Crime and Punishment/Part II/Chapter IV
ZOSSIMOV was a tall, fat man with a puffy, colourless, clean-shaven face and straight flaxen hair. He wore spectacles, and a big gold ring on his fat finger. He was twenty-seven. He had on a light grey fashionable loose coat, light summer trousers, and everything about him loose, fashionable and spick and span; his linen was irreproachable, his watch-chain was massive. In manner he was slow and, as it were, nonchalant, and at the same time studiously free and easy; he made efforts to conceal his self-importance, but it was apparent at every instant. All his acquaintances found him tedious, but said he was clever at his work.
"I've been to you twice to-day, brother. You see, he's come to himself," cried Razumihin.
"I see, I see; and how do we feel now, eh?" said Zossimov to Raskolnikov, watching him carefully and, sitting down at the foot of the sofa, he settled himself as comfortably as he could.
"He is still depressed," Razumihin went on. "We've just changed his linen and he almost cried."
"That's very natural; you might have put it off if he did not wish it. . . . His pulse is first-rate. Is your head still aching, eh?"
"I am well, I am perfectly well!" Raskolnikov declared positively and irritably. He raised himself on the sofa and looked at them with glittering eyes, but sank back on to the pillow at once and turned to the wall. Zossimov watched him intently.
"Very good. . . . Going on all right," he said lazily. "Has he eaten anything?"
They told him, and asked what he might have.
"He may have anything . . . soup, tea . . . mushrooms and cucumbers, of course, you must not give him; he'd better not have meat either, and . . . but no need to tell you that!" Razumihin and he looked at each other. "No more medicine or anything. I'll look at him again to-morrow. Perhaps, to-day even . . . but never mind . . ."
"To-morrow evening I shall take him for a walk," said Razumihin. "We are going to the Yusupov garden and then to the Palais de Crystal."
"I would not disturb him to-morrow at all, but I don't know . . . a little, maybe . . . but we'll see."
"Ach, what a nuisance! I've got a house-warming party to-night; it's only a step from here. Couldn't he come? He could lie on the sofa. You are coming?" Razumihin said to Zossimov. "Don't forget, you promised."
"All right, only rather later. What are you going to do?"
"Oh, nothing—tea, vodka, herrings. There will be a pie . . . just our friends."
"All neighbours here, almost all new friends, except my old uncle, and he is new too—he only arrived in Petersburg yesterday to see to some business of his. We meet once in five years."
"What is he?"
"He's been stagnating all his life as a district postmaster; gets a little pension. He is sixty-five—not worth talking about. . . . But I am fond of him. Porfiry Petrovitch, the head of the Investigation Department here . . . But you know him."
"Is he a relation of yours, too?"
"A very distant one. But why are you scowling? Because you quarreled once, won't you come then?"
"I don't care a damn for him."
"So much the better. Well, there will be some students, a teacher, a government clerk, a musician, an officer and Zametov."
"Do tell me, please, what you or he"—Zossimov nodded at Raskolnikov— "can have in common with this Zametov?"
"Oh, you particular gentleman! Principles! You are worked by principles, as it were by springs; you won't venture to turn round on your own account. If a man is a nice fellow, that's the only principle I go upon. Zametov is a delightful person."
"Though he does take bribes."
"Well, he does! and what of it? I don't care if he does take bribes," Razumihin cried with unnatural irritability. "I don't praise him for taking bribes. I only say he is a nice man in his own way! But if one looks at men in all ways—are there many good ones left? Why, I am sure I shouldn't be worth a baked onion myself . . . perhaps with you thrown in."
"That's too little; I'd give two for you."
"And I wouldn't give more than one for you. No more of your jokes! Zametov is no more than a boy. I can pull his hair and one must draw him not repel him. You'll never improve a man by repelling him, especially a boy. One has to be twice as careful with a boy. Oh, you progressive dullards! You don't understand. You harm yourselves running another man down. . . . But if you want to know, we really have something in common."
"I should like to know what."
"Why, it's all about a house-painter. . . . We are getting him out of a mess! Though indeed there's nothing to fear now. The matter is absolutely self-evident. We only put on steam."
"Why, haven't I told you about it? I only told you the beginning then about the murder of the old pawnbroker-woman. Well, the painter is mixed up in it . . ."
"Oh, I heard about that murder before and was rather interested in it . . . partly . . . for one reason. . . . I read about it in the papers, too. . . ."
"Lizaveta was murdered, too," Nastasya blurted out, suddenly addressing Raskolnikov. She remained in the room all the time, standing by the door listening.
"Lizaveta," murmured Raskolnikov hardly audibly.
"Lizaveta, who sold old clothes. Didn't you know her? She used to come here. She mended a shirt for you, too."
Raskolnikov turned to the wall where in the dirty, yellow paper he picked out one clumsy, white flower with brown lines on it and began examining how many petals there were in it, how many scallops in the petals and how many lines on them. He felt his arms and legs as lifeless as though they had been cut off. He did not attempt to move, but stared obstinately at the flower.
"But what about the painter?" Zossimov interrupted Nastasya's chatter with marked displeasure. She sighed and was silent.
"Why, he was accused of the murder," Razumihin went on hotly.
"Was there evidence against him then?"
"Evidence, indeed! Evidence that was no evidence, and that's what we have to prove. It was just as they pitched on those fellows, Koch and Pestryakov, at first. Foo! how stupidly it's all done, it makes one sick, though it's not one's business! Pestryakov may be coming to-night. . . . By the way, Rodya, you've heard about the business already; it happened before you were ill, the day before you fainted at the police office while they were talking about it."
Zossimov looked curiously at Raskolnikov. He did not stir.
"But I say, Razumihin, I wonder at you. What a busybody you are!" Zossimov observed.
"Maybe I am, but we will get him off anyway," shouted Razumihin, bringing his fist down on the table. "What's the most offensive is not their lying—one can always forgive lying—lying is a delightful thing, for it leads to truth—what is offensive is that they lie and worship their own lying. . . . I respect Porfiry, but . . . What threw them out at first? The door was locked, and when they came back with the porter it was open. So it followed that Koch and Pestryakov were the murderers—that was their logic!"
"But don't excite yourself; they simply detained them, they could not help that. . . . And, by the way, I've met that man Koch. He used to buy unredeemed pledges from the old woman? Eh?"
"Yes, he is a swindler. He buys up bad debts, too. He makes a profession of it. But enough of him! Do you know what makes me angry? It's their sickening rotten, petrified routine. . . . And this case might be the means of introducing a new method. One can show from the psychological data alone how to get on the track of the real man. 'We have facts,' they say. But facts are not everything—at least half the business lies in how you interpret them!"
"Can you interpret them, then?"
"Anyway, one can't hold one's tongue when one has a feeling, a tangible feeling, that one might be a help if only. . . . Eh! Do you know the details of the case?"
"I am waiting to hear about the painter."
"Oh, yes! Well, here's the story. Early on the third day after the murder, when they were still dandling Koch and Pestryakov—though they accounted for every step they took and it was as plain as a pikestaff—an unexpected fact turned up. A peasant called Dushkin, who keeps a dram-shop facing the house, brought to the police office a jeweler's case containing some gold ear-rings, and told a long rigamarole. 'The day before yesterday, just after eight o'clock'—mark the day and the hour!—'a journeyman house-painter, Nikolay, who had been in to see me already that day, brought me this box of gold ear-rings and stones, and asked me to give him two roubles for them. When I asked him where he got them, he said that he picked them up in the street. I did not ask him anything more.' I am telling you Dushkin's story. 'I gave him a note'—a rouble that is—'for I thought if he did not pawn it with me he would with another. It would all come to the same thing—he'd spend it on drink, so the thing had better be with me. The further you hide it the quicker you will find it, and if anything turns up, if I hear any rumours, I'll take it to the police.' Of course, that's all taradiddle; he lies like a horse, for I know this Dushkin, he is a pawnbroker and a receiver of stolen goods, and he did not cheat Nikolay out of a thirty-rouble trinket in order to give it to the police. He was simply afraid. But no matter, to return to Dushkin's story. 'I've known this peasant, Nikolay Dementyev, from a child; he comes from the same province and district of Zaraïsk, we are both Ryazan men. And though Nikolay is not a drunkard, he drinks, and I knew he had a job in that house, painting work with Dmitri, who comes from the same village, too. As soon as he got the rouble he changed it, had a couple of glasses, took his change and went out. But I did not see Dmitri with him then. And the next day I heard that someone had murdered Alyona Ivanovna and her sister, Lizaveta Ivanovna, with an axe. I knew them, and I felt suspicious about the ear-rings at once, for I knew the murdered woman lent money on pledges. I went to the house, and began to make careful inquiries without saying a word to anyone. First of all I asked, "Is Nikolay here?" Dmitri told me that Nikolay had gone off on the spree; he had come home at daybreak drunk, stayed in the house about ten minutes, and went out again. Dmitri didn't see him again and is finishing the job alone. And their job is on the same staircase as the murder, on the second floor. When I heard all that I did not say a word to anyone'—that's Dushkin's tale—'but I found out what I could about the murder, and went home feeling as suspicious as ever. And at eight o'clock this morning'—that was the third day, you understand—'I saw Nikolay coming in, not sober, though not to say very drunk—he could understand what was said to him. He sat down on the bench and did not speak. There was only one stranger in the bar and a man I knew asleep on a bench and our two boys. "Have you seen Dmitri?" said I. "No, I haven't," said he. "And you've not been here either?" "Not since the day before yesterday," said he. "And where did you sleep last night?" "In Peski, with the Kolomensky men." "And where did you get those ear-rings?" I asked. "I found them in the street," and the way he said it was a bit queer; he did not look at me. "Did you hear what happened that very evening, at that very hour, on that same staircase?" said I. "No," said he, "I had not heard," and all the while he was listening, his eyes were staring out of his head and he turned as white as chalk. I told him all about it and he took his hat and began getting up. I wanted to keep him. "Wait a bit, Nikolay," said I, "won't you have a drink?" And I signed to the boy to hold the door, and I came out from behind the bar; but he darted out and down the street to the turning at a run. I have not seen him since. Then my doubts were at an end—it was his doing, as clear as could be. . . .'"
"I should think so," said Zossimov.
"Wait! Hear the end. Of course they sought high and low for Nikolay; they detained Dushkin and searched his house; Dmitri, too, was arrested; the Kolomensky men also were turned inside out. And the day before yesterday they arrested Nikolay in a tavern at the end of the town. He had gone there, taken the silver cross off his neck and asked for a dram for it. They gave it to him. A few minutes afterwards the woman went to the cowshed, and through a crack in the wall she saw in the stable adjoining he had made a noose of his sash from the beam, stood on a block of wood, and was trying to put his neck in the noose. The woman screeched her hardest; people ran in. 'So that's what you are up to!' 'Take me,' he says, 'to such-and-such a police officer; I'll confess everything.' Well, they took him to that police station—that is here—with a suitable escort. So they asked him this and that, how old he is, 'twenty-two,' and so on. At the question, 'When you were working with Dmitri, didn't you see anyone on the staircase at such-and-such a time?'—answer: 'To be sure folks may have gone up and down, but I did not notice them.' 'And didn't you hear anything, any noise, and so on?' 'We heard nothing special.' 'And did you hear, Nikolay, that on the same day Widow So-and-so and her sister were murdered and robbed?' 'I never knew a thing about it. The first I heard of it was from Afanasy Pavlovitch the day before yesterday.' 'And where did you find the ear-rings?' 'I found them on the pavement.' 'Why didn't you go to work with Dmitri the other day?' 'Because I was drinking.' 'And where were you drinking?' 'Oh, in such-and-such a place.' 'Why did you run away from Dushkin's?' 'Because I was awfully frightened.' 'What were you frightened of?' 'That I should be accused.' 'How could you be frightened, if you felt free from guilt?' Now, Zossimov, you may not believe me, that question was put literally in those words. I know it for a fact, it was repeated to me exactly! What do you say to that?"
"Well, anyway, there's the evidence."
"I am not talking of the evidence now, I am talking about that question, of their own idea of themselves. Well, so they squeezed and squeezed him and he confessed: 'I did not find it in the street, but in the flat where I was painting with Dmitri.' 'And how was that?' 'Why, Dmitri and I were painting there all day, and we were just getting ready to go, and Dmitri took a brush and painted my face, and he ran off and I after him. I ran after him, shouting my hardest, and at the bottom of the stairs I ran right against the porter and some gentlemen—and how many gentlemen were there I don't remember. And the porter swore at me, and the other porter swore, too, and the porter's wife came out, and swore at us, too; and a gentleman came into the entry with a lady, and he swore at us, too, for Dmitri and I lay right across the way. I got hold of Dmitri's hair and knocked him down and began beating him. And Dmitri, too, caught me by the hair and began beating me. But we did it all not for temper but in a friendly way, for sport. And then Dmitri escaped and ran into the street, and I ran after him; but I did not catch him, and went back to the flat alone; I had to clear up my things. I began putting them together, expecting Dmitri to come, and there in the passage, in the corner by the door, I stepped on the box. I saw it lying there wrapped up in paper. I took off the paper, saw some little hooks, undid them, and in the box were the ear-rings. . . .'"
"Behind the door? Lying behind the door? Behind the door?" Raskolnikov cried suddenly, staring with a blank look of terror at Razumihin, and he slowly sat up on the sofa, leaning on his hand.
"Yes . . . why? What's the matter? What's wrong?" Razumihin, too, got up from his seat.
"Nothing," Raskolnikov answered faintly, turning to the wall. All were silent for a while.
"He must have waked from a dream," Razumihin said at last, looking inquiringly at Zossimov. The latter slightly shook his head.
"Well, go on," said Zossimov. "What next?"
"What next? As soon as he saw the ear-rings, forgetting Dmitri and everything, he took up his cap and ran to Dushkin and, as we know, got a rouble from him. He told a lie saying he found them in the street, and went off drinking. He keeps repeating his old story about the murder: 'I know nothing of it, never heard of it till the day before yesterday.' 'And why didn't you come to the police till now?' 'I was frightened.' 'And why did you try to hang yourself?' 'From anxiety.' 'What anxiety?' 'That I should be accused of it.' Well, that's the whole story. And now what do you suppose they deduced from that?"
"Why, there's no supposing. There's a clue, such as it is, a fact. You wouldn't have your painter set free?"
"Now they've simply taken him for the murderer. They haven't a shadow of doubt."
"That's nonsense. You are excited. But what about the ear-rings? You must admit that, if on the very same day and hour ear-rings from the old woman's box have come into Nikolay's hands, they must have come there somehow. That's a good deal in such a case."
"How did they get there? How did they get there?" cried Razumihin. "How can you, a doctor, whose duty it is to study man and who has more opportunity than anyone else for studying human nature—how can you fail to see the character of the man in the whole story? Don't you see at once that the answers he has given in the examination are the holy truth? They came into his hand precisely as he has told us—he stepped on the box and picked it up."
"The holy truth! But didn't he own himself that he told a lie at first?"
"Listen to me, listen attentively. The porter and Koch and Pestryakov and the other porter and the wife of the first porter and the woman who was sitting in the porter's lodge and the man Kryukov, who had just got out of a cab at that minute and went in at the entry with a lady on his arm, that is eight or ten witnesses, agree that Nikolay had Dmitri on the ground, was lying on him beating him, while Dmitri hung on to his hair, beating him, too. They lay right across the way, blocking the thoroughfare. They were sworn at on all sides while they 'like children' (the very words of the witnesses) were falling over one another, squealing, fighting and laughing with the funniest faces, and, chasing one another like children, they ran into the street. Now take careful note. The bodies upstairs were warm, you understand, warm when they found them! If they, or Nikolay alone, had murdered them and broken open the boxes, or simply taken part in the robbery, allow me to ask you one question: do their state of mind, their squeals and giggles and childish scuffling at the gate fit in with axes, bloodshed, fiendish cunning, robbery? They'd just killed them, not five or ten minutes before, for the bodies were still warm, and at once, leaving the flat open, knowing that people would go there at once, flinging away their booty, they rolled about like children, laughing and attracting general attention. And there are a dozen witnesses to swear to that!"
"Of course it is strange! It's impossible, indeed, but . . ."
"No, brother, no buts. And if the ear-rings being found in Nikolay's hands at the very day and hour of the murder constitutes an important piece of circumstantial evidence against him—although the explanation given by him accounts for it, and therefore it does not tell seriously against him—one must take into consideration the facts which prove him innocent, especially as they are facts that cannot be denied. And do you suppose, from the character of our legal system, that they will accept, or that they are in a position to accept, this fact—resting simply on a psychological impossibility—as irrefutable and conclusively breaking down the circumstantial evidence for the prosecution? No, they won't accept it, they certainly won't, because they found the jewel-case and the man tried to hang himself, 'which he could not have done if he hadn't felt guilty.' That's the point, that's what excites me, you must understand!"
"Oh, I see you are excited! Wait a bit. I forgot to ask you; what proof is there that the box came from the old woman?"
"That's been proved," said Razumihin with apparent reluctance, frowning. "Koch recognised the jewel-case and gave the name of the owner, who proved conclusively that it was his."
"That's bad. Now another point. Did anyone see Nikolay at the time that Koch and Pestryakov were going upstairs at first, and is there no evidence about that?"
"Nobody did see him," Razumihin answered with vexation. "That's the worst of it. Even Koch and Pestryakov did not notice them on their way upstairs, though, indeed, their evidence could not have been worth much. They said they saw the flat was open, and that there must be work going on in it, but they took no special notice and could not remember whether there actually were men at work in it."
"Hm! . . . So the only evidence for the defence is that they were beating one another and laughing. That constitutes a strong presumption, but . . . How do you explain the facts yourself?"
"How do I explain them? What is there to explain? It's clear. At any rate, the direction in which explanation is to be sought is clear, and the jewel-case points to it. The real murderer dropped those ear-rings. The murderer was upstairs, locked in, when Koch and Pestryakov knocked at the door. Koch, like an ass, did not stay at the door; so the murderer popped out and ran down, too; for he had no other way of escape. He hid from Koch, Pestryakov and the porter in the flat when Nikolay and Dmitri had just run out of it. He stopped there while the porter and others were going upstairs, waited till they were out of hearing, and then went calmly downstairs at the very minute when Dmitri and Nikolay ran out into the street and there was no one in the entry; possibly he was seen, but not noticed. There are lots of people going in and out. He must have dropped the ear-rings out of his pocket when he stood behind the door, and did not notice he dropped them, because he had other things to think of. The jewel-case is a conclusive proof that he did stand there. . . . That's how I explain it."
"Too clever! No, my boy, you're too clever. That beats everything."
"But, why, why?"
"Why, because everything fits too well . . . it's too melodramatic."
"A-ach!" Razumihin was exclaiming, but at that moment the door opened and a personage came in who was a stranger to all present.