Crime And Punishment Page-270

Crime And Punishment

believe, living with her, a deaf and dumb girl of fifteen, or perhaps not more than fourteen. Resslich hated this girl, and grudged her every crust; she used to beat her mercilessly. One day the girl was found hanging in the garret. At the inquest the verdict was suicide. After the usual proceedings the matter ended, but, later on, information was given that the child had been... cruelly outraged by Svidrigaïlov. It is true, this was not clearly established, the information was given by another German woman of loose character whose word could not be trusted; no statement was actually made to the police, thanks to Marfa Petrovna’s money and exertions; it did not get beyond gossip. And yet the story is a very significant one. You heard, no doubt, Avdotya Romanovna, when you were with them the story of the servant Philip who died of ill treatment he received six years ago, before the abolition of serfdom.” “I heard, on the contrary, that this Philip hanged himself.” “Quite so, but what drove him, or rather perhaps disposed him, to suicide was the systematic persecution and severity of Mr. Svidrigaïlov.” “I don’t know that,” answered Dounia, dryly. “I only heard a queer story that Philip was a sort of hypochondriac, a sort of domestic philosopher, the servants used to say, ‘he read himself silly,’ and that he hanged himself partly on account of Mr. Svidrigaïlov’s mockery of him and not his blows. When I was there he behaved well to the servants, and they were actually fond of him, though they certainly did blame him for Philip’s death.” “I perceive, Avdotya Romanovna, that you seem disposed to undertake his defence all of a sudden,” Luzhin observed, twisting his lips into an ambiguous smile, “there’s no doubt that he is an astute man, and insinuating where ladies are concerned, of which Marfa Petrovna, who has died so strangely, is a terrible instance. My only desire has been to be of service to you and your mother with my advice, in view of the renewed efforts which may certainly be anticipated from him. For my part it’s my firm conviction, that he will end in a debtor’s prison again. Marfa Petrovna had not the slightest intention of settling anything substantial on him, having regard for his children’s interests, and, if she left him anything, it would only be the merest sufficiency, something insignificant and ephemeral, which would not last a year for a man of his habits.” “Pyotr Petrovitch, I beg you,” said Dounia, “say no more of Mr. Svidrigaïlov. It makes me miserable.” “He has just been to see me,” said Raskolnikov, breaking his silence for the first time. There were exclamations from all, and they all turned to him. Even Pyotr