Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Part 3: Chapter 1



Raskolnikov got up, and sat down on the sofa. He waved his hand weakly to Razumihin to cut short the flow of warm and incoherent consolations he was addressing to his mother and sister, took them both by the hand and for a minute or two gazed from one to the other without speaking. His mother was alarmed by his expression. It revealed an emotion agonisingly poignant, and at the same time something immovable, almost insane. Pulcheria Alexandrovna began to cry.

Avdotya Romanovna was pale; her hand trembled in her brother's.

"Go home . . . with him," he said in a broken voice, pointing to Razumihin, "good-bye till to-morrow; to-morrow everything . . . Is it long since you arrived?"

"This evening, Rodya," answered Pulcheria Alexandrovna, "the train was awfully late. But, Rodya, nothing would induce me to leave you now! I will spend the night here, near you . . . "

"Don't torture me!" he said with a gesture of irritation.

"I will stay with him," cried Razumihin, "I won't leave him for a moment. Bother all my visitors! Let them rage to their hearts' content! My uncle is presiding there."

"How, how can I thank you!" Pulcheria Alexandrovna was beginning, once more pressing Razumihin's hands, but Raskolnikov interrupted her again.

"I can't have it! I can't have it!" he repeated irritably, "don't worry me! Enough, go away . . . I can't stand it!"

"Come, mamma, come out of the room at least for a minute," Dounia whispered in dismay; "we are distressing him, that's evident."

"Mayn't I look at him after three years?" wept Pulcheria Alexandrovna.

"Stay," he stopped them again, "you keep interrupting me, and my ideas get muddled . . . . Have you seen Luzhin?"

"No, Rodya, but he knows already of our arrival. We have heard, Rodya, that Pyotr Petrovitch was so kind as to visit you today," Pulcheria Alexandrovna added somewhat timidly.

"Yes . . . he was so kind . . . Dounia, I promised Luzhin I'd throw him downstairs and told him to go to hell . . . ."

"Rodya, what are you saying! Surely, you don't mean to tell us . . . " Pulcheria Alexandrovna began in alarm, but she stopped, looking at Dounia.

Avdotya Romanovna was looking attentively at her brother, waiting for what would come next. Both of them had heard of the quarrel from Nastasya, so far as she had succeeded in understanding and reporting it, and were in painful perplexity and suspense.

"Dounia," Raskolnikov continued with an effort, "I don't want that marriage, so at the first opportunity to-morrow you must refuse Luzhin, so that we may never hear his name again."

"Good Heavens!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna.

"Brother, think what you are saying!" Avdotya Romanovna began impetuously, but immediately checked herself. "You are not fit to talk now, perhaps; you are tired," she added gently.

"You think I am delirious? No . . . You are marrying Luzhin for my sake. But I won't accept the sacrifice. And so write a letter before to-morrow, to refuse him . . . Let me read it in the morning and that will be the end of it!"

"That I can't do!" the girl cried, offended, "what right have you . . . "

"Dounia, you are hasty, too, be quiet, to-morrow . . . Don't you see . . . " the mother interposed in dismay. "Better come away!"

"He is raving," Razumihin cried tipsily, "or how would he dare! To-morrow all this nonsense will be over . . . to-day he certainly did drive him away. That was so. And Luzhin got angry, too . . . . He made speeches here, wanted to show off his learning and he went out crest-fallen . . . ."

"Then it's true?" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna.

"Good-bye till to-morrow, brother," said Dounia compassionately — "let us go, mother . . . Good-bye, Rodya."

"Do you hear, sister," he repeated after them, making a last effort, "I am not delirious; this marriage is — an infamy. Let me act like a scoundrel, but you mustn't . . . one is enough . . . and though I am a scoundrel, I wouldn't own such a sister. It's me or Luzhin! Go now . . . ."

"But you're out of your mind! Despot!" roared Razumihin; but Raskolnikov did not and perhaps could not answer. He lay down on the sofa, and turned to the wall, utterly exhausted. Avdotya Romanovna looked with interest at Razumihin; her black eyes flashed; Razumihin positively started at her glance.

Pulcheria Alexandrovna stood overwhelmed.

"Nothing would induce me to go," she whispered in despair to Razumihin. "I will stay somewhere here . . . escort Dounia home."

"You'll spoil everything," Razumihin answered in the same whisper, losing patience — "come out on to the stairs, anyway. Nastasya, show a light! I assure you," he went on in a half whisper on the stairs-"that he was almost beating the doctor and me this afternoon! Do you understand? The doctor himself! Even he gave way and left him, so as not to irritate him. I remained downstairs on guard, but he dressed at once and slipped off. And he will slip off again if you irritate him, at this time of night, and will do himself some mischief . . . ."

"What are you saying?"

"And Avdotya Romanovna can't possibly be left in those lodgings without you. Just think where you are staying! That blackguard Pyotr Petrovitch couldn't find you better lodgings . . . But you know I've had a little to drink, and that's what makes me . . . swear; don't mind it . . . ."

"But I'll go to the landlady here," Pulcheria Alexandrovna insisted, "Ill beseech her to find some corner for Dounia and me for the night. I can't leave him like that, I cannot!"

This conversation took place on the landing just before the landlady's door. Nastasya lighted them from a step below. Razumihin was in extraordinary excitement. Half an hour earlier, while he was bringing Raskolnikov home, he had indeed talked too freely, but he was aware of it himself, and his head was clear in spite of the vast quantities he had imbibed. Now he was in a state bordering on ecstasy, and all that he had drunk seemed to fly to his head with redoubled effect. He stood with the two ladies, seizing both by their hands, persuading them, and giving them reasons with astonishing plainness of speech, and at almost every word he uttered, probably to emphasise his arguments, he squeezed their hands painfully as in a vise. He stared at Avdotya Romanovna without the least regard for good manners. They sometimes pulled their hands out of his huge bony paws, but far from noticing what was the matter, he drew them all the closer to him. If they'd told him to jump head foremost from the staircase, he would have done it without thought or hesitation in their service. Though Pulcheria Alexandrovna felt that the young man was really too eccentric and pinched her hand too much, in her anxiety over her Rodya she looked on his presence as providential, and was unwilling to notice all his peculiarities. But though Avdotya Romanovna shared her anxiety, and was not of timorous disposition, she could not see the glowing light in his eyes without wonder and almost alarm. It was only the unbounded confidence inspired by Nastasya's account of her brother's queer friend, which prevented her from trying to run away from him, and to persuade her mother to do the same. She realised, too, that even running away was perhaps impossible now. Ten minutes later, however, she was considerably reassured; it was characteristic of Razumihin that he showed his true nature at once, whatever mood he might be in, so that people quickly saw the sort of man they had to deal with.

"You can't go to the landlady, that's perfect nonsense!" he cried. "If you stay, though you are his mother, you'll drive him to a frenzy, and then goodness knows what will happen! Listen, I'll tell you what I'll do: Nastasya will stay with him now, and I'll conduct you both home, you can't be in the streets alone; Petersburg is an awful place in that way . . . . But no matter! Then I'll run straight back here and a quarter of an hour later, on my word of honour, I'll bring you news how he is, whether he is asleep, and all that. Then, listen! Then I'll run home in a twinkling — I've a lot of friends there, all drunk — I'll fetch Zossimov — that's the doctor who is looking after him, he is there, too, but he is not drunk; he is not drunk, he is never drunk! I'll drag him to Rodya, and then to you, so that you'll get two reports in the hour — from the doctor, you understand, from the doctor himself, that's a very different thing from my account of him! If there's anything wrong, I swear I'll bring you here myself, but, if it's all right, you go to bed. And I'll spend the night here, in the passage, he won't hear me, and I'll tell Zossimov to sleep at the landlady's, to be at hand. Which is better for him: you or the doctor? So come home then! But the landlady is out of the question; it's all right for me, but it's out of the question for you: she wouldn't take you, for she's . . . for she's a fool . . . She'd be jealous on my account of Avdotya Romanovna and of you, too, if you want to know . . . of Avdotya Romanovna certainly. She is an absolutely, absolutely unaccountable character! But I am a fool, too! . . . No matter! Come along! Do you trust me? Come, do you trust me or not?"

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