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 prince.
“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 unexpectedly.
He was not in the least disconcerted to see Varia there, but he stood a moment at the door, and then approached the prince quietly.
“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 go?”
“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 room.
“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 visit.
“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?
“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 now —”
“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. “No.”
“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 penknives, 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 revoir!”
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 word.
“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 Sokolovitch.”
“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 Michailovna.”
“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 Philipovna?”
“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 up.
“Yes, my boy. I wish to present him: General Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin! But what’s the matter?… what?… How is Marfa Borisovna?”
“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 reproach.
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!”