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Fyodor Dostoevsky >> Crime and Punishment (page 20)


"But perhaps they won't fit," observed Nastasya.

"Not fit? Just look!" and he pulled out of his pocket Raskolnikov's old, broken boot, stiffly coated with dry mud. "I did not go empty-handed– they took the size from this monster. We all did our best. And as to your linen, your landlady has seen to that. Here, to begin with are three shirts, hempen but with a fashionable front…. Well now then, eighty copecks the cap, two roubles twenty-five copecks the suit– together three roubles five copecks– a rouble and a half for the boots– for, you see, they are very good– and that makes four roubles fifty-five copecks; five roubles for the underclothes– they were bought in the lot– which makes exactly nine roubles fifty-five copecks. Forty-five copecks change in coppers. Will you take it? And so, Rodya, you are set up with a complete new rig-out, for your overcoat will serve, and even has a style of its own. That comes from getting one's clothes from Sharmer's! As for your socks and other things, I leave them to you; we've twenty-five roubles left. And as for Pashenka and paying for your lodging, don't you worry. I tell you she'll trust you for anything. And now, brother, let me change your linen, for I daresay you will throw off your illness with your shirt."

"Let me be! I don't want to!" Raskolnikov waved him off. He had listened with disgust to Razumihin's efforts to be playful about his purchases.

"Come, brother, don't tell me I've been trudging around for nothing," Razumihin insisted. "Nastasya, don't be bashful, but help me– that's it," and in spite of Raskolnikov's resistance he changed his linen. The latter sank back on the pillows and for a minute or two said nothing.

"It will be long before I get rid of them," he thought. "What money was all that bought with?" he asked at last, gazing at the wall.

"Money? Why, your own, what the messenger brought from Vahrushin, your mother sent it. Have you forgotten that, too?"

"I remember now," said Raskolnikov after a long, sullen silence. Razumihin looked at him, frowning and uneasy.

The door opened and a tall, stout man whose appearance seemed familiar to Raskolnikov came in.

"Zossimov! At last!" cried Razumihin, delighted. CHAPTERFOUR Chapter Four

-

ZOSSIMOV WAS a tall, fat man with a puffy, colourless, clean-shaven face and straight flaxen hair. He wore spectacles, and a big gold ring on his fat finger. He was twenty-seven. He had on a light grey fashionable loose coat, light summer trousers, and everything about him loose, fashionable and spick and able, his linen was irreproachable, his watch-chain was massive. In manner he was slow and, as it were, nonchalant, and at the same time studiously free and easy; he made efforts to conceal his self-importance, but it was apparent at every instant. All his acquaintances found him tedious, but said he was clever at his work.

"I've been to you twice to-day, brother. You see, he's come to himself," cried Razumihin.

"I see, I see; and how do we feel now, eh?" said Zossimov to Raskolnikov, watching him carefully and, sitting down at the foot of the sofa, he settled himself as comfortably as he could.

"He is still depressed," Razumihin went on. "We've just changed his linen and he almost cried."

"That's very natural; you might have put it off if he did not wish it…. His pulse is first-rate. Is your head still aching, eh?"

"I am well, I am perfectly well!" Raskolnikov declared positively and irritably. He raised himself on the sofa and looked at them with glittering eyes, but sank back on to the pillow at once and turned to the wall. Zossimov watched him intently.

"Very good…. Going on all right," he said lazily. "Has he eaten anything?"

They told him, and asked what he might have.

"He may have anything… soup, tea… mushrooms and cucumbers, of course, you must not give him; he'd better not have meat either, and… but no need to tell you that!" Razumihin and he looked at each other. "No more medicine or anything. I'll look at him again to-morrow. Perhaps, to-day even… but never mind…"

"To-morrow evening I shall take him for a walk," said Razumihin. "We are going to the Yusupov garden and then to the Palais de Crystal."

"I would not disturb him to-morrow at all, but I don't know… a little, maybe… but we'll see."

"Ach, what a nuisance! I've got a house-warming party tonight; it's only a step from here. Couldn't he come? He could lie on the sofa. You are coming?" Razumihin said to Zossimov. "Don't forget, you promised."

"All right, only rather later. What are you going to do?"

"Oh, nothing– tea, vodka, herrings. There will be a pie… just our friends."

"And who?"

"All neighbours here, almost all new friends, except my old uncle, and he is new too– he only arrived in Petersburg yesterday to see to some business of his. We meet once in five years."

"What is he?"

"He's been stagnating all his life as a district postmaster; gets a little pension. He is sixty-five– not worth talking about…. But I am fond of him. Porfiry Petrovitch, the head of the Investigation Department here… But you know him."

"Is he a relation of yours, too?"

"A very distant one. But why are you scowling? Because you quarrelled once, won't you come then?"

"I don't care a damn for him."

"So much the better. Well, there will be some students, a teacher, a government clerk, a musician, an officer and Zametov."

"Do tell me, please, what you or he"– Zossimov nodded at Raskolnikov– "can have in common with this Zametov?"

"Oh, you particular gentleman! Principles! You are worked by principles, as it were by springs; you won't venture to turn round on your own account. If a man is a nice fellow, that's the only principle I go upon, Zametov is a delightful person."

"Though he does take bribes."

"Well, he does! and what of it? I don't care if he does take bribes," Razumihin cried with unnatural irritability. "I don't praise him for taking bribes. I only say he is a nice man in his own way! But if one looks at men in all ways– are there many good ones left? Why, I am sure I shouldn't be worth a baked onion myself… perhaps with you thrown in."

"That's too little; I'd give two for you."

"And I wouldn't give more than one for you. No more of your jokes! Zametov is no more than a boy. I can pull his hair and one must draw him not repel him. You'll never improve a man by repelling him, especially a boy. One has to be twice as careful with a boy. Oh, you progressive dullards! You don't understand. You harm yourselves running another man down…. But if you want to know, we really have something in common."

"I should like to know what."

"Why, it's all about a house-painter…. We are getting him out of a mess! Though indeed there's nothing to fear now. The matter is absolutely self-evident. We only put on steam."

"A painter?"

"Why, haven't I told you about it? I only told you the beginning then about the murder of the old pawnbroker-woman. Well, the painter is mixed up in it…"

"Oh, I heard about that murder before and was rather interested in it… partly… for one reason…. I read about it in the papers, too…."

"Lizaveta was murdered, too," Nastasya blurted out, suddenly addressing Raskolnikov. She remained in the room all the time, standing by the door listening.

"Lizaveta," murmured Raskolnikov hardly audibly.

"Lizaveta, who sold old clothes. Didn't you know her? She used to come here. She mended a shirt for you, too."

Raskolnikov turned to the wall where in the dirty, yellow paper he picked out one clumsy, white flower with brown lines on it and began examining how many petals there were in it, how many scallops in the petals and how many lines on them. He felt his arms and legs as lifeless as though they had been cut off. He did not attempt to move, but stared obstinately at the flower.

"But what about the painter?" Zossimov interrupted Nastasya's chatter with marked displeasure. She sighed and was silent.

"Why, he was accused of the murder," Razumihin went on hotly.

"Was there evidence against him then?"

"Evidence, indeed! Evidence that was no evidence, and that's what we have to prove. It was just as they pitched on those fellows, Koch and Pestryakov, at first. Foo! how stupidly it's all done, it makes one sick, though it's not one's business! Pestryakov may be coming to-night…. By the way, Rodya, you've heard about the business already; it happened before you were ill, the day before you fainted at the police office while they were talking about it."

Zossimov looked curiously at Raskolnikov. He did not stir.

"But I say, Razumihin, I wonder at you. What a busybody you are!" Zossimov observed.

"Maybe I am, but we will get him off anyway," shouted Razumihin, bringing his fist down on the table. "What's the most offensive is not their lying– one can always forgive lying– lying is a delightful thing, for it leads to truth– what is offensive is that they lie and worship their own lying…. I respect Porfiry, but… What threw them out at first? The door was locked, and when they came back with the porter it was open. So it followed that Koch and Pestryakov were the murderers– that was their logic!"

"But don't excite yourself; they simply detained them, they could not help that…. And, by the way, I've met that man Koch. He used to buy unredeemed pledges from the old woman? Eh?"

"Yes, he is a swindler. He buys up bad debts, too. He makes a profession of it. But enough of him! Do you know what makes me angry? It's their sickening rotten, petrified routine…. And this case might be the means of introducing a new method. One can show from the psychological data alone how to get on the track of the real man. 'We have facts,' they say. But facts are not everything– at least half the business lies in how you interpret them!"

"Can you interpret them, then?"

"Anyway, one can't hold one's tongue when one has a feeling, a tangible feeling, that one might be a help if only…. Eh! Do you know the details of the case?"

"I am waiting to hear about the painter."

"Oh, yes! Well, here's the story. Early on the third day after the murder, when they were still dandling Koch and Pestryakov– though they accounted for every step they took and it was as plain as a pikestaff– an unexpected fact turned up. A peasant called Dushkin, who keeps a dram-shop facing the house, brought to the police office a jeweller's case containing some gold ear-rings, and told a long rigamarole. 'The day before yesterday, just after eight o'clock'– mark the day and the hour!– 'a journeyman house-painter, Nikolay, who had been in to see me already that day, brought me this box of gold ear-rings and stones, and asked me to give him two roubles for them. When I asked him where he got them, he said that he picked them up in the street. I did not ask him anything more.' I am telling you Dushkin's story. 'I gave him a note'– a rouble that is– 'for I thought if he did not pawn it with me he would with another. It would all come to the same thing– he'd spend it on drink, so the thing had better be with me. The further you hide it the quicker you will find it, and if anything turns up, if I hear any rumours, I'll take it to the police.' Of course, that's all taradiddle; he lies like a horse, for I know this Dushkin, he is a pawnbroker and a receiver of stolen goods, and he did not cheat Nikolay out of a thirty-rouble trinket in order to give it to the police. He was simply afraid. But no matter, to return to Dushkin's story. 'I've known this peasant, Nikolay Dementyev, from a child; he comes from the same province and district of Zaraisk, we are both Ryazan men. And though Nikolay is not a drunkard, he drinks, and I knew he had a job in that house, painting work with Dmitri, who comes from the same village, too. As soon as he got the rouble he changed it, had a couple of glasses, took his change and went out. But I did not see Dmitri with him then. And the next day I heard that some one had murdered Alyona Ivanovna and her sister, Lizaveta Ivanovna, with an axe. I knew them, and I felt suspicious about the ear-rings at once, for I knew the murdered woman lent money on pledges. I went to the house, and began to make careful inquiries without saying a word to any one. First of all I asked, "Is Nikolay here?" Dmitri told me that Nikolay had gone off on the spree; he had come home at daybreak drunk, stayed in the house about ten minutes, and went out again. Dmitri didn't see him again and is finishing the job alone. And their job is on the same staircase as the murder, on the second floor. When I heard all that I did not say a word to any one'– that's Dushkin's tale– 'but I found out what I could about the murder, and went home feeling as suspicious as ever. And at eight o'clock this morning'– that was the third day, you understand– 'I saw Nikolay coming in, not sober, though not so very drunk– he could understand what was said to him. He sat down on the bench and did not speak. There was only one stranger in the bar and a man I knew asleep on a bench and our two boys. "Have you seen Dmitri?" said I. "No, I haven't," said he. "And you've not been here either?" "Not since the day before yesterday," said he. "And where did you sleep last night?" "In Peski, with the Kolomensky men." "And where did you get those ear-rings?" I asked. "I found them in the street," and the way he said it was a bit queer; he did not look at me. "Did you hear what happened that very evening, at that very hour, on that same staircase?" said I. "No," said he, "I had not heard," and all the while he was listening, his eyes were staring out of his head and he turned as white as chalk. I told him all about it and he took his hat and began getting up. I wanted to keep him. "Wait a bit, Nikolay," said I, "won't you have a drink?" And I signed to the boy to hold the door, and I came out from behind the bar; but he darted out and down the street to the turning at a run. I have not seen him since. Then my doubts were at an end– it was his doing, as clear as could be…."

Title: Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
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