Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Part 5: Chapter 5


Lebeziatnikov looked perturbed.

"I've come to you, Sofya Semyonovna," he began. "Excuse me . . . I thought I should find you," he said, addressing Raskolnikov suddenly, "that is, I didn't mean anything . . . of that sort . . . But I just thought . . . Katerina Ivanovna has gone out of her mind," he blurted out suddenly, turning from Raskolnikov to Sonia.

Sonia screamed.

"At least it seems so. But . . . we don't know what to do, you see! She came back — she seems to have been turned out somewhere, perhaps beaten . . . . So it seems at least, . . . She had run to your father's former chief, she didn't find him at home: he was dining at some other general's . . . . Only fancy, she rushed off there, to the other general's, and, imagine, she was so persistent that she managed to get the chief to see her, had him fetched out from dinner, it seems. You can imagine what happened. She was turned out, of course; but, according to her own story, she abused him and threw something at him. One may well believe it . . . . How it is she wasn't taken up, I can't understand! Now she is telling everyone, including Amalia Ivanovna; but it's difficult to understand her, she is screaming and flinging herself about . . . . Oh yes, she shouts that since everyone has abandoned her, she will take the children and go into the street with a barrel-organ, and the children will sing and dance, and she too, and collect money, and will go every day under the general's window . . . 'to let everyone see well-born children, whose father was an official, begging in the street.' She keeps beating the children and they are all crying. She is teaching Lida to sing 'My Village,' the boy to dance, Polenka the same. She is tearing up all the clothes, and making them little caps like actors; she means to carry a tin basin and make it tinkle, instead of music . . . . She won't listen to anything . . . . Imagine the state of things! It's beyond anything!"

Lebeziatnikov would have gone on, but Sonia, who had heard him almost breathless, snatched up her cloak and hat, and ran out of the room, putting on her things as she went. Raskolnikov followed her and Lebeziatnikov came after him.

"She has certainly gone mad!" he said to Raskolnikov, as they went out into the street. "I didn't want to frighten Sofya Semyonovna, so I said 'it seemed like it,' but there isn't a doubt of it. They say that in consumption the tubercles sometimes occur in the brain; it's a pity I know nothing of medicine. I did try to persuade her, but she wouldn't listen."

"Did you talk to her about the tubercles?"

"Not precisely of the tubercles. Besides, she wouldn't have understood! But what I say is, that if you convince a person logically that he has nothing to cry about, he'll stop crying. That's clear. Is it your conviction that he won't?"

"Life would be too easy if it were so," answered Raskolnikov.

"Excuse me, excuse me; of course it would be rather difficult for Katerina Ivanovna to understand, but do you know that in Paris they have been conducting serious experiments as to the possibility of curing the insane, simply by logical argument? One professor there, a scientific man of standing, lately dead, believed in the possibility of such treatment. His idea was that there's nothing really wrong with the physical organism of the insane, and that insanity is, so to say, a logical mistake, an error of judgment, an incorrect view of things. He gradually showed the madman his error and, would you believe it, they say he was successful? But as he made use of douches too, how far success was due to that treatment remains uncertain . . . . So it seems at least."

Raskolnikov had long ceased to listen. Reaching the house where he lived, he nodded to Lebeziatnikov and went in at the gate. Lebeziatnikov woke up with a start, looked about him and hurried on.

Raskolnikov went into his little room and stood still in the middle of it. Why had he come back here? He looked at the yellow and tattered paper, at the dust, at his sofa . . . . From the yard came a loud continuous knocking; someone seemed to be hammering . . . He went to the window, rose on tiptoe and looked out into the yard for a long time with an air of absorbed attention. But the yard was empty and he could not see who was hammering. In the house on the left he saw some open windows; on the window-sills were pots of sickly-looking geraniums. Linen was hung out of the windows . . . He knew it all by heart. He turned away and sat down on the sofa.

Never, never had he felt himself so fearfully alone!

Yes, he felt once more that he would perhaps come to hate Sonia, now that he had made her more miserable.

"Why had he gone to her to beg for her tears? What need had he to poison her life? Oh, the meanness of it!"

"I will remain alone," he said resolutely, "and she shall not come to the prison!"

Five minutes later he raised his head with a strange smile. That was a strange thought.

"Perhaps it really would be better in Siberia," he thought suddenly.

He could not have said how long he sat there with vague thoughts surging through his mind. All at once the door opened and Dounia came in. At first she stood still and looked at him from the doorway, just as he had done at Sonia; then she came in and sat down in the same place as yesterday, on the chair facing him. He looked silently and almost vacantly at her.

"Don't be angry, brother; I've only come for one minute," said Dounia.

Her face looked thoughtful but not stern. Her eyes were bright and soft. He saw that she too had come to him with love.

"Brother, now I know all, all. Dmitri Prokofitch has explained and told me everything. They are worrying and persecuting you through a stupid and contemptible suspicion . . . . Dmitri Prokofitch told me that there is no danger, and that you are wrong in looking upon it with such horror. I don't think so, and I fully understand how indignant you must be, and that that indignation may have a permanent effect on you. That's what I am afraid of. As for your cutting yourself off from us, I don't judge you, I don't venture to judge you, and forgive me for having blamed you for it. I feel that I too, if I had so great a trouble, should keep away from everyone. I shall tell mother nothing of this, but I shall talk about you continually and shall tell her from you that you will come very soon. Don't worry about her; I will set her mind at rest; but don't you try her too much — come once at least; remember that she is your mother. And now I have come simply to say" (Dounia began to get up) "that if you should need me or should need . . . all my life or anything . . . call me, and I'll come. Good-bye!"

She turned abruptly and went towards the door.

"Dounia!" Raskolnikov stopped her and went towards her. "That Razumihin, Dmitri Prokofitch, is a very good fellow."

Dounia flushed slightly.

"Well?" she asked, waiting a moment.

"He is competent, hardworking, honest and capable of real love . . . . Good-bye, Dounia."

Dounia flushed crimson, then suddenly she took alarm.

"But what does it mean, brother? Are we really parting for ever that you . . . give me such a parting message?"

"Never mind . . . . Good-bye."

He turned away, and walked to the window. She stood a moment, looked at him uneasily, and went out troubled.

No, he was not cold to her. There was an instant (the very last one) when he had longed to take her in his arms and say good-bye to her, and even to tell her, but he had not dared even to touch her hand.

"Afterwards she may shudder when she remembers that I embraced her, and will feel that I stole her kiss."

"And would she stand that test?" he went on a few minutes later to himself. "No, she wouldn't; girls like that can't stand things! They never do."

And he thought of Sonia.

There was a breath of fresh air from the window. The daylight was fading. He took up his cap and went out.

He could not, of course, and would not consider how ill he was. But all this continual anxiety and agony of mind could not but affect him. And if he were not lying in high fever it was perhaps just because this continual inner strain helped to keep him on his legs and in possession of his faculties. But this artificial excitement could not last long.

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