“‘Here lies a Dead Soul, Shame pursues me.’

“Oh, Lebedeff, Lebedeff! Can a man really sink to such depths of meanness?” said the prince, sadly.

But Mrs. Epanchin would not deign to look at Lebedeff. Drawn up haughtily, with her head held high, she gazed at the “riff-raff,” with scornful curiosity. When Hippolyte had finished, Ivan Fedorovitch shrugged his shoulders, and his wife looked him angrily up and down, as if to demand the meaning of his movement. Then she turned to the prince.

“I think you said, prince, that your letter was from Salaskin? Salaskin is a very eminent man, indeed, in his own world; he is a wonderfully clever solicitor, and if he really tells you this, I think you may be pretty sure that he is right. It so happens, luckily, that I know his handwriting, for I have lately had business with him. If you would allow me to see it, I should perhaps be able to tell you.”
The latter had behaved modestly, but with dignity, on this occasion of his first meeting with the Epanchins since the rupture. Twice Mrs. Epanchin had deliberately examined him from head to foot; but he had stood fire without flinching. He was certainly much changed, as anyone could see who had not met him for some time; and this fact seemed to afford Aglaya a good deal of satisfaction.
“Well, what do you think? The old fellow went straight off to Nastasia Philipovna, touched the floor with his forehead, and began blubbering and beseeching her on his knees to give him back the diamonds. So after awhile she brought the box and flew out at him. ‘There,’ she says, ‘take your earrings, you wretched old miser; although they are ten times dearer than their value to me now that I know what it must have cost Parfen to get them! Give Parfen my compliments,’ she says, ‘and thank him very much!’ Well, I meanwhile had borrowed twenty-five roubles from a friend, and off I went to Pskoff to my aunt’s. The old woman there lectured me so that I left the house and went on a drinking tour round the public-houses of the place. I was in a high fever when I got to Pskoff, and by nightfall I was lying delirious in the streets somewhere or other!”

When Totski had approached the general with his request for friendly counsel as to a marriage with one of his daughters, he had made a full and candid confession. He had said that he intended to stop at no means to obtain his freedom; even if Nastasia were to promise to leave him entirely alone in future, he would not (he said) believe and trust her; words were not enough for him; he must have solid guarantees of some sort. So he and the general determined to try what an attempt to appeal to her heart would effect. Having arrived at Nastasia’s house one day, with Epanchin, Totski immediately began to speak of the intolerable torment of his position. He admitted that he was to blame for all, but candidly confessed that he could not bring himself to feel any remorse for his original guilt towards herself, because he was a man of sensual passions which were inborn and ineradicable, and that he had no power over himself in this respect; but that he wished, seriously, to marry at last, and that the whole fate of the most desirable social union which he contemplated, was in her hands; in a word, he confided his all to her generosity of heart.

“There, you see, girls,” said the impatient lady, “he _has_ begun, you see.”
He gave full, satisfactory, and direct evidence on every point; and the prince’s name was, thanks to this, not brought into the proceedings. Rogojin was very quiet during the progress of the trial. He did not contradict his clever and eloquent counsel, who argued that the brain fever, or inflammation of the brain, was the cause of the crime; clearly proving that this malady had existed long before the murder was perpetrated, and had been brought on by the sufferings of the accused.
But, besides the above, we are cognizant of certain other undoubted facts, which puzzle us a good deal because they seem flatly to contradict the foregoing. Prince S---- made the acquaintance of the general’s family, and Adelaida, the second girl, made a great impression upon him. Towards the spring he proposed to her, and she accepted him. The general and his wife were delighted. The journey abroad was put off, and the wedding was fixed for a day not very distant. “Her relations had all died off--her husband was dead and buried forty years since; and a niece, who had lived with her and bullied her up to three years ago, was dead too; so that she was quite alone.
“Let’s go,” said Rogojin, touching his shoulder. They left the alcove and sat down in the two chairs they had occupied before, opposite to one another. The prince trembled more and more violently, and never took his questioning eyes off Rogojin’s face.
“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?”
“Just two words: have you any means at all? Or perhaps you may be intending to undertake some sort of employment? Excuse my questioning you, but--”
Although the impudence of this attack, this public proclamation of intimacy, as it were, was doubtless premeditated, and had its special object, yet Evgenie Pavlovitch at first seemed to intend to make no show of observing either his tormentor or her words. But Nastasia’s communication struck him with the force of a thunderclap. On hearing of his uncle’s death he suddenly grew as white as a sheet, and turned towards his informant.
It appeared that he and the general were going in the same direction. In spite of the lateness of the hour, the general was hurrying away to talk to someone upon some important subject. Meanwhile he talked incessantly but disconnectedly to the prince, and continually brought in the name of Lizabetha Prokofievna.

“No doubt... and I... is that acting like a prince? And you... you may be a general! But I... I am not your valet! And I... I...” stammered Antip Burdovsky.

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.

He could not believe that this was the same haughty young girl who had once so proudly shown him Gania’s letter. He could not understand how that proud and austere beauty could show herself to be such an utter child--a child who probably did not even now understand some words.

“Bravo!” said Ferdishenko. Ptitsin laughed too, though he had been very sorry to see the general appear. Even Colia laughed and said, “Bravo!”
“Prince, my dear fellow, do remember what you are about,” said the general, approaching Muishkin, and pulling him by the coat sleeve.

“Well, what do you think of the arrangement, prince?”

“Oh, I happened to recall it, that’s all! It fitted into the conversation--”

“Well, it’s too bad of you,” said mamma. “You must forgive them, prince; they are good girls. I am very fond of them, though I often have to be scolding them; they are all as silly and mad as march hares.”
“Well, go on.”
“I know this much, that you did not go out to honest work, but went away with a rich man, Rogojin, in order to pose as a fallen angel. I don’t wonder that Totski was nearly driven to suicide by such a fallen angel.”

“But, on the other hand, more frank in the evening! In the evening sincere and frank,” repeated Lebedeff, earnestly. “More candid, more exact, more honest, more honourable, and... although I may show you my weak side, I challenge you all; you atheists, for instance! How are you going to save the world? How find a straight road of progress, you men of science, of industry, of cooperation, of trades unions, and all the rest? How are you going to save it, I say? By what? By credit? What is credit? To what will credit lead you?”

This same morning dawned for the prince pregnant with no less painful presentiments,--which fact his physical state was, of course, quite enough to account for; but he was so indefinably melancholy,--his sadness could not attach itself to anything in particular, and this tormented him more than anything else. Of course certain facts stood before him, clear and painful, but his sadness went beyond all that he could remember or imagine; he realized that he was powerless to console himself unaided. Little by little he began to develop the expectation that this day something important, something decisive, was to happen to him.
“I suppose you will go to the sufferer’s bedside now?” he added.
“But, my goodness me,” laughed Ivan Petrovitch, “why can’t I be cousin to even a splendid man?”

“I know nothing about Evgenie Pavlovitch!” said the prince.

“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.”
Gania stood and frowned, he expected a family scene. He never thought of apologizing to the prince, however.
“You will not deny, I am sure,” said Gavrila Ardalionovitch, turning to Burdovsky, who sat looking at him with wide-open eyes, perplexed and astonished. “You will not deny, seriously, that you were born just two years after your mother’s legal marriage to Mr. Burdovsky, your father. Nothing would be easier than to prove the date of your birth from well-known facts; we can only look on Mr. Keller’s version as a work of imagination, and one, moreover, extremely offensive both to you and your mother. Of course he distorted the truth in order to strengthen your claim, and to serve your interests. Mr. Keller said that he previously consulted you about his article in the paper, but did not read it to you as a whole. Certainly he could not have read that passage. ....”
In point of fact it is quite possible that the matter would have ended in a very commonplace and natural way in a few minutes. The undoubtedly astonished, but now more collected, General Epanchin had several times endeavoured to interrupt the prince, and not having succeeded he was now preparing to take firmer and more vigorous measures to attain his end. In another minute or two he would probably have made up his mind to lead the prince quietly out of the room, on the plea of his being ill (and it was more than likely that the general was right in his belief that the prince _was_ actually ill), but it so happened that destiny had something different in store. “I am very glad indeed to have met you here, Colia,” said the prince. “Can you do something for me? I must see Nastasia Philipovna, and I asked Ardalion Alexandrovitch just now to take me to her house, but he has gone to sleep, as you see. Will you show me the way, for I do not know the street? I have the address, though; it is close to the Grand Theatre.” Prince S---- made the acquaintance of the general’s family, and Adelaida, the second girl, made a great impression upon him. Towards the spring he proposed to her, and she accepted him. The general and his wife were delighted. The journey abroad was put off, and the wedding was fixed for a day not very distant.
“Well, nor do I!” said Evgenie Pavlovitch, laughing suddenly. “I haven’t the slightest knowledge of any such IOU’s as she mentioned, I swear I haven’t--What’s the matter, are you fainting?”
“Quite so, quite so!” cried Mrs. Epanchin, delighted. “I see you _can_ be sensible now and then, Alexandra. You were speaking of Switzerland, prince?”
He continued to speak in a whisper, very deliberately as before, and looked strangely thoughtful and dreamy. Even while he told the story of how he had peeped through the blind, he gave the impression of wishing to say something else. They entered the study. In this room some changes had taken place since the prince last saw it. It was now divided into two equal parts by a heavy green silk curtain stretched across it, separating the alcove beyond, where stood Rogojin’s bed, from the rest of the room.

“Who indeed?” exclaimed Prince S.

“Evgenie Pavlovitch! Is that you?” cried a clear, sweet voice, which caused the prince, and perhaps someone else, to tremble. “Well, I _am_ glad I’ve found you at last! I’ve sent to town for you twice today myself! My messengers have been searching for you everywhere!” The general shrugged his shoulders.
It was about Easter, when, taking advantage of a momentary tête-à-tête Colia handed Aglaya a letter, remarking that he “had orders to deliver it to her privately.” She stared at him in amazement, but he did not wait to hear what she had to say, and went out. Aglaya broke the seal, and read as follows:
“I don’t think we have a copy of Pushkin in the house.”
“Gentlemen, this--you’ll soon see what this is,” began Hippolyte, and suddenly commenced his reading.

“Unpleasant! Indeed it is. You have found a very appropriate expression,” said Lebedeff, politely, but with sarcasm.

He immediately button-holed Prince S., and standing at the front door, engaged in a whispered conversation with him. By the troubled aspect of both of them, when they entered the house, and approached Mrs. Epanchin, it was evident that they had been discussing very disturbing news.

“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.”
“I think so too,” said Mrs. Epanchin; “he will quarrel with you, and be off,” and she drew her workbox towards her with an air of dignity, quite oblivious of the fact that the family was about to start for a walk in the park.

Nastasia introduced the prince to her guests, to most of whom he was already known.

“If anyone had treated me so,” grumbled the boxer.
The visit he was about to pay was, in some respects, a risky one. He was in two minds about it, but knowing that the house was in the Gorohovaya, not far from the Sadovaya, he determined to go in that direction, and to try to make up his mind on the way.
He had spoken in a whisper all the way. In spite of his apparent outward composure, he was evidently in a state of great mental agitation. Arrived in a large salon, next to the study, he went to the window and cautiously beckoned the prince up to him.

But Nastasia Philipovna had now risen and advanced to meet the prince.

His audience consisted of a youth of about fifteen years of age with a clever face, who had a book in his hand, though he was not reading; a young lady of twenty, in deep mourning, stood near him with an infant in her arms; another girl of thirteen, also in black, was laughing loudly, her mouth wide open; and on the sofa lay a handsome young man, with black hair and eyes, and a suspicion of beard and whiskers. He frequently interrupted the speaker and argued with him, to the great delight of the others.

“Oh dear, yes!”

“Then why did--”

“But it is so difficult, and even impossible to understand, that surely I am not to be blamed because I could not fathom the incomprehensible?
“How, what? my letter?” he cried. “He never delivered it! I might have guessed it, oh! curse him! Of course she did not understand what I meant, naturally! Why--why--_why_ didn’t you give her the note, you--”

At last, with a sigh of annoyance, he said to himself that it was nothing but his own cursed sickly suspicion. His face lighted up with joy when, at about two o’clock, he espied the Epanchins coming along to pay him a short visit, “just for a minute.” They really had only come for a minute.

Evgenie Pavlovitch gazed at him in real surprise, and this time his expression of face had no mockery in it whatever.
Reaching the steps, Hippolyte had paused, holding the glass in his left hand while he put his right hand into his coat pocket.
As is well known, these fits occur instantaneously. The face, especially the eyes, become terribly disfigured, convulsions seize the limbs, a terrible cry breaks from the sufferer, a wail from which everything human seems to be blotted out, so that it is impossible to believe that the man who has just fallen is the same who emitted the dreadful cry. It seems more as though some other being, inside the stricken one, had cried. Many people have borne witness to this impression; and many cannot behold an epileptic fit without a feeling of mysterious terror and dread.
Before very long two or three young men had come up, and one or two remained to talk; all of these young men appeared to be on intimate terms with Evgenie Pavlovitch. Among them was a young officer, a remarkably handsome fellow--very good-natured and a great chatterbox. He tried to get up a conversation with Aglaya, and did his best to secure her attention. Aglaya behaved very graciously to him, and chatted and laughed merrily. Evgenie Pavlovitch begged the prince’s leave to introduce their friend to him. The prince hardly realized what was wanted of him, but the introduction came off; the two men bowed and shook hands.
“I know this much, that you did not go out to honest work, but went away with a rich man, Rogojin, in order to pose as a fallen angel. I don’t wonder that Totski was nearly driven to suicide by such a fallen angel.”
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.

“I... you,” he began joyfully. “You cannot tell how I... he always spoke so enthusiastically of you, Colia here; I liked his enthusiasm. I was not corrupting him! But I must leave him, too--I wanted to leave them all--there was not one of them--not one! I wanted to be a man of action--I had a right to be. Oh! what a lot of things I wanted! Now I want nothing; I renounce all my wants; I swore to myself that I would want nothing; let them seek the truth without me! Yes, nature is full of mockery! Why”--he continued with sudden warmth--“does she create the choicest beings only to mock at them? The only human being who is recognized as perfect, when nature showed him to mankind, was given the mission to say things which have caused the shedding of so much blood that it would have drowned mankind if it had all been shed at once! Oh! it is better for me to die! I should tell some dreadful lie too; nature would so contrive it! I have corrupted nobody. I wanted to live for the happiness of all men, to find and spread the truth. I used to look out of my window at the wall of Meyer’s house, and say to myself that if I could speak for a quarter of an hour I would convince the whole world, and now for once in my life I have come into contact with... you--if not with the others! And what is the result? Nothing! The sole result is that you despise me! Therefore I must be a fool, I am useless, it is time I disappeared! And I shall leave not even a memory! Not a sound, not a trace, not a single deed! I have not spread a single truth!... Do not laugh at the fool! Forget him! Forget him forever! I beseech you, do not be so cruel as to remember! Do you know that if I were not consumptive, I would kill myself?”

“Directly, directly! Stand still a moment, I wish to look in your eyes; don’t speak--stand so--let me look at you! I am bidding farewell to mankind.”
“If you had cared to be an honest woman, you would have gone out as a laundress.” But there was something in the appearance of both the ladies and their admirers which was peculiar, quite different for that of the rest of the public assembled around the orchestra.
“Though the position of all of us at that time was not particularly brilliant, and the poverty was dreadful all round, yet the etiquette at court was strictly preserved, and the more strictly in proportion to the growth of the forebodings of disaster.”
Rogojin stared intently at them; then he took his hat, and without a word, left the room.
“What children we are still, Colia!” he cried at last, enthusiastically,--“and how delightful it is that we can be children still!”