Part Four. III

The main thing was that, until the very last moment, he had in no way expected such a denouement. He had stood on his mettle to the last limit, without supposing even the possibility that the two poor and defenseless women could get out from under his power. Vanity contributed much to this conviction, as did that degree of self-confidence which is best called self-admiration. Having risen from insignificance, Pyotr Petrovich had a morbid habit of admiring himself, highly valued his intelligence and abilities, and sometimes, alone with himself, even admired his own face in the mirror. But most of all in the world he loved and valued his money, acquired by labor and various means: it made him equal to all that was higher than himself. In bitterly reminding Dunya just now that he had decided to take her in spite of the bad rumors about her, Pyotr Petrovich had spoken quite sincerely, and even felt deeply indignant at such “black ingratitude.” And yet, when he was proposing to Dunya, he had already been fully convinced of the absurdity of all this gossip, universally refuted by Marfa Petrovna and long since dropped by the whole little town, which ardently vindicated Dunya. And he himself would not have denied now that he knew all that at the time. Nevertheless, he still valued highly his determination to elevate Dunya to himself, and regarded it as a great deed. In reprimanding Dunya about it just now, he had given voice to a secret, cherished thought of his, which he had already admired more than once, and was unable to understand how others could fail to admire his great deed. When he had gone to visit Raskolnikov the other day, he had entered with the feeling of a benefactor ready to reap his harvest and listen to the sweetest compliments. And now, going down the stairs, he most certainly considered himself offended and unacknowledged in the highest degree.

As for Dunya, she was simply necessary for him; it was unthinkable for him to renounce her. For a long time, for several years already, he had been having delectable dreams of marriage, but he kept hoarding up money and waited. In deepest secret, he entertained rapturous thoughts of a well-behaved and poor girl (she must be poor), very young, very pretty, well born and educated, very intimidated, who had experienced a great many misfortunes and was utterly cowed before him, a girl who would all her life regard him as her salvation, stand in awe of him, obey him, wonder at him and at him alone. How many scenes, how many delectable episodes he had created in imagination on this playful and seductive theme, as he rested quietly from his affairs! And now the dream of so many years was almost coming true: the beauty and education of Avdotya Romanovna struck him; her helpless position aroused him in the extreme. Here was something even a bit more than he had dreamed of: here was a proud, unusual, virtuous girl, superior to him in education and upbringing (that he could feel), and such a being would be slavishly grateful to him all her life for his great deed, and would reverently efface herself before him, and he—he would rule boundlessly and absolutely! … As if by design, shortly before then, after much anticipation and deliberation, he had at last decided finally to change his career and enter a wider sphere of activity, and, with that, to move little by little into higher society, the thought of which he had long been savoring. In short, he had decided to try Petersburg. He knew that here women could be “quite, quite” beneficial. The charm of a lovely, virtuous, and educated woman could do wonders to smooth his path, attract certain people, create an aura…and now it had all collapsed! This present, ugly breakup affected him like a bolt of lightning. It was some ugly joke, an absurdity! He had only shown his mettle a tiny bit; he had not even had time to speak himself out; he was merely joking, got carried away, and it ended so seriously! Finally, he had even come to love Dunya in his own way; he was already her master in his dreams—and suddenly! … No! Tomorrow, tomorrow at the latest, all this must be restored, healed, set right, and above all—this presumptuous brat, this youngster who was the cause of it all, must be destroyed. With a painful feeling he also somehow involuntarily remembered Razumikhin…however, he soon set himself at ease in that regard: “This is the last person who could be held up to him!” Indeed, if there was anyone he was seriously afraid of, it was—Svidrigailov…In short, many troubles lay ahead of him…………………………………

“No, it’s my fault most of all!” Dunechka was saying, embracing and kissing her mother. “I was tempted by his money, but I swear, brother—I never imagined he could be such an unworthy man. If I had seen through him sooner, I would never have been tempted! Don’t blame me, brother!”

“God has delivered us! God has delivered us!” Pulcheria Alexandrovna muttered, but somehow unconsciously, as if she had not quite made sense of all that had happened.

They were all rejoicing; in five minutes they were even laughing. Only Dunechka occasionally became pale and knitted her brows, thinking back on what had happened. Pulcheria Alexandrovna would never have imagined that she, too, could be so glad; even that morning a breakup with Luzhin had seemed to her a terrible disaster. But Razumikhin was in ecstasy. He did not yet dare to express it fully, but was trembling all over as in a fever, as if a two-hundred-pound weight had fallen off his heart. Now he had the right to give his whole life to them, to serve them . .. And who knew what then! However, he drove all further thoughts away still more timorously, and was afraid of his own imagination. Only Raskolnikov went on sitting in the same place, almost sullen, even distracted. He who had insisted most on Luzhin’s removal, now seemed to be the least interested in what had happened. Dunya thought unwillingly that he was still very angry with her, and Pulcheria Alexandrovna kept looking at him fearfully.

“So, what did Svidrigailov say?” Dunya went over to him.

“Ah, yes, yes!” exclaimed Pulcheria Alexandrovna.

Raskolnikov raised his head.

“He insists on making you a gift of ten thousand roubles, and at the same time says he wishes to see you once more, in my presence.”

“To see her! Not for anything in the world!” Pulcheria Alexandrovna cried out. “And how dare he offer her money!”

Then Raskolnikov related (rather dryly) his conversation with Svidrigailov, omitting Marfa Petrovna’s ghosts, so as not to go into superfluous matters, and feeling disgusted at starting any conversation at all beyond the most necessary.

“And what answer did you give him?” asked Dunya.

“First I said I wouldn’t tell you anything. Then he said he would use every means possible to seek a meeting himself. He insisted that his passion for you was a whim, and that he now feels nothing for you…He does not want you to marry Luzhin…Generally, he was not very consistent.”

“How do you explain him to yourself, Rodya? How did he seem to you?”

“I confess I don’t understand any of it very well. He offers ten thousand, while saying he’s not rich. He announces that he wants to go away somewhere, and ten minutes later forgets that he mentioned it. Suddenly he also says he wants to get married, and that a match has already been made for him…He has his purposes, of course—bad ones, most likely. Then again, it’s somehow strange to suppose he’d approach this matter so stupidly, if he had bad intentions towards you…Of course, I refused this money on your behalf, once and for all. Generally, he seemed very strange to me, and…even…as if he showed signs of madness. But I could just as well be mistaken; there might simply be some sort of hoodwinking going on here. Marfa Petrovna’s death seems to have made its impression on him . . .”

“Lord rest her soul!” exclaimed Pulcheria Alexandrovna. “I will pray to God for her eternally, eternally! Where would we be now, Dunya, without those three thousand roubles! Lord, just as though they fell from heaven! Ah, Rodya, this morning we had all of three roubles to our name, and were thinking, Dunya and I, of quickly pawning the watch somewhere, if only so as not to take anything from that man until he thought of it himself.”

Dunya was somehow all too struck by Svidrigailov’s offer. She was still standing deep in thought.

“He’s contemplating something horrible!” she said to herself, almost in a whisper, all but shuddering.

Raskolnikov noticed this excessive fear.

“It seems I’ll have to see him more than once,” he said to Dunya.

“We’ll keep an eye on him! I’ll stay on his trail!” Razumikhin cried energetically. “I won’t let him out of my sight! Rodya gave me his permission. He told me himself today: ‘Protect my sister.’ And do I have your permission, Avdotya Romanovna?”

Dunya smiled and gave him her hand, but the worry would not leave her face. Pulcheria Alexandrovna kept glancing at her timidly; however, the three thousand had obviously set her at ease.

A quarter of an hour later they were all in a most animated conversation. Even Raskolnikov, though he did not speak, listened attentively for some time. Razumikhin was holding forth.

“But why, why would you leave!” he overflowed rapturously in his ecstatic speech. “What are you going to do in a wretched little town? The main thing is that you’re all together here, and you need one another—oh, you do need one another, believe me! Well, at least for the time being…Take me as a friend, a partner, and I assure you we can start an excellent enterprise. Listen, I’ll explain it all to you in detail—the whole project! This morning, when nothing had happened yet, it was already flashing in my head…The point is this: I have an uncle (I’ll introduce him to you; a most agreeable, most respectable old codger!), and this uncle has a capital of a thousand roubles; he himself lives on his pension and wants for nothing. For two years now he’s been pestering me to take the thousand from him and pay him six percent on it. I see what he’s up to: he simply wants to help me out. Last year I didn’t need it, but this year I was just waiting for him to come and decided I’d take it. Then you can give another thousand out of your three; that way we’ll have enough to start with, and so we’ll join together. And what is it we’re going to do?”

Here Razumikhin began developing his project, and spoke at length about how almost all our booksellers and publishers have little feeling for their wares, and are therefore also bad publishers, whereas decent publications generally pay for themselves and bring in a profit, sometimes a considerable one. And so Razumikhin’s dream was to go into publishing, since he had already spent two years working for others, and knew three European languages quite well, though he had told Raskolnikov six days ago that his German was “kaput, “ with the aim of convincing him to take half of his translation work and three roubles of the advance; not only was he lying then, but Raskolnikov had known that he was lying.

“Why, why should we let the chance slip, when we happen to have one of the main essentials—our own money?” Razumikhin was becoming excited. “Of course, it means a lot of work, but we will work—you, Avdotya Romanovna, and I, and Rodion…some books bring in a nice profit nowadays! And the main basis of the enterprise will be that we’ll know precisely what to translate. We’ll translate, and publish, and study, all at the same time. I can be useful here, because I’ve got experience. I’ve been poking around among publishers for nearly two years now; I know all the ins and outs—and there’s no need for the divine spark, believe me! Why, why should we let the spoon miss our mouth? I myself know—I’ve been keeping it a secret—of two or three works that would bring a hundred roubles each just for the idea of translating and publishing them; as for one of them, I wouldn’t sell the idea even for five hundred roubles. And you know, if I were to tell someone, he might just doubt it—blockheads that they are! As for the business end proper—typographers, paper, sales—you can leave that to me! I know all the ropes! We’ll start little by little and wind up with something big; at least we’ll have enough to eat, and in any case we’ll get back what we put in.”

Dunya’s eyes were shining.

“I like what you’re saying very much, Dmitri Prokofych,” she said.

“I know nothing about it, of course,” Pulcheria Alexandrovna responded, “it may be good, but then again, God knows. It’s so new somehow, so unknown. Of course, it’s necessary for us to stay here, at least for the time being.”

She looked at Rodya.

“What do you think, brother?” Dunya said.

“I think his idea is a very good one,” he answered. “Naturally, you shouldn’t dream ahead of time of establishing a firm, but it is indeed possible to publish five or six books with unquestionable success. I myself know of one work that would be sure to do well. And as for his ability to handle the business, there’s no doubt of it: he understands business…However, you have time enough to come to an agreement…”

“Hurrah!” cried Razumikhin. “Now wait, there’s an apartment here, in this same building, with the same landlord. It’s a private, separate one, not connected with the rooming house, and it’s furnished—the price is moderate, three small rooms. So you take that to start with. I’ll pawn your watch tomorrow and bring you the money, and later everything will be settled. And the main thing is that you can all three live together, and Rodya with you…Where are you off to, Rodya?”

“What, Rodya, you’re leaving already?” Pulcheria Alexandrovna asked, even in alarm.

“At such a moment!” exclaimed Razumikhin.

Dunya looked at her brother with incredulous surprise. He had his cap in his hand; he was getting ready to go.

“It’s not as if you were burying me or saying good-bye forever,” he said, somehow strangely.

It was as if he smiled, but at the same time as if it were not a smile.

“Though, who knows, maybe this is the last time we’ll see each other,” he added inadvertently.

He was thinking it to himself, but somehow it got spoken aloud.

“What’s the matter with you!” his mother cried out.

“Where are you going, Rodya?” Dunya asked, somehow strangely.

“No, I really must,” he answered vaguely, as if hesitating over what he wanted to say. But there was a sort of sharp determination in his pale face.

“I wanted to tell you…as I was coming here…I wanted to tell you, mama…and you, Dunya, that it’s better if we part ways for a while. I’m not feeling well, I’m not at ease…I’ll come myself afterwards…when I can. I think of you and love you…Leave me! Leave me alone! I decided on it even before…I decided on it for certain…Whatever happens to me, whether I perish or not, I want to be alone. Forget me altogether. It’s better…Don’t make inquiries about me. When need be, I’ll come myself, or… send for you. Perhaps everything will rise again! … But for now, if you love me, give in…Otherwise I’ll start hating you, I feel it…Good-bye!”

“Lord!” cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna.

Mother and sister were both terribly frightened; so was Razumikhin.

“Rodya, Rodya! Make peace with us, let’s be as we used to be!” his poor mother exclaimed.

He slowly turned towards the door, and slowly began walking out of the room. Dunya overtook him.

“Brother! What are you doing to mother!” she whispered, her eyes burning with indignation.

He gave her a heavy look.

“It’s all right, I’ll be back, I’ll still come!” he muttered half aloud, as if not quite aware of what he wanted to say, and walked out of the room.

“Wicked, unfeeling egoist!” Dunya cried out.

“He’s not unfeeling, he’s cra-a-azy! He’s mad! Don’t you see that? If not, you’re unfeeling yourself! . . .” Razumikhin whispered hotly, just over her shoulder, squeezing her hand hard.

“I’ll be back right away!” he cried, turning to Pulcheria Alexandrovna, who had gone numb, and he ran out of the room.

Raskolnikov was waiting for him at the end of the corridor.

“I knew you’d come running,” he said. “Go back to them and be with them…Be with them tomorrow, too…and always. I’ll come…maybe…if I can. Good-bye!”

And without offering his hand, he began walking away.

“But where are you going? Why? What’s wrong with you? You can’t do this!” Razumikhin kept murmuring, utterly at a loss.

Raskolnikov stopped again.

“Once and for all, never ask me about anything. I have no answers for you…Don’t come to me. Maybe I’ll come here. Leave me…but don’t leave them. Do you understand me?”

It was dark in the corridor; they were standing near a light. For a minute they looked silently at each other. Razumikhin remembered that minute all his life. Raskolnikov’s burning and fixed look seemed to grow more intense every moment, penetrating his soul, his consciousness. All at once Razumikhin gave a start. Something strange seemed to pass between them…as if the hint of some idea, something horrible, hideous, flitted by and was suddenly understood on both sides…Razumikhin turned pale as a corpse.

“You understand now?” Raskolnikov said suddenly, with a painfully contorted face. “Go back, go to them,” he added suddenly, and, turning quickly, he walked out of the house . . .

I will not describe here what went on that evening at Pulcheria Alexandrovna’s, how Razumikhin went back to them, how he tried to calm them, how he swore that Rodya needed to be allowed some rest in his illness, swore that Rodya would come without fail, would visit them every day, that he was very, very upset, that he should not be irritated; that he, Razumikhin, would keep an eye on him, would find him a doctor, a good doctor, the best, a whole consultation…In short, from that evening on Razumikhin became their son and brother.


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