Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Part 2: Chapter 5

"I feel the greatest regret at finding you in this situation," he began, again breaking the silence with an effort. "If I had been aware of your illness I should have come earlier. But you know what business is. I have, too, a very important legal affair in the Senate, not to mention other preoccupations which you may well conjecture. I am expecting your mamma and sister any minute."

Raskolnikov made a movement and seemed about to speak; his face showed some excitement. Pyotr Petrovitch paused, waited, but as nothing followed, he went on:

" . . . Any minute. I have found a lodging for them on their arrival."

"Where?" asked Raskolnikov weakly.

"Very near here, in Bakaleyev's house."

"That's in Voskresensky," put in Razumihin. "There are two storeys of rooms, let by a merchant called Yushin; I've been there."

"Yes, rooms . . . "

"A disgusting place — filthy, stinking and, what's more, of doubtful character. Things have happened there, and there are all sorts of queer people living there. And I went there about a scandalous business. It's cheap, though . . . "

"I could not, of course, find out so much about it, for I am a stranger in Petersburg myself," Pyotr Petrovitch replied huffily. "However, the two rooms are exceedingly clean, and as it is for so short a time . . . I have already taken a permanent, that is, our future flat," he said, addressing Raskolnikov, "and I am having it done up. And meanwhile I am myself cramped for room in a lodging with my friend Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov, in the flat of Madame Lippevechsel; it was he who told me of Bakaleyev's house, too . . . "

"Lebeziatnikov?" said Raskolnikov slowly, as if recalling something.

"Yes, Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov, a clerk in the Ministry. Do you know him?"

"Yes . . . no," Raskolnikov answered.

"Excuse me, I fancied so from your inquiry. I was once his guardian . . . . A very nice young man and advanced. I like to meet young people: one learns new things from them." Luzhin looked round hopefully at them all.

"How do you mean?" asked Razumihin.

"In the most serious and essential matters," Pyotr Petrovitch replied, as though delighted at the question. "You see, it's ten years since I visited Petersburg. All the novelties, reforms, ideas have reached us in the provinces, but to see it all more clearly one must be in Petersburg. And it's my notion that you observe and learn most by watching the younger generation. And I confess I am delighted . . . "

"At what?"

"Your question is a wide one. I may be mistaken, but I fancy I find clearer views, more, so to say, criticism, more practicality . . . "

"That's true," Zossimov let drop.

"Nonsense! There's no practicality." Razumihin flew at him. "Practicality is a difficult thing to find; it does not drop down from heaven. And for the last two hundred years we have been divorced from all practical life. Ideas, if you like, are fermenting," he said to Pyotr Petrovitch, "and desire for good exists, though it's in a childish form, and honesty you may find, although there are crowds of brigands. Anyway, there's no practicality. Practicality goes well shod."

"I don't agree with you," Pyotr Petrovitch replied, with evident enjoyment. "Of course, people do get carried away and make mistakes, but one must have indulgence; those mistakes are merely evidence of enthusiasm for the cause and of abnormal external environment. If little has been done, the time has been but short; of means I will not speak. It's my personal view, if you care to know, that something has been accomplished already. New valuable ideas, new valuable works are circulating in the place of our old dreamy and romantic authors. Literature is taking a maturer form, many injurious prejudice have been rooted up and turned into ridicule . . . . In a word, we have cut ourselves off irrevocably from the past, and that, to my thinking, is a great thing . . . "

"He's learnt it by heart to show off!" Raskolnikov pronounced suddenly.

"What?" asked Pyotr Petrovitch, not catching his words; but he received no reply.

"That's all true," Zossimov hastened to interpose.

"Isn't it so?" Pyotr Petrovitch went on, glancing affably at Zossimov. "You must admit," he went on, addressing Razumihin with a shade of triumph and superciliousness — he almost added "young man" — "that there is an advance, or, as they say now, progress in the name of science and economic truth . . . "

"A commonplace."

"No, not a commonplace! Hitherto, for instance, if I were told, 'love thy neighbour,' what came of it?" Pyotr Petrovitch went on, perhaps with excessive haste. "It came to my tearing my coat in half to share with my neighbour and we both were left half naked. As a Russian proverb has it, 'Catch several hares and you won't catch one.' Science now tells us, love yourself before all men, for everything in the world rests on self-interest. You love yourself and manage your own affairs properly and your coat remains whole. Economic truth adds that the better private affairs are organised in society — the more whole coats, so to say — the firmer are its foundations and the better is the common welfare organised too. Therefore, in acquiring wealth solely and exclusively for myself, I am acquiring, so to speak, for all, and helping to bring to pass my neighbour's getting a little more than a torn coat; and that not from private, personal liberality, but as a consequence of the general advance. The idea is simple, but unhappily it has been a long time reaching us, being hindered by idealism and sentimentality. And yet it would seem to want very little wit to perceive it . . . "

"Excuse me, I've very little wit myself," Razumihin cut in sharply, "and so let us drop it. I began this discussion with an object, but I've grown so sick during the last three years of this chattering to amuse oneself, of this incessant flow of commonplaces, always the same, that, by Jove, I blush even when other people talk like that. You are in a hurry, no doubt, to exhibit your acquirements; and I don't blame you, that's quite pardonable. I only wanted to find out what sort of man you are, for so many unscrupulous people have got hold of the progressive cause of late and have so distorted in their own interests everything they touched, that the whole cause has been dragged in the mire. That's enough!"

"Excuse me, sir," said Luzhin, affronted, and speaking with excessive dignity. "Do you mean to suggest so unceremoniously that I too . . . "

"Oh, my dear sir . . . how could I? . . . Come, that's enough," Razumihin concluded, and he turned abruptly to Zossimov to continue their previous conversation.

Pyotr Petrovitch had the good sense to accept the disavowal. He made up his mind to take leave in another minute or two.

"I trust our acquaintance," he said, addressing Raskolnikov, "may, upon your recovery and in view of the circumstances of which you are aware, become closer . . . Above all, I hope for your return to health . . . "

Raskolnikov did not even turn his head. Pyotr Petrovitch began getting up from his chair.

"One of her customers must have killed her," Zossimov declared positively.

"Not a doubt of it," replied Razumihin. "Porfiry doesn't give his opinion, but is examining all who have left pledges with her there."

"Examining them?" Raskolnikov asked aloud.

"Yes. What then?"

"Nothing."

"How does he get hold of them?" asked Zossimov.

"Koch has given the names of some of them, other names are on the wrappers of the pledges and some have come forward of themselves."

"It must have been a cunning and practised ruffian! The boldness of it! The coolness!"

"That's just what it wasn't!" interposed Razumihin. "That's what throws you all off the scent. But I maintain that he is not cunning, not practised, and probably this was his first crime! The supposition that it was a calculated crime and a cunning criminal doesn't work. Suppose him to have been inexperienced, and it's clear that it was only a chance that saved him — and chance may do anything. Why, he did not foresee obstacles, perhaps! And how did he set to work? He took jewels worth ten or twenty roubles, stuffing his pockets with them, ransacked the old woman's trunks, her rags — and they found fifteen hundred roubles, besides notes, in a box in the top drawer of the chest! He did not know how to rob; he could only murder. It was his first crime, I assure you, his first crime; he lost his head. And he got off more by luck than good counsel!"

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