Crime and Punishment, by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Chapter IV

Raskolnikov had been a vigorous and active champion of Sonia against Luzhin, although he had such a load of horror and anguish in his own heart. But having gone through so much in the morning, he found a sort of relief in a change of sensations, apart from the strong personal feeling which impelled him to defend Sonia. He was agitated too, especially at some moments, by the thought of his approaching interview with Sonia: he had to tell her who had killed Lizaveta. He knew the terrible suffering it would be to him and, as it were, brushed away the thought of it. So when he cried as he left Katerina Ivanovna’s, “Well, Sofya Semyonovna, we shall see what you’ll say now!” he was still superficially excited, still vigorous and defiant from his triumph over Luzhin. But, strange to say, by the time he reached Sonia’s lodging, he felt a sudden impotence and fear. He stood still in hesitation at the door, asking himself the strange question: “Must he tell her who killed Lizaveta?” It was a strange question because he felt at the very time not only that he could not help telling her, but also that he could not put off the telling. He did not yet know why it must be so, he only felt it, and the agonising sense of his impotence before the inevitable almost crushed him. To cut short his hesitation and suffering, he quickly opened the door and looked at Sonia from the doorway. She was sitting with her elbows on the table and her face in her hands, but seeing Raskolnikov she got up at once and came to meet him as though she were expecting him.

“What would have become of me but for you?” she said quickly, meeting him in the middle of the room.

Evidently she was in haste to say this to him. It was what she had been waiting for.

Raskolnikov went to the table and sat down on the chair from which she had only just risen. She stood facing him, two steps away, just as she had done the day before.

“Well, Sonia?” he said, and felt that his voice was trembling, “it was all due to ‘your social position and the habits associated with it.’ Did you understand that just now?”

Her face showed her distress.

“Only don’t talk to me as you did yesterday,” she interrupted him. “Please don’t begin it. There is misery enough without that.”

She made haste to smile, afraid that he might not like the reproach.

“I was silly to come away from there. What is happening there now? I wanted to go back directly, but I kept thinking that . . . you would come.”

He told her that Amalia Ivanovna was turning them out of their lodging and that Katerina Ivanovna had run off somewhere “to seek justice.”

“My God!” cried Sonia, “let’s go at once . . . .”

And she snatched up her cape.

“It’s everlastingly the same thing!” said Raskolnikov, irritably. “You’ve no thought except for them! Stay a little with me.”

“But . . . Katerina Ivanovna?”

“You won’t lose Katerina Ivanovna, you may be sure, she’ll come to you herself since she has run out,” he added peevishly. “If she doesn’t find you here, you’ll be blamed for it . . . .”

Sonia sat down in painful suspense. Raskolnikov was silent, gazing at the floor and deliberating.

“This time Luzhin did not want to prosecute you,” he began, not looking at Sonia, “but if he had wanted to, if it had suited his plans, he would have sent you to prison if it had not been for Lebeziatnikov and me. Ah?”

“Yes,” she assented in a faint voice. “Yes,” she repeated, preoccupied and distressed.

“But I might easily not have been there. And it was quite an accident Lebeziatnikov’s turning up.”

Sonia was silent.

“And if you’d gone to prison, what then? Do you remember what I said yesterday?”

Again she did not answer. He waited.

“I thought you would cry out again ‘don’t speak of it, leave off.’” Raskolnikov gave a laugh, but rather a forced one. “What, silence again?” he asked a minute later. “We must talk about something, you know. It would be interesting for me to know how you would decide a certain ‘problem’ as Lebeziatnikov would say.” (He was beginning to lose the thread.) “No, really, I am serious. Imagine, Sonia, that you had known all Luzhin’s intentions beforehand. Known, that is, for a fact, that they would be the ruin of Katerina Ivanovna and the children and yourself thrown in — since you don’t count yourself for anything — Polenka too . . . for she’ll go the same way. Well, if suddenly it all depended on your decision whether he or they should go on living, that is whether Luzhin should go on living and doing wicked things, or Katerina Ivanovna should die? How would you decide which of them was to die? I ask you?”

Sonia looked uneasily at him. There was something peculiar in this hesitating question, which seemed approaching something in a roundabout way.

“I felt that you were going to ask some question like that,” she said, looking inquisitively at him.

“I dare say you did. But how is it to be answered?”

“Why do you ask about what could not happen?” said Sonia reluctantly.

“Then it would be better for Luzhin to go on living and doing wicked things? You haven’t dared to decide even that!”

“But I can’t know the Divine Providence. . . . And why do you ask what can’t be answered? What’s the use of such foolish questions? How could it happen that it should depend on my decision — who has made me a judge to decide who is to live and who is not to live?”

“Oh, if the Divine Providence is to be mixed up in it, there is no doing anything,” Raskolnikov grumbled morosely.

“You’d better say straight out what you want!” Sonia cried in distress. “You are leading up to something again. . . . Can you have come simply to torture me?”

She could not control herself and began crying bitterly. He looked at her in gloomy misery. Five minutes passed.

“Of course you’re right, Sonia,” he said softly at last. He was suddenly changed. His tone of assumed arrogance and helpless defiance was gone. Even his voice was suddenly weak. “I told you yesterday that I was not coming to ask forgiveness and almost the first thing I’ve said is to ask forgiveness. . . . I said that about Luzhin and Providence for my own sake. I was asking forgiveness, Sonia . . . .”

He tried to smile, but there was something helpless and incomplete in his pale smile. He bowed his head and hid his face in his hands.

And suddenly a strange, surprising sensation of a sort of bitter hatred for Sonia passed through his heart. As it were wondering and frightened of this sensation, he raised his head and looked intently at her; but he met her uneasy and painfully anxious eyes fixed on him; there was love in them; his hatred vanished like a phantom. It was not the real feeling; he had taken the one feeling for the other. It only meant that that minute had come.

He hid his face in his hands again and bowed his head. Suddenly he turned pale, got up from his chair, looked at Sonia, and without uttering a word sat down mechanically on her bed.

His sensations that moment were terribly like the moment when he had stood over the old woman with the axe in his hand and felt that “he must not lose another minute.”

“What’s the matter?” asked Sonia, dreadfully frightened.

He could not utter a word. This was not at all, not at all the way he had intended to “tell” and he did not understand what was happening to him now. She went up to him, softly, sat down on the bed beside him and waited, not taking her eyes off him. Her heart throbbed and sank. It was unendurable; he turned his deadly pale face to her. His lips worked, helplessly struggling to utter something. A pang of terror passed through Sonia’s heart.

“What’s the matter?” she repeated, drawing a little away from him.

“Nothing, Sonia, don’t be frightened. . . . It’s nonsense. It really is nonsense, if you think of it,” he muttered, like a man in delirium. “Why have I come to torture you?” he added suddenly, looking at her. “Why, really? I keep asking myself that question, Sonia . . . .”

He had perhaps been asking himself that question a quarter of an hour before, but now he spoke helplessly, hardly knowing what he said and feeling a continual tremor all over.

“Oh, how you are suffering!” she muttered in distress, looking intently at him.

“It’s all nonsense. . . . Listen, Sonia.” He suddenly smiled, a pale helpless smile for two seconds. “You remember what I meant to tell you yesterday?”

Sonia waited uneasily.

“I said as I went away that perhaps I was saying good-bye for ever, but that if I came to-day I would tell you who . . . who killed Lizaveta.”

She began trembling all over.

“Well, here I’ve come to tell you.”

“Then you really meant it yesterday?” she whispered with difficulty. “How do you know?” she asked quickly, as though suddenly regaining her reason.

Sonia’s face grew paler and paler, and she breathed painfully.

“I know.”

She paused a minute.

“Have they found him?” she asked timidly.

“No.”

“Then how do you know about it?” she asked again, hardly audibly and again after a minute’s pause.

He turned to her and looked very intently at her.

“Guess,” he said, with the same distorted helpless smile.

A shudder passed over her.

“But you . . . why do you frighten me like this?” she said, smiling like a child.

“I must be a great friend of his . . . since I know,” Raskolnikov went on, still gazing into her face, as though he could not turn his eyes away. “He . . . did not mean to kill that Lizaveta . . . he . . . killed her accidentally . . . . He meant to kill the old woman when she was alone and he went there . . . and then Lizaveta came in . . . he killed her too.”

Another awful moment passed. Both still gazed at one another.

“You can’t guess, then?” he asked suddenly, feeling as though he were flinging himself down from a steeple.

“N-no . . .” whispered Sonia.

“Take a good look.”

As soon as he had said this again, the same familiar sensation froze his heart. He looked at her and all at once seemed to see in her face the face of Lizaveta. He remembered clearly the expression in Lizaveta’s face, when he approached her with the axe and she stepped back to the wall, putting out her hand, with childish terror in her face, looking as little children do when they begin to be frightened of something, looking intently and uneasily at what frightens them, shrinking back and holding out their little hands on the point of crying. Almost the same thing happened now to Sonia. With the same helplessness and the same terror, she looked at him for a while and, suddenly putting out her left hand, pressed her fingers faintly against his breast and slowly began to get up from the bed, moving further from him and keeping her eyes fixed even more immovably on him. Her terror infected him. The same fear showed itself on his face. In the same way he stared at her and almost with the same childish smile.

“Have you guessed?” he whispered at last.

“Good God!” broke in an awful wail from her bosom.

She sank helplessly on the bed with her face in the pillows, but a moment later she got up, moved quickly to him, seized both his hands and, gripping them tight in her thin fingers, began looking into his face again with the same intent stare. In this last desperate look she tried to look into him and catch some last hope. But there was no hope; there was no doubt remaining; it was all true! Later on, indeed, when she recalled that moment, she thought it strange and wondered why she had seen at once that there was no doubt. She could not have said, for instance, that she had foreseen something of the sort — and yet now, as soon as he told her, she suddenly fancied that she had really foreseen this very thing.

“Stop, Sonia, enough! don’t torture me,” he begged her miserably.

It was not at all, not at all like this he had thought of telling her, but this is how it happened.

She jumped up, seeming not to know what she was doing, and, wringing her hands, walked into the middle of the room; but quickly went back and sat down again beside him, her shoulder almost touching his. All of a sudden she started as though she had been stabbed, uttered a cry and fell on her knees before him, she did not know why.

“What have you done — what have you done to yourself?” she said in despair, and, jumping up, she flung herself on his neck, threw her arms round him, and held him tightly.

Raskolnikov drew back and looked at her with a mournful smile.

“You are a strange girl, Sonia — you kiss me and hug me when I tell you about that. . . . You don’t think what you are doing.”

“There is no one — no one in the whole world now so unhappy as you!” she cried in a frenzy, not hearing what he said, and she suddenly broke into violent hysterical weeping.

A feeling long unfamiliar to him flooded his heart and softened it at once. He did not struggle against it. Two tears started into his eyes and hung on his eyelashes.

“Then you won’t leave me, Sonia?” he said, looking at her almost with hope.

“No, no, never, nowhere!” cried Sonia. “I will follow you, I will follow you everywhere. Oh, my God! Oh, how miserable I am! . . . Why, why didn’t I know you before! Why didn’t you come before? Oh, dear!”

“Here I have come.”

“Yes, now! What’s to be done now? . . . Together, together!” she repeated as it were unconsciously, and she hugged him again. “I’ll follow you to Siberia!”

He recoiled at this, and the same hostile, almost haughty smile came to his lips.

“Perhaps I don’t want to go to Siberia yet, Sonia,” he said.

Sonia looked at him quickly.

Again after her first passionate, agonising sympathy for the unhappy man the terrible idea of the murder overwhelmed her. In his changed tone she seemed to hear the murderer speaking. She looked at him bewildered. She knew nothing as yet, why, how, with what object it had been. Now all these questions rushed at once into her mind. And again she could not believe it: “He, he is a murderer! Could it be true?”

“What’s the meaning of it? Where am I?” she said in complete bewilderment, as though still unable to recover herself. “How could you, you, a man like you. . . . How could you bring yourself to it? . . . What does it mean?”

“Oh, well — to plunder. Leave off, Sonia,” he answered wearily, almost with vexation.

Sonia stood as though struck dumb, but suddenly she cried:

“You were hungry! It was . . . to help your mother? Yes?”

“No, Sonia, no,” he muttered, turning away and hanging his head. “I was not so hungry. . . . I certainly did want to help my mother, but . . . that’s not the real thing either. . . . Don’t torture me, Sonia.”

Sonia clasped her hands.

“Could it, could it all be true? Good God, what a truth! Who could believe it? And how could you give away your last farthing and yet rob and murder! Ah,” she cried suddenly, “that money you gave Katerina Ivanovna . . . that money. . . . Can that money . . .”

“No, Sonia,” he broke in hurriedly, “that money was not it. Don’t worry yourself! That money my mother sent me and it came when I was ill, the day I gave it to you. . . . Razumihin saw it . . . he received it for me. . . . That money was mine — my own.”

Sonia listened to him in bewilderment and did her utmost to comprehend.

“And that money. . . . I don’t even know really whether there was any money,” he added softly, as though reflecting. “I took a purse off her neck, made of chamois leather . . . a purse stuffed full of something . . . but I didn’t look in it; I suppose I hadn’t time. . . . And the things — chains and trinkets — I buried under a stone with the purse next morning in a yard off the V—— Prospect. They are all there now. . . . .”

Sonia strained every nerve to listen.

“Then why . . . why, you said you did it to rob, but you took nothing?” she asked quickly, catching at a straw.

“I don’t know. . . . I haven’t yet decided whether to take that money or not,” he said, musing again; and, seeming to wake up with a start, he gave a brief ironical smile. “Ach, what silly stuff I am talking, eh?”

The thought flashed through Sonia’s mind, wasn’t he mad? But she dismissed it at once. “No, it was something else.” She could make nothing of it, nothing.

“Do you know, Sonia,” he said suddenly with conviction, “let me tell you: if I’d simply killed because I was hungry,” laying stress on every word and looking enigmatically but sincerely at her, “I should be happy now. You must believe that! What would it matter to you,” he cried a moment later with a sort of despair, “what would it matter to you if I were to confess that I did wrong? What do you gain by such a stupid triumph over me? Ah, Sonia, was it for that I’ve come to you to-day?”

Again Sonia tried to say something, but did not speak.

“I asked you to go with me yesterday because you are all I have left.”

“Go where?” asked Sonia timidly.

“Not to steal and not to murder, don’t be anxious,” he smiled bitterly. “We are so different. . . . And you know, Sonia, it’s only now, only this moment that I understand where I asked you to go with me yesterday! Yesterday when I said it I did not know where. I asked you for one thing, I came to you for one thing — not to leave me. You won’t leave me, Sonia?”

She squeezed his hand.

“And why, why did I tell her? Why did I let her know?” he cried a minute later in despair, looking with infinite anguish at her. “Here you expect an explanation from me, Sonia; you are sitting and waiting for it, I see that. But what can I tell you? You won’t understand and will only suffer misery . . . on my account! Well, you are crying and embracing me again. Why do you do it? Because I couldn’t bear my burden and have come to throw it on another: you suffer too, and I shall feel better! And can you love such a mean wretch?”

“But aren’t you suffering, too?” cried Sonia.

Again a wave of the same feeling surged into his heart, and again for an instant softened it.

“Sonia, I have a bad heart, take note of that. It may explain a great deal. I have come because I am bad. There are men who wouldn’t have come. But I am a coward and . . . a mean wretch. But . . . never mind! That’s not the point. I must speak now, but I don’t know how to begin.”

He paused and sank into thought.

“Ach, we are so different,” he cried again, “we are not alike. And why, why did I come? I shall never forgive myself that.”

“No, no, it was a good thing you came,” cried Sonia. “It’s better I should know, far better!”

He looked at her with anguish.

“What if it were really that?” he said, as though reaching a conclusion. “Yes, that’s what it was! I wanted to become a Napoleon, that is why I killed her. . . . Do you understand now?”

“N-no,” Sonia whispered naïvely and timidly. “Only speak, speak, I shall understand, I shall understand in myself!” she kept begging him.

“You’ll understand? Very well, we shall see!” He paused and was for some time lost in meditation.

“It was like this: I asked myself one day this question — what if Napoleon, for instance, had happened to be in my place, and if he had not had Toulon nor Egypt nor the passage of Mont Blanc to begin his career with, but instead of all those picturesque and monumental things, there had simply been some ridiculous old hag, a pawnbroker, who had to be murdered too to get money from her trunk (for his career, you understand). Well, would he have brought himself to that if there had been no other means? Wouldn’t he have felt a pang at its being so far from monumental and . . . and sinful, too? Well, I must tell you that I worried myself fearfully over that ‘question’ so that I was awfully ashamed when I guessed at last (all of a sudden, somehow) that it would not have given him the least pang, that it would not even have struck him that it was not monumental . . . that he would not have seen that there was anything in it to pause over, and that, if he had had no other way, he would have strangled her in a minute without thinking about it! Well, I too . . . left off thinking about it . . . murdered her, following his example. And that’s exactly how it was! Do you think it funny? Yes, Sonia, the funniest thing of all is that perhaps that’s just how it was.”

Sonia did not think it at all funny.

“You had better tell me straight out . . . without examples,” she begged, still more timidly and scarcely audibly.

He turned to her, looked sadly at her and took her hands.

“You are right again, Sonia. Of course that’s all nonsense, it’s almost all talk! You see, you know of course that my mother has scarcely anything, my sister happened to have a good education and was condemned to drudge as a governess. All their hopes were centered on me. I was a student, but I couldn’t keep myself at the university and was forced for a time to leave it. Even if I had lingered on like that, in ten or twelve years I might (with luck) hope to be some sort of teacher or clerk with a salary of a thousand roubles” (he repeated it as though it were a lesson) “and by that time my mother would be worn out with grief and anxiety and I could not succeed in keeping her in comfort while my sister . . . well, my sister might well have fared worse! And it’s a hard thing to pass everything by all one’s life, to turn one’s back upon everything, to forget one’s mother and decorously accept the insults inflicted on one’s sister. Why should one? When one has buried them to burden oneself with others — wife and children — and to leave them again without a farthing? So I resolved to gain possession of the old woman’s money and to use it for my first years without worrying my mother, to keep myself at the university and for a little while after leaving it — and to do this all on a broad, thorough scale, so as to build up a completely new career and enter upon a new life of independence. . . . Well . . . that’s all. . . . Well, of course in killing the old woman I did wrong. . . . Well, that’s enough.”

He struggled to the end of his speech in exhaustion and let his head sink.

“Oh, that’s not it, that’s not it,” Sonia cried in distress. “How could one . . . no, that’s not right, not right.”

“You see yourself that it’s not right. But I’ve spoken truly, it’s the truth.”

“As though that could be the truth! Good God!”

“I’ve only killed a louse, Sonia, a useless, loathsome, harmful creature.”

“A human being — a louse!”

“I too know it wasn’t a louse,” he answered, looking strangely at her. “But I am talking nonsense, Sonia,” he added. “I’ve been talking nonsense a long time. . . . That’s not it, you are right there. There were quite, quite other causes for it! I haven’t talked to anyone for so long, Sonia. . . . My head aches dreadfully now.”

His eyes shone with feverish brilliance. He was almost delirious; an uneasy smile strayed on his lips. His terrible exhaustion could be seen through his excitement. Sonia saw how he was suffering. She too was growing dizzy. And he talked so strangely; it seemed somehow comprehensible, but yet . . . “But how, how! Good God!” And she wrung her hands in despair.

“No, Sonia, that’s not it,” he began again suddenly, raising his head, as though a new and sudden train of thought had struck and as it were roused him —“that’s not it! Better . . . imagine — yes, it’s certainly better — imagine that I am vain, envious, malicious, base, vindictive and . . . well, perhaps with a tendency to insanity. (Let’s have it all out at once! They’ve talked of madness already, I noticed.) I told you just now I could not keep myself at the university. But do you know that perhaps I might have done? My mother would have sent me what I needed for the fees and I could have earned enough for clothes, boots and food, no doubt. Lessons had turned up at half a rouble. Razumihin works! But I turned sulky and wouldn’t. (Yes, sulkiness, that’s the right word for it!) I sat in my room like a spider. You’ve been in my den, you’ve seen it. . . . And do you know, Sonia, that low ceilings and tiny rooms cramp the soul and the mind? Ah, how I hated that garret! And yet I wouldn’t go out of it! I wouldn’t on purpose! I didn’t go out for days together, and I wouldn’t work, I wouldn’t even eat, I just lay there doing nothing. If Nastasya brought me anything, I ate it, if she didn’t, I went all day without; I wouldn’t ask, on purpose, from sulkiness! At night I had no light, I lay in the dark and I wouldn’t earn money for candles. I ought to have studied, but I sold my books; and the dust lies an inch thick on the notebooks on my table. I preferred lying still and thinking. And I kept thinking. . . . And I had dreams all the time, strange dreams of all sorts, no need to describe! Only then I began to fancy that . . . No, that’s not it! Again I am telling you wrong! You see I kept asking myself then: why am I so stupid that if others are stupid — and I know they are — yet I won’t be wiser? Then I saw, Sonia, that if one waits for everyone to get wiser it will take too long. . . . Afterwards I understood that that would never come to pass, that men won’t change and that nobody can alter it and that it’s not worth wasting effort over it. Yes, that’s so. That’s the law of their nature, Sonia, . . . that’s so! . . . And I know now, Sonia, that whoever is strong in mind and spirit will have power over them. Anyone who is greatly daring is right in their eyes. He who despises most things will be a lawgiver among them and he who dares most of all will be most in the right! So it has been till now and so it will always be. A man must be blind not to see it!”

Though Raskolnikov looked at Sonia as he said this, he no longer cared whether she understood or not. The fever had complete hold of him; he was in a sort of gloomy ecstasy (he certainly had been too long without talking to anyone). Sonia felt that his gloomy creed had become his faith and code.

“I divined then, Sonia,” he went on eagerly, “that power is only vouchsafed to the man who dares to stoop and pick it up. There is only one thing, one thing needful: one has only to dare! Then for the first time in my life an idea took shape in my mind which no one had ever thought of before me, no one! I saw clear as daylight how strange it is that not a single person living in this mad world has had the daring to go straight for it all and send it flying to the devil! I . . . I wanted to have the daring . . . and I killed her. I only wanted to have the daring, Sonia! That was the whole cause of it!”

“Oh hush, hush,” cried Sonia, clasping her hands. “You turned away from God and God has smitten you, has given you over to the devil!”

“Then Sonia, when I used to lie there in the dark and all this became clear to me, was it a temptation of the devil, eh?”

“Hush, don’t laugh, blasphemer! You don’t understand, you don’t understand! Oh God! He won’t understand!”

“Hush, Sonia! I am not laughing. I know myself that it was the devil leading me. Hush, Sonia, hush!” he repeated with gloomy insistence. “I know it all, I have thought it all over and over and whispered it all over to myself, lying there in the dark. . . . I’ve argued it all over with myself, every point of it, and I know it all, all! And how sick, how sick I was then of going over it all! I have kept wanting to forget it and make a new beginning, Sonia, and leave off thinking. And you don’t suppose that I went into it headlong like a fool? I went into it like a wise man, and that was just my destruction. And you mustn’t suppose that I didn’t know, for instance, that if I began to question myself whether I had the right to gain power — I certainly hadn’t the right — or that if I asked myself whether a human being is a louse it proved that it wasn’t so for me, though it might be for a man who would go straight to his goal without asking questions. . . . If I worried myself all those days, wondering whether Napoleon would have done it or not, I felt clearly of course that I wasn’t Napoleon. I had to endure all the agony of that battle of ideas, Sonia, and I longed to throw it off: I wanted to murder without casuistry, to murder for my own sake, for myself alone! I didn’t want to lie about it even to myself. It wasn’t to help my mother I did the murder — that’s nonsense — I didn’t do the murder to gain wealth and power and to become a benefactor of mankind. Nonsense! I simply did it; I did the murder for myself, for myself alone, and whether I became a benefactor to others, or spent my life like a spider catching men in my web and sucking the life out of men, I couldn’t have cared at that moment. . . . And it was not the money I wanted, Sonia, when I did it. It was not so much the money I wanted, but something else. . . . I know it all now. . . . Understand me! Perhaps I should never have committed a murder again. I wanted to find out something else; it was something else led me on. I wanted to find out then and quickly whether I was a louse like everybody else or a man. Whether I can step over barriers or not, whether I dare stoop to pick up or not, whether I am a trembling creature or whether I have the right . . .”

“To kill? Have the right to kill?” Sonia clasped her hands.

“Ach, Sonia!” he cried irritably and seemed about to make some retort, but was contemptuously silent. “Don’t interrupt me, Sonia. I want to prove one thing only, that the devil led me on then and he has shown me since that I had not the right to take that path, because I am just such a louse as all the rest. He was mocking me and here I’ve come to you now! Welcome your guest! If I were not a louse, should I have come to you? Listen: when I went then to the old woman’s I only went to try. . . . You may be sure of that!”

“And you murdered her!”

“But how did I murder her? Is that how men do murders? Do men go to commit a murder as I went then? I will tell you some day how I went! Did I murder the old woman? I murdered myself, not her! I crushed myself once for all, for ever. . . . But it was the devil that killed that old woman, not I. Enough, enough, Sonia, enough! Let me be!” he cried in a sudden spasm of agony, “let me be!”

He leaned his elbows on his knees and squeezed his head in his hands as in a vise.

“What suffering!” A wail of anguish broke from Sonia.

“Well, what am I to do now?” he asked, suddenly raising his head and looking at her with a face hideously distorted by despair.

“What are you to do?” she cried, jumping up, and her eyes that had been full of tears suddenly began to shine. “Stand up!” (She seized him by the shoulder, he got up, looking at her almost bewildered.) “Go at once, this very minute, stand at the cross-roads, bow down, first kiss the earth which you have defiled and then bow down to all the world and say to all men aloud, ‘I am a murderer!’ Then God will send you life again. Will you go, will you go?” she asked him, trembling all over, snatching his two hands, squeezing them tight in hers and gazing at him with eyes full of fire.

He was amazed at her sudden ecstasy.

“You mean Siberia, Sonia? I must give myself up?” he asked gloomily.

“Suffer and expiate your sin by it, that’s what you must do.”

“No! I am not going to them, Sonia!”

“But how will you go on living? What will you live for?” cried Sonia, “how is it possible now? Why, how can you talk to your mother? (Oh, what will become of them now?) But what am I saying? You have abandoned your mother and your sister already. He has abandoned them already! Oh, God!” she cried, “why, he knows it all himself. How, how can he live by himself! What will become of you now?”

“Don’t be a child, Sonia,” he said softly. “What wrong have I done them? Why should I go to them? What should I say to them? That’s only a phantom. . . . They destroy men by millions themselves and look on it as a virtue. They are knaves and scoundrels, Sonia! I am not going to them. And what should I say to them — that I murdered her, but did not dare to take the money and hid it under a stone?” he added with a bitter smile. “Why, they would laugh at me, and would call me a fool for not getting it. A coward and a fool! They wouldn’t understand and they don’t deserve to understand. Why should I go to them? I won’t. Don’t be a child, Sonia . . . .”

“It will be too much for you to bear, too much!” she repeated, holding out her hands in despairing supplication.

“Perhaps I’ve been unfair to myself,” he observed gloomily, pondering, “perhaps after all I am a man and not a louse and I’ve been in too great a hurry to condemn myself. I’ll make another fight for it.”

A haughty smile appeared on his lips.

“What a burden to bear! And your whole life, your whole life!”

“I shall get used to it,” he said grimly and thoughtfully. “Listen,” he began a minute later, “stop crying, it’s time to talk of the facts: I’ve come to tell you that the police are after me, on my track . . . .”

“Ach!” Sonia cried in terror.

“Well, why do you cry out? You want me to go to Siberia and now you are frightened? But let me tell you: I shall not give myself up. I shall make a struggle for it and they won’t do anything to me. They’ve no real evidence. Yesterday I was in great danger and believed I was lost; but to-day things are going better. All the facts they know can be explained two ways, that’s to say I can turn their accusations to my credit, do you understand? And I shall, for I’ve learnt my lesson. But they will certainly arrest me. If it had not been for something that happened, they would have done so to-day for certain; perhaps even now they will arrest me to-day. . . . But that’s no matter, Sonia; they’ll let me out again . . . for there isn’t any real proof against me, and there won’t be, I give you my word for it. And they can’t convict a man on what they have against me. Enough. . . . I only tell you that you may know. . . . I will try to manage somehow to put it to my mother and sister so that they won’t be frightened. . . . My sister’s future is secure, however, now, I believe . . . and my mother’s must be too. . . . Well, that’s all. Be careful, though. Will you come and see me in prison when I am there?”

“Oh, I will, I will.”

They sat side by side, both mournful and dejected, as though they had been cast up by the tempest alone on some deserted shore. He looked at Sonia and felt how great was her love for him, and strange to say he felt it suddenly burdensome and painful to be so loved. Yes, it was a strange and awful sensation! On his way to see Sonia he had felt that all his hopes rested on her; he expected to be rid of at least part of his suffering, and now, when all her heart turned towards him, he suddenly felt that he was immeasurably unhappier than before.

“Sonia,” he said, “you’d better not come and see me when I am in prison.”

Sonia did not answer, she was crying. Several minutes passed.

“Have you a cross on you?” she asked, as though suddenly thinking of it.

He did not at first understand the question.

“No, of course not. Here, take this one, of cypress wood. I have another, a copper one that belonged to Lizaveta. I changed with Lizaveta: she gave me her cross and I gave her my little ikon. I will wear Lizaveta’s now and give you this. Take it . . . it’s mine! It’s mine, you know,” she begged him. “We will go to suffer together, and together we will bear our cross!”

“Give it me,” said Raskolnikov.

He did not want to hurt her feelings. But immediately he drew back the hand he held out for the cross.

“Not now, Sonia. Better later,” he added to comfort her.

“Yes, yes, better,” she repeated with conviction, “when you go to meet your suffering, then put it on. You will come to me, I’ll put it on you, we will pray and go together.”

At that moment someone knocked three times at the door.

“Sofya Semyonovna, may I come in?” they heard in a very familiar and polite voice.

Sonia rushed to the door in a fright. The flaxen head of Mr. Lebeziatnikov appeared at the door.

http://ebooks.adelaide.edu.au/d/dostoyevsky/d72c/chapter30.html

Last updated Friday, March 7, 2014 at 15:49