And grinding his teeth again, Pyotr Petrovitch called himself a fool– but not
aloud, of course.
He returned home, twice as irritated and angry as before. The preparations for
the funeral dinner at Katerina Ivanovna's excited his curiosity as he passed. He
had heard about it the day before; he fancied, indeed, that he had been invited,
but absorbed in his own cares he had paid no attention. Inquiring of Madame Lippevechsel
who was busy laying the table while Katerina Ivanovna was away at the cemetery,
he heard that the entertainment was to be a great affair, that all the lodgers had
been invited, among them some who had not known the dead man, that even Andrey Semyonovitch
Lebeziatnikov was invited in spite of his previous quarrel with Katerina Ivanovna,
that he, Pyotr Petrovitch, was not only invited, but was eagerly expected as he
was the most important of the lodgers. Amalia Ivanovna herself had been invited
with great ceremony in spite of the recent unpleasantness, and so she was very busy
with preparations and was taking a positive pleasure in them; she was moreover dressed
up to the nines, all in new black silk, and she was proud of it. All this suggested
an idea to Pyotr Petrovitch and he went into his room, or rather Lebeziatnikov's,
somewhat thoughtful. He had learnt that Raskolnikov was to be one of the guests.
Andrey Semyonovitch had been at home all the morning. The attitude of Pyotr Petrovitch
to this gentleman was strange, though perhaps natural. Pyotr Petrovitch had despised
and hated him from the day he came to stay with him and at the same time he seemed
somewhat afraid of him. He had not come to stay with him on his arrival in Petersburg
simply from parsimony, though that had been perhaps his chief object. He had heard
of Andrey Semyonovitch, who had once been his ward, as a leading young progressive
who was taking an important part in certain interesting circles, the doings of which
were a legend in the provinces. It had impressed Pyotr Petrovitch. These powerful
omniscient circles who despised every one and showed every one up had long inspired
in him a peculiar but quite vague alarm. He had not, of course, been able to form
even an approximate notion of what they meant. He, like every one, had heard that
there were, especially in Petersburg, progressives of some sort, nihilists and so
on, and, like many people, he exaggerated and distorted the significance of those
words to an absurd degree. What for many years past he had feared more than anything
was being shown up and this was the chief ground for his continual uneasiness at
the thought of transferring his business to Petersburg. He was afraid of this as
little children are sometimes panic-stricken. Some years before, when he was just
entering on his own career, he had come upon two cases in which rather important
personages in the province, patrons of his, had been cruelly shown up. One instance
had ended in great scandal for the person attacked and the other had very nearly
ended in serious trouble. For this reason Pyotr Petrovitch intended to go into the
subject as soon as he reached Petersburg and, if necessary, to anticipate contingencies
by seeking the favour of "our younger generation." He relied on Andrey Semyonovitch
for this and before his visit to Raskolnikov he had succeeded in picking up some
current phrases. He soon discovered that Andrey Semyonovitch was a commonplace simpleton,
but that by no means reassured Pyotr Petrovitch. Even if he had been certain that
all the progressives were fools like him, it would not have allayed his uneasiness.
All the doctrines, the ideas, the systems with which Andrey Semyonovitch pestered
him had no interest for him. He had his own object– he simply wanted to find out
at once what was happening here. Had these people any power or not? Had he anything
to fear from them? Would they expose any enterprise of his? And what precisely was
now the object of their attacks? Could he somehow make up to them and get round
them if they really were powerful? Was this the thing to do or not? Couldn't he
gain something through them? In fact hundreds of questions presented themselves.
Andrey Semyonovitch was an anaemic, scrofulous little man, with strangely flaxen
mutton-chop whiskers of which he was very proud. He was a clerk and had almost always
something wrong with his eyes. He was rather soft-hearted, but self-confident and
sometimes extremely conceited in speech which had an absurd effect, incongruous
with his little figure. He was one of the lodgers most respected by Amalia Ivanovna,
for he did not get drunk and paid regularly for his lodgings. Andrey Semyonovitch
really was rather stupid; he attached himself to the cause of progress and "our
younger generation" from enthusiasm. He was one of the numerous and varied legion
of dullards, of half-animate abortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach
themselves to the idea most in fashion only to vulgarise it and who caricature every
cause they serve, however sincerely.
Though Lebeziatnikov was so good-natured, he, too, was beginning to dislike Pyotr
Petrovitch. This happened on both sides unconsciously. However simple Andrey Semyonovitch
might be, he began to see that Pyotr Petrovitch was duping him and secretly despising
him, and that "he was not the right sort of man." He had tried expounding to him
the system of Fourier and the Darwinian theory, but of late Pyotr Petrovitch began
to listen too sarcastically and even to be rude. The fact was he had begun instinctively
to guess that Lebeziatnikov was not merely a commonplace simpleton, but, perhaps,
a liar, too, and that he had no connections of any consequence even in his own circle,
but had simply picked things up third-hand; and that very likely he did not even
know much about his own work of propaganda, for he was in too great a muddle. A
fine person he would be to show any one up! It must be noted, by the way, that Pyotr
Petrovitch had during those ten days eagerly accepted the strangest praise from
Andrey Semyonovitch; he had not protested, for instance, when Andrey Semyonovitch
belauded him for being ready to contribute to the establishment of the new "commune,"
or to abstain from christening his future children, or to acquiesce if Dounia were
to take a lover a month after marriage, and so on. Pyotr Petrovitch so enjoyed hearing
his own praises that he did not disdain even such virtues when they were attributed
Pyotr Petrovitch had had occasion that morning to realise some five per cent.
bonds and now he sat down to the table and counted over bundles of notes. Andrey
Semyonovitch who hardly ever had any money walked about the room pretending to himself
to look at all those bank notes with indifference and even contempt. Nothing would
have convinced Pyotr Petrovitch that Andrey Semyonovitch could really look on the
money unmoved, and the latter, on his side, kept thinking bitterly that Pyotr Petrovitch
was capable of entertaining such an idea about him and was, perhaps, glad of the
opportunity of teasing his young friend by reminding him of his inferiority and
the great difference between them.
He found him incredibly inattentive and irritable, though he, Andrey Semyonovitch,
began enlarging on his favourite subject, the foundation of a new special "commune."
The brief remarks that dropped from Pyotr Petrovitch between the clicking of the
beads on the reckoning frame betrayed unmistakable and discourteous irony. But the
"humane" Andrey Semyonovitch ascribed Pyotr Petrovitch's ill-humour to his recent
breach with Dounia and he was burning with impatience to discourse on that theme.
He had something progressive to say on the subject which might console his worthy
friend and "could not fail" to promote his development.
"There is some sort of festivity being prepared at that… at the widow's, isn't
there?" Pyotr Petrovitch asked suddenly, interrupting Andrey Semyonovitch at the
most interesting passage.
"Why, don't you know? Why, I was telling you last night what I think about all
such ceremonies. And she invited you too, I heard. You were talking to her yesterday…"
"I should never have expected that beggarly fool would have spent on this feast
all the money she got from that other fool, Raskolnikov. I was surprised just now
as I came through at the preparations there, the wines! Several people are invited.
It's beyond everything!" continued Pyotr Petrovitch, who seemed to have some object
in pursuing the conversation. "What? You say I am asked too? When was that? I don't
remember. But I shan't go. Why should I? I only said a word to her in passing yesterday
of the possibility of her obtaining a year's salary as a destitute widow of a government
clerk. I suppose she has invited me on that account, hasn't she? He-he-he!"
"I don't intend to go either," said Lebeziatnikov.
"I should think not, after giving her a thrashing! You might well hesitate, he-he!"
"Who thrashed? Whom?" cried Lebeziatnikov, flustered and blushing.
"Why, you thrashed Katerina Ivanovna a month ago. I heard so yesterday… so that's
what your convictions amount to… and the woman question, too, wasn't quite sound,
he-he-he!" and Pyotr Petrovitch, as though comforted, went back to clicking his
"It's all slander and nonsense!" cried Lebeziatnikov, who was always afraid of
allusions to the subject. "It was not like that at all, it was quite different.
You've heard it wrong; it's a libel. I was simply defending myself. She rushed at
me first with her nails, she pulled out all my whiskers…. It's permissable for any
one I should hope to defend himself and I never allow any one to use violence to
me on principle, for it's an act of despotism. What was I to do? I simply pushed
"He-he-he!" Luzhin went on laughing maliciously.
"You keep on like that because you are out of humour yourself…. But that's nonsense
and it has nothing, nothing whatever to do with the woman question! You don't understand;
I used to think, indeed, that if women are equal to men in all respects even in
strength (as is maintained now) there ought to be equality in that, too. Of course,
I reflected afterwards that such a question ought not really to arise, for there
ought not to be fighting and in the future society, fighting is unthinkable… and
that it would be a queer thing to seek for equality in fighting. I am not so stupid…
though, of course, there is fighting… there won't be later, but at present there
is… confound it! How muddled one gets with you! It's not on that account that I
am not going. I am not going on principle, not to take part in the revolting convention
of memorial dinners, that's why! Though, of course, one might go to laugh at it….
I am sorry there won't be any priests at it. I should certainly go if there were."
"Then you would sit down at another man's table and insult it and those who invited
"Certainly not insult, but protest. I should do it with a good object. I might
indirectly assist the cause of enlightenment and propaganda. It's a duty of every
man to work for enlightenment and propaganda and the more harshly, perhaps, the
better. I might drop a seed, an idea…. And something might grow up from that seed.
How should I be insulting them? They might be offended at first, but afterwards
they'd see I'd done them a service. You know, Terebyeva (who is in the community
now) was blamed because when she left her family and… devoted… herself, she wrote
to her father and mother that she wouldn't go on living conventionally and was entering
on a free marriage and it was said that that was too harsh, that she might have
spared them and have written more kindly. I think that's all nonsense and there's
no need of softness, on the contrary, what's wanted is protest. Varents had been
married seven years, she abandoned her two children, she told her husband straight
out in a letter: 'I have realised that I cannot be happy with you. I can never forgive
you that you have deceived me by concealing from me that there is another organisation
of society by means of the communities. I have only lately learned it from a great-hearted
man to whom I have given myself and with whom I am establishing a community. I speak
plainly because I consider it dishonest to deceive you. Do as you think best. Do
not hope to get me back, you are too late. I hope you will be happy.' That's how
letters like that ought to be written!"
"Is that Terebyeva the one you said had made a third free marriage?"
"No, it's only the second, really! But what if it were the fourth, what if it
were the fifteenth, that's all nonsense! And if ever I regretted the death of my
father and mother, it is now, and I sometimes think if my parents were living what
a protest I would have aimed at them! I would have done something on purpose… I
would have shown them! I would have astonished them! I am really sorry there is
"To surprise! He-he! Well, be that as you will," Pyotr Petrovitch interrupted,
"but tell me this; do you know the dead man's daughter, the delicate-looking little
thing? It's true what they say about her, isn't it?"
"What of it? I think, that is, it is my own personal conviction, that this is
the normal condition of women. Why not? I mean, distinguons. In our present society,
it is not altogether normal, because it is compulsory, but in the future society,
it will be perfectly normal, because it will be voluntary. Even as it is, she was
quite right: she was suffering and that was her asset, so to speak, her capital
which she had a perfect right to dispose of. Of course, in the future society, there
will be no need of assets, but her part will have another significance, rational
and in harmony with her environment. As to Sofya Semyonovna personally, I regard
her action as a vigorous protest against the organization of society, and I respect
her deeply for it; I rejoice indeed when I look at her!"
"I was told that you got her turned out of these lodgings."
Lebeziatnikov was enraged.
"That's another slander," he yelled. "It was not so at all! That was all Katerina
Ivanovna's invention, for she did not understand! And I never made love to Sofya
Semyonovna! I was simply developing her, entirely disinterestedly, trying to rouse
her to protest…. All I wanted was her protest and Sofya Semyonovna could not have
remained here anyway!"