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- Crime and Punishment - 110/113 -
exhilarated. "If it's on business you are rather early.[*] It's only a chance that I am here . . . however I'll do what I can. I must admit, I . . . what is it, what is it? Excuse me. . . ."
[*] Dostoevsky appears to have forgotten that it is after sunset, and that the last time Raskolnikov visited the police office at two in the afternoon he was reproached for coming too late.--TRANSLATOR.
"Of course, Raskolnikov. You didn't imagine I'd forgotten? Don't think I am like that . . . Rodion Ro--Ro--Rodionovitch, that's it, isn't it?"
"Yes, yes, of course, Rodion Romanovitch! I was just getting at it. I made many inquiries about you. I assure you I've been genuinely grieved since that . . . since I behaved like that . . . it was explained to me afterwards that you were a literary man . . . and a learned one too . . . and so to say the first steps . . . Mercy on us! What literary or scientific man does not begin by some originality of conduct! My wife and I have the greatest respect for literature, in my wife it's a genuine passion! Literature and art! If only a man is a gentleman, all the rest can be gained by talents, learning, good sense, genius. As for a hat--well, what does a hat matter? I can buy a hat as easily as I can a bun; but what's under the hat, what the hat covers, I can't buy that! I was even meaning to come and apologise to you, but thought maybe you'd . . . But I am forgetting to ask you, is there anything you want really? I hear your family have come?"
"Yes, my mother and sister."
"I've even had the honour and happiness of meeting your sister--a highly cultivated and charming person. I confess I was sorry I got so hot with you. There it is! But as for my looking suspiciously at your fainting fit--that affair has been cleared up splendidly! Bigotry and fanaticism! I understand your indignation. Perhaps you are changing your lodging on account of your family's arriving?"
"No, I only looked in . . . I came to ask . . . I thought that I should find Zametov here."
"Oh, yes! Of course, you've made friends, I heard. Well, no, Zametov is not here. Yes, we've lost Zametov. He's not been here since yesterday . . . he quarrelled with everyone on leaving . . . in the rudest way. He is a feather-headed youngster, that's all; one might have expected something from him, but there, you know what they are, our brilliant young men. He wanted to go in for some examination, but it's only to talk and boast about it, it will go no further than that. Of course it's a very different matter with you or Mr. Razumihin there, your friend. Your career is an intellectual one and you won't be deterred by failure. For you, one may say, all the attractions of life /nihil est/--you are an ascetic, a monk, a hermit! . . . A book, a pen behind your ear, a learned research--that's where your spirit soars! I am the same way myself. . . . Have you read Livingstone's Travels?"
"Oh, I have. There are a great many Nihilists about nowadays, you know, and indeed it is not to be wondered at. What sort of days are they? I ask you. But we thought . . . you are not a Nihilist of course? Answer me openly, openly!"
"N-no . . ."
"Believe me, you can speak openly to me as you would to yourself! Official duty is one thing but . . . you are thinking I meant to say /friendship/ is quite another? No, you're wrong! It's not friendship, but the feeling of a man and a citizen, the feeling of humanity and of love for the Almighty. I may be an official, but I am always bound to feel myself a man and a citizen. . . . You were asking about Zametov. Zametov will make a scandal in the French style in a house of bad reputation, over a glass of champagne . . . that's all your Zametov is good for! While I'm perhaps, so to speak, burning with devotion and lofty feelings, and besides I have rank, consequence, a post! I am married and have children, I fulfil the duties of a man and a citizen, but who is he, may I ask? I appeal to you as a man ennobled by education . . . Then these midwives, too, have become extraordinarily numerous."
Raskolnikov raised his eyebrows inquiringly. The words of Ilya Petrovitch, who had obviously been dining, were for the most part a stream of empty sounds for him. But some of them he understood. He looked at him inquiringly, not knowing how it would end.
"I mean those crop-headed wenches," the talkative Ilya Petrovitch continued. "Midwives is my name for them. I think it a very satisfactory one, ha-ha! They go to the Academy, study anatomy. If I fall ill, am I to send for a young lady to treat me? What do you say? Ha-ha!" Ilya Petrovitch laughed, quite pleased with his own wit. "It's an immoderate zeal for education, but once you're educated, that's enough. Why abuse it? Why insult honourable people, as that scoundrel Zametov does? Why did he insult me, I ask you? Look at these suicides, too, how common they are, you can't fancy! People spend their last halfpenny and kill themselves, boys and girls and old people. Only this morning we heard about a gentleman who had just come to town. Nil Pavlitch, I say, what was the name of that gentleman who shot himself?"
"Svidrigailov," someone answered from the other room with drowsy listlessness.
"Svidrigailov! Svidrigailov has shot himself!" he cried.
"What, do you know Svidrigailov?"
"Yes . . . I knew him. . . . He hadn't been here long."
"Yes, that's so. He had lost his wife, was a man of reckless habits and all of a sudden shot himself, and in such a shocking way. . . . He left in his notebook a few words: that he dies in full possession of his faculties and that no one is to blame for his death. He had money, they say. How did you come to know him?"
"I . . . was acquainted . . . my sister was governess in his family."
"Bah-bah-bah! Then no doubt you can tell us something about him. You had no suspicion?"
"I saw him yesterday . . . he . . . was drinking wine; I knew nothing."
Raskolnikov felt as though something had fallen on him and was stifling him.
"You've turned pale again. It's so stuffy here . . ."
"Yes, I must go," muttered Raskolnikov. "Excuse my troubling you. . . ."
"Oh, not at all, as often as you like. It's a pleasure to see you and I am glad to say so."
Ilya Petrovitch held out his hand.
"I only wanted . . . I came to see Zametov."
"I understand, I understand, and it's a pleasure to see you."
"I . . . am very glad . . . good-bye," Raskolnikov smiled.
He went out; he reeled, he was overtaken with giddiness and did not know what he was doing. He began going down the stairs, supporting himself with his right hand against the wall. He fancied that a porter pushed past him on his way upstairs to the police office, that a dog in the lower storey kept up a shrill barking and that a woman flung a rolling-pin at it and shouted. He went down and out into the yard. There, not far from the entrance, stood Sonia, pale and horror- stricken. She looked wildly at him. He stood still before her. There was a look of poignant agony, of despair, in her face. She clasped her hands. His lips worked in an ugly, meaningless smile. He stood still a minute, grinned and went back to the police office.
Ilya Petrovitch had sat down and was rummaging among some papers. Before him stood the same peasant who had pushed by on the stairs.
"Hulloa! Back again! have you left something behind? What's the matter?"
Raskolnikov, with white lips and staring eyes, came slowly nearer. He walked right to the table, leaned his hand on it, tried to say something, but could not; only incoherent sounds were audible.
"You are feeling ill, a chair! Here, sit down! Some water!"
Raskolnikov dropped on to a chair, but he kept his eyes fixed on the face of Ilya Petrovitch, which expressed unpleasant surprise. Both looked at one another for a minute and waited. Water was brought.
"It was I . . ." began Raskolnikov.
"Drink some water."
Raskolnikov refused the water with his hand, and softly and brokenly, but distinctly said:
"/It was I killed the old pawnbroker woman and her sister Lizaveta with an axe and robbed them./"
Ilya Petrovitch opened his mouth. People ran up on all sides.
Raskolnikov repeated his statement.
Siberia. On the banks of a broad solitary river stands a town, one of the administrative centres of Russia; in the town there is a fortress, in the fortress there is a prison. In the prison the second-class convict Rodion Raskolnikov has been confined for nine months. Almost a year and a half has passed since his crime.
There had been little difficulty about his trial. The criminal adhered
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