Crime and Punishment/Part III/Chapter III
"HE is well, quite well!" Zossimov cried cheerfully as they entered.
He had come in ten minutes earlier and was sitting in the same place as before, on the sofa. Raskolnikov was sitting in the opposite corner, fully dressed and carefully washed and combed, as he had not been for some time past. The room was immediately crowded, yet Nastasya managed to follow the visitors in and stayed to listen.
Raskolnikov really was almost well, as compared with his condition the day before, but he was still pale, listless, and sombre. He looked like a wounded man or one who has undergone some terrible physical suffering. His brows were knitted, his lips compressed, his eyes feverish. He spoke little and reluctantly, as though performing a duty, and there was a restlessness in his movements.
He only wanted a sling on his arm or a bandage on his finger to complete the impression of a man with a painful abscess or a broken arm. The pale, sombre face lighted up for a moment when his mother and sister entered, but this only gave it a look of more intense suffering, in place of its listless dejection. The light soon died away, but the look of suffering remained, and Zossimov, watching and studying his patient with all the zest of a young doctor beginning to practise, noticed in him no joy at the arrival of his mother and sister, but a sort of bitter, hidden determination to bear another hour or two of inevitable torture. He saw later that almost every word of the following conversation seemed to touch on some sore place and irritate it. But at the same time he marvelled at the power of controlling himself and hiding his feelings in a patient who the previous day had, like a monomaniac, fallen into a frenzy at the slightest word.
"Yes, I see myself now that I am almost well," said Raskolnikov, giving his mother and sister a kiss of welcome which made Pulcheria Alexandrovna radiant at once. "And I don't say this as I did yesterday," he said, addressing Razumihin, with a friendly pressure of his hand.
"Yes, indeed, I am quite surprised at him to-day," began Zossimov, much delighted at the ladies' entrance, for he had not succeeded in keeping up a conversation with his patient for ten minutes. "In another three or four days, if he goes on like this, he will be just as before, that is, as he was a month ago, or two . . . or perhaps even three. This has been coming on for a long while. . . . eh? Confess, now, that it has been perhaps your own fault?" he added, with a tentative smile, as though still afraid of irritating him.
"It is very possible," answered Raskolnikov coldly.
"I should say, too," continued Zossimov with zest, "that your complete recovery depends solely on yourself. Now that one can talk to you, I should like to impress upon you that it is essential to avoid the elementary, so to speak, fundamental causes tending to produce your morbid condition: in that case you will be cured, if not, it will go from bad to worse. These fundamental causes I don't know, but they must be known to you. You are an intelligent man, and must have observed yourself, of course. I fancy the first stage of your derangement coincides with your leaving the university. You must not be left without occupation, and so, work and a definite aim set before you might, I fancy, be very beneficial."
"Yes, yes; you are perfectly right. . . . I will make haste and return to the university: and then everything will go smoothly. . . ."
Zossimov, who had begun his sage advice partly to make an effect before the ladies, was certainly somewhat mystified, when, glancing at his patient, he observed unmistakable mockery on his face. This lasted an instant, however. Pulcheria Alexandrovna began at once thanking Zossimov, especially for his visit to their lodging the previous night.
"What! he saw you last night?" Raskolnikov asked, as though startled.
"Then you have not slept either after your journey."
"Ach, Rodya, that was only till two o'clock. Dounia and I never go to bed before two at home."
"I don't know how to thank him either," Raskolnikov went on, suddenly frowning and looking down. "Setting aside the question of payment—forgive me for referring to it (he turned to Zossimov)—I really don't know what I have done to deserve such special attention from you! I simply don't understand it . . . and . . . and . . . it weighs upon me, indeed, because I don't understand it. I tell you so candidly."
"Don't be irritated." Zossimov forced himself to laugh. "Assume that you are my first patient—well—we fellows just beginning to practise love our first patients as if they were our children, and some almost fall in love with them. And, of course, I am not rich in patients."
"I say nothing about him," added Raskolnikov, pointing to Razumihin, "though he has had nothing from me either but insult and trouble."
"What nonsense he is talking! Why, you are in a sentimental mood to-day, are you?" shouted Razumihin.
If he had had more penetration he would have seen that there was no trace of sentimentality in him, but something indeed quite the opposite. But Avdotya Romanovna noticed it. She was intently and uneasily watching her brother.
"As for you, mother, I don't dare to speak," he went on, as though repeating a lesson learned by heart. "It is only to-day that I have been able to realise a little how distressed you must have been here yesterday, waiting for me to come back."
When he had said this, he suddenly held out his hand to his sister, smiling without a word. But in this smile there was a flash of real unfeigned feeling. Dounia caught it at once, and warmly pressed his hand, overjoyed and thankful. It was the first time he had addressed her since their dispute the previous day. The mother's face lighted up with ecstatic happiness at the sight of this conclusive unspoken reconciliation. "Yes, that is what I love him for," Razumihin, exaggerating it all, muttered to himself, with a vigorous turn in his chair. "He has these movements."
"And how well he does it all," the mother was thinking to herself.
"What generous impulses he has, and how simply, how delicately he put an end to all the misunderstanding with his sister—simply by holding out his hand at the right minute and looking at her like that. . . . And what fine eyes he has, and how fine his whole face is! . . . He is even better looking than Dounia. . . . But, good heavens, what a suit—how terribly he's dressed! . . . Vasya, the messenger boy in Afanasy Ivanitch's shop, is better dressed! I could rush at him and hug him . . . weep over him—but I am afraid. . . . Oh, dear, he's so strange! He's talking kindly, but I'm afraid! Why, what am I afraid of? . . ."
"Oh, Rodya, you wouldn't believe," she began suddenly, in haste to answer his words to her, "how unhappy Dounia and I were yesterday! Now that it's all over and done with and we are quite happy again—I can tell you. Fancy, we ran here almost straight from the train to embrace you and that woman—ah, here she is! Good morning, Nastasya! . . . She told us at once that you were lying in a high fever and had just run away from the doctor in delirium, and they were looking for you in the streets. You can't imagine how we felt! I couldn't help thinking of the tragic end of Lieutenant Potanchikov, a friend of your father's—you can't remember him, Rodya—who ran out in the same way in a high fever and fell into the well in the court-yard and they couldn't pull him out till next day. Of course, we exaggerated things. We were on the point of rushing to find Pyotr Petrovitch to ask him to help. . . . Because we were alone, utterly alone," she said plaintively and stopped short, suddenly, recollecting it was still somewhat dangerous to speak of Pyotr Petrovitch, although "we are quite happy again."
"Yes, yes. . . . Of course it's very annoying. . . ." Raskolnikov muttered in reply, but with such a preoccupied and inattentive air that Dounia gazed at him in perplexity.
"What else was it I wanted to say?" He went on trying to recollect.
"Oh, yes; mother, and you too, Dounia, please don't think that I didn't mean to come and see you to-day and was waiting for you to come first."
"What are you saying, Rodya?" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. She, too, was surprised.
"Is he answering us as a duty?" Dounia wondered. "Is he being reconciled and asking forgiveness as though he were performing a rite or repeating a lesson?"
"I've only just waked up, and wanted to go to you, but was delayed owing to my clothes; I forgot yesterday to ask her . . . Nastasya . . . to wash out the blood . . . I've only just dressed."
"Blood! What blood?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna asked in alarm.
"Oh, nothing—don't be uneasy. It was when I was wandering about yesterday, rather delirious, I chanced upon a man who had been run over . . . a clerk . . ."
"Delirious? But you remember everything!" Razumihin interrupted.
"That's true," Raskolnikov answered with special carefulness. "I remember everything even to the slightest detail, and yet—why I did that and went there and said that, I can't clearly explain now."
"A familiar phenomenon," interposed Zossimov, "actions are sometimes performed in a masterly and most cunning way, while the direction of the actions is deranged and dependent on various morbid impressions—it's like a dream."
"Perhaps it's a good thing really that he should think me almost a madman," thought Raskolnikov.
"Why, people in perfect health act in the same way too," observed Dounia, looking uneasily at Zossimov.
"There is some truth in your observation," the latter replied. "In that sense we are certainly all not infrequently like madmen, but with the slight difference that the deranged are somewhat madder, for we must draw a line. A normal man, it is true, hardly exists. Among dozens—perhaps hundreds of thousands—hardly one is to be met with."
At the word "madman," carelessly dropped by Zossimov in his chatter on his favourite subject, everyone frowned.
Raskolnikov sat seeming not to pay attention, plunged in thought with a strange smile on his pale lips. He was still meditating on something.
"Well, what about the man who was run over? I interrupted you!"
Razumihin cried hastily.
"What?" Raskolnikov seemed to wake up. "Oh . . . I got spattered with blood helping to carry him to his lodging. By the way, mamma, I did an unpardonable thing yesterday. I was literally out of my mind. I gave away all the money you sent me . . . to his wife for the funeral. She's a widow now, in consumption, a poor creature . . . three little children, starving . . . nothing in the house . . . there's a daughter, too . . . perhaps you'd have given it yourself if you'd seen them. But I had no right to do it I admit, especially as I knew how you needed the money yourself. To help others one must have the right to do it, or else Crevez, chiens, si vous n'êtes pas contents." He laughed, "That's right, isn't it, Dounia?"
"No, it's not," answered Dounia firmly.
"Bah! you, too, have ideals," he muttered, looking at her almost with hatred, and smiling sarcastically. "I ought to have considered that. . . . Well, that's praiseworthy, and it's better for you . . . and if you reach a line you won't overstep, you will be unhappy . . . and if you overstep it, maybe you will be still unhappier. . . . But all that's nonsense," he added irritably, vexed at being carried away. "I only meant to say that I beg your forgiveness, mother," he concluded, shortly and abruptly.
"That's enough, Rodya, I am sure that everything you do is very good," said his mother, delighted.
"Don't be too sure," he answered, twisting his mouth into a smile.
A silence followed. There was a certain constraint in all this conversation, and in the silence, and in the reconciliation, and in the forgiveness, and all were feeling it.
"It is as though they were afraid of me," Raskolnikov was thinking to himself, looking askance at his mother and sister. Pulcheria Alexandrovna was indeed growing more timid the longer she kept silent.
"Yet in their absence I seemed to love them so much," flashed through his mind.
"Do you know, Rodya, Marfa Petrovna is dead," Pulcheria Alexandrovna suddenly blurted out.
"What Marfa Petrovna?"
"Oh, mercy on us—Marfa Petrovna Svidrigaïlov. I wrote you so much about her."
"A-a-h! Yes, I remember. . . . So she's dead! Oh, really?" he roused himself suddenly, as if waking up. "What did she die of?"
"Only imagine, quite suddenly," Pulcheria Alexandrovna answered hurriedly, encouraged by his curiosity. "On the very day I was sending you that letter! Would you believe it, that awful man seems to have been the cause of her death. They say he beat her dreadfully."
"Why, were they on such bad terms?" he asked, addressing his sister.
"Not at all. Quite the contrary indeed. With her, he was always very patient, considerate even. In fact, all those seven years of their married life he gave way to her, too much so indeed, in many cases. All of a sudden he seems to have lost patience."
"Then he could not have been so awful if he controlled himself for seven years? You seem to be defending him, Dounia?"
"No, no, he's an awful man! I can imagine nothing more awful!" Dounia answered, almost with a shudder, knitting her brows, and sinking into thought.
"That had happened in the morning," Pulcheria Alexandrovna went on hurriedly. "And directly afterwards she ordered the horses to be harnessed to drive to the town immediately after dinner. She always used to drive to the town in such cases. She ate a very good dinner, I am told. . . ."
"After the beating?"
"That was always her . . . habit; and immediately after dinner, so as not to be late in starting, she went to the bath-house. . . . You see, she was undergoing some treatment with baths. They have a cold spring there, and she used to bathe in it regularly every day, and no sooner had she got into the water when she suddenly had a stroke!"
"I should think so," said Zossimov.
"And did he beat her badly?"
"What does that matter!" put in Dounia.
"H'm! But I don't know why you want to tell us such gossip, mother," said Raskolnikov irritably, as it were in spite of himself.
"Ah, my dear, I don't know what to talk about," broke from Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"Why, are you all afraid of me?" he asked, with a constrained smile.
"That's certainly true," said Dounia, looking directly and sternly at her brother. "Mother was crossing herself with terror as she came up the stairs."
His face worked, as though in convulsion.
"Ach, what are you saying, Dounia! Don't be angry, please, Rodya. . . . Why did you say that, Dounia?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna began, overwhelmed—"You see, coming here, I was dreaming all the way, in the train, how we should meet, how we should talk over everything together. . . . And I was so happy, I did not notice the journey! But what am I saying? I am happy now. . . . You should not, Dounia. . . . I am happy now—simply in seeing you, Rodya. . . ."
"Hush, mother," he muttered in confusion, not looking at her, but pressing her hand. "We shall have time to speak freely of everything!"
As he said this, he was suddenly overwhelmed with confusion and turned pale. Again that awful sensation he had known of late passed with deadly chill over his soul. Again it became suddenly plain and perceptible to him that he had just told a fearful lie—that he would never now be able to speak freely of everything—that he would never again be able to speak of anything to anyone. The anguish of this thought was such that for a moment he almost forgot himself. He got up from his seat, and not looking at anyone walked towards the door.
"What are you about?" cried Razumihin, clutching him by the arm.
He sat down again, and began looking about him, in silence. They were all looking at him in perplexity.
"But what are you all so dull for?" he shouted, suddenly and quite unexpectedly. "Do say something! What's the use of sitting like this? Come, do speak. Let us talk. . . . We meet together and sit in silence. . . . Come, anything!"
"Thank God; I was afraid the same thing as yesterday was beginning again," said Pulcheria Alexandrovna, crossing herself.
"What is the matter, Rodya?" asked Avdotya Romanovna, distrustfully.
"Oh, nothing! I remembered something," he answered, and suddenly laughed.
"Well, if you remembered something; that's all right! . . . I was beginning to think . . ." muttered Zossimov, getting up from the sofa.
"It is time for me to be off. I will look in again perhaps . . . if I can . . ." He made his bows, and went out.
"What an excellent man!" observed Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"Yes, excellent, splendid, well-educated, intelligent," Raskolnikov began, suddenly speaking with surprising rapidity, and a liveliness he had not shown till then. "I can't remember where I met him before my illness. . . . I believe I have met him somewhere—— . . . And this is a good man, too," he nodded at Razumihin. "Do you like him, Dounia?" he asked her; and suddenly, for some unknown reason, laughed.
"Very much," answered Dounia.
"Foo!—what a pig you are!" Razumihin protested, blushing in terrible confusion, and he got up from his chair. Pulcheria Alexandrovna smiled faintly, but Raskolnikov laughed aloud.
"Where are you off to?"
"I must go."
"You need not at all. Stay. Zossimov has gone, so you must. Don't go. What's the time? Is it twelve o'clock? What a pretty watch you have got, Dounia. But why are you all silent again? I do all the talking."
"It was a present from Marfa Petrovna," answered Dounia.
"And a very expensive one!" added Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"A-ah! What a big one! Hardly like a lady's."
"I like that sort," said Dounia.
"So it is not a present from her fiancé," thought Razumihin, and was unreasonably delighted.
"I thought it was Luzhin's present," observed Raskolnikov.
"No, he has not made Dounia any presents yet."
"A-ah! And do you remember, mother, I was in love and wanted to get married?" he said suddenly, looking at his mother, who was disconcerted by the sudden change of subject and the way he spoke of it.
"Oh, yes, my dear."
Pulcheria Alexandrovna exchanged glances with Dounia and Razumihin.
"H'm, yes. What shall I tell you? I don't remember much indeed. She was such a sickly girl," he went on, growing dreamy and looking down again. "Quite an invalid. She was fond of giving alms to the poor, and was always dreaming of a nunnery, and once she burst into tears when she began talking to me about it. Yes, yes, I remember. I remember very well. She was an ugly little thing. I really don't know what drew me to her then—I think it was because she was always ill. If she had been lame or hunchback, I believe I should have liked her better still," he smiled dreamily. "Yes, it was a sort of spring delirium."
"No, it was not only spring delirium," said Dounia, with warm feeling.
He fixed a strained intent look on his sister, but did not hear or did not understand her words. Then, completely lost in thought, he got up, went up to his mother, kissed her, went back to his place and sat down.
"You love her even now?" said Pulcheria Alexandrovna, touched.
"Her? Now? Oh, yes. . . . You ask about her? No . . . that's all now, as it were, in another world . . . and so long ago. And indeed everything happening here seems somehow far away." He looked attentively at them. "You, now . . . I seem to be looking at you from a thousand miles away . . . but, goodness knows why we are talking of that! And what's the use of asking about it?" he added with annoyance, and biting his nails, fell into dreamy silence again.
"What a wretched lodging you have, Rodya! It's like a tomb," said Pulcheria Alexandrovna, suddenly breaking the oppressive silence. "I am sure it's quite half through your lodging you have become so melancholy."
"My lodging," he answered, listlessly. "Yes, the lodging had a great deal to do with it. . . . I thought that, too. . . . If only you knew, though, what a strange thing you said just now, mother," he said, laughing strangely.
A little more, and their companionship, this mother and this sister, with him after three years' absence, this intimate tone of conversation, in face of the utter impossibility of really speaking about anything, would have been beyond his power of endurance. But there was one urgent matter which must be settled one way or the other that day—so he had decided when he woke. Now he was glad to remember it, as a means of escape.
"Listen, Dounia," he began, gravely and drily, "of course I beg your pardon for yesterday, but I consider it my duty to tell you again that I do not withdraw from my chief point. It is me or Luzhin. If I am a scoundrel, you must not be. One is enough. If you marry Luzhin, I cease at once to look on you as a sister."
"Rodya, Rodya! It is the same as yesterday again," Pulcheria Alexandrovna cried, mournfully. "And why do you call yourself a scoundrel? I can't bear it. You said the same yesterday."
"Brother," Dounia answered firmly and with the same dryness. "In all this there is a mistake on your part. I thought it over at night, and found out the mistake. It is all because you seem to fancy I am sacrificing myself to someone and for someone. That is not the case at all. I am simply marrying for my own sake, because things are hard for me. Though, of course, I shall be glad if I succeed in being useful to my family. But that is not the chief motive for my decision. . . ."
"She is lying," he thought to himself, biting his nails vindictively.
"Proud creature! She won't admit she wants to do it out of charity! Too haughty! Oh, base characters! They even love as though they hate. . . . Oh, how I . . . hate them all!"
"In fact," continued Dounia, "I am marrying Pyotr Petrovitch because of two evils I choose the less. I intend to do honestly all he expects of me, so I am not deceiving him. . . . Why did you smile just now?"
She, too, flushed, and there was a gleam of anger in her eyes.
"All?" he asked, with a malignant grin.
"Within certain limits. Both the manner and form of Pyotr Petrovitch's courtship showed me at once what he wanted. He may, of course, think too well of himself, but I hope he esteems me, too. . . . Why are you laughing again?"
"And why are you blushing again? You are lying, sister. You are intentionally lying, simply from feminine obstinacy, simply to hold your own against me. . . . You cannot respect Luzhin. I have seen him and talked with him. So you are selling yourself for money, and so in any case you are acting basely, and I am glad at least that you can blush for it."
"It is not true. I am not lying," cried Dounia, losing her composure.
"I would not marry him if I were not convinced that he esteems me and thinks highly of me. I would not marry him if I were not firmly convinced that I can respect him. Fortunately, I can have convincing proof of it this very day . . . and such a marriage is not a vileness, as you say! And even if you were right, if I really had determined on a vile action, is it not merciless on your part to speak to me like that? Why do you demand of me a heroism that perhaps you have not either? It is despotism; it is tyranny. If I ruin anyone, it is only myself. . . . I am not committing a murder. Why do you look at me like that? Why are you so pale? Rodya, darling, what's the matter?"
"Good heavens! You have made him faint," cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna.
"No, no, nonsense! It's nothing. A little giddiness—not fainting. You have fainting on the brain. H'm, yes, what was I saying? Oh, yes. In what way will you get convincing proof to-day that you can respect him, and that he . . . esteems you, as you said. I think you said to-day?"
"Mother, show Rodya Pyotr Petrovitch's letter," said Dounia.
With trembling hands, Pulcheria Alexandrovna gave him the letter. He took it with great interest, but, before opening it, he suddenly looked with a sort of wonder at Dounia.
"It is strange," he said, slowly, as though struck by a new idea.
"What am I making such a fuss for? What is it all about? Marry whom you like!"
He said this as though to himself, but said it aloud, and looked for some time at his sister, as though puzzled. He opened the letter at last, still with the same look of strange wonder on his face. Then, slowly and attentively, he began reading, and read it through twice. Pulcheria Alexandrovna showed marked anxiety, and all indeed expected something particular.
"What surprises me," he began, after a short pause, handing the letter to his mother, but not addressing anyone in particular, "is that he is a business man, a lawyer, and his conversation is pretentious indeed, and yet he writes such an uneducated letter."
They all started. They had expected something quite different.
"But they all write like that, you know," Razumihin observed, abruptly.
"Have you read it?"
"We showed him, Rodya. We . . . consulted him just now," Pulcheria Alexandrovna began, embarrassed.
"That's just the jargon of the courts," Razumihin put in. "Legal documents are written like that to this day."
"Legal? Yes, it's just legal—business language—not so very uneducated, and not quite educated—business language!"
"Pyotr Petrovitch makes no secret of the fact that he had a cheap education, he is proud indeed of having made his own way," Avdotya Romanovna observed, somewhat offended by her brother's tone.
"Well, if he's proud of it, he has reason, I don't deny it. You seem to be offended, sister, at my making only such a frivolous criticism on the letter, and to think that I speak of such trifling matters on purpose to annoy you. It is quite the contrary, an observation apropos of the style occurred to me that is by no means irrelevant as things stand. There is one expression, 'blame yourselves' put in very significantly and plainly, and there is besides a threat that he will go away at once if I am present. That threat to go away is equivalent to a threat to abandon you both if you are disobedient, and to abandon you now after summoning you to Petersburg. Well, what do you think? Can one resent such an expression from Luzhin, as we should if he (he pointed to Razumihin) had written it, or Zossimov, or one of us?"
"N-no," answered Dounia, with more animation. "I saw clearly that it was too naïvely expressed, and that perhaps he simply has no skill in writing . . . that is a true criticism, brother. I did not expect, indeed . . ."
"It is expressed in legal style, and sounds coarser than perhaps he intended. But I must disillusion you a little. There is one expression in the letter, one slander about me, and rather a contemptible one. I gave the money last night to the widow, a woman in consumption, crushed with trouble, and not 'on the pretext of the funeral,' but simply to pay for the funeral, and not to the daughter—a young woman, as he writes, of notorious behaviour (whom I saw last night for the first time in my life)—but to the widow. In all this I see a too hasty desire to slander me and to raise dissension between us. It is expressed again in legal jargon, that is to say, with a too obvious display of the aim, and with a very naïve eagerness. He is a man of intelligence, but to act sensibly, intelligence is not enough. It all shows the man and . . . I don't think he has a great esteem for you. I tell you this simply to warn you, because I sincerely wish for your good . . ."
Dounia did not reply. Her resolution had been taken. She was only awaiting the evening.
"Then what is your decision, Rodya?" asked Pulcheria Alexandrovna, who was more uneasy than ever at the sudden, new businesslike tone of his talk.
"You see Pyotr Petrovitch writes that you are not to be with us this evening, and that he will go away if you come. So will you . . . come?"
"That, of course, is not for me to decide, but for you first, if you are not offended by such a request; and secondly, by Dounia, if she, too, is not offended. I will do what you think best," he added, drily.
"Dounia has already decided, and I fully agree with her," Pulcheria Alexandrovna hastened to declare.
"I decided to ask you, Rodya, to urge you not to fail to be with us at this interview," said Dounia. "Will you come?"
"I will ask you, too, to be with us at eight o'clock," she said, addressing Razumihin. "Mother, I am inviting him, too."
"Quite right, Dounia. Well, since you have decided," added Pulcheria Alexandrovna, "so be it. I shall feel easier myself. I do not like concealment and deception. Better let us have the whole truth. . . . Pyotr Petrovitch may be angry or not, now!"