Crime And Punishment Page-191

Crime And Punishment

Zossimov laughed more violently than ever. “Well, you are smitten! But what am I to do with her?” “It won’t be much trouble, I assure you. Talk any rot you like to her, as long as you sit by her and talk. You’re a doctor, too; try curing her of something. I swear you won’t regret it. She has a piano, and you know, I strum a little. I have a song there, a genuine Russian one: ‘I shed hot tears.’ She likes the genuine article— and well, it all began with that song; Now you’re a regular performer, a maître, a Rubinstein.... I assure you, you won’t regret it!” “But have you made her some promise? Something signed? A promise of marriage, perhaps?” “Nothing, nothing, absolutely nothing of the kind! Besides she is not that sort at all.... Tchebarov tried that....” “Well then, drop her!” “But I can’t drop her like that!” “Why can’t you?” “Well, I can’t, that’s all about it! There’s an element of attraction here, brother.” “Then why have you fascinated her?” “I haven’t fascinated her; perhaps I was fascinated myself in my folly. But she won’t care a straw whether it’s you or I, so long as somebody sits beside her, sighing.... I can’t explain the position, brother... look here, you are good at mathematics, and working at it now... begin teaching her the integral calculus; upon my soul, I’m not joking, I’m in earnest, it’ll be just the same to her. She will gaze at you and sigh for a whole year together. I talked to her once for two days at a time about the Prussian House of Lords (for one must talk of something)—she just sighed and perspired! And you mustn’t talk of love—she’s bashful to hysterics—but just let her see you can’t tear yourself away—that’s enough. It’s fearfully comfortable; you’re quite at home, you can read, sit, lie about, write. You may even venture on a kiss, if you’re careful.” “But what do I want with her?” “Ach, I can’t make you understand! You see, you are made for each other! I have often been reminded of you!... You’ll come to it in the end! So does it matter whether it’s sooner or later? There’s the feather-bed element here, brother —ach! and not only that! There’s an attraction here—here you have the end of the world, an anchorage, a quiet haven, the navel of the earth, the three fishes that are the foundation of the world, the essence of pancakes, of savoury fish-