Crime And Punishment Page-93

Crime And Punishment

“No... I’m going; I’ll go at once,” he muttered, getting on to his feet. “Why, you’ll never get downstairs!” “Yes, I’ll go.” “As you please.” She followed the porter out. At once he rushed to the light to examine the sock and the rags. “There are stains, but not very noticeable; all covered with dirt, and rubbed and already discoloured. No one who had no suspicion could distinguish anything. Nastasya from a distance could not have noticed, thank God!” Then with a tremor he broke the seal of the notice and began reading; he was a long while reading, before he understood. It was an ordinary summons from the district police-station to appear that day at half-past nine at the office of the district superintendent. “But when has such a thing happened? I never have anything to do with the police! And why just to-day?” he thought in agonising bewilderment. “Good God, only get it over soon!” He was flinging himself on his knees to pray, but broke into laughter—not at the idea of prayer, but at himself. He began, hurriedly dressing. “If I’m lost, I am lost, I don’t care! Shall I put the sock on?” he suddenly wondered, “it will get dustier still and the traces will be gone.” But no sooner had he put it on than he pulled it off again in loathing and horror. He pulled it off, but reflecting that he had no other socks, he picked it up and put it on again—and again he laughed. “That’s all conventional, that’s all relative, merely a way of looking at it,” he thought in a flash, but only on the top surface of his mind, while he was shuddering all over, “there, I’ve got it on! I have finished by getting it on!” But his laughter was quickly followed by despair. “No, it’s too much for me...” he thought. His legs shook. “From fear,” he muttered. His head swam and ached with fever. “It’s a trick! They want to decoy me there and confound me over everything,” he mused, as he went out on to the stairs—“the worst of it is I’m almost light-headed... I may blurt out something stupid...” On the stairs he remembered that he was leaving all the things just as they were in the hole in the wall, “and very likely, it’s on purpose to search when I’m out,” he thought, and stopped short. But he was possessed by such despair, such