Raskolnikov walked after him.
"What's this?" cried Svidriga�lov turning round, "I thought I said..."
"It means that I am not going to lose sight of you now."
Both stood still and gazed at one another, as though measuring their strength.
"From all your half tipsy stories," Raskolnikov observed harshly, "I am _positive_ that you have not given up your designs on my sister, but are pursuing them more actively than ever. I have learnt that my sister received a letter this morning. You have hardly been able to sit still all this time.... You may have unearthed a wife on the way, but that means nothing. I should like to make certain myself."
Raskolnikov could hardly have said himself what he wanted and of what he wished to make certain.
"Upon my word! I'll call the police!"
Again they stood for a minute facing each other. At last Svidriga�lov's face changed. Having satisfied himself that Raskolnikov was not frightened at his threat, he assumed a mirthful and friendly air.
"What a fellow! I purposely refrained from referring to your affair, though I am devoured by curiosity. It's a fantastic affair. I've put it off till another time, but you're enough to rouse the dead.... Well, let us go, only I warn you beforehand I am only going home for a moment, to get some money; then I shall lock up the flat, take a cab and go to spend the evening at the Islands. Now, now are you going to follow me?"
"I'm coming to your lodgings, not to see you but Sofya Semyonovna, to say I'm sorry not to have been at the funeral."
"That's as you like, but Sofya Semyonovna is not at home. She has taken the three children to an old lady of high rank, the patroness of some orphan asylums, whom I used to know years ago. I charmed the old lady by depositing a sum of money with her to provide for the three children of Katerina Ivanovna and subscribing to the institution as well. I told her too the story of Sofya Semyonovna in full detail, suppressing nothing. It produced an indescribable effect on her. That's why Sofya Semyonovna has been invited to call to-day at the X. Hotel where the lady is staying for the time."
"No matter, I'll come all the same."
"As you like, it's nothing to me, but I won't come with you; here we are at home. By the way, I am convinced that you regard me with suspicion just because I have shown such delicacy and have not so far troubled you with questions... you understand? It struck you as extraordinary; I don't mind betting it's that. Well, it teaches one to show delicacy!"
"And to listen at doors!"
"Ah, that's it, is it?" laughed Svidriga�lov. "Yes, I should have been surprised if you had let that pass after all that has happened. Ha-ha! Though I did understand something of the pranks you had been up to and were telling Sofya Semyonovna about, what was the meaning of it? Perhaps I am quite behind the times and can't understand. For goodness' sake, explain it, my dear boy. Expound the latest theories!"
"You couldn't have heard anything. You're making it all up!"
"But I'm not talking about that (though I did hear something). No, I'm talking of the way you keep sighing and groaning now. The Schiller in you is in revolt every moment, and now you tell me not to listen at doors. If that's how you feel, go and inform the police that you had this mischance: you made a little mistake in your theory. But if you are convinced that one mustn't listen at doors, but one may murder old women at one's pleasure, you'd better be off to America and make haste. Run, young man! There may still be time. I'm speaking sincerely. Haven't you the money? I'll give you the fare."
"I'm not thinking of that at all," Raskolnikov interrupted with disgust.
"I understand (but don't put yourself out, don't discuss it if you don't want to). I understand the questions you are worrying over--moral ones, aren't they? Duties of citizen and man? Lay them all aside. They are nothing to you now, ha-ha! You'll say you are still a man and a citizen. If so you ought not to have got into this coil. It's no use taking up a job you are not fit for. Well, you'd better shoot yourself, or don't you want to?"
"You seem trying to enrage me, to make me leave you."
"What a queer fellow! But here we are. Welcome to the staircase. You see, that's the way to Sofya Semyonovna. Look, there is no one at home. Don't you believe me? Ask Kapernaumov. She leaves the key with him. Here is Madame de Kapernaumov herself. Hey, what? She is rather deaf. Has she gone out? Where? Did you hear? She is not in and won't be till late in the evening probably. Well, come to my room; you wanted to come and see me, didn't you? Here we are. Madame Resslich's not at home. She is a woman who is always busy, an excellent woman I assure you.... She might have been of use to you if you had been a little more sensible. Now, see! I take this five-per-cent bond out of the bureau--see what a lot I've got of them still--this one will be turned into cash to-day. I mustn't waste any more time. The bureau is locked, the flat is locked, and here we are again on the stairs. Shall we take a cab? I'm going to the Islands. Would you like a lift? I'll take this carriage. Ah, you refuse? You are tired of it! Come for a drive! I believe it will come on to rain. Never mind, we'll put down the hood...."
Svidriga�lov was already in the carriage. Raskolnikov decided that his suspicions were at least for that moment unjust. Without answering a word he turned and walked back towards the Hay Market. If he had only turned round on his way he might have seen Svidriga�lov get out not a hundred paces off, dismiss the cab and walk along the pavement. But he had turned the corner and could see nothing. Intense disgust drew him away from Svidriga�lov.
"To think that I could for one instant have looked for help from that coarse brute, that depraved sensualist and blackguard!" he cried.
Raskolnikov's judgment was uttered too lightly and hastily: there was something about Svidriga�lov which gave him a certain original, even a mysterious character. As concerned his sister, Raskolnikov was convinced that Svidriga�lov would not leave her in peace. But it was too tiresome and unbearable to go on thinking and thinking about this.
When he was alone, he had not gone twenty paces before he sank, as usual, into deep thought. On the bridge he stood by the railing and began gazing at the water. And his sister was standing close by him.
He met her at the entrance to the bridge, but passed by without seeing her. Dounia had never met him like this in the street before and was struck with dismay. She stood still and did not know whether to call to him or not. Suddenly she saw Svidriga�lov coming quickly from the direction of the Hay Market.
He seemed to be approaching cautiously. He did not go on to the bridge, but stood aside on the pavement, doing all he could to avoid Raskolnikov's seeing him. He had observed Dounia for some time and had been making signs to her. She fancied he was signalling to beg her not to speak to her brother, but to come to him.
That was what Dounia did. She stole by her brother and went up to Svidriga�lov.
"Let us make haste away," Svidriga�lov whispered to her, "I don't want Rodion Romanovitch to know of our meeting. I must tell you I've been sitting with him in the restaurant close by, where he looked me up and I had great difficulty in getting rid of him. He has somehow heard of my letter to you and suspects something. It wasn't you who told him, of course, but if not you, who then?"
"Well, we've turned the corner now," Dounia interrupted, "and my brother won't see us. I have to tell you that I am going no further with you. Speak to me here. You can tell it all in the street."
"In the first place, I can't say it in the street; secondly, you must hear Sofya Semyonovna too; and, thirdly, I will show you some papers.... Oh well, if you won't agree to come with me, I shall refuse to give any explanation and go away at once. But I beg you not to forget that a very curious secret of your beloved brother's is entirely in my keeping."
Dounia stood still, hesitating, and looked at Svidriga�lov with searching eyes.
"What are you afraid of?" he observed quietly. "The town is not the country. And even in the country you did me more harm than I did you."
"Have you prepared Sofya Semyonovna?"
"No, I have not said a word to her and am not quite certain whether she is at home now. But most likely she is. She has buried her stepmother to-day: she is not likely to go visiting on such a day. For the time I don't want to speak to anyone about it and I half regret having spoken to you. The slightest indiscretion is as bad as betrayal in a thing like this. I live there in that house, we are coming to it. That's the porter of our house--he knows me very well; you see, he's bowing; he sees I'm coming with a lady and no doubt he has noticed your face already and you will be glad of that if you are afraid of me and suspicious. Excuse my putting things so coarsely. I haven't a flat to myself; Sofya Semyonovna's room is next to mine--she lodges in the next flat. The whole floor is let out in lodgings. Why are you frightened like a child? Am I really so terrible?"
Svidriga�lov's lips were twisted in a condescending smile; but he was in no smiling mood. His heart was throbbing and he could scarcely breathe. He spoke rather loud to cover his growing excitement. But Dounia did not notice this peculiar excitement, she was so irritated by his remark that she was frightened of him like a child and that he was so terrible to her.
"Though I know that you are not a man... of honour, I am not in the least afraid of you. Lead the way," she said with apparent composure, but her face was very pale.
Svidriga�lov stopped at Sonia's room.
"Allow me to inquire whether she is at home.... She is not. How unfortunate! But I know she may come quite soon. If she's gone out, it can only be to see a lady about the orphans. Their mother is dead.... I've been meddling and making arrangements for them. If Sofya Semyonovna does not come back in ten minutes, I will send her to you, to-day if you like. This is my flat. These are my two rooms. Madame Resslich, my landlady, has the next room. Now, look this way. I will show you my chief piece of evidence: this door from my bedroom leads into two perfectly empty rooms, which are to let. Here they are... You must look into them with some attention."
Svidriga�lov occupied two fairly large furnished rooms. Dounia was looking about her mistrustfully, but saw nothing special in the furniture or position of the rooms. Yet there was something to observe, for instance, that Svidriga�lov's flat was exactly between two sets of almost uninhabited apartments. His rooms were not entered directly from the passage, but through the landlady's two almost empty rooms. Unlocking a door leading out of his bedroom, Svidriga�lov showed Dounia the two empty rooms that were to let. Dounia stopped in the doorway, not knowing what she was called to look upon, but Svidriga�lov hastened to explain.
"Look here, at this second large room. Notice that door, it's locked. By the door stands a chair, the only one in the two rooms. I brought it from my rooms so as to listen more conveniently. Just the other side of the door is Sofya Semyonovna's table; she sat there talking to Rodion Romanovitch. And I sat here listening on two successive evenings, for two hours each time--and of course I was able to learn something, what do you think?"
"Yes, I did. Now come back to my room; we can't sit down here."
He brought Avdotya Romanovna back into his sitting-room and offered her a chair. He sat down at the opposite side of the table, at least seven feet from her, but probably there was the same glow in his eyes which had once frightened Dounia so much. She shuddered and once more looked about her distrustfully. It was an involuntary gesture; she evidently did not wish to betray her uneasiness. But the secluded position of Svidriga�lov's lodging had suddenly struck her. She wanted to ask whether his landlady at least were at home, but pride kept her from asking. Moreover, she had another trouble in her heart incomparably greater than fear for herself. She was in great distress.
"Here is your letter," she said, laying it on the table. "Can it be true what you write? You hint at a crime committed, you say, by my brother. You hint at it too clearly; you daren't deny it now. I must tell you that I'd heard of this stupid story before you wrote and don't believe a word of it. It's a disgusting and ridiculous suspicion. I know the story and why and how it was invented. You can have no proofs. You promised to prove it. Speak! But let me warn you that I don't believe you! I don't believe you!"
Dounia said this, speaking hurriedly, and for an instant the colour rushed to her face.
"If you didn't believe it, how could you risk coming alone to my rooms? Why have you come? Simply from curiosity?"
"Don't torment me. Speak, speak!"
"There's no denying that you are a brave girl. Upon my word, I thought you would have asked Mr. Razumihin to escort you here. But he was not with you nor anywhere near. I was on the look-out. It's spirited of you, it proves you wanted to spare Rodion Romanovitch. But everything is divine in you.... About your brother, what am I to say to you? You've just seen him yourself. What did you think of him?"
"Surely that's not the only thing you are building on?"
"No, not on that, but on his own words. He came here on two successive evenings to see Sofya Semyonovna. I've shown you where they sat. He made a full confession to her. He is a murderer. He killed an old woman, a pawnbroker, with whom he had pawned things himself. He killed her sister too, a pedlar woman called Lizaveta, who happened to come in while he was murdering her sister. He killed them with an axe he brought with him. He murdered them to rob them and he did rob them. He took money and various things.... He told all this, word for word, to Sofya Semyonovna, the only person who knows his secret. But she has had no share by word or deed in the murder; she was as horrified at it as you are now. Don't be anxious, she won't betray him."
"It cannot be," muttered Dounia, with white lips. She gasped for breath. "It cannot be. There was not the slightest cause, no sort of ground.... It's a lie, a lie!"
"He robbed her, that was the cause, he took money and things. It's true that by his own admission he made no use of the money or things, but hid them under a stone, where they are now. But that was because he dared not make use of them."
"But how could he steal, rob? How could he dream of it?" cried Dounia, and she jumped up from the chair. "Why, you know him, and you've seen him, can he be a thief?"
She seemed to be imploring Svidriga�lov; she had entirely forgotten her fear.
"There are thousands and millions of combinations and possibilities, Avdotya Romanovna. A thief steals and knows he is a scoundrel, but I've heard of a gentleman who broke open the mail. Who knows, very likely he thought he was doing a gentlemanly thing! Of course I should not have believed it myself if I'd been told of it as you have, but I believe my own ears. He explained all the causes of it to Sofya Semyonovna too, but she did not believe her ears at first, yet she believed her own eyes at last."
"What... were the causes?"
"It's a long story, Avdotya Romanovna. Here's... how shall I tell you?--A theory of a sort, the same one by which I for instance consider that a single misdeed is permissible if the principal aim is right, a solitary wrongdoing and hundreds of good deeds! It's galling too, of course, for a young man of gifts and overweening pride to know that if he had, for instance, a paltry three thousand, his whole career, his whole future would be differently shaped and yet not to have that three thousand. Add to that, nervous irritability from hunger, from lodging in a hole, from rags, from a vivid sense of the charm of his social position and his sister's and mother's position too. Above all, vanity, pride and vanity, though goodness knows he may have good qualities too.... I am not blaming him, please don't think it; besides, it's not my business. A special little theory came in too--a theory of a sort--dividing mankind, you see, into material and superior persons, that is persons to whom the law does not apply owing to their superiority, who make laws for the rest of mankind, the material, that is. It's all right as a theory, _une th�orie comme une autre_. Napoleon attracted him tremendously, that is, what affected him was that a great many men of genius have not hesitated at wrongdoing, but have overstepped the law without thinking about it. He seems to have fancied that he was a genius too--that is, he was convinced of it for a time. He has suffered a great deal and is still suffering from the idea that he could make a theory, but was incapable of boldly overstepping the law, and so he is not a man of genius. And that's humiliating for a young man of any pride, in our day especially...."
"But remorse? You deny him any moral feeling then? Is he like that?"
"Ah, Avdotya Romanovna, everything is in a muddle now; not that it was ever in very good order. Russians in general are broad in their ideas, Avdotya Romanovna, broad like their land and exceedingly disposed to the fantastic, the chaotic. But it's a misfortune to be broad without a special genius. Do you remember what a lot of talk we had together on this subject, sitting in the evenings on the terrace after supper? Why, you used to reproach me with breadth! Who knows, perhaps we were talking at the very time when he was lying here thinking over his plan. There are no sacred traditions amongst us, especially in the educated class, Avdotya Romanovna. At the best someone will make them up somehow for himself out of books or from some old chronicle. But those are for the most part the learned and all old fogeys, so that it would be almost ill-bred in a man of society. You know my opinions in general, though. I never blame anyone. I do nothing at all, I persevere in that. But we've talked of this more than once before. I was so happy indeed as to interest you in my opinions.... You are very pale, Avdotya Romanovna."
"I know his theory. I read that article of his about men to whom all is permitted. Razumihin brought it to me."
"Mr. Razumihin? Your brother's article? In a magazine? Is there such an article? I didn't know. It must be interesting. But where are you going, Avdotya Romanovna?"
"I want to see Sofya Semyonovna," Dounia articulated faintly. "How do I go to her? She has come in, perhaps. I must see her at once. Perhaps she..."
Avdotya Romanovna could not finish. Her breath literally failed her.
"Sofya Semyonovna will not be back till night, at least I believe not. She was to have been back at once, but if not, then she will not be in till quite late."
"Ah, then you are lying! I see... you were lying... lying all the time.... I don't believe you! I don't believe you!" cried Dounia, completely losing her head.
Almost fainting, she sank on to a chair which Svidriga�lov made haste to give her.
"Avdotya Romanovna, what is it? Control yourself! Here is some water. Drink a little...."
He sprinkled some water over her. Dounia shuddered and came to herself.
"It has acted violently," Svidriga�lov muttered to himself, frowning. "Avdotya Romanovna, calm yourself! Believe me, he has friends. We will save him. Would you like me to take him abroad? I have money, I can get a ticket in three days. And as for the murder, he will do all sorts of good deeds yet, to atone for it. Calm yourself. He may become a great man yet. Well, how are you? How do you feel?"
"Cruel man! To be able to jeer at it! Let me go..."
"Where are you going?"
"To him. Where is he? Do you know? Why is this door locked? We came in at that door and now it is locked. When did you manage to lock it?"
"We couldn't be shouting all over the flat on such a subject. I am far from jeering; it's simply that I'm sick of talking like this. But how can you go in such a state? Do you want to betray him? You will drive him to fury, and he will give himself up. Let me tell you, he is already being watched; they are already on his track. You will simply be giving him away. Wait a little: I saw him and was talking to him just now. He can still be saved. Wait a bit, sit down; let us think it over together. I asked you to come in order to discuss it alone with you and to consider it thoroughly. But do sit down!"
"How can you save him? Can he really be saved?"
Dounia sat down. Svidriga�lov sat down beside her.
"It all depends on you, on you, on you alone," he began with glowing eyes, almost in a whisper and hardly able to utter the words for emotion.
Dounia drew back from him in alarm. He too was trembling all over.
"You... one word from you, and he is saved. I... I'll save him. I have money and friends. I'll send him away at once. I'll get a passport, two passports, one for him and one for me. I have friends... capable people.... If you like, I'll take a passport for you... for your mother.... What do you want with Razumihin? I love you too.... I love you beyond everything.... Let me kiss the hem of your dress, let me, let me.... The very rustle of it is too much for me. Tell me, 'do that,' and I'll do it. I'll do everything. I will do the impossible. What you believe, I will believe. I'll do anything--anything! Don't, don't look at me like that. Do you know that you are killing me?..."
He was almost beginning to rave.... Something seemed suddenly to go to his head. Dounia jumped up and rushed to the door.
"Open it! Open it!" she called, shaking the door. "Open it! Is there no one there?"
Svidriga�lov got up and came to himself. His still trembling lips slowly broke into an angry mocking smile.
"There is no one at home," he said quietly and emphatically. "The landlady has gone out, and it's waste of time to shout like that. You are only exciting yourself uselessly."
"Where is the key? Open the door at once, at once, base man!"
"I have lost the key and cannot find it."
"This is an outrage," cried Dounia, turning pale as death. She rushed to the furthest corner, where she made haste to barricade herself with a little table.
She did not scream, but she fixed her eyes on her tormentor and watched every movement he made.
Svidriga�lov remained standing at the other end of the room facing her. He was positively composed, at least in appearance, but his face was pale as before. The mocking smile did not leave his face.
"You spoke of outrage just now, Avdotya Romanovna. In that case you may be sure I've taken measures. Sofya Semyonovna is not at home. The Kapernaumovs are far away--there are five locked rooms between. I am at least twice as strong as you are and I have nothing to fear, besides. For you could not complain afterwards. You surely would not be willing actually to betray your brother? Besides, no one would believe you. How should a girl have come alone to visit a solitary man in his lodgings? So that even if you do sacrifice your brother, you could prove nothing. It is very difficult to prove an assault, Avdotya Romanovna."
"Scoundrel!" whispered Dounia indignantly.
"As you like, but observe I was only speaking by way of a general proposition. It's my personal conviction that you are perfectly right--violence is hateful. I only spoke to show you that you need have no remorse even if... you were willing to save your brother of your own accord, as I suggest to you. You would be simply submitting to circumstances, to violence, in fact, if we must use that word. Think about it. Your brother's and your mother's fate are in your hands. I will be your slave... all my life... I will wait here."
Svidriga�lov sat down on the sofa about eight steps from Dounia. She had not the slightest doubt now of his unbending determination. Besides, she knew him. Suddenly she pulled out of her pocket a revolver, cocked it and laid it in her hand on the table. Svidriga�lov jumped up.
"Aha! So that's it, is it?" he cried, surprised but smiling maliciously. "Well, that completely alters the aspect of affairs. You've made things wonderfully easier for me, Avdotya Romanovna. But where did you get the revolver? Was it Mr. Razumihin? Why, it's my revolver, an old friend! And how I've hunted for it! The shooting lessons I've given you in the country have not been thrown away."
"It's not your revolver, it belonged to Marfa Petrovna, whom you killed, wretch! There was nothing of yours in her house. I took it when I began to suspect what you were capable of. If you dare to advance one step, I swear I'll kill you." She was frantic.
"But your brother? I ask from curiosity," said Svidriga�lov, still standing where he was.
"Inform, if you want to! Don't stir! Don't come nearer! I'll shoot! You poisoned your wife, I know; you are a murderer yourself!" She held the revolver ready.
"Are you so positive I poisoned Marfa Petrovna?"
"You did! You hinted it yourself; you talked to me of poison.... I know you went to get it... you had it in readiness.... It was your doing.... It must have been your doing.... Scoundrel!"
"Even if that were true, it would have been for your sake... you would have been the cause."
"You are lying! I hated you always, always...."
"Oho, Avdotya Romanovna! You seem to have forgotten how you softened to me in the heat of propaganda. I saw it in your eyes. Do you remember that moonlight night, when the nightingale was singing?"
"That's a lie," there was a flash of fury in Dounia's eyes, "that's a lie and a libel!"
"A lie? Well, if you like, it's a lie. I made it up. Women ought not to be reminded of such things," he smiled. "I know you will shoot, you pretty wild creature. Well, shoot away!"
Dounia raised the revolver, and deadly pale, gazed at him, measuring the distance and awaiting the first movement on his part. Her lower lip was white and quivering and her big black eyes flashed like fire. He had never seen her so handsome. The fire glowing in her eyes at the moment she raised the revolver seemed to kindle him and there was a pang of anguish in his heart. He took a step forward and a shot rang out. The bullet grazed his hair and flew into the wall behind. He stood still and laughed softly.
"The wasp has stung me. She aimed straight at my head. What's this? Blood?" he pulled out his handkerchief to wipe the blood, which flowed in a thin stream down his right temple. The bullet seemed to have just grazed the skin.
Dounia lowered the revolver and looked at Svidriga�lov not so much in terror as in a sort of wild amazement. She seemed not to understand what she was doing and what was going on.
"Well, you missed! Fire again, I'll wait," said Svidriga�lov softly, still smiling, but gloomily. "If you go on like that, I shall have time to seize you before you cock again."
Dounia started, quickly cocked the pistol and again raised it.
"Let me be," she cried in despair. "I swear I'll shoot again. I... I'll kill you."
"Well... at three paces you can hardly help it. But if you don't... then." His eyes flashed and he took two steps forward. Dounia shot again: it missed fire.
"You haven't loaded it properly. Never mind, you have another charge there. Get it ready, I'll wait."
He stood facing her, two paces away, waiting and gazing at her with wild determination, with feverishly passionate, stubborn, set eyes. Dounia saw that he would sooner die than let her go. "And... now, of course she would kill him, at two paces!" Suddenly she flung away the revolver.
"She's dropped it!" said Svidriga�lov with surprise, and he drew a deep breath. A weight seemed to have rolled from his heart--perhaps not only the fear of death; indeed he may scarcely have felt it at that moment. It was the deliverance from another feeling, darker and more bitter, which he could not himself have defined.
He went to Dounia and gently put his arm round her waist. She did not resist, but, trembling like a leaf, looked at him with suppliant eyes. He tried to say something, but his lips moved without being able to utter a sound.
"Let me go," Dounia implored. Svidriga�lov shuddered. Her voice now was quite different.
"Then you don't love me?" he asked softly. Dounia shook her head.
"And... and you can't? Never?" he whispered in despair.
There followed a moment of terrible, dumb struggle in the heart of Svidriga�lov. He looked at her with an indescribable gaze. Suddenly he withdrew his arm, turned quickly to the window and stood facing it. Another moment passed.
"Here's the key."
He took it out of the left pocket of his coat and laid it on the table behind him, without turning or looking at Dounia.
"Take it! Make haste!"
He looked stubbornly out of the window. Dounia went up to the table to take the key.
"Make haste! Make haste!" repeated Svidriga�lov, still without turning or moving. But there seemed a terrible significance in the tone of that "make haste."
Dounia understood it, snatched up the key, flew to the door, unlocked it quickly and rushed out of the room. A minute later, beside herself, she ran out on to the canal bank in the direction of X. Bridge.
Svidriga�lov remained three minutes standing at the window. At last he slowly turned, looked about him and passed his hand over his forehead. A strange smile contorted his face, a pitiful, sad, weak smile, a smile of despair. The blood, which was already getting dry, smeared his hand. He looked angrily at it, then wetted a towel and washed his temple. The revolver which Dounia had flung away lay near the door and suddenly caught his eye. He picked it up and examined it. It was a little pocket three-barrel revolver of old-fashioned construction. There were still two charges and one capsule left in it. It could be fired again. He thought a little, put the revolver in his pocket, took his hat and went out.
He spent that evening till ten o'clock going from one low haunt to another. Katia too turned up and sang another gutter song, how a certain "villain and tyrant,"
"began kissing Katia."
Svidriga�lov treated Katia and the organ-grinder and some singers and the waiters and two little clerks. He was particularly drawn to these clerks by the fact that they both had crooked noses, one bent to the left and the other to the right. They took him finally to a pleasure garden, where he paid for their entrance. There was one lanky three-year-old pine-tree and three bushes in the garden, besides a "Vauxhall," which was in reality a drinking-bar where tea too was served, and there were a few green tables and chairs standing round it. A chorus of wretched singers and a drunken but exceedingly depressed German clown from Munich with a red nose entertained the public. The clerks quarrelled with some other clerks and a fight seemed imminent. Svidriga�lov was chosen to decide the dispute. He listened to them for a quarter of an hour, but they shouted so loud that there was no possibility of understanding them. The only fact that seemed certain was that one of them had stolen something and had even succeeded in selling it on the spot to a Jew, but would not share the spoil with his companion. Finally it appeared that the stolen object was a teaspoon belonging to the Vauxhall. It was missed and the affair began to seem troublesome. Svidriga�lov paid for the spoon, got up, and walked out of the garden. It was about six o'clock. He had not drunk a drop of wine all this time and had ordered tea more for the sake of appearances than anything.
It was a dark and stifling evening. Threatening storm-clouds came over the sky about ten o'clock. There was a clap of thunder, and the rain came down like a waterfall. The water fell not in drops, but beat on the earth in streams. There were flashes of lightning every minute and each flash lasted while one could count five.
Drenched to the skin, he went home, locked himself in, opened the bureau, took out all his money and tore up two or three papers. Then, putting the money in his pocket, he was about to change his clothes, but, looking out of the window and listening to the thunder and the rain, he gave up the idea, took up his hat and went out of the room without locking the door. He went straight to Sonia. She was at home.
She was not alone: the four Kapernaumov children were with her. She was giving them tea. She received Svidriga�lov in respectful silence, looking wonderingly at his soaking clothes. The children all ran away at once in indescribable terror.
Svidriga�lov sat down at the table and asked Sonia to sit beside him. She timidly prepared to listen.
"I may be going to America, Sofya Semyonovna," said Svidriga�lov, "and as I am probably seeing you for the last time, I have come to make some arrangements. Well, did you see the lady to-day? I know what she said to you, you need not tell me." (Sonia made a movement and blushed.) "Those people have their own way of doing things. As to your sisters and your brother, they are really provided for and the money assigned to them I've put into safe keeping and have received acknowledgments. You had better take charge of the receipts, in case anything happens. Here, take them! Well now, that's settled. Here are three 5-per-cent bonds to the value of three thousand roubles. Take those for yourself, entirely for yourself, and let that be strictly between ourselves, so that no one knows of it, whatever you hear. You will need the money, for to go on living in the old way, Sofya Semyonovna, is bad, and besides there is no need for it now."
"I am so much indebted to you, and so are the children and my stepmother," said Sonia hurriedly, "and if I've said so little... please don't consider..."
"That's enough! that's enough!"
"But as for the money, Arkady Ivanovitch, I am very grateful to you, but I don't need it now. I can always earn my own living. Don't think me ungrateful. If you are so charitable, that money...."
"It's for you, for you, Sofya Semyonovna, and please don't waste words over it. I haven't time for it. You will want it. Rodion Romanovitch has two alternatives: a bullet in the brain or Siberia." (Sonia looked wildly at him, and started.) "Don't be uneasy, I know all about it from himself and I am not a gossip; I won't tell anyone. It was good advice when you told him to give himself up and confess. It would be much better for him. Well, if it turns out to be Siberia, he will go and you will follow him. That's so, isn't it? And if so, you'll need money. You'll need it for him, do you understand? Giving it to you is the same as my giving it to him. Besides, you promised Amalia Ivanovna to pay what's owing. I heard you. How can you undertake such obligations so heedlessly, Sofya Semyonovna? It was Katerina Ivanovna's debt and not yours, so you ought not to have taken any notice of the German woman. You can't get through the world like that. If you are ever questioned about me--to-morrow or the day after you will be asked--don't say anything about my coming to see you now and don't show the money to anyone or say a word about it. Well, now good-bye." (He got up.) "My greetings to Rodion Romanovitch. By the way, you'd better put the money for the present in Mr. Razumihin's keeping. You know Mr. Razumihin? Of course you do. He's not a bad fellow. Take it to him to-morrow or... when the time comes. And till then, hide it carefully."
Sonia too jumped up from her chair and looked in dismay at Svidriga�lov. She longed to speak, to ask a question, but for the first moments she did not dare and did not know how to begin.
"How can you... how can you be going now, in such rain?"
"Why, be starting for America, and be stopped by rain! Ha, ha! Good-bye, Sofya Semyonovna, my dear! Live and live long, you will be of use to others. By the way... tell Mr. Razumihin I send my greetings to him. Tell him Arkady Ivanovitch Svidriga�lov sends his greetings. Be sure to."
He went out, leaving Sonia in a state of wondering anxiety and vague apprehension.
It appeared afterwards that on the same evening, at twenty past eleven, he made another very eccentric and unexpected visit. The rain still persisted. Drenched to the skin, he walked into the little flat where the parents of his betrothed lived, in Third Street in Vassilyevsky Island. He knocked some time before he was admitted, and his visit at first caused great perturbation; but Svidriga�lov could be very fascinating when he liked, so that the first, and indeed very intelligent surmise of the sensible parents that Svidriga�lov had probably had so much to drink that he did not know what he was doing vanished immediately. The decrepit father was wheeled in to see Svidriga�lov by the tender and sensible mother, who as usual began the conversation with various irrelevant questions. She never asked a direct question, but began by smiling and rubbing her hands and then, if she were obliged to ascertain something--for instance, when Svidriga�lov would like to have the wedding--she would begin by interested and almost eager questions about Paris and the court life there, and only by degrees brought the conversation round to Third Street. On other occasions this had of course been very impressive, but this time Arkady Ivanovitch seemed particularly impatient, and insisted on seeing his betrothed at once, though he had been informed, to begin with, that she had already gone to bed. The girl of course appeared.
Svidriga�lov informed her at once that he was obliged by very important affairs to leave Petersburg for a time, and therefore brought her fifteen thousand roubles and begged her accept them as a present from him, as he had long been intending to make her this trifling present before their wedding. The logical connection of the present with his immediate departure and the absolute necessity of visiting them for that purpose in pouring rain at midnight was not made clear. But it all went off very well; even the inevitable ejaculations of wonder and regret, the inevitable questions were extraordinarily few and restrained. On the other hand, the gratitude expressed was most glowing and was reinforced by tears from the most sensible of mothers. Svidriga�lov got up, laughed, kissed his betrothed, patted her cheek, declared he would soon come back, and noticing in her eyes, together with childish curiosity, a sort of earnest dumb inquiry, reflected and kissed her again, though he felt sincere anger inwardly at the thought that his present would be immediately locked up in the keeping of the most sensible of mothers. He went away, leaving them all in a state of extraordinary excitement, but the tender mamma, speaking quietly in a half whisper, settled some of the most important of their doubts, concluding that Svidriga�lov was a great man, a man of great affairs and connections and of great wealth--there was no knowing what he had in his mind. He would start off on a journey and give away money just as the fancy took him, so that there was nothing surprising about it. Of course it was strange that he was wet through, but Englishmen, for instance, are even more eccentric, and all these people of high society didn't think of what was said of them and didn't stand on ceremony. Possibly, indeed, he came like that on purpose to show that he was not afraid of anyone. Above all, not a word should be said about it, for God knows what might come of it, and the money must be locked up, and it was most fortunate that Fedosya, the cook, had not left the kitchen. And above all not a word must be said to that old cat, Madame Resslich, and so on and so on. They sat up whispering till two o'clock, but the girl went to bed much earlier, amazed and rather sorrowful.
Svidriga�lov meanwhile, exactly at midnight, crossed the bridge on the way back to the mainland. The rain had ceased and there was a roaring wind. He began shivering, and for one moment he gazed at the black waters of the Little Neva with a look of special interest, even inquiry. But he soon felt it very cold, standing by the water; he turned and went towards Y. Prospect. He walked along that endless street for a long time, almost half an hour, more than once stumbling in the dark on the wooden pavement, but continually looking for something on the right side of the street. He had noticed passing through this street lately that there was a hotel somewhere towards the end, built of wood, but fairly large, and its name he remembered was something like Adrianople. He was not mistaken: the hotel was so conspicuous in that God-forsaken place that he could not fail to see it even in the dark. It was a long, blackened wooden building, and in spite of the late hour there were lights in the windows and signs of life within. He went in and asked a ragged fellow who met him in the corridor for a room. The latter, scanning Svidriga�lov, pulled himself together and led him at once to a close and tiny room in the distance, at the end of the corridor, under the stairs. There was no other, all were occupied. The ragged fellow looked inquiringly.
"Is there tea?" asked Svidriga�lov.
"What else is there?"
"Veal, vodka, savouries."
"Bring me tea and veal."
"And you want nothing else?" he asked with apparent surprise.
The ragged man went away, completely disillusioned.
"It must be a nice place," thought Svidriga�lov. "How was it I didn't know it? I expect I look as if I came from a caf� chantant and have had some adventure on the way. It would be interesting to know who stay here?"
He lighted the candle and looked at the room more carefully. It was a room so low-pitched that Svidriga�lov could only just stand up in it; it had one window; the bed, which was very dirty, and the plain-stained chair and table almost filled it up. The walls looked as though they were made of planks, covered with shabby paper, so torn and dusty that the pattern was indistinguishable, though the general colour--yellow--could still be made out. One of the walls was cut short by the sloping ceiling, though the room was not an attic but just under the stairs.
Svidriga�lov set down the candle, sat down on the bed and sank into thought. But a strange persistent murmur which sometimes rose to a shout in the next room attracted his attention. The murmur had not ceased from the moment he entered the room. He listened: someone was upbraiding and almost tearfully scolding, but he heard only one voice.
Svidriga�lov got up, shaded the light with his hand and at once he saw light through a crack in the wall; he went up and peeped through. The room, which was somewhat larger than his, had two occupants. One of them, a very curly-headed man with a red inflamed face, was standing in the pose of an orator, without his coat, with his legs wide apart to preserve his balance, and smiting himself on the breast. He reproached the other with being a beggar, with having no standing whatever. He declared that he had taken the other out of the gutter and he could turn him out when he liked, and that only the finger of Providence sees it all. The object of his reproaches was sitting in a chair, and had the air of a man who wants dreadfully to sneeze, but can't. He sometimes turned sheepish and befogged eyes on the speaker, but obviously had not the slightest idea what he was talking about and scarcely heard it. A candle was burning down on the table; there were wine-glasses, a nearly empty bottle of vodka, bread and cucumber, and glasses with the dregs of stale tea. After gazing attentively at this, Svidriga�lov turned away indifferently and sat down on the bed.
The ragged attendant, returning with the tea, could not resist asking him again whether he didn't want anything more, and again receiving a negative reply, finally withdrew. Svidriga�lov made haste to drink a glass of tea to warm himself, but could not eat anything. He began to feel feverish. He took off his coat and, wrapping himself in the blanket, lay down on the bed. He was annoyed. "It would have been better to be well for the occasion," he thought with a smile. The room was close, the candle burnt dimly, the wind was roaring outside, he heard a mouse scratching in the corner and the room smelt of mice and of leather. He lay in a sort of reverie: one thought followed another. He felt a longing to fix his imagination on something. "It must be a garden under the window," he thought. "There's a sound of trees. How I dislike the sound of trees on a stormy night, in the dark! They give one a horrid feeling." He remembered how he had disliked it when he passed Petrovsky Park just now. This reminded him of the bridge over the Little Neva and he felt cold again as he had when standing there. "I never have liked water," he thought, "even in a landscape," and he suddenly smiled again at a strange idea: "Surely now all these questions of taste and comfort ought not to matter, but I've become more particular, like an animal that picks out a special place... for such an occasion. I ought to have gone into the Petrovsky Park! I suppose it seemed dark, cold, ha-ha! As though I were seeking pleasant sensations!... By the way, why haven't I put out the candle?" he blew it out. "They've gone to bed next door," he thought, not seeing the light at the crack. "Well, now, Marfa Petrovna, now is the time for you to turn up; it's dark, and the very time and place for you. But now you won't come!"
He suddenly recalled how, an hour before carrying out his design on Dounia, he had recommended Raskolnikov to trust her to Razumihin's keeping. "I suppose I really did say it, as Raskolnikov guessed, to tease myself. But what a rogue that Raskolnikov is! He's gone through a good deal. He may be a successful rogue in time when he's got over his nonsense. But now he's _too_ eager for life. These young men are contemptible on that point. But, hang the fellow! Let him please himself, it's nothing to do with me."
He could not get to sleep. By degrees Dounia's image rose before him, and a shudder ran over him. "No, I must give up all that now," he thought, rousing himself. "I must think of something else. It's queer and funny. I never had a great hatred for anyone, I never particularly desired to avenge myself even, and that's a bad sign, a bad sign, a bad sign. I never liked quarrelling either, and never lost my temper--that's a bad sign too. And the promises I made her just now, too--Damnation! But--who knows?--perhaps she would have made a new man of me somehow...."
He ground his teeth and sank into silence again. Again Dounia's image rose before him, just as she was when, after shooting the first time, she had lowered the revolver in terror and gazed blankly at him, so that he might have seized her twice over and she would not have lifted a hand to defend herself if he had not reminded her. He recalled how at that instant he felt almost sorry for her, how he had felt a pang at his heart...
"A�e! Damnation, these thoughts again! I must put it away!"
He was dozing off; the feverish shiver had ceased, when suddenly something seemed to run over his arm and leg under the bedclothes. He started. "Ugh! hang it! I believe it's a mouse," he thought, "that's the veal I left on the table." He felt fearfully disinclined to pull off the blanket, get up, get cold, but all at once something unpleasant ran over his leg again. He pulled off the blanket and lighted the candle. Shaking with feverish chill he bent down to examine the bed: there was nothing. He shook the blanket and suddenly a mouse jumped out on the sheet. He tried to catch it, but the mouse ran to and fro in zigzags without leaving the bed, slipped between his fingers, ran over his hand and suddenly darted under the pillow. He threw down the pillow, but in one instant felt something leap on his chest and dart over his body and down his back under his shirt. He trembled nervously and woke up.
The room was dark. He was lying on the bed and wrapped up in the blanket as before. The wind was howling under the window. "How disgusting," he thought with annoyance.
He got up and sat on the edge of the bedstead with his back to the window. "It's better not to sleep at all," he decided. There was a cold damp draught from the window, however; without getting up he drew the blanket over him and wrapped himself in it. He was not thinking of anything and did not want to think. But one image rose after another, incoherent scraps of thought without beginning or end passed through his mind. He sank into drowsiness. Perhaps the cold, or the dampness, or the dark, or the wind that howled under the window and tossed the trees roused a sort of persistent craving for the fantastic. He kept dwelling on images of flowers, he fancied a charming flower garden, a bright, warm, almost hot day, a holiday--Trinity day. A fine, sumptuous country cottage in the English taste overgrown with fragrant flowers, with flower beds going round the house; the porch, wreathed in climbers, was surrounded with beds of roses. A light, cool staircase, carpeted with rich rugs, was decorated with rare plants in china pots. He noticed particularly in the windows nosegays of tender, white, heavily fragrant narcissus bending over their bright, green, thick long stalks. He was reluctant to move away from them, but he went up the stairs and came into a large, high drawing-room and again everywhere--at the windows, the doors on to the balcony, and on the balcony itself--were flowers. The floors were strewn with freshly-cut fragrant hay, the windows were open, a fresh, cool, light air came into the room. The birds were chirruping under the window, and in the middle of the room, on a table covered with a white satin shroud, stood a coffin. The coffin was covered with white silk and edged with a thick white frill; wreaths of flowers surrounded it on all sides. Among the flowers lay a girl in a white muslin dress, with her arms crossed and pressed on her bosom, as though carved out of marble. But her loose fair hair was wet; there was a wreath of roses on her head. The stern and already rigid profile of her face looked as though chiselled of marble too, and the smile on her pale lips was full of an immense unchildish misery and sorrowful appeal. Svidriga�lov knew that girl; there was no holy image, no burning candle beside the coffin; no sound of prayers: the girl had drowned herself. She was only fourteen, but her heart was broken. And she had destroyed herself, crushed by an insult that had appalled and amazed that childish soul, had smirched that angel purity with unmerited disgrace and torn from her a last scream of despair, unheeded and brutally disregarded, on a dark night in the cold and wet while the wind howled....
Svidriga�lov came to himself, got up from the bed and went to the window. He felt for the latch and opened it. The wind lashed furiously into the little room and stung his face and his chest, only covered with his shirt, as though with frost. Under the window there must have been something like a garden, and apparently a pleasure garden. There, too, probably there were tea-tables and singing in the daytime. Now drops of rain flew in at the window from the trees and bushes; it was dark as in a cellar, so that he could only just make out some dark blurs of objects. Svidriga�lov, bending down with elbows on the window-sill, gazed for five minutes into the darkness; the boom of a cannon, followed by a second one, resounded in the darkness of the night. "Ah, the signal! The river is overflowing," he thought. "By morning it will be swirling down the street in the lower parts, flooding the basements and cellars. The cellar rats will swim out, and men will curse in the rain and wind as they drag their rubbish to their upper storeys. What time is it now?" And he had hardly thought it when, somewhere near, a clock on the wall, ticking away hurriedly, struck three.
"Aha! It will be light in an hour! Why wait? I'll go out at once straight to the park. I'll choose a great bush there drenched with rain, so that as soon as one's shoulder touches it, millions of drops drip on one's head."
He moved away from the window, shut it, lighted the candle, put on his waistcoat, his overcoat and his hat and went out, carrying the candle, into the passage to look for the ragged attendant who would be asleep somewhere in the midst of candle-ends and all sorts of rubbish, to pay him for the room and leave the hotel. "It's the best minute; I couldn't choose a better."
He walked for some time through a long narrow corridor without finding anyone and was just going to call out, when suddenly in a dark corner between an old cupboard and the door he caught sight of a strange object which seemed to be alive. He bent down with the candle and saw a little girl, not more than five years old, shivering and crying, with her clothes as wet as a soaking house-flannel. She did not seem afraid of Svidriga�lov, but looked at him with blank amazement out of her big black eyes. Now and then she sobbed as children do when they have been crying a long time, but are beginning to be comforted. The child's face was pale and tired, she was numb with cold. "How can she have come here? She must have hidden here and not slept all night." He began questioning her. The child suddenly becoming animated, chattered away in her baby language, something about "mammy" and that "mammy would beat her," and about some cup that she had "bwoken." The child chattered on without stopping. He could only guess from what she said that she was a neglected child, whose mother, probably a drunken cook, in the service of the hotel, whipped and frightened her; that the child had broken a cup of her mother's and was so frightened that she had run away the evening before, had hidden for a long while somewhere outside in the rain, at last had made her way in here, hidden behind the cupboard and spent the night there, crying and trembling from the damp, the darkness and the fear that she would be badly beaten for it. He took her in his arms, went back to his room, sat her on the bed, and began undressing her. The torn shoes which she had on her stockingless feet were as wet as if they had been standing in a puddle all night. When he had undressed her, he put her on the bed, covered her up and wrapped her in the blanket from her head downwards. She fell asleep at once. Then he sank into dreary musing again.
"What folly to trouble myself," he decided suddenly with an oppressive feeling of annoyance. "What idiocy!" In vexation he took up the candle to go and look for the ragged attendant again and make haste to go away. "Damn the child!" he thought as he opened the door, but he turned again to see whether the child was asleep. He raised the blanket carefully. The child was sleeping soundly, she had got warm under the blanket, and her pale cheeks were flushed. But strange to say that flush seemed brighter and coarser than the rosy cheeks of childhood. "It's a flush of fever," thought Svidriga�lov. It was like the flush from drinking, as though she had been given a full glass to drink. Her crimson lips were hot and glowing; but what was this? He suddenly fancied that her long black eyelashes were quivering, as though the lids were opening and a sly crafty eye peeped out with an unchildlike wink, as though the little girl were not asleep, but pretending. Yes, it was so. Her lips parted in a smile. The corners of her mouth quivered, as though she were trying to control them. But now she quite gave up all effort, now it was a grin, a broad grin; there was something shameless, provocative in that quite unchildish face; it was depravity, it was the face of a harlot, the shameless face of a French harlot. Now both eyes opened wide; they turned a glowing, shameless glance upon him; they laughed, invited him.... There was something infinitely hideous and shocking in that laugh, in those eyes, in such nastiness in the face of a child. "What, at five years old?" Svidriga�lov muttered in genuine horror. "What does it mean?" And now she turned to him, her little face all aglow, holding out her arms.... "Accursed child!" Svidriga�lov cried, raising his hand to strike her, but at that moment he woke up.
He was in the same bed, still wrapped in the blanket. The candle had not been lighted, and daylight was streaming in at the windows.
"I've had nightmare all night!" He got up angrily, feeling utterly shattered; his bones ached. There was a thick mist outside and he could see nothing. It was nearly five. He had overslept himself! He got up, put on his still damp jacket and overcoat. Feeling the revolver in his pocket, he took it out and then he sat down, took a notebook out of his pocket and in the most conspicuous place on the title page wrote a few lines in large letters. Reading them over, he sank into thought with his elbows on the table. The revolver and the notebook lay beside him. Some flies woke up and settled on the untouched veal, which was still on the table. He stared at them and at last with his free right hand began trying to catch one. He tried till he was tired, but could not catch it. At last, realising that he was engaged in this interesting pursuit, he started, got up and walked resolutely out of the room. A minute later he was in the street.
A thick milky mist hung over the town. Svidriga�lov walked along the slippery dirty wooden pavement towards the Little Neva. He was picturing the waters of the Little Neva swollen in the night, Petrovsky Island, the wet paths, the wet grass, the wet trees and bushes and at last the bush.... He began ill-humouredly staring at the houses, trying to think of something else. There was not a cabman or a passer-by in the street. The bright yellow, wooden, little houses looked dirty and dejected with their closed shutters. The cold and damp penetrated his whole body and he began to shiver. From time to time he came across shop signs and read each carefully. At last he reached the end of the wooden pavement and came to a big stone house. A dirty, shivering dog crossed his path with its tail between its legs. A man in a greatcoat lay face downwards; dead drunk, across the pavement. He looked at him and went on. A high tower stood up on the left. "Bah!" he shouted, "here is a place. Why should it be Petrovsky? It will be in the presence of an official witness anyway...."
He almost smiled at this new thought and turned into the street where there was the big house with the tower. At the great closed gates of the house, a little man stood with his shoulder leaning against them, wrapped in a grey soldier's coat, with a copper Achilles helmet on his head. He cast a drowsy and indifferent glance at Svidriga�lov. His face wore that perpetual look of peevish dejection, which is so sourly printed on all faces of Jewish race without exception. They both, Svidriga�lov and Achilles, stared at each other for a few minutes without speaking. At last it struck Achilles as irregular for a man not drunk to be standing three steps from him, staring and not saying a word.
"What do you want here?" he said, without moving or changing his position.
"Nothing, brother, good morning," answered Svidriga�lov.
"This isn't the place."
"I am going to foreign parts, brother."
"To foreign parts?"
Svidriga�lov took out the revolver and cocked it. Achilles raised his eyebrows.
"I say, this is not the place for such jokes!"
"Why shouldn't it be the place?"
"Because it isn't."
"Well, brother, I don't mind that. It's a good place. When you are asked, you just say he was going, he said, to America."
He put the revolver to his right temple.
"You can't do it here, it's not the place," cried Achilles, rousing himself, his eyes growing bigger and bigger.
Svidriga�lov pulled the trigger.