THAT MORNING MANY people saw Pyotr Stepanovitch. All who saw him remembere_hat he was in a particularly excited state. At two o'clock he went to se_aganov, who had arrived from the country only the day before, and whose hous_as full of visitors hotly discussing the events of the previous day. Pyot_tepanovitch talked more than anyone and made them listen to him. He wa_lways considered among us as a "chatterbox of a student with a screw loose,"
but now he talked of Yulia Mihailovna, and in the general excitement the them_as an enthralling one. As one who had recently been her intimate an_onfidential friend, he disclosed many new and unexpected details concernin_er; incidentally (and of course unguardedly) he repeated some of her ow_emarks about persons known to all in the town, and thereby piqued thei_anity. He dropped it all in a vague and rambling way, like a man free fro_uile driven by his sense of honour to the painful necessity of clearing up _erfect mountain of misunderstandings, and so simple-hearted that he hardl_new where to begin and where to leave off. He let slip in a rather unguarde_ay, too, that Yulia Mihailovna knew the whole secret of Stavrogin and tha_he had been at the bottom of the whole intrigue. She had taken him in too, for he, Pyotr Stepanovitch, had also been in love with this unhappy Liza, ye_e had been so hoodwinked that he had almost taken her to Stavrogin himself i_he carriage. "Yes, yes, it's all very well for you to laugh, gentlemen, bu_f only I'd known, if I'd known how it would end!" he concluded. To variou_xcited inquiries about Stavrogin he bluntly replied that in his opinion th_atastrophe to the Lebyadkins was a pure coincidence, and that it was al_ebyadkin's own fault for displaying his money. He explained this particularl_ell. One of his listeners observed that it was no good his "pretending"; tha_e had eaten and drunk and almost slept at Yulia Mihailovna's, yet now he wa_he first to blacken her character, and that this was by no means such a fin_hing to do as he supposed. But Pyotr Stepanovitch immediately defende_imself.
"I ate and drank there not because I had no money, and it's not my fault tha_ was invited there. Allow me to judge for myself how far I need to b_rateful for that."
The general impression was in his favour. "He may be rather absurd, and o_ourse he is a nonsensical fellow, yet still he is not responsible for Yuli_ihailovna's foolishness. On the contrary, it appears that he tried to sto_er."
About two o'clock the news suddenly came that Stavrogin, about whom there wa_o much talk, had suddenly left for Petersburg by the midday train. Thi_nterested people immensely; many of them frowned. Pyotr Stepanovitch was s_uch struck that I was told he turned quite pale and cried out strangely,
"Why, how could they have let him go?" He hurried away from Gaganov'_orthwith, yet he was seen in two or three other houses.
Towards dusk he succeeded in getting in to see Yulia Mihailovna though he ha_he greatest pains to do so, as she had absolutely refused to see him. I hear_f this from the lady herself only three weeks afterwards, just before he_eparture for Petersburg. She gave me no details, but observed with a shudde_hat "he had on that occasion astounded her beyond all belief." I imagine tha_ll he did was to terrify her by threatening to charge her with being a_ccomplice if she "said anything." The necessity for this intimidation aros_rom his plans at the moment, of which she, of course, knew nothing; and onl_ater, five days afterwards, she guessed why he had been so doubtful of he_eticence and so afraid of a new outburst of indignation on her part.
Between seven and eight o'clock, when it was dark, all the five members of th_uintet met together at Ensign Erkel's lodgings in a little crooked house a_he end of the town. The meeting had been fixed by Pyotr Stepanovitch himself, but he was unpardonably late, and the members waited over an hour for him.
This Ensign Erkel was that young officer who had sat the whole evening a_irginsky's with a pencil in his hand and a notebook before him. He had no_ong been in the town; he lodged alone with two old women, sisters, in _ecluded by-street and was shortly to leave the town; a meeting at his hous_as less likely to attract notice than anywhere. This strange boy wa_istinguished by extreme taciturnity: he was capable of sitting for a doze_venings in succession in noisy company, with the most extraordinar_onversation going on around him, without uttering a word, though he listene_ith extreme attention, watching the speakers with his childlike eyes. Hi_ace was very pretty and even had a certain look of cleverness. He did no_elong to the quintet; it was supposed that he had some special job of _urely practical character. It is known now that he had nothing of the sor_nd probably did not understand his position himself. It was simply that h_as filled with hero-worship for Pyotr Stepanovitch, whom he had only latel_et. If he had met a monster of iniquity who had incited him to found a ban_f brigands on the pretext of some romantic and socialistic object, and as _est had bidden him rob and murder the first peasant he met, he woul_ertainly have obeyed and done it. He had an invalid mother to whom he sen_alf of his scanty payand how she must have kissed that poor little flaxe_ead, how she must have trembled and prayed over it! I go into these detail_bout him because I feel very sorry for him.
"Our fellows" were excited. The events of the previous night had made a grea_mpression on them, and I fancy they were in a panic. The simpl_isorderliness in which they had so zealously and systematically taken par_ad ended in a way they had not expected. The fire in the night, the murder o_he Lebyadkins, the savage brutality of the crowd with Liza, had been a serie_f surprises which they had not anticipated in their programme. They hotl_ccused the hand that had guided them of despotism and duplicity. In fact, while they were waiting for Pyotr Stepanovitch they worked each other up t_uch a point that they resolved again to ask him for a definite explanation, and if he evaded again, as he had done before, to dissolve the quintet and t_ound instead a new secret society "for the propaganda of ideas" and on thei_wn initiative on the basis of democracy and equality. Liputin, Shigalov, an_he authority on the peasantry supported this plan; Lyamshin said nothing, though he looked approving. Virginsky hesitated and wanted to hear Pyot_tepanovitch first. It was decided to hear Pyotr Stepanovitch, but still h_id not come; such casualness added fuel to the flames. Erkel was absolutel_ilent and did nothing but order the tea, which he brought from his landladie_n glasses on a tray, not bringing in the samovar nor allowing the servant t_nter.
Pyotr Stepanoviteh did not turn up till half-past eight. With rapid steps h_ent up to the circular table before the sofa round which the company wer_eated; he kept his cap in his hand and refused tea. He looked angry, severe, and supercilious. He must have observed at once from their faces that the_ere "mutinous."
"Before I open my mouth, you've got something hidden; out with it."
Liputin began "in the name of all," and declared in a voice quivering wit_esentment "that if things were going on like that they might as well blo_heir brains out." Oh, they were not at all afraid to blow their brains out, they were quite ready to, in fact, but only to serve the common cause (_eneral movement of approbation). So he must be more open with them so tha_hey might always know beforehand, "or else what would things be coming to?"
(Again a stir and some guttural sounds.) To behave like this was humiliatin_nd dangerous. "We don't say so because we are afraid, but if one acts and th_est are only pawns, then one would blunder and all would be lost."
(Exclamations. "Yes, yes." General approval.)
"Damn it all, what do you want?"
"What connection is there between the common cause and the petty intrigues o_r. Stavrogin?" cried Liputin, boiling over. "Suppose he is in some mysteriou_elation to the centre, if that legendary centre really exists at all, it's n_oncern of ours. And meantime a murder has been committed, the police hav_een roused; if they follow the thread they may find what it starts from."
"If Stavrogin and you are caught, we shall be caught too," added the authorit_n the peasantry.
"And to no good purpose for the common cause," Virginsky conclude_espondently.
"What nonsense! The murder is a chance crime; it was committed by Fedka fo_he sake of robbery."
"H'm! Strange coincidence, though," said Liputin, wriggling.
"And if you will have it, it's all through you."
"In the first place, you, Liputin, had a share in the intrigue yourself; an_he second chief point is, you were ordered to get Lebyadkin away and give_oney to do it; and what did you do? If you'd got him away nothing would hav_appened."
"But wasn't it you yourself who suggested the idea that it would be a goo_hing to set him on to read his verses?"
"An idea is not a command. The command was to get him away."
"Command! Rather a queer word… . On the contrary,
your orders were to delay sending him off."
"You made a mistake and showed your foolishness and self-will. The murder wa_he work of Fedka, and he carried it out alone for the sake of robbery. Yo_eard the gossip and believed it. You were scared. Stavrogin is not such _ool, and the proof of that is he left the town at twelve o'clock after a_nterview with the vice-governor; if there were anything in it they would no_et him go to Petersburg in broad daylight."
"But we are not making out that Mr. Stavrogin committed the murder himself,"
Liputin rejoined spitefully and unceremoniously. "He may have known nothin_bout it, like me; and you know very well that I knew nothing about it, thoug_ am mixed up in it like mutton in a hash."
"Whom are you accusing?" said Pyotr Stepanovitch, looking at him darkly.
"Those whose interest it is to burn down towns."
"You make matters worse by wriggling out of it. However, won't you read thi_nd pass it to the others, simply as a fact of interest?"
He pulled out of his pocket Lebyadkin's anonymous letter to Lembke and hande_t to Liputin. The latter read it, was evidently surprised, and passed i_houghtfully to his neighbour; the letter quickly went the round.
"Is that really Lebyadkin's handwriting?" observed Shigalov.
"It is," answered Liputin and Tolkatchenko (the authority on the peasantry).
"I simply brought it as a fact of interest and because I knew you were s_entimental over Lebyadkin," repeated Pyotr Stepanovitch, taking the lette_ack. "So it turns out, gentlemen, that a stray Fedka relieves us quite b_hance of a dangerous man. That's what chance does sometimes! It'_nstructive, isn't it?"
The members exchanged rapid glances.
"And now, gentlemen, it's my turn to ask questions," said Pyotr Stepanovitch, assuming an air of dignity. "Let me know what business you had to set fire t_he town without permission."
"What's this! We, we set fire to the town? That is laying the blame o_thers!" they exclaimed.
"I quite understand that you carried the game too far," Pyotr Stepanovitc_ersisted stubbornly, "but it's not a matter of petty scandals with Yuli_ihailovna. I've brought you here gentlemen, to explain to you the greatnes_f the danger you have so stupidly incurred, which is a menace to much beside_ourselves."
"Excuse me, we, on the contrary, were intending just now to point out to yo_he greatness of the despotism and unfairness you have shown in taking such _erious and also strange step without consulting the members," Virginsky, wh_ad been hitherto silent, protested, almost with indignation.
"And so you deny it? But I maintain that you set fire to the town, you an_one but you. Gentlemen, don't tell lies! I have good evidence. By you_ashness you exposed the common cause to danger. You are only one knot in a_ndless network of knotsand your duty is blind obedience to the centre. Ye_hree men of you incited the Shpigulin men to set fire to the town without th_east instruction to do so, and the fire has taken place."
"What three? What three of us?"
"The day before yesterday, at three o'clock in the night, you, Tolkatchenko, were inciting Fomka Zavyalov at the 'Forget-me-not.' "
"Upon my word!" cried the latter, jumping up, "I scarcely said a word to him, and what I did say was without intention, simply because he had been flogge_hat morning. And I dropped it at once; I saw he was too drunk. If you had no_eferred to it I should not have thought of it again. A word could not set th_lace on fire."
"You are like a man who should be surprised that a tiny spark could blow _hole powder magazine into the air."
"I spoke in a whisper in his ear, in a corner; how could you have heard o_t?"
Tolkatchenko reflected suddenly.
"I was sitting there under the table. Don't disturb yourselves, gentlemen; _now every step you take. You smile sarcastically, Mr. Liputin? But I know, for instance, that you pinched your wife black and blue at midnight, thre_ays ago, in your bedroom as you were going to bed."
Liputin's mouth fell open and he turned pale. (It was afterwards found ou_hat he knew of this exploit of Liputin's from Agafya, Liputin's servant, who_e had paid from the beginning to spy on him; this only came out later.)
"May I state a fact?" said Shigalov, getting up.
Shigalov sat down and pulled himself together.
"So far as I understandand it's impossible not to understand ityou yourself a_irst and a second time later, drew with great eloquence, but to_heoretically, a picture of Russia covered with an endless network of knots.
Each of these centres of activity, proselytising and ramifying endlessly, aim_y systematic denunciation to injure the prestige of local authority, t_educe the villages to confusion, to spread cynicism and scandals, togethe_ith complete disbelief in everything and an eagerness for something better, and finally, by means of fires, as a pre-eminently national method, to reduc_he country at a given moment, if need be, to desperation. Are those you_ords which I tried to remember accurately? Is that the programme you gave u_s the authorised representative of the central committee, which is to thi_ay utterly unknown to us and almost like a myth?"
"It's correct, only you are very tedious."
"Every one has a right to express himself in his own way. Giving us t_nderstand that the separate knots of the general network already coverin_ussia number by now several hundred, and propounding the theory that if ever_ne does his work successfully, all Russia at a given moment, at a signal … "
"Ah, damn it all, I have enough to do without you!" cried Pyotr Stepanovitch, twisting in his chair.
"Very well, I'll cut it short and I'll end simply by asking if we've seen th_isorderly scenes, we've seen the discontent of the people, we've seen an_aken part in the downfall of local administration, and finally, we've see_ith our own eyes the town on fire? What do you find amiss? Isn't that you_rogramme? What can you blame us for?"
"Acting on your own initiative!" Pyotr Stepanovitch cried furiously. "While _m here you ought not to have dared to act without my permission. Enough. W_re on the eve of betrayal, and perhaps to-morrow or to-night you'll b_eized. So there. I have authentic information."
At this all were agape with astonishment.
"You will be arrested not only as the instigators of the fire, but as _uintet. The traitor knows the whole secret of the network. So you see what _ess you've made of it!"
"Stavrogin, no doubt," cried Liputin.
"What … why Stavrogin?" Pyotr Stepanovitch seemed suddenly taken aback. "Han_t all," he cried, pulling himself together at once, "it's Shatov! I believ_ou all know now that Shatov in his time was one of the society. I must tel_ou that, watching him through persons he does not suspect, I found, out to m_mazement that he knows all about the organisation of the network and … everything, in fact. To save himself from being charged with having formerl_elonged, he will give information against all. He has been hesitating up til_ow and I have spared him. Your fire has decided him: he is shaken and wil_esitate no longer. To-morrow we shall be arrested as incendiaries an_olitical offenders."
"Is it true? How does Shatov know?" The excitement was indescribable.
"It's all perfectly true. I have no right to reveal the source from which _earnt it or how I discovered it, but I tell you what I can do for yo_eanwhile: through one person I can act on Shatov so that without hi_uspecting it he will put oft giving information, but not more than fo_wenty-four hours." All were silent.
"We really must send him to the devil!" Tolkatchenko was the first to exclaim.
"It ought to have- been done long ago," Lyamshin put in malignantly, strikin_he table with his fist.
"But how is it to be done?" muttered Liputin. Pyotr Stepanovitch at once too_p the question and unfolded his plan. The plan was the following day a_ightfall to draw Shatov away to a secluded spot to hand over the secre_rinting press .which had been in his keeping and was buried there, and there
"to settle things." He went into various essential details which we will omi_ere, and explained minutely Shatov's present ambiguous attitude to th_entral society, of which the reader knows already.
"That's all very well," Liputin observed irresolutely, "but since it will b_nother adventure … of the same sort … it will make too great a sensation."
"No doubt," assented Pyotr Stepanovitch, "but I've provided against that. W_ave the means of averting suspicion completely."
And with the same minuteness he told them about Kirillov, of his intention t_hoot himself, and of his promise to wait for a signal from them and to leav_ letter behind him taking on himself anything they dictated to him (all o_hich the reader knows already).
"His determination to take his own lifea philosophic, or as I should call it, insane decisionhas become known there" Pyotr Stepanovitch went on to explain.
"There not a thread, not a grain of dust is overlooked; everything is turne_o the service of the cause. Foreseeing how useful it might be and satisfyin_hemselves that his intention was quite serious, they had offered him th_eans to come to Russia (he was set for some reason on dying in Russia), gav_im a commission which he promised to carry out (and he had done so), and had, moreover, bound him by a promise, as you already know, to commit suicide onl_hen he was told to. He promised everything. You must note that he belongs t_he organisation on a particular footing and is anxious to be of service; mor_han that I can't tell you. To-morrow, after Shatov's affair, I'll dictate _ote to him saying that he is responsible for his death. That will seem ver_lausible: they were friends and travelled together to America, there the_uarrelled; and it will all be explained in the letter … and … and perhaps, i_t seems feasible, we might dictate something more to Kirillovsomething abou_he manifestoes, for instance, and even perhaps about the fire. But I'll thin_bout that. You needn't worry yourselves, he has no prejudices; he'll sig_nything."
There were expressions of doubt. It sounded a fantastic story. But they ha_ll heard more or less about Kirillov; Liputin more than all.
"He may change his mind and not want to," said Shigalov; "he is a madma_nyway, so he is not much to build upon."
"Don't be uneasy, gentlemen, he will want to," Pyotr Stepanovitch snapped out.
"I am obliged by our agreement to give him warning the day before, so it mus_e to-day. I invite Liputin to go with me at once to see him and make certain, and he will tell you, gentlemen, when he comes backto-day if need bewhethe_hat I say is true. However," he broke off suddenly with intense exasperation, as though he suddenly felt he was doing people like them too much honour b_asting time in persuading them, "however, do as you please. If you don'_ecide to do it, the union is broken upbut solely through your insubordinatio_nd treachery. In that case we are all independent from this moment. But unde_hose circumstances, besides the unpleasantness of Shatov's betrayal and it_onsequences, you will have brought upon yourselves another littl_npleasantness of which you were definitely warned when the union was formed.
As far as I am concerned, I am not much afraid of you, gentlemen… . Don'_magine that I am so involved with you… . But that's no matter."
"Yes, we decide to do it," Liputin pronounced.
"There's no other way out of it," muttered Tolkatchenko, "and if only Liputi_onfirms about Kirillov, then …
"I am against it; with all my soul and strength I protest against such _urderous decision," said Virginsky, standing up.
"But?" asked Pyotr Stepanovitch… .
"You said but … and I am waiting."
"I don't think I did say but … I only meant to say that if you decide to d_t, then … "
Virginsky did not answer.
"I think that one is at liberty to neglect danger to one's own life," sai_rkel, suddenly opening his mouth, "but if it may injure the cause, then _onsider one ought not to dare to neglect danger to one's life… ."
He broke off in confusion, blushing. Absorbed as they all were in their ow_deas, they all looked at him in amazement it was such a surprise that he to_ould speak.
"I am for the cause," Virginsky pronounced suddenly.
Every one got up. It was decided to communicate once more and make fina_rrangements at midday on the morrow, though without meeting. The place wher_he printing press was hidden was announced and each was assigned his part an_is duty. Liputin and Pyotr Stepanovitch promptly set off together t_irillov.
All our fellows believed that Shatov was going to betray them; but they als_elieved that Pyotr Stepanovitch was playing with them like pawns. And ye_hey knew, too, that in any case they would all meet on the spot next day an_hat Shatov's fatewas sealed. They suddenly felt like flies caught in a web b_ huge spider; they were furious, but they were trembling with terror.
Pyotr Stepanovitch, of course, had treated them badly; it might all have gon_ff far more harmoniously and easily if he had taken the trouble to embellis_he facts ever so little. Instead of putting the facts in a decorous light, a_n exploit worthy of ancient Rome or something of the sort, he simply appeale_o their animal fears and laid stress on the danger to their own skins, whic_as simply insulting; of course there was a struggle for existence i_verything and there was no other principle in nature, they all knew that, bu_till …
But Pyotr Stepanovitch had no time to trot out the Romans; he was completel_hrown out of his reckoning. Stavrogin's flight had astounded and crushed him.
It was a lie when he said that Stavrogin had seen the vice-governor; wha_orried Pyotr Stepanovitch was that Stavrogin had gone off without seein_nyone, even his motherand it was certainly strange that he had been allowe_o leave without hindrance. (The authorities were called to account for i_fterwards.) Pyotr Stepanovitch had been making inquiries all day, but so fa_ad found out nothing, and he had never been so upset. And how could he, ho_ould he give up Stavrogin all at once like this! That was why he could not b_ery tender with the quintet. Besides, they tied his hands: he had alread_ecided to gallop after Stavrogin at once; and meanwhile he was detained b_hatov; he had to cement the quintet together once for all, in case o_mergency. "Pity to waste them, they might be of use." That, I imagine, wa_is way of reasoning.
As for Shatov, Pyotr Stepanovitch was firmly convinced that he would betra_hem. All that he had told the others about it was a lie: he had never see_he document nor heard of it, but he thought it as certain as that twice tw_akes four. It seemed to him that what had happenedthe death of Liza, th_eath of Marya Timofyevnawould be too much for Shatov, and that he would mak_p his mind at once. Who knows? perhaps he had grounds for supposing it. It i_nown, too, that he hated Shatov personally; there had at some time been _uarrel between them, and Pyotr Stepanovitch never forgave an offence. I a_onvinced, indeed, that this was his leading motive.
We have narrow brick pavements in our town, and in some streets only raise_ooden planks instead of a pavement. Pyotr Stepanovitch walked in the middl_f the pavement, taking up the whole of it, utterly regardless of Liputin, wh_ad no room to walk beside him and so had to hurry a step behind or run in th_uddy road if he wanted to speak to him. Pyotr Stepanovitch suddenl_emembered how he had lately splashed through the mud to keep pace wit_tavrogin, who had walked, as he was doing now, taking up the whole pavement.
He recalled the whole scene, and rage choked him.
But Liputin, too, was choking with resentment. Pyotr Stepanovitch might trea_he others as he liked, but him! Why, he knew more than all the rest, was i_loser touch with the work and taking more intimate part in it than anyone, and hitherto his services had been continual, though indirect. Oh, he kne_hat even now Pyotr Stepanovitch might ruin him if it came to the worst. Bu_e had long hated Pyotr Stepanovitch, and not because he was a danger bu_ecause of his overbearing manner. Now, when he had to make up his mind t_uch a deed, he raged inwardly more than all the rest put together. Alas! h_new that next day "like a slave" he would be the first on the spot and woul_ring the others, and if he could somehow have murdered Pyotr Stepanovitc_efore the morrow, without ruining himself, of course, he would certainly hav_urdered him.
Absorbed in his sensations, he trudged dejectedly after his tormentor, wh_eemed to have forgotten his existence, though he gave him a rude and careles_hove with his elbow now and then. Suddenly Pyotr Stepanovitch halted in on_f the principal thoroughfares and went into a restaurant.
"What are you doing?" cried Liputin, boiling over. "This is a restaurant."
"I want a beefsteak."
"Upon my word! It is always full of people."
"What if it is?"
"But … we shall be late. It's ten o'clock already."
"You can't be too late to go there."
"But I shall be late! They are expecting me back."
"Well, let them; but it would be stupid of you to go to them. With all you_obbery I've had no dinner. And the later you go to Kirillov's the more sur_ou are to find him."
Pyotr Stepanovitch went to a room apart. Liputin sat in an easy chair on on_ide, angry and resentful, and watched him eating. Half an hour and mor_assed. Pyotr Stepanovitch did not hurry himself; he ate with relish, rang th_ell, asked for a different kind of mustard, then for beer, without saying _ord to Liputin. He was pondering deeply. He was capable of doing two thing_t onceeating with relish and pondering deeply. Liputin loathed him s_ntensely at last that he could not tear himself away. It was like a nervou_bsession. He counted every morsel of beefsteak that Pyotr Stepanovitch pu_nto his mouth; he loathed him for the way he opened it, for the way h_hewed, for the way he smacked his lips over the fat morsels, he loathed th_teak itself. At last things began to swim before his eyes; he began to fee_lightly giddy; he felt hot and cold run down his spine by turns.
"You are doing nothing; read that," said Pyotr Stepanovitch suddenly, throwin_im a sheet of paper. Liputin went nearer to the candle. The paper was closel_overed with bad handwriting, with corrections in every line. By the time h_ad mastered it Pyotr Stepanovitch had paid his bill and was ready to go. Whe_hey were on the pavement Liputin handed him back the paper.
"Keep it; I'll tell you afterwards… . What do you say to it, though?"
Liputin shuddered all over.
"In my opinion … such a manifesto … is nothing but a ridiculous absurdity."
His anger broke out; he felt as though he were being caught up and carrie_long.
"If we decide to distribute such manifestoes," he said, quivering all over,
"we'll make ourselves, contemptible by our stupidity and incompetence."
"H'm! I think differently," said Pyotr Stepanovitch, walking on resolutely.
"So do I; surely it isn't your work?"
"That's not your business."
"I think too that doggerel, 'A Noble Personality,' is the most utter tras_ossible, and it couldn't have been written by Herzen."
"You are talking nonsense; it's a good poem."
"I am surprised, too, for instance," said Liputin, still dashing along wit_esperate leaps, "that it is suggested that we should act so as to brin_verything to the ground. It's natural in Europe to wish to destroy everythin_ecause there's a proletariat there, but we are only amateurs here and in m_pinion are only showing off."
"No, Fourier isn't nonsense… . Excuse me, I can't believe that there will be _ising in May."
Liputin positively unbuttoned his coat, he was so hot.
"Well, that's enough; but now, that I mayn't forget it," said Pyot_tepanovitch, passing with extraordinary coolness to another subject, "yo_ill have to print this manifesto with your own hands. We're going to dig u_hatov's printing press, and you will take it to-morrow. As quickly a_ossible you must print as many copies as you can, and then distribute the_ll the winter. The means will be provided. You must do as many copies a_ossible, for you'll be asked for them from other places."
"No, excuse me; I can't undertake such a … I decline."
"You'll take it all the same. I am acting on the instructions of the centra_ommittee, and you are bound to obey."
"And I consider that our centres abroad have forgotten what Russia is like an_ave lost all touch, and that's why they talk such nonsense… . I even thin_hat instead of many hundreds of quintets in Russia, we are the only one tha_xists, and there is no network at all," Liputin gasped finally.
"The more contemptible of you, then, to run after the cause without believin_n it … and you are running after me now like a mean little cur."
"No, I'm not. We have a full right to break off and found a new society."
"Fool!" Pyotr Stepanovitch boomed at him threateningly all of a sudden, wit_lashing eyes.
They stood facing one another for some time. Pyotr Stepanovitch turned an_ursued his way confidently.
The idea flashed through Liputin's mind, "Turn and go back; if I don't tur_ow I shall never go back." He pondered this for ten steps, but at th_leventh a new and desperate idea flashed into his mind: he did not turn an_id not go back.
They were approaching Filipov's house, but before reaching it they turned dow_ side street, or, to be more accurate, an inconspicuous path under a fence, so that for some time they had to walk along a steep slope above a ditch wher_hey could not keep their footing without holding the fence. At a dark corne_n the slanting fence Pyotr Stepanovitch took out a plank, leaving a gap, through which he promptly scrambled. Liputin was surprised, but he crawle_hrough after him; then they replaced the plank after them. This was th_ecret way by which Fedka used to visit Kirillov.
"Shatov mustn't know that we are here," Pyotr Stepanovitch whispered sternl_o Liputin.
Kirillov was sitting on his leather sofa drinking tea, as he always was a_hat hour. He did not get up to meet them, but gave a sort of start and looke_t the new-comers anxiously.
"You are not mistaken," said Pyotr Stepanovitch, "it's just that I've com_bout."
"No, no, to-morrow … about this time." And he hurriedly sat down at the table, watching Kirillov's agitation with some uneasiness. But the latter had alread_egained his composure and looked as usual.
"These people still refuse to believe in you. You are not vexed at my bringin_iputin?"
"To-day I am not vexed; to-morrow I want to be alone."
"But not before I come, and therefore in my presence." .
"I should prefer not in your presence."
"You remember you promised to write and to sign all I dictated."
"I don't care. And now will you be here long?"
"I have to see one man and to remain half an hour, so whatever you say I shal_tay that half-hour."
Kirillov did not speak. Liputin meanwhile sat down on one side under th_ortrait of the bishop. That last desperate idea gained more and mor_ossession of him. Kirillov scarcely noticed him. Liputin had heard o_irillov's theory before and always laughed at him; but now he was silent an_ooked gloomily round him.
"I've no objection to some tea," said Pyotr Stepanovitch, moving up. "I'v_ust had some steak and was reckoning on getting tea with you."
"Drink it. You can have some if you like."
"You used to offer it to me," observed Pyotr Stepanovitch sourly.
"That's no matter. Let Liputin have some too."
"No, I … can't."
"Don't want to or can't?" said Pyotr Stepanovitch, turning quickly to him.
"I am not going to here," Liputin said expressively.
Pyotr Stepanovitch frowned.
"There's a flavour of mysticism about that; goodness knows what to make of yo_eople!"
No one answered; there was a full minute of silence.
"But I know one thing," he added abruptly, "that no superstition will preven_ny one of us from doing his duty."
"Has Stavrogin gone?" asked Kirillov.
"He's done well."
Pyotr Stepanovitch's eyes gleamed, but he restrained himself.
"I don't care what you think as long as every one keeps his word."
"I'll keep my word."
"I always knew that you would do your duty like an independent and progressiv_an."
"You are an absurd fellow."
"That may be; I am very glad to amuse you. I am always glad if I can giv_eople pleasure."
"You are very anxious I should shoot myself and are afraid I might suddenl_ot?"
"Well, you see, it was your own doingconnecting your plan with our work.
Reckoning on your plan we have already done something, so that you couldn'_efuse now because you've let us in for it."
"You've no claim at all."
"I understand, I understand; you are perfectly free, and we don't come in s_ong as your free intention is carried out."
"And am I to take on myself all the nasty things you've done?"
"Listen, Kirillov, are you afraid? If you want to cry off, say so at once."
"I am not afraid."
"I ask because you are making so many inquiries."
"Are you going soon?"
"Asking questions again?" Kirillov scanned him contemptuously.
"You see," Pyotr Stepanovitch went on, getting angrier and angrier, and unabl_o take the right tone, "you want me to go away, to be alone, to concentrat_ourself, but all that's a bad sign for youfor you above all. You want t_hink a great deal. To my mind you'd better not think. And really you make m_neasy."
"There's only one thing I hate, that at such a moment I should have a reptil_ike you beside me."
"Oh, that doesn't matter. I'll go away at the time and stand on the steps i_ou like. If you are so concerned about trifles when it comes to dying, then … it's all a very bad sign. I'll go out on to the steps and you can imagine _now nothing about it, and that I am a man infinitely below you."
"No, not infinitely; you've got abilities, but there's a lot you don'_nderstand because you are a low man."
"Delighted, delighted. I told you already I am delighted to provid_ntertainment … at such a moment."
"You don't understand anything."
"That is, I … well, I listen with respect, anyway."
"You can do nothing; even now you can't hide your petty spite, though it's no_o your interest to show it. You'll make me cross, and then I may want anothe_ix months." Pyotr Stepanovitch looked at his watch. "I never understood you_heory, but I know you didn't invent it for our sakes, so I suppose you woul_arry it out apart from us. And I know too that you haven't mastered the ide_ut the idea has mastered you, so you won't put it off."
"What? The idea has mastered me?"
"And not I mastered the idea? That's good. You have a little sense. Only yo_ease me and I am proud."
"That's a good thing, that's a good thing. Just what you need, to be proud."
"Enough. You've drunk your tea; go away."
"Damn it all, I suppose I must"Pyotr Stepanovitch got up" though it's early.
Listen, Kirillov. Shall I find that manyou know whom I meanat Myasnitchiha's?
Or has she too been lying?"
"You won't find him, because he is here and not there."
"Here! Damn it all, where?"
"Sitting in the kitchen, eating and drinking."
"How dared he?" cried Pyotr Stepanovitch, flushing angrily. "It was his dut_o wait … what nonsense! He has no passport, no money!"
"I don't know. He came to say good-bye; he is dressed and ready. He is goin_way and won't come back. He says you are a scoundrel and he doesn't want t_ait for your money."
"Ha ha! He is afraid that I'll … But even now I can … if … Where is he, in th_itchen?"
Kirillov opened a side door into a tiny dark room; from this room three step_ed straight to the part of the kitchen where the cook's bed was usually put, behind the partition. Here, in the corner under the ikons, Fedka was sittin_ow, at a bare deal table. Before him stood a pint bottle, a plate of bread, and some cold beef and potatoes on an earthenware dish. He was eating in _eisurely way and was already half drunk, but he was wearing his sheep-ski_oat and was evidently ready for a journey. A samovar was boiling the othe_ide of the screen, but it was not for Fedka, who had every night for a wee_r more zealously blown it up and got it ready for "Alexey Nilitch, for he'_uch a habit of drinking tea at nights." I am strongly disposed to believ_hat, as Kirillov had not a cook, he had cooked the beef and potatoes tha_orning with his own hands for Fedka.
"What notion is this?" cried Pyotr Stepanovitch, whisking into the room. "Wh_idn't you wait where you were ordered?"
And swinging his fist, he brought it down heavily on the table.
Fedka assumed an air of dignity.
"You wait a bit, Pyotr Stepanovitch, you wait a bit," he began, with _waggering emphasis on each word, "it's your first duty to understand her_hat you are on a polite visit to Mr. Kirillov, Alexey Nilitch, whose boot_ou might clean any day, because beside you he is a man of culture and you ar_nly foo!"
And he made a jaunty show of spitting to one side. Haughtiness an_etermination were evident in his manner, and a certain very threatenin_ssumption of argumentative calm that suggested an outburst to follow. Bu_yotr Stepanovitch had no time to realise the danger, and it did not fit i_ith his preconceived ideas. The incidents and disasters of the day had quit_urned his head. Liputin, at the top of the three steps, stared inquisitivel_own from the little dark room.
"Do you or don't you want a trustworthy passport and good money to go wher_ou've been told? Yes or no?"
"D'you see, Pyotr Stepanovitch, you've been deceiving me from the first, an_o you've been a regular scoundrel to me. For all the world like a filth_uman lousethat's how I look on you. You've promised me a lot of money fo_hedding innocent blood and swore it was for Mr. Stavrogin, though it turn_ut to be nothing but your want of breeding. I didn't get a farthing out o_t, let alone fifteen hundred, and Mr. Stavrogin hit you in the face, whic_as come to our ears. Now you axe threatening me again and promising m_oneywhat for, you don't say. And I shouldn't wonder if you are sending me t_etersburg to plot some revenge in your spite against Mr. Stavrogin, Nikola_syevolodovitch, reckoning on my simplicity. And that proves you are the chie_urderer. And do you know what you deserve for the very fact that in th_epravity of your heart you've given up believing in God Himself, the tru_reator? You are no better than an idolater and are on a level with the Tata_nd the Mordva. Alexey Nilitch, who is a philosopher, has expounded the tru_od, the Creator, many a time to you, as well as the creation of the world an_he fate that's to come and the transformation of every sort of creature an_very sort of beast out of the Apocalypse, but you've persisted like _enseless idol in your deafness and your dumbness and have brought Ensig_rkel to the same, like the veriest evil seducer and so-called atheist… ."
"Ah, you drunken dog! He strips the ikons of their setting and then preache_bout God!"
"D'you see, Pyotr Stepanovitch, I tell you truly that I have stripped th_kons, but I only took out the pearls; and how do you know? Perhaps my ow_ear was transformed into a pearl in the furnace of the Most High to make u_or my sufferings, seeing I am just that very orphan, having no daily refuge.
Do you know from the books that once, in ancient times, a merchant with jus_uch tearful sighs and prayers stole a pearl from the halo of the Mother o_od, and afterwards, in the face of all the people, laid the whole price of i_t her feet, and the Holy Mother sheltered him with her mantle before all th_eople, so that it was a miracle, and the command was given through th_uthorities to write it all down word for word in the Imperial books. And yo_et a mouse in, so you insulted the very throne of God. And if you were not m_atural master, whom I dandled in my arms when I was a stripling, I would hav_one for you now, without budging from this place!"
Pyotr Stepanovitch flew into a violent rage.
"Tell me, have you seen Stavrogin to-day?"
"Don't you dare to question me. Mr. Stavrogin is fairly amazed at you, and h_ad no share in it even in wish, let alone instructions or giving money.
You've presumed with me."
"You'll get the money and you'll get another two thousand in Petersburg, whe_ou get there, in a lump sum, and you'll get more."
"You are lying, my fine gentleman, and it makes me laugh to see how easily yo_re taken in. Mr. Stavrogin stands at the top of the ladder above you, and yo_elp at him from below like a silly puppy dog, while he thinks it would b_oing you an honour to spit at you."
"But do you know," cried Pyotr Stepanovitch in a rage, "that I won't let yo_tir a step from here, you scoundrel, and I'll hand you straight over to th_olice."
Fedka leapt on to his feet and his eyes gleamed with fury. Pyotr Stepanovitc_ulled out his revolver. Then followed a rapid and revolting scene: befor_yotr Stepanovitch could take aim, Fedka swung round and in a flash struck hi_n the cheek with all his might. Then there was the thud of a second blow, _hird, then a fourth, all on the cheek. Pyotr Stepanovitch was dazed; with hi_yes starting out of his head, he muttered something, and suddenly crashe_ull length to the ground.
"There you are; take him," shouted Fedka with a triumphant swagger; h_nstantly took up his cap, his bag from under the bench, and was gone. Pyot_tepanovitch lay gasping and . unconscious. Liputin even imagined that he ha_een murdered. Kirillov ran headlong into the kitchen.
"Water!" he cried, and ladling some water in an iron dipper from a bucket, h_oured it over the injured man's head. Pyotr Stepanovitch stirred, raised hi_ead, sat up, and looked blankly about him.
"Well, how are you?" asked Kirillov. Pyotr Stepanovitch looked at hi_ntently, still not recognising him; but seeing Liputin peeping in from th_itchen, he smiled his hateful smile and suddenly got up, picking up hi_evolver from the floor.
"If you take it into your head to run away to-morrow like that scoundre_tavrogin," he cried, pouncing furiously on Kirillov, pale, stammering, an_ardly able to articulate his words, "I'll hang you … like a fly … or crus_ou … if it's at the other end of the world … do you understand!"
And he held the revolver straight at Kirillov's head; but almost at the sam_inute, coming completely to himself, he drew back his hand, thrust th_evolver into his pocket, and without saying another word ran out of th_ouse. Liputin followed him. They clambered through the same gap and agai_alked along the slope holding to the fence. Pyotr Stepanovitch strode rapidl_own the street so that Liputin could scarcely keep up with him. At the firs_rossing he suddenly stopped.
"Well?" He turned to Liputin with a challenge.
Liputin remembered the revolver and was still trembling all over after th_cene he had witnessed; but the answer seemed to come of itself irresistibl_rom his tongue:
"I think … I think that … "
"Did you see what Fedka was drinking in the kitchen?"
"What he was drinking? He was drinking vodka."
"Well then, let me tell you it's the last time in his life he will drin_odka. I recommend you to remember that and reflect on it. And now go to hell; you are not wanted till to-morrow. But mind now, don't be a fool!"
Liputin rushed home full speed.
He had long had a passport in readiness made out in a false name. It seems _ild idea that this prudent little man, the petty despot of his family, wh_as, above all things, a sharp man of business and a capitalist, and who wa_n official too (though he was a Fourierist), should long before hav_onceived the fantastic project of procuring this passport in case o_mergency, that he might escape abroad by means of it if … he did admit th_ossibility of this if, though no doubt he was never able himself to formulat_hat this if might mean.
But now it suddenly formulated itself, and in a most unexpected way. Tha_esperate idea with which he had gone to Kirillov's after that "fool" he ha_eard from Pyotr Stepanovitch on the pavement, had been to abandon everythin_t dawn next day and to emigrate abroad. If anyone doubts that such fantasti_ncidents occur in everyday Russian life, even now, let him look into th_iographies of all the Russian exiles abroad. Not one of them escaped wit_ore wisdom or real justification. It has always been the unrestraine_omination of phantoms and nothing more.
Running home, he began by locking himself in, getting out his travelling bag, and feverishly beginning to pack. His chief anxiety was the question of money, and how much he could rescue from the impending ruinand by what means. H_hought of it as "rescuing," for it seemed to him that he could not linger a_our, and that by daylight he must be on the high road. He did not know wher_o take the train either; he vaguely determined to take it at the second o_hird big station from the town, and to make his way there on foot, i_ecessary. In that way, instinctively and mechanically he busied himself i_is packing with a perfect whirl of ideas in his headand suddenly stoppe_hort, gave it all up, and with a deep groan stretched himself on the sofa.
He felt clearly, and suddenly realised that he might escape, but that he wa_y now utterly incapable of deciding whether he ought to make off before o_fter Shatov's death; that he was simply a lifeless body, a crude inert mass; that he was being moved by an awful outside power; and that, though he had _assport to go abroad, that though he could run away from Shatov (otherwis_hat need was there of such haste?), yet he would run away, not from Shatov, not before his murder, but after it, and that that was determined, signed, an_ealed.
In insufferable distress, trembling every instant and wondering at himself, alternately groaning aloud and numb with terror, he managed to exist til_leven o'clock next morning locked in and lying on the sofa; then came th_hock he was awaiting, and it at once determined him. When he unlocked hi_oor and went out to his household at eleven o'clock they told him that th_unaway convict and brigand, Fedka, who was a terror to every one, who ha_illaged churches and only lately been guilty of murder and arson, who wa_eing pursued and could not be captured by our police, had been found a_aybreak murdered, five miles from the town, at a turning off the high road, and that the whole town was talking of it already. He rushed headlong out o_he house at once to find out further details, and learned, to begin with, that Fedka, who had been found with his skull broken, had apparently bee_obbed and, secondly, that the police already had strong suspicion and eve_ood grounds for believing that the murderer was one of the Shpigulin me_alled Tomka, the very one who had been his accomplice in murdering th_ebyadkins and setting fire to their house, and that there had been a quarre_etween them on the road about a large sum of money stolen from Lebyadkin, which Fedka was supposed to have hidden. Liputin ran to Pyotr Stepanovitch'_odgings and succeeded in learning at the back door, on the sly, that thoug_yotr Stepanovitch had not returned home till about one o'clock at night, h_ad slept there quietly all night till eight o'clock next morning. Of course, there could be no doubt that there was nothing extraordinary about Fedka'_eath, and that such careers usually have such an ending; but the coincidenc_f the fatal words that "it was the last time Fedka would drink vodka," wit_he prompt fulfilment of the prediction, was so remarkable that Liputin n_onger hesitated. The shock had been given; it was as though a stone ha_allen upon him and crushed him for ever. Returning home, he thrust hi_ravelling-bag under the bed without a word, and in the evening at the hou_ixed he was the first to appear at the appointed spot to meet Shatov, thoug_t's true he still had his passport in his pocket.