Crime And Punishment Page-171

Crime And Punishment

the staircase grew denser and denser, but they did not venture beyond the threshold. A single candle-end lighted up the scene. At that moment Polenka forced her way through the crowd at the door. She came in panting from running so fast, took off her kerchief, looked for her mother, went up to her and said, “She’s coming, I met her in the street.” Her mother made her kneel beside her. Timidly and noiselessly a young girl made her way through the crowd, and strange was her appearance in that room, in the midst of want, rags, death and despair. She, too, was in rags, her attire was all of the cheapest, but decked out in gutter finery of a special stamp, unmistakably betraying its shameful purpose. Sonia stopped short in the doorway and looked about her bewildered, unconscious of everything. She forgot her fourth-hand, gaudy silk dress, so unseemly here with its ridiculous long train, and her immense crinoline that filled up the whole doorway, and her light-coloured shoes, and the parasol she brought with her, though it was no use at night, and the absurd round straw hat with its flaring flame-coloured feather. Under this rakishly-tilted hat was a pale, frightened little face with lips parted and eyes staring in terror. Sonia was a small thin girl of eighteen with fair hair, rather pretty, with wonderful blue eyes. She looked intently at the bed and the priest; she too was out of breath with running. At last whispers, some words in the crowd probably, reached her. She looked down and took a step forward into the room, still keeping close to the door. The service was over. Katerina Ivanovna went up to her husband again. The priest stepped back and turned to say a few words of admonition and consolation to Katerina Ivanovna on leaving. “What am I to do with these?” she interrupted sharply and irritably, pointing to the little ones. “God is merciful; look to the Most High for succour,” the priest began. “Ach! He is merciful, but not to us.” “That’s a sin, a sin, madam,” observed the priest, shaking his head. “And isn’t that a sin?” cried Katerina Ivanovna, pointing to the dying man. “Perhaps those who have involuntarily caused the accident will agree to compensate you, at least for the loss of his earnings.” “You don’t understand!” cried Katerina Ivanovna angrily waving her hand. “And why should they compensate me? Why, he was drunk and threw himself under the horses! What earnings? He brought us in nothing but misery. He drank everything away, the drunkard! He robbed us to get drink, he wasted their lives