Crime and Punishment/Part II/Chapter VI
BUT as soon as she went out, he got up, latched the door, undid the parcel which Razumihin had brought in that evening and had tied up again and began dressing. Strange to say, he seemed immediately to have become perfectly calm; not a trace of his recent delirium nor of the panic fear that had haunted him of late. It was the first moment of a strange sudden calm. His movements were precise and definite; a firm purpose was evident in them. "To-day, to-day," he muttered to himself. He understood that he was still weak, but his intense spiritual concentration gave him strength and self-confidence. He hoped, moreover, that he would not fall down in the street. When he had dressed in entirely new clothes, he looked at the money lying on the table, and after a moment's thought put it in his pocket. It was twenty-five roubles. He took also all the copper change from the ten roubles spent by Razumihin on the clothes. Then he softly unlatched the door, went out, slipped downstairs and glanced in at the open kitchen door. Nastasya was standing with her back to him, blowing up the landlady's samovar. She heard nothing. Who would have dreamed of his going out, indeed? A minute later he was in the street.
It was nearly eight o'clock, the sun was setting. It was as stifling as before, but he eagerly drank in the stinking, dusty town air. His head felt rather dizzy; a sort of savage energy gleamed suddenly in his feverish eyes and his wasted, pale and yellow face. He did not know and did not think where he was going, he had one thought only: "that all this must be ended to-day, once for all, immediately; that he would not return home without it, because he would not go on living like that." How, with what to make an end? He had not an idea about it, he did not even want to think of it. He drove away thought; thought tortured him. All he knew, all he felt was that everything must be changed "one way or another," he repeated with desperate and immovable self-confidence and determination.
From old habit he took his usual walk in the direction of the Hay Market. A dark-haired young man with a barrel organ was standing in the road in front of a little general shop and was grinding out a very sentimental song. He was accompanying a girl of fifteen, who stood on the pavement in front of him. She was dressed up in a crinoline, a mantle and a straw hat with a flame-coloured feather in it, all very old and shabby. In a strong and rather agreeable voice, cracked and coarsened by street singing, she sang in hope of getting a copper from the shop. Raskolnikov joined two or three listeners, took out a five copeck piece and put it in the girl's hand. She broke off abruptly on a sentimental high note, shouted sharply to the organ grinder "Come on," and both moved on to the next shop.
"Do you like street music?" said Raskolnikov, addressing a middle-aged man standing idly by him. The man looked at him, startled and wondering.
"I love to hear singing to a street organ," said Raskolnikov, and his manner seemed strangely out of keeping with the subject—"I like it on cold, dark, damp autumn evenings—they must be damp—when all the passers-by have pale green, sickly faces, or better still when wet snow is falling straight down, when there's no wind—you know what I mean?—and the street lamps shine through it . . ."
"I don't know. . . . Excuse me . . ." muttered the stranger, frightened by the question and Raskolnikov's strange manner, and he crossed over to the other side of the street.
Raskolnikov walked straight on and came out at the corner of the Hay Market, where the huckster and his wife had talked with Lizaveta; but they were not there now. Recognising the place, he stopped, looked round and addressed a young fellow in a red shirt who stood gaping before a corn chandler's shop.
"Isn't there a man who keeps a booth with his wife at this corner?"
"All sorts of people keep booths here," answered the young man, glancing superciliously at Raskolnikov.
"What's his name?"
"What he was christened."
"Aren't you a Zaraïsky man, too? Which province?"
The young man looked at Raskolnikov again.
"It's not a province, your excellency, but a district. Graciously forgive me, your excellency!"
"Is that a tavern at the top there?"
"Yes, it's an eating-house and there's a billiard-room and you'll find princesses there too. . . . La-la!"
Raskolnikov crossed the square. In that corner there was a dense crowd of peasants. He pushed his way into the thickest part of it, looking at the faces. He felt an unaccountable inclination to enter into conversation with people. But the peasants took no notice of him; they were all shouting in groups together. He stood and thought a little and took a turning to the right in the direction of V.
He had often crossed that little street which turns at an angle, leading from the market-place to Sadovy Street. Of late he had often felt drawn to wander about this district, when he felt depressed, that he might feel more so.
Now he walked along, thinking of nothing. At that point there is a great block of buildings, entirely let out in dram shops and eating-houses; women were continually running in and out, bare-headed and in their indoor clothes. Here and there they gathered in groups, on the pavement, especially about the entrances to various festive establishments in the lower storeys. From one of these a loud din, sounds of singing, the tinkling of a guitar and shouts of merriment, floated into the street. A crowd of women were thronging round the door; some were sitting on the steps, others on the pavement, others were standing talking. A drunken soldier, smoking a cigarette, was walking near them in the road, swearing; he seemed to be trying to find his way somewhere, but had forgotten where. One beggar was quarrelling with another, and a man dead drunk was lying right across the road. Raskolnikov joined the throng of women, who were talking in husky voices. They were bare-headed and wore cotton dresses and goatskin shoes. There were women of forty and some not more than seventeen; almost all had blackened eyes.
He felt strangely attracted by the singing and all the noise and uproar in the saloon below. . . . someone could be heard within dancing frantically, marking time with his heels to the sounds of the guitar and of a thin falsetto voice singing a jaunty air. He listened intently, gloomily and dreamily, bending down at the entrance and peeping inquisitively in from the pavement.
"Oh, my handsome soldier
Don't beat me for nothing,"
trilled the thin voice of the singer. Raskolnikov felt a great desire to make out what he was singing, as though everything depended on that.
"Shall I go in?" he thought. "They are laughing. From drink. Shall I get drunk?"
"Won't you come in?" one of the women asked him. Her voice was still musical and less thick than the others, she was young and not repulsive—the only one of the group.
"Why, she's pretty," he said, drawing himself up and looking at her.
She smiled, much pleased at the compliment.
"You're very nice looking yourself," she said.
"Isn't he thin though!" observed another woman in a deep bass. "Have you just come out of a hospital?"
"They're all generals' daughters, it seems, but they have all snub noses," interposed a tipsy peasant with a sly smile on his face, wearing a loose coat. "See how jolly they are."
"Go along with you!"
"I'll go, sweetie!"
And he darted down into the saloon below. Raskolnikov moved on.
"I say, sir," the girl shouted after him.
"What is it?"
"I'll always be pleased to spend an hour with you, kind gentleman, but now I feel shy. Give me six copecks for a drink, there's a nice young man!"
Raskolnikov gave her what came first—fifteen copecks.
"Ah, what a good-natured gentleman!"
"What's your name?"
"Ask for Duclida."
"Well, that's too much," one of the women observed, shaking her head at Duclida. "I don't know how you can ask like that. I believe I should drop with shame. . . ."
Raskolnikov looked curiously at the speaker. She was a pock-marked wench of thirty, covered with bruises, with her upper lip swollen. She made her criticism quietly and earnestly. "Where is it," thought Raskolnikov. "Where is it I've read that someone condemned to death says or thinks, an hour before his death, that if he had to live on some high rock, on such a narrow ledge that he'd only room to stand, and the ocean, everlasting darkness, everlasting solitude, everlasting tempest around him, if he had to remain standing on a square yard of space all his life, a thousand years, eternity, it were better to live so than to die at once! Only to live, to live and live! Life, whatever it may be! . . . How true it is! Good God, how true! Man is a vile creature! . . . And vile is he who calls him vile for that," he added a moment later.
He went into another street. "Bah, the Palais de Cristal! Razumihin was just talking of the Palais de Cristal. But what on earth was it I wanted? Yes, the newspapers. . . . Zossimov said he'd read it in the papers. Have you the papers?" he asked, going into a very spacious and positively clean restaurant, consisting of several rooms, which were, however, rather empty. Two or three people were drinking tea, and in a room further away were sitting four men drinking champagne. Raskolnikov fancied that Zametov was one of them, but he could not be sure at that distance. "What if it is?" he thought.
"Will you have vodka?" asked the waiter.
"Give me some tea and bring me the papers, the old ones for the last five days, and I'll give you something."
"Yes, sir, here's to-day's. No vodka?"
The old newspapers and the tea were brought. Raskolnikov sat down and began to look through them.
"Oh, damn . . . these are the items of intelligence. An accident on a staircase, spontaneous combustion of a shopkeeper from alcohol, a fire in Peski . . . a fire in the Petersburg quarter . . . another fire in the Petersburg quarter . . . and another fire in the Petersburg quarter. . . . Ah, here it is!" He found at last what he was seeking and began to read it. The lines danced before his eyes, but he read it all and began eagerly seeking later additions in the following numbers. His hands shook with nervous impatience as he turned the sheets. Suddenly someone sat down beside him at his table. He looked up, it was the head clerk Zametov, looking just the same, with the rings on his fingers and the watch-chain, with the curly, black hair, parted and pomaded, with the smart waistcoat, rather shabby coat and doubtful linen. He was in a good humour, at least he was smiling very gaily and good-humouredly. His dark face was rather flushed from the champagne he had drunk.
"What, you here?" he began in surprise, speaking as though he'd known him all his life. "Why, Razumihin told me only yesterday you were unconscious. How strange! And do you know I've been to see you?"
Raskolnikov knew he would come up to him. He laid aside the papers and turned to Zametov. There was a smile on his lips, and a new shade of irritable impatience was apparent in that smile.
"I know you have," he answered. "I've heard it. You looked for my sock. . . . And you know Razumihin has lost his heart to you? He says you've been with him to Luise Ivanovna's—you know, the woman you tried to befriend, for whom you winked to the Explosive Lieutenant and he would not understand. Do you remember? How could he fail to understand—it was quite clear, wasn't it?"
"What a hot head he is!"
"The explosive one?"
"No, your friend Razumihin."
"You must have a jolly life, Mr. Zametov; entrance free to the most agreeable places. Who's been pouring champagne into you just now?"
"We've just been . . . having a drink together. . . . You talk about pouring it into me!"
"By way of a fee! You profit by everything!" Raskolnikov laughed, "it's all right, my dear boy," he added, slapping Zametov on the shoulder. "I am not speaking from temper, but in a friendly way, for sport, as that workman of yours said when he was scuffling with Dmitri, in the case of the old woman. . . ."
"How do you know about it?"
"Perhaps I know more about it than you do."
"How strange you are. . . . I am sure you are still very unwell. You oughtn't to have come out."
"Oh, do I seem strange to you?"
"Yes. What are you doing, reading the papers?"
"There's a lot about the fires."
"No, I am not reading about the fires." Here he looked mysteriously at Zametov; his lips were twisted again in a mocking smile. "No, I am not reading about the fires," he went on, winking at Zametov. "But confess now, my dear fellow, you're awfully anxious to know what I am reading about?"
"I am not in the least. Mayn't I ask a question? Why do you keep on . . . ?"
"Listen, you are a man of culture and education?"
"I was in the sixth class at the gymnasium," said Zametov with some dignity.
"Sixth class! Ah, my cock-sparrow! With your parting and your rings— you are a gentleman of fortune. Foo, what a charming boy!" Here Raskolnikov broke into a nervous laugh right in Zametov's face. The latter drew back, more amazed than offended.
"Foo, how strange you are!" Zametov repeated very seriously. "I can't help thinking you are still delirious."
"I am delirious? You are fibbing, my cock-sparrow! So I am strange? You find me curious, do you?"
"Shall I tell you what I was reading about, what I was looking for? See what a lot of papers I've made them bring me. Suspicious, eh?"
"Well, what is it?"
"You prick up your ears?"
"How do you mean—'prick up my ears'?"
"I'll explain that afterwards, but now, my boy, I declare to you . . . no, better 'I confess' . . . No, that's not right either; 'I make a deposition and you take it.' I depose that I was reading, that I was looking and searching. . . ." he screwed up his eyes and paused. "I was searching—and came here on purpose to do it—for news of the murder of the old pawnbroker woman," he articulated at last, almost in a whisper, bringing his face exceedingly close to the face of Zametov. Zametov looked at him steadily, without moving or drawing his face away. What struck Zametov afterwards as the strangest part of it all was that silence followed for exactly a minute, and that they gazed at one another all the while.
"What if you have been reading about it?" he cried at last, perplexed and impatient. "That's no business of mine! What of it?"
"The same old woman," Raskolnikov went on in the same whisper, not heeding Zametov's explanation, "about whom you were talking in the police-office, you remember, when I fainted. Well, do you understand now?"
"What do you mean? Understand . . . what?" Zametov brought out, almost alarmed.
Raskolnikov's set and earnest face was suddenly transformed, and he suddenly went off into the same nervous laugh as before, as though utterly unable to restrain himself. And in one flash he recalled with extraordinary vividness of sensation a moment in the recent past, that moment when he stood with the axe behind the door, while the latch trembled and the men outside swore and shook it, and he had a sudden desire to shout at them, to swear at them, to put out his tongue at them, to mock them, to laugh, and laugh, and laugh!
"You are either mad, or . . ." began Zametov, and he broke off, as though stunned by the idea that had suddenly flashed into his mind.
"Or? Or what? What? Come, tell me!"
"Nothing," said Zametov, getting angry, "it's all nonsense!"
Both were silent. After his sudden fit of laughter Raskolnikov became suddenly thoughtful and melancholy. He put his elbow on the table and leaned his head on his hand. He seemed to have completely forgotten Zametov. The silence lasted for some time.
"Why don't you drink your tea? It's getting cold," said Zametov.
"What! Tea? Oh, yes. . . ." Raskolnikov sipped the glass, put a morsel of bread in his mouth and, suddenly looking at Zametov, seemed to remember everything and pulled himself together. At the same moment his face resumed its original mocking expression. He went on drinking tea.
"There have been a great many of these crimes lately," said Zametov.
"Only the other day I read in the Moscow News that a whole gang of false coiners had been caught in Moscow. It was a regular society. They used to forge tickets!"
"Oh, but it was a long time ago! I read about it a month ago," Raskolnikov answered calmly. "So you consider them criminals?" he added, smiling.
"Of course they are criminals."
"They? They are children, simpletons, not criminals! Why, half a hundred people meeting for such an object—what an idea! Three would be too many, and then they want to have more faith in one another than in themselves! One has only to blab in his cups and it all collapses. Simpletons! They engaged untrustworthy people to change the notes—what a thing to trust to a casual stranger! Well, let us suppose that these simpletons succeed and each makes a million, and what follows for the rest of their lives? Each is dependent on the others for the rest of his life! Better hang oneself at once! And they did not know how to change the notes either; the man who changed the notes took five thousand roubles, and his hands trembled. He counted the first four thousand, but did not count the fifth thousand—he was in such a hurry to get the money into his pocket and run away. Of course he roused suspicion. And the whole thing came to a crash through one fool! Is it possible?"
"That his hands trembled?" observed Zametov, "yes, that's quite possible. That, I feel quite sure, is possible. Sometimes one can't stand things."
"Can't stand that?"
"Why, could you stand it then? No, I couldn't. For the sake of a hundred roubles to face such a terrible experience! To go with false notes into a bank where it's their business to spot that sort of thing! No, I should not have the face to do it. Would you?"
Raskolnikov had an intense desire again "to put his tongue out."
Shivers kept running down his spine.
"I should do it quite differently," Raskolnikov began. "This is how I would change the notes: I'd count the first thousand three or four times backwards and forwards, looking at every note and then I'd set to the second thousand; I'd count that half-way through and then hold some fifty-rouble note to the light, then turn it, then hold it to the light again—to see whether it was a good one. 'I am afraid,' I would say, 'a relation of mine lost twenty-five roubles the other day through a false note,' and then I'd tell them the whole story. And after I began counting the third, 'No, excuse me,' I would say, 'I fancy I made a mistake in the seventh hundred in that second thousand, I am not sure.' And so I would give up the third thousand and go back to the second and so on to the end. And when I had finished, I'd pick out one from the fifth and one from the second thousand and take them again to the light and ask again, 'Change them, please,' and put the clerk into such a stew that he would not know how to get rid of me. When I'd finished and had gone out, I'd come back, 'No, excuse me,' and ask for some explanation. That's how I'd do it."
"Foo, what terrible things you say!" said Zametov, laughing. "But all that is only talk. I dare say when it came to deeds you'd make a slip. I believe that even a practised, desperate man cannot always reckon on himself, much less you and I. To take an example near home—that old woman murdered in our district. The murderer seems to have been a desperate fellow, he risked everything in open daylight, was saved by a miracle—but his hands shook, too. He did not succeed in robbing the place, he couldn't stand it. That was clear from the . . ."
Raskolnikov seemed offended.
"Clear? Why don't you catch him then?" he cried, maliciously gibing at Zametov.
"Well, they will catch him."
"Who? You? Do you suppose you could catch him? You've a tough job! A great point for you is whether a man is spending money or not. If he had no money and suddenly begins spending, he must be the man. So that any child can mislead you."
"The fact is they always do that, though," answered Zametov. "A man will commit a clever murder at the risk of his life and then at once he goes drinking in a tavern. They are caught spending money, they are not all as cunning as you are. You wouldn't go to a tavern, of course?"
Raskolnikov frowned and looked steadily at Zametov.
"You seem to enjoy the subject and would like to know how I should behave in that case, too?" he asked with displeasure.
"I should like to," Zametov answered firmly and seriously. Somewhat too much earnestness began to appear in his words and looks.
"All right then. This is how I should behave," Raskolnikov began, again bringing his face close to Zametov's, again staring at him and speaking in a whisper, so that the latter positively shuddered. "This is what I should have done. I should have taken the money and jewels, I should have walked out of there and have gone straight to some deserted place with fences round it and scarcely anyone to be seen, some kitchen garden or place of that sort. I should have looked out beforehand some stone weighing a hundredweight or more which had been lying in the corner from the time the house was built. I would lift that stone—there would sure to be a hollow under it, and I would put the jewels and money in that hole. Then I'd roll the stone back so that it would look as before, would press it down with my foot and walk away. And for a year or two, three maybe, I would not touch it. And, well, they could search! There'd be no trace."
"You are a madman," said Zametov, and for some reason he too spoke in a whisper, and moved away from Raskolnikov, whose eyes were glittering. He had turned fearfully pale and his upper lip was twitching and quivering. He bent down as close as possible to Zametov, and his lips began to move without uttering a word. This lasted for half a minute; he knew what he was doing, but could not restrain himself. The terrible word trembled on his lips, like the latch on that door; in another moment it will break out, in another moment he will let it go, he will speak out.
"And what if it was I who murdered the old woman and Lizaveta?" he said suddenly and—realised what he had done.
Zametov looked wildly at him and turned white as the tablecloth. His face wore a contorted smile.
"But is it possible?" he brought out faintly. Raskolnikov looked wrathfully at him.
"Own up that you believed it, yes, you did?"
"Not a bit of it, I believe it less than ever now," Zametov cried hastily.
"I've caught my cock-sparrow! So you did believe it before, if now you believe less than ever?"
"Not at all," cried Zametov, obviously embarrassed. "Have you been frightening me so as to lead up to this?"
"You don't believe it then? What were you talking about behind my back when I went out of the police-office? And why did the explosive lieutenant question me after I fainted? Hey, there," he shouted to the waiter, getting up and taking his cap, "how much?"
"Thirty copecks," the latter replied, running up.
"And there is twenty copecks for vodka. See what a lot of money!" he held out his shaking hand to Zametov with notes in it. "Red notes and blue, twenty-five roubles. Where did I get them? And where did my new clothes come from? You know I had not a copeck. You've cross-examined my landlady, I'll be bound. . . . Well, that's enough! Assez causé! Till we meet again!"
He went out, trembling all over from a sort of wild hysterical sensation, in which there was an element of insufferable rapture. Yet he was gloomy and terribly tired. His face was twisted as after a fit. His fatigue increased rapidly. Any shock, any irritating sensation stimulated and revived his energies at once, but his strength failed as quickly when the stimulus was removed.
Zametov, left alone, sat for a long time in the same place, plunged in thought. Raskolnikov had unwittingly worked a revolution in his brain on a certain point and had made up his mind for him conclusively.
"Ilya Petrovitch is a blockhead," he decided.
Raskolnikov had hardly opened the door of the restaurant when he stumbled against Razumihin on the steps. They did not see each other till they almost knocked against each other. For a moment they stood looking each other up and down. Razumihin was greatly astounded, then anger, real anger gleamed fiercely in his eyes.
"So here you are!" he shouted at the top of his voice—"you ran away from your bed! And here I've been looking for you under the sofa! We went up to the garret. I almost beat Nastasya on your account. And here he is after all. Rodya! What is the meaning of it? Tell me the whole truth! Confess! Do you hear?"
"It means that I'm sick to death of you all and I want to be alone," Raskolnikov answered calmly.
"Alone? When you are not able to walk, when your face is as white as a sheet and you are gasping for breath! Idiot! . . . What have you been doing in the Palais de Cristal? Own up at once!"
"Let me go!" said Raskolnikov and tried to pass him. This was too much for Razumihin; he gripped him firmly by the shoulder.
"Let you go? You dare tell me to let you go? Do you know what I'll do with you directly? I'll pick you up, tie you up in a bundle, carry you home under my arm and lock you up!"
"Listen, Razumihin," Raskolnikov began quietly, apparently calm—"can't you see that I don't want your benevolence? A strange desire you have to shower benefits on a man who . . . curses them, who feels them a burden in fact! Why did you seek me out at the beginning of my illness? Maybe I was very glad to die. Didn't I tell you plainly enough to-day that you were torturing me, that I was . . . sick of you! You seem to want to torture people! I assure you that all that is seriously hindering my recovery, because it's continually irritating me. You saw Zossimov went away just now to avoid irritating me. You leave me alone too, for goodness' sake! What right have you, indeed, to keep me by force? Don't you see that I am in possession of all my faculties now? How, how can I persuade you not to persecute me with your kindness? I may be ungrateful, I may be mean, only let me be, for God's sake, let me be! Let me be, let me be!"
He began calmly, gloating beforehand over the venomous phrases he was about to utter, but finished, panting for breath, in a frenzy, as he had been with Luzhin.
Razumihin stood a moment, thought and let his hand drop.
"Well, go to hell then," he said gently and thoughtfully. "Stay," he roared, as Raskolnikov was about to move. "Listen to me. Let me tell you, that you are all a set of babbling, posing idiots! If you've any little trouble you brood over it like a hen over an egg. And you are plagiarists even in that! There isn't a sign of independent life in you! You are made of spermaceti ointment and you've lymph in your veins instead of blood. I don't believe in any one of you! In any circumstances the first thing for all of you is to be unlike a human being! Stop!" he cried with redoubled fury, noticing that Raskolnikov was again making a movement—"hear me out! You know I'm having a house-warming this evening, I dare say they've arrived by now, but I left my uncle there—I just ran in—to receive the guests. And if you weren't a fool, a common fool, a perfect fool, if you were an original instead of a translation . . . you see, Rodya, I recognise you're a clever fellow, but you're a fool!—and if you weren't a fool you'd come round to me this evening instead of wearing out your boots in the street! Since you have gone out, there's no help for it! I'd give you a snug easy chair, my landlady has one . . . a cup of tea, company. . . . Or you could lie on the sofa—any way you would be with us. . . . Zossimov will be there too. Will you come?"
"R-rubbish!" Razumihin shouted, out of patience. "How do you know? You can't answer for yourself! You don't know anything about it. . . . Thousands of times I've fought tooth and nail with people and run back to them afterwards. . . . One feels ashamed and goes back to a man! So remember, Potchinkov's house on the third storey. . . ."
"Why, Mr. Razumihin, I do believe you'd let anybody beat you from sheer benevolence."
"Beat? Whom? Me? I'd twist his nose off at the mere idea! Potchinkov's house, 47, Babushkin's flat. . . ."
"I shall not come, Razumihin." Raskolnikov turned and walked away.
"I bet you will," Razumihin shouted after him. "I refuse to know you if you don't! Stay, hey, is Zametov in there?"
"Did you see him?"
"Talked to him?"
"What about? Confound you, don't tell me then. Potchinkov's house, 47, Babushkin's flat, remember!"
Raskolnikov walked on and turned the corner into Sadovy Street. Razumihin looked after him thoughtfully. Then with a wave of his hand he went into the house but stopped short of the stairs.
"Confound it," he went on almost aloud. "He talked sensibly but yet . . . I am a fool! As if madmen didn't talk sensibly! And this was just what Zossimov seemed afraid of." He struck his finger on his forehead. "What if . . . how could I let him go off alone? He may drown himself. . . . Ach, what a blunder! I can't." And he ran back to overtake Raskolnikov, but there was no trace of him. With a curse he returned with rapid steps to the Palais de Cristal to question Zametov.
Raskolnikov walked straight to X—— Bridge, stood in the middle, and leaning both elbows on the rail stared into the distance. On parting with Razumihin, he felt so much weaker that he could scarcely reach this place. He longed to sit or lie down somewhere in the street. Bending over the water, he gazed mechanically at the last pink flush of the sunset, at the row of houses growing dark in the gathering twilight, at one distant attic window on the left bank, flashing as though on fire in the last rays of the setting sun, at the darkening water of the canal, and the water seemed to catch his attention. At last red circles flashed before his eyes, the houses seemed moving, the passers-by, the canal banks, the carriages, all danced before his eyes. Suddenly he started, saved again perhaps from swooning by an uncanny and hideous sight. He became aware of someone standing on the right side of him; he looked and saw a tall woman with a kerchief on her head, with a long, yellow, wasted face and red sunken eyes. She was looking straight at him, but obviously she saw nothing and recognised no one. Suddenly she leaned her right hand on the parapet, lifted her right leg over the railing, then her left and threw herself into the canal. The filthy water parted and swallowed up its victim for a moment, but an instant later the drowning woman floated to the surface, moving slowly with the current, her head and legs in the water, her skirt inflated like a balloon over her back.
"A woman drowning! A woman drowning!" shouted dozens of voices; people ran up, both banks were thronged with spectators, on the bridge people crowded about Raskolnikov, pressing up behind him.
"Mercy on it! it's our Afrosinya!" a woman cried tearfully close by.
"Mercy! save her! kind people, pull her out!"
"A boat, a boat" was shouted in the crowd. But there was no need of a boat; a policeman ran down the steps to the canal, threw off his great coat and his boots and rushed into the water. It was easy to reach her: she floated within a couple of yards from the steps, he caught hold of her clothes with his right hand and with his left seized a pole which a comrade held out to him; the drowning woman was pulled out at once. They laid her on the granite pavement of the embankment. She soon recovered consciousness, raised her head, sat up and began sneezing and coughing, stupidly wiping her wet dress with her hands. She said nothing.
"She's drunk herself out of her senses," the same woman's voice wailed at her side. "Out of her senses. The other day she tried to hang herself, we cut her down. I ran out to the shop just now, left my little girl to look after her—and here she's in trouble again! A neighbour, gentleman, a neighbour, we live close by, the second house from the end, see yonder. . . ."
The crowd broke up. The police still remained round the woman, someone mentioned the police station. . . . Raskolnikov looked on with a strange sensation of indifference and apathy. He felt disgusted. "No, that's loathsome . . . water . . . it's not good enough," he muttered to himself. "Nothing will come of it," he added, "no use to wait. What about the police office . . .? And why isn't Zametov at the police office? The police office is open till ten o'clock. . . ." He turned his back to the railing and looked about him.
"Very well then!" he said resolutely; he moved from the bridge and walked in the direction of the police office. His heart felt hollow and empty. He did not want to think. Even his depression had passed, there was not a trace now of the energy with which he had set out "to make an end of it all." Complete apathy had succeeded to it.
"Well, it's a way out of it," he thought, walking slowly and listlessly along the canal bank. "Anyway I'll make an end, for I want to. . . . But is it a way out? What does it matter! There'll be the square yard of space—ha! But what an end! Is it really the end? Shall I tell them or not? Ah . . . damn! How tired I am! If I could find somewhere to sit or lie down soon! What I am most ashamed of is its being so stupid. But I don't care about that either! What idiotic ideas come into one's head."
To reach the police office he had to go straight forward and take the second turning to the left. It was only a few paces away. But at the first turning he stopped and, after a minute's thought, turned into a side street and went two streets out of his way, possibly without any object, or possibly to delay a minute and gain time. He walked, looking at the ground; suddenly someone seemed to whisper in his ear; he lifted his head and saw that he was standing at the very gate of the house. He had not passed it, he had not been near it since that evening. An overwhelming, unaccountable prompting drew him on. He went into the house, passed through the gateway, then into the first entrance on the right, and began mounting the familiar staircase to the fourth storey. The narrow, steep staircase was very dark. He stopped at each landing and looked round him with curiosity; on the first landing the framework of the window had been taken out. "That wasn't so then," he thought. Here was the flat on the second storey where Nikolay and Dmitri had been working. "It's shut up and the door newly painted. So it's to let." Then the third storey and the fourth.
"Here!" He was perplexed to find the door of the flat wide open. There were men there, he could hear voices; he had not expected that. After brief hesitation he mounted the last stairs and went into the flat. It, too, was being done up; there were workmen in it. This seemed to amaze him; he somehow fancied that he would find everything as he left it, even perhaps the corpses in the same places on the floor. And now, bare walls, no furniture; it seemed strange. He walked to the window and sat down on the window-sill. There were two workmen, both young fellows, but one much younger than the other. They were papering the walls with a new white paper covered with lilac flowers, instead of the old, dirty, yellow one. Raskolnikov for some reason felt horribly annoyed by this. He looked at the new paper with dislike, as though he felt sorry to have it all so changed. The workmen had obviously stayed beyond their time and now they were hurriedly rolling up their paper and getting ready to go home. They took no notice of Raskolnikov's coming in; they were talking. Raskolnikov folded his arms and listened.
"She comes to me in the morning," said the elder to the younger, "very early, all dressed up. 'Why are you preening and prinking?' says I. 'I am ready to do anything to please you, Tit Vassilitch!' That's a way of going on! And she dressed up like a regular fashion book!"
"And what is a fashion book?" the younger one asked. He obviously regarded the other as an authority.
"A fashion book is a lot of pictures, coloured, and they come to the tailors here every Saturday, by post from abroad, to show folks how to dress, the male sex as well as the female. They're pictures. The gentlemen are generally wearing fur coats and for the ladies' fluffles, they're beyond anything you can fancy."
"There's nothing you can't find in Petersburg," the younger cried enthusiastically, "except father and mother, there's everything!"
"Except them, there's everything to be found, my boy," the elder declared sententiously.
Raskolnikov got up and walked into the other room where the strong box, the bed, and the chest of drawers had been; the room seemed to him very tiny without furniture in it. The paper was the same; the paper in the corner showed where the case of ikons had stood. He looked at it and went to the window. The elder workman looked at him askance.
"What do you want?" he asked suddenly.
Instead of answering Raskolnikov went into the passage and pulled the bell. The same bell, the same cracked note. He rang it a second and a third time; he listened and remembered. The hideous and agonisingly fearful sensation he had felt then began to come back more and more vividly. He shuddered at every ring and it gave him more and more satisfaction.
"Well, what do you want? Who are you?" the workman shouted, going out to him. Raskolnikov went inside again.
"I want to take a flat," he said. "I am looking round."
"It's not the time to look at rooms at night! and you ought to come up with the porter."
"The floors have been washed, will they be painted?" Raskolnikov went on. "Is there no blood?"
"Why, the old woman and her sister were murdered here. There was a perfect pool there."
"But who are you?" the workman cried, uneasy.
"Who am I?"
"You want to know? Come to the police station, I'll tell you."
The workmen looked at him in amazement.
"It's time for us to go, we are late. Come along, Alyoshka. We must lock up," said the elder workman.
"Very well, come along," said Raskolnikov indifferently, and going out first, he went slowly downstairs. "Hey, porter," he cried in the gateway.
At the entrance several people were standing, staring at the passersby; the two porters, a peasant woman, a man in a long coat and a few others. Raskolnikov went straight up to them.
"What do you want?" asked one of the porters.
"Have you been to the police office?"
"I've just been there. What do you want?"
"Is it open?"
"Is the assistant there?"
"He was there for a time. What do you want?"
Raskolnikov made no reply, but stood beside them lost in thought.
"He's been to look at the flat," said the elder workman, coming forward.
"Where we are at work. 'Why have you washed away the blood?' says he. 'There has been a murder here,' says he, 'and I've come to take it.' And he began ringing at the bell, all but broke it. 'Come to the police station,' says he. 'I'll tell you everything there.' He wouldn't leave us."
The porter looked at Raskolnikov, frowning and perplexed.
"Who are you?" he shouted as impressively as he could.
"I am Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov, formerly a student, I live in Shil's house, not far from here, flat Number 14, ask the porter, he knows me." Raskolnikov said all this in a lazy, dreamy voice, not turning round, but looking intently into the darkening street.
"Why have you been to the flat?"
"To look at it."
"What is there to look at?"
"Take him straight to the police station," the man in the long coat jerked in abruptly.
Raskolnikov looked intently at him over his shoulder and said in the same slow, lazy tones:
"Yes, take him," the man went on more confidently. "Why was he going into that, what's in his mind, eh?"
"He's not drunk, but God knows what's the matter with him," muttered the workman.
"But what do you want?" the porter shouted again, beginning to get angry in earnest—"Why are you hanging about?"
"You funk the police station then?" said Raskolnikov jeeringly.
"How funk it? Why are you hanging about?"
"He's a rogue!" shouted the peasant woman.
"Why waste time talking to him?" cried the other porter, a huge peasant in a full open coat and with keys on his belt. "Get along! He is a rogue and no mistake. Get along!"
And seizing Raskolnikov by the shoulder he flung him into the street. He lurched forward, but recovered his footing, looked at the spectators in silence and walked away.
"Strange man!" observed the workman.
"There are strange folks about nowadays," said the woman.
"You should have taken him to the police station all the same," said the man in the long coat.
"Better have nothing to do with him," decided the big porter. "A regular rogue! Just what he wants, you may be sure, but once take him up, you won't get rid of him. . . . We know the sort!"
"Shall I go there or not?" thought Raskolnikov, standing in the middle of the thoroughfare at the cross-roads, and he looked about him, as though expecting from someone a decisive word. But no sound came, all was dead and silent like the stones on which he walked, dead to him, to him alone. . . . All at once at the end of the street, two hundred yards away, in the gathering dusk he saw a crowd and heard talk and shouts. In the middle of the crowd stood a carriage. . . . A light gleamed in the middle of the street. "What is it?" Raskolnikov turned to the right and went up to the crowd. He seemed to clutch at everything and smiled coldly when he recognised it, for he had fully made up his mind to go to the police station and knew that it would all soon be over.