Fyodor Dostoevsky >> Crime and Punishment (page 31)

"We'll talk to-morrow; go to bed at once!" Razumihin said in conclusion, following Zossimov out. "I'll be with you to-morrow morning as early as possible with my report."

"That's a fetching little girl, Avdotya Romanovna," remarked Zossimov, almost licking his lips as they both came out into the street.

"Fetching? You said fetching?" roared Razumihin and he flew at Zossimov and seized him by the throat. "If you ever dare… Do you understand? Do you understand?" he shouted, shaking him by the collar and squeezing him against the wall. "Do you hear?"

"Let me go, you drunken devil," said Zossimov, struggling and when he had let him go, he stared at him and went off into a sudden guffaw. Razumihin stood facing him in gloomy and earnest reflection.

"Of course, I am an ass," he observed, sombre as a storm cloud, "but still… you are another."

"No, brother, not at all such another. I am not dreaming of any folly."

They walked along in silence and only when they were close to Raskolnikov's lodgings, Razumihin broke the silence in considerable anxiety.

"Listen," he said, "you're a first-rate fellow, but among your other failings, you're a loose fish, that, I know, and a dirty one, too. You are a feeble, nervous wretch, and a mass of whims, you're getting fat and lazy and can't deny yourself anything– and I call that dirty because it leads on straight into the dirt. You've let yourself get so slack that I don't know how it is you are still a good, even a devoted doctor. You– a doctor– sleep on a feather bed and get up at night to your patients! In another three or four years you won't get up for your patients… But hang it all, that's not the point!… You are going to spend to-night in the landlady's flat here. (Hard work I've had to persuade her!) And I'll be in the kitchen. So here's a chance for you to get to know her better…. It's not as you think! There's not a trace of anything of the sort, brother…!"

"But I don't think!"

"Here you have modesty, brother, silence, bashfulness, a savage virtue… and yet she's sighing and melting like wax, simply melting! Save me from her, by all that's unholy! She's most prepossessing… I'll repay you, I'll do anything…."

Zossimov laughed more violently than ever.

"Well, you are smitten! But what am I to do with her?"

"It won't be much trouble, I assure you. Talk any rot you like to her, as long as you sit by her and talk. You're a doctor, too; try curing her of something. I swear you won't regret it. She has a piano, and you know, I strum a little. I have a song there, a genuine Russian one: 'I shed hot tears.' She likes the genuine article– and well, it all began with that song; Now you're a regular performer, a maitre, a Rubinstein…. I assure you, you won't regret it!"

"But have you made her some promise? Something signed? A promise of marriage, perhaps?"

"Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of the kind! Besides she is not that sort at all…. Tchebarov tried that…."

"Well, then, drop her!"

"But I can't drop her like that!"

"Why can't you?"

"Well, I can't, that's all about it! There's an element of attraction here, brother."

"Then why have you fascinated her?"

"I haven't fascinated her; perhaps, I was fascinated myself in my folly. But she won't care a straw whether it's you or I, so long as somebody sits beside her, sighing…. I can't explain the position, brother… look here, you are good at mathematics, and working at it now… begin teaching her the integral calculus; upon my soul, I'm not joking. I'm in earnest, it'll be just the same to her. She will gaze at you and sigh for a whole year together. I talked to her once for two days at a time about the Prussian House of Lords (for one must talk of something)– she just sighed and perspired! And you mustn't talk of love– she's bashful to hysterics– but just let her see you can't tear yourself away– that's enough. It's fearfully comfortable; you're quite at home, you can read, sit, lie about, write. You may even venture on a kiss, if you're careful."

"But what do I want with her?"

"Ach, I can't make you understand! You see, you are made for each other! I have often been reminded of you!… You'll come to it in the end! So does it matter whether it's sooner or later? There's the featherbed element here, brother,– ach! and not only that! There's an attraction here– here you have the end of the world, an anchorage, a quiet haven, the navel of the earth, the three fishes that are the foundation of the world, the essence of pancakes, of savoury fish-pies, of the evening samovar, of soft sighs and warm shawls, and hot stoves to sleep on– as snug as though you were dead, and yet you're alive– the advantages of both at once! Well, hang it, brother, what stuff I'm talking, it's bedtime! Listen. I sometimes wake up at night; so I'll go in and look at him. But there's no need, it's all right. Don't you worry yourself, yet if you like, you might just look in once, too. But if you notice anything, delirium or fever– wake me at once. But there can't be…." CHAPTERTWO Chapter Two


RAZUMIHIN waked up next morning at eight o'clock, troubled and serious. He found himself confronted with many new and unlooked-for perplexities. He had never expected that he would ever wake up feeling like that. He remembered every detail of the previous day and he knew that a perfectly novel experience had befallen him, that he had received an impression unlike anything he had known before. At the same time he recognised clearly that the dream which had fired his imagination was hopelessly unattainable– so unattainable that he felt positively ashamed of it, and he hastened to pass to the other more practical cares and difficulties bequeathed him by that "thrice accursed yesterday."

The most awful recollection of the previous day was the way he had shown himself "base and mean," not only because he had been drunk, but because he had taken advantage of the young girl's position to abuse her fiance in his stupid jealousy, knowing nothing of their mutual relations and obligations and next to nothing of the man himself. And what right had he to criticise him in that hasty and unguarded manner? Who had asked for his opinion! Was it thinkable that such a creature as Avdotya Romanovna would be marrying an unworthy man for money? So there must be something in him. The lodgings? But after all how could he know the character of the lodgings? He was furnishing a flat… Foo, how despicable it all was! And what justification was it that he was drunk? Such a stupid excuse was even more degrading! In wine is truth, and the truth had all come out, "that is, all the uncleanness of his coarse and envious heart!" And would such a dream ever be permissible to him, Razumihin? What was he beside such a girl– he, the drunken noisy braggart of last night? "Was it possible to imagine so absurd and cynical a juxtaposition?" Razumihin blushed desperately at the very idea and suddenly the recollection forced itself vividly upon him of how he had said last night on the stairs that the landlady would be jealous of Avdotya Romanovna… that was simply intolerable. He brought his fist down heavily on the kitchen stove, hurt his hand and sent one of the bricks flying.

"Of course," he muttered to himself a minute later with a feeling of self-abasement, "of course, all these infamies can never be wiped out or smoothed over… and so it's useless even to think of it, and I must go to them in silence and do my duty… in silence, too…. and not ask forgiveness, and say nothing… for all is lost now!"

And yet as he dressed he examined his attire more carefully than usual. He hadn't another suit– if he had had, perhaps he wouldn't have put it on. "I would have made a point of not putting it on." But in any case he could not remain a cynic and a dirty sloven; he had no right to offend the feelings of others, especially when they were in need of his assistance and asking him to see them. He brushed his clothes carefully. His linen was always decent; in that respect he was especially clean.

He washed that morning scrupulously– he got some soap from Nastasya– he washed his hair, his neck and especially his hands. When it came to the question whether to shave his stubby chin or not (Praskovya Pavlovna had capital razors that had been left by her late husband), the question was angrily answered in the negative. "Let it stay as it is! What if they think that I shaved on purpose to…? They certainly would think so! Not on any account!"

"And… the worst of it was he was so coarse, so dirty, he had the manners of a pothouse; and… and even admitting that he knew he had some of the essentials of a gentleman… what was there in that to be proud of? Every one ought to be a gentleman and more than that… and all the same (he remembered) he, too, had done little things… not exactly dishonest, and yet…. and what thoughts he sometimes had; hm… and to set all that beside Avdotya Romanovna! Confound it! So be it! Well, he'd make a point then of being dirty, greasy, pothouse in his manners and he wouldn't care! He'd be worse!"

He was engaged in such monologues when Zossimov, who had spent the night in Praskovya Pavlovna's parlour, came in.

He was going home and was in a hurry to look at the invalid first. Razumihin informed him that Raskolnikov was sleeping like a dormouse. Zossimov gave orders that they shouldn't wake him and promised to see him again about eleven.

"If he is still at home," he added. "Damn it all! If one can't control one's patients, how is one to cure them! Do you know whether he will go to them, or whether they are coming here?"

"They are coming, I think," said Razumihin, understanding the object of the question, "and they will discuss their family affairs, no doubt. I'll be off. You, as the doctor, have more right to be here than I."

"But I am not a father confessor; I shall come and go away; I've plenty to do besides looking after them."

"One thing worries me," interposed Razumihin, frowning. "On the way home I talked a lot of drunken nonsense to him… all sort of things… and amongst them that you were afraid that he… might become insane."

"You told the ladies so, too."

"I know it was stupid! You may beat me if you like! Did you think so seriously?"

"That's nonsense, I tell you, how could I think it seriously! You, yourself, described him as a monomaniac when you fetched me to him… and we added fuel to the fire yesterday, you did, that is, with your story about the painter; it was a nice conversation, when he was, perhaps, mad on that very point! If only I'd known what happened then at the police station and that some wretch… had insulted him with this suspicion! Hm… I would not have allowed that conversation yesterday. These monomaniacs will make a mountain out of a molehill… and see their fancies as solid realities…. As far as I remember, it was Zametov's story that cleared up half the mystery to my mind. Why, I know one case in which a hypochondriac, a man of forty, cut the throat of a little boy of eight, because he couldn't endure the jokes he made every day at table! And in this case his rags, the insolent police officer, the fever and this suspicion! All that working upon a man half frantic with hypochondria, and with his morbid exceptional vanity! That may well have been the starting-point of illness. Well, bother it all!… And, by the way, that Zametov certainly is a nice fellow, but hm… he shouldn't have told all that last night. He is an awful chatterbox!"

"But whom did he tell it to? You and me?"

"And Porfiry."

"What does that matter?"

"And, by the way, have you any influence on them, his mother and sister? Tell them to be more careful with him to-day…."

"They'll get on all right!" Razumihin answered reluctantly.

"Why is he so set against this Luzhin? A man with money and she doesn't seem to dislike him… and they haven't a farthing I suppose? eh?"

"But what business is it of yours?" Razumihin cried with annoyance. "How can I tell whether they've a farthing? Ask them yourself and perhaps you'll find out…."

"Foo, what an ass you are sometimes! Last night's wine has not gone off yet…. Good-bye; thank your Praskovya Pavlovna from me for my night's lodging. She locked herself in, made no reply to my bonjour through the door; she was up at seven o'clock, the samovar was taken in to her from the kitchen. I was not vouchsafed a personal interview…."

At nine o'clock precisely Razumihin reached the lodgings at Bakaleyev's house. Both ladies were waiting for him with nervous impatience. They had risen at seven o'clock or earlier. He entered looking as black as night, bowed awkwardly and was at once furious with himself for it. He had reckoned without his host: Pulcheria Alexandrovna fairly rushed at him, seized him by both hands and was almost kissing them. He glanced timidly at Avdotya Romanovna, but her proud countenance wore at that moment an expression of such gratitude and friendliness, such complete and unlooked-for respect (in place of the sneering looks and ill-disguised contempt he had expected), that it threw him into greater confusion than if he had been met with abuse. Fortunately there was a subject for conversation, and he made haste to snatch at it.

Hearing that everything was going well and that Rodya had not yet waked, Pulcheria Alexandrovna declared that she was glad to hear it, because "she had something which it was very, very necessary to talk over beforehand." Then followed an inquiry about breakfast and an invitation to have it with them; they had waited to have it with him. Avdotya Romanovna rang the bell: it was answered by a ragged dirty waiter, and they asked him to bring tea which was served at last, but in such a dirty and disorderly way, that the ladies were ashamed. Razumihin vigorously attacked the lodgings, but, remembering Luzhin, stopped in embarrassment and was greatly relieved by Pulcheria Alexandrovna's questions, which showered in a continual stream upon him.

Title: Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
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