Part One. V

“In fact, just recently I was meaning to go to Razumikhin and ask him for work, to get me some lessons or something…” Raskolnikov went on puzzling, “but how can he help me now? Suppose he does get me lessons, suppose he even shares his last kopeck with me, if he has a kopeck, so that I could even buy boots and fix up my outfit enough to go and give lessons…hm…Well, and what then? What good will five coppers do me? Is that what I need now? Really, it’s ridiculous to be going to Razumikhin . . .”

The question of why he was now going to Razumikhin troubled him more than he was even aware; he anxiously tried to find some sinister meaning for himself in this seemingly quite ordinary act.

“So, then, did I really mean to straighten things out with Razumikhin alone? To find the solution for everything in Razumikhin?” he asked himself in surprise.

He went on thinking and rubbing his forehead, and, strangely, somehow by chance, suddenly and almost of itself, after very long reflection, there came into his head a certain most strange thought.

“Hm…to Razumikhin,” he said suddenly, quite calmly, as if with a sense of final decision, “I will go to Razumikhin, of course I will…but—not now…I will go to him…the next day, after that, once that is already finished and everything has taken a new course…”

And suddenly he came to his senses.

“After that, “ he cried out, tearing himself from the bench, “but will that be? Will it really be?”

He abandoned the bench and started walking, almost running; he had been about to turn back home, but going home suddenly became terribly disgusting to him; it was there, in that corner, in that terrible cupboard, that for more than a month now all that had been ripening; and so he just followed his nose.

His nervous trembling turned into some sort of feverishness; he even began shivering; in such heat he was getting a chill. As if with effort, almost unconsciously, by some inner necessity, he began peering at every object he encountered, as though straining after some diversion, but he failed miserably, and every moment kept falling into revery. And when he would raise his head again, with a start, and look around, he would immediately forget what he had just been thinking about and even which way he had come. In this fashion he went right across Vasilievsky Island, came to the Little Neva, crossed the bridge, and turned towards the Islands.[1] At first the greenness and freshness pleased his tired eyes, accustomed to city dust, lime, and enormous, crowding and crushing buildings. Here there was no closeness, no stench, no taverns. But soon these pleasant new sensations turned painful and irritating. Occasionally he would stop in front of a summer house decked out in greenery, look through the fence, and see dressed-up women far away, on balconies and terraces, and children running in the garden. He took special interest in the flowers; he looked longer at them than at anything else. He also met with luxurious carriages, men and women on horseback; he would follow them with curious eyes and forget them before they disappeared from sight. Once he stopped and counted his money; it came to about thirty kopecks. “Twenty to the policeman, three to Nastasya for the letter—so I gave the Marmeladovs some forty-seven or fifty kopecks yesterday,” he thought, going over his accounts for some reason, but soon he even forgot why he had taken the money from his pocket. He remembered about it as he was passing an eating-house, a sort of cook-shop, and felt that he wanted to eat. Going into the cook-shop, he drank a glass of vodka and ate a piece of pie with some sort of filling. He finished it on the road. He had not drunk vodka for a very long time and it affected him at once, though he had drunk only one glass. His feet suddenly became heavy, and he began feeling a strong inclination to sleep. He started for home; but having reached Petrovsky Island, he stopped in complete exhaustion, left the road, went into the bushes, collapsed on the grass, and in a moment was asleep.

In a morbid condition, dreams are often distinguished by their remarkably graphic, vivid, and extremely lifelike quality. The resulting picture is sometimes monstrous, but the setting and the whole process of the presentation sometimes happen to be so probable, and with details so subtle, unexpected, yet artistically consistent with the whole fullness of the picture, that even the dreamer himself would be unable to invent them in reality, though he were as much an artist as Pushkin or Turgenev.[2] Such dreams, morbid dreams, are always long remembered and produce a strong impression on the disturbed and already excited organism of the person.

Raskolnikov had a terrible dream.[3] He dreamed of his childhood, while still in their little town. He is about seven years old and is strolling with his father on a feast day, towards evening, outside of town. The weather is gray, the day is stifling, the countryside is exactly as it was preserved in his memory: it was even far more effaced in his memory than it appeared now in his dream. The town stands open to view; there is not a single willow tree around it; somewhere very far off, at the very edge of the sky, is the black line of a little forest. A few paces beyond the town’s last kitchen garden stands a tavern, a big tavern, which had always made the most unpleasant impression on him, and even frightened him, when he passed it on a stroll with his father. There was always such a crowd there; they shouted, guffawed, swore so much; they sang with such ugly and hoarse voices, and fought so often; there were always such drunk and scary mugs loitering around the tavern…Meeting them, he would press close to his father and tremble all over. The road by the tavern, a country track, was always dusty, and the dust was always so black. It meandered on, and in another three hundred paces or so skirted the town cemetery on the right. In the middle of the cemetery there was a stone church with a green cupola, where he went for the liturgy with his father and mother twice a year, when memorial services were held for his grandmother, who had died a long time before and whom he had never seen. On those occasions they always made kutya[4] and brought it with them on a white platter, wrapped in a napkin, and kutya was sugary, made of rice, with raisins pressed into the rice in the form of a cross. He loved this church and the old icons in it, most of them without settings, and the old priest with his shaking head. Next to his grandmother’s grave, covered with a flat gravestone, there was also the little grave of his younger brother, who had died at six months old, and whom he also did not know at all and could not remember; but he had been told that he had had a little brother, and each time he visited the cemetery, he crossed himself religiously and reverently over the grave, bowed to it, and kissed it. And so now, in his dream, he and his father are going down the road to the cemetery, past the tavern; he is holding his father’s hand and keeps looking fearfully at the tavern over his shoulder. A special circumstance attracts his attention: this time there seems to be some sort of festivity, a crowd of dressed-up townspeople, peasant women, their husbands, and all kinds of rabble. Everyone is drunk, everyone is singing songs, and near the porch of the tavern stands a cart, but a strange cart. It is one of those big carts to which big cart-horses are harnessed for transporting goods and barrels of wine. He always liked watching those huge horses, long-maned and thick-legged, moving calmly, at a measured pace, pulling some whole mountain behind them without the least strain, as if the load made it even easier for them. But now, strangely, to such a big cart a small, skinny, grayish peasant nag had been harnessed, one of those—he had often seen it—that sometimes overstrain themselves pulling a huge load of firewood or hay, especially if the cart gets stuck in the mud or a rut, and in such cases the peasants always whip them so painfully, so painfully, sometimes even on the muzzle and eyes, and he would feel so sorry, so sorry as he watched it that he almost wept, and his mother would always take him away from the window. Then suddenly it gets very noisy: out of the tavern, with shouting, singing, and balalaikas, come some big peasants, drunk as can be, in red and blue shirts, with their coats thrown over their shoulders. “Get in, get in, everybody!” shouts one of them, still a young man, with a fat neck and a beefy face, red as a carrot. “I’ll take everybody for a ride! Get in!” But all at once there is a burst of laughter and exclamations:

“Not with a nag like that!”

“Are you out of your mind, Mikolka—harnessing such a puny mare to such a cart!”

“That gray can’t be less than twenty years old, brothers!”

“Get in, I’ll take everybody!” Mikolka cries again, and he jumps into the cart first, takes the reins, and stands up tall in the front. “The bay just left with Matvei,” he shouts from the cart, “and this little runt of a mare breaks my heart—I might as well kill her, she’s not worth her feed. Get in, I say! I’ll make her gallop! Oh, how she’ll gallop!” And he takes a whip in his hand, already enjoying the idea of whipping the gray.

“Get in, why not!” guffaws come from the crowd. “She’ll gallop, did you hear?”

“I bet she hasn’t galloped in ten years!”

“She will now!”

“Don’t spare her, brothers, take your whips, get ready!”

“Here we go! Whip her up!” They all get into Mikolka’s cart, joking and guffawing. About six men pile in, and there is still room for more. They take a peasant woman, fat and ruddy. She is dressed in red calico, with a bead-embroidered kichka [5] on her head and boots on her feet; she cracks nuts and giggles all the while. The crowd around them is laughing, too, and indeed how could they not laugh: such a wretched little mare is going to pull such a heavy load at a gallop! Two fellows in the cart take up their whips at once to help Mikolka. To shouts of “Giddap!” the little mare starts pulling with all her might, but she can scarcely manage a slow walk, much less a gallop; she just shuffles her feet, grunts, and cowers under the lashes of the three whips showering on her like hail. The laughter in the cart and in the crowd redoubles, but Mikolka is angry, and in his rage he lashes the mare with quicker blows, as if he really thinks she can go at a gallop.

“Let me in, too, brothers!” one fellow, his appetite whetted, shouts from the crowd.

“Get in! Everybody get in!” cries Mikolka. “She’ll pull everybody! I’ll whip her to death!” And he lashes and lashes, and in his frenzy he no longer even knows what to lash her with.

“Papa, papa,” he cries to his father, “papa, what are they doing? Papa, they’re beating the poor horse!”

“Come along, come along!” says his father. “They’re drunk, they’re playing pranks, the fools—come along, don’t look!” and he wants to take him away, but he tears himself from his father’s hands and, beside himself, runs to the horse. But the poor horse is in a bad way. She is panting, she stops, tugs again, nearly falls.

“Whip the daylights out of her!” shouts Mikolka. “That’s what it’s come to. I’ll whip her to death!”

“Have you no fear of God, or what, you hairy devil!” an old man shouts from the crowd.

“Who ever saw such a puny little horse pull a load like that?” someone else adds.

“You’ll do her in!” shouts a third.

“Hands off! It’s my goods! I can do what I want. Get in, more of you. Everybody get in! She’s damn well going to gallop! . . .”

Suddenly there is a burst of guffaws that drowns out everything: the mare cannot endure the quick lashing and, in her impotence, has begun to kick. Even the old man cannot help grinning. Really, such a wretched mare, and still kicking!

Two fellows from the crowd get two more whips and run to whip the horse from the side. Each takes a side.

“On the muzzle, on the eyes, lash her on the eyes!” shouts Mikolka.[6]

“Let’s have a song, brothers!” someone shouts from the cart, and everyone in the cart joins in. A drunken song breaks out, a tambourine rattles, they whistle to the refrain. The peasant woman cracks nuts and giggles.

. . . He runs past the horse, runs ahead of her, sees how they are lashing her on the eyes, right on the eyes! He is crying. His heart is in his throat, the tears are flowing. One of the whips grazes his face, he does not feel it, he wrings his hands, he shouts, he rushes to the gray-bearded old man, who is shaking his head in disapproval of it all. A woman takes him by the hand and tries to lead him away; but he breaks free and runs back to the horse. She is already at her last gasp, but she starts kicking again.

“Ah, go to the hairy devil!” Mikolka cries out in a rage. He drops his whip, bends down, and pulls a long and stout shaft from the bottom of the cart, takes one end of it in both hands and, with an effort, swings it aloft over the gray horse.

“He’ll strike her dead!” people cry.

“He’ll kill her!”

“It’s my goods!” shouts Mikolka, and with a full swing he brings the shaft down. There is a heavy thud.

“Whip her, whip her! Why did you stop!” voices cry from the crowd.

Mikolka takes another swing, and another blow lands full on the miserable nag’s back. Her hind legs give way, but then she jumps up and pulls, pulls with all the strength she has left, pulls this way and that, trying to move the cart; but six whips come at her from all sides, and the shaft is raised again and falls for a third time, then a fourth, in heavy, rhythmic strokes. Mikolka is furious that he was unable to kill her with one blow.

“She’s tough!” they shout.

“She’ll drop this time, brothers; it’s the end of her!” one enthusiast yells from the crowd.

“Take an axe to her! Finish her off fast,” shouts a third.

“Eh, let the fleas eat you! Step aside!” Mikolka cries out frenziedly, and he drops the shaft, bends down again, and pulls an iron crowbar from the bottom of the cart. “Look out!” he yells, and he swings it with all his might at the poor horse. The blow lands; the wretched mare staggers, sinks down, tries to pull, but another full swing of the crowbar lands on her back, and she falls to the ground as if all four legs had been cut from under her.

“Give her the final one!” shouts Mikolka, and he leaps from the cart as if beside himself. Several fellows, also red and drunk, seize whatever they can find—whips, sticks, the shaft—and run to the dying mare. Mikolka plants himself at her side and starts beating her pointlessly on the back with the crowbar. The nag stretches out her muzzle, heaves a deep sigh, and dies.

“He’s done her in!” they shout from the crowd.

“But why wouldn’t she gallop!”

“It’s my goods!” Mikolka cries, holding the crowbar in his hands, his eyes bloodshot. He stands there as if he regretted having nothing else to beat.

“Really, you’ve got no fear of God in you!” many voices now shout from the crowd.

But the poor boy is beside himself. With a shout he tears through the crowd to the gray horse, throws his arms around her dead, bleeding muzzle, and kisses it, kisses her eyes and mouth…Then he suddenly jumps up and in a frenzy flies at Mikolka with his little fists. At this moment his father, who has been chasing after him all the while, finally seizes him and carries him out of the crowd.

“Come along, come along now!” he says to him. “Let’s go home!”

“Papa! What did they…kill…the poor horse for!” he sobs, but his breath fails, and the words burst like cries from his straining chest.

“They’re drunk, they’re playing pranks, it’s none of our business, come along!” his father says. He throws his arms around his father, but there is such strain, such strain in his chest. He tries to take a breath, to cry out, and wakes up.

He awoke panting, all in a sweat, his hair damp with sweat, and started up in terror.

“Thank God it was only a dream!” he said, leaning back against a tree and drawing a deep breath. “But what’s wrong? Am I coming down with a fever? Such a hideous dream!”

His whole body was as if broken; his soul was dark and troubled. He leaned his elbows on his knees and rested his head in both hands.

“God!” he exclaimed, “but can it be, can it be that I will really take an axe and hit her on the head and smash her skull… slip in the sticky, warm blood, break the lock, steal, and tremble, and hide, all covered with blood…with the axe…Lord, can it be?”

He was trembling like a leaf as he said it.

“But what’s wrong with me?” he went on, straightening up again, and as if in deep amazement. “I knew very well I could never endure it, so why have I been tormenting myself all this while? Even yesterday, yesterday, when I went to make that…trial, even yesterday I fully realized I could not endure it… So what is this now? Why have I doubted all along? Just yesterday, going down the stairs, I myself said it was mean, nasty, vile, vile…the mere thought of it made me vomit in reality and threw me into horror . . .

“No, I couldn’t endure it, I couldn’t endure it! Suppose, suppose there are even no doubts in all those calculations, suppose all that’s been decided in this past month is clear as day, true as arithmetic. Lord! Even so, I wouldn’t dare! I couldn’t endure it, I couldn’t! … What, what has this been all along? . . .”

He got to his feet, looked around as if wondering how he had ended up there, and walked towards the T——v Bridge. He was pale, his eyes were burning, all his limbs felt exhausted, but he suddenly seemed to breathe more easily. He felt he had just thrown off the horrible burden that had been weighing him down for so long, and his soul suddenly became light and peaceful. “Lord!” he pleaded, “show me my way; I renounce this cursed…dream of mine!”

Walking across the bridge, he looked calmly and quietly at the Neva, at the bright setting of the bright, red sun. In spite of his weakness, he was not even aware of any fatigue in himself. It was as if an abscess in his heart, which had been forming all that month, had suddenly burst. Freedom, freedom! He was now free of that spell, magic, sorcery, obsession!

Later on, when he recalled this time and all that happened to him during these days, minute by minute, point by point, feature by feature, he was always struck to superstition by one circumstance which, though in fact not very unusual, afterwards constantly seemed to him as if it were a sort of predetermination of his fate.

Namely, he could in no way understand or explain to himself why he, for whom it would have been most profitable, tired and worn out as he was, to return home by the shortest and most direct way, instead returned home through the Haymarket, where he had no need at all to go. The detour was not a long one, but it was obvious and totally unnecessary. Of course, it had happened to him dozens of times that he would return home without remembering what streets he had taken. But why, he always asked, why had such an important, decisive, and at the same time highly accidental encounter in the Haymarket (where he did not even have any reason to go) come just then, at such an hour and such a moment in his life, to meet him precisely in such a state of mind and precisely in such circumstances as alone would enable it, this encounter, to produce the most decisive and final effect on his entire fate? As if it had been waiting for him there on purpose!

It was about nine o’clock when he walked through the Haymarket. All the merchants with tables or trays, in shops big and small, were locking up their establishments, removing or packing away their wares, and going home, as were their customers. Numbers of various traffickers and ragpickers of all sorts were crowding around the ground floor cook-shops, in the dirty and stinking courtyards of the houses on the Haymarket, and more especially near the taverns. Raskolnikov liked these places most, as well as all the neighboring side streets, in his aimless wanderings. Here his rags attracted no supercilious attention, and one could go about dressed in anything without scandalizing people. Just at ——ny Lane, on the corner, a tradesman and a woman, his wife, had been selling their wares from two tables: thread, trimmings, cotton handkerchiefs, and so on. They, too, were heading for home, but lingered, talking with a woman acquaintance who had come up to them. This woman was Lizaveta Ivanovna, or simply Lizaveta, as everyone called her, the younger sister of that same old woman, Alyona Ivanovna, widow of a collegiate registrar,[7] the money-lender whom Raskolnikov had visited the day before to pawn his watch and make his trial… He had long known all about this Lizaveta, and she even knew him slightly. She was a tall, awkward, timid, and humble wench of thirty-five, all but an idiot, and was a complete slave to her sister, worked for her day and night, trembled before her, and even suffered her beatings. She stood hesitantly before the tradesman and the woman, holding a bundle and listening to them attentively. They were explaining something to her with particular ardor. When Raskolnikov suddenly saw her, some strange sensation, akin to the deepest amazement, seized him, though there was nothing amazing in this encounter.

“Why don’t you decide for yourself, Lizaveta Ivanovna,” the tradesman was saying loudly. “Come tomorrow, between six and seven. Those people will also arrive.”

“Tomorrow?” Lizaveta said slowly and pensively, as if she were still undecided.

“See how Alyona Ivanovna’s got you scared!” the hawker’s wife, a perky little woman, started pattering. “You’re just like a little child to look at you. And she isn’t even your real sister, just a half sister, but see, she does what she likes with you.”

“This time just don’t say anything to Alyona Ivanovna,” the husband interrupted, “that’s my advice—just come to us without asking. It’s a profitable deal. Later on your sister will realize it herself.”

“Should I, really?”

“Between six and seven tomorrow, and one of those people will arrive, so you can make the deal in person.”

“Around the samovar,” his wife added.

“All right, I’ll come,” Lizaveta said, still hesitant, and slowly started to leave.

At that point Raskolnikov had already passed by them and did not hear the rest. He was walking softly, inconspicuously, trying not to miss even a single word. His initial amazement gradually gave way to horror, like a chill running down his spine. He had learned, he had learned suddenly, all at once, and quite unexpectedly, that tomorrow, at exactly seven o’clock in the evening, Lizaveta, the old woman’s sister and only companion, would not be home, and that therefore, at exactly seven o’clock in the evening, the old woman would be left at home alone.

It was only a few more steps to his place. He walked in like a man condemned to death. He was not reasoning about anything, and was totally unable to reason; but he suddenly felt with his whole being that he no longer had any freedom either of mind or of will, and that everything had been suddenly and finally decided.

Of course, even if he had waited years on end for a good opportunity, having his design in mind, he could not have counted with certainty on a more obvious step towards the success of this design than the one that had suddenly presented itself now. In any case, it would have been difficult to learn for certain, the day before, with greater precision, yet without the least risk, without any dangerous inquiries or investigations, that the next day at such-and-such an hour, such-and-such an old woman, on whose life an attempt was being prepared, would be at home as alone as could be.

 

[1] A series of islands (Petrovsky, Krestovsky, Yelagin) in the delta of the Neva west of Petersburg where wealthier people had summer houses.

[2] Alexander Pushkin (1799-1837), the greatest of Russian poets; Ivan Turgenev (1818-83), novelist, Dostoevsky’s contemporary and acquaintance. Dostoevsky had the highest admiration for Pushkin, whose short story “The Queen of Spades” may be considered one of the “sources” of C&P. His relations with Turgenev were often strained, and artistically the two were opposites.

[3] The dream that follows contains autobiographical elements; in his notes for the novel, Dostoevsky mentions a broken-winded horse he had seen as a child.

[4] Kutya (kootyah) is a special dish offered to people at the end of a memorial service and, in some places, on Christmas Eve, made from rice (or barley, or wheat) and raisins, sweetened with honey.

[5] A kichka (foechka) is a headdress with two peaks or “horns” on the sides, worn only by married women.

[6] In his poem “Before Evening” from the cycle About the Weather (1859), Nikolai Nekrasov (1821-77) describes a scene of a horse being beaten “on its meek eyes.” Dostoevsky seems to have been deeply moved by the poem; it is referred to at some length in The Brothers Karamazov.

[7] Collegiate registrar was the fourteenth, or lowest, grade in the Russian civil service.

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