Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Part 3: Chapter 3

"Is he answering us as a duty?" Dounia wondered. "Is he being reconciled and asking forgiveness as though he were performing a rite or repeating a lesson?"

"I've only just waked up, and wanted to go to you, but was delayed owing to my clothes; I forgot yesterday to ask her . . . Nastasya . . . to wash out the blood . . . I've only just dressed."

"Blood! What blood?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna asked in alarm.

"Oh, nothing — don't be uneasy. It was when I was wandering about yesterday, rather delirious, I chanced upon a man who had been run over . . . a clerk . . . "

"Delirious? But you remember everything!" Razumihin interrupted.

"That's true," Raskolnikov answered with special carefulness. "I remember everything even to the slightest detail, and yet — why I did that and went there and said that, I can't clearly explain now."

"A familiar phenomenon," interposed Zossimov, "actions are sometimes performed in a masterly and most cunning way, while the direction of the actions is deranged and dependent on various morbid impressions — it's like a dream."

"Perhaps it's a good thing really that he should think me almost a madman," thought Raskolnikov.

"Why, people in perfect health act in the same way too," observed Dounia, looking uneasily at Zossimov.

"There is some truth in your observation," the latter replied. "In that sense we are certainly all not infrequently like madmen, but with the slight difference that the deranged are somewhat madder, for we must draw a line. A normal man, it is true, hardly exists. Among dozens — perhaps hundreds of thousands — hardly one is to be met with."

At the word "madman," carelessly dropped by Zossimov in his chatter on his favourite subject, everyone frowned.

Raskolnikov sat seeming not to pay attention, plunged in thought with a strange smile on his pale lips. He was still meditating on something.

"Well, what about the man who was run over? I interrupted you!" Razumihin cried hastily.

"What?" Raskolnikov seemed to wake up. "Oh . . . I got spattered with blood helping to carry him to his lodging. By the way, mamma, I did an unpardonable thing yesterday. I was literally out of my mind. I gave away all the money you sent me . . . to his wife for the funeral. She's a widow now, in consumption, a poor creature . . . three little children, starving . . . nothing in the house . . . there's a daughter, too . . . perhaps you'd have given it yourself if you'd seen them. But I had no right to do it I admit, especially as I knew how you needed the money yourself. To help others one must have the right to do it, or else Crevez, chiens, si vous n'etes pas contents." He laughed, "That's right, isn't it, Dounia?"

"No, it's not," answered Dounia firmly.

"Bah! you, too, have ideals," he muttered, looking at her almost with hatred, and smiling sarcastically. "I ought to have considered that . . . . Well, that's praiseworthy, and it's better for you . . . and if you reach a line you won't overstep, you will be unhappy . . . and if you overstep it, maybe you will be still unhappier . . . . But all that's nonsense," he added irritably, vexed at being carried away. "I only meant to say that I beg your forgiveness, mother," he concluded, shortly and abruptly.

"That's enough, Rodya, I am sure that everything you do is very good," said his mother, delighted.

"Don't be too sure," he answered, twisting his mouth into a smile.

A silence followed. There was a certain constraint in all this conversation, and in the silence, and in the reconciliation, and in the forgiveness, and all were feeling it.

"It is as though they were afraid of me," Raskolnikov was thinking to himself, looking askance at his mother and sister. Pulcheria Alexandrovna was indeed growing more timid the longer she kept silent.

"Yet in their absence I seemed to love them so much," flashed through his mind.

"Do you know, Rodya, Marfa Petrovna is dead," Pulcheria Alexandrovna suddenly blurted out.

"What Marfa Petrovna?"

"Oh, mercy on us — Marfa Petrovna Svidrigailov. I wrote you so much about her."

"A-a-h! Yes, I remember . . . . So she's dead! Oh, really?" he roused himself suddenly, as if waking up. "What did she die of?"

"Only imagine, quite suddenly," Pulcheria Alexandrovna answered hurriedly, encouraged by his curiosity. "On the very day I was sending you that letter! Would you believe it, that awful man seems to have been the cause of her death. They say he beat her dreadfully."

"Why, were they on such bad terms?" he asked, addressing his sister.

"Not at all. Quite the contrary indeed. With her, he was always very patient, considerate even. In fact, all those seven years of their married life he gave way to her, too much so indeed, in many cases. All of a sudden he seems to have lost patience."

"Then he could not have been so awful if he controlled himself for seven years? You seem to be defending him, Dounia?"

"No, no, he's an awful man! I can imagine nothing more awful!" Dounia answered, almost with a shudder, knitting her brows, and sinking into thought.

"That had happened in the morning," Pulcheria Alexandrovna went on hurriedly. "And directly afterwards she ordered the horses to be harnessed to drive to the town immediately after dinner. She always used to drive to the town in such cases. She ate a very good dinner, I am told . . . ."

"After the beating?"

"That was always her . . . habit; and immediately after dinner, so as not to be late in starting, she went to the bath-house . . . . You see, she was undergoing some treatment with baths. They have a cold spring there, and she used to bathe in it regularly every day, and no sooner had she got into the water when she suddenly had a stroke!"

"I should think so," said Zossimov.

"And did he beat her badly?"

"What does that matter!" put in Dounia.

"H'm! But I don't know why you want to tell us such gossip, mother," said Raskolnikov irritably, as it were in spite of himself.

"Ah, my dear, I don't know what to talk about," broke from Pulcheria Alexandrovna.

"Why, are you all afraid of me?" he asked, with a constrained smile.

"That's certainly true," said Dounia, looking directly and sternly at her brother. "Mother was crossing herself with terror as she came up the stairs."

His face worked, as though in convulsion.

"Ach, what are you saying, Dounia! Don't be angry, please, Rodya . . . . Why did you say that, Dounia?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna began, overwhelmed — "You see, coming here, I was dreaming all the way, in the train, how we should meet, how we should talk over everything together . . . . And I was so happy, I did not notice the journey! But what am I saying? I am happy now . . . . You should not, Dounia . . . . I am happy now — simply in seeing you, Rodya . . . ."

"Hush, mother," he muttered in confusion, not looking at her, but pressing her hand. "We shall have time to speak freely of everything!"

As he said this, he was suddenly overwhelmed with confusion and turned pale. Again that awful sensation he had known of late passed with deadly chill over his soul. Again it became suddenly plain and perceptible to him that he had just told a fearful lie — that he would never now be able to speak freely of everything — that he would never again be able to speak of anything to anyone. The anguish of this thought was such that for a moment he almost forgot himself. He got up from his seat, and not looking at anyone walked towards the door.

"What are you about?" cried Razumihin, clutching him by the arm.

He sat down again, and began looking about him, in silence. They were all looking at him in perplexity.

"But what are you all so dull for?" he shouted, suddenly and quite unexpectedly. "Do say something! What's the use of sitting like this? Come, do speak. Let us talk . . . . We meet together and sit in silence . . . . Come, anything!"

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