Re: Достоевский Ф. М. - Преступление и наказание в переводе на английский
"But who are you? what prophet are you? From the height of what
majestic calm do you proclaim these words of wisdom?"
"Who am I? I am a man with nothing to hope for, that's all. A man
perhaps of feeling and sympathy, maybe of some knowledge too, but my
day is over. But you are a different matter, there is life waiting for
you. Though who knows, maybe your life, too, will pass off in smoke
and come to nothing. Come, what does it matter, that you will pass
into another class of men? It's not comfort you regret, with your
heart! What of it that perhaps no one will see you for so long? It's
not time, but yourself that will decide that. Be the sun and all
will see you. The sun has before all to be the sun. Why are you
smiling again? At my being such a Schiller? I bet you're imagining
that I am trying to get round you by flattery. Well, perhaps I am,
he-he-he! Perhaps you'd better not believe my word, perhaps you'd
better never believe it altogether,- I'm made that way, I confess
it. But let me add, you can judge for yourself, I think, how far I
am a base sort of man and how far I am honest."
"When do you mean to arrest me?"
"Well, I can let you walk about another day or two. Think it over,
my dear fellow, and pray to God. It's more in your interest, believe
"And what if I run away?" asked Raskolnikov with a strange smile.
"No, you won't run away. A peasant would run away, a fashionable
dissenter would run away, the flunkey of another man's thought, for
you've only to show him the end of your little finger and he'll be
ready to believe in anything for the rest of his life. But you've
ceased to believe in your theory already, what will you run away with?
And what would you do in hiding? It would be hateful and difficult for
you, and what you need more than anything in life is a definite
position, an atmosphere to suit you. And what sort of atmosphere would
you have? If you ran away, you'd come back to yourself. You can't
get on without us. And if I put you in prison,- say you've been
there a month, or two, or three- remember my word, you'll confess of
yourself and perhaps to your own surprise. You won't know an hour
beforehand that you are coming with a confession. I am convinced
that you will decide, 'to take your suffering.' You don't believe my
words now, but you'll come to it of yourself. For suffering, Rodion
Romanovitch, is a great thing. Never mind my having grown fat, I
know all the same. Don't laugh at it, there's an idea in suffering,
Nokolay is right. No, you won't run away, Rodion Romanovitch."
Raskolnikov got up and took his cap. Porfiry Petrovitch also rose.
"Are you going for a walk? The evening will be fine, if only we
don't have a storm. Though it would be a good thing to freshen the
He too took his cap.
"Porfiry Petrovitch, please don't take up the notion that I have
confessed to you to-day," Raskolnikov pronounced with sullen
insistence. "You're a strange man and I have listened to you from
simple curiosity. But I have admitted nothing, remember that!"
"Oh, I know that, I'll remember. Look at him, he's trembling!
Don't be uneasy, my dear fellow, have it your own way. Walk about a
bit, you won't be able to walk too far. If anything happens, I have
one request to make of you," he added, dropping his voice. "It's an
awkward one, but important. If anything were to happen (though
indeed I don't believe in it and think you quite incapable of it), yet
in case you were taken during these forty or fifty hours with the
notion of putting an end to the business in some other way, in some
fantastic fashion- laying hands on yourself- (it's an absurd
proposition, but you must forgive me for it) do leave a brief but
precise note, only two lines and mention the stone. It will be more
generous. Come, till we meet! Good thoughts and sound decisions to
Porfiry went out, stooping and avoiding looking at Raskolnikov.
The latter went to the window and waited with irritable impatience
till he calculated that Porfiry had reached the street and moved away.
Then he too went hurriedly out of the room.
HE HURRIED to Svidrigailov's. What he had to hope from that man he
did not know. But that man had some hidden power over him. Having once
recognised this, he could not rest, and now the time had come.
On the way, one question particularly worried him: had
Svidrigailov been to Porfiry's?
As far as he could judge, he would swear to it, that he had not.
He pondered again and again, went over Porfiry's visit; no, he
hadn't been, of course he hadn't.
But if he had not been yet, would he go? Meanwhile, for the
present he fancied he couldn't. Why? He could not have explained,
but if he could, he would not have wasted much thought over it at
the moment. It all worried him and at the same time he could not
attend to it. Strange to say, none would have believed it perhaps, but
he only felt a faint vague anxiety about his immediate future.
Another, much more important anxiety tormented him- it concerned
himself, but in a different, more vital way. Moreover, he was
conscious of immense moral fatigue, though his mind was working better
that morning than it had done of late.
And was it worth while, after all that had happened, to contend with
these new trivial difficulties? Was it worth while, for instance, to
manoeuvre that Svidrigailov should not go to Porfiry's? Was it worth
while to investigate, to ascertain the facts, to waste time over any
one like Svidrigailov?
Oh how sick he was of it all!
And yet he was hastening to Svidrigailov; could he be expecting
something new from him, information, or means of escape? Men will
catch at straws! Was it destiny or some instinct bringing them
together? Perhaps it was only fatigue, despair; perhaps it was not
Svidrigailov but some other whom he needed, and Svidrigailov had
simply presented himself by chance. Sonia? But what should he go to
Sonia for now? To beg her tears again? He was afraid of Sonia, too.
Sonia stood before him as an irrevocable sentence. He must go his
own way or hers. At that moment especially he did not feel equal to
seeing her. No, would it not be better to try Svidrigailov? And he
could not help inwardly owning that he had long felt that he must
see him for some reason.
But what could they have in common? Their very evil-doing could
not be of the same kind. The man, moreover, was very unpleasant,
evidently depraved, undoubtedly cunning and deceitful, possibly
malignant. Such stories were told about him. It is true he was
befriending Katerina Ivanovna's children, but who could tell with what
motive and what it meant? The man always had some design, some
There was another thought which had been continually hovering of
late about Raskolnikov's mind, and causing him great uneasiness. It
was so painful that he made distinct efforts to get rid of it. He
sometimes thought that Svidrigailov was dogging his footsteps.
Svidrigailov had found out his secret and had had designs on Dounia.
What if he had them still? Wasn't it practically certain that he
had? And what if, having learnt his secret and so having gained
power over him, he were to use it as a weapon against Dounia?
This idea sometimes even tormented his dreams, but it had never
presented itself so vividly to him as on his way to Svidrigailov.
The very thought moved him to gloomy rage. To begin with, this would
transform everything, even his own position; he would have at once
to confess his secret to Dounia. Would he have to give himself up
perhaps to prevent Dounia from taking some rash step? The letter? This
morning Dounia had received a letter. From whom could she get
letters in Petersburg? Luzhin, perhaps? It's true Razumihin was
there to protect her, but Razumihin knew nothing of the position.
Perhaps it was his duty to tell Razumihin? He thought of it with
In any case he must see Svidrigailov as soon as possible, he decided
finally. Thank God, the details of the interview were of little
consequence, if only he could get at the root of the matter; but if
Svidrigailov were capable... if he were intriguing against Dounia,-
Raskolnikov was so exhausted by what he had passed through that
month that he could only decide such questions in one way; "then I
shall kill him," he thought in cold despair.
A sudden anguish oppressed his heart, he stood still in the middle
of the street and began looking about to see where he was and which
way he was going. He found himself in X. Prospect, thirty or forty
paces from the Hay Market, through which he had come. The whole second
storey of the house on the left was used as a tavern. All the
windows were wide open; judging from the figures moving at the
windows, the rooms were full to overflowing. There were sounds of
singing, of clarionet and violin, and the boom of a Turkish drum. He
could hear women shrieking. He was about to turn back wondering why he
had come to the X. Prospect, when suddenly at one of the end windows
he saw Svidrigailov, sitting at a tea-table right in the open window
with a pipe in his mouth, Raskolnikov was dreadfully taken aback,
almost terrified. Svidrigailov was silently watching and
scrutinising him and, what struck Raskolnikov at once, seemed to be
meaning to get up and slip away unobserved. Raskolnikov at once
pretended not to have seen him, but to be looking absentmindedly away,
while he watched him out of the corner of his eye. His heart was
beating violently. Yet, it was evident that Svidrigailov did not
want to be seen. He took the pipe out of his mouth and was on the
point of concealing himself, but as he got up and moved back his
chair, he seemed to have become suddenly aware that Raskolnikov had
seen him, and was watching him. What had passed between them was
much the same as what happened at their first meeting in Raskolnikov's
room. A sly smile came into Svidrigailov's face and grew broader and
broader. Each knew that he was seen and watched by the other. At
last Svidrigailov broke into a loud laugh.
"Well, well, come in if you want me; I am here!" he shouted from the
Raskolnikov went up into the tavern. He found Svidrigailov in a tiny
back room, adjoining the saloon in which merchants, clerks and numbers
of people of all sorts were drinking tea at twenty little tables to
the desperate bawling of a chorus of singers. The click of billiard
balls could be heard in the distance. On the table before Svidrigailov
stood an open bottle, and a glass half full of champagne. In the
room he found also a boy with a little hand organ, a healthy-looking
red-cheeked girl of eighteen, wearing a tucked-up striped skirt, and a
Tyrolese hat with ribbons. In spite of the chorus in the other room,
she was singing some servants' hall song in a rather husky
contralto, to the accompaniment of the organ.
"Come, that's enough," Svidrigailov stopped her at Raskolnikov's
entrance. The girl at once broke off and stood waiting respectfully.
She had sung her guttural rhymes, too, with a serious and respectful
expression in her face.
"Hey, Philip, a glass!" shouted Svidrigailov.
"I won't drink anything," said Raskolnikov.
"As you like, I didn't mean it for you. Drink, Katia! I don't want
anything more to-day, you can go." He poured her out a full glass, and
laid down a yellow note.
Katia drank off her glass of wine, as women do, without putting it
down, in twenty gulps, took the note and kissed Svidrigailov's hand,
which he allowed quite seriously. She went out of the room and the boy
trailed after her with the organ. Both had been brought in from the
street. Svidrigailov had not been a week in Petersburg, but everything
about him was already, so to speak, on a patriarchal footing; the
waiter, Philip, was by now an old friend and very obsequious.
The door leading to the saloon had a lock on it. Svidrigailov was at
home in this room and perhaps spent whole days in it. The tavern was
dirty and wretched, not even second rate.
"I was going to see you and looking for you," Raskolnikov began,
"but I don't know what made me turn from the Hay Market into the X.
Prospect just now. I never take this turning. I turn to the right from
the Hay Market. And this isn't the way to you. I simply turned and
here you are. It is strange!"
"Why don't you say at once 'it's a miracle?'"
"Because it may be only chance."
"Oh, that's the way with all you folk," laughed Svidrigailov. "You
won't admit it, even if you do inwardly believe it a miracle! Here you
say that it may be only chance. And what cowards they all are here,
about having an opinion of their own, you can't fancy, Rodion
Romanovitch. I don't mean you, you have an opinion of your own and are
not afraid to have it. That's how it was you attracted my curiosity."
"Well, that's enough, you know," Svidrigailov was obviously
exhilarated, but only slightly so, he had not had more than half a
glass of wine.
"I fancy you came to see me before you knew that I was capable of
having what you call an opinion of my own," observed Raskolnikov.
"Oh, well, it was a different matter. Every one has his own plans.
And apropos of the miracle let me tell you that I think you have
been asleep for the last two or three days. I told you of this
tavern myself, there is no miracle in your coming straight here. I
explained the way myself, told you where it was, and the hours you
could find me here. Do you remember?"
"I don't remember," answered Raskolnikov with surprise.
"I believe you. I told you twice. The address has been stamped
mechanically on your memory. You turned this way mechanically and
yet precisely according to the direction, though you are not aware
of it. When I told you then, I hardly hoped you understood me. You
give yourself away too much, Rodion Romanovitch. And another thing,
I'm convinced there are lots of people in Petersburg who talk to
themselves as they walk. This is a town of crazy people. If only we
had scientific men, doctors, lawyers and philosophers might make
most valuable investigations in Petersburg each in his own line. There
are few places where there are so many gloomy, strong and queer
influences on the soul of man as in Petersburg. The mere influences of
climate mean so much. And it's the administrative centre of all Russia
and its character must be reflected on the whole country. But that
is neither here nor there now. The point is that I have several
times watched you. You walk out of your house- holding your head high-
twenty paces from home you let it sink, and fold your hands behind
your back. You look and evidently see nothing before nor beside you.
At last you begin moving your lips and talking to yourself, and
sometimes you wave one hand and declaim, and at last stand still in
the middle of the road. That's not at all the thing. Some one may be
watching you besides me, and it won't do you any good. It's nothing
really to do with me and I can't cure you, but, of course, you
"Do you know that I am being followed?" asked Raskolnikov, looking
inquisitively at him.
"No, I know nothing about it," said Svidrigailov, seeming surprised.
"Well, then, let us leave me alone," Raskolnikov muttered, frowning.
"Very good, let us leave you alone."
"You had better tell me, if you come here to drink, and directed
me twice to come here to you, why did you hide, and try to get away
just now when I looked at the window from the street? I saw it."
"He-he! And why was it you lay on your sofa with closed eyes and
pretended to be asleep, though you were wide awake while I stood in
your doorway? I saw it."
"I may have had... reasons. You know that yourself."
"And I may have had my reasons, though you don't know them."
Raskolnikov dropped his right elbow on the table, leaned his chin in
the fingers of his right hand, and stared intently at Svidrigailov.
For a full minute he scrutinised his face, which had impressed him
before. It was a strange face, like a mask; white and red, with bright
red lips, with a flaxen beard, and still thick flaxen hair. His eyes
were somehow too blue and their expression somehow too heavy and
fixed. There was something awfully unpleasant in that handsome face,
which looked so wonderfully young for his age. Svidrigailov was
smartly dressed in light summer clothes and was particularly dainty in
his linen. He wore a huge ring with a precious stone in it.
"Have I got to bother myself about you too now?" said Raskolnikov
suddenly, coming with nervous impatience straight to the point.
"Even though perhaps you are the most dangerous man if you care to
injure me, I don't want to put myself out any more. I will show you at
once that I don't prize myself as you probably think I do. I've come
to tell you at once that if you keep to your former intentions with
regard to my sister and if you think to derive any benefit in that
direction from what has been discovered of late, I will kill you
before you get me locked up. You can reckon on my word. You know
that I can keep it. And in the second place if you want to tell me
anything- for I keep fancying all this time that you have something to
tell me- make haste and tell it, for time is precious and very
likely it will soon be too late."
"Why in such haste?" asked Svidrigailov, looking at him curiously.
"Every one has his plans," Raskolnikov answered gloomily and
"You urged me yourself to frankness just now, and at the first
question you refuse to answer," Svidrigailov observed with a smile.
"You keep fancying that I have aims of my own and so you look at me
with suspicion. Of course it's perfectly natural in your position. But
though I should like to be friends with you, I shan't trouble myself
to convince you of the contrary. The game isn't worth the candle and I
wasn't intending to talk to you about anything special."
"What did you want me, for, then? It was you who came hanging
"Why, simply as an interesting subject for observation. I liked
the fantastic nature of your position- that's what it was! Besides you
are the brother of a person who greatly interested me, and from that
person I had in the past heard a very great deal about you, from which
I gathered that you had a great influence over her; isn't that enough?
Ha-ha-ha! Still I must admit that your question is rather complex, and
is difficult for me to answer. Here, you, for instance, have come to
me not only for a definite object, but for the sake of hearing
something new. Isn't that so? Isn't that so?" persisted Svidrigailov
with a sly smile. "Well, can't you fancy then that I, too, on my way
here in the train was reckoning on you, on your telling me something
new, and on my making some profit out of you! You see what rich men we
"What profit could you make?"
"How can I tell you? How do I know? You see in what a tavern I spend
all my time and it's my enjoyment, that's to say it's no great
enjoyment, but one must sit somewhere; that poor Katia now- you saw
her?... If only I had been a glutton now, a club gourmand, but you see
I can eat this."
He pointed to a little table in the corner where the remnants of a
terrible looking beef-steak and potatoes lay on a tin dish.
"Have you dined, by the way? I've had something and want nothing
more. I don't drink, for instance, at all. Except for champagne I
never touch anything, and not more than a glass of that all the
evening, and even that is enough to make my head ache. I ordered it
just now to wind myself up, for I am just going off somewhere and
you see me in a peculiar state of mind. That was why I hid myself just
now like a schoolboy, for I was afraid you would hinder me. But I
believe," he pulled out his watch, "I can spend an hour with you. It's
half-past four now. If only I'd been something, a landowner, a father,
a cavalry officer, a photographer, a journalist... I am nothing, no
specialty, and sometimes I am positively bored. I really thought you
would tell me something new."
"But what are you, and why have you come here?"
"What am I? You know, a gentleman, I served for two years in the
cavalry, then I knocked about here in Petersburg, then I married Marfa
Petrovna and lived in the country. There you have my biography!"
"You are a gambler, I believe?"
"No, a poor sort of gambler. A card-sharper- not a gambler."
"You have been a card-sharper then?"
"Yes, I've been a card-sharper too."
"Didn't you get thrashed sometimes?"
"It did happen. Why?"
"Why, you might have challenged them... altogether it must have been
"I won't contradict you and besides I am no hand at philosophy. I
confess that I hastened here for the sake of the women."
"As soon as you buried Marfa Petrovna?"
"Quite so," Svidrigailov smiled with engaging candour. "What of
it? You seem to find something wrong in my speaking like that about
"You ask whether I find anything wrong in vice?"
"Vice! Oh, that's what you are after! But I'll answer you in
order, first about women in general; you know I am fond of talking.
Tell me, what should I restrain myself for? Why should I give up
women, since I have a passion for them? It's an occupation, anyway."
"So you hope for nothing here but vice?"
"Oh, very well, for vice then. You insist on its being vice. But
anyway I like a direct question. In this vice at least there is
something permanent, founded indeed upon nature and not dependent on
fantasy, something present in the blood like an ever-burning ember,
for ever setting one on fire and maybe, not to be quickly
extinguished, even with years. You'll agree it's an occupation of a
"That's nothing to rejoice at, it's a disease and a dangerous one."
"Oh, that's what you think, is it? I agree, that it is a disease
like everything that exceeds moderation. And, of course, in this one
must exceed moderation. But in the first place, everybody does so in
one way or another, and in the second place, of course, one ought to
be moderate and prudent, however mean it may be, but what am I to
do? If I hadn't this, I might have to shoot myself. I am ready to
admit that a decent man ought to put up with being bored, but yet..."
"And could you shoot yourself?"
"Oh, come!" Svidrigailov parried with disgust. "Please don't speak
of it," he added hurriedly and with none of the bragging tone he had
shown in all the previous conversation. His face quite changed. "I
admit it's an unpardonable weakness, but I can't help it. I am
afraid of death and I dislike its being talked of. Do you know that
I am to a certain extent a mystic?"
"Ah, the apparitions of Marfa Petrovna! Do they still go on visiting
"Oh, don't talk of them; there have been no more in Petersburg,
confound them!" he cried with an air of irritation. "Let's rather talk
of that... though... H'm! I have not much time, and can't stay long
with you, it's a pity! I should have found plenty to tell you."
"What's your engagement, a woman?"
"Yes, a woman, a casual incident.... No, that's not what I want to
"And the hideousness, the filthiness of all your surroundings,
doesn't that affect you? Have you lost the strength to stop yourself?"
"And do you pretend to strength, too? He-he-he! You surprised me
just now, Rodion Romanovitch, though I knew beforehand it would be so.
You preach to me about vice and aesthetics! You- a Schiller, you- an
idealist! Of course that's all as it should be and it would be
surprising if it were not so, yet it is strange in reality.... Ah,
what a pity I have no time, for you're a most interesting type! And
by-the-way, are you fond of Schiller? I am awfully fond of him."
"But what a braggart you are," Raskolnikov said with some disgust.
"Upon my word, I am not," answered Svidrigailov laughing.
"However, I won't dispute it, let me be a braggart, why not brag, if
it hurts no one? I spent seven years in the country with Marfa
Petrovna, so now when I come across an intelligent person like you-
intelligent and highly interesting- I am simply glad to talk and
besides, I've drunk that half-glass of champagne and it's gone to my
head a little. And besides, there's a certain fact that has wound me
up tremendously, but about that I... will keep quiet. Where are you
off to?" he asked in alarm.
Raskolnikov had begun getting up. He felt oppressed and stifled and,
as it were, ill at ease at having come here. He felt convinced that
Svidrigailov was the most worthless scoundrel on the face of the
"A-ach! Sit down, stay a little!" Svidrigailov begged. "Let them
bring you some tea, anyway. Stay a little, I won't talk nonsense,
about myself, I mean. I'll tell you something. If you like I'll tell
you how a woman tried 'to save' me, as you would call it? It will be
an answer to your first question indeed, for the woman was your
sister. May I tell you? It will help to spend the time."
"Tell me, but I trust that you..."
"Oh, don't be uneasy. Besides, even in a worthless low fellow like
me, Avdotya Romanovna can only excite the deepest respect."
"YOU know perhaps- yes, I told you myself," began Svidrigailov,
"that I was in the debtors' prison here, for an immense sum, and had
not any expectation of being able to pay it. There's no need to go
into particulars of how Marfa Petrovna bought me out; do you know to
what a point of insanity a woman can sometimes love? She was an honest
woman, and very sensible, although completely uneducated. Would you
believe that this honest and jealous woman, after many scenes of
hysterics and reproaches, condescended to enter into a kind of
contract with me which she kept throughout our married life? She was
considerably older than I, and besides, she always kept a clove or
something in her mouth. There was so much swinishness in my soul and
honesty too, of a sort, as to tell her straight out that I couldn't be
absolutely faithful to her. This confession drove her to frenzy, but
yet she seems in a way to have liked my brutal frankness. She
thought it showed I was unwilling to deceive her if I warned her
like this beforehand and for a jealous woman, you know, that's the
first consideration. After many tears an unwritten contract was
drawn up between us: first, that I would never leave Marfa Petrovna
and would always be her husband; secondly, that I would never absent
myself without her permission; thirdly, that I would never set up a
permanent mistress; fourthly, in return for this, Marfa Petrovna
gave me a free hand with the maid servants, but only with her secret
knowledge; fifthly, God forbid my falling in love with a woman of
our class; sixthly, in case I- which God forbid- should be visited
by a great serious passion I was bound to reveal it to Marfa Petrovna.
On this last score, however, Marfa Petrovna was fairly at ease. She
was a sensible woman and so she could not help looking upon me as a
dissolute profligate incapable of real love. But a sensible woman
and a jealous woman are two very different things, and that's where
the trouble came in. But to judge some people impartially we must
renounce certain preconceived opinions and our habitual attitude to
the ordinary people about us. I have reason to have faith in your
judgment rather than in any one's. Perhaps you have already heard a
great deal that was ridiculous and absurd about Marfa Petrovna. She
certainly had some very ridiculous ways, but I tell you frankly that I
feel really sorry for the innumerable woes of which I was the cause.
Well, and that's enough, I think, by way of a decorous oraison funebre
for the most tender wife of a most tender husband. When we quarrelled,
I usually held my tongue and did not irritate her and that gentlemanly
conduct rarely failed to attain its object, it influenced her, it
pleased her, indeed. These were times when she was positively proud of
me. But your sister she couldn't put up with, anyway. And however
she came to risk taking such a beautiful creature into her house as
a governess! My explanation is that Marfa Petrovna was an ardent and
impressionable woman and simply fell in love herself- literally fell
in love- with your sister. Well, little wonder- look at Avdotya
Romanovna! I saw the danger at the first glance and what do you think,
I resolved not to look at her even. But Avdotya Romanovna herself made
the first step, would you believe it? Would you believe it too that
Marfa Petrovna was positively angry with me at first for my persistent
silence about your sister, for my careless reception of her
continual adoring praises of Avdotya Romanovna. I don't know what it
was she wanted! Well, of course, Marfa Petrovna told Avdotya Romanovna
every detail about me. She had the unfortunate habit of telling
literally every one all our family secrets and continually complaining
of me; how could she fail to confide in such a delightful new
friend? I expect they talked of nothing else but me and no doubt
Avdotya Romanovna heard all those dark mysterious rumours that were
current about me.... I don't mind betting that you too have heard
something of the sort already?"
"I have. Luzhin charged you with having caused the death of a child.
Is that true?"
"Don't refer to those vulgar tales, I beg," said Svidrigailov with
disgust and annoyance. "If you insist on wanting to know about all
that idiocy, I will tell you one day, but now..."
"I was told too about some footman of yours in the country whom
you treated badly."
"I beg you to drop the subject," Svidrigailov interrupted again with
"Was that the footman who came to you after death to fill your
pipe?... you told me about it yourself," Raskolnikov felt more and
Svidrigailov looked at him attentively and Raskolnikov fancied he
caught a flash of spiteful mockery in that look. But Svidrigailov
restrained himself and answered very civilly.
"Yes, it was. I see that you, too, are extremely interested and
shall feel it my duty to satisfy your curiosity at the first
opportunity. Upon my soul! I see that I really might pass for a
romantic figure with some people. Judge how grateful I must be to
Marfa Petrovna for having repeated to Avdotya Romanovna such
mysterious and interesting gossip about me. I dare not guess what
impression it made on her, but in any case it worked in my
interests. With all Avdotya Romanovna's natural aversion and in
spite of my invariably gloomy and repellent aspect- she did at least
feel pity for me, pity for a lost soul. And if once a girl's heart
is moved to pity, it's more dangerous than anything. She is bound to
want to 'save him,' to bring him to his senses, and lift him up and
draw him to nobler aims, and restore him to new life and
usefulness,- well, we all know how far such dreams can go. I saw at
once that the bird was flying into the cage of herself. And I too made
ready. I think you are frowning, Rodion Romanovitch? There's no
need. As you know, it all ended in smoke. (Hang it all, what a lot I
am drinking!) Do you know, I always, from the very beginning,
regretted that it wasn't your sister's fate to be born in the second
or third century A.D., as the daughter of a reigning prince or some
governor or proconsul in Asia Minor. She would undoubtedly have been
one of those who would endure martyrdom and would have smiled when
they branded her bosom with hot pincers. And she would have gone to it
of herself. And in the fourth or fifth century she would have walked
away into the Egyptian desert and would have stayed there thirty years
living on roots and ecstasies and visions. She is simply thirsting
to face some torture for some one, and if she can't get her torture,
she'll throw herself out of a window. I've heard something of a Mr.
Razumihin- he's said to be a sensible fellow; his surname suggests it,
indeed. He's probably a divinity student. Well, he'd better look after
your sister! I believe I understand her, and I am proud of it. But
at the beginning of an acquaintance, as you know, one is apt to be
more heedless and stupid. One doesn't see clearly. Hang it all, why is
she so handsome? It's not my fault. In fact, it began on my side
with a most irresistible physical desire. Avdotya Romanovna is awfully
chaste, incredibly and phenomenally so. Take note, I tell you this
about your sister as a fact. She is almost morbidly chaste, in spite
of her broad intelligence, and it will stand in her way. There
happened to be a girl in the house then, Parasha, a. black-eyed wench,
whom I had never seen before- she had just come from another
village- very pretty, but incredibly stupid: she burst into tears,
wailed so that she could be heard all over the place and caused
scandal. One day after dinner Avdotya Romanovna followed me into an
avenue in the garden and with flashing eyes insisted on my leaving
poor Parasha alone. It was almost our first conversation by ourselves.
I, of course, was only too pleased to obey her wishes, tried to appear
disconcerted, embarrassed, in fact played my part not badly. Then came
interviews, mysterious conversations, exhortations, entreaties,
supplications, even tears- would you believe it, even tears? Think
what the passion for propaganda will bring some girls to! I, of
course, threw it all on my destiny, posed as hungering and thirsting
for light, and finally resorted to the most powerful weapon in the
subjection of the female heart, a weapon which never fails one. It's
the well-known resource- flattery. Nothing in the world is harder than
speaking the truth and nothing easier than flattery. If there's the
hundredth part of a false note in speaking the truth, it leads to a
discord, and that leads to trouble. But if all, to the last note, is
false in flattery, it is just as agreeable, and is heard not without
satisfaction. It may be a coarse satisfaction, but still a
satisfaction. And however coarse the flattery, at least half will be
sure to seem true. That's so for all stages of development and classes
of society. A vestal virgin might be seduced by flattery. I can
never remember without laughter how I once seduced a lady who was
devoted to her husband, her children, and her principles. What fun
it was and how little trouble! And the lady really had principles,
of her own, anyway. All my tactics lay in simply being utterly
annihilated and prostrate before her purity. I flattered her
shamelessly, and as soon as I succeeded in getting a pressure of the
hand, even a glance from her, I would reproach myself for having
snatched it by force, and would declare that she had resisted, so that
I could never have gained anything but for my being so unprincipled. I
maintained that she was so innocent that she could not foresee my
treachery, and yielded to me unconsciously, unawares, and so on. In
fact, I triumphed, while my lady remained firmly convinced that she
was innocent, chaste, and faithful to all her duties and obligations
and had succumbed quite by accident. And how angry she was with me
when I explained to her at last that it was my sincere conviction that
she was just as eager as I. Poor Marfa Petrovna was awfully weak on
the side of flattery, and if I had only cared to, I might have had all
her property settled on me during her lifetime. (I am drinking an
awful lot of wine now and talking too much.) I hope you won't be angry
if I mention now that I was beginning to produce the same effect on
Avdotya Romanovna. But I was stupid and impatient and spoiled it
all. Avdotya Romanovna had several times- and one time in
particular- been greatly displeased by the expression of my eyes,
would you believe it? There was sometimes a light in them which
frightened her and grew stronger and stronger and more unguarded
till it was hateful to her. No need to go into detail, but we
parted. There I acted stupidly again. I fell to jeering in the
coarsest way at all such propaganda and efforts to convert me; Parasha
came on to the scene again, and not she alone; in fact there was a
tremendous to-do. Ah, Rodion Romanovitch, if you could only see how
your sister's eyes can flash sometimes! Never mind my being drunk at
this moment and having had a whole glass of wine. I am speaking the
truth. I assure you that this glance has haunted my dreams; the very
rustle of her dress was more than I could stand at last. I really
began to think that I might become epileptic. I could never have
believed that I could be moved to such a frenzy. It was essential,
indeed, to be reconciled, but by then it was impossible. And imagine
what I did then! To what a pitch of stupidity a man can be brought
by frenzy! Never undertake anything in a frenzy, Rodion Romanovitch. I
reflected that Avdotya Romanovna was after all a beggar (ach, excuse
me, that's not the word... but does it matter if it expresses the
meaning?), that she lived by her work, that she had her mother and,
you to keep (ach, hang it, you are frowning again), and I resolved
to offer her all my money- thirty thousand roubles I could have
realised then- if she would run away with me here, to Petersburg. Of
course I should have vowed eternal love, rapture, and so on. Do you
know, I was so wild about her at that time that if she had told me
to poison Marfa Petrovna or to cut her throat and to marry herself, it
would have been done at once! But it ended in the catastrophe of which
you know already. You can fancy how frantic I was when I heard that
Marfa Petrovna had got hold of that scoundrelly attorney, Luzhin,
and had almost made a match between them- which would really have been
just the same thing as I was proposing. Wouldn't it? Wouldn't it? I
notice that you've begun to be very attentive... you interesting young