Chapter 1

A strange period began for Raskolnikov: it was as though a fog had fallen upon him and wrapped him in a dreary solitude from which there was no escape. Recalling that period long after, he believed that his mind had been clouded at times, and that it had continued so, with intervals, till the final catastrophe. He was convinced that he had been mistaken about many things at that time, for instance as to the date of certain events. Anyway, when he tried later on to piece his recollections together, he learnt a great deal about himself from what other people told him. He had mixed up incidents and had explained events as due to circumstances which existed only in his imagination. At times he was a prey to agonies of morbid uneasiness, amounting sometimes to panic. But he remembered, too, moments, hours, perhaps whole days, of complete apathy, which came upon him as a reaction from his previous terror and might be compared with the abnormal insensibility, sometimes seen in the dying. He seemed to be trying in that latter stage to escape from a full and clear understanding of his position. Certain essential facts which required immediate consideration were particularly irksome to him. How glad he would have been to be free from some cares, the neglect of which would have threatened him with complete, inevitable ruin.

He was particularly worried about Svidrigailov, he might be said to be permanently thinking of Svidrigailov. From the time of Svidrigailov’s too menacing and unmistakable words in Sonia’s room at the moment of Katerina Ivanovna’s death, the normal working of his mind seemed to break down. But although this new fact caused him extreme uneasiness, Raskolnikov was in no hurry for an explanation of it. At times, finding himself in a solitary and remote part of the town, in some wretched eating-house, sitting alone lost in thought, hardly knowing how he had come there, he suddenly thought of Svidrigailov. He recognised suddenly, clearly, and with dismay that he ought at once to come to an understanding with that man and to make what terms he could. Walking outside the city gates one day, he positively fancied that they had fixed a meeting there, that he was waiting for Svidrigailov. Another time he woke up before daybreak lying on the ground under some bushes and could not at first understand how he had come there.

But during the two or three days after Katerina Ivanovna’s death, he had two or three times met Svidrigailov at Sonia’s lodging, where he had gone aimlessly for a moment. They exchanged a few words and made no reference to the vital subject, as though they were tacitly agreed not to speak of it for a time.

Katerina Ivanovna’s body was still lying in the coffin, Svidrigailov was busy making arrangements for the funeral. Sonia too was very busy. At their last meeting Svidrigailov informed Raskolnikov that he had made an arrangement, and a very satisfactory one, for Katerina Ivanovna’s children; that he had, through certain connections, succeeded in getting hold of certain personages by whose help the three orphans could be at once placed in very suitable institutions; that the money he had settled on them had been of great assistance, as it is much easier to place orphans with some property than destitute ones. He said something too about Sonia and promised to come himself in a day or two to see Raskolnikov, mentioning that “he would like to consult with him, that there were things they must talk over. …”

This conversation took place in the passage on the stairs. Svidrigailov looked intently at Raskolnikov and suddenly, after a brief pause, dropping his voice, asked: “But how is it, Rodion Romanovitch; you don’t seem yourself? You look and you listen, but you don’t seem to understand. Cheer up! We’ll talk things over; I am only sorry, I’ve so much to do of my own business and other people’s. Ah, Rodion Romanovitch,” he added suddenly, “what all men need is fresh air, fresh air … more than anything!”

He moved to one side to make way for the priest and server, who were coming up the stairs. They had come for the requiem service. By Svidrigailov’s orders it was sung twice a day punctually. Svidrigailov went his way. Raskolnikov stood still a moment, thought, and followed the priest into Sonia’s room. He stood at the door. They began quietly, slowly and mournfully singing the service. From his childhood the thought of death and the presence of death had something oppressive and mysteriously awful; and it was long since he had heard the requiem service. And there was something else here as well, too awful and disturbing. He looked at the children: they were all kneeling by the coffin; Polenka was weeping. Behind them Sonia prayed, softly and, as it were, timidly weeping.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.