Part 2 out of 8
And the will lay on the floor, the general's wife kneeling on it,
as on a prayer carpet, in an attitude of prayer, her clasped hands
on the window sill, her wet eyes fixed on a faintly twinkling star,
as though calling heaven to witness her inconsolable grief and
It was only the Sister of Mercy.
"Madam, the people have come, bringing the coffin; and I think the
police have also come."
"Yes, in a moment. Tell them I am coming immediately."
The Sister of Mercy went out.
"See how she loved her husband. And why was he so unjust to her at
the last?" she involuntarily reproached the dead general.
Meanwhile the general's wife had risen hastily, folded the will as
best she could, in four, in eight folds, and crushing it together
in her hand, went quietly from the room, which now filled her with
She was so confused that she did not even think of looking for her
pocket; she simply held her packet tight, and let her hand hang
down, hiding it in the folds of her wide dressing-gown. There
seemed to be so many people in the room which a moment before was
empty, that she felt cowed. Her heart beat pitilessly, and the
blood throbbed so violently in her temples that she could not
understand what was said to her. They were asking her if they
might place the body in the coffin, which had already been placed
beside it. Her silence was taken as consent. The skilful
undertakers easily lifted the already rigid body.
Olga Vseslavovna stood at the head of the dead general. Among the
crowd of undertakers and servants, she suddenly saw coming toward
her, with outstretched hand, and with tears of compassion in her
eyes, the Princess Ryadski, the same aristocratic kinswoman who had
already taken little Olga to stay with her.
"I must shake hands with her! And that horrible packet is in my
hand! Where shall I put it? How can I hide it?" Before her eyes
gleamed the brilliantly lighted, ashen forehead of the dead man,
helplessly bent backward and sideways, as the whole body was
suspended in the hands of the undertakers, over its last abode.
A saving thought!
The general's wife bent gently over the dead body. She gently
supported the head of the corpse, gently laid it on the satin
cushion, straightened the frills which surrounded the hard pillow,
and, unperceived, left under it the twisted roll of paper.
"It will be safer there!" The thought flashed through her mind.
"He wanted to keep his will himself; well, keep it to eternity,
now! What more can you ask?"
And it even seemed ludicrous to her. She could hardly restrain a
smile of triumph, changing it into a sad smile of grief, in reply
to her kinswoman's condolences. The coffin was already lying in
state on the bier; it was covered with brocade and flowers. The
princess, as kinswoman of the late general, bent low, and first
laid on the dead body the wreath she had brought with her.
"The poor sufferer has entered into rest," she whispered, shaking
her head. "Will the funeral service be soon? Where will it be?
Where is Olga Vseslavovna?"
"She will be here in a moment," the Sister of Mercy whispered,
deeply affected; "she has gone to fix herself. They will begin the
funeral service in a few minutes, and she is all in disorder. She
is in great grief. Will you not take a seat?"
"What? Sit down? Thank you," loftily replied the princess. And
she went toward a dignified personage who was entering, adorned
with many orders and an aristocratic beard.
The general's wife soon came to herself. "Rita! I must wash and
dress as quickly as possible. Ah! pray forgive me, doctor! They
called me away to my husband. They were placing him in the
coffin." She sighed deeply. "What is this? Oh, yes, the
announcement of his death. Very good. Send it, please. But I
must dress at once. The funeral service will begin immediately."
"Doctor! Is the doctor here?" an anxious voice sounded in the
"I am coming! What is it?"
"Please come quick, Edouard Vicentevitch!" Yakov called him. "The
lady is very ill downstairs; Anna Iurievna, the general's daughter!
I was out to order the flowers; I come back, and see the lady lying
in a faint in the entrance. She had just arrived, and asked; and
they answered her that he was dead, without the slightest
preparation! And she could not bear it, and fainted."
Yakov said all this as they went.
"Actress!" angrily thought Olga Vseslavovna. And immediately she
added mentally, "Well, she may stand on her head now, it is all the
same to me!"
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
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
stepmother'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 father.
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 traveling
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
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
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 anteroom. 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 directions?
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
"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
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
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
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.
Feodor Mikhailovitch Dostoyevsky
Crime and Punishment*
* (At the risk of shocking the reader, it has been decided that the
real permanent detective stories of the world were ill represented
without Dostoyevsky's terrible tale of what might be called "self-
detection." If to sensitive readers the story seems so real as to
be hideous, it is well to recall that Dostoyevsky in 1849 underwent
the agony of sentence to death as a revolutionist. Although the
sentence was commuted to hard labor in Siberia, and although six
years later he was freed and again took up his writing, his mind
never rose from beneath the weight of horror and hopelessness that
hangs over offenders against the Great White Czar. Dostoyevsky,
sentenced as a criminal, herded with criminals, really BECAME a
criminal in literary imagination. Add to this a minute
observation, a marvelous memory, ardent political convictions--and
we can understand why the story here, with others of his, is taken
as a scientific text by criminologists.--EDITOR.)
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* 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."
* 1,000 yards.
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* 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 antechamber, divided by a partition,
behind which was a small kitchen. The old woman stood silently in
front of him, eyeing 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
eyeing 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,
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."*
* "Little father."
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
"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 anteroom.
"What have you to do with my sister, batuchka?"
"Nothing. I had no reason for asking. You will--well, good-by,
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
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* 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 she.
* Cabbage soup.
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 be 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
"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 roll?"
"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 this.
"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 mine!"
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
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
tomorrow, 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 destiny.
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
know, 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,
"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 hotheaded. 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
Raskolnikoff raised himself with an effort; his head ached; he got
upon his feet, took a few steps, and then dropped down again upon
"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, eyeing 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
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 he 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 so!"
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 fright.
"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 failing. 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
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 rage.
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 anteroom.
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
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
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
"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
"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
"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?"
"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--"
"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 fool!"
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 house.
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
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