The Continental Classics, Volume XVIII., Mystery Tales
Part 3 out of 8
Complaints have been made about you! You don't pay your debts! You
know how to fly the kite evidently!"
Raskolnikoff did not listen, but greedily seized the paper. He read it
through more than once, and could make nothing of it. "What is this?"
he asked of the clerk.
"It is a writ for recovery on a note of hand of yours. Please write,"
said the clerk.
"Write what?" asked he rudely.
"As I dictate."
The clerk stood near and dictated to him the usual form of
declaration: that he was unable to pay, that he would not quit the
capital, dispose of his goods in any way, etc., etc.
"You cannot write, your pen is falling from your fingers," said the
clerk, and he looked him in the face. "Are you ill?"
"Yes, my head swims. Go on."
"That is all. Now sign it."
Raskolnikoff let fall the pen, and seemed as if about to rise and go;
but, instead of doing so, he laid both elbows on the table and
supported his head with his hands. A new idea formed in his mind: to
rise immediately, go straight to Nicodemus Thomich the ward officer
and tell him all that had occurred; then to accompany him to his room,
and show him all the things hidden away in the wall behind the paper.
His desire to do all this was of such strength that he got up from the
table to carry his design into execution. "Reflect, reflect a moment!"
ran in his head. "No, better not think, get it off my shoulders."
Suddenly he stood still as if shot. Nicodemus Thomich was at this
moment hotly discussing something with Elia Petrovitch, the inspector
of police, and the words caught Raskolnikoff's anxious attention. He
"It cannot be, they will both be released. In the first place, all is
contradictory. Consider. Why did they call the porter if it were their
work? To denounce themselves? Or out of cunning? Not at all, that
would be too much! Besides, did not the porter see the student
Pestriakoff at the very gate just as he came in, and he stood there
some time with three friends who had accompanied him. And Koch: was he
not below in the silversmith's for half an hour before he went up to
the old woman's? Now, consider."
"But see what contradictions arise! They say they knocked and found
the door closed; yet three minutes after, when they went back with the
porter, it was open."
"That's true. The murderer was inside, and had bolted the door, and
certainly he would have been captured had not Koch foolishly run off
to the porter. In the interval _he_, no doubt, had time to escape
downstairs. Koch explains that, if he had remained, the man would have
leaped out and killed him. He wanted to have a _Te Deum_ sung. Ha,
"Did nobody see the murderer?"
"How could they? The house is a perfect Noah's ark," put in the clerk,
who had been listening.
"The thing is clear, very clear," said Nicodemus Thomich decisively.
"Not at all! Not at all!" cried Elia Petrovitch, in reply.
Raskolnikoff took up his hat and made for the door, but he never
reached it. When he came to himself he found he was sitting on a
chair, supported on the right by some unknown man, while to his left
stood another, holding some yellow water in a yellow glass. Nicodemus
Thomich, standing before him, was looking at him fixedly. Raskolnikoff
"What is it? Are you ill?" asked the officer sharply.
"He could hardly hold the pen to sign his name," the clerk explained,
at the same time going back to his books.
"Have you been ill very long?" cried Elia Petrovitch from his table;
he had run to see the swoon and returned to his place.
"Since yesterday," murmured Raskolnikoff in reply.
"You went out yesterday?"
"At what time?"
"Eight o'clock in the evening."
"Where did you go, allow me to ask?"
"In the streets."
"Concise and clear."
Raskolnikoff had replied sharply, in a broken voice, his face as pale
as a handkerchief, and with his black swollen eyes averted from Elia
Petrovitch's scrutinizing glance.
"He can hardly stand on his legs. Do you want to ask anything more?"
said Nicodemus Thomich.
"Nothing," replied Elia Petrovitch.
Nicodemus Thomich evidently wished to say more, but, turning to the
clerk, who in turn glanced expressively at him, the latter became
silent, all suddenly stopped speaking. It was strange.
Raskolnikoff went out. As he descended the stairs he could hear an
animated discussion had broken out, and above all, the interrogative
voice of Nicodemus Thomich. In the street he came to himself.
"Search, search! they are going to search!" he cried. "The scoundrels,
they suspect me!" The old dread seized him again, from head to foot.
Here was the room. All was quiet, and no one had, apparently,
disturbed it--not even Nastasia. But, heavens! how could he have left
all those things where they were? He rushed to the corner, pushed his
hands behind the paper, took out the things, and thrust them in his
pockets. There were eight articles in all: two little boxes with
earrings or something of that description, then four little morocco
cases; a chain wrapped up in paper, and something else done up in a
common piece of newspaper--possibly a decoration. Raskolnikoff
distributed these, together with the purse, about his person, in order
to make them less noticeable, and quitted the room again. All the time
he had left the door wide open. He went away hurriedly, fearing
pursuit. Perhaps in a few minutes orders would be issued to hunt him
down, so he must hide all traces of his theft at once; and he would do
so while he had strength and reason left him. But where should he go?
This had been long decided. Throw the lot in the canal and the matter
would be at an end! So he had resolved in that night of delirium, when
he cried out, "Quick, quick! throw all away!" But this was not so
easy. He wandered to the quays of the Catherine Canal, and lingered
there for half an hour. Here a washing raft lay where he had thought
of sinking his spoil, or there boats were moored, and everywhere
people swarmed. Then, again, would the cases sink? Would they not
rather float? No, this would not do. He would go to the Neva; there
would be fewer people there and more room, and it would be more
convenient. He recognized that he had been wandering about for fully
half an hour, and in dangerous places. He must make haste. He made his
way to the river, but soon came to another standstill. Why in the
Neva? Why in the water at all? Better some solitary place in a wood,
or under some bushes. Dig a hole and bury them! He felt he was not in
a condition to deliberate clearly and soundly, but this idea appeared
This idea also, however, was not destined to be realized, and another
took its place. As he passed the V---- Prospect, he suddenly noticed
on the left an entrance into a court, which was surrounded entirely by
high walls. On the right, a long way up the court, rose the side of a
huge four-storied building. To the left, parallel with the walls of
the house, and commencing immediately at the gate, there ran a wooden
boarding of about twenty paces down the court. Then came a space where
a lot of rubbish was deposited; while farther down, at the bottom of
the court, was a shed, apparently part of some workshop, possibly that
of a carpenter or coach builder. Everything appeared as black as coal
dust. Here was the very place, he thought; and, after looking round,
went up the court. Behind the door he espied a large unworked stone,
weighing about fifty pounds, which lay close up against the hoarding.
No one could see him where he stood; he was entirely free from
observation. He bent down to the stone, managed to turn it over after
considerable effort, and found underneath a small cavity. He threw in
the cases, and then the purse on the top of all. The stone was not
perceptibly higher when he had replaced it, and little traces of its
having been moved could be noticed. So he pressed some earth against
the edges with his foot, and made off.
He laughed for joy when again in the street. All traces were gone, and
who would think of looking there? And if they were found who would
suspect him? All proofs were gone, and he laughed again. Yes, he
recollected afterwards how he laughed--a long, nervous, lingering
laugh, lasting all the time he was in that street.
He reached home toward evening, perhaps at about eight o'clock--how,
and by what particular way he never recollected--but, speedily
undressing, he lay down on the couch, trembling like a beaten horse,
and, drawing his overcoat over him, he fell immediately into a deep
sleep. He awoke in a high fever and delirious. Some days later he came
to himself, rose and went out. It was eight o'clock, and the sun had
disappeared. The heat was as intolerable as before, but he inhaled the
dusty, fetid, infected town air with greediness. And now his head
began to spin round, and a wild expression of energy crept into his
inflamed eyes and pale, meager, wan face. He did not know, did not
even think, what he was going to do; he only knew that all was to be
finished "today," at one blow, immediately, or he would never return
home, because he had no desire to live thus. How to finish? By what
means? No matter how, and he did not want to think. He drove away any
thoughts which disturbed him, and only clung to the necessity of
ending all, "no matter how," said he, with desperate self-confidence
and decision. By force of habit he took his old walk, and set out in
the direction of the Haymarket. Farther on, he came on a young man who
was grinding some very feeling ballads upon a barrel organ. Near the
man, on the footpath, was a young girl of about fifteen years of age,
fashionably dressed, with crinoline, mantle, and gloves, and a straw
hat trimmed with gaudy feathers, but all old and terribly worn out,
who, in a loud and cracked though not altogether unpleasing voice, was
singing before a shop in expectation of a couple of kopecks.
Raskolnikoff stopped and joined one or two listeners, took out a
five-kopeck piece, and gave it to the girl. The latter at once stopped
on a very high note which she had just reached, and cried to the man,
"Come along," and both immediately moved on to another place.
"Do you like street music?" said Raskolnikoff to a middle-aged man
standing near him. The latter looked at him in surprise, but smiled.
"I love it," continued Raskolnikoff, "especially when they sing to the
organ on a cold, dark, gray winter's evening, when all the passers-by
seem to have pale, green, sickly-looking faces--when the snow is
falling like a sleet, straight down and with no wind, you know, and
while the lamps shine on it all."
"I don't know. Excuse me," said the man, frightened at the question
and Raskolnikoff's strange appearance, and hastily withdrawing to the
other side of the street.
Raskolnikoff went on, and came to the place in the Haymarket where he
had met the trader and his wife and Elizabeth. No one was there at the
moment. He stopped, and turned to a young fellow, in a red shirt, who
was gaping at the entrance to a flour shop.
"A man trades here at this corner, with his wife, eh?"
"Everyone trades here," replied the lad, scanning his questioner from
head to foot.
"What is he called?"
"What he was christened."
"But you belong to Zaraisk, don't you? To what Government?"
The boy stared at Raskolnikoff. "We have no governor, your highness,
but districts. I stay at home, and know nothing about it, but my
brother does; so pardon me, your most mighty highness."
"Is that an eating house there?"
"That's a dram shop; they have a billiard table."
"There are newspapers here?" asked he, as he entered a room--one of a
suite--rather empty. Two or three persons sat with tea before them,
while in a farther room a group of men were seated, drinking
champagne. Raskolnikoff thought he recognized Zametoff among them, but
he could not be sure. "Never mind, if it is!" he muttered.
"Brandy, sir?" asked the waiter.
"No, tea; and bring me some newspapers--for about the last five days.
I'll give you a drink."
The papers and the tea appeared. Raskolnikoff sat and searched, and,
at last, found what he wanted. "Ah, here it is!" he cried, as he began
to read. The words danced before his eyes, but he read greedily to the
end, and turned to others for later intelligence. His hands trembled
with impatience, and the sheets shook again. Suddenly some one sat
down near him. He looked up, and there was Zametoff--that same
Zametoff, with his rings and chain, his oiled locks and fancy
waistcoat and unclean linen. He seemed pleased, and his tanned face, a
little inflamed by the champagne, wore a smile.
"Ah! you here?" he commenced, in a tone as if he had known
Raskolnikoff for an age. "Why Razoumikhin told me yesterday that you
were lying unconscious. How strange! Then I was at your place----"
Raskolnikoff laid down the paper and turned to Zametoff. On his lips
was a slight provoking smile. "I know you were," he replied, "I heard
so. You searched for my boot. To what agreeable places you resort. Who
gives you champagne to drink?"
"We were drinking together. What do you mean?"
"Nothing, dear boy, nothing," said Raskolnikoff, with a smile and
slapping Zametoff on the shoulders. "I am not in earnest, but simply
in fun, as your workman said, when he wrestled with Dmitri, you know,
in that murder case."
"Do you know about that?"
"Yes, and perhaps more than you do."
"You are very peculiar. It is a pity you came out. You are ill."
"Do I seem strange?"
"Yes; what are you reading?"
"There are a number of fires."
"I am not reading about them." He looked curiously at Zametoff, and a
malicious smile distorted his lips. "No, fires are not in my line," he
added, winking at Zametoff. "Now, I should like to know, sweet youth,
what it signifies to you what I read?"
"Nothing at all. I only asked. Perhaps I----"
"Listen. You are a cultivated man--a literary man, are you not?"
"I was in the sixth class at college," Zametoff answered, with a
certain amount of dignity.
"The sixth! Oh, my fine fellow! With rings and a chain--a rich man!
You are a dear boy," and Raskolnikoff gave a short, nervous laugh,
right in the face of Zametoff. The latter was very much taken aback,
and, if not offended, seemed a good deal surprised.
"How strange you are!" said Zametoff seriously. "You have the fever
still on you; you are raving!"
"Am I, my fine fellow--am I strange? Yes, but I am very interesting to
you, am I not?"
"Yes. You ask me what I am reading, what I am looking for; then I am
looking through a number of papers. Suspicious, isn't it? Well, I will
explain to you, or rather confess--no, not that exactly. I will give
testimony, and you shall take it down--that's it. So then, I swear
that I was reading, and came here on purpose"--Raskolnikoff blinked
his eyes and paused--"to read an account of the murder of the old
woman." He finished almost in a whisper, eagerly watching Zametoff's
face. The latter returned his glances without flinching. And it
appeared strange to Zametoff that a full minute seemed to pass as they
kept fixedly staring at each other in this manner.
"Oh, so that's what you have been reading?" Zametoff at last cried
impatiently. "What is there in that?" "She is the same woman,"
continued Raskolnikoff, still in a whisper, and taking no notice of
Zametoff's remark, "the very same woman you were talking about when I
swooned in your office. You recollect--you surely recollect?"
"Recollect what?" said Zametoff, almost alarmed.
The serious expression on Raskolnikoff's face altered in an instant,
and he again commenced his nervous laugh, and laughed as if he were
quite unable to contain himself. There had recurred to his mind, with
fearful clearness, the moment when he stood at the door with the
hatchet in his hand. There he was, holding the bolt, and they were
tugging and thumping away at the door. Oh, how he itched to shriek at
them, open the door, thrust out his tongue at them, and frighten them
away, and then laugh, "Ah, ah, ah, ah!"
"You are insane, or else--" said Zametoff, and then paused as if a new
thought had suddenly struck him.
"Or what, or what? Now what? Tell me!"
"Nonsense!" said Zametoff to himself, "it can't be." Both became
silent. After this unexpected and fitful outburst of laughter,
Raskolnikoff had become lost in thought and looked very sad. He leaned
on the table with his elbows, buried his head in his hands, and seemed
to have quite forgotten Zametoff. The silence continued a long time.
"You do not drink your tea; it is getting cold," said the latter, at
"What? Tea? Yes!" Raskolnikoff snatched at his glass, put a piece of
bread in his mouth, and then, after looking at Zametoff, seemingly
recollected and roused himself. His face at once resumed its previous
smile, and he continued to sip his tea.
"What a number of rogues there are about," Zametoff said. "I read not
long ago, in the Moscow papers, that they had captured a whole gang of
forgers in that city. Quite a colony."
"That's old news. I read it a month ago," replied Raskolnikoff in a
careless manner. "And you call such as these rogues?" he added,
"Rogues indeed! Why, they are only children and babies. Fifty banded
together for such purposes! Is it possible? Three would be quite
sufficient, and then they should be sure of one another--not babble
over their cups. The babies! Then to hire unreliable people to change
the notes at the money changers', persons whose hands tremble as they
receive the rubles. On such their lives depend! Far better to strangle
yourself! The man goes in, receives the change, counts some over, the
last portion he takes on faith, stuffs all in his pocket, rushes away
and the murder is out. All is lost by one foolish man. Is it not
"That his hands should shake?" replied Zametoff. "No; that is quite
likely. Yours would not, I suppose? I could not endure it, though. For
a paltry reward of a hundred rubles to go on such a mission! And
where? Into a banker's office with forged notes! I should certainly
lose my head. Would not you?"
Raskolnikoff felt again a strong impulse to make a face at him. A
shiver ran down his back. "You would not catch me acting so
foolishly," he commenced. "This is how I should do. I should count
over the first thousand very carefully, perhaps four times, right to
the end, carefully examine each note, and then only pass to the second
thousand, count these as far as the middle of the bundle, take out a
note, hold it to the light, turn it over, then hold it to the light
again, and say, 'I fear this is a bad note,' and then begin to relate
some story about a lost note. Then there would be a third thousand to
count. Not yet, please, there is a mistake in the second thousand. No,
it is correct. And so I should proceed until I had received all. At
last I should turn to go, open the door, but, no, pardon me! I should
return, ask some question, receive some explanation, and there it is
"What funny things you do say!" said Zametoff with a smile. "You are
all very well theoretically, but try it and see. Look, for example, at
the murder of the money lender, a case in point. There was a desperate
villain who in broad daylight stopped at nothing, and yet his hand
shook, did it not?--and he could not finish, and left all the spoil
behind him. The deed evidently robbed him of his presence of mind."
This language nettled Raskolnikoff. "You think so? Then lay your hand
upon him," said he, maliciously delighted to tease him.
"Never fear but we shall!"
"You? Go to, you know nothing about it. All you think of inquiring is
whether a man is flinging money about; he is--then, _ergo_ he is
"That is exactly what they do," replied Zametoff, "they murder, risk
their lives, and then rush to the public house and are caught. Their
lavishness betrays them. You see they are not all so crafty as you
are. You would not run there, I suppose?"
Raskolnikoff frowned and looked steadily at Zametoff. "You seem
anxious to know how I should act," he said with some displeasure.
"I should very much like to know," replied Zametoff in a serious tone.
He seemed, indeed, very anxious.
"Good. This would be my plan," Raskolnikoff said, as he again bent
near to the face of his listener, and speaking in such a tragic
whisper as almost to make the latter shudder. "I should take the money
and all I could find, and make off, going, however, in no particular
direction, but on and on until I came to some obscure and inclosed
place, where no one was about--a market garden, or any such-like spot.
I should then look about me for a stone, perhaps a pound and a half in
weight, lying, it may be, in a corner against a partition, say a stone
used for building purposes; this I should lift up and under it there
would be a hole. In that hole I should deposit all the things I had
got, roll back the stone, stamp it down with my feet, and be off. For
a year I should let them lie--for two years, three years. Now then,
search for them! Where are they?"
"You are indeed mad," said Zametoff, also in a low tone, but turning
away from Raskolnikoff. The latter's eyes glistened, he became paler
than ever, while his upper lip trembled violently. He placed his face
closer, if possible, to that of Zametoff, his lips moving as if he
wished to speak, but no words escaped them--several moments
elapsed--Raskolnikoff knew what he was doing, but felt utterly unable
to control himself, that strange impulse was upon him as when he stood
at the bolted door, to come forth and let all be known.
"What if I killed the old woman and Elizabeth?" he asked suddenly, and
then--came to himself.
Zametoff turned quite pale; then his face changed to a smile. "Can it
be so?" he muttered to himself.
Raskolnikoff eyed him savagely. "Speak out. What do you think? Yes? Is
"Of course not. I believe it now less than ever," replied Zametoff
"Caught at last! caught, my fine fellow! What people believe less than
ever, they must have believed once, eh?"
"Not at all. You frightened me into the supposition," said Zametoff,
"So you do not think this? Then why those questions in the office? Why
did the lieutenant question me after my swoon? Waiter," he cried,
seizing his cap, "here, how much?"
"Thirty kopecks, sir," replied the man.
"There you are, and twenty for yourself. Look, what a lot of money!"
turning to Zametoff and thrusting forth his shaking hand filled with
the twenty-five rubles, red and blue notes. "Whence comes all this?
Where did I obtain these new clothes from? You know I had none. You
have asked the landlady, I suppose? Well, no matter!--Enough! Adieu,
He went out, shaking from some savage hysterical emotion, a mixture of
delight, gloom, and weariness. His face was drawn as if he had just
recovered from a fit; and, as his agitation of mind increased, so did
Meanwhile, Zametoff remained in the restaurant where Raskolnikoff had
left him, deeply buried in thought, considering the different points
Raskolnikoff had placed before him.
His heart was empty and depressed, and he strove again to drive off
thought. No feeling of anguish came, neither was there any trace of
that fierce energy which moved him when he left the house to "put an
end to it all."
"What will be the end of it? The result lies in my own will. What kind
of end? Ah, we are all alike, and accept the bit of ground for our
feet and live. Must this be the end? Shall I say the word or not? Oh,
how weary I feel! Oh, to lie down or sit anywhere! How foolish it is
to strive against my illness! Bah! What thoughts run through my
brain!" Thus he meditated as he went drowsily along the banks of the
canal, until, turning to the right and then to the left, he reached
the office building. He stopped short, however, and, turning down a
lane, went on past two other streets, with no fixed purpose, simply,
no doubt, to give himself a few moments longer for reflection. He went
on, his eyes fixed on the ground, until all of a sudden he started, as
if some one had whispered in his ear. Raising his eyes he saw that he
stood before _the house_, at its very gates.
Quick as lightning, an idea rushed into his head, and he marched
through the yard and made his way up the well-known staircase to the
fourth story. It was, as usual, very dark, and as he reached each
landing he peered almost with caution. There was the room newly
painted, where Dmitri and Mikola had worked. He reached the fourth
landing and he paused before the murdered woman's room in doubt. The
door was wide open and he could hear voices within; this he had not
anticipated. However, after wavering a little, he went straight in.
The room was being done up, and in it were some workmen. This
astonished him--indeed, it would seem he had expected to find
everything as he had left it, even to the dead bodies lying on the
floor. But to see the place with bare walls and bereft of furniture
was very strange! He walked up to the windows and sat on the sill. One
of the workmen now saw him and cried:
"What do you want here?"
Instead of replying, Raskolnikoff walked to the outer door and,
standing outside, began to pull at the bell. Yes, that was the bell,
with its harsh sound. He pulled again and again three times, and
remained there listening and thinking.
"What is it you want?" again cried the workman as he went out to
"I wish to hire some rooms. I came to look at these."
"People don't take lodgings in the night. Why don't you apply to the
"The floor has been washed. Are you going to paint it?" remarked
Raskolnikoff. "Where is the blood?"
"The old woman's and her sister's. There was quite a pool."
"Who are you?" cried the workman uneasily.
"I am Rodion Romanovitch Raskolnikoff, ex-student. I live at the
house Schilla, in a lane not far from here, No. 14. Ask the porter
there--he knows me," Raskolnikoff replied indifferently, without
turning to his questioner.
"What were you doing in those rooms?"
"Looking at them."
"What for? Come, out you go then, if you won't explain yourself,"
suddenly shouted the porter, a huge fellow in a smock frock, with a
large bunch of keys round his waist; and he caught Raskolnikoff by the
shoulder and pitched him into the street. The latter lurched forward,
but recovered himself, and, giving one look at the spectators, went
"What shall I do now?" thought Raskolnikoff. He was standing on the
bridge, near a crossing, and was looking around him as if expecting
some one to speak. But no one spoke, and all was dark and dull, and
dead--at least to him, and him alone.
A few days later, Raskolnikoff heard from his friend Razoumikhin that
those who had borrowed money from Alena Ivanovna were going to the
police office to redeem their pledges. He went with Razoumikhin to the
office where they were received by Porphyrius Petrovitch, the
examining magistrate, who seemed to have expected them.
"You have been expecting this visit? But how did you know that he had
pledged anything with Alena Ivanovna?" cried Razoumikhin.
Porphyrius Petrovitch, without any further reply, said to
Raskolnikoff: "Your things, a ring and a watch, were at her place,
wrapped up in a piece of paper, and on this paper your name was
legibly written in pencil, with the date of the day she had received
these things from you."
"What a memory you must have got!" said Raskolnikoff, with a forced
smile, doing his best to look the magistrate unflinchingly in the
face. However, he could not help adding: "I say so, because, as the
owners of the pledged articles are no doubt very numerous, you must, I
should fancy, have some difficulty in remembering them all; but I see,
on the contrary, that you do nothing of the kind. (Oh! fool! why add
"But they have nearly all of them come here; you alone had not done
so," answered Porphyrius, with an almost imperceptible sneer.
"I happened to be rather unwell."
"So I heard. I have been told that you have been in great pain. Even
now you are pale."
"Not at all. I am not pale. On the contrary, I am very well!" answered
Raskolnikoff in a tone of voice which had all at once become brutal
and violent. He felt rising within him uncontrollable anger. "Anger
will make me say some foolish thing," he thought. "But why do they
"He was rather unwell! A pretty expression, to be sure!" exclaimed
Razoumikhin. "The fact is that up to yesterday he has been almost
unconscious. Would you believe it, Porphyrius? Yesterday, when he
could hardly stand upright, he seized the moment when we had just left
him, to dress, to be off by stealth, and to go loafing about, Heaven
only knows where, till midnight, being, all the time, in a completely
raving condition. Can you imagine such a thing? It is a most
"Indeed! In a completely raving state?" remarked Porphyrius, with the
toss of the head peculiar to Russian rustics.
"Absurd! Don't you believe a word of it! Besides, I need not urge you
to that effect--of course you are convinced," observed Raskolnikoff,
beside himself with passion. But Porphyrius Petrovitch did not seem to
hear these singular words.
"How could you have gone out if you had not been delirious?" asked
Razoumikhin, getting angry in his turn. "Why have gone out at all?
What was the object of it? And, above all, to go in that secret
manner? Come, now, make a clean breast of it--you know you were out of
your mind, were you not? Now that danger is gone by, I tell you so to
"I had been very much annoyed yesterday," said Raskolnikoff,
addressing the magistrate, with more or less of insolence in his
smile, "and, wishing to get rid of them, I went out to hire lodgings
where I could be sure of privacy, to effect which I had taken a
certain amount of money. Mr. Zametoff saw what I had by me, and
perhaps he can say whether I was in my right senses yesterday or
whether I was delirious? Perhaps he will judge as to our quarrel."
Nothing would have pleased him better than there and then to have
strangled that gentleman, whose taciturnity and equivocal facial
expression irritated him.
"In my opinion, you were talking very sensibly and even with
considerable shrewdness; only I thought you too irritable," observed
"Do let us have some tea! We are as dry as fishes!" exclaimed
"Good idea! But perhaps you would like something more substantial
before tea, would you?"
"Look alive, then!"
Porphyrius Petrovitch went out to order tea. All kinds of thoughts
were at work in Raskolnikoff's brain. He was excited. "They don't even
take pains to dissemble; they certainly don't mince matters as far as
I am concerned: that is something, at all events! Since Porphyrius
knew next to nothing about me, why on earth should he have spoken with
Nicodemus Thomich Zametoff at all? They even scorn to deny that they
are on my track, almost like a pack of hounds! They certainly speak
out plainly enough!" he said, trembling with rage. "Well, do so, as
bluntly as you like, but don't play with me as the cat would with the
mouse! That's not quite civil, Porphyrius Petrovitch; I won't quite
allow that yet! I'll make a stand and tell you some plain truths to
your faces, and then you shall find out my real opinion about you!" He
had some difficulty in breathing. "But supposing that all this is pure
fancy?--a kind of mirage? Suppose I had misunderstood? Let me try and
keep up my nasty part, and not commit myself, like the fool, by blind
anger! Ought I to give them credit for intentions they have not? Their
words are, in themselves, not very extraordinary ones--so much must be
allowed; but a double meaning may lurk beneath them. Why did
Porphyrius, in speaking of the old woman, simply say 'At her place?'
Why did Zametoff observe that I had spoken very sensibly? Why their
peculiar manner?--yes, it is this manner of theirs. How is it possible
that all this cannot have struck Razoumikhin? The booby never notices
anything! But I seem to be feverish again! Did Porphyrius give me a
kind of wink just now, or was I deceived in some way? The idea is
absurd! Why should he wink at me? Perhaps they intend to upset my
nervous organization, and, by so doing, drive me to extremes! Either
the whole thing is a phantasmagoria, or--they know!"
These thoughts flashed through his mind with the rapidity of
lightning. Porphyrius Petrovitch came back a moment afterwards. He
seemed in a very good temper. "When I left your place yesterday, old
fellow, I was really not well," he commenced, addressing Razoumikhin
with a cheeriness which was only just becoming apparent, "but that is
all gone now."
"Did you find the evening a pleasant one? I left you in the thick of
the fun; who came off best?"
"Nobody, of course. They caviled to their heart's content over their
"Fancy, Rodia, the discussion last evening turned on the question:
'Does crime exist? Yes, or No.' And the nonsense they talked on the
"What is there extraordinary in the query? It is the social question
without the charm of novelty," answered Raskolnikoff abruptly.
"Talking of crime," said Porphyrius Petrovitch, speaking to
Raskolnikoff, "I remember a production of yours which greatly
interested me. I am speaking about your article _on crime_. I don't
very well remember the title. I was delighted in reading it two months
ago in the _Periodical Word."_
"But how do you know the article was mine? I only signed it with an
"I discovered it lately, quite by chance. The chief editor is a friend
of mine; it was he who let out the secret of your authorship. The
article has greatly interested me."
"I was analyzing, if I remember rightly, the psychological condition
of a criminal at the moment of his deed."
"Yes, and you strove to prove that a criminal, at such a moment, is
always, mentally, more or less unhinged. That point of view is a very
original one, but it was not this part of your article which most
interested me. I was particularly struck by an idea at the end of the
article, and which, unfortunately, you have touched upon too
cursorily. In a word, if you remember, you maintained that there are
men in existence who can, or more accurately, who have an absolute
right to commit all kinds of wicked and criminal acts--men for whom,
to a certain extent, laws do not exist."
"Is it not very likely that some coming Napoleon did for Alena
Ivanovna last week?" suddenly blustered Zametoff from his corner.
Without saying a word, Raskolnikoff fixed on Porphyrius a firm and
penetrating glance. Raskolnikoff was beginning to look sullen. He
seemed to have been suspecting something for some time past. He looked
round him with an irritable air. For a moment there was an ominous
silence. Raskolnikoff was getting ready to go.
"What, are you off already?" asked Porphyrius, kindly offering the
young man his hand with extreme affability. "I am delighted to have
made your acquaintance. And as for your application, don't be uneasy
about it. Write in the way I suggested. Or, perhaps, you had better do
this. Come and see me before long--to-morrow, if you like. I shall be
here without fail at eleven o'clock. We can make everything
right--we'll have a chat--and as you were one of the last that went
_there_, you might be able to give some further particulars?" he
added, with his friendly smile.
"Do you wish to examine me formally?" Raskolnikoff inquired, in an
"Why should I? Such a thing is out of the question. You have
misunderstood me. I ought to tell you that I manage to make the most
of every opportunity. I have already had a chat with every single
person that has been in the habit of pledging things with the old
woman--several have given me very useful information--and as you
happen to be the last one--By the by," he exclaimed, with sudden
pleasure, "how lucky I am thinking about it, I was really going to
forget it!" (Saying which he turned to Razoumikhin.) "You were almost
stunning my ears, the other day, talking about Mikolka. Well, I am
certain, quite certain, as to his innocence," he went on, once more
addressing himself to Raskolnikoff. "But what was to be done? It has
been necessary to disturb Dmitri. Now, what I wanted to ask was: On
going upstairs--was it not between seven and eight you entered the
"Yes," replied Raskolnikoff, and he immediately regretted an answer he
ought to have avoided.
"Well, in going upstairs, between seven and eight, did you not see on
the second floor, in one of the rooms, when the door was wide
open--you remember, I dare say?--did you not see two painters, or, at
all events, one of the two? They were whitewashing the room, I
believe; you must have seen them! The matter is of the utmost
importance to them!"
"Painters, you say? I saw none," replied Raskolnikoff slowly, trying
to sound his memory: for a moment he violently strained it to
discover, as quickly as he could, the trap concealed by the
magistrate's question. "No, I did not see a single one; I did not even
see any room standing open," he went on, delighted at having
discovered the trap, "but on the fourth floor I remember noticing that
the man lodging on the same landing as Alena Ivanovna was in the act
of moving. I remember that very well, as I met a few soldiers carrying
a sofa, and I was obliged to back against the wall; but, as for
painters, I don't remember seeing a single one--I don't even remember
a room that had its door open. No, I saw nothing."
"But what are you talking about?" all at once exclaimed Razoumikhin,
who, till that moment, had attentively listened; "it was on the very
day of the murder that painters were busy in that room, while he came
there two days previously! Why are you asking that question?"
"Right! I have confused the dates!" cried Porphyrius, tapping his
forehead. "Deuce take me! That job makes me lose my head!" he added by
way of excuse, and speaking to Raskolnikoff. "It is very important
that we should know if anybody saw them in that room between seven and
eight. I thought I might have got that information from you without
thinking any more about it. I had positively confused the days!"
"You ought to be more attentive!" grumbled Razoumikhin.
These last words were uttered in the anteroom, as Porphyrius very
civilly led his visitors to the door. They were gloomy and morose on
leaving the house, and had gone some distance before speaking.
Raskolnikoff breathed like a man who had just been subjected to a
When, on the following day, precisely at eleven o'clock, Raskolnikoff
called on the examining magistrate, he was astonished to have to dance
attendance for a considerable time. According to his idea, he ought to
have been admitted immediately; ten minutes, however, elapsed before
he could see Porphyrius Petrovitch. In the outer room where he had
been waiting, people came and went without heeding him in the least.
In the next room, which was a kind of office, a few clerks were at
work, and it was evident that not one of them had even an idea who
Raskolnikoff might be. The young man cast a mistrustful look about
him. "Was there not," thought he, "some spy, some mysterious myrmidon
of the law, ordered to watch him, and, if necessary, to prevent his
escape?" But he noticed nothing of the kind; the clerks were all hard
at work, and the other people paid him no kind of attention. The
visitor began to become reassured. "If," thought he, "this mysterious
personage of yesterday, this specter which had risen from the bowels
of the earth, knew all, and had seen all, would they, I should like to
know, let me stand about like this? Would they not rather have
arrested me, instead of waiting till I should come of my own accord?
Hence this man has either made no kind of revelation as yet about me,
or, more probably, he knows nothing, and has seen nothing (besides how
could he have seen anything?): consequently I have misjudged, and all
that happened yesterday was nothing but an illusion of my diseased
imagination." This explanation, which had offered itself the day
before to his mind, at the time he felt most fearful, he considered a
more likely one.
Whilst thinking about all this and getting ready for a new struggle,
Raskolnikoff suddenly perceived that he was trembling; he became
indignant at the very thought that it was fear of an interview with
the hateful Porphyrius Petrovitch which led him to do so. The most
terrible thing to him was to find himself once again in presence of
this man. He hated him beyond all expression, and what he dreaded was
lest he might show this hatred. His indignation was so great that it
suddenly stopped this trembling; he therefore prepared himself to
enter with a calm and self-possessed air, promised himself to speak as
little as possible, to be very carefully on the watch in order to
check, above all things, his irascible disposition. In the midst of
these reflections, he was introduced to Porphyrius Petrovitch. The
latter was alone in his office, a room of medium dimensions,
containing a large table, facing a sofa covered with shiny leather, a
bureau, a cupboard standing in a corner, and a few chairs: all this
furniture, provided by the State, was of yellow wood. In the wall, or
rather in the wainscoting of the other end, there was a closed door,
which led one to think that there were other rooms behind it. As soon
as Porphyrius Petrovitch had seen Raskolnikoff enter his office, he
went to close the door which had given him admission, and both stood
facing one another. The magistrate received his visitor to all
appearances in a pleasant and affable manner, and it was only at the
expiration of a few moments that the latter observed the magistrate's
somewhat embarrassed manner--he seemed to have been disturbed in a
more or less clandestine occupation.
"Good! my respectable friend! Here you are then--in our latitudes!"
commenced Porphyrius, holding out both hands. "Pray, be seated,
_batuchka_! But, perhaps, you don't like being called respectable?
Therefore, _batuchka_, for short! Pray, don't think me familiar. Sit
down here on the sofa."
Raskolnikoff did so without taking his eyes off the judge. "These
words 'in our latitudes,' these excuses for his familiarity, this
expression 'for short,' what could be the meaning of all this? He held
out his hands to me without shaking mine, withdrawing them before I
could do so," thought Raskolnikoff mistrustfully. Both watched each
other, but no sooner did their eyes meet than they both turned them
aside with the rapidity of a flash of lightning.
"I have called with this paper--about the---- If you please. Is it
correct, or must another form be drawn up?" "What, what paper? Oh,
yes! Do not put yourself out. It is perfectly correct," answered
Porphyrius somewhat hurriedly, before he had even examined it; then,
after having cast a glance on it, he said, speaking very rapidly:
"Quite right, that is all that is required," and placed the sheet on
the table. A moment later he locked it up in his bureau, chattering
about other things.
"Yesterday," observed Raskolnikoff, "you had, I fancy, a wish to
examine me formally--with reference to my dealings with--the victim?
At least so it seemed to me!"
"Why did I say, 'So it seemed?'" reflected the young man all of a
sudden. "After all, what can be the harm of it? Why should I distress
myself about that!" he added, mentally, a moment afterwards. The very
fact of his proximity to Porphyrius, with whom he had scarcely as yet
interchanged a word, had immeasurably increased his mistrust; he
marked this in a moment, and concluded that such a mood was an
exceedingly dangerous one, inasmuch as his agitation, his nervous
irritation, would only increase. "That is bad! very bad! I shall be
saying something thoughtless!"
"Quite right. But do not put yourself out of the way, there is time,
plenty of time," murmured Petrovitch, who, without apparent design,
kept going to and fro, now approaching the window, now his bureau, to
return a moment afterwards to the table. At times he would avoid
Raskolnikoff's suspicious look, at times again he drew up sharp whilst
looking his visitor straight in the face. The sight of this short
chubby man, whose movements recalled those of a ball rebounding from
wall to wall, was an extremely odd one. "No hurry, no hurry, I assure
you! But you smoke, do you not! Have you any tobacco? Here is a
cigarette!" he went on, offering his visitor a paquitos. "You notice
that I am receiving you here, but my quarters are there behind the
wainscoting. The State provides me with that. I am here as it were on
the wing, because certain alterations are being made in my rooms.
Everything is almost straight now. Do you know that quarters provided
by the State are by no means to be despised?"
"I believe you," answered Raskolnikoff, looking at him almost
"Not to be despised, by any means," repeated Porphyrius Petrovitch,
whose mind seemed to be preoccupied with something else--"not to be
despised!" he continued in a very loud tone of voice, and drawing
himself up close to Raskolnikoff, whom he stared out of countenance.
The incessant repetition of the statement that quarters provided by
the State were by no means to be despised contrasted singularly, by
its platitude, with the serious, profound, enigmatical look he now
cast on his visitor.
Raskolnikoff's anger grew in consequence; he could hardly help
returning the magistrate's look with an imprudently scornful glance,
"Is it true?" the latter commenced, with a complacently insolent air,
"is it true that it is a judicial maxim, a maxim resorted to by all
magistrates, to begin an interview about trifling things, or even,
occasionally, about more serious matter, foreign to the main question
however, with a view to embolden, to distract, or even to lull the
suspicion of a person under examination, and then all of a sudden to
crush him with the main question, just as you strike a man a blow
straight between the eyes?"
"Such a custom, I believe, is religiously observed in your profession,
is it not?"
"Then you are of opinion that when I spoke to you about quarters
provided by the State, I did so----" Saying which, Porphyrius
Petrovitch blinked, his face assumed for a moment an expression of
roguish gayety, the wrinkles on his brow became smoothed, his small
eyes grew smaller still, his features expanded, and, looking
Raskolnikoff straight in the face, he burst out into a prolonged fit
of nervous laughter, which shook him from head to foot. The young man,
on his part, laughed likewise, with more or less of an effort,
however, at sight of which Porphyrius's hilarity increased to such an
extent that his face grew nearly crimson. At this Raskolnikoff
experienced more or less aversion, which led him to forget all
caution; he ceased laughing, knitting his brows, and, whilst
Porphyrius gave way to his hilarity, which seemed a somewhat feigned
one, he fixed on him a look of hatred. In truth, they were both off
their guard. Porphyrius had, in fact, laughed at his visitor, who had
taken this in bad part; whereas the former seemed to care but little
about Raskolnikoff's displeasure. This circumstance gave the young man
much matter for thought. He fancied that his visit had in no kind of
way discomposed the magistrate; on the contrary, it was Raskolnikoff
who had been caught in a trap, a snare, an ambush of some kind or
other. The mine was, perhaps, already charged, and might burst at any
Anxious to get straight to the point, Raskolnikoff rose and took up
his cap. "Porphyrius Petrovitch," he cried, in a resolute tone of
voice, betraying more or less irritation, "yesterday you expressed the
desire to subject me to a judicial examination." (He laid special
stress on this last word.) "I have called at your bidding; if you have
questions to put, do so: if not, allow me to withdraw. I can't afford
to waste my time here, as I have other things to attend to. In a word,
I must go to the funeral of the official who has been run over, and of
whom you have heard speak," he added, regretting, however, the last
part of his sentence. Then, with increasing anger, he went on: "Let me
tell you that all this worries me! The thing is hanging over much too
long. It is that mainly that has made me ill. In one word,"--he
continued, his voice seeming more and more irritable, for he felt that
the remark about his illness was yet more out of place than the
previous one--"in one word, either be good enough to cross-examine me,
or let me go this very moment. If you do question me, do so in the
usual formal way; otherwise, I shall object. In the meanwhile, adieu,
since we have nothing more to do with one another."
"Good gracious! What can you be talking about? Question you about
what?" replied the magistrate, immediately ceasing his laugh. "Don't,
I beg, disturb yourself." He requested Raskolnikoff to sit down once
more, continuing, nevertheless, his tramp about the room. "There is
time, plenty of time. The matter is not of such importance after all.
On the contrary, I am delighted at your visit--for as such do I take
your call. As for my horrid way of laughing, _batuchka_, Rodion
Romanovitch, I must apologize. I am a nervous man, and the shrewdness
of your observations has tickled me. There are times when I go up and
down like an elastic ball, and that for half an hour at a time. I am
fond of laughter. My temperament leads me to dread apoplexy. But,
pray, do sit down--why remain standing? Do, I must request you,
_batuchka_; otherwise I shall fancy that you are cross."
His brows still knit, Raskolnikoff held his tongue, listened, and
watched. In the meanwhile he sat down.
"As far as I am concerned, _batuchka_, Rodion Romanovitch, I will tell
you something which shall reveal to you my disposition," answered
Porphyrius Petrovitch, continuing to fidget about the room, and, as
before, avoiding his visitor's gaze. "I live alone, you must know,
never go into society, and am, therefore, unknown; add to which, that
I am a man on the shady side of forty, somewhat played out. You may
have noticed, Rodion Romanovitch, that here--I mean in Russia, of
course, and especially in St. Petersburg circles--that when two
intelligent men happen to meet who, as yet, are not familiar, but who,
however, have mutual esteem--as, for instance, you and I have at this
moment--don't know what to talk about for half an hour at a time. They
seem, both of them, as if petrified. Everyone else has a subject for
conversation--ladies, for instance, people in society, the upper
ten--all these sets have some topic or other. It is the thing, but
somehow people of the middle-class, like you and I, seem constrained
and taciturn. How does that come about, _batuchka_? Have we no social
interests? Or is it, rather, owing to our being too straightforward to
mislead one another? I don't know. What is your opinion, pray? But do,
I beg, remove your cap; one would really fancy that you wanted to be
off, and that pains me. I, you must know, am so contented."
Raskolnikoff laid his cap down. He did not, however, become more
loquacious; and, with knit brows, listened to Porphyrius's idle
chatter. "I suppose," thought he, "he only doles out his small talk to
distract my attention."
"I don't offer you any coffee," went on the inexhaustible Porphyrius,
"because this is not the place for it, but can you not spend a few
minutes with a friend, by way of causing him some little distraction?
You must know that all these professional obligations--don't be vexed,
_batuchka_, if you see me walking about like this, I am sure you will
excuse me, if I tell you how anxious I am not to do so, but movement
is so indispensable to me! I am always seated--and, to me, it is quite
a luxury to be able to move about for a minute or two. I purpose, in
fact, to go through a course of calisthenics. The trapeze is said to
stand in high favor amongst State counselors--counselors in office,
even amongst privy counselors. Nowadays, in fact, gymnastics have
become a positive science. As for these duties of our office, these
examinations, all this formality--you yourself, you will remember,
touched upon the topic just now, _batuchka_--these examinations, and
so forth, sometimes perplex the magistrate much more than the man
under suspicion. You said as much just now with as much sense as
accuracy." (Raskolnikoff had made no statement of the kind.) "One gets
confused, one loses the thread of the investigation. Yet, as far as
our judicial customs go, I agree with you fully. Where, for instance,
is there a man under suspicion of some kind or other, were it even the
most thick-headed moujik, who does not know that the magistrate will
commence by putting all sorts of out-of-the-way questions to take him
off the scent (if I may be allowed to use your happy simile), and that
then he suddenly gives him one between the eyes? A blow of the ax on
his sinciput (if again I may be permitted to use your ingenious
metaphor)? Hah, hah! And do you mean to say that when I spoke to you
about quarters provided by the State, that--hah, hah! You are very
caustic. But I won't revert to that again. By-and-by!--one remark
produces another, one thought attracts another--but you were talking
just now of the practice or form in vogue with the examining
magistrate. But what is this form? You know as I do that in many cases
the form means nothing at all. Occasionally a simple conversation, a
friendly interview, brings about a more certain result. The practice
or form will never die out--I can vouch for that; but what, after all,
is the form, I ask once more? You can't compel an examining magistrate
to be hampered or bound by it everlastingly. His duty or method is, in
its way, one of the liberal professions or something very much like
Porphyrius Petrovitch stopped a moment to take breath. He kept on
talking, now uttering pure nonsense, now again introducing, in spite
of this trash, an occasional enigmatical remark, after which he went
on with his insipidities. His tramp about the room was more like a
race--he moved his stout legs more and more quickly, without looking
up; his right hand was thrust deep in the pocket of his coat, whilst
with the left he unceasingly gesticulated in a way unconnected with
his observations. Raskolnikoff noticed, or fancied he noticed, that,
whilst running round and round the room, he had twice stopped near the
door, seeming to listen. "Does he expect something?" he asked himself.
"You're perfectly right," resumed Porphyrius cheerily, whilst looking
at the young man with a kindliness which immediately awoke the
latter's distrust. "Our judicial customs deserve your satire. Our
proceedings, which are supposed to be inspired by a profound knowledge
of psychology, are very ridiculous ones, and very often useless. Now,
to return to our method or form: Suppose for a moment that I am
deputed to investigate something or other, and that I know the guilty
person to be a certain gentleman. Are you not yourself reading for the
law, Rodion Romanovitch?"
"I was some time ago."
"Well, here is a kind of example which may be of use to you later on.
Don't run away with the idea that I am setting up as your
instructor--God forbid that I should presume to teach anything to a
man who treats criminal questions in the public press! Oh, no!--all I
am doing is to quote to you, by way of example, a trifling fact.
Suppose that I fancy I am convinced of the guilt of a certain man,
why, I ask you, should I frighten him prematurely, assuming me to have
every evidence against him? Of course, in the case of another man of a
different disposition, him I would have arrested forthwith; but, as to
the former, why should I not permit him to hang about a little longer?
I see you do not quite take me. I will, therefore, endeavor to explain
myself more clearly! If, for instance, I should be too quick in
issuing a writ, I provide him in doing so with a species of moral
support or mainstay--I see you are laughing?" (Raskolnikoff, on the
contrary, had no such desire; his lips were set, and his glaring look
was not removed from Porphyrius's eyes.) "I assure you that in actual
practice such is really the case; men vary much, although,
unfortunately, our methods are the same for all. But you will ask me:
Supposing you are certain of your proofs? Goodness me, _batuchka_! you
know, perhaps as well as I do, what proofs are--half one's time,
proofs may be taken either way; and I, a magistrate, am, after all,
only a man liable to error.
"Now, what I want is to give to my investigation the precision of a
mathematical demonstration--I want my conclusions to be as plain, as
indisputable, as that twice two are four. Now, supposing I have this
gentleman arrested prematurely, though I may be positively certain
that he is _the man,_ yet I deprive myself of all future means of
proving his guilt. How is that? Because, so to say, I give him, to a
certain extent, a definite status; for, by putting him in prison, I
pacify him. I give him the chance of investigating his actual state of
mind--he will escape me, for he will reflect. In a word, he knows that
he is a prisoner, and nothing more. If, on the contrary, I take no
kind of notice of the man I fancy guilty, if I do not have him
arrested, if I in no way set him on his guard--but if the unfortunate
creature is hourly, momentarily, possessed by the suspicion that I
know all, that I do not lose sight of him either by night or by day,
that he is the object of my indefatigable vigilance--what do you ask
will take place under these circumstances? He will lose his
self-possession, he will come of his own accord to me, he will provide
me with ample evidence against himself, and will enable me to give to
the conclusion of my inquiry the accuracy of mathematical proofs,
which is not without its charm.
"If such a course succeeds with an uncultured moujik, it is equally
efficacious when it concerns an enlightened, intelligent, or even
distinguished man. For the main thing, my dear friend, is to determine
in what sense a man is developed. The man, I mean, is intelligent, but
he has nerves which are _over_-strung. And as for bile--the bile you
are forgetting, that plays no small part with similar folk! Believe
me, here we have a very mine of information! And what is it to me
whether such a man walk about the place in perfect liberty? Let him be
at ease--I know him to be my prey, and that he won't escape me! Where,
I ask you, could he go to? You may say abroad. A Pole may do so--but
my man, never! especially as I watch him, and have taken steps in
consequence. Is he likely to escape into the very heart of our
country? Not he! for there dwell coarse moujiks, and primitive
Russians, without any kind of civilization. My educated friend would
prefer going to prison, rather than be in the midst of such
surroundings. Besides, what I have been saying up to the present is
not the main point--it is the exterior and accessory aspect of the
question. He won't escape--not only because he won't know where to go
to, but especially, and above all, because he is mine from the
_psychological_ point of view. What do you think of this explanation?
In virtue of a natural law, he will not escape, even if he could do
so! Have you ever seen a butterfly close to the candle? My man will
hover incessantly round me in the same way as the butterfly gyrates
round the candle-light. Liberty will have no longer charms for him; he
will grow more and more restless, more and more amazed--let me but
give him plenty of time, and he will demean himself in a way to prove
his guilt as plainly as that twice two our four! Yes, he will keep
hovering about me, describing circles, smaller and smaller, till at
last--bang! He has flown into my clutches, and I have got him. That is
very nice. You don't think so, perhaps?"
Raskolnikoff kept silent. Pale and immovable, he continued to watch
Porphyrius's face with a labored effort of attention. "The lesson is a
good one!" he reflected. "But it is not, as yesterday, a case of the
cat playing with the mouse. Of course, he does not talk to me in this
way for the mere pleasure of showing me his hand; he is much too
intelligent for that. He must have something else in view--what can it
be? Come, friend, what you do say is only to frighten me. You have no
kind of evidence, and the man of yesterday does not exist! All you
wish is to perplex me--to enrage me, so as to enable you to make your
last move, should you catch me in such a mood, but you will not; all
your pains will be in vain! But why should he speak in such covert
terms? I presume he must be speculating on the excitability of my
nervous system. But, dear friend, that won't go down, in spite of your
machinations. We will try and find out what you really have been
And he prepared to brave boldly the terrible catastrophe he
anticipated. Occasionally the desire came upon him to rush on
Porphyrius, and to strangle him there and then. From the first moment
of having entered the magistrate's office what he had dreaded most
was, lest he might lose his temper. He felt his heart beating
violently, his lips become parched, his spittle congealed. He
resolved, however, to hold his tongue, knowing that, under the
circumstances, such would be the best tactics. By similar means, he
felt sure that he would not only not become compromised, but that he
might succeed in exasperating his enemy, in order to let him drop some
imprudent observation. This, at all events, was Raskolnikoff's hope.
"I see you don't believe, you think I am jesting," continued
Porphyrius, more and more at his ease, without ceasing to indulge in
his little laugh, whilst continuing his perambulation about the room.
"You may be right. God has given me a face which only arouses comical
thoughts in others. I'm a buffoon. But excuse an old man's cackle.
You, Rodion Romanovitch, you are in your prime, and, like all young
people, you appreciate, above all things, human intelligence.
Intellectual smartness and abstract rational deductions entice you.
But, to return to the _special case_ we were talking about just now. I
must tell you that we have to deal with reality, with nature. This is
a very important thing, and how admirably does she often foil the
highest skill! Listen to an old man; I am speaking quite seriously,
Rodion"--(on saying which Porphyrius Petrovitch, who was hardly
thirty-five years of age, seemed all of a sudden to have aged, a
sudden metamorphosis had taken place in the whole of his person, nay,
in his very voice)--"to an old man who, however, is not wanting in
candor. Am I or am I not candid? What do you think? It seems to me
that a man could hardly be more so--for do I not reveal confidence,
and that without the prospect of reward? But, to continue, acuteness
of mind is, in my opinion, a very fine thing; it is to all intents and
purposes an ornament of nature, one of the consolations of life by
means of which it would appear a poor magistrate can be easily gulled,
who, after all, is often misled by his own imagination, for he is only
human. But nature comes to the aid of this human magistrate! There's
the rub! And youth, so confident in its own intelligence, youth which
tramples under foot every obstacle, forgets this!
"Now, in the _special case_ under consideration, the guilty man, I
will assume, lies hard and fast, but, when he fancies that all that is
left him will be to reap the reward of his mendacity, behold, he will
succumb in the very place where such an accident is likely to be most
closely analyzed. Assuming even that he may be in a position to
account for his syncope by illness or the stifling atmosphere of the
locality, he has none the less given rise to suspicion! He has lied
incomparably, but he has counted without nature. Here is the pitfall!
Again, a man off his guard, from an unwary disposition, may delight in
mystifying another who suspects him, and may wantonly pretend to be
the very criminal wanted by the authorities; in such a case, he will
represent the person in question a little too closely, he will place
his foot a little too naturally. Here we have another token. For the
nonce his interlocutor may be duped; but, being no fool, he will on
the morrow have seen through the subterfuge. Then will our friend
become compromised more and more! He will come of his own accord when
he is not even called, he will use all kinds of impudent words,
remarks, allegories, the meaning of which will be clear to everybody;
he will even go so far as to come and ask why he has not been arrested
as yet--hah! hah! And such a line of conduct may occur to a person of
keen intellect, yes, even to a man of psychologic mind! Nature, my
friend, is the most transparent of mirrors. To contemplate her is
sufficient. But why do you grow pale, Rodion Romanovitch? Perhaps you
are too hot; shall I open the window?"
"By no means, I beg!" cried Raskolnikoff, bursting out laughing.
"Don't heed me, pray!" Porphyrius stopped short, waited a moment, and
burst out laughing himself. Raskolnikoff, whose hilarity had suddenly
died out, rose. "Porphyrius Petrovitch," he shouted in a clear and
loud voice, although he could scarcely stand on his trembling legs, "I
can no longer doubt that you suspect me of having assassinated this
old woman as well as her sister, Elizabeth. Let me tell you that for
some time I have had enough of this. If you think you have the right
to hunt me down, to have me arrested, hunt me down, have me arrested.
But you shall not trifle with me, you shall not torture me." Suddenly
his lips quivered, his eyes gleamed, and his voice, which up to that
moment had been self-possessed, reached its highest diapason. "I will
not permit it," he yelled hoarsely, whilst striking a violent blow on
the table. "Do you hear me, Porphyrius Petrovitch, I shall not permit
"But, goodness gracious! what on earth is wrong with you?" asked the
magistrate, disturbed to all appearances. "_Batuchka_! Rodion
Romanovitch! My good friend! What on earth is the matter with you?"
"I will not permit it!" repeated Raskolnikoff once again.
"_Batuchka!_ not so loud, I must request! Someone will hear you,
someone may come; and then, what shall we say? Just reflect one
moment!" murmured Porphyrius Petrovitch, whose face had approached
that of his visitor.
"I will not permit it, I will not permit it!" mechanically pursued
Raskolnikoff, but in a minor key, so as to be heard by Porphyrius
The latter moved away to open the window. "Let us air the room!
Supposing you were to drink some water, dear friend? You have had a
slight fit!" He was on the point of going to the door to give his
orders to a servant, when he saw a water bottle in a corner. "Drink,
_batuchka_!" he murmured, whilst approaching the young man with the
bottle, "that may do you some good."
Porphyrius's fright seemed so natural that Raskolnikoff remained
silent whilst examining him with curiosity. He refused, however, the
"Rodion Romanovitch! My dear friend! If you go on in this way, you
will go mad, I am positive! Drink, pray, if only a few drops!" He
almost forced the glass of water into his hand. Raskolnikoff raised it
mechanically to his lips, when suddenly he thought better of it, and
replaced it on the table with disgust. "Yes, yes, you have had a
slight fit. One or two more, my friend, and you will have another
attack of your malady," observed the magistrate in the kindest tone of
voice, appearing greatly agitated. "Is it possible that people can
take so little care of themselves? It was the same with Dmitri
Prokofitch, who called here yesterday. I admit mine to be a caustic
temperament, that mine is a horrid disposition, but that such a
meaning could possibly be attributed to harmless remarks. He called
here yesterday, when you had gone, and in the course of dinner he
talked, talked. You had sent him, had you not? But do sit down,
_batuchka!_ do sit down, for heaven's sake!"
"I did not indeed!--although I knew that he had called, and his object
in doing so!" replied Raskolnikoff dryly.
"Did you really know why?"
"I did. And what did you gather from it?"
"I gathered from it, _batuchka!_ Rodion Romanovitch, the knowledge of
a good many of your doings--in fact, I know all! I know that you went,
towards nightfall, _to hire the lodgings._ I know that you pulled the
bell, and that a question of yours in connection with bloodstains, as
well as your manner, frightened both journeymen and dvorniks. I know
what was your mood at the time. Excitement of such a kind will drive
you out of your mind, be assured. A praiseworthy indignation is at
work within you, complaining now as to destiny, now on the subject of
police agents. You keep going here and there to induce people as far
as possible to formulate their accusations. This stupid kind of
tittle-tattle is hateful to you, and you are anxious to put a stop to
it as soon as possible. Am I right? Have I laid finger on the
sentiments which actuate you? But you are not satisfied by turning
your own brain, you want to do, or rather do, the same thing to my
good Razoumikhin. Really, it is a pity to upset so good a fellow! His
kindness exposes him more than anyone else to suffer contagion from
your own malady. But you shall know all as soon as you shall be
calmer. Pray, therefore, once again sit down, _batuchka_! Try and
recover your spirits--you seem quite unhinged."
Raskolnikoff rose while looking at him with an air full of contempt.
"Tell me once for all," asked the latter, "tell me one way or other,
whether I am in your opinion an object for suspicion? Speak up,
Porphyrius Petrovitch, and explain yourself without any more beating
about the bush, and that forthwith!"
"Just one word, Rodion Romanovitch. This affair will end as God knows
best; but still, by way of form, I may have to ask you a few more
questions. Hence we are certain to meet again!" And with a smile
Porphyrius stopped before the young man. "Certain!" he repeated. One
might have fancied that he wished to say something more. But he did
not do so.
"Forgive my strange manner just now, Porphyrius Petrovitch, I was
hasty," began Raskolnikoff, who had regained all his self-possession,
and who even experienced an irresistible wish to chaff the magistrate.
"Don't say any more, it was nothing," replied Porphyrius in almost
joyful tone. "Till we meet again!"
"Till we meet again!"
The young man forthwith went home. Having got there, he threw himself
on his couch, and for a quarter of an hour he tried to arrange his
ideas somewhat, inasmuch as they were very confused.
Within a few days Raskolnikoff convinced himself that Porphyrius
Petrovitch had no real proofs. Deciding to go out, in search of fresh
air, he took up his cap and made for the door, deep in thought. For
the first time he felt in the best of health, really well. He opened
the door, and encountered Porphyrius face to face. The latter entered.
Raskolnikoff staggered for a moment, but quickly recovered. The visit
did not dismay him. "Perhaps this is the finale, but why does he come
upon me like a cat, with muffled tread? Can he have been listening?"
"I have been thinking for a long time of calling on you, and, as I was
passing, I thought I might drop in for a few minutes. Where are you
off to? I won't detain you long, only the time to smoke a cigarette,
if you will allow me?"
"Be seated, Porphyrius Petrovitch, be seated," said Raskolnikoff to
his guest, assuming such an air of friendship that he himself could
have been astonished at his own affability. Thus the victim, in fear
and trembling for his life, at last does not feel the knife at his
throat. He seated himself in front of Porphyrius, and gazed upon him
without flinching. Porphyrius blinked a little, and commenced rolling
"Speak! speak!" Raskolnikoff mutely cried in his heart. "What are you
going to say?"
"Oh, these cigarettes!" Porphyrius Petrovitch commenced at last,
"they'll be the death of me, and yet I can't give them up! I am always
coughing--a tickling in the throat is setting in, and I am
asthmatical. I have been to consult Botkine of late; he examines every
one of his patients at least half an hour at a time. After having
thumped and bumped me about for ever so long, he told me, amongst
other things: 'Tobacco is a bad thing for you--your lungs are
affected.' That's all very well, but how am I to go without my
tobacco? What am I to use as a substitute? Unfortunately, I can't
drink, hah! hah! Everything is relative, I suppose, Rodion
"There, he is beginning with some more of his silly palaver!"
Raskolnikoff growled to himself. His late interview with the
magistrate suddenly occurred to him, at which anger affected his mind.
"Did you know, by-the-by, that I called on you the night before last?"
continued Porphyrius, looking about. "I was in this very room. I
happened to be coming this way, just as I am going to-day, and the
idea struck me to drop in. Your door was open--I entered, hoping to
see you in a few minutes, but went away again without leaving my name
with your servant. Do you never shut your place?"
Raskolnikoff's face grew gloomier and gloomier. Porphyrius Petrovitch
evidently guessed what the latter was thinking about.
"You did not expect visitors, Rodion Romanovitch?" said Porphyrius,
"I have called just to clear things up a bit. I owe you an
explanation," he went on, smiling and gently slapping the young man on
the knee; but almost at the self-same moment his face assumed a
serious and even sad expression, to Raskolnikoff's great astonishment,
to whom the magistrate appeared in quite a different light. "At our
last interview, an unusual scene took place between us, Rodion. I
somehow feel that I did not behave very well to you. You remember, I
dare say, how we parted; we were both more or less excited. I fear we
were wanting in the most common courtesy, and yet we are both of us
"What can he be driving at now?" Raskolnikoff asked himself, looking
inquiringly at Porphyrius.
"I have come to the conclusion that it would be much better for us to
be more candid to one another," continued the magistrate, turning his
head gently aside and looking on the ground, as if he feared to annoy
his former victim by his survey. "We must not have scenes of that kind
again. If Mikolka had not turned up on that occasion, I really do not
know how things would have ended. You are naturally, my dear Rodion,
very irritable, and I must own that I had taken that into
consideration, for, when driven in a corner, many a man lets out his
secrets. 'If,' I said to myself, 'I could only squeeze some kind of
evidence out of him, however trivial, provided it were real, tangible,
and palpable, different from all my psychological inferences!' That
was my idea. Sometimes we succeed by some such proceeding, but
unfortunately that does not happen every day, as I conclusively
discovered on the occasion in question, I had relied too much on your
"But why tell me all this now?" stammered Raskolnikoff, without in any
way understanding the object of his interlocutor's question. "Does he,
perhaps, think me really innocent?"
"You wish to know why I tell you this? Because I look upon it as a
sacred duty to explain my line of action. Because I subjected you, as
I now fully acknowledge, to cruel torture. I do not wish, my dear
Rodion, that you should take me for an ogre. Hence, by way of
justification, I purpose explaining to you what led up to it. I think
it needless to account for the nature and origin of the reports which
circulated originally, as also why you were connected with them. There
was, however, one circumstance, a purely fortuitous one, and which
need not now be mentioned, which aroused my suspicions. From these
reports and accidental circumstances, the same conclusion became
evolved for me. I make this statement in all sincerity, for it was I
who first implicated you with the matter. I do not in any way notice
the particulars notified on the articles found at the old woman's.
That, and several others of a similar nature, are of no kind of
importance. At the same time, I was aware of the incident which had
happened at the police office. What occurred there has been told me
with the utmost accuracy by some one who had been closely connected
with it, and who, most unwittingly, had brought things to a head. Very
well, then, how, under such circumstances, could a man help becoming
biased? 'One swallow does not make a summer,' as the English proverb
says: a hundred suppositions do not constitute one single proof.
Reason speaks in that way, I admit, but let a man try to subject
prejudice to reason. An examining magistrate, after all, is only a
man--hence given to prejudice.
"I also remembered, on the occasion in question, the article you had
published in some review. That virgin effort of yours, I assure you, I
greatly enjoyed--as an amateur, however, be it understood. It was
redolent of sincere conviction, of genuine enthusiasm. The article was
evidently written some sleepless night under feverish conditions. That
author, I said to myself, while reading it, will do better things than
that. How now, I ask you, could I avoid connecting that with what
followed upon it? Such a tendency was but a natural one. Am I saying
anything I should not? Am I at this moment committing myself to any
definite statement? I do no more than give utterance to a thought
which struck me at the time. What may I be thinking about now?
Nothing--or, at all events, what is tantamount to it. For the time
being, I have to deal with Mikolka; there are facts which implicate
him--what are facts, after all? If I tell you all this now, as I am
doing, I do so, I assure you, most emphatically, so that your mind and
conscience may absolve me from my behavior on the day of our
interview. 'Why,' you will ask, 'did you not come on that occasion and
have my place searched?' I did so, hah! hah! I went when you were ill
in bed--but, let me tell you, not officially, not in my magisterial
capacity; but go I did. We had your rooms turned topsy-turvy at our
very first suspicions, but _umsonst_! Then I said to myself: 'That man
will make me a call, he will come of his own accord, and that before
very long! If he is guilty, he will be bound to come. Other kinds of
men would not do so, but this one will.'
"And you remember, of course, Mr. Razoumikhin's chattering? We had
purposely informed him of some of our suspicions, hoping that he might
make you uneasy, for we knew perfectly well that Razoumikhin would not
be able to contain his indignation. Zametoff, in particular, had been
struck by your boldness, and it certainly was a bold thing for a
person to exclaim all of a sudden in an open _traktir_: 'I am an
assassin!' That was really too much of a good thing. Well, I waited
for you with trusting patience, and, lo and behold, Providence sends
you! How my heart did beat when I saw you coming! Now, I ask you,
where was the need of your coming at that time at all? If you
remember, you came in laughing immoderately. That laughter gave me
food for thought, but, had I not been very prejudiced at the time, I
should have taken no notice of it. And as for Mr. Razoumikhin on that
occasion--ah! the stone, the stone, you will remember, under which the
stolen things are hidden? I fancy I can see it from here; it is
somewhere in a kitchen garden--it was a kitchen garden you mentioned
to Zametoff, was it not? And then, when your article was broached, we
fancied we discovered a latent thought beneath every word you uttered.
That was the way, Rodion Romanovitch, that my conviction grew little
by little. 'And yet,' said I to myself, 'all that may be explained in
quite a different way, and perhaps more rationally. After all, a real
proof, however slight, would be far more valuable.' But, when I heard
all about the bell-ringing, my doubts vanished; I fancied I had the
indispensable proof, and did not seem to care for further
"We are face to face with a weird and gloomy case--a case of a
contemporary character, if I may say so--a case possessing, in the
fullest sense of the word, the hallmark of time, and circumstances
pointing to a person and life of different surroundings. The real
culprit is a theorist, a bookworm, who, in a tentative kind of way,
has done a more than bold thing; but this boldness of his is of quite
a peculiar and one-sided stamp; it is, after a fashion, like that of a
man who hurls himself from the top of a mountain or church steeple.
The man in question has forgotten to cut off evidence, and, in order
to work out a theory, has killed two persons. He has committed a
murder, and yet has not known how to take possession of the pelf; what
he has taken he has hidden under a stone. The anguish he experienced
while hearing knocking at the door and the continued ringing of the
bell, was not enough for him; no, yielding to an irresistible desire
of experiencing the same horror, he has positively revisited the empty
place and once more pulled the bell. Let us, if you like, attribute
the whole of this to disease--to a semidelirious condition--by all
means; but there is yet another point to be considered: he has
committed a murder, and yet continues to look upon himself as a
Raskolnikoff trembled in every limb. "Then, who--who is it--that has
committed the murder?" he stammered forth, in jerky accents.
The examining magistrate sank back in his chair as though astonished
at such a question. "Who committed the murder?" he retorted, as if he
could not believe his own ears. "Why, you--you did, Rodion
Romanovitch! You!--" he added, almost in a whisper, and in a tone of
Raskolnikoff suddenly rose, waited for a few moments, and sat down
again, without uttering a single word. All the muscles of his face
were slightly convulsed.
"Why, I see your lips tremble just as they did the other day,"
observed Porphyrius Petrovitch, with an air of interest. "You have
not, I think, thoroughly realized the object of my visit, Rodion
Romanovitch," he pursued, after a moment's silence, "hence your great
astonishment. I have called with the express intention of plain
speaking, and to reveal the truth."
"It was not I who committed the murder," stammered the young man,
defending himself very much like a child caught in the act of doing
"Yes, yes, it was you, Rodion Romanovitch, it was you, and you alone,"
replied the magistrate with severity. "Confess or not, as you think
best; for the time being, that is nothing to me. In either case, my
conviction is arrived at."
"If that is so, why have you called?" asked Raskolnikoff angrily. "I
once more repeat the question I have put you: If you think me guilty,
why not issue a warrant against me?"
"What a question! But I will answer you categorically. To begin with,
your arrest would not benefit me!"
"It would not benefit you? How can that be? From the moment of being
convinced, you ought to----"
"What is the use of my conviction, after all? For the time being, it
is only built on sand. And why should I have you placed _at rest?_ Of
course, I purpose having you arrested--I have called to give you a
hint to that effect--and yet I do not hesitate to tell you that I
shall gain nothing by it. Considering, therefore, the interest I feel
for you, I earnestly urge you to go and acknowledge your crime. I
called before to give the same advice. It is by far the wisest thing
you can do--for you as well as for myself, who will then wash my hands
of the affair. Now, am I candid enough?"
Raskolnikoff considered a moment. "Listen to me, Porphyrius
Petrovitch! To use your own statement, you have against me nothing but
psychological sentiments, and yet you aspire to mathematical evidence.
Who has told you that you are absolutely right?"
"Yes, Rodion Romanovitch, I am absolutely right. I hold a proof! And
this proof I came in possession of the other day: God has sent it me!"
"What is it?"
"I shall not tell you, Rodion Romanovitch. But I have no right to
procrastinate. I am going to have you arrested! Judge, therefore:
whatever you purpose doing is not of much importance to me just now;
all I say and have said has been solely done for your interest. The
best alternative is the one I suggest, you may depend on it, Rodion
Romanovitch! When I shall have had you arrested--at the expiration of
a month or two, or even three, if you like--you will remember my
words, and you will confess. You will be led to do so insensibly,
almost without being conscious of it. I am even of opinion that, after
careful consideration, you will make up your mind to make atonement.
You do not believe me at this moment, but wait and see. In truth,
Rodion Romanovitch, suffering is a grand thing. In the mouth of a
coarse man, who deprives himself of nothing, such a statement might
afford food for laughter. Never mind, however, but there lies a theory
in suffering. Mikolka is right. You won't escape, Rodion Romanovitch."
Raskolnikoff rose and took his cap. Porphyrius Petrovitch did the
same. "Are you going for a walk? The night will be a fine one, as long
as we get no storm. That would be all the better though, as it would
clear the air."
"Porphyrius Petrovitch," said the young man, in curt and hurried
accents, "do not run away with the idea that I have been making a
confession to-day. You are a strange man, and I have listened to you
from pure curiosity. But remember, I have confessed to nothing. Pray
do not forget that."
"I shall not forget it, you may depend---- How he is trembling! Don't
be uneasy, my friend--I shall not forget your advice. Take a little
stroll, only do not go beyond certain limits. I must, however, at all
costs," he added with lowered voice, "ask a small favor of you; it is
a delicate one, but has an importance of its own; assuming, although I
would view such a contingency as an improbable one--assuming, during
the next forty-eight hours, the fancy were to come upon you to put an
end to your life (excuse me my foolish supposition), would you mind
leaving behind you something in the shape of a note--a line or
so--pointing to the spot where the stone is?--that would be very
considerate. Well, _au revoir_! May God send you good thoughts!"
Porphyrius withdrew, avoiding Raskolnikoff's eye. The latter
approached the window, and impatiently waited till, according to his
calculation, the magistrate should be some distance from the house. He
then passed out himself in great haste.
A few days later, the prophecy of Porphyrius Petrovitch was fulfilled.
Driven by the torment of uncertainty and doubt, Raskolnikoff made up
his mind to confess his crime. Hastening through the streets, and
stumbling up the narrow stairway, he presented himself at the police
With pale lips and fixed gaze, Raskolnikoff slowly advanced toward
Elia Petrovitch. Resting his head upon the table behind which the
lieutenant was seated, he wished to speak, but could only give vent to
a few unintelligible sounds.
"You are in pain, a chair! Pray sit down! Some water!"
Raskolnikoff allowed himself to sink on the chair that was offered
him, but he could not take his eyes off Elia Petrovitch, whose face
expressed a very unpleasant surprise. For a moment both men looked at
one another in silence. Water was brought!
"It was I--" commenced Raskolnikoff.
With a movement of his hand the young man pushed aside the glass which
was offered him; then, in a low-toned but distinct voice he made, with
several interruptions, the following statement:--
"_It was I who killed, with a hatchet, the old moneylender and her
sister, Elizabeth, and robbery was my motive_."
Elia Petrovitch called for assistance. People rushed in from various
directions. Raskolnikoff repeated his confession.
FOOTNOTES TO _CRIME & 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
under-went 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
: 1,000 yards.
: little father
: Cabbage soup.
_THE SAFETY MATCH_
On the morning of October 6, 1885, in the office of the Inspector of
Police of the second division of S---- District, there appeared a
respectably dressed young man, who announced that his master, Marcus
Ivanovitch Klausoff, a retired officer of the Horse Guards, separated
from his wife, had been murdered. While making this announcement the
young man was white and terribly agitated. His hands trembled and his
eyes were full of terror.
"Whom have I the honor of addressing?" asked the inspector.
"Psyekoff, Lieutenant Klausoff's agent; agriculturist and
The inspector and his deputy, on visiting the scene of the occurrence
in company with Psyekoff, found the following: Near the wing in which
Klausoff had lived was gathered a dense crowd. The news of the murder
had sped swift as lightning through the neighborhood, and the
peasantry, thanks to the fact that the day was a holiday, had hurried
together from all the neighboring villages. There was much commotion
and talk. Here and there, pale, tear-stained faces were seen. The door
of Klausoff's bedroom was found locked. The key was inside.
"It is quite clear that the scoundrels got in by the window!" said
Psyekoff as they examined the door.
They went to the garden, into which the bedroom window opened. The
window looked dark and ominous. It was covered by a faded green
curtain. One corner of the curtain was slightly turned up, which made
it possible to look into the bedroom.
"Did any of you look into the window?" asked the inspector.
"Certainly not, your worship!" answered Ephraim, the gardener, a
little gray-haired old man, who looked like a retired sergeant. "Who's
going to look in, if all their bones are shaking?"
"Ah, Marcus Ivanovitch, Marcus Ivanovitch!" sighed the inspector,
looking at the window, "I told you you would come to a bad end! I told
the dear man, but he wouldn't listen! Dissipation doesn't bring any
"Thanks to Ephraim," said Psyekoff; "but for him, we would never have
guessed. He was the first to guess that something was wrong. He comes
to me this morning, and says: 'Why is the master so long getting up?
He hasn't left his bedroom for a whole week!' The moment he said that,
it was just as if some one had hit me with an ax. The thought flashed
through my mind, 'We haven't had a sight of him since last Saturday,
and to-day is Sunday'! Seven whole days--not a doubt of it!"
"Ay, poor fellow!" again sighed the inspector. "He was a clever
fellow, finely educated, and kind-hearted at that! And in society,
nobody could touch him! But he was a waster, God rest his soul! I was
prepared for anything since he refused to live with Olga Petrovna.
Poor thing, a good wife, but a sharp tongue! Stephen!" the inspector
called to one of his deputies, "go over to my house this minute, and
send Andrew to the captain to lodge an information with him! Tell him
that Marcus Ivanovitch has been murdered. And run over to the orderly;
why should he sit there, kicking his heels? Let him come here! And go
as fast as you can to the examining magistrate, Nicholas
Yermolaiyevitch. Tell him to come over here! Wait; I'll write him a
The inspector posted sentinels around the wing, wrote a letter to the
examining magistrate, and then went over to the director's for a glass
of tea. Ten minutes later he was sitting on a stool, carefully
nibbling a lump of sugar, and swallowing the scalding tea.
"There you are!" he was saying to Psyekoff; "there you are! A noble by
birth! a rich man--a favorite of the gods, you may say, as Pushkin has
it, and what did he come to? He drank and dissipated and--there you
After a couple of hours the examining magistrate drove up. Nicholas
Yermolaiyevitch Chubikoff--for that was the magistrate's name--was a
tall, fleshy old man of sixty, who had been wrestling with the duties
of his office for a quarter of a century. Everybody in the district
knew him as an honest man, wise, energetic, and in love with his work.
He was accompanied to the scene of the murder by his inveterate
companion, fellow worker, and secretary, Dukovski, a tall young fellow
"Is it possible, gentlemen?" cried Chubikoff, entering Psyekoff's
room, and quickly shaking hands with everyone. "Is it possible? Marcus
Ivanovitch? Murdered? No! It is impossible! Im-poss-i-ble!"
"Go in there!" sighed the inspector.
"Lord, have mercy on us! Only last Friday I saw him at the fair in
Farabankoff. I had a drink of vodka with him, save the mark!"
"Go in there!" again sighed the inspector.
They sighed, uttered exclamations of horror, drank a glass of tea
each, and went to the wing.
"Get back!" the orderly cried to the peasants.
Going to the wing, the examining magistrate began his work by
examining the bedroom door. The door proved to be of pine, painted
yellow, and was uninjured. Nothing was found which could serve as a
clew. They had to break in the door.
"Everyone not here on business is requested to keep away!" said the
magistrate, when, after much hammering and shaking, the door yielded
to ax and chisel. "I request this, in the interest of the
investigation. Orderly, don't let anyone in!"
Chubikoff, his assistant, and the inspector opened the door, and
hesitatingly, one after the other, entered the room. Their eyes met
the following sight: Beside the single window stood the big wooden bed
with a huge feather mattress. On the crumpled feather bed lay a
tumbled, crumpled quilt. The pillow, in a cotton pillow-case, also
much crumpled, was dragging on the floor. On the table beside the bed
lay a silver watch and a silver twenty-kopeck piece. Beside them lay
some sulphur matches. Beside the bed, the little table, and the single
chair, there was no furniture in the room. Looking under the bed, the
inspector saw a couple of dozen empty bottles, an old straw hat, and a
quart of vodka. Under the table lay one top boot, covered with dust.
Casting a glance around the room, the magistrate frowned and grew red
in the face.
"Scoundrels!" he muttered, clenching his fists.
"And where is Marcus Ivanovitch?" asked Dukovski in a low voice.
"Mind your own business!" Chubikoff answered roughly. "Be good enough
to examine the floor! This is not the first case of the kind I have
had to deal with! Eugraph Kuzmitch," he said, turning to the
inspector, and lowering his voice, "in 1870 I had another case like
this. But you must remember it--the murder of the merchant
Portraitoff. It was just the same there. The scoundrels murdered him,
and dragged the corpse out through the window----"
Chubikoff went up to the window, pulled the curtain to one side, and
carefully pushed the window. The window opened.
"It opens, you see! It wasn't fastened. Hm! There are tracks under the
window. Look! There is the track of a knee! Somebody got in there. We
must examine the window thoroughly."
"There is nothing special to be found on the floor," said
"No stains or scratches. The only thing I found was a struck safety
match. Here it is! So far as I remember, Marcus Ivanovitch did not
smoke. And he always used sulphur matches, never safety matches.
Perhaps this safety match may serve as a clew!"
"Oh, do shut up!" cried the magistrate deprecatingly. "You go on about
your match! I can't abide these dreamers! Instead of chasing matches,
you had better examine the bed!"
After a thorough examination of the bed, Dukovski reported:
"There are no spots, either of blood or of anything else. There are
likewise no new torn places. On the pillow there are signs of teeth.
The quilt is stained with something which looks like beer and smells
like beer. The general aspect of the bed gives grounds for thinking
that a struggle took place on it."
"I know there was a struggle, without your telling me! You are not
being asked about a struggle. Instead of looking for struggles, you
"Here is one top boot, but there is no sign of the other."
"Well, and what of that?"
"It proves that they strangled him, while he was taking his boots off.
He hadn't time to take the second boot off when----"
"There you go!--and how do you know they strangled him?"
"There are marks of teeth on the pillow. The pillow itself is badly
crumpled, and thrown a couple of yards from the bed."
"Listen to his foolishness! Better come into the garden. You would be
better employed examining the garden than digging around here. I can
do that without you!"
When they reached the garden they began by examining the grass. The
grass under the window was crushed and trampled. A bushy burdock
growing under the window close to the wall was also trampled. Dukovski
succeeded in finding on it some broken twigs and a piece of cotton
wool. On the upper branches were found some fine hairs of dark blue
"What color was his last suit?" Dukovski asked Psyekoff.
"Excellent! You see they wore blue!"
A few twigs of the burdock were cut off, and carefully wrapped in
paper by the investigators. At this point Police Captain Artsuybasheff
Svistakovski and Dr. Tyutyeff arrived. The captain bade them "Good
day!" and immediately began to satisfy his curiosity. The doctor, a
tall, very lean man, with dull eyes, a long nose, and a pointed chin,
without greeting anyone or asking about anything, sat down on a log,
sighed, and began:
"The Servians are at war again! What in heaven's name can they want
now? Austria, it's all your doing!"
The examination of the window from the outside did not supply any
conclusive data. The examination of the grass and the bushes nearest
to the window yielded a series of useful clews. For example, Dukovski
succeeded in discovering a long, dark streak, made up of spots, on the
grass, which led some distance into the center of the garden. The
streak ended under one of the lilac bushes in a dark brown stain.
Under this same lilac bush was found a top boot, which turned out to
be the fellow of the boot already found in the bedroom.
"That is a blood stain made some time ago," said Dukovski, examining
At the word "blood" the doctor rose, and going over lazily, looked at
"Yes, it is blood!" he muttered.
"That shows he wasn't strangled, if there was blood," said Chubikoff,
looking sarcastically at Dukovski.
"They strangled him in the bedroom; and here, fearing he might come
round again, they struck him a blow with some sharp-pointed
instrument. The stain under the bush proves that he lay there a
considerable time, while they were looking about for some way of
carrying him out of the garden.
"Well, and how about the boot?"
"The boot confirms completely my idea that they murdered him while he
was taking his boots off before going to bed. He had already taken off
one boot, and the other, this one here, he had only had time to take
half off. The half-off boot came off of itself, while the body was
dragged over, and fell----"
"There's a lively imagination for you!" laughed Chubikoff. "He goes on
and on like that! When will you learn enough to drop your deductions?
Instead of arguing and deducing, it would be much better if you took
some of the blood-stained grass for analysis!"
When they had finished their examination, and drawn a plan of the
locality, the investigators went to the director's office to write
their report and have breakfast. While they were breakfasting they
went on talking:
"The watch, the money, and so on--all untouched--" Chubikoff began,
leading off the talk, "show as clearly as that two and two are four
that the murder was not committed for the purpose of robbery."
"The murder was committed by an educated man!" insisted Dukovski.
"What evidence have you of that?"
"The safety match proves that to me, for the peasants hereabouts are
not yet acquainted with safety matches. Only the landowners use them,
and by no means all of them. And it is evident that there was not one
murderer, but at least three. Two held him, while one killed him.
Klausoff was strong, and the murderers must have known it!"
"What good would his strength be, supposing he was asleep?"
"The murderers came on him while he was taking off his boots. If he
was taking off his boots, that proves that he wasn't asleep!"
"Stop inventing your deductions! Better eat!"
"In my opinion, your worship," said the gardener Ephraim, setting the
samovar on the table, "it was nobody but Nicholas who did this dirty
"Quite possible," said Psyekoff.
"And who is Nicholas?"
"The master's valet, your worship," answered Ephraim. "Who else could
it be? He's a rascal, your worship! He's a drunkard and a blackguard,
the like of which Heaven should not permit! He always took the master
his vodka and put the master to bed. Who else could it be? And I also
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