Part Four. V

When, at exactly eleven o’clock the next morning, Raskolnikov entered the building that housed the —y police station, went to the department of the commissioner of investigations, and asked to be announced to Porfiry Petrovich, he was even surprised at how long they kept him waiting: at least ten minutes went by before he was summoned. Whereas, according to his calculations, it seemed they ought to have pounced on him at once. Meanwhile he stood in the waiting room, and people came and went who apparently were not interested in him at all. In the next room, which looked like an office, several scriveners sat writing, and it was obvious that none of them had any idea who or what Raskolnikov was. With an uneasy and mistrustful look he glanced around, trying to see if there were not at least some guard, some mysterious eyes, appointed to watch that he not go away. But there was nothing of the kind: all he saw were some pettily occupied office faces, then some other people, and none of them had any need of him: he could have gone four ways at once. A thought was becoming more and more firmly established in him: if that mysterious man yesterday, that ghost who had come from under the ground, indeed knew everything and had seen everything—would they let him, Raskolnikov, stand here like this and wait quietly? And would they have waited for him here until eleven o’clock, until he himself saw fit to come? It followed that the man either had not denounced him yet, or…or simply did not know anything, had not seen anything himself, with his own eyes (and how could he have?), and, consequently, the whole thing that he, Raskolnikov, had gone through yesterday was again a phantom, exaggerated by his troubled and sick imagination. This surmise had begun to strengthen in him even yesterday, during the most intense anxiety and despair. As he thought it all over now and made ready for a new battle, he suddenly felt himself trembling—and indignation even boiled up in him at the thought that he was trembling with fear before the hateful Porfiry Petrovich. It was most terrible for him to meet this man again; he hated him beyond measure, infinitely, and was even afraid of somehow giving himself away by his hatred. And so strong was this indignation that it immediately stopped his trembling; he made ready to go in with a cold and insolent air, and vowed to be silent as much as possible, to look and listen attentively, and, if only this once at least, to overcome his morbidly irritated nature, cost what it might. Just then he was called in to see Porfiry Petrovich.

It turned out that Porfiry Petrovich was alone in his office at the moment. His office was a room neither large nor small; in it stood a big writing desk in front of a sofa upholstered in oilcloth, a bureau, a cabinet in the corner, and a few chairs—all institutional furniture, of yellow polished wood. In the corner of the back wall—or, better, partition—was a closed door; beyond it, behind the partition, there must consequently have been other rooms. When Raskolnikov came in, Porfiry Petrovich immediately closed the door through which he had come, and they remained alone. He met his visitor with an apparently quite cheerful and affable air, and only several minutes later did Raskolnikov notice in him the signs of something like embarrassment—as if he had suddenly been put out, or caught doing something very solitary and secretive.

“Ah, my esteemed sir! Here you are…in our parts . . .” Porfiry began, reaching out both hands to him. “Well, do sit down, my dear! Or perhaps you don’t like being called esteemed and…dear—so, tout court? [1] Please don’t regard it as familiarity…Over here, sir, on the sofa.”

Raskolnikov sat down without taking his eyes off him.

“In our parts,” the apology for being familiar, the French phrase “tout court, “ and so on—these were all typical signs. “He reached out both hands to me, and yet he didn’t give me either, he drew them back in time,” flashed in him suspiciously. Each of them was watching the other, but as soon as their eyes met, quick as lightning they would look away.

“I’ve brought you this little paper…about the watch…here, sir. Is that all right, or shall I copy it over?”

“What? A little paper? Right, right…don’t worry, it’s quite all right, sir,” Porfiry Petrovich said, as if he were hurrying somewhere, and after saying it, he took the paper and looked it over. “Quite all right, sir. Nothing more is needed,” he confirmed in the same patter, and put the paper on the desk. Then, a minute later, already speaking of something else, he took it up again and put it on the bureau.

“You seemed to be saying yesterday that you wished to ask me…formally…about my acquaintance with this…murdered woman?” Raskolnikov tried to begin again. “Why did I put in that seemed?” flashed in him like lightning. “And why am I so worried about having put in that seemed?” a second thought immediately flashed in him like lightning.

And he suddenly felt that his insecurity, from the mere contact with Porfiry, from two words only, from two glances only, had bushed out to monstrous proportions in a moment…and that it was terribly dangerous—frayed nerves, mounting agitation. “It’s bad! It’s bad! … I’ll betray myself again.”

“Yes, yes, yes! Don’t worry! It will keep, it will keep, sir,” Porfiry Petrovich muttered, moving back and forth by the desk, but somehow aimlessly, as if darting now to the window, now to the bureau, then back to the desk, first avoiding Raskolnikov’s suspicious eyes, then suddenly stopping dead and staring point-blank at him. His plump, round little figure gave it all an extremely strange effect, like a ball rolling in different directions and bouncing off all the walls and corners.

“We’ll have time, sir, we’ll have time! … Do you smoke, by chance? Have you got your own? Here, sir, take a cigarette…” he continued, offering his visitor a cigarette. “You know, I’m receiving you here, but my apartment is right there, behind the partition…government quarters, sir, but just now I’m renting another for a while. They’ve been doing a bit of renovating here. It’s almost ready now…a government apartment is a fine thing, eh? What do you think?”

“Yes, a fine thing,” Raskolnikov answered, looking at him almost mockingly.

“A fine thing, a fine thing . . .” Porfiry Petrovich kept repeating, as if he had suddenly begun thinking of something quite different; “yes, a fine thing!” he all but shouted in the end, suddenly fixing his eyes on Raskolnikov and stopping two steps away from him. This silly, multiple repetition that a government apartment is a fine thing was too contradictory, in its triteness, to the serious, reflective, and enigmatic look that he now directed at his visitor.

But this only made Raskolnikov’s anger boil the more, and he was no longer able to refrain from making a mocking and rather imprudent challenge.

“You know what,” he suddenly asked, looking at him almost insolently, and as if enjoying his own insolence, “it seems there exists a certain legal rule, a certain legal technique—for all possible investigators—to begin from afar at first, with little trifles, or even with something serious but quite unrelated, in order to encourage, so to speak, or, better, to divert the person being interrogated, to lull his prudence, and then suddenly, in the most unexpected way, to stun him right on the head with the most fatal and dangerous question—is it so? I suppose it’s mentioned religiously to this day in all the rule books and manuals?”

“Well, well…so you think I’ve been using this government apartment to get you to…eh?” And having said this, Porfiry Petrovich squinted, winked; something merry and sly ran across his face, the little wrinkles on his forehead smoothed out, his little eyes narrowed, his features stretched out, and he suddenly dissolved into prolonged, nervous laughter, heaving and swaying with his whole body, and looking straight into Raskolnikov’s eyes. The latter began to laugh himself, somewhat forcedly; but when Porfiry, seeing that he was also laughing, went off into such gales of laughter that he almost turned purple, Raskolnikov’s loathing suddenly went beyond all prudence; he stopped laughing, frowned, and stared at Porfiry long and hatefully, not taking his eyes off him during this whole long and as if deliberately unceasing fit of laughter. The imprudence, however, was obvious on both sides: it appeared that Porfiry Petrovich was laughing in the face of his visitor, who was meeting his laughter with hatred, and that he was hardly embarrassed by this circumstance. Raskolnikov found the last fact very portentous: he realized that Porfiry Petrovich had certainly also not been at all embarrassed earlier, but on the contrary, that he himself, Raskolnikov, had perhaps stepped into a trap; that evidently there was something here that he was unaware of, some goal; that everything was perhaps prepared already, and now, this minute, would be revealed and come crashing down . . .

He went straight to the point at once, rose from his place, and took his cap.

“Porfiry Petrovich,” he began resolutely, but with rather strong irritation, “yesterday you expressed a wish that I come for some sort of interrogations” (he put special emphasis on the word interrogations). “I have come. If there is anything you need to ask, ask it; if not, allow me to withdraw. I have no time, I have things to do…I have to be at the funeral of that official who was run over, about whom…you also know…” he added, and at once became angry for having added it, and therefore at once became more irritated. “I am quite sick of it all, sir, do you hear? And have been for a long time…that is partly what made me ill…In short,” he almost shouted, feeling that the phrase about his illness was even more inappropriate, “in short, kindly either ask your questions or let me go, right now…and if you ask, do so not otherwise than according to form, sir! I will not allow it otherwise; and so, good-bye for now, since there’s nothing for the two of us to do here.”

“Lord! What is it? What is there to ask?” Porfiry Petrovich suddenly began clucking, immediately changing his tone and aspect, and instantly ceasing to laugh. “Don’t worry, please,” he fussed, again rushing in all directions, then suddenly trying to sit Raskolnikov down, “it will keep, it will keep, sir, and it’s all just trifles, sir! I am, on the contrary, so glad that you have finally come to us…I am receiving you as a guest. And excuse me, dear Rodion Romanovich, for this cursed laughter. Rodion Romanovich—is that right?… I’m a nervous man, sir, and you made me laugh by the wittiness of your remark; sometimes, really, I start shaking like a piece of gum rubber and can’t stop for half an hour…I laugh easily, sir. With my constitution I’m even afraid of a stroke. But do sit down, won’t you?…Please, my dear, or I’ll think you’re angry . . .”

Raskolnikov kept silent, listened, and watched, still frowning wrathfully. He sat down nonetheless, but without letting the cap out of his hands.

“I’ll tell you one thing about myself, dear Rodion Romanovich, in explanation of my personal characteristics, so to speak,” Porfiry Petrovich went on, fussing about the room, and, as before, seeming to avoid meeting his visitor’s eyes. “I am, you know, a bachelor, an unworldly and unknowing man, and, moreover, a finished man, a frozen man, sir, gone to seed, and…and…and have you noticed, Rodion Romanovich, that among us—that is, in our Russia, sir, and most of all in our Petersburg circles—if two intelligent men get together, not very well acquainted yet, but, so to speak, mutually respecting each other, just like you and me now, sir, it will take them a whole half hour to find a topic of conversation—they freeze before each other, they sit feeling mutually embarrassed. Everybody has topics for discussion—ladies, for instance…worldly men, for instance, of a higher tone, always have a topic for discussion, c’est de rigueur [2] —but people of the neuter kind, like us, are all easily embarrassed and have trouble talking…the thinking ones, I mean. Why do you suppose that is, my dear? Do we have no social interests, or is it that we’re too honest and don’t want to deceive each other, I don’t know. Eh? What do you think? And do put your cap aside, sir, it’s as if you were just about to leave, really, it’s awkward looking at you…On the contrary, I’m so glad, sir . . .”

Raskolnikov put down the cap, but remained silent and went on listening seriously and frowningly to Porfiry’s empty and inconsistent babble. “What is he trying to do, divert my attention with his silly babble, or what?”

“I won’t offer you coffee, sir, this is no place for it; but why shouldn’t one sit down for five little minutes with a friend, as a diversion,” Porfiry continued in a steady stream, “and you know, sir, all these official duties…you won’t be offended, my dear, that I keep pacing back and forth like this; excuse me, my dear, I’m so afraid of offending you, but it’s simply necessary for me to move, sir. I sit all the time, and I’m so glad to be able to walk around for five minutes or so…hemorrhoids, sir…I keep thinking of trying gymnastics as a treatment; they say there are state councillors, senior state councillors, even privy councillors, happily skipping rope, sir; that’s how it is, this science, in our age, sir… yes, sir… But concerning these duties here, interrogations, and all these formalities…now you, my dear, were just so good as to mention interrogations yourself…and you know, really, my dear Rodion Romanovich, these interrogations frequently throw off the interrogator himself more than the one who is being interrogated…As you, my dear, so justly and wittily remarked a moment ago.” (Raskolnikov had made no such remark.) “One gets mixed up, sir! Really mixed up! And it’s all the same thing, all the same thing, like a drum! Now that the reform is coming, they’ll at least change our title, heh, heh, heh![3] And concerning our legal techniques—as you were pleased to put it so wittily—there I agree with you completely, sir. Tell me, really, who among all the accused, even the most cloddish peasant, doesn’t know, for instance, that they will first lull him with unrelated questions (to use your happy expression) and then suddenly stun him right on the head, with an axe, sir—heh, heh, heh!—right on the head, to use your happy comparison, heh, heh! So you really thought I was talking about this apartment to make you…heh, heh! Aren’t you an ironical man. Very well, I’ll stop! Ah, yes, incidentally, one word calls up another, one thought evokes another— now, you were just pleased to mention form, with regard to a bit of interrogating, that is…But what is it about form? You know, sir, in many cases form is nonsense. Oftentimes one may just have a friendly talk, and it’s far more advantageous. Form won’t run away, allow me to reassure you on that score, sir; but, I ask you, what is form essentially? One cannot bind the investigator with form at every step. The investigator’s business is, so to speak, a free art, in its own way, or something like that…heh, heh, heh!”

Porfiry Petrovich paused for a moment to catch his breath. The talk was simply pouring out of him, now in senselessly empty phrases, then suddenly letting in some enigmatic little words, and immediately going off into senselessness again. He was almost running back and forth now, moving his fat little legs quicker and quicker, looking down all the time, with his right hand behind his back and his left hand constantly waving and performing various gestures, each time remarkably unsuited to his words. Raskolnikov suddenly noticed that as he was running back and forth he twice seemed almost to pause for a moment by the door, as if he were listening…”Is he waiting for something, or what?”

“And you really are entirely right, sir,” Porfiry picked up again, looking at Raskolnikov merrily and with remarkable simple-heartedness (which startled him and put him on his guard at once), “really, you’re right, sir, in choosing to laugh so wittily at our legal forms, heh, heh! Because these profoundly psychological techniques of ours (some of them, naturally) are extremely funny, and perhaps even useless, sir, when they’re too bound up with form. Yes, sir…I’m talking about form again: well, if I were to regard, or, better, to suspect this, that, or the other person of being a criminal, sir, in some little case entrusted to me…You’re preparing to be a lawyer, are you not, Rodion Romanovich?”

“Yes, I was . . .”

“Well, then, here you have a little example, so to speak, for the future—I mean, don’t think I’d be so bold as to teach you, you who publish such articles on crime! No, sir, but I’ll be so bold as to offer you a little example, simply as a fact—so, if I were to regard, for example, this, that, or the other person as a criminal, why, I ask you, should I trouble him before the time comes, even if I have evidence against him, sir? There may be a man, for example, whom it is my duty to arrest quickly, but another man may have a different character, really, sir; and why shouldn’t I let him walk around town, heh, heh, sir! No, I can see you don’t quite understand, so let me present it to you more clearly, sir: if I were to lock him up too soon, for example, I might thereby be lending him, so to speak, moral support, heh, heh! You laugh?” (Raskolnikov had not even thought of laughing; he was sitting with compressed lips, not taking his feverish gaze from the eyes of Porfiry Petrovich.) “And yet it really is so, sir, particularly with some specimens, because people are multifarious, sir, and there is one practice over all. Now, you were just pleased to mention evidence; well, suppose there is evidence, sir, but evidence, my dear, is mostly double-ended, and I am an investigator and therefore, I confess, a weak man: I would like to present my investigation with, so to speak, mathematical clarity; I would like to get hold of a piece of evidence that’s something like two times two is four! Something like direct and indisputable proof! But if I were to lock him up at the wrong time—even though I’m sure it was him —I might well deprive myself of the means for his further incrimination. Why? Because I would be giving him, so to speak, a definite position; I would be, so to speak, defining him and reassuring him psychologically, so that he would be able to hide from me in his shell: he would understand finally that he is under arrest. They say that in Sebastopol, right after Alma, intelligent people were oh so afraid that the enemy might attack any moment in full force and take Sebastopol at once; but when they saw that the enemy preferred a regular siege and was digging the first parallel, the intelligent people were ever so glad and reassured, sir: it meant the thing would drag on for at least two months, because who knew when they’d manage to take it by regular siege![4] Again you laugh? Again you don’t believe me? And right you are, of course. You are, sir, yes, you are! These are all particular cases, I agree; the case in point is indeed a particular one, sir! But at the same time, my good Rodion Romanovich, it must be observed that the general case, the one to which all legal forms and rules are suited, and on the basis of which they are all worked out and written down in the books, simply does not exist, for the very reason that every case, let’s say, for instance, every crime, as soon as it actually occurs, turns at once into a completely particular case, sir; and sometimes, just think, really completely unlike all the previous ones, sir. The most comical occurrences sometimes occur this way, sir. But if I were to leave some gentleman quite alone, not bring him in or bother him, but so that he knows every hour and every minute, or at least suspects, that I know everything, all his innermost secrets, and am watching him day and night, following him vigilantly, if I were to keep him consciously under eternal suspicion and fear, then, by God, he might really get into a whirl, sir, he might come himself and do something that would be like two times two, so to speak, something with a mathematical look to it—which is quite agreeable, sir. It can happen even with a lumpish peasant, and all the more so with our sort, the contemporarily intelligent man, and developed in a certain direction to boot! Because, my dear, it’s quite an important thing to understand in which direction a man is developed. And nerves, sir, nerves—you’ve forgotten about them, sir! Because all of that is so sick, and bad, and irritated nowadays! … And there’s so much bile, so much bile in them all! I’ll tell you, it’s a sort of gold mine on occasion, sir! And why should I worry that he’s walking around town unfettered! Let him, let him walk around meanwhile, let him; I know all the same that he’s my dear little victim and that he won’t run away from me! Where is he going to run to, heh, heh! Abroad? A Pole would run abroad, but not him, especially since I’m watching and have taken measures. Is he going to flee to the depths of the country? Butonly peasants live there—real, cloddish, Russian peasants; now, a contemporarily developed man would sooner go to prison than live with such foreigners as our good peasants, heh, heh! But that’s all nonsense, all external. What is it, to run away! A mere formality; that’s not the main thing; no, he won’t run away from me, not just because he has nowhere to run to: psychologically he won’t run away on me, heh, heh! A nice little phrase! He won’t run away on me by a law of nature, even if he has somewhere to run to. Have you ever seen a moth near a candle? Well, so he’ll keep circling around me, circling around me, as around a candle; freedom will no longer be dear to him, he’ll fall to thinking, get entangled, he’ll tangle himself all up as in a net, he’ll worry himself to death! … What’s more, he himself will prepare some sort of mathematical trick for me, something like two times two—if I merely allow him a slightly longer intermission . .. And he’ll keep on, he’ll keep on making circles around me, narrowing the radius more and more, and—whop! He’ll fly right into my mouth, and I’ll swallow him, sir, and that will be most agreeable, heh, heh, heh! You don’t believe me?”

Raskolnikov did not reply; he was sitting pale and motionless, peering with the same strained attention into Porfiry’s face.

“A good lesson!” he thought, turning cold. “This isn’t even like cat and mouse anymore, as it was yesterday. And it’s not for something so useless as to make a show of his strength and…let me know it: he’s more intelligent than that! There’s some other goal here, but what? Eh, it’s nonsense, brother, this dodging and trying to scare me! You have no proofs, and that man yesterday doesn’t exist! You simply want to throw me off, to irritate me beforehand, and when I’m irritated, whop me—only it’s all lies, you won’t pull it off, you won’t! But why, why let me know so much?…Are we counting on bad nerves, or what?…No, brother, it’s all lies, you won’t pull it off, whatever it is you’ve got prepared…Well, we shall see what you’ve got prepared.”

And he braced himself with all his strength, preparing for the terrible and unknown catastrophe. At times he wanted to hurl himself at Porfiry and strangle him on the spot. He had been afraid of this anger from the moment he entered. He was aware that his lips were dry, his heart was pounding, there was foam caked on his lips. But he was still determined to be silent and not say a word until the time came. He realized that this was the best tactic in his position, because he not only would not give anything away, but, on the contrary, would exasperate the enemy with his silence, and perhaps make him give something away himself. At least he hoped for that.

“No, I see you don’t believe me, sir; you keep thinking I’m just coming out with harmless jokes,” Porfiry picked up, getting merrier and merrier, ceaselessly chuckling with pleasure, and beginning to circle the room again, “and of course you’re right, sir; even my figure has been so arranged by God Himself that it evokes only comic thoughts in others; a buffoon, sir; but what I shall tell you, and repeat again, sir, is that you, my dear Rodion Romanovich—you’ll excuse an old man—you are still young, sir, in your first youth, so to speak, and therefore you place the most value on human intelligence, following the example of all young men. A playful sharpness of wit and the abstract arguments of reason are what seduce you, sir. Which is exactly like the former Austrian Hofkriegsrat, for example, insofar, that is, as I am able to judge of military events: on paper they had Napoleon crushed and taken prisoner, it was all worked out and arranged in the cleverest manner in their study, and then, lo and behold, General Mack surrenders with his entire army, heh, heh, heh![5] I see, I see, Rodion Romanovich, my dear, you’re laughing that such a civilian as I should keep picking little examples from military history. A weakness, I can’t help it, I love the military profession, and I do so love reading all these military accounts…I’ve decidedly missed my career. I should be serving in the military, really, sir. I might not have become a Napoleon, perhaps, but I’d be a major at least, heh, heh, heh! Well, my dearest, now I’ll tell you the whole detailed truth—about that particular case, I mean: reality and human nature, sir, are very important things, and oh how they sometimes bring down the most perspicacious calculations! Eh, listen to an old man, I say it seriously, Rodion Romanovich” (as he spoke, the barely thirty-five-year-old Porfiry Petrovich indeed seemed to grow old all at once; his voice even changed, and he became all hunched over); “besides, I’m a sincere man, sir…Am I a sincere man, or am I not? What do you think? I’d say I’m completely sincere: I’m telling you all this gratis, and ask no reward for it, heh, heh! Well, sir, to go on: wit, in my opinion, is a splendid thing, sir; it is, so to speak, an adornment of nature and a consolation of life; and what tricks it can perform, it seems, so that some poor little investigator is hard put to figure them out, it seems, since he also gets carried away by his own fantasy, as always happens, because he, too, is a man, sir! But it’s human nature that helps the poor investigator out, sir, that’s the trouble! And that is what doesn’t occur to the young people, carried away by their own wit, ‘stepping over all obstacles’ (as you were pleased to put it in a most witty and cunning way). Suppose he lies—our man, I mean, this particular case, sir, this incognito—and lies splendidly, in the most cunning way; here, it seems, is a triumph; go and enjoy the fruits of your wit; but then—whop! he faints, in the most interesting, the most scandalous place. Suppose he’s ill, and the room also happens to be stuffy, but even so, sir! Even so, it makes one think! He lied incomparably, but he failed to reckon on his nature. There’s the perfidy, sir! Another time, carried away by the playfulness of his wit, he starts making a fool of a man who suspects him, and turns pale as if on purpose, as if in play, but he turns pale too naturally, it’s too much like the truth, so again it makes one think! He might hoodwink him to begin with, but overnight the man will reconsider, if he’s nobody’s fool. And so it is at every step, sir! And that’s not all: he himself starts running ahead, poking his nose where no one has asked him, starting conversations about things of which he ought, on the contrary, to keep silent, slipping in various allegories, heh, heh! He’ll come himself and start asking why he wasn’t arrested long ago, heh, heh, heh! And it can happen with the wittiest man, a psychologist and a writer, sir! Human nature is a mirror, sir, the clearest mirror! Look and admire—there you have it, sir! But why are you so pale, Rodion Romanovich? Is there not enough air? Shall I open the window?”

“Oh, don’t bother, please,” Raskolnikov cried, and suddenly burst out laughing, “please don’t bother!”

Porfiry stood in front of him, waited, and suddenly burst out laughing himself. Raskolnikov rose from the sofa, suddenly putting an abrupt stop to his completely hysterical laughter.

“Porfiry Petrovich!” he said loudly and distinctly, though he could barely stand on his trembling legs, “at last I see clearly that you do definitely suspect me of murdering that old woman and her sister Lizaveta. For my own part I declare to you that I have long been sick of it all. If you believe you have the right to prosecute me legally, then prosecute me; or to arrest me, then arrest me. But to torment me and laugh in my face, that I will not allow!”

His lips trembled all at once, his eyes lit up with fury, and his hitherto restrained voice rang out:

“I will not allow it, sir!” he suddenly shouted, banging his fist on the table with all his might. “Do you hear, Porfiry Petrovich? I will not allow it!”

“Ah, Lord, what’s this now!” Porfiry Petrovich exclaimed, looking thoroughly frightened. “My good Rodion Romanovich! My heart and soul! My dearest! What’s the matter!”

“I will not allow it!” Raskolnikov shouted once more.

“Not so loud, my dear! People will hear you, they’ll come running! And what shall we tell them? Only think!” Porfiry Petrovich whispered in horror, bringing his face very close to Raskolnikov’s face.

“I will not allow it, I will not allow it!” Raskolnikov repeated mechanically, but suddenly also in a complete whisper.

Porfiry quickly turned and ran to open the window.

“To let in some air, some fresh air! And do drink some water, my dear; this is a fit, sir!” And he rushed to the door to send for water, but there turned out to be a carafe of water right there in the corner.

“Drink, my dear,” he whispered, rushing to him with the carafe, “maybe it will help . . .” Porfiry Petrovich’s alarm and his sympathy itself were so natural that Raskolnikov fell silent and began to stare at him with wild curiosity. He did not accept the water, however.

“Rodion Romanovich, my dear! but you’ll drive yourself out of your mind this way, I assure you, a-ah! Do drink! A little sip, at least!”

He succeeded after all in making him take the glass of water in his hands. Raskolnikov mechanically brought it to his lips, but then, recollecting himself, set it on the table with loathing.

“Yes, sir, a fit, that’s what we’ve just had, sir! Go on this way, my dear, and you’ll have your former illness back,” Porfiry Petrovich began clucking in friendly sympathy, though he still looked somewhat at a loss. “Lord! How is it you take no care of yourself at all? Then, too, Dmitri Prokofych came to see me yesterday—I agree, I agree, I have a caustic nature, a nasty one, but look what he deduced from it! … Lord! He came yesterday, after you, we were having dinner, he talked and talked, I just threw up my hands; well, I thought… ah, my Lord! Don’t tell me you sent him! But sit down, my dear, do sit down, for Christ’s sake!”

“No, I didn’t send him. But I knew he went to you and why he went,” Raskolnikov replied sharply.

“You knew?”

“Yes. What of it?”

“Here’s what, my dear Rodion Romanovich—that this is not all I know about your exploits; I’ve been informed of everything, sir! I know about how you went to rent the apartment, just at nightfall, when it was getting dark, and began ringing the bell and asking about blood, which left the workmen and caretakers perplexed. I quite understand what state you were in at the time…but even so, you’ll simply drive yourself out of your mind this way, by God! You’ll get yourself into a whirl! You’re boiling too much with indignation, sir, with noble indignation, sir, at being wronged first by fate and then by the police, and so you rush here and there, trying, so to speak, to make everyone talk the sooner and thus put an end to it all at once, because you’re sick of these stupidities and all these suspicions. Isn’t that so? I’ve guessed your mood, haven’t I?…Only this way it’s not just yourself but also Razumikhin that you’ll get into a whirl on me; because he’s too kind a man for this, you know it yourself. You are ill, but he is a virtuous man, and so the illness is catching for him…I’ll explain, my dear, when you’re calmer…but do sit down, for Christ’s sake! Please rest, you look awful; do sit down.”

Raskolnikov sat down; his trembling was going away and he was beginning to feel hot all over. In deep amazement, tensely, he listened to the alarmed and amiably solicitous Porfiry Petrovich. But he did not believe a word he said, though he felt some strange inclination to believe. Porfiry’s unexpected words about the apartment thoroughly struck him. “So he knows about the apartment, but how?” suddenly crossed his mind. “And he tells it to me himself!”

“Yes, sir, we had a case almost exactly like that in our legal practice, a psychological case, a morbid one, sir,” Porfiry went on pattering. “There was a man who also slapped a murder on himself, sir, and how he did it! He came out with a whole hallucination, presented facts, described circumstances, confused and bewildered us one and all—and why? Quite unintentionally, he himself had been partly the cause of the murder, but only partly, and when he learned that he had given a pretext to the murderers, he became anguished, stupefied, began imagining things, went quite off his head, and convinced himself that he was the murderer! But the governing Senate finally examined the case and the unfortunate man was acquitted and put under proper care. Thanks to the governing Senate! Ah, well, tsk, tsk, tsk! So, what then, my dear? This way you may get yourself into a delirium, if you have such urges to irritate your nerves, going around at night ringing doorbells and asking about blood! I’ve studied all this psychology in practice, sir. Sometimes it can drive a man to jump out the window or off a bell-tower, and it’s such a tempting sensation, sir. The same with doorbells, sir…An illness, Rodion Romanovich, an illness! You’ve been neglecting your illness too much, sir. You ought to get the advice of an experienced physician—what use is this fat fellow of yours! … You’re delirious! You’re doing all this simply and solely in delirium! . . .”

For a moment everything started whirling around Raskolnikov.

“Can it be, can it be,” flashed in him, “that he’s lying even now? Impossible, impossible!” He pushed the thought away from him, sensing beforehand to what degree of rage and fury it might lead him, sensing that he might lose his mind from rage.

“It was not in delirium, it was in reality!” he cried out, straining all the powers of his reason to penetrate Porfiry’s game. “In reality, in reality! Do you hear?”

“Yes, I understand, and I hear, sir! Yesterday, too, you said it was not in delirium, you even especially stressed that it was not in delirium!

Everything you can say, I understand, sir! Ahh! … But Rodion Romanovich, my good man, at least listen to the following circumstances. If you were indeed a criminal in reality, or somehow mixed up in this cursed case, well, for heaven’s sake, would you yourself stress that you were doing it all not in delirium but, on the contrary, in full consciousness? And stress it especially, stress it with such special obstinacy—now, could that be, could it be, for heaven’s sake? Quite the opposite, I should think. Because if there really was anything to it, you would be bound precisely to stress that it was certainly done in delirium! Right? Am I right?”

Something sly could be heard in the question. Raskolnikov drew all the way back on the sofa, away from Porfiry, who was leaning towards him, and stared at him silently, point-blank, in bewilderment.

“Or else, to do with Mr. Razumikhin—to do, that is, with whether he came to talk yesterday on his own or at your instigation—you ought precisely to have said that he came on his own, and to have concealed that it was at your instigation! But you’re not concealing it! You precisely stress that it was at your instigation!”

Raskolnikov had done no such thing. A chill ran down his spine.

“You keep lying,” he said slowly and weakly, his lips twisted into a pained smile. “You want to show me again that you know my whole game, that you know all my answers beforehand,” he said, himself almost aware that he was no longer weighing his words as he should. “You want to bully me…or else you’re simply laughing at me.”

He continued to stare at him point-blank as he said this, and suddenly a boundless anger again flashed in his eyes.

“You keep lying!” he cried out. “You know perfectly well that the criminal’s best dodge is to conceal as little as possible of what need not be concealed. I don’t believe you!”

“You’re quite a dodger yourself!” Porfiry tittered. “There’s just no getting along with you, my dear; you’ve got some monomania sitting in you. So you don’t believe me? But I shall tell you that you do in fact believe me, you’ve already believed me for a foot, and I’m going to get you to believe me for a whole yard, because I’m genuinely fond of you and sincerely wish you well.”

Raskolnikov’s lips trembled.

“Yes, I do, sir, and I’ll tell you one last thing, sir,” he went on, taking Raskolnikov lightly and amiably by the arm, a little above the elbow, “I’ll tell you one last thing, sir: watch out for your illness. Besides, your family has now come to you; give a thought to them. You ought to soothe them and pamper them, and all you do is frighten them . . .”

“What’s that to you? How do you know it? Why are you so interested? It means you’re spying on me and want me to see it?”

“But, my dear, I learned it all from you, from you yourself! You don’t even notice that in your excitement you’re the first one to tell everything, both to me and to others. I also learned many interesting details yesterday from Mr. Razumikhin, Dmitri Prokofych. No, sir, you interrupted me just now, but I shall tell you that, for all your wit, your insecurity has made you lose a sober view of things. Here’s an example, on that same theme, to do with the doorbells: I let you have such a precious thing, such a fact (it is a complete fact, sir!), just like that, lock, stock, and barrel—I, an investigator! And you see nothing in it? But, if I had even the slightest suspicion of you, is that how I ought to have acted? On the contrary, I ought first to have lulled your suspicions, giving no sign that I was already informed of this fact; to have thus diverted you in the opposite direction; and then suddenly to have stunned you on the head as with an axe (to use your own expression): ‘And what, sir, were you pleased to be doing in the murdered woman’s apartment at ten o’clock in the evening, or even almost eleven? And why were you ringing the bell? And why did you ask about the blood? And why did you bewilder the caretakers and incite them to go to the police station, to the lieutenant of the precinct?’ That’s how I ought to have acted, if I had even the slightest suspicion of you. I ought to have taken your evidence in accordance with all the forms, made a search, and perhaps have arrested you as well. . . Since I have acted otherwise, it follows that I have no suspicions of you! But you’ve lost a sober view and don’t see anything, I repeat, sir!”

Raskolnikov shuddered all over, so that Porfiry Petrovich noticed it only too clearly.

“You’re lying still!” he cried. “I don’t know what your purposes are, but you keep lying…You talked in a different sense a moment ago, and I’m surely not mistaken…You’re lying!”

“Lying, am I?” Porfiry picked up, obviously excited, but preserving a most merry and mocking look, and seeming not in the least concerned with Mr. Raskolnikov’s opinion of him. “Lying, am I?… Well, and how did I act with you just now (I, an investigator), prompting you and letting you in on all the means of defense, and coming out with all this psychology for you myself: ‘Illness, delirium, you felt all offended; melancholy, policemen,’ and all the rest of it? Eh? Heh, heh, heh! Though, by the way—incidentally speaking—all these psychological means of defense, these excuses and dodges, are quite untenable, and double-ended besides: ‘Illness, delirium, dreams,’ they say, ‘I imagined it, I don’t remember’—maybe so, but why is it, my dear, that in one’s illness and delirium one imagines precisely these dreams, and not others? One might have had others, sir? Right? Heh, heh, heh, heh!”

Raskolnikov looked at him proudly and disdainfully.

“In short,” he said, loudly and insistently, getting up and pushing Porfiry a little aside, “in short, I want to know: do you acknowledge me to be finally free of suspicion, or not? Speak, Porfiry Petrovich, speak positively and finally, and right now, quickly!”

“What an assignment! Ah, you’re a real assignment!” Porfiry exclaimed, with a perfectly merry, sly, and not in the least worried look. “But why do you want to know, why do you want to know so much, when we haven’t even begun to bother you in the least! You’re like a child: just let me touch the fire! And why do you worry so much? Why do you thrust yourself upon us, for what reason? Eh? Heh, heh, heh!”

“I repeat,” Raskolnikov cried furiously, “that I can no longer endure…”

“What, sir? The uncertainty?” Porfiry interrupted.

“Don’t taunt me! I won’t have it! … I tell you, I won’t have it! … I cannot and I will not have it! . .. Do you hear! Do you hear!” he cried, banging his fist on the table again.

“Quiet, quiet! They’ll hear you! I warn you seriously: look out for yourself. I’m not joking, sir!” Porfiry said in a whisper, but in his face this time there was nothing of that earlier womanish, good-natured, and alarmed expression; on the contrary, now he was ordering outright, sternly, frowning, and as if suddenly breaking through all secrets and ambiguities. But only for a moment. Puzzled at first, Raskolnikov suddenly flew into a real frenzy; but, strangely, he again obeyed the order to speak more softly, though he was in the most violent paroxysm of rage.

“I will not allow you to torture me!” he began whispering, as before, realizing immediately, with pain and hatred, that he was unable to disobey the order, and getting into even more of a rage at the thought of it. “Arrest me, search me, but be so good as to act according to form and not to toy with me, sir! Do not dare . . .”

“Now, don’t go worrying about form,” Porfiry interrupted, with his usual sly smile, and as if even delightedly admiring Raskolnikov. “I invited you here unofficially, my dear, only as a friend!”

“I don’t want your friendship, and I spit on it! Do you hear? Now look: I’m taking my cap and leaving. What are you going to say to that, if you were intending to arrest me?”

He seized his cap and walked to the door.

“But don’t you want to see my little surprise?” Porfiry tittered, seizing his arm again just above the elbow, and stopping him at the door. He was obviously becoming more and more merry and playful, which was finally driving Raskolnikov into a fury.

“What little surprise? What is it?” he asked, suddenly stopping and looking at Porfiry in fear.

“A little surprise, sir, sitting there behind my door, heh, heh, heh!” (He pointed his finger at the closed door in the partition, which led to his government apartment.) “I even locked it in so that it wouldn’t run away.”

“What is it? Where? What?…” Raskolnikov went over to the door and tried to open it, but it was locked.

“It’s locked, sir, and here is the key!”

And indeed he showed him the key, having taken it from his pocket.

“You’re still lying!” Raskolnikov screamed, no longer restraining himself. “You’re lying, you damned punchinello!” And he rushed at Porfiry, who retreated towards the door, but was not at all afraid.

“I understand everything, everything!” he leaped close to him. “You’re lying and taunting me so that I’ll give myself away . . .”

“But one could hardly give oneself away any more, my dear Rodion Romanovich. You’re beside yourself. Don’t shout, I really will call people, sir!”

“Lies! You’ve got nothing! Call your people! You knew I was sick and wanted to annoy me to the point of rage, to get me to give myself away, that was your purpose! No, show me your facts! I understand everything! You have no facts, all you have are just miserable, worthless guesses, Zamyotovian guesses! … You knew my character, you wanted to drive me into a frenzy and then suddenly stun me with priests and deputies…Is it them you’re waiting for? Eh? What are you waiting for? Where? Let’s have it!”

“But what deputies could there be, my dear! You have quite an imagination! This way one can’t even go by form, as you say; you don’t know the procedure, my friend…But form won’t run away, sir, as you’ll see for yourself! . . .” Porfiry muttered, with an ear towards the door.

Indeed, at that moment there seemed to be some noise just behind the door to the other room.

“Ah, they’re coming!” cried Raskolnikov. “You sent for them! … You’ve been waiting for them! You calculated…Well, let’s have them all here—deputies, witnesses, whatever you like…go on! I’m ready! Ready! . . .”

But here a strange incident occurred, something so unexpected, in the ordinary course of things, that certainly neither Raskolnikov nor Porfiry Petrovich could have reckoned on such a denouement.

 

[1] “Simply” or “without adornments” (French).

[2] “It’s obligatory” (French).

[3] The judicial reforms of 1864 introduced, among many more important changes, a new nomenclature for police and court personnel.

[4] During the Crimean War (1853-56), after defeating the Russian army at the Alma River (September 8,1854), the allied forces (England, France, Turkey, the Piedmont) laid siege to Sebastopol, finally taking the city eleven months later.

[5] The Hofkriegsrat was the supreme military council of Austria. Field Marshal Karl Mack (1752-1828) was surrounded by the French army at Ulm in 1805 and surrendered his 30,000 men to Napoleon without a fight. Mack’s arrival at Russian headquarters after this defeat is described in Tolstoy’s War and Peace, in a chapter published in The Russian Herald (1866, No. 2), between the publication in the same magazine of the first and the remaining parts of C&P.

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