The morning that followed the fateful interview with Dounia and her mothe_rought sobering influences to bear on Pyotr Petrovitch. Intensely unpleasan_s it was, he was forced little by little to accept as a fact beyond recal_hat had seemed to him only the day before fantastic and incredible. The blac_nake of wounded vanity had been gnawing at his heart all night. When he go_ut of bed, Pyotr Petrovitch immediately looked in the looking-glass. He wa_fraid that he had jaundice. However his health seemed unimpaired so far, an_ooking at his noble, clear-skinned countenance which had grown fattish o_ate, Pyotr Petrovitch for an instant was positively comforted in th_onviction that he would find another bride and, perhaps, even a better one.
But coming back to the sense of his present position, he turned aside and spa_igorously, which excited a sarcastic smile in Andrey Semyonovitc_ebeziatnikov, the young friend with whom he was staying. That smile Pyot_etrovitch noticed, and at once set it down against his young friend'_ccount. He had set down a good many points against him of late. His anger wa_edoubled when he reflected that he ought not to have told Andrey Semyonovitc_bout the result of yesterday's interview. That was the second mistake he ha_ade in temper, through impulsiveness and irritability… . Moreover, all tha_orning one unpleasantness followed another. He even found a hitch awaitin_im in his legal case in the senate. He was particularly irritated by th_wner of the flat which had been taken in view of his approaching marriage an_as being redecorated at his own expense; the owner, a rich German tradesman, would not entertain the idea of breaking the contract which had just bee_igned and insisted on the full forfeit money, though Pyotr Petrovitch woul_e giving him back the flat practically redecorated. In the same way th_pholsterers refused to return a single rouble of the instalment paid for th_urniture purchased but not yet removed to the flat.
"Am I to get married simply for the sake of the furniture?" Pyotr Petrovitc_round his teeth and at the same time once more he had a gleam of desperat_ope. "Can all that be really so irrevocably over? Is it no use to mak_nother effort?" The thought of Dounia sent a voluptuous pang through hi_eart. He endured anguish at that moment, and if it had been possible to sla_askolnikov instantly by wishing it, Pyotr Petrovitch would promptly hav_ttered the wish.
"It was my mistake, too, not to have given them money," he thought, as h_eturned dejectedly to Lebeziatnikov's room, "and why on earth was I such _ew? It was false economy! I meant to keep them without a penny so that the_hould turn to me as their providence, and look at them! foo! If I'd spen_ome fifteen hundred roubles on them for the trousseau and presents, on knick- knacks, dressing-cases, jewellery, materials, and all that sort of trash fro_nopp's and the English shop, my position would have been better and … stronger! They could not have refused me so easily! They are the sort o_eople that would feel bound to return money and presents if they broke i_ff; and they would find it hard to do it! And their conscience would pric_hem: how can we dismiss a man who has hitherto been so generous an_elicate?… . H'm! I've made a blunder."
And grinding his teeth again, Pyotr Petrovitch called himself a fool— but no_loud, of course.
He returned home, twice as irritated and angry as before. The preparations fo_he funeral dinner at Katerina Ivanovna's excited his curiosity as he passed.
He had heard about it the day before; he fancied, indeed, that he had bee_nvited, but absorbed in his own cares he had paid no attention. Inquiring o_adame Lippevechsel who was busy laying the table while Katerina Ivanovna wa_way at the cemetery, he heard that the entertainment was to be a grea_ffair, that all the lodgers had been invited, among them some who had no_nown the dead man, that even Andrey Semyonovitch Lebeziatnikov was invited i_pite of his previous quarrel with Katerina Ivanovna, that he, Pyot_etrovitch, was not only invited, but was eagerly expected as he was the mos_mportant of the lodgers. Amalia Ivanovna herself had been invited with grea_eremony in spite of the recent unpleasantness, and so she was very busy wit_reparations and was taking a positive pleasure in them; she was moreove_ressed up to the nines, all in new black silk, and she was proud of it. Al_his suggested an idea to Pyotr Petrovitch and he went into his room, o_ather Lebeziatnikov's, somewhat thoughtful. He had learnt that Raskolniko_as to be one of the guests.
Andrey Semyonovitch had been at home all the morning. The attitude of Pyot_etrovitch to this gentleman was strange, though perhaps natural. Pyot_etrovitch had despised and hated him from the day he came to stay with hi_nd at the same time he seemed somewhat afraid of him. He had not come to sta_ith him on his arrival in Petersburg simply from parsimony, though that ha_een perhaps his chief object. He had heard of Andrey Semyonovitch, who ha_nce been his ward, as a leading young progressive who was taking an importan_art in certain interesting circles, the doings of which were a legend in th_rovinces. It had impressed Pyotr Petrovitch. These powerful omniscien_ircles who despised everyone and showed everyone up had long inspired in hi_ peculiar but quite vague alarm. He had not, of course, been able to for_ven an approximate notion of what they meant. He, like everyone, had hear_hat there were, especially in Petersburg, progressives of some sort, nihilists and so on, and, like many people, he exaggerated and distorted th_ignificance of those words to an absurd degree. What for many years past h_ad feared more than anything was being shown up and this was the chief groun_or his continual uneasiness at the thought of transferring his business t_etersburg. He was afraid of this as little children are sometimes panic- stricken. Some years before, when he was just entering on his own career, h_ad come upon two cases in which rather important personages in the province, patrons of his, had been cruelly shown up. One instance had ended in grea_candal for the person attacked and the other had very nearly ended in seriou_rouble. For this reason Pyotr Petrovitch intended to go into the subject a_oon as he reached Petersburg and, if necessary, to anticipate contingencie_y seeking the favour of "our younger generation." He relied on Andre_emyonovitch for this and before his visit to Raskolnikov he had succeeded i_icking up some current phrases. He soon discovered that Andrey Semyonovitc_as a commonplace simpleton, but that by no means reassured Pyotr Petrovitch.
Even if he had been certain that all the progressives were fools like him, i_ould not have allayed his uneasiness. All the doctrines, the ideas, th_ystems, with which Andrey Semyonovitch pestered him had no interest for him.
He had his own object—he simply wanted to find out at once what was happenin_ere. Had these people any power or not? Had he anything to fear from them?
Would they expose any enterprise of his? And what precisely was now the objec_f their attacks? Could he somehow make up to them and get round them if the_eally were powerful? Was this the thing to do or not? Couldn't he gai_omething through them? In fact hundreds of questions presented themselves.
Andrey Semyonovitch was an anæmic, scrofulous little man, with strangel_laxen mutton-chop whiskers of which he was very proud. He was a clerk and ha_lmost always something wrong with his eyes. He was rather soft-hearted, bu_elf-confident and sometimes extremely conceited in speech, which had a_bsurd effect, incongruous with his little figure. He was one of the lodger_ost respected by Amalia Ivanovna, for he did not get drunk and paid regularl_or his lodgings. Andrey Semyonovitch really was rather stupid; he attache_imself to the cause of progress and "our younger generation" from enthusiasm.
He was one of the numerous and varied legion of dullards, of half-animat_bortions, conceited, half-educated coxcombs, who attach themselves to th_dea most in fashion only to vulgarise it and who caricature every cause the_erve, however sincerely.
Though Lebeziatnikov was so good-natured, he, too, was beginning to dislik_yotr Petrovitch. This happened on both sides unconsciously. However simpl_ndrey Semyonovitch might be, he began to see that Pyotr Petrovitch was dupin_im and secretly despising him, and that "he was not the right sort of man."
He had tried expounding to him the system of Fourier and the Darwinian theory, but of late Pyotr Petrovitch began to listen too sarcastically and even to b_ude. The fact was he had begun instinctively to guess that Lebeziatnikov wa_ot merely a commonplace simpleton, but, perhaps, a liar, too, and that he ha_o connections of any consequence even in his own circle, but had simpl_icked things up third-hand; and that very likely he did not even know muc_bout his own work of propaganda, for he was in too great a muddle. A fin_erson he would be to show anyone up! It must be noted, by the way, that Pyot_etrovitch had during those ten days eagerly accepted the strangest prais_rom Andrey Semyonovitch; he had not protested, for instance, when Andre_emyonovitch belauded him for being ready to contribute to the establishmen_f the new "commune," or to abstain from christening his future children, o_o acquiesce if Dounia were to take a lover a month after marriage, and so on.
Pyotr Petrovitch so enjoyed hearing his own praises that he did not disdai_ven such virtues when they were attributed to him.
Pyotr Petrovitch had had occasion that morning to realise some five- per-cen_onds and now he sat down to the table and counted over bundles of notes.
Andrey Semyonovitch who hardly ever had any money walked about the roo_retending to himself to look at all those bank notes with indifference an_ven contempt. Nothing would have convinced Pyotr Petrovitch that Andre_emyonovitch could really look on the money unmoved, and the latter, on hi_ide, kept thinking bitterly that Pyotr Petrovitch was capable of entertainin_uch an idea about him and was, perhaps, glad of the opportunity of teasin_is young friend by reminding him of his inferiority and the great differenc_etween them.
He found him incredibly inattentive and irritable, though he, Andre_emyonovitch, began enlarging on his favourite subject, the foundation of _ew special "commune." The brief remarks that dropped from Pyotr Petrovitc_etween the clicking of the beads on the reckoning frame betrayed unmistakabl_nd discourteous irony. But the "humane" Andrey Semyonovitch ascribed Pyot_etrovitch's ill-humour to his recent breach with Dounia and he was burnin_ith impatience to discourse on that theme. He had something progressive t_ay on the subject which might console his worthy friend and "could not fail"
to promote his development.
"There is some sort of festivity being prepared at that … at the widow's, isn't there?" Pyotr Petrovitch asked suddenly, interrupting Andre_emyonovitch at the most interesting passage.
"Why, don't you know? Why, I was telling you last night what I think about al_uch ceremonies. And she invited you too, I heard. You were talking to he_esterday … "
"I should never have expected that beggarly fool would have spent on thi_east all the money she got from that other fool, Raskolnikov. I was surprise_ust now as I came through at the preparations there, the wines! Severa_eople are invited. It's beyond everything!" continued Pyotr Petrovitch, wh_eemed to have some object in pursuing the conversation. "What? You say I a_sked too? When was that? I don't remember. But I shan't go. Why should I? _nly said a word to her in passing yesterday of the possibility of he_btaining a year's salary as a destitute widow of a government clerk. _uppose she has invited me on that account, hasn't she? He-he-he!"
"I don't intend to go either," said Lebeziatnikov.
"I should think not, after giving her a thrashing! You might well hesitate, he-he!"
"Who thrashed? Whom?" cried Lebeziatnikov, flustered and blushing.
"Why, you thrashed Katerina Ivanovna a month ago. I heard so yesterday … s_hat's what your convictions amount to … and the woman question, too, wasn'_uite sound, he-he-he!" and Pyotr Petrovitch, as though comforted, went bac_o clicking his beads.
"It's all slander and nonsense!" cried Lebeziatnikov, who was always afraid o_llusions to the subject. "It was not like that at all, it was quit_ifferent. You've heard it wrong; it's a libel. I was simply defending myself.
She rushed at me first with her nails, she pulled out all my whiskers… . It'_ermissable for anyone, I should hope, to defend himself and I never allo_nyone to use violence to me on principle, for it's an act of despotism. Wha_as I to do? I simply pushed her back."
"He-he-he!" Luzhin went on laughing maliciously.
"You keep on like that because you are out of humour yourself… . But that'_onsense and it has nothing, nothing whatever to do with the woman question!
You don't understand; I used to think, indeed, that if women are equal to me_n all respects, even in strength (as is maintained now) there ought to b_quality in that, too. Of course, I reflected afterwards that such a questio_ught not really to arise, for there ought not to be fighting and in th_uture society fighting is unthinkable … and that it would be a queer thing t_eek for equality in fighting. I am not so stupid … though, of course, ther_s fighting … there won't be later, but at present there is … confound it! Ho_uddled one gets with you! It's not on that account that I am not going. I a_ot going on principle, not to take part in the revolting convention o_emorial dinners, that's why! Though, of course, one might go to laugh at it… . I am sorry there won't be any priests at it. I should certainly go if ther_ere."
"Then you would sit down at another man's table and insult it and those wh_nvited you. Eh?"
"Certainly not insult, but protest. I should do it with a good object. I migh_ndirectly assist the cause of enlightenment and propaganda. It's a duty o_very man to work for enlightenment and propaganda and the more harshly, perhaps, the better. I might drop a seed, an idea… . And something might gro_p from that seed. How should I be insulting them? They might be offended a_irst, but afterwards they'd see I'd done them a service. You know, Terebyeva (who is in the community now) was blamed because when she left her family and … devoted … herself, she wrote to her father and mother that she wouldn't g_n living conventionally and was entering on a free marriage and it was sai_hat that was too harsh, that she might have spared them and have written mor_indly. I think that's all nonsense and there's no need of softness; on th_ontrary, what's wanted is protest. Varents had been married seven years, sh_bandoned her two children, she told her husband straight out in a letter: '_ave realised that I cannot be happy with you. I can never forgive you tha_ou have deceived me by concealing from me that there is another organisatio_f society by means of the communities. I have only lately learned it from _reat-hearted man to whom I have given myself and with whom I am establishin_ community. I speak plainly because I consider it dishonest to deceive you.
Do as you think best. Do not hope to get me back, you are too late. I hope yo_ill be happy.' That's how letters like that ought to be written!"
"Is that Terebyeva the one you said had made a third free marriage?"
"No, it's only the second, really! But what if it were the fourth, what if i_ere the fifteenth, that's all nonsense! And if ever I regretted the death o_y father and mother, it is now, and I sometimes think if my parents wer_iving what a protest I would have aimed at them! I would have done somethin_n purpose … I would have shown them! I would have astonished them! I a_eally sorry there is no one!"
"To surprise! He-he! Well, be that as you will," Pyotr Petrovitch interrupted,
"but tell me this; do you know the dead man's daughter, the delicate-lookin_ittle thing? It's true what they say about her, isn't it?"
"What of it? I think, that is, it is my own personal conviction that this i_he normal condition of women. Why not? I mean, distinguons. In our presen_ociety it is not altogether normal, because it is compulsory, but in th_uture society it will be perfectly normal, because it will be voluntary. Eve_s it is, she was quite right: she was suffering and that was her asset, so t_peak, her capital which she had a perfect right to dispose of. Of course, i_he future society there will be no need of assets, but her part will hav_nother significance, rational and in harmony with her environment. As t_ofya Semyonovna personally, I regard her action as a vigorous protest agains_he organisation of society, and I respect her deeply for it; I rejoice indee_hen I look at her!"
"I was told that you got her turned out of these lodgings."
Lebeziatnikov was enraged.
"That's another slander," he yelled. "It was not so at all! That was al_aterina Ivanovna's invention, for she did not understand! And I never mad_ove to Sofya Semyonovna! I was simply developing her, entirel_isinterestedly, trying to rouse her to protest… . All I wanted was he_rotest and Sofya Semyonovna could not have remained here anyway!"
"Have you asked her to join your community?"
"You keep on laughing and very inappropriately, allow me to tell you. Yo_on't understand! There is no such rôle in a community. The community i_stablished that there should be no such rôles. In a community, such a rôle i_ssentially transformed and what is stupid here is sensible there, what, unde_resent conditions, is unnatural becomes perfectly natural in the community.
It all depends on the environment. It's all the environment and man himself i_othing. And I am on good terms with Sofya Semyonovna to this day, which is _roof that she never regarded me as having wronged her. I am trying now t_ttract her to the community, but on quite, quite a different footing. Wha_re you laughing at? We are trying to establish a community of our own, _pecial one, on a broader basis. We have gone further in our convictions. W_eject more! And meanwhile I'm still developing Sofya Semyonovna. She has _eautiful, beautiful character!"
"And you take advantage of her fine character, eh? He-he!"
"No, no! Oh, no! On the contrary."
"Oh, on the contrary! He-he-he! A queer thing to say!"
"Believe me! Why should I disguise it? In fact, I feel it strange myself ho_imid, chaste and modern she is with me!"
"And you, of course, are developing her … he-he! trying to prove to her tha_ll that modesty is nonsense?"
"Not at all, not at all! How coarsely, how stupidly—excuse me saying so—yo_isunderstand the word development! Good heavens, how … crude you still are!
We are striving for the freedom of women and you have only one idea in you_ead… . Setting aside the general question of chastity and feminine modesty a_seless in themselves and indeed prejudices, I fully accept her chastity wit_e, because that's for her to decide. Of course if she were to tell me hersel_hat she wanted me, I should think myself very lucky, because I like the gir_ery much; but as it is, no one has ever treated her more courteously than I, with more respect for her dignity … I wait in hopes, that's all!"
"You had much better make her a present of something. I bet you never though_f that."
"You don't understand, as I've told you already! Of course, she is in such _osition, but it's another question. Quite another question! You simpl_espise her. Seeing a fact which you mistakenly consider deserving o_ontempt, you refuse to take a humane view of a fellow creature. You don'_now what a character she is! I am only sorry that of late she has quite give_p reading and borrowing books. I used to lend them to her. I am sorry, too, that with all the energy and resolution in protesting—which she has alread_hown once—she has little self-reliance, little, so to say, independence, s_s to break free from certain prejudices and certain foolish ideas. Yet sh_horoughly understands some questions, for instance about kissing of hands, that is, that it's an insult to a woman for a man to kiss her hand, becaus_t's a sign of inequality. We had a debate about it and I described it to her.
She listened attentively to an account of the workmen's associations i_rance, too. Now I am explaining the question of coming into the room in th_uture society."
"And what's that, pray?"
"We had a debate lately on the question: Has a member of the community th_ight to enter another member's room, whether man or woman, at any time … an_e decided that he has!"
"It might be at an inconvenient moment, he-he!"
Lebeziatnikov was really angry.
"You are always thinking of something unpleasant," he cried with aversion.
"Tfoo! How vexed I am that when I was expounding our system, I referre_rematurely to the question of personal privacy! It's always a stumbling-bloc_o people like you, they turn it into ridicule before they understand it. An_ow proud they are of it, too! Tfoo! I've often maintained that that questio_hould not be approached by a novice till he has a firm faith in the system.
And tell me, please, what do you find so shameful even in cesspools? I shoul_e the first to be ready to clean out any cesspool you like. And it's not _uestion of self-sacrifice, it's simply work, honourable, useful work which i_s good as any other and much better than the work of a Raphael and a Pushkin, because it is more useful."
"And more honourable, more honourable, he-he-he!"
"What do you mean by 'more honourable'? I don't understand such expressions t_escribe human activity. 'More honourable,' 'nobler'— all those are old- fashioned prejudices which I reject. Everything which is of use to mankind i_onourable. I only understand one word: useful! You can snigger as much as yo_ike, but that's so!"
Pyotr Petrovitch laughed heartily. He had finished counting the money and wa_utting it away. But some of the notes he left on the table. The "cesspoo_uestion" had already been a subject of dispute between them. What was absur_as that it made Lebeziatnikov really angry, while it amused Luzhin and a_hat moment he particularly wanted to anger his young friend.
"It's your ill-luck yesterday that makes you so ill-humoured and annoying,"
blurted out Lebeziatnikov, who in spite of his "independence" and his
"protests" did not venture to oppose Pyotr Petrovitch and still behaved to hi_ith some of the respect habitual in earlier years.
"You'd better tell me this," Pyotr Petrovitch interrupted with haught_ispleasure, "can you … or rather are you really friendly enough with tha_oung person to ask her to step in here for a minute? I think they've all com_ack from the cemetery … I heard the sound of steps … I want to see her, tha_oung person."
"What for?" Lebeziatnikov asked with surprise.
"Oh, I want to. I am leaving here to-day or to-morrow and therefore I wante_o speak to her about … However, you may be present during the interview. It'_etter you should be, indeed. For there's no knowing what you might imagine."
"I shan't imagine anything. I only asked and, if you've anything to say t_er, nothing is easier than to call her in. I'll go directly and you may b_ure I won't be in your way."
Five minutes later Lebeziatnikov came in with Sonia. She came in very muc_urprised and overcome with shyness as usual. She was always shy in suc_ircumstances and was always afraid of new people, she had been as a child an_as even more so now… . Pyotr Petrovitch met her "politely and affably," bu_ith a certain shade of bantering familiarity which in his opinion wa_uitable for a man of his respectability and weight in dealing with a creatur_o young and so interesting as she. He hastened to "reassure" her and made he_it down facing him at the table. Sonia sat down, looked about her—a_ebeziatnikov, at the notes lying on the table and then again at Pyot_etrovitch and her eyes remained riveted on him. Lebeziatnikov was moving t_he door. Pyotr Petrovitch signed to Sonia to remain seated and stoppe_ebeziatnikov.
"Is Raskolnikov in there? Has he come?" he asked him in a whisper.
"Raskolnikov? Yes. Why? Yes, he is there. I saw him just come in… . Why?"
"Well, I particularly beg you to remain here with us and not to leave me alon_ith this … young woman. I only want a few words with her, but God knows wha_hey may make of it. I shouldn't like Raskolnikov to repeat anything… . Yo_nderstand what I mean?"
"I understand!" Lebeziatnikov saw the point. "Yes, you are right… . Of course, I am convinced personally that you have no reason to be uneasy, but … still, you are right. Certainly I'll stay. I'll stand here at the window and not b_n your way … I think you are right … "
Pyotr Petrovitch returned to the sofa, sat down opposite Sonia, looke_ttentively at her and assumed an extremely dignified, even severe expression, as much as to say, "don't you make any mistake, madam." Sonia was overwhelme_ith embarrassment.
"In the first place, Sofya Semyonovna, will you make my excuses to you_espected mamma… . That's right, isn't it? Katerina Ivanovna stands in th_lace of a mother to you?" Pyotr Petrovitch began with great dignity, thoug_ffably.
It was evident that his intentions were friendly.
"Quite so, yes; the place of a mother," Sonia answered, timidly and hurriedly.
"Then will you make my apologies to her? Through inevitable circumstances I a_orced to be absent and shall not be at the dinner in spite of your mamma'_ind invitation."
"Yes … I'll tell her … at once."
And Sonia hastily jumped up from her seat.
"Wait, that's not all," Pyotr Petrovitch detained her, smiling at he_implicity and ignorance of good manners, "and you know me little, my dea_ofya Semyonovna, if you suppose I would have ventured to trouble a perso_ike you for a matter of so little consequence affecting myself only. I hav_nother object."
Sonia sat down hurriedly. Her eyes rested again for an instant on the grey- and-rainbow-coloured notes that remained on the table, but she quickly looke_way and fixed her eyes on Pyotr Petrovitch. She felt it horribly indecorous, especially for her, to look at another person's money. She stared at the gol_ye-glass which Pyotr Petrovitch held in his left hand and at the massive an_xtremely handsome ring with a yellow stone on his middle finger. But suddenl_he looked away and, not knowing where to turn, ended by staring Pyot_etrovitch again straight in the face. After a pause of still greater dignit_e continued.
"I chanced yesterday in passing to exchange a couple of words with Katerin_vanovna, poor woman. That was sufficient to enable me to ascertain that sh_s in a position—preternatural, if one may so express it."
"Or it would be simpler and more comprehensible to say, ill."
"Yes, simpler and more comprehen … yes, ill."
"Quite so. So then from a feeling of humanity and so to speak compassion, _hould be glad to be of service to her in any way, foreseeing her unfortunat_osition. I believe the whole of this poverty-stricken family depends no_ntirely on you?"
"Allow me to ask," Sonia rose to her feet, "did you say something to he_esterday of the possibility of a pension? Because she told me you ha_ndertaken to get her one. Was that true?"
"Not in the slightest, and indeed it's an absurdity! I merely hinted at he_btaining temporary assistance as the widow of an official who had died in th_ervice—if only she has patronage … but apparently your late parent had no_erved his full term and had not indeed been in the service at all of late. I_act, if there could be any hope, it would be very ephemeral, because ther_ould be no claim for assistance in that case, far from it… . And she i_reaming of a pension already, he-he-he! … A go-ahead lady!"
"Yes, she is. For she is credulous and good-hearted, and she believe_verything from the goodness of her heart and … and … and she is like that … yes … You must excuse her," said Sonia, and again she got up to go.
"But you haven't heard what I have to say."
"No, I haven't heard," muttered Sonia.
"Then sit down." She was terribly confused; she sat down again a third time.
"Seeing her position with her unfortunate little ones, I should be glad, as _ave said before, so far as lies in my power, to be of service, that is, s_ar as is in my power, not more. One might for instance get up a subscriptio_or her, or a lottery, something of the sort, such as is always arranged i_uch cases by friends or even outsiders desirous of assisting people. It wa_f that I intended to speak to you; it might be done."
"Yes, yes … God will repay you for it," faltered Sonia, gazing intently a_yotr Petrovitch.
"It might be, but we will talk of it later. We might begin it to-day, we wil_alk it over this evening and lay the foundation so to speak. Come to me a_even o'clock. Mr. Lebeziatnikov, I hope, will assist us. But there is on_ircumstance of which I ought to warn you beforehand and for which I ventur_o trouble you, Sofya Semyonovna, to come here. In my opinion money cannot be, indeed it's unsafe to put it into Katerina Ivanovna's own hands. The dinne_o-day is a proof of that. Though she has not, so to speak, a crust of brea_or to-morrow and … well, boots or shoes, or anything; she has bought to-da_amaica rum, and even, I believe, Madeira and … and coffee. I saw it as _assed through. To-morrow it will all fall upon you again, they won't have _rust of bread. It's absurd, really, and so, to my thinking, a subscriptio_ught to be raised so that the unhappy widow should not know of the money, bu_nly you, for instance. Am I right?"
"I don't know … this is only to-day, once in her life… . She was so anxious t_o honour, to celebrate the memory… . And she is very sensible … but just a_ou think and I shall be very, very … they will all be … and God will reward … and the orphans … "
Sonia burst into tears.
"Very well, then, keep it in mind; and now will you accept for the benefit o_our relation the small sum that I am able to spare, from me personally. I a_ery anxious that my name should not be mentioned in connection with it. Here … having so to speak anxieties of my own, I cannot do more … "
And Pyotr Petrovitch held out to Sonia a ten-rouble note carefully unfolded.
Sonia took it, flushed crimson, jumped up, muttered something and began takin_eave. Pyotr Petrovitch accompanied her ceremoniously to the door. She got ou_f the room at last, agitated and distressed, and returned to Katerin_vanovna, overwhelmed with confusion.
All this time Lebeziatnikov had stood at the window or walked about the room, anxious not to interrupt the conversation; when Sonia had gone he walked up t_yotr Petrovitch and solemnly held out his hand.
"I heard and saw everything," he said, laying stress on the last verb. "Tha_s honourable, I mean to say, it's humane! You wanted to avoid gratitude, _aw! And although I cannot, I confess, in principle sympathise with privat_harity, for it not only fails to eradicate the evil but even promotes it, ye_ must admit that I saw your action with pleasure—yes, yes, I like it."
"That's all nonsense," muttered Pyotr Petrovitch, somewhat disconcerted, looking carefully at Lebeziatnikov.
"No, it's not nonsense! A man who has suffered distress and annoyance as yo_id yesterday and who yet can sympathise with the misery of others, such a man … even though he is making a social mistake—is still deserving of respect! _id not expect it indeed of you, Pyotr Petrovitch, especially as according t_our ideas … oh, what a drawback your ideas are to you! How distressed you ar_or instance by your ill-luck yesterday," cried the simple-hearte_ebeziatnikov, who felt a return of affection for Pyotr Petrovitch. "And, wha_o you want with marriage, with legal marriage, my dear, noble Pyot_etrovitch? Why do you cling to this legality of marriage? Well, you may bea_e if you like, but I am glad, positively glad it hasn't come off, that yo_re free, that you are not quite lost for humanity… . you see, I've spoken m_ind!"
"Because I don't want in your free marriage to be made a fool of and to brin_p another man's children, that's why I want legal marriage," Luzhin replie_n order to make some answer.
He seemed preoccupied by something.
"Children? You referred to children," Lebeziatnikov started off like _arhorse at the trumpet call. "Children are a social question and a questio_f first importance, I agree; but the question of children has anothe_olution. Some refuse to have children altogether, because they suggest th_nstitution of the family. We'll speak of children later, but now as to th_uestion of honour, I confess that's my weak point. That horrid, military, Pushkin expression is unthinkable in the dictionary of the future. What doe_t mean indeed? It's nonsense, there will be no deception in a free marriage!
That is only the natural consequence of a legal marriage, so to say, it_orrective, a protest. So that indeed it's not humiliating … and if I ever, t_uppose an absurdity, were to be legally married, I should be positively gla_f it. I should say to my wife: 'My dear, hitherto I have loved you, now _espect you, for you've shown you can protest!' You laugh! That's because yo_re of incapable of getting away from prejudices. Confound it all! _nderstand now where the unpleasantness is of being deceived in a lega_arriage, but it's simply a despicable consequence of a despicable position i_hich both are humiliated. When the deception is open, as in a free marriage, then it does not exist, it's unthinkable. Your wife will only prove how sh_espects you by considering you incapable of opposing her happiness an_venging yourself on her for her new husband. Damn it all! I sometimes drea_f I were to be married, pfoo! I mean if I were to marry, legally or not, it'_ust the same, I should present my wife with a lover if she had not found on_or herself. 'My dear,' I should say, 'I love you, but even more than that _esire you to respect me. See!' Am I not right?"
Pyotr Petrovitch sniggered as he listened, but without much merriment. H_ardly heard it indeed. He was preoccupied with something else and eve_ebeziatnikov at last noticed it. Pyotr Petrovitch seemed excited and rubbe_is hands. Lebeziatnikov remembered all this and reflected upon it afterwards.