“I suppose you’ll say there is nothing national about our literature either?” said Alexandra.
“Pure amiable curiosity,--I assure you--desire to do a service. That’s all. Now I’m entirely yours again, your slave; hang me if you like!”

“I tell you it’s true,” said Rogojin quietly, but with eyes ablaze with passion.

“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--”
“At moments I was in a state of dreadful weakness and misery, so that Colia was greatly disturbed when he left me.
“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.” “Whoever is afraid of wolves had better not go into the wood,” said Nastasia, smiling. The prince shuddered, and gazed fixedly at Parfen. Suddenly he burst out laughing.
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.
“But how could he know anything of it? Tell me that. Lebedeff and the prince determined to tell no one--even Colia knows nothing.”
“I thought Evgenie Pavlovitch was talking seriously,” said the prince, blushing and dropping his eyes.
“Look here, my dear prince, no one jumps out of the window if they can help it; but when there’s a fire, the dandiest gentleman or the finest lady in the world will skip out! When the moment comes, and there’s nothing else to be done--our young lady will go to Nastasia Philipovna’s! Don’t they let the young ladies out of the house alone, then?”
“H’m! now, I suppose, you and your husband will never weary of egging me on to work again. You’ll begin your lectures about perseverance and strength of will, and all that. I know it all by heart,” said Gania, laughing.
How or why it came about that everyone at the Epanchins’ became imbued with one conviction--that something very important had happened to Aglaya, and that her fate was in process of settlement--it would be very difficult to explain. But no sooner had this idea taken root, than all at once declared that they had seen and observed it long ago; that they had remarked it at the time of the “poor knight” joke, and even before, though they had been unwilling to believe in such nonsense.

“And, pray, who are you yourself?”

“But you didn’t repeat what you heard in the study? You didn’t repeat that--eh?”
“It’s burning, it’s burning!” cried all, thronging nearer and nearer to the fire in their excitement.
“And what shall I tell him by way of answer?”
“You are inclined to go a little too far, my good boy, with your guesses,” said Mrs. Epanchin, with some show of annoyance.
“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...
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.
The next day Keller came to visit the prince. He was in a high state of delight with the post of honour assigned to him at the wedding.
How or why it came about that everyone at the Epanchins’ became imbued with one conviction--that something very important had happened to Aglaya, and that her fate was in process of settlement--it would be very difficult to explain. But no sooner had this idea taken root, than all at once declared that they had seen and observed it long ago; that they had remarked it at the time of the “poor knight” joke, and even before, though they had been unwilling to believe in such nonsense.
At this moment Alexandra’s voice was heard outside the door, calling out “Papa!”
“What! he brought a candle with him to this place? That is, if the episode happened here; otherwise I can’t.”

“Well?”

“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 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?” 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.

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.

“I see the ‘poor knight’ has come on the scene again,” said Evgenie Pavlovitch, stepping to Aglaya’s side.
“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.”
“Well, I was glad enough, for I had long felt the greatest sympathy for this man; and then the pretty uniform and all that--only a child, you know--and so on. It was a dark green dress coat with gold buttons--red facings, white trousers, and a white silk waistcoat--silk stockings, shoes with buckles, and top-boots if I were riding out with his majesty or with the suite.
She had almost reached the door when she turned round again.
“Oh, _that’s_ all the same! The chief thing is that she wants to see you after six months’ absence. Look here, Gania, this is a _serious_ business. Don’t swagger again and lose the game--play carefully, but don’t funk, do you understand? As if she could possibly avoid seeing what I have been working for all this last six months! And just imagine, I was there this morning and not a word of this! I was there, you know, on the sly. The old lady did not know, or she would have kicked me out. I ran some risk for you, you see. I did so want to find out, at all hazards.”
“Oh, quite so, of course. But how was it in your case?--I don’t quite understand,” said the bewildered prince. “You say it wasn’t there at first, and that you searched the place thoroughly, and yet it turned up on that very spot!”
“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.
“Do you hear, prince?” said Nastasia Philipovna. “Do you hear how this moujik of a fellow goes on bargaining for your bride?”
“And the money’s burning still,” Lebedeff lamented.
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:

“Only quite lately. His sister has been working like a rat to clear the way for him all the winter.”

“With you and me there would have been a scene. We should have shouted and fought, and called in the police. But he has simply made some new friends--and such friends, too! I know them!”
The prince regarded Lebedeff with astonishment.
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.
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. “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 possessed.

“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 Trepalaf’s.

“Of course, of course, not my affair. All right,” said Colia, and away he went.

“He is not at home.”
“He is a lodger of ours,” explained the latter.

“Would you like some tea? I’ll order some,” she said, after a minute or two of silence.

“Why did you not ask for me at my room if you were in the hotel?” asked the prince, suddenly.
There are many strange circumstances such as this before us; but in our opinion they do but deepen the mystery, and do not in the smallest degree help us to understand the case.

“That they do _not_ know about it in the house is quite certain, the rest of them, I mean; but you have given me an idea. Aglaya perhaps knows. She alone, though, if anyone; for the sisters were as astonished as I was to hear her speak so seriously. If she knows, the prince must have told her.”

“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?”
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. The explanation was finished; Hippolyte paused at last. “Last week? In the night? Have you gone cracked, my good friend?” III.

“No, no! I cannot allow this,--this is a little too much,” cried Lizabetha Prokofievna, exploding with rage, and she rose from her seat and followed Aglaya out of the room as quickly as she could.

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 episode.
The prince blushed, but this time he said nothing. Colia burst out laughing and clapped his hands. A minute later the prince laughed too, and from this moment until the evening he looked at his watch every other minute to see how much time he had to wait before evening came.

“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 expected.

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. “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--”
“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--”

“No, he...”

“Nastasia Philipovna!” said the general, in persuasive but agitated tones.
“It seems to me that you have been too painfully impressed by the news of what happened to your good benefactor,” said the old dignitary, kindly, and with the utmost calmness of demeanour. “You are excitable, perhaps as the result of your solitary life. If you would make up your mind to live more among your fellows in society, I trust, I am sure, that the world would be glad to welcome you, as a remarkable young man; and you would soon find yourself able to look at things more calmly. You would see that all these things are much simpler than you think; and, besides, these rare cases come about, in my opinion, from ennui and from satiety.”

“But how meek she was when you spoke to her!”

“Papa, you are wanted!” cried Colia.

“What then?”

“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 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--”
“Wasn’t she joking? She was speaking sarcastically!”