During that day Virginsky had spent two hours in running round to see th_embers of the quintet and to inform them that Shatov would certainly not giv_nformation, because his wife had come back and given birth to a child, and n_ne "who knew anything of human nature "could suppose that Shatov could be _anger at this moment. But to his discomfiture he found none of them at hom_xcept Erkel and Lyamshin. Erkel listened in silence, looking candidly int_is eyes, and in answer to the direct question "Would he go at six o'clock o_ot?" he replied with the brightest of smiles that "of course he would go."
Lyamshin was in bed, seriously ill, as it seemed, with his head covered with _uilt. He was alarmed at Virginsky's coming in, and as soon as the latte_egan speaking he waved him off from under the bedclothes, entreating him t_et him alone. He listened to all he said about Shatov, however, and seeme_or some reason extremely struck by the news that Virginsky had found no on_t home. It seemed that Lyamshin knew already (through Liputin) of Fedka'_eath, and hurriedly and incoherently told Virginsky about it, at which th_atter seemed struck in his turn. To Virginsky's direct question, "Should the_o or not?" he began suddenly waving his hands again, entreating him to le_im alone, and saying that it was not his business, and that he knew nothin_bout it.
Virginsky returned home dejected and greatly alarmed. It weighed upon him tha_e had to hide it from his family; he was accustomed to tell his wif_verything; and if his feverish brain had not hatched a new idea at tha_oment, a new plan of conciliation for further action, he might have taken t_is bed like Lyamshin. But this new idea sustained him; what's more, he bega_mpatiently awaiting the hour fixed, and set off for the appointed spo_arlier than was necessary. It was a very gloomy place at the end of the hug_ark. I went there afterwards on purpose to look at it. How sinister it mus_ave looked on that chill autumn evening! It was at the edge of an old woo_elonging to the Crown. Huge ancient pines stood out as vague sombre blurs i_he darkness. It was so dark that they could hardly see each other two pace_ff, but Pyotr Stepanovitch, Liputin, and afterwards Erkel, brought lantern_ith them. At some unrecorded date in the past a rather absurd-looking grott_ad for some reason been built here of rough unhewn stones. The table an_enches in the grotto had long ago decayed and fallen. Two hundred paces t_he right was the bank of the third pond of the park. These three pond_tretched one after another for a mile from the house to the very end of th_ark. One could scarcely imagine that any noise, a scream, or even a shot, could reach the inhabitants of the Stavrogins' deserted house. Nikola_syevolodovitch's departure the previous day and Alexey Yegorytch's absenc_eft only five or six people in the house, all more or less invalided, so t_peak. In any case it might be assumed with perfect confidence that if crie_r shouts for help were heard by any of the inhabitants of the isolated hous_hey would only have excited terror; no one would have moved from his war_tove or snug shelf to give assistance.
By twenty past six almost all of them except Erkel, who had been told off t_etch Shatov, had turned up at the trysting-place. This time Pyot_tepanovitch was not late; he came with Tolkatchenko. Tolkatchenko looke_rowning and anxious; all his assumed determination and insolent bravado ha_anished. He scarcely left Pyotr Stepanovitch's side, and seemed to hav_ecome all at once immensely devoted to him. He was continually thrustin_imself forward to whisper fussily to him, but the latter scarcely answere_im, or muttered something irritably to get rid of him.
Shigalov and Virginsky had arrived rather before Pyotr Stepanovitch, and a_oon as he came they drew a little apart in profound and obviously intentiona_ilence. Pyotr Stepanovitch raised his lantern and examined them wit_nceremonious and insulting minuteness. "They mean to speak," flashed throug_is mind.
"Isn't Lyamshin here?" he asked Virginsky. "Who said he was ill?"
"I am here," responded Lyamshin, suddenly coming from behind a tree. He was i_ warm greatcoat and thickly muffled in a rug, so that it was difficult t_ake out his face even with a lantern.
"So Liputin is the only one not here?"
Liputin too came out of the grotto without speaking. Pyotr Stepanovitch raise_he lantern again.
"Why were you hiding in there? Why didn't you come out?"
"I imagine we still keep the right of freedom … of our actions," Liputi_uttered, though probably he hardly knew what he wanted to express.
"Gentlemen," said Pyotr Stepanovitch, raising his voice for the first tim_bove a whisper, which produced an effect, "I think you fully understand tha_t's useless to go over things again. Everything was said and fully thrashe_ut yesterday, openly and directly. But perhapsas I see from your faces som_ne wants to make some statement; in that case I beg you to make haste. Dam_t all! there's not much time, and Erkel may bring him in a minute… ."
"He is sure to bring him," Tolkatchenko put in for some reason.
"If I am not mistaken, the printing press will be handed over, to begin with?"
inquired Liputin, though again he seemed hardly to understand why he asked th_uestion.
"Of course. Why should we lose it?" said Pyotr Stepanovitch, lifting th_antern to his face. "But, you see, we all agreed yesterday that it was no_eally necessary to take it. He need only show you the exact spot where it'_uried; we can dig it up afterwards for ourselves. I know that it's somewher_en paces from a corner of this grotto. But, damn it all! how could you hav_orgotten, Liputin? It was agreed that you should meet him alone and that w_hould come out afterwards… . It's strange that you should askor didn't yo_ean what you said?"
Liputin kept gloomily silent. All were silent. The wind shook the tops of th_ine-trees.
"I trust, however, gentlemen, that every one will do his duty," Pyot_tepanovitch rapped out impatiently.
"I know that Shatov's wife has come back and has given birth to a child,"
Virginsky said suddenly, excited and gesticulating and scarcely able to spea_istinctly. "Knowing what human nature is, we can be sure that now he won'_ive information … because he is happy… . So I went to every one this mornin_nd found no one at home, so perhaps now nothing need be done… ."
He stopped short with a catch in his breath.
"If you suddenly became happy, Mr. Virginsky," said Pyotr Stepanovitch, stepping up to him, "would you abandonnot giving information; there's n_uestion of thatbut any perilous public action which you had planned befor_ou were happy and which you regarded as a duty and obligation in spite of th_isk and loss of happiness?"
"No, I wouldn't abandon it! I wouldn't on any account!" said Virginsky wit_bsurd warmth, twitching all over.
"You would rather be unhappy again than be a scoundrel?"
"Yes, yes… . Quite the contrary… . I'd rather be a complete scoundrel … tha_s no … not a scoundrel at all, but on the contrary completely unhappy rathe_han a scoundrel."
"Well then, let me tell you that Shatov looks on this betrayal as a publi_uty. It's his most cherished conviction, and the proof of it is that he run_ome risk himself; though, of course, they will pardon him a great deal fo_iving information. A man like that will never give up the idea. No sort o_appiness would overcome him. In another day he'll go back on it, reproac_imself, and will go straight to the police. What's more, I don't see an_appiness in the fact that his wife has come back after three years' absenc_o bear him a child of Stavrogin's."
"But no one has seen Shatov's letter," Shigalov brought out all at once, emphatically.
"I've seen it," cried Pyotr Stepanovitch. "It exists, and all this is awfull_tupid, gentlemen."
"And I protest … " Virginsky cried, boiling over suddenly: "I protest with al_y might… . I want … this is what I want. I suggest that when he arrives w_ll come out and question him, and if it's true, we induce him to repent o_t; and if he gives us his word of honour, let him go. In any case we mus_ave a trial; it must be done after trial. We mustn't lie in wait for him an_hen fall upon him."
"Risk the cause on his word of honourthat's the acme of stupidity! Damnation, how stupid it all is now, gentlemen! And a pretty part you are choosing t_lay at the moment of danger!"
"I protest, I protest!" Virginsky persisted.
"Don't bawl, anyway; we shan't hear the signal. Shatov, gentlemen… .
(Damnation, how stupid this is now!) I've told you already that Shatov is _lavophil, that is, one of the stupidest set of people… . But, damn it all, never mind, that's no matter! You put me out! … Shatov is an embittered man, gentlemen, and since he has belonged to the party, anyway, whether he wante_o or no, I had hoped till the last minute that he might have been of servic_o the cause and might have been made use of as an embittered man. I spare_im and was keeping him in reserve, in spite of most exact instructions… .
I've spared him a hundred times more than he deserved! But he's ended b_etraying us… . But, hang it all, I don't care! You'd better try running awa_ow, any of you! No one of you has the right to give up the job! You can kis_im if you like, but you haven't the right to stake the cause on his word o_onour! That's acting like swine and spies in government pay!"
"Who's a spy in government pay here?" Liputin filtered out.
"You, perhaps. You'd better hold your tongue, Liputin; you talk for the sak_f talking, as you always do. All men are spies, gentlemen, who funk thei_uty at the moment of danger. There will always be some fools who'll run in _anic at the last moment and cry out, 'Aie, forgive me, and I'll give them al_way!' But let me tell you, gentlemen, no betrayal would win you a pardon now.
Even if your sentence were mitigated it would mean Siberia; and, what's more, there's no escaping the weapons of the other sideand their weapons are sharpe_han the government's."
Pyotr Stepanovitch was furious and said more than he meant to. With a resolut_ir Shigalov took three steps towards him. "Since yesterday evening I'v_hought over the question," he began, speaking with his usual pedantry an_ssurance. (I believe that if the earth had given way under his feet he woul_ot have raised his voice nor have varied one tone in his methodica_xposition.) "Thinking the matter over, I've come to the conclusion that th_rojected murder is not merely a waste of precious time which might b_mployed in a more suitable and befitting manner, but presents, moreover, tha_eplorable deviation from the normal method which has always been' mos_rejudicial to the cause and has delayed its triumph for scores of years, under the guidance of shallow thinkers and pre-eminently of men of politica_nstead of purely socialistic leanings. I have come here solely to protes_gainst the projected enterprise, for the general edification, intending the_o withdraw at the actual moment, which you, for some reason I don'_nderstand, speak of as a moment of danger to you. I am goingnot from fear o_hat danger nor from a sentimental feeling for Shatov, whom I have n_nclination to kiss, but solely because all this business from beginning t_nd is in direct contradiction to my programme. As for my betraying you and m_eing in the pay of the government, you can set your mind completely at rest.
I shall not betray you."
He turned and walked away.
"Damn it all, he'll meet them and warn Shatov!" cried Pyotr Stepanovitch, pulling out his revolver. They heard the click of the trigger.
"You may be confident," said Shigalov, turning once more, "that if I mee_hatov on the way I may bow to him, but I shall not warn him."
"But do you know, you may have to pay for this, Mr. Fourier?"
"I beg you to observe that I am not Fourier. If you mix me up with tha_awkish theoretical twaddler you simply prove that you know nothing of m_anuscript, though it has been in your hands. As for your vengeance, let m_ell you that it's a mistake to cock your pistol: that's absolutely agains_our interests at the present moment. But if you threaten to shoot me to- morrow, or the day after, you'll gain nothing by it but unnecessary trouble.
You may kill me, but sooner or later you'll come to my system all the same.
At that instant a whistle was heard in the park, two hundred paces away fro_he direction of the pond. Liputin at once answered, whistling also as ha_een agreed the evening before. (As he had lost several teeth and distruste_is own powers, he had this morning bought for a farthing in the market _hild's clay whistle for the purpose.) Erkel had warned Shatov on the way tha_hey would whistle as a signal, so that the latter felt-no uneasiness.
"Don't be uneasy, I'll avoid them and they won't notice me at all," Shigalo_eclared in an impressive whisper; and thereupon deliberately and withou_aste he walked home through the dark park.
Everything, to the smallest detail of this terrible affair, is now full_nown. To begin with, Liputin met Erkel and Shatov at the entrance to th_rotto. Shatov did not bow or offer him his hand, but at once pronounce_urriedly in a loud voice:
"Well, where have you put the spade, and haven't you another lantern? Yo_eedn't be afraid, there's absolutely no one here, and they wouldn't hear a_kvoreshniki now if we fired a cannon here. This is the place, here this ver_pot."
And he stamped with his foot ten paces from the end of the grotto towards th_ood. At that moment Tolkatchenko rushed out from behind a tree and sprang a_im from behind, while Erkel seized him by the elbows. Liputin attacked hi_rom the front. The three of them at once knocked him down and pinned him t_he ground. At this point Pyotr Stepanovitch darted up with his revolver. I_s said that Shatov had time to turn his head and was able to see an_ecognise him. Three lanterns lighted up the scene. Shatov suddenly uttered _hort and desperate scream. But they did not let him go on screaming. Pyot_tepanovitch firmly and accurately put his revolver to Shatov's forehead, pressed it to it, and pulled the trigger. The shot seems not to have bee_oud; nothing was heard at Skvoreshniki, anyway. Shigalov, who was scarcel_hree paces away, of course heard ithe heard the shout and the shot, but, a_e testified afterwards, he did not turn nor even stop. Death was almos_nstantaneous. Pyotr Stepanovitch was the only one who preserved all hi_aculties, but I don't think he was quite cool. Squatting on his heels, h_earched the murdered man's pockets hastily, though with steady hand. No mone_as found (his purse had been left under Marya Ignatyevna's pillow). Two o_hree scraps of paper of no importance were found: a note from his office, th_itle of some book, and an old bill from a restaurant abroad which had bee_reserved, goodness knows why, for two years in his pocket. Pyotr Stepanovitc_ransferred these scraps of paper to his own pocket, and suddenly noticin_hat they had all gathered round, were gazing at the corpse and doing nothing, he began rudely and angrily abusing them and urging them on. Tolkatchenko an_rkel recovered themselves, and running to the grotto brought instantly fro_t two stones which they had got ready there that morning. These stones, whic_eighed about twenty pounds each, were securely tied with cord. As the_ntended to throw the body in the nearest of the three ponds, they proceede_o tie the stones to the head and feet respectively. Pyotr Stepanovitc_astened the stones while Tolkatchenko and Erkel only held and passed them.
Erkel was foremost, and while Pyotr Stepanovitch, grumbling and swearing, tie_he dead man's feet together with the cord and fastened the stone to them_ather lengthy operationTolkatchenko stood holding the other stone a_rm's-length, his whole person bending forward, as it were, deferentially, t_e in readiness to hand it without delay. It never once occurred to him to la_is burden on the ground in the interval. When at last both stones were tie_n and Pyotr Stepanovitch got up from the ground to scrutinise the faces o_is companions, something strange happened, utterly unexpected and surprisin_o almost every one.
As I have said already, all except perhaps Tolkatchenko and Erkel wer_tanding still doing nothing. Though Virginsky had rushed up to Shatov wit_he others he had not seized him or helped to hold him. Lyamshin had joine_he group after the shot had been fired. Afterwards, while Pyotr Stepanovitc_as busy with the corpsefor perhaps ten minutesnone of them seemed to hav_een fully conscious. They grouped themselves around and seemed to have fel_mazement rather than anxiety or alarm. Liputin stood foremost, close to th_orpse. Virginsky stood behind him, peeping over his shoulder with a peculiar, as it were unconcerned, curiosity; he even stood on tiptoe to get a bette_iew. Lyamshin hid behind Virginsky. He took an apprehensive peep from time t_ime and slipped behind him again at once. When the stones had been tied o_nd Pyotr Stepanovitch had risen to his feet, Virginsky began faintl_huddering all over, clasped his hands, and cried out bitterly at the top o_is voice:
"It's not the right thing, it's not, it's not at all!" He would perhaps hav_dded something more to his belated exclamation, but Lyamshin did not let hi_inish: he suddenly seized him from behind and squeezed him with all hi_ight, uttering an unnatural shriek. There are moments of violent emotion, o_error, for instance, when a man will cry out in a voice not his own, unlik_nything one could have anticipated from him, and this has sometimes a ver_errible effect. Lyamshin gave vent to a scream more animal than human.
Squeezing Virginsky from behind more and more tightly and convulsively, h_ent on shrieking without a pause, his mouth wide open and his eyes startin_ut of his head, keeping up a continual patter with his feet, as though h_ere beating a drum. Virginsky was so scared that he too screamed out like _adman, and with a ferocity, a vindictiveness that one could never hav_xpected of Virginsky. He tried to pull himself away from Lyamshin, scratchin_nd punching him as far as he could with his arms behind him. Erkel at las_elped to pull Lyamshin away. But when, in his terror, Virginsky had skippe_en paces away from him, Lyamshin, catching sight of Pyotr Stepanovitch, bega_elling again and flew at him. Stumbling over the corpse, he fell upon Pyot_tepanovitch, pressing his head to the latter's chest and gripping him s_ightly in his arms that Pyotr Stepanovitch, Tolkatchenko, and Liputin coul_ll of them do nothing at the first moment. Pyotr Stepanovitch shouted, swore, beat him on the head with his fists. At last, wrenching himself away, he dre_is revolver and put it in the open mouth of Lyamshin, who was still yellin_nd was by now tightly held by Tolkatchenko, Erkel, and Liputin. But Lyamshi_ent on shrieking in spite of the revolver. At last Erkel, crushing his sil_andkerchief into a ball, deftly thrust it into his mouth and the shrie_eased. Meantime Tolkatchenko tied his hands with what was left of the rope.
"It's very strange," said Pyotr Stepanovitch, scrutinising the madman wit_neasy wonder. He was evidently struck. "I expected something very differen_rom him," he added thoughtfully.
They left Erkel in charge of him for a time. They had to make haste to get ri_f the corpse: there had been so much noise that some one might have heard.
Tolkatchenko and Pyotr Stepanovitch took up the lanterns and lifted the corps_y the head, while Liputin and Virginsky took the feet, and so they carried i_way. With the two stones it was a heavy burden, and the distance was mor_han two hundred paces. Tolkatchenko was the strongest of them. He advise_hem to keep in step, but no one answered him and they all walked anyhow.
Pyotr Stepanovitch walked on the right and, bending forward, carried the dea_an's head on his shoulder while with the left hand he supported the stone. A_olkatchenko walked more than half the way without thinking of helping hi_ith the stone, Pyotr Stepanovitch at last shouted at him with an oath. It wa_ single, sudden shout. They all went on carrying the body in silence, and i_as only when they reached the pond that Virginsky, stooping under his burde_nd seeming to be exhausted by the weight of it, cried out again in the sam_oud and wailing voice:
"It's not the right thing, no, no, it's not the right thing!"
The place to which they carried the dead man at the extreme end of the rathe_arge pond, which was the farthest of the three from the house, was one of th_ost solitary and unfrequented spots in the park, especially at this lat_eason of the year. At that end the pond was overgrown with weeds by th_anks. They put down the lantern, swung the corpse and threw it into the pond.
They heard a muffled and prolonged splash. Pyotr Stepanovitch raised th_antern and every one followed his example, peering curiously to see the bod_ink, but nothing could be seen: weighted with the two stones, the body san_t once. The big ripples spread over the surface of the water and quickl_assed away. It was over.
Virginsky went off with Erkel, who before giving up Lyamshin to Tolkatchenk_rought him to Pyotr Stepanovitch, reporting to the latter that Lyamshin ha_ome to his senses, was penitent and begged forgiveness, and indeed had n_ecollection of what had happened to him. Pyotr Stepanovitch walked off alone, going round by the farther side of the pond, skirting the park. This was th_ongest way. To his surprise Liputin overtook him before he got half-way home.
"Pyotr Stepanovitch! Pyotr Stepanovitch! Lyamshin will give information!"
"No, he will come to his senses and realise that he will be the first to go t_iberia if he did. No one will betray us now. Even you won't."
"What about you?"
"No fear! I'll get you all out of the way the minute you attempt to tur_raitors, and you know that. But you won't turn traitors. Have you run a mil_nd a half to tell me that?"
"Pyotr Stepanovitch, Pyotr Stepanovitch, perhaps we shall never meet again!"
"What's put that into your head?"
"Only tell me one thing."
"Well, what? Though I want you to take yourself off."
"One question, but answer it truly: are we the only quintet in the world, o_s it true that there are hundreds of others? It's a question of the utmos_mportance to me, Pyotr Stepanovitch."
"I see that from the frantic state you are in. But do you know, Liputin, yo_re more dangerous than Lyamshin?"
"I know, I know; but the answer, your answer!"
"You are a stupid fellow! I should have thought it could make no difference t_ou now whether it's the only quintet or one of a thousand."
"That means it's the only one! I was sure of it … " cried Liputin. "I alway_new it was the only one, I knew it all along." And without waiting for an_eply he turned and quickly vanished into the darkness.
Pyotr Stepanovitch pondered a little.
"No, no one will turn traitor," he concluded with decision, "but the grou_ust remain a group and obey, or I'U … What a wretched set they are though!"
He first went home, and carefully, without haste, packed his trunk. At si_'clock in the morning there was a special train from the town. This earl_orning express only ran once a week, and was only a recent experiment. Thoug_yotr Stepanovitch had told the members of the quintet that he was only goin_o be away for a short time in the neighbourhood, his intentions, as appeare_ater, were in reality very different. Having finished packing, he settle_ccounts with his landlady to whom he had previously given notice of hi_eparture, and drove in a cab to Erkel's lodgings, near the station. And the_ust upon one o'clock at night he walked to Kirillov's, approaching as befor_y Fedka's secret way.
Pyotr Stepanovitch was in a painful state of mind. Apart from other extremel_rave reasons for dissatisfaction (he was still unable to learn anything o_tavrogin), he had, it seems for I cannot assert it for a factreceived in th_ourse of that day, probably from Petersburg, secret information of a dange_waiting him in the immediate future. There are, of course, many legends i_he town relating to this period; but if any facts were known, it was only t_hose immediately concerned. I can only surmise as my own conjecture tha_yotr Stepanovitch may well have had affairs going on in other neighbourhood_s well as in our town, so that he really may have received such a warning. _m convinced, indeed, in spite of Liputin's cynical and despairing doubts, that he really had two or three other quintets; for instance, in Petersbur_nd Moscow, and if not quintets at least colleagues and correspondents, an_ossibly was in very curious relations with them. Not more than three day_fter his departure an order for his immediate arrest arrived fro_etersburgwhether in connection with what had happened among us, or elsewhere, I don't know. This order only served to increase the overwhelming, almos_anic terror which suddenly came upon our local authorities and the society o_he town, till then so persistently frivolous in its attitude, on th_iscovery of the mysterious and portentous murder of the student Shatovth_limax of the long series of senseless actions in our midstas well as th_xtremely mysterious circumstances that accompanied that murder. But the orde_ame too late: Pyotr Stepanovitch was already in Petersburg, living unde_nother name, and, learning what was going on, he made haste to make hi_scape abroad… . But I am anticipating in a shocking way.
He went in to Kirillov, looking ill-humoured and quarrelsome. Apart from th_eal task before him, he felt, as it were, tempted to satisfy some persona_rudge, to avenge himself on Kirillov for something. Kirillov seemed please_o see him; he had evidently been expecting him a long time with painfu_mpatience. His face was paler than usual; there was a fixed and heavy look i_is black eyes.
"I thought you weren't coming," he brought out drearily from his corner of th_ofa, from which he had not, however, moved to greet him.
Pyotr Stepanovitch stood before him and, before uttering a word, looke_ntently at his face.
"Everything is in order, then, and we are not drawing back from ou_esolution. Bravo!" He smiled an offensively patronising smile. "But, afte_ll," he added with unpleasant jocosity, "if I am behind my time, it's not fo_ou to complain: I made you a present of three hours."
"I don't want extra hours as a present from you, and you can't make me _resent … you fool!"
"What?" Pyotr Stepanovitch was startled, but instantly controlled himself.
"What huffiness! So we are in a savage temper?" he rapped out, still with th_ame offensive superciliousness. "At such a moment composure is what you need.
The best thing you can do is to consider yourself a Columbus and me a mouse, and not to take offence at anything I say. I gave you that advice yesterday."
"I don't want to look upon you as a mouse."
"What's that, a compliment? But the tea is coldand that shows that everythin_s topsy-turvy. Bah! But I see something in the window, on a plate." He wen_o the window. "Oh oh, boiled chicken and rice! … But why haven't you begu_pon it yet? So we are in such a state of mind that even chicken … "
"I've dined, and it's not your business. Hold your tongue!"
"Oh, of course; besides, it's no consequencethough for me at the moment it i_f consequence. Only fancy, I scarcely had any dinner, and so if, as _uppose, that chicken is not wanted now … eh?"
"Eat it if you can."
"Thank you, and then I'll have tea."
He instantly settled himself at the other end of the sofa and fell upon th_hicken with extraordinary greediness; at the same time he kept a constan_atch on his victim. Kirillov looked at him fixedly with angry aversion, a_hough unable to tear himself away.
"I say, though," Pyotr Stepanovitch fired off suddenly, while he still went o_ating, "what about our business? We are not crying off, are we? How abou_hat document?"
"I've decided in the night that it's nothing to me. I'll write it. About th_anifestoes?"
"Yes, about the manifestoes too. But I'll dictate it. Of course, that'_othing to you. Can you possibly mind what's in the letter at such a moment?"
"That's not your business."
"It's not mine, of course. It need only be a few lines, though: that you an_hatov distributed the manifestoes and with the help of Fedka, who hid in you_odgings. This last point about Fedka and your lodgings is very importantth_ost important of all, indeed. You see, I am talking to you quite openly."
"Shatov? Why Shatov? I won't mention Shatov for anything."
"What next! What is it to you? You can't hurt him now."
"His wife has come back to him. She has waked up and has sent to ask me wher_e is."
"She has sent to ask you where he is? H'm … that's unfortunate. She may sen_gain; no one ought to know I am here."
Pyotr Stepanovitch was uneasy.
"She won't know, she's gone to sleep again. There's a midwife with her, Arin_irginsky."
"So that's how it was… . She won't overhear, I suppose? I say, you'd bette_hut the front door."
"She won't overhear anything. And if Shatov comes I'll hide you in anothe_oom."
"Shatov won't come; and you must write that you quarrelled with him because h_urned traitor and informed the police … this evening … and caused his death."
"He is dead!" cried Kirillov, jumping up from the sofa.
"He died at seven o'clock this evening, or rather, at seven o'clock yesterda_vening, and now it's one o'clock."
"You have killed him! … And I foresaw it yesterday!"
"No doubt you did! With this revolver here." (He drew out his revolver a_hough to show it, but did not put it back again and still held it in hi_ight hand as though in readiness.) "You are a strange man, though, Kirillov; you knew yourself that the stupid fellow was bound to end like this. What wa_here to foresee in that? I made that as plain as possible over and ove_gain. Shatov was meaning to betray us; I was watching him, and it could no_e left like that. And you too had instructions to watch him; you told me s_ourself three weeks ago… ."
"Hold your tongue! You've done this because he spat in your face in Geneva!"
"For that and for other things toofor many other things; not from spite, however. Why do you jump up? Why look like that? Oh oh, so that's it, is it?"
He jumped up and held out his revolver before him. Kirillov had suddenl_natched up from the window his revolver, which had been loaded and put read_ince the morning. Pyotr Stepanovitch took ,up his position and aimed hi_eapon at Kirillov. The latter laughed angrily.
"Confess, you scoundrel, that you brought your revolver because I might shoo_ou… . But I shan't shoot you … though … though … "
And again he turned his revolver upon Pyotr Stepanovitch, as it wer_ehearsing, as though unable to deny himself the pleasure of imagining how h_ould shoot him. Pyotr Stepanovitch, holding his ground, waited for him, waited for him till the last minute without pulling the trigger, at the ris_f being the first to get a bullet in his head: it might well be expected of
"the maniac." But at last "the maniac" dropped his hand, gasping and tremblin_nd unable to speak.
"You've played your little game and that's enough." Pyotr Stepanovitch, too, dropped his weapon. "I knew it was only a game; only you ran a risk, let m_ell you: I might have fired."
And he sat down on the sofa with a fair show of composure and poured himsel_ut some tea, though his hand trembled a little. Kirillov laid his revolver o_he table and began walking up and down.
"I won't write that I killed Shatov … and I won't write anything now. Yo_on't have a document!"
"No, you won't."
"What meanness and what stupidity!" Pyotr Stepanovitch turned green wit_esentment. "I foresaw it, though. You've not taken me by surprise, let m_ell you. As you please, however. If I could make you do it by force, I would.
You are a scoundrel, though." Pyotr Stepanovitch was more and more carrie_way and unable to restrain himself. "You asked us for money out there an_romised us no end of things… . I won't go away with nothing, however: I'l_ee you put the bullet through your brains first, anyway."
"I want you to go away at once." Kirillov stood firmly before him.
"No, that's impossible." Pyotr Stepanovitch took up his revolver again. "No_n your spite and cowardice you may think fit to put it off and to tur_raitor to-morrow, so as to get money again; they'll pay you for that, o_ourse. Damn it all, fellows like you are capable of anything! Only don'_rouble yourself; I've provided for all contingencies: I am not going til_'ve dashed your brains out with this revolver, as I did to that scoundre_hatov, if you are afraid to do it yourself and put off your intention, dam_ou!"
"You are set on seeing my blood, too?"
"I am not acting from spite; let me tell you, it's nothing to me. I am doin_t to be at ease about the cause. One can't rely on men; you see that fo_ourself. I don't understand what fancy possesses you to put yourself t_eath. It wasn't my idea; you thought of it yourself before I appeared, an_alked of your intention to the committee abroad before you said anything t_e. And you know, no one has forced it out of you; no one of them knew you, but you came to confide in them yourself, from sentimentalism. And what's t_e done if a plan of action here, which can't be altered now, was founded upo_hat with your consent and upon your suggestion? … your suggestion, mind that!
You have put yourself in a position in which you know too much. If you are a_ss and go off to-morrow to inform the police, that would be rather _isadvantage to us; what do you think about it? Yes, you've bound yourself; you've given your word, you've taken money. That you can't deny… ."
Pyotr Stepanovitch was much excited, but for some time past Kirillov had no_een listening. He paced up and down the room, lost in thought again.
"I am sorry for Shatov," he said, stopping before Pyotr Stepanovitch again.
"Why so? I am sorry, if that's all, and do you suppose … "
"Hold your tongue, you scoundrel," roared Kirillov, making an alarming an_nmistakable movement; "I'll kill you."
"There, there, there! I told a lie, I admit it; I am not sorry at all. Come, that's enough, that's enough." Pyotr Stepanovitch started up apprehensively, putting out his hand.
Kirillov subsided and began walking up and down again.
"I won't put it off; I want to kill myself now: all are scoundrels."
"Well, that's an idea; of course all are scoundrels; and since life is _eastly thing for a decent man … "
"Fool, I am just such a scoundrel as you, as all, not a decent man. There'_ever been a decent man anywhere."
"He's guessed the truth at last! Can you, Kirillov, with your sense, hav_ailed to see till now that all men are alike, that there are none better o_orse, only some are stupider, than others, and that if all are scoundrels (which is nonsense, though) there oughtn't to be any people that are not?"
"Ah! Why, you are. really in earnest?" Kirillov looked at him with som_onder. "You speak with heat and simply… . Can it be that even fellows lik_ou have convictions?"
"Kirillov, I've never been able to understand why you mean to kill yourself. _nly know it's from conviction … strong conviction. But if you feel a yearnin_o express yourself, so to say, I am at your service… . Only you must think o_he time."
"What time is it?"
"Oh oh, just two." Pyotr Stepanovitch looked at his watch and lighted _igarette.
"It seems we can come to terms after all," he reflected.
"I've nothing to say to you," muttered Kirillov.
"I remember that something about God comes into it … you explained it to m_ncetwice, in fact. If you stopped yourself, you become God; that's it, isn'_t?"
"Yes, I become God."
Pyotr Stepanovitch did not even smile; he waited. Kirillov looked at hi_ubtly.
"You are a political impostor and intriguer. You want to lead me on int_hilosophy and enthusiasm and to bring about a reconciliation so as t_isperse my anger, and then, when I am reconciled with you, beg from me a not_o say I killed Shatov." ''
Pyotr Stepanovitch answered with almost natural frankness.
"Well, supposing I am such a scoundrel. But at the last moments does tha_atter to you, Kirillov? What are we quarrelling about? Tell me, please. Yo_re one sort of man and I am anotherwhat of it? And what's more, we are bot_f us … "
"Yes, scoundrels if you like. But you know that that's only words."
"All my life I wanted it not to be only words. I lived because I did not wan_t to be. Even now every day I want it to be not words."
"Well, every one seeks to be where he is best off. The fish … that is, ever_ne seeks his own comfort, that's all. That's been a commonplace for ages an_ges."
"Comfort, do you say?"
"Oh, it's not worth while quarrelling over words."
"No, you were right in what you said; let it be comfort. God is necessary an_o must exist."
"Well, that's all right, then."
"But I know He doesn't and can't."
"That's more likely."
"Surely you must understand that a man with two such ideas can't go o_iving?"
"Must shoot himself, you mean?"
"Surely you must understand that one might shoot oneself for that alone? Yo_on't understand that there may be a man, one man out of your thousands o_illions, one man who won't bear it and does not want to."
"All I understand is that you seem to be hesitating… . That's very bad."
"Stavrogin, too, is consumed by an idea," Kirillov said gloomily, pacing u_nd down the room. He had not noticed the previous remark.
"What?" Pyotr Stepanovitch pricked up his ears. "What idea? Did he tell yo_omething himself?"
"No, I guessed it myself: if Stavrogin has faith, he does not believe that h_as faith. If he hasn't faith, he does not believe that he hasn't."
"Well, Stavrogin has got something else worse than that in his head," Pyot_tepanovitch muttered peevishly, uneasily watching the turn the conversatio_ad taken and the pallor of Kirillov.
"Damn it all, he won't shoot himself!" he was thinking. "I always suspecte_t; it's a maggot in the brain and nothing more; what a rotten lot of people!"
"You are the last to be with me; I shouldn't like to part on bad terms wit_ou," Kirillov vouchsafed suddenly.
Pyotr Stepanovitch did not answer at once. "Damn it all, what is it now?" h_hought again.
"I assure you, Kirillov, I have nothing against you personally as a man, an_lways … "
"You are a scoundrel and a false intellect. But I am just the same as you are, and I will shoot myself while you will remain living."
"You mean to say, I am so abject that I want to go on living."
He could not make up his mind whether it was judicious to keep up such _onversation at such a moment or not, and resolved "to be guided b_ircumstances." But the tone of superiority and of contempt for him, whic_irillov had never disguised, had always irritated him, and now for som_eason it irritated him more than everpossibly because Kirillov, who was t_ie within an hour or so (Pyotr Stepanovitch still reckoned upon this), seeme_o him, as it were, already only half a man, some creature whom he could no_llow to be haughty.
"You seem to be boasting to me of your shooting yourself."
"I've always been surprised at every one's going on living," said Kirillov, not hearing his remark.
"H'm! Admitting that's an idea, but … "
"You ape, you assent to get the better of me. Hold your tongue; you won'_nderstand anything. If there is no God, then I am God."
"There, I could never understand that point of yours: why are you God?"
"If God exists, all is His will and from His will I cannot escape. If not, it's all my will and I am bound to show self-will."
"Self-will? But why are you bound?"
"Because all will has become mine. Can it be that no one in the whole planet, after making an end of God and believing in his own will, will dare to expres_is self-will on the most vital point? It's like a beggar inheriting a fortun_nd being afraid of it and not daring to approach the bag of gold, thinkin_imself too weak to own it. I want to manifest my self-will. I may be the onl_ne, but I'll do it."
"Do it by all means."
"I am bound to shoot myself because the highest point of my self-will is t_ill myself with my own hands."
"But you won't be the only one to kill yourself; there are lots of suicides."
"With good cause. But to do it without any cause at all, simply for self-will, I am the only one."
"He won't shoot himself," flashed across Pyotr Stepanovitch's ruined again.
"Do you know," he observed irritably, "if I were in your place I should kil_ome one else to show my self-will, not myself. You might be of use. I'll tel_ou whom, if you are not afraid. Then you needn't shoot yourself to-day, perhaps. We may come to terms."
"To kill some one would be the lowest point of self-will, and you show you_hole soul in that. I am not you: I want the highest point and I'll kil_yself."
"He's come to it of himself," Pyotr Stepanovitch muttered malignantly.
"I am bound to show my unbelief," said Kirillov, walking about the room. "_ave no higher idea than disbelief in God. I have all the history of mankin_n my side. Man has done nothing but invent God so as to go on living, and no_ill himself; that's the whole of universal history up till now. I am th_irst one in the whole history of mankind who would not invent God. Let the_now it once for all."
"He won't shoot himself," Pyotr Stepanovitch thought anxiously.
"Let whom know it?" he said, egging him on. "It's only you and me here; yo_ean Liputin?"
"Let every one know; all will know. There is nothing secret that will not b_ade known. He said so."
And he pointed with feverish enthusiasm to the image of the Saviour, befor_hich a lamp was burning. Pyotr Stepanovitch lost his temper completely.
"So you still believe in Him, and you've lighted the lamp; 'to be on the saf_ide,' I suppose?"
The other did not speak.
"Do you know, to my thinking, you believe perhaps more thoroughly than an_riest."
"Believe in whom? In Him? Listen." Kirillov stood still, gazing before hi_ith fixed and ecstatic look. "Listen to a great idea: there was a day o_arth, and in the midst of the earth there stood three crosses. One on th_ross had such faith that he said to another, 'To-day thou shalt be with me i_aradise.' The day ended; both died and passed away and found neither Paradis_or resurrection. His words did not come true. Listen: that Man was th_oftiest of all on earth, He was that which gave meaning to life. The whol_lanet, with everything on it, is mere madness without that Man. There ha_ever been any like Him before or since, never, up to a miracle. For that i_he miracle, that there never was or never will be another like Him. And i_hat is so, if the laws of nature did not spare even Him, have not spared eve_heir miracle and made even Him live in a lie and die for a lie, then all th_lanet is a lie and rests on a lie and on mockery. So then, the very laws o_he planet are a lie and the vaudeville of devils. What is there to live for?
Answer, if you are a man."
"That's a different matter. It seems to me you've mixed up two differen_auses, and that's a very unsafe thing to do. But excuse me, if you are God _f the lie were ended and if you realised that all the falsity comes from th_elief in that former God?"
"So at last you understand!" cried Kirillov rapturously. "So it can b_nderstood if even a fellow like you understands. Do you understand now tha_he salvation for all consists in proving this idea to every one I Who wil_rove it? I! I can't understand how an atheist could know that there is no Go_nd not kill himself on the spot. To recognise that there is no God and not t_ecognise at the same instant that one is God oneself is an absurdity, els_ne would certainly kill oneself. If you recognise it you are sovereign, an_hen you won't kill yourself but will live in the greatest glory. But one, th_irst, must kill himself, for else who will begin and prove it? So I mus_ertainly kill myself, to begin and prove it. Now I am only a god against m_ill and I am unhappy, because I am bound to assert my will. All are unhapp_ecause all are afraid to express their will. Man has hitherto been so unhapp_nd so poor because he has been afraid to assert his will in the highest poin_nd has shown his self-will only in little things, like a schoolboy. I a_wfully unhappy, for I'm awfully afraid. Terror is the curse of man… . But _ill assert my will, I am bound to believe that I don't believe. I will begi_nd will make an end of it and open the door, and will save. That's the onl_hing that will save mankind and will re-create the next generatio_hysically; for with his present physical nature man can't get on without hi_ormer God, I believe. For three years I've been seeking for the attribute o_y godhead and I've found it; the attribute of my godhead is self-will! That'_ll I can do to prove in the highest point my independence and my new terribl_reedom. For it is very terrible. I am killing myself to prove my independenc_nd my new terrible freedom."
His face was unnaturally pale, and there was a terribly heavy look in hi_yes. He was like a man in delirium. Pyotr Stepanoviteh thought he would dro_n to the floor.
"Give me the pen!" Kirillov cried suddenly, quite unexpectedly, in a positiv_renzy. "Dictate; I'll sign anything. I'll sign that I killed Shatov even.
Dictate while it amuses me. I am not afraid of what the haughty slaves wil_hink! You will see for yourself that all that is secret shall be mad_anifest! And you will be crushed… . I believe, I believe!"
Pyotr Stepanoviteh jumped up from his seat and instantly handed him a_nkstand and paper, and began dictating, seizing the moment, quivering wit_nxiety.
"I, Alexey Kirillov, declare … "
"Stay; I won't! To whom am I declaring it?"
Kirillov was shaking as though he were in a fever. This declaration and th_udden strange idea of it seemed to absorb him entirely, as though it were _eans of escape by which his tortured spirit strove for a moment's relief.
"To whom am I declaring it? I want to know to whom?"
"To no one, every one, the first person who reads it. Why define it? The whol_orld!"
"The whole world! Bravo! And I won't have any repentance. I don't wan_enitence and I don't want it for the police!"
"No, of course, there's rid need of it, damn the police! Write, if you are i_arnest!" Pyotr Stepanoviteh cried hysterically.
"Stay! I want to put at the top a face with the tongue out."
"Ech, what nonsense," cried Pyotr Stepanoviteh crossly, "you can express al_hat without the drawing, bythe tone."
"By the tone? That's true. Yes, by the tone, by the tone of it. Dictate, th_one."
"I, Alexey Kirillov," Pyotr Stepanoviteh dictated firmly and peremptorily, bending over Kirillov's shoulder and following every letter which the latte_ormed with a hand trembling with excitement, "I, Kirillov, declare that to- day, the th October, at about eight o'clock in the evening, I killed th_tudent Shatov in the park for turning traitor and giving information of th_anifestoes and of Fedka, who has been lodging with us for ten days i_ilipov's house. I am shooting myself to-day with my revolver, not because _epent and am afraid of you, but because when I was abroad I made up my min_o put an end to my life."
"Is that all?" cried Kirillov with surprise and indignation. "Not anothe_ord," cried Pyotr Stepanovitch, waving his hand, attempting to snatch th_ocument from him.
"Stay." Kirillov put his hand firmly on the paper. "Stay, it's nonsense! _ant to say with whom I killed him. Why Fedka? And what about the fire? I wan_t all and I want to be abusive in tone, too, in tone!"
"Enough, Kirillov, I assure you it's enough," cried Pyotr Stepanovitch almos_mploringly, trembling lest he should tear up the paper; "that they ma_elieve you, you must say it as obscurely as possible, just like that, simpl_n hints. You must only give them a peep of the truth, just enough t_antalise them. They'll tell a story better than ours, and of course they'l_elieve themselves more than they would us; and you know, it's better tha_nythingbetter than anything! Let me have it, it's splendid as it is; give i_o me, give it to me!"
And he kept trying to snatch the paper. Kirillov listened open-eyed an_ppeared to be trying to reflect, but he seemed beyond understanding now.
"Damn it all," Pyotr Stepanovitch cried all at once, ill-humouredly, "h_asn't signed it! Why are you staring like that? Sign!"
"I want to abuse them," muttered Kirillov. He took the pen, however, an_igned. "I want to abuse them."
"Write 'Vive la republique,' and that will be enough."
"Bravo!" Kirillov almost bellowed with delight. 'Vive la republiqu_emocratique sociale et universelle ou la mart!' No, no, that's not it.
'Liberte, egalite, fraternite ou la mort.' There, that's better, that'_etter." He wrote it gleefully under his signature.
"Enough, enough," repeated Pyotr Stepanovitch.
"Stay, a little more. I'll sign it again in French, you know. 'De Kirilloff, gentilhomme russe et citoyen du monde.' Ha ha!" He went off in a peal o_aughter. "No, no, no; stay. I've found something better than all. Eureka!
'Gentilhomme, seminariste russe et citoyen du monde civilise!' That's bette_han any… ." He jumped up from the sofa and suddenly, with a rapid gesture, snatched up the revolver from the window, ran with it into the next room, an_losed the door behind him.
Pyotr Stepanovitch stood for a moment, pondering and gazing at the door.
"If he does it at once, perhaps he'll do it, but if he begins thinking, nothing will come of it."
Meanwhile he took up the paper, sat down, and looked at it again. The wordin_f the document pleased him again.
"What's needed for the moment? What's wanted is to throw them all off th_cent and keep them busy for a time. The park? There's no park in the town an_hey'll guess its Skvoreshniki of themselves. But while they are arriving a_hat, time will be passing; then the search will take time too; then when the_ind the body it will prove that the story is true, and it will follow that'_t all true, that it's true about Fedka too. And Fedka explains the fire, th_ebyadkins; so that it was all being hatched here, at Filipov's, while the_verlooked it and saw nothingthat will quite turn their heads! They will neve_hink of the quintet; Shatov and Kirillov and Fedka and Lebyadkin, and wh_hey killed each otherthat will be another question for them. Oh, damn it all, I don't hear the shot!"
Though he had been reading and admiring the wording of it, he had bee_istening anxiously all the time, and he suddenly flew into a rage. He looke_nxiously at his watch; it was getting late and it was fully ten minutes sinc_irillov had gone out… . Snatching up the candle, he went to the door of th_oom where Kirillov had shut himself up. He was just at the door when th_hought struck him that the candle had burnt out, that it would not las_nother twenty minutes, and that there was no other in the room. He took hol_f the handle and listened warily; he did not hear the slightest sound. H_uddenly opened the door and lifted up the candle: something uttered a roa_nd rushed at him. He slammed the door with all his might and pressed hi_eight against it; but all sounds died away and again there was deathlik_tillness.
He stood for a long while irresolute, with the candle in his hand. He had bee_ble to see very little in the second he held the door open, but he had caugh_ glimpse of the face of Kirillov standing at the other end of the room by th_indow, and the savage fury with which the latter had rushed upon him. Pyot_tepanovitch started, rapidly set the candle on the table, made ready hi_evolver, and retreated on tiptoe to the farthest corner of the room, so tha_f Kirillov opened the door and rushed up to the table with the revolver h_ould still have time to be the first to aim and fire.
Pyotr Stepanovitch had by now lost all faith in the suicide. "He was standin_n the middle of the room, thinking," flashed like a whirlwind through Pyot_tepanovitch's mind, "and the room was dark and horrible too… . He roared an_ushed at me. There are two possibilities: either I interrupted him at th_ery second when he was pulling the trigger or … or he was standing plannin_ow to kill me. Yes, that's it, he was planning it… . He knows I won't go awa_ithout killing him if he funks it himselfso that he would have to kill m_irst to prevent my killing him… . And again, again there is silence. I a_eally frightened: he may open the door all of a sudden… . The nuisance of i_s that he believes in God like any priest… . He won't shoot himself fo_nything! There are lots of these people nowadays 'who've come to it o_hemselves.' A rotten lot! Oh, damn it, the candle, the candle! It'll go ou_ithin a quarter of an hour for certain… . I must put a stop to it; come wha_ay, I must put a stop to it… . Now I can kill him… . With that document her_o one would think of my killing him. I can put him in such an attitude oh th_loor with an unloaded revolver in his hand that they'd be certain he'd don_t himself… . Ach, damn it! how is one to kill him? If I open the door he'l_ush out again and shoot me first. Damn it all, he'll be sure to miss!"
He was in agonies, trembling at the necessity of action and his ow_ndecision. At last he took up the candle and again approached the door wit_he revolver held up in readiness; he put his left hand, in which he held th_andle, on the doorhandle. But he managed awkwardly: the handle clanked, ther_as a rattle and a creak. "He will fire straightway," flashed through Pyot_tepanovitch's mind. With his foot he flung the door open violently, raise_he candle, and held out the revolver; but no shot nor cry came from within… .
There was no one in the room.
He started. The room led nowhere. There was no exit, no means of escape fro_t. He lifted the candle higher and looked about him more attentively: ther_as certainly no one. He called Kirillov's name in a low voice, then agai_ouder; no one answered.
"Can he have got out by the window?" The casement in one window was, in fact, open. "Absurd! He couldn't have got away through, the casement." Pyot_tepanovitch crossed the room and went up to the window. "He couldn'_ossibly." All at once he turned round quickly and was aghast at somethin_xtraordinary.
Against the wall facing the windows on the right of the door stood a cupboard.
On the right side of this cupboard, in the corner formed by the cupboard an_he wall, stood Kirillov, and he was standing in a very strange way; motionless, perfectly erect, with his arms held stiffly at his sides, his hea_aised and pressed tightly back against the wall in the very corner, he seeme_o be trying to conceal and efface himself. Everything seemed to show that h_as hiding, yet somehow it was not easy to believe it. Pyotr Stepanovitch wa_tanding a little sideways to the corner, and could only see the projectin_arts of the figure. He could not bring himself to move to the left to get _ull view of Kirillov and solve the mystery. His heart began beatin_iolently, and he felt a sudden rush of blind fury: he started from where h_tood, and, shouting and stamping with his feet, he rushed to the horribl_lace.
But when he reached Kirillov he stopped short again, still more overcome, horror-stricken. What struck him most was that, in spite of his shout and hi_urious rush, the figure did riot stir, did not move in a single limbas thoug_t were of stone or of wax. The pallor of the face was unnatural, the blac_yes were quite unmoving and were staring away at a point in the distance.
Pyotr Stepanovitch lowered the candle and raised it again, lighting up th_igure from all points of view and scrutinising it. He suddenly noticed that, although Kirillov was looking straight before him, he could see him and wa_erhaps watching him out of the corner of his eye. Then the idea occurred t_im to hold the candle right up to the wretch's face, to scorch him and se_hat he would do. He suddenly fancied that Kirillov's chin twitched and tha_omething like a mocking smile passed over his lipsas though he had guesse_yotr Stepanovitch's thought. He shuddered arid, beside himself, clutche_iolently at Kirillov's shoulder.
Then something happened so hideous and so soon over that Pyotr Stepanovitc_ould never afterwards recover a coherent impression of it. He had hardl_ouched Kirillov when the latter bent down quickly and with his head knocke_he candle out of Pyotr Stepanovitch's hand; the candlestick fell with a clan_n the ground and the candle went out. At the same moment he was conscious o_ fearful pain in the little finger of his left hand. He cried out, and al_hat he could remember was that, beside himself, he hit out with all his migh_nd struck three blows with the revolver on the head of Kirillov, who had ben_own to him and had bitten his finger. At last he tore away his finger an_ushed headlong to get out of the house, feeling his way in the dark. He wa_ursued by terrible shouts from the room.
"Directly, directly, directly, directly." Ten times. But he still ran on, an_as running into the porch when he suddenly heard a loud shot. Then he stoppe_hort in the dark porch and stood deliberating for five minutes; at last h_ade his way back into the house. But he had to get the candle. He had only t_eel on the floor on the right of the cupboard for the candlestick; but ho_as he to light the candle? There suddenly came into his mind a vagu_ecollection: he recalled that when he had run into the kitchen the day befor_o attack Fedka he had noticed in passing a large red box of matches in _orner on a shelf. Feeling with his hands, he made his way to the door on th_eft leading to the kitchen, found it, crossed the passage, and went down th_teps. On the shelf, on the very spot where he had just recalled seeing it, h_elt in the dark a full unopened box of matches. He hurriedly went up th_teps again without striking a light, and it was only when he was near th_upboard, at the spot where he had struck Kirillov with the revolver and bee_itten by him, that he remembered his bitten finger, and at the same instan_as conscious that it was unbearably painful. Clenching his teeth, he manage_omehow to light the candle-end, set it in the candlestick again, and looke_bout him: near the open casement, with his feet towards the right-han_orner, lay the dead body of Kirillov. The shot had been fired at the righ_emple and the bullet had come out at the top on the left, shattering th_kull. There were splashes of blood and brains. The revolver was still in th_uicide's hand on the floor. Death must have been instantaneous. After _areful look round, Pyotr Stepanovitch got up and went out on tiptoe, close_he door, left the candle on the table in the outer room, thought a moment, and resolved not to put it out, reflecting that it could not possibly set fir_o anything. Looking once more at the document left on the table, he smile_echanically and then went out of the house, still for some reason walking o_iptoe. He crept through Fedka's hole again and carefully replaced the post_fter him.
Precisely at ten minutes to six Pyotr Stepanovitch and Erkel were walking u_nd down the platform at the railway-station beside a rather long train. Pyot_tepanovitch was setting oft and Erkel was saying good-bye to him. The luggag_as in, and his bag was in the seat he had taken in a second-class carriage.
The first bell had rung already; they were waiting for the second. Pyot_tepanovitch looked about him, openly watching the passengers as they got int_he train. But he did not meet anyone he knew well; only twice he nodded t_cquaintances a merchant whom he knew slightly, and then a young villag_riest who was going to his parish two stations away. Erkel evidently wante_o speak of something of importance in the last moments, though possibly h_id not himself know exactly of what, but he could not bring himself to begin!
He kept fancying that Pyotr Stepanovitch seemed anxious to get rid of him an_as impatient for the last bell.
"You look at every one so openly," he observed with some timidity, as thoug_e would have warned him.
"Why not? It would not do for me to conceal myself at present. It's too soon.
Don't be uneasy. All I am afraid of is that the devil might send Liputin thi_ay; he might scent me out and race off here."
"Pyotr Stepanovitch, they are not to be trusted," Erkel brought ou_esolutely. "Liputin?"
"None of them, Pyotr Stepanovitch."
"Nonsense! they are all bound by what happened yesterday. There isn't one wh_ould turn traitor. People won't go to certain destruction unless they've los_heir reason."
"Pyotr Stepanovitch, but they will lose their reason." Evidently that idea ha_lready occurred to Pyotr Stepanovitch too, and so Erkel's observatio_rritated him the more.
"You are not in a funk too, are you, Erkel? I rely on you more than on any o_hem. I've seen now what each of them is worth. Tell them to-day all I've tol_ou. I leave them in your charge. Go round to each of them this morning. Rea_hem my written instructions to-morrow, or the day after, when you are al_ogether and they are capable of listening again … and believe me, they wil_e by to-morrow, for they'll be in an awful funk, and that will make them a_oft as wax… . The great thing is that you shouldn't be downhearted."
"Ach, Pyotr Stepanovitch, it would be better if you weren't going away."
"But I am only going for a few days; I shall be back in no time."
"Pyotr Stepanovitch," Erkel brought out warily but resolutely, "what if yo_ere going to Petersburg? Of course, I understand that you are only doin_hat's necessary for the cause."
"I expected as much from you, Erkel. If you have guessed that I am going t_etersburg you can realise that I couldn't tell them yesterday, at tha_oment, that I was going so far for fear of frightening them. You saw fo_ourself what a state they were in. But you understand that I am going for th_ause, for work of the first importance, for the common cause, and not to sav_y skin, as Liputin imagines."
"Pyotr Stepanovitch, what if you were going abroad? I should understand … _hould understand that you must be careful of yourself because you ar_verything and we are nothing. I shall understand, Pyotr Stepanovitch." Th_oor boy's voice actually quivered.
"Thank you, Erkel… . Aie, you've touched my bad finger." (Erkel had presse_is hand awkwardly; the bad finger was discreetly bound up in black silk.)
"But I tell you positively again that I am going to Petersburg only to snif_ound, and perhaps shall only be there for twenty-four hours and then bac_ere again at once. When I come back I shall stay at Gaganov's country plac_or the sake of appearances. If there is any notion of danger, I should be th_irst to take the lead and share it. If I stay longer, in Petersburg I'll le_ou know at once … in the way we've arranged, and you'll tell them." Th_econd bell rang.
"Ah, then there's only five, minutes before the train starts. I don't want th_roup here to break up, you know. I am not afraid; don't be anxious about me.
I have plenty of such centres, and it's not much consequence; but there's n_arm in haying as many centres as possible. But I am quite at ease about you, though I am leaving you almost alone with those idiots. Don't be uneasy; the_on't turn traitor, they won't have the pluck… . Ha ha, you going to-day too?"
he cried suddenly in a quite different, cheerful voice to a very young man, who came up gaily to greet him. "I didn't know you were going by the expres_oo. Where are you off to … your mother's?"
The mother of the young man was a very wealthy landowner in a neighbourin_rovince, and the young man was a distant relation of Yulia Mihailovna's an_ad been staying about a fortnight in our town.
"No, I am going farther, to R. I've eight hours to live through in the train.
Off to Petersburg?" laughed the young man.
"What makes you suppose I must be going to Petersburg?" said Pyot_tepanovitch, laughing even more openly.
The young man shook his gloved finger at him.
"Well, you've guessed right," Pyotr Stepanovitch whispered to hi_ysteriously. "I am going with letters from Yulia Mihailovna and have to cal_n three or four personages, as you can imaginebother them all, to spea_andidly. It's a beastly job!"
"But why is she in such a panic? Tell me," the young man whispered too. "Sh_ouldn't see even me yesterday. I don't think she has anything to fear for he_usband, quite the contrary; he fell down so creditably at the fireready t_acrifice his life, so to speak."
"Well, there it is," laughed Pyotr Stepanovitch. "You see, she is afraid tha_eople may have written from here already … that is, some gentlemen… . Th_act is, Stavrogin is at the bottom of it, or rather Prince K… . Ech, it's _ong story; I'll tell you something about it on the journey if you likeas fa_s my chivalrous feelings will allow me, at least… . This is my relation, Lieutenant Erkel, who lives down here."
The young man, who had been stealthily glancing at Erkel, touched his hat; Erkel made a bow.
"But I say, Verhovensky, eight hours in the train is an awful ordeal.
Berestov, the colonel, an awfully funny fellow, is travelling with me in th_irst class. He is a neighbour of ours in the country, and his wife is a Garin (nee de Garine), and you know he is a very decent fellow. He's got ideas too.
He's only been here a couple of days. He's passionately fond of whist; couldn't we get up a game, eh? I've already fixed on a fourth
Pripuhlov, our merchant from Twith a beard, a millionaire.I mean it, a rea_illionaire; you can take my word for it… . I'll introduce you; he is a ver_nteresting money-bag. We shall have a laugh."
"I shall be delighted, and I am awfully fond of cards in the train, but I a_oing second class."
"Nonsense, that's no matter. Get in with us. I'll tell them directly to mov_ou to the first class. The chief guard would do anything I tell him. Wha_ave you got? … a bag? a rug?"
"First-rate. Come along!"
Pyotr Stepanovitch took his bag, his rug, and his book, and at once and wit_lacrity transferred himself to the first class. Erkel helped him. The thir_ell rang.
"Well, Erkel." Hurriedly, and with a preoccupied air, Pyotr Stepanovitch hel_ut his hand from the window for the last time. "You see, I am sitting down t_ards with them."
"Why explain, Pyotr Stepanovitch? I understand, I understand it all!"
"Well, au revoir," Pyotr Stepanovitch turned away suddenly on his name bein_alled by the young man, who wanted to introduce him to his partners. An_rkel saw nothing more of Pyotr Stepanovitch.
He returned home very sad. Not that he was alarmed at Pyotr Stepanovitch'_eaving them so suddenly, but … he had turned away from him so quickly whe_hat young swell had called to him and … he might have said somethin_ifferent to him, not "Au revoir," or … or at least have pressed his hand mor_armly. That last was bitterest of all. Something else was beginning to gna_n his poor little heart, something which he could not understand himself yet, something connected with the evening before.