But if he had not been yet, would he go? Meanwhile, for the present he fancied he wouldnt. 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 himit 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 manuvre that Svidrigaïlov should not go to Porfirys? Was it worth while to investigate, to ascertain the facts, to waste time over any one like Svidrigaïlov?
And yet he was hastening to Svidrigaïlov; 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 Svidrigaïlov but some other whom he needed, and Svidrigaïlov 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 Svidrigaïlov? 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 evildoing 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 has befriending Katerina Ivanovnas children, but who could tell with what motive and what it meant? The man always had some design, some project.
There was another thought which had been continually hovering of late about Raskolnikovs mind, and causing him great uneasiness. It was so painful that he made distinct efforts to get rid of it. He sometimes thought that Svidrigaïlov was dogging his footsteps. Svidrigaïlov had found out his secret and had had designs on Dounia. What if he had them still? Wasnt 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?
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? Its 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 repugnance.
In any case he must see Svidrigaïlov 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 Svidrigaïlov were capable if he were intriguing against Dounia,then
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 Svidrigaïlov, sitting at a tea-table right in the open window with a pipe in his mouth.
Raskolnikov was dreadfully taken aback, almost terrified. Svidrigaïlov 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 absent-mindedly away, while he watched him out of the corner of his eye. His heart was beating violently. Yes, it was evident that Svidrigaïlov 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 has passed between them was much the same as what happened at their first meeting in Raskolnikovs room. A sly smile came into Svidrigaïlovs face and grew broader and broader. Each knew that he was seen and watched by the other. At last Svidrigaïlov broke into a loud laugh.
Raskolnikov went up into the tavern. He found Svidrigaïlov 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 Svidrigaïlov 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, thats enough, Svidrigaïlov stopped her at Raskolnikovs entrance. The girl at once broke off and stood waiting respectfully. She had sung her gutter rhymes, too, with a serious and respectful expression in her face.
Katia drank off her glass of wine, as women do, without putting it down, in twenty gulps, took the note and kissed Svidrigaïlovs 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. Svidrigaïlov 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.
I was going to see you and looking for you, Raskolnikov began, but I dont 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 isnt the way to you. I simply turned and here you are. It is strange!
Oh, thats the way with all you folk, laughed Svidrigaïlov. You wont 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 cant fancy, Rodion Romanovitch. I dont mean you, you have an opinion of your own and are not afraid to have it. Thats how it was you attracted my curiosity.
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 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 it you then, I hardly hoped you understood me. You give yourself away too much, Rodion Romanovitch. And another things, Im 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 means so much. And its 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 householding your head hightwenty 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. Thats not at all the thing. Some one may be watching you besides me, and it wont do you any good. Its nothing really to do with me and I cant cure you, but, of course, you understand me.
Raskolnikov dropped his right elbow on the table, leaned his chin in the fingers of his right hand, and stared intently at Svidrigaïlov. 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. Svidrigaïlov 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 dont want to put myself out any more. I will show you at once that I dont prize myself as you probably think I do. Ive 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 anythingfor I keep fancying all this time that you have something to tell memake haste and tell it, for time is precious and very likely it will soon be too late.
You urged me yourself to frankness just now, and at the first question you refuse to answer. Svidrigaïlov observed with a smile. You keep fancying that I have aims of my own and so you look at me with suspicion. Of course its perfectly natural in your position. But though I should like to be friends with you, I shant trouble myself to convince you of the contrary. The game isnt worth the candle and I wasnt intending to talk to you about anything special.
Why, simply as an interesting subject for observation. I liked the fantastic nature of your positionthats 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; isnt 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. Isnt that so? Isnt that so? persisted Svidrigaïlov with a sly smile. Well, cant 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 are!
How can I tell you? How do I know? You see in what a tavern I spend all my time and its my enjoyment, thats to say its no great enjoyment, but one must sit somewhere; that poor Katia nowyou saw her? If only I had been a glutton now, a club gourmand, but you see I can eat this.
Have you dined, by the way? Ive had something and want nothing more. I dont drink, for instance, at all. Except 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. Its half-past four now. If only Id been something, a landowner, a father, a cavalry officer, a photographer, a journalist I am nothing, no speciality, and sometimes I am positively bored. I really thought you would tell me something new.
Vice! Oh, thats what you are after! But Ill 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? Its an occupation, anyway.
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. Youll agree its an occupation of a sort.
Oh, thats 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 hadnt 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.
Oh, come! Svidrigaïlov parried with disgust. Please dont 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 its an unpardonable weakness, but I cant 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?
Oh, dont talk of them; there have been no more in Petersburg, confound them! he cried with an air of irritation. Lets rather talk of that though Hm! I have not much time, and cant stay long with you, its a pity! I should have found plenty to tell you.
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 æsthetics! Youa Schiller, youan idealist! Of course thats 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 youre a most interesting type! And by-the-way, are you fond of Schiller? I am awfully fond of him.
Upon my word, I am not, answered Svidrigaïlov laughing. However, I wont 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 youintelligent and highly interestingI am simply glad to talk and, besides, Ive drunk that half-glass of champagne and its gone to my head a little. And besides, theres 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 Svidrigaïlov was the most worthless scoundrel on the face of the earth.
A-ach! Sit down, stay a little! Svidrigaïlov begged. Let them bring you some tea, anyway. Stay a little, I wont talk nonsense, about myself, I mean. Ill tell you something. If you like Ill 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.