Crime and Punishment

throbbing heart, and once more feeling for the axe and setting it straight, he began softly and cautiously ascending the stairs, listening every minute. But the stairs, too, were quite deserted; all the doors were shut; he met no one. One flat indeed on the first floor was wide open and painters were at work in it, but they did not glance at him. He stood still, thought a minute and went on. “Of course it would be better if they had not been here, but... it’s two storeys above them.”

And there was the fourth storey, here was the door, here was the flat opposite, the empty one. The flat underneath the old woman’s was apparently empty also; the visiting card nailed on the door had been torn off—they had gone away!... He was out of breath. For one instant the thought floated through his mind “Shall I go back?” But he made no answer and began listening at the old woman’s door, a dead silence. Then he listened again on the staircase, listened long and

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