“How so?” asked Adelaida, with curiosity.

“Laugh away! She said exactly the same, almost word for word, when she saw my father’s portrait. It’s remarkable how entirely you and she are at one now-a-days.”

It soon became clear to Gania, after scenes of wrath and quarrellings at the domestic hearth, that his family were seriously opposed to the match, and that Nastasia was aware of this fact was equally evident. She said nothing about it, though he daily expected her to do so.
Rogojin took the chair offered him, but he did not sit long; he soon stood up again, and did not reseat himself. Little by little he began to look around him and discern the other guests. Seeing Gania, he smiled venomously and muttered to himself, “Look at that!”

The prince hastened to apologize, very properly, for yesterday’s mishap with the vase, and for the scene generally.

“Well, very well, very well!” she said, but quite in a different tone. She was remorseful now, and bent forward to touch his shoulder, though still trying not to look him in the face, as if the more persuasively to beg him not to be angry with her. “Very well,” she continued, looking thoroughly ashamed of herself, “I feel that I said a very foolish thing. I only did it just to try you. Take it as unsaid, and if I offended you, forgive me. Don’t look straight at me like that, please; turn your head away. You called it a ‘horrible idea’; I only said it to shock you. Very often I am myself afraid of saying what I intend to say, and out it comes all the same. You have just told me that you wrote that letter at the most painful moment of your life. I know what moment that was!” she added softly, looking at the ground again.

“Is a bit thick, you mean? Well, in a way that is in the public interest; you will admit that yourself, and after all one cannot overlook a blatant fact. So much the worse for the guilty parties, but the public welfare must come before everything. As to certain inaccuracies and figures of speech, so to speak, you will also admit that the motive, aim, and intention, are the chief thing. It is a question, above all, of making a wholesome example; the individual case can be examined afterwards; and as to the style--well, the thing was meant to be humorous, so to speak, and, after all, everybody writes like that; you must admit it yourself! Ha, ha!”

Mrs. Epanchin put these questions hastily and brusquely, and when the prince answered she nodded her head sagely at each word he said.
The visitors left the house, however, on no less friendly terms than before. But the visit was of the greatest importance to the prince, from his own point of view. Admitting that he had his suspicions, from the moment of the occurrence of last night, perhaps even before, that Nastasia had some mysterious end in view, yet this visit confirmed his suspicions and justified his fears. It was all clear to him; Prince S. was wrong, perhaps, in his view of the matter, but he was somewhere near the truth, and was right in so far as that he understood there to be an intrigue of some sort going on. Perhaps Prince S. saw it all more clearly than he had allowed his hearers to understand. At all events, nothing could be plainer than that he and Adelaida had come for the express purpose of obtaining explanations, and that they suspected him of being concerned in the affair. And if all this were so, then _she_ must have some terrible object in view! What was it? There was no stopping _her_, as Muishkin knew from experience, in the performance of anything she had set her mind on! “Oh, she is mad, mad!” thought the poor prince.
“I shall leave you nothing!” exclaimed his uncle angrily.
“I have not asked you to marry me yet, Aglaya Ivanovna,” said the prince, becoming suddenly animated; “but you know yourself how much I love you and trust you.”
“Do you know anything about Gavrila Ardalionovitch?” she asked at last.

“Why do you speak so?” he murmured. “Why do you ask my forgiveness?”

Lizabetha Prokofievna placed a chair for him with her own hands.
Aglaya rushed quickly up to him, and was just in time to receive him in her arms, and to hear with dread and horror that awful, wild cry as he fell writhing to the ground.
“God bless you, dear boy, for being respectful to a disgraced man. Yes, to a poor disgraced old fellow, your father. You shall have such a son yourself; le roi de Rome. Oh, curses on this house!”

“I cannot, I assure you. I confess I do not understand how anyone can play this game.”

The general was, of course, repeating what he had told Lebedeff the night before, and thus brought it out glibly enough, but here he looked suspiciously at the prince out of the corners of his eyes.
“Nastasia Philipovna!” cried the prince.

“Of course it is all, my friend. I don’t doubt you for a moment,” said Lizabetha Prokofievna with dignity.

In her opinion there was so much disclosed and laid bare by the episode, that, in spite of the chaotic condition of her mind, she was able to feel more or less decided on certain points which, up to now, had been in a cloudy condition.
What had really happened?

“What is the good of repentance like that? It is the same exactly as mine yesterday, when I said, ‘I am base, I am base,’--words, and nothing more!”

Nastasia Philipovna, who loved originality and drollery of all kinds, was apparently very fond of this old man, and rang the bell for more tea to stop his coughing. It was now half-past ten o’clock.
“The Abbot Pafnute lived in the fourteenth century,” began the prince; “he was in charge of one of the monasteries on the Volga, about where our present Kostroma government lies. He went to Oreol and helped in the great matters then going on in the religious world; he signed an edict there, and I have seen a print of his signature; it struck me, so I copied it. When the general asked me, in his study, to write something for him, to show my handwriting, I wrote ‘The Abbot Pafnute signed this,’ in the exact handwriting of the abbot. The general liked it very much, and that’s why he recalled it just now.”
“I dare say it is; but that’s no affair of mine. Now then, assure me truly as before Heaven, are you lying to me or not?”

“Lizabetha Prokofievna!” exclaimed the prince.

“Ferdishenko,” he said, gazing intently and inquiringly into the prince’s eyes.
He looked at his listeners again with that same serious, searching expression.
“I arrived at the old woman’s house beside myself. She was sitting in a corner all alone, leaning her face on her hand. I fell on her like a clap of thunder. ‘You old wretch!’ I yelled and all that sort of thing, in real Russian style. Well, when I began cursing at her, a strange thing happened. I looked at her, and she stared back with her eyes starting out of her head, but she did not say a word. She seemed to sway about as she sat, and looked and looked at me in the strangest way. Well, I soon stopped swearing and looked closer at her, asked her questions, but not a word could I get out of her. The flies were buzzing about the room and only this sound broke the silence; the sun was setting outside; I didn’t know what to make of it, so I went away.
“At last her rags became so tattered and torn that she was ashamed of appearing in the village any longer. The children used to pelt her with mud; so she begged to be taken on as assistant cowherd, but the cowherd would not have her. Then she took to helping him without leave; and he saw how valuable her assistance was to him, and did not drive her away again; on the contrary, he occasionally gave her the remnants of his dinner, bread and cheese. He considered that he was being very kind. When the mother died, the village parson was not ashamed to hold Marie up to public derision and shame. Marie was standing at the coffin’s head, in all her rags, crying.
“As it will be absolutely true, without a touch of falsehood, I am curious to see what impression it will make upon me myself at the moment when I read it out. This is my ‘last and solemn’--but why need I call it that? There is no question about the truth of it, for it is not worthwhile lying for a fortnight; a fortnight of life is not itself worth having, which is a proof that I write nothing here but pure truth.

“At all events, the fact remained--a month of life and no more! That he is right in his estimation I am absolutely persuaded.

“Whom? What power?” asked her mother, crossly.

Now this was precisely what Lebedeff had made up his mind to do in the last three minutes. Not that he had any difficulty in finding a tenant; in fact the house was occupied at present by a chance visitor, who had told Lebedeff that he would perhaps take it for the summer months. The clerk knew very well that this “_perhaps_” meant “_certainly_,” but as he thought he could make more out of a tenant like the prince, he felt justified in speaking vaguely about the present inhabitant’s intentions. “This is quite a coincidence,” thought he, and when the subject of price was mentioned, he made a gesture with his hand, as if to waive away a question of so little importance.

“Well?”

“Suppose we all go away?” said Ferdishenko suddenly.
“H’m--well, at all events, I shouldn’t have fallen asleep here, in your place. It wasn’t nice of you, that. I suppose you fall asleep wherever you sit down?”

A pool of blood on the steps near his head gave rise to grave fears. Was it a case of accident, or had there been a crime? It was, however, soon recognized as a case of epilepsy, and identification and proper measures for restoration followed one another, owing to a fortunate circumstance. Colia Ivolgin had come back to his hotel about seven o’clock, owing to a sudden impulse which made him refuse to dine at the Epanchins’, and, finding a note from the prince awaiting him, had sped away to the latter’s address. Arrived there, he ordered a cup of tea and sat sipping it in the coffee-room. While there he heard excited whispers of someone just found at the bottom of the stairs in a fit; upon which he had hurried to the spot, with a presentiment of evil, and at once recognized the prince.

Just then Lebedeff returned, having put on his coat.

He had gone to the front door, and was kept waiting a long while before anyone came. At last the door of old Mrs. Rogojin’s flat was opened, and an aged servant appeared.
In spite of the kindly-meant consolations of his new friends, the prince walked to his hotel in inexpressible anguish of spirit, through the hot, dusty streets, aimlessly staring at the faces of those who passed him. Arrived at his destination, he determined to rest awhile in his room before he started for Rogojin’s once more. He sat down, rested his elbows on the table and his head on his hands, and fell to thinking.
“Lukianovitch.”
Colia and the prince went off together. Alas! the latter had no money to pay for a cab, so they were obliged to walk.
The words were hardly out of her mouth, when Lebedeff dragged Vera forward, in order to present her.
“Prince Muishkin? Lef Nicolaievitch? H’m! I don’t know, I’m sure! I may say I have never heard of such a person,” said the clerk, thoughtfully. “At least, the name, I admit, is historical. Karamsin must mention the family name, of course, in his history--but as an individual--one never hears of any Prince Muishkin nowadays.”
“How strangely you speak, and how odd you look!” said the other, involuntarily.
The prince glanced at it, but took no further notice. He moved on hastily, as though anxious to get out of the house. But Rogojin suddenly stopped underneath the picture. “She ought to be whipped--that’s the only way to deal with creatures like that--she ought to be whipped!”
“Goodness knows what it means, ma’am,” she said. “There is a whole collection of men come--all tipsy--and want to see you. They say that ‘it’s Rogojin, and she knows all about it.’”

“No, A. N. D.,” corrected Colia.

PART III

Breath failed him here, and he was obliged to stop.

“I know, I heard; the china vase caught it! I’m sorry I wasn’t there. I’ve come about something important. In the first place I had, the pleasure of seeing Gavrila Ardalionovitch and Aglaya Ivanovna enjoying a rendezvous on the green bench in the park. I was astonished to see what a fool a man can look. I remarked upon the fact to Aglaya Ivanovna when he had gone. I don’t think anything ever surprises you, prince!” added Hippolyte, gazing incredulously at the prince’s calm demeanour. “To be astonished by nothing is a sign, they say, of a great intellect. In my opinion it would serve equally well as a sign of great foolishness. I am not hinting about you; pardon me! I am very unfortunate today in my expressions.”
“You have no right.... I am not simple,” stammered Burdovsky, much agitated.

Gania might justly complain of the hardness with which fate treated him. Varia dared not speak to him for a long while, as he strode past her, backwards and forwards. At last he went and stood at the window, looking out, with his back turned towards her. There was a fearful row going on upstairs again.

“A Kammer-junker? I had not thought of it, but--”