Crime And Punishment Page-94

Crime And Punishment

cynicism of misery, if one may so call it, that with a wave of his hand he went on. “Only to get it over!” In the street the heat was insufferable again; not a drop of rain had fallen all those days. Again dust, bricks and mortar, again the stench from the shops and pot-houses, again the drunken men, the Finnish pedlars and half-broken-down cabs. The sun shone straight in his eyes, so that it hurt him to look out of them, and he felt his head going round—as a man in a fever is apt to feel when he comes out into the street on a bright sunny day. When he reached the turning into the street, in an agony of trepidation he looked down it... at the house... and at once averted his eyes. “If they question me, perhaps I’ll simply tell,” he thought, as he drew near the police-station. The police-station was about a quarter of a mile off. It had lately been moved to new rooms on the fourth floor of a new house. He had been once for a moment in the old office but long ago. Turning in at the gateway, he saw on the right a flight of stairs which a peasant was mounting with a book in his hand. “A house-porter, no doubt; so then, the office is here,” and he began ascending the stairs on the chance. He did not want to ask questions of anyone. “I’ll go in, fall on my knees, and confess everything...” he thought, as he reached the fourth floor. The staircase was steep, narrow and all sloppy with dirty water. The kitchens of the flats opened on to the stairs and stood open almost the whole day. So there was a fearful smell and heat. The staircase was crowded with porters going up and down with their books under their arms, policemen, and persons of all sorts and both sexes. The door of the office, too, stood wide open. Peasants stood waiting within. There, too, the heat was stifling and there was a sickening smell of fresh paint and stale oil from the newly decorated rooms. After waiting a little, he decided to move forward into the next room. All the rooms were small and low-pitched. A fearful impatience drew him on and on. No one paid attention to him. In the second room some clerks sat writing, dressed hardly better than he was, and rather a queer-looking set. He went up to one of them. “What is it?” He showed the notice he had received. “You are a student?” the man asked, glancing at the notice. “Yes, formerly a student.”