"Thief! Out of my lodging. Police, police!" yelled Amalia Ivanovna. "They must
to Siberia be sent! Away!"
Exclamations arose on all sides. Raskolnikov was silent, keeping his eyes fixed
on Sonia, except for an occasional rapid glance at Luzhin. Sonia stood still, as
though unconscious. She was hardly able to feel surprise. Suddenly the colour rushed
to her cheeks; she uttered a cry and hid her face in her hands.
"No, it wasn't I! I didn't take it! I know nothing about it," she cried with
a heartrending wail, and she ran to Katerina Ivanovna, who clasped her tightly in
her arms, as though she would shelter her from all the world.
"Sonia! Sonia! I don't believe it! You see, I don't believe it!" she cried in
the face of the obvious fact, swaying her to and fro in her arms like a baby, kissing
her face continually, then snatching at her hands and kissing them, too. "You took
it! How stupid these people are! Oh dear! You are fools, fools," she cried, addressing
the whole room, "you don't know, you don't know what a heart she has, what a girl
she is! She take it, she? She'd sell her last rag, she'd go barefoot to help you
if you needed it, that's what she is! She has the yellow passport because my children
were starving, she sold herself for us! Ah, husband, husband! Do you see? Do you
see? What a memorial dinner for you! Merciful heavens! Defend her, why are you all
standing still? Rodion Romanovitch, why don't you stand up for her? Do you believe
it, too? You are not worth her little finger, all of you together! Good God! Defend
her now, at least!"
The wail of the poor, consumptive, helpless woman seemed to produce a great effect
on her audience. The agonised, wasted, consumptive face, the parched blood-stained
lips, the hoarse voice, the tears unrestrained as a child's, the trustful, childish
and yet despairing prayer for help were so piteous that every one seemed to feel
for her. Pyotr Petrovitch at any rate was at once moved to compassion.
"Madam, madam, this incident does not reflect upon you!" he cried impressively,
"no one would take upon himself to accuse you of being an instigator or even an
accomplice in it, especially as you have proved her guilt by turning out her pockets,
showing that you had no previous idea of it. I am most ready, most ready to show
compassion, if poverty, so to speak, drove Sofya Semyonovna to it, but why did you
refuse to confess, mademoiselle? Were you afraid of the disgrace? The first step?
You lost your head, perhaps? One can quite understand it…. But how could you have
lowered yourself to such an action? Gentlemen," he addressed the whole company,
"gentlemen! Compassionate and so to say commiserating these people, I am ready to
overlook it even now in spite of the personal insult lavished upon me! And may this
disgrace be a lesson to you for the future," he said, addressing Sonia, "and I will
carry the matter no further. Enough!"
Pyotr Petrovitch stole a glance at Raskolnikov. Their eyes met, and the fire
in Raskolnikov's seemed ready to reduce him to ashes. Meanwhile Katerina Ivanovna
apparently heard nothing. She was kissing and hugging Sonia like a madwoman. The
children, too, were embracing Sonia on all sides, and Polenka,– though she did not
fully understand what was wrong,– was drowned in tears and shaking with sobs, as
she hid her pretty little face, swollen with weeping, on Sonia's shoulder.
"How vile!" a loud voice cried suddenly in the doorway.
Pyotr Petrovitch looked round quickly.
"What vileness!" Lebeziatnikov repeated, staring him straight in the face.
Pyotr Petrovitch gave a positive start– all noticed it and recalled it afterwards.
Lebeziatnikov strode into the room.
"And you dared to call me as witness?" he said, going up to Pyotr Petrovitch.
"What do you mean? What are you talking about?" muttered Luzhin.
"I mean that you… are a slanderer, that's what my words mean!" Lebeziatnikov
said hotly, looking sternly at him with his shortsighted eyes.
He was extremely angry. Raskolnikov gazed intently at him, as though seizing
and weighing each word. Again there was a silence. Pyotr Petrovitch indeed seemed
almost dumbfounded for the first moment.
"If you mean that for me,…" he began, stammering. "But what's the matter with
you? Are you out of your mind?"
"I'm in my mind, but you are a scoundrel! Ah, how vile! I have heard everything.
I kept waiting on purpose to understand it, for I must own even now it is not quite
logical…. What you have done it all for I can't understand."
"Why, what have I done then? Give over talking in your nonsensical riddles! Or
maybe you are drunk!"
"You may be a drunkard, perhaps, vile man, but I am not! I never touch vodka,
for it's against my convictions. Would you believe it, he, he himself, with his
own hands gave Sofya Semyonovna that hundred-rouble note– I saw it, I was a witness,
I'll take my oath! He did it, he!" repeated Lebeziatnikov, addressing all.
"Are you crazy, milksop?" squealed Luzhin. "She is herself before you,– she herself
here declared just now before every one that I gave her only ten roubles. How could
I have given it to her?"
"I saw it, I saw it," Lebeziatnikov repeated, "and although it is against my
principles, I am ready this very minute to take any oath you like before the court,
for I saw how you slipped it in her pocket. Only like a fool I thought you did it
out of kindness! When you were saying good-bye to her at the door, while you held
her hand in one hand, with the other, the left, you slipped the note into her pocket.
I saw it, I saw it!"
Luzhin turned pale.
"What lies!" he cried impudently, "why, how could you, standing by the window,
see the note! You fancied it with your shortsighted eyes. You are raving!"
"No, I didn't fancy it. And though I was standing some way off, I saw it all.
And though it certainly would be hard to distinguish a note from the window,– that's
true– I knew for certain that it was a hundred-rouble note, because, when you were
going to give Sofya Semyonovna ten roubles, you took up from the table a hundred-rouble
note (I saw it because I was standing near then, and an idea struck me at once,
so that I did not forget you had it in your hand). You folded it and kept it in
your hand all the time. I didn't think of it again until, when you were getting
up, you changed it from your right hand to your left and nearly dropped it! I noticed
it because the same idea struck me again, that you meant to do her a kindness without
my seeing. You can fancy how I watched you and I saw how you succeeded in slipping
it into her pocket. I saw it, I saw it, I'll take my oath."
Lebeziatnikov was almost breathless. Exclamations arose on all hands chiefly
expressive of wonder, but some were menacing in tone. They all crowded round Pyotr
Petrovitch. Katerina Ivanovna flew to Lebeziatnikov.
"I was mistaken in you! Protect her! You are the only one to take her part! She
is an orphan. God has sent you!"
Katerina Ivanovna, hardly knowing what she was doing, sank on her knees before
"A pack of nonsense!" yelled Luzhin, roused to fury, "it's all nonsense you've
been talking! 'An idea struck you, you didn't think, you noticed'– what does it
amount to? So I gave it to her on the sly on purpose? What for? With what object?
What have I to do with this…?"
"What for? That's what I can't understand, but that what I am telling you is
the fact, that's certain! So far from my being mistaken, you infamous, criminal
man, I remember how, on account of it, a question occurred to me at once, just when
I was thanking you and pressing your hand. What made you put it secretly in her
pocket? Why you did it secretly, I mean? Could it be simply to conceal it from me,
knowing that my convictions are opposed to yours and that I do not approve of private
benevolence, which effects no radical cure? Well, I decided that you really were
ashamed of giving such a large sum before me. Perhaps, too, I thought, he wants
to give her a surprise, when she finds a whole hundred-rouble note in her pocket.
(For I know some benevolent people are very fond of decking out their charitable
actions in that way.) Then the idea struck me, too, that you wanted to test her,
to see whether, when she found it, she would come to thank you. Then, too, that
you wanted to avoid thanks and that, as the saying is, your right hand should not
know… something of that sort, in fact. I thought of so many possibilities that I
put off considering it, but still thought it indelicate to show you I knew your
secret. But another idea struck me again that Sofya Semyonovna might easily lose
the money before she noticed it, that was why I decided to come in here to call
her out of the room and to tell her that you put a hundred roubles in her pocket.
But on my way I went first to Madame Kobilatnikov's to take them the 'General Treatise
on the Positive Method' and especially to recommend Piderit's article (and also
Wagner's); then I come on here and what a state of things I find! Now could I, could
I, have all these ideas and reflections, if I had not seen you put the hundred-rouble
note in her pocket?"
When Lebeziatnikov finished his long-winded harangue with the logical deduction
at the end, he was quite tired, and the perspiration streamed from his face. He
could not, alas, even express himself correctly in Russian, though he knew no other
language, so that he was quite exhausted, almost emaciated after this heroic exploit.
But his speech produced a powerful effect. He had spoken with such vehemence, with
such conviction that every one obviously believed him. Pyotr Petrovitch felt that
things were going badly with him.
"What is it to do with me if silly ideas did occur to you?" he shouted, "that's
no evidence. You may have dreamt it, that's all! And I tell you, you are lying,
sir. You are lying and slandering from some spite against me, simply from pique,
because I did not agree with your freethinking, godless, social propositions!"
But this retort did not benefit Pyotr Petrovitch. Murmurs of disapproval were
heard on all sides.
"Ah, that's your line now, is it!" cried Lebeziatnikov, "that's nonsense! Call
the police and I'll take my oath! There's only one thing I can't understand: what
made him risk such a contemptible action. Oh, pitiful, despicable man!"
"I can explain why he risked such an action, and if necessary, I, too, will swear
to it," Raskolnikov said at last in a firm voice, and he stepped forward.
He appeared to be firm and composed. Every one felt clearly, from the very look
of him that he really knew about it and that the mystery would be solved.
"Now I can explain it all to myself," said Raskolnikov, addressing Lebeziatnikov.
"From the very beginning of the business, I suspected that there was some scoundrelly
intrigue at the bottom of it. I began to suspect it from some special circumstances
known to me only, which I will explain at once to every one: they account for everything.
Your valuable evidence has finally made everything clear to me. I beg all, all to
listen. This gentleman (he pointed to Luzhin) was recently engaged to be married
to a young lady– my sister, Avdotya Romanovna Raskolnikov. But coming to Petersburg
he quarrelled with me, the day before yesterday, at our first meeting and I drove
him out of my room– I have two witnesses to prove it. He is a very spiteful man….
The day before yesterday I did not know that he was staying here, in your room,
and that consequently on the very day we quarrelled– the day before yesterday– he
saw me give Katerina Ivanovna some money for the funeral, as a friend of the late
Mr. Marmeladov. He at once wrote a note to my mother and informed her that I had
given away all my money, not to Katerina Ivanovna, but to Sofya Semyonovna, and
referred in a most contemptible way to the… character of Sofya Semyonovna, that
is, hinted at the character of my attitude to Sofya Semyonovna. All this you understand
was with the object of dividing me from my mother and sister, by insinuating that
I was squandering on unworthy objects the money which they had sent me and which
was all they had. Yesterday evening, before my mother and sister and in his presence,
I declared that I had given the money to Katerina Ivanovna for the funeral and not
to Sofya Semyonovna and that I had no acquaintance with Sofya Semyonovna and had
never seen her before, indeed. At the same time I added that he, Pyotr Petrovitch
Luzhin, with all his virtues was not worth Sofya Semyonovna's little finger, though
he spoke so ill of her. To his question– would I let Sofya Semyonovna sit down beside
my sister, I answered that I had already done so that day. Irritated that my mother
and sister were unwilling to quarrel with me at his insinuations, he gradually began
being unpardonably rude to them. A final rupture took place and he was turned out
of the house. All this happened yesterday evening. Now I beg your special attention:
consider: if he had now succeeded in proving that Sofya Semyonovna was a thief,
he would have shown to my mother and sister that he was almost right in his suspicions,
that he had reason to be angry at my putting my sister on a level with Sofya Semyonovna,
that, in attacking me, he was protecting and preserving the honour of my sister,
his betrothed. In fact he might even, through all this, have been able to estrange
me from my family, and no doubt he hoped to be restored to favour with them; to
say nothing of revenging himself on me personally, for he has grounds for supposing
that the honour and happiness of Sofya Semyonovna are very precious to me. That
was what he was working for! That's how I understand it. That's the whole reason
for it and there can be no other!"
It was like this, or somewhat like this, that Raskolnikov wound up his speech
which was followed very attentively, though often interrupted by exclamations from
his audience. But in spite of interruptions he spoke clearly, calmly, exactly, firmly.
His decisive voice, his tone of conviction and his stern face made a great impression
on every one.