“Not those very words. She only just had time to whisper as she went by; but by the way she looked at me I knew it was important. She looked at me in a way that made my heart stop beating.”
“But you declared I wasn’t--”

He could bear it no longer, and with a look of entreaty, mingled with reproach, he addressed Aglaya, pointing to Nastasia the while:

“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.”
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.

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 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!”

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.

Rogojin smiled, but did not explain.

“No. I was only going to say that what surprises me most of all is your extraordinary confidence.”

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.

“Is that true?” she asked.

“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?”

VII.“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!”
“That seems to me all the more reason for sparing her,” said the prince timidly.
“I think so too, as clear as day; she loves him.”

“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.”

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.
“Oh, my dear prince,” cried the general, who was now so intoxicated with his own narrative that he probably could not have pulled up at the most patent indiscretion. “You say, ‘if it really was so!’ There was more--_much_ more, I assure you! These are merely a few little political acts. I tell you I was the eye-witness of the nightly sorrow and groanings of the great man, and of _that_ no one can speak but myself. Towards the end he wept no more, though he continued to emit an occasional groan; but his face grew more overcast day by day, as though Eternity were wrapping its gloomy mantle about him. Occasionally we passed whole hours of silence together at night, Roustan snoring in the next room--that fellow slept like a pig. ‘But he’s loyal to me and my dynasty,’ said Napoleon of him.
“Are you Prince Muishkin?” he asked, with the greatest courtesy and amiability.
“Oh, you naughty man!” cried Nastasia, laughing and clapping her hands like a child.

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.

“No--oh no, fresher--more the correct card. I only became this like after the humiliation I suffered there.”

“What are you doing there?” she asked.

“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?”“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?”
“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?”
They stopped on the landing, and rang the bell at a door opposite to Parfen’s own lodging.
“What nonsense!” Lebedeff’s nephew interrupted violently.
“‘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.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.
“No; I remember nothing!” said the prince. A few more words of explanation followed, words which were spoken without the smallest excitement by his companion, but which evoked the greatest agitation in the prince; and it was discovered that two old ladies to whose care the prince had been left by Pavlicheff, and who lived at Zlatoverhoff, were also relations of Ivan Petrovitch.
“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 anything?”
“You can stay with him if you like,” said Muishkin.

“Bravo, prince!” cried Ferdishenko, delighted.

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 thoughtfulness.“I’ve heard so. Well, we’ll leave that question just now. Why am I a scandal-monger? Why did she call me a scandal-monger? And mind, _after_ she had heard every word I had to tell her, and had asked all sorts of questions besides--but such is the way of women. For _her_ sake I entered into relations with Rogojin--an interesting man! At _her_ request I arranged a personal interview between herself and Nastasia Philipovna. Could she have been angry because I hinted that she was enjoying Nastasia Philipovna’s ‘leavings’? Why, I have been impressing it upon her all this while for her own good. Two letters have I written her in that strain, and I began straight off today about its being humiliating for her. Besides, the word ‘leavings’ is not my invention. At all events, they all used it at Gania’s, and she used it herself. So why am I a scandal-monger? I see--I see you are tremendously amused, at this moment! Probably you are laughing at me and fitting those silly lines to my case--

“Oh no! Never.”

It was about Easter, when, taking advantage of a momentary tête-à-tête 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:
“What! _Aglaya_ would have funked? You are a chicken-hearted fellow, Gania!” said Varia, looking at her brother with contempt. “Not one of us is worth much. Aglaya may be a wild sort of a girl, but she is far nobler than any of us, a thousand times nobler!”Evgenie meanwhile observed him attentively, and the rapidity of the questions, their simplicity, the prince’s candour, and at the same time, his evident perplexity and mental agitation, surprised him considerably. However, he told Muishkin all he could, kindly and in detail. The prince hardly knew anything, for this was the first informant from the household whom he had met since the estrangement.

He could remember that Vera brought him some dinner, and that he took it; but whether he slept after dinner, or no, he could not recollect.

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.

“Cold?”

“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.”

“I can just see there’s a bed--”

“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.

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.

“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.”

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.

“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 yesterday?”
“You are going to Pavlofsk too?” asked the prince sharply. “Everybody seems to be going there. Have you a house in that neighbourhood?”
“Who was he?”
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.
“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, too!”
“You are convinced? You don’t really mean to say you think that honestly?” asked Aglaya, extremely surprised.
“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.”

Meanwhile nothing put the prince out, and he continued to be in the seventh heaven of bliss. Of course he could not fail to observe some impatience and ill-temper in Aglaya now and then; but he believed in something else, and nothing could now shake his conviction. Besides, Aglaya’s frowns never lasted long; they disappeared of themselves.

After this performance, he smiled sweetly and left the room on tiptoe.
“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?”
“Good God!” exclaimed Lizabetha Prokofievna involuntarily.

“After--it was about twelve o’clock.”

“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!”

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

“What an extraordinary man you are! I wonder at you!” Rogojin laughed sarcastically.

“No, I tell you I did _not_.”“Well, at all events, they were consulting together at the time. Of course it was the idea of an eagle, and must have originated with Napoleon; but the other project was good too--it was the ‘Conseil du lion!’ as Napoleon called it. This project consisted in a proposal to occupy the Kremlin with the whole army; to arm and fortify it scientifically, to kill as many horses as could be got, and salt their flesh, and spend the winter there; and in spring to fight their way out. Napoleon liked the idea--it attracted him. We rode round the Kremlin walls every day, and Napoleon used to give orders where they were to be patched, where built up, where pulled down and so on. All was decided at last. They were alone together--those two and myself.

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!

Such was Vera’s story afterwards.

“What! Pleased with all that nonsense! Why, cannot you see that they are all infatuated with pride and vanity?”

“Just so.”

The prince gave no answer, and sat deep in thought. Evidently he was struggling to decide.
“No, I have never shot in my life.”

“No, no, you needn’t do anything of the sort; you mustn’t hint gently at all. I’ll go down myself directly. I wish to apologize to this young man, because I hurt his feelings.”

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 questioningly.

“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 spite!”

Aglaya paused for a moment, as though suddenly brought up in astonishment that she could have said these words, but at the same time a great pride shone in her eyes, like a defiant assertion that it would not matter to her if “this woman” laughed in her face for the admission just made.
“‘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!’
Ferdishenko led the general up to Nastasia Philipovna.

“Good-bye.”

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 least.

The prince looked back at him in amazement.
“What did he do there? What did he say?” “They couldn’t tell me themselves; they couldn’t make head or tail of it; but he frightened them all. He came to see the general, who was not at home; so he asked for Lizabetha Prokofievna. First of all, he begged her for some place, or situation, for work of some kind, and then he began to complain about _us_, about me and my husband, and you, especially _you_; he said a lot of things.”

“Ye-yes.”

“Oh yes, I know a good deal.”
“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?”