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- Crime and Punishment - 20/113 -
with them in his hand. Afterwards reflecting upon it, he remembered that half waking up in his fever, he had grasped all this tightly in his hand and so fallen asleep again.
"Look at the rags he's collected and sleeps with them, as though he has got hold of a treasure . . ."
And Nastasya went off into her hysterical giggle.
Instantly he thrust them all under his great coat and fixed his eyes intently upon her. Far as he was from being capable of rational reflection at that moment, he felt that no one would behave like that with a person who was going to be arrested. "But . . . the police?"
"You'd better have some tea! Yes? I'll bring it, there's some left."
"No . . . I'm going; I'll go at once," he muttered, getting on to his feet.
"Why, you'll never get downstairs!"
"Yes, I'll go."
"As you please."
She followed the porter out.
At once he rushed to the light to examine the sock and the rags.
"There are stains, but not very noticeable; all covered with dirt, and rubbed and already discoloured. No one who had no suspicion could distinguish anything. Nastasya from a distance could not have noticed, thank God!" Then with a tremor he broke the seal of the notice and began reading; he was a long while reading, before he understood. It was an ordinary summons from the district police-station to appear that day at half-past nine at the office of the district superintendent.
"But when has such a thing happened? I never have anything to do with the police! And why just to-day?" he thought in agonising bewilderment. "Good God, only get it over soon!"
He was flinging himself on his knees to pray, but broke into laughter --not at the idea of prayer, but at himself.
He began, hurriedly dressing. "If I'm lost, I am lost, I don't care! Shall I put the sock on?" he suddenly wondered, "it will get dustier still and the traces will be gone."
But no sooner had he put it on than he pulled it off again in loathing and horror. He pulled it off, but reflecting that he had no other socks, he picked it up and put it on again--and again he laughed.
"That's all conventional, that's all relative, merely a way of looking at it," he thought in a flash, but only on the top surface of his mind, while he was shuddering all over, "there, I've got it on! I have finished by getting it on!"
But his laughter was quickly followed by despair.
"No, it's too much for me . . ." he thought. His legs shook. "From fear," he muttered. His head swam and ached with fever. "It's a trick! They want to decoy me there and confound me over everything," he mused, as he went out on to the stairs--"the worst of it is I'm almost light-headed . . . I may blurt out something stupid . . ."
On the stairs he remembered that he was leaving all the things just as they were in the hole in the wall, "and very likely, it's on purpose to search when I'm out," he thought, and stopped short. But he was possessed by such despair, such cynicism of misery, if one may so call it, that with a wave of his hand he went on. "Only to get it over!"
In the street the heat was insufferable again; not a drop of rain had fallen all those days. Again dust, bricks and mortar, again the stench from the shops and pot-houses, again the drunken men, the Finnish pedlars and half-broken-down cabs. The sun shone straight in his eyes, so that it hurt him to look out of them, and he felt his head going round--as a man in a fever is apt to feel when he comes out into the street on a bright sunny day.
When he reached the turning into /the/ street, in an agony of trepidation he looked down it . . . at /the/ house . . . and at once averted his eyes.
"If they question me, perhaps I'll simply tell," he thought, as he drew near the police-station.
The police-station was about a quarter of a mile off. It had lately been moved to new rooms on the fourth floor of a new house. He had been once for a moment in the old office but long ago. Turning in at the gateway, he saw on the right a flight of stairs which a peasant was mounting with a book in his hand. "A house-porter, no doubt; so then, the office is here," and he began ascending the stairs on the chance. He did not want to ask questions of anyone.
"I'll go in, fall on my knees, and confess everything . . ." he thought, as he reached the fourth floor.
The staircase was steep, narrow and all sloppy with dirty water. The kitchens of the flats opened on to the stairs and stood open almost the whole day. So there was a fearful smell and heat. The staircase was crowded with porters going up and down with their books under their arms, policemen, and persons of all sorts and both sexes. The door of the office, too, stood wide open. Peasants stood waiting within. There, too, the heat was stifling and there was a sickening smell of fresh paint and stale oil from the newly decorated rooms.
After waiting a little, he decided to move forward into the next room. All the rooms were small and low-pitched. A fearful impatience drew him on and on. No one paid attention to him. In the second room some clerks sat writing, dressed hardly better than he was, and rather a queer-looking set. He went up to one of them.
"What is it?"
He showed the notice he had received.
"You are a student?" the man asked, glancing at the notice.
"Yes, formerly a student."
The clerk looked at him, but without the slightest interest. He was a particularly unkempt person with the look of a fixed idea in his eye.
"There would be no getting anything out of him, because he has no interest in anything," thought Raskolnikov.
"Go in there to the head clerk," said the clerk, pointing towards the furthest room.
He went into that room--the fourth in order; it was a small room and packed full of people, rather better dressed than in the outer rooms. Among them were two ladies. One, poorly dressed in mourning, sat at the table opposite the chief clerk, writing something at his dictation. The other, a very stout, buxom woman with a purplish-red, blotchy face, excessively smartly dressed with a brooch on her bosom as big as a saucer, was standing on one side, apparently waiting for something. Raskolnikov thrust his notice upon the head clerk. The latter glanced at it, said: "Wait a minute," and went on attending to the lady in mourning.
He breathed more freely. "It can't be that!"
By degrees he began to regain confidence, he kept urging himself to have courage and be calm.
"Some foolishness, some trifling carelessness, and I may betray myself! Hm . . . it's a pity there's no air here," he added, "it's stifling. . . . It makes one's head dizzier than ever . . . and one's mind too . . ."
He was conscious of a terrible inner turmoil. He was afraid of losing his self-control; he tried to catch at something and fix his mind on it, something quite irrelevant, but he could not succeed in this at all. Yet the head clerk greatly interested him, he kept hoping to see through him and guess something from his face.
He was a very young man, about two and twenty, with a dark mobile face that looked older than his years. He was fashionably dressed and foppish, with his hair parted in the middle, well combed and pomaded, and wore a number of rings on his well-scrubbed fingers and a gold chain on his waistcoat. He said a couple of words in French to a foreigner who was in the room, and said them fairly correctly.
"Luise Ivanovna, you can sit down," he said casually to the gaily- dressed, purple-faced lady, who was still standing as though not venturing to sit down, though there was a chair beside her.
"Ich danke," said the latter, and softly, with a rustle of silk she sank into the chair. Her light blue dress trimmed with white lace floated about the table like an air-balloon and filled almost half the room. She smelt of scent. But she was obviously embarrassed at filling half the room and smelling so strongly of scent; and though her smile was impudent as well as cringing, it betrayed evident uneasiness.
The lady in mourning had done at last, and got up. All at once, with some noise, an officer walked in very jauntily, with a peculiar swing of his shoulders at each step. He tossed his cockaded cap on the table and sat down in an easy-chair. The small lady positively skipped from her seat on seeing him, and fell to curtsying in a sort of ecstasy; but the officer took not the smallest notice of her, and she did not venture to sit down again in his presence. He was the assistant superintendent. He had a reddish moustache that stood out horizontally on each side of his face, and extremely small features, expressive of nothing much except a certain insolence. He looked askance and rather indignantly at Raskolnikov; he was so very badly dressed, and in spite of his humiliating position, his bearing was by no means in keeping with his clothes. Raskolnikov had unwarily fixed a very long and direct look on him, so that he felt positively affronted.
"What do you want?" he shouted, apparently astonished that such a ragged fellow was not annihilated by the majesty of his glance.
"I was summoned . . . by a notice . . ." Raskolnikov faltered.
"For the recovery of money due, from /the student/," the head clerk interfered hurriedly, tearing himself from his papers. "Here!" and he flung Raskolnikov a document and pointed out the place. "Read that!"
"Money? What money?" thought Raskolnikov, "but . . . then . . . it's
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