"Well,… mother I don't wonder at, it's like her, God bless her, but how could
Dounia? Dounia, darling, as though I did not know you! You were nearly twenty when
I saw you last: I understood you then. Mother writes that 'Dounia can put up with
a great deal.' I know that very well. I knew that two years and a half ago, and
for the last two and a half years I have been thinking about it, thinking of just
that, that 'Dounia can put up with a great deal.' If she could put up with Mr. Svidrigailov
and all the rest of it, she certainly can put up with a great deal. And now mother
and she have taken it into their heads that she can put up with Mr. Luzhin, who
propounds the theory of the superiority of wives raised from destitution and owing
everything to their husband's bounty– who propounds it, too, almost at the first
interview. Granted that he 'let it slip,' though he is a sensible man, (yet maybe
it was not a slip at all, but he meant to make himself clear as soon as possible)
but Dounia, Dounia? She understands the man, of course, but she will have to live
with the man. Why! she'd live on black bread and water, she would not sell her soul,
she would not barter her moral freedom for comfort; she would not barter it for
all Schleswig-Holstein, much less Mr. Luzhin's money. No, Dounia was not that sort
when I knew her and… she is still the same, of course! Yes, there's no denying,
the Svidrigailovs are a bitter pill! It's a bitter thing to spend one's life a governess
in the provinces for two hundred roubles, but I know she would rather be a nigger
on a plantation or a Lett with a German master, than degrade her soul, and her moral
dignity, by binding herself for ever to a man whom she does not respect and with
whom she has nothing in common– for her own advantage. And if Mr. Luzhin had been
of unalloyed gold, or one huge diamond, she would never have consented to become
his legal concubine. Why is she consenting then? What's the point of it? What's
the answer? It's clear enough: for herself, for her comfort, to save her life she
would not sell herself, but for some one else she is doing it! For one she loves,
for one she adores, she will sell herself! That's what it all amounts to; for her
brother, for her mother, she will sell herself! She will sell everything! In such
cases, we 'overcome our moral feeling if necessary,' freedom, peace, conscience
even, all, all are brought into the market. Let my life go, if only my dear ones
may be happy! More than that, we become casuists, we learn to be Jesuitical and
for a time maybe we can soothe ourselves, we can persuade ourselves that it is one's
duty for a good object. That's just like us, it's as clear as daylight. It's clear
that Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikov is the central figure in the business, and no
one else. Oh, yes, she can ensure his happiness, keep him in the university, make
him a partner in the office, make his whole future secure; perhaps he may even be
a rich man later on, prosperous, respected, and may even end his life a famous man!
But my mother? It's all Rodya, precious Rodya, her first born! For such a son who
would not sacrifice such a daughter! Oh, loving, over-partial hearts! Why, for his
sake we would not shrink even from Sonia's fate. Sonia, Sonia Marmeladov, the eternal
victim so long as the world lasts. Have you taken the measure of your sacrifice,
both of you? Is it right? Can you bear it? Is it any use? Is there sense in it?
And let me tell you, Dounia, Sonia's life is no worse than life with Mr. Luzhin.
'There can be no question of love' mother writes. And what if there can be no respect
either, if on the contrary there is aversion, contempt, repulsion, what then? So
you will have to 'keep up your appearance,' too. Is that not so? Do you understand
what that smartness means? Do you understand that the Luzhin smartness is just the
same thing as Sonia's and may be worse, viler, baser, because in your case, Dounia,
it's a bargain for luxuries, after all, but with Sonia it's simply a question of
starvation. It has to be paid for, it has to be paid for, Dounia, this smartness.
And what if it's more than you can bear afterwards, if you regret it? The bitterness,
the misery, the curses, the tears hidden from all the world, for you are not a Marfa
Petrovna. And how will your mother feel then? Even now she is uneasy, she is worried,
but then, when she sees it all clearly? And I? Yes, indeed, what have you taken
me for? I won't have your sacrifice, Dounia, I won't have it, mother! It shall not
be, so long as I am alive, it shall not, it shall not! I won't accept it!"
He suddenly paused in his reflection and stood still.
"It shall not be? But what are you going to do to prevent it? You'll forbid it?
And what right have you? What can you promise them on your side to give you such
a right? Your whole life, your whole future, you will devote to them when you have
finished your studies and obtained a post? Yes, we have heard all that before, and
that's all words, but now? Now something must be done, now, do you understand that?
And what are you doing now? You are living upon them. They borrow on their hundred
roubles pension. They borrow from the Svidrigailovs. How are you going to save them
from Svidrigailovs, from Afanasy Ivanovitch Vahrushin, oh, future millionaire Zeus
who would arrange their lives for them? In another ten years? In another ten years,
mother will be blind with knitting shawls, maybe with weeping too. She will be worn
to a shadow with fasting; and my sister? Imagine for a moment what may have become
of your sister in ten years? What may happen to her during those ten years? Can
So he tortured himself, fretting himself with such questions, and finding a kind
of enjoyment in it. And yet all these questions were not new ones suddenly confronting
him, they were old familiar aches. It was long since they had first begun to grip
and rend his heart. Long, long ago his present anguish had its first beginnings;
it had waxed and gathered strength, it had matured and concentrated, until it had
taken the form of a fearful, frenzied and fantastic question, which tortured his
heart and mind, clamouring insistently for an answer. Now his mother's letter had
burst on him like a thunderclap. It was clear that he must not now suffer passively,
worrying himself over unsolved questions, but that he must do something, do it at
once, and do it quickly. Anyway he must decide on something, or else…
"Or throw up life altogether!" he cried suddenly, in a frenzy– "accept one's
lot humbly as it is, once for all and stifle everything in oneself, giving up all
claim to activity, life and love!"
"Do you understand, sir, do you understand what it means when you have absolutely
nowhere to turn?" Marmeladov's question came suddenly into his mind "for every man
must have somewhere to turn…"
He gave a sudden start; another thought, that he had had yesterday, slipped back
into his mind. But he did not start at the thought recurring to him, for he knew,
he had felt beforehand, that it must come back, he was expecting it; besides it
was not only yesterday's thought. The difference was that a month ago, yesterday
even, the thought was a mere dream: but now… now it appeared not a dream at all,
it had taken a new menacing and quite unfamiliar shape, and he suddenly became aware
of this himself…. He felt a hammering in his head, and there was a darkness before
He looked round hurriedly, he was searching for something. He wantedto sit down
and was looking for a seat; he was walking along the KBoulevard. There was a seat
about a hundred paces in front of him. He walked towards it as fast he could; but
on the way he met with a little adventure which absorbed all his attention. Looking
for the seat, he had noticed a woman walking some twenty paces in front of him,
but at first he took no more notice of her than of other objects that crossed his
path. It had happened to him many times going home not to notice the road by which
he was going, and he was accustomed to walk like that. But there was at first sight
something so strange about the woman in front of him, that gradually his attention
was riveted upon her, at first reluctantly and, as it were, resentfully, and then
more and more intently. He felt a sudden desire to find out what it was that was
so strange about the woman. In the first place, she appeared to be a girl quite
young, and she was walking in the great heat bareheaded and with no parasol or gloves,
waving her arms about in an absurd way. She had on a dress of some light silky material,
but put on strangely awry, not properly hooked up, and torn open at the top of the
skirt, close to the waist: a great piece was rent and hanging loose. A little kerchief
was flung about her bare throat, but lay slanting on one side. The girl was walking
unsteadily, too, stumbling and staggering from side to side. She drew Raskolnikov's
whole attention at last. He overtook the girl at the seat, but, on reaching it,
she dropped down on it, in the corner; she let her head sink on the back of the
seat and closed her eyes, apparently in extreme exhaustion. Looking at her closely,
he saw at once that she was completely drunk. It was a strange and shocking sight.
He could hardly believe that he was not mistaken. He saw before him the face of
a quite young, fair-haired girl– sixteen, perhaps not more than fifteen years old,
pretty little face, but flushed and heavy looking and, as it were, swollen. The
girl seemed hardly to know what she was doing; she crossed one leg over the other,
lifting it indecorously, and showed every sign of being unconscious that she was
in the street.
Raskolnikov did not sit down, but he felt unwilling to leave her, and stood facing
her in perplexity. This boulevard was never much frequented; and now, at two o'clock,
in the stifling heat, it was quite deserted. And yet on the further side of the
boulevard, about fifteen paces away, a gentleman was standing on the edge of the
pavement, he, too, would apparently have liked to approach the girl with some object
of his own. He, too, had probably seen her in the distance and had followed her,
but found Raskolnikov in his way. He looked angrily at him, though he tried to escape
his notice, and stood impatiently biding his time, till the unwelcome man in rags
should have moved away. His intentions were unmistakable. The gentleman was a plump,
thickly-set man, about thirty, fashionably dressed, with a high colour, red lips
and moustaches. Raskolnikov felt furious; he had a sudden longing to insult this
fat dandy in some way. He left the girl for a moment and walked towards the gentleman.
"Hey! You Svidrigailov! What do you want here?" he shouted, clenching his fists
and laughing, spluttering with rage.
"What do you mean?" the gentleman asked sternly, scowling in haughty astonishment.
"Get away, that's what I mean."
"How dare you, you low fellow!"
He raised his cane. Raskolnikov rushed at him with his fists, without reflecting
that the stout gentleman was a match for two men like himself. But at that instant
some one seized him from behind, and a police constable stood between them.
"That's enough, gentlemen, no fighting, please, in a public place. What do you
want? Who are you?" he asked Raskolnikov sternly, noticing his rags.
Raskolnikov looked at him intently. He had a straight-forward, sensible, soldierly
face, with grey moustaches and whiskers.
"You are just the man I want," Raskolnikov cried, catching at his arm. "I am
a student, Raskolnikov…. You may as well know that too," he added, addressing the
gentleman, "come along, I have something to show you."
And taking the policeman by the hand he drew him towards the seat.
"Look here, hopelessly drunk, and she has just come down the boulevard. There
is no telling who and what she is, she does not look like a professional. It's more
likely she has been given drink and deceived somewhere… for the first time… you
understand? and they've put her out into the street like that. Look at the way her
dress is torn, and the way it has been put on: she has been dressed by somebody,
she has not dressed herself, and dressed by unpractised hands, by a man's hands;
that's evident. And now look there: I don't know that dandy with whom I was going
to fight, I see him for the first time, but, he, too has seen her on the road, just
now, drunk, not knowing what she is doing, and now he is very eager to get hold
of her, to get her away somewhere while she is in this state… that's certain, believe
me, I am not wrong. I saw him myself watching her and following her, but I prevented
him, and he is just waiting for me to go away. Now he has walked away a little,
and is standing still, pretending to make a cigarette…. Think how can we keep her
out of his hands, and how are we to get her home?"
The policeman saw it all in a flash. The stout gentleman was easy to understand,
he turned to consider the girl. The policeman bent over to examine her more closely,
and his face worked with genuine compassion.
"Ah, what a pity!" he said, shaking his head– "why, she is quite a child! She
has been deceived, you can see that at once. Listen, lady," he began addressing
her, "where do you live?" The girl opened her weary and sleepy-looking eyes, gazed
blankly at the speaker and waved her hand.
"Here," said Raskolnikov feeling in his pocket and finding twenty copecks, "here,
call a cab and tell him to drive her to her address. The only thing is to find out
"Missy, missy!" the policeman began again, taking the money. "I'll fetch you
a cab and take you home myself. Where shall I take you, eh? Where do you live?"
"Go away! They won't let me alone," the girl muttered, and once more waved her
"Ach, ach, how shocking! It's shameful, missy, it's a shame!" He shook his head
again, shocked, sympathetic and indignant.
"It's a difficult job," the policeman said to Raskolnikov, and as he did so,
he looked him up and down in a rapid glance. He. too, must have seemed a strange
figure to him: dressed in rags and handing him money!