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Fyodor Dostoevsky >> Crime and Punishment (page 46)


Then Razumihin began to unfold his project, and he explained at length that almost all our publishers and booksellers know nothing at all of what they are selling, and for that reason they are usually bad publishers, and that any decent publications pay as a rule and give a profit, sometimes a considerable one. Razumihin had, indeed, been dreaming of setting up as a publisher. For the last two years he had been working in publishers' offices, and knew three European languages well, though he had told Raskolnikov six days before that he was "schwach" in German with an object of persuading him to take half his translation and half the payment for it. He had told a lie, then, and Raskolnikov knew he was lying.

"Why, why should we let our chance slip when we have one of the chief means of success– money of our own!" cried Razumihin warmly. "Of course there will be a lot of work, but we will work, you, Avdotya Romanovna, I, Rodion…. You get a splendid profit on some books nowadays! And the great point of the business is that we shall know just what wants translating, and we shall be translating, publishing, learning all at once. I can be of use because I have experience. For nearly two years I've been scuttling about among the publishers, and now I know every detail of their business. You need not be a saint to make pots, believe me! And why, why should we let our chance slip! Why, I know– and I kept the secret– two or three books which one might get a hundred roubles simply for thinking of translating and publishing. Indeed, and I would not take five hundred for the very idea of one of them. And what do you think? If I were to tell a publisher, I dare say he'd hesitate– they are such blockheads! And as for the business side, printing, paper, selling, you trust to me, I know my way about. We'll begin in a small way and go on to a large. In any case it will get us our living and we shall get back our capital."

Dounia's eyes shone.

"I like what you are saying, Dmitri Prokofitch!" she said.

"I know nothing about it, of course," put in Pulcheria Alexandrovna, "it may be a good idea, but again God knows. It's new and untried. Of course, we must remain here at least for a time." She looked at Rodya.

"What do you think, brother?" said Dounia.

"I think he's got a very good idea," he answered. "Of course, it's too soon to dream of a publishing firm, but we certainly might bring out five or six books and be sure of success. I know of one book myself which would be sure to go well. And as for his being able to manage it, there's no doubt about that either. He knows the business…. But we can talk it over later…."

"Hurrah!" cried Razumihin. "Now, stay, there's a flat here in this house, belonging to the same owner. It's a special flat apart, not communicating with these lodgings. It's furnished, rent moderate, three rooms. Suppose you take them to begin with. I'll pawn your watch to-morrow and bring you the money, and everything can be arranged then. You can all three live together, and Rodya will be with you. But where are you off to, Rodya?"

"What, Rodya, you are going already?" Pulcheria Alexandrovna asked in dismay.

"At such a minute?" cried Razumihin.

Dounia looked at her brother with incredulous wonder. He held his cap in his hand, he was preparing to leave them.

"One would think you were burying me or saying good-bye for ever," he said somewhat oddly. He attempted to smile, but it did not turn out a smile. "But who knows, perhaps it is the last time we shall see each other…" he let slip accidentally. It was what he was thinking, and it somehow was uttered aloud.

"What is the matter with you?" cried his mother.

"Where are you going, Rodya?" asked Dounia rather strangely.

"Oh, I'm quite obliged to…" he answered vaguely, as though hesitating what he would say. But there was a look of sharp determination in his white face.

"I meant to say… as I was coming here… I meant to tell you, mother, and you, Dounia, that it would be better for us to part for a time. I feel ill, I am not at peace…. I will come afterwards, I will come of myself… when it's possible, I remember you and love you…. Leave me, leave me alone. I decided this even before… I'm absolutely resolved on it. Whatever may come to me, whether I come to ruin or not, I want to be alone. Forget me altogether, it's better. Don't inquire about me. When I can, I'll come of myself or… I'll send for you. Perhaps it will all come back, but now if you love me, give me up… else I shall begin to hate you, I feel it…. Good-bye!"

"Good God!" cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. Both his mother and his sister were terribly alarmed. Razumihin was also.

"Rodya, Rodya, be reconciled with us! Let us be as before!" cried his poor mother.

He turned slowly to the door and slowly went out of the room. Dounia overtook him.

"Brother, what are you doing to mother?" she whispered, her eyes flashing with indignation.

He looked dully at her.

"No matter, I shall come…. I'm coming," he muttered in an undertone, as though not fully conscious of what he was saying, and he went out of the room.

"Wicked, heartless egoist!" cried Dounia.

"He is insane, but not heartless. He is mad! Don't you see it? You're heartless after that!" Razumihin whispered in her ear, squeezing her hand tightly. "I shall be back directly," he shouted to the horror-stricken mother, and he ran out of the room.

Raskolnikov was waiting for him at the end of the passage.

"I knew you would run after me," he said. "Go back to them– be with them… be with them to-morrow and always…. I… perhaps I shall come… if I can. Good-bye."

And without holding out his hand he walked away.

"But where are you going? What are you doing? What's the matter with you? How can you go on like this?" Razumihin muttered, at his wits' end.

Raskolnikov stopped once more.

"Once for all, never ask me about anything. I have nothing to tell you. Don't come to see me. Maybe I'll come here…. Leave me, but don't leave them. Do you understand me?"

It was dark in the corridor, they were standing near the lamp. For a minute they were looking at one another in silence. Razumihin remembered that minute all his life. Raskolnikov's burning and intent eyes grew more penetrating every moment, piercing into his soul, into his consciousness. Suddenly Razumihin started. Something strange, as it were, passed between them…. Some idea, some hint as it were, slipped, something awful, hideous, and suddenly understood on both sides…. Razumihin turned pale.

"Do you understand now?" said Raskolnikov, his face twitching nervously. "Go back, go to them," he said suddenly, and turning quickly, he went out of the house.

I will not attempt to describe how Razumihin went back to the ladies, how he soothed them, how he protested that Rodya needed rest in his illness, protested that Rodya was sure to come, that he would come every day, that he was very, very much upset, that he must not be irritated, that he, Razumihin, would watch over him, would get him a doctor, the best doctor, a consultation…. In fact from that evening Razumihin took his place with them as a son and a brother. CHAPTERFOUR Chapter Four

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RASKOLNIKOV WENT straight to the house on the canal bank where Sonia lived. It was an old green house of three storeys. He found the porter and obtained from him vague directions as to the whereabouts of Kapernaumov, the tailor. Having found in the corner of the courtyard the entrance to the dark and narrow staircase, he mounted to the second floor and came out into a gallery that ran round the whole second storey over the yard. While he was wandering in the darkness, uncertain where to turn for Kapernaumov's door, a door opened three paces from him; he mechanically took hold of it.

"Who is there?" a woman's voice asked uneasily.

"It's I… come to see you," answered Raskolnikov and he walked into the tiny entry.

On a broken chair stood a candle in a battered copper candlestick.

"It's you! Good heavens!" cried Sonia weakly and she stood rooted to the spot.

"Which is your room? This way?" and Raskolnikov, trying not to look at her, hastened in.

A minute later Sonia, too, came in with the candle, set down the candlestick and, completely disconcerted, stood before him inexpressibly agitated and apparently frightened by his unexpected visit. The colour rushed suddenly to her pale face and tears came into her eyes… She felt sick and ashamed and happy, too…. Raskolnikov turned away quickly and sat on a chair by the table. He scanned the room in a rapid glance.

It was a large but exceeding low-pitched room, the only one let by the Kapernaumovs, to whose rooms a closed door led in the wall on the left. In the opposite side on the right hand wall was another door, always kept locked. That led to the next flat, which formed a separate lodging. Sonia's room looked like a barn; it was a very irregular quadrangle and this gave it a grotesque appearance. A wall with three windows looking out on to the canal ran aslant so that one corner formed a very acute angle, and it was difficult to see in it without very strong light. The other corner was disproportionately obtuse. There was scarcely any furniture in the big room: in the corner on the right was a bedstead, beside it, nearest the door, a chair. A plain, deal table covered by a blue cloth stood against the same wall, close to the door into the other flat. Two rush-bottom chairs stood by the table. On the opposite wall near the acute angle stood a small plain wooden chest of drawers looking, as it were, lost in a desert. That was all there was in the room. The yellow, scratched and shabby wall-paper was black in the corners. It must have been damp and full of fumes in the winter. There was every sign of poverty; even the bedstead had no curtain.

Sonia looked in silence at her visitor, who was so attentively and unceremoniously scrutinising her room, and even began at last to tremble with terror, as though she was standing before her judge and the arbiter of her destinies.

"I am late…. eleven, isn't it?" he asked, still not lifting his eyes.

"Yes," muttered Sonia, "oh, yes, it is," she added, hastily, as though in that lay her means of escape. "My landlady's clock has just struck… I heard it myself…."

"I've come to you for the last time," Raskolnikov went on gloomily, although this was the first time. "I may perhaps not see you again…"

"Are you… going away?"

"I don't know… to-morrow…."

"Then you are not coming to Katerina Ivanovna to-morrow?" Sonia's voice shook.

"I don't know. I shall know to-morrow morning…. Never mind that: I've come to say one word…."

He raised his brooding eyes to her and suddenly noticed that he was sitting down while she was all the while standing before him.

"Why are you standing? Sit down," he said in a changed voice, gentle and friendly.

She sat down. He looked kindly and almost compassionately at her.

"How thin you are! What a hand! Quite transparent, like a dead hand."

He took her hand. Sonia smiled faintly.

"I have always been like that," she said.

"Even when you lived at home?"

"Yes."

"Of course, you were," he added abruptly and the expression of his face and the sound of his voice changed again suddenly.

He looked round him once more.

"You rent this room from the Kapernaumovs?"

"Yes…."

"They live there, through that door?"

"Yes…. They have another room like this."

"All in one room?"

"Yes."

"I should be afraid in your room at night," he observed gloomily.

"They are very good people, very kind," answered Sonia, who still seemed bewildered, "and all the furniture, everything… everything is theirs. And they are very kind and the children, too, often come to see me."

"They all stammer, don't they?"

"Yes…. He stammers and he's lame. And his wife, too…. It's not exactly that she stammers, but she can't speak plainly. She is a very kind woman. And he used to be a house serf. And there are seven children… and it's only the eldest one that stammers and the others are simply ill… but they don't stammer…. But where did you hear about them?" she added with some surprise.

"Your father told me, then. He told me all about you…. And how you went out at six o'clock and came back at nine and how Katerina Ivanovna knelt down by your bed."

Sonia was confused.

"I fancied I saw him to-day," she whispered hesitatingly.

"Whom?"

"Father. I was walking in the street, out there at the corner, about ten o'clock and he seemed to be walking in front. It looked just like him. I wanted to go to Katerina Ivanovna…."

"You were walking in the streets?"

"Yes," Sonia whispered abruptly, again overcome with confusion and looking down.

"Katerina Ivanovna used to beat you, I daresay?"

"Oh no, what are you saying? No!" Sonia looked at him almost with dismay.

"You love her, then?"

"Love her? Of course!" said Sonia with plaintive emphasis, and she clasped her hands in distress. "Ah, you don't…. If you only knew! You see, she is quite like a child…. Her mind is quite unhinged, you see… from sorrow. And how clever she used to be… how generous… how kind! Ah, you don't understand, you don't understand!"

Title: Crime and Punishment
Author: Fyodor Dostoevsky
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