7. CHAPTER VII
An elegant carriage stood in the middle of the road with a pair of
spirited grey horses; there was no one in it, and the coachman had got
off his box and stood by; the horses were being held by the bridle.
. . . A mass of people had gathered round, the police standing in
front. One of them held a lighted lantern which he was turning on
something lying close to the wheels. Everyone was talking, shouting,
exclaiming; the coachman seemed at a loss and kept repeating:
"What a misfortune! Good Lord, what a misfortune!"
Raskolnikov pushed his way in as far as he could, and succeeded at
last in seeing the object of the commotion and interest. On the ground
a man who had been run over lay apparently unconscious, and covered
with blood; he was very badly dressed, but not like a workman. Blood
was flowing from his head and face; his face was crushed, mutilated
and disfigured. He was evidently badly injured.
"Merciful heaven!" wailed the coachman, "what more could I do? If I'd
been driving fast or had not shouted to him, but I was going quietly,
not in a hurry. Everyone could see I was going along just like
everybody else. A drunken man can't walk straight, we all know. . . .
I saw him crossing the street, staggering and almost falling. I
shouted again and a second and a third time, then I held the horses
in, but he fell straight under their feet! Either he did it on purpose
or he was very tipsy. . . . The horses are young and ready to take
fright . . . they started, he screamed . . . that made them worse.
That's how it happened!"
"That's just how it was," a voice in the crowd confirmed.
"He shouted, that's true, he shouted three times," another voice
"Three times it was, we all heard it," shouted a third.
But the coachman was not very much distressed and frightened. It was
evident that the carriage belonged to a rich and important person who
was awaiting it somewhere; the police, of course, were in no little
anxiety to avoid upsetting his arrangements. All they had to do was to
take the injured man to the police station and the hospital. No one
knew his name.