as she heard that Jesus was coming went and met Him: but Mary sat still in the house.
"Then said Martha unto Jesus, Lord, if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
"But I know that even now whatsoever Thou wilt ask of God, God will give it Thee...."
Then she stopped again with a shamefaced feeling that her voice would quiver and break again.
"Jesus said unto her, thy brother shall rise again.
"Martha saith unto Him, I know that he shall rise again in the resurrection, at the last day.
"Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection and the life: he that believeth in Me though he were dead, yet shall he live.
"And whosoever liveth and believeth in Me shall never die. Believest thou this?
"She saith unto Him,"
(And drawing a painful breath, Sonia read distinctly and forcibly as though she were making a public confession of faith.)
"Yea, Lord: I believe that Thou art the Christ, the Son of God Which should come into the world."
She stopped and looked up quickly at him, but controlling herself went on reading. Raskolnikov sat without moving, his elbows on the table and his eyes turned away. She read to the thirty-second verse.
"Then when Mary was come where Jesus was and saw Him, she fell down at His feet, saying unto Him, Lord if Thou hadst been here, my brother had not died.
"When Jesus therefore saw her weeping, and the Jews also weeping which came with her, He groaned in the spirit and was troubled,
"And said, Where have ye laid him? They said unto Him, Lord, come and see.
"Then said the Jews, behold how He loved him!
"And some of them said, could not this Man which opened the eyes of the blind, have caused that even this man should not have died?"
Raskolnikov turned and looked at her with emotion. Yes, he had known it! She was trembling in a real physical fever. He had expected it. She was getting near the story of the greatest miracle and a feeling of immense triumph came over her. Her voice rang out like a bell; triumph and joy gave it power. The lines danced before her eyes, but she knew what she was reading by heart. At the last verse "Could not this Man which opened the eyes of the blind..." dropping her voice she passionately reproduced the doubt, the reproach and censure of the blind disbelieving Jews, who in another moment would fall at His feet as though struck by thunder, sobbing and believing.... "And he, he—too, is blinded and unbelieving, he, too, will hear, he, too, will believe, yes, yes! At once, now," was what she was dreaming, and she was quivering with happy anticipation.
"Jesus therefore again groaning in Himself cometh to the grave. It was a cave, and a stone lay upon it.
"Jesus said, Take ye away the stone. Martha, the sister of him that was dead, saith unto Him, Lord by this time he stinketh: for he hath been dead four days."
She laid emphasis on the word four.
"Jesus saith unto her, Said I not unto thee that if thou wouldest believe, thou shouldest see the glory of God?
"Then they took away the stone from the place where the dead was laid. And Jesus lifted up His eyes and said, Father, I thank Thee that Thou hast heard Me.
"And I knew that Thou hearest Me always; but because of the people which stand by I said it, that they may believe that Thou hast sent Me.
"And when He thus had spoken, He cried with a loud voice, Lazarus, come forth.
"And he that was dead came forth."
(She read loudly, cold and trembling with ecstasy, as though she were seeing it before her eyes.)
"Bound hand and foot with graveclothes; and his face was bound about with a napkin. Jesus saith unto them, Loose him and let him go.
"Then many of the Jews which came to Mary and had seen the things which Jesus did believed on Him."
She could read no more, closed the book and got up from her chair quickly.
"That is all about the raising of Lazarus," she whispered severely and abruptly, and turning away she stood motionless, not daring to raise her eyes to him. She still trembled feverishly. The candle-end was flickering out in the battered candlestick, dimly lighting up in the poverty-stricken room the murderer and the harlot who had so strangely been reading together the eternal book. Five minutes or more passed.
"I came to speak of something," Raskolnikov said aloud, frowning. He got up and went to Sonia. She lifted her eyes to him in silence. His face was particularly stern and there was a sort of savage determination in it.
"I have abandoned my family to-day," he said, "my mother and sister. I am not going to see them. I've broken with them completely."
"What for?" asked Sonia amazed. Her recent meeting with his mother and sister had left a great impression which she could not analyse. She heard his news almost with horror.
"I have only you now," he added. "Let us go together.... I've come to you, we are both accursed, let us go our way together!"
His eyes glittered "as though he were mad," Sonia thought, in her turn.
"Go where?" she asked in alarm and she involuntarily stepped back.
"How do I know? I only know it's the same road, I know that and nothing more. It's the same goal!"
She looked at him and understood nothing. She knew only that he was terribly, infinitely unhappy.
"No one of them will understand, if you tell them, but I have understood. I need you, that is why I have come to you."
"I don't understand," whispered Sonia.
"You'll understand later. Haven't you done the same? You, too, have transgressed... have had the strength to transgress. You have laid hands on yourself, you have destroyed a life... your own (it's all the same!). You might have lived in spirit and understanding, but you'll end in the Hay Market.... But you won't be able to stand it, and if you remain alone you'll go out of your mind like me. You are like a mad creature already. So we must go together on the same road! Let us go!"
"What for? What's all this for?" said Sonia, strangely and violently agitated by his words.
"What for? Because you can't remain like this, that's why! You must look things straight in the face at last, and not weep like a child and cry that God won't allow it. What will happen, if you should really be taken to the hospital to-morrow? She is mad and in consumption, she'll soon die and the children? Do you mean to tell me Polenka won't come to grief? Haven't you seen children here at the street corners sent out by their mothers to beg? I've found out where those mothers live and in what surroundings. Children can't remain children there! At seven the child is vicious and a thief. Yet children, you know, are the image of Christ: 'theirs is the kingdom of Heaven.' He bade us honour and love them, they are the humanity of the future...."
"What's to be done, what's to be done?" repeated Sonia, weeping hysterically and wringing her hands.
"What's to be done? Break what must be broken, once for all, that's all, and take the suffering on oneself. What, you don't understand? You'll understand later.... Freedom and power, and above all, power! Over all trembling creation and all the ant-heap!... That's the goal, remember that! That's my farewell message. Perhaps it's the last time I shall speak to you. If I don't come to-morrow, you'll hear of it all, and then remember these words. And some day later on, in years to come, you'll understand perhaps what they meant. If I come to-morrow, I'll tell you who killed Lizaveta.... Good-bye."
Sonia started with terror.
"Why, do you know who killed her?" she asked, chilled with horror, looking wildly at him.
"I know and will tell... you, only you. I have chosen you out. I'm not coming to you to ask forgiveness, but simply to tell you. I chose you out long ago to hear this, when your father talked of you and when Lizaveta was alive, I thought of it. Good-bye, don't shake hands. To-morrow!"
He went out. Sonia gazed at him as at a madman. But she herself was like one insane and felt it. Her head was going round.
"Good heavens, how does he know who killed Lizaveta? What did those words mean? It's awful!" But at the same time the idea did not enter her head, not for a moment! "Oh, he must be terribly unhappy!... He has abandoned his mother and sister.... What for? What has happened? And what had he in his mind? What did he say to her? He had kissed her foot and said... said (yes, he had said it clearly) that he could not live without her.... Oh, merciful heavens!"
Sonia spent the whole night feverish and delirious. She jumped up from time to time, wept and wrung her hands, then sank again into feverish sleep and dreamt of Polenka, Katerina Ivanovna and Lizaveta, of reading the gospel and him... him with pale face, with burning eyes... kissing her feet, weeping.
On the other side of the door on the right, which divided Sonia's room from Madame Resslich's flat, was a room which had long stood empty. A card was fixed on the gate and a notice stuck in the windows over the canal advertising it to let. Sonia had long been accustomed to the room's being uninhabited. But all that time Mr. Svidrigailov had been standing, listening at the door of the empty room. When Raskolnikov went out he stood still, thought a moment, went on tiptoe to his own room which adjoined the empty one, brought a chair and noiselessly carried it to the door that led to Sonia's room. The conversation had struck him as interesting and remarkable, and he had greatly enjoyed it—so much so that he brought a chair that he might not in the future, to-morrow, for instance, have to endure the inconvenience of standing a whole hour, but might listen in comfort.
When next morning at eleven o'clock punctually Raskolnikov went into the department of the investigation of criminal causes and sent his name in to Porfiry Petrovitch, he was surprised at being kept waiting so long: it was at least ten minutes before he was summoned. He had expected that they would pounce upon him. But he stood in the waiting-room, and people, who apparently had nothing to do with him, were continually passing to and fro before him. In the next room which looked like an office, several clerks were sitting writing and obviously they had no notion who or what Raskolnikov might be. He looked uneasily and suspiciously about him to see whether there was not some guard, some mysterious watch being kept on him to prevent his escape. But there was nothing of the sort: he saw only the faces of clerks absorbed in petty details, then other people, no one seemed to have any concern with him. He might go where he liked for them. The conviction grew stronger in him that if that enigmatic man of yesterday, that phantom sprung out of the earth, had seen everything, they would not have let him stand and wait like that. And would they have waited till he elected to appear at eleven? Either the man had not yet given information, or... or simply he knew nothing, had seen nothing (and how could he have seen anything?) and so all that had happened to him the day before was again a phantom exaggerated by his sick and overstrained imagination. This conjecture had begun to grow strong the day before, in the midst of all his alarm and despair. Thinking it all over now and preparing for a fresh conflict, he was suddenly aware that he was trembling—and he felt a rush of indignation at the thought that he was trembling with fear at facing that hateful Porfiry Petrovitch. What he dreaded above all was meeting that man again; he hated him with an intense, unmitigated hatred and was afraid his hatred might betray him. His indignation was such that he ceased trembling at once; he made ready to go in with a cold and arrogant bearing and vowed to himself to keep as silent as possible, to watch and listen and for once at least to control his overstrained nerves. At that moment he was summoned to Porfiry Petrovitch.
He found Porfiry Petrovitch alone in his study. His study was a room neither large nor small, furnished with a large writing-table, that stood before a sofa, upholstered in checked material, a bureau, a bookcase in the corner and several chairs—all government furniture, of polished yellow wood. In the further wall there was a closed door, beyond it there were no doubt other rooms. On Raskolnikov's entrance Porfiry Petrovitch had at once closed the door by which he had come in and they remained alone. He met his visitor with an apparently genial and good-tempered air, and it was only after a few minutes that Raskolnikov saw signs of a certain awkwardness in him, as though he had been thrown out of his reckoning or caught in something very secret.
"Ah, my dear fellow! Here you are... in our domain"... began Porfiry, holding out both hands to him. "Come, sit down, old man... or perhaps you don't like to be called 'my dear fellow' and 'old man!'—tout court? Please don't think it too familiar.... Here, on the sofa."
Raskolnikov sat down, keeping his eyes fixed on him. "In our domain," the apologies for familiarity, the French phrase tout court, were all characteristic signs.
"He held out both hands to me, but he did not give me one—he drew it back in time," struck him suspiciously. Both were watching each other, but when their eyes met, quick as lightning they looked away.
"I brought you this paper... about the watch. Here it is. Is it all right or shall I copy it again?"
"What? A paper? Yes, yes, don't be uneasy, it's all right," Porfiry Petrovitch said as though in haste, and after he had said it he took the paper and looked at it. "Yes, it's all right. Nothing more is needed," he declared with the same rapidity and he laid the paper on the table.
A minute later when he was talking of something else he took it from the table and put it on his bureau.
"I believe you said yesterday you would like to question me... formally... about my acquaintance with the murdered woman?" Raskolnikov was beginning again. "Why did I put in 'I believe'" passed through his mind in a flash. "Why am I so uneasy at having put in that 'I believe'?" came in a second flash. And he suddenly felt that his uneasiness at the mere contact with Porfiry, at the first words, at the first looks, had grown in an instant to monstrous proportions, and that this was fearfully dangerous. His nerves were quivering, his emotion was increasing. "It's bad, it's bad! I shall say too much again."
"Yes, yes, yes! There's no hurry, there's no hurry," muttered Porfiry Petrovitch, moving to and fro about the table without any apparent aim, as it were making dashes towards the window, the bureau and the table, at one moment avoiding Raskolnikov's suspicious glance, then again standing still and looking him straight in the face.
His fat round little figure looked very strange, like a ball rolling from one side to the other and rebounding back.
"We've plenty of time. Do you smoke? have you your own? Here, a cigarette!" he went on, offering his visitor a cigarette. "You know I am receiving you here, but my own quarters are through there, you know, my government quarters. But I am living outside for the time, I had to have some repairs done here. It's almost finished now.... Government quarters, you know, are a capital thing. Eh, what do you think?"
"Yes, a capital thing," answered Raskolnikov, looking at him almost ironically.
"A capital thing, a capital thing," repeated Porfiry Petrovitch, as though he had just thought of something quite different. "Yes, a capital thing," he almost shouted at last, suddenly staring at Raskolnikov and stopping short two steps from him.
This stupid repetition was too incongruous in its ineptitude with the serious, brooding and enigmatic glance he turned upon his visitor.
But this stirred Raskolnikov's spleen more than ever and he could not resist an ironical and rather incautious challenge.
"Tell me, please," he asked suddenly, looking almost insolently at him and taking a kind of pleasure in his own insolence. "I believe it's a sort of legal rule, a sort of legal tradition—for all investigating lawyers—to begin their attack from afar, with a trivial, or at least an irrelevant subject, so as to encourage, or rather, to divert the man they are cross-examining, to disarm his caution and then all at once to give him an unexpected knock-down blow with some fatal question. Isn't that so? It's a sacred tradition, mentioned, I fancy, in all the manuals of the art?"
"Yes, yes.... Why, do you imagine that was why I spoke about government quarters... eh?"
And as he said this Porfiry Petrovitch screwed up his eyes and winked; a good-humoured, crafty look passed over his face. The wrinkles on his forehead were smoothed out, his eyes contracted, his features broadened and he suddenly went off into a nervous prolonged laugh, shaking all over and looking Raskolnikov straight in the face. The latter forced himself to laugh, too, but when Porfiry, seeing that he was laughing, broke into such a guffaw that he turned almost crimson, Raskolnikov's repulsion overcame all precaution; he left off laughing, scowled and stared with hatred at Porfiry, keeping his eyes fixed on him while his intentionally prolonged laughter lasted. There was lack of precaution on both sides, however, for Porfiry Petrovitch seemed to be laughing in his visitor's face and to be very little disturbed at the annoyance with which the visitor received it. The latter fact was very significant in Raskolnikov's eyes: he saw that Porfiry Petrovitch had not been embarrassed just before either, but that he, Raskolnikov, had perhaps fallen into a trap; that there must be something, some motive here unknown to him; that, perhaps, everything was in readiness and in another moment would break upon him...
He went straight to the point at once, rose from his seat and took his cap.
"Porfiry Petrovitch," he began resolutely, though with considerable irritation, "yesterday you expressed a desire that I should come to you for some inquiries" (he laid special stress on the word "inquiries"). "I have come and if you have anything to ask me, ask it, and if not, allow me to withdraw. I have no time to spare.... I have to be at the funeral of that man who was run over, of whom you... know also," he added, feeling angry at once at having made this addition and more irritated at his anger. "I am sick of it all, do you hear? and have long been. It's partly what made me ill. In short," he shouted, feeling that the phrase about his illness was still more out of place, "in short, kindly examine me or let me go, at once. And if you must examine me, do so in the proper form! I will not allow you to do so otherwise, and so meanwhile, good-bye, as we have evidently nothing to keep us now."
"Good heavens! What do you mean? What shall I question you about?" cackled Porfiry Petrovitch with a change of tone, instantly leaving off laughing. "Please don't disturb yourself," he began fidgeting from place to place and fussily making Raskolnikov sit down. "There's no hurry, there's no hurry, it's all nonsense. Oh, no, I'm very glad you've come to see me at last... I look upon you simply as a visitor. And as for my confounded laughter, please excuse it, Rodion Romanovitch. Rodion Romanovitch? That is your name?... It's my nerves, you tickled me so with your witty observation; I assure you, sometimes I shake with laughter like an india-rubber ball for half an hour at a time.... I'm often afraid of an attack of paralysis. Do sit down. Please do, or I shall think you are angry..."
Raskolnikov did not speak; he listened, watching him, still frowning angrily. He did sit down, but still held his cap.
"I must tell you one thing about myself, my dear Rodion Romanovitch," Porfiry Petrovitch continued, moving about the room and again avoiding his visitor's eyes. "You see, I'm a bachelor, a man of no consequence and not used to society; besides, I have nothing before me, I'm set, I'm running to seed and... and have you noticed, Rodion Romanovitch, that in our Petersburg circles, if two clever men meet who are not intimate, but respect each other, like you and me, it takes them half an hour before they can find a subject for conversation—they are dumb, they sit opposite each other and feel awkward. Everyone has subjects of conversation, ladies for instance... people in high society always have their subjects of conversation, c'est de rigueur, but people of the middle sort like us, thinking people that is, are always tongue-tied and awkward. What is the reason of it? Whether it is the lack of public interest, or whether it is we are so honest we don't want to deceive one another, I don't know. What do you think? Do put down your cap, it looks as if you were just going, it makes me uncomfortable... I am so delighted..."
Raskolnikov put down his cap and continued listening in silence with a serious frowning face to the vague and empty chatter of Porfiry Petrovitch. "Does he really want to distract my attention with his silly babble?"
"I can't offer you coffee here; but why not spend five minutes with a friend?" Porfiry pattered on, "and you know all these official duties... please don't mind my running up and down, excuse it, my dear fellow, I am very much afraid of offending you, but exercise is absolutely indispensable for me. I'm always sitting and so glad to be moving about for five minutes... I suffer from my sedentary life... I always intend to join a gymnasium; they say that officials of all ranks, even Privy Councillors, may be seen skipping gaily there; there you have it, modern science... yes, yes.... But as for my duties here, inquiries and all such formalities... you mentioned inquiries yourself just now... I assure you these interrogations are sometimes more embarrassing for the interrogator than for the interrogated.... You made the observation yourself just now very aptly and wittily." (Raskolnikov had made no observation of the kind.) "One gets into a muddle! A regular muddle! One keeps harping on the same note, like a drum! There is to be a reform and we shall be called by a different name, at least, he-he-he! And as for our legal tradition, as you so wittily called it, I thoroughly agree with you. Every prisoner on trial, even the rudest peasant, knows that they begin by disarming him with irrelevant questions (as you so happily put it) and then deal him a knock-down blow, he-he-he!—your felicitous comparison, he-he! So you really imagined that I meant by 'government quarters'... he-he! You are an ironical person. Come. I won't go on! Ah, by the way, yes! One word leads to another. You spoke of formality just now, apropos of the inquiry, you know. But what's the use of formality? In many cases it's nonsense. Sometimes one has a friendly chat and gets a good deal more out of it. One can always fall back on formality, allow me to assure you. And after all, what does it amount to? An examining lawyer cannot be bounded by formality at every step. The work of investigation is, so to speak, a free art in its own way, he-he-he!"
Porfiry Petrovitch took breath a moment. He had simply babbled on uttering empty phrases, letting slip a few enigmatic words and again reverting to incoherence. He was almost running about the room, moving his fat little legs quicker and quicker, looking at the ground, with his right hand behind his back, while with his left making gesticulations that were extraordinarily incongruous with his words. Raskolnikov suddenly noticed that as he ran about the room he seemed twice to stop for a moment near the door, as though he were listening.
"Is he expecting anything?"
"You are certainly quite right about it," Porfiry began gaily, looking with extraordinary simplicity at Raskolnikov (which startled him and instantly put him on his guard); "certainly quite right in laughing so wittily at our legal forms, he-he! Some of these elaborate psychological methods are exceedingly ridiculous and perhaps useless, if one adheres too closely to the forms. Yes... I am talking of forms again. Well, if I recognise, or more strictly speaking, if I suspect someone or other to be a criminal in any case entrusted to me... you're reading for the law, of course, Rodion Romanovitch?"
"Yes, I was..."
"Well, then it is a precedent for you for the future—though don't suppose I should venture to instruct you after the articles you publish about crime! No, I simply make bold to state it by way of fact, if I took this man or that for a criminal, why, I ask, should I worry him prematurely, even though I had evidence against him? In one case I may be bound, for instance, to arrest a man at once, but another may be in quite a different position, you know, so why shouldn't I let him walk about the town a bit? he-he-he! But I see you don't quite understand, so I'll give you a clearer example. If I put him in prison too soon, I may very likely give him, so to speak, moral support, he-he! You're laughing?"
Raskolnikov had no idea of laughing. He was sitting with compressed lips, his feverish eyes fixed on Porfiry Petrovitch's.
"Yet that is the case, with some types especially, for men are so different. You say 'evidence'. Well, there may be evidence. But evidence, you know, can generally be taken two ways. I am an examining lawyer and a weak man, I confess it. I should like to make a proof, so to say, mathematically clear. I should like to make a chain of evidence such as twice two are four, it ought to be a direct, irrefutable proof! And if I shut him up too soon—even though I might be convinced he was the man, I should very likely be depriving myself of the means of getting further evidence against him. And how? By giving him, so to speak, a definite position, I shall put him out of suspense and set his mind at rest, so that he will retreat into his shell. They say that at Sevastopol, soon after Alma, the clever people were in a terrible fright that the enemy would attack openly and take Sevastopol at once. But when they saw that the enemy preferred a regular siege, they were delighted, I am told and reassured, for the thing would drag on for two months at least. You're laughing, you don't believe me again? Of course, you're right, too. You're right, you're right. These are special cases, I admit. But you must observe this, my dear Rodion Romanovitch, the general case, the case for which all legal forms and rules are intended, for which they are calculated and laid down in books, does not exist at all, for the reason that every case, every crime, for instance, so soon as it actually occurs, at once becomes a thoroughly special case and sometimes a case unlike any that's gone before. Very comic cases of that sort sometimes occur. If I leave one man quite alone, if I don't touch him and don't worry him, but let him know or at least suspect every moment that I know all about it and am watching him day and night, and if he is in continual suspicion and terror, he'll be bound to lose his head. He'll come of himself, or maybe do something which will make it as plain as twice two are four—it's delightful. It may be so with a simple peasant, but with one of our sort, an intelligent man cultivated on a certain side, it's a dead certainty. For, my dear fellow, it's a very important matter to know on what side a man is cultivated. And then there are nerves, there are nerves, you have overlooked them! Why, they are all sick, nervous and irritable!... And then how they all suffer from spleen! That I assure you is a regular gold-mine for us. And it's no anxiety to me, his running about the town free! Let him, let him walk about for a bit! I know well enough that I've caught him and that he won't escape me. Where could he escape to, he-he? Abroad, perhaps? A Pole will escape abroad, but not here, especially as I am watching and have taken measures. Will he escape into the depths of the country perhaps? But you know, peasants live there, real rude Russian peasants. A modern cultivated man would prefer prison to living with such strangers as our peasants. He-he! But that's all nonsense, and on the surface. It's not merely that he has nowhere to run to, he is psychologically unable to escape me, he-he! What an expression! Through a law of nature he can't escape me if he had anywhere to go. Have you seen a butterfly round a candle? That's how he will keep circling and circling round me. Freedom will lose its attractions. He'll begin to brood, he'll weave a tangle round himself, he'll worry himself to death! What's more he will provide me with a mathematical proof—if I only give him long enough interval.... And he'll keep circling round me, getting nearer and nearer and then—flop! He'll fly straight into my mouth and I'll swallow him, and that will be very amusing, he-he-he! You don't believe me?"
Raskolnikov made no reply; he sat pale and motionless, still gazing with the same intensity into Porfiry's face.
"It's a lesson," he thought, turning cold. "This is beyond the cat playing with a mouse, like yesterday. He can't be showing off his power with no motive... prompting me; he is far too clever for that... he must have another object. What is it? It's all nonsense, my friend, you are pretending, to scare me! You've no proofs and the man I saw had no real existence. You simply want to make me lose my head, to work me up beforehand and so to crush me. But you are wrong, you won't do it! But why give me such a hint? Is he reckoning on my shattered nerves? No, my friend, you are wrong, you won't do it even though you have some trap for me... let us see what you have in store for me."
And he braced himself to face a terrible and unknown ordeal. At times he longed to fall on Porfiry and strangle him. This anger was what he dreaded from the beginning. He felt that his parched lips were flecked with foam, his heart was throbbing. But he was still determined not to speak till the right moment. He realised that this was the best policy in his position, because instead of saying too much he would be irritating his enemy by his silence and provoking him into speaking too freely. Anyhow, this was what he hoped for.
"No, I see you don't believe me, you think I am playing a harmless joke on you," Porfiry began again, getting more and more lively, chuckling at every instant and again pacing round the room. "And to be sure you're right: God has given me a figure that can awaken none but comic ideas in other people; a buffoon; but let me tell you, and I repeat it, excuse an old man, my dear Rodion Romanovitch, you are a man still young, so to say, in your first youth and so you put intellect above everything, like all young people. Playful wit and abstract arguments fascinate you and that's for all the world like the old Austrian Hof-kriegsrath, as far as I can judge of military matters, that is: on paper they'd beaten Napoleon and taken him prisoner, and there in their study they worked it all out in the cleverest fashion, but look you, General Mack surrendered with all his army, he-he-he! I see, I see, Rodion Romanovitch, you are laughing at a civilian like me, taking examples out of military history! But I can't help it, it's my weakness. I am fond of military science. And I'm ever so fond of reading all military histories. I've certainly missed my proper career. I ought to have been in the army, upon my word I ought. I shouldn't have been a Napoleon, but I might have been a major, he-he! Well, I'll tell you the whole truth, my dear fellow, about this special case, I mean: actual fact and a man's temperament, my dear sir, are weighty matters and it's astonishing how they sometimes deceive the sharpest calculation! I—listen to an old man—am speaking seriously, Rodion Romanovitch" (as he said this Porfiry Petrovitch, who was scarcely five-and-thirty, actually seemed to have grown old; even his voice changed and he seemed to shrink together) "Moreover, I'm a candid man... am I a candid man or not? What do you say? I fancy I really am: I tell you these things for nothing and don't even expect a reward for it, he-he! Well, to proceed, wit in my opinion is a splendid thing, it is, so to say, an adornment of nature and a consolation of life, and what tricks it can play! So that it sometimes is hard for a poor examining lawyer to know where he is, especially when he's liable to be carried away by his own fancy, too, for you know he is a man after all! But the poor fellow is saved by the criminal's temperament, worse luck for him! But young people carried away by their own wit don't think of that 'when they overstep all obstacles,' as you wittily and cleverly expressed it yesterday. He will lie—that is, the man who is a special case, the incognito, and he will lie well, in the cleverest fashion; you might think he would triumph and enjoy the fruits of his wit, but at the most interesting, the most flagrant moment he will faint. Of course there may be illness and a stuffy room as well, but anyway! Anyway he's given us the idea! He lied incomparably, but he didn't reckon on his temperament. That's what betrays him! Another time he will be carried away by his playful wit into making fun of the man who suspects him, he will turn pale as it were on purpose to mislead, but his paleness will be too natural, too much like the real thing, again he has given us an idea! Though his questioner may be deceived at first, he will think differently next day if he is not a fool, and, of course, it is like that at every step! He puts himself forward where he is not wanted, speaks continually when he ought to keep silent, brings in all sorts of allegorical allusions, he-he! Comes and asks why didn't you take me long ago? he-he-he! And that can happen, you know, with the cleverest man, the psychologist, the literary man. The temperament reflects everything like a mirror! Gaze into it and admire what you see! But why are you so pale, Rodion Romanovitch? Is the room stuffy? Shall I open the window?"
"Oh, don't trouble, please," cried Raskolnikov and he suddenly broke into a laugh. "Please don't trouble."
Porfiry stood facing him, paused a moment and suddenly he too laughed. Raskolnikov got up from the sofa, abruptly checking his hysterical laughter.
"Porfiry Petrovitch," he began, speaking loudly and distinctly, though his legs trembled and he could scarcely stand. "I see clearly at last that you actually suspect me of murdering that old woman and her sister Lizaveta. Let me tell you for my part that I am sick of this. If you find that you have a right to prosecute me legally, to arrest me, then prosecute me, arrest me. But I will not let myself be jeered at to my face and worried..."
His lips trembled, his eyes glowed with fury and he could not restrain his voice.
"I won't allow it!" he shouted, bringing his fist down on the table. "Do you hear that, Porfiry Petrovitch? I won't allow it."
"Good heavens! What does it mean?" cried Porfiry Petrovitch, apparently quite frightened. "Rodion Romanovitch, my dear fellow, what is the matter with you?"
"I won't allow it," Raskolnikov shouted again.
"Hush, my dear man! They'll hear and come in. Just think, what could we say to them?" Porfiry Petrovitch whispered in horror, bringing his face close to Raskolnikov's.
"I won't allow it, I won't allow it," Raskolnikov repeated mechanically, but he too spoke in a sudden whisper.
Porfiry turned quickly and ran to open the window.
"Some fresh air! And you must have some water, my dear fellow. You're ill!" and he was running to the door to call for some when he found a decanter of water in the corner. "Come, drink a little," he whispered, rushing up to him with the decanter. "It will be sure to do you good."
Porfiry Petrovitch's alarm and sympathy were so natural that Raskolnikov was silent and began looking at him with wild curiosity. He did not take the water, however.
"Rodion Romanovitch, my dear fellow, you'll drive yourself out of your mind, I assure you, ach, ach! Have some water, do drink a little."
He forced him to take the glass. Raskolnikov raised it mechanically to his lips, but set it on the table again with disgust.
"Yes, you've had a little attack! You'll bring back your illness again, my dear fellow," Porfiry Petrovitch cackled with friendly sympathy, though he still looked rather disconcerted. "Good heavens, you must take more care of yourself! Dmitri Prokofitch was here, came to see me yesterday—I know, I know, I've a nasty, ironical temper, but what they made of it!... Good heavens, he came yesterday after you'd been. We dined and he talked and talked away, and I could only throw up my hands in despair! Did he come from you? But do sit down, for mercy's sake, sit down!"
"No, not from me, but I knew he went to you and why he went," Raskolnikov answered sharply.
"I knew. What of it?"
"Why this, Rodion Romanovitch, that I know more than that about you; I know about everything. I know how you went to take a flat at night when it was dark and how you rang the bell and asked about the blood, so that the workmen and the porter did not know what to make of it. Yes, I understand your state of mind at that time... but you'll drive yourself mad like that, upon my word! You'll lose your head! You're full of generous indignation at the wrongs you've received, first from destiny, and then from the police officers, and so you rush from one thing to another to force them to speak out and make an end of it all, because you are sick of all this suspicion and foolishness. That's so, isn't it? I have guessed how you feel, haven't I? Only in that way you'll lose your head and Razumihin's, too; he's too good a man for such a position, you must know that. You are ill and he is good and your illness is infectious for him... I'll tell you about it when you are more yourself.... But do sit down, for goodness' sake. Please rest, you look shocking, do sit down."
Raskolnikov sat down; he no longer shivered, he was hot all over. In amazement he listened with strained attention to Porfiry Petrovitch who still seemed frightened as he looked after him with friendly solicitude. But he did not believe a word he said, though he felt a strange inclination to believe. Porfiry's unexpected words about the flat had utterly overwhelmed him. "How can it be, he knows about the flat then," he thought suddenly, "and he tells it me himself!"
"Yes, in our legal practice there was a case almost exactly similar, a case of morbid psychology," Porfiry went on quickly. "A man confessed to murder and how he kept it up! It was a regular hallucination; he brought forward facts, he imposed upon everyone and why? He had been partly, but only partly, unintentionally the cause of a murder and when he knew that he had given the murderers the opportunity, he sank into dejection, it got on his mind and turned his brain, he began imagining things and he persuaded himself that he was the murderer. But at last the High Court of Appeal went into it and the poor fellow was acquitted and put under proper care. Thanks to the Court of Appeal! Tut-tut-tut! Why, my dear fellow, you may drive yourself into delirium if you have the impulse to work upon your nerves, to go ringing bells at night and asking about blood! I've studied all this morbid psychology in my practice. A man is sometimes tempted to jump out of a window or from a belfry. Just the same with bell-ringing.... It's all illness, Rodion Romanovitch! You have begun to neglect your illness. You should consult an experienced doctor, what's the good of that fat fellow? You are lightheaded! You were delirious when you did all this!"
For a moment Raskolnikov felt everything going round.
"Is it possible, is it possible," flashed through his mind, "that he is still lying? He can't be, he can't be." He rejected that idea, feeling to what a degree of fury it might drive him, feeling that that fury might drive him mad.
"I was not delirious. I knew what I was doing," he cried, straining every faculty to penetrate Porfiry's game, "I was quite myself, do you hear?"
"Yes, I hear and understand. You said yesterday you were not delirious, you were particularly emphatic about it! I understand all you can tell me! A-ach!... Listen, Rodion Romanovitch, my dear fellow. If you were actually a criminal, or were somehow mixed up in this damnable business, would you insist that you were not delirious but in full possession of your faculties? And so emphatically and persistently? Would it be possible? Quite impossible, to my thinking. If you had anything on your conscience, you certainly ought to insist that you were delirious. That's so, isn't it?"
There was a note of slyness in this inquiry. Raskolnikov drew back on the sofa as Porfiry bent over him and stared in silent perplexity at him.
"Another thing about Razumihin—you certainly ought to have said that he came of his own accord, to have concealed your part in it! But you don't conceal it! You lay stress on his coming at your instigation."
Raskolnikov had not done so. A chill went down his back.
"You keep telling lies," he said slowly and weakly, twisting his lips into a sickly smile, "you are trying again to show that you know all my game, that you know all I shall say beforehand," he said, conscious himself that he was not weighing his words as he ought. "You want to frighten me... or you are simply laughing at me..."
He still stared at him as he said this and again there was a light of intense hatred in his eyes.
"You keep lying," he said. "You know perfectly well that the best policy for the criminal is to tell the truth as nearly as possible... to conceal as little as possible. I don't believe you!"
"What a wily person you are!" Porfiry tittered, "there's no catching you; you've a perfect monomania. So you don't believe me? But still you do believe me, you believe a quarter; I'll soon make you believe the whole, because I have a sincere liking for you and genuinely wish you good."
Raskolnikov's lips trembled.
"Yes, I do," went on Porfiry, touching Raskolnikov's arm genially, "you must take care of your illness. Besides, your mother and sister are here now; you must think of them. You must soothe and comfort them and you do nothing but frighten them..."
"What has that to do with you? How do you know it? What concern is it of yours? You are keeping watch on me and want to let me know it?"
"Good heavens! Why, I learnt it all from you yourself! You don't notice that in your excitement you tell me and others everything. From Razumihin, too, I learnt a number of interesting details yesterday. No, you interrupted me, but I must tell you that, for all your wit, your suspiciousness makes you lose the common-sense view of things. To return to bell-ringing, for instance. I, an examining lawyer, have betrayed a precious thing like that, a real fact (for it is a fact worth having), and you see nothing in it! Why, if I had the slightest suspicion of you, should I have acted like that? No, I should first have disarmed your suspicions and not let you see I knew of that fact, should have diverted your attention and suddenly have dealt you a knock-down blow (your expression) saying: 'And what were you doing, sir, pray, at ten or nearly eleven at the murdered woman's flat and why did you ring the bell and why did you ask about blood? And why did you invite the porters to go with you to the police station, to the lieutenant?' That's how I ought to have acted if I had a grain of suspicion of you. I ought to have taken your evidence in due form, searched your lodging and perhaps have arrested you, too... so I have no suspicion of you, since I have not done that! But you can't look at it normally and you see nothing, I say again."
Raskolnikov started so that Porfiry Petrovitch could not fail to perceive it.
"You are lying all the while," he cried, "I don't know your object, but you are lying. You did not speak like that just now and I cannot be mistaken!"
"I am lying?" Porfiry repeated, apparently incensed, but preserving a good-humoured and ironical face, as though he were not in the least concerned at Raskolnikov's opinion of him. "I am lying... but how did I treat you just now, I, the examining lawyer? Prompting you and giving you every means for your defence; illness, I said, delirium, injury, melancholy and the police officers and all the rest of it? Ah! He-he-he! Though, indeed, all those psychological means of defence are not very reliable and cut both ways: illness, delirium, I don't remember—that's all right, but why, my good sir, in your illness and in your delirium were you haunted by just those delusions and not by any others? There may have been others, eh? He-he-he!"
Raskolnikov looked haughtily and contemptuously at him.
"Briefly," he said loudly and imperiously, rising to his feet and in so doing pushing Porfiry back a little, "briefly, I want to know, do you acknowledge me perfectly free from suspicion or not? Tell me, Porfiry Petrovitch, tell me once for all and make haste!"
"What a business I'm having with you!" cried Porfiry with a perfectly good-humoured, sly and composed face. "And why do you want to know, why do you want to know so much, since they haven't begun to worry you? Why, you are like a child asking for matches! And why are you so uneasy? Why do you force yourself upon us, eh? He-he-he!"
"I repeat," Raskolnikov cried furiously, "that I can't put up with it!"
"With what? Uncertainty?" interrupted Porfiry.
"Don't jeer at me! I won't have it! I tell you I won't have it. I can't and I won't, do you hear, do you hear?" he shouted, bringing his fist down on the table again.
"Hush! Hush! They'll overhear! I warn you seriously, take care of yourself. I am not joking," Porfiry whispered, but this time there was not the look of old womanish good nature and alarm in his face. Now he was peremptory, stern, frowning and for once laying aside all mystification.
But this was only for an instant. Raskolnikov, bewildered, suddenly fell into actual frenzy, but, strange to say, he again obeyed the command to speak quietly, though he was in a perfect paroxysm of fury.
"I will not allow myself to be tortured," he whispered, instantly recognising with hatred that he could not help obeying the command and driven to even greater fury by the thought. "Arrest me, search me, but kindly act in due form and don't play with me! Don't dare!"
"Don't worry about the form," Porfiry interrupted with the same sly smile, as it were, gloating with enjoyment over Raskolnikov. "I invited you to see me quite in a friendly way."
"I don't want your friendship and I spit on it! Do you hear? And, here, I take my cap and go. What will you say now if you mean to arrest me?"
He took up his cap and went to the door.
"And won't you see my little surprise?" chuckled Porfiry, again taking him by the arm and stopping him at the door.
He seemed to become more playful and good-humoured which maddened Raskolnikov.
"What surprise?" he asked, standing still and looking at Porfiry in alarm.
"My little surprise, it's sitting there behind the door, he-he-he!" (He pointed to the locked door.) "I locked him in that he should not escape."
"What is it? Where? What?..."
Raskolnikov walked to the door and would have opened it, but it was locked.
"It's locked, here is the key!"
And he brought a key out of his pocket.
"You are lying," roared Raskolnikov without restraint, "you lie, you damned punchinello!" and he rushed at Porfiry who retreated to the other door, not at all alarmed.
"I understand it all! You are lying and mocking so that I may betray myself to you..."
"Why, you could not betray yourself any further, my dear Rodion Romanovitch. You are in a passion. Don't shout, I shall call the clerks."
"You are lying! Call the clerks! You knew I was ill and tried to work me into a frenzy to make me betray myself, that was your object! Produce your facts! I understand it all. You've no evidence, you have only wretched rubbishly suspicions like Zametov's! You knew my character, you wanted to drive me to fury and then to knock me down with priests and deputies.... Are you waiting for them? eh! What are you waiting for? Where are they? Produce them?"
"Why deputies, my good man? What things people will imagine! And to do so would not be acting in form as you say, you don't know the business, my dear fellow.... And there's no escaping form, as you see," Porfiry muttered, listening at the door through which a noise could be heard.
"Ah, they're coming," cried Raskolnikov. "You've sent for them! You expected them! Well, produce them all: your deputies, your witnesses, what you like!... I am ready!"
But at this moment a strange incident occurred, something so unexpected that neither Raskolnikov nor Porfiry Petrovitch could have looked for such a conclusion to their interview.
When he remembered the scene afterwards, this is how Raskolnikov saw it.
The noise behind the door increased, and suddenly the door was opened a little.
"What is it?" cried Porfiry Petrovitch, annoyed. "Why, I gave orders..."
For an instant there was no answer, but it was evident that there were several persons at the door, and that they were apparently pushing somebody back.
"What is it?" Porfiry Petrovitch repeated, uneasily.
"The prisoner Nikolay has been brought," someone answered.
"He is not wanted! Take him away! Let him wait! What's he doing here? How irregular!" cried Porfiry, rushing to the door.
"But he..." began the same voice, and suddenly ceased.
Two seconds, not more, were spent in actual struggle, then someone gave a violent shove, and then a man, very pale, strode into the room.
This man's appearance was at first sight very strange. He stared straight before him, as though seeing nothing. There was a determined gleam in his eyes; at the same time there was a deathly pallor in his face, as though he were being led to the scaffold. His white lips were faintly twitching.
He was dressed like a workman and was of medium height, very young, slim, his hair cut in round crop, with thin spare features. The man whom he had thrust back followed him into the room and succeeded in seizing him by the shoulder; he was a warder; but Nikolay pulled his arm away.
Several persons crowded inquisitively into the doorway. Some of them tried to get in. All this took place almost instantaneously.
"Go away, it's too soon! Wait till you are sent for!... Why have you brought him so soon?" Porfiry Petrovitch muttered, extremely annoyed, and as it were thrown out of his reckoning.
But Nikolay suddenly knelt down.
"What's the matter?" cried Porfiry, surprised.
"I am guilty! Mine is the sin! I am the murderer," Nikolay articulated suddenly, rather breathless, but speaking fairly loudly.
For ten seconds there was silence as though all had been struck dumb; even the warder stepped back, mechanically retreated to the door, and stood immovable.
"What is it?" cried Porfiry Petrovitch, recovering from his momentary stupefaction.
"I... am the murderer," repeated Nikolay, after a brief pause.
"What... you... what... whom did you kill?" Porfiry Petrovitch was obviously bewildered.
Nikolay again was silent for a moment.
"Alyona Ivanovna and her sister Lizaveta Ivanovna, I... killed... with an axe. Darkness came over me," he added suddenly, and was again silent.
He still remained on his knees. Porfiry Petrovitch stood for some moments as though meditating, but suddenly roused himself and waved back the uninvited spectators. They instantly vanished and closed the door. Then he looked towards Raskolnikov, who was standing in the corner, staring wildly at Nikolay and moved towards him, but stopped short, looked from Nikolay to Raskolnikov and then again at Nikolay, and seeming unable to restrain himself darted at the latter.
"You're in too great a hurry," he shouted at him, almost angrily. "I didn't ask you what came over you.... Speak, did you kill them?"
"I am the murderer.... I want to give evidence," Nikolay pronounced.
"Ach! What did you kill them with?"
"An axe. I had it ready."
"Ach, he is in a hurry! Alone?"
Nikolay did not understand the question.
"Did you do it alone?"
"Yes, alone. And Mitka is not guilty and had no share in it."
"Don't be in a hurry about Mitka! A-ach! How was it you ran downstairs like that at the time? The porters met you both!"
"It was to put them off the scent... I ran after Mitka," Nikolay replied hurriedly, as though he had prepared the answer.
"I knew it!" cried Porfiry, with vexation. "It's not his own tale he is telling," he muttered as though to himself, and suddenly his eyes rested on Raskolnikov again.
He was apparently so taken up with Nikolay that for a moment he had forgotten Raskolnikov. He was a little taken aback.
"My dear Rodion Romanovitch, excuse me!" he flew up to him, "this won't do; I'm afraid you must go... it's no good your staying... I will... you see, what a surprise!... Good-bye!"
And taking him by the arm, he showed him to the door.
"I suppose you didn't expect it?" said Raskolnikov who, though he had not yet fully grasped the situation, had regained his courage.
"You did not expect it either, my friend. See how your hand is trembling! He-he!"
"You're trembling, too, Porfiry Petrovitch!"
"Yes, I am; I didn't expect it."
They were already at the door; Porfiry was impatient for Raskolnikov to be gone.
"And your little surprise, aren't you going to show it to me?" Raskolnikov said, sarcastically.
"Why, his teeth are chattering as he asks, he-he! You are an ironical person! Come, till we meet!"
"I believe we can say good-bye!"
"That's in God's hands," muttered Porfiry, with an unnatural smile.
As he walked through the office, Raskolnikov noticed that many people were looking at him. Among them he saw the two porters from the house, whom he had invited that night to the police station. They stood there waiting. But he was no sooner on the stairs than he heard the voice of Porfiry Petrovitch behind him. Turning round, he saw the latter running after him, out of breath.
"One word, Rodion Romanovitch; as to all the rest, it's in God's hands, but as a matter of form there are some questions I shall have to ask you... so we shall meet again, shan't we?"
And Porfiry stood still, facing him with a smile.
"Shan't we?" he added again.
He seemed to want to say something more, but could not speak out.
"You must forgive me, Porfiry Petrovitch, for what has just passed... I lost my temper," began Raskolnikov, who had so far regained his courage that he felt irresistibly inclined to display his coolness.
"Don't mention it, don't mention it," Porfiry replied, almost gleefully. "I myself, too... I have a wicked temper, I admit it! But we shall meet again. If it's God's will, we may see a great deal of one another."
"And will get to know each other through and through?" added Raskolnikov.
"Yes; know each other through and through," assented Porfiry Petrovitch, and he screwed up his eyes, looking earnestly at Raskolnikov. "Now you're going to a birthday party?"
"To a funeral."
"Of course, the funeral! Take care of yourself, and get well."
"I don't know what to wish you," said Raskolnikov, who had begun to descend the stairs, but looked back again. "I should like to wish you success, but your office is such a comical one."
"Why comical?" Porfiry Petrovitch had turned to go, but he seemed to prick up his ears at this.
"Why, how you must have been torturing and harassing that poor Nikolay psychologically, after your fashion, till he confessed! You must have been at him day and night, proving to him that he was the murderer, and now that he has confessed, you'll begin vivisecting him again. 'You are lying,' you'll say. 'You are not the murderer! You can't be! It's not your own tale you are telling!' You must admit it's a comical business!"
"He-he-he! You noticed then that I said to Nikolay just now that it was not his own tale he was telling?"
"How could I help noticing it!"
"He-he! You are quick-witted. You notice everything! You've really a playful mind! And you always fasten on the comic side... he-he! They say that was the marked characteristic of Gogol, among the writers."
"Yes, of Gogol."
"Yes, of Gogol.... I shall look forward to meeting you."
"So shall I."
Raskolnikov walked straight home. He was so muddled and bewildered that on getting home he sat for a quarter of an hour on the sofa, trying to collect his thoughts. He did not attempt to think about Nikolay; he was stupefied; he felt that his confession was something inexplicable, amazing—something beyond his understanding. But Nikolay's confession was an actual fact. The consequences of this fact were clear to him at once, its falsehood could not fail to be discovered, and then they would be after him again. Till then, at least, he was free and must do something for himself, for the danger was imminent.
But how imminent? His position gradually became clear to him. Remembering, sketchily, the main outlines of his recent scene with Porfiry, he could not help shuddering again with horror. Of course, he did not yet know all Porfiry's aims, he could not see into all his calculations. But he had already partly shown his hand, and no one knew better than Raskolnikov how terrible Porfiry's "lead" had been for him. A little more and he might have given himself away completely, circumstantially. Knowing his nervous temperament and from the first glance seeing through him, Porfiry, though playing a bold game, was bound to win. There's no denying that Raskolnikov had compromised himself seriously, but no facts had come to light as yet; there was nothing positive. But was he taking a true view of the position? Wasn't he mistaken? What had Porfiry been trying to get at? Had he really some surprise prepared for him? And what was it? Had he really been expecting something or not? How would they have parted if it had not been for the unexpected appearance of Nikolay?
Porfiry had shown almost all his cards—of course, he had risked something in showing them—and if he had really had anything up his sleeve (Raskolnikov reflected), he would have shown that, too. What was that "surprise"? Was it a joke? Had it meant anything? Could it have concealed anything like a fact, a piece of positive evidence? His yesterday's visitor? What had become of him? Where was he to-day? If Porfiry really had any evidence, it must be connected with him....
He sat on the sofa with his elbows on his knees and his face hidden in his hands. He was still shivering nervously. At last he got up, took his cap, thought a minute, and went to the door.
He had a sort of presentiment that for to-day, at least, he might consider himself out of danger. He had a sudden sense almost of joy; he wanted to make haste to Katerina Ivanovna's. He would be too late for the funeral, of course, but he would be in time for the memorial dinner, and there at once he would see Sonia.
He stood still, thought a moment, and a suffering smile came for a moment on to his lips.
"To-day! To-day," he repeated to himself. "Yes, to-day! So it must be...."
But as he was about to open the door, it began opening of itself. He started and moved back. The door opened gently and slowly, and there suddenly appeared a figure—yesterday's visitor from underground.
The man stood in the doorway, looked at Raskolnikov without speaking, and took a step forward into the room. He was exactly the same as yesterday; the same figure, the same dress, but there was a great change in his face; he looked dejected and sighed deeply. If he had only put his hand up to his cheek and leaned his head on one side he would have looked exactly like a peasant woman.
"What do you want?" asked Raskolnikov, numb with terror. The man was still silent, but suddenly he bowed down almost to the ground, touching it with his finger.
"What is it?" cried Raskolnikov.
"I have sinned," the man articulated softly.
"By evil thoughts."
They looked at one another.
"I was vexed. When you came, perhaps in drink, and bade the porters go to the police station and asked about the blood, I was vexed that they let you go and took you for drunken. I was so vexed that I lost my sleep. And remembering the address we came here yesterday and asked for you...."
"Who came?" Raskolnikov interrupted, instantly beginning to recollect.
"I did, I've wronged you."
"Then you come from that house?"
"I was standing at the gate with them... don't you remember? We have carried on our trade in that house for years past. We cure and prepare hides, we take work home... most of all I was vexed...."
And the whole scene of the day before yesterday in the gateway came clearly before Raskolnikov's mind; he recollected that there had been several people there besides the porters, women among them. He remembered one voice had suggested taking him straight to the police-station. He could not recall the face of the speaker, and even now he did not recognise it, but he remembered that he had turned round and made him some answer....
So this was the solution of yesterday's horror. The most awful thought was that he had been actually almost lost, had almost done for himself on account of such a trivial circumstance. So this man could tell nothing except his asking about the flat and the blood stains. So Porfiry, too, had nothing but that delirium, no facts but this psychology which cuts both ways, nothing positive. So if no more facts come to light (and they must not, they must not!) then... then what can they do to him? How can they convict him, even if they arrest him? And Porfiry then had only just heard about the flat and had not known about it before.
"Was it you who told Porfiry... that I'd been there?" he cried, struck by a sudden idea.
"The head of the detective department?"
"Yes. The porters did not go there, but I went."
"I got there two minutes before you. And I heard, I heard it all, how he worried you."
"Where? What? When?"
"Why, in the next room. I was sitting there all the time."
"What? Why, then you were the surprise? But how could it happen? Upon my word!"
"I saw that the porters did not want to do what I said," began the man; "for it's too late, said they, and maybe he'll be angry that we did not come at the time. I was vexed and I lost my sleep, and I began making inquiries. And finding out yesterday where to go, I went to-day. The first time I went he wasn't there, when I came an hour later he couldn't see me. I went the third time, and they showed me in. I informed him of everything, just as it happened, and he began skipping about the room and punching himself on the chest. 'What do you scoundrels mean by it? If I'd known about it I should have arrested him!' Then he ran out, called somebody and began talking to him in the corner, then he turned to me, scolding and questioning me. He scolded me a great deal; and I told him everything, and I told him that you didn't dare to say a word in answer to me yesterday and that you didn't recognise me. And he fell to running about again and kept hitting himself on the chest, and getting angry and running about, and when you were announced he told me to go into the next room. 'Sit there a bit,' he said. 'Don't move, whatever you may hear.' And he set a chair there for me and locked me in. 'Perhaps,' he said, 'I may call you.' And when Nikolay'd been brought he let me out as soon as you were gone. 'I shall send for you again and question you,' he said."
"And did he question Nikolay while you were there?"
"He got rid of me as he did of you, before he spoke to Nikolay."
The man stood still, and again suddenly bowed down, touching the ground with his finger.
"Forgive me for my evil thoughts, and my slander."
"May God forgive you," answered Raskolnikov.
And as he said this, the man bowed down again, but not to the ground, turned slowly and went out of the room.
"It all cuts both ways, now it all cuts both ways," repeated Raskolnikov, and he went out more confident than ever.
"Now we'll make a fight for it," he said, with a malicious smile, as he went down the stairs. His malice was aimed at himself; with shame and contempt he recollected his "cowardice."
The morning that followed the fateful interview with Dounia and her mother brought sobering influences to bear on Pyotr Petrovitch. Intensely unpleasant as it was, he was forced little by little to accept as a fact beyond recall what had seemed to him only the day before fantastic and incredible. The black snake of wounded vanity had been gnawing at his heart all night. When he got out of bed, Pyotr Petrovitch immediately looked in the looking-glass. He was afraid that he had jaundice. However his health seemed unimpaired so far, and looking at his noble, clear-skinned countenance which had grown fattish of late, Pyotr Petrovitch for an instant was positively comforted in the conviction that he would find another bride and, perhaps, even a better one. But coming back to the sense of his present position, he turned aside and spat vigorously, which excited a sarcastic smile in Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov, the young friend with whom he was staying. That smile Pyotr Petrovitch noticed, and at once set it down against his young friend's account. He had set down a good many points against him of late. His anger was redoubled when he reflected that he ought not to have told Andrey Semyonovitch about the result of yesterday's interview. That was the second mistake he had made in temper, through impulsiveness and irritability.... Moreover, all that morning one unpleasantness followed another. He even found a hitch awaiting him in his legal case in the senate. He was particularly irritated by the owner of the flat which had been taken in view of his approaching marriage and was being redecorated at his own expense; the owner, a rich German tradesman, would not entertain the idea of breaking the contract which had just been signed and insisted on the full forfeit money, though Pyotr Petrovitch would be giving him back the flat practically redecorated. In the same way the upholsterers refused to return a single rouble of the instalment paid for the furniture purchased but not yet removed to the flat.
"Am I to get married simply for the sake of the furniture?" Pyotr Petrovitch ground his teeth and at the same time once more he had a gleam of desperate hope. "Can all that be really so irrevocably over? Is it no use to make another effort?" The thought of Dounia sent a voluptuous pang through his heart. He endured anguish at that moment, and if it had been possible to slay Raskolnikov instantly by wishing it, Pyotr Petrovitch would promptly have uttered the wish.
"It was my mistake, too, not to have given them money," he thought, as he returned dejectedly to Lebeziatnikov's room, "and why on earth was I such a Jew? It was false economy! I meant to keep them without a penny so that they should turn to me as their providence, and look at them! foo! If I'd spent some fifteen hundred roubles on them for the trousseau and presents, on knick-knacks, dressing-cases, jewellery, materials, and all that sort of trash from Knopp's and the English shop, my position would have been better and... stronger! They could not have refused me so easily! They are the sort of people that would feel bound to return money and presents if they broke it off; and they would find it hard to do it! And their conscience would prick them: how can we dismiss a man who has hitherto been so generous and delicate?.... H'm! I've made a blunder."
And grinding his teeth again, Pyotr Petrovitch called himself a fool—but not aloud, of course.
He returned home, twice as irritated and angry as before. The preparations for the funeral dinner at Katerina Ivanovna's excited his curiosity as he passed. He had heard about it the day before; he fancied, indeed, that he had been invited, but absorbed in his own cares he had paid no attention. Inquiring of Madame Lippevechsel who was busy laying the table while Katerina Ivanovna was away at the cemetery, he heard that the entertainment was to be a great affair, that all the lodgers had been invited, among them some who had not known the dead man, that even Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov was invited in spite of his previous quarrel with Katerina Ivanovna, that he, Pyotr Petrovitch, was not only invited, but was eagerly expected as he was the most important of the lodgers. Amalia Ivanovna herself had been invited with great ceremony in spite of the recent unpleasantness, and so she was very busy with preparations and was taking a positive pleasure in them; she was moreover dressed up to the nines, all in new black silk, and she was proud of it. All this suggested an idea to Pyotr Petrovitch and he went into his room, or rather Lebeziatnikov's, somewhat thoughtful. He had learnt that Raskolnikov was to be one of the guests.
Andrey Semyonovitch had been at home all the morning. The attitude of Pyotr Petrovitch to this gentleman was strange, though perhaps natural. Pyotr Petrovitch had despised and hated him from the day he came to stay with him and at the same time he seemed somewhat afraid of him. He had not come to stay with him on his arrival in Petersburg simply from parsimony, though that had been perhaps his chief object. He had heard of Andrey Semyonovitch, who had once been his ward, as a leading young progressive who was taking an important part in certain interesting circles, the doings of which were a legend in the provinces. It had impressed Pyotr Petrovitch. These powerful omniscient circles who despised everyone and showed everyone up had long inspired in him a peculiar but quite vague alarm. He had not, of course, been able to form even an approximate notion of what they meant. He, like everyone, had heard that there were, especially in Petersburg, progressives of some sort, nihilists and so on, and, like many people, he exaggerated and distorted the significance of those words to an absurd degree. What for many years past he had feared more than anything was being shown up and this was the chief ground for his continual uneasiness at the thought of transferring his business to Petersburg. He was afraid of this as little children are sometimes panic-stricken. Some years before, when he was just entering on his own career, he had come upon two cases in which rather important personages in the province, patrons of his, had been cruelly shown up. One instance had ended in great scandal for the person attacked and the other had very nearly ended in serious trouble. For this reason Pyotr Petrovitch intended to go into the subject as soon as he reached Petersburg and, if necessary, to anticipate contingencies by seeking the favour of "our younger generation." He relied on Andrey Semyonovitch for this and before his visit to Raskolnikov he had succeeded in picking up some current phrases. He soon discovered that Andrey Semyonovitch was a commonplace simpleton, but that by no means reassured Pyotr Petrovitch. Even if he had been certain that all the progressives were fools like him, it would not have allayed his uneasiness. All the doctrines, the ideas, the systems, with which Andrey Semyonovitch pestered him had no interest for him. He had his own object—he simply wanted to find out at once what was happening here. Had these people any power or not? Had he anything to fear from them? Would they expose any enterprise of his? And what precisely was now the object of their attacks? Could he somehow make up to them and get round them if they really were powerful? Was this the thing to do or not? Couldn't he gain something through them? In fact hundreds of questions presented themselves.
Andrey Semyonovitch was an anaemic, scrofulous little man, with strangely flaxen mutton-chop whiskers of which he was very proud. He was a clerk and had almost always something wrong with his eyes. He was rather soft-hearted, but self-confident and sometimes extremely conceited in speech, which had an absurd effect, incongruous with his little figure. He was one of the lodgers most respected by Amalia Ivanovna, for he did not get drunk and paid regularly for his lodgings. Andrey Semyonovitch really was rather stupid; he attached himself to the cause of progress and "our younger generation" from enthusiasm. He was one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animate abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarise it and who caricature every cause they serve, however sincerely.
Though Lebeziatnikov was so good-natured, he, too, was beginning to dislike Pyotr Petrovitch. This happened on both sides unconsciously. However simple Andrey Semyonovitch might be, he began to see that Pyotr Petrovitch was duping him and secretly despising him, and that "he was not the right sort of man." He had tried expounding to him the system of Fourier and the Darwinian theory, but of late Pyotr Petrovitch began to listen too sarcastically and even to be rude. The fact was he had begun instinctively to guess that Lebeziatnikov was not merely a commonplace simpleton, but, perhaps, a liar, too, and that he had no connections of any consequence even in his own circle, but had simply picked things up third-hand; and that very likely he did not even know much about his own work of propaganda, for he was in too great a muddle. A fine person he would be to show anyone up! It must be noted, by the way, that Pyotr Petrovitch had during those ten days eagerly accepted the strangest praise from Andrey Semyonovitch; he had not protested, for instance, when Andrey Semyonovitch belauded him for being ready to contribute to the establishment of the new "commune," or to abstain from christening his future children, or to acquiesce if Dounia were to take a lover a month after marriage, and so on. Pyotr Petrovitch so enjoyed hearing his own praises that he did not disdain even such virtues when they were attributed to him.