A strange period began for Raskolnikov: it was as though a fog had fallen upon him and wrapped him in a dreary solitude from which there was no escape. Recalling that period long after, he believed that his mind had been clouded at times, and that it had continued so, with intervals, till the final catastrophe. He was convinced that he had been mistaken about many things at that time, for instance as to the date of certain events. Anyway, when he tried later on to piece his recollections together, he learnt a great deal about himself from what other people told him. He had mixed up incidents and had explained events as due to circumstances which existed only in his imagination. At times he was a prey to agonies of morbid uneasiness, amounting sometimes to panic. But he remembered, too, moments, hours, perhaps whole days, of complete apathy, which came upon him as a reaction from his previous terror and might be compared with the abnormal insensibility, sometimes seen in the dying. He seemed to be trying in that latter stage to escape from a full and clear understanding of his position. Certain essential facts which required immediate consideration were particularly irksome to him. How glad he would have been to be free from some cares, the neglect of which would have threatened him with complete, inevitable ruin.
He was particularly worried about Svidriga�lov, he might be said to be permanently thinking of Svidriga�lov. From the time of Svidriga�lov's too menacing and unmistakable words in Sonia's room at the moment of Katerina Ivanovna's death, the normal working of his mind seemed to break down. But although this new fact caused him extreme uneasiness, Raskolnikov was in no hurry for an explanation of it. At times, finding himself in a solitary and remote part of the town, in some wretched eating-house, sitting alone lost in thought, hardly knowing how he had come there, he suddenly thought of Svidriga�lov. He recognised suddenly, clearly, and with dismay that he ought at once to come to an understanding with that man and to make what terms he could. Walking outside the city gates one day, he positively fancied that they had fixed a meeting there, that he was waiting for Svidriga�lov. Another time he woke up before daybreak lying on the ground under some bushes and could not at first understand how he had come there.
But during the two or three days after Katerina Ivanovna's death, he had two or three times met Svidriga�lov at Sonia's lodging, where he had gone aimlessly for a moment. They exchanged a few words and made no reference to the vital subject, as though they were tacitly agreed not to speak of it for a time.
Katerina Ivanovna's body was still lying in the coffin, Svidriga�lov was busy making arrangements for the funeral. Sonia too was very busy. At their last meeting Svidriga�lov informed Raskolnikov that he had made an arrangement, and a very satisfactory one, for Katerina Ivanovna's children; that he had, through certain connections, succeeded in getting hold of certain personages by whose help the three orphans could be at once placed in very suitable institutions; that the money he had settled on them had been of great assistance, as it is much easier to place orphans with some property than destitute ones. He said something too about Sonia and promised to come himself in a day or two to see Raskolnikov, mentioning that "he would like to consult with him, that there were things they must talk over...."
This conversation took place in the passage on the stairs. Svidriga�lov looked intently at Raskolnikov and suddenly, after a brief pause, dropping his voice, asked: "But how is it, Rodion Romanovitch; you don't seem yourself? You look and you listen, but you don't seem to understand. Cheer up! We'll talk things over; I am only sorry, I've so much to do of my own business and other people's. Ah, Rodion Romanovitch," he added suddenly, "what all men need is fresh air, fresh air... more than anything!"
He moved to one side to make way for the priest and server, who were coming up the stairs. They had come for the requiem service. By Svidriga�lov's orders it was sung twice a day punctually. Svidriga�lov went his way. Raskolnikov stood still a moment, thought, and followed the priest into Sonia's room. He stood at the door. They began quietly, slowly and mournfully singing the service. From his childhood the thought of death and the presence of death had something oppressive and mysteriously awful; and it was long since he had heard the requiem service. And there was something else here as well, too awful and disturbing. He looked at the children: they were all kneeling by the coffin; Polenka was weeping. Behind them Sonia prayed, softly and, as it were, timidly weeping.
"These last two days she hasn't said a word to me, she hasn't glanced at me," Raskolnikov thought suddenly. The sunlight was bright in the room; the incense rose in clouds; the priest read, "Give rest, oh Lord...." Raskolnikov stayed all through the service. As he blessed them and took his leave, the priest looked round strangely. After the service, Raskolnikov went up to Sonia. She took both his hands and let her head sink on his shoulder. This slight friendly gesture bewildered Raskolnikov. It seemed strange to him that there was no trace of repugnance, no trace of disgust, no tremor in her hand. It was the furthest limit of self-abnegation, at least so he interpreted it.
Sonia said nothing. Raskolnikov pressed her hand and went out. He felt very miserable. If it had been possible to escape to some solitude, he would have thought himself lucky, even if he had to spend his whole life there. But although he had almost always been by himself of late, he had never been able to feel alone. Sometimes he walked out of the town on to the high road, once he had even reached a little wood, but the lonelier the place was, the more he seemed to be aware of an uneasy presence near him. It did not frighten him, but greatly annoyed him, so that he made haste to return to the town, to mingle with the crowd, to enter restaurants and taverns, to walk in busy thoroughfares. There he felt easier and even more solitary. One day at dusk he sat for an hour listening to songs in a tavern and he remembered that he positively enjoyed it. But at last he had suddenly felt the same uneasiness again, as though his conscience smote him. "Here I sit listening to singing, is that what I ought to be doing?" he thought. Yet he felt at once that that was not the only cause of his uneasiness; there was something requiring immediate decision, but it was something he could not clearly understand or put into words. It was a hopeless tangle. "No, better the struggle again! Better Porfiry again... or Svidriga�lov.... Better some challenge again... some attack. Yes, yes!" he thought. He went out of the tavern and rushed away almost at a run. The thought of Dounia and his mother suddenly reduced him almost to a panic. That night he woke up before morning among some bushes in Krestovsky Island, trembling all over with fever; he walked home, and it was early morning when he arrived. After some hours' sleep the fever left him, but he woke up late, two o'clock in the afternoon.
He remembered that Katerina Ivanovna's funeral had been fixed for that day, and was glad that he was not present at it. Nastasya brought him some food; he ate and drank with appetite, almost with greediness. His head was fresher and he was calmer than he had been for the last three days. He even felt a passing wonder at his previous attacks of panic.
The door opened and Razumihin came in.
"Ah, he's eating, then he's not ill," said Razumihin. He took a chair and sat down at the table opposite Raskolnikov.
He was troubled and did not attempt to conceal it. He spoke with evident annoyance, but without hurry or raising his voice. He looked as though he had some special fixed determination.
"Listen," he began resolutely. "As far as I am concerned, you may all go to hell, but from what I see, it's clear to me that I can't make head or tail of it; please don't think I've come to ask you questions. I don't want to know, hang it! If you begin telling me your secrets, I dare say I shouldn't stay to listen, I should go away cursing. I have only come to find out once for all whether it's a fact that you are mad? There is a conviction in the air that you are mad or very nearly so. I admit I've been disposed to that opinion myself, judging from your stupid, repulsive and quite inexplicable actions, and from your recent behavior to your mother and sister. Only a monster or a madman could treat them as you have; so you must be mad."
"When did you see them last?"
"Just now. Haven't you seen them since then? What have you been doing with yourself? Tell me, please. I've been to you three times already. Your mother has been seriously ill since yesterday. She had made up her mind to come to you; Avdotya Romanovna tried to prevent her; she wouldn't hear a word. 'If he is ill, if his mind is giving way, who can look after him like his mother?' she said. We all came here together, we couldn't let her come alone all the way. We kept begging her to be calm. We came in, you weren't here; she sat down, and stayed ten minutes, while we stood waiting in silence. She got up and said: 'If he's gone out, that is, if he is well, and has forgotten his mother, it's humiliating and unseemly for his mother to stand at his door begging for kindness.' She returned home and took to her bed; now she is in a fever. 'I see,' she said, 'that he has time for _his girl_.' She means by _your girl_ Sofya Semyonovna, your betrothed or your mistress, I don't know. I went at once to Sofya Semyonovna's, for I wanted to know what was going on. I looked round, I saw the coffin, the children crying, and Sofya Semyonovna trying them on mourning dresses. No sign of you. I apologised, came away, and reported to Avdotya Romanovna. So that's all nonsense and you haven't got a girl; the most likely thing is that you are mad. But here you sit, guzzling boiled beef as though you'd not had a bite for three days. Though as far as that goes, madmen eat too, but though you have not said a word to me yet... you are not mad! That I'd swear! Above all, you are not mad! So you may go to hell, all of you, for there's some mystery, some secret about it, and I don't intend to worry my brains over your secrets. So I've simply come to swear at you," he finished, getting up, "to relieve my mind. And I know what to do now."
"What do you mean to do now?"
"What business is it of yours what I mean to do?"
"You are going in for a drinking bout."
"How... how did you know?"
"Why, it's pretty plain."
Razumihin paused for a minute.
"You always have been a very rational person and you've never been mad, never," he observed suddenly with warmth. "You're right: I shall drink. Good-bye!"
And he moved to go out.
"I was talking with my sister--the day before yesterday, I think it was--about you, Razumihin."
"About me! But... where can you have seen her the day before yesterday?" Razumihin stopped short and even turned a little pale.
One could see that his heart was throbbing slowly and violently.
"She came here by herself, sat there and talked to me."
"What did you say to her... I mean, about me?"
"I told her you were a very good, honest, and industrious man. I didn't tell her you love her, because she knows that herself."
"She knows that herself?"
"Well, it's pretty plain. Wherever I might go, whatever happened to me, you would remain to look after them. I, so to speak, give them into your keeping, Razumihin. I say this because I know quite well how you love her, and am convinced of the purity of your heart. I know that she too may love you and perhaps does love you already. Now decide for yourself, as you know best, whether you need go in for a drinking bout or not."
"Rodya! You see... well.... Ach, damn it! But where do you mean to go? Of course, if it's all a secret, never mind.... But I... I shall find out the secret... and I am sure that it must be some ridiculous nonsense and that you've made it all up. Anyway you are a capital fellow, a capital fellow!..."
"That was just what I wanted to add, only you interrupted, that that was a very good decision of yours not to find out these secrets. Leave it to time, don't worry about it. You'll know it all in time when it must be. Yesterday a man said to me that what a man needs is fresh air, fresh air, fresh air. I mean to go to him directly to find out what he meant by that."
Razumihin stood lost in thought and excitement, making a silent conclusion.
"He's a political conspirator! He must be. And he's on the eve of some desperate step, that's certain. It can only be that! And... and Dounia knows," he thought suddenly.
"So Avdotya Romanovna comes to see you," he said, weighing each syllable, "and you're going to see a man who says we need more air, and so of course that letter... that too must have something to do with it," he concluded to himself.
"She got a letter to-day. It upset her very much--very much indeed. Too much so. I began speaking of you, she begged me not to. Then... then she said that perhaps we should very soon have to part... then she began warmly thanking me for something; then she went to her room and locked herself in."
"She got a letter?" Raskolnikov asked thoughtfully.
"Yes, and you didn't know? hm..."
They were both silent.
"Good-bye, Rodion. There was a time, brother, when I.... Never mind, good-bye. You see, there was a time.... Well, good-bye! I must be off too. I am not going to drink. There's no need now.... That's all stuff!"
He hurried out; but when he had almost closed the door behind him, he suddenly opened it again, and said, looking away:
"Oh, by the way, do you remember that murder, you know Porfiry's, that old woman? Do you know the murderer has been found, he has confessed and given the proofs. It's one of those very workmen, the painter, only fancy! Do you remember I defended them here? Would you believe it, all that scene of fighting and laughing with his companions on the stairs while the porter and the two witnesses were going up, he got up on purpose to disarm suspicion. The cunning, the presence of mind of the young dog! One can hardly credit it; but it's his own explanation, he has confessed it all. And what a fool I was about it! Well, he's simply a genius of hypocrisy and resourcefulness in disarming the suspicions of the lawyers--so there's nothing much to wonder at, I suppose! Of course people like that are always possible. And the fact that he couldn't keep up the character, but confessed, makes him easier to believe in. But what a fool I was! I was frantic on their side!"
"Tell me, please, from whom did you hear that, and why does it interest you so?" Raskolnikov asked with unmistakable agitation.
"What next? You ask me why it interests me!... Well, I heard it from Porfiry, among others... It was from him I heard almost all about it."
"What... what did he say?" Raskolnikov asked in dismay.
"He gave me a capital explanation of it. Psychologically, after his fashion."
"He explained it? Explained it himself?"
"Yes, yes; good-bye. I'll tell you all about it another time, but now I'm busy. There was a time when I fancied... But no matter, another time!... What need is there for me to drink now? You have made me drunk without wine. I am drunk, Rodya! Good-bye, I'm going. I'll come again very soon."
He went out.
"He's a political conspirator, there's not a doubt about it," Razumihin decided, as he slowly descended the stairs. "And he's drawn his sister in; that's quite, quite in keeping with Avdotya Romanovna's character. There are interviews between them!... She hinted at it too... So many of her words.... and hints... bear that meaning! And how else can all this tangle be explained? Hm! And I was almost thinking... Good heavens, what I thought! Yes, I took leave of my senses and I wronged him! It was his doing, under the lamp in the corridor that day. Pfoo! What a crude, nasty, vile idea on my part! Nikolay is a brick, for confessing.... And how clear it all is now! His illness then, all his strange actions... before this, in the university, how morose he used to be, how gloomy.... But what's the meaning now of that letter? There's something in that, too, perhaps. Whom was it from? I suspect...! No, I must find out!"
He thought of Dounia, realising all he had heard and his heart throbbed, and he suddenly broke into a run.
As soon as Razumihin went out, Raskolnikov got up, turned to the window, walked into one corner and then into another, as though forgetting the smallness of his room, and sat down again on the sofa. He felt, so to speak, renewed; again the struggle, so a means of escape had come.
"Yes, a means of escape had come! It had been too stifling, too cramping, the burden had been too agonising. A lethargy had come upon him at times. From the moment of the scene with Nikolay at Porfiry's he had been suffocating, penned in without hope of escape. After Nikolay's confession, on that very day had come the scene with Sonia; his behaviour and his last words had been utterly unlike anything he could have imagined beforehand; he had grown feebler, instantly and fundamentally! And he had agreed at the time with Sonia, he had agreed in his heart he could not go on living alone with such a thing on his mind!
"And Svidriga�lov was a riddle... He worried him, that was true, but somehow not on the same point. He might still have a struggle to come with Svidriga�lov. Svidriga�lov, too, might be a means of escape; but Porfiry was a different matter.
"And so Porfiry himself had explained it to Razumihin, had explained it _psychologically_. He had begun bringing in his damned psychology again! Porfiry? But to think that Porfiry should for one moment believe that Nikolay was guilty, after what had passed between them before Nikolay's appearance, after that t�te-�-t�te interview, which could have only _one_ explanation? (During those days Raskolnikov had often recalled passages in that scene with Porfiry; he could not bear to let his mind rest on it.) Such words, such gestures had passed between them, they had exchanged such glances, things had been said in such a tone and had reached such a pass, that Nikolay, whom Porfiry had seen through at the first word, at the first gesture, could not have shaken his conviction.
"And to think that even Razumihin had begun to suspect! The scene in the corridor under the lamp had produced its effect then. He had rushed to Porfiry.... But what had induced the latter to receive him like that? What had been his object in putting Razumihin off with Nikolay? He must have some plan; there was some design, but what was it? It was true that a long time had passed since that morning--too long a time--and no sight nor sound of Porfiry. Well, that was a bad sign...."
Raskolnikov took his cap and went out of the room, still pondering. It was the first time for a long while that he had felt clear in his mind, at least. "I must settle Svidriga�lov," he thought, "and as soon as possible; he, too, seems to be waiting for me to come to him of my own accord." And at that moment there was such a rush of hate in his weary heart that he might have killed either of those two--Porfiry or Svidriga�lov. At least he felt that he would be capable of doing it later, if not now.
"We shall see, we shall see," he repeated to himself.
But no sooner had he opened the door than he stumbled upon Porfiry himself in the passage. He was coming in to see him. Raskolnikov was dumbfounded for a minute, but only for one minute. Strange to say, he was not very much astonished at seeing Porfiry and scarcely afraid of him. He was simply startled, but was quickly, instantly, on his guard. "Perhaps this will mean the end? But how could Porfiry have approached so quietly, like a cat, so that he had heard nothing? Could he have been listening at the door?"
"You didn't expect a visitor, Rodion Romanovitch," Porfiry explained, laughing. "I've been meaning to look in a long time; I was passing by and thought why not go in for five minutes. Are you going out? I won't keep you long. Just let me have one cigarette."
"Sit down, Porfiry Petrovitch, sit down." Raskolnikov gave his visitor a seat with so pleased and friendly an expression that he would have marvelled at himself, if he could have seen it.
The last moment had come, the last drops had to be drained! So a man will sometimes go through half an hour of mortal terror with a brigand, yet when the knife is at his throat at last, he feels no fear.
Raskolnikov seated himself directly facing Porfiry, and looked at him without flinching. Porfiry screwed up his eyes and began lighting a cigarette.
"Speak, speak," seemed as though it would burst from Raskolnikov's heart. "Come, why don't you speak?"
"Ah these cigarettes!" Porfiry Petrovitch ejaculated at last, having lighted one. "They are pernicious, positively pernicious, and yet I can't give them up! I cough, I begin to have tickling in my throat and a difficulty in breathing. You know I am a coward, I went lately to Dr. B----n; he always gives at least half an hour to each patient. He positively laughed looking at me; he sounded me: 'Tobacco's bad for you,' he said, 'your lungs are affected.' But how am I to give it up? What is there to take its place? I don't drink, that's the mischief, he-he-he, that I don't. Everything is relative, Rodion Romanovitch, everything is relative!"
"Why, he's playing his professional tricks again," Raskolnikov thought with disgust. All the circumstances of their last interview suddenly came back to him, and he felt a rush of the feeling that had come upon him then.
"I came to see you the day before yesterday, in the evening; you didn't know?" Porfiry Petrovitch went on, looking round the room. "I came into this very room. I was passing by, just as I did to-day, and I thought I'd return your call. I walked in as your door was wide open, I looked round, waited and went out without leaving my name with your servant. Don't you lock your door?"
Raskolnikov's face grew more and more gloomy. Porfiry seemed to guess his state of mind.
"I've come to have it out with you, Rodion Romanovitch, my dear fellow! I owe you an explanation and must give it to you," he continued with a slight smile, just patting Raskolnikov's knee.
But almost at the same instant a serious and careworn look came into his face; to his surprise Raskolnikov saw a touch of sadness in it. He had never seen and never suspected such an expression in his face.
"A strange scene passed between us last time we met, Rodion Romanovitch. Our first interview, too, was a strange one; but then... and one thing after another! This is the point: I have perhaps acted unfairly to you; I feel it. Do you remember how we parted? Your nerves were unhinged and your knees were shaking and so were mine. And, you know, our behaviour was unseemly, even ungentlemanly. And yet we are gentlemen, above all, in any case, gentlemen; that must be understood. Do you remember what we came to?... and it was quite indecorous."
"What is he up to, what does he take me for?" Raskolnikov asked himself in amazement, raising his head and looking with open eyes on Porfiry.
"I've decided openness is better between us," Porfiry Petrovitch went on, turning his head away and dropping his eyes, as though unwilling to disconcert his former victim and as though disdaining his former wiles. "Yes, such suspicions and such scenes cannot continue for long. Nikolay put a stop to it, or I don't know what we might not have come to. That damned workman was sitting at the time in the next room--can you realise that? You know that, of course; and I am aware that he came to you afterwards. But what you supposed then was not true: I had not sent for anyone, I had made no kind of arrangements. You ask why I hadn't? What shall I say to you? it had all come upon me so suddenly. I had scarcely sent for the porters (you noticed them as you went out, I dare say). An idea flashed upon me; I was firmly convinced at the time, you see, Rodion Romanovitch. Come, I thought--even if I let one thing slip for a time, I shall get hold of something else--I shan't lose what I want, anyway. You are nervously irritable, Rodion Romanovitch, by temperament; it's out of proportion with other qualities of your heart and character, which I flatter myself I have to some extent divined. Of course I did reflect even then that it does not always happen that a man gets up and blurts out his whole story. It does happen sometimes, if you make a man lose all patience, though even then it's rare. I was capable of realising that. If I only had a fact, I thought, the least little fact to go upon, something I could lay hold of, something tangible, not merely psychological. For if a man is guilty, you must be able to get something substantial out of him; one may reckon upon most surprising results indeed. I was reckoning on your temperament, Rodion Romanovitch, on your temperament above all things! I had great hopes of you at that time."
"But what are you driving at now?" Raskolnikov muttered at last, asking the question without thinking.
"What is he talking about?" he wondered distractedly, "does he really take me to be innocent?"
"What am I driving at? I've come to explain myself, I consider it my duty, so to speak. I want to make clear to you how the whole business, the whole misunderstanding arose. I've caused you a great deal of suffering, Rodion Romanovitch. I am not a monster. I understand what it must mean for a man who has been unfortunate, but who is proud, imperious and above all, impatient, to have to bear such treatment! I regard you in any case as a man of noble character and not without elements of magnanimity, though I don't agree with all your convictions. I wanted to tell you this first, frankly and quite sincerely, for above all I don't want to deceive you. When I made your acquaintance, I felt attracted by you. Perhaps you will laugh at my saying so. You have a right to. I know you disliked me from the first and indeed you've no reason to like me. You may think what you like, but I desire now to do all I can to efface that impression and to show that I am a man of heart and conscience. I speak sincerely."
Porfiry Petrovitch made a dignified pause. Raskolnikov felt a rush of renewed alarm. The thought that Porfiry believed him to be innocent began to make him uneasy.
"It's scarcely necessary to go over everything in detail," Porfiry Petrovitch went on. "Indeed, I could scarcely attempt it. To begin with there were rumours. Through whom, how, and when those rumours came to me... and how they affected you, I need not go into. My suspicions were aroused by a complete accident, which might just as easily not have happened. What was it? Hm! I believe there is no need to go into that either. Those rumours and that accident led to one idea in my mind. I admit it openly--for one may as well make a clean breast of it--I was the first to pitch on you. The old woman's notes on the pledges and the rest of it--that all came to nothing. Yours was one of a hundred. I happened, too, to hear of the scene at the office, from a man who described it capitally, unconsciously reproducing the scene with great vividness. It was just one thing after another, Rodion Romanovitch, my dear fellow! How could I avoid being brought to certain ideas? From a hundred rabbits you can't make a horse, a hundred suspicions don't make a proof, as the English proverb says, but that's only from the rational point of view--you can't help being partial, for after all a lawyer is only human. I thought, too, of your article in that journal, do you remember, on your first visit we talked of it? I jeered at you at the time, but that was only to lead you on. I repeat, Rodion Romanovitch, you are ill and impatient. That you were bold, headstrong, in earnest and... had felt a great deal I recognised long before. I, too, have felt the same, so that your article seemed familiar to me. It was conceived on sleepless nights, with a throbbing heart, in ecstasy and suppressed enthusiasm. And that proud suppressed enthusiasm in young people is dangerous! I jeered at you then, but let me tell you that, as a literary amateur, I am awfully fond of such first essays, full of the heat of youth. There is a mistiness and a chord vibrating in the mist. Your article is absurd and fantastic, but there's a transparent sincerity, a youthful incorruptible pride and the daring of despair in it. It's a gloomy article, but that's what's fine in it. I read your article and put it aside, thinking as I did so 'that man won't go the common way.' Well, I ask you, after that as a preliminary, how could I help being carried away by what followed? Oh, dear, I am not saying anything, I am not making any statement now. I simply noted it at the time. What is there in it? I reflected. There's nothing in it, that is really nothing and perhaps absolutely nothing. And it's not at all the thing for the prosecutor to let himself be carried away by notions: here I have Nikolay on my hands with actual evidence against him--you may think what you like of it, but it's evidence. He brings in his psychology, too; one has to consider him, too, for it's a matter of life and death. Why am I explaining this to you? That you may understand, and not blame my malicious behaviour on that occasion. It was not malicious, I assure you, he-he! Do you suppose I didn't come to search your room at the time? I did, I did, he-he! I was here when you were lying ill in bed, not officially, not in my own person, but I was here. Your room was searched to the last thread at the first suspicion; but _umsonst_! I thought to myself, now that man will come, will come of himself and quickly, too; if he's guilty, he's sure to come. Another man wouldn't, but he will. And you remember how Mr. Razumihin began discussing the subject with you? We arranged that to excite you, so we purposely spread rumours, that he might discuss the case with you, and Razumihin is not a man to restrain his indignation. Mr. Zametov was tremendously struck by your anger and your open daring. Think of blurting out in a restaurant 'I killed her.' It was too daring, too reckless. I thought so myself, if he is guilty he will be a formidable opponent. That was what I thought at the time. I was expecting you. But you simply bowled Zametov over and... well, you see, it all lies in this--that this damnable psychology can be taken two ways! Well, I kept expecting you, and so it was, you came! My heart was fairly throbbing. Ach!
"Now, why need you have come? Your laughter, too, as you came in, do you remember? I saw it all plain as daylight, but if I hadn't expected you so specially, I should not have noticed anything in your laughter. You see what influence a mood has! Mr. Razumihin then--ah, that stone, that stone under which the things were hidden! I seem to see it somewhere in a kitchen garden. It was in a kitchen garden, you told Zametov and afterwards you repeated that in my office? And when we began picking your article to pieces, how you explained it! One could take every word of yours in two senses, as though there were another meaning hidden.
"So in this way, Rodion Romanovitch, I reached the furthest limit, and knocking my head against a post, I pulled myself up, asking myself what I was about. After all, I said, you can take it all in another sense if you like, and it's more natural so, indeed. I couldn't help admitting it was more natural. I was bothered! 'No, I'd better get hold of some little fact' I said. So when I heard of the bell-ringing, I held my breath and was all in a tremor. 'Here is my little fact,' thought I, and I didn't think it over, I simply wouldn't. I would have given a thousand roubles at that minute to have seen you with my own eyes, when you walked a hundred paces beside that workman, after he had called you murderer to your face, and you did not dare to ask him a question all the way. And then what about your trembling, what about your bell-ringing in your illness, in semi-delirium?
"And so, Rodion Romanovitch, can you wonder that I played such pranks on you? And what made you come at that very minute? Someone seemed to have sent you, by Jove! And if Nikolay had not parted us... and do you remember Nikolay at the time? Do you remember him clearly? It was a thunderbolt, a regular thunderbolt! And how I met him! I didn't believe in the thunderbolt, not for a minute. You could see it for yourself; and how could I? Even afterwards, when you had gone and he began making very, very plausible answers on certain points, so that I was surprised at him myself, even then I didn't believe his story! You see what it is to be as firm as a rock! No, thought I, _Morgenfr�h_. What has Nikolay got to do with it!"
"Razumihin told me just now that you think Nikolay guilty and had yourself assured him of it...."
His voice failed him, and he broke off. He had been listening in indescribable agitation, as this man who had seen through and through him, went back upon himself. He was afraid of believing it and did not believe it. In those still ambiguous words he kept eagerly looking for something more definite and conclusive.
"Mr. Razumihin!" cried Porfiry Petrovitch, seeming glad of a question from Raskolnikov, who had till then been silent. "He-he-he! But I had to put Mr. Razumihin off; two is company, three is none. Mr. Razumihin is not the right man, besides he is an outsider. He came running to me with a pale face.... But never mind him, why bring him in? To return to Nikolay, would you like to know what sort of a type he is, how I understand him, that is? To begin with, he is still a child and not exactly a coward, but something by way of an artist. Really, don't laugh at my describing him so. He is innocent and responsive to influence. He has a heart, and is a fantastic fellow. He sings and dances, he tells stories, they say, so that people come from other villages to hear him. He attends school too, and laughs till he cries if you hold up a finger to him; he will drink himself senseless--not as a regular vice, but at times, when people treat him, like a child. And he stole, too, then, without knowing it himself, for 'How can it be stealing, if one picks it up?' And do you know he is an Old Believer, or rather a dissenter? There have been Wanderers[*] in his family, and he was for two years in his village under the spiritual guidance of a certain elder. I learnt all this from Nikolay and from his fellow villagers. And what's more, he wanted to run into the wilderness! He was full of fervour, prayed at night, read the old books, 'the true' ones, and read himself crazy.
[*] A religious sect.--TRANSLATOR'S NOTE.
"Petersburg had a great effect upon him, especially the women and the wine. He responds to everything and he forgot the elder and all that. I learnt that an artist here took a fancy to him, and used to go and see him, and now this business came upon him.
"Well, he was frightened, he tried to hang himself! He ran away! How can one get over the idea the people have of Russian legal proceedings? The very word 'trial' frightens some of them. Whose fault is it? We shall see what the new juries will do. God grant they do good! Well, in prison, it seems, he remembered the venerable elder; the Bible, too, made its appearance again. Do you know, Rodion Romanovitch, the force of the word 'suffering' among some of these people! It's not a question of suffering for someone's benefit, but simply, 'one must suffer.' If they suffer at the hands of the authorities, so much the better. In my time there was a very meek and mild prisoner who spent a whole year in prison always reading his Bible on the stove at night and he read himself crazy, and so crazy, do you know, that one day, apropos of nothing, he seized a brick and flung it at the governor; though he had done him no harm. And the way he threw it too: aimed it a yard on one side on purpose, for fear of hurting him. Well, we know what happens to a prisoner who assaults an officer with a weapon. So 'he took his suffering.'
"So I suspect now that Nikolay wants to take his suffering or something of the sort. I know it for certain from facts, indeed. Only he doesn't know that I know. What, you don't admit that there are such fantastic people among the peasants? Lots of them. The elder now has begun influencing him, especially since he tried to hang himself. But he'll come and tell me all himself. You think he'll hold out? Wait a bit, he'll take his words back. I am waiting from hour to hour for him to come and abjure his evidence. I have come to like that Nikolay and am studying him in detail. And what do you think? He-he! He answered me very plausibly on some points, he obviously had collected some evidence and prepared himself cleverly. But on other points he is simply at sea, knows nothing and doesn't even suspect that he doesn't know!
"No, Rodion Romanovitch, Nikolay doesn't come in! This is a fantastic, gloomy business, a modern case, an incident of to-day when the heart of man is troubled, when the phrase is quoted that blood 'renews,' when comfort is preached as the aim of life. Here we have bookish dreams, a heart unhinged by theories. Here we see resolution in the first stage, but resolution of a special kind: he resolved to do it like jumping over a precipice or from a bell tower and his legs shook as he went to the crime. He forgot to shut the door after him, and murdered two people for a theory. He committed the murder and couldn't take the money, and what he did manage to snatch up he hid under a stone. It wasn't enough for him to suffer agony behind the door while they battered at the door and rung the bell, no, he had to go to the empty lodging, half delirious, to recall the bell-ringing, he wanted to feel the cold shiver over again.... Well, that we grant, was through illness, but consider this: he is a murderer, but looks upon himself as an honest man, despises others, poses as injured innocence. No, that's not the work of a Nikolay, my dear Rodion Romanovitch!"
All that had been said before had sounded so like a recantation that these words were too great a shock. Raskolnikov shuddered as though he had been stabbed.
"Then... who then... is the murderer?" he asked in a breathless voice, unable to restrain himself.
Porfiry Petrovitch sank back in his chair, as though he were amazed at the question.
"Who is the murderer?" he repeated, as though unable to believe his ears. "Why, _you_, Rodion Romanovitch! You are the murderer," he added, almost in a whisper, in a voice of genuine conviction.
Raskolnikov leapt from the sofa, stood up for a few seconds and sat down again without uttering a word. His face twitched convulsively.
"Your lip is twitching just as it did before," Porfiry Petrovitch observed almost sympathetically. "You've been misunderstanding me, I think, Rodion Romanovitch," he added after a brief pause, "that's why you are so surprised. I came on purpose to tell you everything and deal openly with you."
"It was not I murdered her," Raskolnikov whispered like a frightened child caught in the act.
"No, it was you, you Rodion Romanovitch, and no one else," Porfiry whispered sternly, with conviction.
They were both silent and the silence lasted strangely long, about ten minutes. Raskolnikov put his elbow on the table and passed his fingers through his hair. Porfiry Petrovitch sat quietly waiting. Suddenly Raskolnikov looked scornfully at Porfiry.
"You are at your old tricks again, Porfiry Petrovitch! Your old method again. I wonder you don't get sick of it!"
"Oh, stop that, what does that matter now? It would be a different matter if there were witnesses present, but we are whispering alone. You see yourself that I have not come to chase and capture you like a hare. Whether you confess it or not is nothing to me now; for myself, I am convinced without it."
"If so, what did you come for?" Raskolnikov asked irritably. "I ask you the same question again: if you consider me guilty, why don't you take me to prison?"
"Oh, that's your question! I will answer you, point for point. In the first place, to arrest you so directly is not to my interest."
"How so? If you are convinced you ought...."
"Ach, what if I am convinced? That's only my dream for the time. Why should I put you in safety? You know that's it, since you ask me to do it. If I confront you with that workman for instance and you say to him 'were you drunk or not? Who saw me with you? I simply took you to be drunk, and you were drunk, too.' Well, what could I answer, especially as your story is a more likely one than his? for there's nothing but psychology to support his evidence--that's almost unseemly with his ugly mug, while you hit the mark exactly, for the rascal is an inveterate drunkard and notoriously so. And I have myself admitted candidly several times already that that psychology can be taken in two ways and that the second way is stronger and looks far more probable, and that apart from that I have as yet nothing against you. And though I shall put you in prison and indeed have come--quite contrary to etiquette--to inform you of it beforehand, yet I tell you frankly, also contrary to etiquette, that it won't be to my advantage. Well, secondly, I've come to you because..."
"Yes, yes, secondly?" Raskolnikov was listening breathless.
"Because, as I told you just now, I consider I owe you an explanation. I don't want you to look upon me as a monster, as I have a genuine liking for you, you may believe me or not. And in the third place I've come to you with a direct and open proposition--that you should surrender and confess. It will be infinitely more to your advantage and to my advantage too, for my task will be done. Well, is this open on my part or not?"
Raskolnikov thought a minute.
"Listen, Porfiry Petrovitch. You said just now you have nothing but psychology to go on, yet now you've gone on mathematics. Well, what if you are mistaken yourself, now?"
"No, Rodion Romanovitch, I am not mistaken. I have a little fact even then, Providence sent it me."
"What little fact?"
"I won't tell you what, Rodion Romanovitch. And in any case, I haven't the right to put it off any longer, I must arrest you. So think it over: it makes no difference to me _now_ and so I speak only for your sake. Believe me, it will be better, Rodion Romanovitch."
Raskolnikov smiled malignantly.
"That's not simply ridiculous, it's positively shameless. Why, even if I were guilty, which I don't admit, what reason should I have to confess, when you tell me yourself that I shall be in greater safety in prison?"
"Ah, Rodion Romanovitch, don't put too much faith in words, perhaps prison will not be altogether a restful place. That's only theory and my theory, and what authority am I for you? Perhaps, too, even now I am hiding something from you? I can't lay bare everything, he-he! And how can you ask what advantage? Don't you know how it would lessen your sentence? You would be confessing at a moment when another man has taken the crime on himself and so has muddled the whole case. Consider that! I swear before God that I will so arrange that your confession shall come as a complete surprise. We will make a clean sweep of all these psychological points, of a suspicion against you, so that your crime will appear to have been something like an aberration, for in truth it was an aberration. I am an honest man, Rodion Romanovitch, and will keep my word."
Raskolnikov maintained a mournful silence and let his head sink dejectedly. He pondered a long while and at last smiled again, but his smile was sad and gentle.
"No!" he said, apparently abandoning all attempt to keep up appearances with Porfiry, "it's not worth it, I don't care about lessening the sentence!"
"That's just what I was afraid of!" Porfiry cried warmly and, as it seemed, involuntarily. "That's just what I feared, that you wouldn't care about the mitigation of sentence."
Raskolnikov looked sadly and expressively at him.
"Ah, don't disdain life!" Porfiry went on. "You have a great deal of it still before you. How can you say you don't want a mitigation of sentence? You are an impatient fellow!"
"A great deal of what lies before me?"
"Of life. What sort of prophet are you, do you know much about it? Seek and ye shall find. This may be God's means for bringing you to Him. And it's not for ever, the bondage...."
"The time will be shortened," laughed Raskolnikov.
"Why, is it the bourgeois disgrace you are afraid of? It may be that you are afraid of it without knowing it, because you are young! But anyway _you_ shouldn't be afraid of giving yourself up and confessing."
"Ach, hang it!" Raskolnikov whispered with loathing and contempt, as though he did not want to speak aloud.
He got up again as though he meant to go away, but sat down again in evident despair.
"Hang it, if you like! You've lost faith and you think that I am grossly flattering you; but how long has your life been? How much do you understand? You made up a theory and then were ashamed that it broke down and turned out to be not at all original! It turned out something base, that's true, but you are not hopelessly base. By no means so base! At least you didn't deceive yourself for long, you went straight to the furthest point at one bound. How do I regard you? I regard you as one of those men who would stand and smile at their torturer while he cuts their entrails out, if only they have found faith or God. Find it and you will live. You have long needed a change of air. Suffering, too, is a good thing. Suffer! Maybe Nikolay is right in wanting to suffer. I know you don't believe in it--but don't be over-wise; fling yourself straight into life, without deliberation; don't be afraid--the flood will bear you to the bank and set you safe on your feet again. What bank? How can I tell? I only believe that you have long life before you. I know that you take all my words now for a set speech prepared beforehand, but maybe you will remember them after. They may be of use some time. That's why I speak. It's as well that you only killed the old woman. If you'd invented another theory you might perhaps have done something a thousand times more hideous. You ought to thank God, perhaps. How do you know? Perhaps God is saving you for something. But keep a good heart and have less fear! Are you afraid of the great expiation before you? No, it would be shameful to be afraid of it. Since you have taken such a step, you must harden your heart. There is justice in it. You must fulfil the demands of justice. I know that you don't believe it, but indeed, life will bring you through. You will live it down in time. What you need now is fresh air, fresh air, fresh air!"
Raskolnikov positively started.
"But who are you? what prophet are you? From the height of what majestic calm do you proclaim these words of wisdom?"
"Who am I? I am a man with nothing to hope for, that's all. A man perhaps of feeling and sympathy, maybe of some knowledge too, but my day is over. But you are a different matter, there is life waiting for you. Though, who knows? maybe your life, too, will pass off in smoke and come to nothing. Come, what does it matter, that you will pass into another class of men? It's not comfort you regret, with your heart! What of it that perhaps no one will see you for so long? It's not time, but yourself that will decide that. Be the sun and all will see you. The sun has before all to be the sun. Why are you smiling again? At my being such a Schiller? I bet you're imagining that I am trying to get round you by flattery. Well, perhaps I am, he-he-he! Perhaps you'd better not believe my word, perhaps you'd better never believe it altogether--I'm made that way, I confess it. But let me add, you can judge for yourself, I think, how far I am a base sort of man and how far I am honest."
"When do you mean to arrest me?"
"Well, I can let you walk about another day or two. Think it over, my dear fellow, and pray to God. It's more in your interest, believe me."
"And what if I run away?" asked Raskolnikov with a strange smile.
"No, you won't run away. A peasant would run away, a fashionable dissenter would run away, the flunkey of another man's thought, for you've only to show him the end of your little finger and he'll be ready to believe in anything for the rest of his life. But you've ceased to believe in your theory already, what will you run away with? And what would you do in hiding? It would be hateful and difficult for you, and what you need more than anything in life is a definite position, an atmosphere to suit you. And what sort of atmosphere would you have? If you ran away, you'd come back to yourself. _You can't get on without us._ And if I put you in prison--say you've been there a month, or two, or three--remember my word, you'll confess of yourself and perhaps to your own surprise. You won't know an hour beforehand that you are coming with a confession. I am convinced that you will decide, 'to take your suffering.' You don't believe my words now, but you'll come to it of yourself. For suffering, Rodion Romanovitch, is a great thing. Never mind my having grown fat, I know all the same. Don't laugh at it, there's an idea in suffering, Nokolay is right. No, you won't run away, Rodion Romanovitch."
Raskolnikov got up and took his cap. Porfiry Petrovitch also rose.
"Are you going for a walk? The evening will be fine, if only we don't have a storm. Though it would be a good thing to freshen the air."
He, too, took his cap.
"Porfiry Petrovitch, please don't take up the notion that I have confessed to you to-day," Raskolnikov pronounced with sullen insistence. "You're a strange man and I have listened to you from simple curiosity. But I have admitted nothing, remember that!"
"Oh, I know that, I'll remember. Look at him, he's trembling! Don't be uneasy, my dear fellow, have it your own way. Walk about a bit, you won't be able to walk too far. If anything happens, I have one request to make of you," he added, dropping his voice. "It's an awkward one, but important. If anything were to happen (though indeed I don't believe in it and think you quite incapable of it), yet in case you were taken during these forty or fifty hours with the notion of putting an end to the business in some other way, in some fantastic fashion--laying hands on yourself--(it's an absurd proposition, but you must forgive me for it) do leave a brief but precise note, only two lines, and mention the stone. It will be more generous. Come, till we meet! Good thoughts and sound decisions to you!"
Porfiry went out, stooping and avoiding looking at Raskolnikov. The latter went to the window and waited with irritable impatience till he calculated that Porfiry had reached the street and moved away. Then he too went hurriedly out of the room.