"I don't believe it, I can't believe it!" repeated Razumihin, trying in perplexity to refute Raskolnikov's arguments.
They were by now approaching Bakaleyev's lodgings, where Pulcheria Alexandrovna and Dounia had been expecting them a long while. Razumihin kept stopping on the way in the heat of discussion, confused and excited by the very fact that they were for the first time speaking openly about it.
"Don't believe it, then!" answered Raskolnikov, with a cold, careless smile. "You were noticing nothing as usual, but I was weighing every word."
"You are suspicious. That is why you weighed their words . . . h'm . . . certainly, I agree, Porfiry's tone was rather strange, and still more that wretch Zametov! . . . You are right, there was something about him — but why? Why?"
"He has changed his mind since last night."
"Quite the contrary! If they had that brainless idea, they would do their utmost to hide it, and conceal their cards, so as to catch you afterwards . . . . But it was all impudent and careless."
"If they had had facts — I mean, real facts — or at least grounds for suspicion, then they would certainly have tried to hide their game, in the hope of getting more (they would have made a search long ago besides). But they have no facts, not one. It is all mirage — all ambiguous. Simply a floating idea. So they try to throw me out by impudence. And perhaps, he was irritated at having no facts, and blurted it out in his vexation — or perhaps he has some plan . . . he seems an intelligent man. Perhaps he wanted to frighten me by pretending to know. They have a psychology of their own, brother. But it is loathsome explaining it all. Stop!"
"And it's insulting, insulting! I understand you. But . . . since we have spoken openly now (and it is an excellent thing that we have at last — I am glad) I will own now frankly that I noticed it in them long ago, this idea. Of course the merest hint only — an insinuation — but why an insinuation even? How dare they? What foundation have they? If only you knew how furious I have been. Think only! Simply because a poor student, unhinged by poverty and hypochondria, on the eve of a severe delirious illness (note that), suspicious, vain, proud, who has not seen a soul to speak to for six months, in rags and in boots without soles, has to face some wretched policemen and put up with their insolence; and the unexpected debt thrust under his nose, the I.O.U. presented by Tchebarov, the new paint, thirty degrees Reaumur and a stifling atmosphere, a crowd of people, the talk about the murder of a person where he had been just before, and all that on an empty stomach — he might well have a fainting fit! And that, that is what they found it all on! Damn them! I understand how annoying it is, but in your place, Rodya, I would laugh at them, or better still, spit in their ugly faces, and spit a dozen times in all directions. I'd hit out in all directions, neatly too, and so I'd put an end to it. Damn them! Don't be downhearted. It's a shame!"
"He really has put it well, though," Raskolnikov thought.
"Damn them? But the cross-examination again, to-morrow?" he said with bitterness. "Must I really enter into explanations with them? I feel vexed as it is, that I condescended to speak to Zametov yesterday in the restaurant . . . ."
"Damn it! I will go myself to Porfiry. I will squeeze it out of him, as one of the family: he must let me know the ins and outs of it all! And as for Zametov . . . "
"At last he sees through him!" thought Raskolnikov.
"Stay!" cried Razumihin, seizing him by the shoulder again. "Stay! you were wrong. I have thought it out. You are wrong! How was that a trap? You say that the question about the workmen was a trap. But if you had done that, could you have said you had seen them painting the flat . . . and the workmen? On the contrary, you would have seen nothing, even if you had seen it. Who would own it against himself?"
"If I had done that thing, I should certainly have said that I had seen the workmen and the flat," Raskolnikov answered, with reluctance and obvious disgust.
"But why speak against yourself?"
"Because only peasants, or the most inexperienced novices deny everything flatly at examinations. If a man is ever so little developed and experienced, he will certainly try to admit all the external facts that can't be avoided, but will seek other explanations of them, will introduce some special, unexpected turn, that will give them another significance and put them in another light. Porfiry might well reckon that I should be sure to answer so, and say I had seen them to give an air of truth, and then make some explanation."
"But he would have told you at once that the workmen could not have been there two days before, and that therefore you must have been there on the day of the murder at eight o'clock. And so he would have caught you over a detail."
"Yes, that is what he was reckoning on, that I should not have time to reflect, and should be in a hurry to make the most likely answer, and so would forget that the workmen could not have been there two days before."
"But how could you forget it?"
"Nothing easier. It is in just such stupid things clever people are most easily caught. The more cunning a man is, the less he suspects that he will be caught in a simple thing. The more cunning a man is, the simpler the trap he must be caught in. Porfiry is not such a fool as you think . . . ."
"He is a knave then, if that is so!"
Raskolnikov could not help laughing. But at the very moment, he was struck by the strangeness of his own frankness, and the eagerness with which he had made this explanation, though he had kept up all the preceding conversation with gloomy repulsion, obviously with a motive, from necessity.
"I am getting a relish for certain aspects!" he thought to himself. But almost at the same instant he became suddenly uneasy, as though an unexpected and alarming idea had occurred to him. His uneasiness kept on increasing. They had just reached the entrance to Bakaleyev's.
"Go in alone!" said Raskolnikov suddenly. "I will be back directly."
"Where are you going? Why, we are just here."
"I can't help it . . . . I will come in half an hour. Tell them."
"Say what you like, I will come with you."
"You, too, want to torture me!" he screamed, with such bitter irritation, such despair in his eyes that Razumihin's hands dropped. He stood for some time on the steps, looking gloomily at Raskolnikov striding rapidly away in the direction of his lodging. At last, gritting his teeth and clenching his fist, he swore he would squeeze Porfiry like a lemon that very day, and went up the stairs to reassure Pulcheria Alexandrovna, who was by now alarmed at their long absence.
When Raskolnikov got home, his hair was soaked with sweat and he was breathing heavily. He went rapidly up the stairs, walked into his unlocked room and at once fastened the latch. Then in senseless terror he rushed to the corner, to that hole under the paper where he had put the things; put his hand in, and for some minutes felt carefully in the hole, in every crack and fold of the paper. Finding nothing, he got up and drew a deep breath. As he was reaching the steps of Bakaleyev's, he suddenly fancied that something, a chain, a stud or even a bit of paper in which they had been wrapped with the old woman's handwriting on it, might somehow have slipped out and been lost in some crack, and then might suddenly turn up as unexpected, conclusive evidence against him.
He stood as though lost in thought, and a strange, humiliated, half senseless smile strayed on his lips. He took his cap at last and went quietly out of the room. His ideas were all tangled. He went dreamily through the gateway.
"Here he is himself," shouted a loud voice.