"Let us go, mother," said Avdotya Romanovna, "he will certainly do what he has promised. He has saved Rodya already, and if the doctor really will consent to spend the night here, what could be better?"
"You see, you . . . you . . . understand me, because you are an angel!" Razumihin cried in ecstasy, "let us go! Nastasya! Fly upstairs and sit with him with a light; I'll come in a quarter of an hour."
Though Pulcheria Alexandrovna was not perfectly convinced, she made no further resistance. Razumihin gave an arm to each and drew them down the stairs. He still made her uneasy, as though he was competent and good-natured, was he capable of carrying out his promise? He seemed in such a condition . . . .
"Ah, I see you think I am in such a condition!" Razumihin broke in upon her thoughts, guessing them, as he strolled along the pavement with huge steps, so that the two ladies could hardly keep up with him, a fact he did not observe, however. "Nonsense! That is . . . I am drunk like a fool, but that's not it; I am not drunk from wine. It's seeing you has turned my head . . . But don't mind me! Don't take any notice: I am talking nonsense, I am not worthy of you . . . . I am utterly unworthy of you! The minute I've taken you home, I'll pour a couple of pailfuls of water over my head in the gutter here, and then I shall be all right . . . . If only you knew how I love you both! Don't laugh, and don't be angry! You may be angry with anyone, but not with me! I am his friend, and therefore I am your friend, too, I want to be . . . I had a presentiment . . . Last year there was a moment . . . though it wasn't a presentiment really, for you seem to have fallen from heaven. And I expect I shan't sleep all night . . . Zossimov was afraid a little time ago that he would go mad . . . that's why he mustn't be irritated."
"What do you say?" cried the mother.
"Did the doctor really say that?" asked Avdotya Romanovna, alarmed.
"Yes, but it's not so, not a bit of it. He gave him some medicine, a powder, I saw it, and then your coming here . . . . Ah! It would have been better if you had come to-morrow. It's a good thing we went away. And in an hour Zossimov himself will report to you about everything. He is not drunk! And I shan't be drunk . . . . And what made me get so tight? Because they got me into an argument, damn them! I've sworn never to argue! They talk such trash! I almost came to blows! I've left my uncle to preside. Would you believe, they insist on complete absence of individualism and that's just what they relish! Not to be themselves, to be as unlike themselves as they can. That's what they regard as the highest point of progress. If only their nonsense were their own, but as it is . . . "
"Listen!" Pulcheria Alexandrovna interrupted timidly, but it only added fuel to the flames.
"What do you think?" shouted Razumihin, louder than ever, "you think I am attacking them for talking nonsense? Not a bit! I like them to talk nonsense. That's man's one privilege over all creation. Through error you come to the truth! I am a man because I err! You never reach any truth without making fourteen mistakes and very likely a hundred and fourteen. And a fine thing, too, in its way; but we can't even make mistakes on our own account! Talk nonsense, but talk your own nonsense, and I'll kiss you for it. To go wrong in one's own way is better than to go right in someone else's. In the first case you are a man, in the second you're no better than a bird. Truth won't escape you, but life can be cramped. There have been examples. And what are we doing now? In science, development, thought, invention, ideals, aims, liberalism, judgment, experience and everything, everything, everything, we are still in the preparatory class at school. We prefer to live on other people's ideas, it's what we are used to! Am I right, am I right?" cried Razumihin, pressing and shaking the two ladies' hands.
"Oh, mercy, I do not know," cried poor Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"Yes, yes . . . though I don't agree with you in everything," added Avdotya Romanovna earnestly and at once uttered a cry, for he squeezed her hand so painfully.
"Yes, you say yes . . . well after that you . . . you . . . " he cried in a transport, "you are a fount of goodness, purity, sense . . . and perfection. Give me your hand . . . you give me yours, too! I want to kiss your hands here at once, on my knees . . . " and he fell on his knees on the pavement, fortunately at that time deserted.
"Leave off, I entreat you, what are you doing?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna cried, greatly distressed.
"Get up, get up!" said Dounia laughing, though she, too, was upset.
"Not for anything till you let me kiss your hands! That's it! Enough! I get up and we'll go on! I am a luckless fool, I am unworthy of you and drunk . . . and I am ashamed . . . . I am not worthy to love you, but to do homage to you is the duty of every man who is not a perfect beast! And I've done homage . . . . Here are your lodgings, and for that alone Rodya was right in driving your Pyotr Petrovitch away . . . . How dare he! how dare he put you in such lodgings! It's a scandal! Do you know the sort of people they take in here? And you his betrothed! You are his betrothed? Yes? Well, then, I'll tell you, your fiance is a scoundrel."
"Excuse me, Mr. Razumihin, you are forgetting . . . " Pulcheria Alexandrovna was beginning.
"Yes, yes, you are right, I did forget myself, I am ashamed of it," Razumihin made haste to apologise. "But . . . but you can't be angry with me for speaking so! For I speak sincerely and not because . . . hm, hm! That would be disgraceful; in fact not because I'm in . . . hm! Well, anyway, I won't say why, I daren't . . . . But we all saw to-day when he came in that that man is not of our sort. Not because he had his hair curled at the barber's, not because he was in such a hurry to show his wit, but because he is a spy, a speculator, because he is a skin-flint and a buffoon. That's evident. Do you think him clever? No, he is a fool, a fool. And is he a match for you? Good heavens! Do you see, ladies?" he stopped suddenly on the way upstairs to their rooms, "though all my friends there are drunk, yet they are all honest, and though we do talk a lot of trash, and I do, too, yet we shall talk our way to the truth at last, for we are on the right path, while Pyotr Petrovitch . . . is not on the right path. Though I've been calling them all sorts of names just now, I do respect them all . . . though I don't respect Zametov, I like him, for he is a puppy, and that bullock Zossimov, because he is an honest man and knows his work. But enough, it's all said and forgiven. Is it forgiven? Well, then, let's go on. I know this corridor, I've been here, there was a scandal here at Number 3 . . . . Where are you here? Which number? eight? Well, lock yourselves in for the night, then. Don't let anybody in. In a quarter of an hour I'll come back with news, and half an hour later I'll bring Zossimov, you'll see! Good-bye, I'll run."
"Good heavens, Dounia, what is going to happen?" said Pulcheria Alexandrovna, addressing her daughter with anxiety and dismay.
"Don't worry yourself, mother," said Dounia, taking off her hat and cape. "God has sent this gentleman to our aid, though he has come from a drinking party. We can depend on him, I assure you. And all that he has done for Rodya . . . ."
"Ah. Dounia, goodness knows whether he will come! How could I bring myself to leave Rodya? . . . And how different, how different I had fancied our meeting! How sullen he was, as though not pleased to see us . . . ."
Tears came into her eyes.
"No, it's not that, mother. You didn't see, you were crying all the time. He is quite unhinged by serious illness — that's the reason."
"Ah, that illness! What will happen, what will happen? And how he talked to you, Dounia!" said the mother, looking timidly at her daughter, trying to read her thoughts and, already half consoled by Dounia's standing up for her brother, which meant that she had already forgiven him. "I am sure he will think better of it to-morrow," she added, probing her further.
"And I am sure that he will say the same to-morrow . . . about that," Avdotya Romanovna said finally. And, of course, there was no going beyond that, for this was a point which Pulcheria Alexandrovna was afraid to discuss. Dounia went up and kissed her mother. The latter warmly embraced her without speaking. Then she sat down to wait anxiously for Razumihin's return, timidly watching her daughter who walked up and down the room with her arms folded, lost in thought. This walking up and down when she was thinking was a habit of Avdotya Romanovna's and the mother was always afraid to break in on her daughter's mood at such moments.