The idiot \/ Идиот

Федор Достоевский
The idiot / Идиот

IX

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 marriage.

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, however —”

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 livid.

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 words.

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 vero —”

“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.”

“Where – where?”

“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 dyed.

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 report.

“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 mind.

“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 anybody.

“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.

X

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 Gania.

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 sudden.

“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 will.”

“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 excitement.

“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 annoyance.

“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 Ardalionovitch.”

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 face.

“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 smile.

“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.

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