Part Six. I

A strange time came for Raskolnikov: it was as if fog suddenly fell around him and confined him in a hopeless and heavy solitude. Recalling this time later, long afterwards, he suspected that his consciousness had sometimes grown dim, as it were, and that this had continued, with some intervals, until the final catastrophe. He was positively convinced that he had been mistaken about many things then; for example, the times and periods of certain events. At least, remembering afterwards, and trying to figure out what he remembered, he learned much about himself, going by information he received from others. He would, for example, confuse one event with another; he would consider something to be the consequence of an event that existed only in his imagination. At times he was overcome by a morbidly painful anxiety, which would even turn into panic fear. But he also remembered that he would have moments, hours, and perhaps even days, full of apathy, which came over him as if in opposition to his former fear—an apathy resembling the morbidly indifferent state of some dying people. Generally, during those last days, he even tried, as it were, to flee from a clear and full understanding of his situation; some essential facts, which called for an immediate explanation, especially burdened him; but how glad he would have been to free himself, to flee from certain cares, to forget which, however, would in his situation have threatened complete and inevitable ruin.

He was especially anxious about Svidrigailov; one might even say he had become stuck, as it were, on Svidrigailov. Since the time of Svidrigailov’s words, spoken all too clearly and all too threateningly for him, in Sonya’s apartment, at the moment of Katerina Ivanovna’s death, the usual flow of his thoughts seemed disrupted. But even though this new fact troubled him greatly, Raskolnikov was somehow in no hurry to clarify the matter. At times, suddenly finding himself somewhere in a remote and solitary part of the city, in some wretched tavern, alone at a table, pondering, and scarcely recalling how he had ended up there, he would suddenly remember about Svidrigailov: the all too clear and alarming awareness would suddenly come to him that he also had to make arrangements with this man as soon as he could, and, if possible, come to a final resolution. Once, having gone somewhere beyond the city gates, he even fancied that he was waiting for Svidrigailov and that they had agreed to meet there. Another time he woke before dawn, on the ground somewhere, in the bushes, and almost without understanding how he had strayed there. However, in the first two or three days after Katerina Ivanovna’s death, he had already met Svidrigailov a couple of times, almost always at Sonya’s apartment, where he would come by somehow aimlessly, but almost always just for a minute. They always exchanged a few brief phrases and never once spoke of the capital point, as if it had somehow arranged itself between them that they would be silent about it for the time being. Katerina Ivanovna’s body was still lying in the coffin. Svidrigailov had taken charge of the funeral and was bustling about. Sonya was also very busy. At their last meeting, Svidrigailov explained to Raskolnikov that he had somehow finished with Katerina Ivanovna’s children, and had done so successfully; that, thanks to one connection or another, he had managed to find the right persons, with whose help it had been possible to place all three orphans, immediately, in institutions quite proper for them; that the money set aside for them had also helped considerably, because it was much easier to place orphans with capital than poor ones. He also said something about Sonya, promised to stop by at Raskolnikov’s one of those days, and mentioned that he “wished to ask his advice; that he’d like very much to talk things over; that there were certain matters…” This conversation took place in the corridor, near the stairs. Svidrigailov looked intently into Raskolnikov’s eyes and suddenly, after a pause, lowered his voice and asked:

“But what is it, Rodion Romanych? You’re not yourself at all! Really! You listen and look, but it’s as if you don’t understand. You must cheer up. Let’s do have a talk; only it’s a pity there are so many things to be done, other people’s and my own…Ehh, Rodion Romanych,” he suddenly added, “what every man of us needs is air, air, air, sir…That first of all!”

He suddenly stepped aside to allow a priest and a reader, who were coming up the stairs, to pass. They were going to hold a memorial service.[1] On Svidrigailov’s orders, these were held punctually twice a day. Svidrigailov went on his way. Raskolnikov stood, thought, and then followed the priest into Sonya’s apartment.

He stopped in the doorway. The service began, quietly, ceremoniously, sadly. Ever since childhood, there had always been something heavy and mystically terrible for him in the awareness of death and the feeling of the presence of death; besides, it was long since he had heard a memorial service. Besides, there was also something else here, too terrible and disquieting. He looked at the children: they were all kneeling by the coffin, and Polechka was crying. Behind them, weeping softly and as if timidly, Sonya was praying. “And in these days she hasn’t once glanced at me, hasn’t said a word to me,” suddenly came to Raskolnikov’s mind. The room was brightly lit by the sun; the smoke from the incense was rising in clouds; the priest was reading “Give rest, O Lord . . .”[2] Raskolnikov stood there through the whole service. The priest, as he gave the blessing and took his leave, looked around somehow strangely. After the service, Raskolnikov went up to Sonya. She suddenly took both his hands and leaned her head on his shoulder. This brief gesture even struck Raskolnikov as puzzling; it was even strange: what, not the least loathing for him, not the least revulsion, not the least tremor in her hand? Here was some sort of boundlessness of one’s own humiliation. So he understood it, at least. Sonya said nothing. Raskolnikov pressed her hand and walked out. He felt terribly heavy. Had it been possible to go somewhere that minute and remain utterly alone, even for the whole of his life, he would have counted himself happy. But the thing was that, though he had been almost always alone recently, he could never feel that he was alone. It had happened that he would leave town, go out to the high road, once he even went as far as a little wood; but the more solitary the place was, the stronger was his awareness as of someone’s near and disquieting presence, not frightening so much as somehow extremely vexing, so that he would hurriedly return to the city, mingle with the crowd, go into eating-houses, taverns, to the flea market, the Haymarket. Here it seemed easier, and even more solitary. In one chop-house, towards evening, people were singing songs: he sat for a whole hour listening, and remembered that he had even enjoyed it. But towards the end he suddenly became uneasy again, as if he had suddenly begun to be tormented by remorse: “So I’m sitting here listening to songs, but is this what I ought to be doing?” he somehow thought. However, he realized immediately that this was not the only thing troubling him; there was something that called for immediate resolution, but which it was impossible to grasp or convey in words. It was all wound up into a sort of ball. “No, better some kind of fight! Better Porfiry again…or Svidrigailov…The sooner to meet someone’s challenge, someone’s attack… Yes, yes!” he thought. He left the chop-house and almost broke into a run. The thought of Dunya and his mother for some reason suddenly seemed to fill him with panic fear. This was the night when he woke up, before morning, in the bushes, on Krestovsky Island, all chilled, in a fever; he went home, arriving early in the morning. The fever left him after a few hours of sleep, but it was late when he woke up: already two o’clock in the afternoon.

He remembered that Katerina Ivanovna’s funeral had been appointed for that day, and was glad not to be present at it. Nastasya brought him something to eat; he ate and drank with great appetite, all but greedily. His head was fresher, and he himself was calmer, than during those last three days. He even marveled, fleetingly, at his earlier influxes of panic fear. The door opened and Razumikhin came in.

“Aha! he’s eating! That means he’s not sick!” Razumikhin said, and, taking a chair, he sat down at the table across from Raskolnikov. He was troubled and did not try to conceal it. He spoke with obvious vexation, but without hurrying and without raising his voice especially. One might have thought there was some special and even exceptional intention lodged in him. “Listen,” he began resolutely, “devil take you all, as far as I’m concerned, but from what I see now, I see clearly that I can’t understand anything; please don’t think I’ve come to question you—I spit on it! I don’t want it myself! Reveal everything now, all your secrets, and maybe I won’t even listen, I’ll just spit and walk away. I’ve come only to find out personally and finally: first of all, is it true that you’re mad? You see, a belief exists (well, somewhere or other) that you may be mad, or very much inclined that way. I’ll confess to you, I myself was strongly inclined to support that opinion, judging, first, by your stupid and partly vile actions (unexplainable by anything), and, second, by your recent behavior with your mother and sister. Only a monster and a scoundrel, if not a madman, would act with them as you did; consequently, you’re a madman . . .”

“How long ago did you see them?”

“Just now. And you haven’t seen them since then? Where have you been hanging around, may I ask; I’ve come by here three times already. Your mother has been seriously ill since yesterday. She wanted to come here; Avdotya Romanovna tried to hold her back, but she wouldn’t listen to anything: ‘If he’s sick,’ she said, ‘if he’s going mad, who will help him if not his mother?’ We all came here, because we couldn’t let her come alone. We kept telling her to calm down all the way to your very door. We came in; you weren’t home; here’s where she sat. She sat for ten minutes, silently, with us standing over her. She got up and said: ‘If he can go out, and is therefore well and has simply forgotten his mother, then it’s indecent and shameful for a mother to stand on his doorstep and beg for affection as for a handout.’ She went home and came down sick; now she has a fever: ‘I see,’ she says, ‘he has time enough for that one of his. ‘ She thinks that one is Sofya Semyonovna, your fiancée or your mistress, I really don’t know. I went to Sofya Semyonovna’s at once, because I wanted to find out everything, brother—I came and saw a coffin standing there, children crying. Sofya Semyonovna was trying their mourning clothes on them. You weren’t there. I looked in, apologized, and left, and reported to Avdotya Romanovna. So it’s all nonsense, and there isn’t any that one involved; so it must be madness. But here you sit gobbling boiled beef as if you hadn’t eaten for three days. Granted madmen also eat, but you, though you haven’t said a word to me…are not mad! I’ll swear to it. Whatever else you are, you’re not mad. And so, devil take you all, because there’s some mystery here, some secret, and I have no intention of breaking my head over your secrets. I’ve just come to swear at you,” he concluded, getting up, “to vent my feelings, and now I know what to do!”

“What are you going to do now?”

“What do you care what I’m going to do now?”

“Look out, you’ll go on a binge!”

“How…how did you know?”

“What else?”

Razumikhin paused for a minute.

“You’ve always been a very reasonable man, and you’ve never, ever been mad,” he suddenly observed with ardor. “It’s true—I’ll go on a binge! Good-bye!” And he made a move to leave.

“I was talking about you, Razumikhin, two days ago, I think, with my sister.”

“About me! But. . . where could you have seen her two days ago?” Razumikhin stopped, and even paled a little. One could guess that his heart had begun pounding slowly and tensely in his chest.

“She came here, alone, sat down and talked to me.”

“She did!”

“Yes, she did.”

“What did you tell her…about me, I mean?”

“I told her that you’re a very good, honest, and hard-working man. I didn’t tell her that you loved her, because she knows it herself.”

“Knows it herself?”

“What else! Wherever I may go, whatever happens to me—you will remain their Providence. I’m handing them over to you, so to speak, Razumikhin. I say this because I know perfectly well how much you love her and am convinced of the purity of your heart. I also know that she can love you as well, and perhaps even already does. Now decide for yourself, as best you can, whether you want to go on a binge or not.”

“Rodka…you see…well. . . Ah, the devil! And where do you plan on going? You see, if it’s all a secret, let it stay that way! But I…I’ll find out the secret…And I’m certain that it’s some sort of nonsense and terribly trifling, and that it’s all your own doing. But, anyway, you’re a most excellent man! A most excellent man! … ”

“And I was precisely about to add, when you interrupted me, that you had quite a good thought just now about not finding out these mysteries and secrets. Let it be for now, and don’t worry. You’ll learn everything in due time, precisely when you should. Yesterday a certain person told me that man needs air, air, air! I want to go to him now and find out what he meant by that.”

Razumikhin stood pensive and agitated, figuring something out.

“He’s a political conspirator! For sure! And he’s about to take some decisive step—for sure! It can’t be otherwise, and…and Dunya knows . . .” he suddenly thought to himself.

“So Avdotya Romanovna comes to see you,” he said, stressing each word, “and you yourself want to see a man who says we need air, more air, and…and, therefore, this letter, too…is something of the same sort,” he concluded, as if to himself.

“What letter?”

“She received a certain letter today; it troubled her very much. Very. Even too much. I began talking about you—she asked me to be quiet. Then…then she said we might be parting very soon, and began thanking me ardently for something; then she went to her room and locked herself in.”

“She received a letter?” Raskolnikov pensively repeated the question.

“Yes, a letter; and you didn’t know? Hm.”

They were both silent for a short time.

“Good-bye, Rodion. I…there was a time, brother…anyway, good-bye. You see, there was a time…Well, good-bye! I must go, too. And I won’t drink. There’s no need now…Forget it!”

He hurried out, but having left and almost closed the door behind him, he suddenly opened it again and said, looking somewhere aside:

“By the way! Remember that murder, you know, Porfiry’s case— the old woman? Well, you ought to know that the murderer has been found, he confessed and presented all the proofs himself. It was one of those workmen, those painters, just think of it; remember me defending them here? Would you believe that that whole scene of laughing and fighting on the stairs with his friend, when the others were going up, the caretaker and the two witnesses, was set up by him on purpose, precisely as a blind? What cunning, what presence of mind, in such a young pup! It’s hard to believe; but he explained it all, he confessed it all himself! And what a sucker I was! Well, I suppose it’s simply the genius of shamming and resourcefulness, the genius of the legal blind—and so there’s nothing to be especially surprised at! Such people do exist, don’t they? And that his character broke down and he confessed, makes me believe him all the more. It’s more plausible…But how, how could I have been such a sucker! I was crawling the walls for them!”

“Tell me, please, where did you learn this, and why does it interest you so much?” Raskolnikov asked, with visible excitement.

“Come, now! Why does it interest me! What a question! … I learned it from Porfiry, among others. But mainly from Porfiry.”

“From Porfiry?”

“From Porfiry.”

“And what…what does he say?” Raskolnikov asked fearfully.

“He explained it to me perfectly. Psychologically, in his own way.”

“Explained it? He explained it to you himself?”

“Himself, himself. Good-bye! I’ll tell you a bit more later, but right now I have something to do. There…there was a time when I thought…But what of it; later! … Why should I get drunk now. You’ve got me drunk without wine. Because I am drunk, Rodka! I’m drunk without wine now. Well, good-bye; I’ll come again, very soon.”

He walked out.

“He’s a political conspirator, he is, for sure, for sure!” Razumikhin decided to himself finally, as he slowly went down the stairs. “And he’s drawn his sister into it; that’s very, very likely, given Avdotya Romanovna’s character. They’ve started meeting together . .. And she, too, dropped me a hint. It all comes out precisely that way, from many of her words…and phrases…and hints! And how else can all this tangle be explained? Hm! And I almost thought…Oh, Lord, how could I dream of it! Yes, sir, that was an eclipse, and I am guilty before him! It was he who brought this eclipse on me then, by the light, in the corridor. Pah! What a nasty, crude, mean thought on my part! Good boy, Mikolka, for confessing…And all the earlier things are explained now! That illness of his then, all that strange behavior, even before, before, still at the university, he was always so gloomy, sullen…But then, what does this letter mean? There might be something there as well. Who is the letter from? I suspect… Hm. No, I’m going to find it all out.”

He remembered and put together everything about Dunechka, and his heart sank. He tore from his place and ran.

Raskolnikov, as soon as Razumikhin left, got up, turned towards the window, bumped into one corner, then into another, as if forgetting how small his kennel was, and…sat down again on the sofa. He was altogether renewed, as it were; again the fight—it meant a way out had been found!

“Yes, it means a way out has been found! For everything had become too stifling and confined, too painfully oppressive, overcome by some sort of druggedness. Since that very scene with Mikolka at Porfiry’s, he had been suffocating in a cramped space, with no way out. After Mikolka, on the same day, there had been the scene at Sonya’s; he had handled it and ended it not at all, not at all as he might have imagined to himself beforehand…which meant he had become weak, instantly and radically! All at once! And he had agreed with Sonya then, he had agreed, agreed in his heart, that he would not be able to live like that, alone, with such a thing on his soul! And Svidrigailov? Svidrigailov’s a riddle…Svidrigailov troubles him, it’s true, but somehow not from that side. Maybe he’ll have to face a struggle with Svidrigailov as well. Svidrigailov may also be a whole way out; but Porfiry’s a different matter.

“So it was Porfiry himself who explained it to Razumikhin, explained it psychologically! He’s bringing in his cursed psychology again! Porfiry, indeed! As if Porfiry could believe even for a moment in Mikolka’s guilt, after what had passed between them then, after that face-to-face scene just before Mikolka, of which there could be no correct interpretation except one!” (Several times during those days scraps of that whole scene with Porfiry had flashed and recalled themselves to Raskolnikov; he could not have borne the recollection as a whole.) “Such words had been spoken between them then, such movements and gestures had been made, such looks had been exchanged, certain things had been said in such a tone, it had reached such limits, that thereafter it was not for Mikolka (whom Porfiry had figured out by heart from the first word and gesture), it was not for Mikolka to shake the very foundations of his convictions.

“And now look! Even Razumikhin has begun to suspect! So that scene in the corridor, by the light, did not go in vain. He went rushing to Porfiry…But why did the man start hoodwinking him like that? What is he aiming at in using Mikolka as a blind with Razumikhin? He certainly must have something in mind; there’s an intention here, but what? True, much time has passed since that morning—much too much, and not a word or a breath from Porfiry. Well, that, of course, was worse than…” Raskolnikov took his cap and, pensive, started out of the room. For the first day in all that time he felt himself, at least, of sound mind. “I must finish with Svidrigailov,” he thought, “at all costs, as soon as possible: he, too, seems to be waiting for me to come to him.” And at that moment such hatred rose up from his weary heart that he might have killed either one of them: Svidrigailov or Porfiry. At least he felt that if not now, then later he would be able to do so. “We’ll see, we’ll see,” he repeated silently.

But no sooner had he opened the door to the entryway than he suddenly ran into Porfiry himself. He was coming in. Raskolnikov was dumbfounded for a moment. Strangely, he was not very surprised to see Porfiry and was almost not afraid of him. He was merely startled, but he quickly, instantly, readied himself. “The denouement, perhaps! But how is it that he came up so softly, like a cat, and I heard nothing? Can he have been eavesdropping?”

“You weren’t expecting a visitor, Rodion Romanovich,” Porfiry Petrovich exclaimed, laughing. “I’ve been meaning to drop in for a long time; then I was passing by and thought—why not stop for five minutes and see how he is? Are you on your way somewhere? I won’t keep you. Just one little cigarette, if I may.”

“Sit down, Porfiry Petrovich, do sit down.” Raskolnikov invited his visitor to take a seat, ostensibly in so pleased and friendly a manner that he would indeed have marveled could he have seen himself. The dregs, the leavings, were being scraped out! Thus a man will sometimes suffer half an hour of mortal fear with a robber, but once the knife is finally at his throat, even fear vanishes. He sat down facing Porfiry and looked at him without blinking. Porfiry narrowed his eyes and began lighting a cigarette.

“Well, speak, speak” seemed about to leap from Raskolnikov’s heart. “Well, why, why, why don’t you speak?”

 

[1] A reader reads the responses and assists the priest in the memorial service (pani-khida in Russian).

[2] Part of a prayer for the dead: “Give rest, = Lord, to the soul of thy departed servant.”

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