Part 14 out of 15
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.
His attack of yesterday had been a slight one. Excepting some
little heaviness in the head and pain in the limbs, he did not
feel any particular effects. His brain worked all right, though
his soul was heavy within him.
He rose late, and immediately upon waking remembered all about
the previous evening; he also remembered, though not quite so
clearly, how, half an hour after his fit, he had been carried
He soon heard that a messenger from the Epanchins' had already
been to inquire after him. At half-past eleven another arrived;
and this pleased him.
Vera Lebedeff was one of the first to come to see him and offer
her services. No sooner did she catch sight of him than she burst
into tears; but when he tried to soothe her she began to laugh.
He was quite struck by the girl's deep sympathy for him; he
seized her hand and kissed it. Vera flushed crimson.
"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
Lebedeff also came to see the prince, in a great hurry to get
away to the "deceased," as he called General Ivolgin, who was
alive still, but very ill. Colia also turned up, and begged the
prince for pity's sake to tell him all he knew about his father
which had been concealed from him till now. He said he had found
out nearly everything since yesterday; the poor boy was in a
state of deep affliction. With all the sympathy which he could
bring into play, the prince told Colia the whole story without
reserve, detailing the facts as clearly as he could. The tale
struck Colia like a thunderbolt. He could not speak. He listened
silently, and cried softly to himself the while. The prince
perceived that this was an impression which would last for the
whole of the boy's life. He made haste to explain his view of the
matter, and pointed out that the old man's approaching death was
probably brought on by horror at the thought of his action; and
that it was not everyone who was capable of such a feeling.
Colia's eyes flashed as he listened.
"Gania and Varia and Ptitsin are a worthless lot! I shall not
quarrel with them; but from this moment our feet shall not travel
the same road. Oh, prince, I have felt much that is quite new to
me since yesterday! It is a lesson for me. I shall now consider
my mother as entirely my responsibility; though she may be safe
enough with Varia. Still, meat and drink is not everything."
He jumped up and hurried off, remembering suddenly that he was
wanted at his father's bedside; but before he went out of the
room he inquired hastily after the prince's health, and receiving
the latter's reply, added:
"Isn't there something else, prince? I heard yesterday, but I
have no right to talk about this... If you ever want a true
friend and servant--neither you nor I are so very happy, are we?
--come to me. I won't ask you questions, though."
He ran off and left the prince more dejected than ever.
Everyone seemed to be speaking prophetically, hinting at some
misfortune or sorrow to come; they had all looked at him as
though they knew something which he did not know. Lebedeff had
asked questions, Colia had hinted, and Vera had shed tears. What
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.
Lizabetha Prokofievna had announced, directly after lunch, that
they would all take a walk together. The information was given in
the form of a command, without explanation, drily and abruptly.
All had issued forth in obedience to the mandate; that is, the
girls, mamma, and Prince S. Lizabetha Prokofievna went off in a
direction exactly contrary to the usual one, and all understood
very well what she was driving at, but held their peace, fearing
to irritate the good lady. She, as though anxious to avoid any
conversation, walked ahead, silent and alone. At last Adelaida
remarked that it was no use racing along at such a pace, and
that she could not keep up with her mother.
"Look here," said Lizabetha Prokofievna, turning round suddenly;
"we are passing his house. Whatever Aglaya may think, and in
spite of anything that may happen, he is not a stranger to us;
besides which, he is ill and in misfortune. I, for one, shall
call in and see him. Let anyone follow me who cares to."
Of course every one of them followed her.
The prince hastened to apologize, very properly, for yesterday's
mishap with the vase, and for the scene generally.
"Oh, that's nothing," replied Lizabetha; "I'm not sorry for the
vase, I'm sorry for you. H'm! so you can see that there was a
'scene,' can you? Well, it doesn't matter much, for everyone must
realize now that it is impossible to be hard on you. Well, au
revoir. I advise you to have a walk, and then go to sleep again
if you can. Come in as usual, if you feel inclined; and be
assured, once for all, whatever happens, and whatever may have
happened, you shall always remain the friend of the family--mine,
at all events. I can answer for myself."
In response to this challenge all the others chimed in and re-
echoed mamma's sentiments.
And so they took their departure; but in this hasty and kindly
designed visit there was hidden a fund of cruelty which Lizabetha
Prokofievna never dreamed of. In the words "as usual," and again
in her added, "mine, at all events," there seemed an ominous
knell of some evil to come.
The prince began to think of Aglaya. She had certainly given him
a wonderful smile, both at coming and again at leave-taking, but
had not said a word, not even when the others all professed their
friendship for him. She had looked very intently at him, but that
was all. Her face had been paler than usual; she looked as though
she had slept badly.
The prince made up his mind that he would make a point of going
there "as usual," tonight, and looked feverishly at his watch.
Vera came in three minutes after the Epanchins had left. "Lef
Nicolaievitch," she said, "Aglaya Ivanovna has just given me a
message for you."
The prince trembled.
"Is it a note?"
"No, a verbal message; she had hardly time even for that. She
begs you earnestly not to go out of the house for a single moment
all to-day, until seven o'clock in the evening. It may have been
nine; I didn't quite hear."
"But--but, why is this? What does it mean?"
"I don't know at all; but she said I was to tell you
"Did she say that?"
"Not those very words. She only just had time to whisper as she
went by; but by the way she looked at me I knew it was important.
She looked at me in a way that made my heart stop beating."
The prince asked a few more questions, and though he learned
nothing else, he became more and more agitated.
Left alone, he lay down on the sofa, and began to think.
"Perhaps," he thought, "someone is to be with them until nine
tonight and she is afraid that I may come and make a fool of myself
again, in public." So he spent his time longing for the evening
and looking at his watch. But the clearing-up of the mystery came
long before the evening, and came in the form of a new and
Half an hour after the Epanchins had gone, Hippolyte arrived, so
tired that, almost unconscious, he sank into a chair, and broke
into such a fit of coughing that he could not stop. He coughed
till the blood came. His eyes glittered, and two red spots on his
cheeks grew brighter and brighter. The prince murmured something
to him, but Hippolyte only signed that he must be left alone for
a while, and sat silent. At last he came to himself.
"I am off," he said, hoarsely, and with difficulty.
"Shall I see you home?" asked the prince, rising from his seat,
but suddenly stopping short as he remembered Aglaya's prohibition
against leaving the house. Hippolyte laughed.
"I don't mean that I am going to leave your house," he continued,
still gasping and coughing. "On the contrary, I thought it
absolutely necessary to come and see you; otherwise I should not
have troubled you. I am off there, you know, and this time I
believe, seriously, that I am off! It's all over. I did not come
here for sympathy, believe me. I lay down this morning at ten
o'clock with the intention of not rising again before that time;
but I thought it over and rose just once more in order to come
here; from which you may deduce that I had some reason for
wishing to come."
"It grieves me to see you so, Hippolyte. Why didn't you send me a
message? I would have come up and saved you this trouble."
"Well, well! Enough! You've pitied me, and that's all that good
manners exact. I forgot, how are you?"
"I'm all right; yesterday I was a little--"
"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.
"I knew yesterday that Gavrila Ardalionovitch--" began the
prince, and paused in evident confusion, though Hippolyte had
shown annoyance at his betraying no surprise.
"You knew it? Come, that's news! But no--perhaps better not tell
me. And were you a witness of the meeting?"
"If you were there yourself you must have known that I was NOT
"Oh! but you may have been sitting behind the bushes somewhere.
However, I am very glad, on your account, of course. I was
beginning to be afraid that Mr. Gania--might have the
"May I ask you, Hippolyte, not to talk of this subject? And not
to use such expressions?"
"Especially as you know all, eh?"
"You are wrong. I know scarcely anything, and Aglaya Ivanovna is
aware that I know nothing. I knew nothing whatever about this
meeting. You say there was a meeting. Very well; let's leave it
"Why, what do you mean? You said you knew, and now suddenly you
know nothing! You say 'very well; let's leave it so.' But I say,
don't be so confiding, especially as you know nothing. You are
confiding simply BECAUSE you know nothing. But do you know what
these good people have in their minds' eye--Gania and his sister?
Perhaps you are suspicious? Well, well, I'll drop the subject!"
he added, hastily, observing the prince's impatient gesture. "But
I've come to you on my own business; I wish to make you a clear
explanation. What a nuisance it is that one cannot die without
explanations! I have made such a quantity of them already. Do you
wish to hear what I have to say?"
"Speak away, I am listening."
"Very well, but I'll change my mind, and begin about Gania. Just
fancy to begin with, if you can, that I, too, was given an
appointment at the green bench today! However, I won't deceive
you; I asked for the appointment. I said I had a secret to
disclose. I don't know whether I came there too early, I think I
must have; but scarcely had I sat down beside Aglaya Ivanovna
than I saw Gavrila Ardalionovitch and his sister Varia coming
along, arm in arm, just as though they were enjoying a morning
walk together. Both of them seemed very much astonished, not to
say disturbed, at seeing me; they evidently had not expected the
pleasure. Aglaya Ivanovna blushed up, and was actually a little
confused. I don't know whether it was merely because I was there,
or whether Gania's beauty was too much for her! But anyway, she
turned crimson, and then finished up the business in a very funny
manner. She jumped up from her seat, bowed back to Gania, smiled
to Varia, and suddenly observed: 'I only came here to express my
gratitude for all your kind wishes on my behalf, and to say that
if I find I need your services, believe me--' Here she bowed them
away, as it were, and they both marched off again, looking very
foolish. Gania evidently could not make head nor tail of the
matter, and turned as red as a lobster; but Varia understood at
once that they must get away as quickly as they could, so she
dragged Gania away; she is a great deal cleverer than he is. As
for myself, I went there to arrange a meeting to be held between
Aglaya Ivanovna and Nastasia Philipovna."
"Nastasia Philipovna!" cried the prince.
"Aha! I think you are growing less cool, my friend, and are
beginning to be a trifle surprised, aren't you? I'm glad that you
are not above ordinary human feelings, for once. I'll console you
a little now, after your consternation. See what I get for
serving a young and high-souled maiden! This morning I received a
slap in the face from the lady!"
"A--a moral one?" asked the prince, involuntarily.
"Yes--not a physical one! I don't suppose anyone--even a woman--
would raise a hand against me now. Even Gania would hesitate! I
did think at one time yesterday, that he would fly at me, though.
I bet anything that I know what you are thinking of now! You are
thinking: 'Of course one can't strike the little wretch, but one
could suffocate him with a pillow, or a wet towel, when he is
asleep! One OUGHT to get rid of him somehow.' I can see in your
face that you are thinking that at this very second."
"I never thought of such a thing for a moment," said the prince,
"I don't know--I dreamed last night that I was being suffocated
with a wet cloth by--somebody. I'll tell you who it was--Rogojin!
What do you think, can a man be suffocated with a wet cloth?"
"I don't know."
"I've heard so. Well, we'll leave that question just now. Why am
I a scandal-monger? Why did she call me a scandal-monger? And
mind, AFTER she had heard every word I had to tell her, and had
asked all sorts of questions besides--but such is the way of
women. For HER sake I entered into relations with Rogojin--an
interesting man! At HER request I arranged a personal interview
between herself and Nastasia Philipovna. Could she have been
angry because I hinted that she was enjoying Nastasia
Philipovna's 'leavings'? Why, I have been impressing it upon her
all this while for her own good. Two letters have I written her
in that strain, and I began straight off today about its being
humiliating for her. Besides, the word 'leavings' is not my
invention. At all events, they all used it at Gania's, and she
used it herself. So why am I a scandal-monger? I see--I see you
are tremendously amused, at this moment! Probably you are
laughing at me and fitting those silly lines to my case--
"'Maybe sad Love upon his setting smiles,
And with vain hopes his farewell hour beguiles.
"Ha, ha, ha!"
Hippolyte suddenly burst into a fit of hysterical laughter, which
turned into a choking cough.
"Observe," he gasped, through his coughing, "what a fellow Gania
is! He talks about Nastasia's 'leavings,' but what does he want
to take himself?"
The prince sat silent for a long while. His mind was filled with
dread and horror.
"You spoke of a meeting with Nastasia Philipovna," he said at
last, in a low voice.
"Oh--come! Surely you must know that there is to be a meeting
today between Nastasia and Aglaya Ivanovna, and that Nastasia has
been sent for on purpose, through Rogojin, from St. Petersburg?
It has been brought about by invitation of Aglaya Ivanovna and my
own efforts, and Nastasia is at this moment with Rogojin, not far
from here--at Dana Alexeyevna's--that curious friend of hers; and
to this questionable house Aglaya Ivanovna is to proceed for a
friendly chat with Nastasia Philipovna, and for the settlement of
several problems. They are going to play at arithmetic--didn't
you know about it? Word of honour?"
"It's a most improbable story."
"Oh, very well! if it's improbable--it is--that's all! And yet--
where should you have heard it? Though I must say, if a fly
crosses the room it's known all over the place here. However,
I've warned you, and you may be grateful to me. Well--au revoir--
probably in the next world! One more thing--don't think that I am
telling you all this for your sake. Oh, dear, no! Do you know
that I dedicated my confession to Aglaya Ivanovna? I did though,
and how she took it, ha, ha! Oh, no! I am not acting from any
high, exalted motives. But though I may have behaved like a cad
to you, I have not done HER any harm. I don't apologize for my
words about 'leavings' and all that. I am atoning for that, you
see, by telling you the place and time of the meeting. Goodbye!
You had better take your measures, if you are worthy the name of
a man! The meeting is fixed for this evening--that's certain."
Hippolyte walked towards the door, but the prince called him back
and he stopped.
"Then you think Aglaya Ivanovna herself intends to go to Nastasia
Philipovna's tonight?" he asked, and bright hectic spots came
out on his cheeks and forehead.
"I don't know absolutely for certain; but in all probability it
is so," replied Hippolyte, looking round. "Nastasia would hardly
go to her; and they can't meet at Gania's, with a man nearly dead
in the house."
"It's impossible, for that very reason," said the prince. "How
would she get out if she wished to? You don't know the habits of
that house--she COULD not get away alone to Nastasia
Philipovna's! It's all nonsense!"
"Look here, my dear prince, no one jumps out of the window if
they can help it; but when there's a fire, the dandiest gentleman
or the finest lady in the world will skip out! When the moment
comes, and there's nothing else to be done--our young lady will
go to Nastasia Philipovna's! Don't they let the young ladies out
of the house alone, then?"
"I didn't mean that exactly."
"If you didn't mean that, then she has only to go down the steps
and walk off, and she need never come back unless she chooses:
Ships are burned behind one sometimes, and one doesn't care to
return whence one came. Life need not consist only of lunches,
and dinners, and Prince S's. It strikes me you take Aglaya
Ivanovna for some conventional boarding-school girl. I said so to
her, and she quite agreed with me. Wait till seven or eight
o'clock. In your place I would send someone there to keep watch,
so as to seize the exact moment when she steps out of the house.
Send Colia. He'll play the spy with pleasure--for you at least.
Ha, ha, ha!"
Hippolyte went out.
There was no reason for the prince to set anyone to watch, even
if he had been capable of such a thing. Aglaya's command that he
should stay at home all day seemed almost explained now. Perhaps
she meant to call for him, herself, or it might be, of course,
that she was anxious to make sure of his not coming there, and
therefore bade him remain at home. His head whirled; the whole
room seemed to be turning round. He lay down on the sofa, and
closed his eyes.
One way or the other the question was to be decided at last--
Oh, no, he did not think of Aglaya as a boarding-school miss, or
a young lady of the conventional type! He had long since feared
that she might take some such step as this. But why did she wish
to see Nastasia?
He shivered all over as he lay; he was in high fever again.
No! he did not account her a child. Certain of her looks, certain
of her words, of late, had filled him with apprehension. At times
it had struck him that she was putting too great a restraint upon
herself, and he remembered that he had been alarmed to observe
this. He had tried, all these days, to drive away the heavy
thoughts that oppressed him; but what was the hidden mystery of
that soul? The question had long tormented him, although he
implicitly trusted that soul. And now it was all to be cleared
up. It was a dreadful thought. And "that woman" again! Why did he
always feel as though "that woman" were fated to appear at each
critical moment of his life, and tear the thread of his destiny
like a bit of rotten string? That he always HAD felt this he was
ready to swear, although he was half delirious at the moment. If
he had tried to forget her, all this time, it was simply because
he was afraid of her. Did he love the woman or hate her? This
question he did not once ask himself today; his heart was quite
pure. He knew whom he loved. He was not so much afraid of this
meeting, nor of its strangeness, nor of any reasons there might
be for it, unknown to himself; he was afraid of the woman
herself, Nastasia Philipovna. He remembered, some days
afterwards, how during all those fevered hours he had seen but
HER eyes, HER look, had heard HER voice, strange words of hers;
he remembered that this was so, although he could not recollect
the details of his thoughts.
He could remember that Vera brought him some dinner, and that he
took it; but whether he slept after dinner, or no, he could not
He only knew that he began to distinguish things clearly from the
moment when Aglaya suddenly appeared, and he jumped up from the
sofa and went to meet her. It was just a quarter past seven then.
Aglaya was quite alone, and dressed, apparently hastily, in a
light mantle. Her face was pale, as it had been in the morning,
and her eyes were ablaze with bright but subdued fire. He had
never seen that expression in her eyes before.
She gazed attentively at him.
"You are quite ready, I observe," she said, with absolute
composure, "dressed, and your hat in your hand. I see somebody
has thought fit to warn you, and I know who. Hippolyte?"
"Yes, he told me," said the prince, feeling only half alive.
"Come then. You know, I suppose, that you must escort me there?
You are well enough to go out, aren't you?"
"I am well enough; but is it really possible?--"
He broke off abruptly, and could not add another word. This was
his one attempt to stop the mad child, and, after he had made it,
he followed her as though he had no will of his own. Confused as
his thoughts were, he was, nevertheless, capable of realizing the
fact that if he did not go with her, she would go alone, and so
he must go with her at all hazards. He guessed the strength of
her determination; it was beyond him to check it.
They walked silently, and said scarcely a word all the way. He
only noticed that she seemed to know the road very well; and
once, when he thought it better to go by a certain lane, and
remarked to her that it would be quieter and less public, she
only said, "it's all the same," and went on.
When they were almost arrived at Daria Alexeyevna's house (it was
a large wooden structure of ancient date), a gorgeously-dressed
lady and a young girl came out of it. Both these ladies took
their seats in a carriage, which was waiting at the door, talking
and laughing loudly the while, and drove away without appearing
to notice the approaching couple.
No sooner had the carriage driven off than the door opened once
more; and Rogojin, who had apparently been awaiting them, let
them in and closed it after them.
"There is not another soul in the house now excepting our four
selves," he said aloud, looking at the prince in a strange way.
Nastasia Philipovna was waiting for them in the first room they
went into. She was dressed very simply, in black.
She rose at their entrance, but did not smile or give her hand,
even to the prince. Her anxious eyes were fixed upon Aglaya. Both
sat down, at a little distance from one another--Aglaya on the
sofa, in the corner of the room, Nastasia by the window. The
prince and Rogojin remained standing, and were not invited to
Muishkin glanced at Rogojin in perplexity, but the latter only
smiled disagreeably, and said nothing. The silence continued for
some few moments.
An ominous expression passed over Nastasia Philipovna's face, of
a sudden. It became obstinate-looking, hard, and full of hatred;
but she did not take her eyes off her visitors for a moment.
Aglaya was clearly confused, but not frightened. On entering she
had merely glanced momentarily at her rival, and then had sat
still, with her eyes on the ground, apparently in thought. Once
or twice she glanced casually round the room. A shade of disgust
was visible in her expression; she looked as though she were
afraid of contamination in this place.
She mechanically arranged her dress, and fidgeted uncomfortably,
eventually changing her seat to the other end of the sofa.
Probably she was unconscious of her own movements; but this very
unconsciousness added to the offensiveness of their suggested
At length she looked straight into Nastasia's eyes, and instantly
read all there was to read in her rival's expression. Woman
understood woman! Aglaya shuddered.
"You know of course why I requested this meeting?" she said at
last, quietly, and pausing twice in the delivery of this very
"No--I know nothing about it," said Nastasia, drily and abruptly.
Aglaya blushed. Perhaps it struck her as very strange and
impossible that she should really be sitting here and waiting for
"that woman's" reply to her question.
At the first sound of Nastasia's voice a shudder ran through her
frame. Of course "that woman" observed and took in all this.
"You know quite well, but you are pretending to be ignorant,"
said Aglaya, very low, with her eyes on the ground.
"Why should I?" asked Nastasia Philipovna, smiling slightly.
"You want to take advantage of my position, now that I am in your
house," continued Aglaya, awkwardly.
"For that position YOU are to blame and not I," said Nastasia,
flaring up suddenly. "_I_ did not invite YOU, but you me; and to
this moment I am quite ignorant as to why I am thus honoured."
Aglaya raised her head haughtily.
"Restrain your tongue!" she said. "I did not come here to fight
you with your own weapons.
"Oh! then you did come 'to fight,' I may conclude? Dear me!--and
I thought you were cleverer--"
They looked at one another with undisguised malice. One of these
women had written to the other, so lately, such letters as we
have seen; and it all was dispersed at their first meeting. Yet
it appeared that not one of the four persons in the room
considered this in any degree strange.
The prince who, up to yesterday, would not have believed that he
could even dream of such an impossible scene as this, stood and
listened and looked on, and felt as though he had long foreseen
it all. The most fantastic dream seemed suddenly to have been
metamorphosed into the most vivid reality.
One of these women so despised the other, and so longed to
express her contempt for her (perhaps she had only come for that
very purpose, as Rogojin said next day), that howsoever
fantastical was the other woman, howsoever afflicted her spirit
and disturbed her understanding, no preconceived idea of hers
could possibly stand up against that deadly feminine contempt of
her rival. The prince felt sure that Nastasia would say nothing
about the letters herself; but he could judge by her flashing
eyes and the expression of her face what the thought of those
letters must be costing her at this moment. He would have given
half his life to prevent Aglaya from speaking of them. But Aglaya
suddenly braced herself up, and seemed to master herself fully,
all in an instant.
"You have not quite understood," she said. "I did not come to
quarrel with you, though I do not like you. I came to speak to
you as... as one human being to another. I came with my mind made
up as to what I had to say to you, and I shall not change my
intention, although you may misunderstand me. So much the worse
for you, not for myself! I wished to reply to all you have
written to me and to reply personally, because I think that is
the more convenient way. Listen to my reply to all your letters.
I began to be sorry for Prince Lef Nicolaievitch on the very day
I made his acquaintance, and when I heard--afterwards--of all
that took place at your house in the evening, I was sorry for him
because he was such a simple-minded man, and because he, in the
simplicity of his soul, believed that he could be happy with a
woman of your character. What I feared actually took place; you
could not love him, you tortured him, and threw him over. You
could not love him because you are too proud--no, not proud, that
is an error; because you are too vain--no, not quite that either;
too self-loving; you are self-loving to madness. Your letters to
me are a proof of it. You could not love so simple a soul as his,
and perhaps in your heart you despised him and laughed at him.
All you could love was your shame and the perpetual thought that
you were disgraced and insulted. If you were less shameful, or
had no cause at all for shame, you would be still more unhappy
than you are now.
Aglaya brought out these thronging words with great satisfaction.
They came from her lips hurriedly and impetuously, and had been
prepared and thought out long ago, even before she had ever
dreamed of the present meeting. She watched with eagerness the
effect of her speech as shown in Nastasia's face, which was
distorted with agitation.
"You remember," she continued, "he wrote me a letter at that
time; he says you know all about that letter and that you even
read it. I understand all by means of this letter, and understand
it correctly. He has since confirmed it all to me--what I now say
to you, word for word. After receiving his letter I waited; I
guessed that you would soon come back here, because you could
never do without Petersburg; you are still too young and lovely
for the provinces. However, this is not my own idea," she added,
blushing dreadfully; and from this moment the colour never left
her cheeks to the end of her speech. When I next saw the prince I
began to feel terribly pained and hurt on his account. Do not
laugh; if you laugh you are unworthy of understanding what I
"Surely you see that I am not laughing," said Nastasia, sadly and
"However, it's all the same to me; laugh or not, just as you
please. When I asked him about you, he told me that he had long
since ceased to love you, that the very recollection of you was a
torture to him, but that he was sorry for you; and that when he
thought of you his heart was pierced. I ought to tell you that I
never in my life met a man anything like him for noble simplicity
of mind and for boundless trustfulness. I guessed that anyone who
liked could deceive him, and that he would immediately forgive
anyone who did deceive him; and it was for this that I grew to
Aglaya paused for a moment, as though suddenly brought up in
astonishment that she could have said these words, but at the
same time a great pride shone in her eyes, like a defiant
assertion that it would not matter to her if "this woman" laughed
in her face for the admission just made.
"I have told you all now, and of course you understand what I
wish of you."
"Perhaps I do; but tell me yourself," said Nastasia Philipovna,
Aglaya flushed up angrily.
"I wished to find out from you," she said, firmly, "by what right
you dare to meddle with his feelings for me? By what right you
dared send me those letters? By what right do you continually
remind both me and him that you love him, after you yourself
threw him over and ran away from him in so insulting and shameful
"I never told either him or you that I loved him!" replied
Nastasia Philipovna, with an effort. "And--and I did run away
from him--you are right there," she added, scarcely audibly.
"Never told either him or me?" cried Aglaya. "How about your
letters? Who asked you to try to persuade me to marry him? Was
not that a declaration from you? Why do you force yourself upon
us in this way? I confess I thought at first that you were
anxious to arouse an aversion for him in my heart by your
meddling, in order that I might give him up; and it was only
afterwards that I guessed the truth. You imagined that you were
doing an heroic action! How could you spare any love for him,
when you love your own vanity to such an extent? Why could you
not simply go away from here, instead of writing me those absurd
letters? Why do you not NOW marry that generous man who loves
you, and has done you the honour of offering you his hand? It is
plain enough why; if you marry Rogojin you lose your grievance;
you will have nothing more to complain of. You will be receiving
too much honour. Evgenie Pavlovitch was saying the other day that
you had read too many poems and are too well educated for--your
position; and that you live in idleness. Add to this your vanity,
and, there you have reason enough--"
"And do you not live in idleness?"
Things had come to this unexpected point too quickly. Unexpected
because Nastasia Philipovna, on her way to Pavlofsk, had thought
and considered a good deal, and had expected something different,
though perhaps not altogether good, from this interview; but
Aglaya had been carried away by her own outburst, just as a
rolling stone gathers impetus as it careers downhill, and could
not restrain herself in the satisfaction of revenge.
It was strange, Nastasia Philipovna felt, to see Aglaya like
this. She gazed at her, and could hardly believe her eyes and
ears for a moment or two.
Whether she were a woman who had read too many poems, as Evgenie
Pavlovitch supposed, or whether she were mad, as the prince had
assured Aglaya, at all events, this was a woman who, in spite of
her occasionally cynical and audacious manner, was far more
refined and trustful and sensitive than appeared. There was a
certain amount of romantic dreaminess and caprice in her, but
with the fantastic was mingled much that was strong and deep.
The prince realized this, and great suffering expressed itself in
Aglaya observed it, and trembled with anger.
"How dare you speak so to me?" she said, with a haughtiness which
was quite indescribable, replying to Nastasia's last remark.
"You must have misunderstood what I said," said Nastasia, in some
"If you wished to preserve your good name, why did you not give
up your--your 'guardian,' Totski, without all that theatrical
posturing?" said Aglaya, suddenly a propos of nothing.
"What do you know of my position, that you dare to judge me?"
cried Nastasia, quivering with rage, and growing terribly white.
"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."
"Silence!" cried Nastasia Philipovna. "You are about as fit to
understand me as the housemaid here, who bore witness against her
lover in court the other day. She would understand me better than
"Probably an honest girl living by her own toil. Why do you speak
of a housemaid so contemptuously?"
"I do not despise toil; I despise you when you speak of toil."
"If you had cared to be an honest woman, you would have gone out
as a laundress."
Both had risen, and were gazing at one another with pallid faces.
"Aglaya, don't! This is unfair," cried the prince, deeply
Rogojin was not smiling now; he sat and listened with folded
arms, and lips tight compressed.
"There, look at her," cried Nastasia, trembling with passion.
"Look at this young lady! And I imagined her an angel! Did you
come to me without your governess, Aglaya Ivanovna? Oh, fie, now
shall I just tell you why you came here today? Shall I tell you
without any embellishments? You came because you were afraid of
"Afraid of YOU?" asked Aglaya, beside herself with naive
amazement that the other should dare talk to her like this.
"Yes, me, of course! Of course you were afraid of me, or you
would not have decided to come. You cannot despise one you fear.
And to think that I have actually esteemed you up to this very
moment! Do you know why you are afraid of me, and what is your
object now? You wished to satisfy yourself with your own eyes as
to which he loves best, myself or you, because you are fearfully
"He has told me already that he hates you," murmured Aglaya,
"Perhaps, perhaps! I am not worthy of him, I know. But I think
you are lying, all the same. He cannot hate me, and he cannot
have said so. I am ready to forgive you, in consideration of your
position; but I confess I thought better of you. I thought you
were wiser, and more beautiful, too; I did, indeed! Well, take
your treasure! See, he is gazing at you, he can't recollect
himself. Take him, but on one condition; go away at once, this
She fell back into a chair, and burst into tears. But suddenly
some new expression blazed in her eyes. She stared fixedly at
Aglaya, and rose from her seat.
"Or would you like me to bid him, BID HIM, do you hear, COMMAND
HIM, now, at once, to throw you up, and remain mine for ever?
Shall I? He will stay, and he will marry me too, and you shall
trot home all alone. Shall I?--shall I say the word?" she
screamed like a madwoman, scarcely believing herself that she
could really pronounce such wild words.
Aglaya had made for the door in terror, but she stopped at the
threshold, and listened. "Shall I turn Rogojin off? Ha! ha! you
thought I would marry him for your benefit, did you? Why, I'll
call out NOW, if you like, in your presence, 'Rogojin, get out!'
and say to the prince, 'Do you remember what you promised me?'
Heavens! what a fool I have been to humiliate myself before them!
Why, prince, you yourself gave me your word that you would marry
me whatever happened, and would never abandon me. You said you
loved me and would forgive me all, and--and resp--yes, you even
said that! I only ran away from you in order to set you free, and
now I don't care to let you go again. Why does she treat me so--
so shamefully? I am not a loose woman--ask Rogojin there! He'll
tell you. Will you go again now that she has insulted me, before
your eyes, too; turn away from me and lead her away, arm-in-arm?
May you be accursed too, for you were the only one I trusted
among them all! Go away, Rogojin, I don't want you," she
continued, blind with fury, and forcing the words out with dry
lips and distorted features, evidently not believing a single
word of her own tirade, but, at the same time, doing her utmost
to prolong the moment of self-deception.
The outburst was so terribly violent that the prince thought it
would have killed her.
"There he is!" she shrieked again, pointing to the prince and
addressing Aglaya. "There he is! and if he does not approach me
at once and take ME and throw you over, then have him for your
own--I give him up to you! I don't want him!"
Both she and Aglaya stood and waited as though in expectation,
and both looked at the prince like madwomen.
But he, perhaps, did not understand the full force of this
challenge; in fact, it is certain he did not. All he could see
was the poor despairing face which, as he had said to Aglaya,
"had pierced his heart for ever."
He could bear it no longer, and with a look of entreaty, mingled
with reproach, he addressed Aglaya, pointing to Nastasia the
"How can you?" he murmured; "she is so unhappy."
But he had no time to say another word before. Aglaya's terrible
look bereft him of speech. In that look was embodied so dreadful
a suffering and so deadly a hatred, that he gave a cry and flew
to her; but it was too late.
She could not hold out long enough even to witness his movement
in her direction. She had hidden her face in her hands, cried
once " Oh, my God!" and rushed out of the room. Rogojin followed
her to undo the bolts of the door and let her out into the
The prince made a rush after her, but he, was caught and held
back. The distorted, livid face of Nastasia gazed at him
reproachfully, and her blue lips whispered:
"What? Would you go to her--to her?"
She fell senseless into his arms.
He raised her, carried her into the room, placed her in an arm-
chair, and stood over her, stupefied. On the table stood a
tumbler of water. Rogojin, who now returned, took this and
sprinkled a little in her face. She opened her eyes, but for a
moment she understood nothing.
Suddenly she looked around, shuddered, gave a loud cry, and threw
herself in the prince's arms.
"Mine, mine!" she cried. "Has the proud young lady gone? Ha, ha,
ha!" she laughed hysterically. "And I had given him up to her!
Why--why did I? Mad--mad! Get away, Rogojin! Ha, ha, ha!"
Rogojin stared intently at them; then he took his hat, and
without a word, left the room.
A few moments later, the prince was seated by Nastasia on the
sofa, gazing into her eyes and stroking her face and hair, as he
would a little child's. He laughed when she laughed, and was
ready to cry when she cried. He did not speak, but listened to
her excited, disconnected chatter, hardly understanding a word of
it the while. No sooner did he detect the slightest appearance of
complaining, or weeping, or reproaching, than he would smile at
her kindly, and begin stroking her hair and her cheeks, soothing
and consoling her once more, as if she were a child.
A FORTNIGHT had passed since the events recorded in the last
chapter, and the position of the actors in our story had become
so changed that it is almost impossible for us to continue the
tale without some few explanations. Yet we feel that we ought to
limit ourselves to the simple record of facts, without much
attempt at explanation, for a very patent reason: because we
ourselves have the greatest possible difficulty in accounting for
the facts to be recorded. Such a statement on our part may appear
strange to the reader. How is anyone to tell a story which he
cannot understand himself? In order to keep clear of a false
position, we had perhaps better give an example of what we mean;
and probably the intelligent reader will soon understand the
difficulty. More especially are we inclined to take this course
since the example will constitute a distinct march forward of our
story, and will not hinder the progress of the events remaining
to be recorded.
During the next fortnight--that is, through the early part of
July--the history of our hero was circulated in the form of
strange, diverting, most unlikely-sounding stories, which passed
from mouth to mouth, through the streets and villas adjoining
those inhabited by Lebedeff, Ptitsin, Nastasia Philipovna and the
Epanchins; in fact, pretty well through the whole town and its
environs. All society--both the inhabitants of the place and
those who came down of an evening for the music--had got hold of
one and the same story, in a thousand varieties of detail--as to
how a certain young prince had raised a terrible scandal in a
most respectable household, had thrown over a daughter of the
family, to whom he was engaged, and had been captured by a woman
of shady reputation whom he was determined to marry at once--
breaking off all old ties for the satisfaction of his insane
idea; and, in spite of the public indignation roused by his
action, the marriage was to take place in Pavlofsk openly and
publicly, and the prince had announced his intention of going
through with it with head erect and looking the whole world in
the face. The story was so artfully adorned with scandalous
details, and persons of so great eminence and importance were
apparently mixed up in it, while, at the same time, the evidence
was so circumstantial, that it was no wonder the matter gave food
for plenty of curiosity and gossip.
According to the reports of the most talented gossip-mongers--
those who, in every class of society, are always in haste to
explain every event to their neighbours--the young gentleman
concerned was of good family--a prince--fairly rich--weak of
intellect, but a democrat and a dabbler in the Nihilism of the
period, as exposed by Mr. Turgenieff. He could hardly talk
Russian, but had fallen in love with one of the Miss Epanchins,
and his suit met with so much encouragement that he had been
received in the house as the recognized bridegroom-to-be of the
young lady. But like the Frenchman of whom the story is told that
he studied for holy orders, took all the oaths, was ordained
priest, and next morning wrote to his bishop informing him that,
as he did not believe in God and considered it wrong to deceive
the people and live upon their pockets, he begged to surrender
the orders conferred upon him the day before, and to inform his
lordship that he was sending this letter to the public press,--
like this Frenchman, the prince played a false game. It was
rumoured that he had purposely waited for the solemn occasion of
a large evening party at the house of his future bride, at which
he was introduced to several eminent persons, in order publicly
to make known his ideas and opinions, and thereby insult the
"big-wigs," and to throw over his bride as offensively as
possible; and that, resisting the servants who were told off to
turn him out of the house, he had seized and thrown down a
magnificent china vase. As a characteristic addition to the
above, it was currently reported that the young prince really
loved the lady to whom he was engaged, and had thrown her over
out of purely Nihilistic motives, with the intention of giving
himself the satisfaction of marrying a fallen woman in the face
of all the world, thereby publishing his opinion that there is no
distinction between virtuous and disreputable women, but that all
women are alike, free; and a "fallen" woman, indeed, somewhat
superior to a virtuous one.
It was declared that he believed in no classes or anything else,
excepting "the woman question."
All this looked likely enough, and was accepted as fact by most
of the inhabitants of the place, especially as it was borne out,
more or less, by daily occurrences.
Of course much was said that could not be determined absolutely.
For instance, it was reported that the poor girl had so loved her
future husband that she had followed him to the house of the
other woman, the day after she had been thrown over; others said
that he had insisted on her coming, himself, in order to shame
and insult her by his taunts and Nihilistic confessions when she
reached the house. However all these things might be, the public
interest in the matter grew daily, especially as it became clear
that the scandalous wedding was undoubtedly to take place.
So that if our readers were to ask an explanation, not of the
wild reports about the prince's Nihilistic opinions, but simply
as to how such a marriage could possibly satisfy his real
aspirations, or as to the spiritual condition of our hero at this
time, we confess that we should have great difficulty in giving
the required information.
All we know is, that the marriage really was arranged, and that
the prince had commissioned Lebedeff and Keller to look after all
the necessary business connected with it; that he had requested
them to spare no expense; that Nastasia herself was hurrying on
the wedding; that Keller was to be the prince's best man, at his
own earnest request; and that Burdovsky was to give Nastasia
away, to his great delight. The wedding was to take place before
the middle of July.
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.
We suspect, for instance, that having commissioned Lebedeff and
the others, as above, the prince immediately forgot all about
masters of ceremonies and even the ceremony itself; and we feel
quite certain that in making these arrangements he did so in
order that he might absolutely escape all thought of the wedding,
and even forget its approach if he could, by detailing all
business concerning it to others.
What did he think of all this time, then? What did he wish for?
There is no doubt that he was a perfectly free agent all through,
and that as far as Nastasia was concerned, there was no force of
any kind brought to bear on him. Nastasia wished for a speedy
marriage, true!--but the prince agreed at once to her proposals;
he agreed, in fact, so casually that anyone might suppose he was
but acceding to the most simple and ordinary suggestion.
There are many strange circumstances such as this before us; but
in our opinion they do but deepen the mystery, and do not in the
smallest degree help us to understand the case.
However, let us take one more example. Thus, we know for a fact
that during the whole of this fortnight the prince spent all his
days and evenings with Nastasia; he walked with her, drove with
her; he began to be restless whenever he passed an hour without
seeing her--in fact, to all appearances, he sincerely loved her.
He would listen to her for hours at a time with a quiet smile on
his face, scarcely saying a word himself. And yet we know,
equally certainly, that during this period he several times set
off, suddenly, to the Epanchins', not concealing the fact from
Nastasia Philipovna, and driving the latter to absolute despair.
We know also that he was not received at the Epanchins' so long
as they remained at Pavlofsk, and that he was not allowed an
interview with Aglaya;--but next day he would set off once more
on the same errand, apparently quite oblivious of the fact of
yesterday's visit having been a failure,--and, of course, meeting
with another refusal. We know, too, that exactly an hour after
Aglaya had fled from Nastasia Philipovna's house on that fateful
evening, the prince was at the Epanchins',--and that his
appearance there had been the cause of the greatest consternation
and dismay; for Aglaya had not been home, and the family only
discovered then, for the first time, that the two of them had
been to Nastasia's house together.
It was said that Elizabetha Prokofievna and her daughters had
there and then denounced the prince in the strongest terms, and
had refused any further acquaintance and friendship with him;
their rage and denunciations being redoubled when Varia
Ardalionovna suddenly arrived and stated that Aglaya had been at
her house in a terrible state of mind for the last hour, and that
she refused to come home.
This last item of news, which disturbed Lizabetha Prokofievna
more than anything else, was perfectly true. On leaving
Nastasia's, Aglaya had felt that she would rather die than face
her people, and had therefore gone straight to Nina
Alexandrovna's. On receiving the news, Lizabetha and her
daughters and the general all rushed off to Aglaya, followed by
Prince Lef Nicolaievitch--undeterred by his recent dismissal; but
through Varia he was refused a sight of Aglaya here also. The end
of the episode was that when Aglaya saw her mother and sisters
crying over her and not uttering a word of reproach, she had
flung herself into their arms and gone straight home with them.
It was said that Gania managed to make a fool of himself even on
this occasion; for, finding himself alone with Aglaya for a
minute or two when Varia had gone to the Epanchins', he had
thought it a fitting opportunity to make a declaration of his
love, and on hearing this Aglaya, in spite of her state of mind
at the time, had suddenly burst out laughing, and had put a
strange question to him. She asked him whether he would consent
to hold his finger to a lighted candle in proof of his devotion!
Gania--it was said--looked so comically bewildered that Aglaya
had almost laughed herself into hysterics, and had rushed out of
the room and upstairs,--where her parents had found her.
Hippolyte told the prince this last story, sending for him on
purpose. When Muishkin heard about the candle and Gania's finger
he had laughed so that he had quite astonished Hippolyte,--and
then shuddered and burst into tears. The prince's condition
during those days was strange and perturbed. Hippolyte plainly
declared that he thought he was out of his mind;--this, however,
was hardly to be relied upon.
Offering all these facts to our readers and refusing to explain
them, we do not for a moment desire to justify our hero's
conduct. On the contrary, we are quite prepared to feel our share
of the indignation which his behaviour aroused in the hearts of
his friends. Even Vera Lebedeff was angry with him for a while;
so was Colia; so was Keller, until he was selected for best man;
so was Lebedeff himself,--who began to intrigue against him out
of pure irritation;--but of this anon. In fact we are in full
accord with certain forcible words spoken to the prince by
Evgenie Pavlovitch, quite unceremoniously, during the course of a
friendly conversation, six or seven days after the events at
Nastasia Philipovna's house.
We may remark here that not only the Epanchins themselves, but
all who had anything to do with them, thought it right to break
with the prince in consequence of his conduct. Prince S. even
went so far as to turn away and cut him dead in the street. But
Evgenie Pavlovitch was not afraid to compromise himself by paying
the prince a visit, and did so, in spite of the fact that he had
recommenced to visit at the Epanchins', where he was received
with redoubled hospitality and kindness after the temporary
Evgenie called upon the prince the day after that on which the
Epanchins left Pavlofsk. He knew of all the current rumours,--in
fact, he had probably contributed to them himself. The prince was
delighted to see him, and immediately began to speak of the
Epanchins;--which simple and straightforward opening quite took
Evgenie's fancy, so that he melted at once, and plunged in medias
res without ceremony.
The prince did not know, up to this, that the Epanchins had left
the place. He grew very pale on hearing the news; but a moment
later he nodded his head, and said thoughtfully:
"I knew it was bound to be so." Then he added quickly:
"Where have they gone to?"
Evgenie meanwhile observed him attentively, and the rapidity of
the questions, their, simplicity, the prince's candour, and at
the same time, his evident perplexity and mental agitation,
surprised him considerably. However, he told Muishkin all he
could, kindly and in detail. The prince hardly knew anything, for
this was the first informant from the household whom he had met
since the estrangement.
Evgenie reported that Aglaya had been really ill, and that for
two nights she had not slept at all, owing to high fever; that
now she was better and out of serious danger, but still in a
nervous, hysterical state.
"It's a good thing that there is peace in the house, at all
events," he continued. "They never utter a hint about the past,
not only in Aglaya's presence, but even among themselves. The old
people are talking of a trip abroad in the autumn, immediately
after Adelaida's wedding; Aglaya received the news in silence."
Evgenie himself was very likely going abroad also; so were Prince
S. and his wife, if affairs allowed of it; the general was to
stay at home. They were all at their estate of Colmina now, about
twenty miles or so from St. Petersburg. Princess Bielokonski had
not returned to Moscow yet, and was apparently staying on for
reasons of her own. Lizabetha Prokofievna had insisted that it
was quite impossible to remain in Pavlofsk after what had
happened. Evgenie had told her of all the rumours current in town
about the affair; so that there could be no talk of their going
to their house on the Yelagin as yet.
"And in point of fact, prince," added Evgenie Pavlovitch, "you
must allow that they could hardly have stayed here, considering
that they knew of all that went on at your place, and in the face
of your daily visits to their house, visits which you insisted
upon making in spite of their refusal to see you."
"Yes--yes, quite so; you are quite right. I wished to see Aglaya
Ivanovna, you know!" said the prince, nodding his head.
"Oh, my dear fellow," cried Evgenie, warmly, with real sorrow in
his voice, "how could you permit all that to come about as it
has? Of course, of course, I know it was all so unexpected. I
admit that you, only naturally, lost your head, and--and could
not stop the foolish girl; that was not in your power. I quite
see so much; but you really should have understood how seriously
she cared for you. She could not bear to share you with another;
and you could bring yourself to throw away and shatter such a
treasure! Oh, prince, prince!"
"Yes, yes, you are quite right again," said the poor prince, in
anguish of mind. "I was wrong, I know. But it was only Aglaya who
looked on Nastasia Philipovna so; no one else did, you know."
"But that's just the worst of it all, don't you see, that there
was absolutely nothing serious about the matter in reality!"
cried Evgenie, beside himself: "Excuse me, prince, but I have
thought over all this; I have thought a great deal over it; I
know all that had happened before; I know all that took place six
months since; and I know there was NOTHING serious about the
matter, it was but fancy, smoke, fantasy, distorted by agitation,
and only the alarmed jealousy of an absolutely inexperienced girl
could possibly have mistaken it for serious reality."
Here Evgenie Pavlovitch quite let himself go, and gave the reins
to his indignation.
Clearly and reasonably, and with great psychological insight, he
drew a picture of the prince's past relations with Nastasia
Philipovna. Evgenie Pavlovitch always had a ready tongue, but on
this occasion his eloquence, surprised himself. "From the very
beginning," he said, "you began with a lie; what began with a lie
was bound to end with a lie; such is the law of nature. I do not
agree, in fact I am angry, when I hear you called an idiot; you
are far too intelligent to deserve such an epithet; but you are
so far STRANGE as to be unlike others; that you must allow,
yourself. Now, I have come to the conclusion that the basis of
all that has happened, has been first of all your innate
inexperience (remark the expression 'innate,' prince). Then
follows your unheard-of simplicity of heart; then comes your
absolute want of sense of proportion (to this want you have
several times confessed); and lastly, a mass, an accumulation, of
intellectual convictions which you, in your unexampled honesty of
soul, accept unquestionably as also innate and natural and true.
Admit, prince, that in your relations with Nastasia Philipovna
there has existed, from the very first, something democratic, and
the fascination, so to speak, of the 'woman question'? I know all
about that scandalous scene at Nastasia Philipovna's house when
Rogojin brought the money, six months ago. I'll show you yourself
as in a looking-glass, if you like. I know exactly all that went
on, in every detail, and why things have turned out as they have.
You thirsted, while in Switzerland, for your home-country, for
Russia; you read, doubtless, many books about Russia, excellent
books, I dare say, but hurtful to YOU; and you arrived here; as
it were, on fire with the longing to be of service. Then, on the
very day of your arrival, they tell you a sad story of an ill-
used woman; they tell YOU, a knight, pure and without reproach,
this tale of a poor woman! The same day you actually SEE her; you
are attracted by her beauty, her fantastic, almost demoniacal,
beauty--(I admit her beauty, of course).
"Add to all this your nervous nature, your epilepsy, and your
sudden arrival in a strange town--the day of meetings and of
exciting scenes, the day of unexpected acquaintanceships, the day
of sudden actions, the day of meeting with the three lovely
Epanchin girls, and among them Aglaya--add your fatigue, your
excitement; add Nastasia' s evening party, and the tone of that
party, and--what were you to expect of yourself at such a moment
"Yes, yes, yes!" said the prince, once more, nodding his head,
and blushing slightly. "Yes, it was so, or nearly so--I know it.
And besides, you see, I had not slept the night before, in the
train, or the night before that, either, and I was very tired."
"Of course, of course, quite so; that's what I am driving at!"
continued Evgenie, excitedly. "It is as clear as possible, and
most comprehensible, that you, in your enthusiasm, should plunge
headlong into the first chance that came of publicly airing your
great idea that you, a prince, and a pure-living man, did not
consider a woman disgraced if the sin were not her own, but that
of a disgusting social libertine! Oh, heavens! it's
comprehensible enough, my dear prince, but that is not the
question, unfortunately! The question is, was there any reality
and truth in your feelings? Was it nature, or nothing but
intellectual enthusiasm? What do you think yourself? We are told,
of course, that a far worse woman was FORGIVEN, but we don't find
that she was told that she had done well, or that she was worthy
of honour and respect! Did not your common-sense show you what
was the real state of the case, a few months later? The question
is now, not whether she is an innocent woman (I do not insist one
way or the other--I do not wish to); but can her whole career
justify such intolerable pride, such insolent, rapacious egotism
as she has shown? Forgive me, I am too violent, perhaps, but--"
"Yes--I dare say it is all as you say; I dare say you are quite
right," muttered the prince once more. "She is very sensitive and
easily put out, of course; but still, she..."
"She is worthy of sympathy? Is that what you wished to say, my
good fellow? But then, for the mere sake of vindicating her
worthiness of sympathy, you should not have insulted and offended
a noble and generous girl in her presence! This is a terrible
exaggeration of sympathy! How can you love a girl, and yet so
humiliate her as to throw her over for the sake of another woman,
before the very eyes of that other woman, when you have already
made her a formal proposal of marriage? And you DID propose to
her, you know; you did so before her parents and sisters. Can you
be an honest man, prince, if you act so? I ask you! And did you
not deceive that beautiful girl when you assured her of your
"Yes, you are quite right. Oh! I feel that I am very guilty!"
said Muishkin, in deepest distress.
"But as if that is enough!" cried Evgenie, indignantly. "As if it
is enough simply to say: 'I know I am very guilty!' You are to
blame, and yet you persevere in evil-doing. Where was your heart,
I should like to know, your CHRISTIAN HEART, all that time? Did
she look as though she were suffering less, at that moment? You
saw her face--was she suffering less than the other woman? How
could you see her suffering and allow it to continue? How could
"But I did not allow it," murmured the wretched prince.
"How--what do you mean you didn't allow?"
"Upon my word, I didn't! To this moment I don't know how it all
happened. I--I ran after Aglaya Ivanovna, but Nastasia Philipovna
fell down in a faint; and since that day they won't let me see
Aglaya--that's all I know."
"It's all the same; you ought to have run after Aglaya though the
other was fainting."
"Yes, yes, I ought--but I couldn't! She would have died--she
would have killed herself. You don't know her; and I should have
told Aglaya everything afterwards--but I see, Evgenie Pavlovitch,
you don't know all. Tell me now, why am I not allowed to see
Aglaya? I should have cleared it all up, you know. Neither
of them kept to the real point, you see. I could never explain
what I mean to you, but I think I could to Aglaya. Oh! my God, my
God! You spoke just now of Aglaya's face at the moment when she
ran away. Oh, my God! I remember it! Come along, come along--
quick!" He pulled at Evgenie's coat-sleeve nervously and
excitedly, and rose from his chair.
"Come to Aglaya--quick, quick!"
"But I told you she is not at Pavlofsk. And what would be the use
if she were?"
"Oh, she'll understand, she'll understand!" cried the prince,
clasping his hands. "She would understand that all this is not
the point--not a bit the real point--it is quite foreign to the
"How can it be foreign? You ARE going to be married, are you not?
Very well, then you are persisting in your course. ARE you going
to marry her or not?"
"Yes, I shall marry her--yes."
"Then why is it 'not the point'?"
"Oh, no, it is not the point, not a bit. It makes no difference,
my marrying her--it means nothing."
"How 'means nothing'? You are talking nonsense, my friend. You
are marrying the woman you love in order to secure her happiness,
and Aglaya sees and knows it. How can you say that it's 'not the
"Her happiness? Oh, no! I am only marrying her--well, because she
wished it. It means nothing--it's all the same. She would
certainly have died. I see now that that marriage with Rogojin
was an insane idea. I understand all now that I did not
understand before; and, do you know, when those two stood
opposite to one another, I could not bear Nastasia Philipovna's
face! You must know, Evgenie Pavlovitch, I have never told anyone
before--not even Aglaya--that I cannot bear Nastasia Philipovna's
face." (He lowered his voice mysteriously as he said this.) You
described that evening at Nastasia Philipovna's (six months
since) very accurately just now; but there is one thing which you
did not mention, and of which you took no account, because you do
not know. I mean her FACE--I looked at her face, you see. Even in
the morning when I saw her portrait, I felt that I could not BEAR
to look at it. Now, there's Vera Lebedeff, for instance, her eyes
are quite different, you know. I'm AFRAID of her face!" he added,
with real alarm.
"You are AFRAID of it?"
"Yes--she's mad!" he whispered, growing pale.
"Do you know this for certain?" asked Evgenie, with the greatest
"Yes, for certain--quite for certain, now! I have discovered it
ABSOLUTELY for certain, these last few days."
"What are you doing, then?" cried Evgenie, in horror. "You must
be marrying her solely out of FEAR, then! I can't make head or
tail of it, prince. Perhaps you don't even love her?"
"Oh, no; I love her with all my soul. Why, she is a child! She's
a child now--a real child. Oh! you know nothing about it at all,
"And are you assured, at the same time, that you love Aglaya
"How so? Do you want to make out that you love them BOTH?"
"Yes--yes--both! I do!"
"Excuse me, prince, but think what you are saying! Recollect
"Without Aglaya--I--I MUST see Aglaya!--I shall die in my sleep
very soon--I thought I was dying in my sleep last night. Oh! if
Aglaya only knew all--I mean really, REALLY all! Because she must
know ALL--that's the first condition towards understanding. Why
cannot we ever know all about another, especially when that other
has been guilty? But I don't know what I'm talking about--I'm so
confused. You pained me so dreadfully. Surely--surely Aglaya has
not the same expression now as she had at the moment when she ran
away? Oh, yes! I am guilty and I know it--I know it! Probably I
am in fault all round--I don't quite know how--but I am in fault,
no doubt. There is something else, but I cannot explain it to
you, Evgenie Pavlovitch. I have no words; but Aglaya will
understand. I have always believed Aglaya will understand--I am
assured she will."
"No, prince, she will not. Aglaya loved like a woman, like a
human being, not like an abstract spirit. Do you know what, my
poor prince? The most probable explanation of the matter is that
you never loved either the one or the other in reality."
"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!"
"But I tell you she is not in Pavlofsk! She's in Colmina."
"Oh, come to Colmina, then! Come--let us go at once!"
"No--no, impossible!" said Evgenie, rising.
"Look here--I'll write a letter--take a letter for me!"
"No--no, prince; you must forgive me, but I can't undertake any
such commissions! I really can't."
And so they parted.
Evgenie Pavlovitch left the house with strange convictions. He,
too, felt that the prince must be out of his mind.
"And what did he mean by that FACE--a face which he so fears, and
yet so loves? And meanwhile he really may die, as he says,
without seeing Aglaya, and she will never know how devotedly he
loves her! Ha, ha, ha! How does the fellow manage to love two of
them? Two different kinds of love, I suppose! This is very
interesting--poor idiot! What on earth will become of him now?"
THE prince did not die before his wedding--either by day or
night, as he had foretold that he might. Very probably he passed
disturbed nights, and was afflicted with bad dreams; but, during
the daytime, among his fellow-men, he seemed as kind as ever, and
even contented; only a little thoughtful when alone.
The wedding was hurried on. The day was fixed for exactly a week
after Evgenie's visit to the prince. In the face of such haste as
this, even the prince's best friends (if he had had any) would
have felt the hopelessness of any attempt to save" the poor
madman." Rumour said that in the visit of Evgenie Pavlovitch was
to be discerned the influence of Lizabetha Prokofievna and her
husband... But if those good souls, in the boundless kindness of
their hearts, were desirous of saving the eccentric young fellow
from ruin, they were unable to take any stronger measures to
attain that end. Neither their position, nor their private
inclination, perhaps (and only naturally), would allow them to
use any more pronounced means.
We have observed before that even some of the prince's nearest
neighbours had begun to oppose him. Vera Lebedeff's passive
disagreement was limited to the shedding of a few solitary tears;
to more frequent sitting alone at home, and to a diminished
frequency in her visits to the prince's apartments.
Colia was occupied with his father at this time. The old man died
during a second stroke, which took place just eight days after
the first. The prince showed great sympathy in the grief of the
family, and during the first days of their mourning he was at the
house a great deal with Nina Alexandrovna. He went to the
funeral, and it was observable that the public assembled in
church greeted his arrival and departure with whisperings, and
watched him closely.
The same thing happened in the park and in the street, wherever
he went. He was pointed out when he drove by, and he often
overheard the name of Nastasia Philipovna coupled with his own as
he passed. People looked out for her at the funeral, too, but she
was not there; and another conspicuous absentee was the captain's
widow, whom Lebedeff had prevented from coming.
The funeral service produced a great effect on the prince. He
whispered to Lebedeff that this was the first time he had ever
heard a Russian funeral service since he was a little boy.
Observing that he was looking about him uneasily, Lebedeff asked
him whom he was seeking.
"Nothing. I only thought I--"
"Is it Rogojin?"
"Why--is he here?"
"Yes, he's in church."
"I thought I caught sight of his eyes!" muttered the prince, in
confusion. "But what of it!--Why is he here? Was he asked?"
"Oh, dear, no! Why, they don't even know him! Anyone can come in,
you know. Why do you look so amazed? I often meet him; I've seen
him at least four times, here at Pavlofsk, within the last week."
"I haven't seen him once--since that day!" the prince murmured.
As Nastasia Philipovna had not said a word about having met
Rogojin since "that day," the prince concluded that the latter
had his own reasons for wishing to keep out of sight. All the day
of the funeral our hero, was in a deeply thoughtful state, while
Nastasia Philipovna was particularly merry, both in the daytime
and in the evening.
Colia had made it up with the prince before his father's death,
and it was he who urged him to make use of Keller and Burdovsky,
promising to answer himself for the former's behaviour. Nina
Alexandrovna and Lebedeff tried to persuade him to have the
wedding in St. Petersburg, instead of in the public fashion
contemplated, down here at Pavlofsk in the height of the season.
But the prince only said that Nastasia Philipovna desired to have
it so, though he saw well enough what prompted their arguments.
The next day Keller came to visit the prince. He was in a high
state of delight with the post of honour assigned to him at the
Before entering he stopped on the threshold, raised his hand as
if making a solemn vow, and cried:
"I won't drink!"
Then he went up to the prince, seized both his hands, shook them
warmly, and declared that he had at first felt hostile towards
the project of this marriage, and had openly said so in the
billiard-rooms, but that the reason simply was that, with the
impatience of a friend, he had hoped to see the prince marry at
least a Princess de Rohan or de Chabot; but that now he saw that
the prince's way of thinking was ten times more noble than that
of "all the rest put together." For he desired neither pomp nor
wealth nor honour, but only the truth! The sympathies of exalted
personages were well known, and the prince was too highly placed
by his education, and so on, not to be in some sense an exalted
"But all the common herd judge 'differently; in the town, at the
meetings, in the villas, at the band, in the inns and the
billiard-rooms, the coming event has only to be mentioned and
there are shouts and cries from everybody. I have even heard talk
of getting up a 'charivari' under the windows on the wedding-
night. So if 'you have need of the pistol' of an honest man,
prince, I am ready to fire half a dozen shots even before you
rise from your nuptial couch!"
Keller also advised, in anticipation of the crowd making a rush
after the ceremony, that a fire-hose should be placed at the
entrance to the house; but Lebedeff was opposed to this measure,
which he said might result in the place being pulled down.
"I assure you, prince, that Lebedeff is intriguing against you.
He wants to put you under control. Imagine that! To take 'from
you the use of your free-will and your money--that' is to say,
the two things that distinguish us from the animals! I have heard
it said positively. It is the sober truth."
The prince recollected that somebody had told him something of
the kind before, and he had, of course, scoffed at it. He only
laughed now, and forgot the hint at once.
Lebedeff really had been busy for some little while; but, as
usual, his plans had become too complex to succeed, through sheer
excess of ardour. When he came to the prince--the very day before
the wedding--to confess (for he always confessed to the persons
against whom he intrigued, especially when the plan failed), he
informed our hero that he himself was a born Talleyrand, but for
some unknown reason had become simple Lebedeff. He then proceeded
to explain his whole game to the prince, interesting the latter
According to Lebedeff's account, he had first tried what he could
do with General Epanchin. The latter informed him that he wished
well to the unfortunate young man, and would gladly do what he
could to "save him," but that he did not think it would be seemly
for him to interfere in this matter. Lizabetha Prokofievna would
neither hear nor see him. Prince S. and Evgenie Pavlovitch only
shrugged their shoulders, and implied that it was no business of
theirs. However, Lebedeff had not lost heart, and went off to a
clever lawyer,--a worthy and respectable man, whom he knew well.
This old gentleman informed him that the thing was perfectly
feasible if he could get hold of competent witnesses as to
Muishkin's mental incapacity. Then, with the assistance of a few
influential persons, he would soon see the matter arranged.
Lebedeff immediately procured the services of an old doctor, and
carried the latter away to Pavlofsk to see the prince, by way of
viewing the ground, as it were, and to give him (Lebedeff)
counsel as to whether the thing was to be done or not. The visit
was not to be official, but merely friendly.
Muishkin remembered the doctor's visit quite well. He remembered
that Lebedeff had said that he looked ill, and had better see a
doctor; and although the prince scouted the idea, Lebedeff had
turned up almost immediately with his old friend, explaining that
they had just met at the bedside of Hippolyte, who was very ill,
and that the doctor had something to tell the prince about the
The prince had, of course, at once received him, and had plunged
into a conversation about Hippolyte. He had given the doctor an
account of Hippolyte's attempted suicide; and had proceeded
thereafter to talk of his own malady,--of Switzerland, of
Schneider, and so on; and so deeply was the old man interested by
the prince's conversation and his description of Schneider's
system, that he sat on for two hours.
Muishkin gave him excellent cigars to smoke, and Lebedeff, for
his part, regaled him with liqueurs, brought in by Vera, to whom
the doctor--a married man and the father of a family--addressed
such compliments that she was filled with indignation. They
parted friends, and, after leaving the prince, the doctor said to
Lebedeff: "If all such people were put under restraint, there
would be no one left for keepers." Lebedeff then, in tragic
tones, told of the approaching marriage, whereupon the other
nodded his head and replied that, after all, marriages like that
were not so rare; that he had heard that the lady was very
fascinating and of extraordinary beauty, which was enough to
explain the infatuation of a wealthy man; that, further, thanks
to the liberality of Totski and of Rogojin, she possessed--so he
had heard--not only money, but pearls, diamonds, shawls, and
furniture, and consequently she could not be considered a bad
match. In brief, it seemed to the doctor that the prince's
choice, far from being a sign of foolishness, denoted, on the
contrary, a shrewd, calculating, and practical mind. Lebedeff had
been much struck by this point of view, and he terminated his
confession by assuring the prince that he was ready, if need be,
to shed his very life's blood for him.
Hippolyte, too, was a source of some distraction to the prince at
this time; he would send for him at any and every hour of the
day. They lived,--Hippolyte and his mother and the children,--in
a small house not far off, and the little ones were happy, if
only because they were able to escape from the invalid into the
garden. The prince had enough to do in keeping the peace between
the irritable Hippolyte and his mother, and eventually the former
became so malicious and sarcastic on the subject of the
approaching wedding, that Muishkin took offence at last, and
refused to continue his visits.
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."
"He is the sort of man," he continued,. "who won't give up his
object, you know; he is not like you and me, prince--he belongs
to quite a different order of beings. If he sets his heart on a
thing he won't be afraid of anything--" and so on.
Hippolyte was very ill, and looked as though he could not long
survive. He was tearful at first, but grew more and more
sarcastic and malicious as the interview proceeded.
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.
However, the invalid--to his immense satisfaction--ended by
seriously alarming the prince.
At first Muishkin had not cared to make any reply to his sundry
questions, and only smiled in response to Hippolyte's advice to
"run for his life--abroad, if necessary. There are Russian
priests everywhere, and one can get married all over the world."
But it was Hippolyte's last idea which upset him.
"What I am really alarmed about, though," he said, "is Aglaya
Ivanovna. Rogojin knows how you love her. Love for love. You took
Nastasia Philipovna from him. He will murder Aglaya Ivanovna; for
though she is not yours, of course, now, still such an act would
pain you,--wouldn't it?"
He had attained his end. The prince left the house beside himself
These warnings about Rogojin were expressed on the day before the
wedding. That evening the prince saw Nastasia Philipovna for the
last time before they were to meet at the altar; but Nastasia was
not in a position to give him any comfort or consolation. On the
contrary, she only added to his mental perturbation as the
evening went on. Up to this time she had invariably done her best
to cheer him--she was afraid of his looking melancholy; she would
try singing to him, and telling him every sort of funny story or
reminiscence that she could recall. The prince nearly always
pretended to be amused, whether he were so actually or no; but
often enough he laughed sincerely, delighted by the brilliancy of
her wit when she was carried away by her narrative, as she very
often was. Nastasia would be wild with joy to see the impression
she had made, and to hear his laugh of real amusement; and she
would remain the whole evening in a state of pride and happiness.
But this evening her melancholy and thoughtfulness grew with
The prince had told Evgenie Pavlovitch with perfect sincerity
that he loved Nastasia Philipovna with all his soul. In his love
for her there was the sort of tenderness one feels for a sick,
unhappy child which cannot be left alone. He never spoke of his
feelings for Nastasia to anyone, not even to herself. When they
were together they never discussed their "feelings," and there
was nothing in their cheerful, animated conversation which an
outsider could not have heard. Daria Alexeyevna, with whom
Nastasia was staying, told afterwards how she had been filled
with joy and delight only to look at them, all this time.
Thanks to the manner in which he regarded Nastasia's mental and
moral condition, the prince was to some extent freed from other
perplexities. She was now quite different from the woman he had
known three months before. He was not astonished, for instance,
to see her now so impatient to marry him--she who formerly had
wept with rage and hurled curses and reproaches at him if he
mentioned marriage! "It shows that she no longer fears, as she
did then, that she would make me unhappy by marrying me," he
thought. And he felt sure that so sudden a change could not be a
natural one. This rapid growth of self-confidence could not be
due only to her hatred for Aglaya. To suppose that would be to
suspect the depth of her feelings. Nor could it arise from dread
of the fate that awaited her if she married Rogojin. These
causes, indeed, as well as others, might have played a part in
it, but the true reason, Muishkin decided, was the one he had
long suspected--that the poor sick soul had come to the end of
its forces. Yet this was an explanation that did not procure him
any peace of mind. At times he seemed to be making violent
efforts to think of nothing, and one would have said that he
looked on his marriage as an unimportant formality, and on his
future happiness as a thing not worth considering. As to
conversations such as the one held with Evgenie Pavlovitch, he
avoided them as far as possible, feeling that there were certain
objections to which he could make no answer.
The prince had observed that Nastasia knew well enough what
Aglaya was to him. He never spoke of it, but he had seen her face
when she had caught him starting off for the Epanchins' house on
several occasions. When the Epanchins left Pavlofsk, she had
beamed with radiance and happiness. Unsuspicious and unobservant
as he was, he had feared at that time that Nastasia might have
some scheme in her mind for a scene or scandal which would drive
Aglaya out of Pavlofsk. She had encouraged the rumours and
excitement among the inhabitants of the place as to her marriage
with the prince, in order to annoy her rival; and, finding it
difficult to meet the Epanchins anywhere, she had, on one
occasion, taken him for a drive past their house. He did not
observe what was happening until they were almost passing the
windows, when it was too late to do anything. He said nothing,
but for two days afterwards he was ill.
Nastasia did not try that particular experiment again. A few days
before that fixed for the wedding, she grew grave and thoughtful.
She always ended by getting the better of her melancholy, and
becoming merry and cheerful again, but not quite so unaffectedly
happy as she had been some days earlier.
The prince redoubled his attentive study of her symptoms. It was
a most curious circumstance, in his opinion, that she never spoke
of Rogojin. But once, about five days before the wedding, when
the prince was at home, a messenger arrived begging him to come
at once, as Nastasia Philipovna was very ill.
He had found her in a condition approaching to absolute madness.
She screamed, and trembled, and cried out that Rogojin was hiding
out there in the garden--that she had seen him herself--and that
he would murder her in the night--that he would cut her throat.
She was terribly agitated all day. But it so happened that the
prince called at Hippolyte's house later on, and heard from his
mother that she had been in town all day, and had there received
a visit from Rogojin, who had made inquiries about Pavlofsk. On
inquiry, it turned out that Rogojin visited the old lady in town
at almost the same moment when Nastasia declared that she had
seen him in the garden; so that the whole thing turned out to be
an illusion on her part. Nastasia immediately went across to
Hippolyte's to inquire more accurately, and returned immensely
relieved and comforted.
On the day before the wedding, the prince left Nastasia in a
state of great animation. Her wedding-dress and all sorts of
finery had just arrived from town. Muishkin had not imagined that
she would be so excited over it, but he praised everything, and
his praise rendered her doubly happy.
But Nastasia could not hide the cause of her intense interest in
her wedding splendour. She had heard of the indignation in the
town, and knew that some of the populace was getting up a sort of
charivari with music, that verses had been composed for the
occasion, and that the rest of Pavlofsk society more or less
encouraged these preparations. So, since attempts were being made
to humiliate her, she wanted to hold her head even higher than
usual, and to overwhelm them all with the beauty and taste of her
toilette. "Let them shout and whistle, if they dare!" Her eyes
flashed at the thought. But, underneath this, she had another
motive, of which she did not speak. She thought that possibly
Aglaya, or at any rate someone sent by her, would be present
incognito at the ceremony, or in the crowd, and she wished to be
prepared for this eventuality.
The prince left her at eleven, full of these thoughts, and went
home. But it was not twelve o'clock when a messenger came to say
that Nastasia was very bad, and he must come at once.
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.)
"What am I doing? What am I doing to you?" she sobbed
convulsively, embracing his knees.
The prince was a whole hour soothing and comforting her, and left
her, at length, pacified and composed. He sent another messenger
during the night to inquire after her, and two more next morning.
The last brought back a message that Nastasia was surrounded by a
whole army of dressmakers and maids, and was as happy and as busy
as such a beauty should be on her wedding morning, and that there
was not a vestige of yesterday's agitation remaining. The message
concluded with the news that at the moment of the bearer's
departure there was a great confabulation in progress as to which
diamonds were to be worn, and how.
This message entirely calmed the prince's mind.
The following report of the proceedings on the wedding day may be
depended upon, as coming from eye-witnesses.
The wedding was fixed for eight o'clock in the evening. Nastasia
Philipovna was ready at seven. From six o'clock groups of people
began to gather at Nastasia's house, at the prince's, and at the
church door, but more especially at the former place. The church
began to fill at seven.
Colia and Vera Lebedeff were very anxious on the prince's
account, but they were so busy over the arrangements for
receiving the guests after the wedding, that they had not much
time for the indulgence of personal feelings.
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:
"Why, he wears an 'order,' and it looks so well!"
This idea amused the prince.
Keller and Burdovsky looked wonderfully correct in their dress-
coats and white kid gloves, although Keller caused the bridegroom
some alarm by his undisguisedly hostile glances at the gathering
crowd of sight-seers outside.
At about half-past seven the prince started for the church in his
We may remark here that he seemed anxious not to omit a single
one of the recognized customs and traditions observed at
weddings. He wished all to be done as openly as possible, and "in
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.
On reaching the gate of Daria Alexeyevna's house, Keller found a
far denser crowd than he had encountered at the prince's. The
remarks and exclamations of the spectators here were of so
irritating a nature that Keller was very near making them a
speech on the impropriety of their conduct, but was luckily
caught by Burdovsky, in the act of turning to address them, and
Nastasia Philipovna was ready. She rose from her seat, looked
into the glass and remarked, as Keller told the tale afterwards,
that she was "as pale as a corpse." She then bent her head
reverently, before the ikon in the corner, and left the room.
A torrent of voices greeted her appearance at the front door. The
crowd whistled, clapped its hands, and laughed and shouted; but
in a moment or two isolated voices were distinguishable.
"What a beauty!" cried one.
"Well, she isn't the first in the world, nor the last," said
"Marriage covers everything," observed a third.
"I defy you to find another beauty like that," said a fourth.
"She's a real princess! I'd sell my soul for such a princess as
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
Nastasia rushed to him like a madwoman, and seized both his
"Save me!" she cried. "Take me away, anywhere you like, quick!"
Rogojin seized her in his arms and almost carried her to the
carriage. Then, in a flash, he tore a hundred-rouble note out of
his pocket and held it to the coachman.
"To the station, quick! If you catch the train you shall have
He leaped into the carriage after Nastasia and banged the door.
The coachman did not hesitate a moment; he whipped up the horses,
and they were oft.
"One more second and I should have stopped him," said Keller,
afterwards. In fact, he and Burdovsky jumped into another
carriage and set off in pursuit; but it struck them as they drove
along that it was not much use trying to bring Nastasia back by
"Besides," said Burdovsky," the prince would not like it, would
he?" So they gave up the pursuit.
Rogojin and Nastasia Philipovna reached the station just in time
for the train. As he jumped out of the carriage and was almost on
the point of entering the train, Rogojin accosted a young girl
standing on the platform and wearing an old-fashioned, but
respectable-looking, black cloak and a silk handkerchief over her
"Take fifty roubles for your cloak?" he shouted, holding the
money out to the girl. Before the astonished young woman could
collect her scattered senses, he pushed the money into her hand,
seized the mantle, and threw it and the handkerchief over
Nastasia's head and shoulders. The latter's wedding-array would
have attracted too much attention, and it was not until some time
later that the girl understood why her old cloak and kerchief had
been bought at such a price.
The news of what had happened reached the church with
extraordinary rapidity. When Keller arrived, a host of people
whom he did not know thronged around to ask him questions. There
was much excited talking, and shaking of heads, even some
laughter; but no one left the church, all being anxious to
observe how the now celebrated bridegroom would take the news. He
grew very pale upon hearing it, but took it quite quietly.
"I was afraid," he muttered, scarcely audibly, "but I hardly
thought it would come to this." Then after a short silence, he
added: "However, in her state, it is quite consistent with the
natural order of things."
Even Keller admitted afterwards that this was "extraordinarily
philosophical" on the prince's part. He left the church quite
calm, to all appearances, as many witnesses were found to declare
afterwards. He seemed anxious to reach home and be left alone as
quickly as possible; but this was not to be. He was accompanied
by nearly all the invited guests, and besides this, the house was
almost besieged by excited bands of people, who insisted upon
being allowed to enter the verandah. The prince heard Keller and
Lebedeff remonstrating and quarrelling with these unknown
individuals, and soon went out himself. He approached the
disturbers of his peace, requested courteously to be told what
was desired; then politely putting Lebedeff and Keller aside, he
addressed an old gentleman who was standing on the verandah steps
at the head of the band of would-be guests, and courteously
requested him to honour him with a visit. The old fellow was
quite taken aback by this, but entered, followed by a few more,
who tried to appear at their ease. The rest remained outside, and
presently the whole crowd was censuring those who had accepted
the invitation. The prince offered seats to his strange visitors,
tea was served, and a general conversation sprang up. Everything
was done most decorously, to the considerable surprise of the
intruders. A few tentative attempts were made to turn the
conversation to the events of the day, and a few indiscreet