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


Fyodor Dostoevsky
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- the brothers karamazov
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Chapter Four

-

AT THAT moment the door was softly opened, and a young girl walked

into the room, looking timidly about her. Every one turned towards her

with surprise and curiosity. At first sight, Raskolnikov did not

recognise her. It was Sofya Semyonovna Marmeladov. He had seen her

yesterday for the first time, but at such a moment, in such

surroundings and in such a dress, that his memory retained a very

different image of her. Now she was a modestly and poorly-dressed

young girl, very young, indeed almost like a child, with a modest

and refined manner, with a candid but somewhat frightened-looking

face. She was wearing a very plain indoor dress, and had on a shabby

old-fashioned hat, but she still carried a parasol. Unexpectedly

finding the room full of people, she was not so much embarrassed as

completely overwhelmed with shyness, like a little child. She was even

about to retreat. "Oh.... it's you!" said Raskolnikov, extremely

astonished, and he, too, was confused. He at once recollected that his

mother and sister knew through Luzhin's letter of "some young woman of

notorious behaviour." He had only just been protesting against

Luzhin's calumny and declaring that he had seen the girl last night

for the first time, and suddenly she had walked in. He remembered,

too, that he had not protested against the expression "of notorious

behaviour." All this passed vaguely and fleetingly through his

brain, but looking at her more intently, he saw that the humiliated

creature was so humiliated that he felt suddenly sorry for her. When

she made a movement to retreat in terror, it sent a pang to his heart.

"I did not expect you," he said, hurriedly, with a look that made

her stop. "Please sit down. You come, no doubt, from Katerina

Ivanovna. Allow me- not there. Sit here...."

At Sonia's entrance, Razumihin, who had been sitting on one of

Raskolnikov's three chairs, close to the door, got up to allow her

to enter. Raskolnikov had at first shown her the place on the sofa

where Zossimov had been sitting, but feeling that the sofa which

served him as a bed, was too familiar a place, he hurriedly motioned

her to Razumihin's chair.

"You sit here," he said to Razumihin, putting him on the sofa.

Sonia sat down, almost shaking with terror, and looked timidly at

the two ladies. It was evidently almost inconceivable to herself

that she could sit down beside them. At the thought of it, she was

so frightened that she hurriedly got up again, and in utter

confusion addressed Raskolnikov.

"I... I... have come for one minute. Forgive me for disturbing you,"

she began falteringly. "I come from Katerina Ivanovna, and she had

no one to send. Katerina Ivanovna told me to beg you... to be at the

service... in the morning... at Mitrofanievsky... and then... to us...

to her... to do her the honour... she told me to beg you..." Sonia

stammered and ceased speaking.

"I will try, certainly, most certainly," answered Raskolnikov. He,

too, stood up, and he, too, faltered and could not finish his

sentence. "Please sit down," he said, suddenly. "I want to talk to

you. You are perhaps in a hurry, but please, be so kind, spare me

two minutes," and he drew up a chair for her.

Sonia sat down again, and again timidly she took a hurried,

frightened look at the two ladies, and dropped her eyes. Raskolnikov's

pale face flushed, a shudder passed over him, his eyes glowed.

"Mother," he said, firmly and insistently, "this is Sofya Semyonovna

Marmeladov, the daughter of that unfortunate Mr. Marmeladov, who was

run over yesterday before my eyes, and of whom I was just telling

you."

Pulcheria Alexandrovna glanced at Sonia, and slightly screwed up her

eyes. In spite of her embarrassment before Rodya's urgent and

challenging look, she could not deny herself that satisfaction. Dounia

gazed gravely and intently into the poor girl's face, and

scrutinised her with perplexity. Sonia, hearing herself introduced,

tried to raise her eyes again, but was more embarrassed than ever.

"I wanted to ask you," said Raskolnikov, hastily, "how things were

arranged yesterday. You were not worried by the police, for instance?"

"No, that was all right... it was too evident, the cause of death...

they did not worry us... only the lodgers are angry."

"Why?"

"At the body's remaining so long. You see it is hot now. So that,

to-day, they will carry it to the cemetery, into the chapel, until

to-morrow. At first Katerina Ivanovna was unwilling, but now she

sees herself that it's necessary..."

"To-day, then?"

"She begs you to do us the honour to be in the church to-morrow

for the service, and then to be present at the funeral lunch."

"She is giving a funeral lunch?"

"Yes... just a little.... She told me to thank you very much for

helping us yesterday. But for you, we should have had nothing for

the funeral."

All at once her lips and chin began trembling, but, with an

effort, she controlled herself, looking down again.

During the conversation, Raskolnikov watched her carefully. She

had a thin, very thin, pale little face, rather irregular and angular,

with a sharp little nose and chin. She could not have been called

pretty, but her blue eyes were so clear, and when they lighted up,

there was such a kindliness and simplicity in her expression that

one could not help being attracted. Her face, and her whole figure

indeed, had another peculiar characteristic. In spite of her

eighteen years, she looked almost a little girl- almost a child. And

in some of her gestures, this childishness seemed almost absurd.

"But has Katerina Ivanovna been able to manage with such small

means? Does she even mean to have a funeral lunch?" Raskolnikov asked,

persistently keeping up the conversation.

"The coffin will be plain, of course... and everything will be

plain, so it won't cost much. Katerina Ivanovna and I have reckoned it

all out, so that there will be enough left... and Katerina Ivanovna

was very anxious it should be so. You know one can't... it's a comfort

to her... she is like that, you know...."

"I understand, I understand... of course... why do you look at my

room like that? My mother has just said it is like a tomb."

"You gave us everything yesterday," Sonia said suddenly, in reply,

in a loud rapid whisper; and again she looked down in confusion. Her

lips and chin were trembling once more. She had been struck at once by

Raskolnikov's poor surroundings, and now these words broke out

spontaneously. A silence followed. There was a light in Dounia's eyes,

and even Pulcheria Alexandrovna looked kindly at Sonia.

"Rodya," she said, getting up, "we shall have dinner together, of

course. Come, Dounia.... And you, Rodya, had better go for a little

walk, and then rest and lie down before you come to see us.... I am

afraid we have exhausted you...."

"Yes, yes, I'll come," he answered, getting up fussily. "But I

have something to see to."

"But surely you will have dinner together?" cried Razumihin, looking

in surprise at Raskolnikov. "What do you mean?"

"Yes, yes, I am coming... of course, of course! And you stay a

minute. You do not want him just now, do you, mother? Or perhaps I

am taking him from you?"

"Oh, no, no. And will you, Dmitri Prokofitch, do us the favour of

dining with us?"

"Please do," added Dounia.

Razumihin bowed, positively radiant. For one moment, they were all

strangely embarrassed.

"Good-bye, Rodya, that is till we meet. I do not like saying

good-bye. Good-bye, Nastasya. Ah, I have said good-bye again."

Pulcheria Alexandrovna meant to greet Sonia, too; but it somehow

failed to come off, and she went in a flutter out of the room.

But Avdotya Romanovna seemed to await her turn, and following her

mother out, gave Sonia an attentive, courteous bow. Sonia, in

confusion, gave a hurried, frightened curtsy. There was a look of

poignant discomfort in her face, as though Avdotya Romanovna's

courtesy and attention were oppressive and painful to her.

"Dounia, good-bye," called Raskolnikov, in the passage. "Give me

your hand."

"Why, I did give it to you. Have you forgotten?" said Dounia,

turning warmly and awkwardly to him.

"Never mind, give it to me again." And he squeezed her fingers

warmly.

Dounia smiled, flushed, pulled her hand away, and went off quite

happy.

"Come, that's capital," he said to Sonia, going back and looking

brightly at her. "God give peace to the dead, the living have still to

live. That is right, isn't it?"

Sonia looked surprised at the sudden brightness of his face. He

looked at her for some moments in silence. The whole history of the

dead father floated before his memory in those moments....

-

"Heavens, Dounia," Pulcheria Alexandrovna began, as soon as they

were in the street, "I really feel relieved myself at coming away-

more at ease. How little did I think yesterday in the train that I

could ever be glad of that."

"I tell you again, mother, he is still very ill. Don't you see it?

Perhaps worrying about us upset him. We must be patient, and much,

much can be forgiven."

"Well, you were not very patient!" Pulcheria Alexandrovna caught her

up, hotly and jealously. "Do you know, Dounia, I was looking at you

two. You are the very portrait of him, and not so much in face as in

soul. You are both melancholy, both morose and hot tempered, both

haughty and both generous.... Surely he can't be an egoist, Dounia.

Eh? When I think of what is in store for us this evening, my heart

sinks!"

"Don't be uneasy, mother. What must be, will be."

"Dounia, only think what a position we are in! What if Pyotr

Petrovitch breaks it off?" poor Pulcheria Alexandrovna blurted out,

incautiously.

"He won't be worth much if he does," answered Dounia, sharply and

contemptuously.

"We did well to come away," Pulcheria Alexandrovna hurriedly broke

in. "He was in a hurry about some business or other. If he gets out

and has a breath of air... it is fearfully close in his room.... But

where is one to get a breath of air here. The very streets here feel

like shut-up rooms. Good heavens! what a town!... stay... this side...

they will crush you- carrying something. Why, it is a piano they

have got, I declare... how they push... I am very much afraid of

that young woman, too."

"What young woman, mother?

"Why, that Sofya Semyonovna, who was there just now."

"Why?"

"I have a presentiment, Dounia. Well, you may believe it or not, but

as soon as she came in, that very minute, I felt that she was the

chief cause of the trouble...."

"Nothing of the sort!" cried Dounia, in vexation. "What nonsense,

with your presentiments, mother! He only made her acquaintance the

evening before, and he did not know her when she came in."

"Well, you will see.... She worries me; but you will see, you will

see! I was so frightened. She was gazing at me with those eyes. I

could scarcely sit still in my chair when he began introducing her, do

you remember? It seems so strange, but Pyotr Petrovitch writes like

that about her, and he introduces her to us- to you! So he must

think a great deal of her."

"People will write anything. We were talked about and written about,

too. Have you forgotten? I am sure that she is a good girl, and that

it is all nonsense."

"God grant it may be!"

"And Pyotr Petrovitch is a contemptible slanderer," Dounia snapped

out, suddenly.

Pulcheria Alexandrovna was crushed; the conversation was not

resumed.

-

"I will tell you what I want with you," said Raskolnikov, drawing

Razumihin to the window.

"Then I will tell Katerina Ivanovna that you are coming," Sonia said

hurriedly, preparing to depart.

"One minute, Sofya Semyonovna. We have no secrets. You are not in

our way. I want to have another word or two with you. Listen!" he

turned suddenly to Razumihin again. "You know that... what's his

name... Porfiry Petrovitch?"

"I should think so! He is a relation. Why?" added the latter, with

interest.

"Is not he managing that case... you know about that murder?...

You were speaking about it yesterday."

"Yes... well?" Razumihin's eyes opened wide.

"He was inquiring for people who had pawned things, and I have

some pledges there, too- trifles- a ring my sister gave me as a

keepsake when I left home, and my father's silver watch- they are only

worth five or six roubles altogether... but I value them. So what am I

to do now? I do not want to lose the things, especially the watch. I

was quaking just now, for fear mother would ask to look at it, when we

spoke of Dounia's watch. It is the only thing of father's left us. She

would be ill if it were lost. You know what women are. So tell me what

to do. I know I ought to have given notice at the police station,

but would it not be better to go straight to Porfiry? Eh? What do

you think? The matter might be settled more quickly. You see mother

may ask for it before dinner."

"Certainly not to the police station. Certainly to Porfiry,"

Razumihin shouted in extraordinary excitement. "Well, how glad I am.

Let us go at once. It is a couple of steps. We shall be sure to find

him."

"Very well, let us go."

"And he will be very, very glad to make your acquaintance. I have

often talked to him of you at different times. I was speaking of you

yesterday. Let us go. So you knew the old woman? So that's it! It is

all turning out splendidly.... Oh, yes, Sofya Ivanovna..."

"Sofya Semyonovna," corrected Raskolnikov. "Sofya Semyonovna, this

is my friend Razumihin, and he is a good man."

"If you have to go now," Sonia was beginning, not looking at

Razumihin at all, and still more embarrassed.

"Let us go," decided Raskolnikov. "I will come to you to-day,

Sofya Semyonovna. Only tell me where you live."

He was not exactly ill at ease, but seemed hurried, and avoided

her eyes. Sonia gave her address, and flushed as she did so. They

all went out together.

"Don't you lock up?" asked Razumihin, following him on to the

stairs.

"Never," answered Raskolnikov. "I have been meaning to buy a lock

for these two years. People are happy who have no need of locks," he

said, laughing, to Sonia. They stood still in the gateway.

"Do you go to the right, Sofya Semyonovna? How did you find me, by

the way?" he added, as though he wanted to say something quite

different. He wanted to look at her soft clear eyes, but this was

not easy.

"Why, you gave your address to Polenka yesterday."

"Polenka? Oh, yes; Polenka, that is the little girl. She is your

sister? Did I give her the address?"

"Why, had you forgotten?"

"No, I remember."

"I had heard my father speak of you... only I did not know your

name, and he did not know it. And now I came... and as I had learnt

your name, I asked to-day, 'Where does Mr. Raskolnikov live?' I did

not know you had only a room too.... Good-bye, I will tell Katerina

Ivanovna."

She was extremely glad to escape at last; she went away looking

down, hurrying to get out of sight as soon as possible, to walk the

twenty steps to the turning on the right and to be at last alone,

and then moving rapidly along, looking at no one, noticing nothing, to

think, to remember, to meditate on every word, every detail. Never,

never had she felt anything like this. Dimly and unconsciously a whole

new world was opening before her. She remembered suddenly that

Raskolnikov meant to come to her that day, perhaps at once!

"Only not to-day, please, not to-day!" she kept muttering with a

sinking heart, as though entreating some one, like a frightened child.

"Mercy! to me... to that room... he will see... oh, dear!"

She was not capable at that instant of noticing an unknown gentleman

who was watching her and following at her heels. He had accompanied

her from the gateway. At the moment when Razumihin, Raskolnikov, and

she stood still at parting on the pavement, this gentleman, who was

just passing, started on hearing Sonia's words: "and I asked where Mr.

Raskolnikov lived?" He turned a rapid but attentive look upon all

three, especially upon Raskolnikov, to whom Sonia was speaking; then

looked back and noted the house. All this was done in an instant as he

passed, and trying not to betray his interest, he walked on more

slowly as though waiting for something. He was waiting for Sonia; he

saw that they were parting, and that Sonia was going home.

"Home? Where? I've seen that face somewhere," he thought. "I must

find out."

At the turning he crossed over, looked round, and saw Sonia coming

the same way, noticing nothing. She turned the corner. He followed her

on the other side. After about fifty paces he crossed over again,

overtook her and kept two or three yards behind her.

He was a man about fifty, rather tall and thickly set, with broad

high shoulders which made him look as though he stooped a little. He

wore good and fashionable clothes, and looked like a gentleman of

position. He carried a handsome cane, which he tapped on the

pavement at each step; his gloves were spotless. He had a broad,

rather pleasant face with high cheek-bones and a fresh colour, not

often seen in Petersburg. His flaxen hair was still abundant, and only

touched here and there with grey, and his thick square beard was

even lighter than his hair. His eyes were blue and had a cold and

thoughtful look; his lips were crimson. He was a remarkedly

well-preserved man and looked much younger than his years.

When Sonia came out on the canal bank, they were the only two

persons on the pavement. He observed her dreaminess and preoccupation.

On reaching the house where she lodged, Sonia turned in at the gate;

he followed her, seeming rather surprised. In the courtyard she turned

to the right corner. "Bah!" muttered the unknown gentleman, and

mounted the stairs behind her. Only then Sonia noticed him. She

reached the third storey, turned down the passage, and rang at No.

9. On the door was inscribed in chalk, "Kapernaumov, Tailor." "Bah!"

the stranger repeated again, wondering at the strange coincidence, and

he rang next door, at No. 8. The doors were two or three yards apart.

"You lodge at Kapernaumov's," he said, looking at Sonia and

laughing. "He altered a waistcoat for me yesterday. I am staying close

here at Madame Resslich's. How odd!" Sonia looked at him attentively.

"We are neighbours," he went on gaily. "I only came to town the

day before yesterday. Good-bye for the present."

Sonia made no reply; the door opened and she slipped in. She felt

for some reason ashamed and uneasy.

On the way to Porfiry's, Razumihin was obviously excited.

"That's capital, brother," he repeated several times, "and I am

glad! I am glad!"

"What are you glad about?" Raskolnikov thought to himself.

"I didn't know that you pledged things at the old woman's, too.

And... was it long ago? I mean, was it long since you were there?"

"What a simple-hearted fool he is!"

"When was it?" Raskolnikov stopped still to recollect. "Two or three

days before her death it must have been. But I am not going to

redeem the things now," he put in with a sort of hurried and

conspicuous solicitude about the things. "I've not more than a

silver rouble left... after last night's accursed delirium!"

He laid special emphasis on the delirium.

"Yes, yes," Razumihin hastened to agree- with what was not clear.

"Then that's why you... were struck... partly... you know in your

delirium you were continually mentioning some rings or chains! Yes,

yes... that's clear, it's all clear now."

"Hullo! How that idea must have got about among them. Here this

man will go to the stake for me, and I find him delighted at having it

cleared up why I spoke of rings in my delirium! What a hold the idea

must have on all of them!"

"Shall we find him?" he asked suddenly.

"Oh, yes," Razumihin answered quickly. "He is a nice fellow you will

see, brother. Rather clumsy, that is to say, he is a man of polished

manners, but I mean clumsy in a different sense. He is an

intelligent fellow, very much so indeed, but he has his own range of

ideas.... He is incredulous, sceptical, cynical... he likes to

impose on people, or rather to make fun of them. His is the old,

circumstantial method.... But he understands his work...

thoroughly.... Last year he cleared up a case of murder in which the

police had hardly a clue. He is very, very anxious to make your

acquaintance."

"On what grounds is he so anxious?"

"Oh, it's not exactly... you see, since you've been ill I happen

to have mentioned you several times.... So, when he heard about you...

about your being a law student and not able to finish your studies, he

said, 'What a pity!' And so I concluded... from everything together,

not only that; yesterday, Zametov... you know, Rodya, I talked some

nonsense on the way home to you yesterday, when I was drunk... I am

afraid, brother, of your exaggerating it, you see."

"What? That they think I am a madman? Maybe they are right," he said

with a constrained smile.

"Yes, yes.... That is, pooh, no!... But all that I said (and there

was something else too) it was all nonsense, drunken nonsense."

"But why are you apologizing? I am so sick of it all!" Raskolnikov

cried with exaggerated irritability. It was partly assumed, however.

"I know, I know, I understand. Believe me, I understand. One's

ashamed to speak of it."

"If you are ashamed, then don't speak of it."

Both were silent. Razumihin was more than ecstatic and Raskolnikov

perceived it with repulsion. He was alarmed, too, by what Razumihin

had just said about Porfiry.

"I shall have to pull a long face with him too," he thought, with

a beating heart, and he turned white, "and do it naturally, too. But

the most natural thing would be to do nothing at all. Carefully do

nothing at all! No, carefully would not be natural again.... Oh, well,

we shall see how it turns out.... We shall see... directly. Is it a

good thing to go or not? The butterfly flies to the light. My heart is

beating, that's what's bad!"

"In this grey house," said Razumihin.

"The most important thing, does Porfiry know that I was at the old

hag's flat yesterday... and asked about the blood? I must find that

out instantly, as soon as I go in, find out from his face;

otherwise... I'll find out, if it's my ruin."

"I say, brother," he said suddenly, addressing Razumihin, with a sly

smile, "I have been noticing all day that you seem to be curiously

excited. Isn't it so?"

"Excited? Not a bit of it," said Razumihin, stung to the quick.

"Yes, brother, I assure you it's noticeable. Why, you sat on your

chair in a way you never do sit, on the edge somehow, and you seemed

to be writhing all the time. You kept jumping up for nothing. One

moment you were angry, and the next your face looked like a sweetmeat.

You even blushed; especially when you were invited to dinner, you

blushed awfully."

"Nothing of the sort, nonsense! What do you mean?"

"But why are you wriggling out of it, like a schoolboy? By Jove,

there he's blushing again."

"What a pig you are!"

"But why are you so shamefaced about it? Romeo! Stay, I'll tell of

you to-day. Ha-ha-ha! I'll make mother laugh, and some one else,

too..."

"Listen, listen, listen, this is serious.... What next, you

fiend!" Razumihin was utterly overwhelmed, turning cold with horror.

"What will you tell them? Come, brother... foo, what a pig you are!"

"You are like a summer rose. And if only you knew how it suits

you; a Romeo over six foot high! And how you've washed to-day- you

cleaned your nails, I declare. Eh? That's something unheard of! Why, I

do believe you've got pomaturn on your hair! Bend down."

"Pig!"

Raskolnikov laughed as though he could not restrain himself. So

laughing, they entered Porfiry Petrovitch's flat. This is what

Raskolnikov wanted: from within they could be heard laughing as they

came in, still guffawing in the passage.

"Not a word here or I'll... brain you!" Razumihin whispered

furiously, seizing Raskolnikov by the shoulder.


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

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