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The Continental Classics, Volume XVIII., Mystery Tales by Various

Part 2 out of 8

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"Actress!" angrily thought Olga Vseslavovna. And immediately she added
mentally, "Well, she may stand on her head now, it is all the same to


Whether it was all the same to her or not, the deep despair of the
daughter, who had not been in time to bid her father farewell, had not
been in time to receive his blessing, after many years of anger, which
had borne heavily on the head of the blameless young woman, was so
evidently sincere, and produced such a deep impression on everyone,
that her stepmother also was moved.

Anna Iurievna resembled her father, as much as a young, graceful,
pretty woman can resemble an elderly man with strongly-marked features
and athletic frame, such as was General Nazimoff. But in spite of the
delicacy of her form, and the gentleness of her eyes, her glance
sometimes flashed fire in a manner very like the flashing eyes of her
father, and in her strong will, firm character, and inflexible
adherence to what she believed to be necessary and right, Anna was
exactly like her father.

For nearly ten years his daughter had obediently borne his anger; from
the day of her marriage to the man she loved, whom evil-minded people
had succeeded in calumniating in the general's mind. Though writing
incessantly to him, begging him to pardon her, to understand that he
had made a mistake, that her husband was a man of honor, and that she
would be fully and perfectly happy, but for the burden of her father's
wrath, and of the separation from him, she had never until the last
few weeks received a reply from him. But quite recently something
mysterious had happened. Not only had her father written to her that
he wished to see her and her children in St. Petersburg, whither he
was just setting out, but a few days later he had written again, a
long, tender letter, in which he had asked her forgiveness. Without
giving any explanations, he said that he had received indubitable
proofs of the innocence and chivalrous honor of her husband; that he
felt himself deeply guilty toward him, and was miserable on account of
the injustice he had committed. In the following letters, praying his
daughter to hasten her coming, because he was dangerously ill, and the
doctors thought could not last long, he filled her with astonishment
by expressing his intention to make a new will, and his determination
to separate his youngest daughter "from such a mother," and by his
prayers to her and her husband not to refuse to take upon themselves
little Olga's education.

"What had happened? How could that light-minded woman have so deeply
wounded my father?" Anna asked in bewilderment.

"If she was merely light-minded!" her husband answered, shrugging his
shoulders. "But she is so malicious, so crafty, and so daring that
anything may be expected from her."

"But in that case there would be an open scandal. We would know
something for certain. Nowadays they even relate such stories in the
newspapers, and my father is so well known, so noteworthy!"

"That is just why they don't write about him!" answered Borisoff, her
husband, smiling. He himself flatly refused to go to St. Petersburg.
With horror he remembered the first year of his marriage, before he
had succeeded in obtaining a transfer to another city, and was
compelled to meet the woman he detested; compelled also to meet his
father-in-law, a wise and honorable old man, who had fallen so
completely into the toils of this crafty woman. Anna Iurievna knew
that her husband despised her stepmother; that he detested her as the
cause of all the grief which they had had to endure through her, and
most of all, on account of the injustice she was guilty of toward her
brother, the general's son.

For six years Borisoff had lived with young Peter Nazimoff, as his
tutor and teacher, and loved him sincerely. The boy had already
reached the highest class at school, when his sister, two years older
than he, finished her schooling, and returned to her father's house,
about the time of the general's second marriage. What the young tutor
tried not to notice and to endure, for love of his pupil, in the first
year of the general's second marriage, became intolerable when the
general's daughter returned home, and to all the burden of his
difficult position was added the knowledge of their mutual love. He
proceeded frankly, and the whole matter was soon settled. But the
young man had never uttered a syllable as to the cause of Madame
Nazimoff's hatred for him. For the sake of his father-in-law's peace
of mind, he sincerely hoped that he would never know. Anna was
convinced that the whole cause of her step-mother's hostility was her
prejudice against what was in her opinion a _mesalliance_. In part she
was right, but the chief reason of this hostility remained forever a
secret to her. Unfortunately, it was not equally a secret to her

Of late years he had gradually been losing faith in his second wife's
character. It went so far that the general felt much more at ease when
she was away. Before the last illness of Iuri Pavlovitch, which, to
tell the truth, was almost his first, Olga Vseslavovna had gone abroad
with her daughter, intending to travel for a year; but she had hardly
been gone two months when the general unexpectedly determined to go to
St. Petersburg to seek a divorce, to see his elder daughter, and
change his will. Perhaps he would never have determined on such
decisive measures had not something wholly unexpected taken place.

Borisoff was quite mistaken in thinking that he had so carefully
destroyed all the letters which the general's young wife had written
to him, before his marriage to Anna, that no material evidence of Olga
Vseslavovna's early design of treachery remained. Even before she
married the general, she had had a confidential servant, who carried
out many commissions for the beautiful young woman, whose fame had
gone abroad through the three districts along the Volga, the arena of
her early triumphs. Later, the young lady found a new favorite in
foreign lands--the same Rita who was still with her. Martha, the
Russian confidential servant, heartily detested the German girl, and
such strife arose between them that not only the general's wife, but
even the general himself, was deprived of peace and tranquillity.
Martha was no fool; Olga Vseslavovna had to be careful with her; she
did take care, but she herself did not know to what an extent she was
in the woman's power. Foreseeing a black day of ingratitude, Martha,
with wonderful forethought, had put on one side one or two letters
from each series of her mistress' secret correspondence, which always
passed through her hands. Perhaps she would not have made such a bad
use of them but for her mistress' last, intolerable insult. Prizing in
her servants, next to swift obedience, a knowledge of languages, her
mistress did not make use of her when travelling abroad; but hitherto
she had taken both servants with her. But on her last journey she was
so heartily tired of Martha, and her perpetual tears and quarrels,
that she determined to get on without her, the more so that her
daughter's governess was also traveling with her. Her company was
growing too numerous.

There was no limit to Martha's wrath when she learned that she was
going to be left behind. Her effrontery was so great that she advised
her mistress "for her own sake" not to put such an affront upon her,
since she would not submit to it without seeking revenge. But her
mistress never dreamed of what Martha was planning, and what a risk
she ran.

Hardly had the general's wife departed when Martha asked the general
to let her leave, saying she would find work elsewhere. The general
saw no way of keeping her; and he did not even wish to do so, thinking
her only a quarrelsome, ill-tempered woman. The confidential servant
left the house, and even the city. And immediately her revenge and
torture of the general began, cutting straight at the root of his
happiness, his health, even his life. He began to receive, almost
daily, letters from different parts of Russia, for Martha had plenty
of friends and chums. With measureless cruelty Martha began by sending
the less important documents, still signed with her mistress' maiden
name; then two or three letters from the series of the most recent
times, and finally there came a whole packet of those sent by the
general's wife to the tutor, in the first year of her marriage with
the general, before Borisoff had met Anna.

The crafty Martha, knowing perfectly the whole state of affairs to
which these letters referred, often copied out their contents, and
kept the letters themselves concealed, saying to herself, "God knows
what may turn up, some day!

"If they are no use, I can burn them. But they may be useful. It is
always a good thing to keep our masters in our power," argued the
sagacious woman, and she was not mistaken in her calculations,
although these letters served not for her profit, but only for a
sanguinary revenge.

These notes and letters, which finally opened his eyes to the true
character of his wife, and his own crying injustice to his elder
children, were now lying in the general's dispatch box, in a neatly
tied packet, directed in the doctor's handwriting to "Her Excellency
Olga Vseslavovna Nazimoff."

As soon as she received her father's first letter Anna began to get
ready to go to St. Petersburg, but unfortunately she was kept back by
the sickness, first of one child, then of another. But for his last
telegrams, she would not have started even now, because she did not
realize the dangerous character of his illness. But now, finding that
she had come too late, the unhappy woman could not forgive herself.

Everyone was grieved to see her bitter sorrow, after the funeral
service for her father. Princess Ryadski burst into tears, as she
looked at her; and all the acquaintances and relations of the general
were far more disturbed by her despair than by the general's death.
Olga Vseslavovna was secretly scandalized at such lack of
self-control, but outwardly she seemed greatly touched and troubled by
the situation of her poor stepdaughter. But she did not venture to
express her sympathy too openly in the presence of others, remembering
the words of "the crazy creature" when she had come to herself after
her fainting fit, and her stepmother had hurried up to embrace her.

"Leave me!" Anna had cried, when she saw her. "I cannot bear to see
you! You killed my father!"

It was well that there were only servants in the ante-room. But the
general's wife did not wish to risk another such scene, now that so
many people were present. And besides she was extremely disturbed; the
friends who had come to the funeral service had brought flowers; and
the half-crazy princess, with the aid of two other ladies, had taken a
fancy to decorate the coffin, and especially the head, with them. It
is impossible to describe what Olga Vseslavovna suffered, as she
watched all those hands moving about among the folds of the muslin,
the frills, the covering, almost under the satin cushion even; a
little more and she would have fainted in earnest.

She had always boasted that she had strong nerves, and this was quite
true; nevertheless, during these days, their strength was evidently
giving way, as she could not get to sleep for a long time that night,
and heaven only knows what fancies passed through her mind. It was
almost morning before Olga Vseslavovna got to sleep, and even then it
was not for long.

She dreamed that she was descending endless stairs and dark corridors,
with a heavy, shapeless burden on her shoulders. A bright,
constantly-changing flame flickered before her; now red, now yellow,
now green, it flitted before her from side to side. She knew that if
she could reach it, the burden would fall from her. But the light
seemed to be taunting her, now appearing, now disappearing, and
suddenly going out altogether. And she found herself in the darkness,
in a damp cellar, seemingly empty, but filled with something's
invisible presence. What was it? She did not know. But this pervading
something frightened her terribly, smothered her, pressing on her from
all sides, depriving her of air. She was choking! Terror seized her at
the thought that it ... was Death! Must she die? Was it possible? But
that brightly shining light had just promised her life, gayety,
brilliance! She must hurry to overtake it. And she tried to run. But
her feet would not obey her; she could not move.

"Heaven! Heaven!" she cried, "but what is it? Whence has such a
disaster come? What is holding me? Let me go, or I shall be smothered
in this stench, under this intolerable burden!"

Suddenly Iuri Pavlovitch walked past her. She immediately recognized
him, and joyfully caught at his cloak. "Iuri! Forgive me! Help me!"
she cried.

Her husband stopped, looked sadly at her, and answered: "I would
gladly help you, but you yourself hinder me. Let me go; I must fulfill
your directions."

At that moment she awoke. She was bathed in a cold perspiration, and
clutched wildly at the coverlet with both hands. There was no one near
her, but she clearly felt someone's presence, and was convinced that
she had really seen her husband a moment before. In her ears resounded
his words: "I must fulfill your directions!" Directions? What

She sprang up, and began to feel about over the carpet with her bare
feet, looking for her slippers. A terrible thought had come into her
mind. She felt that she must settle it at once. She must take the
will, take it away from there! burn it! destroy it! She feverishly
drew on her dressing gown, and threw a shawl over her shoulders.

"Rita! Get up quick! Quick! Come!"

The frightened maid rose, still half asleep, and rubbed her eyes,
understanding nothing. Her mistress' ice-cold hands clutched her, and
dragged her somewhere.

"Ach lieber Gott ... Gott in Himmel!" she muttered. "What has
happened? What do you want?"

"Hush! Come quick!" And Olga Vseslavovna, with a candle in her
trembling hand, went forward, dragging the trembling Rita with her.
She opened the door of her bedroom, and went out. All the doors were
open _en suite_, and straight in front of her, in the center of the
fourth, shone the coffin of her husband, covered with cloth of gold
and lit up by the tall tapers standing round the bier.

"What does it mean?" whispered the general's wife. "Why have they
opened all the doors?"

"I do not know ... they were all closed last night," murmured the maid
in reply, her teeth chattering with fear. She longed to ask her
mistress whither they were going, and what for? She wanted to stop,
and not enter the funeral chamber; but she was afraid to speak.

They passed quickly through the rooms; at the door of the last the
general's wife set her candle down on a chair, and halted for a
moment. The loud snoring of the reader startled them both.

"It is the deacon!" whispered the general's wife reassuringly. Rita
had hardly strength to nod assent. All the same, the healthy snoring
of a living man comforted her. Without moving from where she stood,
the maid tremblingly drew her woolen shawl closer about her, trying to
see the sofa on which the deacon lay.

Knitting her brows, and biting her lips till they were sore, Olga
Vseslavovna went forward determinedly to the bier. She thrust both
hands under the flowers on the pillow. The frill was untouched. The
satin of the cushion was there, but where was ...? Her heart, that had
been beating like a hammer, suddenly stopped and stood still. There
was not a trace of the will!

"Perhaps I have forgotten. Perhaps it was on the other side," thought
Olga Vseslavovna, and went round to the left side of the coffin.

No! It was not there, either! Where was it? Who could have taken it?
Suddenly her heart failed her utterly, and she clutched at the edge of
the coffin to keep herself from falling. It seemed to her that under
the stiff, pallid, rigidly clasped hands of the dead general something
gleamed white through the transparent muslin of the covering,
something like a piece of paper.

"Nonsense! Self-suggestion! It is impossible! Hallucination!" The
thought flashed through her tortured brain. She forced herself to be
calm, and to look again.

Yes! She had not been mistaken. The white corner of a folded paper
appeared clearly against the general's dark uniform. At the same
moment a cold draught coming from somewhere set the tapers flickering.
Shadows danced around the room, over the bier, across the dead man's
face; and in the quick change of light and shadow it seemed to her
that the rigid features became more living, that a mournful smile
formed itself on the closed lips, that the tightly-shut eyelids
quivered. A wild cry rang through the whole room. With a desperate
shriek: "His eyes! He is looking at me!" the general's wife staggered
forward and fell fainting to the floor, beside her husband's bier.


The deacon sprang from his sofa with a cry, and an answering cry came
from the lips of the shivering Rita, as she fled from the room.
Servants rushed in, rubbing their eyes, still half-asleep, questioning
each other, running this way and that. The deacon, spurred by a
feeling of guilt, was determined to conceal the fact that he was
sleeping. "It was the lady!" he said. "She came in to pray; she told
me to stop reading while she prayed. She knelt down. Then she prayed
for a long time, and suddenly ... suddenly she cried out, and fainted.
Grief, brothers! It is terrible! To lose such a husband!" and he set
them to work with restoratives, himself rubbing the fallen woman's
chilly hands.

The general's wife opened her eyes after a few minutes.

Looking wildly round in bewilderment, she seemed to be wondering where
she was and how she had come there. Suddenly she remembered.

"The will! In his hands! Take it!" she cried, and fainted again. By
this time the whole household was awake. Anna Iurievna had come in,
full of astonishment at the sudden disturbance, but with the same
feeling of deep quiet and peace still filling her heart and giving her
features an expression of joy and calm. She heard the cry of the
general's wife, and the words were recorded in her mind, though she
did not at first give them any meaning.

She set herself, with all the tenderness of a good woman, to minister
to the other's need, sending her own maid for sal volatile, chafing
the fainting woman's hands, and giving orders that a bed should be
prepared for her in another room, further away from the bier. As she
spoke, quietly, gravely, with authority, the turmoil gradually
subsided. The frightened servants recovered themselves, and moved
about with the orderly obedience they ordinarily showed; and the
deacon, above all anxious to cover his negligence, began intoning the
liturgy, lending an atmosphere of solemnity to the whole room.

The servants, returning to announce that the bedroom was ready, were
ordered by Anna Iurievna to lift the fainting woman with all care and
gentleness, and she herself went with them to see the general's wife
safely bestowed in her room, and waited while the doctor did all in
his power to make her more comfortable. Olga Vseslavovna did not at
once recover consciousness. She seemed to pass from a faint into an
uneasy slumber, which, however, gradually became more quiet.

Only then, as she was leaving the room, did Anna Iurievna bethink her
of the strange words that had fallen on her ears: "The will! In his
hands! Take it!" And repeating them questioningly to herself, she
walked slowly back toward the room in which lay her father's body.

But she was even more occupied with her own thoughts. She no longer
felt in her heart the bitter resentment toward Olga Vseslavovna that
had filled it yesterday. She was conscious of a feeling of sorrow for
the helpless woman, of compassion for her empty, shallow life, the
fruit of an empty, shallow heart. And she was wondering why such
empty, joyless lives should exist in a world where there was such deep
happiness and joy.

She came over to her father's coffin, close to which the deacon was
still droning out his liturgy, and stood beside the dead body, looking
down at the strong, quiet face, and vividly recalling her dream of the
night before. Her eyes rested on the many stars and medals on his
breast, and on his hands, quietly clasped in death. Then suddenly, and
quite mechanically, Olga Vseslavovna's cry, as she returned to
consciousness, came back into her mind:

"The will! In his hands! Take it!" And bending down, she noted for the
first time something white beneath the muslin canopy. As she
scrutinized it wonderingly, she was conscious of an humble, apologetic
voice murmuring something at her elbow:

"Forgive me, Anna Iurievna. I humbly beg you, forgive me! It was I ...
in the night ... the flowers fell .... I was putting them back ...
fixing the head of your sainted papa .... It was under his head, the
paper ... I thought he wanted to keep it .... I put it in his hands,
to be safe! ... Forgive me, Anna Iurievna, if I have done any harm."

It was the deacon, still oppressed by a feeling of guilt. Anna.
Iurievna turned to him, and then turned back again, to her father's
body, to the white object shining under the muslin canopy. And once
more Olga Vseslavovna's words came into her mind:

"The will! In his hands! Take it!"

Gently raising the canopy, she softly drew the paper from beneath the
general's clasped hands, and unfolded it. She read no more than the
opening words, but she had read enough to realize that it was, indeed,
her father's will.



One sultry evening early in July a young man emerged from the small
furnished lodging he occupied in a large five-storied house in the
Pereoulok S----, and turned slowly, with an air of indecision, toward
the K----bridge. He was fortunate enough not to meet his landlady on
the stairs. She occupied the floor beneath him, and her kitchen, with
its usually open door, was entered from the staircase. Thus, whenever
the young man went out, he found himself obliged to pass under the
enemy's fire, which always produced a morbid terror, humiliating him
and making him knit his brows. He owed her some money and felt afraid
of encountering her.

It was not that he had been terrified or crushed by misfortune, but
that for some time past he had fallen into a state of nervous
depression akin to hypochondria. He had withdrawn from society and
shut himself up, till he was ready to shun, not merely his landlady,
but every human face. Poverty had once weighed him down, though, of
late, he had lost his sensitiveness on that score. He had given up all
his daily occupations. In his heart of hearts he laughed scornfully at
his landlady and the extremities to which she might proceed. Still, to
be waylaid on the stairs, to have to listen to all her jargon, hear
her demands, threats, and complaints, and have to make excuses and
subterfuges in return--no, he preferred to steal down without
attracting notice. On this occasion, however, when he had gained the
street, he felt surprised himself at this dread of meeting the woman
to whom he was in debt.

"Why should I be alarmed by these trifles when I am contemplating such
a desperate deed?" thought he, and he gave a strange smile. "Ah, well,
man holds the remedy in his own hands, and lets everything go its own
way, simply through cowardice--that is an axiom. I should like to know
what people fear most:--whatever is contrary to their usual habits, I
imagine. But I am talking too much. I talk and so I do nothing, though
I might just as well say, I do nothing and so I talk. I have acquired
this habit of chattering during the last month, while I have been
lying for days together in a corner, feeding my mind on trifles. Come,
why am I taking this walk now? Am I capable of _that_? Can _that_
really be serious? Not in the least. These are mere chimeras, idle
fancies that flit across my brain!"

The heat in the streets was stifling. The crowd, the sight of lime,
bricks, scaffolding, and the peculiar odor so familiar to the nostrils
of the inhabitant of St. Petersburg who has no means of escaping to
the country for the summer, all contributed to irritate the young
man's already excited nerves. The reeking fumes of the dram shops, so
numerous in this part of the city, and the tipsy men to be seen at
every point, although it was no holiday, completed the repulsive
character of the scene. Our hero's refined features betrayed, for a
moment, an expression of bitter disgust. We may observe casually that
he was not destitute of personal attractions; he was above middle
height, with a slender and well-proportioned figure, and he had dark
auburn hair and fine dark eyes. In a little while he sank into a deep
reverie, or rather into a sort of mental torpor. He walked on without
noticing, or trying to notice, his surroundings. Occasionally he
muttered a few words to himself; as if, as he himself had just
perceived, this had become his habit. At this moment it dawned upon
him that his ideas were becoming confused and that he was very feeble;
he had eaten nothing worth mentioning for the last two days.

His dress was so miserable that anyone else might have scrupled to go
out in such rags during the daytime. This quarter of the city, indeed,
was not particular as to dress. In the neighborhood of the Cyennaza or
Haymarket, in those streets in the heart of St. Petersburg, occupied
by the artisan classes, no vagaries in costume call forth the least
surprise. Besides the young man's fierce disdain had reached such a
pitch, that, notwithstanding his extreme sensitiveness, he felt no
shame at exhibiting his tattered garments in the street. He would have
felt differently had he come across anyone he knew, any of the old
friends whom he usually avoided. Yet he stopped short on hearing the
attention of passers-by directed to him by the thick voice of a tipsy
man shouting: "Eh, look at the German hatter!" The exclamation came
from an individual who, for some unknown reason, was being jolted away
in a great wagon. The young man snatched off his hat and began to
examine it. It was a high-crowned hat that had been originally bought
at Zimmermann's, but had become worn and rusty, was covered with dents
and stains, slit and short of a brim, a frightful object in short. Yet
its owner, far from feeling his vanity wounded, was suffering rather
from anxiety than humiliation.

"I suspected this," muttered he, uneasily, "I foresaw it. That's the
worst of it! Some wretched trifle like this might spoil it all. Yes,
this hat is certainly too remarkable; it looks so ridiculous. I must
get a cap to suit my rags; any old thing would be better than this
horror. Hats like these are not worn; this one would be noticeable a
_verst_[2] off; it would be remembered; people would think of it again
some time after, and it might furnish a clew. I must attract as little
attention as possible just now. Trifles become important, everything
hinges on them."

He had not far to go; he knew the exact distance between his lodging
and present destination--just seven hundred and thirty paces. He had
counted them when his plan only floated through his brain like a vague
dream. At that time, he himself would not have believed it capable of
realization; he merely dallied in fancy with a chimera which was both
terrible and seductive. But a month had elapsed, and he had already
begun to view it in a different light. Although he reproached himself
throughout his soliloquies with irresolution and a want of energy, he
had accustomed himself, little by little, and, indeed, in spite of
himself, to consider the realization of his dream a possibility,
though he doubted his own resolution. He was but just now rehearsing
his enterprise, and his agitation was increasing at every step.

His heart sank, and his limbs trembled nervously, as he came to an
immense pile of building facing the canal on one side and the street
on the other. This block was divided into a host of small tenements,
tenanted by all sorts of trades. People were swarming in and out
through the two doors. There were three or four _dvorniks_[3]
belonging to the house, but the young man, to his great satisfaction,
came across none of them, and, escaping notice as he entered, mounted
at once the stairs on the right hand. He had already made acquaintance
with this dark and narrow staircase, and its obscurity was grateful to
him; it was gloomy enough to hide him from prying eyes. "If I feel so
timid now, what will it be when I come to put my plan into execution?"
thought he, as he reached the fourth floor. Here he found the passage
blocked; some military porters were removing the furniture from a
tenement recently occupied, as the young man knew, by a German
official and his family. "Thanks to the departure of this German, for
some time to come there will be no one on this landing but the old
woman. It is as well to know this, at any rate," thought he to
himself, as he rang the old woman's bell. It gave a faint sound, as if
it were made of tin instead of copper. In houses of this sort, the
smaller lodgings generally have such bells.

He had forgotten this; the peculiar tinkling sound seemed to recall
something to his memory, for he gave a shiver--his nerves were very
weak. In another moment the door was opened part way, and the occupant
of the rooms stood examining her visitor through the opening with
evident suspicion, her small eyes glimmering through the darkness like
luminous points. But when she saw the people on the landing, she
seemed reassured, and flung the door open. The young man entered a
gloomy ante-chamber, divided by a partition, behind which was a small
kitchen. The old woman stood silently in front of him, eying him
keenly. She was a thin little creature of sixty, with a small sharp
nose, and eyes sparkling with malice. Her head was uncovered, and her
grizzled locks shone with grease. A strip of flannel was wound round
her long thin neck, and, in spite of the heat, she wore a shabby
yellow fur tippet on her shoulders. She coughed incessantly. The young
man was probably eying her strangely, for the look of mistrust
suddenly reappeared on her face.

"The Student Raskolnikoff. I called on you a month ago," said the
visitor, hurriedly, with a slight bow. He had suddenly remembered that
he must make himself more agreeable.

"I remember, _batuchka_, I remember it well," returned the old woman,
still fixing her eyes on him suspiciously.

"Well, then, look here. I have come again on a similar errand,"
continued Raskolnikoff, somewhat surprised and uneasy at being
received with so much distrust. "After all, this may be her usual
manner, though I did not notice it before," thought he, unpleasantly

The old woman remained silent a while, and seemed to reflect. Then,
pointing to the door of the inner room, she drew back for her visitor
to pass, and said, "Come in, _batuchka._"[4]

The small room into which the young man was ushered was papered with
yellow; there were geraniums and muslin curtains in the windows, and
the setting sun shed a flood of light on the interior. "The sun will
shine on it just the same _then_!" said Raskolnikoff all at once to
himself, as he glanced rapidly round to take in the various objects
and engrave them on his memory. The room, however, contained nothing
remarkable. The yellow wood furniture was all very old. A couch with a
shelving back, opposite which stood an oval table, a toilet-table with
a pier glass attached, chairs lining the walls, and two or three poor
prints representing German girls with birds in their hands, completed
the inventory. A lamp was burning in one corner in front of a small
image. The floor and furniture were clean and well polished.
"Elizabeth attends to that," thought the young man. It would have been
difficult to find a speck of dust on anything. "It is only in the
houses of these dreadful old widows that such order is to be seen,"
continued Raskolnikoff to himself, looking with curiosity at the
chintz curtain overhanging the door which led into a second small
room, in which he had never set foot; it contained the old woman's bed
and chest of drawers. The apartment consisted of these two rooms.

"What is it you want?" asked the mistress of the house dryly; she had
followed her visitor in, and planted herself in front of him to
examine him more closely.

"I have come to pawn something, that is all!" With this he drew from
his pocket a flat old silver watch. A globe was engraved inside the
lid, and the chain was of steel.

"But you have not repaid the sum I lent you before. It was due two
days ago."

"I will pay you the interest for another month; have a little

"I may have patience or I may sell your pledge at once, _batuchka_,
just whichever I like."

"What will you give me on this watch, Alena Ivanovna?"

"That is a wretched thing, _batuchka_, worth a mere nothing. Last time
I lent you two small notes on your ring, when I could have bought a
new one at the jeweler's for a ruble and a half."

"Give me four rubles, and I will redeem it; it belonged to my father.
I expect some money soon."

"A ruble and a half! and I shall take the interest in advance."

"A ruble and a half!" protested the young man.

"Please yourself whether you take it or not." So saying, the old woman
tendered back the watch. Her visitor took it and was about to depart
in vexation, when he reflected that this money lender was his last
resource--and, besides, he had another object in coming.

"Come, fork out!" said he in a rough tone.

The old woman fumbled in her pockets for her keys, and passed on into
the adjoining room. The young man, left standing there alone, pricked
up his ears and began to make various inductions. He heard this female
usurer open her drawer. "It must be the top one," was his conclusion.
"I know now that she carries her keys in her right pocket--they are
all hung on a steel ring--one of them is three times as large as the
rest, and has the wards toothed; that cannot be the key of her
drawer--then she must have some strong box or safe. It is curious that
the keys of strong boxes should be generally like that--but, after
all, how ignoble!"

The old woman reappeared. "See here, _batuchka_: if I take a
ten-kopeck piece a month on each ruble, I ought to receive fifteen
kopecks on a ruble and a half, the interest being payable in advance.
Then, as you ask me to wait another month for the repayment of the two
rubles I have already lent you, you owe me twenty kopecks more, which
makes a total of five and thirty. What, therefore, I have to advance
upon your watch is one ruble fifteen kopecks. Here it is."

"What! Is one ruble fifteen kopecks all you mean to give me now?"

"That is all that is due to you."

The young man took the money without further discussion. He looked at
the old woman and was in no haste to depart. He seemed anxious to say
or do something more, but without knowing exactly what. "Perhaps I may
be bringing you some other article soon, Alena Ivanovna, a very pretty
cigar case--a silver one--when I get it back from the friend to whom I
have lent it." These words were uttered with much embarrassment.

"Well, we can talk about it then, _batuchka_."

"Good-by. You are always alone--is your sister never with you?" asked
he with as indifferent an air as he could assume, as he entered the

"What have you to do with my sister, _batuchka_?"

"Nothing. I had no reason for asking. You will--well, good-by, Alena

Raskolnikoff made his exit in a perturbed state of mind. As he went
downstairs, he stopped from time to time, as if overcome by violent
emotion. When he had at length emerged upon the street, he exclaimed
to himself: "How loathsome it all is! Can I, can I ever?--no, it is
absurd, preposterous!" added he mentally. "How could such a horrible
idea ever enter my head? Could I ever be capable of such infamy? It is
odious, ignoble, repulsive! And yet for a whole month----"

Words and exclamations, however, could not give full vent to his
agitation. The loathing sense of disgust which had begun to oppress
him on his way to the old woman's house had now become so intense that
he longed to find some way of escape from the torture. He reeled along
the pavement like a tipsy man, taking no notice of those who passed,
but bumping against them. On looking round he saw a dram shop near at
hand; steps led down from the footpath to the basement, and
Raskolnikoff saw two drunkards coming out at that moment, leaning
heavily on each other and exchanging abusive language. The young man
barely paused before he descended the steps. He had never before
entered such a place, but he felt dizzy and was also suffering from
intense thirst. He had a craving for some beer, partly because he
attributed his weakness to an empty stomach. Seating himself in a dark
and dirty corner, in front of a filthy little table, he called for
some beer, and eagerly drank off a glass.

He felt instantly relieved, and his brain began to clear: "How absurd
I have been!" said he to himself, "there was really nothing to make me
uneasy! It was simply physical! A glass of beer and a mouthful of
biscuit were all that was necessary to restore my strength of mind and
make my thoughts clear and resolution fixed. How paltry all this is!"

The next morning Raskolnikoff awoke late, after disturbed and
unrefreshing slumbers. He felt very cross and glanced angrily round
his room. It was a tiny place, not more than six feet in length, and
its dirty buff paper hung in shreds, giving it a most miserable
aspect; besides which, the ceiling was so low that a tall man would
have felt in danger of bumping his head. The furniture was quite in
harmony with the room, consisting of three old rickety chairs, a
painted table in one corner, on which lay books and papers thick with
dust (showing how long it was since they had been touched), and,
finally, a large and very ugly sofa with ragged covers. This sofa,
which filled nearly half the room, served Raskolnikoff as a bed. He
often lay down on it in his clothes, without any sheets, covering
himself with his old student's coat, and using instead of a pillow a
little cushion, which he raised by keeping under it all his clean or
dirty linen. Before the sofa stood a small table.

Raskolnikoff's misanthropy did not take offense at the dirty state of
his den. Human faces had grown so distasteful to him, that the very
sight of the servant whose business it was to clean the rooms produced
a feeling of exasperation.

To such a condition may monomaniacs come by continually brooding over
one idea. For the last fortnight, the landlady had ceased to supply
her lodger with provisions, and he had not yet thought of demanding an
explanation. Nastasia, who had to cook and clean for the whole house,
was not sorry to see the lodger in this state of mind, as it
diminished her labors: she had quite given up tidying and dusting his
room; the utmost she did was to come and sweep it once a week. She it
was who was arousing him at this moment.

"Come, get up, why are you sleeping so late?" she exclaimed. "It is
nine o'clock. I have brought up some tea, will you take a cup? How
pale you look!"

Raskolnikoff opened his eyes, shook himself, and recognized Nastasia.
"Has the landlady sent me this tea?" asked he, making a painful effort
to sit up.

"Not much chance of that!" And the servant placed before him her own
teapot, in which there was still some tea left, and laid two small
lumps of brownish sugar on the table.

"Here, Nastasia, take this, please," said Raskolnikoff, fumbling in
his pocket and drawing out a handful of small change (for he had again
lain down in his clothes), "and fetch me a white roll. Go to the pork
shop as well, and buy me a bit of cheap sausage."

"I will bring you the roll in a minute, but had you not better take
some _shtchi_[5] instead of the sausage? We make it here, and it is
capital. I kept some for you last night, but it was so late before you
came in! You will find it very good." She went to fetch the _shtchi_,
and, when Raskolnikoff had begun to eat, she seated herself on the
sofa beside him and commenced to chatter, like a true country girl as
she was. "Prascovia Paulovna means to report you to the police," said

The young man's brow clouded. "To the police? Why?"

"Because you don't pay and won't go. That's why."

"The deuce!" growled he between his teeth, "that is the finishing
stroke; it comes at a most unfortunate juncture. She is a fool," added
he aloud. "I shall go and talk to her to-morrow."

"She is, of course, just as much of a fool as I am; but why do you,
who are so intelligent, lie here doing nothing? How is it you never
seem to have money for anything now? You used to give lessons, I hear;
how is it you do nothing now?"

"I am engaged on something," returned Raskolnikoff dryly and half

"On what?"

"Some work--"

"What sort of work?"

"Thinking," replied he gravely, after a short silence.

Nastasia was convulsed. She was of a merry disposition, but her
laughter was always noiseless, an internal convulsion which made her
actually writhe with pain. "And does your thinking bring you any
money?" asked she, as soon as she could manage to speak.

"Well! I can't give lessons when I have no boots to go out in?
Besides, I despise them."

"Take care lest you suffer for it."

"There is so little to be made by giving lessons! What can one do with
a few kopecks?" said he in an irritable tone, rather to himself than
the servant.

"So you wish to make your fortune at one stroke?"

He looked at her rather strangely, and was silent for a moment. "Yes,
my fortune," rejoined he impressively.

"Hush! you frighten me, you look terrible. Shall I go and fetch you a

"Just as you like."

Later in the day, Raskolnikoff went out and wandered about the
streets. At last he sat down under a tree to rest, and fell into a
reverie. His limbs felt disjointed, and his mind was in darkness and
confusion. He placed his elbows on his knees and held his head with
his hands.

"God! Am I to stand beating in her skull with a hatchet or something,
wade in warm blood, break open the lock and rob and tremble, blood
flowing all around, and hide myself, with the hatchet? O God! is this
indeed possible, and must it be?" He trembled like a leaf as he said

"What am I thinking of?" he cried in some astonishment. "I know well I
could not endure that with which I have been torturing myself. I saw
that clearly yesterday when I tried to rehearse it. Perfectly plain.
Then what am I questioning? Did I not say yesterday as I went up the
stairs how disgusting and mean and low it all was, and did not I run
away in terror?"

He stood up and looked all round, wondering how he got there, and
moved off toward the T---- bridge. He was pale and his eyes were hot,
and feebleness was in all his members, but he seemed to breathe
easier. He felt that he had thrown off the old time which had been so
oppressive; and in its place had come peace and light. "Lord!" he
prayed, "show me my way, that I may renounce these horrid thoughts of

Going across the bridge, he quietly gazed on the Neva, and the clear
red sunset. He did not feel himself tired now, notwithstanding his
weakness, and the load which had lain upon his heart seemed to be
gone. Liberty! Liberty! he was free from those enchantments and all
their vile instigations. In later times when he recalled this period
of his existence, and all that happened to him in those days, minute
by minute and point by point, he recollected how each circumstance,
although in the main not very unusual, constantly appeared to his mind
as an evidence of the predetermination of his fate, so superstitious
was he. Especially he could never understand why he, weary and
harassed as he was, could not have returned home by the shortest
route, instead of across the Haymarket, which was quite out of the
way. Certainly, a dozen times before, he had reached his lodgings by
most circuitous routes, and never known through which streets he had
come. But why (he always asked) should such a really fateful meeting
have taken place in the market (through which there was no need to
go), and happen, too, at exactly such a time and at a moment of his
life when his mind was in the state it was, and the event, in these
circumstances, could only produce the most definite and decided effect
upon his fate? Surely he was the instrument of some purpose!

It was about nine o'clock as he stood in the Haymarket. All the
dealers had closed their establishments or cleared away their goods
and gone home. About this place, with its tattered population, its
dirty and nauseous courtyards and numerous alleys, Raskolnikoff dearly
loved to roam in his aimless wanderings. He attracted no notice there.
At the corner of K---- Lane were a dealer and his wife, who were
engaged in packing up their wares, consisting of tapes, handkerchiefs,
cotton, &c., preparatory to going home. They were lingering over their
work, and conversing with an acquaintance. This was Elizabeth
Ivanovna, or simple Elizabeth, as all called her, the younger sister
of the old woman, Alena Ivanovna, to whose rooms Raskolnikoff went the
day before for the purpose of pawning his watch to make his
_rehearsal_. He knew all about this Elizabeth, as she knew also a
little about him. She was a tall, awkward woman, about thirty-five
years of age, timid and quiet, indeed almost an idiot, and was a
regular slave to her sister, working for her day and night, trembling
before her and enduring even blows. She was evidently hesitating about
something, as she stood there with a bundle under her arm, and her
friends were pressing some subject rather warmly. When Raskolnikoff
recognized her he seemed struck with the greatest astonishment,
although there was nothing strange about such a meeting.

"You ought to decide yourself, Elizabeth Ivanovna," said the man.
"Come to-morrow at seven o'clock."

"To-morrow?" said Elizabeth slowly, as if undecided.

"She is frightened of Alena Ivanovna," cried the wife, a brisk little
woman. "You are like a little child, Elizabeth Ivanovna, and she's not
your own sister, but a stepsister. She has too much her own way."

"You say nothing to Alena Ivanovna," interrupted the man, "and come
without asking, that's the way to do it, and your sister can manage

"When shall I come?"

"At seven o'clock, to-morrow."

"Very well, I will come," said Elizabeth, slowly and reluctantly. She
then quitted them.

Raskolnikoff also went away, and stayed to hear no more. His original
amazement had changed gradually into a feeling of actual terror; a
chill ran down his back. He had learned unexpectedly and positively,
that, at seven o'clock the next evening, Elizabeth, the old woman's
sister, the only person living with her, would not be at home, and
that, therefore, the old woman, at seven o'clock to-morrow, _would be
there alone_. It needed but a few steps to reach his room. He went
along like one sentenced to death, with his reason clogged and numbed.
He felt that now all liberty of action and free will were gone, and
everything was irrevocably decided. A more convenient occasion than
was thus unexpectedly offered to him now would never arise, and he
might never learn again, beforehand, that, at a certain time on a
certain day, she, on whom he was to make the attempt, would be
entirely alone.

Raskolnikoff learned subsequently what induced the man and his wife to
invite Elizabeth to call on them. It was a very simple matter. A
foreign family, finding themselves in straitened circumstances, were
desirous of parting with various things, consisting for the most part
in articles of female attire. They were anxious, therefore, to meet
with a dealer in cast-off clothes, and this was one of Elizabeth's
callings. She had a large connection, because she was very honest and
always stuck to her price: there was no higgling to be done with her.
She was a woman of few words and very shy and reserved. But
Raskolnikoff was very superstitious, and traces of this remained in
him long after. In all the events of this period of his life he was
ever ready to detect something mysterious, and attribute every
circumstance to the presence of some particular influence upon his

The previous winter, a fellow student, Pokoreff by name, on leaving
for Charkoff, had happened to communicate to him in conversation the
address of Alena Ivanovna, in case he should ever require to pawn
anything. For a long time he did not use it, as he was giving lessons,
and managed somehow to get along, but six weeks before this time he
had recollected the address. He had two things fit to pawn--an old
silver watch, formerly his father's; and a small gold ring with three
red stones, a souvenir from his sister on leaving home. He decided on
getting rid of the latter, and went to the old woman's. At the first
glance, and knowing nothing whatever of her personally, she inspired
him with an unaccountable loathing. He took her two notes, and on
leaving went into a poor _traktir_, or restaurant, and ordered some
tea. He sat down musing, and strange thoughts flitted across his mind
and became hatched in his brain. Close by, at another table, were
seated a student, whom he did not knew, and a young officer. They had
been playing billiards, and were now drinking tea. Suddenly
Raskolnikoff heard the student give the officer the address of Alena
Ivanovna, the widow of a professor, as one who lent money on pledges.
This alone struck Raskolnikoff as very peculiar. They were talking of
the same person he had just been to see. No doubt it was pure chance,
but, at the moment he was struggling against an impression he could
not overcome, this stranger's words came and gave extra force to it.
The student went on talking, and began to give his companion some
account of Alena Ivanovna.

"She is well known," he said, "and always good for money. She is as
rich as a Jew, and can advance five thousand rubles at a moment's
notice; yet she will take in pledge objects worth as little as a
ruble. She is quite a providence to many of our fellows--but such an
old hag! I tell you what I would do. I would kill that damnable old
hag, and take all she is possessed of, without any qualm of
conscience," exclaimed the student excitedly. The officer laughed, but
Raskolnikoff shuddered. The words just uttered so strongly echoed his
own thoughts. "Let me put a serious question to you," resumed the
student, more and more excited. "I have hitherto been joking, but now
listen to this. On the one side here is a silly, flint-hearted,
evil-minded, sulky old woman, necessary to no one--on the contrary,
pernicious to all--and who does not know herself why she lives."

"Well?" said the officer.

"Hear me further. On the other hand, young fresh strength droops and
is lost for want of sustenance; this is the case with thousands
everywhere! A hundred, a thousand good deeds and enterprises could be
carried out and upheld with the money this old woman has bequeathed to
a monastery. A dozen families might be saved from hunger, want, ruin,
crime, and misery, and all with her money! Kill her, I say, take it
from her, and dedicate it to the service of humanity and the general
good! What is your opinion? Shall not one little crime be effaced and
atoned for by a thousand good deeds? For one useless life a thousand
lives saved from decay and death. One death, and a hundred beings
restored to existence! There's a calculation for you. What in
proportion is the life of this miserable old woman? No more than the
life of a flea, a beetle, nay, not even that, for she is pernicious.
She preys on other lives. She lately bit Elizabeth's finger, in a fit
of passion, and nearly bit it off!"

"Certainly she does not deserve to live," observed the officer, "but

"Ah, my friend, nature has to be governed and guided, or we should be
drowned in prejudices. Without it there would never be one great man.
They say 'duty is conscience.' Now I have nothing to say against duty
and conscience, but let us see, how do we understand them? Let me put
another question to you. Listen."

"Stop a minute, I will give you one."


"After all you have said and declaimed, tell me--are you going to kill
the old woman _yourself_, or not?"

"Of course not. I only pointed out the inequality of things. As for
the deed----"

"Well, if you won't, it's my opinion that it would not be just to do
so! Come, let's have another game!"

Raskolnikoff was in the greatest agitation. Still, there was nothing
extraordinary in this conversation; it was not the first time he had
heard, only in other forms and on other topics, such ideas from the
lips of the young and hot-headed. But why should he, of all men,
happen to overhear such a conversation and such ideas, when the very
same thoughts were being engendered in himself?--and why precisely
_then_, immediately on his becoming possessed of them and on leaving
the old woman? Strange, indeed, did this coincidence appear to him.
This idle conversation was destined to have a fearful influence on his
destiny, extending to the most trifling incident and causing him to
feel sure he was the instrument of a fixed purpose.

* * * * *

On his return from the market, he flung himself upon his couch and sat
motionless for a whole hour. It became dark, he had no light, but sat
on. He could never afterwards recollect his thoughts at the time. At
last he felt cold, and a shiver ran through him. He recognized with
delight that he was sitting on his couch and could lie down, and soon
he fell into a deep, heavy sleep. He slept much longer than usual, and
his slumbers were undisturbed by dreams. Nastasia, who came to his
room the next morning at ten o'clock, had great difficulty in
awakening him. The servant brought him some bread and, the same as the
day before, what was left of her tea.

"Not up yet!" exclaimed she indignantly. "How can you sleep so long?"

Raskolnikoff raised himself with an effort; his head ached; he got
upon his feet, took a few steps, and then dropped down again upon the

"What, again!" cried Nastasia, "but you must be ill then?" He did not
answer. "Would you like some tea?"

"By and by," he muttered painfully, after which he closed his eyes and
turned his face to the wall. Nastasia, standing over him, remained
watching him for a while.

"After all, he's perhaps ill," said she, before withdrawing.

At two o'clock she returned with some soup. Raskolnikoff was still
lying on the couch. He had not touched the tea. The servant became
angry and shook the lodger violently. "Whatever makes you sleep thus?"
scolded she, eying him contemptuously.

He sat up, but answered not a word, and remained with his eyes fixed
on the floor.

"Are you ill, or are you not?" asked Nastasia. This second question
met with no more answer than the first. "You should go out," continued
she, after a pause, "the fresh air would do you good. You'll eat
something, will you not?"

"By and by," answered he feebly. "Go away!" and he motioned her off.
She remained a moment longer, watching him with an air of pity, and
then left the room.

After a few minutes he raised his eyes, gave a long look at the tea
and soup, and then began to eat. He swallowed three or four spoonfuls
without the least appetite--almost mechanically. His head felt better.
When he had finished his light repast, he again lay down on the couch,
but he could not sleep and remained motionless, flat on his stomach,
his face buried in the pillow. His reverie kept conjuring up strange
scenes. At one time he was in Africa, in Egypt, on some oasis, where
palms were dotted about. The caravans were at rest, the camels lay
quietly, and the travelers were eating their evening meal. They drank
water direct from the stream which ran murmuring close by. How
refreshing was the marvelously blue water, and how beautifully clear
it looked as it ran over many-colored stones and mingled with the
golden spangles of the sandy bottom! All at once he clearly heard the
hour chiming. He shuddered, raised his head, looked at the window to
calculate the time. He came to himself immediately and jumped up, and,
going on tiptoe, silently opened the door and stood listening on the
landing. His heart beat violently. But not a sound came from the
staircase. It seemed as though the house was wrapped in sleep. He
could not understand how he had been able to sleep away the time as he
had done, while nothing was prepared for the enterprise. And yet it
was, perhaps, six o'clock that had just struck.

Then, he became excited as he felt what there was to be done, and he
endeavored with all his might to keep his thoughts from wandering and
concentrate his mind on his task. All the time his heart thumped and
beat until he could hardly draw breath. In the first place it was
necessary to make a loop and fasten to his coat. He went to his pillow
and took from among the linen he kept there an old and dirty shirt and
tore part of it into strips. He then fastened a couple of these
together, and, taking off his coat--a stout cotton summer one--began
to sew the loop inside, under the left arm. His hands shook violently,
but he accomplished his task satisfactorily, and when he again put on
his coat nothing was visible. Needle and thread had been procured long
ago, and lay on the table in a piece of paper. The loop was provided
for a hatchet. It would never have done to have appeared in the
streets carrying a hatchet, and if he placed it under the coat, it
would have been necessary to hold it with his hands; but with the loop
all he had to do was to put the iron in it and it would hang of itself
under the coat, and with his hands in his pockets he could keep it
from shaking, and no one could suspect that he was carrying anything.
He had thought over all this about a fortnight before.

Having finished his task, Raskolnikoff inserted his finger in a small
crevice in the floor under his couch, and brought out the _pledge_
with which he had been careful to provide himself. This pledge was,
however, only a sham--a thin smooth piece of wood about the size and
thickness of a silver cigarette case, which he had found in a yard
adjoining a carpenter's shop, and a thin piece of iron of about the
same size, which he had picked up in the street. He fastened the two
together firmly with thread, then proceeded to wrap them up neatly in
a piece of clean white paper, and tie the parcel in such a manner that
it would be difficult to undo it again. This was all done in order to
occupy the attention of the old woman and to seize a favorable
opportunity when she would be busy with the knot. The piece of iron
was simply added for weight, in order that she might not immediately
detect the fraud. He had just finished, and had put the packet in his
pocket, when in the court below resounded the cry:

"Six o'clock struck long ago!"

"Long ago! Good heavens!"

He ran to the door, listened, seized his hat, and went down the stairs
cautiously and stealthily as a cat. He still had the most important
thing to do--to steal the hatchet out of the kitchen. That a hatchet
was the best instrument, he had long since decided. He had an old
garden knife, but on a knife--especially on his own strength--he could
not rely; he finally fixed on the hatchet. A peculiarity was to be
noticed in all these resolutions of his; the more definitely they were
settled, the more absurd and horrible they immediately appeared to his
eyes, and never, for a moment, did he feel sure of the execution of
his project. But even if every question had been settled, every doubt
cleared away, every difficulty overcome, he would probably have
renounced his design on the instant, as something absurd, monstrous,
and impossible. But there were still a host of matters to arrange, of
problems to solve. As to procuring the hatchet, this trifle did not
trouble Raskolnikoff in the least, for nothing was easier. As a matter
of fact Nastasia was scarcely ever at home, especially of an evening.
She was constantly out gossiping with friends or tradespeople, and
that was the reason of her mistress's constant complaints. When the
time came, all he would have to do would be to quietly enter the
kitchen and take the hatchet, and then to replace it an hour
afterwards when all was over. But perhaps this would not be as easy as
he fancied. "Suppose," said the young man to himself, "that when, in
an hour's time, I come to replace the hatchet, Nastasia should have
come in. Now, in that case, I could naturally not enter the kitchen
until she had gone out again. But supposing during this time she
notices the absence of the hatchet, she will grumble, perhaps kick up
a shindy, and that will serve to denounce me, or at least might do

Before he had got to the bottom of the staircase, a trifling
circumstance came and upset all his plans. On reaching his landlady's
landing, he found the kitchen door wide open, as usual, and he peeped
in, in order to make sure that, in the absence of Nastasia, her
mistress was not there, and that the doors of the other rooms were
closed. But great was his annoyance to find Nastasia there herself,
engaged in hanging clothes on a line. Perceiving the young man, she
stopped and turned to him inquiringly. He averted his eyes and went
away without remark. But the affair was done for. There was no
hatchet, he was frustrated entirely. He felt crushed, nay, humiliated,
but a feeling of brutal vindictiveness at his disappointment soon
ensued, and he continued down the stairs, smiling maliciously to
himself. He stood hesitating at the gate. To walk about the streets or
to go back were equally repugnant. "To think that I have missed such a
splendid opportunity!" he murmured as he stood aimlessly at the
entrance, leaning near the open door of the porter's lodge. Suddenly
he started--something in the dark room attracted his eye. He looked
quietly around. No one was near. He descended the two steps on tiptoe,
and called for the porter. There was no reply, and he rushed headlong
to the hatchet (it was a hatchet), secured it where it lay among some
wood, and hurriedly fastened it to the loop as he made his way out
into the street. No one saw him! "There's more of the devil in this
than my design," he said smiling to himself. The occurrence gave him
fresh courage.

He went away quietly in order not to excite any suspicion, and walked
along the street with his eyes studiously fixed on the ground,
avoiding the faces of the passers-by. Suddenly he recollected his hat.
"Good heavens! the day before yesterday I had money, and not to have
thought of that! I could so easily have bought a cap!" and he began
cursing himself. Glancing casually in a shop, he saw it was ten
minutes past seven. He had yet a long way to go, as he was making a
circuit, not wishing to walk direct to the house. He kept off, as much
as he was able, all thought of his mission, and on the way reflected
upon possible improvements of the public grounds, upon the
desirability of fountains, and why people lived where there were
neither parks nor fountains, but only mud, lime, and bricks, emitting
horrid exhalations and every conceivable foulness. This reminded him
of his own walks about the Cyennaza, and he came to himself.

"How true it is that persons being led to execution interest
themselves in anything that strikes them on the way!" was the thought
that came into his head, but it passed away like lightning to be
succeeded by some other. "Here we are--there is the gate." It struck
half-past seven as he stood near the house.

To his delight, he passed in without observation. As if on purpose, at
the very same moment a load of hay was going in, and it completely
screened him. On the other side of the load, a dispute or brawl was
evidently taking place, and he gained the old woman's staircase in a
second. Recovering his breath and pressing his hand to his beating
heart, he commenced the ascent, though first feeling for the hatchet
and arranging it. Every minute he stopped to listen. The stairs were
quite deserted, and every door was closed. No one met him. On the
second floor, indeed, the door of an empty lodging was wide open; some
painters were working there, but they did not look up. He stopped a
moment to think, and then continued the ascent: "No doubt it would be
better if they were not there, but fortunately there are two more
floors above them." At last he reached the fourth floor, and Alena
Ivanovna's door; the lodging facing it was unoccupied. The lodging on
the third floor, just beneath the old woman's, was also apparently
empty. The card that used to be on the door had gone; the lodgers had,
no doubt, moved. Raskolnikoff was stifling. He stood hesitating a
moment: "Had I not better go away?" But without answering the
question, he waited and listened. Not a sound issued from the old
woman's apartments. The staircase was filled with the same silence.
After listening for a long time, the young man cast a last glance
around, and again felt his hatchet. "Do I not look too pale?" thought
he. "Do I not appear too agitated? She is mistrustful. I should do
well to wait a little, to give my emotion time to calm down."

But instead of becoming quieter, his heart throbbed more violently. He
could stand it no longer, and, raising his hand toward the bell rope,
he pulled it toward him. After waiting half a minute, he rang
again--this time a little louder. No answer. To ring like a deaf man
would have been useless, stupid even. The old woman was certainly at
home; but, suspicious by nature, she was likely to be so all the more
then, as she happened to be alone. Raskolnikoff knew something of
Alena Ivanovna's habits. He therefore placed his ear to the door. Had
the circumstances amid which he was placed strangely developed his
power of hearing, which, in general, is difficult to admit, or was the
sound really easily perceptible? Anyhow, he suddenly became aware that
a hand was being cautiously placed on the lock, and that a dress
rustled against the door. Some one inside was going through exactly
the same movements as he on the landing. Some one, standing up against
the lock, was listening while trying to hide her presence, and had
probably her ear also against the door.

In order to avoid all idea of mystery, the young man purposely moved
about rather noisily, and muttered something half aloud; then he rang
a third time, but gently and coolly, without allowing the bell to
betray the least sign of impatience. Raskolnikoff never forgot this
moment of his life. When, in after days, he thought over it, he could
never understand how he had been able to display such cunning,
especially at a time when emotion was now and again depriving him of
the free use of his intellectual and physical faculties. After a short
while he heard the bolt withdrawn.

The door, as before, was opened a little, and again the two eyes, with
mistrustful glance, peeped out of the dark. Then Raskolnikoff lost his
presence of mind and made a serious mistake. Fearing that the old
woman would take alarm at finding they were alone, and knowing that
his appearance would not reassure her, he took hold of the door and
pulled it toward him in order to prevent her shutting it again if she
should be thus minded. Seeing this, she held on to the lock, so that
he almost drew her together with the door on to the staircase. She
recovered herself, and stood to prevent his entrance, speechless with

"Good evening, Alena Ivanovna," he commenced, trying to speak with
unconcern, but his voice did not obey him, and he faltered and
trembled, "Good evening, I have brought you something, but we had
better go into the light." He pushed past her and entered the room
uninvited. The old woman followed and found her tongue.

"What is it you want? Who are you?" she commenced.

"Pardon me, Alena Ivanovna, your old acquaintance Raskolnikoff. I have
brought a pledge, as I promised the other day," and he held out the
packet to her.

The old woman was about to examine it, when she raised her eyes and
looked straight into those of the visitor who had entered so
unceremoniously. She examined him attentively, distrustfully, for a
minute. Raskolnikoff fancied there was a gleam of mockery in her look
as if she guessed all. He felt he was changing color, and that if she
kept her glance upon him much longer without saying a word he would be
obliged to run away.

"Why are you looking at me thus?" he said at last in anger. "Will you
take it or not? or shall I take it elsewhere? I have no time to
waste." He did not intend to say this, but the words came out. The
tone seemed to quiet her suspicions.

"Why were you so impatient, _batuchka_? What is it?" she asked,
glancing at the pledge.

"The silver cigarette case of which I spoke the other day."

She held out her hand. "But why are you so pale, why do your hands
shake? What is the matter with you, _batuchka_?"

"Fever," replied he abruptly. "You would be pale too if you had
nothing to eat." He could hardly speak the words and felt his strength
falling. But there was some plausibility in his reply; and the old
woman took the pledge.

"What is it?" she asked once more, weighing it in her hand and looking
straight at her visitor.

"Cigarette case, silver, look at it."

"It doesn't feel as though it were silver. Oh! what a dreadful knot!"

She began to untie the packet and turned to the light (all the windows
were closed in spite of the heat). Her back was turned toward
Raskolnikoff, and for a few seconds she paid no further attention to
him. He opened his coat, freed the hatchet from the loop, but did not
yet take it from its hiding place; he held it with his right hand
beneath the garment. His limbs were weak, each moment they grew more
numbed and stiff. He feared his fingers would relax their hold of the
hatchet. Then his head turned giddy.

"What is this you bring me?" cried Alena Ivanovna, turning to him in a

There was not a moment to lose now. He pulled out the hatchet, raised
it with both hands, and let it descend without force, almost
mechanically, on the old woman's head. But directly he had struck the
blow his strength returned. According to her usual habit, Alena
Ivanovna was bareheaded. Her scanty gray locks, greasy with oil, were
gathered in one thin plait, which was fixed to the back of her neck by
means of a piece of horn comb. The hatchet struck her just on the
sinciput, and this was partly owing to her small stature. She scarcely
uttered a faint cry and collapsed at once all in a heap on the floor;
she was dead.

The murderer laid his hatchet down and at once began to search the
corpse, taking the greatest precaution not to get stained with the
blood; he remembered seeing Alena Ivanovna, on the occasion of his
last visit, take her keys from the right-hand pocket of her dress. He
was in full possession of his intellect; he felt neither giddy nor
dazed, but his hands continued to shake. Later on, he recollected that
he had been very prudent, very attentive, that he had taken every care
not to soil himself. It did not take him long to find the keys; the
same as the other day, they were all together on a steel ring. Having
secured them, Raskolnikoff at once passed into the bedroom. It was a
very small apartment; on one side was a large glass case full of holy
images, on the other a great bed looking very clean with its
quilted-silk patchwork coverlet. The third wall was occupied by a
chest of drawers. Strange to say, the young man had no sooner
attempted to open them, he had no sooner commenced to try the keys,
than a kind of shudder ran through his frame. Again the idea came to
him to give up his task and go away, but this weakness only lasted a
second: it was now too late to draw back.

He was even smiling at having for a moment entertained such a thought,
when he was suddenly seized with a terrible anxiety: suppose the old
woman were still alive, suppose she recovered consciousness. Leaving
at once the keys and the drawers, he hastened to the corpse, seized
the hatchet, and prepared to strike another blow at his victim, but he
found there was no necessity to do so. Alena Ivanovna was dead beyond
all doubt. Leaning over her again to examine her closer, Raskolnikoff
saw that the skull was shattered. He was about to touch her with his
fingers, but drew back, as it was quite unnecessary. There was a pool
of blood upon the floor. Suddenly noticing a bit of cord round the old
woman's neck, the young man gave it a tug, but the gory stuff was
strong, and did not break. The murderer then tried to remove it by
drawing it down the body. But this second attempt was no more
successful than the first, the cord encountered some obstacle and
became fixed. Burning with impatience, Raskolnikoff brandished the
hatchet, ready to strike the corpse and sever the confounded string at
the same blow. However, he could not make up his mind to proceed with
such brutality. At last, after trying for two minutes, and staining
his hands with blood, he succeeded in severing the cord with the blade
of the hatchet without further disfiguring the dead body. As he had
imagined, there was a purse suspended to the old woman's neck. Besides
this there was also a small enameled medal and two crosses, one of
cypress wood, the other of brass. The greasy purse, a little
chamois-leather bag, was as full as it could hold. Raskolnikoff thrust
it in his pocket without examining the contents. He then threw the
crosses on his victim's breast, and hastily returned to the bedroom,
taking the hatchet with him.

His impatience was now intense, he seized the keys, and again set to
work. But all his attempts to open the drawers were unavailing, and
this was not so much owing to the shaking of his hands as to his
continual misconceptions. He could see, for instance, that a certain
key would not fit the lock, and yet he continued to try and insert it.
All on a sudden he recalled a conjecture he had formed on the occasion
of his preceding visit: the big key with the toothed wards, which was
attached to the ring with the smaller ones, probably belonged, not to
the drawers, but to some box in which the old woman, no doubt, hoarded
up her valuables. Without further troubling about the drawers, he at
once looked under the bed, aware that old women are in the habit of
hiding their treasures in such places. And there indeed was a trunk
with rounded lid, covered with red morocco and studded with steel
nails. Raskolnikoff was able to insert the key in the lock without the
least difficulty. When he opened the box he perceived a hareskin cloak
trimmed with red lying on a white sheet; beneath the fur was a silk
dress, and then a shawl, the rest of the contents appeared to be
nothing but rags. The young man commenced by wiping his bloodstained
hands on the red trimming. "It will not show so much on red." Then he
suddenly seemed to change his mind: "Heavens! am I going mad?" thought
he with fright.

But scarcely had he touched these clothes than a gold watch rolled
from under the fur. He then overhauled everything in the box. Among
the rags were various gold trinkets, which had all probably been
pledged with the old woman: bracelets, chains, earrings, scarf pins,
&c. Some were in their cases, while the others were tied up with tape
in pieces of newspaper folded in two. Raskolnikoff did not hesitate,
he laid hands on these jewels, and stowed them away in the pockets of
his coat and trousers, without opening the cases or untying the
packets; but he was soon interrupted in his work------

Footsteps resounded in the other room. He stopped short, frozen with
terror. But the noise having ceased, he was already imagining he had
been mistaken, when suddenly he distinctly heard a faint cry, or
rather a kind of feeble interrupted moan. At the end of a minute or
two, everything was again as silent as death. Raskolnikoff had seated
himself on the floor beside the trunk and was waiting, scarcely daring
to breathe; suddenly he bounded up, caught up the hatchet, and rushed
from the bedroom. In the center of the apartment, Elizabeth, a huge
bundle in her hands, stood gazing in a terror-stricken way at her dead
sister; white as a sheet, she did not seem to have the strength to
call out. On the sudden appearance of the murderer, she began to quake
in every limb, and nervous twitches passed over her face; she tried to
raise her arm, to open her mouth, but she was unable to utter the
least cry, and, slowly retreating, her gaze still riveted on
Raskolnikoff, she sought refuge in a corner. The poor woman drew back
in perfect silence, as though she had no breath left in her body. The
young man rushed upon her, brandishing the hatchet; the wretched
creature's lips assumed the doleful expression peculiar to quite young
children when, beginning to feel frightened of something, they gaze
fixedly at the object which has raised their alarm, and are on the
point of crying out. Terror had so completely stupefied this
unfortunate Elizabeth, that, though threatened by the hatchet, she did
not even think of protecting her face by holding her hands before her
head, with that mechanical gesture which the instinct of
self-preservation prompts on such occasions. She scarcely raised her
left arm, and extended it slowly in the direction of the murderer, as
thought to keep him off. The hatchet penetrated her skull, laying it
open from the upper part of the forehead to the crown. Elizabeth fell
down dead. No longer aware of what he did, Raskolnikoff took the
bundle from his victim's hand, then dropped it and ran to the

He was more and more terrified, especially after this second murder,
entirely unpremeditated by him. He was in a hurry to be gone; had he
then been in a state to see things more clearly, had he only been able
to form an idea of the difficulties besetting his position, to see how
desperate, how hideous, how absurd it was, to understand how many
obstacles there still remained for him to surmount, perhaps even
crimes to commit, to escape from this house and return home, he would
most likely have withdrawn from the struggle, and have gone at once
and given himself up to justice; it was not cowardice which would have
prompted him to do so, but the horror of what he had done. This last
impression became more and more powerful every minute. Nothing in the
world could now have made him return to the trunk, nor even reenter
the room in which it lay. Little by little his mind became diverted by
other thoughts, and he lapsed into a kind of reverie; at times the
murderer seemed to forget his position, or rather the most important
part of it, and to concentrate his attention on trifles. After a
while, happening to glance in the kitchen, he observed a pail half
full of water, standing on a bench, and that gave him the idea of
washing his hands and the hatchet. The blood had made his hands
sticky. After plunging the blade of the hatchet in the water, he took
a small piece of soap which lay on the window sill, and commenced his
ablutions. When he had washed his hands, he set to cleaning the iron
part of his weapon; then he devoted three minutes to soaping the
wooden handle, which was also stained with blood.

After this he wiped it with a cloth which had been hung up to dry on a
line stretched across the kitchen. This done, he drew near the window
and carefully examined the hatchet for some minutes. The accusing
stains had disappeared, but the handle was still damp. Raskolnikoff
carefully hid the weapon under his coat by replacing it in the loop;
after which, he minutely inspected his clothes, that is to say so far
as the dim light of the kitchen allowed him to do so. He saw nothing
suspicious about the coat and trousers, but there were bloodstains on
the boots. He removed them with the aid of a damp rag. But these
precautions only half reassured him, for he knew that he could not see
properly and that certain stains had very likely escaped him. He stood
irresolute in the middle of the room, a prey to a somber, agonizing
thought, the thought that he was going mad, that at that moment he was
not in a fit state to come to a determination and to watch over his
security, that his way of going to work was probably not the one the
circumstances demanded. "Good heavens! I ought to go, to go away at
once!" murmured he, and he rushed to the anteroom where the greatest
terror he had yet experienced awaited him.

He stood stock-still, not daring to believe his eyes: the door of the
lodging, the outer door which opened on to the landing, the same one
at which he had rung a little while before and by which he had
entered, was open; up till then it had remained ajar, the old woman
had no doubt omitted to close it by way of precaution; it had been
neither locked nor bolted! But he had seen Elizabeth after that. How
was it that it had not occurred to him that she had come in by way of
the door? She could not have entered the lodging through the wall. He
shut the door and bolted it. "But no, that is not what I should do? I
must go away, go away." He drew back the bolt and, after opening the
door again, stood listening on the landing.

He stood thus a long while. Down below, probably at the street door,
two noisy voices were vociferating insults. "Who can those people be?"
He waited patiently. At last the noise ceased, the brawlers had taken
their departure. The young man was about to do the same, when a door
on the floor immediately below was noisily opened and some one went
downstairs, humming a tune. "Whatever are they all up to?" wondered
Raskolnikoff, and closing the door again he waited a while. At length
all became silent as before; but just as he was preparing to go down,
he suddenly became aware of a fresh sound, footsteps as yet far off,
at the bottom of the staircase; and he no sooner heard them than he
guessed the truth:--some one was coming _there_, to the old woman's on
the fourth floor. Whence came this presentiment? What was there so
particularly significant in the sound of these footsteps? They were
heavy, regular, and rather slow than hurried. _He_ has now reached the
first floor, he still continues to ascend. The sound is becoming
plainer and plainer. He pants as though with asthma at each step he
takes. He has commenced the third flight. He will soon be on the
fourth! And Raskolnikoff felt suddenly seized as with a general
paralysis, the same as happens when a person has the nightmare and
fancies himself pursued by enemies; they are on the point of catching
him, they will kill him, and yet he remains spellbound, unable to move
a limb.

The stranger was now ascending the fourth flight. Raskolnikoff, who
until then had been riveted to the landing with fright, was at length
able to shake off his torpor, and hastily reentered the apartment,
closing the door behind him. Then he bolted it, being careful to make
as little noise as possible. Instinct rather than reason prompted him
to do this. When he had finished, he remained close to the door,
listening, scarcely daring to breathe. The visitor was now on the
landing. Only the thickness of the door separated the two men. The
unknown was in the same position toward Raskolnikoff as the latter had
been a little while before toward the old woman. The visitor stood
panting for some little time. "He must be stout and big," thought the
young man as he clasped the hatchet firmly in his hand. It was all
like a dream to him. The visitor gave a violent pull at the bell. He
immediately fancied he heard something move inside. He listened
attentively during a few seconds, then he gave another ring and again
waited; suddenly losing patience, he began to shake the door handle
with all his might. Raskolnikoff watched with terror the bolt
trembling in the socket, expecting to see it shoot back at any moment,
so violent were the jerks given to the door. It occurred to him to
hold the bolt in its place with his hand, but the _man_ might have
found it out. His head was turning quite dizzy again. "I shall betray
myself!" thought he; but he suddenly recovered his presence of mind as
the unknown broke the silence.

"Are they both asleep, or has some one strangled them? The
thrice-confounded creatures!" growled the visitor in a guttural voice.
"Hi! Alena Ivanovna, you old sorceress! Elizabeth Ivanovna, you
indescribable beauty!--open! Oh! the witches! can they be asleep?"

In his exasperation he rang ten times running, and as loud as he
possibly could. This man was evidently not a stranger there, and was
in the habit of being obeyed. At the same moment some light and rapid
footsteps resounded on the staircase. It was another person coming to
the fourth floor. Raskolnikoff was not at first aware of the
newcomer's arrival.

"Is it possible that there's no one at home?" said the latter in a
loud and hearty tone of voice, addressing the first visitor who was
still tugging at the bell pull. "Good day, Koch!"

"Judging by his voice, he must be quite a young man," immediately
thought Raskolnikoff.

"The devil only knows! I've almost smashed the lock," replied Koch.
"But how is it you know me?"

"What a question! The day before yesterday I played you at billiards,
at Gambrinus's, and won three games right off."


"So they're not at home? That's strange. I might almost say it's
ridiculous. Where can the old woman have gone? I want to speak with

"And I too, _batuchka_, I want to speak with her."

"Well, what's to be done? I suppose we must go back to whence we came.
I wanted to borrow some money of her!" exclaimed the young man.

"Of course we must go back again; but why then did she make an
appointment? She herself, the old witch, told me to come at this hour.
And it's a long way to where I live. Where the deuce can she be? I
don't understand it. She never stirs from one year's end to the other,
the old witch; she quite rots in the place, her legs have always got
something the matter with them, and now all on a sudden she goes
gallivanting about!"

"Suppose we question the porter?"

"What for?"

"To find out where she's gone and when she will be back."

"Hum!--the deuce!--question!--but she never goes anywhere." And he
again tugged at the door handle. "The devil take her! there's nothing
to be done but to go."

"Wait!" suddenly exclaimed the young man, "look!--do you notice how
the door resists when we pull it?"

"Well, what then?"

"Why, that shows that it's not locked, but bolted! Hark how it


"Don't you understand? That shows that one of them must be at home. If
both were out, they would have locked the door after them, and not
have bolted it inside. Listen, don't you hear the noise it makes?
Well, to bolt one's door, one must be at home, you understand.
Therefore it follows that they are at home, only for some reason or
other they don't open the door!"

"Why, yes, you're right!" exclaimed the astonished Koch. "So they're
there, are they?" And he again shook the door violently.

"Stay!" resumed the young man, "don't pull like that. There's
something peculiar about this. You've rung, you've pulled at the door
with all your might, and they haven't answered you; therefore, they've
either both fainted away, or----"


"This is what we had better do: have the porter up, so that he may
find out what's the matter."

"That's not a bad idea!"

They both started downstairs.

"Stop! you stay here; I'll fetch the porter."

"Why stay here?"

"Well, one never knows what might happen----"

"All right."

"You see, I might also pass for an examining magistrate! There's
something very peculiar about all this, that's evident, e-vi-dent!"
said the young man excitedly, and he hastily made his way down the

Left alone, Koch rang again, but gently this time; then, with a
thoughtful air, he began to play with the door handle, turning it
first one way, then the other, so as to make sure the door was only
bolted. After this, with a great deal of puffing and blowing, he
stooped down to look through the keyhole, but the key was in the lock,
and turned in such a way that one could not see through. Standing up
on the other side of the door, Raskolnikoff still held the hatchet in
his hands. He was almost in a state of delirium and was preparing to
attack the two men the moment they forced an entrance. More than once,
on hearing them knocking and planning together, he had felt inclined
to put an end to the matter there and then by calling out to them. At
times he experienced a desire to abuse and defy them, while awaiting
their irruption. "The sooner it's over the better!" he kept thinking.

"The devil take them!" The time passed; still no one came. Koch was
beginning to lose patience. "The devil take them!" he muttered again,
and, tired of waiting, he relinquished his watch to go and find the
young man. By degrees the sound of his heavy boots echoing on the
stairs ceased to be heard.

"Heavens! What shall I do?"

Raskolnikoff drew back the bolt and opened the door a few inches.
Reassured by the silence which reigned in the house, and, moreover,
scarcely in a fit state at the time to reflect on what he did, he went
out on to the landing, shut the door behind him as securely as he
could and turned to go downstairs. He had already descended several
steps when suddenly a great uproar arose from one of the floors below.
Where could he hide? Concealment was impossible, so he hastened
upstairs again.

"Hi there! hang it! stop!"

He who uttered these cries had just burst out of one of the lodgings,
and was rushing down the stairs as fast as his legs would carry him,
yelling the while: "Dmitri! Dmitri! Dmitri! May the devil take the

The rest died away in the distance; the man who was uttering these
cries had already left the house far behind. All was once more silent;
but scarcely was this alarm over than a fresh one succeeded it:
several individuals talking together in a loud tone of voice were
noisily coming up the stairs. There were three or four of them.
Raskolnikoff recognized the young man's sonorous accents. "It is
they!" No longer hoping to escape them, he advanced boldly to meet
them: "Let happen what will!" said he to himself: "if they stop me,
all is over; if they let me pass, all is over just the same: they will
remember passing me on the stairs." They were about to encounter him,
only one flight separated them--when suddenly he felt himself saved! A
few steps from him, to the right, there was an empty lodging with the
door wide open, it was that same one on the second floor where he had
seen the painters working, but, by a happy chance, they had just left
it. It was they, no doubt, who a few minutes before had gone off,
uttering those shouts. The paint on the floors was quite fresh, the
workmen had left their things in the middle of the room: a small tub,
some paint in an earthenware crock, and a big brush. In the twinkling
of an eye, Raskolnikoff glided into the deserted apartment and hid
himself as best he could up against the wall. It was none too soon:
his pursuers were already on the landing; they did not stop there,
however, but went on up to the fourth floor, talking loudly among
themselves. After waiting till they had got some distance off, he left
the room on tiptoe and hurried down as fast as his legs would carry
him. No one on the stairs! No one either at the street door! He
stepped briskly outside, and, once in the street, turned to the left.

He knew very well, he knew without a doubt, that they who were seeking
him were at that moment in the old woman's lodging, and were amazed to
find that the door, which a little while before had been shut so
securely, was now open. "They're examining the corpses," thought he;
"it won't take them a minute to come to the conclusion that the
murderer managed to hide himself from them as they went up the stairs;
perhaps they may even have a suspicion that he stowed himself away in
the empty lodging on the second floor while they were hurrying to the
upper part of the house." But, in spite of these reflections, he did
not dare to increase his pace, though he still had a hundred steps or
so to go before reaching the first turning. "Suppose I slipped into
some doorway, in some out-of-the-way street, and waited there a few
minutes? No, that would never do! I might throw my hatchet away
somewhere? or take a cab? No good! no good!" At last he reached a
narrow lane; he entered it more dead than alive. There, he was almost
in safety, and he knew it: in such a place, suspicion could hardly be
fixed upon him; while, on the other hand, it was easier for him to
avoid notice by mingling with the crowd. But all these agonizing
events had so enfeebled him that he could scarcely keep on his legs.
Great drops of perspiration streamed down his face; his neck was quite
wet. "I think you've had your fill!" shouted some one who took him for
a drunken man as he reached the canal bank.

He no longer knew what he was doing; the farther he went, the more
obscure became his ideas. However, when he found himself on the quay,
he became frightened at seeing so few people there, and, fearing that
he might be noticed on so deserted a spot, he returned to the lane.
Though he had hardly the strength to put one leg before the other, he
nevertheless took the longest way to reach his home. He had scarcely
recovered his presence of mind even when he crossed the threshold; at
least the thought of the hatchet never came to him until he was on the
stairs. Yet the question he had to solve was a most serious one: it
consisted in returning the hatchet to the place he had taken it from,
and in doing so without attracting the least attention. Had he been
more capable of considering his position, he would certainly have
understood that, instead of replacing the hatchet, it would be far
safer to get rid of it by throwing it into the yard of some other

Nevertheless he met with no mishap. The door of the porter's lodge was
closed, though not locked; to all appearance, therefore, the porter
was at home. But Raskolnikoff had so thoroughly lost all faculty of
preparing any kind of plan, that he walked straight to the door and
opened it. If the porter had asked him: "What do you want?" perhaps he
would simply have handed him the hatchet. But, the same as on the
previous occasion, the porter was absent, and this gave the young man
every facility to replace the hatchet under the bench, exactly where
he had found it. Then he went upstairs and reached his room without
meeting a soul; the door of his landlady's apartments was shut. Once
home again, he threw himself on his couch just as he was. He did not
sleep, but lay in a sort of semiconsciousness. If anybody had then
appeared before him, he would have sprung up and cried out. His head
was swimming with a host of vague thoughts: do what he could, he was
unable to follow the thread of one of them.

Raskolnikoff lay on the couch a very long while. At times he seemed to
rouse from this half sleep, and then he noticed that the night was
very far advanced, but still it never entered his head to rise. Soon
it began to brighten into day, and the dawn found him in a state of
stupefaction, lying motionless on his back. A desperate clamor, and
sounds of brawls from the streets below, rose to his ears. These
awakened him thoroughly, although he heard them every morning early at
the same hour. "Ah! two o'clock, drinking is over," and he started up
as though some one had pulled him off the couch. "What! two o'clock
already?" He sat on the edge of the couch and then recollected
everything, in an instant it all came back! At first he thought he was
going out of his mind, a strange chill pervaded his frame, but the
cold arose from the fever which had seized upon him during his sleep.
He shivered until his teeth chattered, and all his limbs fairly shook.
He went to the door, opened it, and listened; all was silent in the
house. With astonishment he turned and looked round the room. How
could he have come home the night before, not bolted the door, and
thrown himself on the couch just as he was, not only not undressed,
but with his hat on? There it lay in the middle of the floor where it
had rolled. "If anyone came in, what would he think? That I am drunk,
of course."

He went to the window--it was pretty light--and looked himself all
over from head to foot, to see if there were any stains on his
clothes. But he could not rely upon that sort of inspection; so, still
shivering, he undressed and examined his clothes again, looking
everywhere with the greatest care. To make quite sure, he went over
them three times. He discovered nothing but a few drops of clotted
blood on the ends of his trousers which were very much frayed. He took
a big clasp-knife and cut off the frayed edges. Suddenly he remembered
that the purse and the things he had abstracted from the old woman's
chest, were still in his pockets! He had never thought of taking them
out and hiding them! indeed, it had never crossed his mind that they
were in his pockets while examining his clothes! Was it possible? In a
second he emptied all out on to the table in a heap. Then, turning his
pockets inside out to make sure there was nothing left in them, he
carried the things to a corner of the room. Just there, the paper was
hanging loose from the wall; he bent down and commenced to stuff all
the things into a hole behind the paper. "There, it's all out of
sight!" thought he gleefully, as he stood gazing stupidly at the spot
where the paper bulged out more than ever. Suddenly he began to
shudder from terror. "Good heavens!" murmured he in despair, "what is
the matter with me? Is that hidden? Is that the way to hide anything?"

Indeed, he had not reckoned on such spoil, he had only thought of
taking the old woman's money; so he was not prepared with a hiding
place for the jewels. "I have no cause to rejoice now," thought he.
"Is that the way to hide anything? I must really be losing my senses!"
He sunk on the couch again exhausted; another fit of intolerable
shivering seized him, and he mechanically pulled his old student's
cloak over him for warmth, as he fell into a delirious sleep. He lost
all consciousness of himself. Not more than five minutes had elapsed
before he woke up in intense excitement, and bent over his clothes in
the deepest anguish. "How could I go to sleep again when nothing is
done! For I have done nothing, the loop is still where I sewed it. I
forgot all about that! What a convincing proof it would have been." He
ripped it off and tore it into shreds which he placed among his
underlinen under the pillow. "These rags cannot awaken any suspicions,
I fancy; at least, so it seems to me," repeated he, standing up in the
middle of the room, and, with an attempt rendered all the more painful
by the effort it cost him, he looked all round, trying to make sure he
had forgotten nothing. He suffered cruelly from this conviction, that
everything, even memory, even the most elementary prudence, was
abandoning him.

"Can this be the punishment already beginning? Indeed! indeed! it is!"

And indeed the frayed edges he had cut from the bottom of his trousers
were lying on the floor, in the middle of the room, exposed to the
view of the first comer. "But what can I be thinking of?" exclaimed he
in utter bewilderment. Then a strange idea came into his head; he
thought that perhaps all his clothes were saturated in blood, and that
he could not see this because his senses were gone and his perception
of things lost. Then he recollected that there would be traces on the
purse, and his pockets would be wet with blood. It was so. "I am
bereft of my reason, I know not what I am doing. Bah! not at all!--it
is only weakness, delirium. I shall soon be better." He tore at the
lining. At this moment the rays of the morning streamed in and shone
on his left boot. There were plain traces, and all the point was
covered. "I must have stepped in that pool. What shall I do now? Boot,
lining, rags, where shall they go?" He rolled them up and stood
thinking in the middle of the room. "Ah, the stove. Yes, burn them.
No, I cannot, I have no match. Better throw them away. Yes, yes, that
is the thing," said he, again sitting on the couch. "At once, and
without delay too, quick." But, instead, his head fell back upon the
pillow, and chilly shiverings again came over him. He covered himself
with his cloak and slept again. It appeared hours to him, and many a
time in his sleep he tried to rise to hasten to throw away his bundle,
but he could not, he seemed chained to the bed. At last he awoke, as
he heard a loud knock at his door.

"Eh, open, will you?" cried Nastasia. "Don't lie there like a dog.
It's eleven o'clock."

"Perhaps he is not in," said a man's voice.

"The porter's voice. What does he want?" Raskolnikoff rose, and sat on
the couch listening. His heart throbbed violently. "Who has bolted the
door then?" exclaimed the servant. "Open, will you?"

"All must be discovered?" He rose a little and undid the bolt, and
fell back again on his bed. There stood the porter and Nastasia. The
servant looked strangely at Raskolnikoff, while he fixed a despairing
glance upon the porter.

"Here is a notice for you from the office," said the latter.

"What office?"

"The police office."

"What for?"

"I don't know. You are summoned there, go." The porter looked
anxiously at the lodger, and turned to leave. Raskolnikoff made no
observation, and held the paper unopened in his hand.

"There, stay where you are," said Nastasia, seeing him fall back on
the couch. "If you are ill, do not go. What is that in your hand?"

He looked down; in his right hand were clutched the pieces of frayed
cloth, his boot, and the lining of his pocket. He had evidently fallen
asleep with them as they were; indeed he recollected how, thinking
deeply about them, he had dozed away.

"The idea of taking a lot of rags to bed and hugging them to you like
a treasure!" laughed the servant in her sickly manner.

In a second he hid all under his coat and looked at her attentively.
Although little was capable of passing in his mind, he felt she would
not talk thus to a man under arrest for a crime. But then, the police?

"Is there anything you want? You stay here, I will bring it."

"No, I will go. I am going at once," murmured he, rising to his feet.

"Very well."

She went out after the porter. As soon as she had disappeared, he
rushed to the light to look at his boot. Yes, there were spots, but
not very plain, all covered with mud. But who would distinguish them?
Nastasia could know nothing, thank heavens! Then with trembling hand
he tore open the notice, and began to read. At last he understood; it
was simply the usual notice to report himself at the office of the
district that day at half-past nine o'clock.

"But why to-day?" cried he. "Lord, let it be over soon." He was about
to fall down on his knees to pray, when a fit of laughter seized him.
"I must trust to myself, not to prayers." He quickly dressed himself.
"Shall I put the boot on?" he thought, "better throw it away, and hide
all traces of it." Nevertheless he put it on, only, however, to throw
it off again with an expression of horror. As, however, he recollected
he had no other, a smile came to his face, and he drew it on once
more. Again his face changed into deep despair, his limbs shook more
and more. "This is not from exertion," thought he, "it is fear." His
head spun round and round and his temples throbbed visibly.

On the stairs he recollected that all the things were in the hole in
the wall, and then where was his certificate of birth? He stopped to
think. But such despair, and, if it may be so called, cynicism, took
hold of him, that he simply shook his head and went out. The sooner
over, the better. Once again in the open air, he encountered the same
insufferable heat, the dust, and the people in drink rolling about the
streets. The sun caught him full in the eyes and almost blinded him,
while his head spun round and round, as is usual in fever. On reaching
the turning into the street he had taken the day before, he glanced in
great agitation in the direction of the house, but immediately averted
his eyes again. "If they ask me, I should confess, perhaps," said he
to himself, as he turned away and made for the office. This was not
far distant, in a new house, on the fourth floor. As he entered the
court, he saw to the right of him a staircase, ascending which was a
man carrying some books. "It was evidently there." He did not think of

"I will go and fall on my knees and confess all," he murmured, and
began to ascend the narrow and very steep stairs. On every floor the
doors of the kitchens of the several apartments stood open to the
staircase, and emitted a suffocating, sickening odor. The entrance to
the office he was in search of was also wide open, and he walked in. A
number of persons were waiting in the anteroom. The stench was simply
intolerable, and was intensified by the smell of fresh paint. Pausing
a little, he decided to advance farther into the small low room. He
became impatient when he found no one took any notice of him. In an
inner room were seated a number of clerks engaged in writing. He went
up to one of these.

"What do you want?" Raskolnikoff showed him the notice.

"You are a student?" asked a clerk, glancing at the notice.

"Yes;--that is, I used to be."

The clerk glanced at him--without, however, any particular curiosity.
He was a man with unkempt hair and an expressionless face.

"There is nothing to be learned from him, evidently," thought

"Step in there to the head clerk," said the man, pointing to a farther
room, which was quite full of people, among whom were two ladies.

The assistant district officer, a man adorned with red whiskers
standing out on either side of his face, and with extremely small
features, looked up impatiently at Raskolnikoff, whose filthy attire
was by no means prepossessing. The latter returned his glance calmly
and straight in the face, and in such a manner as to give the officer

"What do you want here?" he cried, apparently surprised that such a
ragged beggar was not knocked down by his thunder-bearing glance.

"I am here because I was summoned," stammered Raskolnikoff.

"It is for the recovery of money lent," said the head clerk. "Here!"
and he threw a paper to Raskolnikoff, "Read!"

"Money? What money? It cannot be that," thought the young man, and he
trembled with joy. Everything became clear, and the load fell off his

"At what hour did you receive this, sir?" cried the lieutenant; "you
were told to come at nine o'clock, and now it is nearly twelve!"

"I received it a quarter of an hour ago," loudly replied Raskolnikoff,
over his shoulder, suddenly angered, "and it is sufficient to say that
I am ill with a fever."

"Please not to bawl!"

"I did not bawl, but spoke plainly; it is you that bawl. I am a
student, and am not going to have you speak to me in that fashion."

The officer became enraged, and fumed so that only splutters flew out
of his mouth. He jumped up from his place. "Please keep silence. You
are in court. Don't be insolent."

"And so are you in court; and, besides bawling, you are smoking, so
you are wanting in politeness to the whole company." As he said this,
Raskolnikoff felt an inexpressible delight at his maliciousness. The
clerk looked up with a smile. The choleric officer was clearly

"That is not your business, sir," he cried at last, unnaturally loud.
"Make the necessary declaration. Show him, Alexander Gregorivitch.

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