So he lay a very long while. Now and then he seemed to wake up, and at such moments he noticed that it was far into the night, but it did not occur to him to get up. At last he noticed that it was beginning to get light. He was lying on his back, still dazed from his recent oblivion. Fearful, despairing cries rose shrilly from the street, sounds which he heard every night, indeed, under his window after two o’clock. They woke him up now.
“Ah! the drunken men are coming out of the taverns,” he thought, “it’s past two o’clock,” and at once he leaped up, as though someone had pulled him from the sofa.
“What! Past two o’clock!”
He sat down on the sofa — and instantly recollected everything! All at once, in one flash, he recollected everything.
For the first moment he thought he was going mad. A dreadful chill came over him; but the chill was from the fever that had begun long before in his sleep. Now he was suddenly taken with violent shivering, so that his teeth chattered and all his limbs were shaking. He opened the door and began listening — everything in the house was asleep. With amazement he gazed at himself and everything in the room around him, wondering how he could have come in the night before without fastening the door, and have flung himself on the sofa without undressing, without even taking his hat off. It had fallen off and was lying on the floor near his pillow.
“If anyone had come in, what would he have thought? That I’m drunk but . . .”
He rushed to the window. There was light enough, and he began hurriedly looking himself all over from head to foot, all his clothes; were there no traces? But there was no doing it like that; shivering with cold, he began taking off everything and looking over again. He turned everything over to the last threads and rags, and mistrusting himself, went through his search three times.
But there seemed to be nothing, no trace, except in one place, where some thick drops of congealed blood were clinging to the frayed edge of his trousers. He picked up a big claspknife and cut off the frayed threads. There seemed to be nothing more.
Suddenly he remembered that the purse and the things he had taken out of the old woman’s box were still in his pockets! He had not thought till then of taking them out and hiding them! He had not even thought of them while he was examining his clothes! What next? Instantly he rushed to take them out and fling them on the table. When he had pulled out everything, and turned the pocket inside out to be sure there was nothing left, he carried the whole heap to the corner. The paper had come off the bottom of the wall and hung there in tatters. He began stuffing all the things into the hole under the paper: “They’re in! All out of sight, and the purse too!” he thought gleefully, getting up and gazing blankly at the hole which bulged out more than ever. Suddenly he shuddered all over with horror; “My God!” he whispered in despair: “what’s the matter with me? Is that hidden? Is that the way to hide things?”
He had not reckoned on having trinkets to hide. He had only thought of money, and so had not prepared a hiding-place.
“But now, now, what am I glad of?” he thought, “Is that hiding things? My reason’s deserting me — simply!”
He sat down on the sofa in exhaustion and was at once shaken by another unbearable fit of shivering. Mechanically he drew from a chair beside him his old student’s winter coat, which was still warm though almost in rags, covered himself up with it and once more sank into drowsiness and delirium. He lost consciousness.
Not more than five minutes had passed when he jumped up a second time, and at once pounced in a frenzy on his clothes again.
“How could I go to sleep again with nothing done? Yes, yes; I have not taken the loop off the armhole! I forgot it, forgot a thing like that! Such a piece of evidence!”
He pulled off the noose, hurriedly cut it to pieces and threw the bits among his linen under the pillow.
“Pieces of torn linen couldn’t rouse suspicion, whatever happened; I think not, I think not, any way!” he repeated, standing in the middle of the room, and with painful concentration he fell to gazing about him again, at the floor and everywhere, trying to make sure he had not forgotten anything. The conviction that all his faculties, even memory, and the simplest power of reflection were failing him, began to be an insufferable torture.
“Surely it isn’t beginning already! Surely it isn’t my punishment coming upon me? It is!”
The frayed rags he had cut off his trousers were actually lying on the floor in the middle of the room, where anyone coming in would see them!
“What is the matter with me!” he cried again, like one distraught.
Then a strange idea entered his head; that, perhaps, all his clothes were covered with blood, that, perhaps, there were a great many stains, but that he did not see them, did not notice them because his perceptions were failing, were going to pieces . . . his reason was clouded. . . . Suddenly he remembered that there had been blood on the purse too. “Ah! Then there must be blood on the pocket too, for I put the wet purse in my pocket!”
In a flash he had turned the pocket inside out and, yes! — there were traces, stains on the lining of the pocket!
“So my reason has not quite deserted me, so I still have some sense and memory, since I guessed it of myself,” he thought triumphantly, with a deep sigh of relief; “it’s simply the weakness of fever, a moment’s delirium,” and he tore the whole lining out of the left pocket of his trousers. At that instant the sunlight fell on his left boot; on the sock which poked out from the boot, he fancied there were traces! He flung off his boots; “traces indeed! The tip of the sock was soaked with blood;” he must have unwarily stepped into that pool. . . . “But what am I to do with this now? Where am I to put the sock and rags and pocket?”
He gathered them all up in his hands and stood in the middle of the room.
“In the stove? But they would ransack the stove first of all. Burn them? But what can I burn them with? There are no matches even. No, better go out and throw it all away somewhere. Yes, better throw it away,” he repeated, sitting down on the sofa again, “and at once, this minute, without lingering . . .”
But his head sank on the pillow instead. Again the unbearable icy shivering came over him; again he drew his coat over him.
And for a long while, for some hours, he was haunted by the impulse to “go off somewhere at once, this moment, and fling it all away, so that it may be out of sight and done with, at once, at once!” Several times he tried to rise from the sofa, but could not.
He was thoroughly waked up at last by a violent knocking at his door.
“Open, do, are you dead or alive? He keeps sleeping here!” shouted Nastasya, banging with her fist on the door. “For whole days together he’s snoring here like a dog! A dog he is too. Open I tell you. It’s past ten.”
“Maybe he’s not at home,” said a man’s voice.
“Ha! that’s the porter’s voice. . . . What does he want?”
He jumped up and sat on the sofa. The beating of his heart was a positive pain.
“Then who can have latched the door?” retorted Nastasya. “He’s taken to bolting himself in! As if he were worth stealing! Open, you stupid, wake up!”
“What do they want? Why the porter? All’s discovered. Resist or open? Come what may! . . .”
He half rose, stooped forward and unlatched the door.
His room was so small that he could undo the latch without leaving the bed. Yes; the porter and Nastasya were standing there.
Nastasya stared at him in a strange way. He glanced with a defiant and desperate air at the porter, who without a word held out a grey folded paper sealed with bottle-wax.
“A notice from the office,” he announced, as he gave him the paper.
“From what office?”
“A summons to the police office, of course. You know which office.”
“To the police? . . . What for? . . .”
“How can I tell? You’re sent for, so you go.”
The man looked at him attentively, looked round the room and turned to go away.
“He’s downright ill!” observed Nastasya, not taking her eyes off him. The porter turned his head for a moment. “He’s been in a fever since yesterday,” she added.
Raskolnikov made no response and held the paper in his hands, without opening it. “Don’t you get up then,” Nastasya went on compassionately, seeing that he was letting his feet down from the sofa. “You’re ill, and so don’t go; there’s no such hurry. What have you got there?”
He looked; in his right hand he held the shreds he had cut from his trousers, the sock, and the rags of the pocket. So he had been asleep with them in his hand. Afterwards reflecting upon it, he remembered that half waking up in his fever, he had grasped all this tightly in his hand and so fallen asleep again.
“Look at the rags he’s collected and sleeps with them, as though he has got hold of a treasure . . .”
And Nastasya went off into her hysterical giggle.
Instantly he thrust them all under his great coat and fixed his eyes intently upon her. Far as he was from being capable of rational reflection at that moment, he felt that no one would behave like that with a person who was going to be arrested. “But . . . the police?”
“You’d better have some tea! Yes? I’ll bring it, there’s some left.”
“No . . . I’m going; I’ll go at once,” he muttered, getting on to his feet.
“Why, you’ll never get downstairs!”
“Yes, I’ll go.”
“As you please.”
She followed the porter out.
At once he rushed to the light to examine the sock and the rags.
“There are stains, but not very noticeable; all covered with dirt, and rubbed and already discoloured. No one who had no suspicion could distinguish anything. Nastasya from a distance could not have noticed, thank God!” Then with a tremor he broke the seal of the notice and began reading; he was a long while reading, before he understood. It was an ordinary summons from the district police-station to appear that day at half-past nine at the office of the district superintendent.
“But when has such a thing happened? I never have anything to do with the police! And why just to-day?” he thought in agonising bewilderment. “Good God, only get it over soon!”
He was flinging himself on his knees to pray, but broke into laughter — not at the idea of prayer, but at himself.
He began, hurriedly dressing. “If I’m lost, I am lost, I don’t care! Shall I put the sock on?” he suddenly wondered, “it will get dustier still and the traces will be gone.”
But no sooner had he put it on than he pulled it off again in loathing and horror. He pulled it off, but reflecting that he had no other socks, he picked it up and put it on again — and again he laughed.
“That’s all conventional, that’s all relative, merely a way of looking at it,” he thought in a flash, but only on the top surface of his mind, while he was shuddering all over, “there, I’ve got it on! I have finished by getting it on!”
But his laughter was quickly followed by despair.
“No, it’s too much for me . . .” he thought. His legs shook. “From fear,” he muttered. His head swam and ached with fever. “It’s a trick! They want to decoy me there and confound me over everything,” he mused, as he went out on to the stairs —“the worst of it is I’m almost light-headed . . . I may blurt out something stupid . . .”
On the stairs he remembered that he was leaving all the things just as they were in the hole in the wall, “and very likely, it’s on purpose to search when I’m out,” he thought, and stopped short. But he was possessed by such despair, such cynicism of misery, if one may so call it, that with a wave of his hand he went on. “Only to get it over!”
In the street the heat was insufferable again; not a drop of rain had fallen all those days. Again dust, bricks and mortar, again the stench from the shops and pot-houses, again the drunken men, the Finnish pedlars and half-broken-down cabs. The sun shone straight in his eyes, so that it hurt him to look out of them, and he felt his head going round — as a man in a fever is apt to feel when he comes out into the street on a bright sunny day.
When he reached the turning into the street, in an agony of trepidation he looked down it . . . at the house . . . and at once averted his eyes.
“If they question me, perhaps I’ll simply tell,” he thought, as he drew near the police-station.
The police-station was about a quarter of a mile off. It had lately been moved to new rooms on the fourth floor of a new house. He had been once for a moment in the old office but long ago. Turning in at the gateway, he saw on the right a flight of stairs which a peasant was mounting with a book in his hand. “A house-porter, no doubt; so then, the office is here,” and he began ascending the stairs on the chance. He did not want to ask questions of anyone.
“I’ll go in, fall on my knees, and confess everything . . .” he thought, as he reached the fourth floor.
The staircase was steep, narrow and all sloppy with dirty water. The kitchens of the flats opened on to the stairs and stood open almost the whole day. So there was a fearful smell and heat. The staircase was crowded with porters going up and down with their books under their arms, policemen, and persons of all sorts and both sexes. The door of the office, too, stood wide open. Peasants stood waiting within. There, too, the heat was stifling and there was a sickening smell of fresh paint and stale oil from the newly decorated rooms.
After waiting a little, he decided to move forward into the next room. All the rooms were small and low-pitched. A fearful impatience drew him on and on. No one paid attention to him. In the second room some clerks sat writing, dressed hardly better than he was, and rather a queer-looking set. He went up to one of them.
“What is it?”
He showed the notice he had received.
“You are a student?” the man asked, glancing at the notice.
“Yes, formerly a student.”
The clerk looked at him, but without the slightest interest. He was a particularly unkempt person with the look of a fixed idea in his eye.
“There would be no getting anything out of him, because he has no interest in anything,” thought Raskolnikov.
“Go in there to the head clerk,” said the clerk, pointing towards the furthest room.
He went into that room — the fourth in order; it was a small room and packed full of people, rather better dressed than in the outer rooms. Among them were two ladies. One, poorly dressed in mourning, sat at the table opposite the chief clerk, writing something at his dictation. The other, a very stout, buxom woman with a purplish-red, blotchy face, excessively smartly dressed with a brooch on her bosom as big as a saucer, was standing on one side, apparently waiting for something. Raskolnikov thrust his notice upon the head clerk. The latter glanced at it, said: “Wait a minute,” and went on attending to the lady in mourning.
He breathed more freely. “It can’t be that!”
By degrees he began to regain confidence, he kept urging himself to have courage and be calm.
“Some foolishness, some trifling carelessness, and I may betray myself! Hm . . . it’s a pity there’s no air here,” he added, “it’s stifling. . . . It makes one’s head dizzier than ever . . . and one’s mind too . . .”
He was conscious of a terrible inner turmoil. He was afraid of losing his self-control; he tried to catch at something and fix his mind on it, something quite irrelevant, but he could not succeed in this at all. Yet the head clerk greatly interested him, he kept hoping to see through him and guess something from his face.
He was a very young man, about two and twenty, with a dark mobile face that looked older than his years. He was fashionably dressed and foppish, with his hair parted in the middle, well combed and pomaded, and wore a number of rings on his well-scrubbed fingers and a gold chain on his waistcoat. He said a couple of words in French to a foreigner who was in the room, and said them fairly correctly.
“Luise Ivanovna, you can sit down,” he said casually to the gaily-dressed, purple-faced lady, who was still standing as though not venturing to sit down, though there was a chair beside her.
“Ich danke,” said the latter, and softly, with a rustle of silk she sank into the chair. Her light blue dress trimmed with white lace floated about the table like an air-balloon and filled almost half the room. She smelt of scent. But she was obviously embarrassed at filling half the room and smelling so strongly of scent; and though her smile was impudent as well as cringing, it betrayed evident uneasiness.
The lady in mourning had done at last, and got up. All at once, with some noise, an officer walked in very jauntily, with a peculiar swing of his shoulders at each step. He tossed his cockaded cap on the table and sat down in an easy-chair. The small lady positively skipped from her seat on seeing him, and fell to curtsying in a sort of ecstasy; but the officer took not the smallest notice of her, and she did not venture to sit down again in his presence. He was the assistant superintendent. He had a reddish moustache that stood out horizontally on each side of his face, and extremely small features, expressive of nothing much except a certain insolence. He looked askance and rather indignantly at Raskolnikov; he was so very badly dressed, and in spite of his humiliating position, his bearing was by no means in keeping with his clothes. Raskolnikov had unwarily fixed a very long and direct look on him, so that he felt positively affronted.
“What do you want?” he shouted, apparently astonished that such a ragged fellow was not annihilated by the majesty of his glance.
“I was summoned . . . by a notice . . .” Raskolnikov faltered.
“For the recovery of money due, from the student,” the head clerk interfered hurriedly, tearing himself from his papers. “Here!” and he flung Raskolnikov a document and pointed out the place. “Read that!”
“Money? What money?” thought Raskolnikov, “but . . . then . . . it’s certainly not that.”
And he trembled with joy. He felt sudden intense indescribable relief. A load was lifted from his back.
“And pray, what time were you directed to appear, sir?” shouted the assistant superintendent, seeming for some unknown reason more and more aggrieved. “You are told to come at nine, and now it’s twelve!”
“The notice was only brought me a quarter of an hour ago,” Raskolnikov answered loudly over his shoulder. To his own surprise he, too, grew suddenly angry and found a certain pleasure in it. “And it’s enough that I have come here ill with fever.”
“Kindly refrain from shouting!”
“I’m not shouting, I’m speaking very quietly, it’s you who are shouting at me. I’m a student, and allow no one to shout at me.”
The assistant superintendent was so furious that for the first minute he could only splutter inarticulately. He leaped up from his seat.
“Be silent! You are in a government office. Don’t be impudent, sir!”
“You’re in a government office, too,” cried Raskolnikov, “and you’re smoking a cigarette as well as shouting, so you are showing disrespect to all of us.”
He felt an indescribable satisfaction at having said this.
The head clerk looked at him with a smile. The angry assistant superintendent was obviously disconcerted.
“That’s not your business!” he shouted at last with unnatural loudness. “Kindly make the declaration demanded of you. Show him. Alexandr Grigorievitch. There is a complaint against you! You don’t pay your debts! You’re a fine bird!”
But Raskolnikov was not listening now; he had eagerly clutched at the paper, in haste to find an explanation. He read it once, and a second time, and still did not understand.
“What is this?” he asked the head clerk.
“It is for the recovery of money on an I O U, a writ. You must either pay it, with all expenses, costs and so on, or give a written declaration when you can pay it, and at the same time an undertaking not to leave the capital without payment, and nor to sell or conceal your property. The creditor is at liberty to sell your property, and proceed against you according to the law.”
“But I . . . am not in debt to anyone!”
“That’s not our business. Here, an I O U for a hundred and fifteen roubles, legally attested, and due for payment, has been brought us for recovery, given by you to the widow of the assessor Zarnitsyn, nine months ago, and paid over by the widow Zarnitsyn to one Mr. Tchebarov. We therefore summon you, hereupon.”
“But she is my landlady!”
“And what if she is your landlady?”
The head clerk looked at him with a condescending smile of compassion, and at the same time with a certain triumph, as at a novice under fire for the first time — as though he would say: “Well, how do you feel now?” But what did he care now for an I O U, for a writ of recovery! Was that worth worrying about now, was it worth attention even! He stood, he read, he listened, he answered, he even asked questions himself, but all mechanically. The triumphant sense of security, of deliverance from overwhelming danger, that was what filled his whole soul that moment without thought for the future, without analysis, without suppositions or surmises, without doubts and without questioning. It was an instant of full, direct, purely instinctive joy. But at that very moment something like a thunderstorm took place in the office. The assistant superintendent, still shaken by Raskolnikov’s disrespect, still fuming and obviously anxious to keep up his wounded dignity, pounced on the unfortunate smart lady, who had been gazing at him ever since he came in with an exceedingly silly smile.
“You shameful hussy!” he shouted suddenly at the top of his voice. (The lady in mourning had left the office.) “What was going on at your house last night? Eh! A disgrace again, you’re a scandal to the whole street. Fighting and drinking again. Do you want the house of correction? Why, I have warned you ten times over that I would not let you off the eleventh! And here you are again, again, you . . . you . . .!”
The paper fell out of Raskolnikov’s hands, and he looked wildly at the smart lady who was so unceremoniously treated. But he soon saw what it meant, and at once began to find positive amusement in the scandal. He listened with pleasure, so that he longed to laugh and laugh . . . all his nerves were on edge.
“Ilya Petrovitch!” the head clerk was beginning anxiously, but stopped short, for he knew from experience that the enraged assistant could not be stopped except by force.
As for the smart lady, at first she positively trembled before the storm. But, strange to say, the more numerous and violent the terms of abuse became, the more amiable she looked, and the more seductive the smiles she lavished on the terrible assistant. She moved uneasily, and curtsied incessantly, waiting impatiently for a chance of putting in her word: and at last she found it.
“There was no sort of noise or fighting in my house, Mr. Captain,” she pattered all at once, like peas dropping, speaking Russian confidently, though with a strong German accent, “and no sort of scandal, and his honour came drunk, and it’s the whole truth I am telling, Mr. Captain, and I am not to blame. . . . Mine is an honourable house, Mr. Captain, and honourable behaviour, Mr. Captain, and I always, always dislike any scandal myself. But he came quite tipsy, and asked for three bottles again, and then he lifted up one leg, and began playing the pianoforte with one foot, and that is not at all right in an honourable house, and he ganz broke the piano, and it was very bad manners indeed and I said so. And he took up a bottle and began hitting everyone with it. And then I called the porter, and Karl came, and he took Karl and hit him in the eye; and he hit Henriette in the eye, too, and gave me five slaps on the cheek. And it was so ungentlemanly in an honourable house, Mr. Captain, and I screamed. And he opened the window over the canal, and stood in the window, squealing like a little pig; it was a disgrace. The idea of squealing like a little pig at the window into the street! Fie upon him! And Karl pulled him away from the window by his coat, and it is true, Mr. Captain, he tore sein rock. And then he shouted that man muss pay him fifteen roubles damages. And I did pay him, Mr. Captain, five roubles for sein rock. And he is an ungentlemanly visitor and caused all the scandal. ‘I will show you up,’ he said, ‘for I can write to all the papers about you.’”
“Then he was an author?”
“Yes, Mr. Captain, and what an ungentlemanly visitor in an honourable house . . . .”
“Now then! Enough! I have told you already . . .”
“Ilya Petrovitch!” the head clerk repeated significantly.
The assistant glanced rapidly at him; the head clerk slightly shook his head.
“ . . . So I tell you this, most respectable Luise Ivanovna, and I tell it you for the last time,” the assistant went on. “If there is a scandal in your honourable house once again, I will put you yourself in the lock-up, as it is called in polite society. Do you hear? So a literary man, an author took five roubles for his coat-tail in an ‘honourable house’? A nice set, these authors!”
And he cast a contemptuous glance at Raskolnikov. “There was a scandal the other day in a restaurant, too. An author had eaten his dinner and would not pay; ‘I’ll write a satire on you,’ says he. And there was another of them on a steamer last week used the most disgraceful language to the respectable family of a civil councillor, his wife and daughter. And there was one of them turned out of a confectioner’s shop the other day. They are like that, authors, literary men, students, town-criers. . . . Pfoo! You get along! I shall look in upon you myself one day. Then you had better be careful! Do you hear?”
With hurried deference, Luise Ivanovna fell to curtsying in all directions, and so curtsied herself to the door. But at the door, she stumbled backwards against a good-looking officer with a fresh, open face and splendid thick fair whiskers. This was the superintendent of the district himself, Nikodim Fomitch. Luise Ivanovna made haste to curtsy almost to the ground, and with mincing little steps, she fluttered out of the office.
“Again thunder and lightning — a hurricane!” said Nikodim Fomitch to Ilya Petrovitch in a civil and friendly tone. “You are aroused again, you are fuming again! I heard it on the stairs!”
“Well, what then!” Ilya Petrovitch drawled with gentlemanly nonchalance; and he walked with some papers to another table, with a jaunty swing of his shoulders at each step. “Here, if you will kindly look: an author, or a student, has been one at least, does not pay his debts, has given an I O U, won’t clear out of his room, and complaints are constantly being lodged against him, and here he has been pleased to make a protest against my smoking in his presence! He behaves like a cad himself, and just look at him, please. Here’s the gentleman, and very attractive he is!”
“Poverty is not a vice, my friend, but we know you go off like powder, you can’t bear a slight, I daresay you took offence at something and went too far yourself,” continued Nikodim Fomitch, turning affably to Raskolnikov. “But you were wrong there; he is a capital fellow, I assure you, but explosive, explosive! He gets hot, fires up, boils over, and no stopping him! And then it’s all over! And at the bottom he’s a heart of gold! His nickname in the regiment was the Explosive Lieutenant . . . .”
“And what a regiment it was, too,” cried Ilya Petrovitch, much gratified at this agreeable banter, though still sulky.
Raskolnikov had a sudden desire to say something exceptionally pleasant to them all. “Excuse me, Captain,” he began easily, suddenly addressing Nikodim Fomitch, “will you enter into my position? . . . I am ready to ask pardon, if I have been ill-mannered. I am a poor student, sick and shattered (shattered was the word he used) by poverty. I am not studying, because I cannot keep myself now, but I shall get money. . . . I have a mother and sister in the province of X. They will send it to me, and I will pay. My landlady is a good-hearted woman, but she is so exasperated at my having lost my lessons, and not paying her for the last four months, that she does not even send up my dinner . . . and I don’t understand this I O U at all. She is asking me to pay her on this I O U. How am I to pay her? Judge for yourselves! . . .”
“But that is not our business, you know,” the head clerk was observing.
“Yes, yes. I perfectly agree with you. But allow me to explain . . .” Raskolnikov put in again, still addressing Nikodim Fomitch, but trying his best to address Ilya Petrovitch also, though the latter persistently appeared to be rummaging among his papers and to be contemptuously oblivious of him. “Allow me to explain that I have been living with her for nearly three years and at first . . . at first . . . for why should I not confess it, at the very beginning I promised to marry her daughter, it was a verbal promise, freely given . . . she was a girl . . . indeed, I liked her, though I was not in love with her . . . a youthful affair in fact . . . that is, I mean to say, that my landlady gave me credit freely in those days, and I led a life of . . . I was very heedless . . .”
“Nobody asks you for these personal details, sir, we’ve no time to waste,” Ilya Petrovitch interposed roughly and with a note of triumph; but Raskolnikov stopped him hotly, though he suddenly found it exceedingly difficult to speak.
“But excuse me, excuse me. It is for me to explain . . . how it all happened . . . In my turn . . . though I agree with you . . . it is unnecessary. But a year ago, the girl died of typhus. I remained lodging there as before, and when my landlady moved into her present quarters, she said to me . . . and in a friendly way . . . that she had complete trust in me, but still, would I not give her an I O U for one hundred and fifteen roubles, all the debt I owed her. She said if only I gave her that, she would trust me again, as much as I liked, and that she would never, never — those were her own words — make use of that I O U till I could pay of myself . . . and now, when I have lost my lessons and have nothing to eat, she takes action against me. What am I to say to that?”
“All these affecting details are no business of ours.” Ilya Petrovitch interrupted rudely. “You must give a written undertaking but as for your love affairs and all these tragic events, we have nothing to do with that.”
“Come now . . . you are harsh,” muttered Nikodim Fomitch, sitting down at the table and also beginning to write. He looked a little ashamed.
“Write!” said the head clerk to Raskolnikov.
“Write what?” the latter asked, gruffly.
“I will dictate to you.”
Raskolnikov fancied that the head clerk treated him more casually and contemptuously after his speech, but strange to say he suddenly felt completely indifferent to anyone’s opinion, and this revulsion took place in a flash, in one instant. If he had cared to think a little, he would have been amazed indeed that he could have talked to them like that a minute before, forcing his feelings upon them. And where had those feelings come from? Now if the whole room had been filled, not with police officers, but with those nearest and dearest to him, he would not have found one human word for them, so empty was his heart. A gloomy sensation of agonising, everlasting solitude and remoteness, took conscious form in his soul. It was not the meanness of his sentimental effusions before Ilya Petrovitch, nor the meanness of the latter’s triumph over him that had caused this sudden revulsion in his heart. Oh, what had he to do now with his own baseness, with all these petty vanities, officers, German women, debts, police-offices? If he had been sentenced to be burnt at that moment, he would not have stirred, would hardly have heard the sentence to the end. Something was happening to him entirely new, sudden and unknown. It was not that he understood, but he felt clearly with all the intensity of sensation that he could never more appeal to these people in the police-office with sentimental effusions like his recent outburst, or with anything whatever; and that if they had been his own brothers and sisters and not police-officers, it would have been utterly out of the question to appeal to them in any circumstance of life. He had never experienced such a strange and awful sensation. And what was most agonising — it was more a sensation than a conception or idea, a direct sensation, the most agonising of all the sensations he had known in his life.
The head clerk began dictating to him the usual form of declaration, that he could not pay, that he undertook to do so at a future date, that he would not leave the town, nor sell his property, and so on.
“But you can’t write, you can hardly hold the pen,” observed the head clerk, looking with curiosity at Raskolnikov. “Are you ill?”
“Yes, I am giddy. Go on!”
“That’s all. Sign it.”
The head clerk took the paper, and turned to attend to others.
Raskolnikov gave back the pen; but instead of getting up and going away, he put his elbows on the table and pressed his head in his hands. He felt as if a nail were being driven into his skull. A strange idea suddenly occurred to him, to get up at once, to go up to Nikodim Fomitch, and tell him everything that had happened yesterday, and then to go with him to his lodgings and to show him the things in the hole in the corner. The impulse was so strong that he got up from his seat to carry it out. “Hadn’t I better think a minute?” flashed through his mind. “No, better cast off the burden without thinking.” But all at once he stood still, rooted to the spot. Nikodim Fomitch was talking eagerly with Ilya Petrovitch, and the words reached him:
“It’s impossible, they’ll both be released. To begin with, the whole story contradicts itself. Why should they have called the porter, if it had been their doing? To inform against themselves? Or as a blind? No, that would be too cunning! Besides, Pestryakov, the student, was seen at the gate by both the porters and a woman as he went in. He was walking with three friends, who left him only at the gate, and he asked the porters to direct him, in the presence of the friends. Now, would he have asked his way if he had been going with such an object? As for Koch, he spent half an hour at the silversmith’s below, before he went up to the old woman and he left him at exactly a quarter to eight. Now just consider . . .”
“But excuse me, how do you explain this contradiction? They state themselves that they knocked and the door was locked; yet three minutes later when they went up with the porter, it turned out the door was unfastened.”
“That’s just it; the murderer must have been there and bolted himself in; and they’d have caught him for a certainty if Koch had not been an ass and gone to look for the porter too. He must have seized the interval to get downstairs and slip by them somehow. Koch keeps crossing himself and saying: ‘If I had been there, he would have jumped out and killed me with his axe.’ He is going to have a thanksgiving service — ha, ha!”
“And no one saw the murderer?”
“They might well not see him; the house is a regular Noah’s Ark,” said the head clerk, who was listening.
“It’s clear, quite clear,” Nikodim Fomitch repeated warmly.
“No, it is anything but clear,” Ilya Petrovitch maintained.
Raskolnikov picked up his hat and walked towards the door, but he did not reach it . . . .
When he recovered consciousness, he found himself sitting in a chair, supported by someone on the right side, while someone else was standing on the left, holding a yellowish glass filled with yellow water, and Nikodim Fomitch standing before him, looking intently at him. He got up from the chair.
“What’s this? Are you ill?” Nikodim Fomitch asked, rather sharply.
“He could hardly hold his pen when he was signing,” said the head clerk, settling back in his place, and taking up his work again.
“Have you been ill long?” cried Ilya Petrovitch from his place, where he, too, was looking through papers. He had, of course, come to look at the sick man when he fainted, but retired at once when he recovered.
“Since yesterday,” muttered Raskolnikov in reply.
“Did you go out yesterday?”
“Though you were ill?”
“At what time?”
“And where did you go, my I ask?”
“Along the street.”
“Short and clear.”
Raskolnikov, white as a handkerchief, had answered sharply, jerkily, without dropping his black feverish eyes before Ilya Petrovitch’s stare.
“He can scarcely stand upright. And you . . .” Nikodim Fomitch was beginning.
“No matter,” Ilya Petrovitch pronounced rather peculiarly.
Nikodim Fomitch would have made some further protest, but glancing at the head clerk who was looking very hard at him, he did not speak. There was a sudden silence. It was strange.
“Very well, then,” concluded Ilya Petrovitch, “we will not detain you.”
Raskolnikov went out. He caught the sound of eager conversation on his departure, and above the rest rose the questioning voice of Nikodim Fomitch. In the street, his faintness passed off completely.
“A search — there will be a search at once,” he repeated to himself, hurrying home. “The brutes! they suspect.”
His former terror mastered him completely again.
Last updated Sunday, March 27, 2016 at 11:53