“You are very like Lizabetha Prokofievna.”“Yes--Abbot Gurot, a Jesuit,” said Ivan Petrovitch. “Yes, that’s the sort of thing our best men are apt to do. A man of rank, too, and rich--a man who, if he had continued to serve, might have done anything; and then to throw up the service and everything else in order to go over to Roman Catholicism and turn Jesuit--openly, too--almost triumphantly. By Jove! it was positively a mercy that he died when he did--it was indeed--everyone said so at the time.”
“General, you must take your pearls back, too--give them to your wife--here they are! Tomorrow I shall leave this flat altogether, and then there’ll be no more of these pleasant little social gatherings, ladies and gentlemen.”
He was a remarkably handsome young fellow of some twenty-eight summers, fair and of middle height; he wore a small beard, and his face was most intelligent. Yet his smile, in spite of its sweetness, was a little thin, if I may so call it, and showed his teeth too evenly; his gaze though decidedly good-humoured and ingenuous, was a trifle too inquisitive and intent to be altogether agreeable.
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.
“Hide-and-seek? What do you mean?” inquired Mrs. Epanchin.
The prince glanced again at Evgenie Pavlovitch with considerable surprise.
The prince watched the whole scene, silent and dejected.
Now, since Totski had, of late, been upon terms of great cordiality with Epanchin, which excellent relations were intensified by the fact that they were, so to speak, partners in several financial enterprises, it so happened that the former now put in a friendly request to the general for counsel with regard to the important step he meditated. Might he suggest, for instance, such a thing as a marriage between himself and one of the general’s daughters?
But it was more serious than he wished to think. As soon as the visitors had crossed the low dark hall, and entered the narrow reception-room, furnished with half a dozen cane chairs, and two small card-tables, Madame Terentieff, in the shrill tones habitual to her, continued her stream of invectives.
“Yes, and he made me a cardboard helmet, and a little wooden sword--I remember!” said Adelaida.
“Yes, and look what you have come to now!” interrupted Mrs. Epanchin. “However, I see you have not quite drunk your better feelings away. But you’ve broken your wife’s heart, sir--and instead of looking after your children, you have spent your time in public-houses and debtors’ prisons! Go away, my friend, stand in some corner and weep, and bemoan your fallen dignity, and perhaps God will forgive you yet! Go, go! I’m serious! There’s nothing so favourable for repentance as to think of the past with feelings of remorse!”
“Oh, this is unbearable!” said Lebedeff’s nephew impatiently. “What is the good of all this romancing?”“Laissez-le dire! He is trembling all over,” said the old man, in a warning whisper.
He evidently had sudden fits of returning animation, when he awoke from his semi-delirium; then, recovering full self-possession for a few moments, he would speak, in disconnected phrases which had perhaps haunted him for a long while on his bed of suffering, during weary, sleepless nights.“No, at his mother’s flat; I rang at Parfen Semionovitch’s door and nobody came.”“Would it not be better to peruse it alone... later,” asked the prince, nervously.
The servant left the room. Vera was about to follow her, but returned and approached the prince with a preoccupied air.
The general left the room, and the prince never succeeded in broaching the business which he had on hand, though he had endeavoured to do so four times.
“A nap?” shrieked the general. “I am not drunk, sir; you insult me! I see,” he continued, rising, “I see that all are against me here. Enough--I go; but know, sirs--know that--”There is nothing so annoying as to be fairly rich, of a fairly good family, pleasing presence, average education, to be “not stupid,” kind-hearted, and yet to have no talent at all, no originality, not a single idea of one’s own--to be, in fact, “just like everyone else.”
“He is boring us!”“He is a lodger of ours,” explained the latter.“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.”“They are Nihilists, are they not?”“It may be Russian, but it is not national. Our liberals are not Russian, nor are our conservatives, and you may be sure that the nation does not recognize anything that has been done by the landed gentry, or by the seminarists, or what is to be done either.”
“It _is_ true, it _is_ true,” cried Aglaya, almost beside herself with rage.
“Thanks, prince, many thanks, eccentric friend of the family, for the pleasant evening you have provided for us. I am sure you are quite pleased that you have managed to mix us up with your extraordinary affairs. It is quite enough, dear family friend; thank you for giving us an opportunity of getting to know you so well.”“As soon as I finished writing in her album for her, and when she asked me to come out of the room with her (you heard?), we went into the dining-room, and she gave me your letter to read, and then told me to return it.”
Arrived at the church, Muishkin, under Keller’s guidance, passed through the crowd of spectators, amid continuous whispering and excited exclamations. The prince stayed near the altar, while Keller made off once more to fetch the bride.
“Oh, yes--I know what count you’re going to see!” remarked his wife in a cutting manner, as she turned her angry eyes on the prince. “Now then, what’s all this about?--What abbot--Who’s Pafnute?” she added, brusquely.