Crime And Punishment Page-269

Crime And Punishment

authority for believing.” “To Petersburg? here?” Dounia asked in alarm and looked at her mother. “Yes, indeed, and doubtless not without some design, having in view the rapidity of his departure, and all the circumstances preceding it.” “Good heavens! won’t he leave Dounia in peace even here?” cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. “I imagine that neither you nor Avdotya Romanovna have any grounds for uneasiness, unless, of course, you are yourselves desirous of getting into communication with him. For my part I am on my guard, and am now discovering where he is lodging.” “Oh, Pyotr Petrovitch, you would not believe what a fright you have given me,” Pulcheria Alexandrovna went on: “I’ve only seen him twice, but I thought him terrible, terrible! I am convinced that he was the cause of Marfa Petrovna’s death.” “It’s impossible to be certain about that. I have precise information. I do not dispute that he may have contributed to accelerate the course of events by the moral influence, so to say, of the affront; but as to the general conduct and moral characteristics of that personage, I am in agreement with you. I do not know whether he is well off now, and precisely what Marfa Petrovna left him; this will be known to me within a very short period; but no doubt here in Petersburg, if he has any pecuniary resources, he will relapse at once into his old ways. He is the most depraved, and abjectly vicious specimen of that class of men. I have considerable reason to believe that Marfa Petrovna, who was so unfortunate as to fall in love with him and to pay his debts eight years ago, was of service to him also in another way. Solely by her exertions and sacrifices, a criminal charge, involving an element of fantastic and homicidal brutality for which he might well have been sentenced to Siberia, was hushed up. That’s the sort of man he is, if you care to know.” “Good heavens!” cried Pulcheria Alexandrovna. Raskolnikov listened attentively. “Are you speaking the truth when you say that you have good evidence of this?” Dounia asked sternly and emphatically. “I only repeat what I was told in secret by Marfa Petrovna. I must observe that from the legal point of view the case was far from clear. There was, and I believe still is, living here a woman called Resslich, a foreigner, who lent small sums of money at interest, and did other commissions, and with this woman Svidrigaïlov had for a long while close and mysterious relations. She had a relation, a niece I