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


Fyodor Dostoevsky
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Chapter Two

-

RAZUMIHIN waked up next morning at eight o'clock, troubled and

serious. He found himself confronted with many new and unlooked-for

perplexities. He had never expected that he would ever wake up feeling

like that. He remembered every detail of the previous day and he

knew that a perfectly novel experience had befallen him, that he had

received an impression unlike anything he had known before. At the

same time he recognised clearly that the dream which had fired his

imagination was hopelessly unattainable- so unattainable that he

felt positively ashamed of it, and he hastened to pass to the other

more practical cares and difficulties bequeathed him by that "thrice

accursed yesterday."

The most awful recollection of the previous day was the way he had

shown himself "base and mean," not only because he had been drunk, but

because he had taken advantage of the young girl's position to abuse

her fiance in his stupid jealousy, knowing nothing of their mutual

relations and obligations and next to nothing of the man himself.

And what right had he to criticise him in that hasty and unguarded

manner? Who had asked for his opinion! Was it thinkable that such a

creature as Avdotya Romanovna would be marrying an unworthy man for

money? So there must be something in him. The lodgings? But after

all how could he know the character of the lodgings? He was furnishing

a flat... Foo, how despicable it all was! And what justification was

it that he was drunk? Such a stupid excuse was even more degrading! In

wine is truth, and the truth had all come out, "that is, all the

uncleanness of his coarse and envious heart!" And would such a dream

ever be permissible to him, Razumihin? What was he beside such a girl-

he, the drunken noisy braggart of last night? "Was it possible to

imagine so absurd and cynical a juxtaposition?" Razumihin blushed

desperately at the very idea and suddenly the recollection forced

itself vividly upon him of how he had said last night on the stairs

that the landlady would be jealous of Avdotya Romanovna... that was

simply intolerable. He brought his fist down heavily on the kitchen

stove, hurt his hand and sent one of the bricks flying.

"Of course," he muttered to himself a minute later with a feeling of

self-abasement, "of course, all these infamies can never be wiped

out or smoothed over... and so it's useless even to think of it, and I

must go to them in silence and do my duty... in silence, too.... and

not ask forgiveness, and say nothing... for all is lost now!"

And yet as he dressed he examined his attire more carefully than

usual. He hadn't another suit- if he had had, perhaps he wouldn't have

put it on. "I would have made a point of not putting it on." But in

any case he could not remain a cynic and a dirty sloven; he had no

right to offend the feelings of others, especially when they were in

need of his assistance and asking him to see them. He brushed his

clothes carefully. His linen was always decent; in that respect he was

especially clean.

He washed that morning scrupulously- he got some soap from Nastasya-

he washed his hair, his neck and especially his hands. When it came to

the question whether to shave his stubby chin or not (Praskovya

Pavlovna had capital razors that had been left by her late husband),

the question was angrily answered in the negative. "Let it stay as

it is! What if they think that I shaved on purpose to...? They

certainly would think so! Not on any account!"

"And... the worst of it was he was so coarse, so dirty, he had the

manners of a pothouse; and... and even admitting that he knew he had

some of the essentials of a gentleman... what was there in that to

be proud of? Every one ought to be a gentleman and more than that...

and all the same (he remembered) he, too, had done little things...

not exactly dishonest, and yet.... and what thoughts he sometimes had;

hm... and to set all that beside Avdotya Romanovna! Confound it! So be

it! Well, he'd make a point then of being dirty, greasy, pothouse in

his manners and he wouldn't care! He'd be worse!"

He was engaged in such monologues when Zossimov, who had spent the

night in Praskovya Pavlovna's parlour, came in.

He was going home and was in a hurry to look at the invalid first.

Razumihin informed him that Raskolnikov was sleeping like a

dormouse. Zossimov gave orders that they shouldn't wake him and

promised to see him again about eleven.

"If he is still at home," he added. "Damn it all! If one can't

control one's patients, how is one to cure them! Do you know whether

he will go to them, or whether they are coming here?"

"They are coming, I think," said Razumihin, understanding the object

of the question, "and they will discuss their family affairs, no

doubt. I'll be off. You, as the doctor, have more right to be here

than I."

"But I am not a father confessor; I shall come and go away; I've

plenty to do besides looking after them."

"One thing worries me," interposed Razumihin, frowning. "On the

way home I talked a lot of drunken nonsense to him... all sort of

things... and amongst them that you were afraid that he... might

become insane."

"You told the ladies so, too."

"I know it was stupid! You may beat me if you like! Did you think so

seriously?"

"That's nonsense, I tell you, how could I think it seriously! You,

yourself, described him as a monomaniac when you fetched me to

him... and we added fuel to the fire yesterday, you did, that is, with

your story about the painter; it was a nice conversation, when he was,

perhaps, mad on that very point! If only I'd known what happened

then at the police station and that some wretch... had insulted him

with this suspicion! Hm... I would not have allowed that

conversation yesterday. These monomaniacs will make a mountain out

of a molehill... and see their fancies as solid realities.... As far

as I remember, it was Zametov's story that cleared up half the mystery

to my mind. Why, I know one case in which a hypochondriac, a man of

forty, cut the throat of a little boy of eight, because he couldn't

endure the jokes he made every day at table! And in this case his

rags, the insolent police officer, the fever and this suspicion! All

that working upon a man half frantic with hypochondria, and with his

morbid exceptional vanity! That may well have been the

starting-point of illness. Well, bother it all!... And, by the way,

that Zametov certainly is a nice fellow, but hm... he shouldn't have

told all that last night. He is an awful chatterbox!"

"But whom did he tell it to? You and me?"

"And Porfiry."

"What does that matter?"

"And, by the way, have you any influence on them, his mother and

sister? Tell them to be more careful with him to-day...."

"They'll get on all right!" Razumihin answered reluctantly.

"Why is he so set against this Luzhin? A man with money and she

doesn't seem to dislike him... and they haven't a farthing I

suppose? eh?"

"But what business is it of yours?" Razumihin cried with

annoyance. "How can I tell whether they've a farthing? Ask them

yourself and perhaps you'll find out...."

"Foo, what an ass you are sometimes! Last night's wine has not

gone off yet.... Good-bye; thank your Praskovya Pavlovna from me for

my night's lodging. She locked herself in, made no reply to my bonjour

through the door; she was up at seven o'clock, the samovar was taken

in to her from the kitchen. I was not vouchsafed a personal

interview...."

At nine o'clock precisely Razumihin reached the lodgings at

Bakaleyev's house. Both ladies were waiting for him with nervous

impatience. They had risen at seven o'clock or earlier. He entered

looking as black as night, bowed awkwardly and was at once furious

with himself for it. He had reckoned without his host: Pulcheria

Alexandrovna fairly rushed at him, seized him by both hands and was

almost kissing them. He glanced timidly at Avdotya Romanovna, but

her proud countenance wore at that moment an expression of such

gratitude and friendliness, such complete and unlooked-for respect (in

place of the sneering looks and ill-disguised contempt he had

expected), that it threw him into greater confusion than if he had

been met with abuse. Fortunately there was a subject for conversation,

and he made haste to snatch at it.

Hearing that everything was going well and that Rodya had not yet

waked, Pulcheria Alexandrovna declared that she was glad to hear it,

because "she had something which it was very, very necessary to talk

over beforehand." Then followed an inquiry about breakfast and an

invitation to have it with them; they had waited to have it with

him. Avdotya Romanovna rang the bell: it was answered by a ragged

dirty waiter, and they asked him to bring tea which was served at

last, but in such a dirty and disorderly way, that the ladies were

ashamed. Razumihin vigorously attacked the lodgings, but,

remembering Luzhin, stopped in embarrassment and was greatly

relieved by Pulcheria Alexandrovna's questions, which showered in a

continual stream upon him.

He talked for three quarters of an hour, being constantly

interrupted by their questions, and succeeded in describing to them

all the most important facts he knew of the last year of Raskolnikov's

life, concluding with a circumstantial account of his illness. He

omitted, however, many things, which were better omitted, including

the scene at the police station with all its consequences. They

listened eagerly to his story, and, when he thought he had finished

and satisfied his listeners, he found that they considered he had

hardly begun.

"Tell me, tell me! What do you think...? Excuse me, I still don't

know your name!" Pulcheria Alexandrovna put in hastily.

"Dmitri Prokofitch."

"I should like very, very much to know, Dmitri Prokofitch... how

he looks... on things in general now, that is, how can I explain, what

are his likes and dislikes? Is he always so irritable? Tell me, if you

can, what are his hopes and so to say his dreams? Under what

influences is he now? In a word, I should like..."

"Ah, mother, how can he answer all that at once?" observed Dounia.

"Good heavens, I had not expected to find him in the least like

this, Dmitri Prokofitch!"

"Naturally," answered Razumihin. "I have no mother, but my uncle

comes every year and almost every time he can scarcely recognise me,

even in appearance, though he is a clever man; and your three years'

separation means a great deal. What am I to tell you? I have known

Rodion for a year and a half; he is morose, gloomy, proud and haughty,

and of late- and perhaps for a long time before- he has been

suspicious and fanciful. He has a noble nature and a kind heart. He

does not like showing his feelings and would rather do a cruel thing

than open his heart freely. Sometimes, though, he is not at all

morbid, but simply cold and inhumanly callous; it's as though he

were alternating between two characters. Sometimes he is fearfully

reserved! He says he is so busy that everything is a hindrance, and

yet he lies in bed doing nothing. He doesn't jeer at things, not

because he hasn't the wit, but as though he hadn't time to waste on

such trifles. He never listens to what is said to him. He is never

interested in what interests other people at any given moment. He

thinks very highly of himself and perhaps he is right. Well, what

more? I think your arrival will have a most beneficial influence

upon him."

"God grant it may," cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna, distressed by

Razumihin's account of her Rodya.

And Razumihin ventured to look more boldly at Avdotya Romanovna at

last. He glanced at her often while he was talking, but only for a

moment and looked away again at once. Avdotya Romanovna sat at the

table, listening attentively, then got up again and began walking to

and fro with her arms folded and her lips compressed, occasionally

putting in a question, without stopping her walk. She had the same

habit of not listening to what was said. She was wearing a dress of

thin dark stuff and she had a white transparent scarf round her

neck. Razumihin soon detected signs of extreme poverty in their

belongings. Had Avdotya Romanovna been dressed like a queen, he felt

that he would not be afraid of her, but perhaps just because she was

poorly dressed and that he noticed all the misery of her surroundings,

his heart was filled with dread and he began to be afraid of every

word he uttered, every gesture he made, which was very trying for a

man who already felt diffident.

"You've told us a great deal that is interesting about my

brother's character... and have told it impartially. I am glad. I

thought that you were too uncritically devoted to him," observed

Avdotya Romanovna with a smile. "I think you are right that he needs a

woman's care," she added thoughtfully.

"I didn't say so; but I daresay you are right, only..."

"What?"

"He loves no one and perhaps he never will," Razumihin declared

decisively.

"You mean he is not capable of love?"

"Do you know, Avdotya Romanovna, you are awfully like your

brother, in everything, indeed!" he blurted out suddenly to his own

surprise, but remembering at once what he had just before said of

her brother, he turned as red as a crab and was overcome with

confusion. Avdotya Romanovna couldn't help laughing when she looked at

him.

"You may both be mistaken about Rodya," Pulcheria Alexandrovna

remarked, slightly piqued. "I am not talking of our present

difficulty, Dounia. What Pyotr Petrovitch writes in this letter and

what you and I have supposed may be mistaken, but you can't imagine,

Dmitri Prokofitch, how moody and, so to say, capricious he is. I never

could depend on what he would do when he was only fifteen. And I am

sure that he might do something now that nobody else would think of

doing... Well, for instance, do you know how a year and a half ago

he astounded me and gave me a shock that nearly killed me, when he had

the idea of marrying that girl- what was her name- his landlady's

daughter?"

"Did you hear about that affair?" asked Avdotya Romanovna.

"Do you suppose-" Pulcheria Alexandrovna continued warmly. "Do you

suppose that my tears, my entreaties, my illness, my possible death

from grief, our poverty would have made him pause? No, he would calmly

have disregarded all obstacles. And yet it isn't that he doesn't

love us!"

"He has never spoken a word of that affair to me," Razumihin

answered cautiously. "But I did hear something from Praskovya Pavlovna

herself, though she is by no means a gossip. And what I heard

certainly was rather strange."

"And what did you hear?" both the ladies asked at once.

"Well, nothing very special. I only learned that the marriage, which

only failed to take place through the girl's death, was not at all

to Praskovya Pavlovna's liking. They say, too, the girl was not at all

pretty, in fact I am told positively ugly... and such an invalid...

and queer. But she seems to have had some good qualities. She must

have had some good qualities or it's quite inexplicable.... She had no

money either and he wouldn't have considered her money.... But it's

always difficult to judge in such matters."

"I am sure she was a good girl," Avdotya Romanovna observed briefly.

"God forgive me, I simply rejoiced at her death. Though I don't know

which of them would have caused most misery to the other- he to her or

she to him," Pulcheria Alexandrovna concluded. Then she began

tentatively questioning him about the scene on the previous day with

Luzhin, hesitating and continually glancing at Dounia, obviously to

the latter's annoyance. This incident more than all the rest evidently

caused her uneasiness, even consternation. Razumihin described it in

detail again, but this time he added his own conclusions: he openly

blamed Raskolnikov for intentionally insulting Pyotr Petrovitch, not

seeking to excuse him on the score of his illness.

"He had planned it before his illness," he added.

"I think so, too," Pulcheria Alexandrovna agreed with a dejected

air. But she was very much surprised at hearing Razumihin express

himself so carefully and even with a certain respect about Pyotr

Petrovitch. Avdotya Romanovna, too, was struck by it.

"So this is your opinion of Pyotr Petrovitch?" Pulcheria

Alexandrovna could not resist asking.

"I can have no other opinion of your daughter's future husband,"

Razumihin answered firmly and with warmth, "and I don't say it

simply from vulgar politeness, but because... simply because Avdotya

Romanovna has of her own free will deigned to accept this man. If I

spoke so rudely of him last night, it was because I was disgustingly

drunk and... mad besides; yes, mad, crazy, I lost my head

completely... and this morning I am ashamed of it."

He crimsoned and ceased speaking. Avdotya Romanovna flushed, but did

not break the silence. She had not uttered a word from the moment they

began to speak of Luzhin.

Without her support Pulcheria Alexandrovna obviously did not know

what to do. At last, faltering and continually glancing at her

daughter, she confessed that she was exceedingly worried by one

circumstance.

"You see, Dmitri Prokofitch," she began. "I'll be perfectly open

with Dmitri Prokofitch, Dounia?"

"Of course, mother," said Avdotya Romanovna emphatically.

"This is what it is," she began in haste, as though the permission

to speak of her trouble lifted a weight off her mind. "Very early this

morning we got a note from Pyotr Petrovitch in reply to our letter

announcing our arrival. He promised to meet us at the station, you

know; instead of that he sent a servant to bring us the address of

these lodgings and to show us the way; and he sent a message that he

would be here himself this morning. But this morning this note came

from him. You'd better read it yourself; there is one point in it

which worries me very much... you will soon see what that is, and...

tell me your candid opinion, Dmitri Prokofitch! You know Rodya's

character better than any one and no one can advise us better than you

can. Dounia, I must tell you, made her decision at once, but I still

don't feel sure how to act and I... I've been waiting for your

opinion."

Razumihin opened the note which was dated the previous evening and

read as follows:

-

"DEAR MADAM, Pulcheria Alexandrovna, I have the honour to inform you

that owing to unforeseen obstacles I was rendered unable to meet you

at the railway station; I sent a very competent person with the same

object in view. I likewise shall be deprived of the honour of an

interview with you to-morrow morning by business in the Senate that

does not admit of delay, and also that I may not intrude on your

family circle while you are meeting your son, and Avdotya Romanovna

her brother. I shall have the honour of visiting you and paying you my

respects at your lodgings not later than to-morrow evening at eight

o'clock precisely, and herewith I venture to present my earnest and, I

may add, imperative request that Rodion Romanovitch may not be present

at our interview- as he offered me a gross and unprecedented affront

on the occasion of my visit to him in his illness yesterday, and,

moreover, since I desire from you personally an indispensable and

circumstantial explanation upon a certain point, in regard to which

I wish to learn your own interpretation. I have the honour to inform

you, in anticipation, that if, in spite of my request, I meet Rodion

Romanovitch, I shall be compelled to withdraw immediately and then you

have only yourself to blame. I write on the assumption that Rodion

Romanovitch who appeared so ill at my visit, suddenly recovered two

hours later and so, being able to leave the house, may visit you also.

I was confirmed in that belief by the testimony of my own eyes in

the lodging of a drunken man who was run over and has since died, to

whose daughter, a young woman of notorious behaviour, he gave

twenty-five roubles on the pretext of the funeral, which gravely

surprised me knowing what pains you were at to raise that sum.

Herewith expressing my special respect to your estimable daughter,

Avdotya Romanovna, I beg you to accept the respectful homage of

"Your humble servant,

"P. LUZHIN."

-

"What am I to do now, Dmitri Prokofitch?" began Pulcheria

Alexandrovna, almost weeping. "How can I ask Rodya not to come?

Yesterday he insisted so earnestly on our refusing Pyotr Petrovitch

and now we are ordered not to receive Rodya! He will come on purpose

if he knows, and... what will happen then?"

"Act on Avdotya Romanovna's decision," Razumihin answered calmly

at once.

"Oh, dear me! She says... goodness knows what she says, she

doesn't explain her object! She says that it would be best, at

least, not that it would be best, but that it's absolutely necessary

that Rodya should make a point of being here at eight o'clock and that

they must meet.... I didn't want even to show him the letter, but to

prevent him from coming by some stratagem with your help... because he

is so irritable.... Besides I don't understand about that drunkard who

died and that daughter, and how he could have given the daughter all

the money... which..."

"Which cost you such sacrifice, mother," put in Avdotya Romanovna.

"He was not himself yesterday," Razumihin said thoughtfully, "if you

only knew what he was up to in a restaurant yesterday, though there

was sense in it too.... Hm! He did say something, as we were going

home yesterday evening, about a dead man and a girl, but I didn't

understand a word.... But last night, I myself..."

"The best thing, mother, will be for us to go to him ourselves and

there I assure you we shall see at once what's to be done. Besides,

it's getting late- good heavens, it's past ten," she cried looking

at a splendid gold enamelled watch which hung round her neck on a thin

Venetian chain, and looked entirely out of keeping with the rest of

her dress. "A present from her fiance," thought Razumihin.

"We must start, Dounia, we must start," her mother cried in a

flutter. "He will be thinking we are still angry after yesterday, from

our coming so late. Merciful heavens!"

While she said this she was hurriedly putting on her hat and mantle;

Dounia, too, put on her things. Her gloves, as Razumihin noticed, were

not merely shabby but had holes in them, and yet this evident

poverty gave the two ladies an air of special dignity, which is always

found in people who know how to wear poor clothes. Razumihin looked

reverently at Dounia and felt proud of escorting her. "The queen who

mended her stockings in prison," he thought, "must have looked then

every inch a queen and even more a queen than at sumptuous banquets

and levees."

"My God," exclaimed Pulcheria Alexandrovna, "little did I think that

I should ever fear seeing my son, my darling, darling Rodya! I am

afraid, Dmitri Prokofitch," she added, glancing at him timidly.

"Don't be afraid, mother," said Dounia, kissing her, "better have

faith in him."

"Oh, dear, I have faith in him, but I haven't slept all night,"

exclaimed the poor woman.

They came out into the street.

"Do you know, Dounia, when I dozed a little this morning I dreamed

of Marfa Petrovna... she was all in white... she came up to me, took

my hand, and shook her head at me, but so sternly as though she were

blaming me.... Is that a good omen? Oh, dear me! You don't know,

Dmitri Prokofitch, that Marfa Petrovna's dead!"

"No, I didn't know; who is Marfa Petrovna?"

"She died suddenly; and only fancy..."

"Afterwards, mamma," put in Dounia. "He doesn't know who Marfa

Petrovna is."

"Ah, you don't know? And I was thinking that you knew all about

us. Forgive me, Dmitri Prokofitch, I don't know what I am thinking

about these last few days. I look upon you really as a providence

for us, and so I took it for granted that you knew all about us. I

look on you as a relation.... Don't be angry with me for saying so.

Dear me, what's the matter with your right hand? Have you knocked it?"

"Yes, I bruised it," muttered Razumihin overjoyed.

"I sometimes speak too much from the heart, so that Dounia finds

fault with me.... But, dear me, what a cupboard he lives in! I

wonder whether he is awake? Does this woman, his landlady, consider it

a room? Listen, you say he does not like to show his feelings, so

perhaps I shall annoy him with my... weaknesses? Do advise me,

Dmitri Prokofitch, how am I to treat him? I feel quite distracted, you

know."

"Don't question him too much about anything if you see him frown!

don't ask him too much about his health; he doesn't like that."

"Ah, Dmitri Prokofitch, how hard it is to be a mother! But here

are the stairs.... What an awful staircase!"

"Mother, you are quite pale, don't distress yourself, darling," said

Dounia caressing her, then with flashing eyes she added: "He ought

to be happy at seeing you, and you are tormenting yourself so."

"Wait, I'll peep in and see whether he has waked up."

The ladies slowly followed Razumihin, who went on before, and when

they reached the landlady's door on the fourth storey, they noticed

that her door was a tiny crack open and that two keen black eyes

were watching them from the darkness within. When their eyes met,

the door was suddenly shut with such a slam that Pulcheria

Alexandrovna almost cried out.


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

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