Fyodor Dostoevsky (18211881). Crime and Punishment.
The Harvard Classics Shelf of Fiction. 1917.
PYOTR PETROVITCH, she cried, protect me you at least! Make this foolish woman understand that she cant behave like this to a lady in misfortune that there is a law for such things. Ill go to the governor-general himself. She shall answer for it. Remembering my fathers hospitality protect these orphans.
Allow me, madam. Allow me. Pyotr Petrovitch waved her off. Your papa as you are well aware I had not the honour of knowing (some one laughed aloud) and I do not intend to take part in your everlasting squabbles with Amalia Ivanovna. I have come here to speak of my own affairs and I want to have a word with your stepdaughter, Sofya Ivanovna, I think it is? Allow me to pass.
Katerina Ivanovna remained standing where she was, as though thunderstruck. She could not understand how Pyotr Petrovitch could deny having enjoyed her fathers hospitality. Though she had invented it herself, she believed in it firmly by this time. She was struck too by the businesslike, dry and even contemptuously menacing tone of Pyotr Petrovitch. All the clamour gradually died away at his entrance. Not only was this serious business man strikingly incongruous with the rest of the party, but it was evident, too, that he had come upon some matter of consequence, that some exceptional cause must have brought him and that therefore something was going to happen. Raskolnikov, standing beside Sonia, moved aside to let him pass; Pyotr Petrovitch did not seem to notice him. A minute later Lebeziatnikov, too, appeared in the doorway; he did not come in, but stood still, listening with marked interest, almost wonder, and seemed for a time perplexed.
Excuse me for possibly interrupting you, but its a matter of some importance, Pyotr Petrovitch observed, addressing the company generally. I am glad indeed to find other persons present. Amalia Ivanovna, I humbly beg you as mistress of the house to pay careful attention to what I have to say to Sofya Ivanovna. Sofya Ivanovna, he went on addressing Sonia who was very much surprised and already alarmed, immediately after your visit I found that a hundred-rouble note was missing from my table, in the room of my friend Mr. Lebeziatnikov. If in any way whatever you know and will tell us where it is now, I assure you on my word of honour and call all present to witness that the matter shall end there. In the opposite case I shall be compelled to have recourse to very serious measures and then you must blame yourself.
No, you know nothing? Luzhin repeated and again he paused for some seconds. Think a moment, mademoiselle, he began severely, but still, as it were, admonishing her. Reflect, I am prepared to give you time for consideration. Kindly observe this: if I were not so entirely convinced I should not, you may be sure, with my experience venture to accuse you so directly. Seeing that for such direct accusation before witnesses, if false or even mistaken, I should myself in a certain sense be made responsible. I am aware of that. This morning I changed for my own purposes several five per cent. securities for the sum of approximately three thousand roubles. The account is noted down in my pocket-book. On my return home I proceeded to count the money,as Mr. Lebeziatnikov will bear witnessand after counting two thousand three hundred roubles I put the rest in my pocket-book in my coat pocket. About five hundred roubles remained on the table and among them three notes of a hundred roubles each. At that moment you entered (at my invitation)and all the time you were present you were exceedingly embarrassed; so that three times you jumped up in the middle of the conversation and tried to make off. Mr. Lebeziatnikov can bear witness to this. You yourself, mademoiselle, probably will not refuse to confirm my statement that I invited you through Mr. Lebeziatnikov, solely in order to discuss with you the hopeless and destitute position of your relative, Katerina Ivanovna (whose dinner I was unable to attend), and the advisability of getting up something of the nature of a subscription, lottery or the like, for her benefit. You thanked me and even shed tears. I describe all this as it took place, primarily to recall it to your mind and secondly to show you that not the slightest detail has escaped my recollection. Then I took a ten rouble note from the table and handed it to you by way of first instalment on my part for the benefit of your relative. Mr. Lebeziatnikov saw all this. Then I accompanied you to the door,you being still in the same state of embarrassmentafter which, being left alone with Mr. Lebeziatnikov I talked to him for ten minutes,then Mr. Lebeziatnikov went out and I returned to the table with the money lying on it, intending to count it and put it aside, as I proposed doing before. To my surprise one hundred-rouble note had disappeared. Kindly consider the position. Mr. Lebeziatnikov I cannot suspect. I am ashamed to allude to such a supposition. I cannot have made a mistake in my reckoning, for the minute before your entrance I had finished my accounts and found the total correct. You will admit that recollecting your embarrassment, your eagerness to get away and the fact that you kept your hands for some time on the table, and taking into consideration your social position and the habits associated with it, I was, so to say, with horror and positively against my will, compelled to entertain a suspiciona cruel, but justifiable suspicion! I will add further and repeat that in spite of my positive conviction, I realise that I run a certain risk in making this accusation, but as you see, I could not let it pass. I have taken action and I will tell you why: solely, madam, solely, owing to your black ingratitude! Why! I invite you for the benefit of your destitute relative, I present you with my donation of ten roubles and you, on the spot, repay me for all that with such an action. It is too bad! You need a lesson. Reflect! Moreover, like a true friend I beg youand you could have no better friend at this momentthink what you are doing, otherwise I shall be immovable! Well, what do you say?
Sonia looked about her. All were looking at her with such awful, stern, ironical, hostile eyes. She looked at Raskolnikov he stood against the wall, with his arms crossed, looking at her with glowing eyes.
You knew it? Luzhin caught her up, then I suppose you had some reason before this for thinking so. I beg you, worthy Amalia Ivanovna, to remember your words which have been uttered before witnesses.
And snatching the note from Sonia, Katerina Ivanovna crumpled it up and flung it straight into Luzhins face. It hit him in the eye and fell on the ground. Amalia Ivanovna hastened to pick it up. Pyotr Petrovitch lost his temper.
What! Mad? Am I mad? Idiot! shrieked Katerina Ivanovna. You are an idiot yourself, pettifogging lawyer, base man! Sonia, Sonia take his money! Sonia a thief! Why, shed give away her last penny! and Katerina Ivanovna broke into hysterical laughter. Did you ever see such an idiot? she turned from side to side. And you too? she suddenly saw the landlady, and you too, sausage eater, you declare that she is a thief, you trashy Prussian hens leg in a crinoline! She hasnt been out of this room: she came straight from you, you wretch, and sat down beside me, every one saw her. She sat here, by Rodion Romanovitch. Search her! Since shes not left the room, the money would have to be on her! Search her, search her! But if you dont find it, then excuse me, my dear fellow, youll answer for it! Ill go to our Sovereign, to our Sovereign, to our gracious Tsar himself, and throw myself at his feet, to-day, this minute! Im alone in the world! They would let me in! Do you think they wouldnt? Youre wrong, I will get in! I will get in! You reckoned on her meekness! You relied upon that! But I am not so submissive, let me tell you! Youre gone too far yourself! Search her, search her!
I am ready, Ill be responsible but calm yourself, madam, calm yourself. I see that you are not so submissive! Well, well, but as to that Luzhin muttered, that ought to be before the police though indeed there are witnesses enough as it is. I am ready. But in any case its difficult for a man on account of her sex. But with the help of Amalia Ivanovna though, of course, its not the way to do things How is it to be done?
As you will! Let any one who likes search her! cried Katerina Ivanovna, Sonia, turn out your pockets! See! Look, monster, the pocket is empty, here was her handkerchief! Here is the other pocket, look! Dyou see, dyou see?
And Katerina Ivanovna turnedor rather snatchedboth pockets inside out. But from the right pocket a piece of paper flew out describing a parabola in the air fell at Luzhins feet. Every one saw it, several cried out. Pyotr Petrovitch stooped down, picked up the paper in two fingers, lifted it where all could see it and opened it. It was a hundred-rouble not folded in eight. Pyotr Petrovitch held up the note showing it to every one.
Exclamations arose on all sides. Raskolnikov was silent, keeping his eyes fixed on Sonia, except for an occasional rapid glance at Luzhin. Sonia stood still, as though unconscious. She was hardly able to feel surprise. Suddenly the colour rushed to her cheeks; she uttered a cry and hid her face in her hands.
No, it wasnt I! I didnt take it! I know nothing about it, she cried with a heartrending wail, and she ran to Katerina Ivanovna, who clasped her tightly in her arms, as though she would shelter her from all the world.
Sonia! Sonia! I dont believe it! You see, I dont believe it! she cried in the face of the obvious fact, swaying her to and fro in her arms like a baby, kissing her face continually, then snatching at her hands and kissing them, too, you took it! How stupid these people are! Oh dear! You are fools, fools, she cried, addressing the whole room, you dont know, you dont know what a heart she has, what a girl she is! She take it, she? Shed sell her last rag, shed go barefoot to help you if you needed it, thats what she is! She has the yellow passport because my children were starving, she sold herself for us! Ah, husband, husband! Do you see? Do you see? What a memorial dinner for you! Merciful heavens! Defend her, why are you all standing still? Rodion Romanovitch, why dont you stand up for her? Do you believe it, too? You are not worth her little finger, all of you together! Good God! Defend her now, at least!
The wail of the poor, consumptive, helpless woman seemed to produce a great effect on her audience. The agonised, wasted, consumptive face, the parched blood-stained lips, the hoarse voice, the tears unrestrained as a childs, the trustful, childish and yet despairing prayer for help were so piteous that every one seemed to feel for her. Pyotr Petrovitch at any rate was at once moved to compassion.
Madam, madam, this incident does not reflect upon you! he cried impressively, no one would take upon himself to accuse you of being an instigator or even an accomplice in it, especially as you have proved her guilt by turning out her pockets, showing that you had no previous idea of it. I am most ready, most ready to show compassion, if poverty, so to speak drove Sofya Semyonovna to it, but why did you refuse to confess, mademoiselle? Were you afraid of the disgrace? The first step? You lost your head, perhaps? One can quite understand it. But how could you have lowered yourself to such an action? Gentlemen, he addressed the whole company, gentlemen! Compassionating and so to say commiserating these people, I am ready to overlook it even now in spite of the personal insult lavished upon me! And may this disgrace be a lesson to you for the future, he said, addressing Sonia, and I will carry the matter no further. Enough!
Pyotr Petrovitch stole a glance at Raskolnikov. Their eyes met, and the fire in Raskolnikovs seemed ready to reduce him to ashes. Meanwhile Katerina Ivanovna apparently heard nothing. She was kissing and hugging Sonia like a madwoman. The children, too, were embracing Sonia on all sides, and Polenka,though she did not fully understand what was wrong,was drowned in tears and shaking with sobs, as she hid her pretty little face swollen with weeping, on Sonias shoulder.
Im in my mind, but you are a scoundrel! Ah, how vile! I have heard everything. I kept waiting on purpose to understand it, for I must own even now it is not quite logical. What you have done it all for I cant understand.
You may be a drunkard perhaps, vile man, but I am not! I never touch vodka, for its against my convictions. Would you believe it, he, he himself, with his own hands gave Sofya Semyonovna that hundred-rouble noteI saw it, I was a witness, Ill take my oath! He did it, he! repeated Lebeziatnikov, addressing all.
I saw it, I saw it, Lebeziatnikov repeated, and though it is against my principles, I am ready this very minute to take any oath you like before the court, for I saw how you slipped it in her pocket. Only like a fool I thought you did it out of kindness! When you were saying good-bye to her at the door, while you held her hand in one hand, with the other, the left, you slipped the note into her pocket. I saw it, I saw it!
No, I didnt fancy it. And though I was standing some way off, I saw it all. And though it certainly would be hard to distinguish a note from the window,thats trueI knew for certain that it was a hundred-rouble note, because, when you were going to give Sofya Semyonovna ten roubles, you took up from the table a hundred-rouble note (I saw it because I was standing near then, and an idea struck me at once, so that I did not forget you had it in your hand). You folded it and kept it in your hand all the time. I didnt think of it again until, when you were getting up, you changed it from your right hand to your left and nearly dropped it! I noticed it because the same idea struck me again, that you meant to do her a kindness without my seeing. You can fancy how I watched you and I saw how you succeeded in slipping it into her pocket. I saw it, I saw it, Ill take my oath.
Lebeziatnikov was almost breathless. Exclamations arose on all hands, chiefly expressive of wonder, but some were menacing in tone. They all crowded round Pyotr Petrovitch. Katerina Ivanovna flew to Lebeziatnikov.
A pack of nonsense! yelled Luzhin, roused to fury, its all nonsense youve been talking! An idea struck you, you didnt think, you noticedwhat does it amount to? So I gave it to her on the sly on purpose? What for? With what object? What have I to do with this ?
What for? Thats what I cant understand, but that what I am telling you is the fact, thats certain! So far from my being mistaken, you infamous, criminal man, I remember how, on account of it, a question occurred to me at once, just when I was thanking you and pressing your hand. What made you put it secretly in her pocket? Why you did it secretly, I mean? Could it be simply to conceal it from me, knowing that my convictions are opposed to yours and that I do not approve of private benevolence, which effects no radical cure. Well, I decided that you really were ashamed of giving such a large sum before me. Perhaps, too, I thought, he wants to give her a surprise, when she finds a whole hundred-rouble note in her pocket. (For I know, some benevolent people are very fond of decking out their charitable actions in that way.) Then the idea struck me, too, that you wanted to test her, to see whether, when she found it, she would come to thank you. Then, too, that you wanted to avoid thanks and that, as the saying is, your right hand should not know something of that sort, in fact. I thought of so many possibilities that I put off considering it, but still thought it indelicate to show you I knew your secret. But another idea struck me again that Sofya Semyonovna might easily lose the money before she noticed it, that was why I decided to come in here to call her out of the room and to tell her that you put a hundred roubles in her pocket. But on my way I went first to Madame Kobilatnikovs to take them the General Treatise on the Positive Method and especially to recommend Piderits article (and also Wagners); then I come on here and what a state of things I find! Now could I, could I, have all these ideas and reflections, if I had not seen you put the hundred-rouble note in her pocket?
When Lebeziatnikov finished his long-winded harangue with the logical deduction at the end, he was quite tired, and the perspiration streamed from his face. He could not, alas, even express himself correctly in Russian, though he knew no other language, so that he was quite exhausted, almost emaciated after this heroic exploit. But his speech produced a powerful effect. He had spoken with such vehemence, with such conviction that every one obviously believed him. Pyotr Petrovitch felt that things were going badly with him.
What is it to do with me if silly ideas did occur to you? he shouted, thats no evidence. You may have dreamt it, thats all! And I tell you, you are lying, sir. You are lying and slandering from some spite against me, simply from pique, because I did not agree with your freethinking, godless, social propositions!
Ah, thats your line now, is it! cried Lebeziatnikov, thats nonsense! Call the police and Ill take my oath! Theres only one thing I cant understand: what made him risk such a contemptible action. Oh, pitiful, despicable man!
Now I can explain it all to myself, said Raskolnikov, addressing Lebeziatnikov. From the very beginning of the business, I suspected that there was some scoundrelly intrigue at the bottom of it. I began to suspect it from some special circumstances known to me only, which I will explain at once to every one: they account for everything. Your valuable evidence has finally made everything clear to me. I beg all, all to listen. This gentleman (he pointed to Luzhin) was recently engaged to be married to a young ladymy sister, Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov. But coming to Petersburg he quarrelled with me, the day before yesterday, at our first meeting and I drove him out of my roomI have two witnesses to prove it. He is a very spiteful man. The day before yesterday I did not know that he was staying here, in your room, and that consequently on the very day we quarrelledthe day before yesterdayhe saw me give Katerina Ivanovna some money for the funeral, as a friend of the late Mr. Marmeladov. He at once wrote a note to my mother and informed her that I had given away all my money, not to Katerina Ivanovna, but to Sofya Semyonovna, and referred in a most contemptible way to the character of Sofya Semyonovna, that is, hinted at the character of my attitude to Sofya Semyonovna. All this you understand was with the object of dividing me from my mother and sister, by insinuating that I was squandering on unworthy objects the money which they had sent me and which was all they had. Yesterday evening, before my mother and sister and in his presence, I declared that I had given the money to Katerina Ivanovna for the funeral and not to Sofya Semyonovna and that I had no acquaintance with Sofya Semyonovna and had never seen her before, indeed. At the same time I added that he, Pyotr Petrovitch Luzhin, with all his virtues was not worth Sofya Semyonovnas little finger, though he spoke so ill of her. To his questionwould I let Sofya Semyonovna sit down beside my sister, I answered that I had already done so that day. Irritated that my mother and sister were unwilling to quarrel with me at his insinuations, he gradually began being unpardonably rude to them. A final rupture took place and he was turned out of the house. All this happened yesterday evening. Now I beg your special attention: consider: if he had now succeeded in proving that Sofya Semyonovna was a thief, he would have shown to my mother and sister that he was almost right in his suspicions, that he had reason to be angry at my putting my sister on a level with Sofya Semyonovna, that, in attacking me, he was protecting and preserving the honour of my sister, his betrothed. In fact he might even, through all this, have been able to estrange me from my family, and no doubt he hoped to be restored to favour with them; to say nothing of revenging himself on me personally, for he has grounds for supposing that the honour and happiness of Sofya Semyonovna are very precious to me. That was what he was working for! Thats how I understand it. Thats the whole reason for it and there can be no other!
It was like this, or somewhat like this that Raskolnikov wound up his speech which was followed very attentively, though often interrupted by exclamations from his audience. But in spite of interruptions he spoke clearly, calmly, exactly, firmly. His decisive voice, his tone of conviction and his stern face made a great impression on every one.
Yes, yes, thats it, Lebeziatnikov assented gleefully, that must be, for he asked me, as soon as Sofya Semyonovna came into our room, whether you were here, whether I had seen you among Katerina Ivanovnas guests. He called me aside to the window and asked me in secret. It was essential for him that you should be here! Thats it, thats it!
Luzhin smiled contemptuously and did not speak. But he was very pale. He seemed to be deliberating on some means of escape. Perhaps he would have been glad to give up everything and get away, but at the moment this was scarcely possible. It would have implied admitting the truth of the accusations brought against him. Moreover the company, which had already been excited by drink, was now too much stirred to allow it. The commissariat clerk, though indeed he had not grasped the whole position, was shouting louder than any one and was making some suggestions very unpleasant to Luzhin. But not all those present were drunk; lodgers came in from all the rooms. The three Poles were tremendously excited and were continually shouting at him: The pan is a lajdak! and muttering threats in Polish.
Sonia had been listening with strained attention, though she too seemed unable to grasp it all; she seemed as though she had just returned to consciousness. She did not take her eyes off Raskolnikov, feeling that all her safety lay in him. Katerina Ivanovna breathed hard and painfully and seemed fearfully exhausted. Amalia Ivanovna stood looking more stupid than any one, with her mouth wide open, unable to make out what had happened. She only saw that Pyotr Petrovitch had somehow come to grief.
Raskolnikov was attempting to speak again, but they did not let him. Every one was crowding round Luzhin with threats and shouts of abuse. But Pyotr Petrovitch was not intimidated. Seeing that his accusation of Sonia had completely failed, he had recourse to insolence:
Allow me, gentlemen, allow me! Dont squeeze, let me pass! he said, making his way through the crowd. And no threats if you please! I assure you it will be useless, you will gain nothing by it. On the contrary, youll have to answer, gentlemen, for violently obstructing the course of justice. The thief has been more than unmasked, and I shall prosecute. Our judges are not so blind and not so drunk, and will not believe the testimony of two notorious infidels, agitators, and atheists, who accuse me from motives of personal revenge which they are foolish enough to admit. Yes, allow me to pass!
Dont let me find a trace of you in my room! Kindly leave at once, and everything is at an end between us! When I think of the trouble Ive been taking, the way Ive been expounding all this fortnight!
I told you myself to-day that I was going, when you tried to keep me; now I will simply add that you are a fool. I advise you to see a doctor for your brains and your short sight. Let me pass, gentlemen!
He forced his way through. But the commissariat clerk was unwilling to let him off so easily: he picked up a glass from the table, brandished it in the air and flung it at Pyotr Petrovitch; but the glass flew straight at Amalia Ivanovna.
She screamed, and the clerk, overbalancing, fell heavily under the table. Pyotr Petrovitch made his way to his room and half an hour later had left the house. Sonia, timid by nature, had felt before that day that she could be ill-treated more easily than any one, and that she could be wronged with impunity. Yet till that moment she had fancied that she might escape misfortune by care, gentleness and submissiveness before every one. Her disappointment was too great. She could, of course, bear with patience and almost without murmur anything, even this. But for the first minute she felt it too bitter. In spite of her triumph and her justificationwhen her first terror and stupefaction had passed and she could understand it all clearlythe feeling of her helplessness and of the wrong done to her made her heart throb with anguish and she was overcome with hysterical weeping. At last, unable to bear any more, she rushed out of the room and ran home, almost immediately after Luzhins departure. When amidst loud laughter the glass flew at Amalia Ivanovna, it was more than the landlady could endure. With a shriek she rushed like a fury at Katerina Ivanovna, considering her to blame for everything.
And with these words she began snatching up everything she could lay her hands on that belonged to Katerina Ivanovna, and throwing it on the floor. Katerina Ivanovna, pale, almost fainting, and gasping for breath, jumped up from the bed where she had sunk in exhaustion and darted at Amalia Ivanovna. But the battle was too unequal: the landlady waved her away like a feather.
What! As though that godless calumny was not enoughthis vile creature attacks me! What! On the day of my husbands funeral I am turned out of my lodging! After eating my bread and salt she turns me into the street, with my orphans! Where am I to go? wailed the poor woman, sobbing and gasping. Good God! she cried with flashing eyes, is there no justice upon earth? Whom should you protect if not us orphans? We shall see! There is law and justice on earth, there is, I will find it! Wait a bit, godless creature! Polenka, stay with the children, Ill come back. Wait for me, if you have to wait in the street. We will see whether there is justice on earth!
And throwing over her head that green shawl which Marmeladov had mentioned to Raskolnikov, Katerina Ivanovna squeezed her way through the disorderly and drunken crowd of lodgers who still filled the room, and, wailing and tearful, she ran into the streetwith a vague intention of going at once somewhere to find justice. Polenka with the two little ones in her arms crouched, terrified, on the trunk in the corner of the room, where she waited trembling for her mother to come back. Amalia Ivanovna raged about the room, shrieking, lamenting and throwing everything she came across on the floor. The lodgers talked incoherently, some commented to the best of their ability on what had happened, others quarrelled and swore at one another, while others struck up a song.