Raskolnikov went straight to the house on the canal bank where Sonia lived. It was an old green house of three storeys. He found the porter and obtained from him vague directions as to the whereabouts of Kapernaumov, the tailor. Having found in the corner of the courtyard the entrance to the dark and narrow staircase, he mounted to the second floor and came out into a gallery that ran round the whole second storey over the yard. While he was wandering in the darkness, uncertain where to turn for Kapernaumov's door, a door opened three paces from him; he mechanically took hold of it.
"Who is there?" a woman's voice asked uneasily.
"It's I . . . come to see you," answered Raskolnikov and he walked into the tiny entry.
On a broken chair stood a candle in a battered copper candlestick.
"It's you! Good heavens!" cried Sonia weakly, and she stood rooted to the spot.
"Which is your room? This way?" and Raskolnikov, trying not to look at her, hastened in.
A minute later Sonia, too, came in with the candle, set down the candlestick and, completely disconcerted, stood before him inexpressibly agitated and apparently frightened by his unexpected visit. The colour rushed suddenly to her pale face and tears came into her eyes . . . She felt sick and ashamed and happy, too . . . . Raskolnikov turned away quickly and sat on a chair by the table. He scanned the room in a rapid glance.
It was a large but exceedingly low-pitched room, the only one let by the Kapernaumovs, to whose rooms a closed door led in the wall on the left. In the opposite side on the right hand wall was another door, always kept locked. That led to the next flat, which formed a separate lodging. Sonia's room looked like a barn; it was a very irregular quadrangle and this gave it a grotesque appearance. A wall with three windows looking out on to the canal ran aslant so that one corner formed a very acute angle, and it was difficult to see in it without very strong light. The other corner was disproportionately obtuse. There was scarcely any furniture in the big room: in the corner on the right was a bedstead, beside it, nearest the door, a chair. A plain, deal table covered by a blue cloth stood against the same wall, close to the door into the other flat. Two rush-bottom chairs stood by the table. On the opposite wall near the acute angle stood a small plain wooden chest of drawers looking, as it were, lost in a desert. That was all there was in the room. The yellow, scratched and shabby wall-paper was black in the corners. It must have been damp and full of fumes in the winter. There was every sign of poverty; even the bedstead had no curtain.
Sonia looked in silence at her visitor, who was so attentively and unceremoniously scrutinising her room, and even began at last to tremble with terror, as though she was standing before her judge and the arbiter of her destinies.
"I am late . . . . It's eleven, isn't it?" he asked, still not lifting his eyes.
"Yes," muttered Sonia, "oh yes, it is," she added, hastily, as though in that lay her means of escape. "My landlady's clock has just struck . . . I heard it myself . . . ."
"I've come to you for the last time," Raskolnikov went on gloomily, although this was the first time. "I may perhaps not see you again . . . "
"Are you . . . going away?"
"I don't know . . . to-morrow . . . ."
"Then you are not coming to Katerina Ivanovna to-morrow?" Sonia's voice shook.
"I don't know. I shall know to-morrow morning . . . . Never mind that: I've come to say one word . . . ."
He raised his brooding eyes to her and suddenly noticed that he was sitting down while she was all the while standing before him.
"Why are you standing? Sit down," he said in a changed voice, gentle and friendly.
She sat down. He looked kindly and almost compassionately at her.
"How thin you are! What a hand! Quite transparent, like a dead hand."
He took her hand. Sonia smiled faintly.
"I have always been like that," she said.
"Even when you lived at home?"
"Of course, you were," he added abruptly and the expression of his face and the sound of his voice changed again suddenly.
He looked round him once more.
"You rent this room from the Kapernaumovs?"
"Yes . . . ."
"They live there, through that door?"
"Yes . . . . They have another room like this."
"All in one room?"
"I should be afraid in your room at night," he observed gloomily.
"They are very good people, very kind," answered Sonia, who still seemed bewildered, "and all the furniture, everything . . . everything is theirs. And they are very kind and the children, too, often come to see me."
"They all stammer, don't they?"
"Yes . . . . He stammers and he's lame. And his wife, too . . . . It's not exactly that she stammers, but she can't speak plainly. She is a very kind woman. And he used to be a house serf. And there are seven children . . . and it's only the eldest one that stammers and the others are simply ill . . . but they don't stammer . . . . But where did you hear about them?" she added with some surprise.
"Your father told me, then. He told me all about you . . . . And how you went out at six o'clock and came back at nine and how Katerina Ivanovna knelt down by your bed."
Sonia was confused.
"I fancied I saw him to-day," she whispered hesitatingly.
"Father. I was walking in the street, out there at the corner, about ten o'clock and he seemed to be walking in front. It looked just like him. I wanted to go to Katerina Ivanovna . . . ."
"You were walking in the streets?"
"Yes," Sonia whispered abruptly, again overcome with confusion and looking down.
"Katerina Ivanovna used to beat you, I dare say?"
"Oh no, what are you saying? No!" Sonia looked at him almost with dismay.
"You love her, then?"
"Love her? Of course!" said Sonia with plaintive emphasis, and she clasped her hands in distress. "Ah, you don't . . . . If you only knew! You see, she is quite like a child . . . . Her mind is quite unhinged, you see . . . from sorrow. And how clever she used to be . . . how generous . . . how kind! Ah, you don't understand, you don't understand!"
Sonia said this as though in despair, wringing her hands in excitement and distress. Her pale cheeks flushed, there was a look of anguish in her eyes. It was clear that she was stirred to the very depths, that she was longing to speak, to champion, to express something. A sort of insatiable compassion, if one may so express it, was reflected in every feature of her face.
"Beat me! how can you? Good heavens, beat me! And if she did beat me, what then? What of it? You know nothing, nothing about it . . . . She is so unhappy . . . ah, how unhappy! And ill . . . . She is seeking righteousness, she is pure. She has such faith that there must be righteousness everywhere and she expects it . . . . And if you were to torture her, she wouldn't do wrong. She doesn't see that it's impossible for people to be righteous and she is angry at it. Like a child, like a child. She is good!"
"And what will happen to you?"