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Existentialism
Fyodor Dostoyevsky (1821 - 1881)
Crime and Punishment
translated by Constance Garnett



Fyodor Dostoevsky
- Life
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- the brothers karamazov
- the dream of a ridiculous man
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- A gentle spirit

Chapter One

-

SO HE lay a very long while. Now and then he seemed to wake up,

and at such moments he noticed that it was far into the night, but

it did not occur to him to get up. At last he noticed that it was

beginning to get light. He was lying on his back, still dazed from his

recent oblivion. Fearful, despairing cries rose shrilly from the

street, sounds which he heard every night, indeed, under his window

after two o'clock. They woke him up now.

"Ah! the drunken men are coming out of the taverns," he thought,

"it's past two o'clock," and at once he leaped up, as though some

one had pulled him from the sofa.

"What! Past two o'clock!"

He sat down on the sofa- and instantly recollected everything! All

at once, in one flash, he recollected everything.

For the first moment he thought he was going mad. A dreadful chill

came over him; but the chill was from the fever that had begun long

before in his sleep. Now he was suddenly taken with violent shivering,

so that his teeth chattered and all his limbs were shaking. He

opened the door and began listening; everything in the house was

asleep. With amazement he gazed at himself and everything in the

room around him, wondering how he could have come in the night

before without fastening the door, and have flung himself on the

sofa without undressing, without even taking his hat off. It had

fallen off and was lying on the floor near his pillow.

"If any one had come in, what would he have thought? That I'm

drunk but..."

He rushed to the window. There was light enough, and he began

hurriedly looking himself all over from head to foot, all his clothes;

were there no traces? But there was no doing it like that; shivering

with cold, he began taking off everything and looking over again. He

turned everything over to the last threads and rags, and mistrusting

himself, went through his search three times.

But there seemed to be nothing, no trace, except in one place, where

some thick drops of congealed blood were clinging to the frayed edge

of his trousers. He picked up a big claspknife and cut off the

frayed threads. There seemed to be nothing more.

Suddenly he remembered that the purse and the things he had taken

out of the old woman's box were still in his pockets! He had not

thought till then of taking them out and hiding them! He had not

even thought of them while he was examining his clothes! What next?

Instantly he rushed to take them out, and fling them on the table.

When he had pulled out everything, and turned the pocket inside out to

be sure there was nothing left, he carried the whole heap to the

corner. The paper had come off the bottom of the wall and hung there

in tatters. He began stuffing all the things into the hole under the

paper: "They're in! All out of sight, and the purse too!" he thought

gleefully, getting up and gazing blankly at the hole which bulged

out more than ever. Suddenly he shuddered all over with horror; "My

God!" he whispered in despair: "what's the matter with me? Is that

hidden? Is that the way to hide things?"

He had not reckoned on having trinkets to hide. He had only

thought of money, and so had not prepared a hiding-place.

"But now, now, what am I glad of?" he thought, "Is that hiding

things? My reason's deserting me- simply!"

He sat down on the sofa in exhaustion and was at once shaken by

another unbearable fit of shivering. Mechanically he drew from a chair

beside him his old student's winter coat, which was still warm

though almost in rags, covered himself up with it and once more sank

into drowsiness and delirium. He lost consciousness.

Not more than five minutes had passed when he jumped up a second

time, and at once pounced in a frenzy on his clothes again.

"How could I go to sleep again with nothing done? Yes, yes; I have

not taken the loop off the armhole! I forgot it, forgot a thing like

that! Such a piece of evidence!"

He pulled off the noose, hurriedly cut it to pieces and threw the

bits among his linen under the pillow.

"Pieces of torn linen couldn't rouse suspicion, whatever happened; I

think not, I think not, any way!" he repeated, standing in the

middle of the room, and with painful concentration he fell to gazing

about him again, at the floor and everywhere, trying to make sure he

had not forgotten anything. The conviction, that all his faculties,

even memory, and the simplest power of reflection were failing him,

began to be an insufferable torture.

"Surely it isn't beginning already! Surely it isn't my punishment

coming upon me? It is!"

The frayed rags he had cut off his trousers were actually lying on

the floor in the middle of the room, where any one coming in would see

them!

"What is the matter with me!" he cried again, like one distraught.

Then a strange idea entered his head; that, perhaps, all his clothes

were covered with blood, that, perhaps, there were a great many

stains, but that he did not see them, did not notice them because

his perceptions were failing, were going to pieces... his reason was

clouded.... Suddenly he remembered that there had been blood on the

purse too. "Ah! Then there must be blood on the pocket too, for I

put the wet purse in my pocket!"

In a flash he had turned the pocket inside out and, yes!- there were

traces, stains on the lining of the pocket!

"So my reason has not quite deserted me, so I still have some

sense and memory, since I guessed it of myself," he thought

triumphantly, with a deep sigh of relief: "It's simply the weakness of

fever, a moment's delirium," and he tore the whole lining out of the

left pocket of his trousers. At that instant the sunlight fell on

his left boot; on the sock which poked out from the boot, he fancied

there were traces! He flung off his boots: "traces indeed! The tip

of the sock was soaked with blood"; he must have unwarily stepped into

that pool.... "But what am I to do with this now? Where am I to put

the sock and rags and pocket?"

He gathered them all up in his hands and stood in the middle of

the room.

"In the stove? But they would ransack the stove first of all. Burn

them? But what can I burn them with? There are no matches even. No,

better go out and throw it all away somewhere. Yes, better throw it

away," he repeated, sitting down on the sofa again, "and at once, this

minute, without lingering..."

But his head sank on the pillow instead. Again the unbearable icy

shivering came over him; again he drew his coat over him.

And for a long while, for some hours, he was haunted by the

impulse to "go off somewhere at once, this moment, and fling it all

away, so that it may be out of sight and done with, at once, at once!"

Several times he tried to rise from the sofa but could not.

He was thoroughly waked up at last by a violent knocking at his

door.

"Open, do, are you dead or alive? He keeps sleeping here!" shouted

Nastasya, banging with her fist on the door. "For whole days

together he's snoring here like a dog! A dog he is too. Open I tell

you. It's past ten."

"Maybe he's not at home," said a man's voice.

"Ha! that's the porter's voice.... What does he want?"

He jumped up and sat on the sofa. The beating of his heart was a

positive pain.

"Then who can have latched the door?" retorted Nastasya.

"He's taken to bolting himself in! As if he were worth stealing!

Open, you stupid, wake up!"

"What do they want? Why the porter? All's discovered. Resist or

open? Come what may!..."

He half rose, stooped forward and unlatched the door.

His room was so small that he could undo the latch without leaving

the bed. Yes; the porter and Nastasya were standing there.

Nastasya stared at him in a strange way. He glanced with a defiant

and desperate air at the porter, who without a word held out a grey

folded paper sealed with bottle-wax.

"A notice from the office," he announced, as he gave him the paper.

"From what office?"

"A summons to the police office, of course. You know which office."

"To the police?... What for?..."

"How can I tell? You're sent for, so you go."

The man looked at him attentively, looked round the room and

turned to go away.

"He's downright ill!" observed Nastasya, not taking her eyes off

him. The porter turned his head for a moment. "He's been in a fever

since yesterday," she added.

Raskolnikov made no response and held the paper in his hands,

without opening it. "Don't you get up then," Nastasya went on

compassionately, seeing that he was letting his feet down from the

sofa. "You're ill, and so don't go; there's no such hurry. What have

you got there?"

He looked; in his right hand he held the shreds he had cut from

his trousers, the sock, and the rags of the pocket. So he had been

asleep with them in his hand. Afterwards reflecting upon it, he

remembered that half waking up in his fever, he had grasped all this

tightly in his hand and so fallen asleep again.

"Look at the rags he's collected and sleeps with them, as though

he has got hold of a treasure..."

And Nastasya went off into her hysterical giggle.

Instantly he thrust them all under his great coat and fixed his eyes

intently upon her. Far as he was from being capable of rational

reflection at that moment, he felt that no one would behave like

that with a person who was going to be arrested. "But... the police?"

"You'd better have some tea! Yes? I'll bring it, there's some left."

"No... I'm going; I'll go at once," he muttered, getting on to his

feet.

"Why, you'll never get downstairs!"

"Yes, I'll go."

"As you please."

She followed the porter out.

At once he rushed to the light to examine the sock and the rags.

"There are stains, but not very noticeable; all covered with dirt,

and rubbed and already discoloured. No one who had no suspicion

could distinguish anything. Nastasya from a distance could not have

noticed, thank God!" Then with a tremor he broke the seal of the

notice and began reading; he was a long while reading, before he

understood. It was an ordinary summons from the district police

station to appear that day at half past nine at the office of the

district superintendent.

"But when has such a thing happened? I never have anything to do

with the police! And why just to-day?" he thought in agonising

bewilderment. "Good God, only get it over soon!"

He was flinging himself on his knees to pray, but broke into

laughter- not at the idea of prayer, but at himself.

He began, hurriedly dressing. "If I'm lost, I am lost, I don't care!

Shall I put the sock on?" he suddenly wondered, "it will get dustier

still and the traces will be gone."

But no sooner had he put it on than he pulled it off again in

loathing and horror. He pulled it off, but reflecting that he had no

other socks, he picked it up and put it on again- and again he

laughed.

"That's all conventional, that's all relative, merely a way of

looking at it," he thought in a flash, but only on the top surface

of his mind, while he was shuddering all over, "there, I've got it on!

I have finished by getting it on!"

But his laughter was quickly followed by despair.

"No, it's too much for me..." he thought. His legs shook. "From

fear," he muttered. His head swam and ached with fever. "It's a trick!

They want to decoy me there and confound me over everything," he

mused, as he went out on to the stairs- "the worst of it is I'm almost

light-headed... I may blurt out something stupid..."

On the stairs he remembered that he was leaving all the things

just as they were in the hole in the wall, "and very likely, it's on

purpose to search when I'm out," he thought, and stopped short. But he

was possessed by such despair, such cynicism of misery, if one may

so call it, that with a wave of his hand he went on. "Only to get it

over!"

In the street the heat was insufferable again; not a drop of rain

had fallen all those days. Again dust, bricks, and mortar, again the

stench from the shops and pot-houses, again the drunken men, the

Finnish pedlars and half-broken-down cabs. The sun shone straight in

his eyes, so that it hurt him to look out of them, and he felt his

head going round- as a man in a fever is apt to feel when he comes out

into the street on a bright sunny day.

When he reached the turning into the street, in an agony of

trepidation he looked down it... at the house... and at once averted

his eyes.

"If they question me, perhaps I'll simply tell," he thought, as he

drew near the police station.

The police station was about a quarter of a mile off. It had

lately been moved to new rooms on the fourth floor of a new house.

He had been once for a moment in the old office but long ago.

Turning in at the gateway, he saw on the right a flight of stairs

which a peasant was mounting with a book in his hand. "A house-porter,

no doubt; so then, the office is here," and he began ascending the

stairs on the chance. He did not want to ask questions of any one.

"I'll go in, fall on my knees, and confess everything..." he

thought, as he reached the fourth floor.

The staircase was steep, narrow and all sloppy with dirty water. The

kitchens of the flats opened on to the stairs and stood open almost

the whole day. So there was a fearful smell and heat. The staircase

was crowded with porters going up and down with their books under

their arms, policemen, and persons of all sorts and both sexes. The

door of the office, too, stood wide open. Peasants stood waiting

within. There, too, the heat was stifling and there was a sickening

smell of fresh paint and stale oil from the newly decorated rooms.

After waiting a little, he decided to move forward into the next

room. All the rooms were small and low-pitched. A fearful impatience

drew him on and on. No one paid attention to him. In the second room

some clerks sat writing, dressed hardly better than he was, and rather

a queer-looking set. He went up to one of them.

"What is it?"

He showed the notice he had received.

"You are a student?" the man asked, glancing at the notice.

"Yes, formerly a student."

The clerk looked at him, but without the slightest interest. He

was a particularly unkempt person with the look of a fixed idea in his

eye.

"There would be no getting anything out of him, because he has no

interest in anything," thought Raskolnikov.

"Go in there to the head clerk," said the clerk, pointing towards

the furthest room.

He went into that room- the fourth in order; it was a small room and

packed full of people, rather better dressed than in the outer

rooms. Among them were two ladies. One, poorly dressed in mourning,

sat at the table opposite the chief clerk, writing something at his

dictation. The other, a very stout, buxom woman with a purplish-red,

blotchy face, excessively smartly dressed with a brooch on her bosom

as big as a saucer, was standing on one side, apparently waiting for

something. Raskolnikov thrust his notice upon the head clerk. The

latter glanced at it, said: "Wait a minute," and went on attending

to the lady in mourning.

He breathed more freely. "It can't be that!"

By degrees he began to regain confidence, he kept urging himself

to have courage and be calm.

"Some foolishness, some trifling carelessness, and I may betray

myself! Hm... it's a pity there's no air here," he added, "it's

stifling.... It makes one's head dizzier than ever... and one's mind

too..."

He was conscious of a terrible inner turmoil. He was afraid of

losing his self-control; he tried to catch at something and fix his

mind on it, something quite irrelevant, but he could not succeed in

this at all. Yet the head clerk greatly interested him, he kept hoping

to see through him and guess something from his face.

He was a very young man, about two and twenty, with a dark mobile

face that looked older than his years. He was fashionably dressed

and foppish, with his hair parted in the middle, well combed and

pomaded, and wore a number of rings on his well-scrubbed fingers and a

gold chain on his waistcoat. He said a couple of words in French to

a foreigner who was in the room, and said them fairly correctly.

"Luise Ivanovna, you can sit down," he said casually to the

gaily-dressed, purple-faced lady, who was still standing as though not

venturing to sit down, though there was a chair beside her.

"Ich danke," said the latter, and softly, with a rustle of silk

she sank into the chair. Her light blue dress trimmed with white

lace floated about the table like an air-balloon and filled almost

half the room. She smelt of scent. But she was obviously embarrassed

at filling half the room and smelling so strongly of scent; and though

her smile was impudent as well as cringing, it betrayed evident

uneasiness.

The lady in mourning had done at last, and got up. All at once, with

some noise, an officer walked in very jauntily, with a peculiar

swing of his shoulders at each step. He tossed his cockaded cap on the

table and sat down in an easy-chair. The small lady positively skipped

from her seat on seeing him, and fell to curtsying in a sort of

ecstasy; but the officer took not the smallest notice of her, and

she did not venture to sit down again in his presence. He was the

assistant superintendent. He had a reddish moustache that stood out

horizontally on each side of his face, and extremely small features,

expressive of nothing much except a certain insolence. He looked

askance and rather indignantly at Raskolnikov; he was so very badly

dressed, and in spite of his humiliating position, his bearing was

by no means in keeping with his clothes. Raskolnikov had unwarily

fixed a very long and direct look on him, so that he felt positively

affronted.

"What do you want?" he shouted, apparently astonished that such a

ragged fellow was not annihilated by the majesty of his glance.

"I was summoned... by a notice..." Raskolnikov faltered.

"For the recovery of money due, from the student," the head clerk

interfered hurriedly, tearing himself from his papers. "Here!" and

he flung Raskolnikov a document and pointed out the place. "Read

that!"

"Money? What money?" thought Raskolnikov, "but... then... it's

certainly not that."

And he trembled with joy. He felt sudden intense indescribable

relief. A load was lifted from his back.

"And pray, what time were you directed to appear, sir?" shouted

the assistant superintendent, seeming for some unknown reason more and

more aggrieved. "You are told to come at nine, and now it's twelve!"

"The notice was only brought me a quarter of an hour ago,"

Raskolnikov answered loudly over his shoulder. To his own surprise he,

too, grew suddenly angry and found a certain pleasure in it. "And it's

enough that I have come here ill with fever."

"Kindly refrain from shouting!"

"I'm not shouting, I'm speaking very quietly, it's you who are

shouting at me. I'm a student, and allow no one to shout at me."

The assistant superintendent was so furious that for the first

minute he could only splutter inarticulately. He leaped up from his

seat.

"Be silent! You are in a government office. Don't be impudent, sir!"

"You're in a government office, too," cried Raskolnikov, "and you're

smoking a cigarette as well as shouting, so you are showing disrespect

to all of us."

He felt an indescribable satisfaction at having said this.

The head clerk looked at him with a smile. The angry assistant

superintendent was obviously disconcerted.

"That's not your business!" he shouted at last with unnatural

loudness. "Kindly make the declaration demanded of you. Show him.

Alexandr Grigorievitch. There is a complaint against you! You don't

pay your debts! You're a fine bird!"

But Raskolnikov was not listening now; he had eagerly clutched at

the paper, in haste to find an explanation. He read it once, and a

second time, and still did not understand.

"What is this?" he asked the head clerk.

"It is for the recovery of money on an I.O.U., a writ. You must

either pay it, with all expenses, costs and so on, or give a written

declaration when you can pay it, and at the same time an undertaking

not to leave the capital without payment, and nor to sell or conceal

your property. The creditor is at liberty to sell your property, and

proceed against you according to the law."

"But I... am not in debt to any one!"

"That's not our business. Here, an I.O.U. for a hundred and

fifteen roubles, legally attested, and due for payment, has been

brought us for recovery, given by you to the widow of the assessor

Zarnitsyn, nine months ago, and paid over by the widow Zarnitsyn to

one Mr. Tchebarov. We therefore summon you hereupon."

"But she is my landlady!"

"And what if she is your landlady?"

The head clerk looked at him with a condescending smile of

compassion, and at the same time with a certain triumph, as at a

novice under fire for the first time- as though he would say: "Well,

how do you feel now?" But what did he care now for an I.O.U., for a

writ of recovery! Was that worth worrying about now, was it worth

attention even! He stood, he read, he listened, he answered, he even

asked questions himself, but all mechanically. The triumphant sense of

security, of deliverance from overwhelming danger, that was what

filled his whole soul that moment without thought for the future,

without analysis, without suppositions or surmises, without doubts and

without questioning. It was an instant of full, direct, purely

instinctive joy. But at that very moment something like a thunderstorm

took place in the office. The assistant superintendent, still shaken

by Raskolnikov's disrespect, still fuming and obviously anxious to

keep up his wounded dignity, pounced on the unfortunate smart lady,

who had been gazing at him ever since he came in with an exceedingly

silly smile.

"You shameful hussy!" he shouted suddenly at the top of his voice.

(The lady in mourning had left the office.) "What was going on at your

house last night? Eh! A disgrace again, you're a scandal to the

whole street. Fighting and drinking again. Do you want the house of

correction? Why, I have warned you ten times over that I would not let

you off the eleventh! And here you are again, again, you... you...!"

The paper fell out of Raskolnikov's hands, and he looked wildly at

the smart lady who was so unceremoniously treated. But he soon saw

what it meant, and at once began to find positive amusement in the

scandal. He listened with pleasure, so that he longed to laugh and

laugh... all his nerves were on edge.

"Ilya Petrovitch!" the head clerk was beginning anxiously, but

stopped short, for he knew from experience that the enraged

assistant could not be stopped except by force.

As for the smart lady, at first she positively trembled before the

storm. But strange to say, the more numerous and violent the terms

of abuse became, the more amiable she looked, and the more seductive

the smiles she lavished on the terrible assistant. She moved uneasily,

and curtsied incessantly, waiting impatiently for a chance of

putting in her word; and at last she found it.

"There was no sort of noise or fighting in my house, Mr. Captain,"

she pattered all at once, like peas dropping, speaking Russian

confidently, though with a strong German accent, "and no sort of

scandal, and his honour came drunk, and it's the whole truth I am

telling, Mr. Captain, and I am not to blame.... Mine is an

honourable house, Mr. Captain, and honourable behaviour, Mr.

Captain, and I always, always dislike any scandal myself. But he

came quite tipsy, and asked for three bottles again, and then he

lifted up one leg, and began playing the pianoforte with one foot, and

that is not at all right in an honourable house, and he ganz broke the

piano, and it was very bad manners indeed and I said so. And he took

up a bottle and began hitting every one with it. And then I called the

porter, and Karl came, and he took Karl and hit him in the eye; and he

hit Henriette in the eye, too, and gave me five slaps on the cheek.

And it was so ungentlemanly in an honourable house, Mr. Captain, and I

screamed. And he opened the window over the canal, and stood in the

window, squealing like a little pig; it was a disgrace. The idea of

squealing like a little pig at the window into the street! Fie upon

him! And Karl pulled him away from the window by his coat, and it is

true, Mr. Captain, he tore sein Rock. And then he shouted that man

muss pay him fifteen roubles damages. And I did pay him, Mr.

Captain, five roubles for sein Rock. And he is an ungentlemanly

visitor and caused all the scandal. 'I will show you up,' he said,

'for I can write to all the papers about you.'"

"Then he was an author?"

"Yes, Mr. Captain, and what an ungentlemanly visitor in an

honourable house...."

"Now then! Enough! I have told you already..."

"Ilya Petrovitch!" the head clerk repeated significantly.

The assistant glanced rapidly at him; the head clerk slightly

shook his head.

"... So I tell you this, most respectable Luise Ivanovna, and I tell

it you for the last time," the assistant went on. "If there is a

scandal in your honourable house once again, I will put you yourself

in the lock-up, as it is called in polite society. Do you hear? So a

literary man, an author took five roubles for his coat-tail in an

'honourable house'? A nice set, these authors!"

And he cast a contemptuous glance at Raskolnikov. "There was a

scandal the other day in a restaurant, too. An author had eaten his

dinner and would not pay; 'I'll write a satire on you,' says he. And

there was another of them on a steamer last week used the most

disgraceful language to the respectable family of a civil

councillor, his wife and daughter. And there was one of them turned

out of a confectioner's shop the other day. They are like that,

authors, literary men, students, town-criers... Pfoo! You get along! I

shall look in upon you myself one day. Then you had better be careful!

Do you hear?"

With hurried deference, Luise Ivanovna fell to curtsying in all

directions, and so curtsied herself to the door. But at the door,

she stumbled backwards against a good-looking officer with a fresh,

open face and splendid thick fair whiskers. This was the

superintendent of the district himself, Nikodim Fomitch. Luise

Ivanovna made haste to curtsy almost to the ground, and with mincing

little steps, she fluttered out of the office.

"Again thunder and lightning- a hurricane!" said Nikodim Fomitch

to Ilya Petrovitch in a civil and friendly tone. "You are aroused

again, you are fuming again! I heard it on the stairs!"

"Well, what then!" Ilya Petrovitch drawled with gentlemanly

nonchalance; and he walked with some papers to another table, with a

jaunty swing of his shoulders at each step. "Here, if you will

kindly look: an author, or a student, has been one at least, does

not pay his debts, has given an I.O.U., won't clear out of his room,

and complaints are constantly being lodged against him, and here he

has been pleased to make a protest against my smoking in his presence!

He behaves like a cad himself, and just look at him, please. Here's

the gentleman, and very attractive he is!"

"Poverty is not a vice, my friend, but we know you go off like

powder, you can't bear a slight, I daresay you took offence at

something and went too far yourself," continued Nikodim Fomitch,

turning affably to Raskolnikov. "But you were wrong there; he is a

capital fellow, I assure you, but explosive, explosive! He gets hot,

fires up, boils over, and no stopping him! And then it's all over! And

at the bottom he's a heart of gold! His nickname in the regiment was

the Explosive Lieutenant...."

"And what a regiment it was, too," cried Ilya Petrovitch, much

gratified at this agreeable banter, though still sulky.

Raskolnikov had a sudden desire to say something exceptionally

pleasant to them all. "Excuse me, Captain," he began easily,

suddenly addressing Nikodim Fomitch, "will you enter into my

position.... I am ready to ask pardon, if I have been ill-mannered.

I am a poor student, sick and shattered (shattered was the word he

used) by poverty. I am not studying, because I cannot keep myself now,

but I shall get money.... I have a mother and sister in the province

of X. They will send it to me, and I will pay. My landlady is a

good-hearted woman, but she is so exasperated at my having lost my

lessons, and not paying her for the last four months, that she does

not even send up my dinner... and I don't understand this I.O.U. at

all. She is asking me to pay her on this I.O.U. How am I to pay her?

Judge for yourselves!..."

"But that is not our business, you know," the head clerk was

observing.

"Yes, yes. I perfectly agree with you. But allow me to explain..."

Raskolnikov put in again, still addressing Nikodim Fomitch, but trying

his best to address Ilya Petrovitch also, though the latter

persistently appeared to be rummaging among his papers and to be

contemptuously oblivious of him. "Allow me to explain that I have been

living with her for nearly three years and at first... at first... for

why should I not confess it, at the very beginning I promised to marry

her daughter, it was a verbal promise, freely given... she was a

girl... indeed, I liked her, though I was not in love with her... a

youthful affair in fact... that is, I mean to say, that my landlady

gave me credit freely in those days, and I led a life of... I was very

heedless..."

"Nobody asks you for these personal details, sir, we've no time to

waste," Ilya Petrovitch interposed roughly and with a note of triumph;

but Raskolnikov stopped him hotly, though he suddenly found it

exceedingly difficult to speak.

"But excuse me, excuse me. It is for me to explain... how it all

happened... In my turn... though I agree with you... it is

unnecessary. But a year ago, the girl died of typhus. I remained

lodging there as before, and when my landlady moved into her present

quarters, she said to me... and in a friendly way... that she had

complete trust in me, but still, would I not give her an I.O.U. for

one hundred and fifteen roubles, all the debt I owed her. She said

if only I gave her that, she would trust me again, as much as I liked,

and that she would never, never- those were her own words- make use of

that I.O.U. till I could pay of myself... and now, when I have lost my

lessons and have nothing to eat, she takes action against me. What

am I to say to that?"

"All these affecting details are no business of ours." Ilya

Petrovitch interrupted rudely. "You must give a written undertaking

but as for your love affairs and all these tragic events, we have

nothing to do with that."

"Come now... you are harsh," muttered Nikodim Fomitch, sitting

down at the table and also beginning to write. He looked a little

ashamed.

"Write!" said the head clerk to Raskolnikov.

"Write what?" the latter asked, gruffly.

"I will dictate to you."

Raskolnikov fancied that the head clerk treated him more casually

and contemptuously after his speech, but strange to say he suddenly

felt completely indifferent to any one's opinion, and this revulsion

took place in a flash, in one instant. If he had cared to think a

little, he would have been amazed indeed that he could have talked

to them like that a minute before, forcing his feelings upon them. And

where had those feelings come from? Now if the whole room had been

filled, not with police officers, but with those nearest and dearest

to him, he would not have found one human word for them, so empty

was his heart. A gloomy sensation of agonising, everlasting solitude

and remoteness, took conscious form in his soul. It was not the

meanness of his sentimental effusions before Ilya Petrovitch, nor

the meanness of the latter's triumph over him that had caused this

sudden revulsion in his heart. Oh, what had he to do now with his

own baseness, with all these petty vanities, officers, German women,

debts, police offices? If he had been sentenced to be burnt at that

moment, he would not have stirred, would hardly have heard the

sentence to the end. Something was happening to him entirely new,

sudden and unknown. It was not that he understood, but he felt clearly

with all the intensity of sensation that he could never more appeal to

these people in the police office with sentimental effusion like his

recent outburst, or with anything whatever; and that if they had

been his own brothers and sisters and not police officers, it would

have been utterly out of the question to appeal to them in any

circumstance of life. He had never experienced such a strange and

awful sensation. And what was most agonising- it was more a

sensation than a conception or idea, a direct sensation, the most

agonising of all the sensations he had known in his life.

The head clerk began dictating to him the usual form of declaration,

that he could not pay, that he undertook to do so at a future date,

that he would not leave the town, nor sell his property, and so on.

"But you can't write, you can hardly hold the pen," observed the

head clerk, looking with curiosity at Raskolnikov. "Are you ill?"

"Yes, I am giddy. Go on!"

"That's all. Sign it."

The head clerk took the paper, and turned to attend to others.

Raskolnikov gave back the pen; but instead of getting up and going

away, he put his elbows on the table and pressed his head in his

hands. He felt as if a nail were being driven into his skull. A

strange idea suddenly occurred to him, to get up at once, to go up

to Nikodim Fomitch, and tell him everything that had happened

yesterday, and then to go with him to his lodgings and to show him the

things in the hole in the corner. The impulse was so strong that he

got up from his seat to carry it out. "Hadn't I better think a

minute?" flashed through his mind. "No, better cast off the burden

without thinking." But all at once he stood still, rooted to the spot.

Nikodim Fomitch was talking eagerly with Ilya Petrovitch, and the

words reached him:

"It's impossible, they'll both be released. To begin with, the whole

story contradicts itself. Why should they have called the porter, if

it had been their doing? To inform against themselves? Or as a

blind? No, that would be too cunning! Besides, Pestryakov, the

student, was seen at the gate by both the porters and a woman as he

went in. He was walking with three friends, who left him only at the

gate, and he asked the porters to direct him, in the presence of the

friends. Now, would he have asked his way if he had been going with

such an object? As for Koch, he spent half an hour at the

silversmith's below, before he went up to the old woman and he left

him at exactly a quarter to eight. Now just consider..."

"But excuse me, how do you explain this contradiction? They state

themselves that they knocked and the door was locked; yet three

minutes later when they went up with the porter, it turned out the

door was unfastened."

"That's just it; the murderer must have been there and bolted

himself in; and they'd have caught him for a certainty if Koch had not

been an ass and gone to look for the porter too. He must have seized

the interval to get downstairs and slip by them somehow. Koch keeps

crossing himself and saying: "If I had been there, he would have

jumped out and killed me with his axe.' He is going to have a

thanksgiving service- ha, ha!"

"And no one saw the murderer?"

"They might well not see him; the house is a regular Noah's Ark,"

said the head clerk, who was listening.

"It's clear, quite clear," Nikodim Fomitch repeated warmly.

"No, it is anything but clear," Ilya Petrovitch maintained.

Raskolnikov picked up his hat and walked towards the door, but he

did not reach it....

When he recovered consciousness, he found himself sitting in a

chair, supported by some one on the right side, while some one else

was standing on the left, holding a yellowish glass filled with yellow

water, and Nikodim Fomitch standing before him, looking intently at

him. He got up from the chair.

"What's this? Are you ill?" Nikodim Fomitch asked, rather sharply.

"He could hardly hold his pen when he was signing," said the head

clerk, settling back in his place, and taking up his work again.

"Have you been ill long?" cried Ilya Petrovitch from his place,

where he, too, was looking through papers. He had, of course, come

to look at the sick man when he fainted, but retired at once when he

recovered.

"Since yesterday," muttered Raskolnikov in reply.

"Did you go out yesterday?"

"Yes."

"Though you were ill?"

"Yes."

"At what time?"

"About seven."

"And where did you go, my I ask?"

"Along the street."

"Short and clear."

Raskolnikov, white as a handkerchief, had answered sharply, jerkily,

without dropping his black feverish eyes before Ilya Petrovitch's

stare.

"He can scarcely stand upright. And you..." Nikodim Fomitch was

beginning.

"No matter," Ilya Petrovitch pronounced rather peculiarly.

Nikodim Fomitch would have made some further protest, but glancing

at the head clerk who was looking very hard at him, he did not

speak. There was a sudden silence. It was strange.

"Very well, then," concluded Ilya Petrovitch, "we will not detain

you."

Raskolnikov went out. He caught the sound of eager conversation on

his departure, and above the rest rose the questioning voice of

Nikodim Fomitch. In the street, his faintness passed off completely.

"A search- there will be a search at once," he repeated to

himself, hurrying home. "The brutes! they suspect."

His former terror mastered him completely again.


Ce qu'on fait n'est jamais compris mais seulement loué ou blâmé. Nietzsche, Gay Science

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