Crime And Punishment Page-47

Crime And Punishment

away with both hands, until the man they deck out in false colours puts a fool’s cap on them with his own hands. I should like to know whether Mr. Luzhin has any orders of merit; I bet he has the Anna in his buttonhole and that he puts it on when he goes to dine with contractors or merchants. He will be sure to have it for his wedding, too! Enough of him, confound him! “Well,... mother I don’t wonder at, it’s like her, God bless her, but how could Dounia? Dounia darling, as though I did not know you! You were nearly twenty when I saw you last: I understood you then. Mother writes that ‘Dounia can put up with a great deal.’ I know that very well. I knew that two years and a half ago, and for the last two and a half years I have been thinking about it, thinking of just that, that ‘Dounia can put up with a great deal.’ If she could put up with Mr. Svidrigaïlov and all the rest of it, she certainly can put up with a great deal. And now mother and she have taken it into their heads that she can put up with Mr. Luzhin, who propounds the theory of the superiority of wives raised from destitution and owing everything to their husband’s bounty—who propounds it, too, almost at the first interview. Granted that he ‘let it slip,’ though he is a sensible man, (yet maybe it was not a slip at all, but he meant to make himself clear as soon as possible) but Dounia, Dounia? She understands the man, of course, but she will have to live with the man. Why! she’d live on black bread and water, she would not sell her soul, she would not barter her moral freedom for comfort; she would not barter it for all Schleswig-Holstein, much less Mr. Luzhin’s money. No, Dounia was not that sort when I knew her and... she is still the same, of course! Yes, there’s no denying, the Svidrigaïlovs are a bitter pill! It’s a bitter thing to spend one’s life a governess in the provinces for two hundred roubles, but I know she would rather be a nigger on a plantation or a Lett with a German master than degrade her soul, and her moral dignity, by binding herself for ever to a man whom she does not respect and with whom she has nothing in common—for her own advantage. And if Mr. Luzhin had been of unalloyed gold, or one huge diamond, she would never have consented to become his legal concubine. Why is she consenting then? What’s the point of it? What’s the answer? It’s clear enough: for herself, for her comfort, to save her life she would not sell herself, but for someone else she is doing it! For one she loves, for one she adores, she will sell herself! That’s what it all amounts to; for her brother, for her mother, she will sell herself! She will sell everything! In such cases, ‘we overcome our moral feeling if necessary,’ freedom, peace, conscience even, all, all are brought into the market. Let my life go, if only my dear ones may be happy! More than that, we become casuists, we learn to be Jesuitical and for a time maybe we can soothe ourselves, we can persuade ourselves that it is one’s