Part One. III

He woke up late the next day, after a troubled sleep, but sleep had not fortified him. He woke up bilious, irritable, and angry, and looked with hatred at his little room. It was a tiny closet, about six paces long, of a most pathetic appearance, with yellow, dusty wallpaper coming off the walls everywhere, and with such a low ceiling that a man of any height at all felt creepy in it and kept thinking he might bump his head every moment. The furniture was in keeping with the place. There were three old chairs, not quite in good repair; a painted table in the corner, on which lay several books and notebooks (from the mere fact that they were so covered with dust, one could see that no hand had touched them for a long time); and finally a big, clumsy sofa, which occupied almost the entire wall and half the width of the room, and had once been upholstered in chintz but was now all ragged and served as Raskolnikov’s bed. He often slept on it just as he was, without undressing, without a sheet, covering himself with his old, decrepit student’s coat,[1] and with one small pillow under his head, beneath which he put whatever linen he had, clean or soiled, to bolster it. In front of the sofa stood a small table.

To become more degraded and slovenly would have been difficult; but Raskolnikov even enjoyed it in his present state of mind. He had decidedly withdrawn from everyone, like a turtle into its shell, and even the face of the maid who had the task of serving him, and who peeked into his room occasionally, drove him to bile and convulsions. This happens with certain monomaniacs when they concentrate too long on some one thing. It was two weeks since his landlady had stopped sending food up to him, but it had not yet occurred to him to go and have a talk with her, though he was left without dinner. Nastasya, the landlady’s cook and only servant, was glad in a way that the tenant was in such a mood, and stopped tidying and sweeping his room altogether; only once a week, just by accident, she would sometimes take a besom to it. It was she who woke him now.

“Enough sleeping! Get up!” she shouted over him. “It’s past nine. I’ve brought you tea; want some tea? You must be wasting away!”

The tenant opened his eyes, gave a start, and recognized Nastasya.

“Is it the landlady’s tea, or what?” he asked, slowly and with a pained look raising himself a little on the sofa.

“The landlady’s, hah!”

She placed in front of him her own cracked teapot, full of re-used tea, and two yellow lumps of sugar.

“Here, Nastasya, please take this,” he said, feeling in his pocket (he had slept in his clothes) and pulling out a handful of copper coins, “and go and buy me a roll. And a bit of sausage, too, whatever’s cheapest, at the pork butcher’s.”

“I’ll bring you a roll this minute, but don’t you want some cabbage soup instead of the sausage? It’s good cabbage soup, made yesterday. I saved some for you yesterday, but you came back late. Good cabbage soup.”

Once the soup was brought and he had begun on it, Nastasya sat down beside him on the sofa and started chattering. She was a village woman, and a very chattery one.

“And so Praskovya Pavlovna wants to make a complaint against you with the poliss,” she said.

He winced deeply.

“With the police? What does she want?”

“You don’t pay her the money and you won’t vacate the room. What do you think she wants?”

“Ah, the devil, that’s all I need,” he muttered, grinding his teeth. “No, it’s just the wrong time for that…now…She’s a fool,” he added aloud. “I’ll stop and have a talk with her today.”

“A fool she may be, the same as I am, and aren’t you a smarty, lying around like a sack and no good to anybody! You say you used to go and teach children before, so why don’t you do anything now?”

“I do something . . .” Raskolnikov said, reluctantly and sternly.

“What do you do?”

“Work . . .”

“Which work?”

“I think,” he replied seriously, after a pause.

Nastasya simply dissolved in laughter. She was the sort much given to laughter, and when something made her laugh, she laughed inaudibly, heaving and shaking her whole body, until she made herself sick.

“And a fat lot of money you’ve thought up, eh?” she was finally able to say.

“One can’t teach children without boots. Anyway, I spit on it.”

“Don’t go spitting in the well.”[2]

“They pay small change for children. What can one do with kopecks?” he went on reluctantly, as if answering his own thoughts.

“And you’d like a whole fortune at once?”

He gave her a strange look.

“Yes, a whole fortune,” he said firmly, after a pause.

“Hey, take it easy, don’t scare a body; I’m scared as it is. Shall I get you a roll?”

“If you want.”

“Ah, I forgot! A letter came for you yesterday while you were out.”

“A letter! For me! From whom?”

“I don’t know from whom; I gave the mailman my own three kopecks. Will you pay me back?”

“But bring it here, for God’s sake, bring it here!” Raskolnikov cried, all excited. “Oh, Lord!”

The letter appeared in a moment. Sure enough, it was from his mother, from R——province. He even turned pale as he took it. It was long since he had received any letters. But now something else, too, suddenly wrung his heart.

“Leave, Nastasya, for God’s sake; here are your three kopecks, only for God’s sake leave quickly.”

The letter trembled in his hands; he did not want to open it in front of her: he wished to be left alone with this letter. When Nastasya had gone, he quickly brought it to his lips and kissed it; then for a long time he gazed at the handwriting of the address, familiar and dear to him, the small and slanted handwriting of his mother, who had once taught him to read and write. He lingered; he even seemed afraid of something. Finally, he opened it: it was a big, thick letter, almost an ounce in weight; two big sheets of stationery covered with very small script.

“My dear Rodya,” his mother wrote, “it is over two months now since I’ve spoken with you in writing, and I myself have suffered from it, and even spent some sleepless nights thinking. But you surely will not blame me for this unwilling silence of mine. You know how I love you; you are all we have, Dunya and I, you are everything for us, all our hope and our trust. What I felt when I learned that you had left the university several months ago because you had no way of supporting yourself, and that your lessons and other means had come to an end! How could I help you, with my pension of a hundred and twenty roubles a year? The fifteen roubles I sent you four months ago I borrowed, as you know yourself, on the security of that same pension, from our local merchant, Afanasy Ivanovich Vakhrushin. He is a kind man and used to be your father’s friend. But, having given him the right to receive my pension for me, I had to wait until the debt was repaid, which has happened only now, so that all this while I could not send you anything. But now, thank God, I think I can send you more, and generally now we can even boast of our good fortune, of which I hasten to inform you. And, first of all, guess what, dear Rodya, your sister has been living with me for a month and a half already, and in the future we shall not part again. Thanks be to God, her torments are over, but I will tell you everything in order, so that you will know how it all was and what we have been concealing from you until now. When you wrote me two months ago that you had heard from someone that Dunya was suffering much from rudeness in Mr. and Mrs. Svidrigailov’s house, and asked me for precise explanations—what could I then write y-ou in reply? If I had written you the whole truth, you might have dropped everything and come to us, on foot if you had to, because I know your character and your feelings and that you would brook no offense to your sister. And I was in despair myself, but what was one to do? I myself did not even know the whole truth then. And the greatest difficulty was that when Dunechka entered their home last year as a governess, she took a whole hundred roubles in advance, against monthly deductions from her salary, and therefore could not even leave her position without paying back the debt. And this sum (I can now explain everything to you, my precious Rodya) she took mainly in order to send you sixty roubles, which you needed so much then and which you received from us last year. We deceived you then, we wrote that it was from previous money Dunechka had saved, but that was not so, and now I am telling you the whole truth, because now everything, by God’s will, has suddenly changed for the better, and so that you will know how Dunya loves you and what a precious heart she has. Indeed, Mr. Svidrigailov treated her very rudely at first and gave her all sorts of discourtesy and mockery at table…But I do not want to go into all these painful details, so as not to trouble you for nothing, now that it is all over. In short, despite good and noble treatment from Marfa Petrovna, Mr. Svidrigailov’s wife, and all the rest of the household, it was very hard for Dunechka, especially when Mr. Svidrigailov, from his old regimental habit, was under the influence of Bacchus. And how did it finally turn out? Imagine, this madcap had long since conceived a passion for Dunya, but kept hiding it behind the appearance of rudeness and contempt for her. Perhaps he was ashamed and horrified himself, seeing that he was not so young anymore and the father of a family, while having such frivolous hopes, and was therefore angry with Dunya involuntarily. Or perhaps by his mockery and the rudeness of his treatment he simply wanted to cover up the truth from everyone else. But in the end he could not restrain himself and dared to make Dunya a vile and explicit proposition, promising her various rewards, above all that he would abandon everything and go with her to another village, or perhaps abroad. You can imagine how she suffered! To leave her position at once was impossible, not only because of the money she owed, but also to spare Marfa Petrovna, who might suddenly have formed suspicions, and it would have meant sowing discord in the family. And for Dunechka, too, it would have been a great scandal; that was unavoidable. There were also many other reasons, so that Dunya could not hope to escape from that terrible house for another six weeks. Of course, you know Dunya, you know how intelligent she is and what a firm character she has. Dunechka can endure much, and even in the most extreme situations she can find enough magnanimity in herself so as not to lose her firmness. She did not write about everything even to me, so as not to upset me, though we exchanged news frequently. The denouement came unexpectedly. Marfa Petrovna chanced to overhear her husband pleading with Dunya in the garden and, misinterpreting everything, laid the whole blame on Dunya, thinking she was the cause of it all. There was a terrible scene between them, right there in the garden: Marfa Petrovna even struck Dunya, refused to listen to anything, and shouted for a whole hour, and in the end ordered Dunya to be sent back to me in town at once, in a simple peasant cart, with all her belongings, linen, clothing thrown into it haphazardly, not even bundled or packed. Just then it started to pour, and Dunya, insulted and disgraced, had to ride with a peasant in an open cart the whole ten miles. Now think, what could I have written you in reply to your letter, which I had received two months earlier, and what could I have said? I was in despair myself; I did not dare write you the truth, because you would have been very unhappy, upset, and indignant, and, besides, what could you have done? You might even have ruined yourself, and, besides, Dunechka kept forbidding me; and to fill a letter with trifles and whatnot, while there was such grief in my soul, was beyond me. For a whole month there was gossip going around town about this story, and it came to the point where Dunya and I could not even go to church because of the scornful looks and whispers and things even said aloud in our presence. And all our acquaintances avoided us, they all even stopped greeting us, and I learned for certain that the shopclerks and officeboys wanted to insult us basely by smearing the gates of our house with tar,[3] so that the landlord began demanding that we move out. The cause of it all was Marfa Petrovna, who succeeded in accusing and besmirching Dunya in all houses. She is acquainted with everyone here, and during that month was constantly coming to town, and being a bit chatty and fond of telling about her family affairs, and especially of complaining about her husband to all and sundry, which is very bad, she spread the whole story in no time, not only around town but all over the district. I became ill, but Dunechka was firmer than I, and if only you could have seen how she bore it all, comforting me and encouraging me! She is an angel! But by God’s mercy our torments were shortened: Mr. Svidrigailov thought better of it and repented, and, probably feeling sorry for Dunya, presented Marfa Petrovna with full and obvious proof of Dunechka’s complete innocence, in the form of a letter Dunya had been forced to write and send him, even before Marfa Petrovna found them in the garden, declining the personal explanations and secret meetings he was insisting on— which letter had remained in Mr. Svidrigailov’s possession after Dunechka’s departure. In this letter she reproached him, in the most ardent manner and with the fullest indignation, precisely for his ignoble behavior with respect to Marfa Petrovna, reminding him that he was a father and a family man, and, finally, that it was vile on his part to torment and make unhappy a girl who was already unhappy and defenseless as it was. In short, dear Rodya, this letter was written so nobly and touchingly that I wept as I read it, and to this day cannot read it without tears. Besides, there finally emerged the evidence of the servants to vindicate Dunya; they had seen and knew much more than Mr. Svidrigailov himself supposed, as always happens. Marfa Petrovna was utterly astonished and ‘devastated anew,’ as she herself confessed to us, but at the same time she became fully convinced of Dunechka’s innocence, and the very next day, a Sunday, she went straight to the cathedral, knelt down, and prayed in tears to our sovereign Lady for the strength to endure this new trial and fulfill her duty. Then she came straight from the cathedral to us, without stopping anywhere, told us everything, wept bitterly, and in full repentance embraced Dunya, imploring her forgiveness. That same morning, without the slightest delay, she went straight from us to every house in town, and restored Dunechka’s innocence and the nobility of her feelings and behavior everywhere, in terms most flattering to Dunechka, shedding tears all the while. Moreover, she showed everyone the letter Dunechka had written with her own hand to Mr. Svidrigailov, read it aloud, and even let it be copied (which I think was really unnecessary). Thus she had to go around for several days in a row visiting everyone in town, because some were offended that others had been shown preference, and thus turns were arranged, so that she was expected at each house beforehand and everyone knew that on such-and-such a day Marfa Petrovna would read the letter in such-and-such a house, and for each reading people even gathered who had heard the letter several times already, in their own homes and in their friends’ as well. It is my opinion that much, very much of this was unnecessary; but that is Marfa Petrovna’s character. In any case she fully restored Dunechka’s honor, and all the vileness of the affair lay as an indelible disgrace on her husband as the chief culprit, so that I am even sorry for him; the madcap was dealt with all too harshly. Dunya was immediately invited to give lessons in several houses, but she refused. Generally, everyone suddenly began treating her with particular respect. All of this contributed greatly towards that unexpected occasion by means of which our whole fate, one might say, is now changing. You should know, dear Rodya, that a suitor has asked to marry Dunya, and that she has already had time to give her consent, of which I hasten to inform you as quickly as possible. And although this matter got done without your advice, you will probably not bear any grudge against me or your sister, for you will see from the matter itself that it was impossible to wait and delay until we received your answer. And you could not have discussed everything in detail without being here yourself. This is how it happened. He is already a court councillor,[4] Pyotr Petrovich Luzhin, and a distant relation of Marfa Petrovna, who contributed much to all this. He began by expressing, through her, the desire of making our acquaintance; he was received properly, had coffee, and the very next day sent a letter in which he quite politely expressed his proposal and asked for a speedy and decisive answer. He is a man of affairs and busy, and he is now hastening to go to Petersburg, so that every minute is precious to him. Of course, we were quite amazed at first, because it all happened too quickly and unexpectedly. We spent that whole day reasoning and considering together. He is a trustworthy and established man; he serves in two posts, and already has his own capital. True, he is already forty-five years old, but he is of rather pleasing appearance and can still be attractive to women, and generally he is quite a solid and decent man, only a bit sullen and, as it were, arrogant. But perhaps he only seems so at first sight. And let me warn you, dear Rodya, when you meet him in Petersburg, which will happen very soon, do not judge him too quickly and rashly, as you tend to do, if something in him does not appeal at first sight. I am saying this just in case, though I am sure he will make a pleasant impression on you. And besides, if one wants to know any man well, one must consider him gradually and carefully, so as not to fall into error and prejudice, which are very difficult to correct and smooth out later. And Pyotr Petrovich, at least from many indications, is a quite respectable man. At his very first visit, he declared to us that he was a positive man, but in many ways shares, as he himself put it, ‘the convictions of our newest generations,’ and is an enemy of all prejudices. He said much more as well, because he seems to be somewhat vain and likes very much to be listened to, but that is almost not a vice. I, of course, understood little, but Dunya explained to me that, though he is a man of small education, he is intelligent and seems to be kind. You know your sister’s character, Rodya. She is a firm, reasonable, patient, and magnanimous girl, though she has an ardent heart, as I have come to know very well. Of course, there is no special love either on her side or on his, but Dunya, besides being an intelligent girl, is at the same time a noble being, like an angel, and will regard it as her duty to ensure the happiness of her husband, who in turn would be looking out for her happiness, and this last point, so far, we have no great reason to doubt, though one must admit that the matter has been done a bit too quickly. Besides, he is a very calculating man and, of course, will see for himself that the happier Dunechka is with him, the more his own marital happiness will be assured. And as for some unevenness of character, some old habits, perhaps also some differences of thinking (which cannot be avoided even in the happiest marriages), Dunechka has told me that in this respect she trusts to herself; that there is nothing here to worry about, and that she can endure much, provided their further relations are honest and just. At first, for example, he seemed somewhat abrupt to me; but that could be precisely the result of his being a straightforward man, and so it must be. For example, at his second visit, when he had already received her consent, he expressed in the course of the conversation that even before knowing Dunya he had made up his mind to marry an honest girl without a dowry, one who must already have experienced hardship; because, as he explained, a husband ought to owe nothing to his wife, but it is much better if a wife looks upon her husband as a benefactor. I should add that he expressed it somewhat more softly and tenderly than I have written it, because I have forgotten his actual expression and remember only the thought, and, besides, it was by no means said deliberately, but apparently escaped him in the heat of the conversation, so that he even tried to amend and soften it afterwards; but all the same it seemed to me a bit abrupt, as it were, and I later said so to Dunya. But Dunya answered me, even with some vexation, that ‘words are not yet deeds,’ and, of course, that is true. The night before she made her decision, Dunechka did not sleep at all and, thinking that I was already asleep, got out of bed and paced up and down the room all night; finally she knelt and prayed ardently before the icon for a long time, and in the morning announced to me that she had made her decision.

“I have already mentioned that Pyotr Petrovich is now going to Petersburg. He has big doings there, and wants to open a private attorney’s office in Petersburg. He has been occupied for a long time with various suits and litigations, and won an important case just the other day. It is necessary for him to go to Petersburg because he has an important matter before the Senate.[5]So, dear Rodya, he may also be quite useful to you, even in everything, and Dunya and I have already decided that from this very day you could definitely begin your future career and consider your lot already clearly determined. Oh, if only this could come true! It would be such a benefit that we should regard it as the direct mercy of the Almighty towards us. That is all Dunya dreams about. We have already risked saying a few words in this regard to Pyotr Petrovich. He expressed himself cautiously and said that, of course, since he would be unable to do without a secretary, it would naturally be better to pay a salary to a relative than to a stranger, on condition that he proves capable of doing the work (as if you could prove incapable!), but at the same time he expressed doubt that your university studies would leave you any time to work in his office. For the time being we left it at that, but Dunya now thinks of nothing else. For the past few days she has simply been in a sort of fever and has already made up a whole project for how you could go on to become an assistant and even a partner of Pyotr Petrovich in his lawsuit affairs, more especially as you are in the department of jurisprudence. I fully agree with her, Rodya, and share in all her plans and hopes, seeing them as fully possible; and despite Pyotr Petrovich’s present, quite understandable evasiveness (since he does not know you yet), Dunya is firmly convinced that she will achieve everything by her good influence on her future husband, and she is convinced of it. Of course, we took care not to let Pyotr Petrovich in on these further dreams of ours, above all that you will become his partner. He is a positive man, and would perhaps take it very dryly, since it would all just seem nothing but dreams to him. Likewise, neither Dunya nor I have said even half a word to him about our firm hope that he will help us to assist you with money while you are at the university; we did not speak of it, first of all, because it will come about by itself later on, and he will most likely offer it without much talk (as if he could refuse that to Dunechka), especially as you may become his right hand in the office and receive his assistance not as a boon, but as a well-earned salary. That is how Dunya wants to arrange it, and I fully agree with her. And secondly, we did not speak of it because I would especially like to put you on an equal footing in our now forthcoming meeting. When Dunya spoke rapturously about you with him, he replied that in order to judge a man, one must first observe him more closely, and that he would leave it to himself to form an opinion of you after making your acquaintance. You know, my precious Rodya, it seems to me from certain considerations (by no means relating to Pyotr Petrovich, incidentally, but just so, from my own personal and perhaps even old-womanish caprice), it seems to me that I would perhaps do better, after their marriage, to live separately, as I do now, and not with them. I am fully convinced that he will be so noble and delicate as to invite me himself and will suggest that I no longer be parted from my daughter, and if he has not said anything yet, that is naturally because it goes without saying; but I shall refuse. I have noticed more than once in my life that husbands do not much warm up to their mothers-in-law, and I not only do not want to be even the slightest burden to anyone, but I also want to be fully free myself, as long as I have at least a crust of bread of my own, and such children as you and Dunechka. If possible, I will settle near you both, because the most pleasant thing, Rodya, I have saved for the end of my letter: you must know, my dear friend, that we shall all perhaps come together again very soon and embrace each other after an almost three-year separation! It has already been decided for certain that Dunya and I are to leave for Petersburg, precisely when I do not know, but in any case very, very soon, perhaps even in a week. It all depends on Pyotr Petrovich’s instructions, and as soon as he has had a look around Petersburg, he will let us know at once. He would like, from certain considerations, to hasten the wedding ceremony, and even celebrate the wedding, if possible, before the next fast, or, if that does not work out, because time is short, then right after our Lady’s feast.[6] Oh, how happy I will be to press you to my heart! Dunya is all excited at the joy of seeing you, and said once, as a joke, that she would marry Pyotr Petrovich for that alone. She is an angel! She will not add anything now to my letter, and has only told me to write that she has so much to tell you, so much that she cannot bring herself to take the pen now, because one cannot say anything in a few lines, and only gets upset; but she has told me to embrace you warmly and send you countless kisses. But despite the fact that we shall perhaps be together in person very soon, I shall still send you money one of these days, as much as I can. Now that everyone has learned that Dunechka is marrying Pyotr Petrovich, my credit has suddenly gone up, and I know for certain that Afanasy Ivanovich will now trust me, on the security of my pension, even for as much as seventy-five roubles, so that I will be able to send you twenty-five or even thirty. I would send more, but I am afraid of our travel expenses; and although Pyotr Petrovich has been so good as to take upon himself part of the cost of our trip to the capital—that is, he has volunteered to pay for the delivery of our luggage and the big trunk (somehow through his acquaintances)—even so, we must calculate for our arrival in Petersburg, where we cannot appear without a kopeck, at least for the first few days. However, Dunya and I have already calculated it all precisely, and it turns out that we will not need much for the road. It is only sixty miles from here to the railway, and we’ve already made arrangements ahead of time with a peasant driver we know; and there Dunechka and I will be quite satisfied to travel third class. So that perhaps I can contrive to send you not twenty-five but certainly thirty roubles. But enough; I’ve covered two sheets with writing, there is not even any space left—our whole story, but so many events had accumulated! And now, my precious Rodya, I embrace you until we meet soon, and I give you my maternal blessing. Love your sister Dunya, Rodya; love her as she loves you, and know that she loves you boundlessly, more than herself. She is an angel, and you, Rodya, you are everything for us—all our hope, and all our trust. If only you are happy, then we shall be happy. Do you pray to God, Rodya, as you used to, and do you believe in the goodness of our Creator and Redeemer? I fear in my heart that you have been visited by the fashionable new unbelief. If so, I pray for you. Remember, my dear, in your childhood, when your father was alive, how you prattled out your prayers sitting on my knee, and how happy we all were then! Goodbye, or, better, till we meet again! I embrace you very, very warmly, and send you countless kisses.

Yours till death, Pulcheria Raskolnikov.”

Almost all the while he was reading, from the very beginning of the letter, Raskolnikov’s face was wet with tears; but when he finished, it was pale, twisted convulsively, and a heavy, bilious, spiteful smile wandered over his lips. He laid his head on his skinny, bedraggled pillow and thought, thought for a long time. His heart was beating violently, and the thoughts surged violently. Finally, he felt too stifled and cramped in that yellow closet, which more resembled a cupboard or a trunk. His eyes and mind craved space. He grabbed his hat and went out, this time with no fear of meeting anyone on the stairs—he forgot all about it. He made his way towards Vasilievsky Island, along V——y Prospect, as though hurrying there on business, but, as usual, he walked without noticing where he was going, whispering and even talking aloud to himself, to the surprise of passers-by. Many took him for drunk.


[1] Like civil servants, students in Russia wore uniforms, including a visored cap and a greatcoat.

[2] The first half of a saying; the second half (obviously) is: “because you may have to drink from it.”

[3] It was a custom of local people in small towns or villages to smear with tar the gates of someone against whom they wanted to express their moral indignation.

[4] Court councillor was the seventh grade of councillors in the civil service.

[5] The Russian Senate in Petersburg functioned as the highest court of law as well as a managerial and administrative body; it remained answerable to the tsar.

[6] The feast of the Dormition of the Mother of God (the Assumption, in Roman Catholicism), celebrated on August 15. According to the canons of the Orthodox Church, weddings may not be celebrated during periods of fasting. The fast preceding the feast of the Dormition is from August 1 to August 14.


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