Crime and Punishment/Part II/Chapter VII
AN elegant carriage stood in the middle of the road with a pair of spirited grey horses; there was no one in it, and the coachman had got off his box and stood by; the horses were being held by the bridle. . . . A mass of people had gathered round, the police standing in front. One of them held a lighted lantern which he was turning on something lying close to the wheels. Everyone was talking, shouting, exclaiming; the coachman seemed at a loss and kept repeating:
"What a misfortune! Good Lord, what a misfortune!"
Raskolnikov pushed his way in as far as he could, and succeeded at last in seeing the object of the commotion and interest. On the ground a man who had been run over lay apparently unconscious, and covered with blood; he was very badly dressed, but not like a workman. Blood was flowing from his head and face; his face was crushed, mutilated and disfigured. He was evidently badly injured.
"Merciful heaven!" wailed the coachman, "what more could I do? If I'd been driving fast or had not shouted to him, but I was going quietly, not in a hurry. Everyone could see I was going along just like everybody else. A drunken man can't walk straight, we all know. . . . I saw him crossing the street, staggering and almost falling. I shouted again and a second and a third time, then I held the horses in, but he fell straight under their feet! Either he did it on purpose or he was very tipsy. . . . The horses are young and ready to take fright . . . they started, he screamed . . . that made them worse. That's how it happened!"
"That's just how it was," a voice in the crowd confirmed.
"He shouted, that's true, he shouted three times," another voice declared.
"Three times it was, we all heard it," shouted a third.
But the coachman was not very much distressed and frightened. It was evident that the carriage belonged to a rich and important person who was awaiting it somewhere; the police, of course, were in no little anxiety to avoid upsetting his arrangements. All they had to do was to take the injured man to the police station and the hospital. No one knew his name.
Meanwhile Raskolnikov had squeezed in and stooped closer over him. The lantern suddenly lighted up the unfortunate man's face. He recognised him.
"I know him! I know him!" he shouted, pushing to the front. "It's a government clerk retired from the service, Marmeladov. He lives close by in Kozel's house. . . . Make haste for a doctor! I will pay, see?" He pulled money out of his pocket and showed it to the policeman. He was in violent agitation.
The police were glad that they had found out who the man was. Raskolnikov gave his own name and address, and, as earnestly as if it had been his father, he besought the police to carry the unconscious Marmeladov to his lodging at once.
"Just here, three houses away," he said eagerly, "the house belongs to Kozel, a rich German. He was going home, no doubt drunk. I know him, he is a drunkard. He has a family there, a wife, children, he has one daughter. . . . It will take time to take him to the hospital, and there is sure to be a doctor in the house. I'll pay, I'll pay! At least he will be looked after at home . . . they will help him at once. But he'll die before you get him to the hospital." He managed to slip something unseen into the policeman's hand. But the thing was straightforward and legitimate, and in any case help was closer here. They raised the injured man; people volunteered to help.
Kozel's house was thirty yards away. Raskolnikov walked behind, carefully holding Marmeladov's head and showing the way.
"This way, this way! We must take him upstairs head foremost. Turn round! I'll pay, I'll make it worth your while," he muttered.
Katerina Ivanovna had just begun, as she always did at every free moment, walking to and fro in her little room from window to stove and back again, with her arms folded across her chest, talking to herself and coughing. Of late she had begun to talk more than ever to her eldest girl, Polenka, a child of ten, who, though there was much she did not understand, understood very well that her mother needed her, and so always watched her with her big clever eyes and strove her utmost to appear to understand. This time Polenka was undressing her little brother, who had been unwell all day and was going to bed. The boy was waiting for her to take off his shirt, which had to be washed at night. He was sitting straight and motionless on a chair, with a silent, serious face, with his legs stretched out straight before him —heels together and toes turned out.
He was listening to what his mother was saying to his sister, sitting perfectly still with pouting lips and wide-open eyes, just as all good little boys have to sit when they are undressed to go to bed. A little girl, still younger, dressed literally in rags, stood at the screen, waiting for her turn. The door on to the stairs was open to relieve them a little from the clouds of tobacco smoke which floated in from the other rooms and brought on long terrible fits of coughing in the poor, consumptive woman. Katerina Ivanovna seemed to have grown even thinner during that week and the hectic flush on her face was brighter than ever.
"You wouldn't believe, you can't imagine, Polenka," she said, walking about the room, "what a happy luxurious life we had in my papa's house and how this drunkard has brought me, and will bring you all, to ruin! Papa was a civil colonel and only a step from being a governor; so that everyone who came to see him said, 'We look upon you, Ivan Mihailovitch, as our governor!' When I . . . when . . ." she coughed violently, "oh, cursed life," she cried, clearing her throat and pressing her hands to her breast, "when I . . . when at the last ball . . . at the marshal's . . . Princess Bezzemelny saw me—who gave me the blessing when your father and I were married, Polenka—she asked at once 'Isn't that the pretty girl who danced the shawl dance at the breaking-up?' (You must mend that tear, you must take your needle and darn it as I showed you, or to-morrow—cough, cough, cough—he will make the hole bigger," she articulated with effort.) "Prince Schegolskoy, a kammerjunker, had just come from Petersburg then . . . he danced the mazurka with me and wanted to make me an offer next day; but I thanked him in flattering expressions and told him that my heart had long been another's. That other was your father, Polya; papa was fearfully angry. . . . Is the water ready? Give me the shirt, and the stockings! Lida," said she to the youngest one, "you must manage without your chemise to-night . . . and lay your stockings out with it . . . I'll wash them together. . . . How is it that drunken vagabond doesn't come in? He has worn his shirt till it looks like a dish- clout, he has torn it to rags! I'd do it all together, so as not to have to work two nights running! Oh, dear! (Cough, cough, cough, cough!) Again! What's this?" she cried, noticing a crowd in the passage and the men, who were pushing into her room, carrying a burden. "What is it? What are they bringing? Mercy on us!"
"Where are we to put him?" asked the policeman, looking round when Marmeladov, unconscious and covered with blood, had been carried in.
"On the sofa! Put him straight on the sofa, with his head this way," Raskolnikov showed him.
"Run over in the road! Drunk!" someone shouted in the passage.
Katerina Ivanovna stood, turning white and gasping for breath. The children were terrified. Little Lida screamed, rushed to Polenka and clutched at her, trembling all over.
Having laid Marmeladov down, Raskolnikov flew to Katerina Ivanovna.
"For God's sake be calm, don't be frightened!" he said, speaking quickly, "he was crossing the road and was run over by a carriage, don't be frightened, he will come to, I told them bring him here . . . I've been here already, you remember? He will come to; I'll pay!"
"He's done it this time!" Katerina Ivanovna cried despairingly and she rushed to her husband.
Raskolnikov noticed at once that she was not one of those women who swoon easily. She instantly placed under the luckless man's head a pillow, which no one had thought of and began undressing and examining him. She kept her head, forgetting herself, biting her trembling lips and stifling the screams which were ready to break from her.
Raskolnikov meanwhile induced someone to run for a doctor. There was a doctor, it appeared, next door but one.
"I've sent for a doctor," he kept assuring Katerina Ivanovna, "don't be uneasy, I'll pay. Haven't you water? . . . and give me a napkin or a towel, anything, as quick as you can. . . . He is injured, but not killed, believe me. . . . We shall see what the doctor says!"
Katerina Ivanovna ran to the window; there, on a broken chair in the corner, a large earthenware basin full of water had been stood, in readiness for washing her children's and husband's linen that night. This washing was done by Katerina Ivanovna at night at least twice a week, if not oftener. For the family had come to such a pass that they were practically without change of linen, and Katerina Ivanovna could not endure uncleanliness and, rather than see dirt in the house, she preferred to wear herself out at night, working beyond her strength when the rest were asleep, so as to get the wet linen hung on a line and dry by the morning. She took up the basin of water at Raskolnikov's request, but almost fell down with her burden. But the latter had already succeeded in finding a towel, wetted it and began washing the blood off Marmeladov's face.
Katerina Ivanovna stood by, breathing painfully and pressing her hands to her breast. She was in need of attention herself. Raskolnikov began to realise that he might have made a mistake in having the injured man brought here. The policeman, too, stood in hesitation.
"Polenka," cried Katerina Ivanovna, "run to Sonia, make haste. If you don't find her at home, leave word that her father has been run over and that she is to come here at once . . . when she comes in. Run, Polenka! there, put on the shawl."
"Run your fastest!" cried the little boy on the chair suddenly, after which he relapsed into the same dumb rigidity, with round eyes, his heels thrust forward and his toes spread out.
Meanwhile the room had become so full of people that you couldn't have dropped a pin. The policemen left, all except one, who remained for a time, trying to drive out the people who came in from the stairs. Almost all Madame Lippevechsel's lodgers had streamed in from the inner rooms of the flat; at first they were squeezed together in the doorway, but afterwards they overflowed into the room. Katerina Ivanovna flew into a fury.
"You might let him die in peace, at least," she shouted at the crowd, "is it a spectacle for you to gape at? With cigarettes! (Cough, cough, cough!) You might as well keep your hats on. . . . And there is one in his hat! . . . Get away! You should respect the dead, at least!"
Her cough choked her—but her reproaches were not without result. They evidently stood in some awe of Katerina Ivanovna. The lodgers, one after another, squeezed back into the doorway with that strange inner feeling of satisfaction which may be observed in the presence of a sudden accident, even in those nearest and dearest to the victim, from which no living man is exempt, even in spite of the sincerest sympathy and compassion.
Voices outside were heard, however, speaking of the hospital and saying that they'd no business to make a disturbance here.
"No business to die!" cried Katerina Ivanovna, and she was rushing to the door to vent her wrath upon them, but in the doorway came face to face with Madame Lippevechsel who had only just heard of the accident and ran in to restore order. She was a particularly quarrelsome and irresponsible German.
"Ah, my God!" she cried, clasping her hands, "your husband drunken horses have trampled! To the hospital with him! I am the landlady!"
"Amalia Ludwigovna, I beg you to recollect what you are saying," Katerina Ivanovna began haughtily (she always took a haughty tone with the landlady that she might "remember her place" and even now could not deny herself this satisfaction). "Amalia Ludwigovna . . ."
"I have you once before told that you to call me Amalia Ludwigovna may not dare; I am Amalia Ivanovna."
"You are not Amalia Ivanovna, but Amalia Ludwigovna, and as I am not one of your despicable flatterers like Mr. Lebeziatnikov, who's laughing behind the door at this moment (a laugh and a cry of 'they are at it again' was in fact audible at the door) so I shall always call you Amalia Ludwigovna, though I fail to understand why you dislike that name. You can see for yourself what has happened to Semyon Zaharovitch; he is dying. I beg you to close that door at once and to admit no one. Let him at least die in peace! Or I warn you the Governor-General, himself, shall be informed of your conduct to-morrow. The prince knew me as a girl; he remembers Semyon Zaharovitch well and has often been a benefactor to him. Everyone knows that Semyon Zaharovitch had many friends and protectors, whom he abandoned himself from an honourable pride, knowing his unhappy weakness, but now (she pointed to Raskolnikov) a generous young man has come to our assistance, who has wealth and connections and whom Semyon Zaharovitch has known from a child. You may rest assured, Amalia Ludwigovna . . ."
All this was uttered with extreme rapidity, getting quicker and quicker, but a cough suddenly cut short Katerina Ivanovna's eloquence. At that instant the dying man recovered consciousness and uttered a groan; she ran to him. The injured man opened his eyes and without recognition or understanding gazed at Raskolnikov who was bending over him. He drew deep, slow, painful breaths; blood oozed at the corners of his mouth and drops of perspiration came out on his forehead. Not recognising Raskolnikov, he began looking round uneasily. Katerina Ivanovna looked at him with a sad but stern face, and tears trickled from her eyes.
"My God! His whole chest is crushed! How he is bleeding," she said in despair. "We must take off his clothes. Turn a little, Semyon Zaharovitch, if you can," she cried to him.
Marmeladov recognised her.
"A priest," he articulated huskily.
Katerina Ivanovna walked to the window, laid her head against the window frame and exclaimed in despair:
"Oh, cursed life!"
"A priest," the dying man said again after a moment's silence.
"They've gone for him," Katerina Ivanovna shouted to him, he obeyed her shout and was silent. With sad and timid eyes he looked for her; she returned and stood by his pillow. He seemed a little easier but not for long.
Soon his eyes rested on little Lida, his favourite, who was shaking in the corner, as though she were in a fit, and staring at him with her wondering childish eyes.
"A-ah," he signed towards her uneasily. He wanted to say something.
"What now?" cried Katerina Ivanovna.
"Barefoot, barefoot!" he muttered, indicating with frenzied eyes the child's bare feet.
"Be silent," Katerina Ivanovna cried irritably, "you know why she is barefooted."
"Thank God, the doctor," exclaimed Raskolnikov, relieved.
The doctor came in, a precise little old man, a German, looking about him mistrustfully; he went up to the sick man, took his pulse, carefully felt his head and with the help of Katerina Ivanovna he unbuttoned the blood-stained shirt, and bared the injured man's chest. It was gashed, crushed and fractured, several ribs on the right side were broken. On the left side, just over the heart, was a large, sinister-looking yellowish-black bruise—a cruel kick from the horse's hoof. The doctor frowned. The policeman told him that he was caught in the wheel and turned round with it for thirty yards on the road.
"It's wonderful that he has recovered consciousness," the doctor whispered softly to Raskolnikov.
"What do you think of him?" he asked.
"He will die immediately."
"Is there really no hope?"
"Not the faintest! He is at the last gasp. . . . His head is badly injured, too . . . Hm . . . I could bleed him if you like, but . . . it would be useless. He is bound to die within the next five or ten minutes."
"Better bleed him then."
"If you like. . . . But I warn you it will be perfectly useless."
At that moment other steps were heard; the crowd in the passage parted, and the priest, a little, grey old man, appeared in the doorway bearing the sacrament. A policeman had gone for him at the time of the accident. The doctor changed places with him, exchanging glances with him. Raskolnikov begged the doctor to remain a little while. He shrugged his shoulders and remained.
All stepped back. The confession was soon over. The dying man probably understood little; he could only utter indistinct broken sounds. Katerina Ivanovna took little Lida, lifted the boy from the chair, knelt down in the corner by the stove and made the children kneel in front of her. The little girl was still trembling; but the boy, kneeling on his little bare knees, lifted his hand rhythmically, crossing himself with precision and bowed down, touching the floor with his forehead, which seemed to afford him especial satisfaction. Katerina Ivanovna bit her lips and held back her tears; she prayed, too, now and then pulling straight the boy's shirt, and managed to cover the girl's bare shoulders with a kerchief, which she took from the chest without rising from her knees or ceasing to pray. Meanwhile the door from the inner rooms was opened inquisitively again. In the passage the crowd of spectators from all the flats on the staircase grew denser and denser, but they did not venture beyond the threshold. A single candle-end lighted up the scene.
At that moment Polenka forced her way through the crowd at the door. She came in panting from running so fast, took off her kerchief, looked for her mother, went up to her and said, "She's coming, I met her in the street." Her mother made her kneel beside her.
Timidly and noiselessly a young girl made her way through the crowd, and strange was her appearance in that room, in the midst of want, rags, death and despair. She, too, was in rags, her attire was all of the cheapest, but decked out in gutter finery of a special stamp, unmistakably betraying its shameful purpose. Sonia stopped short in the doorway and looked about her bewildered, unconscious of everything. She forgot her fourth-hand, gaudy silk dress, so unseemly here with its ridiculous long train, and her immense crinoline that filled up the whole doorway, and her light-coloured shoes, and the parasol she brought with her, though it was no use at night, and the absurd round straw hat with its flaring flamecoloured feather. Under this rakishly-tilted hat was a pale, frightened little face with lips parted and eyes staring in terror. Sonia was a small thin girl of eighteen with fair hair, rather pretty, with wonderful blue eyes. She looked intently at the bed and the priest; she too was out of breath with running. At last whispers, some words in the crowd probably, reached her. She looked down and took a step forward into the room, still keeping close to the door.
The service was over. Katerina Ivanovna went up to her husband again. The priest stepped back and turned to say a few words of admonition and consolation to Katerina Ivanovna on leaving.
"What am I to do with these?" she interrupted sharply and irritably, pointing to the little ones.
"God is merciful; look to the Most High for succour," the priest began.
"Ach! He is merciful, but not to us."
"That's a sin, a sin, madam," observed the priest, shaking his head.
"And isn't that a sin?" cried Katerina Ivanovna, pointing to the dying man.
"Perhaps those who have involuntarily caused the accident will agree to compensate you, at least for the loss of his earnings."
"You don't understand!" cried Katerina Ivanovna angrily waving her hand. "And why should they compensate me? Why, he was drunk and threw himself under the horses! What earnings? He brought us in nothing but misery. He drank everything away, the drunkard! He robbed us to get drink, he wasted their lives and mine for drink! And thank God he's dying! One less to keep!"
"You must forgive in the hour of death, that's a sin, madam, such feelings are a great sin."
Katerina Ivanovna was busy with the dying man; she was giving him water, wiping the blood and sweat from his head, setting his pillow straight, and had only turned now and then for a moment to address the priest. Now she flew at him almost in a frenzy.
"Ah, father! That's words and only words! Forgive! If he'd not been run over, he'd have come home to-day drunk and his only shirt dirty and in rags and he'd have fallen asleep like a log, and I should have been sousing and rinsing till daybreak, washing his rags and the children's and then drying them by the window and as soon as it was daylight I should have been darning them. That's how I spend my nights! . . . What's the use of talking of forgiveness! I have forgiven as it is!"
A terrible hollow cough interrupted her words. She put her handkerchief to her lips and showed it to the priest, pressing her other hand to her aching chest. The handkerchief was covered with blood. The priest bowed his head and said nothing.
Marmeladov was in the last agony; he did not take his eyes off the face of Katerina Ivanovna, who was bending over him again. He kept trying to say something to her; he began moving his tongue with difficulty and articulating indistinctly, but Katerina Ivanovna, understanding that he wanted to ask her forgiveness, called peremptorily to him:
"Be silent! No need! I know what you want to say!" And the sick man was silent, but at the same instant his wandering eyes strayed to the doorway and he saw Sonia.
Till then he had not noticed her: she was standing in the shadow in a corner.
"Who's that? Who's that?" he said suddenly in a thick gasping voice, in agitation, turning his eyes in horror towards the door where his daughter was standing, and trying to sit up.
"Lie down! Lie do-own!" cried Katerina Ivanovna.
With unnatural strength he had succeeded in propping himself on his elbow. He looked wildly and fixedly for some time on his daughter, as though not recognising her. He had never seen her before in such attire. Suddenly he recognised her, crushed and ashamed in her humiliation and gaudy finery, meekly awaiting her turn to say good-bye to her dying father. His face showed intense suffering.
"Sonia! Daughter! Forgive!" he cried, and he tried to hold out his hand to her, but losing his balance, he fell off the sofa, face downwards on the floor. They rushed to pick him up, they put him on the sofa; but he was dying. Sonia with a faint cry ran up, embraced him and remained so without moving. He died in her arms.
"He's got what he wanted," Katerina Ivanovna cried, seeing her husband's dead body. "Well, what's to be done now? How am I to bury him! What can I give them to-morrow to eat?"
Raskolnikov went up to Katerina Ivanovna.
"Katerina Ivanovna," he began, "last week your husband told me all his life and circumstances. . . . Believe me, he spoke of you with passionate reverence. From that evening, when I learnt how devoted he was to you all and how he loved and respected you especially, Katerina Ivanovna, in spite of his unfortunate weakness, from that evening we became friends. . . . Allow me now . . . to do something . . . to repay my debt to my dead friend. Here are twenty roubles, I think—and if that can be of any assistance to you, then . . . I . . . in short, I will come again, I will be sure to come again . . . I shall, perhaps, come again to-morrow. . . . Good-bye!"
And he went quickly out of the room, squeezing his way through the crowd to the stairs. But in the crowd he suddenly jostled against Nikodim Fomitch, who had heard of the accident and had come to give instructions in person. They had not met since the scene at the police station, but Nikodim Fomitch knew him instantly.
"Ah, is that you?" he asked him.
"He's dead," answered Raskolnikov. "The doctor and the priest have been, all as it should have been. Don't worry the poor woman too much, she is in consumption as it is. Try and cheer her up, if possible . . . you are a kind-hearted man, I know . . ." he added with a smile, looking straight in his face.
"But you are spattered with blood," observed Nikodim Fomitch, noticing in the lamplight some fresh stains on Raskolnikov's waistcoat.
"Yes . . . I'm covered with blood," Raskolnikov said with a peculiar air; then he smiled, nodded and went downstairs.
He walked down slowly and deliberately, feverish but not conscious of it, entirely absorbed in a new overwhelming sensation of life and strength that surged up suddenly within him. This sensation might be compared to that of a man condemned to death who has suddenly been pardoned. Halfway down the staircase he was overtaken by the priest on his way home; Raskolnikov let him pass, exchanging a silent greeting with him. He was just descending the last steps when he heard rapid footsteps behind him. Someone overtook him; it was Polenka. She was running after him, calling "Wait! wait!"
He turned round. She was at the bottom of the staircase and stopped short a step above him. A dim light came in from the yard. Raskolnikov could distinguish the child's thin but pretty little face, looking at him with a bright childish smile. She had run after him with a message which she was evidently glad to give.
"Tell me, what is your name? . . . and where do you live?" she said hurriedly in a breathless voice.
He laid both hands on her shoulders and looked at her with a sort of rapture. It was such a joy to him to look at her, he could not have said why.
"Who sent you?"
"Sister Sonia sent me," answered the girl, smiling still more brightly.
"I knew it was sister Sonia sent you."
"Mamma sent me, too . . . when sister Sonia was sending me, mamma came up, too, and said 'Run fast, Polenka.'"
"Do you love sister Sonia?"
"I love her more than anyone," Polenka answered with a peculiar earnestness, and her smile became graver.
"And will you love me?"
By way of answer he saw the little girl's face approaching him, her full lips naïvely held out to kiss him. Suddenly her arms as thin as sticks held him tightly, her head rested on his shoulder and the little girl wept softly, pressing her face against him.
"I am sorry for father," she said a moment later, raising her tear- stained face and brushing away the tears with her hands. "It's nothing but misfortunes now," she added suddenly with that peculiarly sedate air which children try hard to assume when they want to speak like grown-up people.
"Did your father love you?"
"He loved Lida most," she went on very seriously without a smile, exactly like grown-up people, "he loved her because she is little and because she is ill, too. And he always used to bring her presents. But he taught us to read and me grammar and scripture, too," she added with dignity. "And mother never used to say anything, but we knew that she liked it and father knew it, too. And mother wants to teach me French, for it's time my education began."
"And do you know your prayers?"
"Of course, we do! We knew them long ago. I say my prayers to myself as I am a big girl now, but Kolya and Lida say them aloud with mother. First they repeat the 'Ave Maria' and then another prayer: 'Lord, forgive and bless sister Sonia,' and then another, 'Lord, forgive and bless our second father.' For our elder father is dead and this is another one, but we do pray for the other as well."
"Polenka, my name is Rodion. Pray sometimes for me, too. 'And Thy servant Rodion,' nothing more."
"I'll pray for you all the rest of my life," the little girl declared hotly, and suddenly smiling again she rushed at him and hugged him warmly once more.
Raskolnikov told her his name and address and promised to be sure to come next day. The child went away quite enchanted with him. It was past ten when he came out into the street. In five minutes he was standing on the bridge at the spot where the woman had jumped in.
"Enough," he pronounced resolutely and triumphantly. "I've done with fancies, imaginary terrors and phantoms! Life is real! haven't I lived just now? My life has not yet died with that old woman! The Kingdom of Heaven to her—and now enough, madam, leave me in peace! Now for the reign of reason and light . . . and of will, and of strength . . . and now we will see! We will try our strength!" he added defiantly, as though challenging some power of darkness. "And I was ready to consent to live in a square of space!
"I am very weak at this moment, but . . . I believe my illness is all over. I knew it would be over when I went out. By the way, Potchinkov's house is only a few steps away. I certainly must go to Razumihin even if it were not close by . . . let him win his bet! Let us give him some satisfaction, too—no matter! Strength, strength is what one wants, you can get nothing without it, and strength must be won by strength—that's what they don't know," he added proudly and self-confidently and he walked with flagging footsteps from the bridge. Pride and self-confidence grew continually stronger in him; he was becoming a different man every moment. What was it had happened to work this revolution in him? He did not know himself; like a man catching at a straw, he suddenly felt that he, too, 'could live, that there was still life for him, that his life had not died with the old woman.' Perhaps he was in too great a hurry with his conclusions, but he did not think of that.
"But I did ask her to remember 'Thy servant Rodion' in her prayers," the idea struck him. "Well, that was . . . in case of emergency," he added and laughed himself at his boyish sally. He was in the best of spirits.
He easily found Razumihin; the new lodger was already known at Potchinkov's and the porter at once showed him the way. Half-way upstairs he could hear the noise and animated conversation of a big gathering of people. The door was wide open on the stairs; he could hear exclamations and discussion. Razumihin's room was fairly large; the company consisted of fifteen people. Raskolnikov stopped in the entry, where two of the landlady's servants were busy behind a screen with two samovars, bottles, plates and dishes of pie and savouries, brought up from the landlady's kitchen. Raskolnikov sent in for Razumihin. He ran out delighted. At the first glance it was apparent that he had had a great deal to drink and, though no amount of liquor made Razumihin quite drunk, this time he was perceptibly affected by it.
"Listen," Raskolnikov hastened to say, "I've only just come to tell you you've won your bet and that no one really knows what may not happen to him. I can't come in; I am so weak that I shall fall down directly. And so good evening and good-bye! Come and see me to-morrow."
"Do you know what? I'll see you home. If you say you're weak yourself, you must . . ."
"And your visitors? Who is the curly-headed one who has just peeped out?"
"He? Goodness only knows! Some friend of uncle's, I expect, or perhaps he has come without being invited . . . I'll leave uncle with them, he is an invaluable person, pity I can't introduce you to him now. But confound them all now! They won't notice me, and I need a little fresh air, for you've come just in the nick of time—another two minutes and I should have come to blows! They are talking such a lot of wild stuff . . . you simply can't imagine what men will say! Though why shouldn't you imagine? Don't we talk nonsense ourselves? And let them . . . that's the way to learn not to! . . . Wait a minute, I'll fetch Zossimov."
Zossimov pounced upon Raskolnikov almost greedily; he showed a special interest in him; soon his face brightened.
"You must go to bed at once," he pronounced, examining the patient as far as he could, "and take something for the night. Will you take it? I got it ready some time ago . . . a powder."
"Two, if you like," answered Raskolnikov. The powder was taken at once.
"It's a good thing you are taking him home," observed Zossimov to Razumihin—"we shall see how he is to-morrow, to-day he's not at all amiss—a considerable change since the afternoon. Live and learn . . ."
"Do you know what Zossimov whispered to me when we were coming out?" Razumihin blurted out, as soon as they were in the street. "I won't tell you everything, brother, because they are such fools. Zossimov told me to talk freely to you on the way and get you to talk freely to me, and afterwards I am to tell him about it, for he's got a notion in his head that you are . . . mad or close on it. Only fancy! In the first place, you've three times the brains he has; in the second, if you are not mad, you needn't care a hang that he has got such a wild idea; and thirdly, that piece of beef whose specialty is surgery has gone mad on mental diseases, and what's brought him to this conclusion about you was your conversation to-day with Zametov."
"Zametov told you all about it?"
"Yes, and he did well. Now I understand what it all means and so does Zametov. . . . Well, the fact is, Rodya . . . the point is . . . I am a little drunk now. . . . But that's . . . no matter . . . the point is that this idea . . . you understand? was just being hatched in their brains . . . you understand? That is, no one ventured to say it aloud, because the idea is too absurd and especially since the arrest of that painter, that bubble's burst and gone for ever. But why are they such fools? I gave Zametov a bit of a thrashing at the time— that's between ourselves, brother; please don't let out a hint that you know of it; I've noticed he is a ticklish subject; it was at Luise Ivanovna's. But to-day, to-day it's all cleared up. That Ilya Petrovitch is at the bottom of it! He took advantage of your fainting at the police station, but he is ashamed of it himself now; I know that . . ."
Raskolnikov listened greedily. Razumihin was drunk enough to talk too freely.
"I fainted then because it was so close and the smell of paint," said Raskolnikov.
"No need to explain that! And it wasn't the paint only: the fever had been coming on for a month; Zossimov testifies to that! But how crushed that boy is now, you wouldn't believe! 'I am not worth his little finger,' he says. Yours, he means. He has good feelings at times, brother. But the lesson, the lesson you gave him to-day in the Palais de Cristal, that was too good for anything! You frightened him at first, you know, he nearly went into convulsions! You almost convinced him again of the truth of all that hideous nonsense, and then you suddenly—put out your tongue at him: 'There now, what do you make of it?' It was perfect! He is crushed, annihilated now! It was masterly, by Jove, it's what they deserve! Ah, that I wasn't there! He was hoping to see you awfully. Porfiry, too, wants to make your acquaintance . . ."
"Ah! . . . he too . . . but why did they put me down as mad?"
"Oh, not mad. I must have said too much, brother. . . . What struck him, you see, was that only that subject seemed to interest you; now it's clear why it did interest you; knowing all the circumstances . . . and how that irritated you and worked in with your illness . . . I am a little drunk, brother, only, confound him, he has some idea of his own . . . I tell you, he's mad on mental diseases. But don't you mind him . . ."
For half a minute both were silent.
"Listen, Razumihin," began Raskolnikov, "I want to tell you plainly: I've just been at a death-bed, a clerk who died . . . I gave them all my money . . . and besides I've just been kissed by someone who, if I had killed anyone, would just the same . . . in fact I saw someone else there . . . with a flame-coloured feather . . . but I am talking nonsense; I am very weak, support me . . . we shall be at the stairs directly . . ."
"What's the matter? What's the matter with you?" Razumihin asked anxiously.
"I am a little giddy, but that's not the point, I am so sad, so sad . . . like a woman. Look, what's that? Look, look!"
"What is it?"
"Don't you see? A light in my room, you see? Through the crack . . ."
They were already at the foot of the last flight of stairs, at the level of the landlady's door, and they could, as a fact, see from below that there was a light in Raskolnikov's garret.
"Queer! Nastasya, perhaps," observed Razumihin.
"She is never in my room at this time and she must be in bed long ago, but . . . I don't care! Good-bye!"
"What do you mean? I am coming with you, we'll come in together!"
"I know we are going in together, but I want to shake hands here and say good-bye to you here. So give me your hand, good-bye!"
"What's the matter with you, Rodya?"
"Nothing . . . come along . . . you shall be witness."
They began mounting the stairs, and the idea struck Razumihin that perhaps Zossimov might be right after all. "Ah, I've upset him with my chatter!" he muttered to himself.
When they reached the door they heard voices in the room.
"What is it?" cried Razumihin. Raskolnikov was the first to open the door; he flung it wide and stood still in the doorway, dumbfoundered.
His mother and sister were sitting on his sofa and had been waiting an hour and a half for him. Why had he never expected, never thought of them, though the news that they had started, were on their way and would arrive immediately, had been repeated to him only that day? They had spent that hour and a half plying Nastasya with questions. She was standing before them and had told them everything by now. They were beside themselves with alarm when they heard of his "running away" to-day, ill and, as they understood from her story, delirious! "Good Heavens, what had become of him?" Both had been weeping, both had been in anguish for that hour and a half.
A cry of joy, of ecstasy, greeted Raskolnikov's entrance. Both rushed to him. But he stood like one dead; a sudden intolerable sensation struck him like a thunderbolt. He did not lift his arms to embrace them, he could not. His mother and sister clasped him in their arms, kissed him, laughed and cried. He took a step, tottered and fell to the ground, fainting.
Anxiety, cries of horror, moans . . . Razumihin who was standing in the doorway flew into the room, seized the sick man in his strong arms and in a moment had him on the sofa.
"It's nothing, nothing!" he cried to the mother and sister—"it's only a faint, a mere trifle! Only just now the doctor said he was much better, that he is perfectly well! Water! See, he is coming to himself, he is all right again!"
And seizing Dounia by the arm so that he almost dislocated it, he made her bend down to see that "he is all right again." The mother and sister looked on him with emotion and gratitude, as their Providence. They had heard already from Nastasya all that had been done for their Rodya during his illness, by this "very competent young man," as Pulcheria Alexandrovna Raskolnikov called him that evening in conversation with Dounia.