Crime And Punishment Page-174

Crime And Punishment

man condemned to death who has suddenly been pardoned. Halfway down the staircase he was overtaken by the priest on his way home; Raskolnikov let him pass, exchanging a silent greeting with him. He was just descending the last steps when he heard rapid footsteps behind him. Someone overtook him; it was Polenka. She was running after him, calling “Wait! wait!” He turned round. She was at the bottom of the staircase and stopped short a step above him. A dim light came in from the yard. Raskolnikov could distinguish the child’s thin but pretty little face, looking at him with a bright childish smile. She had run after him with a message which she was evidently glad to give. “Tell me, what is your name?... and where do you live?” she said hurriedly in a breathless voice. He laid both hands on her shoulders and looked at her with a sort of rapture. It was such a joy to him to look at her, he could not have said why. “Who sent you?” “Sister Sonia sent me,” answered the girl, smiling still more brightly. “I knew it was sister Sonia sent you.” “Mamma sent me, too... when sister Sonia was sending me, mamma came up, too, and said ‘Run fast, Polenka.’” “Do you love sister Sonia?” “I love her more than anyone,” Polenka answered with a peculiar earnestness, and her smile became graver. “And will you love me?” By way of answer he saw the little girl’s face approaching him, her full lips naïvely held out to kiss him. Suddenly her arms as thin as sticks held him tightly, her head rested on his shoulder and the little girl wept softly, pressing her face against him. “I am sorry for father,” she said a moment later, raising her tear-stained face and brushing away the tears with her hands. “It’s nothing but misfortunes now,” she added suddenly with that peculiarly sedate air which children try hard to assume when they want to speak like grown-up people. “Did your father love you?” “He loved Lida most,” she went on very seriously without a smile, exactly like grown-up people, “he loved her because she is little and because she is ill, too. And he always used to bring her presents. But he taught us to read and me grammar and scripture, too,” she added with dignity. “And mother never used to