He talked for three quarters of an hour, being constantly interrupted by their
questions, and succeeded in describing to them all the most important facts he knew
of the last year of Raskolnikov's life, concluding with a circumstantial account
of his illness. He omitted, however, many things, which were better omitted, including
the scene at the police station with all its consequences. They listened eagerly
to his story, and, when he thought he had finished and satisfied his listeners,
he found that they considered he had hardly begun.
"Tell me, tell me! What do you think…? Excuse me, I still don't know your name!"
Pulcheria Alexandrovna put in hastily.
"I should like very, very much to know, Dmitri Prokofitch… how he looks… on things
in general now, that is, how can I explain, what are his likes and dislikes? Is
he always so irritable? Tell me, if you can, what are his hopes and so to say his
dreams? Under what influences is he now? In a word, I should like…"
"Ah, mother, how can he answer all that at once?" observed Dounia.
"Good heavens, I had not expected to find him in the least like this, Dmitri
"Naturally," answered Razumihin. "I have no mother, but my uncle comes every
year and almost every time he can scarcely recognise me, even in appearance, though
he is a clever man; and your three years' separation means a great deal. What am
I to tell you? I have known Rodion for a year and a half; he is morose, gloomy,
proud and haughty, and of late– and perhaps for a long time before– he has been
suspicious and fanciful. He has a noble nature and a kind heart. He does not like
showing his feelings and would rather do a cruel thing than open his heart freely.
Sometimes, though, he is not at all morbid, but simply cold and inhumanly callous;
it's as though he were alternating between two characters. Sometimes he is fearfully
reserved! He says he is so busy that everything is a hindrance, and yet he lies
in bed doing nothing. He doesn't jeer at things, not because he hasn't the wit,
but as though he hadn't time to waste on such trifles. He never listens to what
is said to him. He is never interested in what interests other people at any given
moment. He thinks very highly of himself and perhaps he is right. Well, what more?
I think your arrival will have a most beneficial influence upon him."
"God grant it may," cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna, distressed by Razumihin's account
of her Rodya.
And Razumihin ventured to look more boldly at Avdotya Romanovna at last. He glanced
at her often while he was talking, but only for a moment and looked away again at
once. Avdotya Romanovna sat at the table, listening attentively, then got up again
and began walking to and fro with her arms folded and her lips compressed, occasionally
putting in a question, without stopping her walk. She had the same habit of not
listening to what was said. She was wearing a dress of thin dark stuff and she had
a white transparent scarf round her neck. Razumihin soon detected signs of extreme
poverty in their belongings. Had Avdotya Romanovna been dressed like a queen, he
felt that he would not be afraid of her, but perhaps just because she was poorly
dressed and that he noticed all the misery of her surroundings, his heart was filled
with dread and he began to be afraid of every word he uttered, every gesture he
made, which was very trying for a man who already felt diffident.
"You've told us a great deal that is interesting about my brother's character…
and have told it impartially. I am glad. I thought that you were too uncritically
devoted to him," observed Avdotya Romanovna with a smile. "I think you are right
that he needs a woman's care," she added thoughtfully.
"I didn't say so; but I daresay you are right, only…"
"He loves no one and perhaps he never will," Razumihin declared decisively.
"You mean he is not capable of love?"
"Do you know, Avdotya Romanovna, you are awfully like your brother, in everything,
indeed!" he blurted out suddenly to his own surprise, but remembering at once what
he had just before said of her brother, he turned as red as a crab and was overcome
with confusion. Avdotya Romanovna couldn't help laughing when she looked at him.
"You may both be mistaken about Rodya," Pulcheria Alexandrovna remarked, slightly
piqued. "I am not talking of our present difficulty, Dounia. What Pyotr Petrovitch
writes in this letter and what you and I have supposed may be mistaken, but you
can't imagine, Dmitri Prokofitch, how moody and, so to say, capricious he is. I
never could depend on what he would do when he was only fifteen. And I am sure that
he might do something now that nobody else would think of doing… Well, for instance,
do you know how a year and a half ago he astounded me and gave me a shock that nearly
killed me, when he had the idea of marrying that girl– what was her name– his landlady's
"Did you hear about that affair?" asked Avdotya Romanovna.
"Do you suppose-" Pulcheria Alexandrovna continued warmly. "Do you suppose that
my tears, my entreaties, my illness, my possible death from grief, our poverty would
have made him pause? No, he would calmly have disregarded all obstacles. And yet
it isn't that he doesn't love us!"
"He has never spoken a word of that affair to me," Razumihin answered cautiously.
"But I did hear something from Praskovya Pavlovna herself, though she is by no means
a gossip. And what I heard certainly was rather strange."
"And what did you hear?" both the ladies asked at once.
"Well, nothing very special. I only learned that the marriage, which only failed
to take place through the girl's death, was not at all to Praskovya Pavlovna's liking.
They say, too, the girl was not at all pretty, in fact I am told positively ugly…
and such an invalid… and queer. But she seems to have had some good qualities. She
must have had some good qualities or it's quite inexplicable…. She had no money
either and he wouldn't have considered her money…. But it's always difficult to
judge in such matters."
"I am sure she was a good girl," Avdotya Romanovna observed briefly.
"God forgive me, I simply rejoiced at her death. Though I don't know which of
them would have caused most misery to the other– he to her or she to him," Pulcheria
Alexandrovna concluded. Then she began tentatively questioning him about the scene
on the previous day with Luzhin, hesitating and continually glancing at Dounia,
obviously to the latter's annoyance. This incident more than all the rest evidently
caused her uneasiness, even consternation. Razumihin described it in detail again,
but this time he added his own conclusions: he openly blamed Raskolnikov for intentionally
insulting Pyotr Petrovitch, not seeking to excuse him on the score of his illness.
"He had planned it before his illness," he added.
"I think so, too," Pulcheria Alexandrovna agreed with a dejected air. But she
was very much surprised at hearing Razumihin express himself so carefully and even
with a certain respect about Pyotr Petrovitch. Avdotya Romanovna, too, was struck
"So this is your opinion of Pyotr Petrovitch?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna could not
"I can have no other opinion of your daughter's future husband," Razumihin answered
firmly and with warmth, "and I don't say it simply from vulgar politeness, but because…
simply because Avdotya Romanovna has of her own free will deigned to accept this
man. If I spoke so rudely of him last night, it was because I was disgustingly drunk
and… mad besides; yes, mad, crazy, I lost my head completely… and this morning I
am ashamed of it."
He crimsoned and ceased speaking. Avdotya Romanovna flushed, but did not break
the silence. She had not uttered a word from the moment they began to speak of Luzhin.
Without her support Pulcheria Alexandrovna obviously did not know what to do.
At last, faltering and continually glancing at her daughter, she confessed that
she was exceedingly worried by one circumstance.
"You see, Dmitri Prokofitch," she began. "I'll be perfectly open with Dmitri
"Of course, mother," said Avdotya Romanovna emphatically.
"This is what it is," she began in haste, as though the permission to speak of
her trouble lifted a weight off her mind. "Very early this morning we got a note
from Pyotr Petrovitch in reply to our letter announcing our arrival. He promised
to meet us at the station, you know; instead of that he sent a servant to bring
us the address of these lodgings and to show us the way; and he sent a message that
he would be here himself this morning. But this morning this note came from him.
You'd better read it yourself; there is one point in it which worries me very much…
you will soon see what that is, and… tell me your candid opinion, Dmitri Prokofitch!
You know Rodya's character better than any one and no one can advise us better than
you can. Dounia, I must tell you, made her decision at once, but I still don't feel
sure how to act and I… I've been waiting for your opinion."
Razumihin opened the note which was dated the previous evening and read as follows:
"DEAR MADAM, Pulcheria Alexandrovna, I have the honour to inform you that owing
to unforeseen obstacles I was rendered unable to meet you at the railway station;
I sent a very competent person with the same object in view. I likewise shall be
deprived of the honour of an interview with you to-morrow morning by business in
the Senate that does not admit of delay, and also that I may not intrude on your
family circle while you are meeting your son, and Avdotya Romanovna her brother.
I shall have the honour of visiting you and paying you my respects at your lodgings
not later than to-morrow evening at eight o'clock precisely, and herewith I venture
to present my earnest and, I may add, imperative request that Rodion Romanovitch
may not be present at our interview– as he offered me a gross and unprecedented
affront on the occasion of my visit to him in his illness yesterday, and, moreover,
since I desire from you personally an indispensable and circumstantial explanation
upon a certain point, in regard to which I wish to learn your own interpretation.
I have the honour to inform you, in anticipation, that if, in spite of my request,
I meet Rodion Romanovitch, I shall be compelled to withdraw immediately and then
you have only yourself to blame. I write on the assumption that Rodion Romanovitch
who appeared so ill at my visit, suddenly recovered two hours later and so, being
able to leave the house, may visit you also. I was confirmed in that belief by the
testimony of my own eyes in the lodging of a drunken man who was run over and has
since died, to whose daughter, a young woman of notorious behaviour, he gave twenty-five
roubles on the pretext of the funeral, which gravely surprised me knowing what pains
you were at to raise that sum. Herewith expressing my special respect to your estimable
daughter, Avdotya Romanovna, I beg you to accept the respectful homage of
"Your humble servant,
"P. LUZHIN." –
"What am I to do now, Dmitri Prokofitch?" began Pulcheria Alexandrovna, almost
weeping. "How can I ask Rodya not to come? Yesterday he insisted so earnestly on
our refusing Pyotr Petrovitch and now we are ordered not to receive Rodya! He will
come on purpose if he knows, and… what will happen then?"
"Act on Avdotya Romanovna's decision," Razumihin answered calmly at once.
"Oh, dear me! She says… goodness knows what she says, she doesn't explain her
object! She says that it would be best, at least, not that it would be best, but
that it's absolutely necessary that Rodya should make a point of being here at eight
o'clock and that they must meet…. I didn't want even to show him the letter, but
to prevent him from coming by some stratagem with your help… because he is so irritable….
Besides I don't understand about that drunkard who died and that daughter, and how
he could have given the daughter all the money… which…"
"Which cost you such sacrifice, mother," put in Avdotya Romanovna.
"He was not himself yesterday," Razumihin said thoughtfully, "if you only knew
what he was up to in a restaurant yesterday, though there was sense in it too….
Hm! He did say something, as we were going home yesterday evening, about a dead
man and a girl, but I didn't understand a word…. But last night, I myself…"
"The best thing, mother, will be for us to go to him ourselves and there I assure
you we shall see at once what's to be done. Besides, it's getting late– good heavens,
it's past ten," she cried looking at a splendid gold enamelled watch which hung
round her neck on a thin Venetian chain, and looked entirely out of keeping with
the rest of her dress. "A present from her fiance," thought Razumihin.
"We must start, Dounia, we must start," her mother cried in a flutter. "He will
be thinking we are still angry after yesterday, from our coming so late. Merciful
While she said this she was hurriedly putting on her hat and mantle; Dounia,
too, put on her things. Her gloves, as Razumihin noticed, were not merely shabby
but had holes in them, and yet this evident poverty gave the two ladies an air of
special dignity, which is always found in people who know how to wear poor clothes.
Razumihin looked reverently at Dounia and felt proud of escorting her. "The queen
who mended her stockings in prison," he thought, "must have looked then every inch
a queen and even more a queen than at sumptuous banquets and levees."
"My God," exclaimed Pulcheria Alexandrovna, "little did I think that I should
ever fear seeing my son, my darling, darling Rodya! I am afraid, Dmitri Prokofitch,"
she added, glancing at him timidly.