3. CHAPTER III
Complete silence reigned in the room. Even the crying children were
still. Sonia stood deadly pale, staring at Luzhin and unable to say a
word. She seemed not to understand. Some seconds passed.
"Well, how is it to be then?" asked Luzhin, looking intently at her.
"I don't know. . . . I know nothing about it," Sonia articulated
faintly at last.
"No, you know nothing?" Luzhin repeated and again he paused for some
seconds. "Think a moment, mademoiselle," he began severely, but still,
as it were, admonishing her. "Reflect, I am prepared to give you time
for consideration. Kindly observe this: if I were not so entirely
convinced I should not, you may be sure, with my experience venture to
accuse you so directly. Seeing that for such direct accusation before
witnesses, if false or even mistaken, I should myself in a certain
sense be made responsible, I am aware of that. This morning I changed
for my own purposes several five-per-cent securities for the sum of
approximately three thousand roubles. The account is noted down in my
pocket-book. On my return home I proceeded to count the money--as Mr.
Lebeziatnikov will bear witness--and after counting two thousand three
hundred roubles I put the rest in my pocket-book in my coat pocket.
About five hundred roubles remained on the table and among them three
notes of a hundred roubles each. At that moment you entered (at my
invitation)--and all the time you were present you were exceedingly
embarrassed; so that three times you jumped up in the middle of the
conversation and tried to make off. Mr. Lebeziatnikov can bear witness
to this. You yourself, mademoiselle, probably will not refuse to
confirm my statement that I invited you through Mr. Lebeziatnikov,
solely in order to discuss with you the hopeless and destitute
position of your relative, Katerina Ivanovna (whose dinner I was
unable to attend), and the advisability of getting up something of the
nature of a subscription, lottery or the like, for her benefit. You
thanked me and even shed tears. I describe all this as it took place,
primarily to recall it to your mind and secondly to show you that not
the slightest detail has escaped my recollection. Then I took a ten-rouble note from the table and handed it to you by way of first
instalment on my part for the benefit of your relative. Mr.
Lebeziatnikov saw all this. Then I accompanied you to the door--you
being still in the same state of embarrassment--after which, being
left alone with Mr. Lebeziatnikov I talked to him for ten minutes--
then Mr. Lebeziatnikov went out and I returned to the table with the
money lying on it, intending to count it and to put it aside, as I
proposed doing before. To my surprise one hundred-rouble note had
disappeared. Kindly consider the position. Mr. Lebeziatnikov I cannot
suspect. I am ashamed to allude to such a supposition. I cannot have
made a mistake in my reckoning, for the minute before your entrance I
had finished my accounts and found the total correct. You will admit
that recollecting your embarrassment, your eagerness to get away and
the fact that you kept your hands for some time on the table, and
taking into consideration your social position and the habits
associated with it, I was, so to say, with horror and positively
against my will, /compelled/ to entertain a suspicion--a cruel, but
justifiable suspicion! I will add further and repeat that in spite of
my positive conviction, I realise that I run a certain risk in making
this accusation, but as you see, I could not let it pass. I have taken
action and I will tell you why: solely, madam, solely, owing to your
black ingratitude! Why! I invite you for the benefit of your destitute
relative, I present you with my donation of ten roubles and you, on
the spot, repay me for all that with such an action. It is too bad!
You need a lesson. Reflect! Moreover, like a true friend I beg you--
and you could have no better friend at this moment--think what you are
doing, otherwise I shall be immovable! Well, what do you say?"