“Oh, come--nonsense!” cried Gania; “if you did not go shaming us all over the town, things might be better for all parties.”

A couple of days later, however, Hippolyte’s mother came with tears in her eyes, and begged the prince to come back, “or _he_ would eat her up bodily.” She added that Hippolyte had a great secret to disclose. Of course the prince went. There was no secret, however, unless we reckon certain pantings and agitated glances around (probably all put on) as the invalid begged his visitor to “beware of Rogojin.”

Aglaya alone seemed sad and depressed; her face was flushed, perhaps with indignation.

“Do you know I am specially glad that today is your birthday!” cried Hippolyte.

Nastasia came out of the house looking as white as any handkerchief; but her large dark eyes shone upon the vulgar crowd like blazing coals. The spectators’ cries were redoubled, and became more exultant and triumphant every moment. The door of the carriage was open, and Keller had given his hand to the bride to help her in, when suddenly with a loud cry she rushed from him, straight into the surging crowd. Her friends about her were stupefied with amazement; the crowd parted as she rushed through it, and suddenly, at a distance of five or six yards from the carriage, appeared Rogojin. It was his look that had caught her eyes.

“Seeking?”

“Good heavens!” cried Varia, raising her hands.

“How so? Do you want to make out that you love them _both?_”

“I don’t know, father.”

“‘Peter Matveyevitch Bachmatoff!’ he cried, trembling all over with excitement. ‘Why, nearly everything depends on that very man!’

“He’s not going to die at once, I should think, is he?”

“I believe I have just written dreadful nonsense; but there’s no time for correcting, as I said before. Besides that, I have made myself a promise not to alter a single word of what I write in this paper, even though I find that I am contradicting myself every five lines. I wish to verify the working of the natural logic of my ideas tomorrow during the reading--whether I am capable of detecting logical errors, and whether all that I have meditated over during the last six months be true, or nothing but delirium.

“Well, meanwhile that sick boy was brought here, and those guests came in, and we had tea, and--well, we made merry--to my ruin! Hearing of your birthday afterwards, and excited with the circumstances of the evening, I ran upstairs and changed my plain clothes once more for my uniform [Civil Service clerks in Russia wear uniform.]--you must have noticed I had my uniform on all the evening? Well, I forgot the money in the pocket of my old coat--you know when God will ruin a man he first of all bereaves him of his senses--and it was only this morning at half-past seven that I woke up and grabbed at my coat pocket, first thing. The pocket was empty--the purse gone, and not a trace to be found!”

“Oh! I _don’t_ intend to. Thanks. I live here, next door to you; you noticed a room, did you? Don’t come to me very often; I shall see you here quite often enough. Have you seen the general?”

“What was I to draw? According to the lines she quoted:

“I suppose you’ll say there is nothing national about our literature either?” said Alexandra.

“I have not seen all kinds of liberals, and cannot, therefore, set myself up as a judge,” said Alexandra, “but I have heard all you have said with indignation. You have taken some accidental case and twisted it into a universal law, which is unjust.”

That month in the provinces, when he had seen this woman nearly every day, had affected him so deeply that he could not now look back upon it calmly. In the very look of this woman there was something which tortured him. In conversation with Rogojin he had attributed this sensation to pity--immeasurable pity, and this was the truth. The sight of the portrait face alone had filled his heart full of the agony of real sympathy; and this feeling of sympathy, nay, of actual _suffering_, for her, had never left his heart since that hour, and was still in full force. Oh yes, and more powerful than ever!

“Nastasia Philipovna!” said the general, in persuasive but agitated tones.

Here he rose again from his chair, so that it seemed strange that he should have thought it worth while to sit down at all.

“Well, you’d better stay here, all of you, for a little, and I’ll go down to him alone to begin with. I’ll just go in and then you can follow me almost at once. That’s the best way.”

There was no room for doubt in the prince’s mind: one of the voices was Rogojin’s, and the other Lebedeff’s.

Mrs. Epanchin misunderstood the observation, and rising from her place she left the room in majestic wrath. In the evening, however, Colia came with the story of the prince’s adventures, so far as he knew them. Mrs. Epanchin was triumphant; although Colia had to listen to a long lecture. “He idles about here the whole day long, one can’t get rid of him; and then when he is wanted he does not come. He might have sent a line if he did not wish to inconvenience himself.”

“I do not wish to quarrel with them about this; in some things they won’t be reasonable. I always did feel a loathing for the laws which seem to guide mamma’s conduct at times. I don’t speak of father, for he cannot be expected to be anything but what he is. Mother is a noble-minded woman, I know; you try to suggest anything mean to her, and you’ll see! But she is such a slave to these miserable creatures! I don’t mean old Bielokonski alone. She is a contemptible old thing, but she is able to twist people round her little finger, and I admire that in her, at all events! How mean it all is, and how foolish! We were always middle-class, thoroughly middle-class, people. Why should we attempt to climb into the giddy heights of the fashionable world? My sisters are all for it. It’s Prince S. they have to thank for poisoning their minds. Why are you so glad that Evgenie Pavlovitch is coming?”

As most of those present were aware that this evening a certain very important decision was to be taken, these words of Nastasia Philipovna’s appeared to be fraught with much hidden interest. The general and Totski exchanged looks; Gania fidgeted convulsively in his chair.

“Five weeks!” said he, wiping his eyes. “Only five weeks! Poor orphans!”

“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?”

A tear glistened on her cheek. At the sight of it Hippolyte seemed amazed. He lifted his hand timidly and, touched the tear with his finger, smiling like a child.

“You know of course why I requested this meeting?” she said at last, quietly, and pausing twice in the delivery of this very short sentence.

“Don’t be angry; she is a wilful, mad, spoilt girl. If she likes a person she will pitch into him, and chaff him. I used to be just such another. But for all that you needn’t flatter yourself, my boy; she is not for you. I don’t believe it, and it is not to be. I tell you so at once, so that you may take proper precautions. Now, I want to hear you swear that you are not married to that woman?”

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

At length a woman seemed to approach him. He knew her, oh! he knew her only too well. He could always name her and recognize her anywhere; but, strange, she seemed to have quite a different face from hers, as he had known it, and he felt a tormenting desire to be able to say she was not the same woman. In the face before him there was such dreadful remorse and horror that he thought she must be a criminal, that she must have just committed some awful crime.

As they went downstairs the general regretted repeatedly that he had failed to introduce the prince to his friends.

“Oh! it’s all the same to me now--_now!_ But at that time I would soak my pillow at night with tears of mortification, and tear at my blanket in my rage and fury. Oh, how I longed at that time to be turned out--_me_, eighteen years old, poor, half-clothed, turned out into the street, quite alone, without lodging, without work, without a crust of bread, without relations, without a single acquaintance, in some large town--hungry, beaten (if you like), but in good health--and _then_ I would show them--

He looked back at her, but at times it was clear that he did not see her and was not thinking of her.

“Yes, quite so; very remarkable.”

“Here,” laughed Lebedeff, at last, rising to his full height and looking pleasantly at the prince, “here, in the lining of my coat. Look, you can feel it for yourself, if you like!”

“Do you think he will make another attempt?”

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

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

This agitated the old lady considerably; and she awoke her other daughters. Next, she learned from the maid that Aglaya had gone into the park before seven o’clock. The sisters made a joke of Aglaya’s last freak, and told their mother that if she went into the park to look for her, Aglaya would probably be very angry with her, and that she was pretty sure to be sitting reading on the green bench that she had talked of two or three days since, and about which she had nearly quarrelled with Prince S., who did not see anything particularly lovely in it.

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

“My dear prince,” continued Prince S. “remember what you and I were saying two or three months ago. We spoke of the fact that in our newly opened Law Courts one could already lay one’s finger upon so many talented and remarkable young barristers. How pleased you were with the state of things as we found it, and how glad I was to observe your delight! We both said it was a matter to be proud of; but this clumsy defence that Evgenie mentions, this strange argument _can_, of course, only be an accidental case--one in a thousand!”

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

“To the station, quick! If you catch the train you shall have another. Quick!”

“What an extraordinary person you are, prince! Do you mean to say that you doubt the fact that he is capable of murdering ten men?”

The prince regarded him attentively, but said nothing.

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

“If this ‘Explanation’ gets into anybody’s hands, and they have patience to read it through, they may consider me a madman, or a schoolboy, or, more likely, a man condemned to die, who thought it only natural to conclude that all men, excepting himself, esteem life far too lightly, live it far too carelessly and lazily, and are, therefore, one and all, unworthy of it. Well, I affirm that my reader is wrong again, for my convictions have nothing to do with my sentence of death. Ask them, ask any one of them, or all of them, what they mean by happiness! Oh, you may be perfectly sure that if Columbus was happy, it was not after he had discovered America, but when he was discovering it! You may be quite sure that he reached the culminating point of his happiness three days before he saw the New World with his actual eyes, when his mutinous sailors wanted to tack about, and return to Europe! What did the New World matter after all? Columbus had hardly seen it when he died, and in reality he was entirely ignorant of what he had discovered. The important thing is life--life and nothing else! What is any ‘discovery’ whatever compared with the incessant, eternal discovery of life?

And suddenly, just as twice already he had awaked from sleep with the same vision, that very apparition now seemed to rise up before him. The woman appeared to step out from the park, and stand in the path in front of him, as though she had been waiting for him there.

At length she plunged into an energetic and hostile criticism of railways, and glared at the prince defiantly.

“No, I have never shot in my life.”

On hurrying back he found his bride locked up in her own room and could hear her hysterical cries and sobs. It was some time before she could be made to hear that the prince had come, and then she opened the door only just sufficiently to let him in, and immediately locked it behind him. She then fell on her knees at his feet. (So at least Dana Alexeyevna reported.)

“They are Nihilists, are they not?”

“Don’t be afraid,” he muttered, indistinctly, “though I have taken your cross, I shall not murder you for your watch.” So saying, he laughed suddenly, and strangely. Then in a moment his face became transfigured; he grew deadly white, his lips trembled, his eyes burned like fire. He stretched out his arms and held the prince tightly to him, and said in a strangled voice:

“The owner was now some forty yards ahead of me, and was very soon lost in the crowd. I ran after him, and began calling out; but as I knew nothing to say excepting ‘hey!’ he did not turn round. Suddenly he turned into the gate of a house to the left; and when I darted in after him, the gateway was so dark that I could see nothing whatever. It was one of those large houses built in small tenements, of which there must have been at least a hundred.

When recalling all this afterwards the prince could not for the life of him understand how to reconcile the beautiful, sincere, pure nature of the girl with the irony of this jest. That it was a jest there was no doubt whatever; he knew that well enough, and had good reason, too, for his conviction; for during her recitation of the ballad Aglaya had deliberately changed the letters A. N. B. into N. P. B. He was quite sure she had not done this by accident, and that his ears had not deceived him. At all events her performance--which was a joke, of course, if rather a crude one,--was premeditated. They had evidently talked (and laughed) over the ‘poor knight’ for more than a month.

“At the first glimpse of the rising sun, prince, I will go to bed. I told you I would, word of honour! You shall see!” cried Hippolyte. “You think I’m not capable of opening this packet, do you?” He glared defiantly round at the audience in general.

“One might dispute your right to ask such questions,” observed Lebedeff’s nephew.

“When you are not with me I hate you, Lef Nicolaievitch. I have loathed you every day of these three months since I last saw you. By heaven I have!” said Rogojin. “I could have poisoned you at any minute. Now, you have been with me but a quarter of an hour, and all my malice seems to have melted away, and you are as dear to me as ever. Stay here a little longer.”

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

“Lef Nicolaievitch,” said Rogojin, after a pause, during which the two walked along a little further, “I have long wished to ask you, do you believe in God?”

“It was Nastasia Philipovna,” said the prince; “didn’t you know that? I cannot tell you who her companion was.”

A tear glistened on her cheek. At the sight of it Hippolyte seemed amazed. He lifted his hand timidly and, touched the tear with his finger, smiling like a child.

He glanced at Aglaya, who was listening with a look of hatred on her face.

“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.

True enough, most of the guests, next day and the day after, were not in very good humour. Ivan Petrovitch was a little offended, but not seriously so. General Epanchin’s chief was rather cool towards him for some while after the occurrence. The old dignitary, as patron of the family, took the opportunity of murmuring some kind of admonition to the general, and added, in flattering terms, that he was most interested in Aglaya’s future. He was a man who really did possess a kind heart, although his interest in the prince, in the earlier part of the evening, was due, among other reasons, to the latter’s connection with Nastasia Philipovna, according to popular report. He had heard a good deal of this story here and there, and was greatly interested in it, so much so that he longed to ask further questions about it.

A couple of days later, however, Hippolyte’s mother came with tears in her eyes, and begged the prince to come back, “or _he_ would eat her up bodily.” She added that Hippolyte had a great secret to disclose. Of course the prince went. There was no secret, however, unless we reckon certain pantings and agitated glances around (probably all put on) as the invalid begged his visitor to “beware of Rogojin.”

“Lef Nicolaievitch was a ward of Nicolai Andreevitch Pavlicheff, after the death of his own parents,” he remarked, meeting Ivan Petrovitch’s eye.

There were to be very few guests besides the best men and so on; only Dana Alexeyevna, the Ptitsins, Gania, and the doctor. When the prince asked Lebedeff why he had invited the doctor, who was almost a stranger, Lebedeff replied:

“Nastasia Philipovna!” began the general, reproachfully. He was beginning to put his own interpretation on the affair.

Aglaya sat with her eyes on the ground; she seemed to have alarmed even herself by what she had said.

“Even the porter does not know that I have come home now. I told him, and told them at my mother’s too, that I was off to Pavlofsk,” said Rogojin, with a cunning and almost satisfied smile. “We’ll go in quietly and nobody will hear us.”

“At all events, I shall not interfere with you!” he murmured, as though making answer to some secret thought of his own.

“Yes, I hear.”

Here is the article.

“Why, did you say--” began the prince, and paused in confusion.

“Yes,” said Lebedeff, “you certainly think a great deal too much about yourself.”

“Not for the world, not for the world! I merely wish to make him ashamed of himself. Oh, prince, great though this misfortune be to myself, I cannot help thinking of his morals! I have a great favour to ask of you, esteemed prince; I confess that it is the chief object of my visit. You know the Ivolgins, you have even lived in their house; so if you would lend me your help, honoured prince, in the general’s own interest and for his good.”

“Loves him? She is head over ears in love, that’s what she is,” put in Alexandra.

“What did I want? Well, to begin with, it is good to meet a man like you. It is a pleasure to talk over my faults with you. I know you for one of the best of men... and then... then...”

“Yes, your brother does not attract me much.”

“Do you think so? Had I not just better tell him I have found it, and pretend I never guessed where it was?”

Alexandra now joined in, and it looked as though the three sisters were going to laugh on for ever.

“She is a woman who is seeking...”

The prince questioned him in detail as to his hints about Rogojin. He was anxious to seize upon some facts which might confirm Hippolyte’s vague warnings; but there were none; only Hippolyte’s own private impressions and feelings.

“That gentleman--Ivan Petrovitch--is a relation of your late friend, Mr. Pavlicheff. You wanted to find some of his relations, did you not?”

“You’ve lost the game, Gania” he cried, as he passed the latter.

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

“Judging from the fact that the prince blushed at this innocent joke, like a young girl, I should think that he must, as an honourable man, harbour the noblest intentions,” said the old toothless schoolmaster, most unexpectedly; he had not so much as opened his mouth before. This remark provoked general mirth, and the old fellow himself laughed loudest of the lot, but ended with a stupendous fit of coughing.

“They showed me out with bows and every kind of respect; they seemed quite beside themselves. I shall never forget the expression of their faces!

Lebedeff, Ptitsin, and General Ivolgin hastened to find chairs for the young ladies. Varia greeted them joyfully, and they exchanged confidences in ecstatic whispers.

The prince glanced again at Evgenie Pavlovitch with considerable surprise.

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

“I don’t know--perhaps you are right in much that you have said, Evgenie Pavlovitch. You are very wise, Evgenie Pavlovitch--oh! how my head is beginning to ache again! Come to her, quick--for God’s sake, come!”

No one else followed the eccentric lady; but as she descended the steps she did not even look behind her, as though it were absolutely the same to her whether anyone were following or not. She laughed and talked loudly, however, just as before. She was dressed with great taste, but with rather more magnificence than was needed for the occasion, perhaps.

“You’ve moved him to tears,” added Ferdishenko. But Hippolyte was by no means weeping. He was about to move from his place, when his four guards rushed at him and seized him once more. There was a laugh at this.

“You want to take advantage of my position, now that I am in your house,” continued Aglaya, awkwardly.

“My dear, I am quite ready; naturally... the prince.”

They had left the garden now, and were crossing the yard on their way to the gate.