Part Six. II

“These cigarettes, really!” Porfiry finally began to speak, having lighted up and caught his breath. “Harm, nothing but harm, yet I can’t give them up! I cough, sir, there’s a tickling in the throat and a shortness of breath. I’m a coward, you know, so the other day I went to ——n; he examines every patient for a minimum of half an hour; he even burst out laughing when he looked at me: he tapped and listened—by the way, he said, tobacco’s not good for you, your lungs are distended. Well, and how am I going to quit? What’ll I replace it with? I don’t drink, sir, that’s the whole trouble, heh, heh, heh—that I don’t drink, that’s the trouble! Everything’s relative, Rodion Romanych, everything’s relative!”

“What is this? Is he starting with the same old officialism again, or what!” Raskolnikov thought with loathing. The whole scene of their last meeting suddenly came back to him, and a wave of the same feeling as then flooded his heart.

“I already came to see you two days ago, in the evening—didn’t you know?” Porfiry Petrovich continued, looking around the room. “I came in, into this same room. Like today, I was passing by and thought—why not repay his little visit? I came up, the door was wide open; I looked around, waited, and didn’t even tell the maid—just went away. You don’t lock your place?”

Raskolnikov’s face was growing darker and darker. Porfiry seemed to guess his thoughts.

“I’ve come to explain myself, my good Rodion Romanych, to explain myself, sir! I’m obliged, and I owe you an explanation, sir,” he went on with a little smile, and even slapped Raskolnikov lightly on the knee with his palm, but at almost the same moment his face suddenly assumed a serious and preoccupied air; it even became as if veiled with sadness, to Raskolnikov’s surprise. He had never yet seen or suspected him of having such a face. “A strange scene took place between us last time, Rodion Romanych. One might say that in our first meeting, too, a strange scene also took place between us; but then…Well, so one thing leads to another! You see, sir, I have perhaps come out very guilty before you; I feel it, sir. For you must remember how we parted: your nerves were humming and your knees trembling, and my nerves were humming and my knees trembling. And, you know, it came out somehow improperly between us then, not in gentlemanly fashion. And we are gentlemen, after all; that is, in any case, we are gentlemen first—that has to be understood, sir. You must remember what it was coming to…even altogether indecent, sir.”

“What’s with him? Who does he think I am?” Raskolnikov asked himself in amazement, raising his head and staring at Porfiry.

“In my judgment, it would be better now if we were to proceed with frankness,” Porfiry Petrovich continued, throwing his head back slightly and lowering his eyes, as if wishing no longer to embarrass his former victim with his look, and as if scorning his former ways and tricks. “Yes, sir, such suspicions and such scenes cannot go on for long. Mikolka resolved it for us then, otherwise I don’t know what it would have come to between us. That cursed little tradesman was sitting behind my partition then—can you imagine? Of course, you know that already, and I am informed that he went to see you afterwards; but what you supposed then was not true: I hadn’t sent for anyone, and I hadn’t made any arrangements yet. You ask why I hadn’t made any arrangements? What can I say: I was as if bowled over by it all then. I’d barely even managed to send for the caretakers. (I’ll bet you noticed the caretakers as you passed by.) A thought raced through me then, a certain thought, quick as lightning; I was firmly convinced then, you see, Rodion Romanych. After all, I thought, though I may let one slip for a time, I’ll catch another by the tail—but what’s mine, what’s mine, at least, I won’t let slip. You are all too irritable, Rodion Romanych, by nature, sir; even too much so, sir, what with all the other basic qualities of your character and heart, which I flatter myself with the hope of having partly comprehended, sir. Well, of course, even then I, too, could consider that it doesn’t always happen for a man just to stand up and blurt out all his innermost secrets. Though it does happen, especially when the man has been driven out of all patience, but, in any case, rarely. That I, too, could consider for myself. No, I thought, if only I had at least some little trace! At least the tiniest little trace, just one, but one you could get your hands on, some real thing, not just this psychology. Because, I thought, if a man is guilty, then, of course, it’s possible anyway to expect something substantial from him; it’s even permissible to count on the most unexpected results. I was counting on your character, Rodion Romanych, on your character most of all! I had much hope in you then.”

“But you…but why do you go on talking this way now?” Raskolnikov muttered at last, without making much sense of his own question. “What’s he talking about?” he felt utterly at a loss. “Can he really take me for innocent?”

“Why am I talking this way? But I’ve come to explain myself, sir; I regard it, so to speak, as my sacred duty. I want to tell you everything to the last drop, as it all was, the whole history of all that darkening, so to speak. I made you suffer through a great deal, Rodion Romanych. I am not a monster, sir. I, too, can well understand how it must be for a man to drag all this with him when he’s aggrieved but at the same time proud, domineering, and impatient—above all, impatient! In any case, sir, I regard you as a most noble man, and even as having the rudiments of magnanimity, though I do not agree with you in all your convictions, which I consider it my duty to announce beforehand, directly, and with complete frankness, for above all I have no wish to deceive. Having come to know you, I feel an attachment to you. Perhaps you will burst out laughing at such words from me? You have the right, sir. I know that you disliked me even at first sight, because essentially there is nothing to like me for, sir. Regard it as you will, but I now wish, for my part, to use every means to straighten out the impression produced, and to prove that I am a man of heart and conscience. I say it sincerely, sir.”

Porfiry Petrovich paused with dignity. Raskolnikov felt the influx of some new fear. The thought that Porfiry regarded him as innocent suddenly began to frighten him.

“To tell everything in order, as it suddenly began then, is hardly necessary,” Porfiry Petrovich continued. “I think it’s even superfluous. And it’s unlikely I’d be able to, sir. Because how could I explain it thoroughly? First there were rumors. To say what these rumors were, from whom they came, and when…and on what occasion, strictly speaking, the matter got as far as you—is, I think, also superfluous. And for me personally, it began by accident, a quite accidental accident, something which in the highest degree might or might not have happened—and what was it? Hm, I think there’s no need to say. All these rumors and accidents converged in me then into a single thought. I confess frankly—for if one is going to confess, it should be everything—I was the first to hit on you then. Take, for instance, all those labels the old woman wrote on the things, and so on and so forth—it’s all nonsense, sir. One can count off a hundred such things. I also accidentally learned in detail then about the scene in the police office—also by accident, sir—and not just in passing, but from a special narrator, a capital one, who, without realizing it, handled the scene remarkably. One thing leads to another, one thing leads to another, my dear Rodion Romanych! So, how could I not turn in a certain direction? A hundred rabbits will never make a horse, a hundred suspicions will never make a proof, as a certain English proverb says, and that’s only reasonable; but the passions, sir, try overcoming the passions—for an investigator is also a man, sir. Then I also remembered your little article in that little magazine; you remember, we spoke of it in detail during your first visit. I scoffed then, but that was only to provoke you to further things. I repeat, you’re impatient, and very ill, Rodion Romanych. That you are daring, presumptuous, serious, and…have felt, have already felt a great deal—all this I have known for a long time, sir. All these feelings are familiar to me, and I read your little article as a familiar one. It was worked out on sleepless nights and in a frenzy, with a heaving and pounding heart, with suppressed enthusiasm. And it’s a dangerous thing in young people, this suppressed, proud enthusiasm! I scoffed a bit then, but now I shall tell you that in general—that is, as an amateur—I’m terribly fond of these first, youthful, ardent tests of the pen. Smoke, mist, a string twanging in the mist.[1]Your article is absurd and fantastic, but there are flashes of such sincerity in it, there is pride in it, youthful and incorruptible, there is the courage of despair; it’s a gloomy article, sir, but that’s a good thing. I read your little article, and laid it aside, and…as I laid it aside, I thought: ‘Well, for this man it won’t end there!’ Well, tell me now, with such a foregoing, how could I not be carried away by the subsequent! Ah, Lord! But am I really saying anything? Am I affirming anything now? I simply noted it at the time. ‘What’s in it?’ I thought. There’s nothing here—I mean, exactly nothing, and perhaps the final degree of nothing. And for me, an investigator, to be carried away like that is even altogether unfitting: here I’ve got Mikolka on my hands, and with facts now—whatever you say, they’re facts! And he, too, comes with his psychology; I must give some attention to him, too; because it’s a matter of life and death. Why am I explaining it all to you now? So that you may know and, what with your mind and heart, not accuse me of behaving maliciously that time. It wasn’t malicious, sir, I say it sincerely, heh, heh! Are you wondering why I didn’t come here for a search then? But I did, sir, I did, heh, heh, I came, sir, while you were lying here sick in your little bed. Not officially, and not in person, but I came, sir. Everything was examined here, in your apartment, down to the last hair, while the tracks were still fresh; but—umsonst! [2] I thought: now the man will come, will come of himself, and very soon; if he’s guilty, he’ll certainly come. Another man wouldn’t come, but this one will. And do you remember how Mr. Razumikhin began letting it slip to you? It was we who arranged that in order to get you stirred up; we spread the rumor on purpose, so that Mr. Razumikhin would let it slip to you, because he’s the kind of man who cannot contain his indignation. What struck Mr. Zamyotov most of all was your wrath and your open daring, suddenly to blurt out in the tavern: ‘I killed her!’ Too daring, sir, too bold; and I thought, if he’s guilty, then he’s a fierce fighter! That’s what I thought then, sir. So I waited! I waited as hard as I could, and as for Zamyotov, you simply crushed him then, and…that’s the whole catch, that this cursed psychology is double-ended! And so I waited for you, and look, what a godsend—you came! My heart fairly skipped a beat! Eh! Now, what made you come just then? And that laughter, that laughter of yours as you walked in then, remember? I saw through it all at once, like a pane of glass, but if I hadn’t been waiting for you in such a special way, I wouldn’t have noticed anything in your laughter. That’s what it means to be in the right frame of mind. And Mr. Razumikhin then— ah! and the stone, the stone, remember the stone, the one the things are hidden under? I can just see it there, somewhere in a kitchen garden—didn’t you mention a kitchen garden to Zamyotov, and then again at my place? And when we began going through your article, when you were explaining it—one just takes your every word in a double sense, as if there were another sitting under it! And so, Rodion Romanych, in this way I reached the outermost pillars, and bumped my head, and then I came to my senses. No, I said, what’s the matter with me! For if you like, I said, all this down to the last trace can be explained in the opposite sense, and it will come out even more naturally. What a torment, sir! ‘No,’ I thought, ‘better some little trace! …’ And then, when I heard about those little bells, I even stopped dead, I even began shivering. ‘Now,’ I thought, ‘here’s that little trace! This is it!’ And I wasn’t reasoning then, I simply didn’t want to. I’d have given a thousand roubles from my own pocket just to have seen you with my own eyes: how you walked a hundred steps beside the little tradesman that time, after he said ‘murderer’ to your face, and you didn’t dare ask him anything for the whole hundred steps! … Well, and that chill in the spine? Those little bells, in your illness, in half-delirium? And so, Rodion Romanych, why should you be surprised, after all that, if I was playing such tricks with you then? And why did you yourself come just at that moment? It’s as if someone was prompting you, too, by God, and if Mikolka hadn’t separated us…and do you remember Mikolka then? Do you remember him well? A bolt, that’s what it was like, sir! Wasn’t it like a bolt from the clouds? A thunderbolt! Well, and how did I meet it? I didn’t believe the thunderbolt, not a whit, you could see that! And later, after you left, when he began answering some points quite, quite neatly, so that I was surprised myself, even then I didn’t believe a pennyworth of it! That’s what it means to be strong as adamant. No, I thought, not by a long shot! There’s no Mikolka here!”

“Razumikhin was just telling me that you’re still accusing Nikolai, and were assuring Razumikhin of it yourself…”

His breath failed him, and he did not finish. He had listened in inexpressible excitement to the way this man who had seen through him to the very bottom disavowed himself. He was afraid to believe it, and he did not believe it. In the still ambiguous words he greedily sought and hoped to catch something more precise and final.

“That Mr. Razumikhin!” Porfiry exclaimed, as if rejoicing at the question from Raskolnikov, who up to then had been silent. “Heh, heh, heh! But Mr. Razumikhin simply had to be gotten out of the way: two’s company, three’s a crowd. Mr. Razumikhin is something else, sir; he’s an outsider; he came running, all pale in the face…Well, God bless him, why get him mixed up in it! As for Mikolka, would you like to hear about that subject—I mean, as I understand it? First of all, he’s still immature, a child, and not so much a coward as something like a sort of artist. Really, sir, don’t laugh that I interpret him this way. He’s innocent and susceptible to everything. He has heart; he’s fanciful. He sings, he dances, and they say he can tell stories so that people come from all over to hear him. And he goes to school, and he laughs his head off if somebody just shows him a finger, and he gets dead drunk, not really from depravity, but in spells, when he’s given drink, again like a child. He stole that time, for instance, and he doesn’t realize it—he ‘just picked it up from the ground; what kind of stealing is that?’ And do you know he’s a schismatic? Or not really a schismatic, but a sectarian; there were Runners in his family, and he himself recently spent two whole years in a village, under the spiritual direction of a certain elder.[3] I learned all this from Mikolka and from his Zaraisk friends. What’s more, all he wanted was to flee to the desert! He was zealous, prayed to God at night, and read, just couldn’t stop reading— the old books, the ‘true’ ones. Petersburg had a strong effect on him, especially the female sex, yes, and wine, too. He’s susceptible, sir, he forgot the elder and all the rest. It’s known to me that a certain artist took a liking to him, used to go and see him, and then this incident came along! So, what with all this intimidation—hang yourself! Run away! What can we do about the ideas people have of our juridics! There are some who are terrified of ‘having the law on them.’ Whose fault is that? Maybe something will come from the new courts. Oh, God grant it! And so, sir, once in prison, he evidently remembered his honorable elder; the Bible also appeared again. Do you know, Rodion Romanych, what ‘suffering’ means for some of them? Not for the sake of someone, but simply ‘the need for suffering’; to embrace suffering, that is, and if it comes from the authorities—so much the better. In my time there was a most humble convict in prison; for a year he sat on the stove at night reading the Bible; so he kept reading it and read himself up so much that, you know, out of the blue, he grabbed a brick and threw it at the warden, without any wrong on the warden’s part. And how did he throw it? He aimed it on purpose to miss by a yard, so as not to cause any harm![4] Well, everyone knows what’s in store for a convict who throws himself armed at the authorities: so he ’embraced suffering.’ And now I suspect that Mikolka also wants to ’embrace suffering’ or something of the sort. I know it for certain, and even with facts, sir. Only he doesn’t know that I know. What, won’t you allow that such a nation as ours produces fantastic people? All over the place! The elder has started acting up in him now; he recalled him especially after the noose. However, he’ll come and tell me everything himself. You think he’ll hold out? Wait, he’ll deny it yet. I’m expecting him to come any time now and deny his evidence. I’ve grown fond of this Mikolka and am studying him thoroughly. And what do you think! Heh, heh! He answered some points quite neatly—evidently picked up the necessary information, prepared himself cleverly—but on other points he’s all at sea, doesn’t know a blessed thing, and doesn’t even suspect that he doesn’t know! No, my good Rodion Romanych, there’s no Mikolka here! Here we have a fantastic, gloomy case, a modern case, a situation of our times, when the human heart is clouded, when one hears cited the phrase that blood ‘refreshes,’ when people preach a whole life of comfort. There are bookish dreams here, sir, there is a heart chafed by theories; we see here a resolve to take the first step, but a resolve of a certain kind—he resolved on it, but as if he were falling off a mountain or plunging down from a bell-tower, and then arrived at the crime as if he weren’t using his own legs. He forgot to lock the door behind him, but killed, killed two people, according to a theory. He killed, but wasn’t able to take the money, and what he did manage to grab, he went and hid under a stone. It wasn’t enough for him to endure the torment of standing behind the door while the door was being forced and the bell was ringing—no, later he goes back to the empty apartment, in half-delirium, to remind himself of that little bell, feeling a need to experience again that spinal chill…Well, let’s say he was sick then, but here’s another thing: he killed, and yet he considers himself an honest man, despises people, walks around like a pale angel—no, forget Mikolka, my dear Rodion Romanych, there’s no Mikolka here!”

These last words, after everything that had been said before and that had seemed so much like a disavowal, were too unexpected. Raskolnikov began trembling all over as if he had been pierced through.

“Then…who did…kill them? . . .” he asked, unable to restrain himself, in a suffocating voice. Porfiry Petrovich even recoiled against the back of his chair, as if he, too, were quite unexpectedly amazed at the question.

“What? Who killed them? . . .” he repeated, as if not believing his ears. “But you did, Rodion Romanych! You killed them, sir . . .” he added, almost in a whisper, in a completely convinced voice.

Raskolnikov jumped up from the sofa, stood for a few seconds, and sat down again without saying a word. Brief spasms suddenly passed over his face.

“Your poor lip is twitching again, like the other day,” Porfiry Petrovich muttered, even as if sympathetically. “It seems, Rodion Romanych, that you did not understand me rightly,” he added after a short pause. “That’s why you’re so amazed, sir. I precisely came with the intention of saying everything this time, and of bringing it all out in the open.”

“It wasn’t me,” Raskolnikov whispered, just as frightened little children do when they are caught red-handed.

“No, it was you, Rodion Romanych, it was you, sir, there’s no one else,” Porfiry whispered sternly and with conviction.

They both fell silent, and the silence even lasted strangely long, for about ten minutes. Raskolnikov leaned his elbows on the table and silently ran his fingers through his hair. Porfiry Petrovich sat quietly and waited. Suddenly Raskolnikov looked contemptuously at Porfiry.

“You’re up to your old tricks again, Porfiry Petrovich! You just cling to the same methods: aren’t you sick of it, really?”

“Eh, come on, what do I care about methods now! It would be different if there were witnesses here; but we’re alone, whispering to each other. You can see I didn’t come to hunt you down and catch you like a hare. Whether you confess or not—it’s all the same to me right now. I’m convinced in myself, even without you.”

“In that case, why did you come?” Raskolnikov asked irritably. “I’ll ask you my former question: if you consider me guilty, why don’t you put me in jail?”

“Well, what a question! Let me answer you point by point: first, it’s not to my advantage simply to lock you up straight away.”

“How not to your advantage! If you’re convinced, then you ought . . .”

“Eh, what if I am convinced? So far it’s all just my dreams, sir. And what’s the point of putting you there for a rest? You know it would be, since you’re begging for it yourself. I’ll bring in that little tradesman, for example, to give evidence against you, and you’ll say to him: ‘Are you drunk, or what? Who saw me with you? I simply took you for a drunk, and in fact you were drunk,’ and what am I to say to that, especially since your story is more plausible than his, because his is just psychology—which, with a mug like his, is even indecent—and you’ll have gone straight to the mark, because he does drink, the scoundrel, heavily, and is all too well known for it. And I myself have frankly admitted to you several times already that this psychology is double-ended, and that the other end is bigger, and much more plausible, and that so far I have nothing else against you. And though I’m going to lock you up all the same, and have even come myself (which is not at all how it’s done) to announce everything to you beforehand, all the same I’m telling you directly (which is also not how it’s done) that it will not be to my advantage. Now, secondly, sir, I’ve come to you because . . .”

“Ah, yes, secondly . . .” (Raskolnikov was still suffocating.)

“Because, as I announced earlier, I think I owe you an explanation. I don’t want you to consider me a monster, especially since I am sincerely disposed towards you, believe it or not. As a result of which, thirdly, I’ve come to you with an open and direct offer—that you yourself come and confess your guilt. That will be infinitely more advantageous for you, and more advantageous for me as well—since it will be taken off my back. Now, tell me, is that sincere on my part, or not?”

Raskolnikov thought for about a minute.

“Listen, Porfiry Petrovich, you said yourself it was just psychology, and meanwhile you’ve gone off into mathematics. But what if you’re actually mistaken now?”

“No, Rodion Romanych, I’m not mistaken. I’ve got that little trace. I did find that little trace then, sir—a godsend!”

“What little trace?”

“I won’t tell you, Rodion Romanych. And in any case I have no right to put it off any longer; I shall lock you up, sir. So consider for yourself: it’s all the same to me now, and consequently it’s just for your sake alone. By God, it will be better, Rodion Romanych.”

Raskolnikov grinned spitefully.

“That’s not only ridiculous, it’s even shameless. Now, even if I were guilty (which I’m not saying at all), why on earth should I come and confess my guilt, when you yourself say I’ll be put in there for a rest?”

“Eh, Rodion Romanych, don’t believe entirely in words; maybe it won’t be entirely for a rest! That’s just a theory, and my theory besides, sir, and what sort of authority am I for you? I might be concealing something from you even now, sir. Why should I up and pour out everything for you, heh, heh! Another thing: what do you mean, what advantage? Do you know what a reduction of sentence you’d get for that? Because when is it that you’d be coming, at what moment? Just consider that! When another man has already taken the crime on himself and confused the whole case! And I swear to you by God Himself that I’ll set it up and arrange things ‘there’ so that your confession will come out as quite unexpected. We’ll do away entirely with all this psychology, and I’ll turn all the suspicions of you to nothing, so that your crime will appear as some sort of darkening— because, in all conscience, it was a darkening. I’m an honest man, Rodion Romanych, I’ll keep my word.”

Raskolnikov lapsed into a sad silence and his head drooped; he thought for a long time and finally grinned again, but this time his smile was meek and sad.

“Eh, don’t!” he said, as if he were now entirely done dissembling with Porfiry. “It’s not worth it! I don’t want your reduction at all!”

“Now, that’s what I was afraid of!” Porfiry exclaimed hotly and as if involuntarily. “That’s what I was afraid of, that you don’t want our reduction.”

Raskolnikov gave him a sad and imposing look.

“Ah, don’t disdain life!” Porfiry went on. “You still have a lot of it ahead of you. How can you not want a reduction, how can you say that? What an impatient man you are!”

“A lot of what ahead of me?”

“Of life! What, are you a prophet? How much do you know? Seek and ye shall find. Maybe it’s just here that God has been waiting for you. And the fetters, well, they’re not forever…”

“They’ll reduce the sentence…” Raskolnikov laughed.

“Or maybe you’re afraid of the bourgeois shame of it, or something? It’s possible you’re afraid without knowing it yourself—you being so young! But, even so, you’re not one to be afraid or ashamed of confessing your guilt.”

“Ehh, I spit on it!” Raskolnikov whispered scornfully and with loathing, as though he did not even wish to speak. He again made a move to get up, as if he wanted to go somewhere, but again sat down in visible despair.

“You spit on it, really! You’ve lost your faith and you think I’m crudely flattering you; but how much have you lived so far? How much do you understand? He came up with a theory, and now he’s ashamed because it didn’t work, because it came out too unoriginally! True, it did come out meanly, but even so you’re not such a hopeless scoundrel. Not such a scoundrel at all! At least you didn’t addle your brain for long, you went all at once to the outermost pillars. Do you know how I regard you? I regard you as one of those men who could have their guts cut out, and would stand and look at his torturers with a smile—provided he’s found faith, or God. Well, go and find it, and you will live. First of all, you’ve needed a change of air for a long time. And suffering is also a good thing, after all. Suffer, then. Mikolka may be right in wanting to suffer. I know belief doesn’t come easily—but don’t be too clever about it, just give yourself directly to life, without reasoning; don’t worry—it will carry you straight to shore and set you on your feet. What shore? How do I know? I only believe that you have much life ahead of you. I know you’re taking what I say now as a prepared oration, but maybe you’ll remember it later and find it useful; that’s why I’m saying it to you. It’s good that you only killed a little old woman. If you’d come up with a different theory, you might have done something a hundred million times more hideous! Maybe you should still thank God; how do you know, maybe God is saving you for something. Be of great heart, and fear less. Have you turned coward before the great fulfillment you now face? No, it’s a shameful thing to turn coward here. Since you’ve taken such a step, stand firm now. It’s a matter of justice. So, go and do what justice demands. I know you don’t believe it, but, by God, life will carry you. And then you’ll get to like it. All you need is air now—air, air!”

Raskolnikov even gave a start.

“And you, who are you?” he cried out. “What sort of prophet are you? From the heights of what majestic calm are you uttering these most wise prophecies?”

“Who am I? I’m a finished man, that’s all. A man who can, perhaps, sympathize and empathize, who does, perhaps, even know something—but completely finished. But you are quite a different matter: God has prepared a life for you (though, who knows, maybe it will also pass like smoke and nothing will happen). What matter that you’ll be passing into a different category of people? You’re not going to miss your comforts, are you, with a heart like yours? What matter if no one will see you for a long time? The point lies in you, not in time. Become a sun and everyone will see you. The sun must be the sun first of all. Why are you smiling again—because I’m such a Schiller? I bet you think I’m trying to cajole you! And, who knows, maybe that’s just what I’m doing, heh, heh, heh! Perhaps, Rodion Romanych, you shouldn’t take me at my word, perhaps you even should never believe me completely—for such is my bent, I agree. Only I would like to add this: you yourself seem able to judge how far I am a base man and how far I am honest!”

“And when do you plan to arrest me?”

“Oh, I can give you a day and a half, or two, to walk around. Think, my dear, pray to God. It’s to your advantage, by God, it’s to your advantage.”

“And what if I run away?” Raskolnikov asked, grinning somehow strangely.

“You won’t. A peasant would run away, a fashionable sectarian would run away—the lackey of another man’s thought—because it’s enough to show him the tip of a finger and, like Midshipman Dyrka, he’ll believe anything for the rest of his life.[5] But you no longer believe your own theory—what would you run away on? And what would you do as a fugitive? It’s nasty and hard to be a fugitive, and first of all you need a life and a definite position, the proper air; and would that be any air for you? You’d run away, and come back on your own. It’s impossible for you to do without us. And if I lock you up in jail, you’ll sit there for a month, or maybe two, or maybe three, and then suddenly and—mark my words—on your own, you’ll come, perhaps even quite unexpectedly for yourself. You won’t know an hour beforehand that you’re going to come and confess your guilt. And I’m even sure you’ll ‘decide to embrace suffering’; you won’t take my word for it now, but you’ll come round to it yourself. Because suffering, Rodion Romanych, is a great thing; don’t look at me, fat as I am, that’s no matter, but I do know—don’t laugh at this—that there is an idea in suffering. Mikolka is right. No, you won’t run away, Rodion Romanych.”

Raskolnikov got up from his place and took his cap. Porfiry Petrovich also got up.

“Going for a stroll? It should be a fine evening, if only we don’t have a thunderstorm. Though that might be good; it would freshen the air . . .”

He also reached for his cap.

“Porfiry Petrovich,” Raskolnikov said with stern insistence, “please don’t take it into your head that I’ve confessed to you today. You’re a strange person, and I’ve been listening to you only out of curiosity. But I did not confess anything…Remember that.”

“I know, yes, I’ll remember—well, really, he’s even trembling! Don’t worry, my dear; be it as you will. Walk around a little; only you can’t walk around for too long. And, just in case, I have a little request to make of you,” he added, lowering his voice. “It’s a bit ticklish, but important: if—I mean, just in case (which, by the way, I don’t believe; I consider you quite incapable of it), if, I say—just so, in any such case—you should have the wish, during these forty or fifty hours, to end this matter somehow differently, in some fantastic way—such as by raising your hand against yourself (an absurd suggestion, but perhaps you’ll forgive me for it)—then leave a brief but explicit note. A couple of lines, just two little lines, and mention the stone; it will be more noble, sir. Well, sir, good-bye…I wish you kind thoughts and good undertakings!”

Porfiry went out, somehow stooping, and as if avoiding Raskolnikov’s eyes. Raskolnikov went to the window and waited with irritable impatience until he calculated Porfiry had had enough time to reach the street and move some distance away. Then he, too, hurriedly left the room.


[1] An inexact quotation from “Diary of a Madman” by Nikolai Gogol.

[2] “In vain!” (German).

[3] The word “schismatic” (raskolnik in Russian) rings oddly in the original because of its closeness to the protagonist’s name. It refers to the Old Believers, who split off from the Russian Orthodox Church in disagreement over the reforms of the patriarch Nikon in the mid-seventeenth century. “Runners” refers to a sect of the Old Believers that emerged in the eighteenth century; believing that the Orthodox Church and all civil authorities were under the sway of the Antichrist, they fled from every form of obedience to social institutions and “sojourned” in forests and desert places; hence they were first called “sojourners” and later “runners.” The institution of elders is a venerable one in Orthodox tradition (there is a short treatise on elders in Book One of The Brothers Karamazov). An elder, generally speaking, is a spiritual director, to whom the one seeking direction owes the strictest obedience.

[4] Dostoevsky describes this convict in Notes from the Dead House (1860), a semific-tional account of his own prison experiences.

[5] Midshipman Dyrka (dyrka means “hole” in Russian) is mentioned in Gogol’s comedy The Wedding, but Porfiry Petrovich has apparently confused him with another character in the play, the easily amused Midshipman Petukhov (petukh means “rooster”).


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