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Title:  The Idiot

Author:  Fyodor Dostoyevsky
Author:  Fyodor Dostoyevsky Dostoieffsky, Dostoevsky, Etc. & Feodor/Fe"do]

Translator:  Eva Martin

May, 2001  [Etext #2638]

****The Project Gutenberg Etext of The Idiot, by Dostoevsky****
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The Idiot

by Fyodor Dostoyevsky

Translated by Eva Martin



Towards the end of November, during a thaw, at nine o'clock one
morning, a train on the Warsaw and Petersburg railway was
approaching the latter city at full speed. The morning was so
damp and misty that it was only with great difficulty that the
day succeeded in breaking; and it was impossible to distinguish
anything more than a few yards away from the carriage windows.

Some of the passengers by this particular train were returning
from abroad; but the third-class carriages were the best filled,
chiefly with insignificant persons of various occupations and
degrees, picked up at the different stations nearer town. All of
them seemed weary, and most of them had sleepy eyes and a
shivering expression, while their complexions generally appeared
to have taken on the colour of the fog outside.

When day dawned, two passengers in one of the third-class
carriages found themselves opposite each other. Both were young
fellows, both were rather poorly dressed, both had remarkable
faces, and both were evidently anxious to start a conversation.
If they had but known why, at this particular moment, they were
both remarkable persons, they would undoubtedly have wondered at
the strange chance which had set them down opposite to one
another in a third-class carriage of the Warsaw Railway Company.

One of them was a young fellow of about twenty-seven, not tall,
with black curling hair, and small, grey, fiery eyes. His nose
was broad and flat, and he had high cheek bones; his thin lips
were constantly compressed into an impudent, ironical--it might
almost be called a malicious--smile; but his forehead was high
and well formed, and atoned for a good deal of the ugliness of
the lower part of his face. A special feature of this physiognomy
was its death-like pallor, which gave to the whole man an
indescribably emaciated appearance in spite of his hard look, and
at the same time a sort of passionate and suffering expression
which did not harmonize with his impudent, sarcastic smile and
keen, self-satisfied bearing. He wore a large fur--or rather
astrachan--overcoat, which had kept him warm all night, while his
neighbour had been obliged to bear the full severity of a Russian
November night entirely unprepared. His wide sleeveless mantle
with a large cape to it--the sort of cloak one sees upon
travellers during the winter months in Switzerland or North
Italy--was by no means adapted to the long cold journey through
Russia, from Eydkuhnen to St. Petersburg.

The wearer of this cloak was a young fellow, also of about
twenty-six or twenty-seven years of age, slightly above the
middle height, very fair, with a thin, pointed and very light
coloured beard; his eyes were large and blue, and had an intent
look about them, yet that heavy expression which some people
affirm to be a peculiarity. as well as evidence, of an epileptic
subject. His face was decidedly a pleasant one for all that;
refined, but quite colourless, except for the circumstance that
at this moment it was blue with cold. He held a bundle made up of
an old faded silk handkerchief that apparently contained all his
travelling wardrobe, and wore thick shoes and gaiters, his whole
appearance being very un-Russian.

His black-haired neighbour inspected these peculiarities, having
nothing better to do, and at length remarked, with that rude
enjoyment of the discomforts of others which the common classes
so often show:


"Very," said his neighbour, readily. "and this is a thaw, too.
Fancy if it had been a hard frost! I never thought it would be so
cold in the old country. I've grown quite out of the way of it."

"What, been abroad, I suppose?"

"Yes, straight from Switzerland."

"Wheugh! my goodness!" The black-haired young fellow whistled,
and then laughed.

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

"No, they did not cure me."

"Hey! that's it! You stumped up your money for nothing, and we
believe in those fellows, here!" remarked the black-haired
individual, sarcastically.

"Gospel truth, sir, Gospel truth!" exclaimed another passenger, a
shabbily dressed man of about forty, who looked like a clerk, and
possessed a red nose and a very blotchy face. "Gospel truth! All
they do is to get hold of our good Russian money free, gratis,
and for nothing. "

"Oh, but you're quite wrong in my particular instance," said the
Swiss patient, quietly. "Of course I can't argue the matter,
because I know only my own case; but my doctor gave me money--and
he had very little--to pay my journey back, besides having kept
me at his own expense, while there, for nearly two years."

"Why? Was there no one else to pay for you?" asked the black-
haired one.

"No--Mr. Pavlicheff, who had been supporting me there, died a
couple of years ago. I wrote to Mrs. General Epanchin at the time
(she is a distant relative of mine), but she did not answer my
letter. And so eventually I came back."

"And where have you come to?"

"That is--where am I going to stay? I--I really don't quite know
yet, I--"

Both the listeners laughed again.

"I suppose your whole set-up is in that bundle, then?" asked the

"I bet anything it is!" exclaimed the red-nosed passenger, with
extreme satisfaction, "and that he has precious little in the
luggage van!--though of course poverty is no crime--we must
remember that!"

It appeared that it was indeed as they had surmised. The young
fellow hastened to admit the fact with wonderful readiness.

"Your bundle has some importance, however," continued the clerk,
when they had laughed their fill  (it was observable that the
subject of their mirth joined in the laughter when he saw them
laughing); "for though I dare say it is not stuffed full of
friedrichs d'or and louis d'or--judge from your costume and
gaiters--still--if you can add to your possessions such a
valuable property as a relation like Mrs. General Epanchin, then
your bundle becomes a significant object at once. That is, of
course, if you really are a relative of Mrs. Epanchin's, and have
not made a little error through--well, absence of mind, which is
very common to human beings; or, say--through a too luxuriant

"Oh, you are right again," said the fair-haired traveller, "for I
really am ALMOST wrong when I say she and I are related. She is
hardly a relation at all; so little, in fact, that I was not in
the least surprised to have no answer to my letter. I expected as

"H'm! you spent your postage for nothing, then. H'm! you are
candid, however--and that is commendable. H'm!  Mrs. Epanchin--oh
yes! a most eminent person. I know her. As for Mr. Pavlicheff,
who supported you in Switzerland, I know him too--at least, if it
was Nicolai Andreevitch of that name? A fine fellow he was--and
had a property of four thousand souls in his day."

"Yes, Nicolai Andreevitch--that was his name," and the young
fellow looked earnestly and with curiosity at the all-knowing
gentleman with the red nose.

This sort of character is met with pretty frequently in a certain
class. They are people who know everyone--that is, they know
where a man is employed, what his salary is, whom he knows, whom
he married, what money his wife had, who are his cousins, and
second cousins, etc., etc. These men generally have about a
hundred pounds a year to live on, and they spend their whole time
and talents in the amassing of this style of knowledge, which
they reduce--or raise--to the standard of a science.

During the latter part of the conversation the black-haired young
man had become very impatient. He stared out of the window, and
fidgeted, and evidently longed for the end of the journey. He was
very absent; he would appear to listen-and heard nothing; and he
would laugh of a sudden, evidently with no idea of what he was
laughing about.

"Excuse me," said the red-nosed man to the young fellow with the
bundle, rather suddenly; "whom have I the honour to be talking

"Prince Lef Nicolaievitch Muishkin," replied the latter, with
perfect readiness.

"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

"Of course not," replied the prince; "there are none, except
myself. I believe I am the last and only one. As to my
forefathers, they have always been a poor lot; my own father was
a sublieutenant in the army. I don't know how Mrs. Epanchin comes
into the Muishkin family, but she is descended from the Princess
Muishkin, and she, too, is the last of her line."

"And did you learn science and all that, with your professor over
there?" asked the black-haired passenger.

"Oh yes--I did learn a little, but--"

"I've never learned anything whatever," said the other.

"Oh, but I learned very little, you know!" added the prince, as
though excusing himself. "They could not teach me very much on
account of my illness. "

"Do you know the Rogojins?" asked his questioner, abruptly.

"No, I don't--not at all! I hardly know anyone in Russia. Why, is
that your name?"

"Yes, I am Rogojin, Parfen Rogojin."

"Parfen Rogojin? dear me--then don't you belong to those very
Rogojins, perhaps--" began the clerk, with a very perceptible
increase of civility in his tone.

"Yes--those very ones," interrupted Rogojin, impatiently, and
with scant courtesy. I may remark that he had not once taken any
notice of the blotchy-faced passenger, and had hitherto addressed
all his remarks direct to the prince.

"Dear me--is it possible?" observed the clerk, while his face
assumed an expression of great deference and servility--if not of
absolute alarm: "what, a son of that very Semen Rogojin--
hereditary honourable citizen--who died a month or so ago and
left two million and a half of roubles?"

"And how do YOU know that he left two million and a half of
roubles?" asked Rogojin, disdainfully, and no deigning so much as
to look at the other. "However, it's true enough that my father
died a month ago, and that here am I returning from Pskoff, a
month after, with hardly a boot to my foot. They've treated me like
a dog! I've been ill of fever at Pskoff the whole time, and not a
line, nor farthing of money, have I received from my mother or my
confounded brother!"

"And now you'll have a million roubles, at least--goodness
gracious me!" exclaimed the clerk, rubbing his hands.

"Five weeks since, I was just like yourself," continued Rogojin,
addressing the prince, "with nothing but a bundle and the clothes
I wore. I ran away from my father and came to Pskoff to my aunt's
house, where I caved in at once with fever, and he went and died
while I was away. All honour to my respected father's memory--but
he uncommonly nearly killed me, all the same. Give you my word,
prince, if I hadn't cut and run then, when I did, he'd have
murdered me like a dog."

"I suppose you angered him somehow?" asked the prince, looking at
the millionaire with considerable curiosity But though there may
have been something remarkable in the fact that this man was heir
to millions of roubles there was something about him which
surprised and interested the prince more than that. Rogojin, too,
seemed to have taken up the conversation with unusual alacrity it
appeared that he was still in a considerable state of excitement,
if not absolutely feverish, and was in real need of someone to
talk to for the mere sake of talking, as safety-valve to his

As for his red-nosed neighbour, the latter--since the information
as to the identity of Rogojin--hung over him, seemed to be living
on the honey of his words and in the breath of his nostrils,
catching at every syllable as though it were a pearl of great

"Oh, yes; I angered him--I certainly did anger him," replied
Rogojin. "But what puts me out so is my brother. Of course my
mother couldn't do anything--she's too old--and whatever brother
Senka says is law for her! But why couldn't he let me know? He
sent a telegram, they say. What's the good of a telegram? It
frightened my aunt so that she sent it back to the office
unopened, and there it's been ever since! It's only thanks to
Konief that I heard at all; he wrote me all about it. He says my
brother cut off the gold tassels from my father's coffin, at
night because they're worth a lot of money!' says he. Why, I can
get him sent off to Siberia for that alone, if I like; it's
sacrilege. Here, you--scarecrow!" he added, addressing the clerk
at his side, "is it sacrilege or not, by law?'

"Sacrilege, certainly--certainly sacrilege," said the latter.

"And it's Siberia for sacrilege, isn't it?"

"Undoubtedly so; Siberia, of course!"

"They will think that I'm still ill," continued Rogojin to the
prince, "but I sloped off quietly, seedy as I was, took the train
and came away. Aha, brother Senka, you'll have to open your gates
and let me in, my boy! I know he told tales about me to my
father--I know that well enough but I certainly did rile my
father about Nastasia Philipovna that's very sure, and that was
my own doing."

"Nastasia Philipovna?" said the clerk, as though trying to think
out something.

"Come, you know nothing about HER," said Rogojin, impatiently.

"And supposing I do know something?" observed the other,

"Bosh! there are plenty of Nastasia Philipovnas. And what an
impertinent beast you are!" he added angrily. "I thought some
creature like you would hang on to me as soon as I got hold of my
money. "

"Oh, but I do know, as it happens," said the clerk in an
aggravating manner. "Lebedeff knows all about her. You are
pleased to reproach me, your excellency, but what if I prove that
I am right after all? Nastasia Phillpovna's family name is
Barashkoff--I know, you see-and she is a very well known lady,
indeed, and comes of a good family, too. She is connected with
one Totski, Afanasy Ivanovitch, a man of considerable property, a
director of companies, and so on, and a great friend of General
Epanchin, who is interested in the same matters as he is."

"My eyes!" said Rogojin, really surprised at last. "The devil
take the fellow, how does he know that?"

"Why, he knows everything--Lebedeff knows everything! I was a
month or two with Lihachof after his father died, your
excellency, and while he was knocking about--he's in the debtor's
prison now--I was with him, and he couldn't do a thing without
Lebedeff; and I got to know Nastasia Philipovna and several
people at that time."

"Nastasia Philipovna? Why, you don't mean to say that she and
Lihachof--" cried Rogojin, turning quite pale.

"No, no, no, no, no! Nothing of the sort, I assure you!" said
Lebedeff, hastily. "Oh dear no, not for the world! Totski's the
only man with any chance there. Oh, no! He takes her to his box
at the opera at the French theatre of an evening, and the
officers and people all look at her and say, 'By Jove, there's
the famous Nastasia Philipovna!' but no one ever gets any further
than that, for there is nothing more to say."

"Yes, it's quite true," said Rogojin, frowning gloomily; "so
Zaleshoff told me. I was walking about the Nefsky one fine day,
prince, in my father's old coat, when she suddenly came out of a
shop and stepped into her carriage. I swear I was all of a blaze
at once. Then I met Zaleshoff--looking like a hair-dresser's
assistant, got up as fine as I don't know who, while I looked
like a tinker. 'Don't flatter yourself, my boy,' said he; 'she's
not for such as you; she's a princess, she is, and her name is
Nastasia Philipovna Barashkoff, and she lives with Totski, who
wishes to get rid of her because he's growing rather old--fifty-
five or so--and wants to marry a certain beauty, the loveliest
woman in all Petersburg.' And then he told me that I could see
Nastasia Philipovna at the opera-house that evening, if I liked,
and described which was her box. Well, I'd like to see my father
allowing any of us to go to the theatre; he'd sooner have killed
us, any day. However, I went for an hour or so and saw Nastasia
Philipovna, and I never slept a wink all night after. Next
morning my father happened to give me two government loan bonds
to sell, worth nearly five thousand roubles each. 'Sell them,'
said he, 'and then take seven thousand five hundred roubles to
the office, give them to the cashier, and bring me back the rest
of the ten thousand, without looking in anywhere on the way; look
sharp, I shall be waiting for you.' Well, I sold the bonds, but I
didn't take the seven thousand roubles to the office; I went
straight to the English shop and chose a pair of earrings, with a
diamond the size of a nut in each. They cost four hundred roubles
more than I had, so I gave my name, and they trusted me. With the
earrings I went at once to Zaleshoff's. 'Come on!' I said, 'come
on to Nastasia Philipovna's,' and off we went without more ado. I
tell you I hadn't a notion of what was about me or before me or
below my feet all the way; I saw nothing whatever. We went
straight into her drawing-room, and then she came out to us.

"I didn't say right out who I was, but Zaleshoff said: 'From
Parfen Rogojin, in memory of his first meeting with you
yesterday; be so kind as to accept these!'

"She opened the parcel, looked at the earrings, and laughed.

"'Thank your friend Mr. Rogojin for his kind attention,' says
she, and bowed and went off. Why didn't I die there on the spot?
The worst of it all was, though, that the beast Zaleshoff got all
the credit of it! I was short and abominably dressed, and stood
and stared in her face and never said a word, because I was shy,
like an ass! And there was he all in the fashion, pomaded and
dressed out, with a smart tie on, bowing and scraping; and I bet
anything she took him for me all the while!

"'Look here now,' I said, when we came out, 'none of your
interference here after this-do you understand?' He laughed: 'And
how are you going to settle up with your father?' says he. I
thought I might as well jump into the Neva at once without going
home first; but it struck me that I wouldn't, after all, and I
went home feeling like one of the damned."

"My goodness!" shivered the clerk. "And his father," he added,
for the prince's instruction, "and his father would have given a
man a ticket to the other world for ten roubles any day--not to
speak of ten thousand!"

The prince observed Rogojin with great curiosity; he seemed paler
than ever at this moment.

"What do you know about it?" cried the latter. "Well, my father
learned the whole story at once, and Zaleshoff blabbed it all
over the town besides. So he took me upstairs and locked me up,
and swore at me for an hour. 'This is only a foretaste,' says he;
'wait a bit till night comes, and I'll come back and talk to you

"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!"

"Oho! we'll make Nastasia Philipovna sing another song now!"
giggled Lebedeff, rubbing his hands with glee. "Hey, my boy,
we'll get her some proper earrings now! We'll get her such
earrings that--"

"Look here," cried Rogojin, seizing him fiercely by the arm,
"look here, if you so much as name Nastasia Philipovna again,
I'll tan your hide as sure as you sit there!"

"Aha! do--by all means! if you tan my hide you won't turn me away
from your society. You'll bind me to you, with your lash, for
ever. Ha, ha! here we are at the station, though."

Sure enough, the train was just steaming in as he spoke.

Though Rogojin had declared that he left Pskoff secretly, a large
collection of friends had assembled to greet him, and did so with
profuse waving of hats and shouting.

"Why, there's Zaleshoff here, too!" he muttered, gazing at the
scene with a sort of triumphant but unpleasant smile. Then he
suddenly turned to the prince: "Prince, I don't know why I have
taken a fancy to you; perhaps because I met you just when I did.
But no, it can't be that, for I met this fellow " (nodding at
Lebedeff) "too, and I have not taken a fancy to him by any means.
Come to see me, prince; we'll take off those gaiters of yours and
dress you up in a smart fur coat, the best we can buy. You shall
have a dress coat, best quality, white waistcoat, anything you
like, and your pocket shall be full of money. Come, and you shall
go with me to Nastasia Philipovna's. Now then will you come or

"Accept, accept, Prince Lef Nicolaievitch" said Lebedef solemnly;
"don't let it slip! Accept, quick!"

Prince Muishkin rose and stretched out his hand courteously,
while he replied with some cordiality:

"I will come with the greatest pleasure, and thank you very much
for taking a fancy to me. I dare say I may even come today if I
have time, for I tell you frankly that I like you very much too.
I liked you especially when you told us about the diamond
earrings; but I liked you before that as well, though you have
such a dark-clouded sort of face. Thanks very much for the offer
of clothes and a fur coat; I certainly shall require both clothes
and coat very soon. As for money, I have hardly a copeck about me
at this moment."

"You shall have lots of money; by the evening I shall have
plenty; so come along!"

"That's true enough, he'll have lots before evening!" put in

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

"Oh no, oh no! said the prince; "I couldn't, you know--my
illness--I hardly ever saw a soul."

"H'm! well--here, you fellow-you can come along with me now if
you like!" cried Rogojin to Lebedeff, and so they all left the

Lebedeff had his desire. He went off with the noisy group of
Rogojin's friends towards the Voznesensky, while the prince's
route lay towards the Litaynaya. It was damp and wet. The prince
asked his way of passers-by, and finding that he was a couple of
miles or so from his destination, he determined to take a


General Epanchin lived in his own house near the Litaynaya.
Besides this large residence--five-sixths of which was let in
flats and lodgings-the general was owner of another enormous
house in the Sadovaya bringing in even more rent than the first.
Besides these houses he had a delightful little estate just out
of town, and some sort of factory in another part of the city.
General Epanchin, as everyone knew, had a good deal to do with
certain government monopolies; he was also a voice, and an
important one, in many rich public companies of various
descriptions; in fact, he enjoyed the reputation of being a well-
to-do man of busy habits, many ties, and affluent means. He had
made himself indispensable in several quarters, amongst others in
his department of the government; and yet it was a known fact
that Fedor Ivanovitch Epanchin was a man of no education
whatever, and had absolutely risen from the ranks.

This last fact could, of course, reflect nothing but credit upon
the general; and yet, though unquestionably a sagacious man, he
had his own little weaknesses-very excusable ones,--one of which
was a dislike to any allusion to the above circumstance. He was
undoubtedly clever. For instance, he made a point of never
asserting himself when he would gain more by keeping in the
background; and in consequence many exalted personages valued him
principally for his humility and simplicity, and because "he knew
his place." And yet if these good people could only have had a
peep into the mind of this excellent fellow who "knew his place"
so well! The fact is that, in spite of his knowledge of the world
and his really remarkable abilities, he always liked to appear to
be carrying out other people's ideas rather than his own. And
also, his luck seldom failed him, even at cards, for which he had
a passion that he did not attempt to conceal. He played for high
stakes, and moved, altogether, in very varied society.

As to age, General Epanchin was in the very prime of life; that
is, about fifty-five years of age,--the flowering time of
existence, when real enjoyment of life begins. His healthy
appearance, good colour, sound, though discoloured teeth, sturdy
figure, preoccupied air during business hours, and jolly good
humour during his game at cards in the evening, all bore witness
to his success in life, and combined to make existence a bed of
roses to his excellency. The general was lord of a flourishing
family, consisting of his wife and three grown-up daughters. He
had married young, while still a lieutenant, his wife being a
girl of about his own age, who possessed neither beauty nor
education, and who brought him no more than fifty souls of landed
property, which little estate served, however, as a nest-egg for
far more important accumulations. The general never regretted his
early marriage, or regarded it as a foolish youthful escapade;
and he so respected and feared his wife that he was very near
loving her. Mrs. Epanchin came of the princely stock of Muishkin,
which if not a brilliant, was, at all events, a decidedly ancient
family; and she was extremely proud of her descent.

With a few exceptions, the worthy couple had lived through their
long union very happily. While still young the wife had been able
to make important friends among the aristocracy, partly by virtue
of her family descent, and partly by her own exertions; while, in
after life, thanks to their wealth and to the position of her
husband in the service, she took her place among the higher
circles as by right.

During these last few years all three of the general's daughters-
Alexandra, Adelaida, and Aglaya--had grown up and matured. Of
course they were only Epanchins, but their mother's family was
noble; they might expect considerable fortunes; their father had
hopes of attaining to very high rank indeed in his country's
service-all of which was satisfactory. All three of the girls
were decidedly pretty, even the eldest, Alexandra, who was just
twenty-five years old. The middle daughter was now twenty-three,
while the youngest, Aglaya, was twenty. This youngest girl was
absolutely a beauty, and had begun of late to attract
considerable attention in society. But this was not all, for every
one of the three was clever, well educated, and accomplished.

It was a matter of general knowledge that the three girls were
very fond of one another, and supported each other in every way;
it was even said that the two elder ones had made certain
sacrifices for the sake of the idol of the household, Aglaya. In
society they not only disliked asserting themselves, but were
actually retiring. Certainly no one could blame them for being
too arrogant or haughty, and yet everybody was well aware that
they were proud and quite understood their own value. The eldest
was musical, while the second was a clever artist, which fact she
had concealed until lately. In a word, the world spoke well of
the girls; but they were not without their enemies, and
occasionally people talked with horror of the number of books
they had read.

They were in no hurry to marry. They liked good society, but were
not too keen about it. All this was the more remarkable, because
everyone was well aware of the hopes and aims of their parents.

It was about eleven o'clock in the forenoon when the prince rang
the bell at General Epanchin's door. The general lived on the
first floor or flat of the house, as modest a lodging as his
position permitted. A liveried servant opened the door, and the
prince was obliged to enter into long explanations with this
gentleman, who, from the first glance, looked at him and his
bundle with grave suspicion. At last, however, on the repeated
positive assurance that he really was Prince Muishkin, and must
absolutely see the general on business, the bewildered domestic
showed him into a little ante-chamber leading to a waiting-room
that adjoined the general's study, there handing him over to
another servant, whose duty it was to be in this ante-chamber
all the morning, and announce visitors to the general. This
second individual wore a dress coat, and was some forty years of
age; he was the general's special study servant, and well aware
of his own importance.

"Wait in the next room, please; and leave your bundle here," said
the door-keeper, as he sat down comfortably in his own easy-chair
in the ante-chamber. He looked at the prince in severe surprise
as the latter settled himself in another chair alongside, with
his bundle on his knees.

"If you don't mind, I would rather sit here with you," said the
prince; "I should prefer it to sitting in there."

"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?"

The man evidently could not take in the idea of such a shabby-
looking visitor, and had decided to ask once more.

"Yes--I have business--" began the prince.

"I do not ask you what your business may be, all I have to do is
to announce you; and unless the secretary comes in here I cannot
do that."

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.

"Surely you--are from abroad?" he inquired at last, in a confused
sort of way. He had begun his sentence intending to say, "Surely
you are not Prince Muishkin, are you?"

"Yes, straight from the train! Did not you intend to say, 'Surely
you are not Prince Muishkin?' just now, but refrained out of
politeness ?"

"H'm!" grunted the astonished servant.

"I assure you I am not deceiving you; you shall not have to
answer for me. As to my being dressed like this, and carrying a
bundle, there's nothing surprising in that--the fact is, my
circumstances are not particularly rosy at this moment."

"H'm!--no, I'm not afraid of that, you see; I have to announce
you, that's all. The secretary will be out directly-that is,
unless you--yes, that's the rub--unless you--come, you must allow
me to ask you--you've not come to beg, have you?"

"Oh dear no, you can be perfectly easy on that score. I have
quite another matter on hand."

"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."

"Oh--well, look here, if I have some time to wait, would you mind
telling me, is there any place about where I could have a smoke?
I have my pipe and tobacco with me."

"SMOKE?" said the man, in shocked but disdainful surprise,
blinking his eyes at the prince as though he could not believe
his senses." No, sir, you cannot smoke here, and I wonder you
are not ashamed of the very suggestion. Ha, ha! a cool idea that,
I declare!"

"Oh, I didn't mean in this room! I know I can't smoke here, of
course. I'd adjourn to some other room, wherever you like to show
me to. You see, I'm used to smoking a good deal, and now I
haven't had a puff for three hours; however, just as you like."

"Now how on earth am I to announce a man like that?" muttered the
servant. "In the first place, you've no right in here at all; you
ought to be in the waiting-room, because you're a sort of
visitor--a guest, in fact--and I shall catch it for this. Look
here, do you intend to take up you abode with us?" he added,
glancing once more at the prince's bundle, which evidently gave
him no peace.

"No, I don't think so. I don't think I should stay even if they
were to invite me. I've simply come to make their acquaintance,
and nothing more."

"Make their acquaintance?" asked the man, in amazement, and with
redoubled suspicion. "Then why did you say you had business with
the general?"

"Oh well, very little business. There is one little matter--some
advice I am going to ask him for; but my principal object is
simply to introduce myself, because I am Prince Muishkin, and
Madame Epanchin is the last of her branch of the house, and
besides herself and me there are no other Muishkins left."

"What--you're a relation then, are you?" asked the servant, so
bewildered that he began to feel quite alarmed.

"Well, hardly so. If you stretch a point, we are relations, of
course, but so distant that one cannot really take cognizance of
it. I once wrote to your mistress from abroad, but she did not
reply. However, I have thought it right to make acquaintance with
her on my arrival. I am telling you all this in order to ease
your mind, for I see you are still far from comfortable on my
account. All you have to do is to announce me as Prince Muishkin,
and the object of my visit will be plain enough. If I am
received--very good; if not, well, very good again. But they are
sure to receive me, I should think; Madame Epanchin will
naturally be curious to see the only remaining representative of
her family. She values her Muishkin descent very highly, if I am
rightly informed."

The prince's conversation was artless and confiding to a degree,
and the servant could not help feeling that as from visitor to
common serving-man this state of things was highly improper. His
conclusion was that one of two things must be the explanation--
either that this was a begging impostor, or that the prince, if
prince he were, was simply a fool, without the slightest
ambition; for a sensible prince with any ambition would certainly
not wait about in ante-rooms with servants, and talk of his own
private affairs like this. In either case, how was he to announce
this singular visitor?

"I really think I must request you to step into the next room!"
he said, with all the insistence he could muster.

"Why? If I had been sitting there now, I should not have had the
opportunity of making these personal explanations. I see you are
still uneasy about me and keep eyeing my cloak and bundle. Don't
you think you might go in yourself now, without waiting for the
secretary to come out?"

"No, no! I can't announce a visitor like yourself without the
secretary. Besides the general said he was not to be disturbed--
he is with the Colonel C--. Gavrila Ardalionovitch goes in
without announcing."

"Who may that be? a clerk?"

"What? Gavrila Ardalionovitch? Oh no; he belongs to one of the
companies. Look here, at all events put your bundle down, here."

"Yes, I will if I may; and--can I take off my cloak"

"Of course; you can't go in THERE with it on, anyhow."

The prince rose and took off his mantle, revealing a neat enough
morning costume--a little worn, but well made. He wore a steel
watch chain and from this chain there hung a silver Geneva watch.
Fool the prince might be, still, the general's servant felt that
it was not correct for him to continue to converse thus with a
visitor, in spite of the fact that the prince pleased him

"And what time of day does the lady receive?" the latter asked,
reseating himself in his old place.

"Oh, that's not in my province! I believe she receives at any
time; it depends upon the visitors. The dressmaker goes in at
eleven. Gavrila Ardalionovitch is allowed much earlier than other
people, too; he is even admitted to early lunch now and then."

"It is much warmer in the rooms here than it is abroad at this
season," observed the prince; " but it is much warmer there out
of doors. As for the houses--a Russian can't live in them in the
winter until he gets accustomed to them."

"Don't they heat them at all?"

"Well, they do heat them a little; but the houses and stoves are
so different to ours."

"H'm! were you long away?"

"Four years! and I was in the same place nearly all the time,--in
one village."

"You must have forgotten Russia, hadn't you?"

"Yes, indeed I had--a good deal; and, would you believe it, I
often wonder at myself for not having forgotten how to speak
Russian? Even now, as I talk to you, I keep saying to myself 'how
well I am speaking it.' Perhaps that is partly why I am so
talkative this morning. I assure you, ever since yesterday
evening I have had the strongest desire to go on and on talking

"H'm! yes; did you live in Petersburg in former years?"

This good flunkey, in spite of his conscientious scruples, really
could not resist continuing such a very genteel and agreeable

"In Petersburg? Oh no! hardly at all, and now they say so much
is changed in the place that even those who did know it well are
obliged to relearn what they knew. They talk a good deal about
the new law courts, and changes there, don't they?"

"H'm! yes, that's true enough. Well now, how is the law over
there, do they administer it more justly than here?"

"Oh, I don't know about that! I've heard much that is good about
our legal administration, too. There is no capital punishment
here for one thing."

"Is there over there?"

"Yes--I saw an execution in France--at Lyons. Schneider took me
over with him to see it."

"What, did they hang the fellow?"

"No, they cut off people's heads in France."

"What did the fellow do?--yell?"

"Oh no--it's the work of an instant. They put a man inside a
frame and a sort of broad knife falls by machinery -they call the
thing a guillotine-it falls with fearful force and weight-the
head springs off so quickly that you can't wink your eye in
between. But all the preparations are so dreadful. When they
announce the sentence, you know, and prepare the criminal and tie
his hands, and cart him off to the scaffold--that's the fearful
part of the business. The people all crowd round--even women-
though they don't at all approve of women looking on."

"No, it's not a thing for women."

"Of course not--of course not!--bah! The criminal was a fine
intelligent fearless man; Le Gros was his name; and I may tell
you--believe it or not, as you like--that when that man stepped
upon the scaffold he CRIED, he did indeed,--he was as white as a
bit of paper. Isn't it a dreadful idea that he should have cried
--cried! Whoever heard of a grown man crying from fear--not a
child, but a man who never had cried before--a grown man of
forty-five years. Imagine what must have been going on in that
man's mind at such a moment; what dreadful convulsions his whole
spirit must have endured; it is an outrage on the soul that's
what it is. Because it is said 'thou shalt not kill,' is he to be
killed because he murdered some one else? No, it is not right,
it's an impossible theory. I assure you, I saw the sight a month
ago and it's dancing before my eyes to this moment. I dream of
it, often."

The prince had grown animated as he spoke, and a tinge of colour
suffused his pale face, though his way of talking was as quiet as
ever. The servant followed his words with sympathetic interest.
Clearly he was not at all anxious to bring the conversation to an
end. Who knows? Perhaps he too was a man of imagination and with
some capacity for thought.

"Well, at all events it is a good thing that there's no pain when
the poor fellow's head flies off," he remarked.

"Do you know, though," cried the prince warmly, "you made that
remark now, and everyone says the same thing, and the machine is
designed with the purpose of avoiding pain, this guillotine I
mean; but a thought came into my head then: what if it be a bad
plan after all? You may laugh at my idea, perhaps--but I could
not help its occurring to me all the same. Now with the rack and
tortures and so on--you suffer terrible pain of course; but then
your torture is bodily pain only (although no doubt you have
plenty of that) until you die. But HERE I should imagine the most
terrible part of the whole punishment is, not the bodily pain at
all--but the certain knowledge that in an hour,--then in ten
minutes, then in half a minute, then now--this very INSTANT--your
soul must quit your body and that you will no longer be a man--
and that this is certain, CERTAIN! That's the point--the
certainty of it. Just that instant when you place your head on
the block and hear the iron grate over your head--then--that
quarter of a second is the most awful of all.

"This is not my own fantastical opinion--many people have thought
the same; but I feel it so deeply that I'll tell you what I
think. I believe that to execute a man for murder is to punish
him immeasurably more dreadfully than is equivalent to his crime.
A murder by sentence is far more dreadful than a murder committed
by a criminal. The man who is attacked by robbers at night, in a
dark wood, or anywhere, undoubtedly hopes and hopes that he may
yet escape until the very moment of his death. There are plenty
of instances of a man running away, or imploring for mercy--at
all events hoping on in some degree--even after his throat was
cut. But in the case of an execution, that last hope--having
which it is so immeasurably less dreadful to die,--is taken away
from the wretch and CERTAINTY substituted in its place! There is
his sentence, and with it that terrible certainty that he cannot
possibly escape death--which, I consider, must be the most
dreadful anguish in the world. You may place a soldier before a
cannon's mouth in battle, and fire upon him--and he will still
hope. But read to that same soldier his death-sentence, and he
will either go mad or burst into tears. Who dares to say that any
man can suffer this without going mad? No, no! it is an abuse, a
shame, it is unnecessary--why should such a thing exist?
Doubtless there may be men who have been sentenced, who have
suffered this mental anguish for a while and then have been
reprieved; perhaps such men may have been able to relate their
feelings afterwards. Our Lord Christ spoke of this anguish and
dread. No! no! no! No man should be treated so, no man, no man!"

The servant, though of course he could not have expressed all
this as the prince did, still clearly entered into it and was
greatly conciliated, as was evident from the increased amiability
of his expression. "If you are really very anxious for a smoke,"
he remarked, "I think it might possibly be managed, if you are
very quick about it. You see they might come out and inquire for
you, and you wouldn't be on the spot. You see that door there? Go
in there and you'll find a little room on the right; you can
smoke there, only open the window, because I ought not to allow
it really, and--." But there was no time, after all.

A young fellow entered the ante-room at this moment, with a
bundle of papers in his hand. The footman hastened to help him
take off his overcoat. The new arrival glanced at the prince out
of the corners of his eyes.

"This gentleman declares, Gavrila Ardalionovitch," began the man,
confidentially and almost familiarly, "that he is Prince Muishkin
and a relative of Madame Epanchin's. He has just arrived from
abroad, with nothing but a bundle by way of luggage--."

The prince did not hear the rest, because at this point the
servant continued his communication in a whisper.

Gavrila Ardalionovitch listened attentively, and gazed at the
prince with great curiosity. At last he motioned the man aside
and stepped hurriedly towards the prince.

"Are you Prince Muishkin?" he asked, with the greatest courtesy
and amiability.

He was a remarkably handsome young fellow of some twenty-eight
summers, fair and of middle height; he wore a small beard, and
his face was most intelligent. Yet his smile, in spite of its
sweetness, was a little thin, if I may so call it, and showed his
teeth too evenly; his gaze though decidedly good-humoured and
ingenuous, was a trifle too inquisitive and intent to be
altogether agreeable.

"Probably when he is alone he looks quite different, and hardly
smiles at all!" thought the prince.

He explained about himself in a few words, very much the same as
he had told the footman and Rogojin beforehand.

Gavrila Ardalionovitch meanwhile seemed to be trying to recall

"Was it not you, then, who sent a letter a year or less ago--from
Switzerland, I think it was--to Elizabetha Prokofievna (Mrs.

"It was."

"Oh, then, of course they will remember who you are. You wish to
see the general? I'll tell him at once--he will be free in a
minute; but you--you had better wait in the ante-chamber,--hadn't
you? Why is he here?" he added, severely, to the man.

"I tell you, sir, he wished it himself!"

At this moment the study door opened, and a military man, with a
portfolio under his arm, came out talking loudly, and after
bidding good-bye to someone inside, took his departure.

"You there, Gania? cried a voice from the study, "come in here,
will you?"

Gavrila Ardalionovitch nodded to the prince and entered the room

A couple of minutes later the door opened again and the affable
voice of Gania cried:

"Come in please, prince!"


General Ivan Fedorovitch Epanchin was standing In the middle of
the room, and gazed with great curiosity at the prince as he
entered. He even advanced a couple of steps to meet him.

The prince came forward and introduced himself.

"Quite so," replied the general, "and what can I do for you?"

"Oh, I have no special business; my principal object was to make
your acquaintance. I should not like to disturb you. I do not
know your times and arrangements here, you see, but I have only
just arrived. I came straight from the station. I am come direct
from Switzerland."

The general very nearly smiled, but thought better of it and kept
his smile back. Then he reflected, blinked his eyes, stared at his guest
once more from head to foot; then abruptly motioned him to a
chair, sat down himself, and waited with some impatience for the
prince to speak.

Gania stood at his table in the far corner of the room, turning
over papers.

"I have not much time for making acquaintances, as a rule," said
the general, "but as, of course, you have your object in coming,

"I felt sure you would think I had some object in view when I
resolved to pay you this visit," the prince interrupted; "but I
give you my word, beyond the pleasure of making your acquaintance
I had no personal object whatever."

"The pleasure is, of course, mutual; but life is not all
pleasure, as you are aware. There is such a thing as business,
and I really do not see what possible reason there can be, or
what we have in common to--"

"Oh, there is no reason, of course, and I suppose there is
nothing in common between us, or very little; for if I am Prince
Muishkin, and your wife happens to be a member of my house, that
can hardly be called a 'reason.' I quite understand that. And yet
that was my whole motive for coming. You see I have not been in
Russia for four years, and knew very little about anything when I
left. I had been very ill for a long time, and I feel now the
need of a few good friends. In fact, I have a certain question
upon which I much need advice, and do not know whom to go to for
it. I thought of your family when I was passing through Berlin.
'They are almost relations,' I said to myself,' so I'll begin
with them; perhaps we may get on with each other, I with them and
they with me, if they are kind people;' and I have heard that you
are very kind people!"

"Oh, thank you, thank you, I'm sure," replied the general,
considerably taken aback. "May I ask where you have taken up your

"Nowhere, as yet."

"What, straight from the station to my house? And how about your

"I only had a small bundle, containing linen, with me, nothing
more. I can carry it in my hand, easily. There will be plenty of
time to take a room in some hotel by the evening."

"Oh, then you DO intend to take a room?"

"Of course."

"To judge from your words, you came straight to my house with the
intention of staying there."

"That could only have been on your invitation. I confess,
however, that I should not have stayed here even if you had
invited me, not for any particular reason, but because it is--
well, contrary to my practice and nature, somehow."

"Oh, indeed! Then it is perhaps as well that I neither DID invite
you, nor DO invite you now. Excuse me, prince, but we had better
make this matter clear, once for all. We have just agreed that
with regard to our relationship there is not much to be said,
though, of course, it would have been very delightful to us to
feel that such relationship did actually exist; therefore,

"Therefore, perhaps I had better get up and go away?" said the
prince, laughing merrily as he rose from his place; just as
merrily as though the circumstances were by no means strained or
difficult. "And I give you my word, general, that though I know
nothing whatever of manners and customs of society, and how
people live and all that, yet I felt quite sure that this visit
of mine would end exactly as it has ended now. Oh, well, I
suppose it's all right; especially as my letter was not answered.
Well, good-bye, and forgive me for having disturbed you!"

The prince's expression was so good-natured at this moment, and
so entirely free from even a suspicion of unpleasant feeling was
the smile with which he looked at the general as he spoke, that
the latter suddenly paused, and appeared to gaze at his guest
from quite a new point of view, all in an instant.

"Do you know, prince," he said, in quite a different tone, "I do
not know you at all, yet, and after all, Elizabetha Prokofievna
would very likely be pleased to have a peep at a man of her own
name. Wait a little, if you don't mind, and if you have time to

"Oh, I assure you I've lots of time, my time is entirely my own!"
And the prince immediately replaced his soft, round hat on the
table. "I confess, I thought Elizabetha Prokofievna would very
likely remember that I had written her a letter. Just now your
servant--outside there--was dreadfully suspicious that I had come
to beg of you. I noticed that! Probably he has very strict
instructions on that score; but I assure you I did not come to
beg. I came to make some friends. But I am rather bothered at
having disturbed you; that's all I care about.--"

"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?"


"No? I thought you very much younger."

"Yes, they say I have a 'young' face. As to disturbing you I
shall soon learn to avoid doing that, for I hate disturbing
people. Besides, you and I are so differently constituted, I
should think, that there must be very little in common between
us. Not that I will ever believe there is NOTHING in common
between any two people, as some declare is the case. I am sure
people make a great mistake in sorting each other into groups, by
appearances; but I am boring you, I see, you--"

"Just two words: have you any means at all? Or perhaps you may be
intending to undertake some sort of employment? Excuse my
questioning you, but--"

"Oh, my dear sir, I esteem and understand your kindness in
putting the question. No; at present I have no means whatever,
and no employment either, but I hope to find some. I was living
on other people abroad. Schneider, the professor who treated me
and taught me, too, in Switzerland, gave me just enough money for
my journey, so that now I have but a few copecks left. There
certainly is one question upon which I am anxious to have advice,

"Tell me, how do you intend to live now, and what are your
plans?" interrupted the general.

"I wish to work, somehow or other."

"Oh yes, but then, you see, you are a philosopher. Have you any
talents, or ability in any direction--that is, any that would
bring in money and bread? Excuse me again--"

"Oh, don't apologize. No, I don't think I have either talents or
special abilities of any kind; on the contrary. I have always
been an invalid and unable to learn much. As for bread, I should

The general interrupted once more with questions; while the
prince again replied with the narrative we have heard before. It
appeared that the general had known Pavlicheff; but why the
latter had taken an interest in the prince, that young gentleman
could not explain; probably by virtue of the old friendship with
his father, he thought.

The prince had been left an orphan when quite a little child, and
Pavlicheff had entrusted him to an old lady, a relative of his
own, living in the country, the child needing the fresh air and
exercise of country life. He was educated, first by a governess,
and afterwards by a tutor, but could not remember much about this
time of his life. His fits were so frequent then, that they made
almost an idiot of him (the prince used the expression "idiot"
himself). Pavlicheff had met Professor Schneider in Berlin, and
the latter had persuaded him to send the boy to Switzerland, to
Schneider's establishment there, for the cure of his epilepsy,
and, five years before this time, the prince was sent off. But
Pavlicheff had died two or three years since, and Schneider had
himself supported the young fellow, from that day to this, at his
own expense. Although he had not quite cured him, he had greatly
improved his condition; and now, at last, at the prince's own
desire, and because of a certain matter which came to the ears of
the latter, Schneider had despatched the young man to Russia.

The general was much astonished.

"Then you have no one, absolutely NO one in Russia?" he asked.

"No one, at present; but I hope to make friends; and then I have
a letter from--"

"At all events," put in the general, not listening to the news
about the letter, "at all events, you must have learned
SOMETHING, and your malady would not prevent your undertaking
some easy work, in one of the departments, for instance?

"Oh dear no, oh no! As for a situation, I should much like to
find one for I am anxious to discover what I really am fit for. I
have learned a good deal in the last four years, and, besides, I
read a great many Russian books."

"Russian books, indeed ? Then, of course, you can read and write
quite correctly?"

"Oh dear, yes!"

"Capital! And your handwriting?"

"Ah, there I am REALLY talented! I may say l am a real
caligraphist. Let me write you something, just to show you," said
the prince, with some excitement.

"With pleasure! In fact, it is very necessary. I like your
readiness, prince; in fact, I must say--I-I-like you very well,
altogether," said the general.

"What delightful writing materials you have here, such a lot of
pencils and things, and what beautiful paper! It's a charming
room altogether. I know that picture, it's a Swiss view. I'm sure
the artist painted it from nature, and that I have seen the very

"Quite likely, though I bought it here. Gania, give the prince
some paper. Here are pens and paper; now then, take this table.
What's this?" the general continued to Gania, who had that moment
taken a large photograph out of his portfolio, and shown it to
his senior. "Halloa! Nastasia Philipovna! Did she send it you
herself? Herself?" he inquired, with much curiosity and great

"She gave it me just now, when I called in to congratulate her. I
asked her for it long ago. I don't know whether she meant it for
a hint that I had come empty-handed, without a present for her
birthday, or what," added Gania, with an unpleasant smile.

"Oh, nonsense, nonsense," said the general, with decision. " What
extraordinary ideas you have, Gania! As if she would hint; that's
not her way at all. Besides, what could you give her, without
having thousands at your disposal? You might have given her your
portrait, however. Has she ever asked you for it?"

"No, not yet. Very likely she never will. I suppose you haven't
forgotten about tonight, have you, Ivan Fedorovitch? You were
one of those specially invited, you know."

"Oh no, I remember all right, and I shall go, of course. I should
think so! She's twenty-five years old today! And, you know,
Gania, you must be ready for great things; she has promised both
myself and Afanasy Ivanovitch that she will give a decided answer
tonight, yes or no. So be prepared!"

Gania suddenly became so ill at ease that his face grew paler
than ever.

"Are you sure she said that?" he asked, and his voice seemed to
quiver as he spoke.

"Yes, she promised. We both worried her so that she gave in; but
she wished us to tell you nothing about it until the day. "

The general watched Gania's confusion intently, and clearly did
not like it.

"Remember, Ivan Fedorovitch," said Gania, in great agitation,
"that I was to be free too, until her decision; and that even
then I was to have my 'yes or no' free."

"Why, don't you, aren't you--" began the general, in alarm.

"Oh, don't misunderstand--"

"But, my dear fellow, what are you doing, what do you mean?"

"Oh, I'm not rejecting her. I may have expressed myself badly,
but I didn't mean that."

"Reject her! I should think not!" said the general with
annoyance, and apparently not in the least anxious to conceal it.
"Why, my dear fellow, it's not a question of your rejecting her,
it is whether you are prepared to receive her consent joyfully,
and with proper satisfaction. How are things going on at home?"

"At home? Oh, I can do as I like there, of course; only my father
will make a fool of himself, as usual. He is rapidly becoming a
general nuisance. I don't ever talk to him now, but I hold him in
cheek, safe enough. I swear if it had not been for my mother, I
should have shown him the way out, long ago. My mother is always
crying, of course, and my sister sulks. I had to tell them at
last that I intended to be master of my own destiny, and that I
expect to be obeyed at home. At least, I gave my sister to
understand as much, and my mother was present."

"Well, I must say, I cannot understand it!" said the general,
shrugging his shoulders and dropping his hands. "You remember
your mother, Nina Alexandrovna, that day she came and sat here
and groaned-and when I asked her what was the matter, she says,
'Oh, it's such a DISHONOUR to us!' dishonour! Stuff and nonsense!
I should like to know who can reproach Nastasia Philipovna, or
who can say a word of any kind against her. Did she mean because
Nastasia had been living with Totski? What nonsense it is! You
would not let her come near your daughters, says Nina
Alexandrovna. What next, I wonder? I don't see how she can fail
to--to understand--"

"Her own position?" prompted Gania. "She does understand. Don't
be annoyed with her. I have warned her not to meddle in other
people's affairs. However, although there's comparative peace at
home at present, the storm will break if anything is finally
settled tonight."

The prince heard the whole of the foregoing conversation, as he
sat at the table, writing. He finished at last, and brought the
result of his labour to the general's desk.

"So this is Nastasia Philipovna," he said, looking attentively
and curiously at the portrait. "How wonderfully beautiful!" he
immediately added, with warmth. The picture was certainly that of
an unusually lovely woman. She was photographed in a black silk
dress of simple design, her hair was evidently dark and plainly
arranged, her eyes were deep and thoughtful, the expression of
her face passionate, but proud. She was rather thin, perhaps, and
a little pale. Both Gania and the general gazed at the prince in

"How do you know it's Nastasia Philipovna?" asked the general;
"you surely don't know her already, do you? "

"Yes, I do! I have only been one day in Russia, but I have heard
of the great beauty!" And the prince proceeded to narrate his
meeting with Rogojin in the train and the whole of the latter's

"There's news!" said the general in some excitement, after
listening to the story with engrossed attention.

"Oh, of course it's nothing but humbug!" cried Gania, a little
disturbed, however. "It's all humbug; the young merchant was
pleased to indulge in a little innocent recreation! I have heard
something of Rogojin!"

"Yes, so have I!" replied the general. "Nastasia Philipovna told
us all about the earrings that very day. But now it is quite a
different matter. You see the fellow really has a million of
roubles, and he is passionately in love. The whole story smells
of passion, and we all know what this class of gentry is capable
of when infatuated. I am much afraid of some disagreeable
scandal, I am indeed!"

"You are afraid of the million, I suppose," said Gania, grinning
and showing his teeth.

"And you are NOT, I presume, eh?"

"How did he strike you, prince?" asked Gania, suddenly. "Did he
seem to be a serious sort of a man, or just a common rowdy
fellow? What was your own opinion about the matter?"

While Gania put this question, a new idea suddenly flashed into
his brain, and blazed out, impatiently, in his eyes. The general,
who was really agitated and disturbed, looked at the prince too,
but did not seem to expect much from his reply.

"I really don't quite know how to tell you," replied the prince,
"but it certainly did seem to me that the man was full of
passion, and not, perhaps, quite healthy passion. He seemed to be
still far from well. Very likely he will be in bed again in a day
or two, especially if he lives fast."

"No! do you think so?" said the general, catching at the idea.

"Yes, I do think so!"

"Yes, but the sort of scandal I referred to may happen at any
moment. It may be this very evening," remarked Gania to the
general, with a smile.

"Of course; quite so. In that case it all depends upon what is
going on in her brain at this moment."

"You know the kind of person she is at times."

"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--"

"Yes, that's the chief thing," said Gania, helping the general
out of his difficulties again, and curling his lips in an
envenomed smile, which he did not attempt to conceal. He gazed
with his fevered eyes straight into those of the general, as
though he were anxious that the latter might read his thoughts.

The general grew purple with anger.

"Yes, of course it is the chief thing!" he cried, looking sharply
at Gania. "What a very curious man you are, Gania! You actually
seem to be GLAD to hear of this millionaire fellow's arrival-
just as though you wished for an excuse to get out of the whole
thing. This is an affair in which you ought to act honestly
with both sides, and give due warning, to avoid compromising
others. But, even now, there is still time. Do you understand me?
I wish to know whether you desire this arrangement or whether you
do not? If not, say so,--and-and welcome! No one is trying to
force you into the snare, Gavrila Ardalionovitch, if you see
a snare in the matter, at least."

"I do desire it," murmured Gania, softly but firmly, lowering his
eyes; and he relapsed into gloomy silence.

The general was satisfied. He had excited himself, and was
evidently now regretting that he had gone so far. He turned to
the prince, and suddenly the disagreeable thought of the latter's
presence struck him, and the certainty that he must have heard
every word of the conversation. But he felt at ease in another
moment; it only needed one glance at the prince to see that in
that quarter there was nothing to fear.

"Oh!" cried the general, catching sight of the prince's specimen
of caligraphy, which the latter had now handed him for
inspection. "Why, this is simply beautiful; look at that, Gania,
there's real talent there!"

On a sheet of thick writing-paper the prince had written in
medieval characters the legend:

"The gentle Abbot Pafnute signed this."

"There," explained the prince, with great delight and animation,
"there, that's the abbot's real signature--from a manuscript of
the fourteenth century. All these old abbots and bishops used to
write most beautifully, with such taste and so much care and
diligence. Have you no copy of Pogodin, general? If you had one I
could show you another type. Stop a bit--here you have the large
round writing common in France during the eighteenth century.
Some of the letters are shaped quite differently from those now
in use. It was the writing current then, and employed by public
writers generally. I copied this from one of them, and you can
see how good it is. Look at the well-rounded a and d. I have
tried to translate the French character into the Russian letters-
-a difficult thing to do, but I think I have succeeded fairly.
Here is a fine sentence, written in a good, original hand--'Zeal
triumphs over all.' That is the script of the Russian War Office.
That is how official documents addressed to important personages
should be written. The letters are round, the type black, and the
style somewhat remarkable. A stylist would not allow these
ornaments, or attempts at flourishes--just look at these
unfinished tails!--but it has distinction and really depicts the
soul of the writer. He would like to give play to his
imagination, and follow the inspiration of his genius, but a
soldier is only at ease in the guard-room, and the pen stops
half-way, a slave to discipline. How delightful! The first time
I met an example of this handwriting, I was positively
astonished, and where do you think I chanced to find it? In
Switzerland, of all places! Now that is an ordinary English hand.
It can hardly be improved, it is so refined and exquisite--almost
perfection. This is an example of another kind, a mixture of
styles. The copy was given me by a French commercial traveller.
It is founded on the English, but the downstrokes are a little
blacker, and more marked. Notice that the oval has some slight
modification--it is more rounded. This writing allows for
flourishes; now a flourish is a dangerous thing! Its use requires
such taste, but, if successful, what a distinction it gives to
the whole! It results in an incomparable type--one to fall in love

"Dear me! How you have gone into all the refinements and details
of the question! Why, my dear fellow, you are not a caligraphist,
you are an artist! Eh, Gania ?"

"Wonderful!" said Gania. "And he knows it too," he added, with a
sarcastic smile.

"You may smile,--but there's a career in this," said the general.
"You don't know what a great personage I shall show this to,
prince. Why, you can command a situation at thirty-five roubles
per month to start with. However, it's half-past twelve," he
concluded, looking at his watch; "so to business, prince, for I
must be setting to work and shall not see you again today. Sit
down a minute. I have told you that I cannot receive you myself
very often, but I should like to be of some assistance to you,
some small assistance, of a kind that would give you
satisfaction. I shall find you a place in one of the State
departments, an easy place--but you will require to be accurate.
Now, as to your plans--in the house, or rather in the family of
Gania here--my young friend, whom I hope you will know better--his
mother and sister have prepared two or three rooms for lodgers,
and let them to highly recommended young fellows, with board and
attendance. I am sure Nina Alexandrovna will take you in on my
recommendation. There you will be comfortable and well taken care
of; for I do not think, prince, that you are the sort of man to
be left to the mercy of Fate in a town like Petersburg. Nina
Alexandrovna, Gania's mother, and Varvara Alexandrovna, are
ladies for whom I have the highest possible esteem and respect.
Nina Alexandrovna is the wife of General Ardalion Alexandrovitch,
my old brother in arms, with whom, I regret to say, on account of
certain circumstances, I am no longer acquainted. I give you all
this information, prince, in order to make it clear to you that I
am personally recommending you to this family, and that in so
doing, I am more or less taking upon myself to answer for you.
The terms are most reasonable, and I trust that your salary will
very shortly prove amply sufficient for your expenditure. Of
course pocket-money is a necessity, if only a little; do not be
angry, prince, if I strongly recommend you to avoid carrying
money in your pocket. But as your purse is quite empty at the
present moment, you must allow me to press these twenty-five
roubles upon your acceptance, as something to begin with. Of
course we will settle this little matter another time, and if you
are the upright, honest man you look, I anticipate very little
trouble between us on that score. Taking so much interest in you
as you may perceive I do, I am not without my object, and you
shall know it in good time. You see, I am perfectly candid with
you. I hope, Gania, you have nothing to say against the prince's
taking up his abode in your house?"

"Oh, on the contrary! my mother will be very glad," said Gania,
courteously and kindly.

"I think only one of your rooms is engaged as yet, is it not?
That fellow Ferd-Ferd--"


"Yes--I don't like that Ferdishenko. I can't understand why
Nastasia Philipovna encourages him so. Is he really her cousin,
as he says?"

"Oh dear no, it's all a joke. No more cousin than I am."

"Well, what do you think of the arrangement, prince?"

"Thank you, general; you have behaved very kindly to me; all the
more so since I did not ask you to help me. I don't say that out
of pride. I certainly did not know where to lay my head tonight.
Rogojin asked me to come to his house, of course, but--"

"Rogojin? No, no, my good fellow. I should strongly recommend
you, paternally,--or, if you prefer it, as a friend,--to forget
all about Rogojin, and, in fact, to stick to the family into
which you are about to enter."

"Thank you," began the prince; "and since you are so very kind
there is just one matter which I--"

"You must really excuse me," interrupted the general, "but I
positively haven't another moment now. I shall just tell
Elizabetha Prokofievna about you, and if she wishes to receive
you at once--as I shall advise her--I strongly recommend you to
ingratiate yourself with her at the first opportunity, for my
wife may be of the greatest service to you in many ways. If she
cannot receive you now, you must be content to wait till another
time. Meanwhile you, Gania, just look over these accounts, will
you? We mustn't forget to finish off that matter--"

The general left the room, and the prince never succeeded in
broaching the business which he had on hand, though he had
endeavoured to do so four times.

Gania lit a cigarette and offered one to the prince. The
latter accepted the offer, but did not talk, being unwilling to
disturb Gania's work. He commenced to examine the study and its
contents. But Gania hardly so much as glanced at the papers lying
before him; he was absent and thoughtful, and his smile and
general appearance struck the prince still more disagreeably now
that the two were left alone together.

Suddenly Gania approached our hero who was at the moment standing
over Nastasia Philipovna's portrait, gazing at it.

"Do you admire that sort of woman, prince?" he asked, looking
intently at him. He seemed to have some special object in the

"It's a wonderful face," said the prince, "and I feel sure that
her destiny is not by any means an ordinary, uneventful one. Her
face is smiling enough, but she must have suffered terribly--
hasn't she? Her eyes show it--those two bones there, the little
points under her eyes, just where the cheek begins. It's a proud
face too, terribly proud! And I--I can't say whether she is good
and kind, or not. Oh, if she be but good! That would make all

"And would you marry a woman like that, now?" continued Gania,
never taking his excited eyes off the prince's face.

"I cannot marry at all," said the latter. "I am an invalid."

"Would Rogojin marry her, do you think?"

"Why not? Certainly he would, I should think. He would marry her
tomorrow!--marry her tomorrow and murder her in a week!"

Hardly had the prince uttered the last word when Gania gave such
a fearful shudder that the prince almost cried out.

"What's the matter?" said he, seizing Gania's hand.

"Your highness! His excellency begs your presence in her
excellency's apartments!" announced the footman, appearing at the

The prince immediately followed the man out of the room.


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.

Elizabetha Prokofievna sometimes informed the girls that they
were a little too candid in this matter, but in spite of their
outward deference to their mother these three young women, in
solemn conclave, had long agreed to modify the unquestioning
obedience which they had been in the habit of according to her;
and Mrs. General Epanchin had judged it better to say nothing
about it, though, of course, she was well aware of the fact.

It is true that her nature sometimes rebelled against these
dictates of reason, and that she grew yearly more capricious and
impatient; but having a respectful and well-disciplined husband
under her thumb at all times, she found it possible, as a rule,
to empty any little accumulations of spleen upon his head, and
therefore the harmony of the family was kept duly balanced, and
things went as smoothly as family matters can.

Mrs. Epanchin had a fair appetite herself, and generally took her
share of the capital mid-day lunch which was always served for
the girls, and which was nearly as good as a dinner. The young
ladies used to have a cup of coffee each before this meal, at ten
o'clock, while still in bed. This was a favourite and unalterable
arrangement with them. At half-past twelve, the table was laid in
the small dining-room, and occasionally the general himself
appeared at the family gathering, if he had time.

Besides tea and coffee, cheese, honey, butter, pan-cakes of
various kinds (the lady of the house loved these best), cutlets,
and so on, there was generally strong beef soup, and other
substantial delicacies.

On the particular morning on which our story has opened, the
family had assembled in the dining-room, and were waiting the
general's appearance, the latter having promised to come this
day. If he had been one moment late, he would have been sent for
at once; but he turned up punctually.

As he came forward to wish his wife good-morning and kiss her
hands, as his custom was, he observed something in her look which
boded ill. He thought he knew the reason, and had expected it,
but still, he was not altogether comfortable. His daughters
advanced to kiss him, too, and though they did not look exactly
angry, there was something strange in their expression as well.

The general was, owing to certain circumstances, a little
inclined to be too suspicious at home, and needlessly nervous;
but, as an experienced father and husband, he judged it better to
take measures at once to protect himself from any dangers there
might be in the air.

However, I hope I shall not interfere with the proper sequence of
my narrative too much, if I diverge for a moment at this point,
in order to explain the mutual relations between General
Epanchin's family and others acting a part in this history, at
the time when we take up the thread of their destiny. I have
already stated that the general, though he was a man of lowly
origin, and of poor education, was, for all that, an experienced
and talented husband and father. Among other things, he
considered it undesirable to hurry his daughters to the
matrimonial altar and to worry them too much with assurances of
his paternal wishes for their happiness, as is the custom among
parents of many grown-up daughters. He even succeeded in ranging
his wife on his side on this question, though he found the feat
very difficult to accomplish, because unnatural; but the
general's arguments were conclusive, and founded upon obvious
facts. The general considered that the girls' taste and good
sense should be allowed to develop and mature deliberately, and
that the parents' duty should merely be to keep watch, in order
that no strange or undesirable choice be made; but that the
selection once effected, both father and mother were bound from
that moment to enter heart and soul into the cause, and to see
that the matter progressed without hindrance until the altar
should be happily reached.

Besides this, it was clear that the Epanchins' position gained
each year, with geometrical accuracy, both as to financial
solidity and social weight; and, therefore, the longer the girls
waited, the better was their chance of making a brilliant match.

But again, amidst the incontrovertible facts just recorded, one
more, equally significant, rose up to confront the family; and
this was, that the eldest daughter, Alexandra, had imperceptibly
arrived at her twenty-fifth birthday. Almost at the same moment,
Afanasy Ivanovitch Totski, a man of immense wealth, high
connections, and good standing, announced his intention of
marrying. Afanasy Ivanovitch was a gentleman of fifty-five years
of age, artistically gifted, and of most refined tastes. He
wished to marry well, and, moreover, he was a keen admirer and
judge of beauty.

Now, since Totski had, of late, been upon terms of great
cordiality with Epanchin, which excellent relations were
intensified by the fact that they were, so to speak, partners in
several financial enterprises, it so happened that the former now
put in a friendly request to the general for counsel with regard
to the important step he meditated. Might he suggest, for
instance, such a thing as a marriage between himself and one of
the general's daughters?

Evidently the quiet, pleasant current of the family life of the
Epanchins was about to undergo a change.

The undoubted beauty of the family, par excellence, was the
youngest, Aglaya, as aforesaid. But Totski himself, though an
egotist of the extremest type, realized that he had no chance
there; Aglaya was clearly not for such as he.

Perhaps the sisterly love and friendship of the three girls had
more or less exaggerated Aglaya's chances of happiness. In their
opinion, the latter's destiny was not merely to be very happy;
she was to live in a heaven on earth. Aglaya's husband was to be
a compendium of all the virtues, and of all success, not to speak
of fabulous wealth. The two elder sisters had agreed that all was
to be sacrificed by them, if need be, for Aglaya's sake; her
dowry was to be colossal and unprecedented.

The general and his wife were aware of this agreement, and,
therefore, when Totski suggested himself for one of the sisters,
the parents made no doubt that one of the two elder girls would
probably accept the offer, since Totski would certainly make no
difficulty as to dowry. The general valued the proposal very
highly. He knew life, and realized what such an offer was worth.

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.

Alexandra was a good-natured girl, though she had a will of her
own. She was intelligent and kind-hearted, and, if she were to
marry Totski, she would make him a good wife. She did not care
for a brilliant marriage; she was eminently a woman calculated to
soothe and sweeten the life of any man; decidedly pretty, if not
absolutely handsome. What better could Totski wish?

So the matter crept slowly forward. The general and Totski had
agreed to avoid any hasty and irrevocable step. Alexandra's
parents had not even begun to talk to their daughters freely upon
the subject, when suddenly, as it were, a dissonant chord was
struck amid the harmony of the proceedings. Mrs. Epanchin began
to show signs of discontent, and that was a serious matter. A
certain circumstance had crept in, a disagreeable and troublesome
factor, which threatened to overturn the whole business.

This circumstance had come into existence eighteen years before.
Close to an estate of Totski's, in one of the central provinces
of Russia, there lived, at that time, a poor gentleman whose
estate was of the wretchedest description. This gentleman was
noted in the district for his persistent ill-fortune; his name
was Barashkoff, and, as regards family and descent, he was vastly
superior to Totski, but his estate was mortgaged to the last
acre. One day, when he had ridden over to the town to see a
creditor, the chief peasant of his village followed him shortly
after, with the news that his house had been burnt down, and that
his wife had perished with it, but his children were safe.

Even Barashkoff, inured to the storms of evil fortune as he was,
could not stand this last stroke. He went mad and died shortly
after in the town hospital. His estate was sold for the
creditors; and the little girls--two of them, of seven and eight
years of age respectively,--were adopted by Totski, who undertook
their maintenance and education in the kindness of his heart.
They were brought up together with the children of his German
bailiff. Very soon, however, there was only one of them left-
Nastasia Philipovna--for the other little one died of whooping-
cough. Totski, who was living abroad at this time, very soon
forgot all about the child; but five years after, returning to
Russia, it struck him that he would like to look over his estate
and see how matters were going there, and, arrived at his
bailiff's house, he was not long in discovering that among the
children of the latter there now dwelt a most lovely little girl
of twelve, sweet and intelligent, and bright, and promising to
develop beauty of most unusual quality-as to which last Totski
was an undoubted authority.

He only stayed at his country scat a few days on this occasion,
but he had time to make his arrangements. Great changes took
place in the child's education; a good governess was engaged, a
Swiss lady of experience and culture. For four years this lady
resided in the house with little Nastia, and then the education
was considered complete. The governess took her departure, and
another lady came down to fetch Nastia, by Totski's instructions.
The child was now transported to another of Totski's estates in a
distant part of the country. Here she found a delightful little
house, just built, and prepared for her reception with great care
and taste; and here she took up her abode together with the lady
who had accompanied her from her old home. In the house there
were two experienced maids, musical instruments of all sorts, a
charming "young lady's library," pictures, paint-boxes, a lap-
dog, and everything to make life agreeable. Within a fortnight
Totski himself arrived, and from that time he appeared to have
taken a great fancy to this part of the world and came down each
summer, staying two and three months at a time. So passed four
years peacefully and happily, in charming surroundings.

At the end of that time, and about four months after Totski's
last visit (he had stayed but a fortnight on this occasion), a
report reached Nastasia Philipovna that he was about to be
married in St. Petersburg, to a rich, eminent, and lovely woman.
The report was only partially true, the marriage project being
only in an embryo condition; but a great change now came over
Nastasia Philipovna. She suddenly displayed unusual decision of
character; and without wasting time in thought, she left her
country home and came up to St. Petersburg, straight to Totski's
house, all alone.

The latter, amazed at her conduct, began to express his
displeasure; but he very soon became aware that he must change
his voice, style, and everything else, with this young lady; the
good old times were gone. An entirely new and different woman sat
before him, between whom and the girl he had left in the country
last July there seemed nothing in common.

In the first place, this new woman understood a good deal more
than was usual for young people of her age; so much indeed, that
Totski could not help wondering where she had picked up her
knowledge. Surely not from her "young lady's library"? It even
embraced legal matters, and the "world" in general, to a
considerable extent.

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.

This new woman gave him further to understand that though it was
absolutely the same to her whom he married, yet she had decided
to prevent this marriage--for no particular reason, but that she
chose to do so, and because she wished to amuse herself at his
expense for that it was "quite her turn to laugh a little now!"

Such were her words--very likely she did not give her real
reason for this eccentric conduct; but, at all events, that was
all the explanation she deigned to offer.

Meanwhile, Totski thought the matter over as well as his
scattered ideas would permit. His meditations lasted a fortnight,
however, and at the end of that time his resolution was taken.
The fact was, Totski was at that time a man of fifty years of
age; his position was solid and respectable; his place in society
had long been firmly fixed upon safe foundations; he loved
himself, his personal comforts, and his position better than all
the world, as every respectable gentleman should!

At the same time his grasp of things in general soon showed
Totski that he now had to deal with a being who was outside the
pale of the ordinary rules of traditional behaviour, and who
would not only threaten mischief but would undoubtedly carry it
out, and stop for no one.

There was evidently, he concluded, something at work here; some
storm of the mind, some paroxysm of romantic anger, goodness
knows against whom or what, some insatiable contempt--in a word,
something altogether absurd and impossible, but at the same time
most dangerous to be met with by any respectable person with a
position in society to keep up.

For a man of Totski's wealth and standing, it would, of course,
have been the simplest possible matter to take steps which would
rid him at once from all annoyance; while it was obviously
impossible for Nastasia Philipovna to harm him in any way, either
legally or by stirring up a scandal, for, in case of the latter
danger, he could so easily remove her to a sphere of safety.
However, these arguments would only hold good in case of Nastasia
acting as others might in such an emergency. She was much more
likely to overstep the bounds of reasonable conduct by some
extraordinary eccentricity.

Here the sound judgment of Totski stood him in good stead. He
realized that Nastasia Philipovna must be well aware that she
could do nothing by legal means to injure him, and that her
flashing eyes betrayed some entirely different intention.

Nastasia Philipovna was quite capable of ruining herself, and
even of perpetrating something which would send her to Siberia,
for the mere pleasure of injuring a man for whom she had
developed so inhuman a sense of loathing and contempt. He had
sufficient insight to understand that she valued nothing in the
world--herself least of all--and he made no attempt to conceal
the fact that he was a coward in some respects. For instance, if
he had been told that he would be stabbed at the altar, or
publicly insulted, he would undoubtedly have been frightened; but
not so much at the idea of being murdered, or wounded, or
insulted, as at the thought that if such things were to happen he
would be made to look ridiculous in the eyes of society.

He knew well that Nastasia thoroughly understood him and where to
wound him and how, and therefore, as the marriage was still only
in embryo, Totski decided to conciliate her by giving it up. His
decision was strengthened by the fact that Nastasia Philipovna
had curiously altered of late. It would be difficult to conceive
how different she was physically, at the present time, to the
girl of a few years ago. She was pretty then . . . but now! . . .
Totski laughed angrily when he thought how short-sighted he had
been. In days gone by he remembered how he had looked at her
beautiful eyes, how even then he had marvelled at their dark
mysterious depths, and at their wondering gaze which seemed to
seek an answer to some unknown riddle. Her complexion also had
altered. She was now exceedingly pale, but, curiously, this
change only made her more beautiful. Like most men of the world,
Totski had rather despised such a cheaply-bought conquest, but of
late years he had begun to think differently about it. It had
struck him as long ago as last spring that he ought to be finding
a good match for Nastasia; for instance, some respectable and
reasonable young fellow serving in a government office in another
part of the country. How maliciously Nastasia laughed at the idea
of such a thing, now!

However, it appeared to Totski that he might make use of her in
another way; and he determined to establish her in St.
Petersburg, surrounding her with all the comforts and luxuries
that his wealth could command. In this way he might gain glory in
certain circles.

Five years of this Petersburg life went by, and, of course,
during that time a great deal happened. Totski's position was
very uncomfortable; having "funked" once, he could not totally
regain his ease. He was afraid, he did not know why, but he was
simply afraid of Nastasia Philipovna. For the first two years or
so he had suspected that she wished to marry him herself, and
that only her vanity prevented her telling him so. He thought
that she wanted him to approach her with a humble proposal from
his own side, But to his great, and not entirely pleasurable
amazement, he discovered that this was by no means the case, and
that were he to offer himself he would be refused. He could not
understand such a state of things, and was obliged to conclude
that it was pride, the pride of an injured and imaginative woman,
which had gone to such lengths that it preferred to sit and nurse
its contempt and hatred in solitude rather than mount to heights
of hitherto unattainable splendour. To make matters worse, she
was quite impervious to mercenary considerations, and could not
be bribed in any way.

Finally, Totski took cunning means to try to break his chains and
be free. He tried to tempt her in various ways to lose her heart;
he invited princes, hussars, secretaries of embassies, poets,
novelists, even Socialists, to see her; but not one of them all
made the faintest impression upon Nastasia. It was as though she
had a pebble in place of a heart, as though her feelings and
affections were dried up and withered for ever.

She lived almost entirely alone; she read, she studied, she loved
music. Her principal acquaintances were poor women of various
grades, a couple of actresses, and the family of a poor
schoolteacher. Among these people she was much beloved.

She received four or five friends sometimes, of an evening.
Totski often came. Lately, too, General Epanchin had been enabled
with great difficulty to introduce himself into her circle. Gania
made her acquaintance also, and others were Ferdishenko, an ill-
bred, and would-be witty, young clerk, and Ptitsin, a money-
lender of modest and polished manners, who had risen from
poverty. In fact, Nastasia Philipovna's beauty became a thing
known to all the town; but not a single man could boast of
anything more than his own admiration for her; and this
reputation of hers, and her wit and culture and grace, all
confirmed Totski in the plan he had now prepared.

And it was at this moment that General Epanchin began to play so
large and important a part in the story.

When Totski had approached the general with his request for
friendly counsel as to a marriage with one of his daughters, he
had made a full and candid confession. He had said that he
intended to stop at no means to obtain his freedom; even if
Nastasia were to promise to leave him entirely alone in future,
he would not (he said) believe and trust her; words were not
enough for him; he must have solid guarantees of some sort. So he
and the general determined to try what an attempt to appeal to
her heart would effect. Having arrived at Nastasia's house one
day, with Epanchin, Totski immediately began to speak of the
intolerable torment of his position. He admitted that he was to
blame for all, but candidly confessed that he could not bring
himself to feel any remorse for his original guilt towards
herself, because he was a man of sensual passions which were
inborn and ineradicable, and that he had no power over himself in
this respect; but that he wished, seriously, to marry at last,
and that the whole fate of the most desirable social union which
he contemplated, was in her hands; in a word, he confided his all
to her generosity of heart.

General Epanchin took up his part and spoke in the character of
father of a family; he spoke sensibly, and without wasting words
over any attempt at sentimentality, he merely recorded his full
admission of her right to be the arbiter of Totski's destiny at
this moment. He then pointed out that the fate of his daughter,
and very likely of both his other daughters, now hung upon her

To Nastasia's question as to what they wished her to do, Totski
confessed that he had been so frightened by her, five years ago,
that he could never now be entirely comfortable until she herself
married. He immediately added that such a suggestion from him
would, of course, be absurd, unless accompanied by remarks of a
more pointed nature. He very well knew, he said, that a certain
young gentleman of good family, namely, Gavrila Ardalionovitch
Ivolgin, with whom she was acquainted, and whom she received at
her house, had long loved her passionately, and would give his
life for some response from her. The young fellow had confessed
this love of his to him (Totski) and had also admitted it in the
hearing of his benefactor, General Epanchin. Lastly, he could not
help being of opinion that Nastasia must be aware of Gania's love
for her, and if he (Totski) mistook not, she had looked with some
favour upon it, being often lonely, and rather tired of her
present life. Having remarked how difficult it was for him, of
all people, to speak to her of these matters, Totski concluded by
saying that he trusted Nastasia Philipovna would not look with
contempt upon him if he now expressed his sincere desire to
guarantee her future by a gift of seventy-five thousand roubles.
He added that the sum would have been left her all the same in
his will, and that therefore she must not consider the gift as in
any way an indemnification to her for anything, but that there
was no reason, after all, why a man should not be allowed to
entertain a natural desire to lighten his conscience, etc., etc.;
in fact, all that would naturally be said under the circumstances.
Totski was very eloquent all through, and, in conclusion, just
touched on the fact that not a soul in the world, not even
General Epanchin, had ever heard a word about the above
seventy-five thousand roubles, and that this was the first
time he had ever given expression to his intentions in respect
to them.

Nastasia Philipovna's reply to this long rigmarole astonished
both the friends considerably.

Not only was there no trace of her former irony, of her old
hatred and enmity, and of that dreadful laughter, the very
recollection of which sent a cold chill down Totski's back to
this very day; but she seemed charmed and really glad to have the
opportunity of talking seriously with him for once in a way. She
confessed that she had long wished to have a frank and free
conversation and to ask for friendly advice, but that pride had
hitherto prevented her; now, however, that the ice was broken,
nothing could be more welcome to her than this opportunity.

First, with a sad smile, and then with a twinkle of merriment in
her eyes, she admitted that such a storm as that of five years
ago was now quite out of the question. She said that she had long
since changed her views of things, and recognized that facts must
be taken into consideration in spite of the feelings of the
heart. What was done was done and ended, and she could not
understand why Totski should still feel alarmed.

She next turned to General Epanchin and observed, most
courteously, that she had long since known of his daughters, and
that she had heard none but good report; that she had learned to
think of them with deep and sincere respect. The idea alone that
she could in any way serve them, would be to her both a pride and
a source of real happiness.

It was true that she was lonely in her present life; Totski had
judged her thoughts aright. She longed to rise, if not to love,
at least to family life and new hopes and objects, but as to
Gavrila Ardalionovitch, she could not as yet say much. She
thought it must be the case that he loved her; she felt that she
too might learn to love him, if she could be sure of the firmness
of his attachment to herself; but he was very young, and it was a
difficult question to decide. What she specially liked about him
was that he worked, and supported his family by his toil.

She had heard that he was proud and ambitious; she had heard much
that was interesting of his mother and sister, she had heard of
them from Mr. Ptitsin, and would much like to make their
acquaintance, but--another question!--would they like to receive
her into their house? At all events, though she did not reject
the idea of this marriage, she desired not to be hurried. As for
the seventy-five thousand roubles, Mr. Totski need not have found
any difficulty or awkwardness about the matter; she quite
understood the value of money, and would, of course, accept the
gift. She thanked him for his delicacy, however, but saw no
reason why Gavrila Ardalionovitch should not know about it.

She would not marry the latter, she said, until she felt
persuaded that neither on his part nor on the part of his family
did there exist any sort of concealed suspicions as to herself.
She did not intend to ask forgiveness for anything in the past,
which fact she desired to be known. She did not consider herself
to blame for anything that had happened in former years, and she
thought that Gavrila Ardalionovitch should be informed as to the
relations which had existed between herself and Totski during the
last five years. If she accepted this money it was not to be
considered as indemnification for her misfortune as a young girl,
which had not been in any degree her own fault, but merely as
compensation for her ruined life.

She became so excited and agitated during all these explanations
and confessions that General Epanchin was highly gratified, and
considered the matter satisfactorily arranged once for all. But
the once bitten Totski was twice shy, and looked for hidden
snakes among the flowers. However, the special point to which the
two friends particularly trusted to bring about their object
(namely, Gania's attractiveness for Nastasia Philipovna), stood
out more and more prominently; the pourparlers had commenced, and
gradually even Totski began to believe in the possibility of

Before long Nastasia and Gania had talked the matter over. Very
little was said--her modesty seemed to suffer under the infliction
of discussing such a question. But she recognized his love, on
the understanding that she bound herself to nothing whatever, and
that she reserved the right to say "no" up to the very hour of
the marriage ceremony. Gania was to have the same right of
refusal at the last moment.

It soon became clear to Gania, after scenes of wrath and
quarrellings at the domestic hearth, that his family were
seriously opposed to the match, and that Nastasia was aware of
this fact was equally evident. She said nothing about it, though
he daily expected her to do so.

There were several rumours afloat, before long, which upset
Totski's equanimity a good deal, but we will not now stop to
describe them; merely mentioning an instance or two. One was that
Nastasia had entered into close and secret relations with the
Epanchin girls--a most unlikely rumour; another was that Nastasia
had long satisfied herself of the fact that Gania was merely
marrying her for money, and that his nature was gloomy and
greedy, impatient and selfish, to an extraordinary degree; and
that although he had been keen enough in his desire to achieve a
conquest before, yet since the two friends had agreed to exploit
his passion for their own purposes, it was clear enough that he
had begun to consider the whole thing a nuisance and a nightmare.

In his heart passion and hate seemed to hold divided sway, and
although he had at last given his consent to marry the woman (as
he said), under the stress of circumstances, yet he promised
himself that he would "take it out of her," after marriage.

Nastasia seemed to Totski to have divined all this, and to be
preparing something on her own account, which frightened him to
such an extent that he did not dare communicate his views even to
the general. But at times he would pluck up his courage and be
full of hope and good spirits again, acting, in fact, as weak men
do act in such circumstances.

However, both the friends felt that the thing looked rosy indeed
when one day Nastasia informed them that she would give her final
answer on the evening of her birthday, which anniversary was due
in a very short time.

A strange rumour began to circulate, meanwhile; no less than that
the respectable and highly respected General Epanchin was himself
so fascinated by Nastasia Philipovna that his feeling for her
amounted almost to passion. What he thought to gain by Gania's
marriage to the girl it was difficult to imagine. Possibly he
counted on Gania's complaisance; for Totski had long suspected
that there existed some secret understanding between the general
and his secretary. At all events the fact was known that he had
prepared a magnificent present of pearls for Nastasia's birthday,
and that he was looking forward to the occasion when he should
present his gift with the greatest excitement and impatience. The
day before her birthday he was in a fever of agitation.

Mrs. Epanchin, long accustomed to her husband's infidelities, had
heard of the pearls, and the rumour excited her liveliest
curiosity and interest. The general remarked her suspicions, and
felt that a grand explanation must shortly take place--which fact
alarmed him much.

This is the reason why he was so unwilling to take lunch (on the
morning upon which we took up this narrative) with the rest of
his family. Before the prince's arrival he had made up his mind
to plead business, and "cut" the meal; which simply meant running

He was particularly anxious that this one day should be passed--
especially the evening--without unpleasantness between himself
and his family; and just at the right moment the prince turned
up--"as though Heaven had sent him on purpose," said the general
to himself, as he left the study to seek out the wife of his


Mrs. General Epanchin was a proud woman by nature. What must her
feelings have been when she heard that Prince Muishkin, the last
of his and her line, had arrived in beggar's guise, a wretched
idiot, a recipient of charity--all of which details the general
gave out for greater effect! He was anxious to steal her interest
at the first swoop, so as to distract her thoughts from other
matters nearer home.

Mrs. Epanchin was in the habit of holding herself very straight,
and staring before her, without speaking, in moments of

She was a fine woman of the same age as her husband, with a
slightly hooked nose, a high, narrow forehead, thick hair turning
a little grey, and a sallow complexion. Her eyes were grey and
wore a very curious expression at times. She believed them to be
most effective--a belief that nothing could alter.

"What, receive him! Now, at once?" asked Mrs. Epanchin, gazing
vaguely at her husband as he stood fidgeting before her.

"Oh, dear me, I assure you there is no need to stand on ceremony
with him," the general explained hastily. "He is quite a child,
not to say a pathetic-looking creature. He has fits of some sort,
and has just arrived from Switzerland, straight from the station,
dressed like a German and without a farthing in his pocket. I
gave him twenty-five roubles to go on with, and am going to find
him some easy place in one of the government offices. I should
like you to ply him well with the victuals, my dears, for I
should think he must be very hungry."

"You astonish me," said the lady, gazing as before. "Fits, and
hungry too! What sort of fits?"

"Oh, they don't come on frequently, besides, he's a regular
child, though he seems to be fairly educated. I should like you,
if possible, my dears," the general added, making slowly for the
door, "to put him through his paces a bit, and see what he is
good for. I think you should be kind to him; it is a good deed,
you know--however, just as you like, of course--but he is a sort
of relation, remember, and I thought it might interest you to see
the young fellow, seeing that this is so."

"Oh, of course, mamma, if we needn't stand on ceremony with him,
we must give the poor fellow something to eat after his journey;
especially as he has not the least idea where to go to," said
Alexandra, the eldest of the girls.

"Besides, he's quite a child; we can entertain him with a little
hide-and-seek, in case of need," said Adelaida.

"Hide-and-seek? What do you mean?" inquired Mrs. Epanchin.

"Oh, do stop pretending, mamma," cried Aglaya, in vexation. "Send
him up, father; mother allows."

The general rang the bell and gave orders that the prince should
be shown in.

"Only on condition that he has a napkin under his chin at lunch,
then," said Mrs. Epanchin, "and let Fedor, or Mavra, stand behind
him while he eats. Is he quiet when he has these fits? He doesn't
show violence, does he?"

"On the contrary, he seems to be very well brought up. His
manners are excellent--but here he is himself. Here you are,
prince--let me introduce you, the last of the Muishkins, a
relative of your own, my dear, or at least of the same name.
Receive him kindly, please. They'll bring in lunch directly,
prince; you must stop and have some, but you must excuse me. I'm
in a hurry, I must be off--"

"We all know where YOU must be off to!" said Mrs. Epanchin, in a
meaning voice.

"Yes, yes--I must hurry away, I'm late! Look here, dears, let him
write you something in your albums; you've no idea what a
wonderful caligraphist he is, wonderful talent! He has just
written out 'Abbot Pafnute signed this' for me. Well, au revoir!"

"Stop a minute; where are you off to? Who is this abbot?" cried
Mrs. Epanchin to her retreating husband in a tone of excited

"Yes, my dear, it was an old abbot of that name-I must be off to
see the count, he's waiting for me, I'm late--Good-bye! Au
revoir, prince!"--and the general bolted at full speed.

"Oh, yes--I know what count you're going to see!" remarked his
wife in a cutting manner, as she turned her angry eyes on the
prince. "Now then, what's all this about?--What abbot--Who's
Pafnute?" she added, brusquely.

"Mamma!" said Alexandra, shocked at her rudeness.

Aglaya stamped her foot.

"Nonsense! Let me alone!" said the angry mother. "Now then,
prince, sit down here, no, nearer, come nearer the light! I want
to have a good look at you. So, now then, who is this abbot?"

"Abbot Pafnute," said our friend, seriously and with deference.

"Pafnute, yes. And who was he?"

Mrs. Epanchin put these questions hastily and brusquely, and when
the prince answered she nodded her head sagely at each word he

"The Abbot Pafnute lived in the fourteenth century," began the
prince; "he was in charge of one of the monasteries on the Volga,
about where our present Kostroma government lies. He went to
Oreol and helped in the great matters then going on in the
religious world; he signed an edict there, and I have seen a
print of his signature; it struck me, so I copied it. When the
general asked me, in his study, to write something for him, to
show my handwriting, I wrote 'The Abbot Pafnute signed this,' in
the exact handwriting of the abbot. The general liked it very
much, and that's why he recalled it just now. "

"Aglaya, make a note of 'Pafnute,' or we shall forget him. H'm!
and where is this signature?"

"I think it was left on the general's table."

"Let it be sent for at once!"

"Oh, I'll write you a new one in half a minute," said the prince,
"if you like!"

"Of course, mamma!" said Alexandra. "But let's have lunch now, we
are all hungry!"

"Yes; come along, prince," said the mother, "are you very

"Yes; I must say that I am pretty hungry, thanks very much."

"H'm! I like to see that you know your manners; and you are by no
means such a person as the general thought fit to describe you.
Come along; you sit here, opposite to me," she continued, "I wish
to be able to see your face. Alexandra, Adelaida, look after the
prince! He doesn't seem so very ill, does he? I don't think he
requires a napkin under his chin, after all; are you accustomed
to having one on, prince?"

"Formerly, when I was seven years old or so. I believe I wore
one; but now I usually hold my napkin on my knee when I eat."

"Of course, of course! And about your fits?"

"Fits?" asked the prince, slightly surprised. "I very seldom have
fits nowadays. I don't know how it may be here, though; they say
the climate may be bad for me. "

"He talks very well, you know!" said Mrs. Epanchin, who still
continued to nod at each word the prince spoke. "I really did not
expect it at all; in fact, I suppose it was all stuff and
nonsense on the general's part, as usual. Eat away, prince, and
tell me where you were born, and where you were brought up. I
wish to know all about you, you interest me very much!"

The prince expressed his thanks once more, and eating heartily
the while, recommenced the narrative of his life in Switzerland,
all of which we have heard before. Mrs. Epanchin became more and
more pleased with her guest; the girls, too, listened with
considerable attention. In talking over the question of
relationship it turned out that the prince was very well up in
the matter and knew his pedigree off by heart. It was found that
scarcely any connection existed between himself and Mrs.
Epanchin, but the talk, and the opportunity of conversing about
her family tree, gratified the latter exceedingly, and she rose
from the table in great good humour.

"Let's all go to my boudoir," she said, "and they shall bring
some coffee in there. That's the room where we all assemble and
busy ourselves as we like best," she explained. "Alexandra, my
eldest, here, plays the piano, or reads or sews; Adelaida paints
landscapes and portraits (but never finishes any); and Aglaya
sits and does nothing. I don't work too much, either. Here we
are, now; sit down, prince, near the fire and talk to us. I want
to hear you relate something. I wish to make sure of you first
and then tell my old friend, Princess Bielokonski, about you. I
wish you to know all the good people and to interest them. Now
then, begin!"

"Mamma, it's rather a strange order, that!" said Adelaida, who
was fussing among her paints and paint-brushes at the easel.
Aglaya and Alexandra had settled themselves with folded hands on
a sofa, evidently meaning to be listeners. The prince felt that
the general attention was concentrated upon himself.

"I should refuse to say a word if I were ordered to tell a story
like that!" observed Aglaya.

"Why? what's there strange about it? He has a tongue. Why
shouldn't he tell us something? I want to judge whether he is a
good story-teller; anything you like, prince-how you liked
Switzerland, what was your first impression, anything. You'll
see, he'll begin directly and tell us all about it beautifully."

"The impression was forcible--" the prince began.

"There, you see, girls," said the impatient lady, "he has begun,
you see."

"Well, then, LET him talk, mamma," said Alexandra. "This prince
is a great humbug and by no means an idiot," she whispered to

"Oh, I saw that at once," replied the latter. "I don't think it
at all nice of him to play a part. What does he wish to gain by
it, I wonder?"

"My first impression was a very strong one," repeated the prince.
"When they took me away from Russia, I remember I passed through
many German towns and looked out of the windows, but did not
trouble so much as to ask questions about them. This was after a
long series of fits. I always used to fall into a sort of torpid
condition after such a series, and lost my memory almost
entirely; and though I was not altogether without reason at such
times, yet I had no logical power of thought. This would continue
for three or four days, and then I would recover myself again. I
remember my melancholy was intolerable; I felt inclined to cry; I
sat and wondered and wondered uncomfortably; the consciousness
that everything was strange weighed terribly upon me; I could
understand that it was all foreign and strange. I recollect I
awoke from this state for the first time at Basle, one evening;
the bray of a donkey aroused me, a donkey in the town market. I
saw the donkey and was extremely pleased with it, and from that
moment my head seemed to clear."

"A donkey? How strange! Yet it is not strange. Anyone of us might
fall in love with a donkey! It happened in mythological times,"
said Madame Epanchin, looking wrathfully at her daughters, who
had begun to laugh. "Go on, prince."

"Since that evening I have been specially fond of donkeys. I
began to ask questions about them, for I had never seen one
before; and I at once came to the conclusion that this must be
one of the most useful of animals--strong, willing, patient,
cheap; and, thanks to this donkey, I began to like the whole
country I was travelling through; and my melancholy passed away."

"All this is very strange and interesting," said Mrs. Epanchin.
"Now let's leave the donkey and go on to other matters. What are
you laughing at, Aglaya? and you too, Adelaida? The prince told
us his experiences very cleverly; he saw the donkey himself, and
what have you ever seen? YOU have never been abroad."

"I have seen a donkey though, mamma!" said Aglaya.

"And I've heard one!" said Adelaida. All three of the girls
laughed out loud, and the prince laughed with them.

"Well, it's too bad of you," said mamma. "You must forgive them,
prince; they are good girls. I am very fond of them, though I
often have to be scolding them; they are all as silly and mad as
march hares."

"Oh, why shouldn't they laugh?" said the prince. " I shouldn't
have let the chance go by in their place, I know. But I stick up
for the donkey, all the same; he's a patient, good-natured

"Are you a patient man, prince? I ask out of curiosity," said
Mrs. Epanchin.

All laughed again.

"Oh, that wretched donkey again, I see!" cried the lady. "I
assure you, prince, I was not guilty of the least--"

"Insinuation? Oh! I assure you, I take your word for it." And the
prince continued laughing merrily.

"I must say it's very nice of you to laugh. I see you really are
a kind-hearted fellow," said Mrs. Epanchin.

"I'm not always kind, though."

"I am kind myself, and ALWAYS kind too, if you please!" she
retorted, unexpectedly; "and that is my chief fault, for one
ought not to be always kind. I am often angry with these girls
and their father; but the worst of it is, I am always kindest
when I am cross. I was very angry just before you came, and
Aglaya there read me a lesson--thanks, Aglaya, dear--come and
kiss me--there--that's enough" she added, as Aglaya came forward
and kissed her lips and then her hand. "Now then, go on, prince.
Perhaps you can think of something more exciting than about the
donkey, eh?"

"I must say, again, I can't understand how you can expect anyone
to tell you stories straight away, so," said Adelaida. "I know I
never could!"

"Yes, but the prince can, because he is clever--cleverer than you
are by ten or twenty times, if you like. There, that's so,
prince; and seriously, let's drop the donkey now--what else did
you see abroad, besides the donkey?"

"Yes, but the prince told us about the donkey very cleverly, all
the same," said Alexandra. "I have always been most interested to
hear how people go mad and get well again, and that sort of
thing. Especially when it happens suddenly."

"Quite so, quite so!" cried Mrs. Epanchin, delighted. "I see you
CAN be sensible now and then, Alexandra. You were speaking of
Switzerland, prince?"

"Yes. We came to Lucerne, and I was taken out in a boat. I felt
how lovely it was, but the loveliness weighed upon me somehow or
other, and made me feel melancholy."

"Why?" asked Alexandra.

"I don't know; I always feel like that when I look at the
beauties of nature for the first time; but then, I was ill at
that time, of course!"

"Oh, but I should like to see it!" said Adelaida; "and I don't
know WHEN we shall ever go abroad. I've been two years looking
out for a good subject for a picture. I've done all I know. 'The
North and South I know by heart,' as our poet observes. Do help
me to a subject, prince."

"Oh, but I know nothing about painting. It seems to me one only
has to look, and paint what one sees."

"But I don't know HOW to see!"

"Nonsense, what rubbish you talk!" the mother struck in. "Not
know how to see! Open your eyes and look! If you can't see here,
you won't see abroad either. Tell us what you saw yourself,

"Yes, that's better," said Adelaida; "the prince learned to see

"Oh, I hardly know! You see, I only went to restore my health. I
don't know whether I learned to see, exactly. I was very happy,
however, nearly all the time."

"Happy! you can be happy?" cried Aglaya. "Then how can you say
you did not learn to see? I should think you could teach us to

"Oh! DO teach us," laughed Adelaida.

"Oh! I can't do that," said the prince, laughing too. "I lived
almost all the while in one little Swiss village; what can I
teach you? At first I was only just not absolutely dull; then my
health began to improve--then every day became dearer and more
precious to me, and the longer I stayed, the dearer became the
time to me; so much so that I could not help observing it; but
why this was so, it would be difficult to say."

"So that you didn't care to go away anywhere else?"

"Well, at first I did; I was restless; I didn't know however I
should manage to support life--you know there are such moments,
especially in solitude. There was a waterfall near us, such a
lovely thin streak of water, like a thread but white and moving.
It fell from a great height, but it looked quite low, and it was
half a mile away, though it did not seem fifty paces. I loved to
listen to it at night, but it was then that I became so restless.
Sometimes I went and climbed the mountain and stood there in the
midst of the tall pines, all alone in the terrible silence, with
our little village in the distance, and the sky so blue, and the
sun so bright, and an old ruined castle on the mountain-side, far
away. I used to watch the line where earth and sky met, and longed
to go and seek there the key of all mysteries, thinking that
I might find there a new life, perhaps some great city where life
should be grander and richer--and then it struck me that life may
be grand enough even in a prison."

"I read that last most praiseworthy thought in my manual, when I
was twelve years old," said Aglaya.

"All this is pure philosophy," said Adelaida. "You are a
philosopher, prince, and have come here to instruct us in your

"Perhaps you are right," said the prince, smiling. "I think I am
a philosopher, perhaps, and who knows, perhaps I do wish to teach
my views of things to those I meet with?"

"Your philosophy is rather like that of an old woman we know, who
is rich and yet does nothing but try how little she can spend.
She talks of nothing but money all day. Your great philosophical
idea of a grand life in a prison and your four happy years in
that Swiss village are like this, rather," said Aglaya.

"As to life in a prison, of course there may be two opinions,"
said the prince. "I once heard the story of a man who lived
twelve years in a prison--I heard it from the man himself. He was
one of the persons under treatment with my professor; he had
fits, and attacks of melancholy, then he would weep, and once he
tried to commit suicide. HIS life in prison was sad enough; his
only acquaintances were spiders and a tree that grew outside his
grating-but I think I had better tell you of another man I met
last year. There was a very strange feature in this case, strange
because of its extremely rare occurrence. This man had once been
brought to the scaffold in company with several others, and had
had the sentence of death by shooting passed upon him for some
political crime. Twenty minutes later he had been reprieved and
some other punishment substituted; but the interval between the
two sentences, twenty minutes, or at least a quarter of an hour,
had been passed in the certainty that within a few minutes he
must die. I was very anxious to hear him speak of his impressions
during that dreadful time, and I several times inquired of him as
to what he thought and felt. He remembered everything with the
most accurate and extraordinary distinctness, and declared that
he would never forget a single iota of the experience.

"About twenty paces from the scaffold, where he had stood to hear
the sentence, were three posts, fixed in the ground, to which to
fasten the criminals (of whom there were several). The first
three criminals were taken to the posts, dressed in long white
tunics, with white caps drawn over their faces, so that they
could not see the rifles pointed at them. Then a group of
soldiers took their stand opposite to each post. My friend was
the eighth on the list, and therefore he would have been among
the third lot to go up. A priest went about among them with a
cross: and there was about five minutes of time left for him to

"He said that those five minutes seemed to him to be a most
interminable period, an enormous wealth of time; he seemed to be
living, in these minutes, so many lives that there was no need as
yet to think of that last moment, so that he made several
arrangements, dividing up the time into portions--one for saying
farewell to his companions, two minutes for that; then a couple
more for thinking over his own life and career and all about
himself; and another minute for a last look around. He remembered
having divided his time like this quite well. While saying good-
bye to his friends he recollected asking one of them some very
usual everyday question, and being much interested in the answer.
Then having bade farewell, he embarked upon those two minutes
which he had allotted to looking into himself; he knew
beforehand what he was going to think about. He wished to put it
to himself as quickly and clearly as possible, that here was he,
a living, thinking man, and that in three minutes he would be
nobody; or if somebody or something, then what and where? He
thought he would decide this question once for all in these last
three minutes. A little way off there stood a church, and its
gilded spire glittered in the sun. He remembered staring
stubbornly at this spire, and at the rays of light sparkling from
it. He could not tear his eyes from these rays of light; he got
the idea that these rays were his new nature, and that in three
minutes he would become one of them, amalgamated somehow with

"The repugnance to what must ensue almost immediately, and the
uncertainty, were dreadful, he said; but worst of all was the
idea, 'What should I do if I were not to die now? What if I were
to return to life again? What an eternity of days, and all mine!
How I should grudge and count up every minute of it, so as to
waste not a single instant!' He said that this thought weighed so
upon him and became such a terrible burden upon his brain that he
could not bear it, and wished they would shoot him quickly and
have done with it."

The prince paused and all waited, expecting him to go on again
and finish the story.

"Is that all?" asked Aglaya.

"All? Yes," said the prince, emerging from a momentary reverie.

"And why did you tell us this?"

"Oh, I happened to recall it, that's all! It fitted into the

"You probably wish to deduce, prince," said Alexandra, "that
moments of time cannot be reckoned by money value, and that
sometimes five minutes are worth priceless treasures. All this is
very praiseworthy; but may I ask about this friend of yours, who
told you the terrible experience of his life? He was reprieved,
you say; in other words, they did restore to him that 'eternity
of days.' What did he do with these riches of time? Did he keep
careful account of his minutes?"

"Oh no, he didn't! I asked him myself. He said that he had not
lived a bit as he had intended, and had wasted many, and many a

"Very well, then there's an experiment, and the thing is proved;
one cannot live and count each moment; say what you like, but one

"That is true," said the prince, "I have thought so myself. And
yet, why shouldn't one do it?"

"You think, then, that you could live more wisely than other
people?" said Aglaya.

"I have had that idea."

"And you have it still?"

"Yes--I have it still," the prince replied.

He had contemplated Aglaya until now, with a pleasant though
rather timid smile, but as the last words fell from his lips he
began to laugh, and looked at her merrily.

"You are not very modest!" said she.

"But how brave you are!" said he. "You are laughing, and I--
that man's tale impressed me so much, that I dreamt of it
afterwards; yes, I dreamt of those five minutes . . ."

He looked at his listeners again with that same serious,
searching expression.

"You are not angry with me?" he asked suddenly, and with a kind
of nervous hurry, although he looked them straight in the face.

"Why should we be angry?" they cried.

"Only because I seem to be giving you a lecture, all the time!"

At this they laughed heartily.

"Please don't be angry with me," continued the prince.  "I know
very well that I have seen less of life than other people, and
have less knowledge of it. I must appear to speak strangely
sometimes . . ."

He said the last words nervously.

"You say you have been happy, and that proves you have lived, not
less, but more than other people. Why make all these excuses?"
interrupted Aglaya in a mocking tone of voice. "Besides, you need
not mind about lecturing us; you have nothing to boast of. With
your quietism, one could live happily for a hundred years at
least. One might show you the execution of a felon, or show you
one's little finger. You could draw a moral from either, and be
quite satisfied. That sort of existence is easy enough."

"I can't understand why you always fly into a temper," said Mrs.
Epanchin, who had been listening to the conversation and
examining the faces of the speakers in turn. "I do not understand
what you mean. What has your little finger to do with it? The
prince talks well, though he is not amusing. He began all right,
but now he seems sad."

"Never mind, mamma! Prince, I wish you had seen an execution,"
said Aglaya. "I should like to ask you a question about that, if
you had."

"I have seen an execution," said the prince.

"You have!" cried Aglaya. "I might have guessed it. That's a
fitting crown to the rest of the story. If you have seen an
execution, how can you say you lived happily all the while?"

"But is there capital punishment where you were?" asked Adelaida.

"I saw it at Lyons. Schneider took us there, and as soon as we
arrived we came in for that."

"Well, and did you like it very much? Was it very edifying and
instructive?" asked Aglaya.

"No, I didn't like it at all, and was ill after seeing it; but I
confess I stared as though my eyes were fixed to the sight. I
could not tear them away."

"I, too, should have been unable to tear my eyes away," said

"They do not at all approve of women going to see an execution
there. The women who do go are condemned for it afterwards in the

"That is, by contending that it is not a sight for women they
admit that it is a sight for men. I congratulate them on the
deduction. I suppose you quite agree with them, prince?"

"Tell us about the execution," put in Adelaida.

"I would much rather not, just now," said the prince, a little
disturbed and frowning slightly;

" You don't seem to want to tell us," said Aglaya, with a mocking

" No,--the thing is, I was telling all about the execution a
little while ago, and--"

"Whom did you tell about it?"

"The man-servant, while I was waiting to see the general."

"Our man-servant?" exclaimed several voices at once.

"Yes, the one who waits in the entrance hall, a greyish, red-
faced man--"

"The prince is clearly a democrat," remarked Aglaya.

"Well, if you could tell Aleksey about it, surely you can tell us

"I do so want to hear about it," repeated Adelaida.

"Just now, I confess," began the prince, with more animation,
"when you asked me for a subject for a picture, I confess I had
serious thoughts of giving you one. I thought of asking you to
draw the face of a criminal, one minute before the fall of the
guillotine, while the wretched man is still standing on the
scaffold, preparatory to placing his neck on the block."

"What, his face? only his face?" asked Adelaida. "That would be a
strange subject indeed. And what sort of a picture would that

"Oh, why not?" the prince insisted, with some warmth. "When I was
in Basle I saw a picture very much in that style--I should like
to tell you about it; I will some time or other; it struck me
very forcibly."

"Oh, you shall tell us about the Basle picture another time; now
we must have all about the execution," said Adelaida. "Tell us
about that face as; it appeared to your imagination-how should it
be drawn?--just the face alone, do you mean?"

"It was just a minute before the execution," began the prince,
readily, carried away by the recollection and evidently
forgetting everything else in a moment; "just at the instant when
he stepped off the ladder on to the scaffold. He happened to look
in my direction: I saw his eyes and understood all, at once--but
how am I to describe it? I do so wish you or somebody else could
draw it, you, if possible. I thought at the time what a picture
it would make. You must imagine all that went before, of course,
all--all. He had lived in the prison for some time and had not
expected that the execution would take place for at least a week
yet--he had counted on all the formalities and so on taking
time; but it so happened that his papers had been got ready
quickly. At five o'clock in the morning he was asleep--it was
October, and at five in the morning it was cold and dark. The
governor of the prison comes in on tip-toe and touches the
sleeping man's shoulder gently. He starts up. 'What is it?' he
says. 'The execution is fixed for ten o'clock.' He was only just
awake, and would not believe at first, but began to argue that
his papers would not be out for a week, and so on. When he was
wide awake and realized the truth, he became very silent and
argued no more--so they say; but after a bit he said: 'It comes
very hard on one so suddenly' and then he was silent again and
said nothing.

"The three or four hours went by, of course, in necessary
preparations--the priest, breakfast, (coffee, meat, and some
wine they gave him; doesn't it seem ridiculous?) And yet I
believe these people give them a good breakfast out of pure
kindness of heart, and believe that they are doing a good action.
Then he is dressed, and then begins the procession through the
town to the scaffold. I think he, too, must feel that he has an
age to live still while they cart him along. Probably he thought,
on the way, 'Oh, I have a long, long time yet. Three streets of
life yet! When we've passed this street there'll be that other
one; and then that one where the baker's shop is on the right;
and when shall we get there? It's ages, ages!' Around him are
crowds shouting, yelling--ten thousand faces, twenty thousand
eyes. All this has to be endured, and especially the thought:
'Here are ten thousand men, and not one of them is going to be
executed, and yet I am to die.' Well, all that is preparatory.

"At the scaffold there is a ladder, and just there he burst into
tears--and this was a strong man, and a terribly wicked one, they
say! There was a priest with him the whole time, talking; even in
the cart as they drove along, he talked and talked. Probably the
other heard nothing; he would begin to listen now and then, and
at the third word or so he had forgotten all about it.

"At last he began to mount the steps; his legs were tied, so that
he had to take very small steps. The priest, who seemed to be a
wise man, had stopped talking now, and only held the cross for
the wretched fellow to kiss. At the foot of the ladder he had
been pale enough; but when he set foot on the scaffold at the
top, his face suddenly became the colour of paper, positively
like white notepaper. His legs must have become suddenly feeble
and helpless, and he felt a choking in his throat--you know the
sudden feeling one has in moments of terrible fear, when one does
not lose one's wits, but is absolutely powerless to move? If some
dreadful thing were suddenly to happen; if a house were just
about to fall on one;--don't you know how one would long to sit
down and shut one's eyes and wait, and wait? Well, when this
terrible feeling came over him, the priest quickly pressed the
cross to his lips, without a word--a little silver cross it was-
and he kept on pressing it to the man's lips every second. And
whenever the cross touched his lips, the eyes would open for a
moment, and the legs moved once, and he kissed the cross
greedily, hurriedly--just as though he were anxious to catch hold
of something in case of its being useful to him afterwards,
though he could hardly have had any connected religious thoughts
at the time. And so up to the very block.

"How strange that criminals seldom swoon at such a moment! On the
contrary, the brain is especially active, and works incessantly--
probably hard, hard, hard--like an engine at full pressure. I
imagine that various thoughts must beat loud and fast through his
head--all unfinished ones, and strange, funny thoughts, very
likely!--like this, for instance: 'That man is looking at me, and
he has a wart on his forehead! and the executioner has burst one
of his buttons, and the lowest one is all rusty!' And meanwhile
he notices and remembers everything. There is one point that
cannot be forgotten, round which everything else dances and turns
about; and because of this point he cannot faint, and this lasts
until the very final quarter of a second, when the wretched neck
is on the block and the victim listens and waits and KNOWS--
that's the point, he KNOWS that he is just NOW about to die, and
listens for the rasp of the iron over his head. If I lay there, I
should certainly listen for that grating sound, and hear it, too!
There would probably be but the tenth part of an instant left to
hear it in, but one would certainly hear it. And imagine, some
people declare that when the head flies off it is CONSCIOUS of
having flown off! Just imagine what a thing to realize! Fancy if
consciousness were to last for even five seconds!

"Draw the scaffold so that only the top step of the ladder comes
in clearly. The criminal must be just stepping on to it, his face
as white as note-paper. The priest is holding the cross to his
blue lips, and the criminal kisses it, and knows and sees and
understands everything. The cross and the head--there's your
picture; the priest and the executioner, with his two assistants,
and a few heads and eyes below. Those might come in as
subordinate accessories--a sort of mist. There's a picture for
you." The prince paused, and looked around.

"Certainly that isn't much like quietism," murmured Alexandra,
half to herself.

"Now tell us about your love affairs," said Adelaida, after a
moment's pause.

The prince gazed at her in amazement.

"You know," Adelaida continued, "you owe us a description of the
Basle picture; but first I wish to hear how you fell in love.
Don't deny the fact, for you did, of course. Besides, you stop
philosophizing when you are telling about anything."

"Why are you ashamed of your stories the moment after you have
told them?" asked Aglaya, suddenly.

"How silly you are!" said Mrs. Epanchin, looking indignantly
towards the last speaker.

"Yes, that wasn't a clever remark," said Alexandra.

"Don't listen to her, prince," said Mrs. Epanchin; "she says that
sort of thing out of mischief. Don't think anything of their
nonsense, it means nothing. They love to chaff, but they like
you. I can see it in their faces--I know their faces."

"I know their faces, too," said the prince, with a peculiar
stress on the words.

"How so?" asked Adelaida, with curiosity.

"What do YOU know about our faces?" exclaimed the other two, in

But the prince was silent and serious. All awaited his reply.

"I'll tell you afterwards," he said quietly.

"Ah, you want to arouse our curiosity!" said Aglaya. "And how
terribly solemn you are about it!"

"Very well," interrupted Adelaida, "then if you can read faces so
well, you must have been in love. Come now; I've guessed--let's
have the secret!"

"I have not been in love," said the prince, as quietly and
seriously as before. "I have been happy in another way."

"How, how?"

"Well, I'll tell you," said the prince, apparently in a deep


"Here you all are," began the prince, "settling yourselves down
to listen to me with so much curiosity, that if I do not satisfy
you you will probably be angry with me. No, no! I'm only
joking!" he added, hastily, with a smile.

"Well, then--they were all children there, and I was always among
children and only with children. They were the children of the
village in which I lived, and they went to the school there--all
of them. I did not teach them, oh no; there was a master for
that, one Jules Thibaut. I may have taught them some things, but
I was among them just as an outsider, and I passed all four years
of my life there among them. I wished for nothing better; I used
to tell them everything and hid nothing from them. Their fathers
and relations were very angry with me, because the children could
do nothing without me at last, and used to throng after me at all
times. The schoolmaster was my greatest enemy in the end! I had
many enemies, and all because of the children. Even Schneider
reproached me. What were they afraid of? One can tell a child
everything, anything. I have often been struck by the fact that
parents know their children so little. They should not conceal so
much from them. How well even little children understand that
their parents conceal things from them, because they consider
them too young to understand! Children are capable of giving
advice in the most important matters. How can one deceive these
dear little birds, when they look at one so sweetly and
confidingly? I call them birds because there is nothing in the
world better than birds!

"However, most of the people were angry with me about one and the
same thing; but Thibaut simply was jealous of me. At first he had
wagged his head and wondered how it was that the children
understood what I told them so well, and could not learn from
him; and he laughed like anything when I replied that neither he
nor I could teach them very much, but that THEY might teach us a
good deal.

"How he could hate me and tell scandalous stories about me,
living among children as he did, is what I cannot understand.
Children soothe and heal the wounded heart. I remember there was
one poor fellow at our professor's who was being treated for
madness, and you have no idea what those children did for
him, eventually. I don't think he was mad, but only terribly
unhappy. But I'll tell you all about him another day. Now I must
get on with this story.

"The children did not love me at first; I was such a sickly,
awkward kind of a fellow then--and I know I am ugly. Besides, I
was a foreigner. The children used to laugh at me, at first; and
they even went so far as to throw stones at me, when they saw me
kiss Marie. I only kissed her once in my life--no, no, don't
laugh!" The prince hastened to suppress the smiles of his
audience at this point. "It was not a matter of LOVE at all! If
only you knew what a miserable creature she was, you would have
pitied her, just as I did. She belonged to our village. Her
mother was an old, old woman, and they used to sell string and
thread, and soap and tobacco, out of the window of their little
house, and lived on the pittance they gained by this trade. The
old woman was ill and very old, and could hardly move. Marie was
her daughter, a girl of twenty, weak and thin and consumptive;
but still she did heavy work at the houses around, day by day.
Well, one fine day a commercial traveller betrayed her and
carried her off; and a week later he deserted her. She came home
dirty, draggled, and shoeless; she had walked for a whole week
without shoes; she had slept in the fields, and caught a terrible
cold; her feet were swollen and sore, and her hands torn and
scratched all over. She never had been pretty even before; but
her eyes were quiet, innocent, kind eyes.

"She was very quiet always--and I remember once, when she had
suddenly begun singing at her work, everyone said, 'Marie tried
to sing today!' and she got so chaffed that she was silent for
ever after. She had been treated kindly in the place before; but
when she came back now--ill and shunned and miserable--not one of
them all had the slightest sympathy for her. Cruel people! Oh,
what hazy understandings they have on such matters! Her mother
was the first to show the way. She received her wrathfully,
unkindly, and with contempt. 'You have disgraced me,' she said.
She was the first to cast her into ignominy; but when they all
heard that Marie had returned to the village, they ran out to see
her and crowded into the little cottage--old men, children, women,
girls--such a hurrying, stamping, greedy crowd. Marie was
lying on the floor at the old woman's feet, hungry, torn,
draggled, crying, miserable.

"When everyone crowded into the room she hid her face in her
dishevelled hair and lay cowering on the floor. Everyone looked
at her as though she were a piece of dirt off the road. The old
men scolded and condemned, and the young ones laughed at her. The
women condemned her too, and looked at her contemptuously, just
as though she were some loathsome insect.

"Her mother allowed all this to go on, and nodded her head and
encouraged them. The old woman was very ill at that time, and
knew she was dying (she really did die a couple of months later),
and though she felt the end approaching she never thought of
forgiving her daughter, to the very day of her death. She would
not even speak to her. She made her sleep on straw in a shed, and
hardly gave her food enough to support life.

"Marie was very gentle to her mother, and nursed her, and did
everything for her; but the old woman accepted all her services
without a word and never showed her the slightest kindness. Marie
bore all this; and I could see when I got to know her that she
thought it quite right and fitting, considering herself the
lowest and meanest of creatures.

"When the old woman took to her bed finally, the other old women
in the village sat with her by turns, as the custom is there; and
then Marie was quite driven out of the house. They gave her no
food at all, and she could not get any work in the village; none
would employ her. The men seemed to consider her no longer a
woman, they said such dreadful things to her. Sometimes on
Sundays, if they were drunk enough, they used to throw her a
penny or two, into the mud, and Marie would silently pick up the
money. She had began to spit blood at that time.

"At last her rags became so tattered and torn that she was
ashamed of appearing in the village any longer. The children used
to pelt her with mud; so she begged to be taken on as assistant
cowherd, but the cowherd would not have her. Then she took to
helping him without leave; and he saw how valuable her assistance
was to him, and did not drive her away again; on the contrary, he
occasionally gave her the remnants of his dinner, bread and
cheese. He considered that he was being very kind. When the
mother died, the village parson was not ashamed to hold Marie up
to public derision and shame. Marie was standing at the coffin's
head, in all her rags, crying.

"A crowd of people had collected to see how she would cry. The
parson, a young fellow ambitious of becoming a great preacher,
began his sermon and pointed to Marie. 'There,' he said, 'there
is the cause of the death of this venerable woman'--(which was a
lie, because she had been ill for at least two years)--'there she
stands before you, and dares not lift her eyes from the ground,
because she knows that the finger of God is upon her. Look at her
tatters and rags--the badge of those who lose their virtue. Who
is she? her daughter!' and so on to the end.

"And just fancy, this infamy pleased them, all of them, nearly.
Only the children had altered--for then they were all on my side
and had learned to love Marie.

"This is how it was: I had wished to do something for Marie; I
longed to give her some money, but I never had a farthing while I
was there. But I had a little diamond pin, and this I sold to a
travelling pedlar; he gave me eight francs for it--it was worth
at least forty.

"I long sought to meet Marie alone; and at last I did meet her,
on the hillside beyond the village. I gave her the eight francs
and asked her to take care of the money because I could get no
more; and then I kissed her and said that she was not to suppose
I kissed her with any evil motives or because I was in love with
her, for that I did so solely out of pity for her, and because
from the first I had not accounted her as guilty so much as
unfortunate. I longed to console and encourage her somehow, and
to assure her that she was not the low, base thing which she and
others strove to make out; but I don't think she understood me.
She stood before me, dreadfully ashamed of herself, and with
downcast eyes; and when I had finished she kissed my hand. I
would have kissed hers, but she drew it away. Just at this moment
the whole troop of children saw us. (I found out afterwards that
they had long kept a watch upon me.) They all began whistling and
clapping their hands, and laughing at us. Marie ran away at once;
and when I tried to talk to them, they threw stones at me. All
the village heard of it the same day, and Marie's position became
worse than ever. The children would not let her pass now in the
streets, but annoyed her and threw dirt at her more than before.
They used to run after her--she racing away with her poor feeble
lungs panting and gasping, and they pelting her and shouting
abuse at her.

"Once I had to interfere by force; and after that I took to
speaking to them every day and whenever I could. Occasionally
they stopped and listened; but they teased Marie all the same.

"I told them how unhappy Marie was, and after a while they
stopped their abuse of her, and let her go by silently. Little by
little we got into the way of conversing together, the children
and I. I concealed nothing from them, I told them all. They
listened very attentively and soon began to be sorry for Marie.
At last some of them took to saying 'Good-morning' to her,
kindly, when they met her. It is the custom there to salute
anyone you meet with 'Good-morning' whether acquainted or not. I
can imagine how astonished Marie was at these first greetings
from the children.

"Once two little girls got hold of some food and took it to her,
and came back and told me. They said she had burst into tears,
and that they loved her very much now. Very soon after that they
all became fond of Marie, and at the same time they began to
develop the greatest affection for myself. They often came to me
and begged me to tell them stories. I think I must have told
stories well, for they did so love to hear them. At last I took
to reading up interesting things on purpose to pass them on to
the little ones, and this went on for all the rest of my time
there, three years. Later, when everyone--even Schneider--was
angry with me for hiding nothing from the children, I pointed out
how foolish it was, for they always knew things, only they learnt
them in a way that soiled their minds but not so from me. One has
only to remember one's own childhood to admit the truth of this.
But nobody was convinced. . . It was two weeks before her
mother died that I had kissed Marie; and when the clergyman
preached that sermon the children were all on my side.

"When I told them what a shame it was of the parson to talk as he
had done, and explained my reason, they were so angry that some
of them went and broke his windows with stones. Of course I
stopped them, for that was not right, but all the village heard
of it, and how I caught it for spoiling the children! Everyone
discovered now that the little ones had taken to being fond of
Marie, and their parents were terribly alarmed; but Marie was so
happy. The children were forbidden to meet her; but they used to
run out of the village to the herd and take her food and things;
and sometimes just ran off there and kissed her, and said, 'Je
vous aime, Marie!' and then trotted back again. They imagined
that I was in love with Marie, and this was the only point on
which I did not undeceive them, for they got such enjoyment out of
it. And what delicacy and tenderness they showed!

"In the evening I used to walk to the waterfall. There was a spot
there which was quite closed in and hidden from view by large
trees; and to this spot the children used to come to me. They
could not bear that their dear Leon should love a poor girl
without shoes to her feet and dressed all in rags and tatters.
So, would you believe it, they actually clubbed together,
somehow, and bought her shoes and stockings, and some linen, and
even a dress! I can't understand how they managed it, but they
did it, all together. When I asked them about it they only
laughed and shouted, and the little girls clapped their hands and
kissed me. I sometimes went to see Marie secretly, too. She had
become very ill, and could hardly walk. She still went with the
herd, but could not help the herdsman any longer. She used to sit
on a stone near, and wait there almost motionless all day, till
the herd went home. Her consumption was so advanced, and she was
so weak, that she used to sit with closed eyes, breathing
heavily. Her face was as thin as a skeleton's, and sweat used to
stand on her white brow in large drops. I always found her
sitting just like that. I used to come up quietly to look at her;
but Marie would hear me, open her eyes, and tremble violently as
she kissed my hands. I did not take my hand away because it made
her happy to have it, and so she would sit and cry quietly.
Sometimes she tried to speak; but it was very difficult to
understand her. She was almost like a madwoman, with excitement
and ecstasy, whenever I came. Occasionally the children came with
me; when they did so, they would stand some way off and keep
guard over us, so as to tell me if anybody came near. This was a
great pleasure to them.

"When we left her, Marie used to relapse at once into her old
condition, and sit with closed eyes and motionless limbs. One day
she could not go out at all, and remained at home all alone in
the empty hut; but the children very soon became aware of the
fact, and nearly all of them visited her that day as she lay
alone and helpless in her miserable bed.

"For two days the children looked after her, and then, when the
village people got to know that Marie was really dying, some of
the old women came and took it in turns to sit by her and look
after her a bit. I think they began to be a little sorry for her
in the village at last; at all events they did not interfere with
the children any more, on her account.

"Marie lay in a state of uncomfortable delirium the whole while;
she coughed dreadfully. The old women would not let the children
stay in the room; but they all collected outside the window each
morning, if only for a moment, and shouted 'Bon jour, notre
bonne Marie!' and Marie no sooner caught sight of, or heard them,
and she became quite animated at once, and, in spite of the old
women, would try to sit up and nod her head and smile at them,
and thank them. The little ones used to bring her nice things and
sweets to eat, but she could hardly touch anything. Thanks to
them, I assure you, the girl died almost perfectly happy. She
almost forgot her misery, and seemed to accept their love as a
sort of symbol of pardon for her offence, though she never ceased
to consider herself a dreadful sinner. They used to flutter at
her window just like little birds, calling out: 'Nous t'aimons,

"She died very soon; I had thought she would live much longer.
The day before her death I went to see her for the last time,
just before sunset. I think she recognized me, for she pressed my

"Next morning they came and told me that Marie was dead. The
children could not be restrained now; they went and covered her
coffin with flowers, and put a wreath of lovely blossoms on her
head. The pastor did not throw any more shameful words at the
poor dead woman; but there were very few people at the funeral.
However, when it came to carrying the coffin, all the children
rushed up, to carry it themselves. Of course they could not do it
alone, but they insisted on helping, and walked alongside and
behind, crying.

"They have planted roses all round her grave, and every year they
look alter the flowers and make Marie's resting-place as
beautiful as they can. I was in ill odour after all this with the
parents of the children, and especially with the parson and
schoolmaster. Schneider was obliged to promise that I should not
meet them and talk to them; but we conversed from a distance by
signs, and they used to write me sweet little notes. Afterwards I
came closer than ever to those little souls, but even then it was
very dear to me, to have them so fond of me.

"Schneider said that I did the children great harm by my
pernicious 'system'; what nonsense that was! And what did he mean
by my system? He said afterwards that he believed I was a child
myself--just before I came away. 'You have the form and face of an
adult' he said, 'but as regards soul, and character, and perhaps
even intelligence, you are a child in the completest sense of the
word, and always will be, if you live to be sixty.' I laughed
very much, for of course that is nonsense. But it is a fact that
I do not care to be among grown-up people and much prefer the
society of children. However kind people may be to me, I never
feel quite at home with them, and am always glad to get back to
my little companions. Now my companions have always been
children, not because I was a child myself once, but because
young things attract me. On one of the first days of my stay in
Switzerland, I was strolling about alone and miserable, when I
came upon the children rushing noisily out of school, with their
slates and bags, and books, their games, their laughter and
shouts--and my soul went out to them. I stopped and laughed
happily as I watched their little feet moving so quickly. Girls
and boys, laughing and crying; for as they went home many of them
found time to fight and make peace, to weep and play. I forgot my
troubles in looking at them. And then, all those three years, I
tried to understand why men should be for ever tormenting
themselves. I lived the life of a child there, and thought I
should never leave the little village; indeed, I was far from
thinking that I should ever return to Russia. But at last I
recognized the fact that Schneider could not keep me any longer.
And then something so important happened, that Schneider himself
urged me to depart. I am going to see now if can get good advice
about it. Perhaps my lot in life will be changed; but that is not
the principal thing. The principal thing is the entire change
that has already come over me. I left many things behind me--too
many. They have gone. On the journey I said to myself, 'I am
going into the world of men. I don't know much, perhaps, but a
new life has begun for me.' I made up my mind to be honest, and
steadfast in accomplishing my task. Perhaps I shall meet with
troubles and many disappointments, but I have made up my mind to
be polite and sincere to everyone; more cannot be asked of me.
People may consider me a child if they like. I am often called an
idiot, and at one time I certainly was so ill that I was nearly
as bad as an idiot; but I am not an idiot now. How can I possibly
be so when I know myself that I am considered one?

"When I received a letter from those dear little souls, while
passing through Berlin, I only then realized how much I loved
them. It was very, very painful, getting that first little
letter. How melancholy they had been when they saw me off! For a
month before, they had been talking of my departure and sorrowing
over it; and at the waterfall, of an evening, when we parted for
the night, they would hug me so tight and kiss me so warmly, far
more so than before. And every now and then they would turn up
one by one when I was alone, just to give me a kiss and a hug, to
show their love for me. The whole flock went with me to the
station, which was about a mile from the village, and every now
and then one of them would stop to throw his arms round me, and
all the little girls had tears in their voices, though they tried
hard not to cry. As the train steamed out of the station, I saw
them all standing on the platform waving to me and crying
'Hurrah!' till they were lost in the distance.

"I assure you, when I came in here just now and saw your kind
faces (I can read faces well) my heart felt light for the first
time since that moment of parting. I think I must be one of those
who are born to be in luck, for one does not often meet with
people whom one feels he can love from the first sight of their
faces; and yet, no sooner do I step out of the railway carriage
than I happen upon you!

"I know it is more or less a shamefaced thing to speak of one's
feelings before others; and yet here am I talking like this
to you, and am not a bit ashamed or shy. I am an unsociable
sort of fellow and shall very likely not come to see you again
for some time; but don't think the worse of me for that. It is
not that I do not value your society; and you must never suppose
that I have taken offence at anything.

"You asked me about your faces, and what I could read in them; I
will tell you with the greatest pleasure. You, Adelaida Ivanovna,
have a very happy face; it is the most sympathetic of the three.
Not to speak of your natural beauty, one can look at your face
and say to one's self, 'She has the face of a kind sister.' You
are simple and merry, but you can see into another's heart very
quickly. That's what I read in your face.

"You too, Alexandra Ivanovna, have a very lovely face; but I
think you may have some secret sorrow. Your heart is undoubtedly
a kind, good one, but you are not merry. There is a certain
suspicion of 'shadow' in your face, like in that of Holbein's
Madonna in Dresden. So much for your face. Have I guessed right?

"As for your face, Lizabetha Prokofievna, I not only think, but
am perfectly SURE, that you are an absolute child--in all, in
all, mind, both good and bad-and in spite of your years. Don't be
angry with me for saying so; you know what my feelings for
children are. And do not suppose that I am so candid out of pure
simplicity of soul. Oh dear no, it is by no means the case!
Perhaps I have my own very profound object in view."


When the prince ceased speaking all were gazing merrily at him--
even Aglaya; but Lizabetha Prokofievna looked the jolliest of

"Well!" she cried, "we HAVE 'put him through his paces,' with a
vengeance! My dears, you imagined, I believe, that you were about
to patronize this young gentleman, like some poor protege picked
up somewhere, and taken under your magnificent protection. What
fools we were, and what a specially big fool is your father! Well
done, prince! I assure you the general actually asked me to put
you through your paces, and examine you. As to what you said
about my face, you are absolutely correct in your judgment. I am
a child, and know it. I knew it long before you said so; you have
expressed my own thoughts. I think your nature and mine must be
extremely alike, and I am very glad of it. We are like two drops
of water, only you are a man and I a woman, and I've not been to
Switzerland, and that is all the difference between us."

"Don't be in a hurry, mother; the prince says that he has some
motive behind his simplicity," cried Aglaya.

"Yes, yes, so he does," laughed the others.

"Oh, don't you begin bantering him," said mamma. "He is probably
a good deal cleverer than all three of you girls put together. We
shall see. Only you haven't told us anything about Aglaya yet,
prince; and Aglaya and I are both waiting to hear."

"I cannot say anything at present. I'll tell you afterwards."

"Why? Her face is clear enough, isn't it?"

"Oh yes, of course. You are very beautiful, Aglaya Ivanovna, so
beautiful that one is afraid to look at you."

"Is that all? What about her character?" persisted Mrs. Epanchin.

"It is difficult to judge when such beauty is concerned. I have
not prepared my judgment. Beauty is a riddle."

"That means that you have set Aglaya a riddle!" said Adelaida.
"Guess it, Aglaya! But she's pretty, prince, isn't she?"

"Most wonderfully so," said the latter, warmly, gazing at Aglaya
with admiration. "Almost as lovely as Nastasia Philipovna, but
quite a different type."

All present exchanged looks of surprise.

"As lovely as WHO?" said Mrs. Epanchin. "As NASTASIA PHILIPOVNA?
Where have you seen Nastasia Philipovna? What Nastasia

"Gavrila Ardalionovitch showed the general her portrait just

"How so? Did he bring the portrait for my husband?"

"Only to show it. Nastasia Philipovna gave it to Gavrila
Ardalionovitch today, and the latter brought it here to show to
the general."

"I must see it!" cried Mrs. Epanchin. "Where is the portrait? If
she gave it to him, he must have it; and he is still in the
study. He never leaves before four o'clock on Wednesdays. Send
for Gavrila Ardalionovitch at once. No, I don't long to see HIM
so much. Look here, dear prince, BE so kind, will you? Just step
to the study and fetch this portrait! Say we want to look at it.
Please do this for me, will you?"

"He is a nice fellow, but a little too simple," said Adelaida, as
the prince left the room.

"He is, indeed," said Alexandra; "almost laughably so at times."

Neither one nor the other seemed to give expression to her full

"He got out of it very neatly about our faces, though," said
Aglaya. He flattered us all round, even mamma."

"Nonsense" cried the latter. "He did not flatter me. It was I who
found his appreciation flattering. I think you are a great deal
more foolish than he is. He is simple, of course, but also very
knowing. Just like myself."

"How stupid of me to speak of the portrait," thought the prince
as he entered the study, with a feeling of guilt at his heart,
"and yet, perhaps I was right after all." He had an idea,
unformed as yet, but a strange idea.

Gavrila Ardalionovitch was still sitting in the study, buried in
a mass of papers. He looked as though he did not take his salary
from the public company, whose servant he was, for a sinecure.

He grew very wroth and confused when the prince asked for the
portrait, and explained how it came about that he had spoken of

"Oh, curse it all," he said; "what on earth must you go blabbing
for? You know nothing about the thing, and yet--idiot!" he added,
muttering the last word to himself in irrepressible rage.

"I am very sorry; I was not thinking at the time. I merely said
that Aglaya was almost as beautiful as Nastasia Philipovna."

Gania asked for further details; and the prince once more
repeated the conversation. Gania looked at him with ironical
contempt the while.

"Nastasia Philipovna," he began, and there paused; he was clearly
much agitated and annoyed. The prince reminded him of the

"Listen, prince," said Gania, as though an idea had just struck
him, "I wish to ask you a great favour, and yet I really don't

He paused again, he was trying to make up his mind to something,
and was turning the matter over. The prince waited quietly. Once
more Gania fixed him with intent and questioning eyes.

"Prince," he began again, "they are rather angry with me, in
there, owing to a circumstance which I need not explain, so that
I do not care to go in at present without an invitation. I
particularly wish to speak to Aglaya, but I have written a few
words in case I shall not have the chance of seeing her" (here
the prince observed a small note in his hand), "and I do not know
how to get my communication to her. Don't you think you could
undertake to give it to her at once, but only to her, mind, and
so that no one else should see you give it? It isn't much of a
secret, but still--Well, will you do it?"

"I don't quite like it," replied the prince.

"Oh, but it is absolutely necessary for me," Gania entreated.
"Believe me, if it were not so, I would not ask you; how else am
I to get it to her? It is most important, dreadfully important!"

Gania was evidently much alarmed at the idea that the prince
would not consent to take his note, and he looked at him now with
an expression of absolute entreaty.

"Well, I will take it then."

"But mind, nobody is to see!" cried the delighted Gania "And of
course I may rely on your word of honour, eh?"

"I won't show it to anyone," said the prince.

"The letter is not sealed--" continued Gania, and paused in

"Oh, I won't read it," said the prince, quite simply.

He took up the portrait, and went out of the room.

Gania, left alone, clutched his head with his hands.

"One word from her," he said, "one word from her, and I may yet be

He could not settle himself to his papers again, for agitation
and excitement, but began walking up and down the room from
corner to corner.

The prince walked along, musing. He did not like his commission,
and disliked the idea of Gania sending a note to Aglaya at all; but
when he was two rooms distant from the drawing-room, where they
all were, he stopped a though recalling something; went to the
window, nearer the light, and began to examine the portrait in
his hand.

He longed to solve the mystery of something in the face Nastasia
Philipovna, something which had struck him as he looked at the
portrait for the first time; the impression had not left him. It
was partly the fact of her marvellous beauty that struck him, and
partly something else. There was a suggestion of immense pride
and disdain in the face almost of hatred, and at the same time
something confiding and very full of simplicity. The contrast
aroused a deep sympathy in his heart as he looked at the lovely
face. The blinding loveliness of it was almost intolerable, this
pale thin face with its flaming eyes; it was a strange beauty.

The prince gazed at it for a minute or two, then glanced around
him, and hurriedly raised the portrait to his lips. When, a
minute after, he reached the drawing-room door, his face was
quite composed. But just as he reached the door he met Aglaya
coming out alone.

"Gavrila Ardalionovitch begged me to give you this," he said,
handing her the note.

Aglaya stopped, took the letter, and gazed strangely into the
prince's eyes. There was no confusion in her face; a little
surprise, perhaps, but that was all. By her look she seemed
merely to challenge the prince to an explanation as to how he and
Gania happened to be connected in this matter. But her expression
was perfectly cool and quiet, and even condescending.

So they stood for a moment or two, confronting one another. At
length a faint smile passed over her face, and she passed by him
without a word.

Mrs. Epanchin examined the portrait of Nastasia Philipovna for
some little while, holding it critically at arm's length.

"Yes, she is pretty," she said at last, "even very pretty. I have
seen her twice, but only at a distance. So you admire this kind
of beauty, do you?" she asked the prince, suddenly.

"Yes, I do--this kind."

"Do you mean especially this kind?"

"Yes, especially this kind."


"There is much suffering in this face," murmured the prince, more
as though talking to himself than answering the question.

"I think you are wandering a little, prince," Mrs. Epanchin
decided, after a lengthened survey of his face; and she tossed
the portrait on to the table, haughtily.

Alexandra took it, and Adelaida came up, and both the girls
examined the photograph. Just then Aglaya entered the room.

"What a power!" cried Adelaida suddenly, as she earnestly
examined the portrait over her sister's shoulder.

"Whom? What power?" asked her mother, crossly.

"Such beauty is real power," said Adelaida. "With such beauty as
that one might overthrow the world." She returned to her easel

Aglaya merely glanced at the portrait--frowned, and put out her
underlip; then went and sat down on the sofa with folded hands.
Mrs. Epanchin rang the bell.

"Ask Gavrila Ardalionovitch to step this way," said she to the
man who answered.

"Mamma!" cried Alexandra, significantly.

"I shall just say two words to him, that's all," said her mother,
silencing all objection by her manner; she was evidently
seriously put out. "You see, prince, it is all secrets with us,
just now--all secrets. It seems to be the etiquette of the house,
for some reason or, other. Stupid nonsense, and in a matter
which ought to be approached with all candour and open-
heartedness. There is a marriage being talked of, and I don't
like this marriage--"

"Mamma, what are you saying?" said Alexandra again, hurriedly.

"Well, what, my dear girl? As if you can possibly like it
yourself? The heart is the great thing, and the rest is all
rubbish--though one must have sense as well. Perhaps sense is
really the great thing. Don't smile like that, Aglaya. I don't
contradict myself. A fool with a heart and no brains is just as
unhappy as a fool with brains and no heart. I am one and you are
the other, and therefore both of us suffer, both of us are

"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.

"In the first place, because of my carefully brought-up
daughters," said Mrs. Epanchin, cuttingly; "and as that is the
best reason I can give you we need not bother about any other at
present. Enough of words, now! We shall see how both of you (I
don't count Aglaya) will manage your business, and whether you,
most revered Alexandra Ivanovna, will be happy with your fine

"Ah!" she added, as Gania suddenly entered the room, "here's
another marrying subject. How do you do?" she continued, in
response to Gania's bow; but she did not invite him to sit down.
"You are going to be married?"

"Married? how--what marriage?" murmured Gania, overwhelmed with

"Are you about to take a wife? I ask,--if you prefer that

"No, no I-I--no!" said Gania, bringing out his lie with a tell-
tale blush of shame. He glanced keenly at Aglaya, who was sitting
some way off, and dropped his eyes immediately.

Aglaya gazed coldly, intently, and composedly at him, without
taking her eyes off his face, and watched his confusion.

"No? You say no, do you?" continued the pitiless Mrs. General.
"Very well, I shall remember that you told me this Wednesday
morning, in answer to my question, that you are not going to be
married. What day is it, Wednesday, isn't it?"

"Yes, I think so!" said Adelaida.

"You never know the day of the week; what's the day of the

"Twenty-seventh!" said Gania.

"Twenty-seventh; very well. Good-bye now; you have a good deal to
do, I'm sure, and I must dress and go out. Take your portrait.
Give my respects to your unfortunate mother, Nina Alexandrovna.
Au revoir, dear prince, come in and see us often, do; and I shall
tell old Princess Bielokonski about you. I shall go and see her
on purpose. And listen, my dear boy, I feel sure that God has
sent you to Petersburg from Switzerland on purpose for me. Maybe
you will have other things to do, besides, but you are sent
chiefly for my sake, I feel sure of it. God sent you to me! Au
revoir! Alexandra, come with me, my dear."

Mrs. Epanchin left the room.

Gania--confused, annoyed, furious--took up his portrait, and
turned to the prince with a nasty smile on his face.

"Prince," he said, "I am just going home. If you have not changed
your mind as to living with us, perhaps you would like to come
with me. You don't know the address, I believe?"

"Wait a minute, prince," said Aglaya, suddenly rising from her
seat, "do write something in my album first, will you? Father
says you are a most talented caligraphist; I'll bring you my book
in a minute." She left the room.

"Well, au revoir, prince," said Adelaida, "I must be going too."
She pressed the prince's hand warmly, and gave him a friendly
smile as she left the room. She did not so much as look at Gania.

"This is your doing, prince," said Gania, turning on the latter
so soon as the others were all out of the room. "This is your
doing, sir! YOU have been telling them that I am going to be
married!" He said this in a hurried whisper, his eyes flashing
with rage and his face ablaze. "You shameless tattler!"

"I assure you, you are under a delusion," said the prince, calmly
and politely. "I did not even know that you were to be married."

"You heard me talking about it, the general and me. You heard me
say that everything was to be settled today at Nastasia
Philipovna's, and you went and blurted it out here. You lie if
you deny it. Who else could have told them Devil take it, sir,
who could have told them except yourself? Didn't the old woman as
good as hint as much to me?"

"If she hinted to you who told her you must know best, of course;
but I never said a word about it."

"Did you give my note? Is there an answer?" interrupted Gania,

But at this moment Aglaya came back, and the prince had no time
to reply.

"There, prince," said she, "there's my album. Now choose a page
and write me something, will you? There's a pen, a new one; do
you mind a steel one? I have heard that you caligraphists don't
like steel pens."

Conversing with the prince, Aglaya did not even seem to notice
that Gania was in the room. But while the prince was getting his
pen ready, finding a page, and making his preparations to write,
Gania came up to the fireplace where Aglaya was standing, to the
right of the prince, and in trembling, broken accents said,
almost in her ear:

"One word, just one word from you, and I'm saved."

The prince turned sharply round and looked at both of them.
Gania's face was full of real despair; he seemed to have said the
words almost unconsciously and on the impulse of the moment.

Aglaya gazed at him for some seconds with precisely the same
composure and calm astonishment as she had shown a little while
before, when the prince handed her the note, and it appeared that
this calm surprise and seemingly absolute incomprehension of what
was said to her, were more terribly overwhelming to Gania than
even the most plainly expressed disdain would have been.

"What shall I write?" asked the prince.

"I'll dictate to you," said Aglaya, coming up to the table. "Now
then, are you ready? Write, 'I never condescend to bargain!' Now
put your name and the date. Let me see it."

The prince handed her the album.

"Capital! How beautifully you have written it! Thanks so much. Au
revoir, prince. Wait a minute,"; she added, "I want to give you
something for a keepsake. Come with me this way, will you?"

The prince followed her. Arrived at the dining-room, she stopped.

"Read this," she said, handing him Gania's note.

The prince took it from her hand, but gazed at her in

"Oh! I KNOW you haven't read it, and that you could never be that
man's accomplice. Read it, I wish you to read it."

The letter had evidently been written in a hurry:

"My fate is to be decided today" (it ran), "you know how. This
day I must give my word irrevocably. I have no right to ask your
help, and I dare not allow myself to indulge in any hopes; but
once you said just one word, and that word lighted up the night
of my life, and became the beacon of my days. Say one more such
word, and save me from utter ruin. Only tell me, 'break off the
whole thing!' and I will do so this very day. Oh! what can it
cost you to say just this one word? In doing so you will but be
giving me a sign of your sympathy for me, and of your pity; only
this, only this; nothing more, NOTHING. I dare not indulge in any
hope, because I am unworthy of it. But if you say but this word,
I will take up my cross again with joy, and return once more to
my battle with poverty. I shall meet the storm and be glad of it;
I shall rise up with renewed strength.

"Send me back then this one word of sympathy, only sympathy, I
swear to you; and oh! do not be angry with the audacity of
despair, with the drowning man who has dared to make this last
effort to save himself from perishing beneath the waters.


"This man assures me," said Aglaya, scornfully, when the prince
had finished reading the letter, "that the words 'break off
everything' do not commit me to anything whatever; and himself
gives me a written guarantee to that effect, in this letter.
Observe how ingenuously he underlines certain words, and how
crudely he glosses over his hidden thoughts. He must know that if
he 'broke off everything,' FIRST, by himself, and without telling
me a word about it or having the slightest hope on my account,
that in that case I should perhaps be able to change my opinion
of him, and even accept his--friendship. He must know that, but
his soul is such a wretched thing. He knows it and cannot make up
his mind; he knows it and yet asks for guarantees. He cannot
bring himself to TRUST, he wants me to give him hopes of myself
before he lets go of his hundred thousand roubles. As to the
'former word' which he declares 'lighted up the night of his
life,' he is simply an impudent liar; I merely pitied him once.
But he is audacious and shameless. He immediately began to hope,
at that very moment. I saw it. He has tried to catch me ever
since; he is still fishing for me. Well, enough of this. Take the
letter and give it back to him, as soon as you have left our
house; not before, of course."

"And what shall I tell him by way of answer?"

"Nothing--of course! That's the best answer. Is it the case that
you are going to live in his house?"

"Yes, your father kindly recommended me to him."

"Then look out for him, I warn you! He won't forgive you easily,
for taking back the letter."

Aglaya pressed the prince's hand and left the room. Her face was
serious and frowning; she did not even smile as she nodded good-
bye to him at the door.

"I'll just get my parcel and we'll go," said the prince to Gania,
as he re-entered the drawing-room. Gania stamped his foot with
impatience. His face looked dark and gloomy with rage.

At last they left the house behind them, the prince carrying his

"The answer--quick--the answer!" said Gania, the instant they
were outside. "What did she say? Did you give the letter?" The
prince silently held out the note. Gania was struck motionless
with amazement.

"How, what? my letter?" he cried. "He never delivered it! I might
have guessed it, oh! curse him! Of course she did not understand
what I meant, naturally! Why-why-WHY didn't you give her the note,

"Excuse me; I was able to deliver it almost immediately after
receiving your commission, and I gave it, too, just as you asked
me to. It has come into my hands now because Aglaya Ivanovna has
just returned it to me."

"How? When?"

"As soon as I finished writing in her album for her, and when she
asked me to come out of the room with her (you heard?), we went
into the dining-room, and she gave me your letter to read, and
then told me to return it."

"To READ?" cried Gania, almost at the top of his voice; "to READ,
and you read it?"

And again he stood like a log in the middle of the pavement; so
amazed that his mouth remained open after the last word had left

"Yes, I have just read it."

"And she gave it you to read herself--HERSELF?"

"Yes, herself; and you may believe me when I tell you that I
would not have read it for anything without her permission."

Gania was silent for a minute or two, as though thinking out some
problem. Suddenly he cried:

"It's impossible, she cannot have given it to you to read! You
are lying. You read it yourself!"

"I am telling you the truth," said the prince in his former
composed tone of voice; "and believe me, I am extremely sorry
that the circumstance should have made such an unpleasant
impression upon you!"

"But, you wretched man, at least she must have said something?
There must be SOME answer from her!"

"Yes, of course, she did say something!"

"Out with it then, damn it! Out with it at once!" and Gania
stamped his foot twice on the pavement.

"As soon as I had finished reading it, she told me that you were
fishing for her; that you wished to compromise her so far as to
receive some hopes from her, trusting to which hopes you might
break with the prospect of receiving a hundred thousand roubles.
She said that if you had done this without bargaining with her,
if you had broken with the money prospects without trying to
force a guarantee out of her first, she might have been your
friend. That's all, I think. Oh no, when I asked her what I was
to say, as I took the letter, she replied that 'no answer is the
best answer.' I think that was it. Forgive me if I do not use her
exact expressions. I tell you the sense as I understood it

Ungovernable rage and madness took entire possession of Gania,
and his fury burst out without the least attempt at restraint.

"Oh! that's it, is it!" he yelled. "She throws my letters out of
the window, does she! Oh! and she does not condescend to bargain,
while I DO, eh? We shall see, we shall see! I shall pay her out
for this."

He twisted himself about with rage, and grew paler and paler; he
shook his fist. So the pair walked along a few steps. Gania did
not stand on ceremony with the prince; he behaved just as though
he were alone in his room. He clearly counted the latter as a
nonentity. But suddenly he seemed to have an idea, and
recollected himself.

"But how was it?" he asked, "how was it that you (idiot that you
are)," he added to himself, "were so very confidential a couple
of hours after your first meeting with these people? How was
that, eh?"

Up to this moment jealousy had not been one of his torments; now
it suddenly gnawed at his heart.

"That is a thing I cannot undertake to explain," replied the
prince. Gania looked at him with angry contempt.

"Oh! I suppose the present she wished to make to you, when she
took you into the dining-room, was her confidence, eh?"

"I suppose that was it; I cannot explain it otherwise?"

"But why, WHY? Devil take it, what did you do in there? Why did
they fancy you? Look here, can't you remember exactly what you
said to them, from the very beginning? Can't you remember?"

"Oh, we talked of a great many things. When first I went in we
began to speak of Switzerland."

"Oh, the devil take Switzerland!"

"Then about executions."


"Yes--at least about one. Then I told the whole three years'
story of my life, and the history of a poor peasant girl--"

"Oh, damn the peasant girl! go on, go on!" said Gania,

"Then how Schneider told me about my childish nature, and--"

"Oh, CURSE Schneider and his dirty opinions! Go on."

"Then I began to talk about faces, at least about the EXPRESSIONS
of faces, and said that Aglaya Ivanovna was nearly as lovely as
Nastasia Philipovna. It was then I blurted out about the

"But you didn't repeat what you heard in the study? You didn't
repeat that--eh?"

"No, I tell you I did NOT."

"Then how did they--look here! Did Aglaya show my letter to the
old lady?"

"Oh, there I can give you my fullest assurance that she did NOT.
I was there all the while--she had no time to do it!"

"But perhaps you may not have observed it, oh, you damned idiot,
you!" he shouted, quite beside himself with fury. "You can't even
describe what went on."

Gania having once descended to abuse, and receiving no check,
very soon knew no bounds or limit to his licence, as is often the
way in such cases. His rage so blinded him that he had not even
been able to detect that this "idiot," whom he was abusing to
such an extent, was very far from being slow of comprehension,
and had a way of taking in an impression, and afterwards giving
it out again, which was very un-idiotic indeed. But something a
little unforeseen now occurred.

"I think I ought to tell you, Gavrila Ardalionovitch," said the
prince, suddenly, "that though I once was so ill that I really
was little better than an idiot, yet now I am almost recovered,
and that, therefore, it is not altogether pleasant to be called
an idiot to my face. Of course your anger is excusable,
considering the treatment you have just experienced; but I must
remind you that you have twice abused me rather rudely. I do not
like this sort of thing, and especially so at the first time of
meeting a man, and, therefore, as we happen to be at this moment
standing at a crossroad, don't you think we had better part, you
to the left, homewards, and I to the right, here? I have twenty-
five roubles, and I shall easily find a lodging."

Gania was much confused, and blushed for shame "Do forgive me,
prince!" he cried, suddenly changing his abusive tone for one of
great courtesy. "For Heaven's sake, forgive me! You see what a
miserable plight I am in, but you hardly know anything of the
facts of the case as yet. If you did, I am sure you would forgive
me, at least partially. Of course it was inexcusable of me, I
know, but--"

"Oh, dear me, I really do not require such profuse apologies,"
replied the prince, hastily. "I quite understand how unpleasant
your position is, and that is what made you abuse me. So
come along to your house, after all. I shall be delighted--"

"I am not going to let him go like this," thought Gania, glancing
angrily at the prince as they walked along. " The fellow has
sucked everything out of me, and now he takes off his mask--
there's something more than appears, here we shall see. It shall
all be as clear as water by tonight, everything!"

But by this time they had reached Gania's house.


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 beer) 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.

The flat was divided by a passage which led straight out of the
entrance-hall. Along one side of this corridor lay the three
rooms which were designed for the accommodation of the "highly
recommended" lodgers. Besides these three rooms there was
another small one at the end of the passage, close to the
kitchen, which was allotted to General Ivolgin, the nominal
master of the house, who slept on a wide sofa, and was obliged
to pass into and out of his room through the kitchen, and up
or down the back stairs. Colia, Gania's young brother, a
school-boy of thirteen, shared this room with his father.
He, too, had to sleep on an old sofa, a narrow, uncomfortable
thing with a torn rug over it; his chief duty being to look
after his father, who needed to be watched more and more
every day.

The prince was given the middle room of the three, the first
being occupied by one Ferdishenko, while the third was empty.

But Gania first conducted the prince to the family apartments.
These consisted of a "salon," which became the dining-room when
required; a drawing-room, which was only a drawing-room in the
morning, and became Gania's study in the evening, and his bedroom
at night; and lastly Nina Alexandrovna's and Varvara's bedroom, a
small, close chamber which they shared together.

In a word, the whole place was confined, and a "tight fit" for
the party. Gania used to grind his teeth with rage over the state
of affairs; though he was anxious to be dutiful and polite to his
mother. However, it was very soon apparent to anyone coming into
the house, that Gania was the tyrant of the family.

Nina Alexandrovna and her daughter were both seated in the
drawing-room, engaged in knitting, and talking to a visitor, Ivan
Petrovitch Ptitsin.

The lady of the house appeared to be a woman of about fifty years
of age, thin-faced, and with black lines under the eves. She
looked ill and rather sad; but her face was a pleasant one for
all that; and from the first word that fell from her lips, any
stranger would at once conclude that she was of a serious and
particularly sincere nature. In spite of her sorrowful
expression, she gave the idea of possessing considerable firmness
and decision.

Her dress was modest and simple to a degree, dark and elderly in
style; but both her face and appearance gave evidence that she
had seen better days.

Varvara was a girl of some twenty-three summers, of middle
height, thin, but possessing a face which, without being actually
beautiful, had the rare quality of charm, and might fascinate
even to the extent of passionate regard.

She was very like her mother: she even dressed like her, which
proved that she had no taste for smart clothes. The expression of
her grey eyes was merry and gentle, when it was not, as lately,
too full of thought and anxiety. The same decision and firmness
was to be observed in her face as in her mother's, but her
strength seemed to be more vigorous than that of Nina
Alexandrovna. She was subject to outbursts of temper, of which
even her brother was a little afraid.

The present visitor, Ptitsin, was also afraid of her. This was a
young fellow of something under thirty, dressed plainly, but
neatly. His manners were good, but rather ponderously so. His
dark beard bore evidence to the fact that he was not in any
government employ. He could speak well, but preferred silence. On
the whole he made a decidedly agreeable impression. He was
clearly attracted by Varvara, and made no secret of his feelings.
She trusted him in a friendly way, but had not shown him any
decided encouragement as yet, which fact did not quell his ardour
in the least.

Nina Alexandrovna was very fond of him, and had grown quite
confidential with him of late. Ptitsin, as was well known, was
engaged in the business of lending out money on good security,
and at a good rate of interest. He was a great friend of Gania's.

After a formal introduction by Gania (who greeted his mother very
shortly, took no notice of his sister, and immediately marched
Ptitsin out of the room), Nina Alexandrovna addressed a few kind
words to the prince and forthwith requested Colia, who had just
appeared at the door, to show him to the " middle room."

Colia was a nice-looking boy. His expression was simple and
confiding, and his manners were very polite and engaging.

"Where's your luggage?" he asked, as he led the prince away to
his room.

"I had a bundle; it's in the entrance hall."

"I'll bring it you directly. We only have a cook and one maid, so
I have to help as much as I can. Varia looks after things,
generally, and loses her temper over it. Gania says you have only
just arrived from Switzerland? "


"Is it jolly there?"




"I'll go and get your bundle."

Here Varvara joined them.

"The maid shall bring your bed-linen directly. Have you a

"No; a bundle--your brother has just gone to the hall for it."

"There's nothing there except this," said Colia, returning at
this moment. "Where did you put it?"

"Oh! but that's all I have," said the prince, taking it.

"Ah! I thought perhaps Ferdishenko had taken it."

"Don't talk nonsense," said Varia, severely. She seemed put out,
and was only just polite with the prince.

"Oho!" laughed the boy, "you can be nicer than that to ME, you
know--I'm not Ptitsin!"

"You ought to be whipped, Colia, you silly boy. If you want
anything" (to the prince) "please apply to the servant. We dine
at half-past four. You can take your dinner with us, or have it
in your room, just as you please. Come along, Colia, don't
disturb the prince."

At the door they met Gania coming in.

"Is father in?" he asked. Colia whispered something in his ear
and went out.

"Just a couple of words, prince, if you'll excuse me. Don't blab
over THERE about what you may see here, or in this house as to
all that about Aglaya and me, you know. Things are not altogether
pleasant in this establishment--devil take it all! You'll see. At
all events keep your tongue to yourself for TODAY."

"I assure you I 'blabbed' a great deal less than you seem to
suppose," said the prince, with some annoyance. Clearly the
relations between Gania and himself were by no means improving.

"Oh I well; I caught it quite hot enough today, thanks to you.
However, I forgive you."

"I think you might fairly remember that I was not in any way
bound, I had no reason to be silent about that portrait. You
never asked me not to mention it."

"Pfu! what a wretched room this is--dark, and the window looking
into the yard. Your coming to our house is, in no respect,
opportune. However, it's not MY affair. I don't keep the

Ptitsin here looked in and beckoned to Gania, who hastily left
the room, in spite of the fact that he had evidently wished to
say something more and had only made the remark about the room to
gain time. The prince had hardly had time to wash and tidy
himself a little when the door opened once more, and another
figure appeared.

This was a gentleman of about thirty, tall, broadshouldered, and
red-haired; his face was red, too, and he possessed a pair of
thick lips, a wide nose, small eyes, rather bloodshot, and with
an ironical expression in them; as though he were perpetually
winking at someone. His whole appearance gave one the idea of
impudence; his dress was shabby.

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.

"Ferdishenko," he said, gazing intently and inquiringly into the
prince's eyes.

"Very well, what next?" said the latter, almost laughing in his

"A lodger here," continued the other, staring as before.

"Do you wish to make acquaintance?" asked the prince.

"Ah!" said the visitor, passing his fingers through his hair and
sighing. He then looked over to the other side of the room and
around it. "Got any money?" he asked, suddenly.

"Not much."

"How much?"

"Twenty-five roubles."

"Let's see it."

The prince took his banknote out and showed it to Ferdishenko.
The latter unfolded it and looked at it; then he turned it round
and examined the other side; then he held it up to the light.

"How strange that it should have browned so," he said,
reflectively. "These twenty-five rouble notes brown in a most
extraordinary way, while other notes often grow paler. Take it."

The prince took his note. Ferdishenko rose.

"I came here to warn you," he said. "In the first place, don't
lend me any money, for I shall certainly ask you to."

"Very well."

"Shall you pay here?"

"Yes, I intend to."

"Oh! I DON'T intend to. Thanks. I live here, next door to you;
you noticed a room, did you? Don't come to me very often; I shall
see you here quite often enough. Have you seen the general?"


"Nor heard him?"

"No; of course not."

"Well, you'll both hear and see him soon; he even tries to borrow
money from me. Avis au lecteur. Good-bye; do you think a man can
possibly live with a name like Ferdishenko?"

"Why not?"


And so he departed. The prince found out afterwards that this
gentleman made it his business to amaze people with his
originality and wit, but that it did not as a rule "come off." He
even produced a bad impression on some people, which grieved him
sorely; but he did not change his ways for all that.

As he went out of the prince's room, he collided with yet another
visitor coming in. Ferdishenko took the opportunity of making
several warning gestures to the prince from behind the new
arrival's back, and left the room in conscious pride.

This next arrival was a tall red-faced man of about fifty-five,
with greyish hair and whiskers, and large eyes which stood out of
their sockets. His appearance would have been distinguished had
it not been that he gave the idea of being rather dirty. He was
dressed in an old coat, and he smelled of vodka when he came
near. His walk was effective, and he clearly did his best to
appear dignified, and to impress people by his manner.

This gentleman now approached the prince slowly, and with a most
courteous smile; silently took his hand and held it in his own,
as he examined the prince's features as though searching for
familiar traits therein.

"'Tis he, 'tis he!" he said at last, quietly, but with much
solemnity. "As though he were alive once more. I heard the
familiar name-the dear familiar name--and, oh. I how it reminded
me of the irrevocable past--Prince Muishkin, I believe ?"

"Exactly so."

"General Ivolgin--retired and unfortunate. May I ask your
Christian and generic names?"

"Lef Nicolaievitch."

"So, so--the son of my old, I may say my childhood's friend,
Nicolai Petrovitch."

"My father's name was Nicolai Lvovitch."

"Lvovitch," repeated the general without the slightest haste, and
with perfect confidence, just as though he had not committed
himself the least in the world, but merely made a little slip of
the tongue. He sat down, and taking the prince's hand, drew him
to a seat next to himself.

"I carried you in my arms as a baby," he observed.

"Really?" asked the prince. "Why, it's twenty years since my
father died."

"Yes, yes--twenty years and three months. We were educated
together; I went straight into the army, and he--"

"My father went into the army, too. He was a sub-lieutenant in
the Vasiliefsky regiment."

"No, sir--in the Bielomirsky; he changed into the latter shortly
before his death. I was at his bedside when he died, and gave him
my blessing for eternity. Your mother--" The general paused, as
though overcome with emotion.

"She died a few months later, from a cold," said the prince.

"Oh, not cold--believe an old man--not from a cold, but from
grief for her prince. Oh--your mother, your mother! heigh-ho!
Youth--youth! Your father and I--old friends as we were--nearly
murdered each other for her sake."

The prince began to be a little incredulous.

"I was passionately in love with her when she was engaged--
engaged to my friend. The prince noticed the fact and was
furious. He came and woke me at seven o'clock one morning. I rise
and dress in amazement; silence on both sides. I understand it
all. He takes a couple of pistols out of his pocket--across a
handkerchief--without witnesses. Why invite witnesses when both
of us would be walking in eternity in a couple of minutes? The
pistols are loaded; we stretch the handkerchief and stand
opposite one another. We aim the pistols at each other's hearts.
Suddenly tears start to our eyes, our hands shake; we weep, we
embrace--the battle is one of self-sacrifice now! The prince
shouts, 'She is yours;' I cry, 'She is yours--' in a word, in a
word--You've come to live with us, hey?"

"Yes--yes--for a while, I think," stammered the prince.

"Prince, mother begs you to come to her," said Colia, appearing
at the door.

The prince rose to go, but the general once more laid his hand in
a friendly manner on his shoulder, and dragged him down on to the

"As the true friend of your father, I wish to say a few words to
you," he began. "I have suffered--there was a catastrophe. I
suffered without a trial; I had no trial. Nina Alexandrovna my
wife, is an excellent woman, so is my daughter Varvara. We have
to let lodgings because we are poor--a dreadful, unheard-of come-
down for us--for me, who should have been a governor-general; but
we are very glad to have YOU, at all events. Meanwhile there is a
tragedy in the house."

The prince looked inquiringly at the other.

"Yes, a marriage is being arranged--a marriage between a
questionable woman and a young fellow who might be a flunkey.
They wish to bring this woman into the house where my wife and
daughter reside, but while I live and breathe she shall never
enter my doors. I shall lie at the threshold, and she shall
trample me underfoot if she does. I hardly talk to Gania now, and
avoid him as much as I can. I warn you of this beforehand, but
you cannot fail to observe it. But you are the son of my old
friend, and I hope--"

"Prince, be so kind as to come to me for a moment in the drawing-
room," said Nina Alexandrovna herself, appearing at the door.

"Imagine, my dear," cried the general, "it turns out that I have
nursed the prince on my knee in the old days." His wife looked
searchingly at him, and glanced at the prince, but said nothing.
The prince rose and followed her; but hardly had they reached the
drawing-room, and Nina Alexandrovna had begun to talk hurriedly,
when in came the general. She immediately relapsed into silence.
The master of the house may have observed this, but at all events
he did not take any notice of it; he was in high good humour.

"A son of my old friend, dear," he cried; "surely you must
remember Prince Nicolai Lvovitch? You saw him at--at Tver."

"I don't remember any Nicolai Lvovitch, Was that your father?"
she inquired of the prince.

"Yes, but he died at Elizabethgrad, not at Tver," said the
prince, rather timidly. "So Pavlicheff told me."

"No, Tver," insisted the general; "he removed just before his
death. You were very small and cannot remember; and Pavlicheff,
though an excellent fellow, may have made a mistake."

"You knew Pavlicheff then?"

"Oh, yes--a wonderful fellow; but I was present myself. I gave
him my blessing."

"My father was just about to be tried when he died," said the
prince, "although I never knew of what he was accused. He died in

"Oh! it was the Kolpakoff business, and of course he would have
been acquitted."

"Yes? Do you know that for a fact?" asked the prince, whose
curiosity was aroused by the general's words.

"I should think so indeed!" cried the latter. "The court-martial
came to no decision. It was a mysterious, an impossible business,
one might say! Captain Larionoff, commander of the company, had
died; his command was handed over to the prince for the moment.
Very well. This soldier, Kolpakoff, stole some leather from one
of his comrades, intending to sell it, and spent the money on
drink. Well! The prince--you understand that what follows took
place in the presence of the sergeant-major, and a corporal--the
prince rated Kolpakoff soundly, and threatened to have him
flogged. Well, Kolpakoff went back to the barracks, lay down on a
camp bedstead, and in a quarter of an hour was dead: you quite
understand? It was, as I said, a strange, almost impossible,
affair. In due course Kolpakoff was buried; the prince wrote his
report, the deceased's name was removed from the roll. All as it
should be, is it not? But exactly three months later at the
inspection of the brigade, the man Kolpakoff was found in the
third company of the second battalion of infantry, Novozemlianski
division, just as if nothing had happened!"

"What?" said the prince, much astonished.

"It did not occur--it's a mistake!" said Nina Alexandrovna
quickly, looking, at the prince rather anxiously. "Mon mari se
trompe," she added, speaking in French.

"My dear, 'se trompe' is easily said. Do you remember any case at
all like it? Everybody was at their wits' end. I should be the
first to say 'qu'on se trompe,' but unfortunately I was an eye-
witness, and was also on the commission of inquiry. Everything
proved that it was really he, the very same soldier Kolpakoff who
had been given the usual military funeral to the sound of the
drum. It is of course a most curious case--nearly an impossible
one. I recognize that ... but--"

"Father, your dinner is ready," said Varvara at this point,
putting her head in at the door.

"Very glad, I'm particularly hungry. Yes, yes, a strange
coincidence--almost a psychological--"

"Your soup'll be cold; do come."

"Coming, coming " said the general. "Son of my old friend--" he
was heard muttering as he went down the passage.

"You will have to excuse very much in my husband, if you stay
with us," said Nina Alexandrovna; "but he will not disturb you
often. He dines alone. Everyone has his little peculiarities, you
know, and some people perhaps have more than those who are most
pointed at and laughed at. One thing I must beg of you-if my
husband applies to you for payment for board and lodging, tell
him that you have already paid me. Of course anything paid by you
to the general would be as fully settled as if paid to me, so far
as you are concerned; but I wish it to be so, if you please, for
convenience' sake. What is it, Varia?"

Varia had quietly entered the room, and was holding out the
portrait of Nastasia Philipovna to her mother.

Nina Alexandrovna started, and examined the photograph intently,
gazing at it long and sadly. At last she looked up inquiringly at

"It's a present from herself to him," said Varia; "the question
is to be finally decided this evening."

"This evening!" repeated her mother in a tone of despair, but
softly, as though to herself. "Then it's all settled, of course,
and there's no hope left to us. She has anticipated her answer by
the present of her portrait. Did he show it you himself?" she
added, in some surprise.

"You know we have hardly spoken to each other for a whole month.
Ptitsin told me all about it; and the photo was lying under the
table, and I picked it up."

"Prince," asked Nina Alexandrovna, "I wanted to inquire whether
you have known my son long? I think he said that you had only
arrived today from somewhere."

The prince gave a short narrative of what we have heard before,
leaving out the greater part. The two ladies listened intently.

"I did not ask about Gania out of curiosity," said the elder, at
last. "I wish to know how much you know about him, because he
said just now that we need not stand on ceremony with you. What,
exactly, does that mean?"

At this moment Gania and Ptitsin entered the room together, and
Nina Alexandrovna immediately became silent again. The prince
remained seated next to her, but Varia moved to the other end of
the room; the portrait of Nastasia Philipovna remained lying as
before on the work-table. Gania observed it there, and with a
frown of annoyance snatched it up and threw it across to his
writing-table, which stood at the other end of the room.

"Is it today, Gania?" asked Nina Alexandrovna, at last.

"Is what today?" cried the former. Then suddenly recollecting
himself, he turned sharply on the prince. "Oh," he growled, "I
see, you are here, that explains it! Is it a disease, or what,
that you can't hold your tongue? Look here, understand once for
all, prince--"

"I am to blame in this, Gania--no one else," said Ptitsin.

Gania glanced inquiringly at the speaker.

"It's better so, you know, Gania--especially as, from one point
of view, the matter may be considered as settled," said Ptitsin;
and sitting down a little way from the table he began to study a
paper covered with pencil writing.

Gania stood and frowned, he expected a family scene. He never
thought of apologizing to the prince, however.

"If it's all settled, Gania, then of course Mr. Ptitsin is
right," said Nina Alexandrovna. "Don't frown. You need not worry
yourself, Gania; I shall ask you no questions. You need not tell
me anything you don't like. I assure you I have quite submitted
to your will." She said all this, knitting away the while as
though perfectly calm and composed.

Gania was surprised, but cautiously kept silence and looked at
his mother, hoping that she would express herself more clearly.
Nina Alexandrovna observed his cautiousness and added, with a
bitter smile:

"You are still suspicious, I see, and do not believe me; but you
may be quite at your ease. There shall be no more tears, nor
questions--not from my side, at all events. All I wish is that
you may be happy, you know that. I have submitted to my fate; but
my heart will always be with you, whether we remain united, or
whether we part. Of course I only answer for myself--you can
hardly expect your sister--"

"My sister again," cried Gania, looking at her with contempt and
almost hate. "Look here, mother, I have already given you my word
that I shall always respect you fully and absolutely, and so
shall everyone else in this house, be it who it may, who shall
cross this threshold."

Gania was so much relieved that he gazed at his mother almost

"I was not at all afraid for myself, Gania, as you know well. It
was not for my own sake that I have been so anxious and worried
all this time! They say it is all to be settled to-day. What is
to be settled?"

"She has promised to tell me tonight at her own house whether
she consents or not," replied Gania.

"We have been silent on this subject for three weeks," said his
mother, "and it was better so; and now I will only ask you one
question. How can she give her consent and make you a present of
her portrait when you do not love her? How can such a--such a--"

"Practised hand--eh?"

"I was not going to express myself so. But how could you so blind

Nina Alexandrovna's question betrayed intense annoyance. Gania
waited a moment and then said, without taking the trouble to
conceal the irony of his tone:

"There you are, mother, you are always like that. You begin by
promising that there are to be no reproaches or insinuations or
questions, and here you are beginning them at once. We had better
drop the subject--we had, really. I shall never leave you,
mother; any other man would cut and run from such a sister as
this. See how she is looking at me at this moment! Besides, how
do you know that I am blinding Nastasia Philipovna? As for Varia,
I don't care--she can do just as she pleases. There, that's quite

Gania's irritation increased with every word he uttered, as he
walked up and down the room. These conversations always touched
the family sores before long.

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

"Out of obstinacy" shouted Gania. "You haven't married, either,
thanks to your obstinacy. Oh, you needn't frown at me, Varvara!
You can go at once for all I care; I am sick enough of your
company. What, you are going to leave us are you, too?" he cried,
turning to the prince, who was rising from his chair.

Gania's voice was full of the most uncontrolled and
uncontrollable irritation.

The prince turned at the door to say something, but perceiving in
Gania's expression that there was but that one drop wanting to
make the cup overflow, he changed his mind and left the room
without a word. A few minutes later he was aware from the noisy
voices in the drawing room, that the conversation had become more
quarrelsome than ever after his departure.

He crossed the salon and the entrance-hall, so as to pass down
the corridor into his own room. As he came near the front door he
heard someone outside vainly endeavouring to ring the bell, which
was evidently broken, and only shook a little, without emitting
any sound.

The prince took down the chain and opened the door. He started
back in amazement--for there stood Nastasia Philipovna. He knew
her at once from her photograph. Her eyes blazed with anger as
she looked at him. She quickly pushed by him into the hall,
shouldering him out of her way, and said, furiously, as she threw
off her fur cloak:

"If you are too lazy to mend your bell, you should at least wait
in the hall to let people in when they rattle the bell handle.
There, now, you've dropped my fur cloak--dummy!"

Sure enough the cloak was lying on the ground. Nastasia had
thrown it off her towards the prince, expecting him to catch it,
but the prince had missed it.

"Now then--announce me, quick!"

The prince wanted to say something, but was so confused and
astonished that he could not. However, he moved off towards the
drawing-room with the cloak over his arm.

"Now then, where are you taking my cloak to? Ha, ha, ha! Are you

The prince turned and came back, more confused than ever. When
she burst out laughing, he smiled, but his tongue could not form
a word as yet. At first, when he had opened the door and saw her
standing before him, he had become as pale as death; but now the
red blood had rushed back to his cheeks in a torrent.

"Why, what an idiot it is!" cried Nastasia, stamping her foot
with irritation. "Go on, do! Whom are you going to announce?"

"Nastasia Philipovna," murmured the prince.

"And how do you know that?" she asked him, sharply.

"I have never seen you before!"

"Go on, announce me--what's that noise?"

"They are quarrelling," said the prince, and entered the drawing-
room, just as matters in there had almost reached a crisis. Nina
Alexandrovna had forgotten that she had "submitted to
everything!" She was defending Varia. Ptitsin was taking her
part, too. Not that Varia was afraid of standing up for herself.
She was by no means that sort of a girl; but her brother was
becoming ruder and more intolerable every moment. Her usual
practice in such cases as the present was to say nothing, but
stare at him, without taking her eyes off his face for an
instant. This manoeuvre, as she well knew, could drive Gania

Just at this moment the door opened and the prince entered,

"Nastasia Philipovna!"


Silence immediately fell on the room; all looked at the prince as
though they neither understood, nor hoped to understand. Gania
was motionless with horror.

Nastasia's arrival was a most unexpected and overwhelming event
to all parties. In the first place, she had never been before. Up
to now she had been so haughty that she had never even asked
Gania to introduce her to his parents. Of late she had not so
much as mentioned them. Gania was partly glad of this; but still
he had put it to her debit in the account to be settled after

He would have borne anything from her rather than this visit. But
one thing seemed to him quite clear-her visit now, and the
present of her portrait on this particular day, pointed out
plainly enough which way she intended to make her decision!

The incredulous amazement with which all regarded the prince did
not last long, for Nastasia herself appeared at the door and
passed in, pushing by the prince again.

"At last I've stormed the citadel! Why do you tie up your bell?"
she said, merrily, as she pressed Gania's hand, the latter having
rushed up to her as soon as she made her appearance. "What are
you looking so upset about? Introduce me, please!"

The bewildered Gania introduced her first to Varia, and both
women, before shaking hands, exchanged looks of strange import.
Nastasia, however, smiled amiably; but Varia did not try to look
amiable, and kept her gloomy expression. She did not even
vouchsafe the usual courteous smile of etiquette. Gania darted a
terrible glance of wrath at her for this, but Nina Alexandrovna,
mended matters a little when Gania introduced her at last.
Hardly, however, had the old lady begun about her " highly
gratified feelings," and so on, when Nastasia left her, and
flounced into a chair by Gania's side in the corner by the
window, and cried: "Where's your study? and where are the--the
lodgers? You do take in lodgers, don't you?"

Gania looked dreadfully put out, and tried to say something in
reply, but Nastasia interrupted him:

"Why, where are you going to squeeze lodgers in here? Don't you
use a study? Does this sort of thing pay?" she added, turning to
Nina Alexandrovna.

"Well, it is troublesome, rather," said the latter; "but I
suppose it will 'pay' pretty well. We have only just begun,

Again Nastasia Philipovna did not hear the sentence out. She
glanced at Gania, and cried, laughing, "What a face! My goodness,
what a face you have on at this moment!"

Indeed, Gania did not look in the least like himself. His
bewilderment and his alarmed perplexity passed off, however, and
his lips now twitched with rage as he continued to stare evilly
at his laughing guest, while his countenance became absolutely

There was another witness, who, though standing at the door
motionless and bewildered himself, still managed to remark
Gania's death-like pallor, and the dreadful change that had come
over his face. This witness was the prince, who now advanced in
alarm and muttered to Gania:

"Drink some water, and don't look like that!"

It was clear that he came out with these words quite
spontaneously, on the spur of the moment. But his speech was
productive of much--for it appeared that all. Gania's rage now
overflowed upon the prince. He seized him by the shoulder and
gazed with an intensity of loathing and revenge at him, but said
nothing--as though his feelings were too strong to permit of

General agitation prevailed. Nina Alexandrovna gave a little cry
of anxiety; Ptitsin took a step forward in alarm; Colia and
Ferdishenko stood stock still at the door in amazement;--only
Varia remained coolly watching the scene from under her
eyelashes. She did not sit down, but stood by her mother with
folded hands. However, Gania recollected himself almost
immediately. He let go of the prince and burst out laughing.

"Why, are you a doctor, prince, or what?" he asked, as naturally
as possible. "I declare you quite frightened me! Nastasia
Philipovna, let me introduce this interesting character to you--
though I have only known him myself since the morning."

Nastasia gazed at the prince in bewilderment. "Prince? He a
Prince? Why, I took him for the footman, just now, and sent him
in to announce me! Ha, ha, ha, isn't that good!"

"Not bad that, not bad at all!" put in Ferdishenko, "se non e

"I rather think I pitched into you, too, didn't I? Forgive me--do!
Who is he, did you say? What prince? Muishkin?" she added,
addressing Gania.

"He is a lodger of ours," explained the latter.

"An idiot!"--the prince distinctly heard the word half whispered
from behind him. This was Ferdishenko's voluntary information for
Nastasia's benefit.

"Tell me, why didn't you put me right when I made such a dreadful
mistake just now?" continued the latter, examining the prince
from head to foot without the slightest ceremony. She awaited the
answer as though convinced that it would be so foolish that she
must inevitably fail to restrain her laughter over it.

"I was astonished, seeing you so suddenly--" murmured the prince.

"How did you know who I was? Where had you seen me before? And
why were you so struck dumb at the sight of me? What was there so
overwhelming about me?"

"Oho! ho, ho, ho!" cried Ferdishenko. "NOW then, prince! My
word, what things I would say if I had such a chance as that! My
goodness, prince--go on!"

"So should I, in your place, I've no doubt!" laughed the prince
to Ferdishenko; then continued, addressing Nastasia: "Your
portrait struck me very forcibly this morning; then I was talking
about you to the Epanchins; and then, in the train, before I
reached Petersburg, Parfen Rogojin told me a good deal about you;
and at the very moment that I opened the door to you I happened
to be thinking of you, when--there you stood before me!"

"And how did you recognize me?"

"From the portrait!"

"What else?"

"I seemed to imagine you exactly as you are--I seemed to have
seen you somewhere."


"I seem to have seen your eyes somewhere; but it cannot be! I
have not seen you--I never was here before. I may have dreamed of
you, I don't know."

The prince said all this with manifest effort--in broken
sentences, and with many drawings of breath. He was evidently
much agitated. Nastasia Philipovna looked at him inquisitively,
but did not laugh.

"Bravo, prince!" cried Ferdishenko, delighted.

At this moment a loud voice from behind the group which hedged in
the prince and Nastasia Philipovna, divided the crowd, as it
were, and before them stood the head of the family, General
Ivolgin. He was dressed in evening clothes; his moustache was

This apparition was too much for Gania. Vain and ambitious almost
to morbidness, he had had much to put up with in the last two
months, and was seeking feverishly for some means of enabling
himself to lead a more presentable kind of existence. At home, he
now adopted an attitude of absolute cynicism, but he could not
keep this up before Nastasia Philipovna, although he had sworn to
make her pay after marriage for all he suffered now. He was
experiencing a last humiliation, the bitterest of all, at this
moment--the humiliation of blushing for his own kindred in his own
house. A question flashed through his mind as to whether the game
was really worth the candle.

For that had happened at this moment, which for two months had
been his nightmare; which had filled his soul with dread and
shame--the meeting between his father and Nastasia Philipovna. He
had often tried to imagine such an event, but had found the
picture too mortifying and exasperating, and had quietly dropped
it. Very likely he anticipated far worse things than was at all
necessary; it is often so with vain persons. He had long since
determined, therefore, to get his father out of the way,
anywhere, before his marriage, in order to avoid such a meeting;
but when Nastasia entered the room just now, he had been so
overwhelmed with astonishment, that he had not thought of his
father, and had made no arrangements to keep him out of the way.
And now it was too late--there he was, and got up, too, in a dress
coat and white tie, and Nastasia in the very humour to heap
ridicule on him and his family circle; of this last fact, he felt
quite persuaded. What else had she come for? There were his
mother and his sister sitting before her, and she seemed to have
forgotten their very existence already; and if she behaved like
that, he thought, she must have some object in view.

Ferdishenko led the general up to Nastasia Philipovna.

"Ardalion Alexandrovitch Ivolgin," said the smiling general, with
a low bow of great dignity, "an old soldier, unfortunate, and the
father of this family; but happy in the hope of including in that
family so exquisite--"

He did not finish his sentence, for at this moment Ferdishenko
pushed a chair up from behind, and the general, not very firm on
his legs, at this post-prandial hour, flopped into it backwards.
It was always a difficult thing to put this warrior to confusion,
and his sudden descent left him as composed as before. He had sat
down just opposite to Nastasia, whose fingers he now took, and
raised to his lips with great elegance, and much courtesy. The
general had once belonged to a very select circle of society, but
he had been turned out of it two or three years since on account
of certain weaknesses, in which he now indulged with all the less
restraint; but his good manners remained with him to this day, in
spite of all.

Nastasia Philipovna seemed delighted at the appearance of this
latest arrival, of whom she had of course heard a good deal by

"I have heard that my son--" began Ardalion Alexandrovitch.

"Your son, indeed! A nice papa you are! YOU might have come to
see me anyhow, without compromising anyone. Do you hide yourself,
or does your son hide you?"

"The children of the nineteenth century, and their parents--"
began the general, again.

"Nastasia Philipovna, will you excuse the general for a moment?
Someone is inquiring for him," said Nina Alexandrovna in a loud
voice, interrupting the conversation.

"Excuse him? Oh no, I have wished to see him too long for that.
Why, what business can he have? He has retired, hasn't he? You
won't leave me, general, will you?"

"I give you my word that he shall come and see you--but he--he
needs rest just now."

"General, they say you require rest," said Nastasia Philipovna,
with the melancholy face of a child whose toy is taken away.

Ardalion Alexandrovitch immediately did his best to make his
foolish position a great deal worse.

"My dear, my dear!" he said, solemnly and reproachfully, looking
at his wife, with one hand on his heart.

"Won't you leave the room, mamma?" asked Varia, aloud.

"No, Varia, I shall sit it out to the end."

Nastasia must have overheard both question and reply, but her
vivacity was not in the least damped. On the contrary, it seemed
to increase. She immediately overwhelmed the general once more
with questions, and within five minutes that gentleman was as
happy as a king, and holding forth at the top of his voice, amid
the laughter of almost all who heard him.

Colia jogged the prince's arm.

"Can't YOU get him out of the room, somehow? DO, please," and
tears of annoyance stood in the boy's eyes. "Curse that Gania!"
he muttered, between his teeth.

"Oh yes, I knew General Epanchin well," General Ivolgin was
saying at this moment; "he and Prince Nicolai Ivanovitch
Muishkin--whose son I have this day embraced after an absence of
twenty years--and I, were three inseparables. Alas  one is in the
grave, torn to pieces by calumnies and bullets; another is now
before you, still battling with calumnies and bullets--"

"Bullets?" cried Nastasia.

"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."

"Poodle? What was that? And in a railway carriage? Dear me," said
Nastasia, thoughtfully, as though trying to recall something to

"Oh, just a silly, little occurrence, really not worth telling,
about Princess Bielokonski's governess, Miss Smith, and--oh, it
is really not worth telling!"

"No, no, we must have it!" cried Nastasia merrily.

"Yes, of course," said Ferdishenko. "C'est du nouveau."

"Ardalion," said Nina Alexandrovitch, entreatingly.

"Papa, you are wanted!" cried Colia.

"Well, it is a silly little story, in a few words," began the
delighted general. "A couple of years ago, soon after the new
railway was opened, I had to go somewhere or other on business.
Well, I took a first-class ticket, sat down, and began to smoke,
or rather CONTINUED to smoke, for I had lighted up before. I was
alone in the carriage. Smoking is not allowed, but is not
prohibited either; it is half allowed--so to speak, winked at. I
had the window open."

"Suddenly, just before the whistle, in came two ladies with a
little poodle, and sat down opposite to me; not bad-looking
women; one was in light blue, the other in black silk. The
poodle, a beauty with a silver collar, lay on light blue's knee.
They looked haughtily about, and talked English together. I took
no notice, just went on smoking. I observed that the ladies were
getting angry--over my cigar, doubtless. One looked at me through
her tortoise-shell eyeglass.

"I took no notice, because they never said a word. If they didn't
like the cigar, why couldn't they say so? Not a word, not a hint!
Suddenly, and without the very slightest suspicion of warning,
'light blue' seizes my cigar from between my fingers, and,
wheugh! out of the window with it! Well, on flew the train, and I
sat bewildered, and the young woman, tall and fair, and rather
red in the face, too red, glared at me with flashing eyes.

"I didn't say a word, but with extreme courtesy, I may say with
most refined courtesy, I reached my finger and thumb over towards
the poodle, took it up delicately by the nape of the neck, and
chucked it out of the window, after the cigar. The train went
flying on, and the poodle's yells were lost in the distance."

"Oh, you naughty man!" cried Nastasia, laughing and clapping her
hands like a child.

"Bravo!" said Ferdishenko. Ptitsin laughed too, though he had
been very sorry to see the general appear. Even Colia laughed and
said, "Bravo!"

"And I was right, truly right," cried the general, with warmth
and solemnity, "for if cigars are forbidden in railway carriages,
poodles are much more so."

"Well, and what did the lady do?" asked Nastasia, impatiently.

" She--ah, that's where all the mischief of it lies!" replied
Ivolgin, frowning. "Without a word, as it were, of warning, she
slapped me on the cheek! An extraordinary woman!"

"And you?"

The general dropped his eyes, and elevated his brows; shrugged
his shoulders, tightened his lips, spread his hands, and remained
silent. At last he blurted out:

"I lost my head!"

"Did you hit her?"

"No, oh no!--there was a great flare-up, but I didn't hit her! I
had to struggle a little, purely to defend myself; but the very
devil was in the business. It turned out that 'light blue' was an
Englishwoman, governess or something, at Princess Bielokonski's,
and the other woman was one of the old-maid princesses
Bielokonski. Well, everybody knows what great friends the
princess and Mrs. Epanchin are, so there was a pretty kettle of
fish. All the Bielokonskis went into mourning for the poodle. Six
princesses in tears, and the Englishwoman shrieking!

"Of course I wrote an apology, and called, but they would not
receive either me or my apology, and the Epanchins cut me, too!"

"But wait," said Nastasia. "How is it that, five or six days
since, I read exactly the same story in the paper, as happening
between a Frenchman and an English girl? The cigar was snatched
away exactly as you describe, and the poodle was chucked out of
the window after it. The slapping came off, too, as in your case;
and the girl's dress was light blue!"

The general blushed dreadfully; Colia blushed too; and Ptitsin
turned hastily away. Ferdishenko was the only one who laughed as
gaily as before. As to Gania, I need not say that he was
miserable; he stood dumb and wretched and took no notice of

"I assure you," said the general, "that exactly the same thing
happened to myself!"

"I remembered there was some quarrel between father and Miss
Smith, the Bielokonski's governess," said Colia.

"How very curious, point for point the same anecdote, and
happening at different ends of Europe! Even the light blue dress
the same," continued the pitiless Nastasia. "I must really send
you the paper."

"You must observe," insisted the general, "that my experience was
two years earlier."

"Ah! that's it, no doubt!"

Nastasia Philipovna laughed hysterically.

"Father, will you hear a word from me outside!" said Gania, his
voice shaking with agitation, as he seized his father by the
shoulder. His eyes shone with a blaze of hatred.

At this moment there was a terrific bang at the front door,
almost enough to break it down. Some most unusual visitor must
have arrived. Colia ran to open.


THE entrance-hall suddenly became full of noise and people. To
judge from the sounds which penetrated to the drawing-room, a
number of people had already come in, and the stampede continued.
Several voices were talking and shouting at once; others were
talking and shouting on the stairs outside; it was evidently a
most extraordinary visit that was about to take place.

Everyone exchanged startled glances. Gania rushed out towards the
dining-room, but a number of men had already made their way in,
and met him.

"Ah! here he is, the Judas!" cried a voice which the prince
recognized at once. "How d'ye do, Gania, you old blackguard?"

"Yes, that's the man!" said another voice.

There was no room for doubt in the prince's mind: one of the
voices was Rogojin's, and the other Lebedeff's.

Gania stood at the door like a block and looked on in silence,
putting no obstacle in the way of their entrance, and ten or a
dozen men marched in behind Parfen Rogojin. They were a decidedly
mixed-looking collection, and some of them came in in their furs
and caps. None of them were quite drunk, but all appeared to De
considerably excited.

They seemed to need each other's support, morally, before they
dared come in; not one of them would have entered alone but with
the rest each one was brave enough. Even Rogojin entered rather
cautiously at the head of his troop; but he was evidently
preoccupied. He appeared to be gloomy and morose, and had clearly
come with some end in view. All the rest were merely chorus,
brought in to support the chief character. Besides Lebedeff there
was the dandy Zalesheff, who came in without his coat and hat,
two or three others followed his example; the rest were more
uncouth. They included a couple of young merchants, a man in a
great-coat, a medical student, a little Pole, a small fat man who
laughed continuously, and an enormously tall stout one who
apparently put great faith in the strength of his fists. A couple
of "ladies" of some sort put their heads in at the front door,
but did not dare come any farther. Colia promptly banged the door
in their faces and locked it.

"Hallo, Gania, you blackguard! You didn't expect Rogojin, eh?"
said the latter, entering the drawing-room, and stopping before

But at this moment he saw, seated before him, Nastasia
Philipovna. He had not dreamed of meeting her here, evidently,
for her appearance produced a marvellous effect upon him. He grew
pale, and his lips became actually blue.

"I suppose it is true, then!" he muttered to himself, and his
face took on an expression of despair. "So that's the end of it!
Now you, sir, will you answer me or not?" he went on suddenly,
gazing at Gania with ineffable malice. "Now then, you--"

He panted, and could hardly speak for agitation. He advanced into
the room mechanically; but perceiving Nina Alexandrovna and Varia
he became more or less embarrassed, in spite of his excitement.
His followers entered after him, and all paused a moment at sight
of the ladies. Of course their modesty was not fated to be long-
lived, but for a moment they were abashed. Once let them begin to
shout, however, and nothing on earth should disconcert them.

"What, you here too, prince?" said Rogojin, absently, but a
little surprised all the same " Still in your gaiters, eh?" He
sighed, and forgot the prince next moment, and his wild eyes
wandered over to Nastasia again, as though attracted in that
direction by some magnetic force.

Nastasia looked at the new arrivals with great curiosity. Gania
recollected himself at last.

"Excuse me, sirs," he said, loudly, "but what does all this
mean?" He glared at the advancing crowd generally, but addressed
his remarks especially to their captain, Rogojin. "You are not in
a stable, gentlemen, though you may think it--my mother and
sister are present."

"Yes, I see your mother and sister," muttered Rogojin, through
his teeth; and Lebedeff seemed to feel himself called upon to
second the statement.

"At all events, I must request you to step into the salon," said
Gania, his rage rising quite out of proportion to his words, "and
then I shall inquire--"

"What, he doesn't know me!" said Rogojin, showing his teeth
disagreeably. "He doesn't recognize Rogojin!" He did not move an
inch, however.

"I have met you somewhere, I believe, but--"

"Met me somewhere, pfu! Why, it's only three months since I lost
two hundred roubles of my father's money to you, at cards. The
old fellow died before he found out. Ptitsin knows all about it.
Why, I've only to pull out a three-rouble note and show it to
you, and you'd crawl on your hands and knees to the other end of
the town for it; that's the sort of man you are. Why, I've come
now, at this moment, to buy you up! Oh, you needn't think that
because I wear these boots I have no money. I have lots of money,
my beauty,--enough to buy up you and all yours together. So I
shall, if I like to! I'll buy you up! I will!" he yelled,
apparently growing more and more intoxicated and excited." Oh,
Nastasia Philipovna! don't turn me out! Say one word, do! Are you
going to marry this man, or not?"

Rogojin asked his question like a lost soul appealing to some
divinity, with the reckless daring of one appointed to die, who
has nothing to lose.

He awaited the reply in deadly anxiety.

Nastasia Philipovna gazed at him with a haughty, ironical.
expression of face; but when she glanced at Nina Alexandrovna and
Varia, and from them to Gania, she changed her tone, all of a

"Certainly not; what are you thinking of? What could have induced
you to ask such a question?" she replied, quietly and seriously,
and even, apparently, with some astonishment.

"No? No?" shouted Rogojin, almost out of his mind with joy. "You
are not going to, after all? And they told me--oh, Nastasia
Philipovna--they said you had promised to marry him, HIM! As if
you COULD do it!--him--pooh! I don't mind saying it to everyone--
I'd buy him off for a hundred roubles, any day pfu! Give him a
thousand, or three if he likes, poor devil' and he'd cut and run
the day before his wedding, and leave his bride to me! Wouldn't
you, Gania, you blackguard? You'd take three thousand, wouldn't
you? Here's the money! Look, I've come on purpose to pay you off
and get your receipt, formally. I said I'd buy you up, and so I

"Get out of this, you drunken beast!" cried Gania, who was red
and white by turns.

Rogojin's troop, who were only waiting for an excuse, set up a
howl at this. Lebedeff stepped forward and whispered something in
Parfen's ear.

"You're right, clerk," said the latter, "you're right, tipsy
spirit--you're right!--Nastasia Philipovna," he added, looking at
her like some lunatic, harmless generally, but suddenly wound up
to a pitch of audacity, "here are eighteen thousand roubles,
and--and you shall have more--." Here he threw a packet of bank-
notes tied up in white paper, on the table before her, not daring
to say all he wished to say.

"No-no-no!" muttered Lebedeff, clutching at his arm. He was
clearly aghast at the largeness of the sum, and thought a far
smaller amount should have been tried first.

"No, you fool--you don't know whom you are dealing with--and it
appears I am a fool, too!" said Parfen, trembling beneath the
flashing glance of Nastasia. "Oh, curse it all! What a fool I
was to listen to you!" he added, with profound melancholy.

Nastasia Philipovna, observing his woe-begone expression,
suddenly burst out laughing.

"Eighteen thousand roubles, for me? Why, you declare yourself a
fool at once," she said, with impudent familiarity, as she rose
from the sofa and prepared to go. Gania watched the whole scene
with a sinking of the heart.

"Forty thousand, then--forty thousand roubles instead of eighteen!
Ptitsin and another have promised to find me forty thousand
roubles by seven o'clock tonight. Forty thousand roubles--paid
down on the nail!"

The scene was growing more and more disgraceful; but Nastasia
Philipovna continued to laugh and did not go away. Nina
Alexandrovna and Varia had both risen from their places and were
waiting, in silent horror, to see what would happen. Varia's eyes
were all ablaze with anger; but the scene had a different effect
on Nina Alexandrovna. She paled and trembled, and looked more and
more like fainting every moment.

"Very well then, a HUNDRED thousand! a hundred thousand! paid
this very day. Ptitsin! find it for me. A good share shall stick
to your fingers--come!"

"You are mad!" said Ptitsin, coming up quickly and seizing him by
the hand. "You're drunk--the police will be sent for if you don't
look out. Think where you are."

"Yes, he's boasting like a drunkard," added Nastasia, as though
with the sole intention of goading him.

"I do NOT boast! You shall have a hundred thousand, this very
day. Ptitsin, get the money, you gay usurer! Take what you like
for it, but get it by the evening! I'll show that I'm in
earnest!" cried Rogojin, working himself up into a frenzy of

"Come, come; what's all this?" cried General Ivolgin, suddenly
and angrily, coming close up to Rogojin. The unexpectedness of
this sally on the part of the hitherto silent old man caused some
laughter among the intruders.

"Halloa! what's this now?" laughed Rogojin. "You come along with
me, old fellow! You shall have as much to drink as you like."

"Oh, it's too horrible!" cried poor Colia, sobbing with shame and

"Surely there must be someone among all of you here who will turn
this shameless creature out of the room?" cried Varia, suddenly.
She was shaking and trembling with rage.

"That's me, I suppose. I'm the shameless creature!" cried
Nastasia Philipovna, with amused indifference. "Dear me, and I
came--like a fool, as I am--to invite them over to my house for
the evening! Look how your sister treats me, Gavrila

For some moments Gania stood as if stunned or struck by
lightning, after his sister's speech. But seeing that Nastasia
Philipovna was really about to leave the room this time, he
sprang at Varia and seized her by the arm like a madman.

"What have you done?" he hissed, glaring at her as though he
would like to annihilate her on the spot. He was quite beside
himself, and could hardly articulate his words for rage.

"What have I done? Where are you dragging me to?"

"Do you wish me to beg pardon of this creature because she has
come here to insult our mother and disgrace the whole household,
you low, base wretch?" cried Varia, looking back at her brother
with proud defiance.

A few moments passed as they stood there face to face, Gania
still holding her wrist tightly. Varia struggled once--twice--to
get free; then could restrain herself no longer, and spat in his

"There's a girl for you!" cried Nastasia Philipovna. "Mr.
Ptitsin, I congratulate you on your choice."

Gania lost his head. Forgetful of everything he aimed a blow at
Varia, which would inevitably have laid her low, but suddenly
another hand caught his. Between him and Varia stood the prince.

"Enough--enough!" said the latter, with insistence, but all of a
tremble with excitement.

"Are you going to cross my path for ever, damn you!" cried Gania;
and, loosening his hold on Varia, he slapped the prince's face
with all his force.

Exclamations of horror arose on all sides. The prince grew pale
as death; he gazed into Gania's eyes with a strange, wild,
reproachful look; his lips trembled and vainly endeavoured to
form some words; then his mouth twisted into an incongruous

"Very well--never mind about me; but I shall not allow you to
strike her!" he said, at last, quietly. Then, suddenly, he could
bear it no longer, and covering his face with his hands, turned
to the wall, and murmured in broken accents:

"Oh! how ashamed you will be of this afterwards!"

Gania certainly did look dreadfully abashed. Colia rushed up to
comfort the prince, and after him crowded Varia, Rogojin and all,
even the general.

"It's nothing, it's nothing!" said the prince, and again he wore
the smile which was so inconsistent with the circumstances.

"Yes, he will be ashamed!" cried Rogojin. "You will be properly
ashamed of yourself for having injured such a--such a sheep" (he
could not find a better word). "Prince, my dear fellow, leave
this and come away with me. I'll show you how Rogojin shows his
affection for his friends."

Nastasia Philipovna was also much impressed, both with Gania's
action and with the prince's reply.

Her usually thoughtful, pale face, which all this while had been
so little in harmony with the jests and laughter which she had
seemed to put on for the occasion, was now evidently agitated by
new feelings, though she tried to conceal the fact and to look as
though she were as ready as ever for jesting and irony.

"I really think I must have seen him somewhere!" she murmured
seriously enough.

"Oh, aren't you ashamed of yourself--aren't you ashamed? Are you
really the sort of woman you are trying to represent yourself to
be? Is it possible?" The prince was now addressing Nastasia, in a
tone of reproach, which evidently came from his very heart.

Nastasia Philipovna looked surprised, and smiled, but evidently
concealed something beneath her smile and with some confusion and
a glance at Gania she left the room.

However, she had not reached the outer hall when she turned
round, walked quickly up to Nina Alexandrovna, seized her hand
and lifted it to her lips.

"He guessed quite right. I am not that sort of woman," she
whispered hurriedly, flushing red all over. Then she turned again
and left the room so quickly that no one could imagine what she
had come back for. All they saw was that she said something to
Nina Alexandrovna in a hurried whisper, and seemed to kiss her
hand. Varia, however, both saw and heard all, and watched
Nastasia out of the room with an expression of wonder.

Gania recollected himself in time to rush after her in order to
show her out, but she had gone. He followed her to the stairs.

"Don't come with me," she cried, "Au revoir, till the evening--do
you hear? Au revoir!"

He returned thoughtful and confused; the riddle lay heavier than
ever on his soul. He was troubled about the prince, too, and so
bewildered that he did not even observe Rogojin's rowdy band
crowd past him and step on his toes, at the door as they went
out. They were all talking at once. Rogojin went ahead of the
others, talking to Ptitsin, and apparently insisting vehemently
upon something very important

"You've lost the game, Gania" he cried, as he passed the latter.

Gania gazed after him uneasily, but said nothing.


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.

"You were quite right to go away!" he said. "The row will rage
there worse than ever now; and it's like this every day with us--
and all through that Nastasia Philipovna."

"You have so many sources of trouble here, Colia," said the

"Yes, indeed, and it is all our own fault. But I have a great
friend who is much worse off even than we are. Would you like to
know him?"

"Yes, very much. Is he one of your school-fellows?"

"Well, not exactly. I will tell you all about him some day. . . .
What do you think of Nastasia Philipovna? She is beautiful, isn't
she? I had never seen her before, though I had a great wish to do
so. She fascinated me. I could forgive Gania if he were to marry
her for love, but for money! Oh dear! that is horrible!"

"Yes, your brother does not attract me much."

"I am not surprised at that. After what you ... But I do hate
that way of looking at things! Because some fool, or a rogue
pretending to be a fool, strikes a man, that man is to be
dishonoured for his whole life, unless he wipes out the disgrace
with blood, or makes his assailant beg forgiveness on his knees!
I think that so very absurd and tyrannical. Lermontoff's Bal
Masque is based on that idea--a stupid and unnatural one, in my
opinion; but he was hardly more than a child when he wrote it."

"I like your sister very much."

"Did you see how she spat in Gania's face! Varia is afraid of no
one. But you did not follow her example, and yet I am sure it was
not through cowardice. Here she comes! Speak of a wolf and you
see his tail! I felt sure that she would come. She is very
generous, though of course she has her faults."

Varia pounced upon her brother.

"This is not the place for you," said she. "Go to father. Is he
plaguing you, prince?"

"Not in the least; on the contrary, he interests me."

"Scolding as usual, Varia! It is the worst thing about her. After
all, I believe father may have started off with Rogojin. No doubt
he is sorry now. Perhaps I had better go and see what he is
doing," added Colia, running off.

"Thank God, I have got mother away, and put her to bed without
another scene! Gania is worried--and ashamed--not without reason!
What a spectacle! I have come to thank you once more, prince, and
to ask you if you knew Nastasia Philipovna before

"No, I have never known her."

"Then what did you mean, when you said straight out to her that
she was not really 'like that'? You guessed right, I fancy. It is
quite possible she was not herself at the moment, though I cannot
fathom her meaning. Evidently she meant to hurt and insult us. I
have heard curious tales about her before now, but if she came to
invite us to her house, why did she behave so to my mother?
Ptitsin knows her very well; he says he could not understand her
today. With Rogojin, too! No one with a spark of self-respect
could have talked like that in the house of her... Mother is
extremely vexed on your account, too...

"That is nothing!" said the prince, waving his hand.

"But how meek she was when you spoke to her!"

"Meek! What do you mean?"

"You told her it was a shame for her to behave so, and her manner
changed at once; she was like another person. You have some
influence over her, prince," added Varia, smiling a little.

The door opened at this point, and in came Gania most

He was not in the least disconcerted to see Varia there, but he
stood a moment at the door, and then approached the prince

"Prince," he said, with feeling, "I was a blackguard. Forgive
me!" His face gave evidence of suffering. The prince was
considerably amazed, and did not reply at once. "Oh, come,
forgive me, forgive me!" Gania insisted, rather impatiently. "If
you like, I'll kiss your hand. There!"

The prince was touched; he took Gania's hands, and embraced him
heartily, while each kissed the other.

"I never, never thought you were like that," said Muishkin,
drawing a deep breath. "I thought you--you weren't capable of--"

"Of what? Apologizing, eh? And where on earth did I get the idea
that you were an idiot? You always observe what other people pass
by unnoticed; one could talk sense to you, but--"

"Here is another to whom you should apologize," said the prince,
pointing to Varia.

"No, no! they are all enemies! I've tried them often enough,
believe me," and Gania turned his back on Varia with these words.

"But if I beg you to make it up?" said Varia.

"And you'll go to Nastasia Philipovna's this evening--"

"If you insist: but, judge for yourself, can I go, ought I to

"But she is not that sort of woman, I tell you!" said Gania,
angrily. "She was only acting."

"I know that--I know that; but what a part to play! And think
what she must take YOU for, Gania! I know she kissed mother's
hand, and all that, but she laughed at you, all the same. All
this is not good enough for seventy-five thousand roubles, my
dear boy. You are capable of honourable feelings still, and
that's why I am talking to you so. Oh! DO take care what you are
doing! Don't you know yourself that it will end badly, Gania?"

So saying, and in a state of violent agitation, Varia left the

"There, they are all like that," said Gania, laughing, "just as
if I do not know all about it much better than they do."

He sat down with these words, evidently intending to prolong his

"If you know it so well," said the prince a little timidly, "why
do you choose all this worry for the sake of the seventy-five
thousand, which, you confess, does not cover it?"

"I didn't mean that," said Gania; "but while we are upon the
subject, let me hear your opinion. Is all this worry worth
seventy-five thousand or not?

"Certainly not."

"Of course! And it would be a disgrace to marry so, eh?"

"A great disgrace."

"Oh, well, then you may know that I shall certainly do it, now. I
shall certainly marry her. I was not quite sure of myself before,
but now I am. Don't say a word: I know what you want to tell me--"

"No. I was only going to say that what surprises me most of all
is your extraordinary confidence."

"How so? What in?"

"That Nastasia Philipovna will accept you, and that the question
is as good as settled; and secondly, that even if she did, you
would be able to pocket the money. Of course, I know very little
about it, but that's my view. When a man marries for money it
often happens that the wife keeps the money in her own hands."

"Of course, you don't know all; but, I assure you, you needn't be
afraid, it won't be like that in our case. There are
circumstances," said Gania, rather excitedly. "And as to her
answer to me, there's no doubt about that. Why should you suppose
she will refuse me?"

"Oh, I only judge by what I see. Varvara Ardalionovna said just

"Oh she--they don't know anything about it! Nastasia was only
chaffing Rogojin. I was alarmed at first, but I have thought
better of it now; she was simply laughing at him. She looks on me
as a fool because I show that I meant her money, and doesn't
realize that there are other men who would deceive her in far
worse fashion. I'm not going to pretend anything, and you'll see
she'll marry me, all right. If she likes to live quietly, so she
shall; but if she gives me any of her nonsense, I shall leave her
at once, but I shall keep the money. I'm not going to look a
fool; that's the first thing, not to look a fool."

"But Nastasia Philipovna seems to me to be such a SENSIBLE woman,
and, as such, why should she run blindly into this business?
That's what puzzles me so," said the prince.

"You don't know all, you see; I tell you there are things--and
besides, I'm sure that she is persuaded that I love her to
distraction, and I give you my word I have a strong suspicion
that she loves me, too--in her own way, of course. She thinks she
will be able to make a sort of slave of me all my life; but I
shall prepare a little surprise for her. I don't know whether I
ought to be confidential with you, prince; but, I assure you, you
are the only decent fellow I have come across. I have not spoken
so sincerely as I am doing at this moment for years. There are
uncommonly few honest people about, prince; there isn't one
honester than Ptitsin, he's the best of the lot. Are you
laughing? You don't know, perhaps, that blackguards like honest
people, and being one myself I like you. WHY am I a blackguard?
Tell me honestly, now. They all call me a blackguard because of
her, and I have got into the way of thinking myself one. That's
what is so bad about the business."

"I for one shall never think you a blackguard again," said the
prince. "I confess I had a poor opinion of you at first, but I
have been so joyfully surprised about you just now; it's a good
lesson for me. I shall never judge again without a thorough
trial. I see now that you are riot only not a blackguard, but are
not even quite spoiled. I see that you are quite an ordinary man,
not original in the least degree, but rather weak."

Gania laughed sarcastically, but said nothing. The prince, seeing
that he did not quite like the last remark, blushed, and was
silent too.

"Has my father asked you for money?" asked Gania, suddenly.


"Don't give it to him if he does. Fancy, he was a decent,
respectable man once! He was received in the best society; he was
not always the liar he is now. Of course, wine is at the bottom
of it all; but he is a good deal worse than an innocent liar now.
Do you know that he keeps a mistress? I can't understand how
mother is so long-sufferring. Did he tell you the story of the
siege of Kars? Or perhaps the one about his grey horse that
talked? He loves, to enlarge on these absurd histories." And
Gania burst into a fit of laughter. Suddenly he turned to the
prince and asked: "Why are you looking at me like that?"

"I am surprised to see you laugh in that way, like a child. You
came to make friends with me again just now, and you said, 'I
will kiss your hand, if you like,' just as a child would have
said it. And then, all at once you are talking of this mad
project--of these seventy-five thousand roubles! It all seems so
absurd and impossible."

"Well, what conclusion have you reached?"

"That you are rushing madly into the undertaking, and that you
would do well to think it over again. It is more than possible
that Varvara Ardalionovna is right."

"Ah! now you begin to moralize! I know that I am only a child,
very well," replied Gania impatiently. "That is proved by my
having this conversation with you. It is not for money only,
prince, that I am rushing into this affair," he continued, hardly
master of his words, so closely had his vanity been touched. "If
I reckoned on that I should certainly be deceived, for I am still
too weak in mind and character. I am obeying a passion, an
impulse perhaps, because I have but one aim, one that overmasters
all else. You imagine that once I am in possession of these
seventy-five thousand roubles, I shall rush to buy a carriage...
No, I shall go on wearing the old overcoat I have worn for
three years, and I shall give up my club. I shall follow the
example of men who have made their fortunes. When Ptitsin was
seventeen he slept in the street, he sold pen-knives, and began
with a copeck; now he has sixty thousand roubles, but to get
them, what has he not done? Well, I shall be spared such a hard
beginning, and shall start with a little capital. In fifteen
years people will say, 'Look, that's Ivolgin, the king of the
Jews!' You say that I have no originality. Now mark this, prince--
there is nothing so offensive to a man of our time and race than
to be told that he is wanting in originality, that he is weak in
character, has no particular talent, and is, in short, an
ordinary person. You have not even done me the honour of looking
upon me as a rogue. Do you know, I could have knocked you down
for that just now! You wounded me more cruelly than Epanchin,
who thinks me capable of selling him my wife! Observe, it was a
perfectly gratuitous idea on his part, seeing there has never
been any discussion of it between us! This has exasperated me,
and I am determined to make a fortune! I will do it! Once I am
rich, I shall be a genius, an extremely original man. One of the
vilest and most hateful things connected with money is that it
can buy even talent; and will do so as long as the world lasts.
You will say that this is childish--or romantic. Well, that will
be all the better for me, but the thing shall be done. I will
carry it through. He laughs most, who laughs last. Why does
Epanchin insult me? Simply because, socially, I am a nobody.
However, enough for the present. Colia has put his nose in to
tell us dinner is ready, twice. I'm dining out. I shall come and
talk to you now and then; you shall be comfortable enough with
us. They are sure to make you one of the family. I think you and
I will either be great friends or enemies. Look here now,
supposing I had kissed your hand just now, as I offered to do in
all sincerity, should I have hated you for it afterwards?"

"Certainly, but not always. You would not have been able to keep
it up, and would have ended by forgiving me," said the prince,
after a pause for reflection, and with a pleasant smile.

"Oho, how careful one has to be with you, prince! Haven't you put
a drop of poison in that remark now, eh? By the way--ha, ha, ha!--
I forgot to ask, was I right in believing that you were a good
deal struck yourself with Nastasia Philipovna


"Are you in love with her?"


"And yet you flush up as red as a rosebud! Come--it's all right.
I'm not going to laugh at you. Do you know she is a very virtuous
woman? Believe it or not, as you like. You think she and Totski--
not a bit of it, not a bit of it! Not for ever so long! Au

Gania left the room in great good humour. The prince stayed
behind, and meditated alone for a few minutes. At length, Colia
popped his head in once more.

"I don't want any dinner, thanks, Colia. I had too good a lunch
at General Epanchin's."

Colia came into the room and gave the prince a note; it was from
the general and was carefully sealed up. It was clear from
Colia's face how painful it was to him to deliver the missive.
The prince read it, rose, and took his hat.

"It's only a couple of yards," said Colia, blushing.

"He's sitting there over his bottle--and how they can give him
credit, I cannot understand. Don't tell mother I brought you the
note, prince; I have sworn not to do it a thousand times, but I'm
always so sorry for him. Don't stand on ceremony, give him some
trifle, and let that end it."

"Come along, Colia, I want to see your father. I have an idea,"
said the prince.


Colia took the prince to a public-house in the Litaynaya, not far
off. In one of the side rooms there sat at a table--looking like
one of the regular guests of the establishment--Ardalion
Alexandrovitch, with a bottle before him, and a newspaper on his
knee. He was waiting for the prince, and no sooner did the latter
appear than he began a long harangue about something or other;
but so far gone was he that the prince could hardly understand a

"I have not got a ten-rouble note," said the prince; "but here is
a twenty-five. Change it and give me back the fifteen, or I shall
be left without a farthing myself."

"Oh, of course, of course; and you quite understand that I--"

"Yes; and I have another request to make, general. Have you ever
been at Nastasia Philipovna's?"

"I? I? Do you mean me? Often, my friend, often! I only pretended
I had not in order to avoid a painful subject. You saw today,
you were a witness, that I did all that a kind, an indulgent
father could do. Now a father of altogether another type shall
step into the scene. You shall see; the old soldier shall lay
bare this intrigue, or a shameless woman will force her way into
a respectable and noble family."

"Yes, quite so. I wished to ask you whether you could show me the
way to Nastasia Philipovna's tonight. I must go; I have business
with her; I was not invited but I was introduced. Anyhow I am
ready to trespass the laws of propriety if only I can get in
somehow or other."

"My dear young friend, you have hit on my very idea. It was not
for this rubbish I asked you to come over here" (he pocketed the
money, however, at this point), "it was to invite your alliance
in the campaign against Nastasia Philipovna tonight. How well it
sounds, 'General Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin.' That'll fetch her,
I think, eh? Capital! We'll go at nine; there's time yet."

"Where does she live?"

"Oh, a long way off, near the Great Theatre, just in the square
there--It won't be a large party."

The general sat on and on. He had ordered a fresh bottle when the
prince arrived; this took him an hour to drink, and then he had
another, and another, during the consumption of which he told
pretty nearly the whole story of his life. The prince was in
despair. He felt that though he had but applied to this miserable
old drunkard because he saw no other way of getting to Nastasia
Philipovna's, yet he had been very wrong to put the slightest
confidence in such a man.

At last he rose and declared that he would wait no longer. The
general rose too, drank the last drops that he could squeeze out
of the bottle, and staggered into the street.

Muishkin began to despair. He could not imagine how he had been
so foolish as to trust this man. He only wanted one thing, and
that was to get to Nastasia Philipovna's, even at the cost of a
certain amount of impropriety. But now the scandal threatened to
be more than he had bargained for. By this time Ardalion
Alexandrovitch was quite intoxicated, and he kept his companion
listening while he discoursed eloquently and pathetically on
subjects of all kinds, interspersed with torrents of
recrimination against the members of his family. He insisted that
all his troubles were caused by their bad conduct, and time alone
would put an end to them.

At last they reached the Litaynaya. The thaw increased steadily,
a warm, unhealthy wind blew through the streets, vehicles
splashed through the mud, and the iron shoes of horses and mules
rang on the paving stones. Crowds of melancholy people plodded
wearily along the footpaths, with here and there a drunken man
among them.

"Do you see those brightly-lighted windows?" said the general.
"Many of my old comrades-in-arms live about here, and I, who
served longer, and suffered more than any of them, am walking on
foot to the house of a woman of rather questionable reputation!
A man, look you, who has thirteen bullets on his breast! ... You
don't believe it? Well, I can assure you it was entirely on my
account that Pirogoff telegraphed to Paris, and left Sebastopol
at the greatest risk during the siege. Nelaton, the Tuileries
surgeon, demanded a safe conduct, in the name of science, into
the besieged city in order to attend my wounds. The government
knows all about it. 'That's the Ivolgin with thirteen bullets in
him!' That's how they speak of me.... Do you see that house,
prince? One of my old friends lives on the first floor, with his
large family. In this and five other houses, three overlooking
Nevsky, two in the Morskaya, are all that remain of my personal
friends. Nina Alexandrovna gave them up long ago, but I keep in
touch with them still... I may say I find refreshment in this
little coterie, in thus meeting my old acquaintances and
subordinates, who worship me still, in spite of all. General
Sokolovitch (by the way, I have not called on him lately, or seen
Anna Fedorovna)... You know, my dear prince, when a person does
not receive company himself, he gives up going to other people's
houses involuntarily. And yet ... well ... you look as if you
didn't believe me.... Well now, why should I not present the son
of my old friend and companion to this delightful family--General
Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin? You will see a lovely girl--what am
I saying--a lovely girl? No, indeed, two, three! Ornaments of
this city and of society: beauty, education, culture--the woman
question--poetry--everything! Added to which is the fact that
each one will have a dot of at least eighty thousand roubles. No
bad thing, eh? ... In a word I absolutely must introduce you to
them: it is a duty, an obligation. General Ivolgin and Prince
Muishkin. Tableau!"

"At once? Now? You must have forgotten ... " began the prince.

"No, I have forgotten nothing. Come! This is the house--up this
magnificent staircase. I am surprised not to see the porter, but
.... it is a holiday ... and the man has gone off ... Drunken
fool! Why have they not got rid of him? Sokolovitch owes all the
happiness he has had in the service and in his private life to
me, and me alone, but ... here we are."

The prince followed quietly, making no further objection for fear
of irritating the old man. At the same time he fervently hoped
that General Sokolovitch and his family would fade away like a
mirage in the desert, so that the visitors could escape, by
merely returning downstairs. But to his horror he saw that
General Ivolgin was quite familiar with the house, and really
seemed to have friends there. At every step he named some
topographical or biographical detail that left nothing to be
desired on the score of accuracy. When they arrived at last, on
the first floor, and the general turned to ring the bell to the
right, the prince decided to run away, but a curious incident
stopped him momentarily.

"You have made a mistake, general," said he. " The name on the
door is Koulakoff, and you were going to see General

"Koulakoff ... Koulakoff means nothing. This is Sokolovitch's
flat, and I am ringing at his door.... What do I care for
Koulakoff? ... Here comes someone to open."

In fact, the door opened directly, and the footman in formed the
visitors that the family were all away.

"What a pity! What a pity! It's just my luck!" repeated Ardalion
Alexandrovitch over and over again, in regretful tones. " When
your master and mistress return, my man, tell them that General
Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin desired to present themselves, and
that they were extremely sorry, excessively grieved ..."

Just then another person belonging to the household was seen at
the back of the hall. It was a woman of some forty years, dressed
in sombre colours, probably a housekeeper or a governess. Hearing
the names she came forward with a look of suspicion on her face.

"Marie Alexandrovna is not at home," said she, staring hard at
the general. "She has gone to her mother's, with Alexandra

"Alexandra Michailovna out, too! How disappointing! Would you
believe it, I am always so unfortunate! May I most respectfully
ask you to present my compliments to Alexandra Michailovna, and
remind her ... tell her, that with my whole heart I wish for
her what she wished for herself on Thursday evening, while she
was listening to Chopin's Ballade. She will remember. I wish it
with all sincerity. General Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin!"

The woman's face changed; she lost her suspicious expression.

"I will not fail to deliver your message," she replied, and bowed
them out.

As they went downstairs the general regretted repeatedly that he
had failed to introduce the prince to his friends.

"You know I am a bit of a poet," said he. "Have you noticed it?
The poetic soul, you know." Then he added suddenly--"But after
all ... after all I believe we made a mistake this time! I
remember that the Sokolovitch's live in another house, and what
is more, they are just now in Moscow. Yes, I certainly was at
fault. However, it is of no consequence."

"Just tell me," said the prince in reply, "may I count still on
your assistance? Or shall I go on alone to see Nastasia

"Count on my assistance? Go alone? How can you ask me that
question, when it is a matter on which the fate of my family so
largely depends? You don't know Ivolgin, my friend. To trust
Ivolgin is to trust a rock; that's how the first squadron I
commanded spoke of me. 'Depend upon Ivolgin,' said they all, 'he
is as steady as a rock.' But, excuse me, I must just call at a
house on our way, a house where I have found consolation and help
in all my trials for years."

"You are going home?"

"No ... I wish ... to visit Madame Terentieff, the widow of
Captain Terentieff, my old subordinate and friend. She helps me
to keep up my courage, and to bear the trials of my domestic
life, and as I have an extra burden on my mind today ..."

"It seems to me," interrupted the prince, "that I was foolish to
trouble you just now. However, at present you ... Good-bye!"

"Indeed, you must not go away like that, young man, you must
not!" cried the general. "My friend here is a widow, the mother
of a family; her words come straight from her heart, and find an
echo in mine. A visit to her is merely an affair of a few
minutes; I am quite at home in her house. I will have a wash, and
dress, and then we can drive to the Grand Theatre. Make up your
mind to spend the evening with me.... We are just there--that's
the house...  Why, Colia! you here! Well, is Marfa Borisovna
at home or have you only just come?"

"Oh no! I have been here a long while," replied Colia, who was at
the front door when the general met him. "I am keeping Hippolyte
company. He is worse, and has been in bed all day. I came down to
buy some cards. Marfa Borisovna expects you. But what a state you
are in, father!" added the boy, noticing his father's unsteady
gait. "Well, let us go in."

On meeting Colia the prince determined to accompany the general,
though he made up his mind to stay as short a time as possible.
He wanted Colia, but firmly resolved to leave the general behind.
He could not forgive himself for being so simple as to imagine
that Ivolgin would be of any use. The three climbed up the long
staircase until they reached the fourth floor where Madame
Terentieff lived.

"You intend to introduce the prince?" asked Colia, as they went

"Yes, my boy. I wish to present him: General Ivolgin and Prince
Muishkin! But what's the matter? ... what? ... How is Marfa

"You know, father, you would have done much better not to come
at all! She is ready to eat you up! You have not shown yourself
since the day before yesterday and she is expecting the money.
Why did you promise her any? You are always the same! Well, now
you will have to get out of it as best you can."

They stopped before a somewhat low doorway on the fourth floor.
Ardalion Alexandrovitch, evidently much out of countenance,
pushed Muishkin in front.

"I will wait here," he stammered. "I should like to surprise her.

Colia entered first, and as the door stood open, the mistress of
the house peeped out. The surprise of the general's imagination
fell very flat, for she at once began to address him in terms of

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:

"There he is, that wicked, mean wretch! I knew it was he! My
heart misgave me!"

The old man tried to put a good face on the affair.

"Come, let us go in--it's all right," he whispered in the
prince's ear.

But it was more serious than he wished to think. As soon as the
visitors had crossed the low dark hall, and entered the narrow
reception-room, furnished with half a dozen cane chairs, and two
small card-tables, Madame Terentieff, in the shrill tones
habitual to her, continued her stream of invectives.

"Are you not ashamed? Are you not ashamed? You barbarian! You
tyrant! You have robbed me of all I possessed--you have sucked my
bones to the marrow. How long shall I be your victim? Shameless,
dishonourable man!"

"Marfa Borisovna! Marfa Borisovna! Here is ... the Prince
Muishkin! General Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin," stammered the
disconcerted old man.

"Would you believe," said the mistress of the house, suddenly
addressing the prince, "would you believe that that man has not
even spared my orphan children? He has stolen everything I
possessed, sold everything, pawned everything; he has left me
nothing--nothing! What am I to do with your IOU's, you cunning,
unscrupulous rogue? Answer, devourer I answer, heart of stone!
How shall I feed my orphans? with what shall I nourish them? And
now he has come, he is drunk! He can scarcely stand. How, oh how,
have I offended the Almighty, that He should bring this curse
upon me! Answer, you worthless villain, answer!"

But this was too much for the general.

"Here are twenty-five roubles, Marfa Borisovna ... it is all
that I can give ... and I owe even these to the prince's
generosity--my noble friend. I have been cruelly deceived. Such
is ... life ... Now ... Excuse me, I am very weak," he
continued, standing in the centre of the room, and bowing to all
sides. "I am faint; excuse me! Lenotchka ... a cushion ... my

Lenotchka, a little girl of eight, ran to fetch the cushion at
once, and placed it on the rickety old sofa. The general meant to
have said much more, but as soon as he had stretched himself out,
he turned his face to the wall, and slept the sleep of the just.

With a grave and ceremonious air, Marfa Borisovna motioned the
prince to a chair at one of the card-tables. She seated herself
opposite, leaned her right cheek on her hand, and sat in silence,
her eyes fixed on Muishkin, now and again sighing deeply. The
three children, two little girls and a boy, Lenotchka being the
eldest, came and leant on the table and also stared steadily at
him. Presently Colia appeared from the adjoining room.

"I am very glad indeed to have met you here, Colia," said the
prince. "Can you do something for me? I must see Nastasia
Philipovna, and I asked Ardalion Alexandrovitch just now to take
me to her house, but he has gone to sleep, as you see. Will you
show me the way, for I do not know the street? I have the
address, though; it is close to the Grand Theatre."

"Nastasia Philipovna? She does not live there, and to tell you
the truth my father has never been to her house! It is strange
that you should have depended on him! She lives near Wladimir
Street, at the Five Corners, and it is quite close by. Will you
go directly? It is just half-past nine. I will show you the way
with pleasure."

Colia and the prince went off together. Alas! the latter had no
money to pay for a cab, so they were obliged to walk.

"I should have liked to have taken you to see Hippolyte," said
Colia. "He is the eldest son of the lady you met just now, and
was in the next room. He is ill, and has been in bed all day. But
he is rather strange, and extremely sensitive, and I thought he
might be upset considering the circumstances in which you
came ... Somehow it touches me less, as it concerns my father,
while it is HIS mother. That, of course, makes a great
difference. What is a terrible disgrace to a woman, does not
disgrace a man, at least not in the same way. Perhaps public
opinion is wrong in condemning one sex, and excusing the other.
Hippolyte is an extremely clever boy, but so prejudiced. He is
really a slave to his opinions."

"Do you say he is consumptive?"

"Yes. It really would be happier for him to die young. If I were
in his place I should certainly long for death. He is unhappy
about his brother and sisters, the children you saw. If it were
possible, if we only had a little money, we should leave our
respective families, and live together in a little apartment of
our own. It is our dream. But, do you know, when I was talking
over your affair with him, he was angry, and said that anyone who
did not call out a man who had given him a blow was a coward. He
is very irritable to-day, and I left off arguing the matter with
him. So Nastasia Philipovna has invited you to go and see her?"

"To tell the truth, she has not."

"Then how do you come to be going there?" cried Colia, so much
astonished that he stopped short in the middle of the pavement.
"And ... and are you going to her At Home in that costume?"

"I don't know, really, whether I shall be allowed in at all. If
she will receive me, so much the better. If not, the matter is
ended. As to my clothes--what can I do?"

"Are you going there for some particular reason, or only as a way
of getting into her society, and that of her friends?"

"No, I have really an object in going ... That is, I am going
on business it is difficult to explain, but..."

"Well, whether you go on business or not is your affair,
I do not want to know. The only important thing, in my eyes, is
that you should not be going there simply for the pleasure of
spending your evening in such company--cocottes, generals,
usurers! If that were the case I should despise and laugh at you.
There are terribly few honest people here, and hardly any whom
one can respect, although people put on airs--Varia especially!
Have you noticed, prince, how many adventurers there are
nowadays? Especially here, in our dear Russia. How it has
happened I never can understand. There used to be a certain
amount of solidity in all things, but now what happens?
Everything is exposed to the public gaze, veils are thrown back,
every wound is probed by careless fingers. We are for ever
present at an orgy of scandalous revelations. Parents blush when
they remember their old-fashioned morality. At Moscow lately a
father was heard urging his son to stop at nothing--at nothing,
mind you!--to get money! The press seized upon the story, of
course, and now it is public property. Look at my father, the
general! See what he is, and yet, I assure you, he is an honest
man! Only ... he drinks too much, and his morals are not all we
could desire. Yes, that's true! I pity him, to tell the truth,
but I dare not say so, because everybody would laugh at me--but I
do pity him! And who are the really clever men, after all? Money-
grubbers, every one of them, from the first to the last.
Hippolyte finds excuses for money-lending, and says it is a
necessity. He talks about the economic movement, and the ebb and
flow of capital; the devil knows what he means. It makes me angry
to hear him talk so, but he is soured by his troubles. Just
imagine-the general keeps his mother-but she lends him money! She
lends it for a week or ten days at very high interest! Isn't it
disgusting? And then, you would hardly believe it, but my mother--
Nina Alexandrovna--helps Hippolyte in all sorts of ways, sends
him money and clothes. She even goes as far as helping the
children, through Hippolyte, because their mother cares nothing
about them, and Varia does the same."

"Well, just now you said there were no honest nor good people
about, that there were only money-grubbers--and here they are
quite close at hand, these honest and good people, your mother
and Varia! I think there is a good deal of moral strength in
helping people in suchcircum stances."

"Varia does it from pride, and likes showing off, and giving
herself airs. As to my mother, I really do admire her--yes, and
honour her. Hippolyte, hardened as he is, feels it. He laughed at
first, and thought it vulgar of her--but now, he is sometimes
quite touched and overcome by her kindness. H'm! You call that
being strong and good? I will remember that! Gania knows nothing
about it. He would say that it was encouraging vice."

"Ah, Gania knows nothing about it? It seems there are many things
that Gania does not know," exclaimed the prince, as he considered
Colia's last words.

"Do you know, I like you very much indeed, prince? I shall never
forget about this afternoon."

"I like you too, Colia."

"Listen to me! You are going to live here, are you not?" said
Colia. "I mean to get something to do directly, and earn money.
Then shall we three live together? You, and I, and Hippolyte? We
will hire a flat, and let the general come and visit us. What do
you say?"

"It would be very pleasant," returned the prince. "But we must see.
I am really rather worried just now. What! are we there already?
Is that the house? What a long flight of steps! And there's a
porter! Well, Colia I don't know what will come of it all."

The prince seemed quite distracted for the moment.

"You must tell me all about it tomorrow! Don't be afraid. I wish
you success; we agree so entirely I that can do so, although I do
not understand why you are here. Good-bye!" cried Colia excitedly.
"Now I will rush back and tell Hippolyte all about our plans and
proposals! But as to your getting in--don't be in the least
afraid. You will see her. She is so original about everything. It's
the first floor. The porter will show you."


THE prince was very nervous as he reached the outer door; but he
did his best to encourage himself with the reflection that the
worst thing that could happen to him would be that he would not
be received, or, perhaps, received, then laughed at for coming.

But there was another question, which terrified him considerably,
and that was: what was he going to do when he DID get in? And to
this question he could fashion no satisfactory reply.

If only he could find an opportunity of coming close up to
Nastasia Philipovna and saying to her: "Don't ruin yourself by
marrying this man. He does not love you, he only loves your
money. He told me so himself, and so did Aglaya Ivanovna, and I
have come on purpose to warn you"--but even that did not seem
quite a legitimate or practicable thing to do. Then, again, there
was another delicate question, to which he could not find an
answer; dared not, in fact, think of it; but at the very idea of
which he trembled and blushed. However, in spite of all his fears
and heart-quakings he went in, and asked for Nastasia Philipovna.

Nastasia occupied a medium-sized, but distinctly tasteful, flat,
beautifully furnished and arranged. At one period of these five
years of Petersburg life, Totski had certainly not spared his
expenditure upon her. He had calculated upon her eventual love,
and tried to tempt her with a lavish outlay upon comforts and
luxuries, knowing too well how easily the heart accustoms itself
to comforts, and how difficult it is to tear one's self away from
luxuries which have become habitual and, little by little,

Nastasia did not reject all this, she even loved her comforts and
luxuries, but, strangely enough, never became, in the least
degree, dependent upon them, and always gave the impression that
she could do just as well without them. In fact, she went so far
as to inform Totski on several occasions that such was the case,
which the latter gentleman considered a very unpleasant
communication indeed.

But, of late, Totski had observed many strange and original
features and characteristics in Nastasia, which he had neither
known nor reckoned upon in former times, and some of these
fascinated him, even now, in spite of the fact that all his old
calculations with regard to her were long ago cast to the winds.

A maid opened the door for the prince (Nastasia's servants were
all females) and, to his surprise, received his request to
announce him to her mistress without any astonishment. Neither
his dirty boots, nor his wide-brimmed hat, nor his sleeveless
cloak, nor his evident confusion of manner, produced the least
impression upon her. She helped him off with his cloak, and
begged him to wait a moment in the ante-room while she announced

The company assembled at Nastasia Philipovna's consisted of none
but her most intimate friends, and formed a very small party in
comparison with her usual gatherings on this anniversary.

In the first place there were present Totski, and General
Epanchin. They were both highly amiable, but both appeared to be
labouring under a half-hidden feeling of anxiety as to the result
of Nastasia's deliberations with regard to Gania, which result
was to be made public this evening.

Then, of course, there was Gania who was by no means so amiable
as his elders, but stood apart, gloomy, and miserable, and
silent. He had determined not to bring Varia with him; but
Nastasia had not even asked after her, though no sooner had he
arrived than she had reminded him of the episode between himself
and the prince. The general, who had heard nothing of it before,
began to listen with some interest, while Gania, drily, but with
perfect candour, went through the whole history, including the
fact of his apology to the prince. He finished by declaring that
the prince was a most extraordinary man, and goodness knows why
he had been considered an idiot hitherto, for he was very far
from being one.

Nastasia listened to all this with great interest; but the
conversation soon turned to Rogojin and his visit, and this theme
proved of the greatest attraction to both Totski and the general.

Ptitsin was able to afford some particulars as to Rogojin's
conduct since the afternoon. He declared that he had been busy
finding money for the latter ever since, and up to nine o'clock,
Rogojin having declared that he must absolutely have a hundred
thousand roubles by the evening. He added that Rogojin was drunk,
of course; but that he thought the money would be forthcoming,
for the excited and intoxicated rapture of the fellow impelled
him to give any interest or premium that was asked of him, and
there were several others engaged in beating up the money, also.

All this news was received by the company with somewhat gloomy
interest. Nastasia was silent, and would not say what she thought
about it. Gania was equally uncommunicative. The general seemed
the most anxious of all, and decidedly uneasy. The present of
pearls which he had prepared with so much joy in the morning had
been accepted but coldly, and Nastasia had smiled rather
disagreeably as she took it from him. Ferdishenko was the only
person present in good spirits.

Totski himself, who had the reputation of being a capital talker,
and was usually the life and soul of these entertainments, was as
silent as any on this occasion, and sat in a state of, for him,
most uncommon perturbation.

The rest of the guests (an old tutor or schoolmaster, goodness
knows why invited; a young man, very timid, and shy and silent; a
rather loud woman of about forty, apparently an actress; and a
very pretty, well-dressed German lady who hardly said a word all
the evening) not only had no gift for enlivening the proceedings,
but hardly knew what to say for themselves when addressed. Under
these circumstances the arrival of the prince came almost as a

The announcement of his name gave rise to some surprise and to
some smiles, especially when it became evident, from Nastasia's
astonished look, that she had not thought of inviting him. But
her astonishment once over, Nastasia showed such satisfaction
that all prepared to greet the prince with cordial smiles of

"Of course," remarked General Epanchin, "he does this out of pure
innocence. It's a little dangerous, perhaps, to encourage this
sort of freedom; but it is rather a good thing that he has
arrived just at this moment. He may enliven us a little with his

"Especially as he asked himself," said Ferdishenko.

"What's that got to do with it?" asked the general, who loathed

"Why, he must pay toll for his entrance," explained the latter.

"H'm! Prince Muishkin is not Ferdishenko," said the general,
impatiently. This worthy gentleman could never quite reconcile
himself to the idea of meeting Ferdishenko in society, and on an
equal footing.

"Oh general, spare Ferdishenko!" replied the other, smiling. "I
have special privileges."

"What do you mean by special privileges?"

"Once before I had the honour of stating them to the company. I
will repeat the explanation to-day for your excellency's benefit.
You see, excellency, all the world is witty and clever except
myself. I am neither. As a kind of compensation I am allowed to
tell the truth, for it is a well-known fact that only stupid
people tell 'the truth. Added to this, I am a spiteful man, just
because I am not clever. If I am offended or injured I bear it
quite patiently until the man injuring me meets with some
misfortune. Then I remember, and take my revenge. I return the
injury sevenfold, as Ivan Petrovitch Ptitsin says. (Of course he
never does so himself.) Excellency, no doubt you recollect
Kryloff's fable, 'The Lion and the Ass'? Well now, that's you and
I. That fable was written precisely for us."

"You seem to be talking nonsense again, Ferdishenko," growled the

"What is the matter, excellency? I know how to keep my place.
When I said just now that we, you and I, were the lion and the
ass of Kryloff's fable, of course it is understood that I take
the role of the ass. Your excellency is the lion of which the
fable remarks:

'A mighty lion, terror of the woods,
Was shorn of his great prowess by old age.'

And I, your excellency, am the ass."

"I am of your opinion on that last point," said Ivan Fedorovitch,
with ill-concealed irritation.

All this was no doubt extremely coarse, and moreover it was
premeditated, but after all Ferdishenko had persuaded everyone to
accept him as a buffoon.

"If I am admitted and tolerated here," he had said one day, "it
is simply because I talk in this way. How can anyone possibly
receive such a man as I am? I quite understand. Now, could I, a
Ferdishenko, be allowed to sit shoulder to shoulder with a clever
man like Afanasy Ivanovitch? There is one explanation, only one.
I am given the position because it is so entirely inconceivable!"

But these vulgarities seemed to please Nastasia Philipovna,
although too often they were both rude and offensive. Those who
wished to go to her house were forced to put up with Ferdishenko.
Possibly the latter was not mistaken in imagining that he was
received simply in order to annoy Totski, who disliked him
extremely. Gania also was often made the butt of the jester's
sarcasms, who used this method of keeping in Nastasia
Philipovna's good graces.

"The prince will begin by singing us a fashionable ditty,"
remarked Ferdishenko, and looked at the mistress of the house, to
see what she would say.

"I don't think so, Ferdishenko; please be quiet," answered
Nastasia Philipovna dryly.

"A-ah! if he is to be under special patronage, I withdraw my

But Nastasia Philipovna had now risen and advanced to meet the

"I was so sorry to have forgotten to ask you to come, when I saw
you," she said, "and I am delighted to be able to thank you
personally now, and to express my pleasure at your resolution."

So saying she gazed into his eyes, longing to see whether she
could make any guess as to the explanation of his motive in
coming to her house. The prince would very likely have made some
reply to her kind words, but he was so dazzled by her appearance
that he could not speak.

Nastasia noticed this with satisfaction. She was in full dress
this evening; and her appearance was certainly calculated to
impress all beholders. She took his hand and led him towards her
other guests. But just before they reached the drawing-room door,
the prince stopped her, and hurriedly and in great agitation
whispered to her:

"You are altogether perfection; even your pallor and thinness are
perfect; one could not wish you otherwise. I did so wish to come
and see you. I--forgive me, please--"

"Don't apologize," said Nastasia, laughing; "you spoil the whole
originality of the thing. I think what they say about you must be
true, that you are so original.--So you think me perfection, do


"H'm! Well, you may be a good reader of riddles but you are wrong
THERE, at all events. I'll remind you of this, tonight."

Nastasia introduced the prince to her guests, to most of whom he
was already known.

Totski immediately made some amiable remark. Al seemed to
brighten up at once, and the conversation became general.
Nastasia made the prince sit down next to herself.

"Dear me, there's nothing so very curious about the prince
dropping in, after all," remarked Ferdishenko.

"It's quite a clear case," said the hitherto silent Gania. I have
watched the prince almost all day, ever since the moment when he
first saw Nastasia Philipovna's portrait, at General Epanchin's.
I remember thinking at the time what I am now pretty sure of; and
what, I may say in passing, the prince confessed to myself."

Gania said all this perfectly seriously, and without the
slightest appearance of joking; indeed, he seemed strangely

"I did not confess anything to you," said the prince, blushing.
"I only answered your question."

"Bravo! That's frank, at any rate!" shouted Ferdishenko, and
there was general laughter.

"Oh prince, prince! I never should have thought it of you;" said
General Epanchin. "And I imagined you a philosopher! Oh, you
silent fellows!"

"Judging from the fact that the prince blushed at this innocent
joke, like a young girl, I should think that he must, as an
honourable man, harbour the noblest intentions," said the old
toothless schoolmaster, most unexpectedly; he had not so much as
opened his mouth before. This remark provoked general mirth, and
the old fellow himself laughed loudest of the lot, but ended with
a stupendous fit of coughing.

Nastasia Philipovna, who loved originality and drollery of all
kinds, was apparently very fond of this old man, and rang the
bell for more tea to stop his coughing. It was now half-past ten

"Gentlemen, wouldn't you like a little champagne now?" she asked.
"I have it all ready; it will cheer us up--do now--no ceremony!"

This invitation to drink, couched, as it was, in such informal
terms, came very strangely from Nastasia Philipovna. Her usual
entertainments were not quite like this; there was more style
about them. However, the wine was not refused; each guest took a
glass excepting Gania, who drank nothing.

It was extremely difficult to account for Nastasia's strange
condition of mind, which became more evident each moment, and
which none could avoid noticing.

She took her glass, and vowed she would empty it three times that
evening. She was hysterical, and laughed aloud every other minute
with no apparent reason--the next moment relapsing into gloom and

Some of her guests suspected that she must be ill; but concluded
at last that she was expecting something, for she continued to
look at her watch impatiently and unceasingly; she was most
absent and strange.

"You seem to be a little feverish tonight," said the actress.

"Yes; I feel quite ill. I have been obliged to put on this shawl
--I feel so cold," replied Nastasia. She certainly had grown very
pale, and every now and then she tried to suppress a trembling in
her limbs.

"Had we not better allow our hostess to retire?" asked Totski of
the general.

"Not at all, gentlemen, not at all! Your presence is absolutely
necessary to me tonight," said Nastasia, significantly.

As most of those present were aware that this evening a certain
very important decision was to be taken, these words of Nastasia
Philipovna's appeared to be fraught with much hidden interest.
The general and Totski exchanged looks; Gania fidgeted
convulsively in his chair.

"Let's play at some game!" suggested the actress.

"I know a new and most delightful game, added Ferdishenko.

"What is it?" asked the actress.

"Well, when we tried it we were a party of people, like this, for
instance; and somebody proposed that each of us, without leaving
his place at the table, should relate something about himself. It
had to be something that he really and honestly considered the
very worst action he had ever committed in his life. But he was
to be honest--that was the chief point! He wasn't to be allowed
to lie."

"What an extraordinary idea!" said the general.

"That's the beauty of it, general!"

"It's a funny notion," said Totski, "and yet quite natural--it's
only a new way of boasting."

"Perhaps that is just what was so fascinating about it."

"Why, it would be a game to cry over--not to laugh at!" said the

"Did it succeed?" asked Nastasia Philipovna. "Come, let's try it,
let's try it; we really are not quite so jolly as we might be--
let's try it! We may like it; it's original, at all events!"

"Yes," said Ferdishenko; "it's a good idea--come along--the men
begin. Of course no one need tell a story if he prefers to be
disobliging. We must draw lots! Throw your slips of paper,
gentlemen, into this hat, and the prince shall draw for turns.
It's a very simple game; all you have to do is to tell the story
of the worst action of your life. It's as simple as anything.
I'll prompt anyone who forgets the rules!"

No one liked the idea much. Some smiled, some frowned some
objected, but faintly, not wishing to oppose Nastasia's wishes;
for this new idea seemed to be rather well received by her. She
was still in an excited, hysterical state, laughing convulsively
at nothing and everything. Her eyes were blazing, and her cheeks
showed two bright red spots against the white. The melancholy
appearance of some of her guests seemed to add to her sarcastic
humour, and perhaps the very cynicism and cruelty of the game
proposed by Ferdishenko pleased her. At all events she was
attracted by the idea, and gradually her guests came round to her
side; the thing was original, at least, and might turn out to be
amusing. "And supposing it's something that one--one can't speak
about before ladies?" asked the timid and silent young man.

"Why, then of course, you won't say anything about it. As if
there are not plenty of sins to your score without the need of
those!" said Ferdishenko.

"But I really don't know which of my actions is the worst," said
the lively actress.

"Ladies are exempted if they like."

"And how are you to know that one isn't lying? And if one lies
the whole point of the game is lost," said Gania.

"Oh, but think how delightful to hear how one's friends lie!
Besides you needn't be afraid, Gania; everybody knows what your
worst action is without the need of any lying on your part. Only
think, gentlemen,"--and Ferdishenko here grew quite enthusiastic,
"only think with what eyes we shall observe one another tomorrow,
after our tales have been told!"

"But surely this is a joke, Nastasia Philipovna?" asked Totski.
"You don't really mean us to play this game."

"Whoever is afraid of wolves had better not go into the wood,"
said Nastasia, smiling.

"But, pardon me, Mr. Ferdishenko, is it possible to make a game
out of this kind of thing?" persisted Totski, growing more and
more uneasy. "I assure you it can't be a success."

"And why not? Why, the last time I simply told straight off about
how I stole three roubles."

"Perhaps so; but it is hardly possible that you told it so that
it seemed like truth, or so that you were believed. And, as
Gavrila Ardalionovitch has said, the least suggestion of a
falsehood takes all point out of the game. It seems to me that
sincerity, on the other hand, is only possible if combined with a
kind of bad taste that would be utterly out of place here."

"How subtle you are, Afanasy Ivanovitch! You astonish me," cried
Ferdishenko. "You will remark, gentleman, that in saying that I
could not recount the story of my theft so as to be believed,
Afanasy Ivanovitch has very ingeniously implied that I am not
capable of thieving--(it would have been bad taste to say so
openly); and all the time he is probably firmly convinced, in his
own mind, that I am very well capable of it! But now, gentlemen,
to business! Put in your slips, ladies and gentlemen--is yours in,
Mr. Totski? So--then we are all ready; now prince, draw, please."
The prince silently put his hand into the hat, and drew the
names. Ferdishenko was first, then Ptitsin, then the general,
Totski next, his own fifth, then Gania, and so on; the ladies did
not draw.

"Oh, dear! oh, dear!" cried Ferdishenko. "I did so hope the
prince would come out first, and then the general. Well,
gentlemen, I suppose I must set a good example! What vexes me
much is that I am such an insignificant creature that it matters
nothing to anybody whether I have done bad actions or not!
Besides, which am I to choose? It's an embarras de richesse.
Shall I tell how I became a thief on one occasion only, to
convince Afanasy Ivanovitch that it is possible to steal without
being a thief?"

"Do go on, Ferdishenko, and don't make unnecessary preface, or
you'll never finish," said Nastasia Philipovna. All observed how
irritable and cross she had become since her last burst of
laughter; but none the less obstinately did she stick to her
absurd whim about this new game. Totski sat looking miserable
enough. The general lingered over his champagne, and seemed to be
thinking of some story for the time when his turn should come.


"I have no wit, Nastasia Philipovna," began Ferdishenko, "and
therefore I talk too much, perhaps. Were I as witty, now, as Mr.
Totski or the general, I should probably have sat silent all the
evening, as they have. Now, prince, what do you think?--are there
not far more thieves than honest men in this world? Don't you
think we may say there does not exist a single person so honest
that he has never stolen anything whatever in his life?"

"What a silly idea," said the actress. "Of course it is not the
case. I have never stolen anything, for one."

"H'm! very well, Daria Alexeyevna; you have not stolen anything--
agreed. But how about the prince, now--look how he is blushing!"

"I think you are partially right, but you exaggerate," said the
prince, who had certainly blushed up, of a sudden, for some
reason or other.

"Ferdishenko--either tell us your story, or be quiet, and mind
your own business. You exhaust all patience," cuttingly and
irritably remarked Nastasia Philipovna.

"Immediately, immediately! As for my story, gentlemen, it is too
stupid and absurd to tell you.

"I assure you I am not a thief, and yet I have stolen; I cannot
explain why. It was at Semeon Ivanovitch Ishenka's country house,
one Sunday. He had a dinner party. After dinner the men stayed at
the table over their wine. It struck me to ask the daughter of
the house to play something on the piano; so I passed through the
corner room to join the ladies. In that room, on Maria Ivanovna's
writing-table, I observed a three-rouble note. She must have
taken it out for some purpose, and left it lying there. There was
no one about. I took up the note and put it in my pocket; why, I
can't say. I don't know what possessed me to do it, but it was
done, and I went quickly back to the dining-room and reseated
myself at the dinner-table. I sat and waited there in a great
state of excitement. I talked hard, and told lots of stories, and
laughed like mad; then I joined the ladies.

"In half an hour or so the loss was discovered, and the servants
were being put under examination. Daria, the housemaid was
suspected. I exhibited the greatest interest and sympathy, and I
remember that poor Daria quite lost her head, and that I began
assuring her, before everyone, that I would guarantee her
forgiveness on the part of her mistress, if she would confess her
guilt. They all stared at the girl, and I remember a wonderful
attraction in the reflection that here was I sermonizing away,
with the money in my own pocket all the while. I went and spent
the three roubles that very evening at a restaurant. I went in
and asked for a bottle of Lafite, and drank it up; I wanted to be
rid of the money.

"I did not feel much remorse either then or afterwards; but I
would not repeat the performance--believe it or not as you
please. There--that's all."

"Only, of course that's not nearly your worst action," said the
actress, with evident dislike in her face.

"That was a psychological phenomenon, not an action," remarked

"And what about the maid?" asked Nastasia Philipovna, with
undisguised contempt.

"Oh, she was turned out next day, of course. It's a very strict
household, there!"

"And you allowed it?"

"I should think so, rather! I was not going to return and confess
next day," laughed Ferdishenko, who seemed a little surprised at
the disagreeable impression which his story had made on all

"How mean you were!" said Nastasia.

"Bah! you wish to hear a man tell of his worst actions, and you
expect the story to come out goody-goody! One's worst actions
always are mean. We shall see what the general has to say for
himself now. All is not gold that glitters, you know; and because
a man keeps his carriage he need not be specially virtuous, I
assure you, all sorts of people keep carriages. And by what

In a word, Ferdishenko was very angry and rapidly forgetting
himself; his whole face was drawn with passion. Strange as it may
appear, he had expected much better success for his story. These
little errors of taste on Ferdishenko's part occurred very
frequently. Nastasia trembled with rage, and looked fixedly at
him, whereupon he relapsed into alarmed silence. He realized that
he had gone a little too far.

"Had we not better end this game?" asked Totski.

"It's my turn, but I plead exemption," said Ptitsin.

"You don't care to oblige us?" asked Nastasia.

"I cannot, I assure you. I confess I do not understand how anyone
can play this game."

"Then, general, it's your turn," continued Nastasia Philipovna,
"and if you refuse, the whole game will fall through, which will
disappoint me very much, for I was looking forward to relating a
certain 'page of my own life.' I am only waiting for you and
Afanasy Ivanovitch to have your turns, for I require the support
of your example," she added, smiling.

"Oh, if you put it in that way " cried the general, excitedly,
"I'm ready to tell the whole story of my life, but I must confess
that I prepared a little story in anticipation of my turn."

Nastasia smiled amiably at him; but evidently her depression and
irritability were increasing with every moment. Totski was
dreadfully alarmed to hear her promise a revelation out of her
own life.

"I, like everyone else," began the general, "have committed
certain not altogether graceful actions, so to speak, during the
course of my life. But the strangest thing of all in my case is,
that I should consider the little anecdote which I am now about
to give you as a confession of the worst of my 'bad actions.' It
is thirty-five years since it all happened, and yet I cannot to
this very day recall the circumstances without, as it were, a
sudden pang at the heart.

"It was a silly affair--I was an ensign at the time. You know
ensigns--their blood is boiling water, their circumstances
generally penurious. Well, I had a servant Nikifor who used to do
everything for me in my quarters, economized and managed for me,
and even laid hands on anything he could find (belonging to other
people), in order to augment our household goods; but a faithful,
honest fellow all the same.

"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.

"Her relations had all died off--her husband was dead and buried
forty years since; and a niece, who had lived with her and
bullied her up to three years ago, was dead too; so that she was
quite alone.

"Well, I was precious dull with her, especially as she was so
childish that there was nothing to be got out of her. Eventually,
she stole a fowl of mine; the business is a mystery to this day;
but it could have been no one but herself. I requested to be
quartered somewhere else, and was shifted to the other end of the
town, to the house of a merchant with a large family, and a long
beard, as I remember him. Nikifor and I were delighted to go; but
the old lady was not pleased at our departure.

"Well, a day or two afterwards, when I returned from drill,
Nikifor says to me: 'We oughtn't to have left our tureen with the
old lady, I've nothing to serve the soup in.'

"I asked how it came about that the tureen had been left. Nikifor
explained that the old lady refused to give it up, because, she
said, we had broken her bowl, and she must have our tureen in
place of it; she had declared that I had so arranged the matter
with herself.

"This baseness on her part of course aroused my young blood to
fever heat; I jumped up, and away I flew.

"I arrived at the old woman's house beside myself. She was
sitting in a corner all alone, leaning her face on her hand. I
fell on her like a clap of thunder. 'You old wretch!' I yelled
and all that sort of thing, in real Russian style. Well, when I
began cursing at her, a strange thing happened. I looked at her,
and she stared back with her eyes starting out of her head, but
she did not say a word. She seemed to sway about as she sat, and
looked and looked at me in the strangest way. Well, I soon
stopped swearing and looked closer at her, asked her questions,
but not a word could I get out of her. The flies were buzzing
about the room and only this sound broke the silence; the sun was
setting outside; I didn't know what to make of it, so I went

"Before I reached home I was met and summoned to the major's, so
that it was some while before I actually got there. When I came
in, Nikifor met me. 'Have you heard, sir, that our old lady is
dead?' 'DEAD, when?' 'Oh, an hour and a half ago.' That meant
nothing more nor less than that she was dying at the moment when
I pounced on her and began abusing her.

"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."

"H'm! and instead of a bad action, your excellency has detailed
one of your noblest deeds," said Ferdishenko. "Ferdishenko is

"Dear me, general," said Nastasia Philipovna, absently, "I really
never imagined you had such a good heart."

The general laughed with great satisfaction, and applied himself
once more to the champagne.

It was now Totski's turn, and his story was awaited with great
curiosity--while all eyes turned on Nastasia Philipovna, as
though anticipating that his revelation must be connected somehow
with her. Nastasia, during the whole of his story, pulled at the
lace trimming of her sleeve, and never once glanced at the
speaker. Totski was a handsome man, rather stout, with a very
polite and dignified manner. He was always well dressed, and his
linen was exquisite. He had plump white hands, and wore a
magnificent diamond ring on one finger.

"What simplifies the duty before me considerably, in my opinion,"
he began, "is that I am bound to recall and relate the very worst
action of my life. In such circumstances there can, of course, be
no doubt. One's conscience very soon informs one what is the
proper narrative to tell. I admit, that among the many silly and
thoughtless actions of my life, the memory of one comes
prominently forward and reminds me that it lay long like a stone
on my heart. Some twenty years since, I paid a visit to Platon
Ordintzeff at his country-house. He had just been elected marshal
of the nobility, and had come there with his young wife for the
winter holidays. Anfisa Alexeyevna's birthday came off just then,
too, and there were two balls arranged. At that time Dumas-fils'
beautiful work, La Dame aux Camelias--a novel which I consider
imperishable--had just come into fashion. In the provinces all the
ladies were in raptures over it, those who had read it, at least.
Camellias were all the fashion. Everyone inquired for them,
everybody wanted them; and a grand lot of camellias are to be got
in a country town--as you all know--and two balls to provide for!

"Poor Peter Volhofskoi was desperately in love with Anfisa
Alexeyevna. I don't know whether there was anything--I mean I
don't know whether he could possibly have indulged in any hope.
The poor fellow was beside himself to get her a bouquet of
camellias. Countess Sotski and Sophia Bespalova, as everyone
knew, were coming with white camellia bouquets. Anfisa wished for
red ones, for effect. Well, her husband Platon was driven
desperate to find some. And the day before the ball, Anfisa's
rival snapped up the only red camellias to be had in the place,
from under Platon's nose, and Platon--wretched man--was done for.
Now if Peter had only been able to step in at this moment with a
red bouquet, his little hopes might have made gigantic strides. A
woman's gratitude under such circumstances would have been
boundless--but it was practically an impossibility.

"The night before the ball I met Peter, looking radiant. 'What is
it?' I ask. 'I've found them, Eureka!" 'No! where, where?' 'At
Ekshaisk (a little town fifteen miles off) there's a rich old
merchant, who keeps a lot of canaries, has no children, and he
and his wife are devoted to flowers. He's got some camellias.'
'And what if he won't let you have them?' 'I'll go on my knees
and implore till I get them. I won't go away.' 'When shall you
start?' 'Tomorrow morning at five o'clock.' 'Go on,' I said,
'and good luck to you.'

"I was glad for the poor fellow, and went home. But an idea got
hold of me somehow. I don't know how. It was nearly two in the
morning. I rang the bell and ordered the coachman to be waked up
and sent to me. He came. I gave him a tip of fifteen roubles, and
told him to get the carriage ready at once. In half an hour it
was at the door. I got in and off we went.

"By five I drew up at the Ekshaisky inn. I waited there till
dawn, and soon after six I was off, and at the old merchant

"'Camellias!' I said, 'father, save me, save me, let me have some
camellias!' He was a tall, grey old man--a terrible-looking old
gentleman. 'Not a bit of it,' he says. 'I won't.' Down I went on
my knees. 'Don't say so, don't--think what you're doing!' I
cried; 'it's a matter of life and death!' 'If that's the case,
take them,' says he. So up I get, and cut such a bouquet of red
camellias! He had a whole greenhouse full of them--lovely ones.
The old fellow sighs. I pull out a hundred roubles. 'No, no!'
says he, 'don't insult me that way.' 'Oh, if that's the case,
give it to the village hospital,' I say. 'Ah,' he says, 'that's
quite a different matter; that's good of you and generous. I'll
pay it in there for you with pleasure.' I liked that old fellow,
Russian to the core, de la vraie souche. I went home in raptures,
but took another road in order to avoid Peter. Immediately on
arriving I sent up the bouquet for Anfisa to see when she awoke.

"You may imagine her ecstasy, her gratitude. The wretched Platon,
who had almost died since yesterday of the reproaches showered
upon him, wept on my shoulder. Of course poor Peter had no chance
after this.

"I thought he would cut my throat at first, and went about armed
ready to meet him. But he took it differently; he fainted, and
had brain fever and convulsions. A month after, when he had
hardly recovered, he went off to the Crimea, and there he was

"I assure you this business left me no peace for many a long
year. Why did I do it? I was not in love with her myself; I'm
afraid it was simply mischief--pure 'cussedness' on my part.

"If I hadn't seized that bouquet from under his nose he might
have been alive now, and a happy man. He might have been
successful in life, and never have gone to fight the Turks."

Totski ended his tale with the same dignity that had
characterized its commencement.

Nastasia Philipovna's eyes were flashing in a most unmistakable
way, now; and her lips were all a-quiver by the time Totski
finished his story.

All present watched both of them with curiosity.

"You were right, Totski," said Nastasia, "it is a dull game and a
stupid one. I'll just tell my story, as I promised, and then
we'll play cards."

"Yes, but let's have the story first!" cried the general.

"Prince," said Nastasia Philipovna, unexpectedly turning to
Muishkin, "here are my old friends, Totski and General Epanchin,
who wish to marry me off. Tell me what you think. Shall I marry
or not? As you decide, so shall it be."

Totski grew white as a sheet. The general was struck dumb. All
present started and listened intently. Gania sat rooted to his

"Marry whom?" asked the prince, faintly.

"Gavrila Ardalionovitch Ivolgin," said Nastasia, firmly and

There were a few seconds of dead silence.

The prince tried to speak, but could not form his words; a great
weight seemed to lie upon his breast and suffocate him.

"N-no! don't marry him!" he whispered at last, drawing his breath
with an effort.

"So be it, then. Gavrila Ardalionovitch," she spoke solemnly and
forcibly, "you hear the prince's decision? Take it as my
decision; and let that be the end of the matter for good and

"Nastasia Philipovna!" cried Totski, in a quaking voice.

"Nastasia Philipovna!" said the general, in persuasive but
agitated tones.

Everyone in the room fidgeted in their places, and waited to see
what was coming next.

"Well, gentlemen!" she continued, gazing around in apparent
astonishment; "what do you all look so alarmed about? Why are you
so upset?"

"But--recollect, Nastasia Philipovna." stammered Totski, "you
gave a promise, quite a free one, and--and you might have spared
us this. I am confused and bewildered, I know; but, in a word, at
such a moment, and before company, and all so-so-irregular,
finishing off a game with a serious matter like this, a matter of
honour, and of heart, and--"

"I don't follow you, Afanasy Ivanovitch; you are losing your
head. In the first place, what do you mean by 'before company'?
Isn't the company good enough for you? And what's all that about
'a game'? I wished to tell my little story, and I told it! Don't
you like it? You heard what I said to the prince? 'As you decide,
so it shall be!' If he had said 'yes,' I should have given my
consent! But he said 'no,' so I refused. Here was my whole life
hanging on his one word! Surely I was serious enough?"

"The prince! What on earth has the prince got to do with it? Who
the deuce is the prince?" cried the general, who could conceal
his wrath no longer.

"The prince has this to do with it--that I see in him. for the
first time in all my life, a man endowed with real truthfulness
of spirit, and I trust him. He trusted me at first sight, and I
trust him!"

"It only remains for me, then, to thank Nastasia Philipovna for
the great delicacy with which she has treated me," said Gania, as
pale as death, and with quivering lips. "That is my plain duty,
of course; but the prince--what has he to do in the matter?"

"I see what you are driving at," said Nastasia Philipovna. "You
imply that the prince is after the seventy-five thousand roubles
--I quite understand you. Mr. Totski, I forgot to say, 'Take your
seventy-five thousand roubles'--I don't want them. I let you go
free for nothing take your freedom! You must need it. Nine years
and three months' captivity is enough for anybody. Tomorrow I
shall start afresh--today I am a free agent for the first time in
my life.

"General, you must take your pearls back, too--give them to your
wife--here they are! Tomorrow I shall leave this flat altogether,
and then there'll be no more of these pleasant little social
gatherings, ladies and gentlemen."

So saying, she scornfully rose from her seat as though to depart.

"Nastasia Philipovna! Nastasia Philipovna!"

The words burst involuntarily from every mouth. All present
started up in bewildered excitement; all surrounded her; all had
listened uneasily to her wild, disconnected sentences. All felt
that something had happened, something had gone very far wrong
indeed, but no one could make head or tail of the matter.

At this moment there was a furious ring at the bell, and a great
knock at the door--exactly similar to the one which had startled
the company at Gania's house in the afternoon.

"Ah, ah! here's the climax at last, at half-past twelve!" cried
Nastasia Philipovna. "Sit down, gentlemen, I beg you. Something
is about to happen."

So saying, she reseated herself; a strange smile played on her
lips. She sat quite still, but watched the door in a fever of

"Rogojin and his hundred thousand roubles, no doubt of it,"
muttered Ptitsin to himself.


Katia, the maid-servant, made her appearance, terribly

"Goodness knows what it means, ma'am," she said. "There is a
whole collection of men come--all tipsy--and want to see you. They
say that 'it's Rogojin, and she knows all about it.'"

"It's all right, Katia, let them all in at once."

"Surely not ALL, ma'am? They seem so disorderly--it's dreadful to
see them."

"Yes ALL, Katia, all--every one of them. Let them in, or they'll
come in whether you like or no. Listen! what a noise they are
making! Perhaps you are offended, gentlemen, that I should
receive such guests in your presence? I am very sorry, and ask
your forgiveness, but it cannot be helped--and I should be very
grateful if you could all stay and witness this climax. However,
just as you please, of course."

The guests exchanged glances; they were annoyed and bewildered by
the episode; but it was clear enough that all this had been pre-
arranged and expected by Nastasia Philipovna, and that there was
no use in trying to stop her now--for she was little short of

Besides, they were naturally inquisitive to see what was to
happen. There was nobody who would be likely to feel much alarm.
There were but two ladies present; one of whom was the lively
actress, who was not easily frightened, and the other the silent
German beauty who, it turned out, did not understand a word of
Russian, and seemed to be as stupid as she was lovely.

Her acquaintances invited her to their "At Homes" because she was
so decorative. She was exhibited to their guests like a valuable
picture, or vase, or statue, or firescreen. As for the men,
Ptitsin was one of Rogojin's friends; Ferdishenko was as much at
home as a fish in the sea, Gania, not yet recovered from his
amazement, appeared to be chained to a pillory. The old professor
did not in the least understand what was happening; but when he
noticed how extremely agitated the mistress of the house, and her
friends, seemed, he nearly wept, and trembled with fright: but he
would rather have died than leave Nastasia Philipovna at such a
crisis, for he loved her as if she were his own granddaughter.
Afanasy Ivanovitch greatly disliked having anything to do with
the affair, but he was too much interested to leave, in spite of
the mad turn things had taken; and a few words that had dropped
from the lips of Nastasia puzzled him so much, that he felt he
could not go without an explanation. He resolved therefore, to
see it out, and to adopt the attitude of silent spectator, as
most suited to his dignity. Genera Epanchin alone determined to
depart. He was annoyed at the manner in which his gift had been
returned, an though he had condescended, under the influence of
passion, to place himself on a level with Ptitsin and
Ferdishenko, his self-respect and sense of duty now returned
together with a consciousness of what was due to his social rank
and official importance. In short, he plainly showed his
conviction that a man in his position could have nothing to do
with Rogojin and his companions. But Nastasia interrupted him at
his first words.

"Ah, general!" she cried, "I was forgetting! If I had only
foreseen this unpleasantness! I won't insist on keeping you
against your will, although I should have liked you to be beside
me now. In any case, I am most grateful to you for your visit,
and flattering attention . . . but if you are afraid . . ."

"Excuse me, Nastasia Philipovna," interrupted the general, with
chivalric generosity. "To whom are you speaking? I have remained
until now simply because of my devotion to you, and as for danger,
I am only afraid that the carpets may be ruined, and the furniture
smashed! . . . You should shut the door on the lot, in my opinion.
But I confess that I am extremely curious to see how it ends."

"Rogojin!" announced Ferdishenko.

"What do you think about it?" said the general in a low voice to
Totski. "Is she mad? I mean mad in the medical sense of the word
.. . . eh?"

"I've always said she was predisposed to it," whispered Afanasy
Ivanovitch slyly. "Perhaps it is a fever!"

Since their visit to Gania's home, Rogojin's followers had been
increased by two new recruits--a dissolute old man, the hero of
some ancient scandal, and a retired sub-lieutenant. A laughable
story was told of the former. He possessed, it was said, a set of
false teeth, and one day when he wanted money for a drinking
orgy, he pawned them, and was never able to reclaim them! The
officer appeared to be a rival of the gentleman who was so proud
of his fists. He was known to none of Rogojin's followers, but as
they passed by the Nevsky, where he stood begging, he had joined
their ranks. His claim for the charity he desired seemed based on
the fact that in the days of his prosperity he had given away as
much as fifteen roubles at a time. The rivals seemed more than a
little jealous of one another. The athlete appeared injured at
the admission of the "beggar" into the company. By nature
taciturn, he now merely growled occasionally like a bear, and
glared contemptuously upon the "beggar," who, being somewhat of a
man of the world, and a diplomatist, tried to insinuate himself
into the bear's good graces. He was a much smaller man than the
athlete, and doubtless was conscious that he must tread warily.
Gently and without argument he alluded to the advantages of the
English style in boxing, and showed himself a firm believer in
Western institutions. The athlete's lips curled disdainfully, and
without honouring his adversary with a formal denial, he
exhibited, as if by accident, that peculiarly Russian object--an
enormous fist, clenched, muscular, and covered with red hairs!
The sight of this pre-eminently national attribute was enough to
convince anybody, without words, that it was a serious matter for
those who should happen to come into contact with it.

None of the band were very drunk, for the leader had kept his
intended visit to Nastasia in view all day, and had done his best
to prevent his followers from drinking too much. He was sober
himself, but the excitement of this chaotic day--the strangest day
of his life--had affected him so that he was in a dazed, wild
condition, which almost resembled drunkenness.

He had kept but one idea before him all day, and for that he had
worked in an agony of anxiety and a fever of suspense. His
lieutenants had worked so hard from five o'clock until eleven,
that they actually had collected a hundred thousand roubles for
him, but at such terrific expense, that the rate of interest was
only mentioned among them in whispers and with bated breath.

As before, Rogojin walked in advance of his troop, who followed
him with mingled self-assertion and timidity. They were specially
frightened of Nastasia Philipovna herself, for some reason.

Many of them expected to be thrown downstairs at once, without
further ceremony, the elegant arid irresistible Zaleshoff among
them. But the party led by the athlete, without openly showing
their hostile intentions, silently nursed contempt and even
hatred for Nastasia Philipovna, and marched into her house as
they would have marched into an enemy's fortress. Arrived there,
the luxury of the rooms seemed to inspire them with a kind of
respect, not unmixed with alarm. So many things were entirely new
to their experience--the choice furniture, the pictures, the
great statue of Venus. They followed their chief into the salon,
however, with a kind of impudent curiosity. There, the sight of
General Epanchin among the guests, caused many of them to beat a
hasty retreat into the adjoining room, the "boxer" and "beggar"
being among the first to go. A few only, of whom Lebedeff made
one, stood their ground; he had contrived to walk side by side
with Rogojin, for he quite understood the importance of a man who
had a fortune of a million odd roubles, and who at this moment
carried a hundred thousand in his hand. It may be added that the
whole company, not excepting Lebedeff, had the vaguest idea of
the extent of their powers, and of how far they could safely go.
At some moments Lebedeff was sure that right was on their side;
at others he tried uneasily to remember various cheering and
reassuring articles of the Civil Code.

Rogojin, when he stepped into the room, and his eyes fell upon
Nastasia, stopped short, grew white as a sheet, and stood
staring; it was clear that his heart was beating painfully. So he
stood, gazing intently, but timidly, for a few seconds. Suddenly,
as though bereft of his senses, he moved forward, staggering
helplessly, towards the table. On his way he collided against
Ptitsin's chair, and put his dirty foot on the lace skirt of the
silent lady's dress; but he neither apologized for this, nor even
noticed it.

On reaching the table, he placed upon it a strange-looking
object, which he had carried with him into the drawing-room. This
was a paper packet, some six or seven inches thick, and eight or
nine in length, wrapped in an old newspaper, and tied round three
or four times with string.

Having placed this before her, he stood with drooped arms and
head, as though awaiting his sentence.

His costume was the same as it had been in the morning, except
for a new silk handkerchief round his neck, bright green and red,
fastened with a huge diamond pin, and an enormous diamond ring on
his dirty forefinger.

Lebedeff stood two or three paces behind his chief; and the rest
of the band waited about near the door.

The two maid-servants were both peeping in, frightened and amazed
at this unusual and disorderly scene.

"What is that?" asked Nastasia Philipovna, gazing intently at
Rogojin, and indicating the paper packet.

"A hundred thousand," replied the latter, almost in a whisper.

"Oh! so he kept his word--there's a man for you! Well, sit down,
please--take that chair. I shall have something to say to you
presently. Who are all these with you? The same party? Let them
come in and sit down. There's room on that sofa, there are some
chairs and there's another sofa! Well, why don't they sit down?"

Sure enough, some of the brave fellows entirely lost their heads
at this point, and retreated into the next room. Others, however,
took the hint and sat down, as far as they could from the table,
however; feeling braver in proportion to their distance from

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!"

He gazed at Totski and the general with no apparent confusion, and
with very little curiosity. But when he observed that the prince was
seated beside Nastasia Philipovna, he could not take his eyes off him
for a long while, and was clearly amazed. He could not account
for the prince's presence there. It was not in the least
surprising that Rogojin should be, at this time, in a more or
less delirious condition; for not to speak of the excitements of
the day, he had spent the night before in the train, and had not
slept more than a wink for forty-eight hours.

"This, gentlemen, is a hundred thousand roubles," said Nastasia
Philipovna, addressing the company in general, "here, in this
dirty parcel. This afternoon Rogojin yelled, like a madman, that
he would bring me a hundred thousand in the evening, and I have
been waiting for him all the while. He was bargaining for me, you
know; first he offered me eighteen thousand; then he rose to
forty, and then to a hundred thousand. And he has kept his word,
see! My goodness, how white he is! All this happened this
afternoon, at Gania's. I had gone to pay his mother a visit--my
future family, you know! And his sister said to my very face,
surely somebody will turn this shameless creature out. After which
she spat in her brother Gania's face--a girl of character, that!"

"Nastasia Philipovna!" began the general, reproachfully. He was
beginning to put his own interpretation on the affair.

"Well, what, general? Not quite good form, eh? Oh, nonsense! Here
have I been sitting in my box at the French theatre for the last
five years like a statue of inaccessible virtue, and kept out of
the way of all admirers, like a silly little idiot! Now, there's
this man, who comes and pays down his hundred thousand on the
table, before you all, in spite of my five years of innocence and
proud virtue, and I dare be sworn he has his sledge outside
waiting to carry me off. He values me at a hundred thousand! I see
you are still angry with me, Gania! Why, surely you never really
wished to take ME into your family? ME, Rogojin's mistress! What
did the prince say just now?"

"I never said you were Rogojin's mistress--you are NOT!" said the
prince, in trembling accents.

"Nastasia Philipovna, dear soul!" cried the actress, impatiently,
"do be calm, dear! If it annoys you so--all this--do go away and
rest! Of course you would never go with this wretched fellow, in
spite of his hundred thousand roubles! Take his money and kick
him out of the house; that's the way to treat him and the likes
of him! Upon my word, if it were my business, I'd soon clear them
all out!"

The actress was a kind-hearted woman, and highly impressionable.
She was very angry now.

"Don't be cross, Daria Alexeyevna!" laughed Nastasia. "I was not
angry when I spoke; I wasn't reproaching Gania. I don't know how
it was that I ever could have indulged the whim of entering an
honest family like his. I saw his mother--and kissed her hand,
too. I came and stirred up all that fuss, Gania, this afternoon,
on purpose to see how much you could swallow--you surprised me,
my friend--you did, indeed. Surely you could not marry a woman
who accepts pearls like those you knew the general was going to
give me, on the very eve of her marriage? And Rogojin! Why, in
your own house and before your own brother and sister, he
bargained with me! Yet you could come here and expect to be
betrothed to me before you left the house! You almost brought
your sister, too. Surely what Rogojin said about you is not
really true: that you would crawl all the way to the other end of
the town, on hands and knees, for three roubles?"

"Yes, he would!" said Rogojin, quietly, but with an air of
absolute conviction.

"H'm! and he receives a good salary, I'm told. Well, what should
you get but disgrace and misery if you took a wife you hated into
your family (for I know very well that you do hate me)? No, no! I
believe now that a man like you would murder anyone for money--
sharpen a razor and come up behind his best friend and cut his
throat like a sheep--I've read of such people. Everyone seems
money-mad nowadays. No, no! I may be shameless, but you are far
worse. I don't say a word about that other--"

"Nastasia Philipovna, is this really you? You, once so refined
and delicate of speech. Oh, what a tongue! What dreadful things
you are saying," cried the general, wringing his hands in real

"I am intoxicated, general. I am having a day out, you know--it's
my birthday! I have long looked forward to this happy occasion.
Daria Alexeyevna, you see that nosegay-man, that Monsieur aux
Camelias, sitting there laughing at us?"

"I am not laughing, Nastasia Philipovna; I am only listening with
all my attention," said Totski, with dignity.

"Well, why have I worried him, for five years, and never let him
go free? Is he worth it? He is only just what he ought to be--
nothing particular. He thinks I am to blame, too. He gave me my
education, kept me like a countess. Money--my word! What a lot of
money he spent over me! And he tried to find me an honest husband
first, and then this Gania, here. And what do you think? All
these five years I did not live with him, and yet I took his
money, and considered I was quite justified.

"You say, take the hundred thousand and kick that man out. It is
true, it is an abominable business, as you say. I might have
married long ago, not Gania--Oh, no!--but that would have been
abominable too.

"Would you believe it, I had some thoughts of marrying Totski,
four years ago! I meant mischief, I confess--but I could have had
him, I give you my word; he asked me himself. But I thought, no!
it's not worthwhile to take such advantage of him. No! I had
better go on to the streets, or accept Rogojin, or become a
washerwoman or something--for I have nothing of my own, you know.
I shall go away and leave everything behind, to the last rag--he
shall have it all back. And who would take me without anything?
Ask Gania, there, whether he would. Why, even Ferdishenko
wouldn't have me!"

"No, Ferdishenko would not; he is a candid fellow, Nastasia
Philipovna," said that worthy. "But the prince would. You sit
here making complaints, but just look at the prince. I've been
observing him for a long while."

Nastasia Philipovna looked keenly round at the prince.

"Is that true?" she asked.

"Quite true," whispered the prince.

"You'll take me as I am, with nothing?"

"I will, Nastasia Philipovna."

"Here's a pretty business!" cried the general. "However, it might
have been expected of him."

The prince continued to regard Nastasia with a sorrowful, but
intent and piercing, gaze.

"Here's another alternative for me," said Nastasia, turning
once more to the actress; "and he does it out of pure
kindness of heart. I know him. I've found a benefactor. Perhaps,
though, what they say about him may be true--that he's an--we
know what. And what shall you live on, if you are really so madly
in love with Rogojin's mistress, that you are ready to marry her

"I take you as a good, honest woman, Nastasia Philipovna--not as
Rogojin's mistress."

"Who? I?--good and honest?"

"Yes, you."

"Oh, you get those ideas out of novels, you know. Times are
changed now, dear prince; the world sees things as they really
are. That's all nonsense. Besides, how can you marry? You need a
nurse, not a wife."

The prince rose and began to speak in a trembling, timid tone,
but with the air of a man absolutely sure of the truth of his

"I know nothing, Nastasia Philipovna. I have seen nothing. You
are right so far; but I consider that you would be honouring me,
and not I you. I am a nobody. You have suffered, you have passed
through hell and emerged pure, and that is very much. Why do you
shame yourself by desiring to go with Rogojin? You are delirious.
You have returned to Mr. Totski his seventy-five thousand
roubles, and declared that you will leave this house and all that
is in it, which is a line of conduct that not one person here
would imitate. Nastasia Philipovna, I love you! I would die for
you. I shall never let any man say one word against you, Nastasia
Philipovna! and if we are poor, I can work for both."

As the prince spoke these last words a titter was heard from
Ferdishenko; Lebedeff laughed too. The general grunted with
irritation; Ptitsin and Totski barely restrained their smiles.
The rest all sat listening, open-mouthed with wonder.

"But perhaps we shall not be poor; we may be very rich, Nastasia
Philipovna." continued the prince, in the same timid, quivering
tones. "I don't know for certain, and I'm sorry to say I haven't
had an opportunity of finding out all day; but I received a
letter from Moscow, while I was in Switzerland, from a Mr.
Salaskin, and he acquaints me with the fact that I am entitled to
a very large inheritance. This letter--"

The prince pulled a letter out of his pocket.

"Is he raving?" said the general. "Are we really in a mad-house?"

There was silence for a moment. Then Ptitsin spoke.

"I think you said, prince, that your letter was from Salaskin?
Salaskin is a very eminent man, indeed, in his own world; he is a
wonderfully clever solicitor, and if he really tells you this, I
think you may be pretty sure that he is right. It so happens,
luckily, that I know his handwriting, for I have lately had
business with him. If you would allow me to see it, I should
perhaps be able to tell you."

The prince held out the letter silently, but with a shaking hand.

"What, what?" said the general, much agitated.

"What's all this? Is he really heir to anything?"

All present concentrated their attention upon Ptitsin, reading
the prince's letter. The general curiosity had received a new
fillip. Ferdishenko could not sit still. Rogojin fixed his eyes
first on the prince, and then on Ptitsin, and then back again; he
was extremely agitated. Lebedeff could not stand it. He crept up
and read over Ptitsin's shoulder, with the air of a naughty boy
who expects a box on the ear every moment for his indiscretion.


"It's good business," said Ptitsin, at last, folding the letter
and handing it back to the prince. "You will receive, without the
slightest trouble, by the last will and testament of your aunt, a
very large sum of money indeed."

"Impossible!" cried the general, starting up as if he had been

Ptitsin explained, for the benefit of the company, that the
prince's aunt had died five months since. He had never known her,
but she was his mother's own sister, the daughter of a Moscow
merchant, one Paparchin, who had died a bankrupt. But the elder
brother of this same Paparchin, had been an eminent and very rich
merchant. A year since it had so happened that his only two sons
had both died within the same month. This sad event had so
affected the old man that he, too, had died very shortly after.
He was a widower, and had no relations left, excepting the
prince's aunt, a poor woman living on charity, who was herself
at the point of death from dropsy; but who had
time, before she died, to set Salaskin to work to find her
nephew, and to make her will bequeathing her newly-acquired
fortune to him.

It appeared that neither the prince, nor the doctor with whom he
lived in Switzerland, had thought of waiting for further
communications; but the prince had started straight away with
Salaskin's letter in his pocket.

"One thing I may tell you, for certain," concluded Ptitsin,
addressing the prince, "that there is no question about the
authenticity of this matter. Anything that Salaskin writes you as
regards your unquestionable right to this inheritance, you may
look upon as so much money in your pocket. I congratulate you,
prince; you may receive a million and a half of roubles, perhaps
more; I don't know. All I DO know is that Paparchin was a very
rich merchant indeed."

"Hurrah!" cried Lebedeff, in a drunken voice. "Hurrah for the
last of the Muishkins!"

"My goodness me! and I gave him twenty-five roubles this morning
as though he were a beggar," blurted out the general, half
senseless with amazement. "Well, I congratulate you, I
congratulate you!" And the general rose from his seat and
solemnly embraced the prince. All came forward with
congratulations; even those of Rogojin's party who had retreated
into the next room, now crept softly back to look on. For the
moment even Nastasia Philipovna was forgotten.

But gradually the consciousness crept back into the minds of each
one present that the prince had just made her an offer of
marriage. The situation had, therefore, become three times as
fantastic as before.

Totski sat and shrugged his shoulders, bewildered. He was the
only guest left sitting at this time; the others had thronged
round the table in disorder, and were all talking at once.

It was generally agreed, afterwards, in recalling that evening,
that from this moment Nastasia Philipovna seemed entirely to lose
her senses. She continued to sit still in her place, looking
around at her guests with a strange, bewildered expression, as
though she were trying to collect her thoughts, and could not.
Then she suddenly turned to the prince, and glared at him with
frowning brows; but this only lasted one moment. Perhaps it
suddenly struck her that all this was a jest, but his face seemed
to reassure her. She reflected, and smiled again, vaguely.

"So I am really a princess," she whispered to herself,
ironically, and glancing accidentally at Daria Alexeyevna's face,
she burst out laughing.

"Ha, ha, ha!" she cried, "this is an unexpected climax, after
all. I didn't expect this. What are you all standing up for,
gentlemen? Sit down; congratulate me and the prince! Ferdishenko,
just step out and order some more champagne, will you? Katia,
Pasha," she added suddenly, seeing the servants at the door,
"come here! I'm going to be married, did you hear? To the prince.
He has a million and a half of roubles; he is Prince Muishkin,
and has asked me to marry him. Here, prince, come and sit by me;
and here comes the wine. Now then, ladies and gentlemen, where
are your congratulations?"

"Hurrah!" cried a number of voices. A rush was made for the wine
by Rogojin's followers, though, even among them, there seemed
some sort of realization that the situation had changed. Rogojin
stood and looked on, with an incredulous smile, screwing up one
side of his mouth.

"Prince, my dear fellow, do remember what you are about," said
the general, approaching Muishkin, and pulling him by the coat

Nastasia Philipovna overheard the remark, and burst out laughing.

"No, no, general!" she cried. "You had better look out! I am the
princess now, you know. The prince won't let you insult me.
Afanasy Ivanovitch, why don't you congratulate me? I shall be
able to sit at table with your new wife, now. Aha! you see what I
gain by marrying a prince! A million and a half, and a prince,
and an idiot into the bargain, they say. What better could I wish
for? Life is only just about to commence for me in earnest.
Rogojin, you are a little too late. Away with your paper parcel!
I'm going to marry the prince; I'm richer than you are now."

But Rogojin understood how things were tending, at last. An
inexpressibly painful expression came over his face. He wrung his
hands; a groan made its way up from the depths of his soul.

"Surrender her, for God's sake!" he said to the prince.

All around burst out laughing.

"What? Surrender her to YOU?" cried Daria Alexeyevna. "To a
fellow who comes and bargains for a wife like a moujik! The
prince wishes to marry her, and you--"

"So do I, so do I! This moment, if I could! I'd give every
farthing I have to do it."

"You drunken moujik," said Daria Alexeyevna, once more. "You
ought to be kicked out of the place."

The laughter became louder than ever.

"Do you hear, prince?" said Nastasia Philipovna. "Do you hear how
this moujik of a fellow goes on bargaining for your bride?"

"He is drunk," said the prince, quietly, "and he loves you very

"Won't you be ashamed, afterwards, to reflect that your wife very
nearly ran away with Rogojin?"

"Oh, you were raving, you were in a fever; you are still half

"And won't you be ashamed when they tell you, afterwards, that
your wife lived at Totski's expense so many years?"

"No; I shall not be ashamed of that. You did not so live by your
own will."

"And you'll never reproach me with it?"


"Take care, don't commit yourself for a whole lifetime."

"Nastasia Philipovna." said the prince, quietly, and with deep
emotion, "I said before that I shall esteem your consent to be my
wife as a great honour to myself, and shall consider that it is
you who will honour me, not I you, by our marriage. You laughed
at these words, and others around us laughed as well; I heard
them. Very likely I expressed myself funnily, and I may have
looked funny, but, for all that, I believe I understand where
honour lies, and what I said was but the literal truth. You were
about to ruin yourself just now, irrevocably; you would never
have forgiven yourself for so doing afterwards; and yet, you are
absolutely blameless. It is impossible that your life should be
altogether ruined at your age. What matter that Rogojin came
bargaining here, and that Gavrila Ardalionovitch would have
deceived you if he could? Why do you continually remind us of
these facts? I assure you once more that very few could find it
in them to act as you have acted this day. As for your wish to go
with Rogojin, that was simply the idea of a delirious and
suffering brain. You are still quite feverish; you ought to be in
bed, not here. You know quite well that if you had gone with
Rogojin, you would have become a washer-woman next day, rather
than stay with him. You are proud, Nastasia Philipovna, and
perhaps you have really suffered so much that you imagine
yourself to be a desperately guilty woman. You require a great
deal of petting and looking after, Nastasia Philipovna, and I
will do this. I saw your portrait this morning, and it seemed
quite a familiar face to me; it seemed to me that the portrait-
face was calling to me for help. I-I shall respect you all my
life, Nastasia Philipovna," concluded the prince, as though
suddenly recollecting himself, and blushing to think of the sort
of company before whom he had said all this.

Ptitsin bowed his head and looked at the ground, overcome by a
mixture of feelings. Totski muttered to himself: "He may be an
idiot, but he knows that flattery is the best road to success

The prince observed Gania's eyes flashing at him, as though they
would gladly annihilate him then and there.

"That's a kind-hearted man, if you like," said Daria Alexeyevna,
whose wrath was quickly evaporating.

"A refined man, but--lost," murmured the general.

Totski took his hat and rose to go. He and the general exchanged
glances, making a private arrangement, thereby, to leave the
house together.

"Thank you, prince; no one has ever spoken to me like that
before," began Nastasia Philipovna. "Men have always bargained
for me, before this; and not a single respectable man has ever
proposed to marry me. Do you hear, Afanasy Ivanovitch? What do
YOU think of what the prince has just been saying? It was almost
immodest, wasn't it? You, Rogojin, wait a moment, don't go yet! I
see you don't intend to move however. Perhaps I may go with you
yet. Where did you mean to take me to?"

"To Ekaterinhof," replied Lebedeff. Rogojin simply stood staring,
with trembling lips, not daring to believe his ears. He was
stunned, as though from a blow on the head.

"What are you thinking of, my dear Nastasia?" said Daria
Alexeyevna in alarm. "What are you saying?" "You are not going
mad, are you?"

Nastasia Philipovna burst out laughing and jumped up from the

"You thought I should accept this good child's invitation to ruin
him, did you?" she cried. "That's Totski's way, not mine. He's
fond of children. Come along, Rogojin, get your money ready! We
won't talk about marrying just at this moment, but let's see the
money at all events. Come! I may not marry you, either. I don't
know. I suppose you thought you'd keep the money, if I did! Ha,
ha, ha! nonsense! I have no sense of shame left. I tell you I
have been Totski's concubine. Prince, you must marry Aglaya
Ivanovna, not Nastasia Philipovna, or this fellow Ferdishenko
will always be pointing the finger of scorn at you. You aren't
afraid, I know; but I should always be afraid that I had ruined
you, and that you would reproach me for it. As for what you say
about my doing you honour by marrying you-well, Totski can tell
you all about that. You had your eye on Aglaya, Gania, you know
you had; and you might have married her if you had not come
bargaining. You are all like this. You should choose, once for
all, between disreputable women, and respectable ones, or you are
sure to get mixed. Look at the general, how he's staring at me!"

"This is too horrible," said the general, starting to his feet.
All were standing up now. Nastasia was absolutely beside herself.

"I am very proud, in spite of what I am," she continued. "You
called me 'perfection' just now, prince. A nice sort of
perfection to throw up a prince and a million and a half of
roubles in order to be able to boast of the fact afterwards! What
sort of a wife should I make for you, after all I have said?
Afanasy Ivanovitch, do you observe I have really and truly thrown
away a million of roubles? And you thought that I should consider
your wretched seventy-five thousand, with Gania thrown in for a
husband, a paradise of bliss! Take your seventy-five thousand
back, sir; you did not reach the hundred thousand. Rogojin cut a
better dash than you did. I'll console Gania myself; I have an
idea about that. But now I must be off! I've been in prison for
ten years. I'm free at last! Well, Rogojin, what are you waiting
for? Let's get ready and go."

"Come along!" shouted Rogojin, beside himself with joy. "Hey! all
of you fellows! Wine! Round with it! Fill the glasses!"

"Get away!" he shouted frantically, observing that Daria
Alexeyevna was approaching to protest against Nastasia's conduct.
"Get away, she's mine, everything's mine! She's a queen, get

He was panting with ecstasy. He walked round and round Nastasia
Philipovna and told everybody to "keep their distance."

All the Rogojin company were now collected in the drawing-room;
some were drinking, some laughed and talked: all were in the
highest and wildest spirits. Ferdishenko was doing his best to
unite himself to them; the general and Totski again made an
attempt to go. Gania, too stood hat in hand ready to go; but
seemed to be unable to tear his eyes away from the scene before

"Get out, keep your distance!" shouted Rogojin.

"What are you shouting about there!" cried Nastasia "I'm not
yours yet. I may kick you out for all you know I haven't taken
your money yet; there it all is on the table Here, give me over
that packet! Is there a hundred thousand roubles in that one
packet? Pfu! what abominable stuff it looks! Oh! nonsense, Daria
Alexeyevna; you surely did not expect me to ruin HIM?"
(indicating the prince). "Fancy him nursing me! Why, he needs a
nurse himself! The general, there, will be his nurse now, you'll
see. Here, prince, look here! Your bride is accepting money. What
a disreputable woman she must be! And you wished to marry her!
What are you crying about? Is it a bitter dose? Never mind, you
shall laugh yet. Trust to time." (In spite of these words there
were two large tears rolling down Nastasia's own cheeks.) "It's
far better to think twice of it now than afterwards. Oh! you
mustn't cry like that! There's Katia crying, too. What is it,
Katia, dear? I shall leave you and Pasha a lot of things, I've
laid them out for you already; but good-bye, now. I made an
honest girl like you serve a low woman like myself. It's better
so, prince, it is indeed. You'd begin to despise me afterwards--
we should never be happy. Oh! you needn't swear, prince, I shan't
believe you, you know. How foolish it would be, too! No, no; we'd
better say good-bye and part friends. I am a bit of a dreamer
myself, and I used to dream of you once. Very often during those
five years down at his estate I used to dream and think, and I
always imagined just such a good, honest, foolish fellow as you,
one who should come and say to me: 'You are an innocent woman,
Nastasia Philipovna, and I adore you.' I dreamt of you often. I
used to think so much down there that I nearly went mad; and then
this fellow here would come down. He would stay a couple of
months out of the twelve, and disgrace and insult and deprave me,
and then go; so that I longed to drown myself in the pond a
thousand times over; but I did not dare do it. I hadn't the
heart, and now--well, are you ready, Rogojin?"

"Ready--keep your distance, all of you!"

"We're all ready," said several of his friends. "The troikas
[Sledges drawn by three horses abreast.] are at the door, bells
and all."

Nastasia Philipovna seized the packet of bank-notes.

"Gania, I have an idea. I wish to recompense you--why should you
lose all? Rogojin, would he crawl for three roubles as far as the

"Oh, wouldn't he just!"

"Well, look here, Gania. I wish to look into your heart once
more, for the last time. You've worried me for the last three
months--now it's my turn. Do you see this packet? It contains a
hundred thousand roubles. Now, I'm going to throw it into the
fire, here--before all these witnesses. As soon as the fire
catches hold of it, you put your hands into the fire and pick it
out--without gloves, you know. You must have bare hands, and you
must turn your sleeves up. Pull it out, I say, and it's all
yours. You may burn your fingers a little, of course; but then
it's a hundred thousand roubles, remember--it won't take you long
to lay hold of it and snatch it out. I shall so much admire you
if you put your hands into the fire for my money. All here
present may be witnesses that the whole packet of money is yours
if you get it out. If you don't get it out, it shall burn. I will
let no one else come; away--get away, all of you--it's my money!
Rogojin has bought me with it. Is it my money, Rogojin?"

"Yes, my queen; it's your own money, my joy."

"Get away then, all of you. I shall do as I like with my own--
don't meddle! Ferdishenko, make up the fire, quick!"

"Nastasia Philipovna, I can't; my hands won't obey me," said
Ferdishenko, astounded and helpless with bewilderment.

"Nonsense," cried Nastasia Philipovna, seizing the poker and
raking a couple of logs together. No sooner did a tongue of flame
burst out than she threw the packet of notes upon it.

Everyone gasped; some even crossed themselves.

"She's mad--she's mad!" was the cry.

"Oughtn't-oughtn't we to secure her?" asked the general of
Ptitsin, in a whisper; "or shall we send for the authorities?
Why, she's mad, isn't she--isn't she, eh?"

"N-no, I hardly think she is actually mad," whispered Ptitsin,
who was as white as his handkerchief, and trembling like a leaf.
He could not take his eyes off the smouldering packet.

"She's mad surely, isn't she?" the general appealed to Totski.

"I told you she wasn't an ordinary woman," replied the latter,
who was as pale as anyone.

"Oh, but, positively, you know--a hundred thousand roubles!"

"Goodness gracious! good heavens!" came from all quarters of the

All now crowded round the fire and thronged to see what was going
on; everyone lamented and gave vent to exclamations of horror and
woe. Some jumped up on chairs in order to get a better view.
Daria Alexeyevna ran into the next room and whispered excitedly
to Katia and Pasha. The beautiful German disappeared altogether.

"My lady! my sovereign!" lamented Lebedeff, falling on his knees
before Nastasia Philipovna, and stretching out his hands towards
the fire; "it's a hundred thousand roubles, it is indeed, I
packed it up myself, I saw the money! My queen, let me get into
the fire after it--say the word-I'll put my whole grey head into
the fire for it! I have a poor lame wife and thirteen children.
My father died of starvation last week. Nastasia Philipovna,
Nastasia Philipovna!" The wretched little man wept, and groaned,
and crawled towards the fire.

"Away, out of the way!" cried Nastasia. "Make room, all of you!
Gania, what are you standing there for? Don't stand on ceremony.
Put in your hand! There's your whole happiness smouldering away,
look! Quick!"

But Gania had borne too much that day, and especially this
evening, and he was not prepared for this last, quite unexpected

The crowd parted on each side of him and he was left face to face
with Nastasia Philipovna, three paces from her. She stood by the
fire and waited, with her intent gaze fixed upon him.

Gania stood before her, in his evening clothes, holding his white
gloves and hat in his hand, speechless and motionless, with arms
folded and eyes fixed on the fire.

A silly, meaningless smile played on his white, death-like lips.
He could not take his eyes off the smouldering packet; but it
appeared that something new had come to birth in his soul--as
though he were vowing to himself that he would bear this trial.
He did not move from his place. In a few seconds it became
evident to all that he did not intend to rescue the money.

"Hey! look at it, it'll burn in another minute or two!" cried
Nastasia Philipovna. "You'll hang yourself afterwards, you know,
if it does! I'm not joking."

The fire, choked between a couple of smouldering pieces of wood,
had died down for the first few moments after the packet was
thrown upon it. But a little tongue of fire now began to lick the
paper from below, and soon, gathering courage, mounted the sides
of the parcel, and crept around it. In another moment, the whole
of it burst into flames, and the exclamations of woe and horror
were redoubled.

"Nastasia Philipovna!" lamented Lebedeff again, straining towards
the fireplace; but Rogojin dragged him away, and pushed him to
the rear once more.

The whole of Regojin'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.

"Oh, what a queen she is!" he ejaculated, every other minute,
throwing out the remark for anyone who liked to catch it. "That's
the sort of woman for me! Which of you would think of doing a
thing like that, you blackguards, eh?" he yelled. He was
hopelessly and wildly beside himself with ecstasy.

The prince watched the whole scene, silent and dejected.

"I'll pull it out with my teeth for one thousand," said

"So would I," said another, from behind, "with pleasure. Devil
take the thing!" he added, in a tempest of despair, "it will all
be burnt up in a minute--It's burning, it's burning!"

"It's burning, it's burning!" cried all, thronging nearer and
nearer to the fire in their excitement.

"Gania, don't be a fool! I tell you for the last time."

"Get on, quick!" shrieked Ferdishenko, rushing wildly up to
Gania, and trying to drag him to the fire by the sleeve of his
coat. "Get it, you dummy, it's burning away fast! Oh--DAMN the

Gania hurled Ferdishenko from him; then he turned sharp round and
made for the door. But he had not gone a couple of steps when he
tottered and fell to the ground.

"He's fainted!" the cry went round.

"And the money's burning still," Lebedeff lamented.

"Burning for nothing," shouted others.

"Katia-Pasha! Bring him some water!" cried Nastasia Philipovna.
Then she took the tongs and fished out the packet.

Nearly the whole of the outer covering was burned away, but it
was soon evident that the contents were hardly touched. The
packet had been wrapped in a threefold covering of newspaper, and
the, notes were safe. All breathed more freely.

"Some dirty little thousand or so may be touched," said Lebedeff,
immensely relieved, "but there's very little harm done, after

"It's all his--the whole packet is for him, do you hear--all of
you?" cried Nastasia Philipovna, placing the packet by the side
of Gania.  "He restrained himself, and didn't go after it; so his
self-respect is greater than his thirst for money. All right--
he'll come to directly--he must have the packet or he'll cut his
throat afterwards. There! He's coming to himself. General,
Totski, all of you, did you hear me? The money is all Gania's. I
give it to him, fully conscious of my action, as recompense for--
well, for anything he thinks best. Tell him so. Let it lie here
beside him. Off we go, Rogojin! Goodbye, prince. I have seen a
man for the first time in my life. Goodbye, Afanasy Ivanovitch--
and thanks!"

The Rogojin gang followed their leader and Nastasia Philipovna to
the entrance-hall, laughing and shouting and whistling.

In the hall the servants were waiting, and handed her her fur
cloak. Martha, the cook, ran in from the kitchen. Nastasia kissed
them all round.

"Are you really throwing us all over, little mother? Where, where
are you going to? And on your birthday, too!" cried the four
girls, crying over her and kissing her hands.

"I am going out into the world, Katia; perhaps I shall be a
laundress. I don't know. No more of Afanasy Ivanovitch, anyhow.
Give him my respects. Don't think badly of me, girls."

The prince hurried down to the front gate where the party were
settling into the troikas, all the bells tinkling a merry
accompaniment the while. The general caught him up on the stairs:

"Prince, prince!" he cried, seizing hold of his arm, "recollect
yourself! Drop her, prince! You see what sort of a woman she is.
I am speaking to you like a father."

The prince glanced at him, but said nothing. He shook himself
free, and rushed on downstairs.

The general was just in time to see the prince take the first
sledge he could get, and, giving the order to Ekaterinhof, start
off in pursuit of the troikas. Then the general's fine grey horse
dragged that worthy home, with some new thoughts, and some new
hopes and calculations developing in his brain, and with the
pearls in his pocket, for he had not forgotten to bring them
along with him, being a man of business. Amid his new thoughts
and ideas there came, once or twice, the image of Nastasia
Philipovna. The general sighed.

"I'm sorry, really sorry," he muttered. "She's a ruined woman.
Mad! mad! However, the prince is not for Nastasia Philipovna
now,--perhaps it's as well."

Two more of Nastasia's guests, who walked a short distance
together, indulged in high moral sentiments of a similar nature.

"Do you know, Totski, this is all very like what they say goes on
among the Japanese?" said Ptitsin. "The offended party there,
they say, marches off to his insulter and says to him, 'You
insulted me, so I have come to rip myself open before your eyes;'
and with these words he does actually rip his stomach open before
his enemy, and considers, doubtless, that he is having all
possible and necessary satisfaction and revenge. There are
strange characters in the world, sir!"

"H'm! and you think there was something of this sort here, do
you? Dear me--a very remarkable comparison, you know! But you
must have observed, my dear Ptitsin, that I did all I possibly
could. I could do no more than I did. And you must admit that
there are some rare qualities in this woman. I felt I could not
speak in that Bedlam, or I should have been tempted to cry out,
when she reproached me, that she herself was my best
justification. Such a woman could make anyone forget all reason--
everything! Even that moujik, Rogojin, you saw, brought her a
hundred thousand roubles! Of course, all that happened tonight
was ephemeral, fantastic, unseemly--yet it lacked neither colour
nor originality. My God! What might not have been made of such a
character combined with such beauty! Yet in spite of all efforts
--in spite of all education, even--all those gifts are wasted! She
is an uncut diamond.... I have often said so."

And Afanasy Ivanovitch heaved a deep sigh.



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.

It was said that there were other reasons for his hurried
departure; but as to this, and as to his movements in Moscow, and
as to his prolonged absence from St. Petersburg, we are able to
give very little information.

The prince was away for six months, and even those who were most
interested in his destiny were able to pick up very little news
about him all that while. True, certain rumours did reach his
friends, but these were both strange and rare, and each one
contradicted the last.

Of course the Epanchin family was much interested in his
movements, though he had not had time to bid them farewell before
his departure. The general, however, had had an opportunity of
seeing him once or twice since the eventful evening, and had
spoken very seriously with him; but though he had seen the
prince, as I say, he told his family nothing about the
circumstance. In fact, for a month or so after his departure it
was considered not the thing to mention the prince's name in the
Epanchin household. Only Mrs. Epanchin, at the commencement of
this period, had announced that she had been "cruelly mistaken in
the prince!" and a day or two after, she had added, evidently
alluding to him, but not mentioning his name, that it was an
unalterable characteristic of hers to be mistaken in people. Then
once more, ten days later, after some passage of arms with one of
her daughters, she had remarked sententiously. "We have had
enough of mistakes. I shall be more careful in future!" However,
it was impossible to avoid remarking that there was some sense of
oppression in the household--something unspoken, but felt;
something strained. All the members of the family wore frowning
looks. The general was unusually busy; his family hardly ever saw

As to the girls, nothing was said openly, at all events; and
probably very little in private. They were proud damsels, and
were not always perfectly confidential even among themselves. But
they understood each other thoroughly at the first word on all
occasions; very often at the first glance, so that there was no
need of much talking as a rule.

One fact, at least, would have been perfectly plain to an
outsider, had any such person been on the spot; and that was,
that the prince had made a very considerable impression upon the
family, in spite of the fact that he had but once been inside the
house, and then only for a short time. Of course, if analyzed,
this impression might have proved to be nothing more than a
feeling of curiosity; but be it what it might, there it
undoubtedly was.

Little by little, the rumours spread about town became lost in a
maze of uncertainty. It was said that some foolish young prince,
name unknown, had suddenly come into possession of a gigantic
fortune, and had married a French ballet dancer. This was
contradicted, and the rumour circulated that it was a young
merchant who had come into the enormous fortune and married the
great ballet dancer, and that at the wedding the drunken young
fool had burned seventy thousand roubles at a candle out of pure

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.

There were rumours current as to Gania, too; but circumstances
soon contradicted these. He had fallen seriously ill, and his
illness precluded his appearance in society, and even at
business, for over a month. As soon as he had recovered, however,
he threw up his situation in the public company under General
Epanchin's direction, for some unknown reason, and the post was
given to another. He never went near the Epanchins' house at all,
and was exceedingly irritable and depressed.

Varvara Ardalionovna married Ptitsin this winter, and it was said
that the fact of Gania's retirement from business was the
ultimate cause of the marriage, since Gania was now not only
unable to support his family, but even required help himself.

We may mention that Gania was no longer mentioned in the Epanchin
household any more than the prince was; but that a certain
circumstance in connection with the fatal evening at Nastasia's
house became known to the general, and, in fact, to all the
family the very next day. This fact was that Gania had come home
that night, but had refused to go to bed. He had awaited the
prince's return from Ekaterinhof with feverish impatience.

On the latter's arrival, at six in the morning, Gania had gone to
him in his room, bringing with him the singed packet of money,
which he had insisted that the prince should return to Nastasia
Philipovna without delay. It was said that when Gania entered the
prince's room, he came with anything but friendly feelings, and
in a condition of despair and misery; but that after a short
conversation, he had stayed on for a couple of hours with him,
sobbing continuously and bitterly the whole time. They had parted
upon terms of cordial friendship.

The Epanchins heard about this, as well as about the episode at
Nastasia Philipovna's. It was strange, perhaps, that the facts
should become so quickly, and fairly accurately, known. As far as
Gania was concerned, it might have been supposed that the news
had come through Varvara Ardalionovna, who had suddenly become a
frequent visitor of the Epanchin girls, greatly to their mother's
surprise. But though Varvara had seen fit, for some reason, to
make friends with them, it was not likely that she would have
talked to them about her brother. She had plenty of pride, in
spite of the fact that in thus acting she was seeking intimacy
with people who had practically shown her brother the door. She
and the Epanchin girls had been acquainted in childhood, although
of late they had met but rarely. Even now Varvara hardly ever
appeared in the drawing-room, but would slip in by a back way.
Lizabetha Prokofievna, who disliked Varvara, although she had a
great respect for her mother, was much annoyed by this sudden
intimacy, and put it down to the general "contrariness" of her
daughters, who were "always on the lookout for some new way of
opposing her." Nevertheless, Varvara continued her visits.

A month after Muishkin's departure, Mrs. Epanchin received a
letter from her old friend Princess Bielokonski (who had lately
left for Moscow), which letter put her into the greatest good
humour. She did not divulge its contents either to her daughters
or the general, but her conduct towards the former became
affectionate in the extreme. She even made some sort of
confession to them, but they were unable to understand what it
was about. She actually relaxed towards the general a little--he
had been long disgraced--and though she managed to quarrel with
them all the next day, yet she soon came round, and from her
general behaviour it was to be concluded that she had bad good
news of some sort, which she would like, but could not make up
her mind, to disclose.

However, a week later she received another letter from the same
source, and at last resolved to speak.

She solemnly announced that she had heard from old Princess
Bielokonski, who had given her most comforting news about "that
queer young prince." Her friend had hunted him up, and found that
all was going well with him. He had since called in person upon
her, making an extremely favourable impression, for the princess
had received him each day since, and had introduced him into
several good houses.

The girls could see that their mother concealed a great deal from
them, and left out large pieces of the letter in reading it to

However, the ice was broken, and it suddenly became possible to
mention the prince's name again. And again it became evident how
very strong was the impression the young man had made in the
household by his one visit there. Mrs. Epanchin was surprised at
the effect which the news from Moscow had upon the girls, and
they were no less surprised that after solemnly remarking that
her most striking characteristic was "being mistaken in people"
she should have troubled to obtain for the prince the favour and
protection of so powerful an old lady as the Princess
Bielokonski. As soon as the ice was thus broken, the general lost
no time in showing that he, too, took the greatest interest in
the subject. He admitted that he was interested, but said that it
was merely in the business side of the question. It appeared
that, in the interests of the prince, he had made arrangements in
Moscow for a careful watch to be kept upon the prince's business
affairs, and especially upon Salaskin. All that had been said as
to the prince being an undoubted heir to a fortune turned out to
be perfectly true; but the fortune proved to be much smaller than
was at first reported. The estate was considerably encumbered
with debts; creditors turned up on all sides, and the prince, in
spite of all advice and entreaty, insisted upon managing all
matters of claim himself--which, of course, meant satisfying
everybody all round, although half the claims were absolutely

Mrs. Epanchin confirmed all this. She said the princess had
written to much the same effect, and added that there was no
curing a fool. But it was plain, from her expression of face, how
strongly she approved of this particular young fool's doings. In
conclusion, the general observed that his wife took as great an
interest in the prince as though he were her own son; and that
she had commenced to be especially affectionate towards Aglaya
was a self-evident fact.

All this caused the general to look grave and important. But,
alas! this agreeable state of affairs very soon changed once

A couple of weeks went by, and suddenly the general and his wife
were once more gloomy and silent, and the ice was as firm as
ever. The fact was, the general, who had heard first, how Nastasia
Philipovna had fled to Moscow and had been discovered there by
Rogojin; that she had then disappeared once more, and been
found again by Rogojin, and how after that she had almost
promised to marry him, now received news that she had once more
disappeared, almost on the very day fixed for her wedding, flying
somewhere into the interior of Russia this time, and that Prince
Muishkin had left all his affairs in the hands of Salaskin and
disappeared also--but whether he was with Nastasia, or had only
set off in search of her, was unknown.

Lizabetha Prokofievna received confirmatory news from the
princess--and alas, two months after the prince's first
departure from St. Petersburg, darkness and mystery once more
enveloped his whereabouts and actions, and in the Epanchin family
the ice of silence once more formed over the subject. Varia,
however, informed the girls of what had happened, she having
received the news from Ptitsin, who generally knew more than most

To make an end, we may say that there were many changes in the
Epanchin household in the spring, so that it was not difficult to
forget the prince, who sent no news of himself.

The Epanchin family had at last made up their minds to spend the
summer abroad, all except the general, who could not waste time
in "travelling for enjoyment," of course. This arrangement was
brought about by the persistence of the girls, who insisted that
they were never allowed to go abroad because their parents were
too anxious to marry them off. Perhaps their parents had at last
come to the conclusion that husbands might be found abroad, and
that a summer's travel might bear fruit. The marriage between
Alexandra and Totski had been broken off. Since the prince's
departure from St. Petersburg no more had been said about it; the
subject had been dropped without ceremony, much to the joy of
Mrs. General, who, announced that she was "ready to cross herself
with both hands" in gratitude for the escape. The general,
however, regretted Totski for a long while. "Such a fortune!" he
sighed, "and such a good, easy-going fellow!"

After a time it became known that Totski had married a French
marquise, and was to be carried off by her to Paris, and then to

"Oh, well," thought the general, "he's lost to us for good, now."

So the Epanchins prepared to depart for the summer.

But now another circumstance occurred, which changed all the
plans once more, and again the intended journey was put off, much
to the delight of the general and his spouse.

A certain Prince S-- arrived in St. Petersburg from Moscow, an
eminent and honourable young man. He was one of those active
persons who always find some good work with which to employ
themselves. Without forcing himself upon the public notice,
modest and unobtrusive, this young prince was concerned with much
that happened in the world in general.

He had served, at first, in one of the civil departments, had
then attended to matters connected with the local government of
provincial towns, and had of late been a corresponding member of
several important scientific societies. He was a man of excellent
family and solid means, about thirty-five years of age.

Prince S-- made the acquaintance of the general's family, and
Adelaida, the second girl, made a great impression upon him.
Towards the spring he proposed to her, and she accepted him. The
general and his wife were delighted. The journey abroad was put
off, and the wedding was fixed for a day not very distant.

The trip abroad might have been enjoyed later on by Mrs. Epanchin
and her two remaining daughters, but for another circumstance.

It so happened that Prince S-- introduced a distant relation of
his own into the Epanchin family--one Evgenie Pavlovitch, a young
officer of about twenty-eight years of age, whose conquests among
the ladies in Moscow had been proverbial. This young gentleman
no sooner set eyes on Aglaya than he became a frequent visitor at
the house. He was witty, well-educated, and extremely wealthy, as
the general very soon discovered. His past reputation was the
only thing against him.

Nothing was said; there were not even any hints dropped; but
still, it seemed better to the parents to say nothing more about
going abroad this season, at all events. Aglaya herself perhaps
was of a different opinion.

All this happened just before the second appearance of our hero
upon the scene.

By this time, to judge from appearances, poor Prince Muishkin had
been quite forgotten in St. Petersburg. If he had appeared
suddenly among his acquaintances, he would have been received as
one from the skies; but we must just glance at one more fact
before we conclude this preface.

Colia Ivolgin, for some time after the prince's departure,
continued his old life. That is, he went to school, looked after
his father, helped Varia in the house, and ran her errands, and
went frequently to see his friend, Hippolyte.

The lodgers had disappeared very quickly--Ferdishenko soon after
the events at Nastasia Philipovna's, while the prince went to
Moscow, as we know. Gania and his mother went to live with Varia
and Ptitsin immediately after the latter's wedding, while the
general was housed in a debtor's prison by reason of certain
IOU's given to the captain's widow under the impression that they
would never be formally used against him. This unkind action much
surprised poor Ardalion Alexandrovitch, the victim, as he called
himself, of an "unbounded trust in the nobility of the human

When he signed those notes of hand,he never dreamt that they would
be a source of future trouble. The event showed that he was mistaken.
"Trust in anyone after this! Have the least confidence in man or woman!"
he cried in bitter tones, as he sat with his new friends in prison, and
recounted to them his favourite stories of the siege of Kars, and
the resuscitated soldier. On the whole, he accommodated himself
very well to his new position. Ptitsin and Varia declared that he
was in the right place, and Gania was of the same opinion. The
only person who deplored his fate was poor Nina Alexandrovna, who
wept bitter tears over him, to the great surprise of her
household, and, though always in feeble health, made a point of
going to see him as often as possible.

Since the general's "mishap," as Colia called it, and the
marriage of his sister, the boy had quietly possessed himself of
far more freedom. His relations saw little of him, for he rarely
slept at home. He made many new friends; and was moreover, a
frequent visitor at the debtor's prison, to which he invariably
accompanied his mother. Varia, who used to be always correcting
him, never spoke to him now on the subject of his frequent
absences, and the whole household was surprised to see Gania, in
spite of his depression, on quite friendly terms with his
brother. This was something new, for Gania had been wont to look
upon Colia as a kind of errand-boy, treating him with contempt,
threatening to "pull his ears," and in general driving him almost
wild with irritation. It seemed now that Gania really needed his
brother, and the latter, for his part, felt as if he could
forgive Gania much since he had returned the hundred thousand
roubles offered to him by Nastasia Philipovna. Three months after
the departure of the prince, the Ivolgin family discovered that
Colia had made acquaintance with the Epanchins, and was on very
friendly terms with the daughters. Varia heard of it first,
though Colia had not asked her to introduce him. Little by little
the family grew quite fond of him. Madame Epanchin at first
looked on him with disdain, and received him coldly, but in a
short time he grew to please her, because, as she said, he "was
candid and no flatterer" -- a very true description. From the first
he put himself on an equality with his new friends, and though he
sometimes read newspapers and books to the mistress of the house,
it was simply because he liked to be useful.

One day, however, he and Lizabetha Prokofievna quarrelled
seriously about the "woman question," in the course of a lively
discussion on that burning subject. He told her that she was a
tyrant, and that he would never set foot in her house again. It
may seem incredible, but a day or two after, Madame Epanchin sent
a servant with a note begging him to return, and Colia, without
standing on his dignity, did so at once.

Aglaya was the only one of the family whose good graces he could
not gain, and who always spoke to him haughtily, but it so
happened that the boy one day succeeded in giving the proud
maiden a surprise.

It was about Easter, when, taking advantage of a momentary tete-
a-tete Colia handed Aglaya a letter, remarking that he "had
orders to deliver it to her privately." She stared at him in
amazement, but he did not wait to hear what she had to say, and
went out. Aglaya broke the seal, and read as follows:

"Once you did me the honour of giving me your confidence. Perhaps
you have quite forgotten me now! How is it that I am writing to
you? I do not know; but I am conscious of an irresistible desire
to remind you of my existence, especially you. How many times I
have needed all three of you; but only you have dwelt always in
my mind's eye. I need you--I need you very much. I will not write
about myself. I have nothing to tell you. But I long for you to
be happy. ARE you happy? That is all I wished to say to you--Your


On reading this short and disconnected note, Aglaya suddenly
blushed all over, and became very thoughtful.

It would be difficult to describe her thoughts at that moment.
One of them was, "Shall I show it to anyone?" But she was ashamed
to show it. So she ended by hiding it in her table drawer, with a
very strange, ironical smile upon her lips.

Next day, she took it out, and put it into a large book, as she
usually did with papers which she wanted to be able to find
easily. She laughed when, about a week later, she happened to
notice the name of the book, and saw that it was Don Quixote, but
it would be difficult to say exactly why.

I cannot say, either, whether she showed the letter to her

But when she had read it herself once more, it suddenly struck
her that surely that conceited boy, Colia, had not been the one
chosen correspondent of the prince all this while. She determined
to ask him, and did so with an exaggerated show of carelessness.
He informed her haughtily that though he had given the prince his
permanent address when the latter left town, and had offered his
services, the prince had never before given him any commission to
perform, nor had he written until the following lines arrived,
with Aglaya's letter. Aglaya took the note, and read it.

"DEAR COLIA,--Please be so kind as to give the enclosed
sealed letter to Aglaya Ivanovna. Keep well--Ever your
loving,		"PR. L. MUISHKIN."

"It seems absurd to trust a little pepper-box like you," said
Aglaya, as she returned the note, and walked past the "pepper-
box" with an expression of great contempt.

This was more than Colia could bear. He had actually borrowed
Gania's new green tie for the occasion, without saying why he
wanted it, in order to impress her. He was very deeply mortified.

IT was the beginning of June, and for a whole week the weather in
St. Petersburg had been magnificent. The Epanchins had a
luxurious country-house at Pavlofsk, [One of the fashionable
summer resorts near St. Petersburg.] and to this spot Mrs.
Epanchin determined to proceed without further delay. In a couple
of days all was ready, and the family had left town. A day or two
after this removal to Pavlofsk, Prince Muishkin arrived in St.
Petersburg by the morning train from Moscow. No one met him; but,
as he stepped out of the carriage, he suddenly became aware of
two strangely glowing eyes fixed upon him from among the crowd
that met the train. On endeavouring to re-discover the eyes, and
see to whom they belonged, he could find nothing to guide him. It
must have been a hallucination. But the disagreeable impression
remained, and without this, the prince was sad and thoughtful
already, and seemed to be much preoccupied.

His cab took him to a small and bad hotel near the Litaynaya.
Here he engaged a couple of rooms, dark and badly furnished. He
washed and changed, and hurriedly left the hotel again, as though
anxious to waste no time. Anyone who now saw him for the first
time since he left Petersburg would judge that he had improved
vastly so far as his exterior was concerned. His clothes
certainly were very different; they were more fashionable,
perhaps even too much so, and anyone inclined to mockery might
have found something to smile at in his appearance. But what is
there that people will not smile at?

The prince took a cab and drove to a street near the Nativity,
where he soon discovered the house he was seeking. It was a small
wooden villa, and he was struck by its attractive and clean
appearance; it stood in a pleasant little garden, full of
flowers. The windows looking on the street were open, and the
sound of a voice, reading aloud or making a speech, came through
them. It rose at times to a shout, and was interrupted
occasionally by bursts of laughter.

Prince Muishkin entered the court-yard, and ascended the steps. A
cook with her sleeves turned up to the elbows opened the door.
The visitor asked if Mr. Lebedeff were at home.

"He is in there," said she, pointing to the salon.

The room had a blue wall-paper, and was well, almost
pretentiously, furnished, with its round table, its divan, and
its bronze clock under a glass shade. There was a narrow pier-
glass against the wall, and a chandelier adorned with lustres
hung by a bronze chain from the ceiling.

When the prince entered, Lebedeff was standing in the middle of
the room, his back to the door. He was in his shirt-sleeves, on
account of the extreme heat, and he seemed to have just reached
the peroration of his speech, and was impressively beating his

His audience consisted of a youth of about fifteen years of age
with a clever face, who had a book in his hand, though he was not
reading; a young lady of twenty, in deep mourning, stood near him
with an infant in her arms; another girl of thirteen, also in
black, was laughing loudly, her mouth wide open; and on the sofa
lay a handsome young man, with black hair and eyes, and a
suspicion of beard and whiskers. He frequently interrupted the
speaker and argued with him, to the great delight of the others.

"Lukian Timofeyovitch! Lukian Timofeyovitch! Here's someone to
see you! Look here! . . . a gentleman to speak to you! . . .
Well, it's not my fault!" and the cook turned and went away red
with anger.

Lebedeff started, and at sight of the prince stood like a statue
for a moment. Then he moved up to him with an ingratiating smile,
but stopped short again.

"Prince! ex-ex-excellency!" he stammered. Then suddenly he ran
towards the girl with the infant, a movement so unexpected by her
that she staggered and fell back, but next moment he was
threatening the other child, who was standing, still laughing, in
the doorway. She screamed, and ran towards the kitchen. Lebedeff
stamped his foot angrily; then, seeing the prince regarding him
with amazement, he murmured apologetically--"Pardon to show
respect! . . . he-he!"

" You are quite wrong . . ." began the prince.

"At once . . . at once . . . in one moment!"

He rushed like a whirlwind from the room, and Muishkin looked
inquiringly at the others.

They were all laughing, and the guest joined in the chorus.

"He has gone to get his coat," said the boy.

"How annoying!" exclaimed the prince. "I thought . . . Tell me,
is he . . ."

"You think he is drunk?" cried the young man on the sofa. " Not
in the least. He's only had three or four small glasses,
perhaps five; but what is that? The usual thing!"

As the prince opened his mouth to answer, he was interrupted by
the girl, whose sweet face wore an expression of absolute

"He never drinks much in the morning; if you have come to talk
business with him, do it now. It is the best time. He sometimes
comes back drunk in the evening; but just now he passes the
greater part of the evening in tears, and reads passages of Holy
Scripture aloud, because our mother died five weeks ago."

"No doubt he ran off because he did not know what to say to you,"
said the youth on the divan. "I bet he is trying to cheat you,
and is thinking how best to do it."

Just then Lebedeff returned, having put on his coat.

"Five weeks!" said he, wiping his eyes. "Only five weeks! Poor

"But why wear a coat in holes," asked the girl, "when your new
one is hanging behind the door? Did you not see it?"

"Hold your tongue, dragon-fly!" he scolded. "What a plague you
are!" He stamped his foot irritably, but she only laughed, and

"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?"

"Well, well! I won't again," said the master of the house his
anxiety getting the better of his temper. He went up to his
daughter, and looked at the child in her arms, anxiously making
the sign of the cross over her three times. "God bless her! God
bless her!" he cried with emotion. "This little creature is my
daughter Luboff," addressing the prince. "My wife, Helena, died--
at her birth; and this is my big daughter Vera, in mourning, as
you see; and this, this, oh, this pointing to the young man on
the divan . . .

"Well, go on! never mind me!" mocked the other. "Don't be

"Excellency! Have you read that account of the murder of the
Zemarin family, in the newspaper?" cried Lebedeff, all of a

"Yes," said Muishkin, with some surprise.

"Well, that is the murderer! It is he--in fact--"

"What do you mean?" asked the visitor.

"I am speaking allegorically, of course; but he will be the
murderer of a Zemarin family in the future. He is getting ready .
.. ."

They all laughed, and the thought crossed the prince's mind that
perhaps Lebedeff was really trifling in this way because he
foresaw inconvenient questions, and wanted to gain time.

"He is a traitor! a conspirator!" shouted Lebedeff, who seemed to
have lost all control over himself. " A monster! a slanderer!
Ought I to treat him as a nephew, the son of my sister Anisia?"

"Oh! do be quiet! You must be drunk! He has taken it into his
head to play the lawyer, prince, and he practices speechifying,
and is always repeating his eloquent pleadings to his children.
And who do you think was his last client? An old woman who had
been robbed of five hundred roubles, her all, by some rogue of a
usurer, besought him to take up her case, instead of which he
defended the usurer himself, a Jew named Zeidler, because this
Jew promised to give him fifty roubles. . . ."

"It was to be fifty if I won the case, only five if I lost,"
interrupted Lebedeff, speaking in a low tone, a great contrast to
his earlier manner.

"Well! naturally he came to grief: the law is not administered as
it used to be, and he only got laughed at for his pains. But he
was much pleased with himself in spite of that. 'Most learned
judge!' said he, 'picture this unhappy man, crippled by age and
infirmities, who gains his living by honourable toil--picture him,
I repeat, robbed of his all, of his last mouthful; remember, I
entreat you, the words of that learned legislator, "Let mercy and
justice alike rule the courts of law."' Now, would you believe
it, excellency, every morning he recites this speech to us from
beginning to end, exactly as he spoke it before the magistrate.
To-day we have heard it for the fifth time. He was just starting
again when you arrived, so much does he admire it. He is now
preparing to undertake another case. I think, by the way, that
you are Prince Muishkin? Colia tells me you are the cleverest man
he has ever known. . . ."

"The cleverest in the world," interrupted his uncle hastily.

"I do not pay much attention to that opinion," continued the
young man calmly. "Colia is very fond of you, but he," pointing
to Lebedeff, "is flattering you. I can assure you I have no
intention of flattering you, or anyone else, but at least you
have some common-sense. Well, will you judge between us? Shall we
ask the prince to act as arbitrator?" he went on, addressing his

"I am so glad you chanced to come here, prince."

"I agree," said Lebedeff, firmly, looking round involuntarily at
his daughter, who had come nearer, and was listening attentively
to the conversation.

"What is it all about?" asked the prince, frowning. His head
ached, and he felt sure that Lebedeff was trying to cheat him in
some way, and only talking to put off the explanation that he had
come for.

"I will tell you all the story. I am his nephew; he did
speak the truth there, although he is generally telling lies. I
am at the University, and have not yet finished my course. I mean
to do so, and I shall, for I have a determined character. I must,
however, find something to do for the present, and therefore I
have got employment on the railway at twenty-four roubles a
month. I admit that my uncle has helped me once or twice before.
Well, I had twenty roubles in my pocket, and I gambled them away.
Can you believe that I should be so low, so base, as to lose
money in that way?"

"And the man who won it is a rogue, a rogue whom you ought not to
have paid!" cried Lebedeff.

"Yes, he is a rogue, but I was obliged to pay him," said the
young man. "As to his being a rogue, he is assuredly that, and I
am not saying it because he beat you. He is an ex-lieutenant,
prince, dismissed from the service, a teacher of boxing, and one
of Rogojin's followers. They are all lounging about the pavements
now that Rogojin has turned them off. Of course, the worst of it
is that, knowing he was a rascal, and a card-sharper, I none the
less played palki with him, and risked my last rouble. To tell
the truth, I thought to myself, 'If I lose, I will go to my
uncle, and I am sure he will not refuse to help me.' Now that was
base-cowardly and base!"

"That is so," observed Lebedeff quietly; "cowardly and base."

"Well, wait a bit, before you begin to triumph," said the nephew
viciously; for the words seemed to irritate him. "He is
delighted! I came to him here and told him everything: I acted
honourably, for I did not excuse myself. I spoke most severely of
my conduct, as everyone here can witness. But I must smarten
myself up before I take up my new post, for I am really like a
tramp. Just look at my boots! I cannot possibly appear like this,
and if I am not at the bureau at the time appointed, the job will
be given to someone else; and I shall have to try for another.
Now I only beg for fifteen roubles, and I give my word that I
will never ask him for anything again. I am also ready to promise
to repay my debt in three months' time, and I will keep my word,
even if I have to live on bread and water. My salary will amount
to seventy-five roubles in three months. The sum I now ask, added
to what I have borrowed already, will make a total of about
thirty-five roubles, so you see I shall have enough to pay him
and confound him! if he wants interest, he shall have that, too!
Haven't I always paid back the money he lent me before? Why
should he be so mean now? He grudges my having paid that
lieutenant; there can be no other reason! That's the kind he is--
a dog in the manger!"

"And he won't go away!" cried Lebedeff. "He has installed himself
here, and here he remains!"

"I have told you already, that I will not go away until I have
got what I ask. Why are you smiling, prince? You look as if you
disapproved of me."

"I am not smiling, but I really think you are in the wrong,
somewhat," replied Muishkin, reluctantly.

"Don't shuffle! Say plainly that you think that I am quite wrong,
without any 'somewhat'! Why 'somewhat'?"

"I will say you are quite wrong, if you wish."

"If I wish! That's good, I must say! Do you think I am deceived
as to the flagrant impropriety of my conduct? I am quite aware
that his money is his own, and that my action -As much like an
attempt at extortion. But you-you don't know what life is! If
people don't learn by experience, they never understand. They
must be taught. My intentions are perfectly honest; on my
conscience he will lose nothing, and I will pay back the money
with interest. Added to which he has had the moral satisfaction
of seeing me disgraced. What does he want more? and what is he
good for if he never helps anyone? Look what he does himself!
just ask him about his dealings with others, how he deceives
people! How did he manage to buy this house? You may cut off my
head if he has not let you in for something-and if he is not
trying to cheat you again. You are smiling. You don't believe

"It seems to me that all this has nothing to do with your
affairs," remarked the prince.

"I have lain here now for three days," cried the young man
without noticing, "and I have seen a lot! Fancy! he suspects his
daughter, that angel, that orphan, my cousin--he suspects her, and
every evening he searches her room, to see if she has a lover
hidden in it! He comes here too on tiptoe, creeping softly--oh,
so softly--and looks under the sofa--my bed, you know. He is mad
with suspicion, and sees a thief in every corner. He runs about
all night long; he was up at least seven times last night, to
satisfy himself that the windows and doors were barred, and to
peep into the oven. That man who appears in court for scoundrels,
rushes in here in the night and prays, lying prostrate, banging
his head on the ground by the half-hour--and for whom do you
think he prays? Who are the sinners figuring in his drunken
petitions? I have heard him with my own ears praying for the
repose of the soul of the Countess du Barry! Colia heard it too.
He is as mad as a March hare!"

"You hear how he slanders me, prince," said Lebedeff, almost
beside himself with rage. "I may be a drunkard, an evil-doer, a
thief, but at least I can say one thing for myself. He does not
know--how should he, mocker that he is?--that when he came into
the world it was I who washed him, and dressed him in his
swathing-bands, for my sister Anisia had lost her husband, and
was in great poverty. I was very little better off than she, but
I sat up night after night with her, and nursed both mother and
child; I used to go downstairs and steal wood for them from the
house-porter. How often did I sing him to sleep when I was half
dead with hunger! In short, I was more than a father to him, and
now--now he jeers at me! Even if I did cross myself, and pray for
the repose of the soul of the Comtesse du Barry, what does it
matter? Three days ago, for the first time in my life, I read her
biography in an historical dictionary. Do you know who she was?
You there!" addressing his nephew. "Speak! do you know?"

"Of course no one knows anything about her but you," muttered the
young man in a would-be jeering tone.

"She was a Countess who rose from shame to reign like a Queen. An
Empress wrote to her, with her own hand, as 'Ma chere cousine.'
At a lever-du-roi one morning (do you know what a lever-du-roi
was?)--a Cardinal, a Papal legate, offered to put on her
stockings; a high and holy person like that looked on it as an
honour! Did you know this? I see by your expression that you did
not! Well, how did she die? Answer!"

"Oh! do stop--you are too absurd!"

"This is how she died. After all this honour and glory, after
having been almost a Queen, she was guillotined by that butcher,
Samson. She was quite innocent, but it had to be done, for the
satisfaction of the fishwives of Paris. She was so terrified,
that she did not understand what was happening. But when Samson
seized her head, and pushed her under the knife with his foot,
she cried out: 'Wait a moment! wait a moment, monsieur!' Well,
because of that moment of bitter suffering, perhaps the Saviour
will pardon her other faults, for one cannot imagine a greater
agony. As I read the story my heart bled for her. And what does
it matter to you, little worm, if I implored the Divine mercy for
her, great sinner as she was, as I said my evening prayer? I
might have done it because I doubted if anyone had ever crossed
himself for her sake before. It may be that in the other world
she will rejoice to think that a sinner like herself has cried to
heaven for the salvation of her soul. Why are you laughing? You
believe nothing, atheist! And your story was not even correct! If
you had listened to what I was saying, you would have heard that
I did not only pray for the Comtesse du Barry. I said, 'Oh Lord!
give rest to the soul of that great sinner, the Comtesse du
Barry, and to all unhappy ones like her.' You see that is quite a
different thing, for how many sinners there are, how many women,
who have passed through the trials of this life, are now
suffering and groaning in purgatory! I prayed for you, too, in
spite of your insolence and impudence, also for your fellows, as
it seems that you claim to know how I pray. . ."

"Oh! that's enough in all conscience! Pray for whom you choose,
and the devil take them and you! We have a scholar here; you did
not know that, prince?" he continued, with a sneer. "He reads all
sorts of books and memoirs now."

"At any rate, your uncle has a kind heart," remarked the prince,
who really had to force himself to speak to the nephew, so much
did he dislike him.

"Oh, now you are going to praise him! He will be set up! He puts
his hand on his heart, and he is delighted! I never said he was a
man without heart, but he is a rascal--that's the pity of it. And
then, he is addicted to drink, and his mind is unhinged, like
that of most people who have taken more than is good for them for
years. He loves his children--oh, I know that well enough! He
respected my aunt, his late wife ... and he even has a sort of
affection for me. He has remembered me in his will."

"I shall leave you nothing!" exclaimed his uncle angrily.

"Listen to me, Lebedeff," said the prince in a decided voice,
turning his back on the young man. "I know by experience that
when you choose, you can be business-like. . I . I have very
little time to spare, and if you ... By the way--excuse me--what
is your Christian name? I have forgotten it."




Everyone in the room began to laugh.

"He is telling lies!" cried the nephew. "Even now he cannot speak
the truth. He is not called Timofey Lukianovitch, prince, but
Lukian Timofeyovitch. Now do tell us why you must needs lie about
it? Lukian or Timofey, it is all the same to you, and what
difference can it make to the prince? He tells lies without the
least necessity, simply by force of habit, I assure you."

"Is that true?" said the prince impatiently.

"My name really is Lukian Timofeyovitch," acknowledged Lebedeff,
lowering his eyes, and putting his hand on his heart.

"Well, for God's sake, what made you say the other?"

"To humble myself," murmured Lebedeff.

"What on earth do you mean? Oh I if only I knew where Colia was
at this moment!" cried the prince, standing up, as if to go.

"I can tell you all about Colia," said the young man

"Oh! no, no!" said Lebedeff, hurriedly.

"Colia spent the night here, and this morning went after his
father, whom you let out of prison by paying his debts--Heaven
only knows why! Yesterday the general promised to come and lodge
here, but he did not appear. Most probably he slept at the hotel
close by. No doubt Colia is there, unless he has gone to Pavlofsk
to see the Epanchins. He had a little money, and was intending to
go there yesterday. He must be either at the hotel or at

"At Pavlofsk! He is at Pavlofsk, undoubtedly!" interrupted
Lebedeff. . . . "But come--let us go into the garden--we will
have coffee there. . . ." And Lebedeff seized the prince's arm,
and led him from the room. They went across the yard, and found
themselves in a delightful little garden with the trees already
in their summer dress of green, thanks to the unusually fine
weather. Lebedeff invited his guest to sit down on a green seat
before a table of the same colour fixed in the earth, and took a
seat facing him. In a few minutes the coffee appeared, and the
prince did not refuse it. The host kept his eyes fixed on
Muishkin, with an expression of passionate servility.

"I knew nothing about your home before," said the prince
absently, as if he were thinking of something else.

"Poor orphans," began Lebedeff, his face assuming a mournful air,
but he stopped short, for the other looked at him inattentively,
as if he had already forgotten his own remark. They waited a few
minutes in silence, while Lebedeff sat with his eyes fixed
mournfully on the young man's face.

"Well!" said the latter, at last rousing himself. "Ah! yes! You
know why I came, Lebedeff. Your letter brought me. Speak! Tell me
all about it."

The clerk, rather confused, tried to say something, hesitated,
began to speak, and again stopped. The prince looked at him

"I think I understand, Lukian Timofeyovitch: you were not sure
that I should come. You did not think I should start at the first
word from you, and you merely wrote to relieve your conscience.
However, you see now that I have come, and I have had enough of
trickery. Give up serving, or trying to serve, two masters.
Rogojin has been here these three weeks. Have you managed to sell
her to him as you did before? Tell me the truth."

"He discovered everything, the monster ... himself ......"

"Don't abuse him; though I dare say you have something to
complain of. . . ."

"He beat me, he thrashed me unmercifully!" replied Lebedeff
vehemently. "He set a dog on me in Moscow, a bloodhound, a
terrible beast that chased me all down the street."

"You seem to take me for a child, Lebedeff. Tell me, is it a fact
that she left him while they were in Moscow?"

"Yes, it is a fact, and this time, let me tell you, on the very
eve of their marriage! It was a question of minutes when she
slipped off to Petersburg. She came to me directly she arrived--
'Save me, Lukian! find me some refuge, and say nothing to the
prince!' She is afraid of you, even more than she is of him, and
in that she shows her wisdom!" And Lebedeff slily put his finger
to his brow as he said the last words.

"And now it is you who have brought them together again?"

"Excellency, how could I, how could I prevent it?"

"That will do. I can find out for myself. Only tell me, where is
she now? At his house? With him?"

"Oh no! Certainly not! 'I am free,' she says; you know how she
insists on that point. 'I am entirely free.' She repeats it over
and over again. She is living in Petersburgskaia, with my sister-
in-law, as I told you in my letter."

"She is there at this moment?"

"Yes, unless she has gone to Pavlofsk: the fine weather may have
tempted her, perhaps, into the country, with Daria Alexeyevna. 'I
am quite free,' she says. Only yesterday she boasted of her
freedom to Nicolai Ardalionovitch--a bad sign," added Lebedeff,

"Colia goes to see her often, does he not?"

"He is a strange boy, thoughtless, and inclined to be

"Is it long since you saw her?"

"I go to see her every day, every day."

"Then you were there yesterday?"

"N-no: I have not been these three last days."

"It is a pity you have taken too much wine, Lebedeff I want to
ask you something ... but. . ."

"All right! all right! I am not drunk," replied the clerk,
preparing to listen.

"Tell me, how was she when you left her?"

"She is a woman who is seeking. .. "


"She seems always to be searching about, as if she had lost
something. The mere idea of her coming marriage disgusts her; she
looks on it as an insult. She cares as much for HIM as for a
piece of orange-peel--not more. Yet I am much mistaken if she
does not look on him with fear and trembling. She forbids his
name to be mentioned before her, and they only meet when
unavoidable. He understands, well enough! But it must be gone
through She is restless, mocking, deceitful, violent...."

"Deceitful and violent?"

"Yes, violent. I can give you a proof of it. A few days ago she
tried to pull my hair because I said something that annoyed her.
I tried to soothe her by reading the Apocalypse aloud."

"What?" exclaimed the prince, thinking he had not heard aright.

"By reading the Apocalypse. The lady has a restless imagination,
he-he! She has a liking for conversation on serious subjects, of
any kind; in fact they please her so much, that it flatters her
to discuss them. Now for fifteen years at least I have studied
the Apocalypse, and she agrees with me in thinking that the
present is the epoch represented by the third horse, the black
one whose rider holds a measure in his hand. It seems to me that
everything is ruled by measure in our century; all men are
clamouring for their rights; 'a measure of wheat for a penny, and
three measures of barley for a penny.' But, added to this, men
desire freedom of mind and body, a pure heart, a healthy life,
and all God's good gifts. Now by pleading their rights alone,
they will never attain all this, so the white horse, with his
rider Death, comes next, and is followed by Hell. We talked about
this matter when we met, and it impressed her very much."

"Do you believe all this?" asked Muishkin, looking curiously at
his companion.

"I both believe it and explain it. I am but a poor creature, a
beggar, an atom in the scale of humanity. Who has the least
respect for Lebedeff? He is a target for all the world, the butt
of any fool who chooses to kick him. But in interpreting
revelation I am the equal of anyone, great as he may be! Such is
the power of the mind and the spirit. I have made a lordly
personage tremble, as he sat in his armchair . . . only by
talking to him of things concerning the spirit. Two years ago, on
Easter Eve, His Excellency Nil Alexeyovitch, whose subordinate I
was then, wished to hear what I had to say, and sent a message by
Peter Zakkaritch to ask me to go to his private room. 'They tell
me you expound the prophecies relating to Antichrist,' said he,
when we were alone. 'Is that so?' ' Yes,' I answered
unhesitatingly, and I began to give some comments on the
Apostle's allegorical vision. At first he smiled, but when we
reached the numerical computations and correspondences, he
trembled, and turned pale. Then he begged me to close the book,
and sent me away, promising to put my name on the reward list.
That took place as I said on the eve of Easter, and eight days
later his soul returned to God."


"It is the truth. One evening after dinner he stumbled as he
stepped out of his carriage. He fell, and struck his head on the
curb, and died immediately. He was seventy-three years of age,
and had a red face, and white hair; he deluged himself with
scent, and was always smiling like a child. Peter Zakkaritch
recalled my interview with him, and said, 'YOU FORETOLD HIS

The prince rose from his seat, and Lebedeff, surprised to see his
guest preparing to go so soon, remarked: "You are not
interested?" in a respectful tone.

"I am not very well, and my head aches. Doubtless the effect of
the journey," replied the prince, frowning.

"You should go into the country," said Lebedeff timidly.

The prince seemed to be considering the suggestion.

"You see, I am going into the country myself in three days, with
my children and belongings. The little one is delicate; she needs
change of air; and during our absence this house will be done up.
I am going to Pavlofsk."

"You are going to Pavlofsk too?" asked the prince sharply.
"Everybody seems to be going there. Have you a house in that

"I don't know of many people going to Pavlofsk, and as for the
house, Ivan Ptitsin has let me one of his villas rather cheaply.
It is a pleasant place, lying on a hill surrounded by trees, and
one can live there for a mere song. There is good music to be
heard, so no wonder it is popular. I shall stay in the lodge. As
to the villa itself. . "

"Have you let it?"

"N-no--not exactly."

"Let it to me," said the prince.

Now this was precisely what Lebedeff had made up his mind to do
in the last three minutes. Not that he bad any difficulty in
finding a tenant; in fact the house was occupied at present by a
chance visitor, who had told Lebedeff that he would perhaps take
it for the summer months. The clerk knew very well that this
"PERHAPS" meant "CERTAINLY," but as he thought he could make more
out of a tenant like the prince, he felt justified in speaking
vaguely about the present inhabitant's intentions. "This is quite
a coincidence," thought he, and when the subject of price was
mentioned, he made a gesture with his hand, as if to waive away a
question of so little importance.

"Oh well, as you like!" said Muishkin. "I will think it over. You
shall lose nothing!"

They were walking slowly across the garden.

"But if you ... I could . . ." stammered Lebedeff, "if...if you
please, prince, tell you something on the subject which would
interest you, I am sure." He spoke in wheedling tones, and
wriggled as he walked along.

Muishkin stopped short.

"Daria Alexeyevna also has a villa at Pavlofsk."


"A certain person is very friendly with her, and intends to visit
her pretty often."


"Aglaya Ivanovna..."

"Oh stop, Lebedeff!" interposed Muishkin, feeling as if he had
been touched on an open wound. "That ... that has nothing to do
with me. I should like to know when you are going to start. The
sooner the better as far as I am concerned, for I am at an

They had left the garden now, and were crossing the yard on their
way to the gate.

"Well, leave your hotel at once and come here; then we can all go
together to Pavlofsk the day after tomorrow."

"I will think about it," said the prince dreamily, and went off.

The clerk stood looking after his guest, struck by his sudden
absent-mindedness. He had not even remembered to say goodbye, and
Lebedeff was the more surprised at the omission, as he knew by
experience how courteous the prince usually was.


It was now close on twelve o'clock.

The prince knew that if he called at the Epanchins' now he would
only find the general, and that the latter might probably carry
him straight off to Pavlofsk with him; whereas there was one
visit he was most anxious to make without delay.

So at the risk of missing General Epanchin altogether, and thus
postponing his visit to Pavlofsk for a day, at least, the prince
decided to go and look for the house he desired to find.

The visit he was about to pay was, in some respects, a risky one.
He was in two minds about it, but knowing that the house was in
the Gorohovaya, not far from the Sadovaya, he determined to go in
that direction, and to try to make up his mind on the way.

Arrived at the point where the Gorohovaya crosses the Sadovaya,
he was surprised to find how excessively agitated he was. He had
no idea that his heart could beat so painfully.

One house in the Gorohovaya began to attract his attention long
before he reached it, and the prince remembered afterwards that
he had said to himself: "That is the house, I'm sure of it." He
came up to it quite curious to discover whether he had guessed
right, and felt that he would be disagreeably impressed to find
that he had actually done so. The house was a large gloomy-
looking structure, without the slightest claim to architectural
beauty, in colour a dirty green. There are a few of these old
houses, built towards the end of the last century, still standing
in that part of St. Petersburg, and showing little change from
their original form and colour. They are solidly built, and are
remarkable for the thickness of their walls, and for the fewness
of their windows, many of which are covered by gratings. On the
ground-floor there is usually a money-changer's shop, and the
owner lives over it. Without as well as within, the houses seem
inhospitable and mysterious--an impression which is difficult to
explain, unless it has something to do with the actual
architectural style. These houses are almost exclusively
inhabited by the merchant class.

Arrived at the gate, the prince looked up at the legend over it,
which ran:

"House of Rogojin, hereditary and honourable citizen."

He hesitated no longer; but opened the glazed door at the bottom
of the outer stairs and made his way up to the second storey. The
place was dark and gloomy-looking; the walls of the stone
staircase were painted a dull red. Rogojin and his mother and
brother occupied the whole of the second floor. The servant who
opened the door to Muishkin led him, without taking his name,
through several rooms and up and down many steps until they
arrived at a door, where he knocked.

Parfen Rogojin opened the door himself.

On seeing the prince he became deadly white, and apparently fixed
to the ground, so that he was more like a marble statue than a
human being. The prince had expected some surprise, but Rogojin
evidently considered his visit an impossible and miraculous
event. He stared with an expression almost of terror, and his
lips twisted into a bewildered smile.

"Parfen! perhaps my visit is ill-timed. I-I can go away again if
you like," said Muishkin at last, rather embarrassed.

"No, no; it's all right, come in," said Parfen, recollecting

They were evidently on quite familiar terms. In Moscow they had
had many occasions of meeting; indeed, some few of those meetings
were but too vividly impressed upon their memories. They had not
met now, however, for three months.

The deathlike pallor, and a sort of slight convulsion about the
lips, had not left Rogojin's face. Though he welcomed his guest,
he was still obviously much disturbed. As he invited the prince
to sit down near the table, the latter happened to turn towards
him, and was startled by the strange expression on his face. A
painful recollection flashed into his mind. He stood for a time,
looking straight at Rogojin, whose eyes seemed to blaze like
fire. At last Rogojin smiled, though he still looked agitated and

"What are you staring at me like that for?" he muttered. "Sit

The prince took a chair.

"Parfen," he said, "tell me honestly, did you know that I was
coming to Petersburg or no?"

"Oh, I supposed you were coming," the other replied, smiling
sarcastically, and I was right in my supposition, you see; but
how was I to know that you would come TODAY?"

A certain strangeness and impatience in his manner impressed the
prince very forcibly.

"And if you had known that I was coming today, why be so
irritated about it?" he asked, in quiet surprise.

"Why did you ask me?"

"Because when I jumped out of the train this morning, two eyes
glared at me just as yours did a moment since."

"Ha! and whose eyes may they have been?" said Rogojin,
suspiciously. It seemed to the prince that he was trembling.

"I don't know; I thought it was a hallucination. I often have
hallucinations nowadays. I feel just as I did five years ago when
my fits were about to come on."

"Well, perhaps it was a hallucination, I don't know," said

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.

"Shall you go abroad again then?" he asked, and suddenly added,
"Do you remember how we came up in the train from Pskoff
together? You and your cloak and leggings, eh?"

And Rogojin burst out laughing, this time with unconcealed
malice, as though he were glad that he had been able to find an
opportunity for giving vent to it.

"Have you quite taken up your quarters here?" asked the prince

"Yes, I'm at home. Where else should I go to?"

"We haven't met for some time. Meanwhile I have heard things
about you which I should not have believed to be possible."

"What of that? People will say anything," said Rogojin drily.

"At all events, you've disbanded your troop--and you are living in
your own house instead of being fast and loose about the place;
that's all very good. Is this house all yours, or joint

"It is my mother's. You get to her apartments by that passage."

"Where's your brother?"

"In the other wing."

"Is he married?"

"Widower. Why do you want to know all this?"

The prince looked at him, but said nothing. He had suddenly
relapsed into musing, and had probably not heard the question at
all. Rogojin did not insist upon an answer, and there was silence
for a few moments.

"I guessed which was your house from a hundred yards off," said
the prince at last.

"Why so?"

"I don't quite know. Your house has the aspect of yourself and
all your family; it bears the stamp of the Rogojin life; but ask
me why I think so, and I can tell you nothing. It is nonsense, of
course. I am nervous about this kind of thing troubling me so
much. I had never before imagined what sort of a house you would
live in, and yet no sooner did I set eyes on this one than I said
to myself that it must be yours."

"Really!" said Rogojin vaguely, not taking in what the prince
meant by his rather obscure remarks.

The room they were now sitting in was a large one, lofty but
dark, well furnished, principally with writing-tables and desks
covered with papers and books. A wide sofa covered with red
morocco evidently served Rogojin for a bed. On the table beside
which the prince had been invited to seat himself lay some books;
one containing a marker where the reader had left off, was a
volume of Solovieff's History. Some oil-paintings in worn gilded
frames hung on the walls, but it was impossible to make out what
subjects they represented, so blackened were they by smoke and
age. One, a life-sized portrait, attracted the prince's
attention. It showed a man of about fifty, wearing a long riding-
coat of German cut. He had two medals on his breast; his beard
was white, short and thin; his face yellow and wrinkled, with a
sly, suspicious expression in the eyes.

"That is your father, is it not?" asked the prince.

"Yes, it is," replied Rogojin with an unpleasant smile, as if he
had expected his guest to ask the question, and then to make some
disagreeable remark.

"Was he one of the Old Believers?"

"No, he went to church, but to tell the truth he really preferred
the old religion. This was his study and is now mine. Why did you
ask if he were an Old Believer?"

"Are you going to be married here?"

"Ye-yes!" replied Rogojin, starting at the unexpected question.


"You know yourself it does not depend on me."

"Parfen, I am not your enemy, and I do not intend to oppose your
intentions in any way. I repeat this to you now just as I said it
to you once before on a very similar occasion. When you were
arranging for your projected marriage in Moscow, I did not
interfere with you--you know I did not. That first time she fled
to me from you, from the very altar almost, and begged me to
'save her from you.' Afterwards she ran away from me again, and
you found her and arranged your marriage with her once more; and
now, I hear, she has run away from you and come to Petersburg.
Is it true? Lebedeff wrote me to this effect, and that's why I came
here. That you had once more arranged matters with Nastasia
Philipovna I only learned last night in the train from a friend of
yours, Zaleshoff--if you wish to know.

"I confess I came here with an object. I wished to persuade
Nastasia to go abroad for her health; she requires it. Both mind
and body need a change badly. I did not intend to take her abroad
myself. I was going to arrange for her to go without me. Now I
tell you honestly, Parfen, if it is true that all is made up
between you, I will not so much as set eyes upon her, and I will
never even come to see you again.

"You know quite well that I am telling the truth, because I have
always been frank with you. I have never concealed my own opinion
from you. I have always told you that I consider a marriage
between you and her would be ruin to her. You would also be
ruined, and perhaps even more hopelessly. If this marriage were
to be broken off again, I admit I should be greatly pleased; but
at the same time I have not the slightest intention of trying to
part you. You may be quite easy in your mind, and you need not
suspect me. You know yourself whether I was ever really your
rival or not, even when she ran away and came to me.

"There, you are laughing at me--I know why you laugh. It is
perfectly true that we lived apart from one another all the time,
in different towns. I told you before that I did not love her
with love, but with pity! You said then that you understood me;
did you really understand me or not? What hatred there is in your
eyes at this moment! I came to relieve your mind, because you are
dear to me also. I love you very much, Parfen; and now I shall go
away and never come back again. Goodbye."

The prince rose.

"Stay a little," said Parfen, not leaving his chair and resting
his head on his right hand. "I haven't seen you for a long time."

The prince sat down again. Both were silent for a few moments.

"When you are not with me I hate you, Lef Nicolaievitch. I have
loathed you every day of these three months since I last saw you.
By heaven I have!" said Rogojin." I could have poisoned you at
any minute. Now, you have been with me but a quarter of an hour,
and all my malice seems to have melted away, and you are as dear
to me as ever. Stay here a little longer."

"When I am with you you trust me; but as soon as my back is
turned you suspect me," said the prince, smiling, and trying to
hide his emotion.

"I trust your voice, when I hear you speak. I quite understand
that you and I cannot be put on a level, of course."

"Why did you add that?--There! Now you are cross again," said
the prince, wondering.

"We were not asked, you see. We were made different, with
different tastes and feelings, without being consulted. You say
you love her with pity. I have no pity for her. She hates me--
that's the plain truth of the matter. I dream of her every night,
and always that she is laughing at me with another man. And so
she does laugh at me. She thinks no more of marrying me than if
she were changing her shoe. Would you believe it, I haven't seen
her for five days, and I daren't go near her. She asks me what I
come for, as if she were not content with having disgraced me--"

"Disgraced you! How?"

"Just as though you didn't know! Why, she ran away from me, and
went to you. You admitted it yourself, just now."

"But surely you do not believe that she..."

"That she did not disgrace me at Moscow with that officer.
Zemtuznikoff? I know for certain she did, after having fixed our
marriage-day herself!"

"Impossible!" cried the prince.

"I know it for a fact," replied Rogojin, with conviction.

"It is not like her, you say? My friend, that's absurd. Perhaps
such an act would horrify her, if she were with you, but it is
quite different where I am concerned. She looks on me as vermin.
Her affair with Keller was simply to make a laughing-stock of me.
You don't know what a fool she made of me in Moscow; and the
money I spent over her! The money! the money!"

"And you can marry her now, Parfen! What will come of it all?"
said the prince, with dread in his voice.

Rogojin gazed back gloomily, and with a terrible expression in
his eyes, but said nothing.

"I haven't been to see her for five days," he repeated, after a
slight pause. "I'm afraid of being turned out. She says she's
still her own mistress, and may turn me off altogether, and go
abroad. She told me this herself," he said, with a peculiar
glance at Muishkin. "I think she often does it merely to frighten
me. She is always laughing at me, for some reason or other; but
at other times she's angry, and won't say a word, and that's what
I'm afraid of. I took her a shawl one day, the like of which she
might never have seen, although she did live in luxury and she
gave it away to her maid, Katia. Sometimes when I can keep away
no longer, I steal past the house on the sly, and once I watched
at the gate till dawn--I thought something was going on--and she
saw me from the window. She asked me what I should do if I found
she had deceived me. I said, 'You know well enough.'"

"What did she know?" cried the prince.

"How was I to tell?" replied Rogojin, with an angry laugh. "I did
my best to catch her tripping in Moscow, but did not succeed.
However, I caught hold of her one day, and said: 'You are engaged
to be married into a respectable family, and do you know what
sort of a woman you are? THAT'S the sort of woman you are,' I

"You told her that?"


"Well, go on."

"She said, 'I wouldn't even have you for a footman now, much less
for a husband.' 'I shan't leave the house,' I said, 'so it
doesn't matter.' 'Then I shall call somebody and have you kicked
out,' she cried. So then I rushed at her, and beat her till she
was bruised all over."

"Impossible!" cried the prince, aghast.

"I tell you it's true," said Rogojin quietly, but with eyes
ablaze with passion.

"Then for a day and a half I neither slept, nor ate, nor drank,
and would not leave her. I knelt at her feet: 'I shall die here,'
I said, 'if you don't forgive me; and if you have me turned out,
I shall drown myself; because, what should I be without you now?'
She was like a madwoman all that day; now she would cry; now she
would threaten me with a knife; now she would abuse me. She
called in Zaleshoff and Keller, and showed me to them, shamed me
in their presence. 'Let's all go to the theatre,' she says, 'and
leave him here if he won't go--it's not my business. They'll give
you some tea, Parfen Semeonovitch, while I am away, for you must
be hungry.' She came back from the theatre alone. 'Those cowards
wouldn't come,' she said. 'They are afraid of you, and tried to
frighten me, too. "He won't go away as he came," they said,
"he'll cut your throat--see if he doesn't." Now, I shall go to my
bedroom, and I shall not even lock my door, just to show you how
much I am afraid of you. You must be shown that once for all. Did
you have tea?' 'No,' I said, 'and I don't intend to.' 'Ha, ha!
you are playing off your pride against your stomach! That sort of
heroism doesn't sit well on you,' she said.

"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.

"She came up to me and said, 'Do you know who the Pope of Rome
is?' 'I've heard of him,' I said. 'I suppose you've read the
Universal History, Parfen Semeonovitch, haven't you?' she asked.
'I've learned nothing at all,' I said. 'Then I'll lend it to you
to read. You must know there was a Roman Pope once, and he was
very angry with a certain Emperor; so the Emperor came and
neither ate nor drank, but knelt before the Pope's palace till he
should be forgiven. And what sort of vows do you think that
Emperor was making during all those days on his knees? Stop, I'll
read it to you!' Then she read me a lot of verses, where it said
that the Emperor spent all the time vowing vengeance against the
Pope. 'You don't mean to say you don't approve of the poem,
Parfen Semeonovitch,' she says. 'All you have read out is perfectly
true,' say I. 'Aha!' says she, 'you admit it's true, do you? And
you are making vows to yourself that if I marry you, you will
remind me of all this, and take it out of me.' 'I don't know,' I
say, 'perhaps I was thinking like that, and perhaps I was not.
I'm not thinking of anything just now.' 'What are your thoughts,
then?' 'I'm thinking that when you rise from your chair and go past me,
I watch you, and follow you with my eyes; if your dress does but
rustle, my heart sinks; if you leave the room, I remember every
little word and action, and what your voice sounded like, and
what you said. I thought of nothing all last night, but sat here
listening to your sleeping breath, and heard you move a little,
twice.' 'And as for your attack upon me,' she says, 'I suppose
you never once thought of THAT?' 'Perhaps I did think of it, and
perhaps not,' I say. And what if I don't either forgive you or
marry, you' 'I tell you I shall go and drown myself.' 'H'm!' she
said, and then relapsed into silence. Then she got angry, and
went out. 'I suppose you'd murder me before you drowned yourself,
though!' she cried as she left the room.

"An hour later, she came to me again, looking melancholy. 'I will
marry you, Parfen Semeonovitch,' she says, not because I'm
frightened of you, but because it's all the same to me how I ruin
myself. And how can I do it better? Sit down; they'll bring you
some dinner directly. And if I do marry you, I'll be a faithful
wife to you--you need not doubt that.' Then she thought a bit,
and said, 'At all events, you are not a flunkey; at first, I
thought you were no better than a flunkey.' And she arranged the
wedding and fixed the day straight away on the spot.

"Then, in another week, she had run away again, and came here to
Lebedeff's; and when I found her here, she said to me, 'I'm not
going to renounce you altogether, but I wish to put off the
wedding a bit longer yet--just as long as I like--for I am still
my own mistress; so you may wait, if you like.' That's how the
matter stands between us now. What do you think of all this, Lef

"'What do you think of it yourself?" replied the prince, looking
sadly at Rogojin.

"As if I can think anything about it! I--" He was about to say
more, but stopped in despair.

The prince rose again, as if he would leave.

"At all events, I shall not interfere with you!" he murmured, as
though making answer to some secret thought of his own.

"I'll tell you what!" cried Rogojin, and his eyes flashed fire.
"I can't understand your yielding her to me like this; I don't
understand it. Have you given up loving her altogether? At first
you suffered badly--I know it--I saw it. Besides, why did you
come post-haste after us? Out of pity, eh? He, he, he!" His mouth
curved in a mocking smile.

"Do you think I am deceiving you?" asked the prince.

"No! I trust you--but I can't understand. It seems to me that
your pity is greater than my love." A hungry longing to speak his
mind out seemed to flash in the man's eyes, combined with an
intense anger.

"Your love is mingled with hatred, and therefore, when your love
passes, there will be the greater misery," said the prince. "I
tell you this, Parfen--"

"What! that I'll cut her throat, you mean?"

The prince shuddered.

"You'll hate her afterwards for all your present love, and for
all the torment you are suffering on her account now. What seems
to me the most extraordinary thing is, that she can again consent
to marry you, after all that has passed between you. When I heard
the news yesterday, I could hardly bring myself to believe it.
Why, she has run twice from you, from the very altar rails, as it
were. She must have some presentiment of evil. What can she want
with you now? Your money? Nonsense! Besides, I should think you
must have made a fairly large hole in your fortune already.
Surely it is not because she is so very anxious to find a
husband? She could find many a one besides yourself. Anyone would
be better than you, because you will murder her, and I feel sure
she must know that but too well by now. Is it because you love
her so passionately? Indeed, that may be it. I have heard that
there are women who want just that kind of love ... but still ..."
The prince paused, reflectively.

"What are you grinning at my father's portrait again for?" asked
Rogojin, suddenly. He was carefully observing every change in the
expression of the prince's face.

"I smiled because the idea came into my head that if it were not
for this unhappy passion of yours you might have, and would have,
become just such a man as your father, and that very quickly,
too. You'd have settled down in this house of yours with some
silent and obedient wife. You would have spoken rarely, trusted
no one, heeded no one, and thought of nothing but making money."

"Laugh away! She said exactly the same, almost word for word,
when she saw my father's portrait. It's remarkable how entirely
you and she are at one now-a-days."

"What, has she been here?" asked the prince with curiosity.

"Yes! She looked long at the portrait and asked all about my
father. 'You'd be just such another,' she said at last, and
laughed. 'You have such strong passions, Parfen,' she said, 'that
they'd have taken you to Siberia in no time if you had not,
luckily, intelligence as well. For you have a good deal of
intelligence.' (She said this--believe it or not. The first time
I ever heard anything of that sort from her.) 'You'd soon have
thrown up all this rowdyism that you indulge in now, and you'd
have settled down to quiet, steady money-making, because you have
little education; and here you'd have stayed just like your
father before you. And you'd have loved your money so that you'd
amass not two million, like him, but ten million; and you'd
have died of hunger on your money bags to finish up with, for you
carry everything to extremes.' There, that's exactly word for
word as she said it to me. She never talked to me like that
before. She always talks nonsense and laughs when she's with me.
We went all over this old house together. 'I shall change all
this,' I said, 'or else I'll buy a new house for the wedding.'
'No, no!' she said, 'don't touch anything; leave it all as it is;
I shall live with your mother when I marry you.'

"I took her to see my mother, and she was as respectful and kind
as though she were her own daughter. Mother has been almost
demented ever since father died--she's an old woman. She sits and
bows from her chair to everyone she sees. If you left her alone
and didn't feed her for three days, I don't believe she would
notice it. Well, I took her hand, and I said, 'Give your blessing
to this lady, mother, she's going to be my wife.' So Nastasia
kissed mother's hand with great feeling. 'She must have suffered
terribly, hasn't she?' she said. She saw this book here lying
before me. 'What! have you begun to read Russian history?' she
asked. She told me once in Moscow, you know, that I had better
get Solovieff's Russian History and read it, because I knew
nothing. 'That's good,' she said, 'you go on like that, reading
books. I'll make you a list myself of the books you ought to read
first--shall I?' She had never once spoken to me like this
before; it was the first time I felt I could breathe before her
like a living creature."

"I'm very, very glad to hear of this, Parfen," said the prince,
with real feeling. "Who knows? Maybe God will yet bring you near
to one another."

"Never, never!" cried Rogojin, excitedly.

"Look here, Parfen; if you love her so much, surely you must be
anxious to earn her respect? And if you do so wish, surely you
may hope to? I said just now that I considered it extraordinary
that she could still be ready to marry you. Well, though I cannot
yet understand it, I feel sure she must have some good reason, or
she wouldn't do it. She is sure of your love; but besides that,
she must attribute SOMETHING else to you--some good qualities,
otherwise the thing would not be. What you have just said
confirms my words. You say yourself that she found it possible to
speak to you quite differently from her usual manner. You are
suspicious, you know, and jealous, therefore when anything
annoying happens to you, you exaggerate its significance. Of
course, of course, she does not think so ill of you as you say.
Why, if she did, she would simply be walking to death by drowning
or by the knife, with her eyes wide open, when she married you.
It is impossible! As if anybody would go to their death

Rogojin listened to the prince's excited words with a bitter
smile. His conviction was, apparently, unalterable.

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

"Water or the knife?" said the latter, at last. "Ha, ha--that's
exactly why she is going to marry me, because she knows for
certain that the knife awaits her. Prince, can it be that you
don't even yet see what's at the root of it all?"

"I don't understand you."

"Perhaps he really doesn't understand me! They do say that you
are a--you know what! She loves another--there, you can
understand that much! Just as I love her, exactly so she loves
another man. And that other man is--do you know who? It's you.
There--you didn't know that, eh?"


"You, you! She has loved you ever since that day, her birthday!
Only she thinks she cannot marry you, because it would be the
ruin of you. 'Everybody knows what sort of a woman I am,' she
says. She told me all this herself, to my very face! She's afraid
of disgracing and ruining you, she says, but it doesn't matter
about me. She can marry me all right! Notice how much
consideration she shows for me!"

"But why did she run away to me, and then again from me to--"

"From you to me? Ha, ha! that's nothing! Why, she always acts as
though she were in a delirium now-a-days! Either she says, 'Come
on, I'll marry you! Let's have the wedding quickly!' and fixes
the day, and seems in a hurry for it, and when it begins to come
near she feels frightened; or else some other idea gets into her
head--goodness knows! you've seen her--you know how she goes on--
laughing and crying and raving! There's nothing extraordinary
about her having run away from you! She ran away because she
found out how dearly she loved you. She could not bear to be near
you. You said just now that I had found her at Moscow, when she
ran away from you. I didn't do anything of the sort; she came to
me herself, straight from you. 'Name the day--I'm ready!' she
said. 'Let's have some champagne, and go and hear the gipsies
sing!' I tell you she'd have thrown herself into the water long
ago if it were not for me! She doesn't do it because I am,
perhaps, even more dreadful to her than the water! She's marrying
me out of spite; if she marries me, I tell you, it will be for

"But how do you, how can you--" began the prince, gazing with
dread and horror at Rogojin.

"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!"

"I didn't come here for that purpose, Parfen. That was not in my

"That may be! Perhaps you didn't COME with the idea, but the idea
is certainly there NOW! Ha, ha! well, that's enough! What are you
upset about? Didn't you really know it all before? You astonish

"All this is mere jealousy--it is some malady of yours, Parfen!
You exaggerate everything," said the prince, excessively
agitated. "What are you doing?"

"Let go of it!" said Parfen, seizing from the prince's hand a
knife which the latter had at that moment taken up from the
table, where it lay beside the history. Parfen replaced it where
it had been.

"I seemed to know it--I felt it, when I was coming back to
Petersburg," continued the prince, "I did not want to come, I
wished to forget all this, to uproot it from my memory
altogether! Well, good-bye--what is the matter?"

He had absently taken up the knife a second time, and again
Rogojin snatched it from his hand, and threw it down on the
table. It was a plainlooking knife, with a bone handle, a blade
about eight inches long, and broad in proportion, it did not

Seeing that the prince was considerably struck by the fact that
he had twice seized this knife out of his hand, Rogojin caught it
up with some irritation, put it inside the book, and threw the
latter across to another table.

"Do you cut your pages with it, or what?" asked Muishkin, still
rather absently, as though unable to throw off a deep
preoccupation into which the conversation had thrown him.


"It's a garden knife, isn't it?"

"Yes. Can't one cut pages with a garden knife?"

"It's quite new."

"Well, what of that? Can't I buy a new knife if I like?" shouted
Rogojin furiously, his irritation growing with every word.

The prince shuddered, and gazed fixedly at Parfen. Suddenly he
burst out laughing.

"Why, what an idea!" he said. "I didn't mean to ask you any of
these questions; I was thinking of something quite different! But
my head is heavy, and I seem so absent-minded nowadays! Well,
good-bye--I can't remember what I wanted to say--good-bye!"

"Not that way," said Rogojin.

"There, I've forgotten that too!"

"This way--come along--I'll show you."


THEY passed through the same rooms which the prince had traversed
on his arrival. In the largest there were pictures on the walls,
portraits and landscapes of little interest. Over the door,
however, there was one of strange and rather striking shape; it
was six or seven feet in length, and not more than a foot in
height. It represented the Saviour just taken from the cross.

The prince glanced at it, but took no further notice. He moved on
hastily, as though anxious to get out of the house. But Rogojin
suddenly stopped underneath the picture.

"My father picked up all these pictures very cheap at auctions,
and so on," he said; "they are all rubbish, except the one over
the door, and that is valuable. A man offered five hundred
roubles for it last week."

"Yes--that's a copy of a Holbein," said the prince, looking at it
again, "and a good copy, too, so far as I am able to judge. I saw
the picture abroad, and could not forget it--what's the matter?"

Rogojin had dropped the subject of the picture and walked on. Of
course his strange frame of mind was sufficient to account for
his conduct; but, still, it seemed queer to the prince that he
should so abruptly drop a conversation commenced by himself.
Rogojin did not take any notice of his question.

"Lef Nicolaievitch," said Rogojin, after a pause, during which
the two walked along a little further, "I have long wished to ask
you, do you believe in God?"

"How strangely you speak, and how odd you look!" said the other,

"I like looking at that picture," muttered Rogojin, not noticing,
apparently, that the prince had not answered his question.

"That picture! That picture!" cried Muishkin, struck by a sudden
idea. "Why, a man's faith might be ruined by looking at that

"So it is!" said Rogojin, unexpectedly. They had now reached the
front door.

The prince stopped.

"How?" he said. "What do you mean? I was half joking, and you
took me up quite seriously! Why do you ask me whether I believe
in God

"Oh, no particular reason. I meant to ask you before--many people
are unbelievers nowadays, especially Russians, I have been told.
You ought to know--you've lived abroad."

Rogojin laughed bitterly as he said these words, and opening the
door, held it for the prince to pass out. Muishkin looked
surprised, but went out. The other followed him as far as the
landing of the outer stairs, and shut the door behind him. They
both now stood facing one another, as though oblivious of where
they were, or what they had to do next.

"Well, good-bye!" said the prince, holding out his hand.

"Good-bye," said Rogojin, pressing it hard, but quite

The prince made one step forward, and then turned round.

"As to faith," he said, smiling, and evidently unwilling to leave
Rogojin in this state--"as to faith, I had four curious
conversations in two days, a week or so ago. One morning I met a
man in the train, and made acquaintance with him at once. I had
often heard of him as a very learned man, but an atheist; and I
was very glad of the opportunity of conversing with so eminent
and clever a person. He doesn't believe in God, and he talked a
good deal about it, but all the while it appeared to me that he
was speaking OUTSIDE THE SUBJECT. And it has always struck me,
both in speaking to such men and in reading their books, that
they do not seem really to be touching on that at all, though on
the surface they may appear to do so. I told him this, but I dare
say I did not clearly express what I meant, for he could not
understand me.

"That same evening I stopped at a small provincial hotel, and it
so happened that a dreadful murder had been committed there the
night before, and everybody was talking about it. Two peasants--
elderly men and old friends--had had tea together there the night
before, and were to occupy the same bedroom. They were not drunk
but one of them had noticed for the first time that his friend
possessed a silver watch which he was wearing on a chain. He was
by no means a thief, and was, as peasants go, a rich man; but
this watch so fascinated him that he could not restrain himself.
He took a knife, and when his friend turned his back, he came up
softly behind, raised his eyes to heaven, crossed himself, and
saying earnestly--'God forgive me, for Christ's sake!' he cut his
friend's throat like a sheep, and took the watch."

Rogojin roared with laughter. He laughed as though he were in a
sort of fit. It was strange to see him laughing so after the
sombre mood he had been in just before.

"Oh, I like that! That beats anything!" he cried convulsively,
panting for breath. "One is an absolute unbeliever; the other is
such a thorough--going believer that he murders his friend to the
tune of a prayer! Oh, prince, prince, that's too good for
anything! You can't have invented it. It's the best thing I've

"Next morning I went out for a stroll through the town,"
continued the prince, so soon as Rogojin was a little quieter,
though his laughter still burst out at intervals, "and soon
observed a drunken-looking soldier staggering about the pavement.
He came up to me and said, 'Buy my silver cross, sir! You shall
have it for fourpence--it's real silver.' I looked, and there he
held a cross, just taken off his own neck, evidently, a large tin
one, made after the Byzantine pattern. I fished out fourpence,
and put his cross on my own neck, and I could see by his face
that he was as pleased as he could be at the thought that he had
succeeded in cheating a foolish gentleman, and away he went to
drink the value of his cross. At that time everything that I saw
made a tremendous impression upon me. I had understood nothing
about Russia before, and had only vague and fantastic memories of
it. So I thought, 'I will wait awhile before I condemn this
Judas. Only God knows what may be hidden in the hearts of

"Well, I went homewards, and near the hotel I came across a poor
woman, carrying a child--a baby of some six weeks old. The mother
was quite a girl herself. The baby was smiling up at her, for the
first time in its life, just at that moment; and while I watched
the woman she suddenly crossed herself, oh, so devoutly! 'What is
it, my good woman I asked her. (I was never but asking questions
then!) Exactly as is a mother's joy when her baby smiles for the
first time into her eyes, so is God's joy when one of His
children turns and prays to Him for the first time, with all his
heart!' This is what that poor woman said to me, almost word for
word; and such a deep, refined, truly religious thought it was--a
thought in which the whole essence of Christianity was expressed
in one flash--that is, the recognition of God as our Father, and
of God's joy in men as His own children, which is the chief idea
of Christ. She was a simple country-woman--a mother, it's true--
and perhaps, who knows, she may have been the wife of the drunken

"Listen, Parfen; you put a question to me just now. This is my
reply. The essence of religious feeling has nothing to do with
reason, or atheism, or crime, or acts of any kind--it has nothing
to do with these things--and never had. There is something besides
all this, something which the arguments of the atheists can never
touch. But the principal thing, and the conclusion of my
argument, is that this is most clearly seen in the heart of a
Russian. This is a conviction which I have gained while I have
been in this Russia of ours. Yes, Parfen! there is work to be
done; there is work to be done in this Russian world! Remember
what talks we used to have in Moscow! And I never wished to come
here at all; and I never thought to meet you like this, Parfen!
Well, well--good-bye--good-bye! God be with you!"

He turned and went downstairs.

"Lef Nicolaievitch!" cried Parfen, before he had reached the next
landing. "Have you got that cross you bought from the soldier
with you?"

"Yes, I have," and the prince stopped again.

"Show it me, will you?"

A new fancy! The prince reflected, and then mounted the stairs
once more. He pulled out the cross without taking it off his

"Give it to me," said Parfen.

"Why? do you--"

The prince would rather have kept this particular cross.

"I'll wear it; and you shall have mine. I'll take it off at

"You wish to exchange crosses? Very well, Parfen, if that's the
case, I'm glad enough--that makes us brothers, you know."

The prince took off his tin cross, Parfen his gold one, and the
exchange was made.

Parfen was silent. With sad surprise the prince observed that the
look of distrust, the bitter, ironical smile, had still not
altogether left his newly-adopted brother's face. At moments, at
all events, it showed itself but too plainly,

At last Rogojin took the prince's hand, and stood so for some
moments, as though he could not make up his mind. Then he drew
him along, murmuring almost inaudibly,


They stopped on the landing, and rang the bell at a door opposite
to Parfen's own lodging.

An old woman opened to them and bowed low to Parfen, who asked
her some questions hurriedly, but did not wait to hear her
answer. He led the prince on through several dark, cold-looking
rooms, spotlessly clean, with white covers over all the

Without the ceremony of knocking, Parfen entered a small
apartment, furnished like a drawing-room, but with a polished
mahogany partition dividing one half of it from what was probably
a bedroom. In one corner of this room sat an old woman in an arm-
chair, close to the stove. She did not look very old, and her
face was a pleasant, round one; but she was white-haired and, as
one could detect at the first glance, quite in her second
childhood. She wore a black woollen dress, with a black
handkerchief round her neck and shoulders, and a white cap with
black ribbons. Her feet were raised on a footstool. Beside her
sat another old woman, also dressed in mourning, and silently
knitting a stocking; this was evidently a companion. They both
looked as though they never broke the silence. The first old
woman, so soon as she saw Rogojin and the prince, smiled and
bowed courteously several times, in token of her gratification at
their visit.

"Mother," said Rogojin, kissing her hand, "here is my great
friend, Prince Muishkin; we have exchanged crosses; he was like a
real brother to me at Moscow at one time, and did a great deal
for me. Bless him, mother, as you would bless your own son. Wait
a moment, let me arrange your hands for you."

But the old lady, before Parfen had time to touch her, raised her
right hand, and, with three fingers held up, devoutly made the
sign of the cross three times over the prince. She then nodded
her head kindly at him once more.

"There, come along, Lef Nicolaievitch; that's all I brought you
here for," said Rogojin.

When they reached the stairs again he added:

"She understood nothing of what I said to her, and did not know
what I wanted her to do, and yet she blessed you; that shows she
wished to do so herself. Well, goodbye; it's time you went, and I
must go too."

He opened his own door.

"Well, let me at least embrace you and say goodbye, you strange
fellow!" cried the prince, looking with gentle reproach at
Rogojin, and advancing towards him. But the latter had hardly
raised his arms when he dropped them again. He could not make up
his mind to it; he turned away from the prince in order to avoid
looking at him. He could not embrace him.

"Don't be afraid," he muttered, indistinctly, "though I have
taken your cross, I shall not murder you for your watch." So
saying, he laughed suddenly, and strangely. Then in a moment his
face became transfigured; he grew deadly white, his lips
trembled, his eves burned like fire. He stretched out his arms
and held the prince tightly to him, and said in a strangled

"Well, take her! It's Fate! She's yours. I surrender her....
Remember Rogojin!" And pushing the prince from him, without
looking back at him, he hurriedly entered his own flat, and
banged the door.


IT was late now, nearly half-past two, and the prince did not
find General Epanchin at home. He left a card, and determined to
look up Colia, who had a room at a small hotel near. Colia was
not in, but he was informed that he might be back shortly, and
had left word that if he were not in by half-past three it was to
be understood that he had gone to Pavlofsk to General Epanchin's,
and would dine there. The prince decided to wait till half-past
three, and ordered some dinner. At half-past three there was no
sign of Colia. The prince waited until four o'clock, and then
strolled off mechanically wherever his feet should carry him.

In early summer there are often magnificent days in St.
Petersburg--bright, hot and still. This happened to be such a day.

For some time the prince wandered about without aim or object. He
did not know the town well. He stopped to look about him on
bridges, at street corners. He entered a confectioner's shop to
rest, once. He was in a state of nervous excitement and
perturbation; he noticed nothing and no one; and he felt a
craving for solitude, to be alone with his thoughts and his
emotions, and to give himself up to them passively. He loathed
the idea of trying to answer the questions that would rise up in
his heart and mind. "I am not to blame for all this," he thought
to himself, half unconsciously.

Towards six o'clock he found himself at the station of the
Tsarsko-Selski railway.

He was tired of solitude now; a new rush of feeling took hold of
him, and a flood of light chased away the gloom, for a moment,
from his soul. He took a ticket to Pavlofsk, and determined to
get there as fast as he could, but something stopped him; a
reality, and not a fantasy, as he was inclined to think it. He
was about to take his place in a carriage, when he suddenly threw
away his ticket and came out again, disturbed and thoughtful. A
few moments later, in the street, he recalled something that had
bothered him all the afternoon. He caught himself engaged in a
strange occupation which he now recollected he had taken up at
odd moments for the last few hours--it was looking about all
around him for something, he did not know what. He had forgotten
it for a while, half an hour or so, and now, suddenly, the uneasy
search had recommenced.

But he had hardly become conscious of this curious phenomenon,
when another recollection suddenly swam through his brain,
interesting him for the moment, exceedingly. He remembered that
the last time he had been engaged in looking around him for the
unknown something, he was standing before a cutler's shop, in the
window of which were exposed certain goods for sale. He was
extremely anxious now to discover whether this shop and these
goods really existed, or whether the whole thing had been a

He felt in a very curious condition today, a condition similar
to that which had preceded his fits in bygone years.

He remembered that at such times he had been particularly
absentminded, and could not discriminate between objects and
persons unless he concentrated special attention upon them.

He remembered seeing something in the window marked at sixty
copecks. Therefore, if the shop existed and if this object were
really in the window, it would prove that he had been able to
concentrate his attention on this article at a moment when, as a
general rule, his absence of mind would have been too great to
admit of any such concentration; in fact, very shortly after he
had left the railway station in such a state of agitation.

So he walked back looking about him for the shop, and his heart
beat with intolerable impatience. Ah! here was the very shop, and
there was the article marked 60 cop." "Of course, it's sixty
copecks," he thought, and certainly worth no more." This idea
amused him and he laughed.

But it was a hysterical laugh; he was feeling terribly oppressed.
He remembered clearly that just here, standing before this
window, he had suddenly turned round, just as earlier in the day
he had turned and found the dreadful eyes of Rogojin fixed upon
him. Convinced, therefore, that in this respect at all events he
had been under no delusion, he left the shop and went on.

This must be thought out; it was clear that there had been no
hallucination at the station then, either; something had actually
happened to him, on both occasions; there was no doubt of it. But
again a loathing for all mental exertion overmastered him; he
would not think it out now, he would put it off and think of
something else. He remembered that during his epileptic fits, or
rather immediately preceding them, he had always experienced a
moment or two when his whole heart, and mind, and body seemed to
wake up to vigour and light; when he became filled with joy and
hope, and all his anxieties seemed to be swept away for ever;
these moments were but presentiments, as it were, of the one
final second (it was never more than a second) in which the fit
came upon him. That second, of course, was inexpressible. When
his attack was over, and the prince reflected on his symptoms, he
used to say to himself: "These moments, short as they are, when I
feel such extreme consciousness of myself, and consequently more
of life than at other times, are due only to the disease--to the
sudden rupture of normal conditions. Therefore they are not
really a higher kind of life, but a lower." This reasoning,
however, seemed to end in a paradox, and lead to the further
consideration:--"What matter though it be only disease, an
abnormal tension of the brain, if when I recall and analyze the
moment, it seems to have been one of harmony and beauty in the
highest degree--an instant of deepest sensation, overflowing with
unbounded joy and rapture, ecstatic devotion, and completest
life?" Vague though this sounds, it was perfectly comprehensible
to Muishkin, though he knew that it was but a feeble expression
of his sensations.

That there was, indeed, beauty and harmony in those abnormal
moments, that they really contained the highest synthesis of
life, he could not doubt, nor even admit the possibility of
doubt. He felt that they were not analogous to the fantastic and
unreal dreams due to intoxication by hashish, opium or wine. Of
that he could judge, when the attack was over. These instants
were characterized--to define it in a word--by an intense
quickening of the sense of personality. Since, in the last
conscious moment preceding the attack, he could say to himself,
with full understanding of his words: "I would give my whole life
for this one instant," then doubtless to him it really was worth
a lifetime. For the rest, he thought the dialectical part of his
argument of little worth; he saw only too clearly that the result
of these ecstatic moments was stupefaction, mental darkness,
idiocy. No argument was possible on that point. His conclusion,
his estimate of the "moment," doubtless contained some error, yet
the reality of the sensation troubled him. What's more unanswerable
than a fact? And this fact had occurred. The prince had confessed
unreservedly to himself that the feeling of intense beatitude in
that crowded moment made the moment worth a lifetime. "I feel
then," he said one day to Rogojin in Moscow, "I feel then as if I
understood those amazing words--'There shall be no more time.'"
And he added with a smile: "No doubt the epileptic Mahomet refers
to that same moment when he says that he visited all the
dwellings of Allah, in less time than was needed to empty his
pitcher of water." Yes, he had often met Rogojin in Moscow, and
many were the subjects they discussed. "He told me I had been a
brother to him," thought the prince. "He said so today, for the
first time."

He was sitting in the Summer Garden on a seat under a tree, and
his mind dwelt on the matter. It was about seven o'clock, and the
place was empty. The stifling atmosphere foretold a storm, and
the prince felt a certain charm in the contemplative mood which
possessed him. He found pleasure, too, in gazing at the exterior
objects around him. All the time he was trying to forget some
thing, to escape from some idea that haunted him; but melancholy
thoughts came back, though he would so willingly have escaped
from them. He remembered suddenly how he had been talking to the
waiter, while he dined, about a recently committed murder which
the whole town was discussing, and as he thought of it something
strange came over him. He was seized all at once by a violent
desire, almost a temptation, against which he strove in vain.

He jumped up and walked off as fast as he could towards the
"Petersburg Side." [One of the quarters of St. Petersburg.] He
had asked someone, a little while before, to show him which was
the Petersburg Side, on the banks of the Neva. He had not gone
there, however; and he knew very well that it was of no use to go
now, for he would certainly not find Lebedeff's relation at home.
He had the address, but she must certainly have gone to Pavlofsk,
or Colia would have let him know. If he were to go now, it would
merely be out of curiosity, but a sudden, new idea had come into
his head.

However, it was something to move on and know where he was going.
A minute later he was still moving on, but without knowing
anything. He could no longer think out his new idea. He tried to
take an interest in all he saw; in the sky, in the Neva. He spoke
to some children he met. He felt his epileptic condition becoming
more and more developed. The evening was very close; thunder was
heard some way off.

The prince was haunted all that day by the face of Lebedeff's
nephew whom he had seen for the first time that morning, just as
one is haunted at times by some persistent musical refrain. By a
curious association of ideas, the young man always appeared as
the murderer of whom Lebedeff had spoken when introducing him to
Muishkin. Yes, he had read something about the murder, and that
quite recently. Since he came to Russia, he had heard many
stories of this kind, and was interested in them. His
conversation with the waiter, an hour ago, chanced to be on the
subject of this murder of the Zemarins, and the latter had agreed
with him about it. He thought of the waiter again, and decided
that he was no fool, but a steady, intelligent man: though, said
he to himself, "God knows what he may really be; in a country
with which one is unfamiliar it is difficult to understand the
people one meets." He was beginning to have a passionate faith in
the Russian soul, however, and what discoveries he had made in
the last six months, what unexpected discoveries! But every soul
is a mystery, and depths of mystery lie in the soul of a Russian.
He had been intimate with Rogojin, for example, and a brotherly
friendship had sprung up between them--yet did he really know
him? What chaos and ugliness fills the world at  times! What a
self-satisfied rascal is that nephew of Lebedeff's! "But what am
I thinking," continued the prince to himself. "Can he really have
committed that crime? Did he kill those six persons? I seem to be
confusing things ... how strange it all is.... My head goes
round... And Lebedeff's daughter--how sympathetic and
charming her face was as she held the child in her arms! What an
innocent look and child-like laugh she had! It is curious that I
had forgotten her until now. I expect Lebedeff adores her--and I
really believe, when I think of it, that as sure as two and two
make four, he is fond of that nephew, too!"

Well, why should he judge them so hastily! Could he really say
what they were, after one short visit? Even Lebedeff seemed an
enigma today. Did he expect to find him so? He had never seen him
like that before. Lebedeff and the Comtesse du Barry! Good
Heavens! If Rogojin should really kill someone, it would not, at
any rate, be such a senseless, chaotic affair. A knife made to a
special pattern, and six people killed in a kind of delirium. But
Rogojin also had a knife made to a special pattern. Can it be that
Rogojin wishes to murder anyone? The prince began to tremble
violently. "It is a crime on my part to imagine anything so base,
with such cynical frankness." His face reddened with shame at the
thought; and then there came across him as in a flash the memory
of the incidents at the Pavlofsk station, and at the other
station in the morning; and the question asked him by Rogojin
about THE EYES and Rogojin's cross, that he was even now wearing;
and the benediction of Rogojin's mother; and his embrace on the
darkened staircase--that last supreme renunciation--and now, to
find himself full of this new "idea," staring into shop-windows,
and looking round for things--how base he was!

Despair overmastered his soul; he would not go on, he would go
back to his hotel; he even turned and went the other way; but a
moment after he changed his mind again and went on in the old

Why, here he was on the Petersburg Side already, quite close to
the house! Where was his "idea"? He was marching along without it
now. Yes, his malady was coming back, it was clear enough; all
this gloom and heaviness, all these "ideas," were nothing more
nor less than a fit coming on; perhaps he would have a fit this
very day.

But just now all the gloom and darkness had fled, his heart felt
full of joy and hope, there was no such thing as doubt. And yes,
he hadn't seen her for so long; he really must see her. He wished
he could meet Rogojin; he would take his hand, and they would go
to her together. His heart was pure, he was no rival of Parfen's.
Tomorrow, he would go and tell him that he had seen her. Why, he
had only come for the sole purpose of seeing her, all the way
from Moscow! Perhaps she might be here still, who knows? She
might not have gone away to Pavlofsk yet.

Yes, all this must be put straight and above-board, there must be
no more passionate renouncements, such as Rogojin's. It must all
be clear as day. Cannot Rogojin's soul bear the light? He said he
did not love her with sympathy and pity; true, he added that
"your pity is greater than my love," but he was not quite fair on
himself there. Kin! Rogojin reading a book--wasn't that sympathy
beginning? Did it not show that he comprehended his relations
with her? And his story of waiting day and night for her
forgiveness? That didn't look quite like passion alone.

And as to her face, could it inspire nothing but passion? Could
her face inspire passion at all now? Oh, it inspired suffering,
grief, overwhelming grief of the soul! A poignant, agonizing
memory swept over the prince's heart.

Yes, agonizing. He remembered how he had suffered that first day
when he thought he observed in her the symptoms of madness. He
had almost fallen into despair. How could he have lost his hold
upon her when she ran away from him to Rogojin? He ought to have
run after her himself, rather than wait for news as he had done.
Can Rogojin have failed to observe, up to now, that she is mad?
Rogojin attributes her strangeness to other causes, to passion!
What insane jealousy! What was it he had hinted at in that
suggestion of his? The prince suddenly blushed, and shuddered to
his very heart.

But why recall all this? There was insanity on both sides. For
him, the prince, to love this woman with passion, was
unthinkable. It would be cruel and inhuman. Yes. Rogojin is not
fair to himself; he has a large heart; he has aptitude for
sympathy. When he learns the truth, and finds what a pitiable
being is this injured, broken, half-insane creature, he will
forgive her all the torment she has caused him. He will become
her slave, her brother, her friend. Compassion will teach even
Rogojin, it will show him how to reason. Compassion is the chief
law of human existence. Oh, how guilty he felt towards Rogojin!
And, for a few warm, hasty words spoken in Moscow, Parfen had
called him "brother," while he--but no, this was delirium! It
would all come right! That gloomy Parfen had implied that his
faith was waning; he must suffer dreadfully. He said he liked to
look at that picture; it was not that he liked it, but he felt
the need of looking at it. Rogojin was not merely a passionate
soul; he was a fighter. He was fighting for the restoration of
his dying faith. He must have something to hold on to and
believe, and someone to believe in. What a strange picture that
of Holbein's is! Why, this is the street, and here's the house,
No. 16.

The prince rang the bell, and asked for Nastasia Philipovna. The
lady of the house came out, and stated that Nastasia had gone to
stay with Daria Alexeyevna at Pavlofsk, and might be there some

Madame Filisoff was a little woman of forty, with a cunning face,
and crafty, piercing eyes. When, with an air of mystery, she
asked her visitor's name, he refused at first to answer, but in a
moment he changed his mind, and left strict instructions that it
should be given to Nastasia Philipovna. The urgency of his
request seemed to impress Madame Filisoff, and she put on a
knowing expression, as if to say, "You need not be afraid, I
quite understand." The prince's name evidently was a great
surprise to her. He stood and looked absently at her for a
moment, then turned, and took the road back to his hotel. But he
went away not as he came. A great change had suddenly come over
him. He went blindly forward; his knees shook under him; he was
tormented by "ideas"; his lips were blue, and trembled with a
feeble, meaningless smile. His demon was upon him once more.

What had happened to him? Why was his brow clammy with drops of
moisture, his knees shaking beneath him, and his soul oppressed
with a cold gloom? Was it because he had just seen these dreadful
eyes again? Why, he had left the Summer Garden on purpose to see
them; that had been his "idea." He had wished to assure himself
that he would see them once more at that house. Then why was he
so overwhelmed now, having seen them as he expected? just as
though he had not expected to see them! Yes, they were the very
same eyes; and no doubt about it. The same that he had seen in
the crowd that morning at the station, the same that he had
surprised in Rogojin's rooms some hours later, when the latter
had replied to his inquiry with a sneering laugh, "Well, whose
eyes were they?" Then for the third time they had appeared just
as he was getting into the train on his way to see Aglaya. He had
had a strong impulse to rush up to Rogojin, and repeat his words
of the morning "Whose eyes are they?" Instead he had fled from
the station, and knew nothing more, until he found himself gazing
into the window of a cutler's shop, and wondering if a knife with
a staghorn handle would cost more than sixty copecks. And as the
prince sat dreaming in the Summer Garden under a lime-tree, a
wicked demon had come and whispered in his car: "Rogojin has been
spying upon you and watching you all the morning in a frenzy of
desperation. When he finds you have not gone to Pavlofsk--a
terrible discovery for him--he will surely go at once to that
house in Petersburg Side, and watch for you there, although only
this morning you gave your word of honour not to see HER, and
swore that you had not come to Petersburg for that purpose." And
thereupon the prince had hastened off to that house, and what was
there in the fact that he had met Rogojin there? He had only seen
a wretched, suffering creature, whose state of mind was gloomy
and miserable, but most comprehensible. In the morning Rogojin
had seemed to be trying to keep out of the way; but at the
station this afternoon he had stood out, he had concealed
himself, indeed, less than the prince himself; at the house, now,
he had stood fifty yards off on the other side of the road, with
folded hands, watching, plainly in view and apparently desirous
of being seen. He had stood there like an accuser, like a judge,
not like a--a what?

And why had not the prince approached him and spoken to him,
instead of turning away and pretending he had seen nothing,
although their eyes met? (Yes, their eyes had met, and they had
looked at each other.) Why, he had himself wished to take Rogojin
by the hand and go in together, he had himself determined to go
to him on the morrow and tell him that he had seen her, he had
repudiated the demon as he walked to the house, and his heart had
been full of joy.

Was there something in the whole aspect of the man, today,
sufficient to justify the prince's terror, and the awful
suspicions of his demon? Something seen, but indescribable, which
filled him with dreadful presentiments? Yes, he was convinced of
it--convinced of what? (Oh, how mean and hideous of him to feel
this conviction, this presentiment! How he blamed himself for
it!) "Speak if you dare, and tell me, what is the presentiment?"
he repeated to himself, over and over again. "Put it into words,
speak out clearly and distinctly. Oh, miserable coward that I
am!" The prince flushed with shame for his own baseness. "How
shall I ever look this man in the face again? My God, what a day!
And what a nightmare, what a nightmare!"

There was a moment, during this long, wretched walk back from the
Petersburg Side, when the prince felt an irresistible desire to
go straight to Rogojin's, wait for him, embrace him with tears
of shame and contrition, and tell him of his distrust, and finish
with it--once for all.

But here he was back at his hotel.

How often during the day he had thought of this hotel with
loathing--its corridor, its rooms, its stairs. How he had dreaded
coming back to it, for some reason.

"What a regular old woman I am today," he had said to himself
each time, with annoyance. "I believe in every foolish
presentiment that comes into my head."

He stopped for a moment at the door; a great flush of shame came
over him. "I am a coward, a wretched coward," he said, and moved
forward again; but once more he paused.

Among all the incidents of the day, one recurred to his mind to
the exclusion of the rest; although now that his self-control was
regained, and he was no longer under the influence of a
nightmare, he was able to think of it calmly. It concerned the
knife on Rogojin's table. "Why should not Rogojin have as many
knives on his table as he chooses?" thought the prince, wondering
at his suspicions, as he had done when he found himself looking
into the cutler's window. "What could it have to do with me?" he
said to himself again, and stopped as if rooted to the ground by
a kind of paralysis of limb such as attacks people under the
stress of some humiliating recollection.

The doorway was dark and gloomy at any time; but just at this
moment it was rendered doubly so by the fact that the thunder-
storm had just broken, and the rain was coming down in torrents.

And in the semi-darkness the prince distinguished a man standing
close to the stairs, apparently waiting.

There was nothing particularly significant in the fact that a man
was standing back in the doorway, waiting to come out or go
upstairs; but the prince felt an irresistible conviction that he
knew this man, and that it was Rogojin. The man moved on up the
stairs; a moment later the prince passed up them, too. His heart
froze within him. "In a minute or two I shall know all," he

The staircase led to the first and second corridors of the hotel,
along which lay the guests' bedrooms. As is often the case in
Petersburg houses, it was narrow and very dark, and turned around
a massive stone column.

On the first landing, which was as small as the necessary turn of
the stairs allowed, there was a niche in the column, about half a
yard wide, and in this niche the prince felt convinced that a man
stood concealed. He thought he could distinguish a figure
standing there. He would pass by quickly and not look. He took a
step forward, but could bear the uncertainty no longer and turned
his head.

The eyes--the same two eyes--met his! The man concealed in the
niche had also taken a step forward. For one second they stood
face to face.

Suddenly the prince caught the man by the shoulder and twisted
him round towards the light, so that he might see his face more

Rogojin's eyes flashed, and a smile of insanity distorted his
countenance. His right hand was raised, and something glittered
in it. The prince did not think of trying to stop it. All he
could remember afterwards was that he seemed to have called out:

"Parfen! I won't believe it."

Next moment something appeared to burst open before him: a
wonderful inner light illuminated his soul. This lasted perhaps
half a second, yet he distinctly remembered hearing the beginning
of the wail, the strange, dreadful wail, which burst from his
lips of its own accord, and which no effort of will on his part
could suppress.

Next moment he was absolutely unconscious; black darkness blotted
out everything.

He had fallen in an epileptic fit.

..     .      .     .     .      .     .

As is well known, these fits occur instantaneously. The face,
especially the eyes, become terribly disfigured, convulsions
seize the limbs, a terrible cry breaks from the sufferer, a wail
from which everything human seems to be blotted out, so that it
is impossible to believe that the man who has just fallen is the
same who emitted the dreadful cry. It seems more as though some
other being, inside the stricken one, had cried. Many people have
borne witness to this impression; and many cannot behold an
epileptic fit without a feeling of mysterious terror and dread.

Such a feeling, we must suppose, overtook Rogojin at this moment,
and saved the prince's life. Not knowing that it was a fit, and
seeing his victim disappear head foremost into the darkness,
hearing his head strike the stone steps below with a crash,
Rogojin rushed downstairs, skirting the body, and flung himself
headlong out of the hotel, like a raving madman.

The prince's body slipped convulsively down the steps till it
rested at the bottom. Very soon, in five minutes or so, he was
discovered, and a crowd collected around him.

A pool of blood on the steps near his head gave rise to grave
fears. Was it a case of accident, or had there been a crime? It
was, however, soon recognized as a case of epilepsy, and
identification and proper measures for restoration followed one
another, owing to a fortunate circumstance. Colia Ivolgin had
come back to his hotel about seven o'clock, owing to a sudden
impulse which made him refuse to dine at the Epanchins', and,
finding a note from the prince awaiting him, had sped away to the
latter's address. Arrived there, he ordered a cup of tea and sat
sipping it in the coffee-room. While there he heard excited
whispers of someone just found at the bottom of the stairs in a
fit; upon which he had hurried to the spot, with a presentiment
of evil, and at once recognized the prince.

The sufferer was immediately taken to his room, and though he
partially regained consciousness, he lay long in a semi-dazed

The doctor stated that there was no danger to be apprehended from
the wound on the head, and as soon as the prince could understand
what was going on around him, Colia hired a carriage and took him
away to Lebedeff's. There he was received with much cordiality,
and the departure to the country was hastened on his account.
Three days later they were all at Pavlofsk.


LEBEDEFF'S country-house was not large, but it was pretty and
convenient, especially the part which was let to the prince.

A row of orange and lemon trees and jasmines, planted in green
tubs, stood on the fairly wide terrace. According to Lebedeff,
these trees gave the house a most delightful aspect. Some were
there when he bought it, and he was so charmed with the effect
that he promptly added to their number. When the tubs containing
these plants arrived at the villa and were set in their places,
Lebedeff kept running into the street to enjoy the view of the
house, and every time he did so the rent to be demanded from the
future tenant went up with a bound.

This country villa pleased the prince very much in his state of
physical and mental exhaustion. On the day that they left for
Pavlofsk, that is the day after his attack, he appeared almost
well, though in reality he felt very far from it. The faces of
those around him for the last three days had made a pleasant
impression. He was pleased to see, not only Colia, who had become
his inseparable companion, but Lebedeff himself and all the
family, except the nephew, who had left the house. He was also
glad to receive a visit from General Ivolgin, before leaving St.

It was getting late when the party arrived at Pavlofsk, but
several people called to see the prince, and assembled in the
verandah. Gania was the first to arrive. He had grown so pale and
thin that the prince could hardly recognize him. Then came Varia
and Ptitsin, who were rusticating in the neighbourhood. As to
General Ivolgin, he scarcely budged from Lebedeff's house, and
seemed to have moved to Pavlofsk with him. Lebedeff did his best
to keep Ardalion Alexandrovitch by him, and to prevent him from
invading the prince's quarters. He chatted with him
confidentially, so that they might have been taken for old
friends. During those three days the prince had noticed that they
frequently held long conversations; he often heard their voices
raised in argument on deep and learned subjects, which evidently
pleased Lebedeff. He seemed as if he could not do without the
general. But it was not only Ardalion Alexandrovitch whom
Lebedeff kept out of the prince's way. Since they had come to the
villa, he treated his own family the same. Upon the pretext that
his tenant needed quiet, he kept him almost in isolation, and
Muishkin protested in vain against this excess of zeal. Lebedeff
stamped his feet at his daughters and drove them away if they
attempted to join the prince on the terrace; not even Vera was

"They will lose all respect if they are allowed to be so free and
easy; besides it is not proper for them," he declared at last, in
answer to a direct question from the prince.

"Why on earth not?" asked the latter. "Really, you know, you are
making yourself a nuisance, by keeping guard over me like this. I
get bored all by myself; I have told you so over and over again,
and you get on my nerves more than ever by waving your hands and
creeping in and out in the mysterious way you do."

It was a fact that Lebedeff, though he was so anxious to keep
everyone else from disturbing the patient, was continually in and
out of the prince's room himself. He invariably began by opening
the door a crack and peering in to see if the prince was there,
or if he had escaped; then he would creep softly up to the arm-
chair, sometimes making Muishkin jump by his sudden appearance.
He always asked if the patient wanted anything, and when the
latter replied that he only wanted to be left in peace, he would
turn away obediently and make for the door on tip-toe, with
deprecatory gestures to imply that he had only just looked in,
that he would not speak a word, and would go away and not intrude
again; which did not prevent him from reappearing in ten minutes
or a quarter of an hour. Colia had free access to the prince, at
which Lebedeff was quite disgusted and indignant. He would listen
at the door for half an hour at a time while the two were
talking. Colia found this out, and naturally told the prince of
his discovery.

"Do you think yourself my master, that you try to keep me under
lock and key like this?" said the prince to Lebedeff. "In the
country, at least, I intend to be free, and you may make up your
mind that I mean to see whom I like, and go where I please."

"Why, of course," replied the clerk, gesticulating with his

The prince looked him sternly up and down.

"Well, Lukian Timofeyovitch, have you brought the little cupboard
that you had at the head of your bed with you here?"

"No, I left it where it was."


"It cannot be moved; you would have to pull the wall down, it is
so firmly fixed."

"Perhaps you have one like it here?"

"I have one that is even better, much better; that is really why
I bought this house."

"Ah! What visitor did you turn away from my door, about an hour

"The-the general. I would not let him in; there is no need for
him to visit you, prince... I have the deepest esteem for him,
he is a--a great man. You don't believe it? Well, you will see,
and yet, most excellent prince, you had much better not receive

"May I ask why? and also why you walk about on tiptoe and always
seem as if you were going to whisper a secret in my ear whenever
you come near me?"

"I am vile, vile; I know it!" cried Lebedeff, beating his breast
with a contrite air. "But will not the general be too hospitable
for you?"

"Too hospitable?"

"Yes. First, he proposes to come and live in my house. Well and
good; but he sticks at nothing; he immediately makes himself one
of the family. We have talked over our respective relations
several times, and discovered that we are connected by marriage.
It seems also that you are a sort of nephew on his mother's side;
he was explaining it to me again only yesterday. If you are his
nephew, it follows that I must also be a relation of yours, most
excellent prince. Never mind about that, it is only a foible; but
just now he assured me that all his life, from the day he was
made an ensign to the 11th of last June, he has entertained at
least two hundred guests at his table every day. Finally, he went
so far as to say that they never rose from the table; they dined,
supped, and had tea, for fifteen hours at a stretch. This went on
for thirty years without a break; there was barely time to change
the table-cloth; directly one person left, another took his
place. On feast-days he entertained as many as three hundred
guests, and they numbered seven hundred on the thousandth
anniversary of the foundation of the Russian Empire. It amounts
to a passion with him; it makes one uneasy to hear of it. It is
terrible to have to entertain people who do things on such a
scale. That is why I wonder whether such a man is not too
hospitable for you and me."

"But you seem to be on the best of terms with him?"

"Quite fraternal--I look upon it as a joke. Let us be brothers-
in-law, it is all the same to me,--rather an honour than not. But
in spite of the two hundred guests and the thousandth anniversary
of the Russian Empire, I can see that he is a very remarkable
man. I am quite sincere. You said just now that I always looked
as if I was going to tell you a secret; you are right. I have a
secret to tell you: a certain person has just let me know that
she is very anxious for a secret interview with you."

"Why should it be secret? Not at all; I will call on her myself

"No, oh no!" cried Lebedeff, waving his arms; "if she is afraid,
it is not for the reason you think. By the way, do you know that
the monster comes every day to inquire after your health?"

"You call him a monster so often that it makes me suspicious."

"You must have no suspicions, none whatever," said Lebedeff
quickly. "I only want you to know that the person in question is
not afraid of him, but of something quite, quite different."

"What on earth is she afraid of, then? Tell me plainly, without
any more beating about the bush," said the prince, exasperated by
the other's mysterious grimaces.

"Ah that is the secret," said Lebedeff, with a smile.

"Whose secret?"

"Yours. You forbade me yourself to mention it before you, most
excellent prince," murmured Lebedeff. Then, satisfied that he had
worked up Muishkin's curiosity to the highest pitch, he added
abruptly: "She is afraid of Aglaya Ivanovna."

The prince frowned for a moment in silence, and then said

"Really, Lebedeff, I must leave your house. Where are Gavrila
Ardalionovitch and the Ptitsins? Are they here? Have you chased
them away, too?"

"They are coming, they are coming; and the general as well. I
will open all the doors; I will call all my daughters, all of
them, this very minute," said Lebedeff in a low voice, thoroughly
frightened, and waving his hands as he ran from door to door.

At that moment Colia appeared on the terrace; he announced that
Lizabetha Prokofievna and her three daughters were close behind

Moved by this news, Lebedeff hurried up to the prince.

"Shall I call the Ptitsins, and Gavrila Ardalionovitch? Shall I
let the general in?" he asked.

"Why not? Let in anyone who wants to see me. I assure you,
Lebedeff, you have misunderstood my position from the very first;
you have been wrong all along. I have not the slightest reason to
hide myself from anyone," replied the prince gaily.

Seeing him laugh, Lebedeff thought fit to laugh also, and though
much agitated his satisfaction was quite visible.

Colia was right; the Epanchin ladies were only a few steps behind
him. As they approached the terrace other visitors appeared from
Lebedeff's side of the house-the Ptitsins, Gania, and Ardalion

The Epanchins had only just heard of the prince's illness and of
his presence in Pavlofsk, from Colia; and up to this time had
been in a state of considerable bewilderment about him. The
general brought the prince's card down from town, and Mrs.
Epanchin had felt convinced that he himself would follow his card
at once; she was much excited.

In vain the girls assured her that a man who had not written for
six months would not be in such a dreadful hurry, and that
probably he had enough to do in town without needing to bustle
down to Pavlofsk to see them. Their mother was quite angry at the
very idea of such a thing, and announced her absolute conviction
that he would turn up the next day at latest.

So next day the prince was expected all the morning, and at
dinner, tea, and supper; and when he did not appear in the
evening, Mrs. Epanchin quarrelled with everyone in the house,
finding plenty of pretexts without so much as mentioning the
prince's name.

On the third day there was no talk of him at all, until Aglaya
remarked at dinner: "Mamma is cross because the prince hasn't
turned up," to which the general replied that it was not his

Mrs. Epanchin misunderstood the observation, and rising from her
place she left the room in majestic wrath. In the evening,
however, Colia came with the story of the prince's adventures, so
far as he knew them. Mrs. Epanchin was triumphant; although Colia
had to listen to a long lecture. "He idles about here the whole
day long, one can't get rid of him; and then when he is wanted he
does not come. He might have sent a line if he did not wish to
inconvenience himself."

At the words "one can't get rid of him," Colia was very angry,
and nearly flew into a rage; but he resolved to be quiet for the
time and show his resentment later. If the words had been less
offensive he might have forgiven them, so pleased was he to see
Lizabetha Prokofievna worried and anxious about the prince's

She would have insisted on sending to Petersburg at once, for a
certain great medical celebrity; but her daughters dissuaded her,
though they were not willing to stay behind when she at once
prepared to go and visit the invalid. Aglaya, however, suggested
that it was a little unceremonious to go en masse to see him.

"Very well then, stay at home," said Mrs. Epanchin, and a good
thing too, for Evgenie Pavlovitch is coming down and there will
be no one at home to receive him."

Of course, after this, Aglaya went with the rest. In fact, she
had never had the slightest intention of doing otherwise.

Prince S., who was in the house, was requested to escort the
ladies. He had been much interested when he first heard of the
prince from the Epanchins. It appeared that they had known one
another before, and had spent some time together in a little
provincial town three months ago. Prince S. had greatly taken to
him, and was delighted with the opportunity of meeting him again,

The general had not come down from town as yet, nor had Evgenie
Pavlovitch arrived.

It was not more than two or three hundred yards from the
Epanchins' house to Lebedeff's. The first disagreeable impression
experienced by Mrs. Epanchin was to find the prince surrounded by
a whole assembly of other guests--not to mention the fact that
some of those present were particularly detestable in her eyes.
The next annoying circumstance was when an apparently strong and
healthy young fellow, well dressed, and smiling, came forward to
meet her on the terrace, instead of the half-dying unfortunate
whom she had expected to see.

She was astonished and vexed, and her disappointment pleased
Colia immensely. Of course he could have undeceived her before
she started, but the mischievous boy had been careful not to do
that, foreseeing the probably laughable disgust that she would
experience when she found her dear friend, the prince, in good
health. Colia was indelicate enough to voice the delight he felt
at his success in managing to annoy Lizabetha Prokofievna, with
whom, in spite of their really amicable relations, he was
constantly sparring.

"Just wait a while, my boy!" said she; "don't be too certain of
your triumph." And she sat down heavily, in the arm-chair pushed
forward by the prince.

Lebedeff, Ptitsin, and General Ivolgin hastened to find chairs
for the young ladies. Varia greeted them joyfully, and they
exchanged confidences in ecstatic whispers.

"I must admit, prince, I was a little put out to see you up and
about like this--I expected to find you in bed; but I give you my
word, I was only annoyed for an instant, before I collected my
thoughts properly. I am always wiser on second thoughts, and I
dare say you are the same. I assure you I am as glad to see you
well as though you were my own son,--yes, and more; and if you
don't believe me the more shame to you, and it's not my fault.
But that spiteful boy delights in playing all sorts of tricks.
You are his patron, it seems. Well, I warn you that one fine
morning I shall deprive myself of the pleasure of his further

"What have I done wrong now?" cried Colia. "What was the good of
telling you that the prince was nearly well again? You would not
have believed me; it was so much more interesting to picture him
on his death-bed."

"How long do you remain here, prince?" asked Madame Epanchin.

"All the summer, and perhaps longer."

"You are alone, aren't you,--not married?"

"No, I'm not married!" replied the prince, smiling at the
ingenuousness of this little feeler.

"Oh, you needn't laugh! These things do happen, you know! Now
then--why didn't you come to us? We have a wing quite empty. But
just as you like, of course. Do you lease it from HIM?--this
fellow, I mean," she added, nodding towards Lebedeff. "And why
does he always wriggle so?"

At that moment Vera, carrying the baby in her arms as usual, came
out of the house, on to the terrace. Lebedeff kept fidgeting
among the chairs, and did not seem to know what to do with
himself, though he had no intention of going away. He no sooner
caught sight of his daughter, than he rushed in her direction,
waving his arms to keep her away; he even forgot himself so far
as to stamp his foot.

"Is he mad?" asked Madame Epanchin suddenly.

"No, he ..."

"Perhaps he is drunk? Your company is rather peculiar," she
added, with a glance at the other guests....

"But what a pretty girl! Who is she?"

"That is Lebedeff's daughter--Vera Lukianovna."

"Indeed? She looks very sweet. I should like to make her

The words were hardly out of her mouth, when Lebedeff dragged
Vera forward, in order to present her.

"Orphans, poor orphans!" he began in a pathetic voice.

"The child she carries is an orphan, too. She is Vera's sister,
my daughter Luboff. The day this babe was born, six weeks ago, my
wife died, by the will of God Almighty. ... Yes... Vera takes
her mother's place, though she is but her sister... nothing
more ... nothing more..."

"And you! You are nothing more than a fool, if you'll excuse me!
Well! well! you know that yourself, I expect," said the lady

Lebedeff bowed low. "It is the truth," he replied, with extreme

"Oh, Mr. Lebedeff, I am told you lecture on the Apocalypse. Is it
true?" asked Aglaya.

"Yes, that is so ... for the last fifteen years."

"I have heard of you, and I think read of you in the newspapers."

"No, that was another commentator, whom the papers named. He is
dead, however, and I have taken his place," said the other, much

"We are neighbours, so will you be so kind as to come over one
day and explain the Apocalypse to me?" said Aglaya. "I do not
understand it in the least."

"Allow me to warn you," interposed General Ivolgin, that he is
the greatest charlatan on earth." He had taken the chair next to
the girl, and was impatient to begin talking. "No doubt there are
pleasures and amusements peculiar to the country," he continued,
"and to listen to a pretended student holding forth on the book
of the Revelations may be as good as any other. It may even be
original. But ... you seem to be looking at me with some
surprise--may I introduce myself--General Ivolgin--I carried you
in my arms as a baby--"

"Delighted, I'm sure," said Aglaya; "I am acquainted with Varvara
Ardalionovna and Nina Alexandrovna." She was trying hard to
restrain herself from laughing.

Mrs. Epanchin flushed up; some accumulation of spleen in her
suddenly needed an outlet. She could not bear this General
Ivolgin whom she had once known, long ago--in society.

"You are deviating from the truth, sir, as usual!" she remarked,
boiling over with indignation; "you never carried her in your

"You have forgotten, mother," said Aglaya, suddenly. "He really
did carry me about,--in Tver, you know. I was six years old, I
remember. He made me a bow and arrow, and I shot a pigeon. Don't
you remember shooting a pigeon, you and I, one day?"

"Yes, and he made me a cardboard helmet, and a little wooden
sword--I remember!" said Adelaida.

"Yes, I remember too!" said Alexandra. "You quarrelled about the
wounded pigeon, and Adelaida was put in the corner, and stood
there with her helmet and sword and all."

The poor general had merely made the remark about having carried
Aglaya in his arms because he always did so begin a conversation
with young people. But it happened that this time he had really
hit upon the truth, though he had himself entirely forgotten the
fact. But when Adelaida and Aglaya recalled the episode of the
pigeon, his mind became filled with memories, and it is
impossible to describe how this poor old man, usually half drunk,
was moved by the recollection.

"I remember--I remember it all!" he cried. "I was captain then.
You were such a lovely little thing--Nina Alexandrovna!--Gania,
listen! I was received then by General Epanchin."

"Yes, and look what you have come to now!" interrupted Mrs.
Epanchin. "However, I see you have not quite drunk your better
feelings away. But you've broken your wife's heart, sir--and
instead of looking after your children, you have spent your time
in public-houses and debtors' prisons! Go away, my friend, stand
in some corner and weep, and bemoan your fallen dignity, and
perhaps God will forgive you yet! Go, go! I'm serious! There's
nothing so favourable for repentance as to think of the past with
feelings of remorse!"

There was no need to repeat that she was serious. The general,
like all drunkards, was extremely emotional and easily touched by
recollections of his better days. He rose and walked quietly to
the door, so meekly that Mrs. Epanchin was instantly sorry for him.

"Ardalion Alexandrovitch," she cried after him, "wait a moment,
we are all sinners! When you feel that your conscience reproaches
you a little less, come over to me and we'll have a talk about
the past! I dare say I am fifty times more of a sinner than you
are! And now go, go, good-bye, you had better not stay here!" she
added, in alarm, as he turned as though to come back.

"Don't go after him just now, Colia, or he'll be vexed, and the
benefit of this moment will be lost!" said the prince, as the boy
was hurrying out of the room.

"Quite true! Much better to go in half an hour or so said Mrs.

"That's what comes of telling the truth for once in one's life!"
said Lebedeff. "It reduced him to tears."

"Come, come! the less YOU say about it the better--to judge from
all I have heard about you!" replied Mrs. Epanchin.

The prince took the first opportunity of informing the Epanchin
ladies that he had intended to pay them a visit that day, if they
had not themselves come this afternoon, and Lizabetha Prokofievna
replied that she hoped he would still do so.

By this time some of the visitors had disappeared.

Ptitsin had tactfully retreated to Lebedeff's wing; and Gania
soon followed him.

The latter had behaved modestly, but with dignity, on this
occasion of his first meeting with the Epanchins since the
rupture. Twice Mrs. Epanchin had deliberately examined him from
head to foot; but he had stood fire without flinching. He was
certainly much changed, as anyone could see who had not met him
for some time; and this fact seemed to afford Aglaya a good deal
of satisfaction.

"That was Gavrila Ardalionovitch, who just went out, wasn't it?"
she asked suddenly, interrupting somebody else's conversation to
make the remark.

"Yes, it was," said the prince.

"I hardly knew him; he is much changed, and for the better!"

"I am very glad," said the prince.

"He has been very ill," added Varia.

"How has he changed for the better?" asked Mrs. Epanchin. "I
don't see any change for the better! What's better in him? Where
did you get THAT idea from? WHAT'S better?"

"There's nothing better than the 'poor knight'!" said Colia, who
was standing near the last speaker's chair.

"I quite agree with you there!" said Prince S., laughing.

"So do I," said Adelaida, solemnly.

"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:

"What nonsense you are all talking! What do you mean by poor

"It's not the first time this urchin, your favourite, has shown
his impudence by twisting other people's words," said Aglaya,

Every time that Aglaya showed temper (and this was very often),
there was so much childish pouting, such "school-girlishness," as
it were, in her apparent wrath, that it was impossible to avoid
smiling at her, to her own unutterable indignation. On these
occasions she would say, "How can they, how DARE they laugh at

This time everyone laughed at her, her sisters, Prince S., Prince
Muishkin (though he himself had flushed for some reason), and
Colia. Aglaya was dreadfully indignant, and looked twice as
pretty in her wrath.

"He's always twisting round what one says," she cried.

"I am only repeating your own exclamation!" said Colia. "A month
ago you were turning over the pages of your Don Quixote, and
suddenly called out 'there is nothing better than the poor
knight.' I don't know whom you were referring to, of course,
whether to Don Quixote, or Evgenie Pavlovitch, or someone else,
but you certainly said these words, and afterwards there was a
long conversation . . . "

"You are inclined to go a little too far, my good boy, with your
guesses," said Mrs. Epanchin, with some show of annoyance.

"But it's not I alone," cried Colia. "They all talked about it,
and they do still. Why, just now Prince S. and Adelaida Ivanovna
declared that they upheld 'the poor knight'; so evidently there
does exist a 'poor knight'; and if it were not for Adelaida
Ivanovna, we should have known long ago who the 'poor knight'

"Why, how am I to blame?" asked Adelaida, smiling.

"You wouldn't draw his portrait for us, that's why you are to
blame! Aglaya Ivanovna asked you to draw his portrait, and gave
you the whole subject of the picture. She invented it herself;
and you wouldn't."

"What was I to draw? According to the lines she quoted:

"'From his face he never lifted
That eternal mask of steel.'"

"What sort of a face was I to draw? I couldn't draw a mask."

"I don't know what you are driving at; what mask do you mean?"
said Mrs. Epanchin, irritably. She began to see pretty clearly
though what it meant, and whom they referred to by the generally
accepted title of "poor knight." But what specially annoyed her
was that the prince was looking so uncomfortable, and blushing
like a ten-year-old child.

"Well, have you finished your silly joke?" she added, and am I to
be told what this 'poor knight' means, or is it a solemn secret
which cannot be approached lightly?"

But they all laughed on.

"It's simply that there is a Russian poem," began Prince S.,
evidently anxious to change the conversation, "a strange thing,
without beginning or end, and all about a 'poor knight.' A month
or so ago, we were all talking and laughing, and looking up a
subject for one of Adelaida's pictures--you know it is the
principal business of this family to find subjects for Adelaida's
pictures. Well, we happened upon this 'poor knight.' I don't
remember who thought of it first--"

"Oh! Aglaya Ivanovna did," said Colia.

"Very likely--I don't recollect," continued Prince S.

"Some of us laughed at the subject; some liked it; but she
declared that, in order to make a picture of the gentleman, she
must first see his face. We then began to think over all our
friends' faces to see if any of them would do, and none suited
us, and so the matter stood; that's all. I don't know why Nicolai
Ardalionovitch has brought up the joke now. What was appropriate
and funny then, has quite lost all interest by this time."

"Probably there's some new silliness about it," said Mrs.
Epanchin, sarcastically.

"There is no silliness about it at all--only the profoundest
respect," said Aglaya, very seriously. She had quite recovered
her temper; in fact, from certain signs, it was fair to conclude
that she was delighted to see this joke going so far; and a
careful observer might have remarked that her satisfaction dated
from the moment when the fact of the prince's confusion became
apparent to all.

"'Profoundest respect!' What nonsense! First, insane giggling,
and then, all of a sudden, a display of 'profoundest respect.'
Why respect? Tell me at once, why have you suddenly developed
this 'profound respect,' eh?"

"Because," replied Aglaya gravely, "in the poem the knight is
described as a man capable of living up to an ideal all his life.
That sort of thing is not to be found every day among the men of
our times. In the poem it is not stated exactly what the ideal
was, but it was evidently some vision, some revelation of pure
Beauty, and the knight wore round his neck, instead of a scarf, a
rosary. A device--A. N. B.--the meaning of which is not
explained, was inscribed on his shield--"

"No, A. N. D.," corrected Colia.

"I say A. N. B., and so it shall be!" cried Aglaya, irritably.
"Anyway, the 'poor knight' did not care what his lady was, or
what she did. He had chosen his ideal, and he was bound to serve
her, and break lances for her, and acknowledge her as the ideal
of pure Beauty, whatever she might say or do afterwards. If she
had taken to stealing, he would have championed her just the
same. I think the poet desired to embody in this one picture the
whole spirit of medieval chivalry and the platonic love of a pure
and high-souled knight. Of course it's all an ideal, and in the
'poor knight' that spirit reached the utmost limit of asceticism.
He is a Don Quixote, only serious and not comical. I used not to
understand him, and laughed at him, but now I love the 'poor
knight,' and respect his actions."

So ended Aglaya; and, to look at her, it was difficult, indeed,
to judge whether she was joking or in earnest.

"Pooh! he was a fool, and his actions were the actions of a
fool," said Mrs. Epanchin; "and as for you, young woman, you
ought to know better. At all events, you are not to talk like
that again. What poem is it? Recite it! I want to hear this poem!
I have hated poetry all my life. Prince, you must excuse this
nonsense. We neither of us like this sort of thing! Be patient!"

They certainly were put out, both of them.

The prince tried to say something, but he was too confused, and
could not get his words out. Aglaya, who had taken such liberties
in her little speech, was the only person present, perhaps, who
was not in the least embarrassed. She seemed, in fact, quite

She now rose solemnly from her seat, walked to the centre of the
terrace, and stood in front of the prince's chair. All looked on
with some surprise, and Prince S. and her sisters with feelings
of decided alarm, to see what new frolic she was up to; it had
gone quite far enough already, they thought. But Aglaya evidently
thoroughly enjoyed the affectation and ceremony with which she
was introducing her recitation of the poem.

Mrs. Epanchin was just wondering whether she would not forbid the
performance after all, when, at the very moment that Aglaya
commenced her declamation, two new guests, both talking loudly,
entered from the street. The new arrivals were General Epanchin
and a young man.

Their entrance caused some slight commotion.


THE young fellow accompanying the general was about twenty-eight,
tall, and well built, with a handsome and clever face, and bright
black eyes, full of fun and intelligence.

Aglaya did not so much as glance at the new arrivals, but went on
with her recitation, gazing at the prince the while in an
affected manner, and at him alone. It was clear to him that she
was doing all this with some special object.

But the new guests at least somewhat eased his strained and
uncomfortable position. Seeing them approaching, he rose from his
chair, and nodding amicably to the general, signed to him not to
interrupt the recitation. He then got behind his chair, and stood
there with his left hand resting on the back of it. Thanks to
this change of position, he was able to listen to the ballad with
far less embarrassment than before. Mrs. Epanchin had also twice
motioned to the new arrivals to be quiet, and stay where they

The prince was much interested in the young man who had just
entered. He easily concluded that this was Evgenie Pavlovitch
Radomski, of whom he had already heard mention several times. He
was puzzled, however, by the young man's plain clothes, for he
had always heard of Evgenie Pavlovitch as a military man. An
ironical smile played on Evgenie's lips all the while the
recitation was proceeding, which showed that he, too, was
probably in the secret of the 'poor knight' joke. But it had
become quite a different matter with Aglaya. All the affectation
of manner which she had displayed at the beginning disappeared as
the ballad proceeded. She spoke the lines in so serious and
exalted a manner, and with so much taste, that she even seemed to
justify the exaggerated solemnity with which she had stepped
forward. It was impossible to discern in her now anything but a
deep feeling for the spirit of the poem which she had undertaken
to interpret.

Her eyes were aglow with inspiration, and a slight tremor of
rapture passed over her lovely features once or twice. She
continued to recite:

"Once there came a vision glorious,
Mystic, dreadful, wondrous fair;
Burned itself into his spirit,
And abode for ever there!

"Never more--from that sweet moment--
Gazed he on womankind;
He was dumb to love and wooing
And to all their graces blind.

"Full of love for that sweet vision,
Brave and pure he took the field;
With his blood he stained the letters
N. P. B. upon his shield.

"'Lumen caeli, sancta Rosa!'
Shouting on the foe he fell,
And like thunder rang his war-cry
O'er the cowering infidel.

"Then within his distant castle,
Home returned, he dreamed his days-
Silent, sad,--and when death took him
He was mad, the legend says."

When recalling all this afterwards the prince could not for the
life of him understand how to reconcile the beautiful, sincere,
pure nature of the girl with the irony of this jest. That it was
a jest there was no doubt whatever; he knew that well enough, and
had good reason, too, for his conviction; for during her
recitation of the ballad Aglaya had deliberately changed the
letters A. N. B. into N. P. B. He was quite sure she had not done
this by accident, and that his ears had not deceived him. At all
events her performance--which was a joke, of course, if rather a
crude one,--was premeditated. They had evidently talked (and
laughed) over the 'poor knight' for more than a month.

Yet Aglaya had brought out these letters N. P. B. not only
without the slightest appearance of irony, or even any particular
accentuation, but with so even and unbroken an appearance of
seriousness that assuredly anyone might have supposed that these
initials were the original ones written in the ballad. The thing
made an uncomfortable impression upon the prince. Of course Mrs.
Epanchin saw nothing either in the change of initials or in the
insinuation embodied therein. General Epanchin only knew that
there was a recitation of verses going on, and took no further
interest in the matter. Of the rest of the audience, many had
understood the allusion and wondered both at the daring of the
lady and at the motive underlying it, but tried to show no sign
of their feelings. But Evgenie Pavlovitch (as the prince was
ready to wager) both comprehended and tried his best to show that
he comprehended; his smile was too mocking to leave any doubt on
that point.

"How beautiful that is!" cried Mrs. Epanchin, with sincere
admiration. "Whose is it? '

"Pushkin's, mama, of course! Don't disgrace us all by showing
your ignorance," said Adelaida.

"As soon as we reach home give it to me to read."

"I don't think we have a copy of Pushkin in the house."

"There are a couple of torn volumes somewhere; they have been
lying about from time immemorial," added Alexandra.

"Send Feodor or Alexey up by the very first train to buy a copy,
then.--Aglaya, come here--kiss me, dear, you recited beautifully!
but," she added in a whisper, "if you were sincere I am sorry for
you. If it was a joke, I do not approve of the feelings which
prompted you to do it, and in any case you would have done far
better not to recite it at all. Do you understand?--Now come
along, young woman; we've sat here too long. I'll speak to you
about this another time."

Meanwhile the prince took the opportunity of greeting General
Epanchin, and the general introduced Evgenie Pavlovitch to him.

"I caught him up on the way to your house," explained the
general. "He had heard that we were all here."

"Yes, and I heard that you were here, too," added Evgenie
Pavlovitch; "and since I had long promised myself the pleasure of
seeking not only your acquaintance but your friendship, I did not
wish to waste time, but came straight on. I am sorry to hear that
you are unwell."

"Oh, but I'm quite well now, thank you, and very glad to make
your acquaintance. Prince S. has often spoken to me about you,"
said Muishkin, and for an instant the two men looked intently
into one another's eyes.

The prince remarked that Evgenie Pavlovitch's plain clothes had
evidently made a great impression upon the company present, so
much so that all other interests seemed to be effaced before this
surprising fact.

His change of dress was evidently a matter of some importance.
Adelaida and Alexandra poured out a stream of questions; Prince
S., a relative of the young man, appeared annoyed; and Ivan
Fedorovitch quite excited. Aglaya alone was not interested. She
merely looked closely at Evgenie for a minute, curious perhaps as
to whether civil or military clothes became him best, then turned
away and paid no more attention to him or his costume. Lizabetha
Prokofievna asked no questions, but it was clear that she was
uneasy, and the prince fancied that Evgenie was not in her good

"He has astonished me," said Ivan Fedorovitch. "I nearly fell
down with surprise. I could hardly believe my eyes when I met him
in Petersburg just now. Why this haste? That's what I want to
know. He has always said himself that there is no need to break

Evgenie Pavlovitch remarked here that he had spoken of his
intention of leaving the service long ago. He had, however,
always made more or less of a joke about it, so no one had taken
him seriously. For that matter he joked about everything, and his
friends never knew what to believe, especially if he did not wish
them to understand him.

"I have only retired for a time," said he, laughing. "For a few
months; at most for a year."

"But there is no necessity for you to retire at all," complained
the general, "as far as I know."

"I want to go and look after my country estates. You advised me
to do that yourself," was the reply. "And then I wish to go

After a few more expostulations, the conversation drifted into
other channels, but the prince, who had been an attentive
listener, thought all this excitement about so small a matter
very curious. "There must be more in it than appears," he said to

"I see the 'poor knight' has come on the scene again," said
Evgenie Pavlovitch, stepping to Aglaya's side.

To the amazement of the prince, who overheard the remark, Aglaya
looked haughtily and inquiringly at the questioner, as though she
would give him to know, once for all, that there could be no talk
between them about the 'poor knight,' and that she did not
understand his question.

"But not now! It is too late to send to town for a Pushkin now.
It is much too late, I say!" Colia was exclaiming in a loud
voice. "I have told you so at least a hundred times."

"Yes, it is really much too late to send to town now," said
Evgenie Pavlovitch, who had escaped from Aglaya as rapidly as
possible. "I am sure the shops are shut in Petersburg; it is past
eight o'clock," he added, looking at his watch.

"We have done without him so far," interrupted Adelaida in her
turn. "Surely we can wait until to-morrow."

"Besides," said Colia, "it is quite unusual, almost improper, for
people in our position to take any interest in literature. Ask
Evgenie Pavlovitch if I am not right. It is much more fashionable
to drive a waggonette with red wheels."

"You got that from some magazine, Colia," remarked Adelaida.

"He gets most of his conversation in that way," laughed Evgenie
Pavlovitch. "He borrows whole phrases from the reviews. I have
long had the pleasure of knowing both Nicholai Ardalionovitch and
his conversational methods, but this time he was not repeating
something he had read; he was alluding, no doubt, to my yellow
waggonette, which has, or had, red wheels. But I have exchanged
it, so you are rather behind the times, Colia."

The prince had been listening attentively to Radomski's words,
and thought his manner very pleasant. When Colia chaffed him
about his waggonette he had replied with perfect equality and in
a friendly fashion. This pleased Muishkin.

At this moment Vera came up to Lizabetha Prokofievna, carrying
several large and beautifully bound books, apparently quite new.

"What is it?" demanded the lady.

"This is Pushkin," replied the girl. "Papa told me to offer it
to you."

"What? Impossible!" exclaimed Mrs. Epanchin.

"Not as a present, not as a present! I should not have taken the
liberty," said Lebedeff, appearing suddenly from behind his
daughter. "It is our own Pushkin, our family copy, Annenkoff's
edition; it could not be bought now. I beg to suggest, with great
respect, that your excellency should buy it, and thus quench the
noble literary thirst which is consuming you at this moment," he
concluded grandiloquently.

"Oh! if you will sell it, very good--and thank you. You shall not
be a loser! But for goodness' sake, don't twist about like that,
sir! I have heard of you; they tell me you are a very learned
person. We must have a talk one of these days. You will bring me
the books yourself?"

"With the greatest respect ... and ... and veneration," replied
Lebedeff, making extraordinary grimaces.

"Well, bring them, with or without respect, provided always you
do not drop them on the way; but on the condition," went on the
lady, looking full at him, "that you do not cross my threshold. I
do not intend to receive you today. You may send your daughter
Vera at once, if you like. I am much pleased with her."

"Why don't you tell him about them?" said Vera impatiently to her
father. "They will come in, whether you announce them or not, and
they are beginning to make a row. Lef Nicolaievitch,"--she
addressed herself to the prince--"four men are here asking for
you. They have waited some time, and are beginning to make a
fuss, and papa will not bring them in."

"Who are these people?" said the prince.

"They say that they have come on business, and they are the kind
of men, who, if you do not see them here, will follow you about
the street. It would be better to receive them, and then you will
get rid of them. Gavrila Ardalionovitch and Ptitsin are both
there, trying to make them hear reason."

"Pavlicheff's son! It is not worth while!" cried Lebedeff. "There
is no necessity to see them, and it would be most unpleasant for
your excellency. They do not deserve ..."

"What? Pavlicheff's son!" cried the prince, much perturbed. "I
know ... I know--but I entrusted this matter to Gavrila
Ardalionovitch. He told me ..."

At that moment Gania, accompanied by Ptitsin, came out to the
terrace. From an adjoining room came a noise of angry voices, and
General Ivolgin, in loud tones, seemed to be trying to shout them
down. Colia rushed off at once to investigate the cause of the

"This is most interesting!" observed Evgenie Pavlovitch.

"I expect he knows all about it!" thought the prince.

"What, the son of Pavlicheff? And who may this son of Pavlicheff
be?" asked General Epanchin with surprise; and looking curiously
around him, he discovered that he alone had no clue to the
mystery. Expectation and suspense were on every face, with the
exception of that of the prince, who stood gravely wondering how
an affair so entirely personal could have awakened such lively
and widespread interest in so short a time.

Aglaya went up to him with a peculiarly serious look

"It will be well," she said, "if you put an end to this affair
yourself AT ONCE: but you must allow us to be your witnesses.
They want to throw mud at you, prince, and you must be
triumphantly vindicated. I give you joy beforehand!"

"And I also wish for justice to be done, once for all," cried
Madame Epanchin, "about this impudent claim. Deal with them
promptly, prince, and don't spare them! I am sick of hearing
about the affair, and many a quarrel I have had in your cause.
But I confess I am anxious to see what happens, so do make them
come out here, and we will remain. You have heard people talking
about it, no doubt?" she added, turning to Prince S.

"Of course," said he. "I have heard it spoken about at your
house, and I am anxious to see these young men!"

"They are Nihilists, are they not?"

"No, they are not Nihilists," explained Lebedeff, who seemed much
excited. "This is another lot--a special group. According to my
nephew they are more advanced even than the Nihilists. You are
quite wrong, excellency, if you think that your presence will
intimidate them; nothing intimidates them. Educated men, learned
men even, are to be found among Nihilists; these go further, in
that they are men of action. The movement is, properly speaking,
a derivative from Nihilism--though they are only known
indirectly, and by hearsay, for they never advertise their doings
in the papers. They go straight to the point. For them, it is not
a question of showing that Pushkin is stupid, or that Russia
must be torn in pieces. No; but if they have a great desire for
anything, they believe they have a right to get it even at the
cost of the lives, say, of eight persons. They are checked by no
obstacles. In fact, prince, I should not advise you ..."

But Muishkin had risen, and was on his way to open the door for
his visitors.

"You are slandering them, Lebedeff," said he, smiling.

"You are always thinking about your nephew's conduct. Don't
believe him, Lizabetha Prokofievna. I can assure you Gorsky and
Daniloff are exceptions--and that these are only ... mistaken.
However, I do not care about receiving them here, in public.
Excuse me, Lizabetha Prokofievna. They are coming, and you can
see them, and then I will take them away. Please come in,

Another thought tormented him: He wondered was this an arranged
business--arranged to happen when he had guests in his house, and
in anticipation of his humiliation rather than of his triumph?
But he reproached himself bitterly for such a thought, and felt
as if he should die of shame if it were discovered. When his new
visitors appeared, he was quite ready to believe himself
infinitely less to be respected than any of them.

Four persons entered, led by General Ivolgin, in a state of great
excitement, and talking eloquently.

"He is for me, undoubtedly!" thought the prince, with a smile.
Colia also had joined the party, and was talking with animation
to Hippolyte, who listened with a jeering smile on his lips.

The prince begged the visitors to sit down. They were all so
young that it made the proceedings seem even more extraordinary.
Ivan Fedorovitch, who really understood nothing of what was going
on, felt indignant at the sight of these youths, and would have
interfered in some way had it not been for the extreme interest
shown by his wife in the affair. He therefore remained, partly
through curiosity, partly through good-nature, hoping that his
presence might be of some use. But the bow with which General
Ivolgin greeted him irritated him anew; he frowned, and decided
to be absolutely silent.

As to the rest, one was a man of thirty, the retired officer, now
a boxer, who had been with Rogojin, and in his happier days had
given fifteen roubles at a time to beggars. Evidently he had
joined the others as a comrade to give them moral, and if
necessary material, support. The man who had been spoken of as
"Pavlicheff's son," although he gave the name of Antip Burdovsky,
was about twenty-two years of age, fair, thin and rather tall. He
was remarkable for the poverty, not to say uncleanliness, of his
personal appearance: the sleeves of his overcoat were greasy; his
dirty waistcoat, buttoned up to his neck, showed not a trace of
linen; a filthy black silk scarf, twisted till it resembled a
cord, was round his neck, and his hands were unwashed. He looked
round with an air of insolent effrontery. His face, covered with
pimples, was neither thoughtful nor even contemptuous; it wore an
expression of complacent satisfaction in demanding his rights and
in being an aggrieved party. His voice trembled, and he spoke so
fast, and with such stammerings, that he might have been taken
for a foreigner, though the purest Russian blood ran in his
veins. Lebedeff's nephew, whom the reader has seen already,
accompanied him, and also the youth named Hippolyte Terentieff.
The latter was only seventeen or eighteen. He had an intelligent
face, though it was usually irritated and fretful in expression.
His skeleton-like figure, his ghastly complexion, the brightness
of his eyes, and the red spots of colour on his cheeks, betrayed
the victim of consumption to the most casual glance. He coughed
persistently, and panted for breath; it looked as though he had
but a few weeks more to live. He was nearly dead with fatigue,
and fell, rather than sat, into a chair. The rest bowed as they
came in; and being more or less abashed, put on an air of extreme
self-assurance. In short, their attitude was not that which one
would have expected in men who professed to despise all
trivialities, all foolish mundane conventions, and indeed
everything, except their own personal interests.

"Antip Burdovsky," stuttered the son of Pavlicheff.

"Vladimir Doktorenko," said Lebedeff's nephew briskly, and with a
certain pride, as if he boasted of his name.

"Keller," murmured the retired officer.

"Hippolyte Terentieff," cried the last-named, in a shrill voice.

They sat now in a row facing the prince, and frowned, and played
with their caps. All appeared ready to speak, and yet all were
silent; the defiant expression on their faces seemed to say, "No,
sir, you don't take us in!" It could be felt that the first word
spoken by anyone present would bring a torrent of speech from the
whole deputation.


"I DID not expect you, gentlemen," began the prince. I have been
ill until to-day. A month ago," he continued, addressing himself
to Antip Burdovsky, "I put your business into Gavrila
Ardalionovitch Ivolgin's hands, as I told you then. I do not in
the least object to having a personal interview ... but you
will agree with me that this is hardly the time ... I propose
that we go into another room, if you will not keep me long... As
you see, I have friends here, and believe me ..."

"Friends as many as you please, but allow me," interrupted the
harsh voice of Lebedeff's nephew--" allow me to tell you that you
might have treated us rather more politely, and not have kept us
waiting at least two hours ...

"No doubt ... and I ... is that acting like a prince? And you ...
you may be a general! But I ... I am not your valet! And I ...
I..." stammered Antip Burdovsky.

He was extremely excited; his lips trembled, and the resentment
of an embittered soul was in his voice. But he spoke so
indistinctly that hardly a dozen words could be gathered.

"It was a princely action!" sneered Hippolyte.

"If anyone had treated me so," grumbled the boxer.

"I mean to say that if I had been in Burdovsky's place...I..."

"Gentlemen, I did not know you were there; I have only just been
informed, I assure you," repeated Muishkin.

"We are not afraid of your friends, prince," remarked Lebedeff's
nephew, "for we are within our rights."

The shrill tones of Hippolyte interrupted him. "What right have
you ... by what right do you demand us to submit this matter,
about Burdovsky ... to the judgment of your friends? We know only
too well what the judgment of your friends will be! ..."

This beginning gave promise of a stormy discussion. The prince
was much discouraged, but at last he managed to make himself
heard amid the vociferations of his excited visitors.

"If you," he said, addressing Burdovsky--"if you prefer not to
speak here, I offer again to go into another room with you ...
and as to your waiting to see me, I repeat that I only this
instant heard ..."

"Well, you have no right, you have no right, no right at all!...
Your friends indeed!"... gabbled Burdovsky, defiantly examining
the faces round him, and becoming more and more excited. "You
have no right!..." As he ended thus abruptly, he leant
forward, staring at the prince with his short-sighted, bloodshot
eyes. The latter was so astonished, that he did not reply, but
looked steadily at him in return.

"Lef Nicolaievitch!" interposed Madame Epanchin, suddenly, "read
this at once, this very moment! It is about this business."

She held out a weekly comic paper, pointing to an article on one
of its pages. Just as the visitors were coming in, Lebedeff,
wishing to ingratiate himself with the great lady, had pulled
this paper from his pocket, and presented it to her, indicating a
few columns marked in pencil. Lizabetha Prokofievna had had time
to read some of it, and was greatly upset.

"Would it not be better to peruse it alone ..." later asked the
prince, nervously.

"No, no, read it--read it at once directly, and aloud, aloud!"
cried she, calling Colia to her and giving him the journal.--"
Read it aloud, so that everyone may hear it!"

An impetuous woman, Lizabetha Prokofievna sometimes weighed her
anchors and put out to sea quite regardless of the possible
storms she might encounter. Ivan Fedorovitch felt a sudden pang
of alarm, but the others were merely curious, and somewhat
surprised. Colia unfolded the paper, and began to read, in his
clear, high-pitched voice, the following article:

"Proletarians and scions of nobility! An episode of the
brigandage of today and every day! Progress! Reform! Justice!"

"Strange things are going on in our so-called Holy Russia in this
age of reform and great enterprises; this age of patriotism in
which hundreds of millions are yearly sent abroad; in which
industry is encouraged, and the hands of Labour paralyzed, etc.;
there is no end to this, gentlemen, so let us come to the point.
A strange thing has happened to a scion of our defunct
aristocracy. (DE PROFUNDIS!) The grandfathers of these scions
ruined themselves at the gaming-tables; their fathers were forced
to serve as officers or subalterns; some have died just as they
were about to be tried for innocent thoughtlessness in the
handling of public funds. Their children are sometimes congenital
idiots, like the hero of our story; sometimes they are found in
the dock at the Assizes, where they are generally acquitted by
the jury for edifying motives; sometimes they distinguish
themselves by one of those burning scandals that amaze the public
and add another blot to the stained record of our age. Six months
ago--that is, last winter--this particular scion returned to
Russia, wearing gaiters like a foreigner, and shivering with cold
in an old scantily-lined cloak. He had come from Switzerland,
where he had just undergone a successful course of treatment for
idiocy (SIC!). Certainly Fortune favoured him, for, apart from
the interesting malady of which he was cured in Switzerland (can
there be a cure for idiocy?) his story proves the truth of the
Russian proverb that 'happiness is the right of certain classes!'
Judge for yourselves. Our subject was an infant in arms when he
lost his father, an officer who died just as he was about to be
court-martialled for gambling away the funds of his company, and
perhaps also for flogging a subordinate to excess (remember the
good old days, gentlemen). The orphan was brought up by the
charity of a very rich Russian landowner. In the good old days,
this man, whom we will call P--, owned four thousand souls as
serfs (souls as serfs!--can you understand such an expression,
gentlemen? I cannot; it must be looked up in a dictionary before
one can understand it; these things of a bygone day are already
unintelligible to us). He appears to have been one of those
Russian parasites who lead an idle existence abroad, spending the
summer at some spa, and the winter in Paris, to the greater
profit of the organizers of public balls. It may safely be said
that the manager of the Chateau des Fleurs (lucky man!) pocketed
at least a third of the money paid by Russian peasants to their
lords in the days of serfdom. However this may be, the gay P--
brought up the orphan like a prince, provided him with tutors and
governesses (pretty, of course!) whom he chose himself in Paris.
But the little aristocrat, the last of his noble race, was an
idiot. The governesses, recruited at the Chateau des Fleurs,
laboured in vain; at twenty years of age their pupil could not
speak in any language, not even Russian. But ignorance of the
latter was still excusable. At last P-- was seized with a strange
notion; he imagined that in Switzerland they could change an
idiot into a mail of sense. After all, the idea was quite
logical; a parasite and landowner naturally supposed that
intelligence was a marketable commodity like everything else,
and that in Switzerland especially it could be bought for money.
The case was entrusted to a celebrated Swiss professor, and cost
thousands of roubles; the treatment lasted five years. Needless
to say, the idiot did not become intelligent, but it is alleged
that he grew into something more or less resembling a man. At
this stage P-- died suddenly, and, as usual, he had made no will
and left his affairs in disorder. A crowd of eager claimants
arose, who cared nothing about any last scion of a noble race
undergoing treatment in Switzerland, at the expense of the
deceased, as a congenital idiot. Idiot though he was, the noble
scion tried to cheat his professor, and they say he succeeded in
getting him to continue the treatment gratis for two years, by
concealing the death of his benefactor. But the professor himself
was a charlatan. Getting anxious at last when no money was
forthcoming, and alarmed above all by his patient's appetite, he
presented him with a pair of old gaiters and a shabby cloak and
packed him off to Russia, third class. It would seem that Fortune
had turned her back upon our hero. Not at all; Fortune, who lets
whole populations die of hunger, showered all her gifts at once
upon the little aristocrat, like Kryloff's Cloud which passes
over an arid plain and empties itself into the sea. He had
scarcely arrived in St. Petersburg, when a relation of his
mother's (who was of bourgeois origin, of course), died at
Moscow. He was a merchant, an Old Believer, and he had no
children. He left a fortune of several millions in good current
coin, and everything came to our noble scion, our gaitered baron,
formerly treated for idiocy in a Swiss lunatic asylum. Instantly
the scene changed, crowds of friends gathered round our baron,
who meanwhile had lost his head over a celebrated demi-mondaine;
he even discovered some relations; moreover a number of young
girls of high birth burned to be united to him in lawful
matrimony. Could anyone possibly imagine a better match?
Aristocrat, millionaire, and idiot, he has every advantage! One
might hunt in vain for his equal, even with the lantern of
Diogenes; his like is not to be had even by getting it made to

"Oh, I don't know what this means" cried Ivan Fedorovitch,
transported with indignation.

"Leave off, Colia," begged the prince. Exclamations arose on all

"Let him go on reading at all costs!" ordered Lizabetha
Prokofievna, evidently preserving her composure by a desperate
effort. "Prince, if the reading is stopped, you and I will

Colia had no choice but to obey. With crimson cheeks he read on

"But while our young millionaire dwelt as it were in the
Empyrean, something new occurred. One fine morning a man called
upon him, calm and severe of aspect, distinguished, but plainly
dressed. Politely, but in dignified terms, as befitted his
errand, he briefly explained the motive for his visit. He was a
lawyer of enlightened views; his client was a young man who had
consulted him in confidence. This young man was no other than the
son of P--, though he bears another name. In his youth P--, the
sensualist, had seduced a young girl, poor but respectable. She
was a serf, but had received a European education. Finding that a
child was expected, he hastened her marriage with a man of noble
character who had loved her for a long time. He helped the young
couple for a time, but he was soon obliged to give up, for the
high-minded husband refused to accept anything from him. Soon the
careless nobleman forgot all about his former mistress and the
child she had borne him; then, as we know, he died intestate. P--
's son, born after his mother's marriage, found a true father in
the generous man whose name he bore. But when he also died, the
orphan was left to provide for himself, his mother now being an
invalid who had lost the use of her limbs. Leaving her in a
distant province, he came to the capital in search of pupils. By
dint of daily toil he earned enough to enable him to follow the
college courses, and at last to enter the university. But what
can one earn by teaching the children of Russian merchants at ten
copecks a lesson, especially with an invalid mother to keep? Even
her death did not much diminish the hardships of the young man's
struggle for existence. Now this is the question: how, in the
name of justice, should our scion have argued the case? Our
readers will think, no doubt, that he would say to himself: 'P--
showered benefits upon me all my life; he spent tens of thousands
of roubles to educate me, to provide me with governesses, and to
keep me under treatment in Switzerland. Now I am a millionaire,
and P--'s son, a noble young man who is not responsible for the
faults of his careless and forgetful father, is wearing himself
out giving ill-paid lessons. According to justice, all that was
done for me ought to have been done for him. The enormous sums
spent upon me were not really mine; they came to me by an error
of blind Fortune, when they ought to have gone to P--'s son. They
should have gone to benefit him, not me, in whom P-- interested
himself by a mere caprice, instead of doing his duty as a father.
If I wished to behave nobly, justly, and with delicacy, I ought
to bestow half my fortune upon the son of my benefactor; but as
economy is my favourite virtue, and I know this is not a case in
which the law can intervene, I will not give up half my millions.
But it would be too openly vile, too flagrantly infamous, if I
did not at least restore to P--'s son the tens of thousands of
roubles spent in curing my idiocy. This is simply a case of
conscience and of strict justice. Whatever would have become of
me if P-- had not looked after my education, and had taken care
of his own son instead of me?'

"No, gentlemen, our scions of the nobility do not reason thus.
The lawyer, who had taken up the matter purely out of friendship
to the young man, and almost against his will, invoked every
consideration of justice, delicacy, honour, and even plain
figures; in vain, the ex-patient of the Swiss lunatic asylum was
inflexible. All this might pass, but the sequel is absolutely
unpardonable, and not to be excused by any interesting malady.
This millionaire, having but just discarded the old gaiters of
his professor, could not even understand that the noble young man
slaving away at his lessons was not asking for charitable help,
but for his rightful due, though the debt was not a legal one;
that, correctly speaking, he was not asking for anything, but it
was merely his friends who had thought fit to bestir themselves
on his behalf. With the cool insolence of a bloated capitalist,
secure in his millions, he majestically drew a banknote for fifty
roubles from his pocket-book and sent it to the noble young man
as a humiliating piece of charity. You can hardly believe it,
gentlemen! You are scandalized and disgusted; you cry out in
indignation! But that is what he did! Needless to say, the money
was returned, or rather flung back in his face. The case is not
within the province of the law, it must be referred to the
tribunal of public opinion; this is what we now do, guaranteeing
the truth of all the details which we have related."

When Colia had finished reading, he handed the paper to the
prince, and retired silently to a corner of the room, hiding his
face in his hands. He was overcome by a feeling of inexpressible
shame; his boyish sensitiveness was wounded beyond endurance. It
seemed to him that something extraordinary, some sudden
catastrophe had occurred, and that he was almost the cause of it,
because he had read the article aloud.

Yet all the others were similarly affected. The girls were
uncomfortable and ashamed. Lizabetha Prokofievna restrained her
violent anger by a great effort; perhaps she bitterly regretted
her interference in the matter; for the present she kept silence.
The prince felt as very shy people often do in such a case; he
was so ashamed of the conduct of other people, so humiliated for
his guests, that he dared not look them in the face. Ptitsin,
Varia, Gania, and Lebedeff himself, all looked rather confused.
Stranger still, Hippolyte and the "son of Pavlicheff" also seemed
slightly surprised, and Lebedeff's nephew was obviously far from
pleased. The boxer alone was perfectly calm; he twisted his
moustaches with affected dignity, and if his eyes were cast down
it was certainly not in confusion, but rather in noble modesty,
as if he did not wish to be insolent in his triumph. It was
evident that he was delighted with the article.

"The devil knows what it means," growled Ivan Fedorovitch, under
his breath; "it must have taken the united wits of fifty footmen
to write it."

"May I ask your reason for such an insulting supposition, sir?"
said Hippolyte, trembling with rage.

You will admit yourself, general, that for an honourable man, if
the author is an honourable man, that is an--an insult," growled
the boxer suddenly, with convulsive jerkings of his shoulders.

"In the first place, it is not for you to address me as 'sir,'
and, in the second place, I refuse to give you any explanation,"
said Ivan Fedorovitch vehemently; and he rose without another
word, and went and stood on the first step of the flight that led
from the verandah to the street, turning his back on the company.
He was indignant with Lizabetha Prokofievna, who did not think of
moving even now.

"Gentlemen, gentlemen, let me speak at last," cried the prince,
anxious and agitated. "Please let us understand one another. I
say nothing about the article, gentlemen, except that every word
is false; I say this because you know it as well as I do. It is
shameful. I should be surprised if any one of you could have
written it."

"I did not know of its existence till this moment," declared
Hippolyte. "I do not approve of it."

"I knew it had been written, but I would not have advised its
publication," said Lebedeff's nephew, "because it is premature."

"I knew it, but I have a right. I... I ... "stammered the
"son of Pavlicheff."

"What! Did you write all that yourself? Is it possible?" asked
the prince, regarding Burdovsky with curiosity.

"One might dispute your right to ask such questions," observed
Lebedeff's nephew.

"I was only surprised that Mr. Burdovsky should have--however,
this is what I have to say. Since you had already given the
matter publicity, why did you object just now, when I began to
speak of it to my friends?"

"At last!" murmured Lizabetha Prokofievna indignantly.

Lebedeff could restrain himself no longer; he made his way
through the row of chairs.

"Prince," he cried, "you are forgetting that if you consented to
receive and hear them, it was only because of your kind heart
which has no equal, for they had not the least right to demand
it, especially as you had placed the matter in the hands of
Gavrila Ardalionovitch, which was also extremely kind of you. You
are also forgetting, most excellent prince, that you are with
friends, a select company; you cannot sacrifice them to these
gentlemen, and it is only for you to have them turned out this
instant. As the master of the house I shall have great pleasure

"Quite right!" agreed General Ivolgin in a loud voice.

"That will do, Lebedeff, that will do--" began the prince, when
an indignant outcry drowned his words.

"Excuse me, prince, excuse me, but now that will not do," shouted
Lebedeff's nephew, his voice dominating all the others. "The
matter must be clearly stated, for it is obviously not properly
understood. They are calling in some legal chicanery, and upon
that ground they are threatening to turn us out of the house!
Really, prince, do you think we are such fools as not to be aware
that this matter does not come within the law, and that legally
we cannot claim a rouble from you? But we are also aware that if
actual law is not on our side, human law is for us, natural law,
the law of common-sense and conscience, which is no less binding
upon every noble and honest man--that is, every man of sane
judgment--because it is not to be found in miserable legal codes.
If we come here without fear of being turned out (as was
threatened just now) because of the imperative tone of our
demand, and the unseemliness of such a visit at this late hour
(though it was not late when we arrived, we were kept waiting in
your anteroom), if, I say, we came in without fear, it is just
because we expected to find you a man of sense; I mean, a man of
honour and conscience. It is quite true that we did not present
ourselves humbly, like your flatterers and parasites, but holding
up our heads as befits independent men. We present no petition,
but a proud and free demand (note it well, we do not beseech, we
demand!). We ask you fairly and squarely in a dignified manner.
Do you believe that in this affair of Burdovsky you have right on
your side? Do you admit that Pavlicheff overwhelmed you with
benefits, and perhaps saved your life? If you admit it (which we
take for granted), do you intend, now that you are a millionaire,
and do you not think it in conformity with justice, to indemnify
Burdovsky? Yes or no? If it is yes, or, in other words, if you
possess what you call honour and conscience, and we more justly
call common-sense, then accede to our demand, and the matter is
at an end. Give us satisfaction, without entreaties or thanks
from us; do not expect thanks from us, for what you do will be
done not for our sake, but for the sake of justice. If you refuse
to satisfy us, that is, if your answer is no, we will go away at
once, and there will be an end of the matter. But we will tell
you to your face before the present company that you are a man of
vulgar and undeveloped mind; we will openly deny you the right to
speak in future of your honour and conscience, for you have not
paid the fair price of such a right. I have no more to say--I
have put the question before you. Now turn us out if you dare.
You can do it; force is on your side. But remember that we do not
beseech, we demand! We do not beseech, we demand!"

With these last excited words, Lebedeff's nephew was silent.

"We demand, we demand, we demand, we do not beseech," spluttered
Burdovsky, red as a lobster.

The speech of Lebedeff's nephew caused a certain stir among the
company; murmurs arose, though with the exception of Lebedeff,
who was still very much excited, everyone was careful not to
interfere in the matter. Strangely enough, Lebedeff, although on
the prince's side, seemed quite proud of his nephew's eloquence.
Gratified vanity was visible in the glances he cast upon the
assembled company.

"In my opinion, Mr. Doktorenko," said the prince, in rather a low
voice, "you are quite right in at least half of what you say. I
would go further and say that you are altogether right, and that
I quite agree with you, if there were not something lacking in
your speech. I cannot undertake to say precisely what it is, but
you have certainly omitted something, and you cannot be quite
just while there is something lacking. But let us put that aside
and return to the point. Tell me what induced you to publish this
article. Every word of it is a calumny, and I think, gentlemen,
that you have been guilty of a mean action."

"Allow me--"


"What? What? What?" cried all the visitors at once, in violent

"As to the article," said Hippolyte in his croaking voice, "I
have told you already that we none of us approve of it! There is
the writer," he added, pointing to the boxer, who sat beside him.
"I quite admit that he has written it in his old regimental
manner, with an equal disregard for style and decency. I know he
is a cross between a fool and an adventurer; I make no bones
about telling him so to his face every day. But after all he is
half justified; publicity is the lawful right of every man;
consequently, Burdovsky is not excepted. Let him answer for his
own blunders. As to the objection which I made just now in the
name of all, to the presence of your friends, I think I ought to
explain, gentlemen, that I only did so to assert our rights,
though we really wished to have witnesses; we had agreed
unanimously upon the point before we came in. We do not care who
your witnesses may be, or whether they are your friends or not.
As they cannot fail to recognize Burdovsky's right (seeing that
it is mathematically demonstrable), it is just as well that the
witnesses should be your friends. The truth will only be more
plainly evident."

"It is quite true; we had agreed upon that point," said
Lebedeff's nephew, in confirmation.

"If that is the case, why did you begin by making such a fuss
about it?" asked the astonished prince.

The boxer was dying to get in a few words; owing, no doubt, to
the presence of the ladies, he was becoming quite jovial.

"As to the article, prince," he said, "I admit that I wrote it,
in spite of the severe criticism of my poor friend, in whom I
always overlook many things because of his unfortunate state of
health. But I wrote and published it in the form of a letter, in
the paper of a friend. I showed it to no one but Burdovsky, and I
did not read it all through, even to him. He immediately gave me
permission to publish it, but you will admit that I might have
done so without his consent. Publicity is a noble, beneficent,
and universal right. I hope, prince, that you are too progressive
to deny this?"

"I deny nothing, but you must confess that your article--"

"Is a bit thick, you mean? Well, in a way that is in the public
interest; you will admit that yourself, and after all one cannot
overlook a blatant fact. So much the worse for the guilty
parties, but the public welfare must come before everything. As
to certain inaccuracies and figures of speech, so to speak, you
will also admit that the motive, aim, and intention, are the
chief thing. It is a question, above all, of making a wholesome
example; the individual case can be examined afterwards; and as
to the style--well, the thing was meant to be humorous, so to
speak, and, after all, everybody writes like that; you must admit
it yourself! Ha, ha!"

"But, gentlemen, I assure you that you are quite astray,"
exclaimed the prince. "You have published this article upon the
supposition that I would never consent to satisfy Mr. Burdovsky.
Acting on that conviction, you have tried to intimidate me by
this publication and to be revenged for my supposed refusal. But
what did you know of my intentions? It may be that I have
resolved to satisfy Mr. Burdovsky's claim. I now declare openly,
in the presence of these witnesses, that I will do so."

"The noble and intelligent word of an intelligent and most noble
man, at last!" exclaimed the boxer.

"Good God!" exclaimed Lizabetha Prokofievna involuntarily.

"This is intolerable," growled the general.

"Allow me, gentlemen, allow me," urged the prince.

"I will explain matters to you. Five weeks ago I received a visit
from Tchebaroff, your agent, Mr. Burdovsky. You have given a very
flattering description of him in your article, Mr. Keller," he
continued, turning to the boxer with a smile, "but he did not
please me at all. I saw at once that Tchebaroff was the moving
spirit in the matter, and, to speak frankly, I thought he might
have induced you, Mr. Burdovsky, to make this claim, by taking
advantage of your simplicity."

"You have no right.... I am not simple," stammered Burdovsky,
much agitated.

"You have no sort of right to suppose such things," said
Lebedeff's nephew in a tone of authority.

"It is most offensive!" shrieked Hippolyte; "it is an insulting
suggestion, false, and most ill-timed."

"I beg your pardon, gentlemen; please excuse me," said the
prince. "I thought absolute frankness on both sides would be
best, but have it your own way. I told Tchebaroff that, as I was
not in Petersburg, I would commission a friend to look into the
matter without delay, and that I would let you know, Mr.
Burdovsky. Gentlemen, I have no hesitation in telling you that it
was the fact of Tchebaroff's intervention that made me suspect a
fraud. Oh! do not take offence at my words, gentlemen, for
Heaven's sake do not be so touchy!" cried the prince, seeing that
Burdovsky was getting excited again, and that the rest were
preparing to protest. "If I say I suspected a fraud, there is
nothing personal in that. I had never seen any of you then; I did
not even know your names; I only judged by Tchebaroff; I am
speaking quite generally--if you only knew how I have been 'done'
since I came into my fortune!"

"You are shockingly naive, prince," said Lebedeff's nephew in
mocking tones.

"Besides, though you are a prince and a millionaire, and even
though you may really be simple and good-hearted, you can hardly
be outside the general law," Hippolyte declared loudly.

"Perhaps not; it is very possible," the prince agreed hastily,
"though I do not know what general law you allude to. I will go
on--only please do not take offence without good cause. I assure
you I do not mean to offend you in the least. Really, it is
impossible to speak three words sincerely without your flying
into a rage! At first I was amazed when Tchebaroff told me that
Pavlicheff had a son, and that he was in such a miserable
position. Pavlicheff was my benefactor, and my father's friend.
Oh, Mr. Keller, why does your article impute things to my father
without the slightest foundation? He never squandered the funds
of his company nor ill-treated his subordinates, I am absolutely
certain of it; I cannot imagine how you could bring yourself to
write such a calumny! But your assertions concerning Pavlicheff
are absolutely intolerable! You do not scruple to make a
libertine of that noble man; you call him a sensualist as coolly
as if you were speaking the truth, and yet it would not be
possible to find a chaster man. He was even a scholar of note,
and in correspondence with several celebrated scientists, and
spent large sums in the interests of science. As to his kind
heart and his good actions, you were right indeed when you said
that I was almost an idiot at that time, and could hardly
understand anything--(I could speak and understand Russian,
though),--but now I can appreciate what I remember--"

"Excuse me," interrupted Hippolyte, "is not this rather
sentimental? You said you wished to come to the point; please
remember that it is after nine o'clock."

"Very well, gentlemen--very well," replied the prince. "At first
I received the news with mistrust, then I said to myself that I
might be mistaken, and that Pavlicheff might possibly have had a
son. But I was absolutely amazed at the readiness with which the
son had revealed the secret of his birth at the expense of his
mother's honour. For Tchebaroff had already menaced me with
publicity in our interview. . . ."

"What nonsense!" Lebedeff's nephew interrupted violently.

"You have no right--you have no right!" cried Burdovsky.

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

"That seems to me all the more reason for sparing her," said the
prince timidly.

"Prince, you are not only simple, but your simplicity is almost
past the limit," said Lebedeff's nephew, with a sarcastic smile.

"But what right had you?" said Hippolyte in a very strange tone.

"None--none whatever," agreed the prince hastily. "I admit you
are right there, but it was involuntary, and I immediately said
to myself that my personal feelings had nothing to do with it,--
that if I thought it right to satisfy the demands of Mr.
Burdovsky, out of respect for the memory of Pavlicheff, I ought
to do so in any case, whether I esteemed Mr. Burdovsky or not. I
only mentioned this, gentlemen, because it seemed so unnatural to
me for a son to betray his mother's secret in such a way. In
short, that is what convinced me that Tchebaroff must be a rogue,
and that he had induced Mr. Burdovsky to attempt this fraud."

"But this is intolerable!" cried the visitors, some of them
starting to their feet.

"Gentlemen, I supposed from this that poor Mr. Burdovsky must be
a simple-minded man, quite defenceless, and an easy tool in the
hands of rogues. That is why I thought it my duty to try and help
him as 'Pavlicheff's son'; in the first place by rescuing him
from the influence of Tchebaroff, and secondly by making myself
his friend. I have resolved to give him ten thousand roubles;
that is about the sum which I calculate that Pavlicheff must have
spent on me."

"What, only ten thousand!" cried Hippolyte.

"Well, prince, your arithmetic is not up to much, or else you are
mighty clever at it, though you affect the air of a simpleton,"
said Lebedeff's nephew.

"I will not accept ten thousand roubles," said Burdovsky.

"Accept, Antip," whispered the boxer eagerly, leaning past the
back of Hippolyte's chair to give his friend this piece of
advice. "Take it for the present; we can see about more later

"Look here, Mr. Muishkin," shouted Hippolyte, "please understand
that we are not fools, nor idiots, as your guests seem to
imagine; these ladies who look upon us with such scorn, and
especially this fine gentleman" (pointing to Evgenie Pavlovitch)
"whom I have not the honour of knowing, though I think I have
heard some talk about him--"

"Really, really, gentlemen," cried the prince in great agitation,
"you are misunderstanding me again. In the first place, Mr.
Keller, you have greatly overestimated my fortune in your
article. I am far from being a millionaire. I have barely a tenth
of what you suppose. Secondly, my treatment in Switzerland was
very far from costing tens of thousands of roubles. Schneider
received six hundred roubles a year, and he was only paid for the
first three years. As to the pretty governesses whom Pavlicheff
is supposed to have brought from Paris, they only exist in Mr.
Keller's imagination; it is another calumny. According to my
calculations, the sum spent on me was very considerably under ten
thousand roubles, but I decided on that sum, and you must admit
that in paying a debt I could not offer Mr. Burdovsky more,
however kindly disposed I might be towards him; delicacy forbids
it; I should seem to be offering him charity instead of rightful
payment. I don't know how you cannot see that, gentlemen!
Besides, I had no intention of leaving the matter there. I meant
to intervene amicably later on and help to improve poor Mr.
Burdovsky's position. It is clear that he has been deceived, or
he would never have agreed to anything so vile as the scandalous
revelations about his mother in Mr. Keller's article. But,
gentlemen, why are you getting angry again? Are we never to come
to an understanding? Well, the event has proved me right! I have
just seen with my own eyes the proof that my conjecture was
correct!" he added, with increasing eagerness.

He meant to calm his hearers, and did not perceive that his words
had only increased their irritation.

"What do you mean? What are you convinced of?" they demanded

"In the first place, I have had the opportunity of getting a
correct idea of Mr. Burdovsky. I see what he is for myself. He is
an innocent man, deceived by everyone! A defenceless victim, who
deserves indulgence! Secondly, Gavrila Ardalionovitch, in whose
hands I had placed the matter, had his first interview with me
barely an hour ago. I had not heard from him for some time, as I
was away, and have been ill for three days since my return to St.
Petersburg. He tells me that he has exposed the designs of
Tchebaroff and has proof that justifies my opinion of him. I
know, gentlemen, that many people think me an idiot. Counting
upon my reputation as a man whose purse-strings are easily
loosened, Tchebaroff thought it would be a simple matter to
fleece me, especially by trading on my gratitude to Pavlicheff.
But the main point is--listen, gentlemen, let me finish!--the main
point is that Mr. Burdovsky is not Pavlicheff's son at all.
Gavrila Ardalionovitch has just told me of his discovery, and
assures me that he has positive proofs. Well, what do you think
of that? It is scarcely credible, even after all the tricks that
have been played upon me. Please note that we have positive
proofs! I can hardly believe it myself, I assure you; I do not
yet believe it; I am still doubtful, because Gavrila
Ardalionovitch has not had time to go into details; but there can
be no further doubt that Tchebaroff is a rogue! He has deceived
poor Mr. Burdovsky, and all of you, gentlemen, who have come
forward so nobly to support your friend--(he evidently needs
support, I quite see that!). He has abused your credulity and
involved you all in an attempted fraud, for when all is said and
done this claim is nothing else!"

"What! a fraud? What, he is not Pavlicheff's son? Impossible!"

These exclamations but feebly expressed the profound bewilderment
into which the prince's words had plunged Burdovsky's companions.

"Certainly it is a fraud! Since Mr. Burdovsky is not Pavlicheff's
son, his claim is neither more nor less than attempted fraud
(supposing, of course, that he had known the truth), but the fact
is that he has been deceived. I insist on this point in order to
justify him; I repeat that his simple-mindedness makes him worthy
of pity, and that he cannot stand alone; otherwise he would have
behaved like a scoundrel in this matter. But I feel certain that
he does not understand it! I was just the same myself before I
went to Switzerland; I stammered incoherently; one tries to
express oneself and cannot. I understand that. I am all the
better able to pity Mr. Burdovsky, because I know from experience
what it is to be like that, and so I have a right to speak. Well,
though there is no such person as 'Pavlicheff's son,' and it is
all nothing but a humbug, yet I will keep to my decision, and I
am prepared to give up ten thousand roubles in memory of
Pavlicheff. Before Mr. Burdovsky made this claim, I proposed to
found a school with this money, in memory of my benefactor, but I
shall honour his memory quite as well by giving the ten thousand
roubles to Mr. Burdovsky, because, though he was not Pavlicheff's
son, he was treated almost as though he were. That is what gave a
rogue the opportunity of deceiving him; he really did think
himself Pavlicheff's son. Listen, gentlemen; this matter must be
settled; keep calm; do not get angry; and sit down! Gavrila
Ardalionovitch will explain everything to you at once, and I
confess that I am very anxious to hear all the details myself. He
says that he has even been to Pskoff to see your mother, Mr.
Burdovsky; she is not dead, as the article which was just read to
us makes out. Sit down, gentlemen, sit down!"

The prince sat down, and at length prevailed upon Burdovsky's
company to do likewise. During the last ten or twenty minutes,
exasperated by continual interruptions, he had raised his voice,
and spoken with great vehemence. Now, no doubt, he bitterly
regretted several words and expressions which had escaped him in
his excitement. If he had not been driven beyond the limits of
endurance, he would not have ventured to express certain
conjectures so openly. He had no sooner sat down than his heart
was torn by sharp remorse. Besides insulting Burdovsky with the
supposition, made in the presence of witnesses, that he was
suffering from the complaint for which he had himself been
treated in Switzerland, he reproached himself with the grossest
indelicacy in having offered him the ten thousand roubles before
everyone. "I ought to have waited till to-morrow and offered him
the money when we were alone," thought Muishkin. "Now it is too
late, the mischief is done! Yes, I am an idiot, an absolute
idiot!" he said to himself, overcome with shame and regret.

Till then Gavrila Ardalionovitch had sat apart in silence. When
the prince called upon him, he came and stood by his side, and in
a calm, clear voice began to render an account of the mission
confided to him. All conversation ceased instantly. Everyone,
especially the Burdovsky party, listened with the utmost


"You will not deny, I am sure," said Gavrila Ardalionovitch,
turning to Burdovsky, who sat looking at him with wide-open eyes,
perplexed and astonished. You will not deny, seriously, that you
were born just two years after your mother's legal marriage to
Mr. Burdovsky, your father. Nothing would be easier than to prove
the date of your birth from well-known facts; we can only look on
Mr. Keller's version as a work of imagination, and one, moreover,
extremely offensive both to you and your mother. Of course he
distorted the truth in order to strengthen your claim, and to
serve your interests. Mr. Keller said that he previously
consulted you about his article in the paper, but did not read it
to you as a whole. Certainly he could not have read that passage.
.. . .

"As a matter of fact, I did not read it," interrupted the boxer,
"but its contents had been given me on unimpeachable authority,
and I . . ."

"Excuse me, Mr. Keller," interposed Gavrila Ardalionovitch.
"Allow me to speak. I assure you your article shall be mentioned
in its proper place, and you can then explain everything, but for
the moment I would rather not anticipate. Quite accidentally,
with the help of my sister, Varvara Ardalionovna Ptitsin, I
obtained from one of her intimate friends, Madame Zoubkoff, a
letter written to her twenty-five years ago, by Nicolai
Andreevitch Pavlicheff, then abroad. After getting into
communication with this lady, I went by her advice to Timofei
Fedorovitch Viazovkin, a retired colonel, and one of Pavlicheff's
oldest friends. He gave me two more letters written by the latter
when he was still in foreign parts. These three documents, their
dates, and the facts mentioned in them, prove in the most
undeniable manner, that eighteen months before your birth,
Nicolai Andreevitch went abroad, where he remained for three
consecutive years. Your mother, as you are well aware, has never
been out of Russia. . . . It is too late to read the letters now;
I am content to state the fact. But if you desire it, come to me
tomorrow morning, bring witnesses and writing experts with you,
and I will prove the absolute truth of my story. From that moment
the question will be decided."

These words caused a sensation among the listeners, and there was
a general movement of relief. Burdovsky got up abruptly.

"If that is true," said he, "I have been deceived, grossly
deceived, but not by Tchebaroff: and for a long time past, a long
time. I do not wish for experts, not I, nor to go to see you. I
believe you. I give it up.... But I refuse the ten thousand
roubles. Good-bye."

"Wait five minutes more, Mr. Burdovsky," said Gavrila
Ardalionovitch pleasantly. "I have more to say. Some rather
curious and important facts have come to light, and it is
absolutely necessary, in my opinion, that you should hear them.
You will not regret, I fancy, to have the whole matter thoroughly
cleared up."

Burdovsky silently resumed his seat, and bent his head as though
in profound thought. His friend, Lebedeff's nephew, who had risen
to accompany him, also sat down again. He seemed much disappointed,
though as self-confident as ever.  Hippolyte looked dejected and
sulky, as well as surprised. He had just been attacked by a violent
fit of coughing, so that his handkerchief was stained with blood.
The boxer looked thoroughly frightened.

"Oh, Antip!" cried he in a miserable voice, "I did say to you the
other day--the day before yesterday--that perhaps you were not
really Pavlicheff's son!"

There were sounds of half-smothered laughter at this.

"Now, that is a valuable piece of information, Mr. Keller,"
replied Gania. "However that may be, I have private information
which convinces me that Mr. Burdovsky, though doubtless aware of
the date of his birth, knew nothing at all about Pavlicheff's
sojourn abroad. Indeed, he passed the greater part of his life
out of Russia, returning at intervals for short visits. The
journey in question is in itself too unimportant for his friends
to recollect it after more than twenty years; and of course Mr.
Burdovsky could have known nothing about it, for he was not born.
As the event has proved, it was not impossible to find evidence
of his absence, though I must confess that chance has helped me
in a quest which might very well have come to nothing. It was
really almost impossible for Burdovsky or Tchebaroff to discover
these facts, even if it had entered their heads to try. Naturally
they never dreamt...

Here the voice of Hippolyte suddenly intervened.

"Allow me, Mr. Ivolgin," he said irritably. "What is the good of
all this rigmarole? Pardon me. All is now clear, and we
acknowledge the truth of your main point. Why go into these
tedious details? You wish perhaps to boast of the cleverness of
your investigation, to cry up your talents as detective? Or
perhaps your intention is to excuse Burdovsky, by roving that he
took up the matter in ignorance? Well, I consider that extremely
impudent on your part! You ought to know that Burdovsky has no
need of being excused or justified by you or anyone else! It is
an insult! The affair is quite painful enough for him without
that. Will nothing make you understand?"

"Enough! enough! Mr. Terentieff," interrupted Gania.

"Don't excite yourself; you seem very ill, and I am sorry for
that. I am almost done, but there are a few facts to which I
must briefly refer, as I am convinced that they ought to be
clearly explained once for all. . . ." A movement of impatience
was noticed in his audience as he resumed: "I merely wish to
state, for the information of all concerned, that the reason for
Mr. Pavlicheff's interest in your mother, Mr. Burdovsky, was
simply that she was the sister of a serf-girl with whom he was
deeply in love in his youth, and whom most certainly he would
have married but for her sudden death. I have proofs that this
circumstance is almost, if not quite, forgotten. I may add that
when your mother was about ten years old, Pavlicheff took her
under his care, gave her a good education, and later, a
considerable dowry. His relations were alarmed, and feared he
might go so far as to marry her, but she gave her hand to a young
land-surveyor named Burdovsky when she reached the age of twenty.
I can even say definitely that it was a marriage of affection.
After his wedding your father gave up his occupation as land-
surveyor, and with his wife's dowry of fifteen thousand roubles
went in for commercial speculations. As he had had no experience,
he was cheated on all sides, and took to drink in order to forget
his troubles. He shortened his life by his excesses, and eight
years after his marriage he died. Your mother says herself that
she was left in the direst poverty, and would have died of
starvation had it not been for Pavlicheff, who generously allowed
her a yearly pension of six hundred roubles. Many people recall
his extreme fondness for you as a little boy. Your mother
confirms this, and agrees with others in thinking that he loved
you the more because you were a sickly child, stammering in your
speech, and almost deformed--for it is known that all his life
Nicolai Andreevitch had a partiality for unfortunates of every
kind, especially children. In my opinion this is most important.
I may add that I discovered yet another fact, the last on which I
employed my detective powers. Seeing how fond Pavlicheff was of
you,--it was thanks to him you went to school, and also had the
advantage of special teachers--his relations and servants grew to
believe that you were his son, and that your father had been
betrayed by his wife. I may point out that this idea was only
accredited generally during the last years of Pavlicheff's life,
when his next-of-kin were trembling about the succession, when
the earlier story was quite forgotten, and when all opportunity
for discovering the truth had seemingly passed away. No doubt you,
Mr. Burdovsky, heard this conjecture, and did not hesitate to accept
it as true. I have had the honour of making your mother's acquaintance,
and I find that she knows all about these reports. What she does
not know is that you, her son, should have listened to them so
complaisantly. I found your respected mother at Pskoff, ill and
in deep poverty, as she has been ever since the death of your
benefactor. She told me with tears of gratitude how you had
supported her; she expects much of you, and believes fervently
in your future success..."

"Oh, this is unbearable!" said Lebedeff's nephew impatiently.
"What is the good of all this romancing?"

"It is revolting and unseemly!" cried Hippolyte, jumping up in a

Burdovsky alone sat silent and motionless.

"What is the good of it?" repeated Gavrila Ardalionovitch, with
pretended surprise. "Well, firstly, because now perhaps Mr.
Burdovsky is quite convinced that Mr. Pavlicheff's love for him
came simply from generosity of soul, and not from paternal duty.
It was most necessary to impress this fact upon his mind,
considering that he approved of the article written by Mr.
Keller. I speak thus because I look on you, Mr. Burdovsky, as an
honourable man. Secondly, it appears that there was no intention
of cheating in this case, even on the part of Tchebaroff. I wish
to say this quite plainly, because the prince hinted a while ago
that I too thought it an attempt at robbery and extortion. On the
contrary, everyone has been quite sincere in the matter, and
although Tchebaroff may be somewhat of a rogue, in this business
he has acted simply as any sharp lawyer would do under the
circumstances. He looked at it as a case that might bring him in
a lot of money, and he did not calculate badly; because on the
one hand he speculated on the generosity of the prince, and his
gratitude to the late Mr. Pavlicheff, and on the other to his
chivalrous ideas as to the obligations of honour and conscience.
As to Mr. Burdovsky, allowing for his principles, we may
acknowledge that he engaged in the business with very little
personal aim in view. At the instigation of Tchebaroff and his
other friends, he decided to make the attempt in the service of
truth, progress, and humanity. In short, the conclusion may be
drawn that, in spite of all appearances, Mr. Burdovsky is a man
of irreproachable character, and thus the prince can all the more
readily offer him his friendship, and the assistance of which he
spoke just now..."

"Hush! hush! Gavrila Ardalionovitch!"  cried Muishkin in dismay,
but it was too late.

"I said, and I have repeated it over and over again," shouted
Burdovsky furiously, "that I did not want the money. I will not
take it... why...I will not... I am going away!"

He was rushing hurriedly from the terrace, when Lebedeff's nephew
seized his arms, and said something to him in a low voice.
Burdovsky turned quickly, and drawing an addressed but unsealed
envelope from his pocket, he threw it down on a little table
beside the prince.

"There's the money!... How dare you?...The money!"

"Those are the two hundred and fifty roubles you dared to send
him as a charity, by the hands of Tchebaroff," explained

"The article in the newspaper put it at fifty!" cried Colia.

"I beg your pardon," said the prince, going up to Burdovsky. "I
have done you a great wrong, but I did not send you that money as
a charity, believe me. And now I am again to blame. I offended
you just now." (The prince was much distressed; he seemed worn
out with fatigue, and spoke almost incoherently.) "I spoke of
swindling... but I did not apply that to you. I was deceived
.... I said you were... afflicted... like me... But you are
not like me... you give lessons... you support your mother. I
said you had dishonoured your mother, but you love her. She says
so herself... I did not know... Gavrila Ardalionovitch did
not tell me that... Forgive me! I dared to offer you ten
thousand roubles, but I was wrong. I ought to have done it
differently, and now... there is no way of doing it, for you
despise me..."

"I declare, this is a lunatic asylum!" cried Lizabetha

"Of course it is a lunatic asylum!" repeated Aglaya sharply, but
her words were overpowered by other voices. Everybody was talking
loudly, making remarks and comments; some discussed the affair
gravely, others laughed. Ivan Fedorovitch Epanchin was extremely
indignant. He stood waiting for his wife with an air of offended
dignity. Lebedeff's nephew took up the word again.

"Well, prince, to do you justice, you certainly know how to make
the most of your--let us call it infirmity, for the sake of
politeness; you have set about offering your money and friendship
in such a way that no self-respecting man could possibly accept
them. This is an excess of ingenuousness or of malice--you ought
to know better than anyone which word best fits the case."

"Allow me, gentlemen," said Gavrila Ardalionovitch, who had just
examined the contents of the envelope, "there are only a hundred
roubles here, not two hundred and fifty. I point this out,
prince, to prevent misunderstanding."

"Never mind, never mind," said the prince, signing to him to keep

"But we do mind," said Lebedeff's nephew vehemently. "Prince,
your 'never mind' is an insult to us. We have nothing to hide;
our actions can bear daylight. It is true that there are only a
hundred roubles instead of two hundred and fifty, but it is all
the same."

"Why, no, it is hardly the same," remarked Gavrila
Ardalionovitch, with an air of ingenuous surprise.

"Don't interrupt, we are not such fools as you think, Mr.
Lawyer," cried Lebedeff's nephew angrily. "Of course there is a
difference between a hundred roubles and two hundred and fifty,
but in this case the principle is the main point, and that a
hundred and fifty roubles are missing is only a side issue. The
point to be emphasized is that Burdovsky will not accept your
highness's charity; he flings it back in your face, and it
scarcely matters if there are a hundred roubles or two hundred
and fifty. Burdovsky has refused ten thousand roubles; you heard
him. He would not have returned even a hundred roubles if he was
dishonest! The hundred and fifty roubles were paid to Tchebaroff
for his travelling expenses. You may jeer at our stupidity and at
our inexperience in business matters; you have done all you could
already to make us look ridiculous; but do not dare to call us
dishonest. The four of us will club together every day to repay
the hundred and fifty roubles to the prince, if we have to pay it
in instalments of a rouble at a time, but we will repay it, with
interest. Burdovsky is poor, he has no millions. After his
journey to see the prince Tchebaroff sent in his bill. We counted
on winning... Who would not have done the same in such a case?"

"Who indeed?" exclaimed Prince S.

"I shall certainly go mad, if I stay here!" cried Lizabetha

"It reminds me," said Evgenie Pavlovitch, laughing, "of the
famous plea of a certain lawyer who lately defended a man for
murdering six people in order to rob them. He excused his client
on the score of poverty. 'It is quite natural,' he said in
conclusion, 'considering the state of misery he was in, that he
should have thought of murdering these six people; which of you,
gentlemen, would not have done the same in his place?'"

"Enough," cried Lizabetha Prokofievna abruptly, trembling with
anger, "we have had enough of this balderdash!"

In a state of terrible excitement she threw back her head, with
flaming eyes, casting looks of contempt and defiance upon the
whole company, in which she could no longer distinguish friend
from foe. She had restrained herself so long that she felt forced
to vent her rage on somebody. Those who knew Lizabetha
Prokofievna saw at once how it was with her. "She flies into
these rages sometimes," said Ivan Fedorovitch to Prince S. the
next day, "but she is not often so violent as she was yesterday;
it does not happen more than once in three years."

"Be quiet, Ivan Fedorovitch! Leave me alone!" cried Mrs.
Epanchin. "Why do you offer me your arm now? You had not sense
enough to take me away before. You are my husband, you are a
father, it was your duty to drag me away by force, if in my folly
I refused to obey you and go quietly. You might at least have
thought of your daughters. We can find our way out now without
your help. Here is shame enough for a year! Wait a moment 'till I
thank the prince! Thank you, prince, for the entertainment you
have given us! It was most amusing to hear these young men... It
is vile, vile! A chaos, a scandal, worse than a nightmare! Is it
possible that there can be many such people on earth? Be quiet,
Aglaya! Be quiet, Alexandra! It is none of your business! Don't
fuss round me like that, Evgenie Pavlovitch; you exasperate me!
So, my dear," she cried, addressing the prince, "you go so far as
to beg their pardon! He says, 'Forgive me for offering you a
fortune.' And you, you mountebank, what are you laughing at?" she
cried, turning suddenly on Lebedeff's nephew. "'We refuse ten
thousand roubles; we do not beseech, we demand!' As if he did not
know that this idiot will call on them tomorrow to renew his
offers of money and friendship. You will, won't you? You will?
Come, will you, or won't you?"

"I shall," said the prince, with gentle humility.

"You hear him! You count upon it, too," she continued, turning
upon Doktorenko. "You are as sure of him now as if you had the
money in your pocket. And there you are playing the swaggerer to
throw dust in our eyes! No, my dear sir, you may take other
people in! I can see through all your airs and graces, I see your

"Lizabetha Prokofievna!" exclaimed the prince.

"Come, Lizabetha Prokofievna, it is quite time for us to be
going, we will take the prince with us," said Prince S. with a
smile, in the coolest possible way.

The girls stood apart, almost frightened; their father was
positively horrified. Mrs. Epanchin's language astonished
everybody. Some who stood a little way off smiled furtively, and
talked in whispers. Lebedeff wore an expression of utmost

"Chaos and scandal are to be found everywhere, madame," remarked
Doktorenko, who was considerably put out of countenance.

"Not like this! Nothing like the spectacle you have just given
us, sir," answered Lizabetha Prokofievna, with a sort of
hysterical rage. "Leave me alone, will you?" she cried violently
to those around her, who were trying to keep her quiet. "No,
Evgenie Pavlovitch, if, as you said yourself just now, a lawyer
said in open court that he found it quite natural that a man
should murder six people because he was in misery, the world must
be coming to an end. I had not heard of it before. Now I
understand everything. And this stutterer, won't he turn out a
murderer?" she cried, pointing to Burdovsky, who was staring at
her with stupefaction. "I bet he will! He will have none of your
money, possibly, he will refuse it because his conscience will
not allow him to accept it, but he will go murdering you by night
and walking off with your cashbox, with a clear conscience! He
does not call it a dishonest action but 'the impulse of a noble
despair'; 'a negation'; or the devil knows what! Bah! everything
is upside down, everyone walks head downwards. A young girl,
brought up at home, suddenly jumps into a cab in the middle of
the street, saying: 'Good-bye, mother, I married Karlitch, or
Ivanitch, the other day!' And you think it quite right? You call
such conduct estimable and natural? The 'woman question'? Look
here," she continued, pointing to Colia, "the other day that
whippersnapper told me that this was the whole meaning of the
'woman question.' But even supposing that your mother is a fool,
you are none the less, bound to treat her with humanity. Why did
you come here tonight so insolently? 'Give us our rights, but
don't dare to speak in our presence. Show us every mark of
deepest respect, while we treat you like the scum of the earth.'
The miscreants have written a tissue of calumny in their article,
and these are the men who seek for truth, and do battle for the
right! 'We do not beseech, we demand, you will get no thanks from
us, because you will be acting to satisfy your own conscience!'
What morality! But, good. heavens! if you declare that the
prince's generosity will, excite no gratitude in you, he might
answer that he is not, bound to be grateful to Pavlicheff, who
also was only satisfying his own conscience. But you counted on
the prince's, gratitude towards Pavlicheff; you never lent him
any money; he owes you nothing; then what were you counting upon
if not on his gratitude? And if you appeal to that sentiment in
others, why should you expect to be exempted from it? They are
mad! They say society is savage and. inhuman because it despises
a young girl who has been seduced. But if you call society
inhuman you imply that the young girl is made to suffer by its
censure. How then, can you hold her up to the scorn of society in
the newspapers without realizing that you are making her
suffering, still greater? Madmen! Vain fools! They don't believe
in God, they don't believe in Christ! But you are so eaten. up by
pride and vanity, that you will end by devouring each other--that
is my prophecy! Is not this absurd? Is it not monstrous chaos?
And after all this, that shameless creature will go and beg their
pardon! Are there many people like you? What are you smiling at?
Because I am not ashamed to disgrace myself before you?--Yes, I
am disgraced--it can't be helped now! But don't you jeer at me,
you scum!" (this was aimed at Hippolyte). "He is almost at his
last gasp, yet he corrupts others. You, have got hold of this lad
"--(she pointed to Colia); "you, have turned his head, you have
taught him to be an atheist, you don't believe in God, and you
are not too old to be whipped, sir! A plague upon you! And so,
Prince Lef Nicolaievitch, you will call on them tomorrow, will
you?" she asked the prince breathlessly, for the second time.


"Then I will never speak to you again." She made a sudden
movement to go, and then turned quickly back. "And you will call
on that atheist?" she continued, pointing to Hippolyte. "How dare
you grin at me like that?" she shouted furiously, rushing at the
invalid, whose mocking smile drove her to distraction.

Exclamations arose on all sides.

"Lizabetha Prokofievna! Lizabetha Prokofievna! Lizabetha

"Mother, this is disgraceful!" cried Aglaya.

Mrs. Epanchin had approached Hippolyte and seized him firmly by
the arm, while her eyes, blazing with fury, were fixed upon his

"Do not distress yourself, Aglaya Ivanovitch," he answered
calmly; "your mother knows that one cannot strike a dying man. I
am ready to explain why I was laughing. I shall be delighted if
you will let me--"

A violent fit of coughing, which lasted a full minute, prevented
him from finishing his sentence.

"He is dying, yet he will not stop holding forth!" cried
Lizabetha Prokofievna. She loosed her hold on his arm, almost
terrified, as she saw him wiping the blood from his lips. "Why do
you talk? You ought to go home to bed."

"So I will," he whispered hoarsely. "As soon as I get home I will
go to bed at once; and I know I shall be dead in a fortnight;
Botkine told me so himself last week. That is why I should like
to say a few farewell words, if you will let me."

"But you must be mad! It is ridiculous! You should take care of
yourself; what is the use of holding a conversation now? Go home
to bed, do!" cried Mrs. Epanchin in horror.

"When I do go to bed I shall never get up again," said Hippolyte,
with a smile. "I meant to take to my bed yesterday and stay there
till I died, but as my legs can still carry me, I put it off for
two days, so as to come here with them to-day--but I am very

"Oh, sit down, sit down, why are you standing?"

Lizabetha Prokofievna placed a chair for him with her own hands.

"Thank you," he said gently. "Sit opposite to me, and let us
talk. We must have a talk now, Lizabetha Prokofievna; I am very
anxious for it." He smiled at her once more. "Remember that
today, for the last time, I am out in the air, and in the company
of my fellow-men, and that in a fortnight I shall I certainly be
no longer in this world. So, in a way, this is my farewell to
nature and to men. I am not very sentimental, but do you know, I
am quite glad that all this has happened at Pavlofsk, where at
least one can see a green tree."

"But why talk now?" replied Lizabetha Prokofievna, more and more
alarmed; "are quite feverish. Just now you would not stop
shouting, and now you can hardly breathe. You are gasping."

"I shall have time to rest. Why will you not grant my last wish?
Do you know, Lizabetha Prokofievna, that I have dreamed of
meeting you for a long while? I had often heard of you from
Colia; he is almost the only person who still comes to see me.
You are an original and eccentric woman; I have seen that for
myself--Do you know, I have even been rather fond of you?"

"Good heavens! And I very nearly struck him!"

"You were prevented by Aglaya Ivanovna. I think I am not
mistaken? That is your daughter, Aglaya Ivanovna? She is so
beautiful that I recognized her directly, although I had never
seen her before. Let me, at least, look on beauty for the last
time in my life," he said with a wry smile. "You are here with
the prince, and your husband, and a large company. Why should you
refuse to gratify my last wish?"

"Give me a chair!" cried Lizabetha Prokofievna, but she seized
one for herself and sat down opposite to Hippolyte. "Colia, you
must go home with him," she commanded and tomorrow I will come
my self. "

"Will you let me ask the prince for a cup of tea?... I am
exhausted. Do you know what you might do, Lizabetha Prokofievna?
I think you wanted to take the prince home with you for tea. Stay
here, and let us spend the evening together. I am sure the prince
will give us all some tea. Forgive me for being so free and easy--
but I know you are kind, and the prince is kind, too. In fact, we
are all good-natured people--it is really quite comical."

The prince bestirred himself to give orders. Lebedeff hurried
out, followed by Vera.

"It is quite true," said Mrs. Epanchin decisively. "Talk, but not
too loud, and don't excite yourself. You have made me sorry for
you. Prince, you don't deserve that I should stay and have tea
with you, yet I will, all the same, but I won't apologize. I
apologize to nobody! Nobody! It is absurd! However, forgive me,
prince, if I blew you up--that is, if you like, of course. But
please don't let me keep anyone," she added suddenly to her
husband and daughters, in a tone of resentment, as though they
had grievously offended her. "I can come home alone quite well."

But they did not let her finish, and gathered round her eagerly.
The prince immediately invited everyone to stay for tea, and
apologized for not having thought of it before. The general
murmured a few polite words, and asked Lizabetha Prokofievna if
she did not feel cold on the terrace. He very nearly asked
Hippolyte how long he had been at the University, but stopped
himself in time. Evgenie Pavlovitch and Prince S. suddenly grew
extremely gay and amiable. Adelaida and Alexandra had not
recovered from their surprise, but it was now mingled with
satisfaction; in short, everyone seemed very much relieved that
Lizabetha Prokofievna had got over her paroxysm. Aglaya alone
still frowned, and sat apart in silence. All the other guests
stayed on as well; no one wanted to go, not even General Ivolgin,
but Lebedeff said something to him in passing which did not seem
to please him, for he immediately went and sulked in a corner.
The prince took care to offer tea to Burdovsky and his friends as
well as the rest. The invitation made them rather uncomfortable.
They muttered that they would wait for Hippolyte, and went and
sat by themselves in a distant corner of the verandah. Tea was
served at once; Lebedeff had no doubt ordered it for himself and
his family before the others arrived. It was striking eleven.


AFTER moistening his lips with the tea which Vera Lebedeff
brought him, Hippolyte set the cup down on the table, and glanced
round. He seemed confused and almost at a loss.

"Just look, Lizabetha Prokofievna," he began, with a kind of
feverish haste; "these china cups are supposed to be extremely
valuable. Lebedeff always keeps them locked up in his china-
cupboard; they were part of his wife's dowry. Yet he has brought
them out tonight--in your honour, of course! He is so pleased--"
He was about to add something else, but could not find the words.

"There, he is feeling embarrassed; I expected as much," whispered
Evgenie Pavlovitch suddenly in the prince's ear. "It is a bad
sign; what do you think? Now, out of spite, he will come out with
something so outrageous that even Lizabetha Prokofievna will not
be able to stand it."

Muishkin looked at him inquiringly.

"You do not care if he does?" added Evgenie Pavlovitch. "Neither
do I; in fact, I should be glad, merely as a proper punishment
for our dear Lizabetha Prokofievna. I am very anxious that she
should get it, without delay, and I shall stay till she does. You
seem feverish."

"Never mind; by-and-by; yes, I am not feeling well," said the
prince impatiently, hardly listening. He had just heard Hippolyte
mention his own name.

"You don't believe it?" said the invalid, with a nervous laugh.
"I don't wonder, but the prince will have no difficulty in
believing it; he will not be at all surprised."

"Do you hear, prince--do you hear that?" said Lizabetha
Prokofievna, turning towards him.

There was laughter in the group around her, and Lebedeff stood
before her gesticulating wildly.

"He declares that your humbug of a landlord revised this
gentleman's article--the article that was read aloud just now--in
which you got such a charming dressing-down."

The prince regarded Lebedeff with astonishment.

"Why don't you say something?" cried Lizabetha Prokofievna,
stamping her foot.

"Well," murmured the prince, with his eyes still fixed on
Lebedeff, "I can see now that he did."

"Is it true?" she asked eagerly.

"Absolutely, your excellency," said Lebedeff, without the least

Mrs. Epanchin almost sprang up in amazement at his answer, and at
the assurance of his tone.

"He actually seems to boast of it!" she cried.

"I am base--base!" muttered Lebedeff, beating his breast, and
hanging his head.

"What do I care if you are base or not? He thinks he has only to
say, 'I am base,' and there is an end of it. As to you, prince,
are you not ashamed?--I repeat, are you not ashamed, to mix with
such riff-raff? I will never forgive you!"

"The prince will forgive me!" said Lebedeff with emotional

Keller suddenly left his seat, and approached Lizabetha.

"It was only out of generosity, madame," he said in a resonant
voice, "and because I would not betray a friend in an awkward
position, that I did not mention this revision before; though you
heard him yourself threatening to kick us down the steps. To
clear the matter up, I declare now that I did have recourse to
his assistance, and that I paid him six roubles for it. But I did
not ask him to correct my style; I simply went to him for
information concerning the facts, of which I was ignorant to a
great extent, and which he was competent to give. The story of
the gaiters, the appetite in the Swiss professor's house, the
substitution of fifty roubles for two hundred and fifty--all such
details, in fact, were got from him. I paid him six roubles for
them; but he did not correct the style."

"I must state that I only revised the first part of the article,"
interposed Lebedeff with feverish impatience, while laughter rose
from all around him; "but we fell out in the middle over one
idea, so I never corrected the second part. Therefore I cannot be
held responsible for the numerous grammatical blunders in it."

"That is all he thinks of!" cried Lizabetha Prokofievna.

"May I ask when this article was revised?" said Evgenie
Pavlovitch to Keller.

"Yesterday morning," he replied, "we had an interview which we
all gave our word of honour to keep secret."

"The very time when he was cringing before you and making
protestations of devotion! Oh, the mean wretches! I will have
nothing to do with your Pushkin, and your daughter shall not
set foot in my house!"

Lizabetha Prokofievna was about to rise, when she saw Hippolyte
laughing, and turned upon him with irritation.

"Well, sir, I suppose you wanted to make me look ridiculous?"

"Heaven forbid!" he answered, with a forced smile. "But I am more
than ever struck by your eccentricity, Lizabetha Prokofievna. I
admit that I told you of Lebedeff's duplicity, on purpose. I knew
the effect it would have on you,--on you alone, for the prince
will forgive him. He has probably forgiven him already, and is
racking his brains to find some excuse for him--is not that the
truth, prince?"

He gasped as he spoke, and his strange agitation seemed to

"Well?" said Mrs. Epanchin angrily, surprised at his tone; "well,
what more?"

"I have heard many things of the kind about you ...they
delighted me... I have learned to hold you in the highest
esteem," continued Hippolyte.

His words seemed tinged with a kind of sarcastic mockery, yet he
was extremely agitated, casting suspicious glances around him,
growing confused, and constantly losing the thread of his ideas.
All this, together with his consumptive appearance, and the
frenzied expression of his blazing eyes, naturally attracted the
attention of everyone present.

"I might have been surprised (though I admit I know nothing of
the world), not only that you should have stayed on just now in
the company of such people as myself and my friends, who are not
of your class, but that you should let these ... young ladies
listen to such a scandalous affair, though no doubt novel-reading
has taught them all there is to know. I may be mistaken; I hardly
know what I am saying; but surely no one but you would have
stayed to please a whippersnapper (yes, a whippersnapper; I admit
it) to spend the evening and take part in everything--only to be
ashamed of it tomorrow. (I know I express myself badly.) I
admire and appreciate it all extremely, though the expression on
the face of his excellency, your husband, shows that he thinks it
very improper. He-he!" He burst out laughing, and was seized with
a fit of coughing which lasted for two minutes and prevented him
from speaking.

"He has lost his breath now!" said Lizabetha Prokofievna coldly,
looking at him with more curiosity than pity: "Come, my dear boy,
that is quite enough--let us make an end of this."

Ivan Fedorovitch, now quite out of patience, interrupted
suddenly. "Let me remark in my turn, sir," he said in tones of
deep annoyance, "that my wife is here as the guest of Prince Lef
Nicolaievitch, our friend and neighbour, and that in any case,
young man, it is not for you to pass judgment on the conduct of
Lizabetha Prokofievna, or to make remarks aloud in my presence
concerning what feelings you think may be read in my face. Yes,
my wife stayed here," continued the general, with increasing
irritation, "more out of amazement than anything else. Everyone
can understand that a collection of such strange young men would
attract the attention of a person interested in contemporary
life. I stayed myself, just as I sometimes stop to look on in the
street when I see something that may be regarded as-as-as-"

"As a curiosity," suggested Evgenie Pavlovitch, seeing his
excellency involved in a comparison which he could not complete.

"That is exactly the word I wanted," said the general with
satisfaction--" a curiosity. However, the most astonishing and,
if I may so express myself, the most painful, thing in this
matter, is that you cannot even understand, young man, that
Lizabetha Prokofievna, only stayed with you because you are ill,
--if you really are dying--moved by the pity awakened by your
plaintive appeal, and that her name, character, and social
position place her above all risk of contamination. Lizabetha
Prokofievna!" he continued, now crimson with rage, "if you are
coming, we will say goodnight to the prince, and--"

"Thank you for the lesson, general," said Hippolyte, with
unexpected gravity, regarding him thoughtfully.

"Two minutes more, if you please, dear Ivan Fedorovitch," said
Lizabetha Prokofievna to her husband; "it seems to me that he is
in a fever and delirious; you can see by his eyes what a state he
is in; it is impossible to let him go back to Petersburg
tonight. Can you put him up, Lef Nicolaievitch? I hope you are not
bored, dear prince," she added suddenly to Prince S. "Alexandra,
my dear, come here! Your hair is coming down."

She arranged her daughter's hair, which was not in the least
disordered, and gave her a kiss. This was all that she had called
her for.

"I thought you were capable of development," said Hippolyte,
coming out of his fit of abstraction. "Yes, that is what I meant
to say," he added, with the satisfaction of one who suddenly
remembers something he had forgotten. "Here is Burdovsky,
sincerely anxious to protect his mother; is not that so? And he
himself is the cause of her disgrace. The prince is anxious to
help Burdovsky and offers him friendship and a large sum of
money, in the sincerity of his heart. And here they stand like
two sworn enemies--ha, ha, ha! You all hate Burdovsky because his
behaviour with regard to his mother is shocking and repugnant to
you; do you not? Is not that true? Is it not true? You all have a
passion for beauty and distinction in outward forms; that is all
you care for, isn't it? I have suspected for a long time that you
cared for nothing else! Well, let me tell you that perhaps there
is not one of you who loved your mother as Burdovsky loved his.
As to you, prince, I know that you have sent money secretly to
Burdovsky's mother through Gania. Well, I bet now," he continued
with an hysterical laugh, "that Burdovsky will accuse you of
indelicacy, and reproach you with a want of respect for his
mother! Yes, that is quite certain! Ha, ha, ha!"

He caught his breath, and began to cough once more.

"Come, that is enough! That is all now; you have no more to say?
Now go to bed; you are burning with fever," said Lizabetha
Prokofievna impatiently. Her anxious eyes had never left the
invalid. "Good heavens, he is going to begin again!"

"You are laughing, I think? Why do you keep laughing at me?" said
Hippolyte irritably to Evgenie Pavlovitch, who certainly was

"I only want to know, Mr. Hippolyte--excuse me, I forget your

"Mr. Terentieff," said the prince.

"Oh yes, Mr. Terentieff. Thank you prince. I heard it just now,
but had forgotten it. I want to know, Mr. Terentieff, if what I
have heard about you is true. It seems you are convinced that if
you could speak to the people from a window for a quarter of an
hour, you could make them all adopt your views and follow you?"

"I may have said so," answered Hippolyte, as if trying to
remember. "Yes, I certainly said so," he continued with sudden
animation, fixing an unflinching glance on his questioner. "What
of it?"

"Nothing. I was only seeking further information, to put the
finishing touch."
Evgenie Pavlovitch was silent, but Hippolyte kept his eyes fixed
upon him, waiting impatiently for more.

"Well, have you finished?" said Lizabetha Prokofievna to Evgenie.
"Make haste, sir; it is time he went to bed. Have you more to
say?" She was very angry.

"Yes, I have a little more," said Evgenie Pavlovitch, with a
smile. "It seems to me that all you and your friends have said,
Mr. Terentieff, and all you have just put forward with such
undeniable talent, may be summed up in the triumph of right above
all, independent of everything else, to the exclusion of
everything else; perhaps even before having discovered what
constitutes the right. I may be mistaken?"

"You are certainly mistaken; I do not even understand you. What

Murmurs arose in the neighbourhood of Burdovsky and his
companions; Lebedeff's nephew protested under his breath.

"I have nearly finished," replied Evgenie Pavlovitch.

"I will only remark that from these premisses one could conclude
that might is right--I mean the right of the clenched fist, and of
personal inclination. Indeed, the world has often come to that
conclusion. Prudhon upheld that might is right. In the American
War some of the most advanced Liberals took sides with the
planters on the score that the blacks were an inferior race to
the whites, and that might was the right of the white race."


"You mean, no doubt, that you do not deny that might is right?"

"What then?"

"You are at least logical. I would only point out that from the
right of might, to the right of tigers and crocodiles, or even
Daniloff and Gorsky, is but a step."

"I know nothing about that; what else?"

Hippolyte was scarcely listening. He kept saying well?" and "what
else?" mechanically, without the least curiosity, and by mere
force of habit.

"Why, nothing else; that is all."

"However, I bear you no grudge," said Hippolyte suddenly, and,
hardly conscious of what he was doing, he held out his hand with
a smile. The gesture took Evgenie Pavlovitch by surprise, but
with the utmost gravity he touched the hand that was offered him
in token of forgiveness.

"I can but thank you," he said, in a tone too respectful to be
sincere, "for your kindness in letting me speak, for I have often
noticed that our Liberals never allow other people to have an
opinion of their own, and immediately answer their opponents with
abuse, if they do not have recourse to arguments of a still more
unpleasant nature."

"What you say is quite true," observed General Epanchin; then,
clasping his hands behind his back, he returned to his place on
the terrace steps, where he yawned with an air of boredom.

"Come, sir, that will do; you weary me," said Lizabetha
Prokofievna suddenly to Evgenie Pavlovitch.

Hippolyte rose all at once, looking troubled and almost

"It is time for me to go," he said, glancing round in perplexity.
"I have detained you... I wanted to tell you everything... I
thought you all ... for the last time ... it was a whim..."

He evidently had sudden fits of returning animation, when he
awoke from his semi-delirium; then, recovering full self-
possession for a few moments, he would speak, in disconnected
phrases which had perhaps haunted him for a long while on his bed
of suffering, during weary, sleepless nights.

"Well, good-bye," he said abruptly. "You think it is easy for me
to say good-bye to you? Ha, ha!"

Feeling that his question was somewhat gauche, he smiled angrily.
Then as if vexed that he could not ever express what he really
meant, he said irritably, in a loud voice:

"Excellency, I have the honour of inviting you to my funeral;
that is, if you will deign to honour it with your presence. I
invite you all, gentlemen, as well as the general."

He burst out laughing again, but it was the laughter of a madman.
Lizabetha Prokofievna approached him anxiously and seized his
arm. He stared at her for a moment, still laughing, but soon his
face grew serious.

"Do you know that I came here to see those trees?" pointing to
the trees in the park. "It is not ridiculous, is it? Say that it
is not ridiculous!" he demanded urgently of Lizabetha
Prokofievna. Then he seemed to be plunged in thought. A moment
later he raised his head, and his eyes sought for someone. He was
looking for Evgenie Pavlovitch, who was close by on his right as
before, but he had forgotten this, and his eyes ranged over the
assembled company. "Ah! you have not gone!" he said, when he
caught sight of him at last. "You kept on laughing just now,
because I thought of speaking to the people from the window for a
quarter of an hour. But I am not eighteen, you know; lying on
that bed, and looking out of that window, I have thought of all
sorts of things for such a long time that ... a dead man has no
age, you know. I was saying that to myself only last week, when I
was awake in the night. Do you know what you fear most? You fear
our sincerity more than anything, although you despise us! The
idea crossed my mind that night... You thought I was making
fun of you just now, Lizabetha Prokofievna? No, the idea of
mockery was far from me; I only meant to praise you. Colia told
me the prince called you a child--very well--but let me see, I
had something else to say..." He covered his face with his
hands and tried to collect his thoughts.

"Ah, yes--you were going away just now, and I thought to myself:
'I shall never see these people again-never again! This is the
last time I shall see the trees, too. I shall see nothing after
this but the red brick wall of Meyer's house opposite my window.
Tell them about it--try to tell them,' I thought. 'Here is a
beautiful young girl--you are a dead man; make them understand
that. Tell them that a dead man may say anything--and Mrs. Grundy
will not be angry--ha-ha! You are not laughing?" He looked
anxiously around. "But you know I get so many queer ideas, lying
there in bed. I have grown convinced that nature is full of
mockery--you called me an atheist just now, but you know this
nature ... why are you laughing again? You are very cruel!" he
added suddenly, regarding them all with mournful reproach. "I
have not corrupted Colia," he concluded in a different and very
serious tone, as if remembering something again.

"Nobody here is laughing at you. Calm yourself" said Lizabetha
Prokofievna, much moved. "You shall see a new doctor tomorrow;
the other was mistaken; but sit down, do not stand like that! You
are delirious--Oh, what shall we do with him she cried in
anguish, as she made him sit down again in the arm-chair.

A tear glistened on her cheek. At the sight of it Hippolyte
seemed amazed. He lifted his hand timidly and, touched the tear
with his finger, smiling like a child.

"I ... you," he began joyfully. "You cannot tell how I ... he
always spoke so enthusiastically of you, Colia here; I liked his
enthusiasm. I was not corrupting him! But I must leave him, too--
I wanted to leave them all--there was not one of them--not one! I
wanted to be a man of action--I had a right to be. Oh! what a
lot of things I wanted! Now I want nothing; I renounce all my
wants; I swore to myself that I would want nothing; let them seek
the truth without me! Yes, nature is full of mockery! Why"--he
continued with sudden warmth--"does she create the choicest
beings only to mock at them? The only human being who is
recognized as perfect, when nature showed him to mankind, was
given the mission to say things which have caused the shedding of
so much blood that it would have drowned mankind if it had all
been shed at once! Oh! it is better for me to die! I should tell
some dreadful lie too; nature would so contrive it! I have
corrupted nobody. I wanted to live for the happiness of all men,
to find and spread the truth. I used to look out of my window at
the wall of Meyer's house, and say to myself that if I could
speak for a quarter of an hour I would convince the whole world,
and now for once in my life I have come into contact with ...
you--if not with the others! And what is the result? Nothing! The
sole result is that you despise me! Therefore I must be a fool, I
am useless, it is time I disappeared! And I shall leave not even
a memory! Not a sound, not a trace, not a single deed! I have not
spread a single truth! ... Do not laugh at the fool! Forget
him! Forget him forever! I beseech you, do not be so cruel as to
remember! Do you know that if I were not consumptive, I would
kill myself?"

Though he seemed to wish to say much more, he became silent. He
fell back into his chair, and, covering his face with his hands,
began to sob like a little child.

"Oh! what on earth are we to do with him?" cried Lizabetha
Prokofievna. She hastened to him and pressed his head against her
bosom, while he sobbed convulsively.

"Come, come, come! There, you must not cry, that will do. You are
a good child! God will forgive you, because you knew no better.
Come now, be a man! You know presently you will be ashamed."

Hippolyte raised his head with an effort, saying:

"I have little brothers and sisters, over there, poor avid
innocent. She will corrupt them! You are a saint! You are a child
yourself--save them! Snatch them from that ... she is ... it
is shameful! Oh! help them! God will repay you a hundredfold. For
the love of God, for the love of Christ!"

"Speak, Ivan Fedorovitch! What are we to do?" cried Lizabetha
Prokofievna, irritably. "Please break your majestic silence! I
tell you, if you cannot come to some decision, I will stay here
all night myself. You have tyrannized over me enough, you

She spoke angrily, and in great excitement, and expected an
immediate reply. But in such a case, no matter how many are
present, all prefer to keep silence: no one will take the
initiative, but all reserve their comments till afterwards. There
were some present--Varvara Ardalionovna, for instance--who would
have willingly sat there till morning without saying a word.
Varvara had sat apart all the evening without opening her lips,
but she listened to everything with the closest attention;
perhaps she had her reasons for so doing.

"My dear," said the general, "it seems to me that a sick-nurse
would be of more use here than an excitable person like you.
Perhaps it would be as well to get some sober, reliable man for
the night. In any case we must consult the prince, and leave the
patient to rest at once. Tomorrow we can see what can be done
for him."

"It is nearly midnight; we are going. Will he come with us, or is
he to stay here?" Doktorenko asked crossly of the prince.

"You can stay with him if you like," said Muishkin.

"There is plenty of room here."

Suddenly, to the astonishment of all, Keller went quickly up to
the general.

"Excellency," he said, impulsively, "if you want a reliable man
for the night, I am ready to sacrifice myself for my friend--such
a soul as he has! I have long thought him a great man,
excellency! My article showed my lack of education, but when he
criticizes he scatters pearls!"

Ivan Fedorovitch turned from the boxer with a gesture of despair.

"I shall be delighted if he will stay; it would certainly be
difficult for him to get back to Petersburg," said the prince, in
answer to the eager questions of Lizabetha Prokofievna.

"But you are half asleep, are you not? If you don't want him, I
will take him back to my house! Why, good gracious! He can hardly
stand up himself! What is it? Are you ill?"

Not finding the prince on his death-bed, Lizabetha Prokofievna
had been misled by his appearance to think him much better than
he was. But his recent illness, the painful memories attached to
it, the fatigue of this evening, the incident with "Pavlicheff's
son," and now this scene with Hippolyte, had all so worked on his
oversensitive nature that he was now almost in a fever. Moreover,
anew trouble, almost a fear, showed itself in his eyes; he
watched Hippolyte anxiously as if expecting something further.

Suddenly Hippolyte arose. His face, shockingly pale, was that of
a man overwhelmed with shame and despair. This was shown chiefly
in the look of fear and hatred which he cast upon the assembled
company, and in the wild smile upon his trembling lips. Then he
cast down his eyes, and with the same smile, staggered towards
Burdovsky and Doktorenko, who stood at the entrance to the
verandah. He had decided to go with them.

"There! that is what I feared!" cried the prince. "It was

Hippolyte turned upon him, a prey to maniacal rage, which set all
the muscles of his face quivering.

"Ah! that is what you feared! It was inevitable, you say! Well,
let me tell you that if I hate anyone here--I hate you all," he
cried, in a hoarse, strained voice-" but you, you, with your
jesuitical soul, your soul of sickly sweetness, idiot, beneficent
millionaire--I hate you worse than anything or anyone on earth! I
saw through you and hated you long ago; from the day I first
heard of you. I hated you with my whole heart. You have contrived
all this! You have driven me into this state! You have made a
dying man disgrace himself. You, you, you are the cause of my
abject cowardice! I would kill you if I remained alive! I do not
want your benefits; I will accept none from anyone; do you hear?
Not from any one! I want nothing! I was delirious, do not dare to
triumph! I curse every one of you, once for all!"

Breath failed him here, and he was obliged to stop.

"He is ashamed of his tears!" whispered Lebedeff to Lizabetha
Prokofievna. "It was inevitable. Ah! what a wonderful man the
prince is! He read his very soul."

But Mrs. Epanchin would not deign to look at Lebedeff. Drawn up
haughtily, with her head held high, she gazed at the "riff-raff,"
with scornful curiosity. When Hippolyte had finished, Ivan
Fedorovitch shrugged his shoulders, and his wife looked him
angrily up and down, as if to demand the meaning of his movement.
Then she turned to the prince.

"Thanks, prince, many thanks, eccentric friend of the family, for
the pleasant evening you have provided for us. I am sure you are
quite pleased that you have managed to mix us up with your
extraordinary affairs. It is quite enough, dear family friend;
thank you for giving us an opportunity of getting to know you so

She arranged her cloak with hands that trembled with anger as she
waited for the "riff-raff "to go. The cab which Lebedeff's son
had gone to fetch a quarter of an hour ago, by Doktorenko's
order, arrived at that moment. The general thought fit to put in
a word after his wife.

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

"Papa, how can you?" cried Adelaida, walking quickly up to the
prince and holding out her hand.

He smiled absently at her; then suddenly he felt a burning
sensation in his ear as an angry voice whispered:

"If you do not turn those dreadful people out of the house this
very instant, I shall hate you all my life--all my life!" It was
Aglaya. She seemed almost in a frenzy, but she turned away before
the prince could look at her. However, there was no one left to
turn out of the house, for they had managed meanwhile to get
Hippolyte into the cab, and it had driven off.

"Well, how much longer is this going to last, Ivan Fedorovitch?
What do you think? Shall I soon be delivered from these odious

"My dear, I am quite ready; naturally ... the prince."

Ivan Fedorovitch held out his hand to Muishkin, but ran after his
wife, who was leaving with every sign of violent indignation,
before he had time to shake it. Adelaida, her fiance, and
Alexandra, said good-bye to their host with sincere friendliness.
Evgenie Pavlovitch did the same, and he alone seemed in good

"What I expected has happened! But I am sorry, you poor fellow,
that you should have had to suffer for it," he murmured, with a
most charming smile.

Aglaya left without saying good-bye. But the evening was not to
end without a last adventure. An unexpected meeting was yet in
store for Lizabetha Prokofievna.

She had scarcely descended the terrace steps leading to the high
road that skirts the park at Pavlofsk, when suddenly there dashed
by a smart open carriage, drawn by a pair of beautiful white
horses. Having passed some ten yards beyond the house, the
carriage suddenly drew up, and one of the two ladies seated in it
turned sharp round as though she had just caught sight of some
acquaintance whom she particularly wished to see.

"Evgenie Pavlovitch! Is that you?" cried a clear, sweet voice,
which caused the prince, and perhaps someone else, to tremble.
"Well, I AM glad I've found you at last! I've sent to town for
you twice today myself! My messengers have been searching for
you everywhere!"

Evgenie Pavlovitch stood on the steps like one struck by
lightning. Mrs. Epanchin stood still too, but not with the
petrified expression of Evgenie. She gazed haughtily at the
audacious person who had addressed her companion, and then turned
a look of astonishment upon Evgenie himself.

"There's news!" continued the clear voice. "You need not be
anxious about Kupferof's IOU's--Rogojin has bought them up. I
persuaded him to!--I dare say we shall settle Biscup too, so it's
all right, you see! Au revoir, tomorrow! And don't worry!" The
carriage moved on, and disappeared.

"The woman's mad!" cried Evgenie, at last, crimson with anger,
and looking confusedly around. "I don't know what she's talking
about! What IOU's? Who is she?" Mrs. Epanchin continued to watch
his face for a couple of seconds; then she marched briskly and
haughtily away towards her own house, the rest following her.

A minute afterwards, Evgenie Pavlovitch reappeared on the
terrace, in great agitation.

"Prince," he said, "tell me the truth; do you know what all this

"I know nothing whatever about it!" replied the latter, who was,
himself, in a state of nervous excitement.



"Well, nor do I!" said Evgenie Pavlovitch, laughing suddenly. "I
haven't the slightest knowledge of any such IOU's as she
mentioned, I swear I haven't--What's the matter, are you

"Oh, no-no-I'm all right, I assure you!"


THE anger of the Epanchin family was unappeased for three days.
As usual the prince reproached himself, and had expected
punishment, but he was inwardly convinced that Lizabetha
Prokofievna could not be seriously angry with him, and that she
probably was more angry with herself. He was painfully surprised,
therefore, when three days passed with no word from her. Other
things also troubled and perplexed him, and one of these grew
more important in his eyes as the days went by. He had begun to
blame himself for two opposite tendencies--on the one hand to
extreme, almost "senseless," confidence in his fellows, on the
other to a "vile, gloomy suspiciousness."

By the end of the third day the incident of the eccentric lady
and Evgenie Pavlovitch had attained enormous and mysterious
proportions in his mind. He sorrowfully asked himself whether he
had been the cause of this new "monstrosity," or was it ... but
he refrained from saying who else might be in fault. As for the
letters N.P.B., he looked on that as a harmless joke, a mere
childish piece of mischief--so childish that he felt it would be
shameful, almost dishonourable, to attach any importance to it.

The day after these scandalous events, however, the prince had
the honour of receiving a visit from Adelaida and her fiance,
Prince S. They came, ostensibly, to inquire after his health.
They had wandered out for a walk, and called in "by accident,"
and talked for almost the whole of the time they were with him
about a certain most lovely tree in the park, which Adelaida had
set her heart upon for a picture. This, and a little amiable
conversation on Prince S.'s part, occupied the time, and not a
word was said about last evening's episodes. At length Adelaida
burst out laughing, apologized, and explained that they had come
incognito; from which, and from the circumstance that they said
nothing about the prince's either walking back with them or
coming to see them later on, the latter inferred that he was in
Mrs. Epanchin's black books. Adelaida mentioned a watercolour
that she would much like to show him, and explained that she
would either send it by Colia, or bring it herself the next day--
which to the prince seemed very suggestive.

At length, however, just as the visitors were on the point of
departing, Prince S. seemed suddenly to recollect himself. "Oh
yes, by-the-by," he said, "do you happen to know, my dear Lef
Nicolaievitch, who that lady was who called out to Evgenie
Pavlovitch last night, from the carriage?"

"It was Nastasia Philipovna," said the prince; "didn't you know
that? I cannot tell you who her companion was."

"But what on earth did she mean? I assure you it is a real riddle
to me--to me, and to others, too!" Prince S. seemed to be under
the influence of sincere astonishment.

"She spoke of some bills of Evgenie Pavlovitch's," said the
prince, simply, "which Rogojin had bought up from someone; and
implied that Rogojin would not press him."

"Oh, I heard that much, my dear fellow! But the thing is so
impossibly absurd! A man of property like Evgenie to give IOU's
to a money-lender, and to be worried about them! It is
ridiculous. Besides, he cannot possibly be on such intimate terms
with Nastasia Philipovna as she gave us to understand; that's the
principal part of the mystery! He has given me his word that he
knows nothing whatever about the matter, and of course I believe
him. Well, the question is, my dear prince, do you know anything
about it? Has any sort of suspicion of the meaning of it come
across you?"

"No, I know nothing whatever about it. I assure you I had nothing
at all to do with it."

"Oh, prince, how strange you have become! I assure you, I hardly
know you for your old self. How can you suppose that I ever
suggested you could have had a finger in such a business? But you
are not quite yourself today, I can see." He embraced the
prince, and kissed him.

"What do you mean, though," asked Muishkin, "'by such a
business'? I don't see any particular 'business' about it at

"Oh, undoubtedly, this person wished somehow, and for some
reason, to do Evgenie Pavlovitch a bad turn, by attributing to
him--before witnesses--qualities which he neither has nor can
have," replied Prince S. drily enough.

Muiskhin looked disturbed, but continued to gaze intently and
questioningly into Prince S.'s face. The latter, however,
remained silent.

"Then it was not simply a matter of bills?" Muishkin said at
last, with some impatience. "It was not as she said?"

"But I ask you, my dear sir, how can there be anything in common
between Evgenie Pavlovitch, and--her, and again Rogojin? I tell
you he is a man of immense wealth--as I know for a fact; and he
has further expectations from his uncle. Simply Nastasia

Prince S. paused, as though unwilling to continue talking about
Nastasia Philipovna.

"Then at all events he knows her!" remarked the prince, after a
moment's silence.

"Oh, that may be. He may have known her some time ago--two or
three years, at least. He used to know Totski. But it is
impossible that there should be any intimacy between them. She
has not even been in the place--many people don't even know that
she has returned from Moscow! I have only observed her carriage
about for the last three days or so."

"It's a lovely carriage," said Adelaida.

"Yes, it was a beautiful turn-out, certainly!"

The visitors left the house, however, on no less friendly terms
than before. But the visit was of the greatest importance to the
prince, from his own point of view. Admitting that he had his
suspicions, from the moment of the occurrence of last night,
perhaps even before, that Nastasia had some mysterious end in
view, yet this visit confirmed his suspicions and justified his
fears. It was all clear to him; Prince S. was wrong, perhaps, in
his view of the matter, but he was somewhere near the truth, and
was right in so far as that he understood there to be an intrigue
of some sort going on. Perhaps Prince S. saw it all more clearly
than he had allowed his hearers to understand. At all events,
nothing could be plainer than that he and Adelaida had come for
the express purpose of obtaining explanations, and that they
suspected him of being concerned in the affair. And if all this
were so, then SHE must have some terrible object in view! What
was it? There was no stopping HER, as Muishkin knew from
experience, in the performance of anything she had set her mind
on! "Oh, she is mad, mad!" thought the poor prince.

But there were many other puzzling occurrences that day, which
required immediate explanation, and the prince felt very sad. A
visit from Vera Lebedeff distracted him a little. She brought the
infant Lubotchka with her as usual, and talked cheerfully for
some time. Then came her younger sister, and later the brother,
who attended a school close by. He informed Muishkin that his
father had lately found a new interpretation of the star called
"wormwood," which fell upon the water-springs, as described in
the Apocalypse. He had decided that it meant the network of
railroads spread over the face of Europe at the present time. The
prince refused to believe that Lebedeff could have given such an
interpretation, and they decided to ask him about it at the
earliest opportunity. Vera related how Keller had taken up his
abode with them on the previous evening. She thought he would
remain for some time, as he was greatly pleased with the society
of General Ivolgin and of the whole family. But he declared that
he had only come to them in order to complete his education!
The prince always enjoyed the company of Lebedeff's children, and
today it was especially welcome, for Colia did not appear all
day. Early that morning he had started for Petersburg. Lebedeff
also was away on business. But Gavrila Ardalionovitch had
promised to visit Muishkin, who eagerly awaited his coming.

About seven in the evening, soon after dinner, he arrived. At the
first glance it struck the prince that he, at any rate, must know
all the details of last night's affair. Indeed, it would have
been impossible for him to remain in ignorance considering the
intimate relationship between him, Varvara Ardalionovna, and
Ptitsin. But although he and the prince were intimate, in a
sense, and although the latter had placed the Burdovsky affair in
his hands-and this was not the only mark of confidence he had
received--it seemed curious how many matters there were that were
tacitly avoided in their conversations. Muishkin thought that
Gania at times appeared to desire more cordiality and frankness.
It was apparent now, when he entered, that he, was convinced that
the moment for breaking the ice between them had come at last.

But all the same Gania was in haste, for his sister was waiting
at Lebedeff's to consult him on an urgent matter of business. If
he had anticipated impatient questions, or impulsive confidences,
he was soon undeceived. The prince was thoughtful, reserved, even
a little absent-minded, and asked none of the questions--one in
particular--that Gania had expected. So he imitated the prince's
demeanour, and talked fast and brilliantly upon all subjects but
the one on which their thoughts were engaged. Among other things
Gania told his host that Nastasia Philipovna had been only four
days in Pavlofsk, and that everyone was talking about her
already. She was staying with Daria Alexeyevna, in an ugly little
house in Mattrossky Street, but drove about in the smartest
carriage in the place. A crowd of followers had pursued her from
the first, young and old. Some escorted her on horse-back when
she took the air in her carriage.

She was as capricious as ever in the choice of her acquaintances,
and admitted few into her narrow circle. Yet she already had a
numerous following and many champions on whom she could depend in
time of need. One gentleman on his holiday had broken off his
engagement on her account, and an old general had quarrelled with
his only son for the same reason.

She was accompanied sometimes in her carriage by a girl of
sixteen, a distant relative of her hostess. This young lady sang
very well; in fact, her music had given a kind of notoriety to
their little house. Nastasia, however, was behaving with great
discretion on the whole. She dressed quietly, though with such
taste as to drive all the ladies in Pavlofsk mad with envy, of
that, as well as of her beauty and her carriage and horses.

"As for yesterday's episode," continued Gania, "of course it was
pre-arranged." Here he paused, as though expecting to be asked
how he knew that. But the prince did not inquire. Concerning
Evgenie Pavlovitch, Gania stated, without being asked, that he
believed the former had not known Nastasia Philipovna in past
years, but that he had probably been introduced to her by
somebody in the park during these four days. As to the question
of the IOU's she had spoken of, there might easily be something
in that; for though Evgenie was undoubtedly a man of wealth, yet
certain of his affairs were equally undoubtedly in disorder.
Arrived at this interesting point, Gania suddenly broke off, and
said no more about Nastasia's prank of the previous evening.

At last Varvara Ardalionovna came in search of her brother, and
remained for a few minutes. Without Muishkin's asking her, she
informed him that Evgenie Pavlovitch was spending the day in
Petersburg, and perhaps would remain there over tomorrow; and
that her husband had also gone to town, probably in connection
with Evgenie Pavlovitch's affairs.

"Lizabetha Prokofievna is in a really fiendish temper today,"
she added, as she went out, "but the most curious thing is that
Aglaya has quarrelled with her whole family; not only with her
father and mother, but with her sisters also. It is not a good
sign." She said all this quite casually, though it was extremely
important in the eyes of the prince, and went off with her
brother. Regarding the episode of "Pavlicheff's son," Gania had
been absolutely silent, partly from a kind of false modesty,
partly, perhaps, to "spare the prince's feelings." The latter,
however, thanked him again for the trouble he had taken in the

Muishkin was glad enough to be left alone. He went out of the
garden, crossed the road, and entered the park. He wished to
reflect, and to make up his mind as to a certain "step." This
step was one of those things, however, which are not thought out,
as a rule, but decided for or against hastily, and without much
reflection. The fact is, he felt a longing to leave all this and
go away--go anywhere, if only it were far enough, and at once,
without bidding farewell to anyone. He felt a presentiment that
if he remained but a few days more in this place, and among these
people, he would be fixed there irrevocably and permanently.
However, in a very few minutes he decided that to run away was
impossible; that it would be cowardly; that great problems lay
before him, and that he had no right to leave them unsolved, or
at least to refuse to give all his energy and strength to the
attempt to solve them. Having come to this determination, he
turned and went home, his walk having lasted less than a quarter
of an hour. At that moment he was thoroughly unhappy.

Lebedeff had not returned, so towards evening Keller managed to
penetrate into the prince's apartments. He was not drunk, but in
a confidential and talkative mood. He announced that he had come
to tell the story of his life to Muishkin, and had only remained
at Pavlofsk for that purpose. There was no means of turning him
out; nothing short of an earthquake would have removed him.

In the manner of one with long hours before him, he began his
history; but after a few incoherent words he jumped to the
conclusion, which was that "having ceased to believe in God
Almighty, he had lost every vestige of morality, and had gone so
far as to commit a theft." "Could you imagine such a thing?" said

"Listen to me, Keller," returned the prince. "If I were in your
place, I should not acknowledge that unless it were absolutely
necessary for some reason. But perhaps you are making yourself
out to be worse than you are, purposely?"

"I should tell it to no one but yourself, prince, and I only name
it now as a help to my soul's evolution. When I die, that secret
will die with me! But, excellency, if you knew, if you only had
the least idea, how difficult it is to get money nowadays! Where
to find it is the question. Ask for a loan, the answer is always
the same: 'Give us gold, jewels, or diamonds, and it will be
quite easy.' Exactly what one has not got! Can you picture that
to yourself? I got angry at last, and said, 'I suppose you would
accept emeralds?' 'Certainly, we accept emeralds with pleasure.
Yes!' 'Well, that's all right,' said I. 'Go to the devil, you den
of thieves!' And with that I seized my hat, and walked out."

"Had you any emeralds?" asked the prince.

"What? I have emeralds? Oh, prince! with what simplicity, with
what almost pastoral simplicity, you look upon life!"

Could not something be made of this man under good influences?
asked the prince of himself, for he began to feel a kind of pity
for his visitor. He thought little of the value of his own
personal influence, not from a sense of humility, but from his
peculiar way of looking at things in general. Imperceptibly the
conversation grew more animated and more interesting, so that
neither of the two felt anxious to bring it to a close. Keller
confessed, with apparent sincerity, to having been guilty of many
acts of such a nature that it astonished the prince that he could
mention them, even to him. At every fresh avowal he professed the
deepest repentance, and described himself as being "bathed in
tears"; but this did not prevent him from putting on a boastful
air at times, and some of his stories were so absurdly comical
that both he and the prince laughed like madmen.

"One point in your favour is that you seem to have a child-like
mind, and extreme truthfulness," said the prince at last. "Do you
know that that atones for much?"

"I am assuredly noble-minded, and chivalrous to a degree!" said
Keller, much softened. "But, do you know, this nobility of mind
exists in a dream, if one may put it so? It never appears in
practice or deed. Now, why is that? I can never understand."

"Do not despair. I think we may say without fear of deceiving
ourselves, that you have now given a fairly exact account of your
life. I, at least, think it would be impossible to add much to
what you have just told me."

"Impossible?" cried Keller, almost pityingly. "Oh prince, how
little you really seem to understand human nature!"

"Is there really much more to be added?" asked the prince, with
mild surprise. "Well, what is it you really want of me? Speak
out; tell me why you came to make your confession to me?"

"What did I want? Well, to begin with, it is good to meet a man
like you. It is a pleasure to talk over my faults with you. I
know you for one of the best of men ... and then ... then ..."

He hesitated, and appeared so much embarrassed that the prince
helped him out.

"Then you wanted me to lend you money?"

The words were spoken in a grave tone, and even somewhat shyly.

Keller started, gave an astonished look at the speaker, and
thumped the table with his fist.

"Well, prince, that's enough to knock me down! It astounds me!
Here you are, as simple and innocent as a knight of the golden
age, and yet ... yet ... you read a man's soul like a
psychologist! Now, do explain it to me, prince, because I ... I
really do not understand! ... Of course, my aim was to borrow
money all along, and you ... you asked the question as if there
was nothing blameable in it--as if you thought it quite natural."

"Yes ... from you it is quite natural."

"And you are not offended?"

"Why should I be offended?"

"Well, just listen, prince. I remained here last evening, partly
because I have a great admiration for the French archbishop
Bourdaloue. I enjoyed a discussion over him till three o'clock in
the morning, with Lebedeff; and then ...
then--I swear by all I hold sacred that I am telling you the
truth--then I wished to develop my soul in this frank and
heartfelt confession to you. This was my thought as I was sobbing
myself to sleep at dawn. Just as I was losing consciousness,
tears in my soul, tears on my face (I remember how I lay there
sobbing), an idea from hell struck me. 'Why not, after
confessing, borrow money from him?' You see, this confession was
a kind of masterstroke; I intended to use it as a means to your
good grace and favour--and then--then I meant to walk off with a
hundred and fifty roubles. Now, do you not call that base?"

"It is hardly an exact statement of the case," said the prince in
reply. "You have confused your motives and ideas, as I need
scarcely say too often happens to myself. I can assure you,
Keller, I reproach myself bitterly for it sometimes. When you
were talking just now I seemed to be listening to something about
myself. At times I have imagined that all men were the same," he
continued earnestly, for he appeared to be much interested in the
conversation, "and that consoled me in a certain degree, for a
DOUBLE motive is a thing most difficult to fight against. I have
tried, and I know. God knows whence they arise, these ideas that
you speak of as base. I fear these double motives more than ever
just now, but I am not your judge, and in my opinion it is going
too far to give the name of baseness to it--what do you think?
You were going to employ your tears as a ruse in order to borrow
money, but you also say--in fact, you have sworn to the fact--
that independently of this your confession was made with an
honourable motive. As for the money, you want it for drink, do
you not? After your confession, that is weakness, of course; but,
after all, how can anyone give up a bad habit at a moment's
notice? It is impossible. What can we do? It is best, I think, to
leave the matter to your own conscience. How does it seem to
you?" As he concluded the prince looked curiously at Keller;
evidently this problem of double motives had often been
considered by him before.

"Well, how anybody can call you an idiot after that, is more than
I can understand!" cried the boxer.

The prince reddened slightly.

"Bourdaloue, the archbishop, would not have spared a man like
me," Keller continued, "but you, you have judged me with
humanity. To show how grateful I am, and as a punishment, I will
not accept a hundred and fifty roubles. Give me twenty-five--that
will be enough; it is all I really need, for a fortnight at
least. I will not ask you for more for a fortnight. I should like
to have given Agatha a present, but she does not really deserve
it. Oh, my dear prince, God bless you!"

At this moment Lebedeff appeared, having just arrived from
Petersburg. He frowned when he saw the twenty-five rouble note in
Keller's hand, but the latter, having got the money, went away at
once. Lebedeff began to abuse him.

"You are unjust; I found him sincerely repentant," observed the
prince, after listening for a time.

"What is the good of repentance like that? It is the same exactly
as mine yesterday, when I said, 'I am base, I am base,'--words,
and nothing more!"

"Then they were only words on your part? I thought, on the

"Well, I don't mind telling you the truth--you only! Because you
see through a man somehow. Words and actions, truth and
falsehood, are all jumbled up together in me, and yet I am
perfectly sincere. I feel the deepest repentance, believe it or
not, as you choose; but words and lies come out in the infernal
craving to get the better of other people. It is always there--the
notion of cheating people, and of using my repentant tears to my
own advantage! I assure you this is the truth, prince! I would
not tell any other man for the world! He would laugh and jeer at
me--but you, you judge a man humanely."

"Why, Keller said the same thing to me nearly word for word a few
minutes ago!" cried Muishkin. "And you both seem inclined to
boast about it! You astonish me, but I think he is more sincere
than you, for you make a regular trade of it. Oh, don't put on
that pathetic expression, and don't put your hand on your heart!
Have you anything to say to me? You have not come for nothing..."

Lebedeff grinned and wriggled.

"I have been waiting all day for you, because I want to ask you a
question; and, for once in your life, please tell me the truth at
once. Had you anything to do with that affair of the carriage

Lebedeff began to grin again, rubbed his hands, sneezed, but
spoke not a word in reply.

"I see you had something to do with it."

"Indirectly, quite indirectly! I am speaking the truth--I am
indeed! I merely told a certain person that I had people in my
house, and that such and such personages might be found among

"I am aware that you sent your son to that house--he told me so
himself just now, but what is this intrigue?" said the prince,

"It is not my intrigue!" cried Lebedeff, waving his hand.

"It was engineered by other people, and is, properly speaking,
rather a fantasy than an intrigue!"

"But what is it all about? Tell me, for Heaven's sake! Cannot you
understand how nearly it touches me? Why are they blackening
Evgenie Pavlovitch's reputation?"

Lebedeff grimaced and wriggled again.

"Prince!" said he. "Excellency! You won't let me tell you the
whole truth; I have tried to explain; more than once I have
begun, but you have not allowed me to go on..."

The prince gave no answer, and sat deep in thought. Evidently he
was struggling to decide.

"Very well! Tell me the truth," he said, dejectedly.

"Aglaya Ivanovna ..." began Lebedeff, promptly.

"Be silent! At once!" interrupted the prince, red with
indignation, and perhaps with shame, too. "It is impossible and
absurd! All that has been invented by you, or fools like you! Let
me never hear you say a word again on that subject!"

Late in the evening Colia came in with a whole budget of
Petersburg and Pavlofsk news. He did not dwell much on the
Petersburg part of it, which consisted chiefly of intelligence
about his friend Hippolyte, but passed quickly to the Pavlofsk
tidings. He had gone straight to the Epanchins' from the station.

"There's the deuce and all going on there!" he said. "First of
all about the row last night, and I think there must be something
new as well, though I didn't like to ask. Not a word about YOU,
prince, the whole time!" The most interesting fact was that
Aglaya had been quarrelling with her people about Gania. Colia
did not know any details, except that it had been a terrible
quarrel! Also Evgenie Pavlovitch had called, and met with an
excellent reception all round. And another curious thing: Mrs.
Epanchin was so angry that she called Varia to her--Varia was
talking to the girls--and turned her out of the house "once for
all "she said. "I heard it from Varia herself--Mrs. Epanchin was
quite polite, but firm; and when Varia said good-bye to the
girls, she told them nothing about it, and they didn't know they
were saying goodbye for the last time. I'm sorry for Varia, and
for Gania too; he isn't half a bad fellow, in spite of his
faults, and I shall never forgive myself for not liking him
before! I don't know whether I ought to continue to go to the
Epanchins' now," concluded Colia--" I like to be quite
independent of others, and of other people's quarrels if I can;
but I must think over it."

"I don't think you need break your heart over Gania," said the
prince; "for if what you say is true, he must be considered
dangerous in the Epanchin household, and if so, certain hopes of
his must have been encouraged."

"What? What hopes?" cried Colia; "you surely don't mean Aglaya?--
oh, no!--"

"You're a dreadful sceptic, prince," he continued, after a
moment's silence. "I have observed of late that you have grown
sceptical about everything. You don't seem to believe in people
as you did, and are always attributing motives and so on--am I
using the word 'sceptic' in its proper sense?"

"I believe so; but I'm not sure."

"Well, I'll change it, right or wrong; I'll say that you are not
sceptical, but JEALOUS. There! you are deadly jealous of Gania,
over a certain proud damsel! Come!" Colia jumped up, with these
words, and burst out laughing. He laughed as he had perhaps never
laughed before, and still more when he saw the prince flushing up
to his temples. He was delighted that the prince should be
jealous about Aglaya. However, he stopped immediately on seeing
that the other was really hurt, and the conversation continued,
very earnestly, for an hour or more.

Next day the prince had to go to town, on business. Returning in
the afternoon, he happened upon General Epanchin at the station.
The latter seized his hand, glancing around nervously, as if he
were afraid of being caught in wrong-doing, and dragged him into
a first-class compartment. He was burning to speak about
something of importance.

"In the first place, my dear prince, don't be angry with me. I
would have come to see you yesterday, but I didn't know how
Lizabetha Prokofievna would take it. My dear fellow, my house is
simply a hell just now, a sort of sphinx has taken up its abode
there. We live in an atmosphere of riddles; I can't make head or
tail of anything. As for you, I feel sure you are the least to
blame of any of us, though you certainly have been the cause of a
good deal of trouble. You see, it's all very pleasant to be a
philanthropist; but it can be carried too far. Of course I admire
kind-heartedness, and I esteem my wife, but--"

The general wandered on in this disconnected way for a long time;
it was clear that he was much disturbed by some circumstance
which he could make nothing of.

"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.

"Now I'll tell you my secret conviction. I'm certain that she's
doing this to revenge herself on me, on account of the past,
though I assure you that all the time I was blameless. I blush at
the very idea. And now she turns up again like this, when I
thought she had finally disappeared! Where's Rogojin all this
time? I thought she was Mrs. Rogojin, long ago."

The old man was in a state of great mental perturbation. The
whole of the journey, which occupied nearly an hour, he continued
in this strain, putting questions and answering them himself,
shrugging his shoulders, pressing the prince's hand, and assuring
the latter that, at all events, he had no suspicion whatever of
HIM. This last assurance was satisfactory, at all events. The
general finished by informing him that Evgenie's uncle was head
of one of the civil service departments, and rich, very rich, and
a gourmand. "And, well, Heaven preserve him, of course--but
Evgenie gets his money, don't you see? But, for all this, I'm
uncomfortable, I don't know why. There's something in the air, I
feel there's something nasty in the air, like a bat, and I'm by
no means comfortable."

And it was not until the third day that the formal reconciliation
between the prince and the Epanchins took place, as said before.


IT was seven in the evening, and the prince was just preparing to
go out for a walk in the park, when suddenly Mrs. Epanchin
appeared on the terrace.

"In the first place, don't dare to suppose," she began, "that I
am going to apologize. Nonsense! You were entirely to blame."

The prince remained silent.

"Were you to blame, or not?"

"No, certainly not, no more than yourself, though at first I
thought I was."

"Oh, very well, let's sit down, at all events, for I don't intend
to stand up all day. And remember, if you say, one word about
'mischievous urchins,' I shall go away and break with you
altogether. Now then, did you, or did you not, send a letter to
Aglaya, a couple of months or so ago, about Easter-tide?"


"What for? What was your object? Show me the letter." Mrs.
Epanchin's eyes flashed; she was almost trembling with

"I have not got the letter," said the prince, timidly, extremely
surprised at the turn the conversation had taken. "If anyone has
it, if it still exists, Aglaya Ivanovna must have it."

"No finessing, please. What did you write about?"

"I am not finessing, and I am not in the least afraid of telling
you; but I don't see the slightest reason why I should not have

"Be quiet, you can talk afterwards! What was the letter about?
Why are you blushing?"

The prince was silent. At last he spoke.

"I don't understand your thoughts, Lizabetha Prokofievna; but I
can see that the fact of my having written is for some reason
repugnant to you. You must admit that I have a perfect right to
refuse to answer your questions; but, in order to show you that I
am neither ashamed of the letter, nor sorry that I wrote it, and
that I am not in the least inclined to blush about it "(here the
prince's blushes redoubled), "I will repeat the substance of my
letter, for I think I know it almost by heart."

So saying, the prince repeated the letter almost word for word,
as he had written it.

"My goodness, what utter twaddle, and what may all this nonsense
have signified, pray? If it had any meaning at all!" said Mrs.
Epanchin, cuttingly, after having listened with great attention.

"I really don't absolutely know myself; I know my feeling was
very sincere. I had moments at that time full of life and hope."

"What sort of hope?"

"It is difficult to explain, but certainly not the hopes you have
in your mind. Hopes--well, in a word, hopes for the future, and a
feeling of joy that THERE, at all events, I was not entirely a
stranger and a foreigner. I felt an ecstasy in being in my native
land once more; and one sunny morning I took up a pen and wrote
her that letter, but why to HER, I don't quite know. Sometimes
one longs to have a friend near, and I evidently felt the need of
one then," added the prince, and paused.

"Are you in love with her?"

"N-no! I wrote to her as to a sister; I signed myself her

"Oh yes, of course, on purpose! I quite understand."

"It is very painful to me to answer these questions, Lizabetha

"I dare say it is; but that's no affair of mine. Now then, assure
me truly as before Heaven, are you lying to me or not?"

"No, I am not lying."

"Are you telling the truth when you say you are not in love?"

"I believe it is the absolute truth."

"'I believe,' indeed! Did that mischievous urchin give it to

"I asked Nicolai Ardalionovitch . . ."

"The urchin! the urchin!" interrupted Lizabetha Prokofievna in an
angry voice. "I do not want to know if it were Nicolai
Ardalionovitch! The urchin!"

"Nicolai Ardalionovitch . . ."

"The urchin, I tell you!"

"No, it was not the urchin: it was Nicolai Ardalionovitch," said
the prince very firmly, but without raising his voice.

"Well, all right! All right, my dear! I shall put that down to
your account."

She was silent a moment to get breath, and to recover her

"Well!--and what's the meaning of the 'poor knight,' eh?"

"I don't know in the least; I wasn't present when the joke was
made. It IS a joke. I suppose, and that's all."

"Well, that's a comfort, at all events. You don't suppose she
could take any interest in you, do you? Why, she called you an
'idiot' herself."

"I think you might have spared me that," murmured the prince
reproachfully, almost in a whisper.

"Don't be angry; she is a wilful, mad, spoilt girl. If she likes
a person she will pitch into him, and chaff him. I used to be
just such another. But for all that you needn't flatter yourself,
my boy; she is not for you. I don't believe it, and it is not to
be. I tell you so at once, so that you may take proper
precautions. Now, I want to hear you swear that you are not
married to that woman?"

"Lizabetha Prokofievna, what are you thinking of?" cried the
prince, almost leaping to his feet in amazement.

"Why? You very nearly were, anyhow."

"Yes--I nearly was," whispered the prince, hanging his head.

"Well then, have you come here for HER? Are you in love with HER?
With THAT creature?"

"I did not come to marry at all," replied the prince.

"Is there anything you hold sacred?"

"There is."

"Then swear by it that you did not come here to marry HER!"

"I'll swear it by whatever you please."

"I believe you. You may kiss me; I breathe freely at last. But
you must know, my dear friend, Aglaya does not love you, and she
shall never be your wife while I am out of my grave. So be warned
in time. Do you hear me?"

"Yes, I hear."

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

"I have waited for you with the greatest impatience (not that you
were worth it). Every night I have drenched my pillow with tears,
not for you, my friend, not for you, don't flatter yourself! I
have my own grief, always the same, always the same. But I'll
tell you why I have been awaiting you so impatiently, because I
believe that Providence itself sent you to be a friend and a
brother to me. I haven't a friend in the world except Princess
Bielokonski, and she is growing as stupid as a sheep from old
age. Now then, tell me, yes or no? Do you know why she called out
from her carriage the other night?"

"I give you my word of honour that I had nothing to do with the
matter and know nothing about it."

"Very well, I believe you. I have my own ideas about it. Up to
yesterday morning I thought it was really Evgenie Pavlovitch who
was to blame; now I cannot help agreeing with the others. But why
he was made such a fool of I cannot understand. However, he is
not going to marry Aglaya, I can tell you that. He may be a very
excellent fellow, but--so it shall be. I was not at all sure of
accepting him before, but now I have quite made up my mind that I
won't have him. 'Put me in my coffin first and then into my
grave, and then you may marry my daughter to whomsoever you
please,' so I said to the general this very morning. You see how
I trust you, my boy."

"Yes, I see and understand."

Mrs. Epanchin gazed keenly into the prince's eyes. She was
anxious to see what impression the news as to Evgenie Pavlovitch
had made upon him.

"Do you know anything about Gavrila Ardalionovitch?" she asked at

"Oh yes, I know a good deal."

"Did you know he had communications with Aglaya?"

"No, I didn't," said the prince, trembling a little, and in great
agitation. "You say Gavrila Ardalionovitch has private
communications with Aglaya?--Impossible!"

"Only quite lately. His sister has been working like a rat to
clear the way for him all the winter."

"I don't believe it!" said the prince abruptly, after a short
pause. "Had it been so I should have known long ago."

"Oh, of course, yes; he would have come and wept out his secret
on your bosom. Oh, you simpleton--you simpleton! Anyone can
deceive you and take you in like a--like a,--aren't you ashamed
to trust him? Can't you see that he humbugs you just as much as
ever he pleases?"

"I know very well that he does deceive me occasionally, and he
knows that I know it, but--" The prince did not finish his

"And that's why you trust him, eh? So I should have supposed.
Good Lord, was there ever such a man as you? Tfu! and are you
aware, sir, that this Gania, or his sister Varia, have brought
her into correspondence with Nastasia Philipovna?"

"Brought whom?" cried Muishkin.


"I don't believe it! It's impossible! What object could they
have?" He jumped up from his chair in his excitement.

"Nor do I believe it, in spite of the proofs. The girl is self-
willed and fantastic, and insane! She's wicked, wicked! I'll
repeat it for a thousand years that she's wicked; they ALL are,
just now, all my daughters, even that 'wet hen' Alexandra. And
yet I don't believe it. Because I don't choose to believe it,
perhaps; but I don't. Why haven't you been?" she turned on the
prince suddenly. "Why didn't you come near us all these three
days, eh?"

The prince began to give his reasons, but she interrupted him

"Everybody takes you in and deceives you; you went to town
yesterday. I dare swear you went down on your knees to that
rogue, and begged him to accept your ten thousand roubles!"

"I never thought of doing any such thing. I have not seen him,
and he is not a rogue, in my opinion. I have had a letter from

"Show it me!"

The prince took a paper from his pocket-book, and handed it to
Lizabetha Prokofievna. It ran as follows:


      "In the eyes of the world I am sure that I have no
cause for pride or self-esteem. I am much too insignificant
for that. But what may be so to other men's eyes is not
so to yours. I am convinced that you are better than other
people. Doktorenko disagrees with me, but I am content
to differ from him on this point.	I will never accept one
single copeck from you, but you have helped my mother,
and I am bound to be grateful to you for that, however
weak it may seem. At any rate, I have changed my
opinion about you, and I think right to inform you of the
fact; but I also suppose that there can be no further inter
course between us 	" ANTIP BURDOVSKY.

"P.S.--The two hundred roubles I owe you shall certainly be
repaid in time."

"How extremely stupid!" cried Mrs. Epanchin, giving back the
letter abruptly. "It was not worth the trouble of reading. Why
are you smiling?"

"Confess that you are pleased to have read it."

"What! Pleased with all that nonsense! Why, cannot you see that
they are all infatuated with pride and vanity?"

"He has acknowledged himself to be in the wrong. Don't you see
that the greater his vanity, the more difficult this admission
must have been on his part? Oh, what a little child you are,
Lizabetha Prokofievna!"

"Are you tempting me to box your ears for you, or what?"

"Not at all. I am only proving that you are glad about the
letter. Why conceal your real feelings? You always like to do

"Never come near my house again!" cried Mrs. Epanchin, pale with
rage. "Don't let me see as much as a SHADOW of you about the
place! Do you hear?"

"Oh yes, and in three days you'll come and invite me yourself.
Aren't you ashamed now? These are your best feelings; you are
only tormenting yourself."

"I'll die before I invite you! I shall forget your very name!
I've forgotten it already!"

She marched towards the door.

"But I'm forbidden your house as it is, without your added
threats!" cried the prince after her.

"What? Who forbade you?"

She turned round so suddenly that one might have supposed a
needle had been stuck into her.

The prince hesitated. He perceived that he had said too much now.

"WHO forbade you?" cried Mrs. Epanchin once more.

"Aglaya Ivanovna told me--"

"When? Speak--quick!"

"She sent to say, yesterday morning, that I was never to dare to
come near the house again."

Lizabetha Prokofievna stood like a stone.

"What did she send? Whom? Was it that boy? Was it a message?-

"I had a note," said the prince.

"Where is it? Give it here, at once."

The prince thought a moment. Then he pulled out of his waistcoat
pocket an untidy slip of paper, on which was scrawled:

"PRINCE LEF NICOLAIEVITCH,--If you think fit, after all that has
passed, to honour our house with a visit, I can assure you you
will not find me among the number of those who are in any way
delighted to see you.

                  "AGLAYA EPANCHIN."

Mrs. Epanchin reflected a moment. The next minute she flew at the
prince, seized his hand, and dragged him after her to the door.

"Quick--come along!" she cried, breathless with agitation and
impatience. "Come along with me this moment!"

"But you declared I wasn't--"

"Don't be a simpleton. You behave just as though you weren't a
man at all. Come on! I shall see, now, with my own eyes. I shall
see all."

"Well, let me get my hat, at least."

"Here's your miserable hat He couldn't even choose a respectable
shape for his hat! Come on! She did that because I took your part
and said you ought to have come--little vixen!--else she would
never have sent you that silly note. It's a most improper note, I
call it; most improper for such an intelligent, well-brought-up
girl to write. H'm! I dare say she was annoyed that you didn't
come; but she ought to have known that one can't write like that
to an idiot like you, for you'd be sure to take it literally."
Mrs. Epanchin was dragging the prince along with her all the
time, and never let go of his hand for an instant. "What are you
listening for?" she added, seeing that she had committed herself
a little. "She wants a clown like you--she hasn't seen one for
some time--to play with. That's why she is anxious for you to
come to the house. And right glad I am that she'll make a
thorough good fool of you. You deserve it; and she can do it--oh!
she can, indeed!--as well as most people."



THE Epanchin family, or at least the more serious members of it,
were sometimes grieved because they seemed so unlike the rest of
the world. They were not quite certain, but had at times a strong
suspicion that things did not happen to them as they did to other
people. Others led a quiet, uneventful life, while they were
subject to continual upheavals. Others kept on the rails without
difficulty; they ran off at the slightest obstacle. Other houses
were governed by a timid routine; theirs was somehow different.
Perhaps Lizabetha Prokofievna was alone in making these fretful
observations; the girls, though not wanting in intelligence, were
still young; the general was intelligent, too, but narrow, and in
any difficulty he was content to say, "H'm!" and leave the matter
to his wife. Consequently, on her fell the responsibility. It was
not that they distinguished themselves as a family by any
particular originality, or that their excursions off the track
led to any breach of the proprieties. Oh no.

There was nothing premeditated, there was not even any conscious
purpose in it all, and yet, in spite of everything, the family,
although highly respected, was not quite what every highly
respected family ought to be. For a long time now Lizabetha
Prokofievna had had it in her mind that all the trouble was owing
to her "unfortunate character, "and this added to her distress.
She blamed her own stupid unconventional "eccentricity." Always
restless, always on the go, she constantly seemed to lose her
way, and to get into trouble over the simplest and more ordinary
affairs of life.

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.

As to Lizabetha Prokofievna, she, as the reader knows, belonged
to an aristocratic family. True, Russians think more of
influential friends than of birth, but she had both. She was
esteemed and even loved by people of consequence in society,
whose example in receiving her was therefore followed by others.
It seems hardly necessary to remark that her family worries and
anxieties had little or no foundation, or that her imagination
increased them to an absurd degree; but if you have a wart on
your forehead or nose, you imagine that all the world is looking
at it, and that people would make fun of you because of it, even
if you had discovered America! Doubtless Lizabetha Prokofievna
was considered "eccentric" in society, but she was none the less
esteemed: the pity was that she was ceasing to believe in that
esteem. When she thought of her daughters, she said to herself
sorrowfully that she was a hindrance rather than a help to their
future, that her character and temper were absurd, ridiculous,
insupportable. Naturally, she put the blame on her surroundings,
and from morning to night was quarrelling with her husband and
children, whom she really loved to the point of self-sacrifice,
even, one might say, of passion.

She was, above all distressed by the idea that her daughters
might grow up "eccentric," like herself; she believed that no
other society girls were like them. "They are growing into
Nihilists!" she repeated over and over again. For years she had
tormented herself with this idea, and with the question: "Why
don't they get married?"

"It is to annoy their mother; that is their one aim in life; it
can be nothing else. The fact is it is all of a piece with these
modern ideas, that wretched woman's question! Six months ago
Aglaya took a fancy to cut off her magnificent hair. Why, even I,
when I was young, had nothing like it! The scissors were in her
hand, and I had to go down on my knees and implore her... She
did it, I know, from sheer mischief, to spite her mother, for she
is a naughty, capricious girl, a real spoiled child spiteful and
mischievous to a degree! And then Alexandra wanted to shave her
head, not from caprice or mischief, but, like a little fool,
simply because Aglaya persuaded her she would sleep better
without her hair, and not suffer from headache! And how many
suitors have they not had during the last five years! Excellent
offers, too! What more do they want? Why don't they get married?
For no other reason than to vex their mother--none--none!"

But Lizabetha Prokofievna felt somewhat consoled when she could
say that one of her girls, Adelaida, was settled at last. "It
will be one off our hands!" she declared aloud, though in private
she expressed herself with greater tenderness. The engagement was
both happy and suitable, and was therefore approved in society.
Prince S. was a distinguished man, he had money, and his future
wife was devoted to him; what more could be desired? Lizabetha
Prokofievna had felt less anxious about this daughter, however,
although she considered her artistic tastes suspicious. But to
make up for them she was, as her mother expressed it, "merry,"
and had plenty of "common-sense." It was Aglaya's future which
disturbed her most. With regard to her eldest daughter,
Alexandra, the mother never quite knew whether there was cause
for anxiety or not. Sometimes she felt as if there was nothing to
be expected from her. She was twenty-five now, and must be fated
to be an old maid, and "with such beauty, too!" The mother spent
whole nights in weeping and lamenting, while all the time the
cause of her grief slumbered peacefully. "What is the matter with
her? Is she a Nihilist, or simply a fool?"

But Lizabetha Prokofievna knew perfectly well how unnecessary was
the last question. She set a high value on Alexandra Ivanovna's
judgment, and often consulted her in difficulties; but that she
was a 'wet hen' she never for a moment doubted. "She is so calm;
nothing rouses her--though wet hens are not always calm! Oh! I
can't understand it!" Her eldest daughter inspired Lizabetha with
a kind of puzzled compassion. She did not feel this in Aglaya's
case, though the latter was her idol. It may be said that these
outbursts and epithets, such as "wet hen "(in which the maternal
solicitude usually showed itself), only made Alexandra laugh.
Sometimes the most trivial thing annoyed Mrs. Epanchin, and drove
her into a frenzy. For instance, Alexandra Ivanovna liked to
sleep late, and was always dreaming, though her dreams had the
peculiarity of being as innocent and naive as those of a child of
seven; and the very innocence of her dreams annoyed her mother.
Once she dreamt of nine hens, and this was the cause of quite a
serious quarrel--no one knew why. Another time she had--it was
most unusual--a dream with a spark of originality in it. She
dreamt of a monk in a dark room, into which she was too
frightened to go. Adelaida and Aglaya rushed off with shrieks of
laughter to relate this to their mother, but she was quite angry,
and said her daughters were all fools.

"H'm! she is as stupid as a fool! A veritable 'wet hen'! Nothing
excites her; and yet she is not happy; some days it makes one
miserable only to look at her! Why is she unhappy, I wonder?" At
times Lizabetha Prokofievna put this question to her husband, and
as usual she spoke in the threatening tone of one who demands an
immediate answer. Ivan Fedorovitch would frown, shrug his
shoulders, and at last give his opinion: "She needs a husband!"

"God forbid that he should share your ideas, Ivan Fedorovitch!"
his wife flashed back. "Or that he should be as gross and
churlish as you!"

The general promptly made his escape, and Lizabetha Prokofievna
after a while grew calm again. That evening, of course, she would
be unusually attentive, gentle, and respectful to her "gross and
churlish" husband, her "dear, kind Ivan Fedorovitch," for she had
never left off loving him. She was even still "in love" with him.
He knew it well, and for his part held her in the greatest

But the mother's great and continual anxiety was Aglaya. "She is
exactly like me--my image in everything," said Mrs. Epanchin to
herself. "A tyrant! A real little demon! A Nihilist! Eccentric,
senseless and mischievous! Good Lord, how unhappy she will be!"

But as we said before, the fact of Adelaida's approaching
marriage was balm to the mother. For a whole month she forgot her
fears and worries.

Adelaida's fate was settled; and with her name that of Aglaya's
was linked, in society gossip. People whispered that Aglaya, too,
was "as good as engaged;" and Aglaya always looked so sweet and
behaved so well (during this period), that the mother's heart was
full of joy. Of course, Evgenie Pavlovitch must be thoroughly
studied first, before the final step should be taken; but,
really, how lovely dear Aglaya had become--she actually grew more
beautiful every day! And then--Yes, and then--this abominable
prince showed his face again, and everything went topsy-turvy at
once, and everyone seemed as mad as March hares.

What had really happened?

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.

What then must have been her condition, when, among all the
imaginary anxieties and calamities which so constantly beset her,
she now saw looming ahead a serious cause for annoyance--
something really likely to arouse doubts and suspicions!

"How dared they, how DARED they write that hateful anonymous
letter informing me that Aglaya is in communication with Nastasia
Philipovna?" she thought, as she dragged the prince along towards
her own house, and again when she sat him down at the round table
where the family was already assembled. "How dared they so much
as THINK of such a thing? I should DIE with shame if I thought
there was a particle of truth in it, or if I were to show the
letter to Aglaya herself! Who dares play these jokes upon US, the
Epanchins? WHY didn't we go to the Yelagin instead of coming down
here? I TOLD you we had better go to the Yelagin this summer,
Ivan Fedorovitch. It's all your fault. I dare say it was that
Varia who sent the letter. It's all Ivan Fedorovitch. THAT woman
is doing it all for him, I know she is, to show she can make a
fool of him now just as she did when he used to give her pearls.

"But after all is said, we are mixed up in it. Your daughters are
mixed up in it, Ivan Fedorovitch; young ladies in society, young
ladies at an age to be married; they were present, they heard
everything there was to hear. They were mixed up with that other
scene, too, with those dreadful youths. You must be pleased to
remember they heard it all. I cannot forgive that wretched
prince. I never shall forgive him! And why, if you please, has
Aglaya had an attack of nerves for these last three days? Why has
she all but quarrelled with her sisters, even with Alexandra--
whom she respects so much that she always kisses her hands as
though she were her mother? What are all these riddles of hers
that we have to guess? What has Gavrila Ardalionovitch to do with
it? Why did she take upon herself to champion him this morning,
and burst into tears over it? Why is there an allusion to that
cursed 'poor knight' in the anonymous letter? And why did I rush
off to him just now like a lunatic, and drag him back here? I do
believe I've gone mad at last. What on earth have I done now? To
talk to a young man about my daughter's secrets--and secrets
having to do with himself, too!  Thank goodness, he's an idiot,
and a friend of the house! Surely Aglaya hasn't fallen in love
with such a gaby! What an idea! Pfu! we ought all to be put under
glass cases--myself first of all--and be shown off as
curiosities, at ten copecks a peep!"

"I shall never forgive you for all this, Ivan Fedorovitch--never!
Look at her now. Why doesn't she make fun of him? She said she
would, and she doesn't. Look there! She stares at him with all
her eyes, and doesn't move; and yet she told him not to come. He
looks pale enough; and that abominable chatterbox, Evgenie
Pavlovitch, monopolizes the whole of the conversation. Nobody
else can get a word in. I could soon find out all about
everything if I could only change the subject."

The prince certainly was very pale. He sat at the table and
seemed to be feeling, by turns, sensations of alarm and rapture.

Oh, how frightened he was of looking to one side--one particular
corner--whence he knew very well that a pair of dark eyes were
watching him intently, and how happy he was to think that he was
once more among them, and occasionally hearing that well-known
voice, although she had written and forbidden him to come again!

"What on earth will she say to me, I wonder?" he thought to

He had not said a word yet; he sat silent and listened to Evgenie
Pavlovitch's eloquence. The latter had never appeared so happy
and excited as on this evening. The prince listened to him, but
for a long time did not take in a word he said.

Excepting Ivan Fedorovitch, who had not as yet returned from
town, the whole family was present. Prince S. was there; and they
all intended to go out to hear the band very soon.

Colia arrived presently and joined the circle. "So he is received
as usual, after all," thought the prince.

The Epanchins' country-house was a charming building, built after
the model of a Swiss chalet, and covered with creepers. It was
surrounded on all sides by a flower garden, and the family sat,
as a rule, on the open verandah as at the prince's house.

The subject under discussion did not appear to be very popular
with the assembly, and some would have been delighted to change
it; but Evgenie would not stop holding forth, and the prince's
arrival seemed to spur him on to still further oratorical

Lizabetha Prokofievna frowned, but had not as yet grasped the
subject, which seemed to have arisen out of a heated argument.
Aglaya sat apart, almost in the corner, listening in stubborn

"Excuse me," continued Evgenie Pavlovitch hotly, "I don't say a
word against liberalism. Liberalism is not a sin, it is a
necessary part of a great whole, which whole would collapse and
fall to pieces without it. Liberalism has just as much right to
exist as has the most moral conservatism; but I am attacking
RUSSIAN liberalism; and I attack it for the simple reason that a
Russian liberal is not a Russian liberal, he is a non-Russian
liberal. Show me a real Russian liberal, and I'll kiss him before
you all, with pleasure."

"If he cared to kiss you, that is," said Alexandra, whose cheeks
were red with irritation and excitement.

"Look at that, now," thought the mother to herself, "she does
nothing but sleep and eat for a year at a time, and then suddenly
flies out in the most incomprehensible way!"

The prince observed that Alexandra appeared to be angry with
Evgenie, because he spoke on a serious subject in a frivolous
manner, pretending to be in earnest, but with an under-current of

"I was saying just now, before you came in, prince, that there
has been nothing national up to now, about our liberalism, and
nothing the liberals do, or have done, is in the least degree
national. They are drawn from two classes only, the old
landowning class, and clerical families--"

"How, nothing that they have done is Russian?" asked Prince S.

"It may be Russian, but it is not national. Our liberals are not
Russian, nor are our conservatives, and you may be sure that the
nation does not recognize anything that has been done by the
landed gentry, or by the seminarists, or what is to be done

"Come, that's good! How can you maintain such a paradox? If you
are serious, that is. I cannot allow such a statement about the
landed proprietors to pass unchallenged. Why, you are a landed
proprietor yourself!" cried Prince S. hotly.

"I suppose you'll say there is nothing national about our
literature either?" said Alexandra.

"Well, I am not a great authority on literary questions, but I
certainly do hold that Russian literature is not Russian, except
perhaps Lomonosoff, Pouschkin and Gogol."

"In the first place, that is a considerable admission, and in the
second place, one of the above was a peasant, and the other two
were both landed proprietors!"

"Quite so, but don't be in such a hurry! For since it has been
the part of these three men, and only these three, to say
something absolutely their own, not borrowed, so by this very
fact these three men become really national. If any Russian shall
have done or said anything really and absolutely original, he is
to be called national from that moment, though he may not be able
to talk the Russian language; still he is a national Russian. I
consider that an axiom. But we were not speaking of literature;
we began by discussing the socialists. Very well then, I insist
that there does not exist one single Russian socialist. There
does not, and there has never existed such a one, because all
socialists are derived from the two classes--the landed
proprietors, and the seminarists. All our eminent socialists are
merely old liberals of the class of landed proprietors, men who
were liberals in the days of serfdom. Why do you laugh? Give me
their books, give me their studies, their memoirs, and though I
am not a literary critic, yet I will prove as clear as day that
every chapter and every word of their writings has been the work
of a former landed proprietor of the old school. You'll find that
all their raptures, all their generous transports are
proprietary, all their woes and their tears, proprietary; all
proprietary or seminarist! You are laughing again, and you,
prince, are smiling too. Don't you agree with me?"

It was true enough that everybody was laughing, the prince among

"I cannot tell you on the instant whether I agree with you or
not," said the latter, suddenly stopping his laughter, and
starting like a schoolboy caught at mischief. "But, I assure you,
I am listening to you with extreme gratification."

So saying, he almost panted with agitation, and a cold sweat
stood upon his forehead. These were his first words since he had
entered the house; he tried to lift his eyes, and look around,
but dared not; Evgenie Pavlovitch noticed his confusion, and

"I'll just tell you one fact, ladies and gentlemen," continued
the latter, with apparent seriousness and even exaltation of
manner, but with a suggestion of "chaff" behind every word, as
though he were laughing in his sleeve at his own nonsense--"a
fact, the discovery of which, I believe, I may claim to have made
by myself alone. At all events, no other has ever said or written
a word about it; and in this fact is expressed the whole essence
of Russian liberalism of the sort which I am now considering.

"In the first place, what is liberalism, speaking generally, but
an attack (whether mistaken or reasonable, is quite another
question) upon the existing order of things? Is this so? Yes.
Very well. Then my 'fact' consists in this, that RUSSIAN
liberalism is not an attack upon the existing order of things,
but an attack upon the very essence of things themselves--indeed,
on the things themselves; not an attack on the Russian order of
things, but on Russia itself. My Russian liberal goes so far as
to reject Russia; that is, he hates and strikes his own mother.
Every misfortune and mishap of the mother-country fills him with
mirth, and even with ecstasy. He hates the national customs,
Russian history, and everything. If he has a justification, it is
that he does not know what he is doing, and believes that his
hatred of Russia is the grandest and most profitable kind of
liberalism. (You will often find a liberal who is applauded and
esteemed by his fellows, but who is in reality the dreariest,
blindest, dullest of conservatives, and is not aware of the
fact.) This hatred for Russia has been mistaken by some of our
'Russian liberals' for sincere love of their country, and they
boast that they see better than their neighbours what real love
of one's country should consist in. But of late they have grown,
more candid and are ashamed of the expression 'love of country,'
and have annihilated the very spirit of the words as something
injurious and petty and undignified. This is the truth, and I
hold by it; but at the same time it is a phenomenon which has not
been repeated at any other time or place; and therefore, though I
hold to it as a fact, yet I recognize that it is an accidental
phenomenon, and may likely enough pass away. There can be no such
thing anywhere else as a liberal who really hates his country;
and how is this fact to be explained among US? By my original
statement that a Russian liberal is NOT a RUSSIAN liberal--that's
the only explanation that I can see."

"I take all that you have said as a joke," said Prince S.

"I have not seen all kinds of liberals, and cannot, therefore,
set myself up as a judge," said Alexandra, "but I have heard all
you have said with indignation. You have taken some accidental
case and twisted it into a universal law, which is unjust."

"Accidental case!" said Evgenie Pavlovitch. "Do you consider it
an accidental case, prince?"

"I must also admit," said the prince, "that I have not seen much,
or been very far into the question; but I cannot help thinking
that you are more or less right, and that Russian liberalism--
that phase of it which you are considering, at least--really is
sometimes inclined to hate Russia itself, and not only its
existing order of things in general. Of course this is only
PARTIALLY the truth; you cannot lay down the law for all..."

The prince blushed and broke off, without finishing what he meant
to say.

In spite of his shyness and agitation, he could not help being
greatly interested in the conversation. A special characteristic
of his was the naive candour with which he always listened to
arguments which interested him, and with which he answered any
questions put to him on the subject at issue. In the very
expression of his face this naivete was unmistakably evident,
this disbelief in the insincerity of others, and unsuspecting
disregard of irony or humour in their words.

But though Evgenie Pavlovitch had put his questions to the prince
with no other purpose but to enjoy the joke of his simple-minded
seriousness, yet now, at his answer, he was surprised into some
seriousness himself, and looked gravely at Muishkin as though he
had not expected that sort of answer at all.

"Why, how strange!" he ejaculated. "You didn't answer me
seriously, surely, did you?"

"Did not you ask me the question seriously" inquired the prince,
in amazement.

Everybody laughed.

"Oh, trust HIM for that!" said Adelaida. "Evgenie Pavlovitch
turns everything and everybody he can lay hold of to ridicule.
You should hear the things he says sometimes, apparently in
perfect seriousness."

"In my opinion the conversation has been a painful one
throughout, and we ought never to have begun it," said Alexandra.
"We were all going for a walk--"

"Come along then," said Evgenie; "it's a glorious evening. But,
to prove that this time I was speaking absolutely seriously, and
especially to prove this to the prince (for you, prince, have
interested me exceedingly, and I swear to you that I am not quite
such an ass as I like to appear sometimes, although I am rather
an ass, I admit), and--well, ladies and gentlemen, will you allow
me to put just one more question to the prince, out of pure
curiosity? It shall be the last. This question came into my mind
a couple of hours since (you see, prince, I do think seriously at
times), and I made my own decision upon it; now I wish to hear
what the prince will say to it."

"We have just used the expression 'accidental case.' This is a
significant phrase; we often hear it. Well, not long since
everyone was talking and reading about that terrible murder of
six people on the part of a--young fellow, and of the
extraordinary speech of the counsel for the defence, who observed
that in the poverty-stricken condition of the criminal it must
have come NATURALLY into his head to kill these six people. I do
not quote his words, but that is the sense of them, or something
very like it. Now, in my opinion, the barrister who put forward
this extraordinary plea was probably absolutely convinced that he
was stating the most liberal, the most humane, the most
enlightened view of the case that could possibly be brought
forward in these days. Now, was this distortion, this capacity
for a perverted way of viewing things, a special or accidental
case, or is such a general rule?"

Everyone laughed at this.

"A special case--accidental, of course!" cried Alexandra and

"Let me remind you once more, Evgenie," said Prince S., "that
your joke is getting a little threadbare."

"What do you think about it, prince?" asked Evgenie, taking no
notice of the last remark, and observing Muishkin's serious eyes
fixed upon his face. "What do you think--was it a special or a
usual case--the rule, or an exception? I confess I put the
question especially for you."

"No, I don't think it was a special case," said the prince,
quietly, but firmly.

"My dear fellow!" cried Prince S., with some annoyance, "don't
you see that he is chaffing you? He is simply laughing at you,
and wants to make game of you."

"I thought Evgenie Pavlovitch was talking seriously," said the
prince, blushing and dropping his eyes.

"My dear prince," continued Prince S. "remember what you and I
were saying two or three months ago. We spoke of the fact that in
our newly opened Law Courts one could already lay one's finger
upon so many talented and remarkable young barristers. How
pleased you were with the state of things as we found it, and how
glad I was to observe your delight! We both said it was a matter
to be proud of; but this clumsy defence that Evgenie mentions,
this strange argument CAN, of course, only be an accidental case
--one in a thousand!"

The prince reflected a little, but very soon he replied, with
absolute conviction in his tone, though he still spoke somewhat
shyly and timidly:

"I only wished to say that this 'distortion,' as Evgenie
Pavlovitch expressed it, is met with very often, and is far more
the general rule than the exception, unfortunately for Russia. So
much so, that if this distortion were not the general rule,
perhaps these dreadful crimes would be less frequent."

"Dreadful crimes? But I can assure you that crimes just as
dreadful, and probably more horrible, have occurred before our
times, and at all times, and not only here in Russia, but
everywhere else as well. And in my opinion it is not at all
likely that such murders will cease to occur for a very long time
to come. The only difference is that in former times there was
less publicity, while now everyone talks and writes freely about
such things--which fact gives the impression that such crimes
have only now sprung into existence. That is where your mistake
lies--an extremely natural mistake, I assure you, my dear
fellow!" said Prince S.

"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!"

Prince S. was now no longer smiling; he gazed at the prince in

Alexandra, who had seemed to wish to put in her word when the
prince began, now sat silent, as though some sudden thought had
caused her to change her mind about speaking.

Evgenie Pavlovitch gazed at him in real surprise, and this time
his expression of face had no mockery in it whatever.

"What are you looking so surprised about, my friend?" asked Mrs.
Epanchin, suddenly. "Did you suppose he was stupider than
yourself, and was incapable of forming his own opinions, or

"No! Oh no! Not at all!" said Evgenie. "But--how is it, prince,
that you--(excuse the question, will you?)--if you are capable of
observing and seeing things as you evidently do, how is it that
you saw nothing distorted or perverted in that claim upon your
property, which you acknowledged a day or two since; and which
was full of arguments founded upon the most distorted views of
right and wrong?"

"I'll tell you what, my friend," cried Mrs. Epanchin, of a
sudden, "here are we all sitting here and imagining we are very
clever, and perhaps laughing at the prince, some of us, and
meanwhile he has received a letter this very day in which that
same claimant renounces his claim, and begs the prince's pardon.
There I we don't often get that sort of letter; and yet we are
not ashamed to walk with our noses in the air before him."

"And Hippolyte has come down here to stay," said Colia, suddenly.

"What! has he arrived?" said the prince, starting up.

"Yes, I brought him down from town just after you had left the

"There now! It's just like him," cried Lizabetha Prokofievna,
boiling over once more, and entirely oblivious of the fact that
she had just taken the prince's part. "I dare swear that you went
up to town yesterday on purpose to get the little wretch to do
you the great honour of coming to stay at your house. You did go
up to town, you know you did--you said so yourself! Now then, did
you, or did you not, go down on your knees and beg him to come,

"No, he didn't, for I saw it all myself," said Colia. "On the
contrary, Hippolyte kissed his hand twice and thanked him; and
all the prince said was that he thought Hippolyte might feel
better here in the country!"

"Don't, Colia,--what is the use of saying all that?" cried the
prince, rising and taking his hat.

"Where are you going to now?" cried Mrs. Epanchin.

"Never mind about him now, prince," said Colia. "He is all right
and taking a nap after the journey. He is very happy to be here;
but I think perhaps it would be better if you let him alone for
today,--he is very sensitive now that he is so ill--and he might
be embarrassed if you show him too much attention at first. He is
decidedly better today, and says he has not felt so well for the
last six months, and has coughed much less, too."

The prince observed that Aglaya came out of her corner and
approached the table at this point.

He did not dare look at her, but he was conscious, to the very
tips of his fingers, that she was gazing at him, perhaps angrily;
and that she had probably flushed up with a look of fiery
indignation in her black eyes.

"It seems to me, Mr. Colia, that you were very foolish to bring
your young friend down--if he is the same consumptive boy who wept
so profusely, and invited us all to his own funeral," remarked
Evgenie Pavlovitch. "He talked so eloquently about the blank wall
outside his bedroom window, that I'm sure he will never support
life here without it. "

"I think so too," said Mrs. Epanchin; "he will quarrel with you,
and be off," and she drew her workbox towards her with an air of
dignity, quite oblivious of the fact that the family was about to
start for a walk in the park.

"Yes, I remember he boasted about the blank wall in an
extraordinary way," continued Evgenie, "and I feel that without
that blank wall he will never be able to die eloquently; and he
does so long to die eloquently!"

"Oh, you must forgive him the blank wall," said the prince,
quietly. "He has come down to see a few trees now, poor fellow."

"Oh, I forgive him with all my heart; you may tell him so if
you like," laughed Evgenie.

"I don't think you should take it quite like that," said the
prince, quietly, and without removing his eyes from the carpet.
"I think it is more a case of his forgiving you "

"Forgiving me! why so? What have I done to need his forgiveness?"

"If you don't understand, then--but of course, you do understand.
He wished--he wished to bless you all round and to have your
blessing--before he died--that's all."

"My dear prince," began Prince S., hurriedly, exchanging glances
with some of those present, "you will not easily find heaven on
earth, and yet you seem to expect to. Heaven is a difficult thing
to find anywhere, prince; far more difficult than appears to that
good heart of yours. Better stop this conversation, or we shall
all be growing quite disturbed in our minds, and--"

"Let's go and hear the band, then," said Lizabetha Prokofievna,
angrily rising from her place.

The rest of the company followed her example.


THE prince suddenly approached Evgenie Pavlovitch.

"Evgenie Pavlovitch," he said, with strange excitement and
seizing the latter's hand in his own, "be assured that I esteem
you as a generous and honourable man, in spite of everything. Be
assured of that."

Evgenie Pavlovitch fell back a step in astonishment. For one
moment it was all he could do to restrain himself from bursting
out laughing; but, looking closer, he observed that the prince
did not seem to be quite himself; at all events, he was in a very
curious state.

"I wouldn't mind betting, prince," he cried, "that you did not in
the least mean to say that, and very likely you meant to address
someone else altogether. What is it? Are you feeling unwell or

"Very likely, extremely likely, and you must be a very close
observer to detect the fact that perhaps I did not intend to come
up to YOU at all."

So saying he smiled strangely; but suddenly and excitedly he
began again:

"Don't remind me of what I have done or said. Don't! I am very
much ashamed of myself, I--"

"Why, what have you done? I don't understand you."

"I see you are ashamed of me, Evgenie Pavlovitch; you are
blushing for me; that's a sign of a good heart. Don't be afraid;
I shall go away directly."

"What's the matter with him? Do his fits begin like that?" said
Lizabetha Prokofievna, in a high state of alarm, addressing

"No, no, Lizabetha Prokofievna, take no notice of me. I am not
going to have a fit. I will go away directly; but I know I am
afflicted. I was twenty-four years an invalid, you see--the first
twenty-four years of my life--so take all I do and say as the
sayings and actions of an invalid. I'm going away directly, I
really am--don't be afraid. I am not blushing, for I don't think I
need blush about it, need I? But I see that I am out of place in
society--society is better without me. It's not vanity, I assure
you. I have thought over it all these last three days, and I have
made up my mind that I ought to unbosom myself candidly before
you at the first opportunity. There are certain things, certain
great ideas, which I must not so much as approach, as Prince S.
has just reminded me, or I shall make you all laugh. I have no
sense of proportion, I know; my words and gestures do not express
my ideas--they are a humiliation and abasement of the ideas, and
therefore, I have no right--and I am too sensitive. Still, I
believe I am beloved in this household, and esteemed far more
than I deserve. But I can't help knowing that after twenty-four
years of illness there must be some trace left, so that it is
impossible for people to refrain from laughing at me sometimes;
don't you think so?"

He seemed to pause for a reply, for some verdict, as it were, and
looked humbly around him.

All present stood rooted to the earth with amazement at this
unexpected and apparently uncalled-for outbreak; but the poor
prince's painful and rambling speech gave rise to a strange

"Why do you say all this here?" cried Aglaya, suddenly. "Why do
you talk like this to THEM?"

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.

"There is not one of them all who is worthy of these words of
yours," continued Aglaya. "Not one of them is worth your little
finger, not one of them has heart or head to compare with yours!
You are more honest than all, and better, nobler, kinder, wiser
than all. There are some here who are unworthy to bend and pick
up the handkerchief you have just dropped. Why do you humiliate
yourself like this, and place yourself lower than these people?
Why do you debase yourself before them? Why have you no pride?"

"My God! Who would ever have believed this?" cried Mrs. Epanchin,
wringing her hands.

"Hurrah for the 'poor knight'!" cried Colia.

"Be quiet! How dare they laugh at me in your house?" said Aglaya,
turning sharply on her mother in that hysterical frame of mind
that rides recklessly over every obstacle and plunges blindly
through proprieties. "Why does everyone, everyone worry and
torment me? Why have they all been bullying me these three days
about you, prince? I will not marry you--never, and under no
circumstances! Know that once and for all; as if anyone could
marry an absurd creature like you! Just look in the glass and see
what you look like, this very moment! Why, WHY do they torment me
and say I am going to marry you? You must know it; you are in the
plot with them!"

"No one ever tormented you on the subject," murmured Adelaida,

"No one ever thought of such a thing! There has never been a word
said about it!" cried Alexandra.

"Who has been annoying her? Who has been tormenting the child? Who
could have said such a thing to her? Is she raving?" cried
Lizabetha Prokofievna, trembling with rage, to the company in

"Every one of them has been saying it--every one of them--all
these three days! And I will never, never marry him!"

So saying, Aglaya burst into bitter tears, and, hiding her face
in her handkerchief, sank back into a chair.

"But he has never even--"

"I have never asked you to marry me, Aglaya Ivanovna!" said the
prince, of a sudden.

"WHAT?" cried Mrs. Epanchin, raising her hands in horror. "WHAT'S

She could not believe her ears.

"I meant to say--I only meant to say," said the prince,
faltering, "I merely meant to explain to Aglaya Ivanovna--to have
the honour to explain, as it were--that I had no intention--never
had--to ask the honour of her hand. I assure you I am not guilty,
Aglaya Ivanovna, I am not, indeed. I never did wish to--I never
thought of it at all--and never shall--you'll see it yourself--
you may be quite assured of it. Some wicked person has been
maligning me to you; but it's all right. Don't worry about it."

So saying, the prince approached Aglaya.

She took the handkerchief from her face, glanced keenly at him,
took in what he had said, and burst out laughing--such a merry,
unrestrained laugh, so hearty and gay, that. Adelaida could not
contain herself. She, too, glanced at the prince's panic-stricken
countenance, then rushed at her sister, threw her arms round her
neck, and burst into as merry a fit of laughter as Aglaya's own.
They laughed together like a couple of school-girls. Hearing and
seeing this, the prince smiled happily, and in accents of relief
and joy, he exclaimed "Well, thank God--thank God!"

Alexandra now joined in, and it looked as though the three
sisters were going to laugh on for ever.

"They are insane," muttered Lizabetha Prokofievna. "Either they
frighten one out of one's wits, or else--"

But Prince S. was laughing now, too, so was Evgenie Pavlovitch,
so was Colia, and so was the prince himself, who caught the
infection as he looked round radiantly upon the others.

"Come along, let's go out for a walk!" cried Adelaida. "We'll all
go together, and the prince must absolutely go with us. You
needn't go away, you dear good fellow! ISN'T he a dear, Aglaya?
Isn't he, mother? I must really give him a kiss for--for his
explanation to Aglaya just now. Mother, dear, I may kiss him,
mayn't I? Aglaya, may I kiss YOUR prince?" cried the young rogue,
and sure enough she skipped up to the prince and kissed his

He seized her hands, and pressed them so hard that Adelaida
nearly cried out; he then gazed with delight into her eyes, and
raising her right hand to his lips with enthusiasm, kissed it
three times.

"Come along," said Aglaya. "Prince, you must walk with me. May
he, mother? This young cavalier, who won't have me? You said you
would NEVER have me, didn't you, prince? No-no, not like that;
THAT'S not the way to give your arm. Don't you know how to give
your arm to a lady yet? There--so. Now, come along, you and I
will lead the way. Would you like to lead the way with me alone,

She went on talking and chatting without a pause, with occasional
little bursts of laughter between.

"Thank God--thank God!" said Lizabetha Prokofievna to herself,
without quite knowing why she felt so relieved.

"What extraordinary people they are!" thought Prince S., for
perhaps the hundredth time since he had entered into intimate
relations with the family; but--he liked these "extraordinary
people," all the same. As for Prince Lef Nicolaievitch himself,
Prince S. did not seem quite to like him, somehow. He was
decidedly preoccupied and a little disturbed as they all started

Evgenie Pavlovitch seemed to be in a lively humour. He made
Adelaida and Alexandra laugh all the way to the Vauxhall; but
they both laughed so very really and promptly that the worthy
Evgenie began at last to suspect that they were not listening to
him at all.

At this idea, he burst out laughing all at once, in quite
unaffected mirth, and without giving any explanation.

The sisters, who also appeared to be in high spirits, never tired
of glancing at Aglaya and the prince, who were walking in front.
It was evident that their younger sister was a thorough puzzle to
them both.

Prince S. tried hard to get up a conversation with Mrs. Epanchin
upon outside subjects, probably with the good intention of
distracting and amusing her; but he bored her dreadfully. She was
absent-minded to a degree, and answered at cross purposes, and
sometimes not at all.

But the puzzle and mystery of Aglaya was not yet over for the
evening. The last exhibition fell to the lot of the prince alone.
When they had proceeded some hundred paces or so from the house,
Aglaya said to her obstinately silent cavalier in a quick half-

"Look to the right!"

The prince glanced in the direction indicated.

"Look closer. Do you see that bench, in the park there, just by
those three big trees--that green bench?"

The prince replied that he saw it.

"Do you like the position of it? Sometimes of a morning early, at
seven o'clock, when all the rest are still asleep, I come out and
sit there alone."

The prince muttered that the spot was a lovely one.

"Now, go away, I don't wish to have your arm any longer; or
perhaps, better, continue to give me your arm, and walk along
beside me, but don't speak a word to me. I wish to think by

The warning was certainly unnecessary; for the prince would not
have said a word all the rest of the time whether forbidden to
speak or not. His heart beat loud and painfully when Aglaya spoke
of the bench; could she--but no!  he banished the thought, after
an instant's deliberation.

At Pavlofsk, on weekdays, the public is more select than it is on
Sundays and Saturdays, when the townsfolk come down to walk about
and enjoy the park.

The ladies dress elegantly, on these days, and it is the fashion
to gather round the band, which is probably the best of our
pleasure-garden bands, and plays the newest pieces. The behaviour
of the public is most correct and proper, and there is an
appearance of friendly intimacy among the usual frequenters. Many
come for nothing but to look at their acquaintances, but there
are others who come for the sake of the music. It is very seldom
that anything happens to break the harmony of the proceedings,
though, of course, accidents will happen everywhere.

On this particular evening the weather was lovely, and there were
a large number of people present. All the places anywhere near
the orchestra were occupied.

Our friends took chairs near the side exit. The crowd and the
music cheered Mrs. Epanchin a little, and amused the girls; they
bowed and shook hands with some of their friends and nodded at a
distance to others; they examined the ladies' dresses, noticed
comicalities and eccentricities among the people, and laughed and
talked among themselves. Evgenie Pavlovitch, too, found plenty of
friends to bow to. Several people noticed Aglaya and the prince,
who were still together.

Before very long two or three young men had come up, and one or
two remained to talk; all of these young men appeared to be on
intimate terms with Evgenie Pavlovitch. Among them was a young
officer, a remarkably handsome fellow--very good-natured and a
great chatterbox. He tried to get up a conversation with Aglaya,
and did his best to secure her attention. Aglaya behaved very
graciously to him, and chatted and laughed merrily. Evgenie
Pavlovitch begged the prince's leave to introduce their friend to
him. The prince hardly realized what was wanted of him, but the
introduction came off; the two men bowed and shook hands.

Evgenie Pavlovitch's friend asked the prince some question, but
the latter did not reply, or if he did, he muttered something so
strangely indistinct that there was nothing to be made of it. The
officer stared intently at him, then glanced at Evgenie, divined
why the latter had introduced him, and gave his undivided
attention to Aglaya again. Only Evgenie Pavlovitch observed that
Aglaya flushed up for a moment at this.

The prince did not notice that others were talking and making
themselves agreeable to Aglaya; in fact, at moments, he almost
forgot that he was sitting by her himself. At other moments he
felt a longing to go away somewhere and be alone with his
thoughts, and to feel that no one knew where he was.

Or if that were impossible he would like to be alone at home, on
the terrace-without either Lebedeff or his children, or anyone
else about him, and to lie there and think--a day and night and
another day again! He thought of the mountains-and especially of
a certain spot which he used to frequent, whence he would look
down upon the distant valleys and fields, and see the waterfall,
far off, like a little silver thread, and the old ruined castle
in the distance. Oh! how he longed to be there now--alone with
his thoughts--to think of one thing all his life--one thing! A
thousand years would not be too much time! And let everyone here
forget him--forget him utterly! How much better it would have
been if they had never known him--if all this could but prove to
be a dream. Perhaps it was a dream!

Now and then he looked at Aglaya for five minutes at a time,
without taking his eyes off her face; but his expression was very
strange; he would gaze at her as though she were an object a
couple of miles distant, or as though he were looking at her
portrait and not at herself at all.

"Why do you look at me like that, prince?" she asked suddenly,
breaking off her merry conversation and laughter with those about
her. "I'm afraid of you! You look as though you were just going
to put out your hand and touch my face to see if it's real!
Doesn't he, Evgenie Pavlovitch--doesn't he look like that?"

The prince seemed surprised that he should have been addressed
at all; he reflected a moment, but did not seem to take in what
had been said to him; at all events, he did not answer. But
observing that she and the others had begun to laugh, he too
opened his mouth and laughed with them.

The laughter became general, and the young officer, who seemed a
particularly lively sort of person, simply shook with mirth.

Aglaya suddenly whispered angrily to herself the word--


"My goodness--surely she is not in love with such a--surely she
isn't mad!" groaned Mrs. Epanchin, under her breath.

"It's all a joke, mamma; it's just a joke like the 'poor knight'
--nothing more whatever, I assure you!" Alexandra whispered in her
ear. "She is chaffing him--making a fool of him, after her own
private fashion, that's all! But she carries it just a little too
far--she is a regular little actress. How she frightened us just
now--didn't she?--and all for a lark!"

"Well, it's lucky she has happened upon an idiot, then, that's
all I can say!" whispered Lizabetha Prokofievna, who was somewhat
comforted, however, by her daughter's remark.

The prince had heard himself referred to as "idiot," and had
shuddered at the moment; but his shudder, it so happened, was not
caused by the word applied to him. The fact was that in the
crowd, not far from where lie was sitting, a pale familiar face,
with curly black hair, and a well-known smile and expression, had
flashed across his vision for a moment, and disappeared again.
Very likely he had imagined it! There only remained to him the
impression of a strange smile, two eyes, and a bright green tie.
Whether the man had disappeared among the crowd, or whether he
had turned towards the Vauxhall, the prince could not say.

But a moment or two afterwards he began to glance keenly about
him. That first vision might only too likely be the forerunner of
a second; it was almost certain to be so. Surely he had not
forgotten the possibility of such a meeting when he came to the
Vauxhall? True enough, he had not remarked where he was coming to
when he set out with Aglaya; he had not been in a condition to
remark anything at all.

Had he been more careful to observe his companion, he would have
seen that for the last quarter of an hour Aglaya had also been
glancing around in apparent anxiety, as though she expected to
see someone, or something particular, among the crowd of people.
Now, at the moment when his own anxiety became so marked, her
excitement also increased visibly, and when he looked about him,
she did the same.

The reason for their anxiety soon became apparent. From that very
side entrance to the Vauxhall, near which the prince and all the
Epanchin party were seated, there suddenly appeared quite a large
knot of persons, at least a dozen.

Heading this little band walked three ladies, two of whom were
remarkably lovely; and there was nothing surprising in the fact
that they should have had a large troop of admirers following in
their wake.

But there was something in the appearance of both the ladies and
their admirers which was peculiar, quite different for that of
the rest of the public assembled around the orchestra.

Nearly everyone observed the little band advancing, and all
pretended not to see or notice them, except a few young fellows
who exchanged glances and smiled, saying something to one another
in whispers.

It was impossible to avoid noticing them, however, in reality,
for they made their presence only too conspicuous by laughing and
talking loudly. It was to be supposed that some of them were more
than half drunk, although they were well enough dressed, some
even particularly well. There were one or two, however, who were
very strange-looking creatures, with flushed faces and
extraordinary clothes; some were military men; not all were quite
young; one or two were middle-aged gentlemen of decidedly
disagreeable appearance, men who are avoided in society like the
plague, decked out in large gold studs and rings, and
magnificently "got up," generally.

Among our suburban resorts there are some which enjoy a specially
high reputation for respectability and fashion; but the most
careful individual is not absolutely exempt from the danger of a
tile falling suddenly upon his head from his neighbour's roof.

Such a tile was about to descend upon the elegant and decorous
public now assembled to hear the music.

In order to pass from the Vauxhall to the band-stand, the visitor
has to descend two or three steps. Just at these steps the group
paused, as though it feared to proceed further; but very quickly
one of the three ladies, who formed its apex, stepped forward
into the charmed circle, followed by two members of her suite.

One of these was a middle-aged man of very respectable
appearance, but with the stamp of parvenu upon him, a man whom
nobody knew, and who evidently knew nobody. The other follower
was younger and far less respectable-looking.

No one else followed the eccentric lady; but as she descended the
steps she did not even look behind her, as though it were
absolutely the same to her whether anyone were following or not.
She laughed and talked loudly, however, just as before. She was
dressed with great taste, but with rather more magnificence than
was needed for the occasion, perhaps.

She walked past the orchestra, to where an open carriage was
waiting, near the road.

The prince had not seen HER for more than three months. All these
days since his arrival from Petersburg he had intended to pay her
a visit, but some mysterious presentiment had restrained him. He
could not picture to himself what impression this meeting with
her would make upon him, though he had often tried to imagine it,
with fear and trembling. One fact was quite certain, and that was
that the meeting would be painful.

Several times during the last six months he had recalled the
effect which the first sight of this face had had upon him, when
he only saw its portrait. He recollected well that even the
portrait face had left but too painful an impression.

That month in the provinces, when he had seen this woman nearly
every day, had affected him so deeply that he could not now look
back upon it calmly. In the very look of this woman there was
something which tortured him. In conversation with Rogojin he had
attributed this sensation to pity--immeasurable pity, and this
was the truth. The sight of the portrait face alone had filled
his heart full of the agony of real sympathy; and this feeling of
sympathy, nay, of actual SUFFERING, for her, had never left his
heart since that hour, and was still in full force. Oh yes, and
more powerful than ever!

But the prince was not satisfied with what he had said to
Rogojin. Only at this moment, when she suddenly made her
appearance before him, did he realize to the full the exact
emotion which she called up in him, and which he had not
described correctly to Rogojin.

And, indeed, there were no words in which he could have expressed
his horror, yes, HORROR, for he was now fully convinced from his
own private knowledge of her, that the woman was mad.

If, loving a woman above everything in the world, or at least
having a foretaste of the possibility of such love for her, one
were suddenly to behold her on a chain, behind bars and under the
lash of a keeper, one would feel something like what the poor
prince now felt.

"What's the matter?" asked Aglaya, in a whisper, giving his
sleeve a little tug.

He turned his head towards her and glanced at her black and (for
some reason) flashing eyes, tried to smile, and then, apparently
forgetting her in an instant, turned to the right once more, and
continued to watch the startling apparition before him.

Nastasia Philipovna was at this moment passing the young ladies'

Evgenie Pavlovitch continued some apparently extremely funny and
interesting anecdote to Alexandra, speaking quickly and with much
animation. The prince remembered that at this moment Aglaya
remarked in a half-whisper:

"WHAT a--"

She did not finish her indefinite sentence; she restrained
herself in a moment; but it was enough.

Nastasia Philipovna, who up to now had been walking along as
though she had not noticed the Epanchin party, suddenly turned
her head in their direction, as though she had just observed
Evgenie Pavlovitch sitting there for the first time.

"Why, I declare, here he is!" she cried, stopping suddenly. "The
man one can't find with all one's messengers sent about the
place, sitting just under one's nose, exactly where one never
thought of looking! I thought you were sure to be at your uncle's
by this time."

Evgenie Pavlovitch flushed up and looked angrily at Nastasia
Philipovna, then turned his back on her.

"What I don't you know about it yet? He doesn't know--imagine
that! Why, he's shot himself. Your uncle shot himself this very
morning. I was told at two this afternoon. Half the town must
know it by now. They say there are three hundred and fifty
thousand roubles, government money, missing; some say five
hundred thousand. And I was under the impression that he would
leave you a fortune! He's whistled it all away. A most depraved
old gentleman, really! Well, ta, ta!--bonne chance! Surely you
intend to be off there, don't you? Ha, ha! You've retired from
the army in good time, I see! Plain clothes! Well done, sly
rogue! Nonsense! I see--you knew it all before--I dare say you
knew all about it yesterday-"

Although the impudence of this attack, this public proclamation
of intimacy, as it were, was doubtless premeditated, and had its
special object, yet Evgenie Pavlovitch at first seemed to intend
to make no show of observing either his tormentor or her words.
But Nastasia's communication struck him with the force of a
thunderclap. On hearing of his uncle's death he suddenly grew as
white as a sheet, and turned towards his informant.

At this moment, Lizabetha Prokofievna rose swiftly from her seat,
beckoned her companions, and left the place almost at a run.

Only the prince stopped behind for a moment, as though in
indecision; and Evgenie Pavlovitch lingered too, for he had not
collected his scattered wits. But the Epanchins had not had time
to get more than twenty paces away when a scandalous episode
occurred. The young officer, Evgenie Pavlovitch's friend who had
been conversing with Aglaya, said aloud in a great state of

"She ought to be whipped--that's the only way to deal with
creatures like that--she ought to be whipped!"

This gentleman was a confidant of Evgenie's, and had doubtless
heard of the carriage episode.

Nastasia turned to him. Her eyes flashed; she rushed up to a
young man standing near, whom she did not know in the least, but
who happened to have in his hand a thin cane. Seizing this from
him, she brought it with all her force across the face of her

All this occurred, of course, in one instant of time.

The young officer, forgetting himself, sprang towards her.
Nastasia's followers were not by her at the moment (the elderly
gentleman having disappeared altogether, and the younger man
simply standing aside and roaring with laughter).

In another moment, of course, the police would have been on the
spot, and it would have gone hard with Nastasia Philipovna had
not unexpected aid appeared.

Muishkin, who was but a couple of steps away, had time to spring
forward and seize the officer's arms from behind.

The officer, tearing himself from the prince's grasp, pushed him
so violently backwards that he staggered a few steps and then
subsided into a chair.

But there were other defenders for Nastasia on the spot by this
time. The gentleman known as the "boxer" now confronted the
enraged officer.

"Keller is my name, sir; ex-lieutenant," he said, very loud. "If
you will accept me as champion of the fair sex, I am at your
disposal. English boxing has no secrets from me. I sympathize
with you for the insult you have received, but I can't permit you
to raise your hand against a woman in public. If you prefer to
meet me--as would be more fitting to your rank--in some other
manner, of course you understand me, captain."

But the young officer had recovered himself, and was no longer
listening. At this moment Rogojin appeared, elbowing through the
crowd; he took Nastasia's hand, drew it through his arm, and
quickly led her away. He appeared to be terribly excited; he was
trembling all over, and was as pale as a corpse.
As he carried Nastasia off, he turned and grinned horribly in the
officer's face, and with low malice observed:

"Tfu! look what the fellow got! Look at the blood on his cheek!
Ha, ha!"

Recollecting himself, however, and seeing at a glance the sort of
people he had to deal with, the officer turned his back on both
his opponents, and courteously, but concealing his face with his
handkerchief, approached the prince, who was now rising from the
chair into which he had fallen.

"Prince Muishkin, I believe? The gentleman to whom I had the
honour of being introduced?"

"She is mad, insane--I assure you, she is mad," replied the
prince in trembling tones, holding out both his hands
mechanically towards the officer.

"I cannot boast of any such knowledge, of course, but I wished to
know your name."

He bowed and retired without waiting for an answer.

Five seconds after the disappearance of the last actor in this
scene, the police arrived. The whole episode had not lasted more
than a couple of minutes. Some of the spectators had risen from
their places, and departed altogether; some merely exchanged
their seats for others a little further off; some were delighted
with the occurrence, and talked and laughed over it for a long

In a word, the incident closed as such incidents do, and the band
began to play again. The prince walked away after the Epanchin
party. Had he thought of looking round to the left after he had
been pushed so unceremoniously into the chair, he would have
observed Aglaya standing some twenty yards away. She had stayed
to watch the scandalous scene in spite of her mother's and
sisters' anxious cries to her to come away.

Prince S. ran up to her and persuaded her, at last, to come home
with them.

Lizabetha Prokofievna saw that she returned in such a state of
agitation that it was doubtful whether she had even heard their
calls. But only a couple of minutes later, when they had reached
the park, Aglaya suddenly remarked, in her usual calm,
indifferent voice:

"I wanted to see how the farce would end."


THE occurrence at the Vauxhall had filled both mother and
daughters with something like horror. In their excitement
Lizabetha Prokofievna and the girls were nearly running all the
way home.

In her opinion there was so much disclosed and laid bare by the
episode, that, in spite of the chaotic condition of her mind, she
was able to feel more or less decided on certain points which, up
to now, had been in a cloudy condition.

However, one and all of the party realized that something
important had happened, and that, perhaps fortunately enough,
something which had hitherto been enveloped in the obscurity of
guess-work had now begun to come forth a little from the mists.
In spite of Prince S.'s assurances and explanations, Evgenie
Pavlovitch's real character and position were at last coming to
light. He was publicly convicted of intimacy with "that
creature." So thought Lizabetha Prokofievna and her two elder

But the real upshot of the business was that the number of
riddles to be solved was augmented. The two girls, though rather
irritated at their mother's exaggerated alarm and haste to depart
from the scene, had been unwilling to worry her at first with

Besides, they could not help thinking that their sister Aglaya
probably knew more about the whole matter than both they and
their mother put together.

Prince S. looked as black as night, and was silent and moody.
Mrs. Epanchin did not say a word to him all the way home, and he
did not seem to observe the fact. Adelaida tried to pump him a
little by asking, "who was the uncle they were talking about, and
what was it that had happened in Petersburg?" But he had merely
muttered something disconnected about "making inquiries," and
that "of course it was all nonsense." "Oh, of course," replied
Adelaida, and asked no more questions. Aglaya, too, was very
quiet; and the only remark she made on the way home was that they
were "walking much too fast to be pleasant."

Once she turned and observed the prince hurrying after them.
Noticing his anxiety to catch them up, she smiled ironically, and
then looked back no more. At length, just as they neared the
house, General Epanchin came out and met them; he had only just
arrived from town.

His first word was to inquire after Evgenie Pavlovitch. But
Lizabetha stalked past him, and neither looked at him nor
answered his question.

He immediately judged from the faces of his daughters and Prince
S. that there was a thunderstorm brewing, and he himself already
bore evidences of unusual perturbation of mind.

He immediately button-holed Prince S., and standing at the front
door, engaged in a whispered conversation with him. By the
troubled aspect of both of them, when they entered the house, and
approached Mrs. Epanchin, it was evident that they had been
discussing very disturbing news.

Little by little the family gathered together upstairs in
Lizabetha Prokofievna's apartments, and Prince Muishkin found
himself alone on the verandah when he arrived. He settled himself
in a corner and sat waiting, though he knew not what he expected.
It never struck him that he had better go away, with all this
disturbance in the house. He seemed to have forgotten all the
world, and to be ready to sit on where he was for years on end.
From upstairs he caught sounds of excited conversation every now
and then.

He could not say how long he sat there. It grew late and became
quite dark.

Suddenly Aglaya entered the verandah. She seemed to be quite
calm, though a little pale.

Observing the prince, whom she evidently did not expect to see
there, alone in the corner, she smiled, and approached him:

"What are you doing there?" she asked.

The prince muttered something, blushed, and jumped up; but Aglaya
immediately sat down beside him; so he reseated himself.

She looked suddenly, but attentively into his face, then at the
window, as though thinking of something else, and then again at

"Perhaps she wants to laugh at me," thought the prince, "but no;
for if she did she certainly would do so."

"Would you like some tea? I'll order some," she said, after a
minute or two of silence.

"N-no thanks, I don't know--"

"Don't know! How can you not know? By-the-by, look here--if
someone were to challenge you to a duel, what should you do? I
wished to ask you this--some time ago--"

"Why? Nobody would ever challenge me to a duel!"

"But if they were to, would you be dreadfully frightened?"

"I dare say I should be--much alarmed!"

"Seriously? Then are you a coward?"

"N-no!--I don't think so. A coward is a man who is afraid and
runs away; the man who is frightened but does not run away, is
not quite a coward," said the prince with a smile, after a
moment's thought.

"And you wouldn't run away?"

"No--I don't think I should run away," replied the prince,
laughing outright at last at Aglaya's questions.

"Though I am a woman, I should certainly not run away for
anything," said Aglaya, in a slightly pained voice. "However, I
see you are laughing at me and twisting your face up as usual in
order to make yourself look more interesting. Now tell me, they
generally shoot at twenty paces, don't they? At ten, sometimes? I
suppose if at ten they must be either wounded or killed, mustn't

"I don't think they often kill each other at duels."

"They killed Pushkin that way."

"That may have been an accident."

"Not a bit of it; it was a duel to the death, and he was killed."

"The bullet struck so low down that probably his antagonist would
never have aimed at that part of him--people never do; he would
have aimed at his chest or head; so that probably the bullet hit
him accidentally. I have been told this by competent

"Well, a soldier once told me that they were always ordered to
aim at the middle of the body. So you see they don't aim at the
chest or head; they aim lower on purpose. I asked some officer
about this afterwards, and he said it was perfectly true."

"That is probably when they fire from a long distance."

"Can you shoot at all?"

"No, I have never shot in my life."

"Can't you even load a pistol?"

"No! That is, I understand how it's done, of course, but I have
never done it."

"Then, you don't know how, for it is a matter that needs
practice. Now listen and learn; in the first place buy good
powder, not damp (they say it mustn't be at all damp, but very
dry), some fine kind it is--you must ask for PISTOL powder, not
the stuff they load cannons with. They say one makes the bullets
oneself, somehow or other. Have you got a pistol?"

"No--and I don't want one," said the prince, laughing.

"Oh, what NONSENSE! You must buy one. French or English are the
best, they say. Then take a little powder, about a thimbleful, or
perhaps two, and pour it into the barrel. Better put plenty. Then
push in a bit of felt (it MUST be felt, for some reason or
other); you can easily get a bit off some old mattress, or off a
door; it's used to keep the cold out. Well, when you have pushed
the felt down, put the bullet in; do you hear now? The bullet
last and the powder first, not the other way, or the pistol won't
shoot. What are you laughing at? I wish you to buy a pistol and
practise every day, and you must learn to hit a mark for CERTAIN;
will you?"

The prince only laughed. Aglaya stamped her foot with annoyance.

Her serious air, however, during this conversation had surprised
him considerably. He had a feeling that he ought to be asking her
something, that there was something he wanted to find out far
more important than how to load a pistol; but his thoughts had
all scattered, and he was only aware that she was sitting by,
him, and talking to him, and that he was looking at her; as to
what she happened to be saying to him, that did not matter in the

The general now appeared on the verandah, coming from upstairs.
He was on his way out, with an expression of determination on his
face, and of preoccupation and worry also.

"Ah! Lef Nicolaievitch, it's you, is it? Where are you off to
now?" he asked, oblivious of the fact that the prince had not
showed the least sign of moving. "Come along with me; I want to
say a word or two to you."

"Au revoir, then!" said Aglaya, holding out her hand to the

It was quite dark now, and Muishkin could not see her face
clearly, but a minute or two later, when he and the general had
left the villa, he suddenly flushed up, and squeezed his right
hand tightly.

It appeared that he and the general were going in the same
direction. In spite of the lateness of the hour, the general was
hurrying away to talk to someone upon some important subject.
Meanwhile he talked incessantly but disconnectedly to the prince,
and continually brought in the name of Lizabetha Prokofievna.

If the prince had been in a condition to pay more attention to
what the general was saying, he would have discovered that the
latter was desirous of drawing some information out of him, or
indeed of asking him some question outright; but that he could
not make up his mind to come to the point.

Muishkin was so absent, that from the very first he could not
attend to a word the other was saying; and when the general
suddenly stopped before him with some excited question, he was
obliged to confess, ignominiously, that he did not know in the
least what he had been talking about.

The general shrugged his shoulders.

"How strange everyone, yourself included, has become of late,"
said he. "I was telling you that I cannot in the least understand
Lizabetha Prokofievna's ideas and agitations. She is in hysterics
up there, and moans and says that we have been 'shamed and
disgraced.' How? Why? When? By whom? I confess that I am very
much to blame myself; I do not conceal the fact; but the conduct,
the outrageous behaviour of this woman, must really be kept
within limits, by the police if necessary, and I am just on my
way now to talk the question over and make some arrangements. It
can all be managed quietly and gently, even kindly, and without
the slightest fuss or scandal. I foresee that the future is
pregnant with events, and that there is much that needs
explanation. There is intrigue in the wind; but if on one side
nothing is known, on the other side nothing will be explained. If
I have heard nothing about it, nor have YOU, nor HE, nor SHE--
who HAS heard about it, I should like to know? How CAN all this
be explained except by the fact that half of it is mirage or
moonshine, or some hallucination of that sort?"

"SHE is insane," muttered the prince, suddenly recollecting all
that had passed, with a spasm of pain at his heart.

"I too had that idea, and I slept in peace. But now I see that
their opinion is more correct. I do not believe in the theory of
madness! The woman has no common sense; but she is not only not
insane, she is artful to a degree. Her outburst of this evening
about Evgenie's uncle proves that conclusively. It was VILLAINOUS,
simply jesuitical, and it was all for some special purpose."

"What about Evgenie's uncle?"

"My goodness, Lef Nicolaievitch, why, you can't have heard a
single word I said! Look at me, I'm still trembling all over with
the dreadful shock! It is that that kept me in town so late.
Evgenie Pavlovitch's uncle--"

Well?" cried the prince.

"Shot himself this morning, at seven o'clock. A respected,
eminent old man of seventy; and exactly point for point as she
described it; a sum of money, a considerable sum of government
money, missing!"

"Why, how could she--"

"What, know of it? Ha, ha, ha! Why, there was a whole crowd round
her the moment she appeared on the scenes here. You know what
sort of people surround her nowadays, and solicit the honour of
her 'acquaintance.' Of course she might easily have heard the
news from someone coming from town. All Petersburg, if not all
Pavlofsk, knows it by now. Look at the slyness of her observation
about Evgenie's uniform! I mean, her remark that he had retired
just in time! There's a venomous hint for you, if you like! No,
no! there's no insanity there! Of course I refuse to believe that
Evgenie Pavlovitch could have known beforehand of the
catastrophe; that is, that at such and such a day at seven
o'clock, and all that; but he might well have had a presentiment
of the truth. And I--all of us--Prince S. and everybody, believed
that he was to inherit a large fortune from this uncle. It's
dreadful, horrible! Mind, I don't suspect Evgenie of anything, be
quite clear on that point; but the thing is a little suspicious,
nevertheless. Prince S. can't get over it. Altogether it is a
very extraordinary combination of circumstances."

"What suspicion attaches to Evgenie Pavlovitch?"

"Oh, none at all! He has behaved very well indeed. I didn't mean
to drop any sort of hint. His own fortune is intact, I believe.
Lizabetha Prokofievna, of course, refuses to listen to anything.
That's the worst of it all, these family catastrophes or
quarrels, or whatever you like to call them. You know, prince,
you are a friend of the family, so I don't mind telling you; it
now appears that Evgenie Pavlovitch proposed to Aglaya a month
ago, and was refused."

"Impossible!" cried the prince.

"Why? Do you know anything about it? Look here," continued the
general, more agitated than ever, and trembling with excitement,
"maybe I have been letting the cat out of the bag too freely with
you, if so, it is because you are--that sort of man, you know!
Perhaps you have some special information?"

"I know nothing about Evgenie Pavlovitch!" said the prince.

"Nor do I! They always try to bury me underground when there's
anything going on; they don't seem to reflect that it is
unpleasant to a man to be treated so! I won't stand it! We have
just had a terrible scene!--mind, I speak to you as I would to my
own son! Aglaya laughs at her mother. Her sisters guessed about
Evgenie having proposed and been rejected, and told Lizabetha.

"I tell you, my dear fellow, Aglaya is such an extraordinary,
such a self-willed, fantastical little creature, you wouldn't
believe it! Every high quality, every brilliant trait of heart
and mind, are to be found in her, and, with it all, so much
caprice and mockery, such wild fancies--indeed, a little devil!
She has just been laughing at her mother to her very face, and at
her sisters, and at Prince S., and everybody--and of course she
always laughs at me! You know I love the child--I love her even
when she laughs at me, and I believe the wild little creature has
a special fondness for me for that very reason. She is fonder of
me than any of the others. I dare swear she has had a good laugh
at YOU before now! You were having a quiet talk just now, I
observed, after all the thunder and lightning upstairs. She was
sitting with you just as though there had been no row at all."

The prince blushed painfully in the darkness, and closed his
right hand tightly, but he said nothing.

"My dear good Prince Lef Nicolaievitch," began the general again,
suddenly, "both I and Lizabetha Prokofievna--(who has begun to
respect you once more, and me through you, goodness knows why!)--
we both love you very sincerely, and esteem you, in spite of any
appearances to the contrary. But you'll admit what a riddle it
must have been for us when that calm, cold, little spitfire,
Aglaya--(for she stood up to her mother and answered her
questions with inexpressible contempt, and mine still more so,
because, like a fool, I thought it my duty to assert myself as
head of the family)--when Aglaya stood up of a sudden and
informed us that 'that madwoman' (strangely enough, she used
exactly the same expression as you did) 'has taken it into her
head to marry me to Prince Lef Nicolaievitch, and therefore is
doing her best to choke Evgenie Pavlovitch off, and rid the house
of him.' That's what she said. She would not give the slightest
explanation; she burst out laughing, banged the door, and went
away. We all stood there with our mouths open. Well, I was told
afterwards of your little passage with Aglaya this afternoon,
and-and--dear prince--you are a good, sensible fellow, don't be
angry if I speak out--she is laughing at you, my boy! She is
enjoying herself like a child, at your expense, and therefore,
since she is a child, don't be angry with her, and don't think
anything of it. I assure you, she is simply making a fool of you,
just as she does with one and all of us out of pure lack of
something better to do. Well--good-bye! You know our feelings,
don't you--our sincere feelings for yourself? They are
unalterable, you know, dear boy, under all circumstances, but--
Well, here we part; I must go down to the right. Rarely have I
sat so uncomfortably in my saddle, as they say, as I now sit. And
people talk of the charms of a country holiday!"

Left to himself at the cross-roads, the prince glanced around
him, quickly crossed the road towards the lighted window of a
neighbouring house, and unfolded a tiny scrap of paper which he
had held clasped in his right hand during the whole of his
conversation with the general.

He read the note in the uncertain rays that fell from the window.
It was as follows:

"Tomorrow morning, I shall be at the green bench in the park at
seven, and shall wait there for you. I have made up my mind to
speak to you about a most important matter which closely concerns

"P.S.--I trust that you will not show this note to anyone. Though
I am ashamed of giving you such instructions, I feel that I must
do so, considering what you are. I therefore write the words, and
blush for your simple character.

"P.P.S.--It is the same green bench that I showed you before.
There! aren't you ashamed of yourself? I felt that it was
necessary to repeat even that information."

The note was written and folded anyhow, evidently in a great
hurry, and probably just before Aglaya had come down to the

In inexpressible agitation, amounting almost to fear, the prince
slipped quickly away from the window, away from the light, like a
frightened thief, but as he did so he collided violently with
some gentleman who seemed to spring from the earth at his feet.

"I was watching for you, prince," said the individual.

"Is that you, Keller?" said the prince, in surprise.

"Yes, I've been looking for you. I waited for you at the
Epanchins' house, but of course I could not come in. I dogged you
from behind as you walked along with the general. Well, prince,
here is Keller, absolutely at your service--command him!--ready
to sacrifice himself--even to die in case of need."


"Oh, why?--Of course you'll be challenged! That was young
Lieutenant Moloftsoff. I know him, or rather of him; he won't
pass an insult. He will take no notice of Rogojin and myself,
and, therefore, you are the only one left to account for. You'll
have to pay the piper, prince. He has been asking about you, and
undoubtedly his friend will call on you tomorrow--perhaps he is
at your house already. If you would do me the honour to have me
for a second, prince, I should be happy. That's why I have been
looking for you now."

"Duel! You've come to talk about a duel, too!" The prince burst
out laughing, to the great astonishment of Keller. He laughed
unrestrainedly, and Keller, who had been on pins and needles, and
in a fever of excitement to offer himself as "second," was very
near being offended.

"You caught him by the arms, you know, prince. No man of proper
pride can stand that sort of treatment in public."

"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?"

"As much as usual, prince--why?"

"Pleasant dreams then--ha, ha!"

The prince crossed the road, and disappeared into the park,
leaving the astonished Keller in a state of ludicrous wonder. He
had never before seen the prince in such a strange condition of
mind, and could not have imagined the possibility of it.

"Fever, probably," he said to himself, "for the man is all
nerves, and this business has been a little too much for him. He
is not AFRAID, that's clear; that sort never funks! H'm!
champagne! That was an interesting item of news, at all events!--
Twelve bottles! Dear me, that's a very respectable little stock
indeed! I bet anything Lebedeff lent somebody money on deposit of
this dozen of champagne. Hum! he's a nice fellow, is this prince!
I like this sort of man. Well, I needn't be wasting time here,
and if it's a case of champagne, why--there's no time like the

That the prince was almost in a fever was no more than the truth.
He wandered about the park for a long while, and at last came to
himself in a lonely avenue. He was vaguely conscious that he had
already paced this particular walk--from that large, dark tree to
the bench at the other end--about a hundred yards altogether--at
least thirty times backwards and forwards.

As to recollecting what he had been thinking of all that time, he
could not. He caught himself, however, indulging in one thought
which made him roar with laughter, though there was nothing
really to laugh at in it; but he felt that he must laugh, and go
on laughing.

It struck him that the idea of the duel might not have occurred
to Keller alone, but that his lesson in the art of pistol-loading
might have been not altogether accidental! "Pooh! nonsense!" he
said to himself, struck by another thought, of a sudden. "Why,
she was immensely surprised to find me there on the verandah, and
laughed and talked about TEA! And yet she had this little note in
her hand, therefore she must have known that I was sitting there.
So why was she surprised? Ha, ha, ha!"

He pulled the note out and kissed it; then paused and reflected.
"How strange it all is! how strange!" he muttered, melancholy
enough now. In moments of great joy, he invariably felt a
sensation of melancholy come over him--he could not tell why.

He looked intently around him, and wondered why he had come here;
he was very tired, so he approached the bench and sat down on it.
Around him was profound silence; the music in the Vauxhall was
over. The park seemed quite empty, though it was not, in reality,
later than half-past eleven. It was a quiet, warm, clear night--a
real Petersburg night of early June; but in the dense avenue,
where he was sitting, it was almost pitch dark.

If anyone had come up at this moment and told him that he was in
love, passionately in love, he would have rejected the idea with
astonishment, and, perhaps, with irritation. And if anyone had
added that Aglaya's note was a love-letter, and that it contained
an appointment to a lover's rendezvous, he would have blushed
with shame for the speaker, and, probably, have challenged him to
a duel.

All this would have been perfectly sincere on his part. He had
never for a moment entertained the idea of the possibility of
this girl loving him, or even of such a thing as himself falling
in love with her. The possibility of being loved himself, "a man
like me," as he put it, he ranked among ridiculous suppositions.
It appeared to him that it was simply a joke on Aglaya's part, if
there really were anything in it at all; but that seemed to him
quite natural. His preoccupation was caused by something

As to the few words which the general had let slip about Aglaya
laughing at everybody, and at himself most of all--he entirely
believed them. He did not feel the slightest sensation of
offence; on the contrary, he was quite certain that it was as it
should be.

His whole thoughts were now as to next morning early; he would
see her; he would sit by her on that little green bench, and
listen to how pistols were loaded, and look at her. He wanted
nothing more.

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.

A man, whose face it was difficult to see in the gloom,
approached the bench, and sat down beside him. The prince peered
into his face, and recognized the livid features of Rogojin.

"I knew you'd be wandering about somewhere here. I didn't have to
look for you very long," muttered the latter between his teeth.

It was the first time they had met since the encounter on the
staircase at the hotel.

Painfully surprised as he was at this sudden apparition of
Rogojin, the prince, for some little while, was unable to collect
his thoughts. Rogojin, evidently, saw and understood the
impression he had made; and though he seemed more or less
confused at first, yet he began talking with what looked like
assumed ease and freedom. However, the prince soon changed his
mind on this score, and thought that there was not only no
affectation of indifference, but that Rogojin was not even
particularly agitated. If there were a little apparent
awkwardness, it was only in his words and gestures. The man could
not change his heart.

"How did you--find me here?" asked the prince for the sake of
saying something.

"Keller told me (I found him at your place) that you were in the
park. 'Of course he is!' I thought."

"Why so?" asked the prince uneasily.

Rogojin smiled, but did not explain.

"I received your letter, Lef Nicolaievitch--what's the good of
all that?--It's no use, you know. I've come to you from HER,--she
bade me tell you that she must see you, she has something to say
to you. She told me to find you today."

"I'll come tomorrow. Now I'm going home--are you coming to my

"Why should I? I've given you the message.--Goodbye!"

"Won't you come?" asked the prince in a gentle voice.

"What an extraordinary man you are! I wonder at you!" Rogojin
laughed sarcastically.

"Why do you hate me so?" asked the prince, sadly. "You know
yourself that all you suspected is quite unfounded. I felt you
were still angry with me, though. Do you know why? Because you
tried to kill me--that's why you can't shake off your wrath
against me. I tell you that I only remember the Parfen Rogojin
with whom I exchanged crosses, and vowed brotherhood. I wrote you
this in yesterday's letter, in order that you might forget all
that madness on your part, and that you might not feel called to
talk about it when we met. Why do you avoid me? Why do you hold
your hand back from me? I tell you again, I consider all that has
passed a delirium, an insane dream. I can understand all you did,
and all you felt that day, as if it were myself. What you were
then imagining was not the case, and could never be the case.
Why, then, should there be anger between us?"

"You don't know what anger is!" laughed Rogojin, in reply to the
prince's heated words.

He had moved a pace or two away, and was hiding his hands behind

"No, it is impossible for me to come to your house again," he
added slowly.

"Why? Do you hate me so much as all that?"

"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--"

"Not think of it again? Of course you didn't!" cried the prince.
"And I dare swear that you came straight away down here to
Pavlofsk to listen to the music and dog her about in the crowd,
and stare at her, just as you did today. There's nothing
surprising in that! If you hadn't been in that condition of mind
that you could think of nothing but one subject, you would,
probably, never have raised your knife against me. I had a
presentiment of what you would do, that day, ever since I saw you
first in the morning. Do you know yourself what you looked like?
I knew you would try to murder me even at the very moment when we
exchanged crosses. What did you take me to your mother for? Did
you think to stay your hand by doing so? Perhaps you did not put
your thoughts into words, but you and I were thinking the same
thing, or feeling the same thing looming over us, at the same
moment. What should you think of me now if you had not raised
your knife to me--the knife which God averted from my throat? I
would have been guilty of suspecting you all the same--and you
would have intended the murder all the same; therefore we should
have been mutually guilty in any case. Come, don't frown; you
needn't laugh at me, either. You say you haven't 'repented.'
Repented! You probably couldn't, if you were to try; you dislike
me too much for that. Why, if I were an angel of light, and as
innocent before you as a babe, you would still loathe me if you
believed that SHE loved me, instead of loving yourself. That's
jealousy--that is the real jealousy.

"But do you know what I have been thinking out during this last
week, Parfen? I'll tell you. What if she loves you now better
than anyone? And what if she torments you BECAUSE she loves you,
and in proportion to her love for you, so she torments you the
more? She won't tell you this, of course; you must have eyes to
see. Why do you suppose she consents to marry you? She must have
a reason, and that reason she will tell you some day. Some women
desire the kind of love you give her, and she is probably one of
these. Your love and your wild nature impress her. Do you know
that a woman is capable of driving a man crazy almost, with her
cruelties and mockeries, and feels not one single pang of regret,
because she looks at him and says to herself, 'There! I'll
torment this man nearly into his grave, and then, oh! how I'll
compensate him for it all with my love!'"

Rogojin listened to the end, and then burst out laughing:

"Why, prince, I declare you must have had a taste of this sort of
thing yourself--haven't you? I have heard tell of something of
the kind, you know; is it true?"

"What? What can you have heard?" said the prince, stammering.

Rogojin continued to laugh loudly. He had listened to the
prince's speech with curiosity and some satisfaction. The
speaker's impulsive warmth had surprised and even comforted him.

"Why, I've not only heard of it; I see it for myself," he said.
"When have you ever spoken like that before? It wasn't like
yourself, prince. Why, if I hadn't heard this report about you, I
should never have come all this way into the park--at midnight,

"I don't understand you in the least, Parfen."

"Oh, SHE told me all about it long ago, and tonight I saw for
myself. I saw you at the music, you know, and whom you were
sitting with. She swore to me yesterday, and again today, that
you are madly in love with Aglaya Ivanovna. But that's all the
same to me, prince, and it's not my affair at all; for if you
have ceased to love HER, SHE has not ceased to love YOU. You
know, of course, that she wants to marry you to that girl? She's
sworn to it! Ha, ha! She says to me, 'Until then I won't marry
you. When they go to church, we'll go too-and not before.' What
on earth does she mean by it? I don't know, and I never did.
Either she loves you without limits or--yet, if she loves you,
why does she wish to marry you to another girl? She says, 'I want
to see him happy,' which is to say--she loves you."

"I wrote, and I say to you once more, that she is not in her
right mind," said the prince, who had listened with anguish to
what Rogojin said.

"Goodness knows--you may be wrong there! At all events, she named
the day this evening, as we left the gardens. 'In three weeks,'
says she, 'and perhaps sooner, we shall be married.' She swore to
it, took off her cross and kissed it. So it all depends upon you
now, prince, You see! Ha, ha!"

"That's all madness. What you say about me, Parfen, never can and
never will be. Tomorrow, I shall come and see you--"

"How can she be mad," Rogojin interrupted, "when she is sane
enough for other people and only mad for you? How can she write
letters to HER, if she's mad? If she were insane they would
observe it in her letters."

"What letters?" said the prince, alarmed.

"She writes to HER--and the girl reads the letters. Haven't you
heard?--You are sure to hear; she's sure to show you the letters

"I won't believe this!" cried the prince.

"Why, prince, you've only gone a few steps along this road, I
perceive. You are evidently a mere beginner. Wait a bit! Before
long, you'll have your own detectives, you'll watch day and
night, and you'll know every little thing that goes on there--
that is, if--"

"Drop that subject, Rogojin, and never mention it again. And
listen: as I have sat here, and talked, and listened, it has
suddenly struck me that tomorrow is my birthday. It must be
about twelve o'clock, now; come home with me--do, and we'll see
the day in! We'll have some wine, and you shall wish me--I don't
know what--but you, especially you, must wish me a good wish, and
I shall wish you full happiness in return. Otherwise, hand me my
cross back again. You didn't return it to me next day. Haven't
you got it on now?"

"Yes, I have," said Rogojin.

"Come along, then. I don't wish to meet my new year without you--
my new life, I should say, for a new life is beginning for me.
Did you know, Parfen, that a new life had begun for me?"

"I see for myself that it is so--and I shall tell HER. But you
are not quite yourself, Lef Nicolaievitch."


THE prince observed with great surprise, as he approached his
villa, accompanied by Rogojin, that a large number of people were
assembled on his verandah, which was brilliantly lighted up. The
company seemed merry and were noisily laughing and talking--even
quarrelling, to judge from the sounds. At all events they were
clearly enjoying themselves, and the prince observed further on
closer investigation--that all had been drinking champagne. To
judge from the lively condition of some of the party, it was to
be supposed that a considerable quantity of champagne had been
consumed already.

All the guests were known to the prince; but the curious part of
the matter was that they had all arrived on the same evening, as
though with one accord, although he had only himself recollected
the fact that it was his birthday a few moments since.

"You must have told somebody you were going to trot out the
champagne, and that's why they are all come!" muttered Rogojin,
as the two entered the verandah. "We know all about that! You've
only to whistle and they come up in shoals!" he continued, almost
angrily. He was doubtless thinking of his own late experiences
with his boon companions.

All surrounded the prince with exclamations of welcome, and, on
hearing that it was his birthday, with cries of congratulation
and delight; many of them were very noisy.

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.

Lebedeff ran up promptly to explain the arrival of all these
gentlemen. He was himself somewhat intoxicated, but the prince
gathered from his long-winded periods that the party had
assembled quite naturally, and accidentally.

First of all Hippolyte had arrived, early in the evening, and
feeling decidedly better, had determined to await the prince on
the verandah. There Lebedeff had joined him, and his household
had followed--that is, his daughters and General Ivolgin.
Burdovsky had brought Hippolyte, and stayed on with him. Gania
and Ptitsin had dropped in accidentally later on; then came
Keller, and he and Colia insisted on having champagne. Evgenie
Pavlovitch had only dropped in half an hour or so ago. Lebedeff
had served the champagne readily.

"My own though, prince, my own, mind," he said, "and there'll be
some supper later on; my daughter is getting it ready now. Come
and sit down, prince, we are all waiting for you, we want you
with us. Fancy what we have been discussing! You know the
question, 'to be or not to be,'--out of Hamlet! A contemporary
theme! Quite up-to-date! Mr. Hippolyte has been eloquent to a
degree. He won't go to bed, but he has only drunk a little
champagne, and that can't do him any harm. Come along, prince,
and settle the question. Everyone is waiting for you, sighing for
the light of your luminous intelligence..."

The prince noticed the sweet, welcoming look on Vera Lebedeff's
face, as she made her way towards him through the crowd. He held
out his hand to her. She took it, blushing with delight, and
wished him "a happy life from that day forward." Then she ran off
to the kitchen, where. her presence was necessary to help in the
preparations for supper. Before the prince's arrival she had
spent some time on the terrace, listening eagerly to the
conversation, though the visitors, mostly under the influence of
wine, were discussing abstract subjects far beyond her
comprehension. In the next room her younger sister lay on a
wooden chest, sound asleep, with her mouth wide open; but the
boy, Lebedeff's son, had taken up his position close beside Colia
and Hippolyte, his face lit up with interest in the conversation
of his father and the rest, to which he would willingly have
listened for ten hours at a stretch.

"I have waited for you on purpose, and am very glad to see you
arrive so happy," said Hippolyte, when the prince came forward to
press his hand, immediately after greeting Vera.

"And how do you know that I am 'so happy'?

"I can see it by your face! Say 'how do you do' to the others,
and come and sit down here, quick--I've been waiting for you!" he
added, accentuating the fact that he had waited. On the prince's
asking, "Will it not be injurious to you to sit out so late?" he
replied that he could not believe that he had thought himself
dying three days or so ago, for he never had felt better than
this evening.

Burdovsky next jumped up and explained that he had come in by
accident, having escorted Hippolyte from town. He murmured that
he was glad he had "written nonsense" in his letter, and then
pressed the prince's hand warmly and sat down again.

The prince approached Evgenie Pavlovitch last of all. The latter
immediately took his arm.

"I have a couple of words to say to you," he began, "and those on
a very important matter; let's go aside for a minute or two."

"Just a couple of words!" whispered another voice in the prince's
other ear, and another hand took his other arm. Muishkin turned,
and to his great surprise observed a red, flushed face and a
droll-looking figure which he recognized at once as that of
Ferdishenko. Goodness knows where he had turned up from!

"Do you remember Ferdishenko?" he asked.

"Where have you dropped from?" cried the prince.

"He is sorry for his sins now, prince," cried Keller. "He did not
want to let you know he was here; he was hidden over there in the
corner,--but he repents now, he feels his guilt."

"Why, what has he done?"

"I met him outside and brought him in--he's a gentleman who
doesn't often allow his friends to see him, of late--but he's
sorry now."

"Delighted, I'm sure!--I'll come back directly, gentlemen,--sit
down there with the others, please,--excuse me one moment," said
the host, getting away with difficulty in order to follow

"You are very gay here," began the latter, "and I have had quite
a pleasant half-hour while I waited for you. Now then, my dear
Lef Nicolaievitch, this is what's the matter. I've arranged it
all with Moloftsoff, and have just come in to relieve your mind
on that score. You need be under no apprehensions. He was very
sensible, as he should be, of course, for I think he was entirely
to blame himself."

"What Moloftsoff?"

"The young fellow whose arms you held, don't you know? He was so
wild with you that he was going to send a friend to you tomorrow

"What nonsense!"

"Of course it is nonsense, and in nonsense it would have ended,
doubtless; but you know these fellows, they--"

"Excuse me, but I think you must have something else that you
wished to speak about, Evgenie Pavlovitch?"

"Of course, I have!" said the other, laughing. "You see, my dear
fellow, tomorrow, very early in the morning, I must be off to
town about this unfortunate business(my uncle, you know!). Just
imagine, my dear sir, it is all true--word for word--and, of
course, everybody knew it excepting myself. All this has been
such a blow to me that I have not managed to call in at the
Epanchins'. Tomorrow I shall not see them either, because I
shall be in town. I may not be here for three days or more; in a
word, my affairs are a little out of gear. But though my town
business is, of course, most pressing, still I determined not to go
away until I had seen you, and had a clear understanding with you
upon certain points; and that without loss of time. I will wait now,
if you will allow me, until the company departs; I may just as
well, for I have nowhere else to go to, and I shall certainly not
do any sleeping tonight; I'm far too excited. And finally, I must
confess that, though I know it is bad form to pursue a man in
this way, I have come to beg your friendship, my dear prince. You
are an unusual sort of a person; you don't lie at every step, as
some men do; in fact, you don't lie at all, and there is a matter
in which I need a true and sincere friend, for I really may claim
to be among the number of bona fide unfortunates just now."

He laughed again.

"But the trouble is," said the prince, after a slight pause for
reflection, "that goodness only knows when this party will break
up. Hadn't we better stroll into the park? I'll excuse myself,
there's no danger of their going away."

"No, no! I have my reasons for wishing them not to suspect us of
being engaged in any specially important conversation. There are
gentry present who are a little too much interested in us. You
are not aware of that perhaps, prince? It will be a great deal
better if they see that we are friendly just in an ordinary way.
They'll all go in a couple of hours, and then I'll ask you to
give me twenty minutes-half an hour at most."

"By all means! I assure you I am delighted--you need not have
entered into all these explanations. As for your remarks about
friendship with me--thanks, very much indeed. You must excuse my
being a little absent this evening. Do you know, I cannot somehow
be attentive to anything just now?"

"I see, I see," said Evgenie, smiling gently. His mirth seemed
very near the surface this evening.

"What do you see?" said the prince, startled.

"I don't want you to suspect that I have simply come here to
deceive you and pump information out of you!" said Evgenie, still
smiling, and without making any direct reply to the question.

"Oh, but I haven't the slightest doubt that you did come to pump
me," said the prince, laughing himself, at last; "and I dare say
you are quite prepared to deceive me too, so far as that goes.
But what of that? I'm not afraid of you; besides, you'll hardly
believe it, I feel as though I really didn't care a scrap one way
or the other, just now!--And-and-and as you are a capital fellow,
I am convinced of that, I dare say we really shall end by being
good friends. I like you very much Evgenie Pavlovitch; I consider
you a very good fellow indeed."

"Well, in any case, you are a most delightful man to have to deal
with, be the business what it may," concluded Evgenie. "Come
along now, I'll drink a glass to your health. I'm charmed to have
entered into alliance with you. By-the-by," he added suddenly,
has this young Hippolyte come down to stay with you


"He's not going to die at once, I should think, is he?"


"Oh, I don't know. I've been half an hour here with him, and he--"

Hippolyte had been waiting for the prince all this time, and had
never ceased looking at him and Evgenie Pavlovitch as they
conversed in the corner. He became much excited when they
approached the table once more. He was disturbed in his mind, it
seemed; perspiration stood in large drops on his forehead; in his
gleaming eyes it was easy to read impatience and agitation; his
gaze wandered from face to face of those present, and from object
to object in the room, apparently without aim. He had taken a
part, and an animated one, in the noisy conversation of the
company; but his animation was clearly the outcome of fever. His
talk was almost incoherent; he would break off in the middle of a
sentence which he had begun with great interest, and forget what
he had been saying. The prince discovered to his dismay that
Hippolyte had been allowed to drink two large glasses of
champagne; the one now standing by him being the third. All this
he found out afterwards; at the moment he did not notice
anything, very particularly.

"Do you know I am specially glad that today is your birthday!"
cried Hippolyte.


"You'll soon see. D'you know I had a feeling that there would be
a lot of people here tonight? It's not the first time that my
presentiments have been fulfilled. I wish I had known it was your
birthday, I'd have brought you a present--perhaps I have got a
present for you! Who knows? Ha, ha! How long is it now before

"Not a couple of hours," said Ptitsin, looking at his watch.
What's the good of daylight now? One can read all night in the
open air without it," said someone.

"The good of it! Well, I want just to see a ray of the sun," said
Hippolyte. Can one drink to the sun's health, do you think,

"Oh, I dare say one can; but you had better be calm and lie down,
Hippolyte--that's much more important.

"You are always preaching about resting; you are a regular nurse
to me, prince. As soon as the sun begins to 'resound' in the sky
--what poet said that? 'The sun resounded in the sky.' It is
beautiful, though there's no sense in it!--then we will go to
bed. Lebedeff, tell me, is the sun the source of life? What does
the source, or 'spring,' of life really mean in the Apocalypse?
You have heard of the 'Star that is called Wormwood,' prince?"

"I have heard that Lebedeff explains it as the railroads that
cover Europe like a net."

Everybody laughed, and Lebedeff got up abruptly.

"No! Allow me, that is not what we are discussing!" he cried,
waving his hand to impose silence. "Allow me! With these
gentlemen ... all these gentlemen," he added, suddenly addressing
the prince, "on certain points ... that is ..." He thumped
the table repeatedly, and the laughter increased. Lebedeff was in
his usual evening condition, and had just ended a long and
scientific argument, which had left him excited and irritable. On
such occasions he was apt to evince a supreme contempt for his

"It is not right! Half an hour ago, prince, it was agreed among
us that no one should interrupt, no one should laugh, that each
person was to express his thoughts freely; and then at the end,
when everyone had spoken, objections might be made, even by the
atheists. We chose the general as president. Now without some
such rule and order, anyone might be shouted down, even in the
loftiest and most profound thought. . . ."

"Go on! Go on! Nobody is going to interrupt you!" cried several

"Speak, but keep to the point!"

"What is this 'star'?" asked another.

I have no idea," replied General Ivolgin, who presided with much

"I love these arguments, prince," said Keller, also more than
half intoxicated, moving restlessly in his chair. "Scientific and
political." Then, turning suddenly towards Evgenie Pavlovitch,
who was seated near him: "Do you know, I simply adore reading the
accounts of the debates in the English parliament. Not that the
discussions themselves interest me; I am not a politician, you
know; but it delights me to see how they address each other 'the
noble lord who agrees with me,' 'my honourable opponent who
astonished Europe with his proposal,' 'the noble viscount sitting
opposite'--all these expressions, all this parliamentarism of a
free people, has an enormous attraction for me. It fascinates me,
prince. I have always been an artist in the depths of my soul, I
assure you, Evgenie Pavlovitch."

"Do you mean to say," cried Gania, from the other corner, "do you
mean to say that railways are accursed inventions, that they are
a source of ruin to humanity, a poison poured upon the earth to
corrupt the springs of life?"

Gavrila Ardalionovitch was in high spirits that evening, and it
seemed to the prince that his gaiety was mingled with triumph. Of
course he was only joking with Lebedeff, meaning to egg him on,
but he grew excited himself at the same time.

"Not the railways, oh dear, no!" replied Lebedeff, with a mixture
of violent anger and extreme enjoyment. "Considered alone, the
railways will not pollute the springs of life, but as a whole
they are accursed. The whole tendency of our latest centuries, in
its scientific and materialistic aspect, is most probably

"Is it certainly accursed? ... or do you only mean it might be?
That is an important point," said Evgenie Pavlovitch.

"It is accursed, certainly accursed!" replied the clerk,

"Don't go so fast, Lebedeff; you are much milder in the morning,"
said Ptitsin, smiling.

"But, on the other hand, more frank in the evening! In the
evening sincere and frank," repeated Lebedeff, earnestly. "More
candid, more exact, more honest, more honourable, and ...
although I may show you my weak side, I challenge you all; you
atheists, for instance! How are you going to save the world? How
find a straight road of progress, you men of science, of
industry, of cooperation, of trades unions, and all the rest?
How are you going to save it, I say? By what? By credit? What is
credit? To what will credit lead you?"

"You are too inquisitive," remarked Evgenie Pavlovitch.

"Well, anyone who does not interest himself in questions such as
this is, in my opinion, a mere fashionable dummy."

"But it will lead at least to solidarity, and balance of
interests," said Ptitsin.

"You will reach that with nothing to help you but credit? Without
recourse to any moral principle, having for your foundation only
individual selfishness, and the satisfaction of material desires?
Universal peace, and the happiness of mankind as a whole, being
the result! Is it really so that I may understand you, sir?"

"But the universal necessity of living, of drinking, of eating--
in short, the whole scientific conviction that this necessity can
only be satisfied by universal co-operation and the solidarity of
interests--is, it seems to me, a strong enough idea to serve as a
basis, so to speak, and a 'spring of life,' for humanity in
future centuries," said Gavrila Ardalionovitch, now thoroughly

"The necessity of eating and drinking, that is to say, solely the
instinct of self-preservation..."

"Is not that enough? The instinct of self-preservation is the
normal law of humanity..."

"Who told you that?" broke in Evgenie Pavlovitch.

"It is a law, doubtless, but a law neither more nor less normal
than that of destruction, even self-destruction. Is it possible
that the whole normal law of humanity is contained in this
sentiment of self-preservation?"

"Ah!" cried Hippolyte, turning towards Evgenie Pavlovitch, and
looking at him with a queer sort of curiosity.

Then seeing that Radomski was laughing, he began to laugh
himself, nudged Colia, who was sitting beside him, with his
elbow, and again asked what time it was. He even pulled Colia's
silver watch out of his hand, and looked at it eagerly. Then, as
if he had forgotten everything, he stretched himself out on the
sofa, put his hands behind his head, and looked up at the sky.
After a minute or two he got up and came back to the table to
listen to Lebedeff's outpourings, as the latter passionately
commentated on Evgenie Pavlovitch's paradox.

"That is an artful and traitorous idea. A smart notion,"
vociferated the clerk, "thrown out as an apple of discord. But it
is just. You are a scoffer, a man of the world, a cavalry
officer, and, though not without brains, you do not realize how
profound is your thought, nor how true. Yes, the laws of self-
preservation and of self-destruction are equally powerful in this
world. The devil will hold his empire over humanity until a limit
of time which is still unknown. You laugh? You do not believe in
the devil? Scepticism as to the devil is a French idea, and it is
also a frivolous idea. Do you know who the devil is? Do you know
his name? Although you don't know his name you make a mockery of
his form, following the example of Voltaire. You sneer at his
hoofs, at his tail, at his horns--all of them the produce of your
imagination! In reality the devil is a great and terrible spirit,
with neither hoofs, nor tail, nor horns; it is you who have
endowed him with these attributes! But ... he is not the
question just now!"

"How do you know he is not the question now?" cried Hippolyte,
laughing hysterically.

"Another excellent idea, and worth considering!" replied
Lebedeff. "But, again, that is not the question. The question at
this moment is whether we have not weakened 'the springs of life'
by the extension ..."

"Of railways?" put in Colia eagerly.

"Not railways, properly speaking, presumptuous youth, but the
general tendency of which railways may be considered as the
outward expression and symbol. We hurry and push and hustle, for
the good of humanity! 'The world is becoming too noisy, too
commercial!' groans some solitary thinker. 'Undoubtedly it is,
but the noise of waggons bearing bread to starving humanity is of
more value than tranquillity of soul,' replies another
triumphantly, and passes on with an air of pride. As for me, I
don't believe in these waggons bringing bread to humanity. For,
founded on no moral principle, these may well, even in the act
of carrying bread to humanity, coldly exclude a considerable
portion of humanity from enjoying it; that has been seen more
than once.

"What, these waggons may coldly exclude?" repeated someone.

"That has been seen already," continued Lebedeff, not deigning to
notice the interruption. "Malthus was a friend of humanity, but,
with ill-founded moral principles, the friend of humanity is the
devourer of humanity, without mentioning his pride; for, touch
the vanity of one of these numberless philanthropists, and to
avenge his self-esteem, he will be ready at once to set fire to
the whole globe; and to tell the truth, we are all more or less
like that. I, perhaps, might be the first to set a light to the
fuel, and then run away. But, again, I must repeat, that is not
the question."

"What is it then, for goodness' sake?"

"He is boring us!"

"The question is connected with the following anecdote of past
times; for I am obliged to relate a story. In our times, and in
our country, which I hope you love as much as I do, for as far as
I am concerned, I am ready to shed the last drop of my blood...

"Go on! Go on!"

"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

"Comparatively to what?"

"To the twelfth century, and those immediately preceding and
following it. We are told by historians that widespread famines
occurred in those days every two or three years, and such was the
condition of things that men actually had recourse to
cannibalism, in secret, of course. One of these cannibals, who
had reached a good age, declared of his own free will that during
the course of his long and miserable life he had personally
killed and eaten, in the most profound secrecy, sixty monks, not
to mention several children; the number of the latter he thought
was about six, an insignificant total when compared with the
enormous mass of ecclesiastics consumed by him. As to adults,
laymen that is to say, he had never touched them."

The president joined in the general outcry.

"That's impossible!" said he in an aggrieved tone. "I am often
discussing subjects of this nature with him, gentlemen, but for
the most part he talks nonsense enough to make one deaf: this
story has no pretence of being true."

"General, remember the siege of Kars! And you, gentlemen, I
assure you my anecdote is the naked truth. I may remark that
reality, although it is governed by invariable law, has at times
a resemblance to falsehood. In fact, the truer a thing is the
less true it sounds."

"But could anyone possibly eat sixty monks?" objected the
scoffing listeners.

"It is quite clear that he did not eat them all at once, but in a
space of fifteen or twenty years: from that point of view the
thing is comprehensible and natural..."


"And natural," repeated Lebedeff with pedantic obstinacy.
"Besides, a Catholic monk is by nature excessively curious; it
would be quite easy therefore to entice him into a wood, or some
secret place, on false pretences, and there to deal with him as
said. But I do not dispute in the least that the number of
persons consumed appears to denote a spice of greediness."

"It is perhaps true, gentlemen," said the prince, quietly. He had
been listening in silence up to that moment without taking part
in the conversation, but laughing heartily with the others from
time to time. Evidently he was delighted to see that everybody
was amused, that everybody was talking at once, and even that
everybody was drinking. It seemed as if he were not intending to
speak at all,  when suddenly he intervened in such a serious
voice that everyone looked at him with interest.

"It is true that there were frequent famines at that time,
gentlemen. I have often heard of them, though I do not know much
history. But it seems to me that it must have been so. When I was
in Switzerland I used to look with astonishment at the many ruins
of feudal castles perched on the top of steep and rocky heights,
half a mile at least above sea-level, so that to reach them one
had to climb many miles of stony tracks. A castle, as you know,
is, a kind of mountain of stones--a dreadful, almost an
impossible, labour! Doubtless the builders were all poor men,
vassals, and had to pay heavy taxes, and to keep up the
priesthood. How, then, could they provide for themselves, and
when had they time to plough and sow their fields? The greater
number must, literally, have died of starvation. I have sometimes
asked myself how it was that these communities were not utterly
swept off the face of the earth, and how they could possibly
survive. Lebedeff is not mistaken, in my opinion, when he says
that there were cannibals in those days, perhaps in considerable
numbers; but I do not understand why he should have dragged in
the monks, nor what he means by that."

"It is undoubtedly because, in the twelfth century, monks were
the only people one could eat; they were the fat, among many
lean," said Gavrila Ardalionovitch.

"A brilliant idea, and most true!" cried Lebedeff, "for he never
even touched the laity. Sixty monks, and not a single layman! It
is a terrible idea, but it is historic, it is statistic; it is
indeed one of those facts which enables an intelligent historian
to reconstruct the physiognomy of a special epoch, for it brings
out this further point with mathematical accuracy, that the
clergy were in those days sixty times richer and more flourishing
than the rest of humanity. and perhaps sixty times fatter

"You are exaggerating, you are exaggerating, Lebedeff!" cried his
hearers, amid laughter.

"I admit that it is an historic thought, but what is your
conclusion?" asked the prince.

He spoke so seriously in addressing Lebedeff, that his tone
contrasted quite comically with that of the others. They were
very nearly laughing at him, too, but he did not notice it.

"Don't you see he is a lunatic, prince?" whispered Evgenie
Pavlovitch in his ear. "Someone told me just now that he is a bit
touched on the subject of lawyers, that he has a mania for making
speeches and intends to pass the examinations. I am expecting a
splendid burlesque now."

"My conclusion is vast," replied Lebedeff, in a voice like
thunder. "Let us examine first the psychological and legal
position of the criminal. We see that in spite of the difficulty
of finding other food, the accused, or, as we may say, my client,
has often during his peculiar life exhibited signs of repentance,
and of wishing to give up this clerical diet. Incontrovertible
facts prove this assertion. He has eaten five or six children, a
relatively insignificant number, no doubt, but remarkable enough
from another point of view. It is manifest that, pricked by
remorse--for my client is religious, in his way, and has a
conscience, as I shall prove later--and desiring to extenuate his
sin as far as possible, he has tried six times at least to
substitute lay nourishment for clerical. That this was merely an
experiment we can hardly doubt: for if it had been only a
question of gastronomic variety, six would have been too few; why
only six? Why not thirty? But if we regard it as an experiment,
inspired by the fear of committing new sacrilege, then this
number six becomes intelligible. Six attempts to calm his
remorse, and the pricking of his conscience, would amply suffice,
for these attempts could scarcely have been happy ones. In my
humble opinion, a child is too small; I should say, not
sufficient; which would result in four or five times more lay
children than monks being required in a given time. The sin,
lessened on the one hand, would therefore be increased on the
other, in quantity, not in quality. Please understand, gentlemen,
that in reasoning thus, I am taking the point of view which might
have been taken by a criminal of the middle ages. As for myself,
a man of the late nineteenth century, I, of course, should reason
differently; I say so plainly, and therefore you need not jeer at
me nor mock me, gentlemen. As for you, general, it is still more
unbecoming on your part. In the second place, and giving my own
personal opinion, a child's flesh is not a satisfying diet; it is
too insipid, too sweet; and the criminal, in making these
experiments, could have satisfied neither his conscience nor his
appetite. I am about to conclude, gentlemen; and my conclusion
contains a reply to one of the most important questions of that
day and of our own! This criminal ended at last by denouncing
himself to the clergy, and giving himself up to justice. We
cannot but ask, remembering the penal system of that day, and the
tortures that awaited him--the wheel, the stake, the fire!--we
cannot but ask, I repeat, what induced him to accuse himself of
this crime? Why did he not simply stop short at the number sixty,
and keep his secret until his last breath? Why could he not
simply leave the monks alone, and go into the desert to repent?
Or why not become a monk himself? That is where the puzzle comes
in! There must have been something stronger than the stake or the
fire, or even than the habits of twenty years! There must have
been an idea more powerful than all the calamities and sorrows of
this world, famine or torture, leprosy or plague--an idea which
entered into the heart, directed and enlarged the springs of
life, and made even that hell supportable to humanity! Show me a
force, a power like that, in this our century of vices and
railways! I might say, perhaps, in our century of steamboats and
railways, but I repeat in our century of vices and railways,
because I am drunk but truthful! Show me a single idea which
unites men nowadays with half the strength that it had in those
centuries, and dare to maintain that the 'springs of life' have
not been polluted and weakened beneath this 'star,' beneath this
network in which men are entangled! Don't talk to me about your
prosperity, your riches, the rarity of famine, the rapidity of
the means of transport! There is more of riches, but less of
force. The idea uniting heart and soul to heart and soul exists
no more. All is loose, soft, limp--we are all of us limp....
Enough, gentlemen! I have done. That is not the question. No, the
question is now, excellency, I believe, to sit down to the
banquet you are about to provide for us!"

Lebedeff had roused great indignation in some of his auditors (it
should be remarked that the bottles were constantly uncorked
during his speech); but this unexpected conclusion calmed even
the most turbulent spirits. "That's how a clever barrister makes
a good point!" said he, when speaking of his peroration later on.
The visitors began to laugh and chatter once again; the committee
left their seats, and stretched their legs on the terrace. Keller
alone was still disgusted with Lebedeff and his speech; he turned
from one to another, saying in a loud voice:

"He attacks education, he boasts of the fanaticism of the twelfth
century, he makes absurd grimaces, and added to that he is by no
means the innocent he makes himself out to be. How did he get the
money to buy this house, allow me to ask?"

In another corner was the general, holding forth to a group of
hearers, among them Ptitsin, whom he had buttonholed. "I have
known," said he, "a real interpreter of the Apocalypse, the late
Gregory Semeonovitch Burmistroff, and he--he pierced the heart
like a fiery flash! He began by putting on his spectacles, then
he opened a large black book; his white beard, and his two medals
on his breast, recalling acts of charity, all added to his
impressiveness. He began in a stern voice, and before him
generals, hard men of the world, bowed down, and ladies fell to
the ground fainting. But this one here--he ends by announcing a
banquet! That is not the real thing!"

Ptitsin listened and smiled, then turned as if to get his hat;
but if he had intended to leave, he changed his mind. Before the
others had risen from the table, Gania had suddenly left off
drinking, and pushed away his glass, a dark shadow seemed to come
over his face. When they all rose, he went and sat down by
Rogojin. It might have been believed that quite friendly
relations existed between them. Rogojin, who had also seemed on
the point of going away now sat motionless, his head bent,
seeming to have forgotten his intention. He had drunk no wine,
and appeared absorbed in reflection. From time to time he raised
his eyes, and examined everyone present; one might have imagined
that he was expecting something very important to himself, and
that he had decided to wait for it. The prince had taken two or
three glasses of champagne, and seemed cheerful. As he rose he
noticed Evgenie Pavlovitch, and, remembering the appointment he
had made with him, smiled pleasantly. Evgenie Pavlovitch made a
sign with his head towards Hippolyte, whom he was attentively
watching. The invalid was fast asleep, stretched out on the sofa.

"Tell me, prince, why on earth did this boy intrude himself upon
you?" he asked, with such annoyance and irritation in his voice
that the prince was quite surprised. "I wouldn't mind laying odds
that he is up to some mischief."

"I have observed," said the prince, "that he seems to be an
object of very singular interest to you, Evgenie Pavlovitch. Why
is it?"

"You may add that I have surely enough to think of, on my own
account, without him; and therefore it is all the more surprising
that I cannot tear my eyes and thoughts away from his detestable

"Oh, come! He has a handsome face."

"Why, look at him--look at him now!"

The prince glanced again at Evgenie Pavlovitch with considerable


HIPPOLYTE, who had fallen asleep during Lebedeff's discourse, now
suddenly woke up, just as though someone had jogged him in the
side. He shuddered, raised himself on his arm, gazed around, and
grew very pale. A look almost of terror crossed his face as he

"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.

"You have slept seven or perhaps eight minutes," said Evgenie

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

"Oh, is that all?" he said at last. "Then I--"

He drew a long, deep breath of relief, as it seemed. He realized
that all was not over as yet, that the sun had not risen, and
that the guests had merely gone to supper. He smiled, and two
hectic spots appeared on his cheeks.

"So you counted the minutes while I slept, did you, Evgenie
Pavlovitch?" he said, ironically. "You have not taken your eyes
off me all the evening--I have noticed that much, you see! Ah,
Rogojin! I've just been dreaming about him, prince," he added,
frowning. "Yes, by the by," starting up, "where's the orator?
Where's Lebedeff? Has he finished? What did he talk about? Is it
true, prince, that you once declared that 'beauty would save the
world'? Great Heaven! The prince says that beauty saves the
world! And I declare that he only has such playful ideas because
he's in love! Gentlemen, the prince is in love. I guessed it the
moment he came in. Don't blush, prince; you make me sorry for
you. What beauty saves the world? Colia told me that you are a
zealous Christian; is it so? Colia says you call yourself a

The prince regarded him attentively, but said nothing.

"You don't answer me; perhaps you think I am very fond of you?"
added Hippolyte, as though the words had been drawn from him.

"No, I don't think that. I know you don't love me."

"What, after yesterday? Wasn't I honest with you?"

"I knew yesterday that you didn't love me."

"Why so? why so? Because I envy you, eh? You always think that, I
know. But do you know why I am saying all this? Look here! I must
have some more champagne--pour me out some, Keller, will you?"

"No, you're not to drink any more, Hippolyte. I won't let you."
The prince moved the glass away.

"Well perhaps you're right," said Hippolyte, musing. They might
say--yet, devil take them! what does it matter?--prince, what can
it matter what people will say of us THEN, eh? I believe I'm half
asleep. I've had such a dreadful dream--I've only just remembered
it. Prince, I don't wish you such dreams as that, though sure
enough, perhaps, I DON'T love you. Why wish a man evil, though
you do not love him, eh? Give me your hand--let me press it
sincerely. There--you've given me your hand--you must feel that I
DO press it sincerely, don't you? I don't think I shall drink any
more. What time is it? Never mind, I know the time. The time has
come, at all events. What! they are laying supper over there, are
they? Then this table is free? Capital, gentlemen! I--hem! these
gentlemen are not listening. Prince, I will just read over an
article I have here. Supper is more interesting, of course, but--"

Here Hippolyte suddenly, and most unexpectedly, pulled out of his
breast-pocket a large sealed paper. This imposing-looking
document he placed upon the table before him.

The effect of this sudden action upon the company was
instantaneous. Evgenie Pavlovitch almost bounded off his chair in
excitement. Rogojin drew nearer to the table with a look on his
face as if he knew what was coming. Gania came nearer too; so did
Lebedeff and the others--the paper seemed to be an object of
great interest to the company in general.

"What have you got there?" asked the prince, with some anxiety.

"At the first glimpse of the rising sun, prince, I will go to
bed. I told you I would, word of honour! You shall see!" cried
Hippolyte. "You think I'm not capable of opening this packet, do
you?" He glared defiantly round at the audience in general.

The prince observed that he was trembling all over.

"None of us ever thought such a thing!" Muishkin replied for all.
"Why should you suppose it of us? And what are you going to read,
Hippolyte? What is it?"

"Yes, what is it?" asked others. The packet sealed with red wax
seemed to attract everyone, as though it were a magnet.

"I wrote this yesterday, myself, just after I saw you, prince,
and told you I would come down here. I wrote all day and all
night, and finished it this morning early. Afterwards I had a

"Hadn't we better hear it tomorrow?" asked the prince timidly.

"Tomorrow 'there will be no more time!'" laughed Hippolyte,
hysterically. "You needn't be afraid; I shall get through the
whole thing in forty minutes, at most an hour! Look how
interested everybody is! Everybody has drawn near. Look! look at
them all staring at my sealed packet! If I hadn't sealed it up it
wouldn't have been half so effective! Ha, ha! that's mystery,
that is! Now then, gentlemen, shall I break the seal or not? Say
the word; it's a mystery, I tell you--a secret! Prince, you know
who said there would be 'no more time'? It was the great and
powerful angel in the Apocalypse."

"Better not read it now," said the prince, putting his hand on
the packet.

"No, don't read it!" cried Evgenie suddenly. He appeared so
strangely disturbed that many of those present could not help

"Reading? None of your reading now!" said somebody; "it's supper-
time." "What sort of an article is it? For a paper? Probably it's
very dull," said another. But the prince's timid gesture had
impressed even Hippolyte.

"Then I'm not to read it?" he whispered, nervously. "Am I not to
read it?" he repeated, gazing around at each face in turn. "What
are you afraid of, prince?" he turned and asked the latter

"What should I be afraid of?"

"Has anyone a coin about them? Give me a twenty-copeck piece,
somebody!" And Hippolyte leapt from his chair.

"Here you are," said Lebedeff, handing him one; he thought the
boy had gone mad.

"Vera Lukianovna," said Hippolyte, "toss it, will you? Heads, I
read, tails, I don't."

Vera Lebedeff tossed the coin into the air and let it fall on the

It was "heads."

"Then I read it," said Hippolyte, in the tone of one bowing to
the fiat of destiny. He could not have grown paler if a verdict
of death had suddenly been presented to him.

"But after all, what is it? Is it possible that I should have
just risked my fate by tossing up?" he went on, shuddering; and
looked round him again. His eyes had a curious expression of
sincerity. "That is an astonishing psychological fact," he cried,
suddenly addressing the prince, in a tone of the most intense
surprise. "It is ... it is something quite inconceivable,
prince," he repeated with growing animation, like a man regaining
consciousness. "Take note of it, prince, remember it; you
collect, I am told, facts concerning capital punishment... They
told me so. Ha, ha! My God, how absurd!" He sat down on the sofa,
put his elbows on the table, and laid his head on his hands. "It
is shameful--though what does it matter to me if it is shameful?

"Gentlemen, gentlemen! I am about to break the seal," he
continued, with determination. "I-I--of course I don't insist
upon anyone listening if they do not wish to."

With trembling fingers he broke the seal and drew out several
sheets of paper, smoothed them out before him, and began sorting

"What on earth does all this mean? What's he going to read?"
muttered several voices. Others said nothing; but one and all sat
down and watched with curiosity. They began to think something
strange might really be about to happen. Vera stood and trembled
behind her father's chair, almost in tears with fright; Colia was
nearly as much alarmed as she was. Lebedeff jumped up and put a
couple of candles nearer to Hippolyte, so that he might see

"Gentlemen, this--you'll soon see what this is," began Hippolyte,
and suddenly commenced his reading.

"It's headed, 'A Necessary Explanation,' with the motto, 'Apres
moi le deluge!' Oh, deuce take it all! Surely I can never have
seriously written such a silly motto as that? Look here,
gentlemen, I beg to give notice that all this is very likely
terrible nonsense. It is only a few ideas of mine. If you think
that there is anything mysterious coming--or in a word--"

"Better read on without any more beating about the bush," said

"Affectation!" remarked someone else.

"Too much talk," said Rogojin, breaking the silence for the first

Hippolyte glanced at him suddenly, and when their eye, met
Rogojin showed his teeth in a disagreeable smile, and said the
following strange words: "That's not the way to settle this
business, my friend; that's not the way at all."

Of course nobody knew what Rogojin meant by this; but his words
made a deep impression upon all. Everyone seemed to see in a
flash the same idea.

As for Hippolyte, their effect upon him was astounding. He
trembled so that the prince was obliged to support him, and would
certainly have cried out, but that his voice seemed to have
entirely left him for the moment. For a minute or two he could
not speak at all, but panted and stared at Rogojin. At last he
managed to ejaculate:

"Then it was YOU who came--YOU--YOU?"

"Came where? What do you mean?" asked Rogojin, amazed. But
Hippolyte, panting and choking with excitement, interrupted him

"YOU came to me last week, in the night, at two o'clock, the day
I was with you in the morning! Confess it was you!"

"Last week? In the night? Have you gone cracked, my good friend?"

Hippolyte paused and considered a moment. Then a smile of
cunning--almost triumph--crossed his lips.

"It was you," he murmured, almost in a whisper, but with absolute
conviction. "Yes, it was you who came to my room and sat silently
on a chair at my window for a whole hour--more! It was between
one and two at night; you rose and went out at about three. It
was you, you! Why you should have frightened me so, why you
should have wished to torment me like that, I cannot tell--but you
it was."

There was absolute hatred in his eyes as he said this, but his
look of fear and his trembling had not left him.

"You shall hear all this directly, gentlemen. I-I--listen!"

He seized his paper in a desperate hurry; he fidgeted with it,
and tried to sort it, but for a long while his trembling hands
could not collect the sheets together. "He's either mad or
delirious," murmured Rogojin. At last he began.

For the first five minutes the reader's voice continued to
tremble, and he read disconnectedly and unevenly; but gradually
his voice strengthened. Occasionally a violent fit of coughing
stopped him, but his animation grew with the progress of the
reading--as did also the disagreeable impression which it made
upon his audience,--until it reached the highest pitch of

Here is the article.


"Apres moi le deluge.

"Yesterday morning the prince came to see me. Among other things
he asked me to come down to his villa. I knew he would come and
persuade me to this step, and that he would adduce the argument
that it would be easier for me to die' among people and green
trees,'--as he expressed it. But today he did not say 'die,' he
said 'live.' It is pretty much the same to me, in my position,
which he says. When I asked him why he made such a point of his
'green trees,' he told me, to my astonishment, that he had heard
that last time I was in Pavlofsk I had said that I had come 'to
have a last look at the trees.'

"When I observed that it was all the same whether one died among
trees or in front of a blank brick wall, as here, and that it was
not worth making any fuss over a fortnight, he agreed at once.
But he insisted that the good air at Pavlofsk and the greenness
would certainly cause a physical change for the better, and that
my excitement, and my DREAMS, would be perhaps relieved. I
remarked to him, with a smile, that he spoke like a materialist,
and he answered that he had always been one. As he never tells a
lie, there must be something in his words. His smile is a
pleasant one. I have had a good look at him. I don't know whether
I like him or not; and I have no time to waste over the question.
The hatred which I felt for him for five months has become
considerably modified, I may say, during the last month. Who
knows, perhaps I am going to Pavlofsk on purpose to see him! But
why do I leave my chamber? Those who are sentenced to death
should not leave their cells. If I had not formed a final
resolve, but had decided to wait until the last minute, I should
not leave my room, or accept his invitation to come and die at
Pavlofsk. I must be quick and finish this explanation before
tomorrow. I shall have no time to read it over and correct it, for
I must read it tomorrow to the prince and two or three witnesses
whom I shall probably find there.

"As it will be absolutely true, without a touch of falsehood, I
am curious to see what impression it will make upon me myself at
the moment when I read it out. This is my 'last and solemn'--but
why need I call it that? There is no question about the truth of
it, for it is not worthwhile lying for a fortnight; a fortnight
of life is not itself worth having, which is a proof that I write
nothing here but pure truth.

("N.B.--Let me remember to consider; am I mad at this moment, or
not? or rather at these moments? I have been told that
consumptives sometimes do go out of their minds for a while in
the last stages of the malady. I can prove this tomorrow when I
read it out, by the impression it makes upon the audience. I must
settle this question once and for all, otherwise I can't go on
with anything.)

"I believe I have just written dreadful nonsense; but there's no
time for correcting, as I said before. Besides that, I have made
myself a promise not to alter a single word of what I write in
this paper, even though I find that I am contradicting myself
every five lines. I wish to verify the working of the natural
logic of my ideas tomorrow during the reading--whether I am
capable of detecting logical errors, and whether all that I have
meditated over during the last six months be true, or nothing but

"If two months since I had been called upon to leave my room and
the view of Meyer's wall opposite, I verily believe I should have
been sorry. But now I have no such feeling, and yet I am leaving
this room and Meyer's brick wall FOR EVER. So that my conclusion,
that it is not worth while indulging in grief, or any other
emotion, for a fortnight, has proved stronger than my very
nature, and has taken over the direction of my feelings. But is
it so? Is it the case that my nature is conquered entirely? If I
were to be put on the rack now, I should certainly cry out. I
should not say that it is not worth while to yell and feel pain
because I have but a fortnight to live.

"But is it true that I have but a fortnight of life left to me? I
know I told some of my friends that Doctor B. had informed me
that this was the case; but I now confess that I lied; B. has not
even seen me. However, a week ago, I called in a medical student,
Kislorodoff, who is a Nationalist, an Atheist, and a Nihilist, by
conviction, and that is why I had him. I needed a man who would
tell me the bare truth without any humbug or ceremony--and so he
did--indeed, almost with pleasure (which I thought was going a
little too far).

"Well, he plumped out that I had about a month left me; it might
be a little more, he said, under favourable circumstances, but
it might also be considerably less. According to his opinion I
might die quite suddenly--tomorrow, for instance--there had been
such cases. Only a day or two since a young lady at Colomna who
suffered from consumption, and was about on a par with myself in
the march of the disease, was going out to market to buy
provisions, when she suddenly felt faint, lay down on the sofa,
gasped once, and died.

"Kislorodoff told me all this with a sort of exaggerated devil-
may-care negligence, and as though he did me great honour by
talking to me so, because it showed that he considered me the
same sort of exalted Nihilistic being as himself, to whom death
was a matter of no consequence whatever, either way.

"At all events, the fact remained--a month of life and no more!
That he is right in his estimation I am absolutely persuaded.

"It puzzles me much to think how on earth the prince guessed
yesterday that I have had bad dreams. He said to me, 'Your
excitement and dreams will find relief at Pavlofsk.' Why did he
say 'dreams'? Either he is a doctor, or else he is a man of
exceptional intelligence and wonderful powers of observation.
(But that he is an 'idiot,' at bottom there can be no doubt
whatever.) It so happened that just before he arrived I had a
delightful little dream; one of a kind that I have hundreds of
just now. I had fallen asleep about an hour before he came in,
and dreamed that I was in some room, not my own. It was a large
room, well furnished, with a cupboard, chest of drawers, sofa,
and my bed, a fine wide bed covered with a silken counterpane.
But I observed in the room a dreadful-looking creature, a sort of
monster. It was a little like a scorpion, but was not a scorpion,
but far more horrible, and especially so, because there are no
creatures anything like it in nature, and because it had appeared
to me for a purpose, and bore some mysterious signification. I
looked at the beast well; it was brown in colour and had a shell;
it was a crawling kind of reptile, about eight inches long, and
narrowed down from the head, which was about a couple of fingers
in width, to the end of the tail, which came to a fine point. Out
of its trunk, about a couple of inches below its head, came two
legs at an angle of forty-five degrees, each about three inches
long, so that the beast looked like a trident from above. It had
eight hard needle-like whiskers coming out from different parts
of its body; it went along like a snake, bending its body about
in spite of the shell it wore, and its motion was very quick and
very horrible to look at. I was dreadfully afraid it would sting
me; somebody had told me, I thought, that it was venomous; but
what tormented me most of all was the wondering and wondering as
to who had sent it into my room, and what was the mystery which I
felt it contained.

"It hid itself under the cupboard and under the chest of drawers,
and crawled into the corners. I sat on a chair and kept my legs
tucked under me. Then the beast crawled quietly across the room
and disappeared somewhere near my chair. I looked about for it in
terror, but I still hoped that as my feet were safely tucked away
it would not be able to touch me.

"Suddenly I heard behind me, and about on a level with my head, a
sort of rattling sound. I turned sharp round and saw that the
brute had crawled up the wall as high as the level of my face,
and that its horrible tail, which was moving incredibly fast from
side to side, was actually touching my hair! I jumped up--and it
disappeared. I did not dare lie down on my bed for fear it should
creep under my pillow. My mother came into the room, and some
friends of hers. They began to hunt for the reptile and were more
composed than I was; they did not seem to be afraid of it. But
they did not understand as I did.

"Suddenly the monster reappeared; it crawled slowly across the
room and made for the door, as though with some fixed intention,
and with a slow movement that was more horrible than ever.

"Then my mother opened the door and called my dog, Norma. Norma
was a great Newfoundland, and died five years ago.

"She sprang forward and stood still in front of the reptile as if
she had been turned to stone. The beast stopped too, but its tail
and claws still moved about. I believe animals are incapable of
feeling supernatural fright--if I have been rightly informed,--but
at this moment there appeared to me to be something more than
ordinary about Norma's terror, as though it must be supernatural;
and as though she felt, just as I did myself, that this reptile
was connected with some mysterious secret, some fatal omen.

"Norma backed slowly and carefully away from the brute, which
followed her, creeping deliberately after her as though it
intended to make a sudden dart and sting her.

"In spite of Norma's terror she looked furious, though she
trembled in all her limbs. At length she slowly bared her
terrible teeth, opened her great red jaws, hesitated--took
courage, and seized the beast in her mouth. It seemed to try to
dart out of her jaws twice, but Norma caught at it and half
swallowed it as it was escaping. The shell cracked in her teeth;
and the tail and legs stuck out of her mouth and shook about in a
horrible manner. Suddenly Norma gave a piteous whine; the reptile
had bitten her tongue. She opened her mouth wide with the pain,
and I saw the beast lying across her tongue, and out of its body,
which was almost bitten in two, came a hideous white-looking
substance, oozing out into Norma's mouth; it was of the
consistency of a crushed black-beetle. just then I awoke and the
prince entered the room."

"Gentlemen!" said Hippolyte, breaking off here, "I have not done
yet, but it seems to me that I have written down a great deal
here that is unnecessary,--this dream--"

"You have indeed!" said Gania.

"There is too much about myself, I know, but--" As Hippolyte said
this his face wore a tired, pained look, and he wiped the sweat
off his brow.

"Yes," said Lebedeff, "you certainly think a great deal too much
about yourself."

"Well--gentlemen--I do not force anyone to listen! If any of you
are unwilling to sit it out, please go away, by all means!"

"He turns people out of a house that isn't his own," muttered

"Suppose we all go away?" said Ferdishenko suddenly.

Hippolyte clutched his manuscript, and gazing at the last speaker
with glittering eyes, said: "You don't like me at all!" A few
laughed at this, but not all.

"Hippolyte," said the prince, "give me the papers, and go to bed
like a sensible fellow. We'll have a good talk tomorrow, but you
really mustn't go on with this reading; it is not good for you!"

"How can I? How can I?" cried Hippolyte, looking at him in
amazement. "Gentlemen! I was a fool! I won't break off again.
Listen, everyone who wants to!"

He gulped down some water out of a glass standing near, bent over
the table, in order to hide his face from the audience, and

"The idea that it is not worth while living for a few weeks took
possession of me a month ago, when I was told that I had four
weeks to live, but only partially so at that time. The idea quite
overmastered me three days since, that evening at Pavlofsk. The
first time that I felt really impressed with this thought was on
the terrace at the prince's, at the very moment when I had taken
it into my head to make a last trial of life. I wanted to see
people and trees (I believe I said so myself), I got excited, I
maintained Burdovsky's rights, 'my neighbour!'--I dreamt that one
and all would open their arms, and embrace me, that there would
be an indescribable exchange of forgiveness between us all! In a
word, I behaved like a fool, and then, at that very same instant,
I felt my 'last conviction.' I ask myself now how I could have
waited six months for that conviction! I knew that I had a
disease that spares no one, and I really had no illusions; but
the more I realized my condition, the more I clung to life; I
wanted to live at any price. I confess I might well have resented
that blind, deaf fate, which, with no apparent reason, seemed to
have decided to crush me like a fly; but why did I not stop at
resentment? Why did I begin to live, knowing that it was not
worthwhile to begin? Why did I attempt to do what I knew to be
an impossibility? And yet I could not even read a book to the
end; I had given up reading. What is the good of reading, what is
the good of learning anything, for just six months? That thought
has made me throw aside a book more than once.

"Yes, that wall of Meyer's could tell a tale if it liked. There
was no spot on its dirty surface that I did not know by heart.
Accursed wall! and yet it is dearer to me than all the Pavlofsk
trees!--That is--it WOULD be dearer if it were not all the same
to me, now!

"I remember now with what hungry interest I began to watch the
lives of other people--interest that I had never felt before! I
used to wait for Colia's arrival impatiently, for I was so ill
myself, then, that I could not leave the house. I so threw myself
into every little detail of news, and took so much interest in
every report and rumour, that I believe I became a regular
gossip! I could not understand, among other things, how all these
people--with so much life in and before them--do not become RICH--
and I don't understand it now. I remember being told of a poor
wretch I once knew, who had died of hunger. I was almost beside
myself with rage! I believe if I could have resuscitated him I
would have done so for the sole purpose of murdering him!

"Occasionally I was so much better that I could go out; but the
streets used to put me in such a rage that I would lock myself up
for days rather than go out, even if I were well enough to do so!
I could not bear to see all those preoccupied, anxious-looking
creatures continuously surging along the streets past me! Why are
they always anxious? What is the meaning of their eternal care
and worry? It is their wickedness, their perpetual detestable
malice--that's what it is--they are all full of malice, malice!

"Whose fault is it that they are all miserable, that they don't
know how to live, though they have fifty or sixty years of life
before them? Why did that fool allow himself to die of hunger
with sixty years of unlived life before him?

"And everyone of them shows his rags, his toil-worn hands, and
yells in his wrath: 'Here are we, working like cattle all our
lives, and always as hungry as dogs, and there are others who do
not work, and are fat and rich!' The eternal refrain! And side by
side with them trots along some wretched fellow who has known
better days, doing light porter's work from morn to night for a
living, always blubbering and saying that 'his wife died because
he had no money to buy medicine with,' and his children dying of
cold and hunger, and his eldest daughter gone to the bad, and so
on. Oh! I have no pity and no patience for these fools of people.
Why can't they be Rothschilds? Whose fault is it that a man has
not got millions of money like Rothschild? If he has life, all
this must be in his power! Whose fault is it that he does not
know how to live his life?

"Oh! it's all the same to me now--NOW! But at that time I would
soak my pillow at night with tears of mortification, and tear at
my blanket in my rage and fury. Oh, how I longed at that time to
be turned out--ME, eighteen years old, poor, half-clothed, turned
out into the street, quite alone, without lodging, without work,
without a crust of bread, without relations, without a single
acquaintance, in some large town--hungry, beaten (if you like),
but in good health--and THEN I would show them--

"What would I show them?

"Oh, don't think that I have no sense of my own humiliation! I
have suffered already in reading so far. Which of you all does
not think me a fool at this moment--a young fool who knows
nothing of life--forgetting that to live as I have lived these
last six months is to live longer than grey-haired old men. Well,
let them laugh, and say it is all nonsense, if they please. They
may say it is all fairy-tales, if they like; and I have spent
whole nights telling myself fairy-tales. I remember them all. But
how can I tell fairy-tales now? The time for them is over. They
amused me when I found that there was not even time for me to
learn the Greek grammar, as I wanted to do. 'I shall die before I
get to the syntax,' I thought at the first page--and threw the
book under the table. It is there still, for I forbade anyone to
pick it up.

"If this 'Explanation' gets into anybody's hands, and they have
patience to read it through, they may consider me a madman, or a
schoolboy, or, more likely, a man condemned to die, who thought
it only natural to conclude that all men, excepting himself,
esteem life far too lightly, live it far too carelessly and
lazily, and are, therefore, one and all, unworthy of it. Well, I
affirm that my reader is wrong again, for my convictions have
nothing to do with my sentence of death. Ask them, ask any one of
them, or all of them, what they mean by happiness! Oh, you may be
perfectly sure that if Columbus was happy, it was not after he
had discovered America, but when he was discovering it! You may
be quite sure that he reached the culminating point of his
happiness three days before he saw the New World with his actual
eves, when his mutinous sailors wanted to tack about, and return
to Europe! What did the New World matter after all? Columbus had
hardly seen it when he died, and in reality he was entirely
ignorant of what he had discovered. The important thing is life--
life and nothing else! What is any 'discovery' whatever compared
with the incessant, eternal discovery of life?

"But what is the use of talking? I'm afraid all this is so
commonplace that my confession will be taken for a schoolboy
exercise--the work of some ambitious lad writing in the hope of
his work 'seeing the light'; or perhaps my readers will say that
'I had perhaps something to say, but did not know how to express

"Let me add to this that in every idea emanating from genius, or
even in every serious human idea--born in the human brain--there
always remains something--some sediment--which cannot be expressed
to others, though one wrote volumes and lectured upon it for
five-and-thirty years. There is always a something, a remnant,
which will never come out from your brain, but will remain there
with you, and you alone, for ever and ever, and you will die,
perhaps, without having imparted what may be the very essence of
your idea to a single living soul.

"So that if I cannot now impart all that has tormented me for
the last six months, at all events you will understand that,
having reached my 'last convictions,' I must have paid a very
dear price for them. That is what I wished, for reasons of my
own, to make a point of in this my 'Explanation.'

"But let me resume.


"I WILL not deceive you. 'Reality' got me so entrapped in its
meshes now and again during the past six months, that I forgot my
'sentence' (or perhaps I did not wish to think of it), and
actually busied myself with affairs.

"A word as to my circumstances. When, eight months since, I
became very ill, I threw up all my old connections and dropped
all my old companions. As I was always a gloomy, morose sort of
individual, my friends easily forgot me; of course, they would
have forgotten me all the same, without that excuse. My position
at home was solitary enough. Five months ago I separated myself
entirely from the family, and no one dared enter my room except
at stated times, to clean and tidy it, and so on, and to bring me
my meals. My mother dared not disobey me; she kept the children
quiet, for my sake, and beat them if they dared to make any noise
and disturb me. I so often complained of them that I should think
they must be very fond, indeed, of me by this time. I think I
must have tormented 'my faithful Colia' (as I called him) a
good deal too. He tormented me of late; I could see that he
always bore my tempers as though he had determined to 'spare the
poor invalid.' This annoyed me, naturally. He seemed to have
taken it into his head to imitate the prince in Christian
meekness! Surikoff, who lived above us, annoyed me, too. He was
so miserably poor, and I used to prove to him that he had no one
to blame but himself for his poverty. I used to be so angry that
I think I frightened him eventually, for he stopped coming to see
me. He was a most meek and humble fellow, was Surikoff. (N.B.--
They say that meekness is a great power. I must ask the prince
about this, for the expression is his.) But I remember one day in
March, when I went up to his lodgings to see whether it was true
that one of his children had been starved and frozen to death, I
began to hold forth to him about his poverty being his own fault,
and, in the course of my remarks, I accidentally smiled at the
corpse of his child. Well, the poor wretch's lips began to
tremble, and he caught me by the shoulder, and pushed me to the
door. 'Go out,' he said, in a whisper. I went out, of course, and
I declare I LIKED it. I liked it at the very moment when I was
turned out. But his words filled me with a strange sort of
feeling of disdainful pity for him whenever I thought of them--a
feeling which I did not in the least desire to entertain. At the
very moment of the insult (for I admit that I did insult him,
though I did not mean to), this man could not lose his temper.
His lips had trembled, but I swear it was not with rage. He had
taken me by the arm, and said, 'Go out,' without the least anger.
There was dignity, a great deal of dignity, about him, and it was
so inconsistent with the look of him that, I assure you, it was
quite comical. But there was no anger. Perhaps he merely began to
despise me at that moment.

"Since that time he has always taken off his hat to me on the
stairs, whenever I met him, which is a thing he never did before;
but he always gets away from me as quickly as he can, as though
he felt confused. If he did despise me, he despised me 'meekly,'
after his own fashion.

"I dare say he only took his hat off out of fear, as it were, to
the son of his creditor; for he always owed my mother money. I
thought of having an explanation with him, but I knew that if I
did, he would begin to apologize in a minute or two, so I decided
to let him alone.

"Just about that time, that is, the middle of March, I suddenly
felt very much better; this continued for a couple of weeks. I
used to go out at dusk. I like the dusk, especially in March,
when the night frost begins to harden the day's puddles, and the
gas is burning.

"Well, one night in the Shestilavochnaya, a man passed me with a
paper parcel under his arm. I did not take stock of him very
carefully, but he seemed to be dressed in some shabby summer
dust-coat, much too light for the season. When he was opposite
the lamp-post, some ten yards away, I observed something fall out
of his pocket. I hurried forward to pick it up, just in time, for
an old wretch in a long kaftan rushed up too. He did not dispute
the matter, but glanced at what was in my hand and disappeared.

"It was a large old-fashioned pocket-book, stuffed full; but I
guessed, at a glance, that it had anything in the world inside
it, except money.

"The owner was now some forty yards ahead of me, and was very
soon lost in the crowd. I ran after him, and began calling out;
but as I knew nothing to say excepting 'hey!' he did not turn
round. Suddenly he turned into the gate of a house to the left;
and when I darted in after him, the gateway was so dark that I
could see nothing whatever. It was one of those large houses
built in small tenements, of which there must have been at least
a hundred.

"When I entered the yard I thought I saw a man going along on the
far side of it; but it was so dark I could not make out his

"I crossed to that corner and found a dirty dark staircase. I
heard a man mounting up above me, some way higher than I was, and
thinking I should catch him before his door would be opened to
him, I rushed after him. I heard a door open and shut on the
fifth storey, as I panted along; the stairs were narrow, and the
steps innumerable, but at last I reached the door I thought the
right one. Some moments passed before I found the bell and got it
to ring.

"An old peasant woman opened the door; she was busy lighting the
'samovar' in a tiny kitchen. She listened silently to my
questions, did not understand a word, of course, and opened
another door leading into a little bit of a room, low and
scarcely furnished at all, but with a large, wide bed in it, hung
with curtains. On this bed lay one Terentich, as the woman called
him, drunk, it appeared to me. On the table was an end of candle
in an iron candlestick, and a half-bottle of vodka, nearly
finished. Terentich muttered something to me, and signed towards
the next room. The old woman had disappeared, so there was
nothing for me to do but to open the door indicated. I did so,
and entered the next room.

"This was still smaller than the other, so cramped that I could
scarcely turn round; a narrow single bed at one side took up
nearly all the room. Besides the bed there were only three common
chairs, and a wretched old kitchen-table standing before a small
sofa. One could hardly squeeze through between the table and the

"On the table, as in the other room, burned a tallow candle-end
in an iron candlestick; and on the bed there whined a baby of
scarcely three weeks old. A pale-looking woman was dressing the
child, probably the mother; she looked as though she had not as
yet got over the trouble of childbirth, she seemed so weak and
was so carelessly dressed. Another child, a little girl of about
three years old, lay on the sofa, covered over with what looked
like a man's old dress-coat.

"At the table stood a man in his shirt sleeves; he had thrown off
his coat; it lay upon the bed; and he was unfolding a blue paper
parcel in which were a couple of pounds of bread, and some little

"On the table along with these things were a few old bits of
black bread, and some tea in a pot. From under the bed there
protruded an open portmanteau full of bundles of rags. In a word,
the confusion and untidiness of the room were indescribable.

"It appeared to me, at the first glance, that both the man and
the woman were respectable people, but brought to that pitch of
poverty where untidiness seems to get the better of every effort
to cope with it, till at last they take a sort of bitter
satisfaction in it. When I entered the room, the man, who had
entered but a moment before me, and was still unpacking his
parcels, was saying something to his wife in an excited manner.
The news was apparently bad, as usual, for the woman began
whimpering. The man's face seemed tome to be refined and even
pleasant. He was dark-complexioned, and about twenty-eight years
of age; he wore black whiskers, and his lip and chin were shaved.
He looked morose, but with a sort of pride of expression. A
curious scene followed.

"There are people who find satisfaction in their own touchy
feelings, especially when they have just taken the deepest
offence; at such moments they feel that they would rather be
offended than not. These easily-ignited natures, if they are
wise, are always full of remorse afterwards, when they reflect
that they have been ten times as angry as they need have been.

"The gentleman before me gazed at me for some seconds in
amazement, and his wife in terror; as though there was something
alarmingly extraordinary in the fact that anyone could come to
see them. But suddenly he fell upon me almost with fury; I had
had no time to mutter more than a couple of words; but he had
doubtless observed that I was decently dressed and, therefore,
took deep offence because I had dared enter his den so
unceremoniously, and spy out the squalor and untidiness of it.

"Of course he was delighted to get hold of someone upon whom to
vent his rage against things in general.

"For a moment I thought he would assault me; he grew so pale that
he looked like a woman about to have hysterics; his wife was
dreadfully alarmed.

"'How dare you come in so? Be off!' he shouted, trembling all
over with rage and scarcely able to articulate the words.
Suddenly, however, he observed his pocketbook in my hand.

"'I think you dropped this,' I remarked, as quietly and drily as
I could. (I thought it best to treat him so.) For some while he
stood before me in downright terror, and seemed unable to
understand. He then suddenly grabbed at his side-pocket, opened
his mouth in alarm, and beat his forehead with his hand.

"'My God!' he cried, 'where did you find it? How?' I explained in
as few words as I could, and as drily as possible, how I had seen
it and picked it up; how I had run after him, and called out to
him, and how I had followed him upstairs and groped my way to his

"'Gracious Heaven!' he cried, 'all our papers are in it! My dear
sir, you little know what you have done for us. I should have
been lost--lost!'

"I had taken hold of the door-handle meanwhile, intending to
leave the room without reply; but I was panting with my run
upstairs, and my exhaustion came to a climax in a violent fit of
coughing, so bad that I could hardly stand.

"I saw how the man dashed about the room to find me an empty
chair, how he kicked the rags off a chair which was covered up by
them, brought it to me, and helped me to sit down; but my cough
went on for another three minutes or so. When I came to myself he
was sitting by me on another chair, which he had also cleared of
the rubbish by throwing it all over the floor, and was watching
me intently.

"'I'm afraid you are ill?' he remarked, in the tone which doctors
use when they address a patient. 'I am myself a medical man' (he
did not say 'doctor'), with which words he waved his hands
towards the room and its contents as though in protest at his
present condition. 'I see that you--'

"'I'm in consumption,' I said laconically, rising from my seat.

He jumped up, too.

"'Perhaps you are exaggerating--if you were to take proper
measures perhaps--"

"He was terribly confused and did not seem able to collect his
scattered senses; the pocket-book was still in his left hand.

"'Oh, don't mind me,' I said. 'Dr. B-- saw me last week' (I
lugged him in again), 'and my hash is quite settled; pardon me-'
I took hold of the door-handle again. I was on the point of
opening the door and leaving my grateful but confused medical
friend to himself and his shame, when my damnable cough got hold
of me again.

"My doctor insisted on my sitting down again to get my breath. He
now said something to his wife who, without leaving her place,
addressed a few words of gratitude and courtesy to me. She seemed
very shy over it, and her sickly face flushed up with confusion.
I remained, but with the air of a man who knows he is intruding
and is anxious to get away. The doctor's remorse at last seemed
to need a vent, I could see.

"'If I--' he began, breaking off abruptly every other moment, and
starting another sentence. 'I-I am so very grateful to you, and I
am so much to blame in your eyes, I feel sure, I--you see--' (he
pointed to the room again) 'at this moment I am in such a

"'Oh!' I said, 'there's nothing to see; it's quite a clear case--
you've lost your post and have come up to make explanations and
get another, if you can!'

"'How do you know that?' he asked in amazement.

"'Oh, it was evident at the first glance,' I said ironically, but
not intentionally so. 'There are lots of people who come up from
the provinces full of hope, and run about town, and have to live
as best they can.'

"He began to talk at once excitedly and with trembling lips; he
began complaining and telling me his story. He interested me, I
confess; I sat there nearly an hour. His story was a very
ordinary one. He had been a provincial doctor; he had a civil
appointment, and had no sooner taken it up than intrigues began.
Even his wife was dragged into these. He was proud, and flew into
a passion; there was a change of local government which acted in
favour of his opponents; his position was undermined, complaints
were made against him; he lost his post and came up to Petersburg
with his last remaining money, in order to appeal to higher
authorities. Of course nobody would listen to him for a long
time; he would come and tell his story one day and be refused
promptly; another day he would be fed on false promises; again he
would be treated harshly; then he would be told to sign some
documents; then he would sign the paper and hand it in, and they
would refuse to receive it, and tell him to file a formal
petition. In a word he had been driven about from office to
office for five months and had spent every farthing he had; his
wife's last rags had just been pawned; and meanwhile a child had
been born to them and--and today I have a final refusal to my
petition, and I have hardly a crumb of bread left--I have nothing
left; my wife has had a baby lately--and I-I--'

"He sprang up from his chair and turned away. His wife was crying
in the corner; the child had begun to moan again. I pulled out my
note-book and began writing in it. When I had finished and rose
from my chair he was standing before me with an expression of
alarmed curiosity.

"'I have jotted down your name,' I told him, 'and all the rest of
it--the place you served at, the district, the date, and all. I
have a friend, Bachmatoff, whose uncle is a councillor of state
and has to do with these matters, one Peter Matveyevitch

"'Peter Matveyevitch Bachmatoff!' he cried, trembling all over
with excitement. 'Why, nearly everything depends on that very

"It is very curious, this story of the medical man, and my visit,
and the happy termination to which I contributed by accident!
Everything fitted in, as in a novel. I told the poor people not
to put much hope in me, because I was but a poor schoolboy myself--
(I am not really, but I humiliated myself as much as possible in
order to make them less hopeful)--but that I would go at once
to the Vassili Ostroff and see my friend; and that as I knew
for certain that his uncle adored him, and was absolutely devoted
to him as the last hope and branch of the family, perhaps the old
man might do something to oblige his nephew.

"'If only they would allow me to explain all to his excellency!
If I could but be permitted to tell my tale to him!" he cried,
trembling with feverish agitation, and his eyes flashing with
excitement. I repeated once more that I could not hold out much
hope--that it would probably end in smoke, and if I did not turn
up next morning they must make up their minds that there was no
more to be done in the matter.

"They showed me out with bows and every kind of respect; they
seemed quite beside themselves. I shall never forget the
expression of their faces!

"I took a droshky and drove over to the Vassili Ostroff at once.
For some years I had been at enmity with this young Bachmatoff,
at school. We considered him an aristocrat; at all events I
called him one. He used to dress smartly, and always drove to
school in a private trap. He was a good companion, and was always
merry and jolly, sometimes even witty, though he was not very
intellectual, in spite of the fact that he was always top of the
class; I myself was never top in anything! All his companions
were very fond of him, excepting myself. He had several times
during those years come up to me and tried to make friends; but I
had always turned sulkily away and refused to have anything to do
with him. I had not seen him for a whole year now; he was at the
university. When, at nine o'clock, or so, this evening, I arrived
and was shown up to him with great ceremony, he first received me
with astonishment, and not too affably, but he soon cheered up,
and suddenly gazed intently at me and burst out laughing.

"'Why, what on earth can have possessed you to come and see ME,
Terentieff?' he cried, with his usual pleasant, sometimes
audacious, but never offensive familiarity, which I liked in
reality, but for which I also detested him. 'Why what's the
matter?' he cried in alarm. 'Are you ill?'

"That confounded cough of mine had come on again; I fell into a
chair, and with difficulty recovered my breath. 'It's all right,
it's only consumption' I said. 'I have come to you with a

"He sat down in amazement, and I lost no time in telling him the
medical man's history; and explained that he, with the influence
which he possessed over his uncle, might do some good to the poor

"'I'll do it--I'll do it, of course!' he said. 'I shall attack my
uncle about it tomorrow morning, and I'm very glad you told me
the story. But how was it that you thought of coming to me about
it, Terentieff?'

"'So much depends upon your uncle,' I said. 'And besides we have
always been enemies, Bachmatoff; and as you are a generous sort
of fellow, I thought you would not refuse my request because I
was your enemy!' I added with irony.

"'Like Napoleon going to England, eh?' cried he, laughing. 'I'll
do it though--of course, and at once, if I can!' he added, seeing
that I rose seriously from my chair at this point.

"And sure enough the matter ended as satisfactorily as possible.
A month or so later my medical friend was appointed to another
post. He got his travelling expenses paid, and something to help
him to start life with once more. I think Bachmatoff must have
persuaded the doctor to accept a loan from himself. I saw
Bachmatoff two or three times, about this period, the third time
being when he gave a farewell dinner to the doctor and his wife
before their departure, a champagne dinner.

"Bachmatoff saw me home after the dinner and we crossed the
Nicolai bridge. We were both a little drunk. He told me of his
joy, the joyful feeling of having done a good action; he said
that it was all thanks to myself that he could feel this
satisfaction; and held forth about the foolishness of the theory
that individual charity is useless

"I, too, was burning to have my say!

"'In Moscow,' I said, 'there was an old state counsellor, a civil
general, who, all his life, had been in the habit of visiting the
prisons and speaking to criminals. Every party of convicts on its
way to Siberia knew beforehand that on the Vorobeef Hills the
"old general" would pay them a visit. He did all he undertook
seriously and devotedly. He would walk down the rows of the
unfortunate prisoners, stop before each individual and ask after
his needs--he never sermonized them; he spoke kindly to them--he gave
them money; he brought them all sorts of necessaries for the
journey, and gave them devotional books, choosing those who could
read, under the firm conviction that they would read to those who
could not, as they went along.

"'He scarcely ever talked about the particular crimes of any of
them, but listened if any volunteered information on that point.
All the convicts were equal for him, and he made no distinction.
He spoke to all as to brothers, and every one of them looked upon
him as a father. When he observed among the exiles some poor
woman with a child, he would always come forward and fondle the
little one, and make it laugh. He continued these acts of mercy
up to his very death; and by that time all the criminals, all
over Russia and Siberia, knew him!

"'A man I knew who had been to Siberia and returned, told me that
he himself had been a witness of how the very most hardened
criminals remembered the old general, though, in point of fact,
he could never, of course, have distributed more than a few pence
to each member of a party. Their recollection of him was not
sentimental or particularly devoted. Some wretch, for instance,
who had been a murderer--cutting the throat of a dozen fellow-
creatures, for instance; or stabbing six little children for his
own amusement (there have been such men!)--would perhaps, without
rhyme or reason, suddenly give a sigh and say, "I wonder whether
that old general is alive still!" Although perhaps he had not
thought of mentioning him for a dozen years before! How can one
say what seed of good may have been dropped into his soul, never
to die?'

"I continued in that strain for a long while, pointing out to
Bachmatoff how impossible it is to follow up the effects of any
isolated good deed one may do, in all its influences and subtle
workings upon the heart and after-actions of others.

"'And to think that you are to be cut off from life!' remarked
Bachmatoff, in a tone of reproach, as though he would like to
find someone to pitch into on my account.

"We were leaning over the balustrade of the bridge, looking into
the Neva at this moment.

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

"'Surely not to throw yourself into the river?' cried Bachmatoff
in alarm. Perhaps he read my thought in my face.

"'No, not yet. At present nothing but the following
consideration. You see I have some two or three months left me to
live--perhaps four; well, supposing that when I have but a month
or two more, I take a fancy for some "good deed" that needs both
trouble and time, like this business of our doctor friend, for
instance: why, I shall have to give up the idea of it and take to
something else--some LITTLE good deed, MORE WITHIN MY MEANS, eh?
Isn't that an amusing idea!'

"Poor Bachmatoff was much impressed--painfully so. He took me all
the way home; not attempting to console me, but behaving with the
greatest delicacy. On taking leave he pressed my hand warmly and
asked permission to come and see me. I replied that if he came to
me as a 'comforter,' so to speak (for he would be in that
capacity whether he spoke to me in a soothing manner or only kept
silence, as I pointed out to him), he would but remind me each
time of my approaching death! He shrugged his shoulders, but
quite agreed with me; and we parted better friends than I had

"But that evening and that night were sown the first seeds of my
'last conviction.' I seized greedily on my new idea; I thirstily
drank in all its different aspects (I did not sleep a wink that
night!), and the deeper I went into it the more my being seemed
to merge itself in it, and the more alarmed I became. A dreadful
terror came over me at last, and did not leave me all next day.

"Sometimes, thinking over this, I became quite numb with the
terror of it; and I might well have deduced from this fact, that
my 'last conviction' was eating into my being too fast and too
seriously, and would undoubtedly come to its climax before long.
And for the climax I needed greater determination than I yet

"However, within three weeks my determination was taken, owing to
a very strange circumstance.

"Here on my paper, I make a note of all the figures and dates
that come into my explanation. Of course, it is all the same to
me, but just now--and perhaps only at this moment--I desire that
all those who are to judge of my action should see clearly out of
how logical a sequence of deductions has at length proceeded my
'last conviction.'

"I have said above that the determination needed by me for the
accomplishment of my final resolve, came to hand not through any
sequence of causes, but thanks to a certain strange circumstance
which had perhaps no connection whatever with the matter at
issue. Ten days ago Rogojin called upon me about certain business
of his own with which I have nothing to do at present. I had
never seen Rogojin before, but had often heard about him.

"I gave him all the information he needed, and he very soon took
his departure; so that, since he only came for the purpose of
gaining the information, the matter might have been expected to
end there.

"But he interested me too much, and all that day I was under the
influence of strange thoughts connected with him, and I
determined to return his visit the next day.

"Rogojin was evidently by no means pleased to see me, and hinted,
delicately, that he saw no reason why our acquaintance should
continue. For all that, however, I spent a very interesting hour,
and so, I dare say, did he. There was so great a contrast between
us that I am sure we must both have felt it; anyhow, I felt it
acutely. Here was I, with my days numbered, and he, a man in the
full vigour of life, living in the present, without the slightest
thought for 'final convictions,' or numbers, or days, or, in
fact, for anything but that which-which--well, which he was mad
about, if he will excuse me the expression--as a feeble author who
cannot express his ideas properly.

"In spite of his lack of amiability, I could not help seeing, in
Rogojin a man of intellect and sense; and although, perhaps,
there was little in the outside world which was of. interest to
him, still he was clearly a man with eyes to see.

"I hinted nothing to him about my 'final conviction,' but it
appeared to me that he had guessed it from my words. He remained
silent--he is a terribly silent man. I remarked to him, as I rose
to depart, that, in spite of the contrast and the wide
differences between us two, les extremites se touchent ('extremes
meet,' as I explained to him in Russian); so that maybe he was
not so far from my final conviction as appeared.

"His only reply to this was a sour grimace. He rose and looked
for my cap, and placed it in my hand, and led me out of the
house--that dreadful gloomy house of his--to all appearances, of
course, as though I were leaving of my own accord, and he were
simply seeing me to the door out of politeness. His house
impressed me much; it is like a burial-ground, he seems to like
it, which is, however, quite natural. Such a full life as he
leads is so overflowing with absorbing interests that he has
little need of assistance from his surroundings.

"The visit to Rogojin exhausted me terribly. Besides, I had felt
ill since the morning; and by evening I was so weak that I took
to my bed, and was in high fever at intervals, and even
delirious. Colia sat with me until eleven o'clock.

"Yet I remember all he talked about, and every word we said,
though whenever my eyes closed for a moment I could picture
nothing but the image of Surikoff just in the act of finding a
million roubles. He could not make up his mind what to do with
the money, and tore his hair over it. He trembled with fear that
somebody would rob him, and at last he decided to bury it in the
ground. I persuaded him that, instead of putting it all away
uselessly underground, he had better melt it down and make a
golden coffin out of it for his starved child, and then dig up
the little one and put her into the golden coffin. Surikoff
accepted this suggestion, I thought, with tears of gratitude, and
immediately commenced to carry out my design.

"I thought I spat on the ground and left him in disgust. Colia
told me, when I quite recovered my senses, that I had not been
asleep for a moment, but that I had spoken to him about Surikoff
the whole while.

"At moments I was in a state of dreadful weakness and misery, so
that Colia was greatly disturbed when he left me.

"When I arose to lock the door after him, I suddenly called to
mind a picture I had noticed at Rogojin's in one of his gloomiest
rooms, over the door. He had pointed it out to me himself as we
walked past it, and I believe I must have stood a good five
minutes in front of it. There was nothing artistic about it, but
the picture made me feel strangely uncomfortable. It represented
Christ just taken down from the cross. It seems to me that
painters as a rule represent the Saviour, both on the cross and
taken down from it, with great beauty still upon His face. This
marvellous beauty they strive to preserve even in His moments of
deepest agony and passion. But there was no such beauty in
Rogojin's picture. This was the presentment of a poor mangled
body which had evidently suffered unbearable anguish even before
its crucifixion, full of wounds and bruises, marks of the
violence of soldiers and people, and of the bitterness of the
moment when He had fallen with the cross--all this combined with
the anguish of the actual crucifixion.

"The face was depicted as though still suffering; as though the
body, only just dead, was still almost quivering with agony. The
picture was one of pure nature, for the face was not beautified
by the artist, but was left as it would naturally be, whosoever
the sufferer, after such anguish.

"I know that the earliest Christian faith taught that the Saviour
suffered actually and not figuratively, and that nature was
allowed her own way even while His body was on the cross.

"It is strange to look on this dreadful picture of the mangled
corpse of the Saviour, and to put this question to oneself:
'Supposing that the disciples, the future apostles, the women who
had followed Him and stood by the cross, all of whom believed in
and worshipped Him--supposing that they saw this tortured body,
this face so mangled and bleeding and bruised (and they MUST have
so seen it)--how could they have gazed upon the dreadful sight
and yet have believed that He would rise again?'

"The thought steps in, whether one likes it or no, that death is
so terrible and so powerful, that even He who conquered it in His
miracles during life was unable to triumph over it at the last.
He who called to Lazarus, 'Lazarus, come forth!' and the dead
man lived--He was now Himself a prey to nature and death. Nature
appears to one, looking at this picture, as some huge,
implacable, dumb monster; or still better--a stranger simile--some
enormous mechanical engine of modern days which has seized and
crushed and swallowed up a great and invaluable Being, a Being
worth nature and all her laws, worth the whole earth, which was
perhaps created merely for the sake of the advent of that Being.

"This blind, dumb, implacable, eternal, unreasoning force is well
shown in the picture, and the absolute subordination of all men
and things to it is so well expressed that the idea unconsciously
arises in the mind of anyone who looks at it. All those faithful
people who were gazing at the cross and its mutilated occupant
must have suffered agony of mind that evening; for they must have
felt that all their hopes and almost all their faith had been
shattered at a blow. They must have separated in terror and dread that
night, though each perhaps carried away with him one great
thought which was never eradicated from his mind for ever
afterwards. If this great Teacher of theirs could have seen
Himself after the Crucifixion, how could He have consented to
mount the Cross and to die as He did? This thought also comes
into the mind of the man who gazes at this picture. I thought of
all this by snatches probably between my attacks of delirium--for
an hour and a half or so before Colia's departure.

"Can there be an appearance of that which has no form? And yet it
seemed to me, at certain moments, that I beheld in some strange
and impossible form, that dark, dumb, irresistibly powerful,
eternal force.

"I thought someone led me by the hand and showed me, by the light
of a candle, a huge, loathsome insect, which he assured me was
that very force, that very almighty, dumb, irresistible Power,
and laughed at the indignation with which I received this
information. In my room they always light the little lamp before
my icon for the night; it gives a feeble flicker of light, but it
is strong enough to see by dimly, and if you sit just under it
you can even read by it. I think it was about twelve or a little
past that night. I had not slept a wink, and was lying with my
eyes wide open, when suddenly the door opened, and in came

"He entered, and shut the door behind him. Then he silently gazed
at me and went quickly to the corner of the room where the lamp
was burning and sat down underneath it.

"I was much surprised, and looked at him expectantly.

"Rogojin only leaned his elbow on the table and silently stared
at me. So passed two or three minutes, and I recollect that his
silence hurt and offended me very much. Why did he not speak?

"That his arrival at this time of night struck me as more or less
strange may possibly be the case; but I remember I was by no
means amazed at it. On the contrary, though I had not actually
told him my thought in the morning, yet I know he understood it;
and this thought was of such a character that it would not be
anything very remarkable, if one were to come for further talk
about it at any hour of night, however late.

"I thought he must have come for this purpose.

"In the morning we had parted not the best of friends; I remember
he looked at me with disagreeable sarcasm once or twice; and this
same look I observed in his eyes now--which was the cause of the
annoyance I felt.

"I did not for a moment suspect that I was delirious and that
this Rogojin was but the result of fever and excitement. I had
not the slightest idea of such a theory at first.

"Meanwhile he continued to sit and stare jeeringly at me.

"I angrily turned round in bed and made up my mind that I would
not say a word unless he did; so I rested silently on my pillow
determined to remain dumb, if it were to last till morning. I
felt resolved that he should speak first. Probably twenty minutes
or so passed in this way. Suddenly the idea struck me--what if
this is an apparition and not Rogojin himself?

"Neither during my illness nor at any previous time had I ever
seen an apparition;--but I had always thought, both when I was a
little boy, and even now, that if I were to see one I should die
on the spot--though I don't believe in ghosts. And yet NOW, when
the idea struck me that this was a ghost and not Rogojin at all,
I was not in the least alarmed. Nay--the thought actually
irritated me. Strangely enough, the decision of the question as
to whether this were a ghost or Rogojin did not, for some reason
or other, interest me nearly so much as it ought to have done;--I
think I began to muse about something altogether different. For
instance, I began to wonder why Rogojin, who had been in
dressing--gown and slippers when I saw him at home, had now put on
a dress-coat and white waistcoat and tie? I also thought to
myself, I remember--'if this is a ghost, and I am not afraid of
it, why don't I approach it and verify my suspicions? Perhaps I
am afraid--' And no sooner did this last idea enter my head than
an icy blast blew over me; I felt a chill down my backbone and my
knees shook.

"At this very moment, as though divining my thoughts, Rogojin
raised his head from his arm and began to part his lips as though
he were going to laugh--but he continued to stare at me as
persistently as before.

"I felt so furious with him at this moment that I longed to rush
at him; but as I had sworn that he should speak first, I
continued to lie still--and the more willingly, as I was still by
no means satisfied as to whether it really was Rogojin or not.

"I cannot remember how long this lasted; I cannot recollect,
either, whether consciousness forsook me at intervals, or not.
But at last Rogojin rose, staring at me as intently as ever, but
not smiling any longer,--and walking very softly, almost on tip-
toes, to the door, he opened it, went out, and shut it behind

"I did not rise from my bed, and I don't know how long I lay with
my eyes open, thinking. I don't know what I thought about, nor
how I fell asleep or became insensible; but I awoke next morning
after nine o'clock when they knocked at my door. My general
orders are that if I don't open the door and call, by nine
o'clock, Matreona is to come and bring my tea. When I now opened
the door to her, the thought suddenly struck me--how could he have
come in, since the door was locked? I made inquiries and found
that Rogojin himself could not possibly have come in, because all
our doors were locked for the night.

"Well, this strange circumstance--which I have described with so
much detail--was the ultimate cause which led me to taking my
final determination. So that no logic, or logical deductions, had
anything to do with my resolve;--it was simply a matter of

"It was impossible for me to go on living when life was full of
such detestable, strange, tormenting forms. This ghost had
humiliated me;--nor could I bear to be subordinate to that dark,
horrible force which was embodied in the form of the loathsome
insect. It was only towards evening, when I had quite made up my
mind on this point, that I began to feel easier.


"I HAD a small pocket pistol. I had procured it while still a
boy, at that droll age when the stories of duels and highwaymen
begin to delight one, and when one imagines oneself nobly
standing fire at some future day, in a duel.

"There were a couple of old bullets in the bag which contained
the pistol, and powder enough in an old flask for two or three

"The pistol was a wretched thing, very crooked and wouldn't carry
farther than fifteen paces at the most. However, it would send
your skull flying well enough if you pressed the muzzle of it
against your temple.

"I determined to die at Pavlofsk at sunrise, in the park--so as
to make no commotion in the house.

"This 'explanation' will make the matter clear enough to the
police. Students of psychology, and anyone else who likes, may
make what they please of it. I should not like this paper,
however, to be made public. I request the prince to keep a copy
himself, and to give a copy to Aglaya Ivanovna Epanchin. This is
my last will and testament. As for my skeleton, I bequeath it to
the Medical Academy for the benefit of science.

"I recognize no jurisdiction over myself, and I know that I am
now beyond the power of laws and judges.

"A little while ago a very amusing idea struck me. What if I were
now to commit some terrible crime--murder ten fellow-creatures,
for instance, or anything else that is thought most shocking and
dreadful in this world--what a dilemma my judges would be in,
with a criminal who only has a fortnight to live in any case, now
that the rack and other forms of torture are abolished! Why, I
should die comfortably in their own hospital--in a warm, clean
room, with an attentive doctor--probably much more comfortably
than I should at home.

"I don't understand why people in my position do not oftener
indulge in such ideas--if only for a joke! Perhaps they do! Who
knows! There are plenty of merry souls among us!

"But though I do not recognize any jurisdiction over myself,
still I know that I shall be judged, when I am nothing but a
voiceless lump of clay; therefore I do not wish to go before I
have left a word of reply--the reply of a free man--not one
forced to justify himself--oh no! I have no need to ask
forgiveness of anyone. I wish to say a word merely because I
happen to desire it of my own free will.

"Here, in the first place, comes a strange thought!

"Who, in the name of what Law, would think of disputing my full
personal right over the fortnight of life left to me? What
jurisdiction can be brought to bear upon the case? Who would wish
me, not only to be sentenced, but to endure the sentence to the
end? Surely there exists no man who would wish such a thing--why
should anyone desire it? For the sake of morality? Well, I can
understand that if I were to make an attempt upon my own life
while in the enjoyment of full health and vigour--my life which
might have been 'useful,' etc., etc.--morality might reproach me,
according to the old routine, for disposing of my life without
permission--or whatever its tenet may be. But now, NOW, when my
sentence is out and my days numbered! How can morality have need
of my last breaths, and why should I die listening to the
consolations offered by the prince, who, without doubt, would not
omit to demonstrate that death is actually a benefactor to me?
(Christians like him always end up with that--it is their pet
theory.) And what do they want with their ridiculous 'Pavlofsk
trees'? To sweeten my last hours? Cannot they understand that the
more I forget myself, the more I let myself become attached to
these last illusions of life and love, by means of which they try
to hide from me Meyer's wall, and all that is so plainly written
on it--the more unhappy they make me? What is the use of all your
nature to me--all your parks and trees, your sunsets and
sunrises, your blue skies and your self-satisfied faces--when all
this wealth of beauty and happiness begins with the fact that it
accounts me--only me--one too many! What is the good of all this
beauty and glory to me, when every second, every moment, I cannot
but be aware that this little fly which buzzes around my head in
the sun's rays--even this little fly is a sharer and participator
in all the glory of the universe, and knows its place and is
happy in it;--while I--only I, am an outcast, and have been blind
to the fact hitherto, thanks to my simplicity! Oh! I know well
how the prince and others would like me, instead of indulging in
all these wicked words of my own, to sing, to the glory and
triumph of morality, that well-known verse of Gilbert's:

"'0, puissent voir longtemps votre beaute sacree
Tant d'amis, sourds a mes adieux!
Qu'ils meurent pleins de jours, que leur mort soit pleuree,
Qu'un ami leur ferme les yeux!'

"But believe me, believe me, my simple-hearted friends, that in
this highly moral verse, in this academical blessing to the world
in general in the French language, is hidden the intensest gall
and bitterness; but so well concealed is the venom, that I dare
say the poet actually persuaded himself that his words were full
of the tears of pardon and peace, instead of the bitterness of
disappointment and malice, and so died in the delusion.

"Do you know there is a limit of ignominy, beyond which man's
consciousness of shame cannot go, and after which begins
satisfaction in shame? Well, of course humility is a great force
in that sense, I admit that--though not in the sense in which
religion accounts humility to be strength!

"Religion!--I admit eternal life--and perhaps I always did admit

"Admitted that consciousness is called into existence by the will
of a Higher Power; admitted that this consciousness looks out
upon the world and says 'I am;' and admitted that the Higher
Power wills that the consciousness so called into existence, be
suddenly extinguished (for so--for some unexplained reason--it is
and must be)--still there comes the eternal question--why must I
be humble through all this? Is it not enough that I am devoured,
without my being expected to bless the power that devours me?
Surely--surely I need not suppose that Somebody--there--will be
offended because I do not wish to live out the fortnight allowed
me? I don't believe it.

"It is much simpler, and far more likely, to believe that my
death is needed--the death of an insignificant atom--in order to
fulfil the general harmony of the universe--in order to make even
some plus or minus in the sum of existence. Just as every day the
death of numbers of beings is necessary because without their
annihilation the rest cannot live on--(although we must admit
that the idea is not a particularly grand one in itself!)

"However--admit the fact! Admit that without such perpetual
devouring of one another the world cannot continue to exist, or
could never have been organized--I am ever ready to confess that
I cannot understand why this is so--but I'll tell you what I DO
know, for certain. If I have once been given to understand and
realize that I AM--what does it matter to me that the world is
organized on a system full of errors and that otherwise it cannot
be organized at all? Who will or can judge me after this? Say
what you like--the thing is impossible and unjust!

"And meanwhile I have never been able, in spite of my great
desire to do so, to persuade myself that there is no future
existence, and no Providence.

"The fact of the matter is that all this DOES exist, but that we
know absolutely nothing about the future life and its laws!

"But it is so difficult, and even impossible to understand, that
surely I am not to be blamed because I could not fathom the

"Of course I know they say that one must be obedient, and of
course, too, the prince is one of those who say so: that one must
be obedient without questions, out of pure goodness of heart, and
that for my worthy conduct in this matter I shall meet with
reward in another world. We degrade God when we attribute our own
ideas to Him, out of annoyance that we cannot fathom His ways.

"Again, I repeat, I cannot be blamed because I am unable to
understand that which it is not given to mankind to fathom. Why
am I to be judged because I could not comprehend the Will and
Laws of Providence? No, we had better drop religion.

"And enough of this. By the time I have got so far in the reading
of my document the sun will be up and the huge force of his rays
will be acting upon the living world. So be it. I shall die
gazing straight at the great Fountain of life and power; I do not
want this life!

"If I had had the power to prevent my own birth I should
certainly never have consented to accept existence under such
ridiculous conditions. However, I have the power to end my
existence, although I do but give back days that are already
numbered. It is an insignificant gift, and my revolt is equally

"Final explanation: I die, not in the least because I am unable
to support these next three weeks. Oh no, I should find strength
enough, and if I wished it I could obtain consolation from the
thought of the injury that is done me. But I am not a French
poet, and I do not desire such consolation. And finally, nature
has so limited my capacity for work or activity of any kind, in
allotting me but three weeks of time, that suicide is about the
only thing left that I can begin and end in the time of my own
free will.

"Perhaps then I am anxious to take advantage of my last chance of
doing something for myself. A protest is sometimes no small

The explanation was finished; Hippolyte paused at last.

There is, in extreme cases, a final stage of cynical candour when
a nervous man, excited, and beside himself with emotion, will be
afraid of nothing and ready for any sort of scandal, nay, glad of
it. The extraordinary, almost unnatural, tension of the nerves
which upheld Hippolyte up to this point, had now arrived at this
final stage. This poor feeble boy of eighteen--exhausted by
disease--looked for all the world as weak and frail as a leaflet
torn from its parent tree and trembling in the breeze; but no
sooner had his eye swept over his audience, for the first time
during the whole of the last hour, than the most contemptuous,
the most haughty expression of repugnance lighted up his face. He
defied them all, as it were. But his hearers were indignant, too;
they rose to their feet with annoyance. Fatigue, the wine
consumed, the strain of listening so long, all added to the
disagreeable impression which the reading had made upon them.

Suddenly Hippolyte jumped up as though he had been shot.

"The sun is rising," he cried, seeing the gilded tops of the
trees, and pointing to them as to a miracle. "See, it is rising

"Well, what then? Did you suppose it wasn't going to rise?" asked

"It's going to be atrociously hot again all day," said Gania,
with an air of annoyance, taking his hat. "A month of this... Are
you coming home, Ptitsin?" Hippolyte listened to this in
amazement, almost amounting to stupefaction. Suddenly he became
deadly pale and shuddered.

"You manage your composure too awkwardly. I see you wish to
insult me," he cried to Gania. "You--you are a cur!" He looked at
Gania with an expression of malice.

"What on earth is the matter with the boy? What phenomenal
feeble-mindedness!" exclaimed Ferdishenko.

"Oh, he's simply a fool," said Gania.

Hippolyte braced himself up a little.

"I understand, gentlemen," he began, trembling as before, and
stumbling over every word," that I have deserved your resentment,
and--and am sorry that I should have troubled you with this
raving nonsense" (pointing to his article),"or rather, I am sorry
that I have not troubled you enough." He smiled feebly. "Have I
troubled you, Evgenie Pavlovitch?" He suddenly turned on Evgenie
with this question. "Tell me now, have I troubled you or not?"

"Well, it was a little drawn out, perhaps; but--"

"Come, speak out! Don't lie, for once in your life--speak out!"
continued Hippolyte, quivering with agitation.

"Oh, my good sir, I assure you it's entirely the same to me.
Please leave me in peace," said Evgenie, angrily, turning his
back on him.

"Good-night, prince," said Ptitsin, approaching his host.

"What are you thinking of? Don't go, he'll blow his brains out in
a minute!" cried Vera Lebedeff, rushing up to Hippolyte and
catching hold of his hands in a torment of alarm. "What are you
thinking of? He said he would blow his brains out at sunrise."

"Oh, he won't shoot himself!" cried several voices,

"Gentlemen, you'd better look out," cried Colia, also seizing
Hippolyte by the hand. "Just look at him! Prince, what are you
thinking of?" Vera and Colia, and Keller, and Burdovsky were all
crowding round Hippolyte now and holding him down.

"He has the right--the right--"-murmured Burdovsky. "Excuse me,
prince, but what are your arrangements?" asked Lebedeff, tipsy
and exasperated, going up to Muishkin.

"What do you mean by 'arrangements'?"

"No, no, excuse me! I'm master of this house, though I do not
wish to lack respect towards you. You are master of the house
too, in a way; but I can't allow this sort of thing--"

"He won't shoot himself; the boy is only playing the fool," said
General Ivolgin, suddenly and unexpectedly, with indignation.

"I know he won't, I know he won't, general; but I--I'm master

"Listen, Mr. Terentieff," said Ptitsin, who had bidden the prince
good-night, and was now holding out his hand to Hippolyte; "I
think you remark in that manuscript of yours, that you bequeath
your skeleton to the Academy. Are you referring to your own
skeleton--I mean, your very bones?"

"Yes, my bones, I--"

"Quite so, I see; because, you know, little mistakes have
occurred now and then. There was a case--"

Why do you tease him?" cried the prince, suddenly.

"You've moved him to tears," added Ferdishenko. But Hippolyte was
by no means weeping. He was about to move from his place, when
his four guards rushed at him and seized him once more. There was
a laugh at this.

"He led up to this on purpose. He took the trouble of writing all
that so that people should come and grab him by the arm,"
observed Rogojin. "Good-night, prince. What a time we've sat
here, my very bones ache!"

"If you really intended to shoot yourself, Terentieff," said
Evgenie Pavlovitch, laughing, "if I were you, after all these
compliments, I should just not shoot myself in order to vex them

"They are very anxious to see me blow my brains out," said
Hippolyte, bitterly.

"Yes, they'll be awfully annoyed if they don't see it."

"Then you think they won't see it?"

"I am not trying to egg you on. On the contrary, I think it very
likely that you may shoot yourself; but the principal thing is to
keep cool," said Evgenie with a drawl, and with great

"I only now perceive what a terrible mistake I made in reading
this article to them," said Hippolyte, suddenly, addressing
Evgenie, and looking at him with an expression of trust and
confidence, as though he were applying to a friend for counsel.

"Yes, it's a droll situation; I really don't know what advice to
give you," replied Evgenie, laughing. Hippolyte gazed steadfastly
at him, but said nothing. To look at him one might have supposed
that he was unconscious at intervals.

"Excuse me," said Lebedeff, "but did you observe the young
gentleman's style? 'I'll go and blow my brains out in the park,'
says he,' so as not to disturb anyone.' He thinks he won't
disturb anybody if he goes three yards away, into the park, and
blows his brains out there."

"Gentlemen--" began the prince.

"No, no, excuse me, most revered prince," Lebedeff interrupted,
excitedly. "Since you must have observed yourself that this is no
joke, and since at least half your guests must also have
concluded that after all that has been said this youth MUST blow
his brains out for honour's sake--I--as master of this house, and
before these witnesses, now call upon you to take steps."

"Yes, but what am I to do, Lebedeff? What steps am I to take? I
am ready."

"I'll tell you. In the first place he must immediately deliver up
the pistol which he boasted of, with all its appurtenances. If he
does this I shall consent to his being allowed to spend the night
in this house--considering his feeble state of health, and of
course conditionally upon his being under proper supervision. But
tomorrow he must go elsewhere. Excuse me, prince! Should he
refuse to deliver up his weapon, then I shall instantly seize one
of his arms and General Ivolgin the other, and we shall hold him
until the police arrive and take the matter into their own hands.
Mr. Ferdishenko will kindly fetch them."

At this there was a dreadful noise; Lebedeff danced about in his
excitement; Ferdishenko prepared to go for the police; Gania
frantically insisted that it was all nonsense, "for nobody was
going to shoot themselves." Evgenie Pavlovitch said nothing.

"Prince," whispered Hippolyte, suddenly, his eyes all ablaze,
"you don't suppose that I did not foresee all this hatred?" He
looked at the prince as though he expected him to reply, for a
moment. "Enough!" he added at length, and addressing the whole
company, he cried: "It's all my fault, gentlemen! Lebedeff,
here's the key," (he took out a small bunch of keys); "this one,
the last but one--Colia will show you--Colia, where's Colia?" he
cried, looking straight at Colia and not seeing him. "Yes, he'll
show you; he packed the bag with me this morning. Take him up,
Colia; my bag is upstairs in the prince's study, under the table.
Here's the key, and in the little case you'll find my pistol and
the powder, and all. Colia packed it himself, Mr. Lebedeff; he'll
show you; but it's on condition that tomorrow morning, when I
leave for Petersburg, you will give me back my pistol, do you
hear? I do this for the prince's sake, not yours."

"Capital, that's much better!" cried Lebedeff, and seizing the
key he made off in haste.

Colia stopped a moment as though he wished to say something; but
Lebedeff dragged him away.

Hippolyte looked around at the laughing guests. The prince
observed that his teeth were chattering as though in a violent
attack of ague.

"What brutes they all are!" he whispered to the prince. Whenever
he addressed him he lowered his voice.

"Let them alone, you're too weak now--"

Yes, directly; I'll go away directly. I'll--"

Suddenly he embraced Muishkin.

"Perhaps you think I am mad, eh?" he asked him, laughing very

"No, but you--"

"Directly, directly! Stand still a moment, I wish to look in your
eyes; don't speak--stand so--let me look at you! I am bidding
farewell to mankind."

He stood so for ten seconds, gazing at the prince, motionless,
deadly pale, his temples wet with perspiration; he held the
prince's hand in a strange grip, as though afraid to let him go.

"Hippolyte, Hippolyte, what is the matter with you?" cried

"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!"

He seized a glass from the table, broke away from the prince, and
in a moment had reached the terrace steps.

The prince made after him, but it so happened that at this moment
Evgenie Pavlovitch stretched out his hand to say good-night. The
next instant there was a general outcry, and then followed a few
moments of indescribable excitement.

Reaching the steps, Hippolyte had paused, holding the glass in
his left hand while he put his right hand into his coat pocket.

Keller insisted afterwards that he had held his right hand in his
pocket all the while, when he was speaking to the prince, and
that he had held the latter's shoulder with his left hand only.
This circumstance, Keller affirmed, had led him to feel some
suspicion from the first. However this may be, Keller ran after
Hippolyte, but he was too late.

He caught sight of something flashing in Hippolyte's right hand,
and saw that it was a pistol. He rushed at him, but at that very
instant Hippolyte raised the pistol to his temple and pulled the
trigger. There followed a sharp metallic click, but no report.

When Keller seized the would-be suicide, the latter fell forward
into his arms, probably actually believing that he was shot.
Keller had hold of the pistol now. Hippolyte was immediately
placed in a chair, while the whole company thronged around
excitedly, talking and asking each other questions. Every one of
them had heard the snap of the trigger, and yet they saw a live
and apparently unharmed man before them.

Hippolyte himself sat quite unconscious of what was going on, and
gazed around with a senseless expression.

Lebedeff and Colia came rushing up at this moment.

"What is it?" someone asked, breathlessly--"A misfire?"

"Perhaps it wasn't loaded," said several voices.

"It's loaded all right," said Keller, examining the pistol, "but--"

"What! did it miss fire?"

"There was no cap in it," Keller announced.

It would be difficult to describe the pitiable scene that now
followed. The first sensation of alarm soon gave place to
amusement; some burst out laughing loud and heartily, and seemed
to find a malicious satisfaction in the joke. Poor Hippolyte
sobbed hysterically; he wrung his hands; he approached everyone
in turn--even Ferdishenko--and took them by both hands, and swore
solemnly that he had forgotten--absolutely forgotten--
"accidentally, and not on purpose,"--to put a cap in--that he
"had ten of them, at least, in his pocket." He pulled them out
and showed them to everyone; he protested that he had not liked
to put one in beforehand for fear of an accidental explosion in
his pocket. That he had thought he would have lots of time to put
it in afterwards--when required--and, that, in the heat of the
moment, he had forgotten all about it. He threw himself upon the
prince, then on Evgenie Pavlovitch. He entreated Keller to give
him back the pistol, and he'd soon show them all that "his
honour--his honour,"--but he was "dishonoured, now, for ever!"

He fell senseless at last--and was carried into the prince's

Lebedeff, now quite sobered down, sent for a doctor; and he and
his daughter, with Burdovsky and General Ivolgin, remained by the
sick man's couch.

When he was carried away unconscious, Keller stood in the middle
of the room, and made the following declaration to the company in
general, in a loud tone of voice, with emphasis upon each word.

"Gentlemen, if any one of you casts any doubt again, before me,
upon Hippolyte's good faith, or hints that the cap was forgotten
intentionally, or suggests that this unhappy boy was acting a
part before us, I beg to announce that the person so speaking
shall account to me for his words."

No one replied.

The company departed very quickly, in a mass. Ptitsin, Gania, and
Rogojin went away together.

The prince was much astonished that Evgenie Pavlovitch changed
his mind, and took his departure without the conversation he had

"Why, you wished to have a talk with me when the others left?" he

"Quite so," said Evgenie, sitting down suddenly beside him, "but
I have changed my mind for the time being. I confess, I am too
disturbed, and so, I think, are you; and the matter as to which I
wished to consult you is too serious to tackle with one's mind
even a little disturbed; too serious both for myself and for you.
You see, prince, for once in my life I wish to perform an
absolutely honest action, that is, an action with no ulterior
motive; and I think I am hardly in a condition to talk of it just
at this moment, and--and--well, we'll discuss it another time.
Perhaps the matter may gain in clearness if we wait for two or
three days--just the two or three days which I must spend in

Here he rose again from his chair, so that it seemed strange that
he should have thought it worth while to sit down at all.

The prince thought, too, that he looked vexed and annoyed, and
not nearly so friendly towards himself as he had been earlier in
the night.

"I suppose you will go to the sufferer's bedside now?" he added.

"Yes, I am afraid..." began the prince.

"Oh, you needn't fear! He'll live another six weeks all right.
Very likely he will recover altogether; but I strongly advise you
to pack him off tomorrow."

"I think I may have offended him by saying nothing just now. I am
afraid he may suspect that I doubted his good faith,--about
shooting himself, you know. What do you think, Evgenie

"Not a bit of it! You are much too good to him; you shouldn't
care a hang about what he thinks. I have heard of such things
before, but never came across, till tonight, a man who would
actually shoot himself in order to gain a vulgar notoriety, or
blow out his brains for spite, if he finds that people don't care
to pat him on the back for his sanguinary intentions. But what
astonishes me more than anything is the fellow's candid
confession of weakness. You'd better get rid of him tomorrow, in
any case.

"Do you think he will make another attempt?"

"Oh no, not he, not now! But you have to be very careful with
this sort of gentleman. Crime is too often the last resource of
these petty nonentities. This young fellow is quite capable of
cutting the throats of ten people, simply for a lark, as he told
us in his 'explanation.' I assure you those confounded words of
his will not let me sleep."

"I think you disturb yourself too much."

"What an extraordinary person you are, prince! Do you mean to say
that you doubt the fact that he is capable of murdering ten men?"

"I daren't say, one way or the other; all this is very strange--

"Well, as you like, just as you like," said Evgenie Pavlovitch,
irritably. "Only you are such a plucky fellow, take care you
don't get included among the ten victims!"

"Oh, he is much more likely not to kill anyone at all," said the
prince, gazing thoughtfully at Evgenie. The latter laughed

"Well, au revoir! Did you observe that he 'willed' a copy of his
confession to Aglaya Ivanovna?"

"Yes, I did; I am thinking of it."

"In connection with 'the ten,' eh?" laughed Evgenie, as he left
the room.

An hour later, towards four o'clock, the prince went into the
park. He had endeavoured to fall asleep, but could not, owing to
the painful beating of his heart.

He had left things quiet and peaceful; the invalid was fast
asleep, and the doctor, who had been called in, had stated that
there was no special danger. Lebedeff, Colia, and Burdovsky were
lying down in the sick-room, ready to take it in turns to watch.
There was nothing to fear, therefore, at home.

But the prince's mental perturbation increased every moment. He
wandered about the park, looking absently around him, and paused
in astonishment when he suddenly found himself in the empty space
with the rows of chairs round it, near the Vauxhall. The look of
the place struck him as dreadful now: so he turned round and went
by the path which he had followed with the Epanchins on the way
to the band, until he reached the green bench which Aglaya had
pointed out for their rendezvous. He sat down on it and suddenly
burst into a loud fit of laughter, immediately followed by a
feeling of irritation. His disturbance of mind continued; he felt
that he must go away somewhere, anywhere.

Above his head some little bird sang out, of a sudden; he began
to peer about for it among the leaves. Suddenly the bird darted
out of the tree and away, and instantly he thought of the "fly
buzzing about in the sun's rays" that Hippolyte had talked of;
how that it knew its place and was a participator in the
universal life, while he alone was an "outcast." This picture had
impressed him at the time, and he meditated upon it now. An old,
forgotten memory awoke in his brain, and suddenly burst into
clearness and light. It was a recollection of Switzerland, during
the first year of his cure, the very first months. At that time
he had been pretty nearly an idiot still; he could not speak
properly, and had difficulty in understanding when others spoke
to him. He climbed the mountain-side, one sunny morning, and
wandered long and aimlessly with a certain thought in his brain,
which would not become clear. Above him was the blazing sky,
below, the lake; all around was the horizon, clear and infinite.
He looked out upon this, long and anxiously. He remembered how he
had stretched out his arms towards the beautiful, boundless blue
of the horizon, and wept, and wept. What had so tormented him was
the idea that he was a stranger to all this, that he was outside
this glorious festival.

What was this universe? What was this grand, eternal pageant to
which he had yearned from his childhood up, and in which he could
never take part? Every morning the same magnificent sun; every
morning the same rainbow in the waterfall; every evening the same
glow on the snow-mountains.

Every little fly that buzzed in the sun's rays was a singer in
the universal chorus, "knew its place, and was happy in it.
"Every blade of grass grew and was happy. Everything knew its
path and loved it, went forth with a song and returned with a
song; only he knew nothing, understood nothing, neither men nor
words, nor any of nature's voices; he was a stranger and an

Oh, he could not then speak these words, or express all he felt!
He had been tormented dumbly; but now it appeared to him that he
must have said these very words--even then--and that Hippolyte
must have taken his picture of the little fly from his tears and
words of that time.

He was sure of it, and his heart beat excitedly at the thought,
he knew not why.

He fell asleep on the bench; but his mental disquiet continued
through his slumbers.

Just before he dozed off, the idea of Hippolyte murdering ten men
flitted through his brain, and he smiled at the absurdity of such
a thought.

Around him all was quiet; only the flutter and whisper of the
leaves broke the silence, but broke it only to cause it to appear
yet more deep and still.

He dreamed many dreams as he sat there, and all were full of
disquiet, so that he shuddered every moment.

At length a woman seemed to approach him. He knew her, oh! he
knew her only too well. He could always name her and recognize her
anywhere; but, strange, she seemed to have quite a different face
from hers, as he had known it, and he felt a tormenting desire to
be able to say she was not the same woman. In the face before him
there was such dreadful remorse and horror that he thought she
must be a criminal, that she must have just committed some awful

Tears were trembling on her white cheek. She beckoned him, but
placed her finger on her lip as though to warn him that he must
follow her very quietly. His heart froze within him. He wouldn't,
he COULDN'T confess her to be a criminal, and yet he felt that
something dreadful would happen the next moment, something which
would blast his whole life.

She seemed to wish to show him something, not far off, in the

He rose from his seat in order to follow her, when a bright,
clear peal of laughter rang out by his side. He felt somebody's
hand suddenly in his own, seized it, pressed it hard, and awoke.
Before him stood Aglaya, laughing aloud.


SHE laughed, but she was rather angry too.

"He's asleep! You were asleep," she said, with contemptuous

"Is it really you?" muttered the prince, not quite himself as
yet, and recognizing her with a start of amazement. "Oh yes, of
course," he added, "this is our rendezvous. I fell asleep here."

"So I saw."

"Did no one awake me besides yourself? Was there no one else
here? I thought there was another woman."

"There was another woman here?"

At last he was wide awake.

"It was a dream, of course," he said, musingly. "Strange that I
should have a dream like that at such a moment. Sit down--"

He took her hand and seated her on the bench; then sat down
beside her and reflected.

Aglaya did not begin the conversation, but contented herself with
watching her companion intently.

He looked back at her, but at times it was clear that he did not
see her and was not thinking of her.

Aglaya began to flush up.

"Oh yes!" cried the prince, starting. "Hippolyte's suicide--"

"What? At your house?" she asked, but without much surprise. "He
was alive yesterday evening, wasn't he? How could you sleep here
after that?" she cried, growing suddenly animated.

"Oh, but he didn't kill himself; the pistol didn't go off."
Aglaya insisted on hearing the whole story. She hurried the
prince along, but interrupted him with all sorts of questions,
nearly all of which were irrelevant. Among other things, she
seemed greatly interested in every word that Evgenie Pavlovitch
had said, and made the prince repeat that part of the story over
and over again.

"Well, that'll do; we must be quick," she concluded, after
hearing all. "We have only an hour here, till eight; I must be
home by then without fail, so that they may not find out that I
came and sat here with you; but I've come on business. I have a
great deal to say to you. But you have bowled me over
considerably with your news. As to Hippolyte, I think his pistol
was bound not to go off; it was more consistent with the whole
affair. Are you sure he really wished to blow his brains out, and
that there was no humbug about the matter?"

"No humbug at all."

"Very likely. So he wrote that you were to bring me a copy of his
confession, did he? Why didn't you bring it?"

"Why, he didn't die! I'll ask him for it, if you like."

"Bring it by all means; you needn't ask him. He will be
delighted, you may be sure; for, in all probability, he shot at
himself simply in order that I might read his confession. Don't
laugh at what I say, please, Lef Nicolaievitch, because it may
very well be the case."

"I'm not laughing. I am convinced, myself, that that may have
been partly the reason.

"You are convinced? You don't really mean to say you think that
honestly?" asked Aglaya, extremely surprised.

She put her questions very quickly and talked fast, every now and
then forgetting what she had begun to say, and not finishing her
sentence. She seemed to be impatient to warn the prince about
something or other. She was in a state of unusual excitement, and
though she put on a brave and even defiant air, she seemed to be
rather alarmed. She was dressed very simply, but this suited her
well. She continually trembled and blushed, and she sat on the
very edge of the seat.

The fact that the prince confirmed her idea, about Hippolyte
shooting himself that she might read his confession, surprised
her greatly.

"Of course," added the prince, "he wished us all to applaud his
conduct--besides yourself."

"How do you mean--applaud?"

"Well--how am I to explain? He was very anxious that we should
all come around him, and say we were so sorry for him, and that
we loved him very much, and all that; and that we hoped he
wouldn't kill himself, but remain alive. Very likely he thought
more of you than the rest of us, because he mentioned you at such
a moment, though perhaps he did not know himself that he had you
in his mind's eye."

"I don't understand you. How could he have me in view, and not be
aware of it himself? And yet, I don't know--perhaps I do. Do you
know I have intended to poison myself at least thirty times--ever
since I was thirteen or so--and to write to my parents before I
did it? I used to think how nice it would be to lie in my coffin,
and have them all weeping over me and saying it was all their
fault for being so cruel, and all that--what are you smiling at?"
she added, knitting her brow. "What do YOU think of when you go
mooning about alone? I suppose you imagine yourself a field-
marshal, and think you have conquered Napoleon?"

"Well, I really have thought something of the sort now and then,
especially when just dozing off," laughed the prince. "Only it is
the Austrians whom I conquer--not Napoleon."

"I don't wish to joke with you, Lef Nicolaievitch. I shall see
Hippolyte myself. Tell him so. As for you, I think you are
behaving very badly, because it is not right to judge a man's
soul as you are judging Hippolyte's. You have no gentleness, but
only justice--so you are unjust."

The prince reflected.

"I think you are unfair towards me," he said. "There is nothing
wrong in the thoughts I ascribe to Hippolyte; they are only
natural. But of course I don't know for certain what he thought.
Perhaps he thought nothing, but simply longed to see human faces
once more, and to hear human praise and feel human affection. Who
knows? Only it all came out wrong, somehow. Some people have
luck, and everything comes out right with them; others have none,
and never a thing turns out fortunately."

"I suppose you have felt that in your own case," said Aglaya.

"Yes, I have," replied the prince, quite unsuspicious of any
irony in the remark.

"H'm--well, at all events, I shouldn't have fallen asleep here,
in your place. It wasn't nice of you, that. I suppose you fall
asleep wherever you sit down?"

"But I didn't sleep a wink all night. I walked and walked about,
and went to where the music was--"

"What music?"

"Where they played last night. Then I found this bench and sat
down, and thought and thought--and at last I fell fast asleep."

"Oh, is that it? That makes a difference, perhaps. What did you
go to the bandstand for?"

"I don't know; I---"

"Very well--afterwards. You are always interrupting me. What
woman was it you were dreaming about?"

"It was--about--you saw her--"

"Quite so; I understand. I understand quite well. You are very--
Well, how did she appear to you? What did she look like? No, I
don't want to know anything about her," said Aglaya, angrily;
"don't interrupt me--"

She paused a moment as though getting breath, or trying to master
her feeling of annoyance.

"Look here; this is what I called you here for. I wish to make
you a--to ask you to be my friend. What do you stare at me like
that for?" she added, almost angrily.

The prince certainly had darted a rather piercing look at her,
and now observed that she had begun to blush violently. At such
moments, the more Aglaya blushed, the angrier she grew with
herself; and this was clearly expressed in her eyes, which
flashed like fire. As a rule, she vented her wrath on her
unfortunate companion, be it who it might. She was very conscious
of her own shyness, and was not nearly so talkative as her
sisters for this reason--in fact, at times she was much too
quiet. When, therefore, she was bound to talk, especially at such
delicate moments as this, she invariably did so with an air of
haughty defiance. She always knew beforehand when she was going
to blush, long before the blush came.

"Perhaps you do not wish to accept my proposition?" she asked,
gazing haughtily at the prince.

"Oh yes, I do; but it is so unnecessary. I mean, I did not think
you need make such a proposition," said the prince, looking

"What did you suppose, then? Why did you think I invited you out
here? I suppose you think me a 'little fool,' as they all call me
at home?"

"I didn't know they called you a fool. I certainly don't think
you one."

"You don't think me one! Oh, dear me!--that's very clever of you;
you put it so neatly, too."

"In my opinion, you are far from a fool sometimes--in fact, you
are very intelligent. You said a very clever thing just now about
my being unjust because I had ONLY justice. I shall remember
that, and think about it."

Aglaya blushed with pleasure. All these changes in her expression
came about so naturally and so rapidly--they delighted the
prince; he watched her, and laughed.

"Listen," she began again; "I have long waited to tell you all
this, ever since the time when you sent me that letter--even
before that. Half of what I have to say you heard yesterday. I
consider you the most honest and upright of men--more honest and
upright than any other man; and if anybody says that your mind
is--is sometimes affected, you know--it is unfair. I always say
so and uphold it, because even if your surface mind be a little
affected (of course you will not feel angry with me for talking
so--I am speaking from a higher point of view) yet your real mind
is far better than all theirs put together. Such a mind as they
have never even DREAMED of; because really, there are TWO minds--
the kind that matters, and the kind that doesn't matter. Isn't it

"May be! may be so!" said the prince, faintly; his heart was
beating painfully.

"I knew you would not misunderstand me," she said, triumphantly.
"Prince S. and Evgenie Pavlovitch and Alexandra don't understand
anything about these two kinds of mind, but, just fancy, mamma

"You are very like Lizabetha Prokofievna."

"What! surely not?" said Aglaya.

"Yes, you are, indeed."

"Thank you; I am glad to be like mamma," she said, thoughtfully.
"You respect her very much, don't you?" she added, quite
unconscious of the naiveness of the question.

"VERY much; and I am so glad that you have realized the fact."

"I am very glad, too, because she is often laughed at by people.
But listen to the chief point. I have long thought over the
matter, and at last I have chosen you. I don't wish people to
laugh at me; I don't wish people to think me a 'little fool.' I
don't want to be chaffed. I felt all this of a sudden, and I
refused Evgenie Pavlovitch flatly, because I am not going to be
forever thrown at people's heads to be married. I want--I want--
well, I'll tell you, I wish to run away from home, and I have
chosen you to help me."

"Run away from home?" cried the prince.

"Yes--yes--yes! Run away from home!" she repeated, in a transport
of rage. "I won't, I won't be made to blush every minute by them
all! I don't want to blush before Prince S. or Evgenie
Pavlovitch, or anyone, and therefore I have chosen you. I shall
tell you everything, EVERYTHING, even the most important things
of all, whenever I like, and you are to hide nothing from me on
your side. I want to speak to at least one person, as I would to
myself. They have suddenly begun to say that I am waiting for
you, and in love with you. They began this before you arrived
here, and so I didn't show them the letter, and now they all say
it, every one of them. I want to be brave, and be afraid of
nobody. I don't want to go to their balls and things--I want to
do good. I have long desired to run away, for I have been kept
shut up for twenty years, and they are always trying to marry me
off. I wanted to run away when I was fourteen years old--I was a
little fool then, I know--but now I have worked it all out, and I
have waited for you to tell me about foreign countries. I have
never seen a single Gothic cathedral. I must go to Rome; I must
see all the museums; I must study in Paris. All this last year I
have been preparing and reading forbidden books. Alexandra and
Adelaida are allowed to read anything they like, but I mayn't. I
don't want to quarrel with my sisters, but I told my parents long
ago that I wish to change my social position. I have decided to
take up teaching, and I count on you because you said you loved
children. Can we go in for education together--if not at once,
then afterwards? We could do good together. I won't be a
general's daughter any more! Tell me, are you a very learned

"Oh no; not at all."

"Oh-h-h! I'm sorry for that. I thought you were. I wonder why I
always thought so--but at all events you'll help me, won't you?
Because I've chosen you, you know."

"Aglaya Ivanovna, it's absurd."

But I will, I WILL run away!" she cried--and her eyes flashed
again with anger--"and if you don't agree I shall go and marry
Gavrila Ardalionovitch! I won't be considered a horrible girl,
and accused of goodness knows what."

"Are you out of your mind?" cried the prince, almost starting
from his seat. "What do they accuse you of? Who accuses you?"

"At home, everybody, mother, my sisters, Prince S., even that
detestable Colia! If they don't say it, they think it. I told
them all so to their faces. I told mother and father and
everybody. Mamma was ill all the day after it, and next day
father and Alexandra told me that I didn't understand what
nonsense I was talking. I informed them that they little knew me--
I was not a small child--I understood every word in the language--
that I had read a couple of Paul de Kok's novels two years since
on purpose, so as to know all about everything. No sooner did
mamma hear me say this than she nearly fainted!"

A strange thought passed through the prince's brain; he gazed
intently at Aglaya and smiled.

He could not believe that this was the same haughty young girl
who had once so proudly shown him Gania's letter. He could not
understand how that proud and austere beauty could show herself
to be such an utter child--a child who probably did not even now
understand some words.

"Have you always lived at home, Aglaya Ivanovna?" he asked. "I
mean, have you never been to school, or college, or anything?"

"No--never--nowhere! I've been at home all my life, corked up in
a bottle; and they expect me to be married straight out of it.
What are you laughing at again? I observe that you, too, have
taken to laughing at me, and range yourself on their side against
me," she added, frowning angrily. "Don't irritate me--I'm bad
enough without that--I don't know what I am doing sometimes. I am
persuaded that you came here today in the full belief that I am
in love with you, and that I arranged this meeting because of
that," she cried, with annoyance.

"I admit I was afraid that that was the case, yesterday,"
blundered the prince (he was rather confused), "but today I am
quite convinced that "

"How?" cried Aglaya--and her lower lip trembled violently. "You
were AFRAID that I--you dared to think that I--good gracious! you
suspected, perhaps, that I sent for you to come here in order to
catch you in a trap, so that they should find us here together,
and make you marry me--"

"Aglaya Ivanovna, aren't you ashamed of saying such a thing? How
could such a horrible idea enter your sweet, innocent heart? I am
certain you don't believe a word of what you say, and probably
you don't even know what you are talking about."

Aglaya sat with her eyes on the ground; she seemed to have
alarmed even herself by what she had said.

"No, I'm not; I'm not a bit ashamed!" she murmured. "And how do
you know my heart is innocent? And how dared you send me a love--
letter that time?"

"LOVE-LETTER? My letter a love-letter? That letter was the most
respectful of letters; it went straight from my heart, at what
was perhaps the most painful moment of my life! I thought of you
at the time as a kind of light. I--"

"Well, very well, very well!" she said, but quite in a different
tone. She was remorseful now, and bent forward to touch his
shoulder, though still trying not to look him in the face, as if
the more persuasively to beg him not to be angry with her. "Very
well," she continued, looking thoroughly ashamed of herself, "I
feel that I said a very foolish thing. I only did it just to try
you. Take it as unsaid, and if I offended you, forgive me. Don't
look straight at me like that, please; turn your head away. You
called it a 'horrible idea'; I only said it to shock you. Very
often I am myself afraid of saying what I intend to say, and out
it comes all the same. You have just told me that you wrote that
letter at the most painful moment of your life. I know what
moment that was!" she added softly, looking at the ground again.

"Oh, if you could know all!"

"I DO know all!" she cried, with another burst of indignation.
"You were living in the same house as that horrible woman with
whom you ran away." She did not blush as she said this; on the
contrary, she grew pale, and started from her seat, apparently
oblivious of what she did, and immediately sat down again. Her
lip continued to tremble for a long time.

There was silence for a moment. The prince was taken aback by the
suddenness of this last reply, and did not know to what he should
attribute it.

"I don't love you a bit!" she said suddenly, just as though the
words had exploded from her mouth.

The prince did not answer, and there was silence again. "I love
Gavrila Ardalionovitch," she said, quickly; but hardly audibly,
and with her head bent lower than ever.

"That is NOT true," said the prince, in an equally low voice.

"What! I tell stories, do I? It is true! I gave him my promise a
couple of days ago on this very seat."

The prince was startled, and reflected for a moment.

"It is not true," he repeated, decidedly; "you have just invented

"You are wonderfully polite. You know he is greatly improved. He
loves me better than his life. He let his hand burn before my
very eyes in order to prove to me that he loved me better than
his life!"

"He burned his hand!"

"Yes, believe it or not! It's all the same to me!"

The prince sat silent once more. Aglaya did not seem to be
joking; she was too angry for that.

"What! he brought a candle with him to this place? That is, if
the episode happened here; otherwise I can't "

"Yes, a candle! What's there improbable about that?"

"A whole one, and in a candlestick?"

"Yes--no-half a candle--an end, you know--no, it was a whole
candle; it's all the same. Be quiet, can't you! He brought a box
of matches too, if you like, and then lighted the candle and held
his finger in it for half an hour and more!--There! Can't that

"I saw him yesterday, and his fingers were all right!"

Aglaya suddenly burst out laughing, as simply as a child.

"Do you know why I have just told you these lies?" She appealed
to the prince, of a sudden, with the most childlike candour, and
with the laugh still trembling on her lips. "Because when one
tells a lie, if one insists on something unusual and eccentric--
something too 'out of the way'' for anything, you know--the more
impossible the thing is, the more plausible does the lie sound.
I've noticed this. But I managed it badly; I didn't know how to
work it." She suddenly frowned again at this point as though at
some sudden unpleasant recollection.

"If"--she began, looking seriously and even sadly at him-- "if
when I read you all that about the 'poor knight,' I wished to-to
praise you for one thing--I also wished to show you that I knew
all--and did not approve of your conduct."

"You are very unfair to me, and to that unfortunate woman of whom
you spoke just now in such dreadful terms, Aglaya."

"Because I know all, all--and that is why I speak so. I know very
well how you--half a year since--offered her your hand before
everybody. Don't interrupt me. You see, I am merely stating facts
without any comment upon them. After that she ran away with
Rogojin. Then you lived with her at some village or town, and she
ran away from you." (Aglaya blushed dreadfully.) "Then she
returned to Rogojin again, who loves her like a madman. Then you
--like a wise man as you are--came back here after her as soon as
ever you heard that she had returned to Petersburg. Yesterday
evening you sprang forward to protect her, and just now you
dreamed about her. You see, I know all. You did come back here
for her, for her--now didn't you?"

"Yes--for her!" said the prince softly and sadly, and bending his
head down, quite unconscious of the fact that Aglaya was gazing
at him with eyes which burned like live coals. "I came to find
out something--I don't believe in her future happiness as
Rogojin's wife, although--in a word, I did not know how to help
her or what to do for her--but I came, on the chance."

He glanced at Aglaya, who was listening with a look of hatred on
her face.

"If you came without knowing why, I suppose you love her very
much indeed!" she said at last.

"No," said the prince, "no, I do not love her. Oh! if you only
knew with what horror I recall the time I spent with her!"

A shudder seemed to sweep over his whole body at the

"Tell me about it," said Aglaya.

"There is nothing which you might not hear. Why I should wish to
tell you, and only you, this experience of mine, I really cannot
say; perhaps it really is because I love you very much. This
unhappy woman is persuaded that she is the most hopeless, fallen
creature in the world. Oh, do not condemn her! Do not cast stones
at her! She has suffered too much already in the consciousness of
her own undeserved shame.

"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

"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.

"When I tried to rid her soul of this gloomy fallacy, she
suffered so terribly that my heart will never be quite at peace
so long as I can remember that dreadful time!--Do you know why
she left me? Simply to prove to me what is not true--that she is
base. But the worst of it is, she did not realize herself that
that was all she wanted to prove by her departure! She went away
in response to some inner prompting to do something disgraceful,
in order that she might say to herself--'There--you've done a new
act of shame--you degraded creature!'

"Oh, Aglaya--perhaps you cannot understand all this. Try to
realize that in the perpetual admission of guilt she probably
finds some dreadful unnatural satisfaction--as though she were
revenging herself upon someone.

"Now and then I was able to persuade her almost to see light
around her again; but she would soon fall, once more, into her
old tormenting delusions, and would go so far as to reproach me
for placing myself on a pedestal above her (I never had an idea
of such a thing!), and informed me, in reply to my proposal of
marriage, that she 'did not want condescending sympathy or help
from anybody.' You saw her last night. You don't suppose she can
be happy among such people as those--you cannot suppose that such
society is fit for her? You have no idea how well-educated she
is, and what an intellect she has! She astonished me sometimes."

"And you preached her sermons there, did you?"

"Oh no," continued the prince thoughtfully, not noticing Aglaya's
mocking tone, "I was almost always silent there. I often wished
to speak, but I really did not know what to say. In some cases it
is best to say nothing, I think. I loved her, yes, I loved her
very much indeed; but afterwards--afterwards she guessed all."

"What did she guess?"

"That I only PITIED her--and--and loved her no longer!"

"How do you know that? How do you know that she is not really in
love with that--that rich cad--the man she eloped with?"

"Oh no! I know she only laughs at him; she has made a fool of him
all along."

"Has she never laughed at you?"

"No--in anger, perhaps. Oh yes! she reproached me dreadfully in
anger; and suffered herself, too! But afterwards--oh! don't
remind me--don't remind me of that!"

He hid his face in his hands.

"Are you aware that she writes to me almost every day?"

"So that is true, is it?" cried the prince, greatly agitated.
"I had heard a report of it, but would not believe it."

"Whom did you hear it from?" asked Aglaya, alarmed. "Rogojin said
something about it yesterday, but nothing definite."

"Yesterday! Morning or evening? Before the music or after?"

"After--it was about twelve o'clock."

"Ah! Well, if it was Rogojin--but do you know what she writes to
me about?"

"I should not be surprised by anything. She is mad!"

"There are the letters." (Aglaya took three letters out of her
pocket and threw them down before the prince.) "For a whole week
she has been entreating and worrying and persuading me to marry
you. She--well, she is clever, though she may be mad--much
cleverer than I am, as you say. Well, she writes that she is in
love with me herself, and tries to see me every day, if only from
a distance. She writes that you love me, and that she has long
known it and seen it, and that you and she talked about me--
there. She wishes to see you happy, and she says that she is
certain only I can ensure you the happiness you deserve. She
writes such strange, wild letters--I haven't shown them to
anyone. Now, do you know what all this means? Can you guess

"It is madness--it is merely another proof of her insanity!" said
the prince, and his lips trembled.

"You are crying, aren't you?"

"No, Aglaya. No, I'm not crying." The prince looked at her.

"Well, what am I to do? What do you advise me? I cannot go on
receiving these letters, you know."

"Oh, let her alone, I entreat you!" cried the prince. What can
you do in this dark, gloomy mystery? Let her alone, and I'll use
all my power to prevent her writing you any more letters."

"If so, you are a heartless man!" cried Aglaya. As if you can't
see that it is not myself she loves, but you, you, and only you!
Surely you have not remarked everything else in her, and only not
THIS? Do you know what these letters mean? They mean jealousy,
sir--nothing but pure jealousy! She--do you think she will ever
really marry this Rogojin, as she says here she will? She would
take her own life the day after you and I were married."

The prince shuddered; his heart seemed to freeze within him. He
gazed at Aglaya in wonderment; it was difficult for him to
realize that this child was also a woman.

"God knows, Aglaya, that to restore her peace of mind and make
her happy I would willingly give up my life. But I cannot love
her, and she knows that."

"Oh, make a sacrifice of yourself! That sort of thing becomes you
well, you know. Why not do it? And don't call me 'Aglaya'; you
have done it several times lately. You are bound, it is your DUTY
to 'raise' her; you must go off somewhere again to soothe and
pacify her. Why, you love her, you know!"

"I cannot sacrifice myself so, though I admit I did wish to do so
once. Who knows, perhaps I still wish to! But I know for CERTAIN,
that if she married me it would be her ruin; I know this and
therefore I leave her alone. I ought to go to see her today; now
I shall probably not go. She is proud, she would never forgive me
the nature of the love I bear her, and we should both be ruined.
This may be unnatural, I don't know; but everything seems
unnatural. You say she loves me, as if this were LOVE! As if she
could love ME, after what I have been through! No, no, it is not

"How pale you have grown!" cried Aglaya in alarm.

Oh, it's nothing. I haven't slept, that's all, and I'm rather
tired. I--we certainly did talk about you, Aglaya."

"Oh, indeed, it is true then! YOU COULD ACTUALLY TALK ABOUT ME
WITH HER; and--and how could you have been fond of me when you
had only seen me once?"

"I don't know. Perhaps it was that I seemed to come upon light in
the midst of my gloom. I told you the truth when I said I did not
know why I thought of you before all others. Of course it was all
a sort of dream, a dream amidst the horrors of reality.
Afterwards I began to work. I did not intend to come back here
for two or three years--"

"Then you came for her sake?" Aglaya's voice trembled.

"Yes, I came for her sake."

There was a moment or two of gloomy silence. Aglaya rose from her

"If you say," she began in shaky tones, "if you say that this
woman of yours is mad--at all events I have nothing to do with
her insane fancies. Kindly take these three letters, Lef
Nicolaievitch, and throw them back to her, from me. And if she
dares," cried Aglaya suddenly, much louder than before, "if she
dares so much as write me one word again, tell her I shall tell
my father, and that she shall be taken to a lunatic asylum."

The prince jumped up in alarm at Aglaya's sudden wrath, and a
mist seemed to come before his eyes.

"You cannot really feel like that! You don't mean what you say.
It is not true," he murmured.

"It IS true, it IS true," cried Aglaya, almost beside herself
with rage.

"What's true? What's all this? What's true?" said an alarmed
voice just beside them.

Before them stood Lizabetha Prokofievna.

"Why, it's true that I am going to marry Gavrila Ardalionovitch,
that I love him and intend to elope with him tomorrow," cried
Aglaya, turning upon her mother. "Do you hear? Is your curiosity
satisfied? Are you pleased with what you have heard?"

Aglaya rushed away homewards with these words.

"H'm! well, YOU are not going away just yet, my friend, at all
events," said Lizabetha, stopping the prince. "Kindly step home
with me, and let me have a little explanation of the mystery.
Nice goings on, these! I haven't slept a wink all night as it

The prince followed her.


ARRIVED at her house, Lizabetha Prokofievna paused in the first
room. She could go no farther, and subsided on to a couch quite
exhausted; too feeble to remember so much as to ask the prince to
take a seat. This was a large reception-room, full of flowers,
and with a glass door leading into the garden.

Alexandra and Adelaida came in almost immediately, and looked
inquiringly at the prince and their mother.

The girls generally rose at about nine in the morning in the
country; Aglaya, of late, had been in the habit of getting up
rather earlier and having a walk in the garden, but not at seven
o'clock; about eight or a little later was her usual time.

Lizabetha Prokofievna, who really had not slept all night, rose
at about eight on purpose to meet Aglaya in the garden and walk
with her; but she could not find her either in the garden or in
her own room.

This agitated the old lady considerably; and she awoke her other
daughters. Next, she learned from the maid that Aglaya had gone
into the park before seven o'clock. The sisters made a joke of
Aglaya's last freak, and told their mother that if she went into
the park to look for her, Aglaya would probably be very angry
with her, and that she was pretty sure to be sitting reading on
the green bench that she had talked of two or three days since,
and about which she had nearly quarrelled with Prince S., who did
not see anything particularly lovely in it.

Arrived at the rendezvous of the prince and her daughter, and
hearing the strange words of the latter, Lizabetha Prokofievna
had been dreadfully alarmed, for many reasons. However, now that
she had dragged the prince home with her, she began to feel a
little frightened at what she had undertaken. Why should not
Aglaya meet the prince in the park and have a talk with him, even
if such a meeting should be by appointment?

"Don't suppose, prince," she began, bracing herself up for the
effort, "don't suppose that I have brought you here to ask
questions. After last night, I assure you, I am not so
exceedingly anxious to see you at all; I could have postponed the
pleasure for a long while." She paused.

"But at the same time you would be very glad to know how I
happened to meet Aglaya Ivanovna this morning?" The prince
finished her speech for her with the utmost composure.

"Well, what then? Supposing I should like to know?" cried
Lizabetha Prokofievna, blushing. "I'm sure I am not afraid of
plain speaking. I'm not offending anyone, and I never wish to,

"Pardon me, it is no offence to wish to know this; you are her
mother. We met at the green bench this morning, punctually at
seven o'clock,--according to an agreement made by Aglaya Ivanovna
with myself yesterday. She said that she wished to see me and
speak to me about something important. We met and conversed for
an hour about matters concerning Aglaya Ivanovna herself, and
that's all."

"Of course it is all, my friend. I don't doubt you for a moment,"
said Lizabetha Prokofievna with dignity.

"Well done, prince, capital!" cried Aglaya, who entered the room
at this moment. "Thank you for assuming that I would not demean
myself with lies. Come, is that enough, mamma, or do you intend
to put any more questions?"

"You know I have never needed to blush before you, up to this
day, though perhaps you would have been glad enough to make me,"
said Lizabetha Prokofievna,--with majesty. "Good-bye, prince;
forgive me for bothering you. I trust you will rest assured of my
unalterable esteem for you."

The prince made his bows and retired at once. Alexandra and
Adelaida smiled and whispered to each other, while Lizabetha
Prokofievna glared severely at them. "We are only laughing at the
prince's beautiful bows, mamma," said Adelaida. "Sometimes he
bows just like a meal-sack, but to-day he was like--like Evgenie

"It is the HEART which is the best teacher of refinement and
dignity, not the dancing-master," said her mother, sententiously,
and departed upstairs to her own room, not so much as glancing at

When the prince reached home, about nine o'clock, he found Vera
Lebedeff and the maid on the verandah. They were both busy trying
to tidy up the place after last night's disorderly party.

"Thank goodness, we've just managed to finish it before you came
in!" said Vera, joyfully.

"Good-morning! My head whirls so; I didn't sleep all night. I
should like to have a nap now."

"Here, on the verandah? Very well, I'll tell them all not to come
and wake you. Papa has gone out somewhere."

The servant left the room. Vera was about to follow her, but
returned and approached the prince with a preoccupied air.

"Prince!" she said, "have pity on that poor boy; don't turn him
out today."

"Not for the world; he shall do just as he likes."

"He won't do any harm now; and--and don't be too severe with

"Oh dear no! Why--"

"And--and you won't LAUGH at him? That's the chief thing."

"Oh no! Never."

"How foolish I am to speak of such things to a man like you,"
said Vera, blushing. "Though you DO look tired," she added, half
turning away," your eyes are so splendid at this moment--so full
of happiness."

"Really?" asked the prince, gleefully, and he laughed in delight.

But Vera, simple-minded little girl that she was (just like a
boy, in fact), here became dreadfully confused, of a sudden, and
ran hastily out of the room, laughing and blushing.

"What a dear little thing she is," thought the prince, and
immediately forgot all about her.

He walked to the far end of the verandah, where the sofa stood,
with a table in front of it. Here he sat down and covered his
face with his hands, and so remained for ten minutes. Suddenly he
put his hand in his coat-pocket and hurriedly produced three

But the door opened again, and out came Colia.

The prince actually felt glad that he had been interrupted,--and
might return the letters to his pocket. He was glad of the

"Well," said Colia, plunging in medias res, as he always did,
"here's a go! What do you think of Hippolyte now? Don't respect
him any longer, eh?"

"Why not? But look here, Colia, I'm tired; besides, the subject
is too melancholy to begin upon again. How is he, though?"

"Asleep--he'll sleep for a couple of hours yet. I quite
understand--you haven't slept--you walked about the park, I know.
Agitation--excitement--all that sort of thing--quite natural,

"How do you know I walked in the park and didn't sleep at home?"

"Vera just told me. She tried to persuade me not to come, but I
couldn't help myself, just for one minute. I have been having my
turn at the bedside for the last two hours; Kostia Lebedeff is
there now. Burdovsky has gone. Now, lie down, prince, make
yourself comfortable, and sleep well! I'm awfully impressed, you

"Naturally, all this--"

"No, no, I mean with the 'explanation,' especially that part of
it where he talks about Providence and a future life. There is a
gigantic thought there."

The prince gazed affectionately at Colia, who, of course, had
come in solely for the purpose of talking about this "gigantic

"But it is not any one particular thought, only; it is the
general circumstances of the case. If Voltaire had written this
now, or Rousseau, I should have just read it and thought it
remarkable, but should not have been so IMPRESSED by it. But a
man who knows for certain that he has but ten minutes to live and
can talk like that--why--it's--it's PRIDE, that is! It is really
a most extraordinary, exalted assertion of personal dignity,
it's--it's DEFIANT! What a GIGANTIC strength of will, eh? And to
accuse a fellow like that of not putting in the cap on purpose;
it's base and mean! You know he deceived us last night, the
cunning rascal. I never packed his bag for him, and I never saw
his pistol. He packed it himself. But he put me off my guard like
that, you see. Vera says you are going to let him stay on; I
swear there's no danger, especially as we are always with him."

"Who was by him at night?"

"I, and Burdovsky, and Kostia Lebedeff. Keller stayed a little
while, and then went over to Lebedeff's to sleep. Ferdishenko
slept at Lebedeff's, too; but he went away at seven o'clock. My
father is always at Lebedeff's; but he has gone out just now. I
dare say Lebedeff will be coming in here directly; he has been
looking for you; I don't know what he wants. Shall we let him in
or not, if you are asleep? I'm going to have a nap, too. By-the-
by, such a curious thing happened. Burdovsky woke me at seven,
and I met my father just outside the room, so drunk, he didn't
even know me. He stood before me like a log, and when he
recovered himself, asked hurriedly how Hippolyte was. 'Yes,' he
said, when I told him, 'that's all very well, but I REALLY came
to warn you that you must be very careful what you say before
Ferdishenko.' Do you follow me, prince?"

"Yes. Is it really so? However, it's all the same to us, of

"Of course it is; we are not a secret society; and that being the
case, it is all the more curious that the general should have
been on his way to wake me up in order to tell me this."

"Ferdishenko has gone, you say?"

"Yes, he went at seven o'clock. He came into the room on his way
out; I was watching just then. He said he was going to spend 'the
rest of the night' at Wilkin's; there's a tipsy fellow, a friend
of his, of that name. Well, I'm off. Oh, here's Lebedeff himself!
The prince wants to go to sleep, Lukian Timofeyovitch, so you may
just go away again."

"One moment, my dear prince, just one. I must absolutely speak to
you about something which is most grave," said Lebedeff,
mysteriously and solemnly, entering the room with a bow and
looking extremely important. He had but just returned, and
carried his hat in his hand. He looked preoccupied and most
unusually dignified.

The prince begged him to take a chair.

"I hear you have called twice; I suppose you are still worried
about yesterday's affair."

"What, about that boy, you mean? Oh dear no, yesterday my ideas
were a little--well--mixed. Today, I assure you, I shall not
oppose in the slightest degree any suggestions it may please you
to make."

"What's up with you this morning, Lebedeff? You look so important
and dignified, and you choose your words so carefully," said the
prince, smiling.

"Nicolai Ardalionovitch!" said Lebedeff, in a most amiable tone
of voice, addressing the boy. "As I have a communication to make
to the prince which concerns only myself--"

"Of course, of course, not my affair. All right," said Colia, and
away he went.

"I love that boy for his perception," said Lebedeff, looking
after him. "My dear prince," he continued, "I have had a terrible
misfortune, either last night or early this morning. I cannot
tell the exact time."

"What is it?"

"I have lost four hundred roubles out of my side pocket! They're
gone!" said Lebedeff, with a sour smile.

"You've lost four hundred roubles? Oh! I'm sorry for that."

"Yes, it is serious for a poor man who lives by his toil."

"Of course, of course! How was it?"

"Oh, the wine is to blame, of course. I confess to you, prince,
as I would to Providence itself. Yesterday I received four
hundred roubles from a debtor at about five in the afternoon, and
came down here by train. I had my purse in my pocket. When I
changed, I put the money into the pocket of my plain clothes,
intending to keep it by me, as I expected to have an applicant
for it in the evening."

"It's true then, Lebedeff, that you advertise to lend money on
gold or silver articles?"

"Yes, through an agent. My own name doesn't appear. I have a
large family, you see, and at a small percentage--"

"Quite so, quite so. I only asked for information--excuse the
question. Go on."

"Well, meanwhile that sick boy was brought here, and those guests
came in, and we had tea, and--well, we made merry--to my ruin!
Hearing of your birthday afterwards, and excited with the
circumstances of the evening, I ran upstairs and changed my plain
clothes once more for my uniform [Civil Service clerks in Russia
wear uniform.]--you must have noticed I had my uniform on all the
evening? Well, I forgot the money in the pocket of my old coat--
you know when God will ruin a man he first of all bereaves him of
his senses--and it was only this morning at half-past seven that
I woke up and grabbed at my coat pocket, first thing. The pocket
was empty--the purse gone, and not a trace to be found!"

"Dear me! This is very unpleasant!"

"Unpleasant! Indeed it is. You have found a very appropriate
expression," said Lebedeff, politely, but with sarcasm.

"But what's to be done? It's a serious matter," said the prince,
thoughtfully. "Don't you think you may have dropped it out of
your pocket whilst intoxicated?"

"Certainly. Anything is possible when one is intoxicated, as you
neatly express it, prince. But consider--if I, intoxicated or
not, dropped an object out of my pocket on to the ground, that
object ought to remain on the ground. Where is the object, then?"

"Didn't you put it away in some drawer, perhaps?"

"I've looked everywhere, and turned out everything."

"I confess this disturbs me a good deal. Someone must have picked
it up, then."

"Or taken it out of my pocket--two alternatives."

"It is very distressing, because WHO--? That's the question!"

"Most undoubtedly, excellent prince, you have hit it--that is the
very question. How wonderfully you express the exact situation in
a few words!"

"Come, come, Lebedeff, no sarcasm! It's a serious--"

"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?"

"That is a very difficult and complicated question. I cannot
suspect the servant, for she was in the kitchen the whole
evening, nor do I suspect any of my children."

"I should think not. Go on."

"Then it must be one of the guests."

"Is such a thing possible?"

"Absolutely and utterly impossible--and yet, so it must be. But
one thing I am sure of, if it be a theft, it was committed, not
in the evening when we were all together, but either at night or
early in the morning; therefore, by one of those who slept here.
Burdovsky and Colia I except, of course. They did not even come
into my room."

"Yes, or even if they had! But who did sleep with you?" "Four of
us, including myself, in two rooms. The general, myself, Keller,
and Ferdishenko. One of us four it must have been. I don't
suspect myself, though such cases have been known."

"Oh! DO go on, Lebedeff! Don't drag it out so."

"Well, there are three left, then--Keller firstly. He is a
drunkard to begin with, and a liberal (in the sense of other
people's pockets), otherwise with more of the ancient knight
about him than of the modern liberal. He was with the sick man at
first, but came over afterwards because there was no place to lie
down in the room and the floor was so hard."

"You suspect him?"

"I DID suspect him. When I woke up at half-past seven and tore my
hair in despair for my loss and carelessness, I awoke the
general, who was sleeping the sleep of innocence near me. Taking
into consideration the sudden disappearance of Ferdishenko, which
was suspicious in itself, we decided to search Keller, who was
lying there sleeping like a top. Well, we searched his clothes
thoroughly, and not a farthing did we find; in fact, his pockets
all had holes in them. We found a dirty handkerchief, and a love-
letter from some scullery-maid. The general decided that he was
innocent. We awoke him for further inquiries, and had the
greatest difficulty in making him understand what was up. He
opened his mouth and stared--he looked so stupid and so absurdly
innocent. It wasn't Keller."

"Oh, I'm so glad!" said the prince, joyfully. "I was so afraid."

"Afraid! Then you had some grounds for supposing he might be the
culprit?" said Lebedeff, frowning.

"Oh no--not a bit! It was foolish of me to say I was afraid!
Don't repeat it please, Lebedeff, don't tell anyone I said that!"

"My dear prince! your words lie in the lowest depth of my heart--
it is their tomb!" said Lebedeff, solemnly, pressing his hat to
the region of his heart.

"Thanks; very well. Then I suppose it's Ferdishenko; that is, I
mean, you suspect Ferdishenko?"

"Whom else?" said Lebedeff, softly, gazing intently into the
prince s face.

"Of course--quite so, whom else? But what are the proofs?"

"We have evidence. In the first place, his mysterious
disappearance at seven o'clock, or even earlier."

"I know, Colia told me that he had said he was off to--I forget
the name, some friend of his, to finish the night."

"H'm! then Colia has spoken to you already?"

"Not about the theft."

"He does not know of it; I have kept it a secret. Very well,
Ferdishenko went off to Wilkin's. That is not so curious in
itself, but here the evidence opens out further. He left his
address, you see, when he went. Now prince, consider, why did he
leave his address? Why do you suppose he went out of his way to
tell Colia that he had gone to Wilkin's? Who cared to know that
he was going to Wilkin's? No, no! prince, this is finesse,
thieves' finesse! This is as good as saying, 'There, how can I be
a thief when I leave my address? I'm not concealing my movements
as a thief would.' Do you understand, prince?"

"Oh yes, but that is not enough."

"Second proof. The scent turns out to be false, and the address
given is a sham. An hour after--that is at about eight, I went to
Wilkin's myself, and there was no trace of Ferdishenko. The maid
did tell me, certainly, that an hour or so since someone had been
hammering at the door, and had smashed the bell; she said she
would not open the door because she didn't want to wake her
master; probably she was too lazy to get up herself. Such
phenomena are met with occasionally!"

"But is that all your evidence? It is not enough!"

"Well, prince, whom are we to suspect, then? Consider!" said
Lebedeff with almost servile amiability, smiling at the prince.
There was a look of cunning in his eyes, however.

"You should search your room and all the cupboards again," said
the prince, after a moment or two of silent reflection.

"But I have done so, my dear prince!" said Lebedeff, more sweetly
than ever.

"H'm! why must you needs go up and change your coat like that?"
asked the prince, banging the table with his fist, in annoyance.

"Oh, don't be so worried on my account, prince! I assure you I am
not worth it! At least, not I alone. But I see you are suffering
on behalf of the criminal too, for wretched Ferdishenko, in

"Of course you have given me a disagreeable enough thing to think
about," said the prince, irritably, "but what are you going to
do, since you are so sure it was Ferdishenko?"

"But who else COULD it be, my very dear prince?" repeated
Lebedeff, as sweet as sugar again. "If you don't wish me to
suspect Mr. Burdovsky?"

"Of course not."

"Nor the general? Ha, ha, ha!"

"Nonsense!" said the prince, angrily, turning round upon him.

"Quite so, nonsense! Ha, ha, ha! dear me! He did amuse me, did
the general! We went off on the hot scent to Wilkin's together,
you know; but I must first observe that the general was even more
thunderstruck than I myself this morning, when I awoke him after
discovering the theft; so much so that his very face changed--he
grew red and then pale, and at length flew into a paroxysm of
such noble wrath that I assure you I was quite surprised! He is a
most generous-hearted man! He tells lies by the thousands, I
know, but it is merely a weakness; he is a man of the highest
feelings; a simple-minded man too, and a man who carries the
conviction of innocence in his very appearance. I love that man,
sir; I may have told you so before; it is a weakness of mine.
Well--he suddenly stopped in the middle of the road, opened out
his coat and bared his breast. "Search me," he says, "you
searched Keller; why don't you search me too? It is only fair!"
says he. And all the while his legs and hands were trembling with
anger, and he as white as a sheet all over! So I said to him,
"Nonsense, general; if anybody but yourself had said that to me,
I'd have taken my head, my own head, and put it on a large dish
and carried it round to anyone who suspected you; and I should
have said: 'There, you see that head? It's my head, and I'll go
bail with that head for him! Yes, and walk through the fire for
him, too. There,' says I, 'that's how I'd answer for you,
general!' Then he embraced me, in the middle of the street, and
hugged me so tight (crying over me all the while) that I coughed
fit to choke! 'You are the one friend left to me amid all my
misfortunes,' says he. Oh, he's a man of sentiment, that! He went
on to tell me a story of how he had been accused, or suspected,
of stealing five hundred thousand roubles once, as a young man;
and how, the very next day, he had rushed into a burning, blazing
house and saved the very count who suspected him, and Nina
Alexandrovna (who was then a young girl), from a fiery death. The
count embraced him, and that was how he came to marry Nina
Alexandrovna, he said. As for the money, it was found among the
ruins next day in an English iron box with a secret lock; it had
got under the floor somehow, and if it had not been for the fire
it would never have been found! The whole thing is, of course, an
absolute fabrication, though when he spoke of Nina Alexandrovna
he wept! She's a grand woman, is Nina Alexandrovna, though she is
very angry with me!"

"Are you acquainted with her?"

"Well, hardly at all. I wish I were, if only for the sake of
justifying myself in her eyes. Nina Alexandrovna has a grudge
against me for, as she thinks, encouraging her husband in
drinking; whereas in reality I not only do not encourage him, but
I actually keep him out of harm's way, and out of bad company.
Besides, he's my friend, prince, so that I shall not lose sight
of him, again. Where he goes, I go. He's quite given up visiting
the captain's widow, though sometimes he thinks sadly of her,
especially in the morning, when he's putting on his boots. I
don't know why it's at that time. But he has no money, and it's
no use his going to see her without. Has he borrowed any money
from you, prince?"

"No, he has not."

"Ah, he's ashamed to! He MEANT to ask you, I know, for he said
so. I suppose he thinks that as you gave him some once (you
remember), you would probably refuse if he asked you again."

"Do you ever give him money?"

"Prince! Money! Why I would give that man not only my money, but
my very life, if he wanted it. Well, perhaps that's exaggeration;
not life, we'll say, but some illness, a boil or a bad cough, or
anything of that sort, I would stand with pleasure, for his sake;
for I consider him a great man fallen--money, indeed!"

"H'm, then you DO give him money?"

"N-no, I have never given him money, and he knows well that I
will never give him any; because I am anxious to keep him out of
intemperate ways. He is going to town with me now; for you must
know I am off to Petersburg after Ferdishenko, while the scent is
hot; I'm certain he is there. I shall let the general go one way,
while I go the other; we have so arranged matters in order to pop
out upon Ferdishenko, you see, from different sides. But I am
going to follow that naughty old general and catch him, I know
where, at a certain widow's house; for I think it will be a good
lesson, to put him to shame by catching him with the widow."

"Oh, Lebedeff, don't, don't make any scandal about it!" said the
prince, much agitated, and speaking in a low voice.

"Not for the world, not for the world! I merely wish to make him
ashamed of himself. Oh, prince, great though this misfortune be
to myself, I cannot help thinking of his morals! I have a great
favour to ask of you, esteemed prince; I confess that it is the
chief object of my visit. You know the Ivolgins, you have even
lived in their house; so if you would lend me your help, honoured
prince, in the general's own interest and for his good."

Lebedeff clasped his hands in supplication.

"What help do you want from me? You may be certain that I am most
anxious to understand you, Lebedeff."

"I felt sure of that, or I should not have come to you. We might
manage it with the help of Nina Alexandrovna, so that he might be
closely watched in his own house. Unfortunately I am not on
terms ... otherwise ... but Nicolai Ardalionovitch, who
adores you with all his youthful soul, might help, too."

"No, no! Heaven forbid that we should bring Nina Alexandrovna
into this business! Or Colia, either. But perhaps I have not yet
quite understood you, Lebedeff?"

Lebedeff made an impatient movement.

"But there is nothing to understand! Sympathy and tenderness,
that is all--that is all our poor invalid requires! You will
permit me to consider him an invalid?"

"Yes, it shows delicacy and intelligence on your part."

"I will explain my idea by a practical example, to make it
clearer. You know the sort of man he is. At present his only
failing is that he is crazy about that captain's widow, and he
cannot go to her without money, and I mean to catch him at her
house today--for his own good; but supposing it was not only the
widow, but that he had committed a real crime, or at least some
very dishonourable action (of which he is, of course, incapable),
I repeat that even in that case, if he were treated with what I
may call generous tenderness, one could get at the whole truth,
for he is very soft-hearted! Believe me, he would betray himself
before five days were out; he would burst into tears, and make a
clean breast of the matter; especially if managed with tact, and
if you and his family watched his every step, so to speak. Oh, my
dear prince," Lebedeff added most emphatically, "I do not
positively assert that he has ... I am ready, as the saying is,
to shed my last drop of blood for him this instant; but you will
admit that debauchery, drunkenness, and the captain's widow, all
these together may lead him very far."

"I am, of course, quite ready to add my efforts to yours in such
a case," said the prince, rising; "but I confess, Lebedeff, that
I am terribly perplexed. Tell me, do you still think ...
plainly, you say yourself that you suspect Mr. Ferdishenko?"

Lebedeff clasped his hands once more.

"Why, who else could I possibly suspect? Who else, most outspoken
prince?" he replied, with an unctuous smile.

Muishkin frowned, and rose from his seat.

"You see, Lebedeff, a mistake here would be a dreadful thing.
This Ferdishenko, I would not say a word against him, of course;
but, who knows? Perhaps it really was he? I mean he really does
seem to be a more likely man than... than any other."

Lebedeff strained his eyes and ears to take in what the prince
was saying. The latter was frowning more and more, and walking
excitedly up and down, trying not to look at Lebedeff.

"You see," he said, "I was given to understand that Ferdishenko
was that sort of man,--that one can't say everything before him.
One has to take care not to say too much, you understand? I say
this to prove that he really is, so to speak, more likely to have
done this than anyone else, eh? You understand? The important
thing is, not to make a mistake."

"And who told you this about Ferdishenko?"

"Oh, I was told. Of course I don't altogether believe it. I am
very sorry that I should have had to say this, because I assure
you I don't believe it myself; it is all nonsense, of course. It
was stupid of me to say anything about it."

"You see, it is very important, it is most important to know
where you got this report from," said Lebedeff, excitedly. He had
risen from his seat, and was trying to keep step with the prince,
running after him, up and down. "Because look here, prince, I
don't mind telling you now that as we were going along to
Wilkin's this morning, after telling me what you know about the
fire, and saving the count and all that, the general was pleased
to drop certain hints to the same effect about Ferdishenko, but
so vaguely and clumsily that I thought better to put a few
questions to him on the matter, with the result that I found the
whole thing was an invention of his excellency's own mind. Of
course, he only lies with the best intentions; still, he lies.
But, such being the case, where could you have heard the same
report? It was the inspiration of the moment with him, you
understand, so who could have told YOU? It is an important
question, you see!"

"It was Colia told me, and his father told HIM at about six this
morning. They met at the threshold, when Colia was leaving the
room for something or other." The prince told Lebedeff all that
Colia had made known to himself, in detail.

"There now, that's what we may call SCENT!" said Lebedeff,
rubbing his hands and laughing silently. "I thought it must be
so, you see. The general interrupted his innocent slumbers, at
six o'clock, in order to go and wake his beloved son, and warn
him of the dreadful danger of companionship with Ferdishenko.
Dear me! what a dreadfully dangerous man Ferdishenko must be, and
what touching paternal solicitude, on the part of his
excellency, ha! ha! ha!"

"Listen, Lebedeff," began the prince, quite overwhelmed; "DO act
quietly--don't make a scandal, Lebedeff, I ask you--I entreat
you! No one must know--NO ONE, mind! In that case only, I will
help you."

"Be assured, most honourable, most worthy of princes--be assured
that the whole matter shall be buried within my heart!" cried
Lebedeff, in a paroxysm of exaltation. "I'd give every drop of my
blood... Illustrious prince, I am a poor wretch in soul and
spirit, but ask the veriest scoundrel whether he would prefer to
deal with one like himself, or with a noble-hearted man like you,
and there is no doubt as to his choice! He'll answer that he
prefers the noble-hearted man--and there you have the triumph of
virtue! Au revoir, honoured prince! You and I together--softly!


THE prince understood at last why he shivered with dread every
time he thought of the three letters in his pocket, and why he
had put off reading them until the evening.

When he fell into a heavy sleep on the sofa on the verandah,
without having had the courage to open a single one of the three
envelopes, he again dreamed a painful dream, and once more that
poor, "sinful" woman appeared to him. Again she gazed at him with
tears sparkling on her long lashes, and beckoned him after her;
and again he awoke, as before, with the picture of her face
haunting him.

He longed to get up and go to her at once--but he COULD NOT. At
length, almost in despair, he unfolded the letters, and began to
read them.

These letters, too, were like a dream. We sometimes have strange,
impossible dreams, contrary to all the laws of nature. When we
awake we remember them and wonder at their strangeness. You
remember, perhaps, that you were in full possession of your
reason during this succession of fantastic images; even that you
acted with extraordinary logic and cunning while surrounded by
murderers who hid their intentions and made great demonstrations
of friendship, while waiting for an opportunity to cut your
throat. You remember how you escaped them by some ingenious
stratagem; then you doubted if they were really deceived, or
whether they were only pretending not to know your hiding-place;
then you thought of another plan and hoodwinked them once again.
You remember all this quite clearly, but how is it that your
reason calmly accepted all the manifest absurdities and
impossibilities that crowded into your dream? One of the
murderers suddenly changed into a woman before your very eyes;
then the woman was transformed into a hideous, cunning little
dwarf; and you believed it, and accepted it all almost as a
matter of course--while at the same time your intelligence seemed
unusually keen, and accomplished miracles of cunning, sagacity,
and logic! Why is it that when you awake to the world of
realities you nearly always feel, sometimes very vividly, that
the vanished dream has carried with it some enigma which you have
failed to solve? You smile at the extravagance of your dream, and
yet you feel that this tissue of absurdity contained some real
idea, something that belongs to your true life,--something that
exists, and has always existed, in your heart. You search your
dream for some prophecy that you were expecting. It has left a
deep impression upon you, joyful or cruel, but what it means, or
what has been predicted to you in it, you can neither understand
nor remember.

The reading of these letters produced some such effect upon the
prince. He felt, before he even opened the envelopes, that the
very fact of their existence was like a nightmare. How could she
ever have made up her mind to write to her? he asked himself. How
could she write about that at all? And how could such a wild idea
have entered her head? And yet, the strangest part of the matter
was, that while he read the letters, he himself almost believed
in the possibility, and even in the justification, of the idea he
had thought so wild. Of course it was a mad dream, a nightmare,
and yet there was something cruelly real about it. For hours he
was haunted by what he had read. Several passages returned again
and again to his mind, and as he brooded over them, he felt
inclined to say to himself that he had foreseen and known all
that was written here; it even seemed to him that he had read the
whole of this some time or other, long, long ago; and all that
had tormented and grieved him up to now was to be found in these
old, long since read, letters.

"When you open this letter" (so the first began), "look first at
the signature. The signature will tell you all, so that I need
explain nothing, nor attempt to justify myself. Were I in any way
on a footing with you, you might be offended at my audacity; but
who am I, and who are you? We are at such extremes, and I am so
far removed from you, that I could not offend you if I wished to
do so."

Farther on, in another place, she wrote: "Do not consider my
words as the sickly ecstasies of a diseased mind, but you are, in
my opinion--perfection! I have seen you--I see you every day. I
do not judge you; I have not weighed you in the scales of Reason
and found you Perfection--it is simply an article of faith. But I
must confess one sin against you--I love you. One should not love
perfection. One should only look on it as perfection--yet I am in
love with you. Though love equalizes, do not fear. I have not
lowered you to my level, even in my most secret thoughts. I have
written 'Do not fear,' as if you could fear. I would kiss your
footprints if I could; but, oh! I am not putting myself on a
level with you!--Look at the signature--quick, look at the

"However, observe" (she wrote in another of the letters), "that
although I couple you with him, yet I have not once asked you
whether you love him. He fell in love with you, though he saw you
but once. He spoke of you as of 'the light.' These are his own
words--I heard him use them. But I understood without his saying
it that you were all that light is to him. I lived near him for a
whole month, and I understood then that you, too, must love him.
I think of you and him as one."

"What was the matter yesterday?" (she wrote on another sheet). "I
passed by you, and you seemed to me to BLUSH. Perhaps it was only
my fancy. If I were to bring you to the most loathsome den, and
show you the revelation of undisguised vice--you should not
blush. You can never feel the sense of personal affront. You may
hate all who are mean, or base, or unworthy--but not for
yourself--only for those whom they wrong. No one can wrong YOU.
Do you know, I think you ought to love me--for you are the same
in my eyes as in his-you are as light. An angel cannot hate,
perhaps cannot love, either. I often ask myself--is it possible
to love everybody? Indeed it is not; it is not in nature.
Abstract love of humanity is nearly always love of self. But you
are different. You cannot help loving all, since you can compare
with none, and are above all personal offence or anger. Oh! how
bitter it would be to me to know that you felt anger or shame on
my account, for that would be your fall--you would become
comparable at once with such as me.

"Yesterday, after seeing you, I went home and thought out a

"Artists always draw the Saviour as an actor in one of the Gospel
stories. I should do differently. I should represent Christ
alone--the disciples did leave Him alone occasionally. I should
paint one little child left with Him. This child has been playing
about near Him, and had probably just been telling the Saviour
something in its pretty baby prattle. Christ had listened to it,
but was now musing--one hand reposing on the child's bright head.
His eyes have a far-away expression. Thought, great as the
Universe, is in them--His face is sad. The little one leans its
elbow upon Christ's knee, and with its cheek resting on its hand,
gazes up at Him, pondering as children sometimes do ponder. The
sun is setting. There you have my picture.

"You are innocent--and in your innocence lies all your
perfection--oh, remember that! What is my passion to you?--you
are mine now; I shall be near you all my life--I shall not live

At length, in the last letter of all, he found:

"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.

"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.

"All the while I was in their house I felt sure that somewhere
beneath the floor there was hidden away some dreadful corpse,
wrapped in oil-cloth, perhaps buried there by his father, who
knows? Just as in the Moscow case. I could have shown you the
very spot!

"He is always silent, but I know well that he loves me so much
that he must hate me. My wedding and yours are to be on the same
day; so I have arranged with him. I have no secrets from him. I
would kill him from very fright, but he will kill me first. He
has just burst out laughing, and says that I am raving. He knows
I am writing to you."

There was much more of this delirious wandering in the letters--
one of them was very long.

At last the prince came out of the dark, gloomy park, in which he
had wandered about for hours just as yesterday. The bright night
seemed to him to be lighter than ever. "It must be quite early,"
he thought. (He had forgotten his watch.) There was a sound of
distant music somewhere. "Ah," he thought, "the Vauxhall! They
won't be there today, of course!" At this moment he noticed that
he was close to their house; he had felt that he must gravitate
to this spot eventually, and, with a beating heart, he mounted
the verandah steps.

No one met him; the verandah was empty, and nearly pitch dark. He
opened the door into the room, but it, too, was dark and empty.
He stood in the middle of the room in perplexity. Suddenly the
door opened, and in came Alexandra, candle in hand. Seeing the
prince she stopped before him in surprise, looking at him

It was clear that she had been merely passing through the room
from door to door, and had not had the remotest notion that she
would meet anyone.

"How did you come here?" she asked, at last.

"I-I--came in--"

"Mamma is not very well, nor is Aglaya. Adelaida has gone to bed,
and I am just going. We were alone the whole evening. Father and
Prince S. have gone to town."

"I have come to you--now--to--"

"Do you know what time it is?"


"Half-past twelve. We are always in bed by one."

"I-I thought it was half-past nine!"

"Never mind!" she laughed, "but why didn't you come earlier?
Perhaps you were expected!"

"I thought" he stammered, making for the door.

"Au revoir! I shall amuse them all with this story tomorrow!"

He walked along the road towards his own house. His heart was
beating, his thoughts were confused, everything around seemed to
be part of a dream.

And suddenly, just as twice already he had awaked from sleep with
the same vision, that very apparition now seemed to rise up
before him. The woman appeared to step out from the park, and
stand in the path in front of him, as though she had been waiting
for him there.

He shuddered and stopped; she seized his hand and pressed it

No, this was no apparition!

There she stood at last, face to face with him, for the first
time since their parting.

She said something, but he looked silently back at her. His heart
ached with anguish. Oh! never would he banish the recollection of
this meeting with her, and he never remembered it but with the
same pain and agony of mind.

She went on her knees before him--there in the open road--like a
madwoman. He retreated a step, but she caught his hand and kissed
it, and, just as in his dream, the tears were sparkling on her
long, beautiful lashes.

"Get up!" he said, in a frightened whisper, raising her. "Get up
at once!"

"Are you happy--are you happy?" she asked. "Say this one word.
Are you happy now? Today, this moment? Have you just been with
her? What did she say?"

She did not rise from her knees; she would not listen to him; she
put her questions hurriedly, as though she were pursued.

"I am going away tomorrow, as you bade me--I won't write--so
that this is the last time I shall see you, the last time! This
is really the LAST TIME!"

"Oh, be calm--be calm! Get up!" he entreated, in despair.

She gazed thirstily at him and clutched his hands.

"Good-bye!" she said at last, and rose and left him, very

The prince noticed that Rogojin had suddenly appeared at her
side, and had taken her arm and was leading her away.

"Wait a minute, prince," shouted the latter, as he went. "I shall
be back in five minutes."

He reappeared in five minutes as he had said. The prince was
waiting for him.

"I've put her in the carriage," he said; "it has been waiting
round the corner there since ten o'clock. She expected that you
would be with THEM all the evening. I told her exactly what you
wrote me. She won't write to the girl any more, she promises; and
tomorrow she will be off, as you wish. She desired to see you
for the last time, although you refused, so we've been sitting
and waiting on that bench till you should pass on your way home."

"Did she bring you with her of her own accord?"

"Of course she did!" said Rogojin, showing his teeth; "and I saw
for myself what I knew before. You've read her letters, I

"Did you read them?" asked the prince, struck by the thought.

"Of course--she showed them to me herself. You are thinking of
the razor, eh? Ha, ha, ha!"

"Oh, she is mad!" cried the prince, wringing his hands. "Who
knows? Perhaps she is not so mad after all," said Rogojin,
softly, as though thinking aloud.

The prince made no reply.

"Well, good-bye," said Rogojin. "I'm off tomorrow too, you know.
Remember me kindly! By-the-by," he added, turning round sharply
again, "did you answer her question just now? Are you happy, or

"No, no, no!" cried the prince, with unspeakable sadness.

"Ha, ha! I never supposed you would say 'yes,'" cried Rogojin,
laughing sardonically.

And he disappeared, without looking round again.



A WEEK had elapsed since the rendezvous of our two friends on the
green bench in the park, when, one fine morning at about half-
past ten o'clock, Varvara Ardalionovna, otherwise Mrs. Ptitsin,
who had been out to visit a friend, returned home in a state of
considerable mental depression.

There are certain people of whom it is difficult to say anything
which will at once throw them into relief--in other words,
describe them graphically in their typical characteristics. These
are they who are generally known as "commonplace people," and this
class comprises, of course, the immense majority of mankind.
Authors, as a rule, attempt to select and portray types rarely
met with in their entirety, but these types are nevertheless more
real than real life itself.

"Podkoleosin" [A character in Gogol's comedy, The Wedding.] was
perhaps an exaggeration, but he was by no means a non-existent
character; on the contrary, how many intelligent people, after
hearing of this Podkoleosin from Gogol, immediately began to find
that scores of their friends were exactly like him! They knew,
perhaps, before Gogol told them, that their friends were like
Podkoleosin, but they did not know what name to give them. In
real life, young fellows seldom jump out of the window just
before their weddings, because such a feat, not to speak of its
other aspects, must be a decidedly unpleasant mode of escape; and
yet there are plenty of bridegrooms, intelligent fellows too, who
would be ready to confess themselves Podkoleosins in the depths
of their consciousness, just before marriage. Nor does every
husband feel bound to repeat at every step, "Tu l'as voulu,
Georges Dandin!" like another typical personage; and yet how many
millions and billions of Georges Dandins there are in real life
who feel inclined to utter this soul-drawn cry after their
honeymoon, if not the day after the wedding! Therefore, without
entering into any more serious examination of the question, I
will content myself with remarking that in real life typical
characters are "watered down," so to speak; and all these Dandins
and Podkoleosins actually exist among us every day, but in a
diluted form. I will just add, however, that Georges Dandin might
have existed exactly as Moliere presented him, and probably does
exist now and then, though rarely; and so I will end this
scientific examination, which is beginning to look like a
newspaper criticism. But for all this, the question remains,--
what are the novelists to do with commonplace people, and how are
they to be presented to the reader in such a form as to be in the
least degree interesting? They cannot be left out altogether, for
commonplace people meet one at every turn of life, and to leave
them out would be to destroy the whole reality and probability of
the story. To fill a novel with typical characters only, or with
merely strange and uncommon people, would render the book unreal
and improbable, and would very likely destroy the interest. In my
opinion, the duty of the novelist is to seek out points of
interest and instruction even in the characters of commonplace

For instance, when the whole essence of an ordinary person's
nature lies in his perpetual and unchangeable commonplaceness;
and when in spite of all his endeavours to do something out of
the common, this person ends, eventually, by remaining in his
unbroken line of routine--. I think such an individual really
does become a type of his own--a type of commonplaceness which
will not for the world, if it can help it, be contented, but
strains and yearns to be something original and independent,
without the slightest possibility of being so. To this class of
commonplace people belong several characters in this novel;--
characters which--I admit--I have not drawn very vividly up to
now for my reader's benefit.

Such were, for instance, Varvara Ardalionovna Ptitsin, her
husband, and her brother, Gania.

There is nothing so annoying as to be fairly rich, of a fairly
good family, pleasing presence, average education, to be "not
stupid," kind-hearted, and yet to have no talent at all, no
originality, not a single idea of one's own--to be, in fact,
"just like everyone else."

Of such people there are countless numbers in this world--far
more even than appear. They can be divided into two classes as
all men can--that is, those of limited intellect, and those who
are much cleverer. The former of these classes is the happier.

To a commonplace man of limited intellect, for instance, nothing
is simpler than to imagine himself an original character, and to
revel in that belief without the slightest misgiving.

Many of our young women have thought fit to cut their hair short,
put on blue spectacles, and call themselves Nihilists. By doing
this they have been able to persuade themselves, without further
trouble, that they have acquired new convictions of their own.
Some men have but felt some little qualm of kindness towards
their fellow-men, and the fact has been quite enough to persuade
them that they stand alone in the van of enlightenment and that
no one has such humanitarian feelings as they. Others have but to
read an idea of somebody else's, and they can immediately
assimilate it and believe that it was a child of their own brain.
The "impudence of ignorance," if I may use the expression, is
developed to a wonderful extent in such cases;--unlikely as it
appears, it is met with at every turn.

This confidence of a stupid man in his own talents has been
wonderfully depicted by Gogol in the amazing character of
Pirogoff. Pirogoff has not the slightest doubt of his own
genius,--nay, of his SUPERIORITY of genius,--so certain is he of
it that he never questions it. How many Pirogoffs have there not
been among our writers--scholars--propagandists? I say "have
been," but indeed there are plenty of them at this very day.

Our friend, Gania, belonged to the other class--to the "much
cleverer" persons, though he was from head to foot permeated and
saturated with the longing to be original. This class, as I have
said above, is far less happy. For the "clever commonplace"
person, though he may possibly imagine himself a man of genius
and originality, none the less has within his heart the deathless
worm of suspicion and doubt; and this doubt sometimes brings a
clever man to despair. (As a rule, however, nothing tragic
happens;--his liver becomes a little damaged in the course of
time, nothing more serious. Such men do not give up their
aspirations after originality without a severe struggle,--and
there have been men who, though good fellows in themselves, and
even benefactors to humanity, have sunk to the level of base
criminals for the sake of originality.

Gania was a beginner, as it were, upon this road. A deep and
unchangeable consciousness of his own lack of talent, combined
with a vast longing to be able to persuade himself that he was
original, had rankled in his heart, even from childhood.

He seemed to have been born with overwrought nerves, and in his
passionate desire to excel, he was often led to the brink of some
rash step; and yet, having resolved upon such a step, when the
moment arrived, he invariably proved too sensible to take it. He
was ready, in the same way, to do a base action in order to
obtain his wished-for object; and yet, when the moment came to do
it, he found that he was too honest for any great baseness. (Not
that he objected to acts of petty meanness--he was always ready
for THEM.) He looked with hate and loathing on the poverty and
downfall of his family, and treated his mother with haughty
contempt, although he knew that his whole future depended on her
character and reputation.

Aglaya had simply frightened him; yet he did not give up all
thoughts of her--though he never seriously hoped that she would
condescend to him. At the time of his "adventure" with Nastasia
Philipovna he had come to the conclusion that money was his only
hope--money should do all for him.

At the moment when he lost Aglaya, and after the scene with
Nastasia, he had felt so low in his own eyes that he actually
brought the money back to the prince. Of this returning of the
money given to him by a madwoman who had received it from a
madman, he had often repented since--though he never ceased to be
proud of his action. During the short time that Muishkin remained
in Petersburg Gania had had time to come to hate him for his
sympathy, though the prince told him that it was "not everyone
who would have acted so nobly" as to return the money. He had
long pondered, too, over his relations with Aglaya, and had
persuaded himself that with such a strange, childish, innocent
character as hers, things might have ended very differently.
Remorse then seized him; he threw up his post, and buried himself
in self-torment and reproach.

He lived at Ptitsin's, and openly showed contempt for the latter,
though he always listened to his advice, and was sensible enough
to ask for it when he wanted it. Gavrila Ardalionovitch was angry
with Ptitsin because the latter did not care to become a
Rothschild. "If you are to be a Jew," he said, "do it properly--
squeeze people right and left, show some character; be the King
of the Jews while you are about it."

Ptitsin was quiet and not easily offended--he only laughed. But
on one occasion he explained seriously to Gania that he was no
Jew, that he did nothing dishonest, that he could not help the
market price of money, that, thanks to his accurate habits, he
had already a good footing and was respected, and that his
business was flourishing.

"I shan't ever be a Rothschild, and there is no reason why I
should," he added, smiling; "but I shall have a house in the
Liteynaya, perhaps two, and that will be enough for me." "Who
knows but what I may have three!" he concluded to himself; but
this dream, cherished inwardly, he never confided to a soul.

Nature loves and favours such people. Ptitsin will certainly have
his reward, not three houses, but four, precisely because from
childhood up he had realized that he would never be a Rothschild.
That will be the limit of Ptitsin's fortune, and, come what may,
he will never have more than four houses.

Varvara Ardalionovna was not like her brother. She too, had
passionate desires, but they were persistent rather than
impetuous. Her plans were as wise as her methods of carrying them
out. No doubt she also belonged to the category of ordinary
people who dream of being original, but she soon discovered that
she had not a grain of true originality, and she did not let it
trouble her too much. Perhaps a certain kind of pride came to her
help. She made her first concession to the demands of practical
life with great resolution when she consented to marry Ptitsin.
However, when she married she did not say to herself, "Never mind
a mean action if it leads to the end in view," as her brother
would certainly have said in such a case; it is quite probable
that he may have said it when he expressed his elder-brotherly
satisfaction at her decision. Far from this; Varvara Ardalionovna
did not marry until she felt convinced that her future husband
was unassuming, agreeable, almost cultured, and that nothing on
earth would tempt him to a really dishonourable deed. As to small
meannesses, such trifles did not trouble her. Indeed, who is free
from them? It is absurd to expect the ideal! Besides, she knew
that her marriage would provide a refuge for all her family.
Seeing Gania unhappy, she was anxious to help him, in spite of
their former disputes and misunderstandings. Ptitsin, in a
friendly way, would press his brother-in-law to enter the army.
"You know," he said sometimes, jokingly, "you despise generals
and generaldom, but you will see that 'they' will all end by
being generals in their turn. You will see it if you live long

"But why should they suppose that I despise generals?" Gania
thought sarcastically to himself.

To serve her brother's interests, Varvara Ardalionovna was
constantly at the Epanchins' house, helped by the fact that in
childhood she and Gania had played with General Ivan
Fedorovitch's daughters. It would have been inconsistent with her
character if in these visits she had been pursuing a chimera; her
project was not chimerical at all; she was building on a firm
basis--on her knowledge of the character of the Epanchin family,
especially Aglaya, whom she studied closely. All Varvara's
efforts were directed towards bringing Aglaya and Gania together.
Perhaps she achieved some result; perhaps, also, she made the
mistake of depending too much upon her brother, and expecting
more from him than he would ever be capable of giving. However
this may be, her manoeuvres were skilful enough. For weeks at a
time she would never mention Gania. Her attitude was modest but
dignified, and she was always extremely truthful and sincere.
Examining the depths of her conscience, she found nothing to
reproach herself with, and this still further strengthened her in
her designs. But Varvara Ardalionovna sometimes remarked that she
felt spiteful; that there was a good deal of vanity in her,
perhaps even of wounded vanity. She noticed this at certain times
more than at others, and especially after her visits to the

Today, as I have said, she returned from their house with a
heavy feeling of dejection. There was a sensation of bitterness,
a sort of mocking contempt, mingled with it.

Arrived at her own house, Varia heard a considerable commotion
going on in the upper storey, and distinguished the voices of her
father and brother. On entering the salon she found Gania pacing
up and down at frantic speed, pale with rage and almost tearing
his hair. She frowned, and subsided on to the sofa with a tired
air, and without taking the trouble to remove her hat. She very
well knew that if she kept quiet and asked her brother nothing
about his reason for tearing up and down the room, his wrath
would fall upon her head. So she hastened to put the question:

"The old story, eh?"

"Old story? No! Heaven knows what's up now--I don't! Father has
simply gone mad; mother's in floods of tears. Upon my word,
Varia, I must kick him out of the house; or else go myself," he
added, probably remembering that he could not well turn people
out of a house which was not his own.

"You must make allowances," murmured Varia.

"Make allowances? For whom? Him--the old blackguard? No, no,
Varia--that won't do! It won't do, I tell you! And look at the
swagger of the man! He's all to blame himself, and yet he puts on
so much 'side' that you'd think--my word!--'It's too much
trouble to go through the gate, you must break the fence for me!'
That's the sort of air he puts on; but what's the matter with
you, Varia? What a curious expression you have!"

"I'm all right," said Varia, in a tone that sounded as though she
were all wrong.

Gania looked more intently at her.

"You've been THERE?" he asked, suddenly.


"Did you find out anything?"

"Nothing unexpected. I discovered that it's all true. My husband
was wiser than either of us. Just as he suspected from the
beginning, so it has fallen out. Where is he?"

"Out. Well--what has happened?--go on."

"The prince is formally engaged to her--that's settled. The elder
sisters told me about it. Aglaya has agreed. They don't attempt
to conceal it any longer; you know how mysterious and secret they
have all been up to now. Adelaida's wedding is put off again, so
that both can be married on one day. Isn't that delightfully
romantic? Somebody ought to write a poem on it. Sit down and
write an ode instead of tearing up and down like that. This
evening Princess Bielokonski is to arrive; she comes just in
time--they have a party tonight. He is to be presented to old
Bielokonski, though I believe he knows her already; probably the
engagement will be openly announced. They are only afraid that he
may knock something down, or trip over something when he comes
into the room. It would be just like him."

Gania listened attentively, but to his sister's astonishment he
was by no means so impressed by this news (which should, she
thought, have been so important to him) as she had expected.

"Well, it was clear enough all along," he said, after a moment's
reflection. "So that's the end," he added, with a disagreeable
smile, continuing to walk up and down the room, but much slower
than before, and glancing slyly into his sister's face.

"It's a good thing that you take it philosophically, at all
events," said Varia. "I'm really very glad of it."

"Yes, it's off our hands--off YOURS, I should say."

"I think I have served you faithfully. I never even asked you
what happiness you expected to find with Aglaya."

"Did I ever expect to find happiness with Aglaya?"

"Come, come, don't overdo your philosophy. Of course you did. Now
it's all over, and a good thing, too; pair of fools that we have
been! I confess I have never been able to look at it seriously. I
busied myself in it for your sake, thinking that there was no
knowing what might happen with a funny