Crime And Punishment Page-113

Crime And Punishment

as he had never experienced before. Suddenly a bright light flashed into his room. Nastasya came in with a candle and a plate of soup. Looking at him carefully and ascertaining that he was not asleep, she set the candle on the table and began to lay out what she had brought—bread, salt, a plate, a spoon. “You’ve eaten nothing since yesterday, I warrant. You’ve been trudging about all day, and you’re shaking with fever.” “Nastasya... what were they beating the landlady for?” She looked intently at him. “Who beat the landlady?” “Just now... half an hour ago, Ilya Petrovitch, the assistant superintendent, on the stairs.... Why was he ill-treating her like that, and... why was he here?” Nastasya scrutinised him, silent and frowning, and her scrutiny lasted a long time. He felt uneasy, even frightened at her searching eyes. “Nastasya, why don’t you speak?” he said timidly at last in a weak voice. “It’s the blood,” she answered at last softly, as though speaking to herself. “Blood? What blood?” he muttered, growing white and turning towards the wall. Nastasya still looked at him without speaking. “Nobody has been beating the landlady,” she declared at last in a firm, resolute voice. He gazed at her, hardly able to breathe. “I heard it myself.... I was not asleep... I was sitting up,” he said still more timidly. “I listened a long while. The assistant superintendent came.... Everyone ran out on to the stairs from all the flats.” “No one has been here. That’s the blood crying in your ears. When there’s no outlet for it and it gets clotted, you begin fancying things.... Will you eat something?” He made no answer. Nastasya still stood over him, watching him. “Give me something to drink... Nastasya.” She went downstairs and returned with a white earthenware jug of water. He remembered only swallowing one sip of the cold water and spilling some on his neck. Then followed forgetfulness.