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Wednesday, March 20, 2013

(23) C. P. (Part 2 Chapter VII)

   An elegant carriage was stopped in the middle of the road, the coachman was holding the spirited horses by the bridle. Many people had gathered around, policemen held a light trying to get a look at what the horses had run over. Everyone was talking, shouting, the coachman seemed at loss and kept repeating:
   "What a misfortune! Good Lord, what a misfortune!"

   Raskolnikov pushed his way in seeing the object of the commotion. A man had been run over unconscious and covered with blood; he was very badly dressed, but not a workman. His face was mutilated and disfigured. He was badly injured.

   "Merciful heaven!" wailed the coachman, "I shouted three times and reined the horses in, a drunken man can't walk straight, we all know. . . . He fell under their feet! Either he did it on purpose or he was very drunk. . . . The horses are young, they started, he screamed . . . that made them worse. That's how it happened!"

   "That's how it was," came from several voices in the street.

   The coachman was not overly distressed. It was evident that the carriage belonged to a rich and important man who was waiting for it; the police were not going to upset this man. All they need do was take him to the hospital. No one new his name.

   Raskolnikov squeezed in closer and finally got a good look at the man.

   "I know him, he's a government clerk. retired, Marmeladov. He lives close by in Kozel's house. . . . Make haste for a doctor I will pay see?" Showing money to the policeman.

   The police were glad they had found out who the man was. Raskolnikov gave his name and address, and, as earnestly as if it had been his own father, he besought (asked eagerly) the police to carry Marmeladov to his lodging.

   "Just here three houses away," he said, "he was going home no doubt. I know him he is a drunkard. He has a family there. It will take time to take him to a hospital, there's sure to be a doctor in the house, I'll pay!At least he will be looked after at home. He'll die before you get him to the hospital." He slipped money into the policeman's hand. It was straightforward and legitimate. Help was closer this way. They raised the injured man; people volunteered to help.

   Raskolnikov walked behind, carefully holding Marmeladov's head and showing the way.

  'This way, this way! We must take him upstairs, I'll make it worth your while," he muttered.

   Katerina (Marmeladov's wife) as she always did at every free moment, walking to and fro in her little room window to stove and back again, with her arms folded across her chest, talking to herself and coughing. Of late she had begun to talk more than ever to her eldest girl Polenka, a child of ten, who, though there was much she did not understand, understood very well that her mother needed her, and so always watched her with her big clever eyes and strove her utmost to appear to understand. Polenka was undressing her little brother who had been sick all day and was going to bed. He was sitting straight and motionless on a chair, with a silent, serious face. A little girl, still younger, dressed in rags, stood waiting her turn. The door to the stairs was open giving relieve from the clouds of tobacco smoke which floated in from the other rooms and brought on long terrible fits of coughing in the poor consumptive Katerina seemed to have grown even thinner that week.

   Katerina was telling Polenka of the luxurious life she once had in her papa's house and how this drunkard will bring them all to ruin. Coughing and rambling of better times.

   "Oh, dear! What's this?" she cried, noticing a crowd in the passage and the men who were pushing into her room, carrying a burden. "What is it? What are they bringing? Mercy on us!"

   "Where are we to put him?" asked the policeman, looking round.

   "On the sofa! Raskolnikov said.

   "Run over in the road drunk!" someone shouted.

   Katerina was white gasping for breath. The children were terrified.

   After laying Marmeladov on the sofa Raskolnikov rushed to Katerina,

   "For God's sake be calm, don't be frightened!" he said, speaking quickly, "he was crossing the road and run over by a carriage, don't be frightened, he will come to, I told them to bring him here . . . I've been here, you remember? He will come to; I'll pay!"

   "He's done it this time!" Katerina cried despairingly and rushed to her husband.

   Raskolnikov noticed Katerina was not one of those women who swoon easily. She kept her head, forgetting herself, biting her trembling lips and stifling the screams which were ready to break from her as he undressed and examined him.

   "I've sent for a doctor ," he kept assuring Katerina, "don't be uneasy, I'll pay. He is injured, but not killed. We shall see what the doctor says!"

   Katerina ran to the window, there a large earthenware basin full of water in readiness for washing the children's and husbands linen at night. The family had no change of linen, Katerina could not endure uncleanliness. She would wear herself out working beyond her strength to get wet linen hung on a line and dry by morning. She took this basin full of water and almost fell with her burden. Raskolnikov had found a towel and began washing the blood off Marmeladov's face.

   Katerina was breathing painfully, pressing her hands to her chest. She was in need of attention herself. Raskolnikov realizes he may have made a mistake in bringing the injured man here. The police too stood in hesitation.

   "Polenka," cried Katerina, run to Sonia (Marmeladov's daughter by his first wife) make haste. If you don't find her at home, leave word that her father has been run over and that she is to come here at once . . . when she comes in. Run, Polenka! there put on the shawl."

   'Run your fastest!" cried the little boy on the chair suddenly, after he relapsed into the same dumb rigidity, with round eyes, his head thrust forward and his toes spread out.

   The room was full of the other lodgers, the police left driving away the crowd. Katerina flew into a fury. "You might let him die in peace, at least, is it a spectacle gape at? Get away you should respect the dead, at least!" (Coughing!)

   Voices outside the room were heard speaking of the hospital saying that they have no right making a disturbance here.

   "No business to die!" cried Katerina as she rushed to the door to vent her wrath upon them where she came face to face with Madame Lippevechsel who had just heard of the accident and ran in to restore order. She was a particularly quarrelsome and irresponsible German.

   "Ah, my God!" she cried, clasping her hands, "your husband drunken horses have trampled! To the hospital with him! I am the landlady!"

   "I beg you to recollect what you are saying," Katerina began haughtily.

   The dying man recovered consciousness and uttered a groan; she ran to him. Marmeladov opened his eyes gazed at Raskolnikov. He drew deep, slow, painful breaths; blood oozed at the corners of his mouth and drops of perspiration came out on his forehead. Not recognising Raskolnikov, he began looking round uneasily. Katerina looked at him with a sad but stern face, and tears trickled down her eyes.

   "My God! His whole chest is crushed! How he is bleeding!" she said in despair. "We must take off his clothes. Turn if you can," she cried to him.

   "Marmeladov recognised her.

   "A priest," he articulated huskily.

   Katerina walked to the window, laid her head against the window frame and exclaimed in despair:

   "Oh, cursed life!"

   "A priest," the dying man said after a moment's silence.

   "They've gone for him," Katerina shouted to him; he obeyed her shout and was silent. With sad and timid eyes he looked for her; she returned and stood by his pillow. He seemed  a little easier, but not for long.

   Soon his eyes rested on little Lida, his favorite, who was shaking in the corner, as though she were in a fit, and staring at him with her wondering childish eyes.

   "A--ah," he sighed towards her uneasily. He wanted to say something.

   "What now?" cried Katerina.

   "Barefoot, barefoot!" he muttered, indicating with frenzied eyes the child's bare feet.

   "Be silent," Katerina cried irritably, "you know why she is barefooted."

   The doctor came in, a precise little old man, a German looking about him mistrustfully; after a thorough examination he said,

   "He will die immediately,"

   "Is there no hope?" asked Raskolnikov.

   "Not the faintest! He is at his last gasp. He is bound to die within the next five or ten minutes."

   At that moment other steps were heard; the crowd in the passage parted, and the priest, a little grey old man, appeared in the doorway bearing the sacrament. A policeman had gone for him at the time of the accident. The doctor changed places with him. The confession was soon over. The dying man probably understood little; he could only utter indistinct broken sounds.

   Polenka forced her way through the crowd. She came in panting from running so fast, took off her kerchief, looked for her mother, went up to her and said, "she's coming. I met her in the street."

   Timidly and noiselessly a young girl made her way through the crowd, and strange was her appearance in that room, in the midst of want, rags, death despair. She, too, was in rags, her attire was all of the cheapest, but decked out in gutter finery of a social stamp, unmistakenly betraying its shameful purpose. Sonia stopped short in the doorway and looked about her bewildered, unconscious of everything. She forgot her fourth-hand, gaudy silk dress, so unseemly here with its ridiculous long train, and her immense crinoline that filled up the whole doorway, and her light coloured shoes, and the parasol she brought with her, though it was no use at night, and the absurd round straw hat with its flaring flame-coloured feather. Under this rakishly tilted hat was a pale. frightened, little face with lips parted and eyes staring in terror. Sonia was small thin girl of eighteen with fair hair, rather pretty, with wonderful blue eyes. She looked intently at the bed and the priest; she too was out of breath from running. At last whispers, some words in the crowd probably, reached her. She looked down and took a step forward into the room, still keeping close to the door.

   To continue.

1 comment:

  1. Oh I remember this part. It was so sad. You have brought this book back to life for me G, thank you so much.