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- Crime and Punishment - 90/113 -
for Lida; she simply had a red knitted cap, or rather a night cap that had belonged to Marmeladov, decorated with a broken piece of white ostrich feather, which had been Katerina Ivanovna's grandmother's and had been preserved as a family possession. Polenka was in her everyday dress; she looked in timid perplexity at her mother, and kept at her side, hiding her tears. She dimly realised her mother's condition, and looked uneasily about her. She was terribly frightened of the street and the crowd. Sonia followed Katerina Ivanovna, weeping and beseeching her to return home, but Katerina Ivanovna was not to be persuaded.
"Leave off, Sonia, leave off," she shouted, speaking fast, panting and coughing. "You don't know what you ask; you are like a child! I've told you before that I am not coming back to that drunken German. Let everyone, let all Petersburg see the children begging in the streets, though their father was an honourable man who served all his life in truth and fidelity, and one may say died in the service." (Katerina Ivanovna had by now invented this fantastic story and thoroughly believed it.) "Let that wretch of a general see it! And you are silly, Sonia: what have we to eat? Tell me that. We have worried you enough, I won't go on so! Ah, Rodion Romanovitch, is that you?" she cried, seeing Raskolnikov and rushing up to him. "Explain to this silly girl, please, that nothing better could be done! Even organ-grinders earn their living, and everyone will see at once that we are different, that we are an honourable and bereaved family reduced to beggary. And that general will lose his post, you'll see! We shall perform under his windows every day, and if the Tsar drives by, I'll fall on my knees, put the children before me, show them to him, and say 'Defend us father.' He is the father of the fatherless, he is merciful, he'll protect us, you'll see, and that wretch of a general. . . . Lida, /tenez vous droite/! Kolya, you'll dance again. Why are you whimpering? Whimpering again! What are you afraid of, stupid? Goodness, what am I to do with them, Rodion Romanovitch? If you only knew how stupid they are! What's one to do with such children?"
And she, almost crying herself--which did not stop her uninterrupted, rapid flow of talk--pointed to the crying children. Raskolnikov tried to persuade her to go home, and even said, hoping to work on her vanity, that it was unseemly for her to be wandering about the streets like an organ-grinder, as she was intending to become the principal of a boarding-school.
"A boarding-school, ha-ha-ha! A castle in the air," cried Katerina Ivanovna, her laugh ending in a cough. "No, Rodion Romanovitch, that dream is over! All have forsaken us! . . . And that general. . . . You know, Rodion Romanovitch, I threw an inkpot at him--it happened to be standing in the waiting-room by the paper where you sign your name. I wrote my name, threw it at him and ran away. Oh, the scoundrels, the scoundrels! But enough of them, now I'll provide for the children myself, I won't bow down to anybody! She has had to bear enough for us!" she pointed to Sonia. "Polenka, how much have you got? Show me! What, only two farthings! Oh, the mean wretches! They give us nothing, only run after us, putting their tongues out. There, what is that blockhead laughing at?" (She pointed to a man in the crowd.) "It's all because Kolya here is so stupid; I have such a bother with him. What do you want, Polenka? Tell me in French, /parlez-moi francais/. Why, I've taught you, you know some phrases. Else how are you to show that you are of good family, well brought-up children, and not at all like other organ-grinders? We aren't going to have a Punch and Judy show in the street, but to sing a genteel song. . . . Ah, yes, . . . What are we to sing? You keep putting me out, but we . . . you see, we are standing here, Rodion Romanovitch, to find something to sing and get money, something Kolya can dance to. . . . For, as you can fancy, our performance is all impromptu. . . . We must talk it over and rehearse it all thoroughly, and then we shall go to Nevsky, where there are far more people of good society, and we shall be noticed at once. Lida knows 'My Village' only, nothing but 'My Village,' and everyone sings that. We must sing something far more genteel. . . . Well, have you thought of anything, Polenka? If only you'd help your mother! My memory's quite gone, or I should have thought of something. We really can't sing 'An Hussar.' Ah, let us sing in French, 'Cinq sous,' I have taught it you, I have taught it you. And as it is in French, people will see at once that you are children of good family, and that will be much more touching. . . . You might sing 'Marlborough s'en va-t-en guerre,' for that's quite a child's song and is sung as a lullaby in all the aristocratic houses.
"/Marlborough s'en va-t-en guerre Ne sait quand reviendra/ . . ."
she began singing. "But no, better sing 'Cinq sous.' Now, Kolya, your hands on your hips, make haste, and you, Lida, keep turning the other way, and Polenka and I will sing and clap our hands!
"/Cinq sous, cinq sous Pour monter notre menage."
(Cough-cough-cough!) "Set your dress straight, Polenka, it's slipped down on your shoulders," she observed, panting from coughing. "Now it's particularly necessary to behave nicely and genteelly, that all may see that you are well-born children. I said at the time that the bodice should be cut longer, and made of two widths. It was your fault, Sonia, with your advice to make it shorter, and now you see the child is quite deformed by it. . . . Why, you're all crying again! What's the matter, stupids? Come, Kolya, begin. Make haste, make haste! Oh, what an unbearable child!
"Cinq sous, cinq sous.
"A policeman again! What do you want?"
A policeman was indeed forcing his way through the crowd. But at that moment a gentleman in civilian uniform and an overcoat--a solid- looking official of about fifty with a decoration on his neck (which delighted Katerina Ivanovna and had its effect on the policeman)-- approached and without a word handed her a green three-rouble note. His face wore a look of genuine sympathy. Katerina Ivanovna took it and gave him a polite, even ceremonious, bow.
"I thank you, honoured sir," she began loftily. "The causes that have induced us (take the money, Polenka: you see there are generous and honourable people who are ready to help a poor gentlewoman in distress). You see, honoured sir, these orphans of good family--I might even say of aristocratic connections--and that wretch of a general sat eating grouse . . . and stamped at my disturbing him. 'Your excellency,' I said, 'protect the orphans, for you knew my late husband, Semyon Zaharovitch, and on the very day of his death the basest of scoundrels slandered his only daughter.' . . . That policeman again! Protect me," she cried to the official. "Why is that policeman edging up to me? We have only just run away from one of them. What do you want, fool?"
"It's forbidden in the streets. You mustn't make a disturbance."
"It's you're making a disturbance. It's just the same as if I were grinding an organ. What business is it of yours?"
"You have to get a licence for an organ, and you haven't got one, and in that way you collect a crowd. Where do you lodge?"
"What, a license?" wailed Katerina Ivanovna. "I buried my husband to-day. What need of a license?"
"Calm yourself, madam, calm yourself," began the official. "Come along; I will escort you. . . . This is no place for you in the crowd. You are ill."
"Honoured sir, honoured sir, you don't know," screamed Katerina Ivanovna. "We are going to the Nevsky. . . . Sonia, Sonia! Where is she? She is crying too! What's the matter with you all? Kolya, Lida, where are you going?" she cried suddenly in alarm. "Oh, silly children! Kolya, Lida, where are they off to? . . ."
Kolya and Lida, scared out of their wits by the crowd, and their mother's mad pranks, suddenly seized each other by the hand, and ran off at the sight of the policeman who wanted to take them away somewhere. Weeping and wailing, poor Katerina Ivanovna ran after them. She was a piteous and unseemly spectacle, as she ran, weeping and panting for breath. Sonia and Polenka rushed after them.
"Bring them back, bring them back, Sonia! Oh stupid, ungrateful children! . . . Polenka! catch them. . . . It's for your sakes I . . ."
She stumbled as she ran and fell down.
"She's cut herself, she's bleeding! Oh, dear!" cried Sonia, bending over her.
All ran up and crowded around. Raskolnikov and Lebeziatnikov were the first at her side, the official too hastened up, and behind him the policeman who muttered, "Bother!" with a gesture of impatience, feeling that the job was going to be a troublesome one.
"Pass on! Pass on!" he said to the crowd that pressed forward.
"She's dying," someone shouted.
"She's gone out of her mind," said another.
"Lord have mercy upon us," said a woman, crossing herself. "Have they caught the little girl and the boy? They're being brought back, the elder one's got them. . . . Ah, the naughty imps!"
When they examined Katerina Ivanovna carefully, they saw that she had not cut herself against a stone, as Sonia thought, but that the blood that stained the pavement red was from her chest.
"I've seen that before," muttered the official to Raskolnikov and Lebeziatnikov; "that's consumption; the blood flows and chokes the patient. I saw the same thing with a relative of my own not long ago . . . nearly a pint of blood, all in a minute. . . . What's to be done though? She is dying."
"This way, this way, to my room!" Sonia implored. "I live here! . . . See, that house, the second from here. . . . Come to me, make haste," she turned from one to the other. "Send for the doctor! Oh, dear!"
Thanks to the official's efforts, this plan was adopted, the policeman even helping to carry Katerina Ivanovna. She was carried to Sonia's room, almost unconscious, and laid on the bed. The blood was still flowing, but she seemed to be coming to herself. Raskolnikov, Lebeziatnikov, and the official accompanied Sonia into the room and were followed by the policeman, who first drove back the crowd which followed to the very door. Polenka came in holding Kolya and Lida, who were trembling and weeping. Several persons came in too from the Kapernaumovs' room; the landlord, a lame one-eyed man of strange appearance with whiskers and hair that stood up like a brush, his wife, a woman with an everlastingly scared expression, and several open-mouthed children with wonder-struck faces. Among these,
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