Crime and Punishment By Fyodor Dostoevsky Part 2: Chapter 7

By way of answer he saw the little girl's face approaching him, her full lips naively held out to kiss him. Suddenly her arms as thin as sticks held him tightly, her head rested on his shoulder and the little girl wept softly, pressing her face against him.

"I am sorry for father," she said a moment later, raising her tear-stained face and brushing away the tears with her hands. "It's nothing but misfortunes now," she added suddenly with that peculiarly sedate air which children try hard to assume when they want to speak like grown-up people.

"Did your father love you?"

"He loved Lida most," she went on very seriously without a smile, exactly like grown-up people, "he loved her because she is little and because she is ill, too. And he always used to bring her presents. But he taught us to read and me grammar and scripture, too," she added with dignity. "And mother never used to say anything, but we knew that she liked it and father knew it, too. And mother wants to teach me French, for it's time my education began."

"And do you know your prayers?"

"Of course, we do! We knew them long ago. I say my prayers to myself as I am a big girl now, but Kolya and Lida say them aloud with mother. First they repeat the 'Ave Maria' and then another prayer: 'Lord, forgive and bless sister Sonia,' and then another, 'Lord, forgive and bless our second father.' For our elder father is dead and this is another one, but we do pray for the other as well."

"Polenka, my name is Rodion. Pray sometimes for me, too. 'And Thy servant Rodion,' nothing more."

"I'll pray for you all the rest of my life," the little girl declared hotly, and suddenly smiling again she rushed at him and hugged him warmly once more.

Raskolnikov told her his name and address and promised to be sure to come next day. The child went away quite enchanted with him. It was past ten when he came out into the street. In five minutes he was standing on the bridge at the spot where the woman had jumped in.

"Enough," he pronounced resolutely and triumphantly. "I've done with fancies, imaginary terrors and phantoms! Life is real! haven't I lived just now? My life has not yet died with that old woman! The Kingdom of Heaven to her — and now enough, madam, leave me in peace! Now for the reign of reason and light . . . and of will, and of strength . . . and now we will see! We will try our strength!" he added defiantly, as though challenging some power of darkness. "And I was ready to consent to live in a square of space!

"I am very weak at this moment, but . . . I believe my illness is all over. I knew it would be over when I went out. By the way, Potchinkov's house is only a few steps away. I certainly must go to Razumihin even if it were not close by . . . let him win his bet! Let us give him some satisfaction, too — no matter! Strength, strength is what one wants, you can get nothing without it, and strength must be won by strength — that's what they don't know," he added proudly and self-confidently and he walked with flagging footsteps from the bridge. Pride and self-confidence grew continually stronger in him; he was becoming a different man every moment. What was it had happened to work this revolution in him? He did not know himself; like a man catching at a straw, he suddenly felt that he, too, 'could live, that there was still life for him, that his life had not died with the old woman.' Perhaps he was in too great a hurry with his conclusions, but he did not think of that.

"But I did ask her to remember 'Thy servant Rodion' in her prayers," the idea struck him. "Well, that was . . . in case of emergency," he added and laughed himself at his boyish sally. He was in the best of spirits.

He easily found Razumihin; the new lodger was already known at Potchinkov's and the porter at once showed him the way. Half-way upstairs he could hear the noise and animated conversation of a big gathering of people. The door was wide open on the stairs; he could hear exclamations and discussion. Razumihin's room was fairly large; the company consisted of fifteen people. Raskolnikov stopped in the entry, where two of the landlady's servants were busy behind a screen with two samovars, bottles, plates and dishes of pie and savouries, brought up from the landlady's kitchen. Raskolnikov sent in for Razumihin. He ran out delighted. At the first glance it was apparent that he had had a great deal to drink and, though no amount of liquor made Razumihin quite drunk, this time he was perceptibly affected by it.

"Listen," Raskolnikov hastened to say, "I've only just come to tell you you've won your bet and that no one really knows what may not happen to him. I can't come in; I am so weak that I shall fall down directly. And so good evening and good-bye! Come and see me to-morrow."

"Do you know what? I'll see you home. If you say you're weak yourself, you must . . . "

"And your visitors? Who is the curly-headed one who has just peeped out?"

"He? Goodness only knows! Some friend of uncle's, I expect, or perhaps he has come without being invited . . . I'll leave uncle with them, he is an invaluable person, pity I can't introduce you to him now. But confound them all now! They won't notice me, and I need a little fresh air, for you've come just in the nick of time — another two minutes and I should have come to blows! They are talking such a lot of wild stuff . . . you simply can't imagine what men will say! Though why shouldn't you imagine? Don't we talk nonsense ourselves? And let them . . . that's the way to learn not to! . . . Wait a minute, I'll fetch Zossimov."

Zossimov pounced upon Raskolnikov almost greedily; he showed a special interest in him; soon his face brightened.

"You must go to bed at once," he pronounced, examining the patient as far as he could, "and take something for the night. Will you take it? I got it ready some time ago . . . a powder."

"Two, if you like," answered Raskolnikov. The powder was taken at once.

"It's a good thing you are taking him home," observed Zossimov to Razumihin — "we shall see how he is to-morrow, to-day he's not at all amiss — a considerable change since the afternoon. Live and learn . . . "

"Do you know what Zossimov whispered to me when we were coming out?" Razumihin blurted out, as soon as they were in the street. "I won't tell you everything, brother, because they are such fools. Zossimov told me to talk freely to you on the way and get you to talk freely to me, and afterwards I am to tell him about it, for he's got a notion in his head that you are . . . mad or close on it. Only fancy! In the first place, you've three times the brains he has; in the second, if you are not mad, you needn't care a hang that he has got such a wild idea; and thirdly, that piece of beef whose specialty is surgery has gone mad on mental diseases, and what's brought him to this conclusion about you was your conversation to-day with Zametov."

"Zametov told you all about it?"

"Yes, and he did well. Now I understand what it all means and so does Zametov . . . . Well, the fact is, Rodya . . . the point is . . . I am a little drunk now . . . . But that's . . . no matter . . . the point is that this idea . . . you understand? was just being hatched in their brains . . . you understand? That is, no one ventured to say it aloud, because the idea is too absurd and especially since the arrest of that painter, that bubble's burst and gone for ever. But why are they such fools? I gave Zametov a bit of a thrashing at the time — that's between ourselves, brother; please don't let out a hint that you know of it; I've noticed he is a ticklish subject; it was at Luise Ivanovna's. But to-day, to-day it's all cleared up. That Ilya Petrovitch is at the bottom of it! He took advantage of your fainting at the police station, but he is ashamed of it himself now; I know that . . . "

Raskolnikov listened greedily. Razumihin was drunk enough to talk too freely.

"I fainted then because it was so close and the smell of paint," said Raskolnikov.

"No need to explain that! And it wasn't the paint only: the fever had been coming on for a month; Zossimov testifies to that! But how crushed that boy is now, you wouldn't believe! 'I am not worth his little finger,' he says. Yours, he means. He has good feelings at times, brother. But the lesson, the lesson you gave him to-day in the Palais de Cristal, that was too good for anything! You frightened him at first, you know, he nearly went into convulsions! You almost convinced him again of the truth of all that hideous nonsense, and then you suddenly — put out your tongue at him: 'There now, what do you make of it?' It was perfect! He is crushed, annihilated now! It was masterly, by Jove, it's what they deserve! Ah, that I wasn't there! He was hoping to see you awfully. Porfiry, too, wants to make your acquaintance . . . "

"Ah! . . . he too . . . but why did they put me down as mad?"

"Oh, not mad. I must have said too much, brother . . . . What struck him, you see, was that only that subject seemed to interest you; now it's clear why it did interest you; knowing all the circumstances . . . and how that irritated you and worked in with your illness . . . I am a little drunk, brother, only, confound him, he has some idea of his own . . . I tell you, he's mad on mental diseases. But don't you mind him . . . "

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