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The Idiot by Fyodor Dostoyevsky Dostoieffsky, Dostoevsky, Etc. & Feodor/Fe"do]

Part 15 out of 15

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questions were asked; but Muishkin replied to everybody with such
simplicity and good-humour, and at the same time with so much
dignity, and showed such confidence in the good breeding of his
guests, that the indiscreet talkers were quickly silenced. By
degrees the conversation became almost serious. One gentleman
suddenly exclaimed, with great vehemence: "Whatever happens, I
shall not sell my property; I shall wait. Enterprise is better
than money, and there, sir, you have my whole system of economy,
if you wish!" He addressed the prince, who warmly commended his
sentiments, though Lebedeff whispered in his ear that this
gentleman, who talked so much of his "property," had never had
either house or home.

Nearly an hour passed thus, and when tea was over the visitors
seemed to think that it was time to go. As they went out, the
doctor and the old gentleman bade Muishkin a warm farewell, and
all the rest took their leave with hearty protestations of good-
will, dropping remarks to the effect that "it was no use
worrying," and that "perhaps all would turn out for the best,"
and so on. Some of the younger intruders would have asked for
champagne, but they were checked by the older ones. When all had
departed, Keller leaned over to Lebedeff, and said:

"With you and me there would have been a scene. We should have
shouted and fought, and called in the police. But he has simply
made some new friends--and such friends, too! I know them!"

Lebedeff, who was slightly intoxicated, answered with a sigh:

"Things are hidden from the wise and prudent, and revealed unto
babes. I have applied those words to him before, but now I add
that God has preserved the babe himself from the abyss, He and
all His saints."

At last, about half-past ten, the prince was left alone. His head
ached. Colia was the last to go, after having helped him to
change his wedding clothes. They parted on affectionate terms,
and, without speaking of what had happened, Colia promised to
come very early the next day. He said later that the prince had
given no hint of his intentions when they said good-bye, but had
hidden them even from him. Soon there was hardly anyone left in
the house. Burdovsky had gone to see Hippolyte; Keller and
Lebedeff had wandered off together somewhere.

Only Vera Lebedeff remained hurriedly rearranging the furniture
in the rooms. As she left the verandah, she glanced at the
prince. He was seated at the table, with both elbows upon it, and
his head resting on his hands. She approached him, and touched
his shoulder gently. The prince started and looked at her in
perplexity; he seemed to be collecting his senses for a minute or
so, before he could remember where he was. As recollection dawned
upon him, he became violently agitated. All he did, however, was
to ask Vera very earnestly to knock at his door and awake him in
time for the first train to Petersburg next morning. Vera
promised, and the prince entreated her not to tell anyone of his
intention. She promised this, too; and at last, when she had
half-closed the door, be called her back a third time, took her
hands in his, kissed them, then kissed her forehead, and in a
rather peculiar manner said to her, "Until tomorrow!"

Such was Vera's story afterwards.

She went away in great anxiety about him, but when she saw him in
the morning, he seemed to be quite himself again, greeted her
with a smile, and told her that he would very likely be back by
the evening. It appears that he did not consider it necessary to
inform anyone excepting Vera of his departure for town.


AN hour later he was in St. Petersburg, and by ten o'clock he had
rung the bell at Rogojin's.

He had gone to the front door, and was kept waiting a long while
before anyone came. At last the door of old Mrs. Rogojin's flat
was opened, and an aged servant appeared.

"Parfen Semionovitch is not at home," she announced from the
doorway. "Whom do you want?"

"Parfen Semionovitch."

"He is not in."

The old woman examined the prince from head to foot with great

"At all events tell me whether he slept at home last night, and
whether he came alone?"

The old woman continued to stare at him, but said nothing.

"Was not Nastasia Philipovna here with him, yesterday evening?"

"And, pray, who are you yourself?"

"Prince Lef Nicolaievitch Muishkin; he knows me well."

"He is not at home."

The woman lowered her eyes.

"And Nastasia Philipovna?"

"I know nothing about it."

"Stop a minute! When will he come back?"

"I don't know that either."

The door was shut with these words, and the old woman
disappeared. The prince decided to come back within an
hour. Passing out of the house, he met the porter.

"Is Parfen Semionovitch at home?" he asked.


"Why did they tell me he was not at home, then?" "Where did they
tell you so,--at his door?" "No, at his mother's flat; I rang at
Parfen Semionovitch's door and nobody came."

"Well, he may have gone out. I can't tell. Sometimes he takes the
keys with him, and leaves the rooms empty for two or three days."

"Do you know for certain that he was at home last night?"

"Yes, he was."

"Was Nastasia Philipovna with him?"

"I don't know; she doesn't come often. I think I should have
known if she had come."

The prince went out deep in thought, and walked up and down the
pavement for some time. The windows of all the rooms occupied by
Rogojin were closed, those of his mother's apartments were open.
It was a hot, bright day. The prince crossed the road in order to
have a good look at the windows again; not only were Rogojin's
closed, but the white blinds were all down as well.

He stood there for a minute and then, suddenly and strangely
enough, it seemed to him that a little corner of one of the
blinds was lifted, and Rogojin's face appeared for an instant and
then vanished. He waited another minute, and decided to go and
ring the bell once more; however, he thought better of it again
and put it off for an hour.

The chief object in his mind at this moment was to get as quickly
as he could to Nastasia Philipovna's lodging. He remembered that,
not long since, when she had left Pavlofsk at his request, he had
begged her to put up in town at the house of a respectable widow,
who had well-furnished rooms to let, near the Ismailofsky
barracks. Probably Nastasia had kept the rooms when she came down
to Pavlofsk this last time; and most likely she would have spent
the night in them, Rogojin having taken her straight there from
the station.

The prince took a droshky. It struck him as he drove on that he
ought to have begun by coming here, since it was most improbable
that Rogojin should have taken Nastasia to his own house last
night. He remembered that the porter said she very rarely came at
all, so that it was still less likely that she would have gone
there so late at night.

Vainly trying to comfort himself with these reflections, the
prince reached the Ismailofsky barracks more dead than alive.

To his consternation the good people at the lodgings had not only
heard nothing of Nastasia, but all came out to look at him as if
he were a marvel of some sort. The whole family, of all ages,
surrounded him, and he was begged to enter. He guessed at once
that they knew perfectly well who he was, and that yesterday
ought to have been his wedding-day; and further that they were
dying to ask about the wedding, and especially about why he
should be here now, inquiring for the woman who in all reasonable
human probability might have been expected to be with him in

He satisfied their curiosity, in as few words as possible, with
regard to the wedding, but their exclamations and sighs were so
numerous and sincere that he was obliged to tell the whole story--
in a short form, of course. The advice of all these agitated
ladies was that the prince should go at once and knock at
Rogojin's until he was let in: and when let in insist upon a
substantial explanation of everything. If Rogojin was really not
at home, the prince was advised to go to a certain house, the
address of which was given, where lived a German lady, a friend
of Nastasia Philipovna's. It was possible that she might have
spent the night there in her anxiety to conceal herself.

The prince rose from his seat in a condition of mental collapse.
The good ladies reported afterwards that "his pallor was terrible
to see, and his legs seemed to give way underneath him." With
difficulty he was made to understand that his new friends would
be glad of his address, in order to act with him if possible.
After a moment's thought he gave the address of the small hotel,
on the stairs of which he had had a fit some five weeks since. He
then set off once more for Rogojin's.

This time they neither opened the door at Rogojin's flat nor at
the one opposite. The prince found the porter with difficulty,
but when found, the man would hardly look at him or answer his
questions, pretending to be busy. Eventually, however, he was
persuaded to reply so far as to state that Rogojin had left the
house early in the morning and gone to Pavlofsk, and that he
would not return today at all.

"I shall wait; he may come back this evening."

"He may not be home for a week."

"Then, at all events, he DID sleep here, did he?"

"Well--he did sleep here, yes."

All this was suspicious and unsatisfactory. Very likely the
porter had received new instructions during the interval of the
prince's absence; his manner was so different now. He had been
obliging--now he was as obstinate and silent as a mule. However,
the prince decided to call again in a couple of hours, and after
that to watch the house, in case of need. His hope was that he
might yet find Nastasia at the address which he had just
received. To that address he now set off at full speed.

But alas! at the German lady's house they did not even appear to
understand what he wanted. After a while, by means of certain
hints, he was able to gather that Nastasia must have had a
quarrel with her friend two or three weeks ago, since which date
the latter had neither heard nor seen anything of her. He was
given to understand that the subject of Nastasia's present
whereabouts was not of the slightest interest to her; and that
Nastasia might marry all the princes in the world for all she
cared! So Muishkin took his leave hurriedly. It struck him now
that she might have gone away to Moscow just as she had done the
last time, and that Rogojin had perhaps gone after her, or even
WITH her. If only he could find some trace!

However, he must take his room at the hotel; and he started off
in that direction. Having engaged his room, he was asked by the
waiter whether he would take dinner; replying mechanically in the
affirmative, he sat down and waited; but it was not long before
it struck him that dining would delay him. Enraged at this idea,
he started up, crossed the dark passage (which filled him with
horrible impressions and gloomy forebodings), and set out once
more for Rogojin's. Rogojin had not returned, and no one came to
the door. He rang at the old lady's door opposite, and was
informed that Parfen Semionovitch would not return for three
days. The curiosity with which the old servant stared at him
again impressed the prince disagreeably. He could not find the
porter this time at all.

As before, he crossed the street and watched the windows from the
other side, walking up and down in anguish of soul for half an
hour or so in the stifling heat. Nothing stirred; the blinds were
motionless; indeed, the prince began to think that the apparition
of Rogojin's face could have been nothing but fancy. Soothed by
this thought, he drove off once more to his friends at the
Ismailofsky barracks. He was expected there. The mother had
already been to three or four places to look for Nastasia, but
had not found a trace of any kind.

The prince said nothing, but entered the room, sat down silently,
and stared at them, one after the other, with the air of a man
who cannot understand what is being said to him. It was strange--
one moment he seemed to be so observant, the next so absent; his
behaviour struck all the family as most remarkable. At length he
rose from his seat, and begged to be shown Nastasia's rooms. The
ladies reported afterwards how he had examined everything in the
apartments. He observed an open book on the table, Madam Bovary,
and requested the leave of the lady of the house to take it with
him. He had turned down the leaf at the open page, and pocketed
it before they could explain that it was a library book. He had
then seated himself by the open window, and seeing a card-table,
he asked who played cards.

He was informed that Nastasia used to play with Rogojin every
evening, either at "preference" or "little fool," or "whist";
that this had been their practice since her last return from
Pavlofsk; that she had taken to this amusement because she did
not like to see Rogojin sitting silent and dull for whole
evenings at a time; that the day after Nastasia had made a remark
to this effect, Rogojin had whipped a pack of cards out of his
pocket. Nastasia had laughed, but soon they began playing. The
prince asked where were the cards, but was told that Rogojin used
to bring a new pack every day, and always carried it away in his

The good ladies recommended the prince to try knocking at
Rogojin's once more--not at once, but in the evening Meanwhile,
the mother would go to Pavlofsk to inquire at Dana Alexeyevna's
whether anything had been heard of Nastasia there. The prince was
to come back at ten o'clock and meet her, to hear her news and
arrange plans for the morrow.

In spite of the kindly-meant consolations of his new friends, the
prince walked to his hotel in inexpressible anguish of spirit,
through the hot, dusty streets, aimlessly staring at the faces of
those who passed him. Arrived at his destination, he determined
to rest awhile in his room before be started for Rogojin's once
more. He sat down, rested his elbows on the table and his head on
his hands, and fell to thinking.

Heaven knows how long and upon what subjects he thought. He
thought of many things--of Vera Lebedeff, and of her father; of
Hippolyte; of Rogojin himself, first at the funeral, then as he
had met him in the park, then, suddenly, as they had met in this
very passage, outside, when Rogojin had watched in the darkness
and awaited him with uplifted knife. The prince remembered his
enemy's eyes as they had glared at him in the darkness. He
shuddered, as a sudden idea struck him.

This idea was, that if Rogojin were in Petersburg, though he
might hide for a time, yet he was quite sure to come to him--the
prince--before long, with either good or evil intentions, but
probably with the same intention as on that other occasion. At
all events, if Rogojin were to come at all he would be sure to
seek the prince here--he had no other town address--perhaps in this
same corridor; he might well seek him here if he needed him. And
perhaps he did need him. This idea seemed quite natural to the
prince, though he could not have explained why he should so
suddenly have become necessary to Rogojin. Rogojin would not come
if all were well with him, that was part of the thought; he would
come if all were not well; and certainly, undoubtedly, all would
not be well with him. The prince could not bear this new idea; he
took his hat and rushed out towards the street. It was almost
dark in the passage.

"What if he were to come out of that corner as I go by and--and
stop me?" thought the prince, as he approached the familiar spot.
But no one came out.

He passed under the gateway and into the street. The crowds of
people walking about--as is always the case at sunset in
Petersburg, during the summer--surprised him, but he walked on in
the direction of Rogojin's house.

About fifty yards from the hotel, at the first cross-road, as he
passed through the crowd of foot-passengers sauntering along,
someone touched his shoulder, and said in a whisper into his ear:

"Lef Nicolaievitch, my friend, come along with me." It was

The prince immediately began to tell him, eagerly and joyfully,
how he had but the moment before expected to see him in the dark
passage of the hotel.

"I was there," said Rogojin, unexpectedly. "Come along." The
prince was surprised at this answer; but his astonishment
increased a couple of minutes afterwards, when he began to
consider it. Having thought it over, he glanced at Rogojin in
alarm. The latter was striding along a yard or so ahead, looking
straight in front of him, and mechanically making way for anyone
he met.

"Why did you not ask for me at my room if you were in the hotel?"
asked the prince, suddenly.

Rogojin stopped and looked at him; then reflected, and replied as
though he had not heard the question:

"Look here, Lef Nicolaievitch, you go straight on to the house; I
shall walk on the other side. See that we keep together."

So saying, Rogojin crossed the road.

Arrived on the opposite pavement, he looked back to see whether
the prince were moving, waved his hand in the direction of the
Gorohovaya, and strode on, looking across every moment to see
whether Muishkin understood his instructions. The prince supposed
that Rogojin desired to look out for someone whom he was afraid
to miss; but if so, why had he not told HIM whom to look out for?
So the two proceeded for half a mile or so. Suddenly the prince
began to tremble from some unknown cause. He could not bear it,
and signalled to Rogojin across the road.

The latter came at once.

"Is Nastasia Philipovna at your house?"


"And was it you looked out of the window under the blind this


"Then why did--"

But the prince could not finish his question; he did not know
what to say. Besides this, his heart was beating so that he found
it difficult to speak at all. Rogojin was silent also and looked
at him as before, with an expression of deep thoughtfulness.

"Well, I'm going," he said, at last, preparing to recross the
road. "You go along here as before; we will keep to different
sides of the road; it's better so, you'll see."

When they reached the Gorohovaya, and came near the house, the
prince's legs were trembling so that he could hardly walk. It was
about ten o'clock. The old lady's windows were open, as before;
Rogojin's were all shut, and in the darkness the white blinds
showed whiter than ever. Rogojin and the prince each approached
the house on his respective side of the road; Rogojin, who was on
the near side, beckoned the prince across. He went over to the

"Even the porter does not know that I have come home now. I told
him, and told them at my mother's too, that I was off to
Pavlofsk," said Rogojin, with a cunning and almost satisfied
smile. "We'll go in quietly and nobody will hear us."

He had the key in his hand. Mounting the staircase he turned and
signalled to the prince to go more softly; he opened the door
very quietly, let the prince in, followed him, locked the door
behind him, and put the key in his pocket.

"Come along," he whispered.

He had spoken in a whisper all the way. In spite of his apparent
outward composure, he was evidently in a state of great mental
agitation. Arrived in a large salon, next to the study, he went
to the window and cautiously beckoned the prince up to him.

"When you rang the bell this morning I thought it must be you. I
went to the door on tip-toe and heard you talking to the servant
opposite. I had told her before that if anyone came and rang--
especially you, and I gave her your name--she was not to tell
about me. Then I thought, what if he goes and stands opposite and
looks up, or waits about to watch the house? So I came to this
very window, looked out, and there you were staring straight at
me. That's how it came about."

"Where is Nastasia Philipovna?" asked the prince, breathlessly.

"She's here," replied Rogojin, slowly, after a slight pause.


Rogojin raised his eyes and gazed intently at the prince.

"Come," he said.

He continued to speak in a whisper, very deliberately as before,
and looked strangely thoughtful and dreamy. Even while he told
the story of how he had peeped through the blind, he gave the
impression of wishing to say something else. They entered the
study. In this room some changes had taken place since the prince
last saw it. It was now divided into two equal parts by a heavy
green silk curtain stretched across it, separating the alcove
beyond, where stood Rogojin's bed, from the rest of the room.

The heavy curtain was drawn now, and it was very dark. The bright
Petersburg summer nights were already beginning to close in, and
but for the full moon, it would have been difficult to
distinguish anything in Rogojin's dismal room, with the drawn
blinds. They could just see one anothers faces, however, though
not in detail. Rogojin's face was white, as usual. His glittering
eyes watched the prince with an intent stare.

"Had you not better light a candle?" said Muishkin.

"No, I needn't," replied Rogojin, and taking the other by the
hand he drew him down to a chair. He himself took a chair
opposite and drew it up so close that he almost pressed against
the prince's knees. At their side was a little round table.

Sit down," said Rogojin; "let's rest a bit." There was silence
for a moment.

"I knew you would be at that hotel," he continued, just as men
sometimes commence a serious conversation by discussing any
outside subject before leading up to the main point. "As I
entered the passage it struck me that perhaps you were sitting
and waiting for me, just as I was waiting for you. Have you been
to the old lady at Ismailofsky barracks?"

"Yes," said the prince, squeezing the word out with difficulty
owing to the dreadful beating of his heart.

"I thought you would. 'They'll talk about it,' I thought; so I
determined to go and fetch you to spend the night here--'We will
be together,' I thought, 'for this one night--'"

"Rogojin, WHERE is Nastasia Philipovna?" said the prince,
suddenly rising from his seat. He was quaking in all his limbs,
and his words came in a scarcely audible whisper. Rogojin rose

"There," he whispered, nodding his head towards the curtain.

"Asleep?" whispered the prince.

Rogojin looked intently at him again, as before.

"Let's go in--but you mustn't--well--let's go in."

He lifted the curtain, paused--and turned to the prince. "Go in,"
he said, motioning him to pass behind the curtain. Muishkin went

It's so dark," he said.

"You can see quite enough," muttered Rogojin.

"I can just see there's a bed--"

"Go nearer," suggested Rogojin, softly.

The prince took a step forward--then another--and paused. He
stood and stared for a minute or two.

Neither of the men spoke a word while at the bedside. The
prince's heart beat so loud that its knocking seemed to be
distinctly audible in the deathly silence.

But now his eyes had become so far accustomed to the darkness
that he could distinguish the whole of the bed. Someone was
asleep upon it--in an absolutely motionless sleep. Not the
slightest movement was perceptible, not the faintest breathing
could be heard. The sleeper was covered with a white sheet; the
outline of the limbs was hardly distinguishable. He could only
just make out that a human being lay outstretched there.

All around, on the bed, on a chair beside it, on the floor, were
scattered the different portions of a magnificent white silk
dress, bits of lace, ribbons and flowers. On a small table at the
bedside glittered a mass of diamonds, torn off and thrown down
anyhow. From under a heap of lace at the end of the bed peeped a
small white foot, which looked as though it had been chiselled
out of marble; it was terribly still.

The prince gazed and gazed, and felt that the more he gazed the
more death-like became the silence. Suddenly a fly awoke
somewhere, buzzed across the room, and settled on the pillow. The
prince shuddered.

"Let's go," said Rogojin, touching his shoulder. They left the
alcove and sat down in the two chairs they had occupied before,
opposite to one another. The prince trembled more and more
violently, and never took his questioning eyes off Rogojin's

"I see you are shuddering, Lef Nicolaievitch," said the latter,
at length, "almost as you did once in Moscow, before your fit;
don't you remember? I don't know what I shall do with you--"

The prince bent forward to listen, putting all the strain he
could muster upon his understanding in order to take in what
Rogojin said, and continuing to gaze at the latter's face.

"Was it you?" he muttered, at last, motioning with his head
towards the curtain.

"Yes, it was I," whispered Rogojin, looking down.

Neither spoke for five minutes.

"Because, you know," Rogojin recommenced, as though continuing a
former sentence, "if you were ill now, or had a fit, or screamed,
or anything, they might hear it in the yard, or even in the
street, and guess that someone was passing the night in the
house. They would all come and knock and want to come in, because
they know I am not at home. I didn't light a candle for the same
reason. When I am not here--for two or three days at a time, now
and then--no one comes in to tidy the house or anything; those
are my orders. So that I want them to not know we are spending
the night here--"

"Wait," interrupted the prince. "I asked both the porter and the
woman whether Nastasia Philipovna had spent last night in the
house; so they knew--"

"I know you asked. I told them that she had called in for ten
minutes, and then gone straight back to Pavlofsk. No one knows
she slept here. Last night we came in just as carefully as you
and I did today. I thought as I came along with her that she
would not like to creep in so secretly, but I was quite wrong.
She whispered, and walked on tip-toe; she carried her skirt over
her arm, so that it shouldn't rustle, and she held up her finger
at me on the stairs, so that I shouldn't make a noise--it was you
she was afraid of. She was mad with terror in the train, and she
begged me to bring her to this house. I thought of taking her to
her rooms at the Ismailofsky barracks first; but she wouldn't
hear of it. She said, 'No--not there; he'll find me out at once
there. Take me to your own house, where you can hide me, and
tomorrow we'll set off for Moscow.' Thence she would go to Orel,
she said. When she went to bed, she was still talking about going
to Orel."

"Wait! What do you intend to do now, Parfen?"

"Well, I'm afraid of you. You shudder and tremble so. We'll pass
the night here together. There are no other beds besides that
one; but I've thought how we'll manage. I'll take the cushions
off all the sofas, and lay them down on the floor, up against the
curtain here--for you and me--so that we shall be together. For if
they come in and look about now, you know, they'll find her, and
carry her away, and they'll be asking me questions, and I shall
say I did it, and then they'll take me away, too, don't you see?
So let her lie close to us--close to you and me.

"Yes, yes," agreed the prince, warmly.

"So we will not say anything about it, or let them take her

"Not for anything!" cried the other; "no, no, no!"

"So I had decided, my friend; not to give her up to anyone,"
continued Rogojin. "We'll be very quiet. I have only been out of
the house one hour all day, all the rest of the time I have been
with her. I dare say the air is very bad here. It is so hot. Do
you find it bad?"

"I don't know--perhaps--by morning it will be."

"I've covered her with oil-cloth--best American oilcloth, and put
the sheet over that, and four jars of disinfectant, on account of
the smell--as they did at Moscow--you remember? And she's lying
so still; you shall see, in the morning, when it's light. What!
can't you get up?" asked Rogojin, seeing the other was trembling
so that he could not rise from his seat.

"My legs won't move," said the prince; "it's fear, I know. When
my fear is over, I'll get up--"

"Wait a bit--I'll make the bed, and you can lie down. I'll lie
down, too, and we'll listen and watch, for I don't know yet what
I shall do... I tell you beforehand, so that you may be ready
in case I--"

Muttering these disconnected words, Rogojin began to make up the
beds. It was clear that he had devised these beds long before;
last night he slept on the sofa. But there was no room for two on
the sofa, and he seemed anxious that he and the prince should be
close to one another; therefore, he now dragged cushions of all
sizes and shapes from the sofas, and made a sort of bed of them
close by the curtain. He then approached the prince, and gently
helped him to rise, and led him towards the bed. But the prince
could now walk by himself, so that his fear must have passed; for
all that, however, he continued to shudder.

"It's hot weather, you see," continued Rogojin, as he lay down on
the cushions beside Muishkin, "and, naturally, there will be a
smell. I daren't open the window. My mother has some beautiful
flowers in pots; they have a delicious scent; I thought of
fetching them in, but that old servant will find out, she's very

"Yes, she is inquisitive," assented the prince.

"I thought of buying flowers, and putting them all round her; but
I was afraid it would make us sad to see her with flowers round

"Look here," said the prince; he was bewildered, and his brain
wandered. He seemed to be continually groping for the questions
he wished to ask, and then losing them. "Listen--tell me--how did
you--with a knife?--That same one?"

"Yes, that same one."

"Wait a minute, I want to ask you something else, Parfen; all
sorts of things; but tell me first, did you intend to kill her
before my wedding, at the church door, with your knife?"

"I don't know whether I did or not," said Rogojin, drily, seeming
to be a little astonished at the question, and not quite taking
it in.

"Did you never take your knife to Pavlofsk with you?" "No. As to
the knife," he added, "this is all I can tell you about it." He
was silent for a moment, and then said, "I took it out of the
locked drawer this morning about three, for it was in the early
morning all this--happened. It has been inside the book ever
since--and--and--this is what is such a marvel to me, the knife
only went in a couple of inches at most, just under her left
breast, and there wasn't more than half a tablespoonful of blood
altogether, not more."

"Yes--yes--yes--" The prince jumped up in extraordinary
agitation. "I know, I know, I've read of that sort of thing--it's
internal haemorrhage, you know. Sometimes there isn't a drop--if
the blow goes straight to the heart--"

"Wait--listen!" cried Rogojin, suddenly, starting up. "Somebody's
walking about, do you hear? In the hall." Both sat up to listen.

"I hear," said the prince in a whisper, his eyes fixed on



"Shall we shut the door, and lock it, or not?"

"Yes, lock it."

They locked the door, and both lay down again. There was a long

"Yes, by-the-by," whispered the prince, hurriedly and excitedly
as before, as though he had just seized hold of an idea and was
afraid of losing it again. "I--I wanted those cards! They say you
played cards with her?"

"Yes, I played with her," said Rogojin, after a short silence.

"Where are the cards?"

"Here they are," said Rogojin, after a still longer pause.

He pulled out a pack of cards, wrapped in a bit of paper, from
his pocket, and handed them to the prince. The latter took them,
with a sort of perplexity. A new, sad, helpless feeling weighed
on his heart; he had suddenly realized that not only at this
moment, but for a long while, he had not been saying what he
wanted to say, had not been acting as he wanted to act; and that
these cards which he held in his hand, and which he had been so
delighted to have at first, were now of no use--no use... He rose,
and wrung his hands. Rogojin lay motionless, and seemed neither
to hear nor see his movements; but his eyes blazed in the
darkness, and were fixed in a wild stare.

The prince sat down on a chair, and watched him in alarm. Half an
hour went by.

Suddenly Rogojin burst into a loud abrupt laugh, as though he had
quite forgotten that they must speak in whispers.

"That officer, eh!--that young officer--don't you remember that
fellow at the band? Eh? Ha, ha, ha! Didn't she whip him smartly,

The prince jumped up from his seat in renewed terror. When
Rogojin quieted down (which he did at once) the prince bent over
him, sat down beside him, and with painfully beating heart and
still more painful breath, watched his face intently. Rogojin
never turned his head, and seemed to have forgotten all about
him. The prince watched and waited. Time went on--it began to
grow light.

Rogojin began to wander--muttering disconnectedly; then he took
to shouting and laughing. The prince stretched out a trembling
hand and gently stroked his hair and his cheeks--he could do
nothing more. His legs trembled again and he seemed to have lost
the use of them. A new sensation came over him, filling his heart
and soul with infinite anguish.

Meanwhile the daylight grew full and strong; and at last the
prince lay down, as though overcome by despair, and laid his face
against the white, motionless face of Rogojin. His tears flowed
on to Rogojin's cheek, though he was perhaps not aware of them

At all events when, after many hours, the door was opened and
people thronged in, they found the murderer unconscious and in a
raging fever. The prince was sitting by him, motionless, and each
time that the sick man gave a laugh, or a shout, he hastened to
pass his own trembling hand over his companion's hair and cheeks,
as though trying to soothe and quiet him. But alas I he
understood nothing of what was said to him, and recognized none
of those who surrounded him.

If Schneider himself had arrived then and seen his former pupil
and patient, remembering the prince's condition during the first
year in Switzerland, he would have flung up his hands,
despairingly, and cried, as he did then:

"An idiot!"


WHEN the widow hurried away to Pavlofsk, she went straight to
Daria Alexeyevna's house, and telling all she knew, threw her
into a state of great alarm. Both ladies decided to communicate
at once with Lebedeff, who, as the friend and landlord of the
prince, was also much agitated. Vera Lebedeff told all she knew,
and by Lebedeff's advice it was decided that all three should go
to Petersburg as quickly as possible, in order to avert "what
might so easily happen."

This is how it came about that at eleven o'clock next morning
Rogojin's flat was opened by the police in the presence of
Lebedeff, the two ladies, and Rogojin's own brother, who lived in
the wing.

The evidence of the porter went further than anything else
towards the success of Lebedeff in gaining the assistance of the
police. He declared that he had seen Rogojin return to the house
last night, accompanied by a friend, and that both had gone
upstairs very secretly and cautiously. After this there was no
hesitation about breaking open the door, since it could not be
got open in any other way.

Rogojin suffered from brain fever for two months. When he
recovered from the attack he was at once brought up on trial for

He gave full, satisfactory, and direct evidence on every point;
and the prince's name was, thanks to this, not brought into the
proceedings. Rogojin was very quiet during the progress of the
trial. He did not contradict his clever and eloquent counsel, who
argued that the brain fever, or inflammation of the brain, was
the cause of the crime; clearly proving that this malady had
existed long before the murder was perpetrated, and had been
brought on by the sufferings of the accused.

But Rogojin added no words of his own in confirmation of this
view, and as before, he recounted with marvellous exactness the
details of his crime. He was convicted, but with extenuating
circumstances, and condemned to hard labour in Siberia for
fifteen years. He heard his sentence grimly, silently, and
thoughtfully. His colossal fortune, with the exception of the
comparatively small portion wasted in the first wanton period of
his inheritance, went to his brother, to the great satisfaction
of the latter.

The old lady, Rogojin's mother, is still alive, and remembers her
favourite son Parfen sometimes, but not clearly. God spared her
the knowledge of this dreadful calamity which had overtaken her

Lebedeff, Keller, Gania, Ptitsin, and many other friends of ours
continue to live as before. There is scarcely any change in them,
so that there is no need to tell of their subsequent doings.

Hippolyte died in great agitation, and rather sooner than he
expected, about a fortnight after Nastasia Phiipovna's death.
Colia was much affected by these events, and drew nearer to his
mother in heart and sympathy. Nina Alexandrovna is anxious,
because he is "thoughtful beyond his years," but he will, we
think, make a useful and active man.

The prince's further fate was more or less decided by Colia, who
selected, out of all the persons he had met during the last six
or seven months, Evgenie Pavlovitch, as friend and confidant. To
him he made over all that he knew as to the events above
recorded, and as to the present condition of the prince. He was
not far wrong in his choice. Evgenie Pavlovitch took the deepest
interest in the fate of the unfortunate "idiot," and, thanks to
his influence, the prince found himself once more with Dr.
Schneider, in Switzerland.

Evgenie Pavlovitch, who went abroad at this time, intending to
live a long while on the continent, being, as he often said,
quite superfluous in Russia, visits his sick friend at
Schneider's every few months.

But Dr. Schneider frowns ever more and more and shakes his head;
he hints that the brain is fatally injured; he does not as yet
declare that his patient is incurable, but he allows himself to
express the gravest fears.

Evgenie takes this much to heart, and he has a heart, as is
proved by the fact that he receives and even answers letters from
Colia. But besides this, another trait in his character has
become apparent, and as it is a good trait we will make haste to
reveal it. After each visit to Schneider's establishment, Evgenie
Pavlovitch writes another letter, besides that to Colia, giving
the most minute particulars concerning the invalid's condition.
In these letters is to be detected, and in each one more than the
last, a growing feeling of friendship and sympathy.

The individual who corresponds thus with Evgenie Pavlovitch, and
who engages so much of his attention and respect, is Vera
Lebedeff. We have never been able to discover clearly how such
relations sprang up. Of course the root of them was in the events
which we have already recorded, and which so filled Vera with
grief on the prince's account that she fell seriously ill. But
exactly how the acquaintance and friendship came about, we cannot

We have spoken of these letters chiefly because in them is often
to be found some news of the Epanchin family, and of Aglaya in
particular. Evgenie Pavlovitch wrote of her from Paris, that
after a short and sudden attachment to a certain Polish count, an
exile, she had suddenly married him, quite against the wishes of
her parents, though they had eventually given their consent
through fear of a terrible scandal. Then, after a six months'
silence, Evgenie Pavlovitch informed his correspondent, in a long
letter, full of detail, that while paying his last visit to Dr.
Schneider's establishment, he had there come across the whole
Epanchin family (excepting the general, who had remained in St.
Petersburg) and Prince S. The meeting was a strange one. They all
received Evgenie Pavlovitch with effusive delight; Adelaida and
Alexandra were deeply grateful to him for his "angelic kindness
to the unhappy prince."

Lizabetha Prokofievna, when she saw poor Muishkin, in his
enfeebled and humiliated condition, had wept bitterly. Apparently
all was forgiven him.

Prince S. had made a few just and sensible remarks. It seemed to
Evgenie Pavlovitch that there was not yet perfect harmony between
Adelaida and her fiance, but he thought that in time the
impulsive young girl would let herself be guided by his reason
and experience. Besides, the recent events that had befallen her
family had given Adelaida much to think about, especially the sad
experiences of her younger sister. Within six months, everything
that the family had dreaded from the marriage with the Polish
count had come to pass. He turned out to be neither count nor
exile--at least, in the political sense of the word--but had had
to leave his native land owing to some rather dubious affair of
the past. It was his noble patriotism, of which he made a great
display, that had rendered him so interesting in Aglaya's eyes.
She was so fascinated that, even before marrying him, she joined
a committee that had been organized abroad to work for the
restoration of Poland; and further, she visited the confessional
of a celebrated Jesuit priest, who made an absolute fanatic of
her. The supposed fortune of the count had dwindled to a mere
nothing, although he had given almost irrefutable evidence of its
existence to Lizabetha Prokofievna and Prince S.

Besides this, before they had been married half a year, the count
and his friend the priest managed to bring about a quarrel
between Aglaya and her family, so that it was now several months
since they had seen her. In a word, there was a great deal to
say; but Mrs. Epanchin, and her daughters, and even Prince S.,
were still so much distressed by Aglaya's latest infatuations and
adventures, that they did hot care to talk of them, though they
must have known that Evgenie knew much of the story already.

Poor Lizabetha Prokofievna was most anxious to get home, and,
according to Evgenie's account, she criticized everything foreign
with much hostility.

"They can't bake bread anywhere, decently; and they all freeze in
their houses, during winter, like a lot of mice in a cellar. At
all events, I've had a good Russian cry over this poor fellow,"
she added, pointing to the prince, who had not recognized her in
the slightest degree. "So enough of this nonsense; it's time we
faced the truth. All this continental life, all this Europe of
yours, and all the trash about 'going abroad' is simply foolery,
and it is mere foolery on our part to come. Remember what I say,
my friend; you'll live to agree with me yourself."

So spoke the good lady, almost angrily, as she took leave of
Evgenie Pavlovitch.

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