Crime and punishment by fyodor dostoevsky chapter 2


Raskolnikov was not used to crowds, and, as we said before, he avoided
Society of every sort, more especially of late. But now all at once he
Felt a desire to be with other people. Something new seemed to be taking
Place within him, and with it he felt a sort of thirst for company. He
Was so weary after a whole month of concentrated wretchedness and gloomy
Excitement that he longed to rest, if only for a moment, in some other
World, whatever it might be; and, in spite of the filthiness of the
Surroundings, he was glad now to stay in the tavern.

The master of the establishment was in another room, but he frequently
Came down some steps into the main room, his jaunty, tarred boots with
Red turn-over tops coming into view each time before the rest of his
Person. He wore a full coat and a horribly greasy black satin waistcoat,
With no cravat, and his whole face seemed smeared with oil like an
Iron lock. At the counter stood a boy of about fourteen, and there was
Another boy somewhat younger who handed whatever was wanted. On the
Counter lay some sliced cucumber, some pieces of dried black bread, and
Some fish, chopped up small, all smelling very bad. It was insufferably
Close, and so heavy with the fumes of spirits that five minutes in such
An atmosphere might well make a man drunk.

There are chance meetings with strangers that interest us from the
First moment, before a word is spoken. Such was the impression made on
Raskolnikov by the person sitting a little distance from him, who looked
Like a retired clerk. The young man often recalled this impression
Afterwards, and even ascribed it to presentiment. He looked repeatedly
At the clerk, partly no doubt because the latter was staring
Persistently at him, obviously anxious to enter into conversation. At
The other persons in the room, including the

tavern-keeper, the clerk
Looked as though he were used to their company, and weary of it, showing
A shade of condescending contempt for them as persons of station and
Culture inferior to his own, with whom it would be useless for him to
Converse. He was a man over fifty, bald and grizzled, of medium height,
And stoutly built. His face, bloated from continual drinking, was of
A yellow, even greenish, tinge, with swollen eyelids out of which keen
Reddish eyes gleamed like little chinks. But there was something very
Strange in him; there was a light in his eyes as though of intense
Feeling – perhaps there were even thought and intelligence, but at the
Same time there was a gleam of something like madness. He was wearing an
Old and hopelessly ragged black dress coat, with all its buttons missing
Except one, and that one he had buttoned, evidently clinging to this
Last trace of respectability. A crumpled shirt front, covered with spots
And stains, protruded from his canvas waistcoat. Like a clerk, he wore
No beard, nor moustache, but had been so long unshaven that his chin
Looked like a stiff greyish brush. And there was something respectable
And like an official about his manner too. But he was restless; he
Ruffled up his hair and from time to time let his head drop into his
Hands dejectedly resting his ragged elbows on the stained and sticky
Table. At last he looked straight at Raskolnikov, and said loudly and

“May I venture, honoured sir, to engage you in polite conversation?
Forasmuch as, though your exterior would not command respect, my
Experience admonishes me that you are a man of education and not
Accustomed to drinking.

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Crime and punishment by fyodor dostoevsky chapter 2