“It is plain to me, that _you_ are not in it at all,” he continued, at last, a little less vaguely, “but perhaps you had better not come to our house for a little while. I ask you in the friendliest manner, mind; just till the wind changes again. As for Evgenie Pavlovitch,” he continued with some excitement, “the whole thing is a calumny, a dirty calumny. It is simply a plot, an intrigue, to upset our plans and to stir up a quarrel. You see, prince, I’ll tell you privately, Evgenie and ourselves have not said a word yet, we have no formal understanding, we are in no way bound on either side, but the word may be said very soon, don’t you see, _very_ soon, and all this is most injurious, and is meant to be so. Why? I’m sure I can’t tell you. She’s an extraordinary woman, you see, an eccentric woman; I tell you I am so frightened of that woman that I can’t sleep. What a carriage that was, and where did it come from, eh? I declare, I was base enough to suspect Evgenie at first; but it seems certain that that cannot be the case, and if so, why is she interfering here? That’s the riddle, what does she want? Is it to keep Evgenie to herself? But, my dear fellow, I swear to you, I swear he doesn’t even _know_ her, and as for those bills, why, the whole thing is an invention! And the familiarity of the woman! It’s quite clear we must treat the impudent creature’s attempt with disdain, and redouble our courtesy towards Evgenie. I told my wife so.

“I don’t _hate_, I despise him,” said Gania, grandly. “Well, I do hate him, if you like!” he added, with a sudden access of rage, “and I’ll tell him so to his face, even when he’s dying! If you had but read his confession--good Lord! what refinement of impudence! Oh, but I’d have liked to whip him then and there, like a schoolboy, just to see how surprised he would have been! Now he hates everybody because he--Oh, I say, what on earth are they doing there! Listen to that noise! I really can’t stand this any longer. Ptitsin!” he cried, as the latter entered the room, “what in the name of goodness are we coming to? Listen to that--”

“How dreadfully you look at me, Parfen!” said the prince, with a feeling of dread.

One of the representatives of the middle-class present today was a colonel of engineers, a very serious man and a great friend of Prince S., who had introduced him to the Epanchins. He was extremely silent in society, and displayed on the forefinger of his right hand a large ring, probably bestowed upon him for services of some sort. There was also a poet, German by name, but a Russian poet; very presentable, and even handsome--the sort of man one could bring into society with impunity. This gentleman belonged to a German family of decidedly bourgeois origin, but he had a knack of acquiring the patronage of “big-wigs,” and of retaining their favour. He had translated some great German poem into Russian verse, and claimed to have been a friend of a famous Russian poet, since dead. (It is strange how great a multitude of literary people there are who have had the advantages of friendship with some great man of their own profession who is, unfortunately, dead.) The dignitary’s wife had introduced this worthy to the Epanchins. This lady posed as the patroness of literary people, and she certainly had succeeded in obtaining pensions for a few of them, thanks to her influence with those in authority on such matters. She was a lady of weight in her own way. Her age was about forty-five, so that she was a very young wife for such an elderly husband as the dignitary. She had been a beauty in her day and still loved, as many ladies of forty-five do love, to dress a little too smartly. Her intellect was nothing to boast of, and her literary knowledge very doubtful. Literary patronage was, however, with her as much a mania as was the love of gorgeous clothes. Many books and translations were dedicated to her by her proteges, and a few of these talented individuals had published some of their own letters to her, upon very weighty subjects.

On hurrying back he found his bride locked up in her own room and could hear her hysterical cries and sobs. It was some time before she could be made to hear that the prince had come, and then she opened the door only just sufficiently to let him in, and immediately locked it behind him. She then fell on her knees at his feet. (So at least Dana Alexeyevna reported.)

The prince pulled a letter out of his pocket.

He tried to give the prince an affectionate smile, and it seemed to the latter as though in this smile of his something had broken, and that he could not mend it, try as he would.

“Why did you not ask for me at my room if you were in the hotel?” asked the prince, suddenly.

“You must excuse my asking, you know. Your appearance led me to think--but just wait for the secretary; the general is busy now, but the secretary is sure to come out.”

“But let these thirsty Russian souls find, like Columbus’ discoverers, a new world; let them find the Russian world, let them search and discover all the gold and treasure that lies hid in the bosom of their own land! Show them the restitution of lost humanity, in the future, by Russian thought alone, and by means of the God and of the Christ of our Russian faith, and you will see how mighty and just and wise and good a giant will rise up before the eyes of the astonished and frightened world; astonished because they expect nothing but the sword from us, because they think they will get nothing out of us but barbarism. This has been the case up to now, and the longer matters go on as they are now proceeding, the more clear will be the truth of what I say; and I--”

“Why do I wish to unite you two? For your sakes or my own? For my own sake, naturally. All the problems of my life would thus be solved; I have thought so for a long time. I know that once when your sister Adelaida saw my portrait she said that such beauty could overthrow the world. But I have renounced the world. You think it strange that I should say so, for you saw me decked with lace and diamonds, in the company of drunkards and wastrels. Take no notice of that; I know that I have almost ceased to exist. God knows what it is dwelling within me now--it is not myself. I can see it every day in two dreadful eyes which are always looking at me, even when not present. These eyes are silent now, they say nothing; but I know their secret. His house is gloomy, and there is a secret in it. I am convinced that in some box he has a razor hidden, tied round with silk, just like the one that Moscow murderer had. This man also lived with his mother, and had a razor hidden away, tied round with white silk, and with this razor he intended to cut a throat.

He was so happy that “it made one feel happy to look at him,” as Aglaya’s sisters expressed it afterwards. He talked, and told stories just as he had done once before, and never since, namely on the very first morning of his acquaintance with the Epanchins, six months ago. Since his return to Petersburg from Moscow, he had been remarkably silent, and had told Prince S. on one occasion, before everyone, that he did not think himself justified in degrading any thought by his unworthy words.

“Yes, and he gave me a fearful dig in the chest,” cried the prince, still laughing. “What are we to fight about? I shall beg his pardon, that’s all. But if we must fight--we’ll fight! Let him have a shot at me, by all means; I should rather like it. Ha, ha, ha! I know how to load a pistol now; do you know how to load a pistol, Keller? First, you have to buy the powder, you know; it mustn’t be wet, and it mustn’t be that coarse stuff that they load cannons with--it must be pistol powder. Then you pour the powder in, and get hold of a bit of felt from some door, and then shove the bullet in. But don’t shove the bullet in before the powder, because the thing wouldn’t go off--do you hear, Keller, the thing wouldn’t go off! Ha, ha, ha! Isn’t that a grand reason, Keller, my friend, eh? Do you know, my dear fellow, I really must kiss you, and embrace you, this very moment. Ha, ha! How was it you so suddenly popped up in front of me as you did? Come to my house as soon as you can, and we’ll have some champagne. We’ll all get drunk! Do you know I have a dozen of champagne in Lebedeff’s cellar? Lebedeff sold them to me the day after I arrived. I took the lot. We’ll invite everybody! Are you going to do any sleeping tonight?”

“And she is not guilty--oh God!--Every moment she bemoans and bewails herself, and cries out that she does not admit any guilt, that she is the victim of circumstances--the victim of a wicked libertine.

He was so happy that “it made one feel happy to look at him,” as Aglaya’s sisters expressed it afterwards. He talked, and told stories just as he had done once before, and never since, namely on the very first morning of his acquaintance with the Epanchins, six months ago. Since his return to Petersburg from Moscow, he had been remarkably silent, and had told Prince S. on one occasion, before everyone, that he did not think himself justified in degrading any thought by his unworthy words.

At all events when, after many hours, the door was opened and people thronged in, they found the murderer unconscious and in a raging fever. The prince was sitting by him, motionless, and each time that the sick man gave a laugh, or a shout, he hastened to pass his own trembling hand over his companion’s hair and cheeks, as though trying to soothe and quiet him. But alas! he understood nothing of what was said to him, and recognized none of those who surrounded him.

“How? What kind of person is she?” cried the general, arrived at the limits of his patience. “Look here, Gania, don’t you go annoying her tonight. What you are to do is to be as agreeable towards her as ever you can. Well, what are you smiling at? You must understand, Gania, that I have no interest whatever in speaking like this. Whichever way the question is settled, it will be to my advantage. Nothing will move Totski from his resolution, so I run no risk. If there is anything I desire, you must know that it is your benefit only. Can’t you trust me? You are a sensible fellow, and I have been counting on you; for, in this matter, that, that--”

“Why are you so unhappy, mother?” asked Adelaida, who alone of all the company seemed to have preserved her good temper and spirits up to now.

All three of the Miss Epanchins were fine, healthy girls, well-grown, with good shoulders and busts, and strong--almost masculine--hands; and, of course, with all the above attributes, they enjoyed capital appetites, of which they were not in the least ashamed.

“Lebedeff, you seem to be angry for some reason!” said the prince.

The prince flushed up so much that he could not look her in the face.

“There, come along, Lef Nicolaievitch; that’s all I brought you here for,” said Rogojin.

“Look here, prince,” said the general, with a cordial smile, “if you really are the sort of man you appear to be, it may be a source of great pleasure to us to make your better acquaintance; but, you see, I am a very busy man, and have to be perpetually sitting here and signing papers, or off to see his excellency, or to my department, or somewhere; so that though I should be glad to see more of people, nice people--you see, I--however, I am sure you are so well brought up that you will see at once, and--but how old are you, prince?”

Her character was absolutely changed. No more of the girlish alternations of timidity and petulance, the adorable naivete, the reveries, the tears, the playfulness... It was an entirely new and hitherto unknown being who now sat and laughed at him, and informed him to his face that she had never had the faintest feeling for him of any kind, except loathing and contempt--contempt which had followed closely upon her sensations of surprise and bewilderment after her first acquaintance with him.

“But, at times, I can’t help thinking that I am wrong in feeling so about it, you know. Sincerity is more important than elocution, isn’t it?”

“Really, prince, I hardly expected after--after all our friendly intercourse--and you see, Lizabetha Prokofievna--”

The question as to what she might have to say of special interest to himself occurred to him once or twice. He did not doubt, for a moment, that she really had some such subject of conversation in store, but so very little interested in the matter was he that it did not strike him to wonder what it could be. The crunch of gravel on the path suddenly caused him to raise his head.

The prince now left the room and shut himself up in his own chamber. Colia followed him almost at once, anxious to do what he could to console him. The poor boy seemed to be already so attached to him that he could hardly leave him.

“Yes--Abbot Gurot, a Jesuit,” said Ivan Petrovitch. “Yes, that’s the sort of thing our best men are apt to do. A man of rank, too, and rich--a man who, if he had continued to serve, might have done anything; and then to throw up the service and everything else in order to go over to Roman Catholicism and turn Jesuit--openly, too--almost triumphantly. By Jove! it was positively a mercy that he died when he did--it was indeed--everyone said so at the time.”

Rogojin took the chair offered him, but he did not sit long; he soon stood up again, and did not reseat himself. Little by little he began to look around him and discern the other guests. Seeing Gania, he smiled venomously and muttered to himself, “Look at that!”

“You know the kind of person she is at times.”

We said at the beginning of our story, that the Epanchins were liked and esteemed by their neighbours. In spite of his humble origin, Ivan Fedorovitch himself was received everywhere with respect. He deserved this, partly on account of his wealth and position, partly because, though limited, he was really a very good fellow. But a certain limitation of mind seems to be an indispensable asset, if not to all public personages, at least to all serious financiers. Added to this, his manner was modest and unassuming; he knew when to be silent, yet never allowed himself to be trampled upon. Also--and this was more important than all--he had the advantage of being under exalted patronage.

“Is he married?”

If it had been any other family than the Epanchins’, nothing particular would have happened. But, thanks to Mrs. Epanchin’s invariable fussiness and anxiety, there could not be the slightest hitch in the simplest matters of everyday life, but she immediately foresaw the most dreadful and alarming consequences, and suffered accordingly.

The prince bent forward to listen, putting all the strain he could muster upon his understanding in order to take in what Rogojin said, and continuing to gaze at the latter’s face.

However, all these rumours soon died down, to which circumstance certain facts largely contributed. For instance, the whole of the Rogojin troop had departed, with him at their head, for Moscow. This was exactly a week after a dreadful orgy at the Ekaterinhof gardens, where Nastasia Philipovna had been present. It became known that after this orgy Nastasia Philipovna had entirely disappeared, and that she had since been traced to Moscow; so that the exodus of the Rogojin band was found consistent with this report.

“In our dear country, as indeed in the whole of Europe, a famine visits humanity about four times a century, as far as I can remember; once in every twenty-five years. I won’t swear to this being the exact figure, but anyhow they have become comparatively rare.”

Marfa Borisovna was about forty years of age. She wore a dressing-jacket, her feet were in slippers, her face painted, and her hair was in dozens of small plaits. No sooner did she catch sight of Ardalion Alexandrovitch than she screamed:

“But, look here, are you a great hand with the ladies? Let’s know that first?” asked Rogojin.

“For Heaven’s sake, don’t misunderstand me! Do not think that I humiliate myself by writing thus to you, or that I belong to that class of people who take a satisfaction in humiliating themselves--from pride. I have my consolation, though it would be difficult to explain it--but I do not humiliate myself.

“I don’t love you, Lef Nicolaievitch, and, therefore, what would be the use of my coming to see you? You are just like a child--you want a plaything, and it must be taken out and given you--and then you don’t know how to work it. You are simply repeating all you said in your letter, and what’s the use? Of course I believe every word you say, and I know perfectly well that you neither did or ever can deceive me in any way, and yet, I don’t love you. You write that you’ve forgotten everything, and only remember your brother Parfen, with whom you exchanged crosses, and that you don’t remember anything about the Rogojin who aimed a knife at your throat. What do you know about my feelings, eh?” (Rogojin laughed disagreeably.) “Here you are holding out your brotherly forgiveness to me for a thing that I have perhaps never repented of in the slightest degree. I did not think of it again all that evening; all my thoughts were centred on something else--”

“But surely you do not believe that she...”

“The son is not responsible for the misdeeds of his father; and the mother is not to blame,” added Hippolyte, with warmth.

“May I ask you, Hippolyte, not to talk of this subject? And not to use such expressions?”

Vainly trying to comfort himself with these reflections, the prince reached the Ismailofsky barracks more dead than alive.

“This produced a great effect upon me. I used to dream of the poor old woman at nights. I really am not superstitious, but two days after, I went to her funeral, and as time went on I thought more and more about her. I said to myself, ‘This woman, this human being, lived to a great age. She had children, a husband and family, friends and relations; her household was busy and cheerful; she was surrounded by smiling faces; and then suddenly they are gone, and she is left alone like a solitary fly... like a fly, cursed with the burden of her age. At last, God calls her to Himself. At sunset, on a lovely summer’s evening, my little old woman passes away--a thought, you will notice, which offers much food for reflection--and behold! instead of tears and prayers to start her on her last journey, she has insults and jeers from a young ensign, who stands before her with his hands in his pockets, making a terrible row about a soup tureen!’ Of course I was to blame, and even now that I have time to look back at it calmly, I pity the poor old thing no less. I repeat that I wonder at myself, for after all I was not really responsible. Why did she take it into her head to die at that moment? But the more I thought of it, the more I felt the weight of it upon my mind; and I never got quite rid of the impression until I put a couple of old women into an almshouse and kept them there at my own expense. There, that’s all. I repeat I dare say I have committed many a grievous sin in my day; but I cannot help always looking back upon this as the worst action I have ever perpetrated.”

“Of course; you can’t go in _there_ with it on, anyhow.”

The flat occupied by Gania and his family was on the third floor of the house. It was reached by a clean light staircase, and consisted of seven rooms, a nice enough lodging, and one would have thought a little too good for a clerk on two thousand roubles a year. But it was designed to accommodate a few lodgers on board terms, and had been taken a few months since, much to the disgust of Gania, at the urgent request of his mother and his sister, Varvara Ardalionovna, who longed to do something to increase the family income a little, and fixed their hopes upon letting lodgings. Gania frowned upon the idea. He thought it _infra dig_, and did not quite like appearing in society afterwards--that society in which he had been accustomed to pose up to now as a young man of rather brilliant prospects. All these concessions and rebuffs of fortune, of late, had wounded his spirit severely, and his temper had become extremely irritable, his wrath being generally quite out of proportion to the cause. But if he had made up his mind to put up with this sort of life for a while, it was only on the plain understanding with his inner self that he would very soon change it all, and have things as he chose again. Yet the very means by which he hoped to make this change threatened to involve him in even greater difficulties than he had had before.

Another guest was an elderly, important-looking gentleman, a distant relative of Lizabetha Prokofievna’s. This gentleman was rich, held a good position, was a great talker, and had the reputation of being “one of the dissatisfied,” though not belonging to the dangerous sections of that class. He had the manners, to some extent, of the English aristocracy, and some of their tastes (especially in the matter of under-done roast beef, harness, men-servants, etc.). He was a great friend of the dignitary’s, and Lizabetha Prokofievna, for some reason or other, had got hold of the idea that this worthy intended at no distant date to offer the advantages of his hand and heart to Alexandra.

“Yes, here in my chest. I received them at the siege of Kars, and I feel them in bad weather now. And as to the third of our trio, Epanchin, of course after that little affair with the poodle in the railway carriage, it was all _up_ between us.”

The answer of the sisters to the communication was, if not conclusive, at least consoling and hopeful. It made known that the eldest, Alexandra, would very likely be disposed to listen to a proposal.

“Because, you know,” Rogojin recommenced, as though continuing a former sentence, “if you were ill now, or had a fit, or screamed, or anything, they might hear it in the yard, or even in the street, and guess that someone was passing the night in the house. They would all come and knock and want to come in, because they know I am not at home. I didn’t light a candle for the same reason. When I am not here--for two or three days at a time, now and then--no one comes in to tidy the house or anything; those are my orders. So that I want them to not know we are spending the night here--”

“Oh, but you can’t stay here. You are a visitor--a guest, so to speak. Is it the general himself you wish to see?”

Hippolyte gazed eagerly at the latter, and mused for a few moments.

“Did you never take your knife to Pavlofsk with you?” “No. As to the knife,” he added, “this is all I can tell you about it.” He was silent for a moment, and then said, “I took it out of the locked drawer this morning about three, for it was in the early morning all this--happened. It has been inside the book ever since--and--and--this is what is such a marvel to me, the knife only went in a couple of inches at most, just under her left breast, and there wasn’t more than half a tablespoonful of blood altogether, not more.”

“But whatever she may say, remember that she does not believe it herself,--remember that she will believe nothing but that she is a guilty creature.

The conversation proceeded. The readiness of the fair-haired young man in the cloak to answer all his opposite neighbour’s questions was surprising. He seemed to have no suspicion of any impertinence or inappropriateness in the fact of such questions being put to him. Replying to them, he made known to the inquirer that he certainly had been long absent from Russia, more than four years; that he had been sent abroad for his health; that he had suffered from some strange nervous malady--a kind of epilepsy, with convulsive spasms. His interlocutor burst out laughing several times at his answers; and more than ever, when to the question, “whether he had been cured?” the patient replied:

Even Keller admitted afterwards that this was “extraordinarily philosophical” on the prince’s part. He left the church quite calm, to all appearances, as many witnesses were found to declare afterwards. He seemed anxious to reach home and be left alone as quickly as possible; but this was not to be. He was accompanied by nearly all the invited guests, and besides this, the house was almost besieged by excited bands of people, who insisted upon being allowed to enter the verandah. The prince heard Keller and Lebedeff remonstrating and quarrelling with these unknown individuals, and soon went out himself. He approached the disturbers of his peace, requested courteously to be told what was desired; then politely putting Lebedeff and Keller aside, he addressed an old gentleman who was standing on the verandah steps at the head of the band of would-be guests, and courteously requested him to honour him with a visit. The old fellow was quite taken aback by this, but entered, followed by a few more, who tried to appear at their ease. The rest remained outside, and presently the whole crowd was censuring those who had accepted the invitation. The prince offered seats to his strange visitors, tea was served, and a general conversation sprang up. Everything was done most decorously, to the considerable surprise of the intruders. A few tentative attempts were made to turn the conversation to the events of the day, and a few indiscreet questions were asked; but Muishkin replied to everybody with such simplicity and good-humour, and at the same time with so much dignity, and showed such confidence in the good breeding of his guests, that the indiscreet talkers were quickly silenced. By degrees the conversation became almost serious. One gentleman suddenly exclaimed, with great vehemence: “Whatever happens, I shall not sell my property; I shall wait. Enterprise is better than money, and there, sir, you have my whole system of economy, if you wish!” He addressed the prince, who warmly commended his sentiments, though Lebedeff whispered in his ear that this gentleman, who talked so much of his “property,” had never had either house or home.

Two days after the strange conclusion to Nastasia Philipovna’s birthday party, with the record of which we concluded the first part of this story, Prince Muishkin hurriedly left St. Petersburg for Moscow, in order to see after some business connected with the receipt of his unexpected fortune.

“Meek! What do you mean?”

At about half-past seven the prince started for the church in his carriage.

“With that she did as she had said she would; she went to bed, and did not lock her door. In the morning she came out. ‘Are you quite mad?’ she said, sharply. ‘Why, you’ll die of hunger like this.’ ‘Forgive me,’ I said. ‘No, I won’t, and I won’t marry you. I’ve said it. Surely you haven’t sat in this chair all night without sleeping?’ ‘I didn’t sleep,’ I said. ‘H’m! how sensible of you. And are you going to have no breakfast or dinner today?’ ‘I told you I wouldn’t. Forgive me!’ ‘You’ve no idea how unbecoming this sort of thing is to you,’ she said, ‘it’s like putting a saddle on a cow’s back. Do you think you are frightening me? My word, what a dreadful thing that you should sit here and eat no food! How terribly frightened I am!’ She wasn’t angry long, and didn’t seem to remember my offence at all. I was surprised, for she is a vindictive, resentful woman--but then I thought that perhaps she despised me too much to feel any resentment against me. And that’s the truth.

“I don’t understand you in the least, Parfen.”

The man’s suspicions seemed to increase more and more. The prince was too unlike the usual run of daily visitors; and although the general certainly did receive, on business, all sorts and conditions of men, yet in spite of this fact the servant felt great doubts on the subject of this particular visitor. The presence of the secretary as an intermediary was, he judged, essential in this case.

The general, who had been talking to his chief up to this moment, had observed the prince’s solitude and silence, and was anxious to draw him into the conversation, and so introduce him again to the notice of some of the important personages.

An ominous expression passed over Nastasia Philipovna’s face, of a sudden. It became obstinate-looking, hard, and full of hatred; but she did not take her eyes off her visitors for a moment.

“_What_ poor knight?” asked Mrs. Epanchin, looking round at the face of each of the speakers in turn. Seeing, however, that Aglaya was blushing, she added, angrily:

“Well, what do you think? The old fellow went straight off to Nastasia Philipovna, touched the floor with his forehead, and began blubbering and beseeching her on his knees to give him back the diamonds. So after awhile she brought the box and flew out at him. ‘There,’ she says, ‘take your earrings, you wretched old miser; although they are ten times dearer than their value to me now that I know what it must have cost Parfen to get them! Give Parfen my compliments,’ she says, ‘and thank him very much!’ Well, I meanwhile had borrowed twenty-five roubles from a friend, and off I went to Pskoff to my aunt’s. The old woman there lectured me so that I left the house and went on a drinking tour round the public-houses of the place. I was in a high fever when I got to Pskoff, and by nightfall I was lying delirious in the streets somewhere or other!”

“Had I been the publisher I should not have printed it. As to the evidence of eye-witnesses, in these days people prefer impudent lies to the stories of men of worth and long service. I know of some notes of the year 1812, which--I have determined, prince, to leave this house, Mr. Lebedeff’s house.”

“‘Do you know what has suddenly come into my head?’ said I, suddenly--leaning further and further over the rail.

“Oh, he won’t shoot himself!” cried several voices, sarcastically.

X.

“I have said already that the moment she comes in I go out, and I shall keep my word,” remarked Varia.

“I was strict, but just by nature. At that time we were stationed in a small town. I was quartered at an old widow’s house, a lieutenant’s widow of eighty years of age. She lived in a wretched little wooden house, and had not even a servant, so poor was she.

She laughed, but she was rather angry too.

“What! are they all off? Is it all over? Is the sun up?” He trembled, and caught at the prince’s hand. “What time is it? Tell me, quick, for goodness’ sake! How long have I slept?” he added, almost in despair, just as though he had overslept something upon which his whole fate depended.

“Directly! There, that’s enough. I’ll lie down directly. I must drink to the sun’s health. I wish to--I insist upon it! Let go!”

“I know that there were just as many, and just as terrible, crimes before our times. Not long since I visited a convict prison and made acquaintance with some of the criminals. There were some even more dreadful criminals than this one we have been speaking of--men who have murdered a dozen of their fellow-creatures, and feel no remorse whatever. But what I especially noticed was this, that the very most hopeless and remorseless murderer--however hardened a criminal he may be--still _knows that he is a criminal_; that is, he is conscious that he has acted wickedly, though he may feel no remorse whatever. And they were all like this. Those of whom Evgenie Pavlovitch has spoken, do not admit that they are criminals at all; they think they had a right to do what they did, and that they were even doing a good deed, perhaps. I consider there is the greatest difference between the two cases. And recollect--it was a _youth_, at the particular age which is most helplessly susceptible to the distortion of ideas!”

Of course, the last argument was the chief one. The maternal heart trembled with indignation to think of such an absurdity, although in that heart there rose another voice, which said: “And _why_ is not the prince such a husband as you would have desired for Aglaya?” It was this voice which annoyed Lizabetha Prokofievna more than anything else.

“I do not despise toil; I despise you when you speak of toil.”

“No finessing, please. What did you write about?”

“Prince Muishkin? Lef Nicolaievitch? H’m! I don’t know, I’m sure! I may say I have never heard of such a person,” said the clerk, thoughtfully. “At least, the name, I admit, is historical. Karamsin must mention the family name, of course, in his history--but as an individual--one never hears of any Prince Muishkin nowadays.”

“Are you trying to frighten me? I am not Tania, you know, and I don’t intend to run away. Look, you are waking Lubotchka, and she will have convulsions again. Why do you shout like that?”

“Where’s your brother?”

The prince was instantly covered with confusion; for it appeared to be plain that everyone expected something of him--that everyone looked at him as though anxious to congratulate him, and greeted him with hints, and smiles, and knowing looks.

“How so? What in?”

Prince S. had made a few just and sensible remarks. It seemed to Evgenie Pavlovitch that there was not yet perfect harmony between Adelaida and her fiance, but he thought that in time the impulsive young girl would let herself be guided by his reason and experience. Besides, the recent events that had befallen her family had given Adelaida much to think about, especially the sad experiences of her younger sister. Within six months, everything that the family had dreaded from the marriage with the Polish count had come to pass. He turned out to be neither count nor exile--at least, in the political sense of the word--but had had to leave his native land owing to some rather dubious affair of the past. It was his noble patriotism, of which he made a great display, that had rendered him so interesting in Aglaya’s eyes. She was so fascinated that, even before marrying him, she joined a committee that had been organized abroad to work for the restoration of Poland; and further, she visited the confessional of a celebrated Jesuit priest, who made an absolute fanatic of her. The supposed fortune of the count had dwindled to a mere nothing, although he had given almost irrefutable evidence of its existence to Lizabetha Prokofievna and Prince S.

“That gentleman--Ivan Petrovitch--is a relation of your late friend, Mr. Pavlicheff. You wanted to find some of his relations, did you not?”

“Sarcasm!” cried Lebedeff, wringing his hands. “All right, all right, I’m not angry. I’m only put out about this. Whom do you suspect?”

“He discovered everything, the monster... himself......”

“And you are not offended?”

The whole of Rogojin’s being was concentrated in one rapturous gaze of ecstasy. He could not take his eyes off Nastasia. He stood drinking her in, as it were. He was in the seventh heaven of delight.

The presence of certain of those in the room surprised the prince vastly, but the guest whose advent filled him with the greatest wonder--almost amounting to alarm--was Evgenie Pavlovitch. The prince could not believe his eyes when he beheld the latter, and could not help thinking that something was wrong.

He opened the door just enough to let his head in. His head remained so placed for a few seconds while he quietly scrutinized the room; the door then opened enough to admit his body; but still he did not enter. He stood on the threshold and examined the prince carefully. At last he gave the door a final shove, entered, approached the prince, took his hand and seated himself and the owner of the room on two chairs side by side.

“Yes--not a physical one! I don’t suppose anyone--even a woman--would raise a hand against me now. Even Gania would hesitate! I did think at one time yesterday, that he would fly at me, though. I bet anything that I know what you are thinking of now! You are thinking: ‘Of course one can’t strike the little wretch, but one could suffocate him with a pillow, or a wet towel, when he is asleep! One _ought_ to get rid of him somehow.’ I can see in your face that you are thinking that at this very second.”

“What? Who forbade you?”

“Why don’t you finish your sentence? Shall I tell you what you were thinking to yourself just then? You were thinking, ‘How can she marry him after this? How can it possibly be permitted?’ Oh, I know what you were thinking about!”

Such was Vera’s story afterwards.

The prince realized this, and great suffering expressed itself in his face.

She appeared to be in the last stages of wrath and irritation; her eyes flashed. The prince stood dumbly and blindly before her, and suddenly grew pale.