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Fyodor Dostoevsky >> Crime and Punishment (page 18)


"You've eaten nothing since yesterday, I warrant. You've been trudging about all day, and you're shaking with fever."

"Nastasya what were they beating the landlady for?"

She looked intently at him.

"Who beat the landlady?"

"Just now half an hour ago, Ilya Petrovitch, the assistant-superintendent, on the stairs. Why was he ill-treating her like that, and why was he here?"

Nastasya scrutinised him, silent and frowning, and her scrutiny lasted a long time. He felt uneasy, even frightened at her searching eyes.

"Nastasya, why don't you speak?" he said timidly at last in a weak voice.

"It's the blood," she answered at last softly, as though speaking to herself.

"Blood? What blood?" he muttered, growing white and turning towards the wall.

Nastasya still looked at him without speaking.

"Nobody has been beating the landlady," she declared at last in a firm, resolute voice.

He gazed at her, hardly able to breathe.

"I heard it myself. I was not asleep I was sitting up," he said still more timidly. "I listened a long while. The assistant-superintendent came. Every one ran out on to the stairs from all the flats."

"No one has been here. That's the blood crying in your ears. When there's no outlet for it and it gets clotted, you begin fancying things. Will you eat something?"

He made no answer. Nastasya still stood over him, watching him.

"Give me something to drink Nastasya."

She went downstairs and returned with a white earthenware jug of water. He remembered only swallowing one sip of the cold water and spilling some on his neck. Then followed forgetfulness. CHAPTERTHREE Chapter Three

-

HE WAS not completely unconscious, however, all the time he was ill; he was in a feverish state, sometimes delirious, sometimes half conscious. He remembered a great deal afterwards. Sometimes it seemed as though there were a number of people round him; they wanted to take him away somewhere, there was a great deal of squabbling and discussing about him. Then he would be alone in the room; they had all gone away afraid of him, and only now and then opened the door a crack to look at him; they threatened him, plotted something together, laughed, and mocked at him. He remembered Nastasya often at his bedside; he distinguished another person, too, whom he seemed to know very well, though he could not remember who he was, and this fretted him, even made him cry. Sometimes he fancied he had been lying there a month; at other times it all seemed part of the same day. But of that of that he had no recollection, and yet every minute he felt that he had forgotten something he ought to remember. He worried and tormented himself trying to remember, moaned, flew into a rage, or sank into awful, intolerable terror. Then he struggled to get up, would have run away, but some one always prevented him by force, and he sank back into impotence and forgetfulness. At last he returned to complete consciousness.

It happened at ten o'clock in the morning. On fine days the sun shone into the room at that hour, throwing a streak of light on the right wall and the corner near the door. Nastasya was standing beside him with another person, a complete stranger, who was looking at him very inquisitively. He was a young man with a beard, wearing a full, short-waisted coat, and looked like a messenger. The landlady was peeping in at the half-opened door. Raskolnikov sat up.

"Who is this, Nastasya?" he asked, pointing to the young man.

"I say, he's himself again!" she said.

"He is himself," echoed the man.

Concluding that he had returned to his senses, the landlady closed the door and disappeared. She was always shy and dreaded conversations or discussions. She was a woman of forty, not at all bad-looking, fat and buxom, with black eyes and eyebrows, good-natured from fatness and laziness, and absurdly bashful.

"Who are you?" he went on, addressing the man. But at that moment the door was flung open, and, stooping a little, as he was so tall, Razumihin came in.

"What a cabin it is!" he cried. "I am always knocking my head. You call this a lodging! So you are conscious, brother? I've just heard the news from Pashenka."

"He has just come to," said Nastasya.

"Just come to," echoed the man again, with a smile.

"And who are you?" Razumihin asked, suddenly addressing him. "My name is Vrazumihin, at your service; not Razumihin, as I am always called, but Vrazumihin, a student and gentleman; and he is my friend. And who are you?"

"I am the messenger from our office, from the merchant Shelopaev, and I've come on business."

"Please sit down." Razumihin seated himself on the other side of the table. "It's a good thing you've come to, brother," he went on to Raskolnikov. "For the last four days you have scarcely eaten or drunk anything. We had to give you tea in spoonfuls. I brought Zossimov to see you twice. You remember Zossimov? He examined you carefully and said at once it was nothing serious something seemed to have gone to your head. Some nervous nonsense, the result of bad feeding, he says you have not had enough beer and radish, but it's nothing much, it will pass and you will be all right. Zossimov is a first-rate fellow! He is making quite a name. Come, I won't keep you," he said, addressing the man again. "Will you explain what you want? You must know, Rodya, this is the second time they have sent from the office; but it was another man last time, and I talked to him. Who was it came before?"

"That was the day before yesterday, I venture to say, if you please, sir. That was Alexey Semyonovitch; he is in our office, too."

"He was more intelligent than you, don't you think so?"

"Yes, indeed, sir, he is of more weight than I am."

"Quite so; go on."

"At your mamma's request, through Afanasy Ivanovitch Vahrushin, of whom I presume you have heard more than once, a remittance is sent to you from our office," the man began, addressing Raskolnikov. "If you are in an intelligible condition, I've thirty-five roubles to remit to you, as Semyon Semyonovitch has received from Afanasy Ivanovitch at your mamma's request instructions to that effect, as on previous occasions. Do you know him, sir?"

"Yes, I remember Vahrushin," Raskolnikov said dreamily.

"You hear, he knows Vahrushin," cried Razumihin. "He is in 'an intelligible condition'! And I see you are an intelligent man too. Well, it's always pleasant to hear words of wisdom."

"That's the gentleman, Vahrushin, Afanasy Ivanovitch. And at the request of your mamma, who has sent you a remittance once before in the same manner through him, he did not refuse this time also, and sent instructions to Semyon Semyonovitch some days since to hand you thirty-five roubles in the hope of better to come."

"That 'hoping for better to come' is the best thing you've said, though 'your mamma' is not bad either. Come then, what do you say? Is he fully conscious, eh?"

"That's all right. If only he can sign this little paper."

"He can scrawl his name. Have you got the book?"

"Yes, here's the book."

"Give it to me. Here, Rodya, sit up. I'll hold you. Take the pen and scribble 'Raskolnikov' for him. For just now, brother, money is sweeter to us than treacle."

"I don't want it," said Raskolnikov, pushing away the pen.

"Not want it?"

"I won't sign it."

"How the devil can you do without signing it?"

"I don't want the money."

"Don't want the money! Come, brother, that's nonsense, I bear witness. Don't trouble, please, it's only that he is on his travels again. But that's pretty common with him at all times though. You are a man of judgment and we will take him in hand, that is, more simply, take his hand and he will sign it. Here."

"But I can come another time."

"No, no. Why should we trouble you? You are a man of judgment. Now, Rodya, don't keep your visitor, you see he is waiting," and he made ready to hold Raskolnikov's hand in earnest.

"Stop, I'll do it alone," said the latter, taking the pen and signing his name.

The messenger took out the money and went away.

"Bravo! And now, brother, are you hungry?"

"Yes," answered Raskolnikov.

"Is there any soup?"

"Some of yesterday's," answered Nastasya, who was still standing there.

"With potatoes and rice in it?"

"Yes."

"I know it by heart. Bring soup and give us some tea."

"Very well."

Raskolnikov looked at all this with profound astonishment and a dull, unreasoning terror. He made up his mind to keep quiet and see what would happen. "I believe I am not wandering. I believe it's reality," he thought.

In a couple of minutes Nastasya returned with the soup, and announced that the tea would be ready directly. With the soup she brought two spoons, two plates, salt, pepper, mustard for the beef, and so on. The table was set as it had not been for a long time. The cloth was clean.

"It would not be amiss, Nastasya, if Praskovya Pavlovna were to send us up a couple of bottles of beer. We could empty them."

"Well, you are a cool hand," muttered Nastasya, and she departed to carry out his orders.

Raskolnikov still gazed wildly with strained attention. Meanwhile Razumihin sat down on the sofa beside him, as clumsily as a bear put his left arm round Raskolnikov's head, although he was able to sit up, and with his right hand gave him a spoonful of soup, blowing on it that it might not burn him. But the soup was only just warm. Raskolnikov swallowed one spoonful greedily, then a second, then a third. But after giving him a few more spoonfuls of soup, Razumihin suddenly stopped, and said that he must ask Zossimov whether he ought to have more.

Nastasya came in with two bottles of beer.

"And will you have tea?"

"Yes."

"Cut along, Nastasya, and bring some tea, for tea we may venture on without the faculty. But here is the beer!" He moved back to his chair, pulled the soup and meat in front of him, and began eating as though he had not touched food for three days.

"I must tell you, Rodya, I dine like this here every day now," he mumbled with his mouth full of beef, "and it's all Pashenka, your dear little landlady, who sees to that; she loves to do anything for me. I don't ask for it, but, of course, I don't object. And here's Nastasya with the tea. She is a quick girl. Nastasya, my dear, won't you have some beer?"

"Get along with your nonsense!"

"A cup of tea, then?"

"A cup of tea, maybe."

"Pour it out. Stay, I'll pour it out myself. Sit down."

He poured out two cups, left his dinner, and sat on the sofa again. As before, he put his left arm round the sick man's head, raised him up and gave him tea in spoonfuls, again blowing each spoonful steadily and earnestly, as though this process was the principal and most effective means towards his friend's recovery. Raskolnikov said nothing and made no resistance, though he felt quite strong enough to sit up on the sofa without support and could not merely have held a cup or a spoon, but even perhaps could have walked about. But from some queer, almost animal, cunning he conceived the idea of hiding his strength and lying low for a time, pretending if necessary not to be yet in full possession of his faculties, and meanwhile listening to find out what was going on. Yet he could not overcome his sense of repugnance. After sipping a dozen spoonfuls of tea, he suddenly released his head, pushed the spoon away capriciously, and sank back on the pillow. There were actually real pillows under his head now, down pillows in clean cases, he observed that, too, and took note of it.

"Pashenka must give us some raspberry jam to-day to make him some raspberry tea," said Razumihin, going back to his chair and attacking his soup and beer again.

"And where is she to get raspberries for you?" asked Nastasya, balancing a saucer on her five outspread fingers and sipping tea through a lump of sugar.

"She'll get it at the shop, my dear. You see, Rodya, all sorts of things have been happening while you have been laid up. When you decamped in that rascally way without leaving your address, I felt so angry that I resolved to find you out and punish you. I set to work that very day. How I ran about making inquiries for you! This lodging of yours I had forgotten, though I never remembered it, indeed, because I did not know it; and as for your old lodgings, I could only remember it was at the Five Corners, Harlamov's house. I kept trying to find that Harlamov's house, and afterwards it turned out that it was not Harlamov's, but Buch's. How one muddles up sound sometimes! So I lost my temper, and I went on the chance to the address bureau next day, and only fancy, in two minutes they looked you up! Your name is down there."

"My name!"

"I should think so; and yet a General Kobelev they could not find while I was there. Well, it's a long story. But as soon as I did land on this place, I soon got to know all your affairs all, all, brother, I know everything; Nastasya here will tell you. I made the acquaintance of Nikodim Fomitch and Ilya Petrovitch, and the house-porter and Mr. Zametov, Alexandr Grigorievitch, the head clerk in the police office, and, last, but not least, of Pashenka; Nastasya here knows."

Title: Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
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