It would be difficult to describe the animation and high spirits which distinguished the prince for the rest of the evening.

But now his eyes had become so far accustomed to the darkness that he could distinguish the whole of the bed. Someone was asleep upon it--in an absolutely motionless sleep. Not the slightest movement was perceptible, not the faintest breathing could be heard. The sleeper was covered with a white sheet; the outline of the limbs was hardly distinguishable. He could only just make out that a human being lay outstretched there.“Good-bye.”“I hinted nothing to him about my ‘final conviction,’ but it appeared to me that he had guessed it from my words. He remained silent--he is a terribly silent man. I remarked to him, as I rose to depart, that, in spite of the contrast and the wide differences between us two, les extremites se touchent [‘extremes meet,’ as I explained to him in Russian); so that maybe he was not so far from my final conviction as appeared.“He’s a little screw,” cried the general; “he drills holes in my heart and soul. He wishes me to be a pervert to atheism. Know, you young greenhorn, that I was covered with honours before ever you were born; and you are nothing better than a wretched little worm, torn in two with coughing, and dying slowly of your own malice and unbelief. What did Gavrila bring you over here for? They’re all against me, even to my own son--all against me.”
“Twenty-seventh; very well. Good-bye now; you have a good deal to do, I’m sure, and I must dress and go out. Take your portrait. Give my respects to your unfortunate mother, Nina Alexandrovna. _Au revoir_, dear prince, come in and see us often, do; and I shall tell old Princess Bielokonski about you. I shall go and see her on purpose. And listen, my dear boy, I feel sure that God has sent you to Petersburg from Switzerland on purpose for me. Maybe you will have other things to do, besides, but you are sent chiefly for my sake, I feel sure of it. God sent you to me! Au revoir! Alexandra, come with me, my dear.”
Alas Aglaya still did not come--and the prince was quite lost. He had the greatest difficulty in expressing his opinion that railways were most useful institutions,--and in the middle of his speech Adelaida laughed, which threw him into a still worse state of confusion.
“I assure you I did not mean to reckon up debits and credits,” he began, “and if you--”

The door opened at this point, and in came Gania most unexpectedly.

The Epanchins had only just heard of the prince’s illness and of his presence in Pavlofsk, from Colia; and up to this time had been in a state of considerable bewilderment about him. The general brought the prince’s card down from town, and Mrs. Epanchin had felt convinced that he himself would follow his card at once; she was much excited.
But the father of the family was out in the road already. Colia was carrying his bag for him; Nina Alexandrovna stood and cried on the doorstep; she wanted to run after the general, but Ptitsin kept her back.
But it was Hippolyte’s last idea which upset him.
“Oh, don’t, don’t!” she exclaimed in alarm, snatching her hand away. She went hastily out of the room in a state of strange confusion.In vain the girls assured her that a man who had not written for six months would not be in such a dreadful hurry, and that probably he had enough to do in town without needing to bustle down to Pavlofsk to see them. Their mother was quite angry at the very idea of such a thing, and announced her absolute conviction that he would turn up the next day at latest.
“You will admit yourself, general, that for an honourable man, if the author is an honourable man, that is an--an insult,” growled the boxer suddenly, with convulsive jerkings of his shoulders.
“Listen--I know it is best not to speak! It is best simply to give a good example--simply to begin the work. I have done this--I have begun, and--and--oh! _can_ anyone be unhappy, really? Oh! what does grief matter--what does misfortune matter, if one knows how to be happy? Do you know, I cannot understand how anyone can pass by a green tree, and not feel happy only to look at it! How anyone can talk to a man and not feel happy in loving him! Oh, it is my own fault that I cannot express myself well enough! But there are lovely things at every step I take--things which even the most miserable man must recognize as beautiful. Look at a little child--look at God’s day dawn--look at the grass growing--look at the eyes that love you, as they gaze back into your eyes!”

It was extremely difficult to account for Nastasia’s strange condition of mind, which became more evident each moment, and which none could avoid noticing.

“Prince!” said he. “Excellency! You won’t let me tell you the whole truth; I have tried to explain; more than once I have begun, but you have not allowed me to go on...”
“One thing I may tell you, for certain,” concluded Ptitsin, addressing the prince, “that there is no question about the authenticity of this matter. Anything that Salaskin writes you as regards your unquestionable right to this inheritance, you may look upon as so much money in your pocket. I congratulate you, prince; you may receive a million and a half of roubles, perhaps more; I don’t know. All I _do_ know is that Paparchin was a very rich merchant indeed.”
“That is--where am I going to stay? I--I really don’t quite know yet, I--”
“Hippolyte, probably. He would think it the most delightful amusement in the world to tell her of it the instant he moved over here; I haven’t a doubt of it.”

The doorway was dark and gloomy at any time; but just at this moment it was rendered doubly so by the fact that the thunder-storm had just broken, and the rain was coming down in torrents.

“Aglaya Ivanovna told me--”

“What was the matter yesterday?” (she wrote on another sheet). “I passed by you, and you seemed to me to _blush_. Perhaps it was only my fancy. If I were to bring you to the most loathsome den, and show you the revelation of undisguised vice--you should not blush. You can never feel the sense of personal affront. You may hate all who are mean, or base, or unworthy--but not for yourself--only for those whom they wrong. No one can wrong _you_. Do you know, I think you ought to love me--for you are the same in my eyes as in his--you are as light. An angel cannot hate, perhaps cannot love, either. I often ask myself--is it possible to love everybody? Indeed it is not; it is not in nature. Abstract love of humanity is nearly always love of self. But you are different. You cannot help loving all, since you can compare with none, and are above all personal offence or anger. Oh! how bitter it would be to me to know that you felt anger or shame on my account, for that would be your fall--you would become comparable at once with such as me.“I take you as a good, honest woman, Nastasia Philipovna--not as Rogojin’s mistress.”“Just a couple of words, prince, if you’ll excuse me. Don’t blab over _there_ about what you may see here, or in this house as to all that about Aglaya and me, you know. Things are not altogether pleasant in this establishment--devil take it all! You’ll see. At all events keep your tongue to yourself for _today_.”
“No, no, no, no, no! Nothing of the sort, I assure you!” said Lebedeff, hastily. “Oh dear no, not for the world! Totski’s the only man with any chance there. Oh, no! He takes her to his box at the opera at the French theatre of an evening, and the officers and people all look at her and say, ‘By Jove, there’s the famous Nastasia Philipovna!’ but no one ever gets any further than that, for there is nothing more to say.”
“‘I’m in consumption,’ I said laconically, rising from my seat.
“Married? how--what marriage?” murmured Gania, overwhelmed with confusion.
“Well, I am not a great authority on literary questions, but I certainly do hold that Russian literature is not Russian, except perhaps Lomonosoff, Pouschkin and Gogol.”
“I do not ask you what your business may be, all I have to do is to announce you; and unless the secretary comes in here I cannot do that.”
“‘Nurse, where is your tomb?’
“Mamma!” said Alexandra, shocked at her rudeness.
He stood so for ten seconds, gazing at the prince, motionless, deadly pale, his temples wet with perspiration; he held the prince’s hand in a strange grip, as though afraid to let him go.

“That is your father, is it not?” asked the prince.

At last Varvara Ardalionovna came in search of her brother, and remained for a few minutes. Without Muishkin’s asking her, she informed him that Evgenie Pavlovitch was spending the day in Petersburg, and perhaps would remain there over tomorrow; and that her husband had also gone to town, probably in connection with Evgenie Pavlovitch’s affairs.

“If you were there yourself you must have known that I was _not_ there!”

This invitation to drink, couched, as it was, in such informal terms, came very strangely from Nastasia Philipovna. Her usual entertainments were not quite like this; there was more style about them. However, the wine was not refused; each guest took a glass excepting Gania, who drank nothing.

Gania glanced inquiringly at the speaker.“Never more--from that sweet moment-- Gazéd he on womankind; He was dumb to love and wooing And to all their graces blind.
“It’s loaded all right,” said Keller, examining the pistol, “but--”
“I felt sure of that, or I should not have come to you. We might manage it with the help of Nina Alexandrovna, so that he might be closely watched in his own house. Unfortunately I am not on terms... otherwise... but Nicolai Ardalionovitch, who adores you with all his youthful soul, might help, too.”
“Oh, but you can’t stay here. You are a visitor--a guest, so to speak. Is it the general himself you wish to see?”
Finally, Totski took cunning means to try to break his chains and be free. He tried to tempt her in various ways to lose her heart; he invited princes, hussars, secretaries of embassies, poets, novelists, even Socialists, to see her; but not one of them all made the faintest impression upon Nastasia. It was as though she had a pebble in place of a heart, as though her feelings and affections were dried up and withered for ever.