“Excuse me, prince, excuse me, but now that will not do,” shouted Lebedeff’s nephew, his voice dominating all the others. “The matter must be clearly stated, for it is obviously not properly understood. They are calling in some legal chicanery, and upon that ground they are threatening to turn us out of the house! Really, prince, do you think we are such fools as not to be aware that this matter does not come within the law, and that legally we cannot claim a rouble from you? But we are also aware that if actual law is not on our side, human law is for us, natural law, the law of common-sense and conscience, which is no less binding upon every noble and honest man--that is, every man of sane judgment--because it is not to be found in miserable legal codes. If we come here without fear of being turned out (as was threatened just now) because of the imperative tone of our demand, and the unseemliness of such a visit at this late hour (though it was not late when we arrived, we were kept waiting in your anteroom), if, I say, we came in without fear, it is just because we expected to find you a man of sense; I mean, a man of honour and conscience. It is quite true that we did not present ourselves humbly, like your flatterers and parasites, but holding up our heads as befits independent men. We present no petition, but a proud and free demand (note it well, we do not beseech, we demand!). We ask you fairly and squarely in a dignified manner. Do you believe that in this affair of Burdovsky you have right on your side? Do you admit that Pavlicheff overwhelmed you with benefits, and perhaps saved your life? If you admit it (which we take for granted), do you intend, now that you are a millionaire, and do you not think it in conformity with justice, to indemnify Burdovsky? Yes or no? If it is yes, or, in other words, if you possess what you call honour and conscience, and we more justly call common-sense, then accede to our demand, and the matter is at an end. Give us satisfaction, without entreaties or thanks from us; do not expect thanks from us, for what you do will be done not for our sake, but for the sake of justice. If you refuse to satisfy us, that is, if your answer is no, we will go away at once, and there will be an end of the matter. But we will tell you to your face before the present company that you are a man of vulgar and undeveloped mind; we will openly deny you the right to speak in future of your honour and conscience, for you have not paid the fair price of such a right. I have no more to say--I have put the question before you. Now turn us out if you dare. You can do it; force is on your side. But remember that we do not beseech, we demand! We do not beseech, we demand!”

“No, I didn’t,” said the prince, trembling a little, and in great agitation. “You say Gavrila Ardalionovitch has private communications with Aglaya?--Impossible!”

“I’ve never learned anything whatever,” said the other.

“She seems always to be searching about, as if she had lost something. The mere idea of her coming marriage disgusts her; she looks on it as an insult. She cares as much for _him_ as for a piece of orange-peel--not more. Yet I am much mistaken if she does not look on him with fear and trembling. She forbids his name to be mentioned before her, and they only meet when unavoidable. He understands, well enough! But it must be gone through. She is restless, mocking, deceitful, violent....”

Today, as I have said, she returned from their house with a heavy feeling of dejection. There was a sensation of bitterness, a sort of mocking contempt, mingled with it.
“Excuse me; I was able to deliver it almost immediately after receiving your commission, and I gave it, too, just as you asked me to. It has come into my hands now because Aglaya Ivanovna has just returned it to me.”
“I--I,” the general continued to whisper, clinging more and more tightly to the boy’s shoulder. “I--wish--to tell you--all--Maria--Maria Petrovna--Su--Su--Su.......”

“Oh, now you are going to praise him! He will be set up! He puts his hand on his heart, and he is delighted! I never said he was a man without heart, but he is a rascal--that’s the pity of it. And then, he is addicted to drink, and his mind is unhinged, like that of most people who have taken more than is good for them for years. He loves his children--oh, I know that well enough! He respected my aunt, his late wife... and he even has a sort of affection for me. He has remembered me in his will.”

“Brought whom?” cried Muishkin.
“Just a couple of words!” whispered another voice in the prince’s other ear, and another hand took his other arm. Muishkin turned, and to his great surprise observed a red, flushed face and a droll-looking figure which he recognized at once as that of Ferdishenko. Goodness knows where he had turned up from!
“Absolutely and utterly impossible--and yet, so it must be. But one thing I am sure of, if it be a theft, it was committed, not in the evening when we were all together, but either at night or early in the morning; therefore, by one of those who slept here. Burdovsky and Colia I except, of course. They did not even come into my room.”

Parfen Rogojin opened the door himself.

“Exactly, exactly! That is a true thought!” cried the prince. “From ennui, from our ennui but not from satiety! Oh, no, you are wrong there! Say from _thirst_ if you like; the thirst of fever! And please do not suppose that this is so small a matter that we may have a laugh at it and dismiss it; we must be able to foresee our disasters and arm against them. We Russians no sooner arrive at the brink of the water, and realize that we are really at the brink, than we are so delighted with the outlook that in we plunge and swim to the farthest point we can see. Why is this? You say you are surprised at Pavlicheff’s action; you ascribe it to madness, to kindness of heart, and what not, but it is not so.

“He entered, and shut the door behind him. Then he silently gazed at me and went quickly to the corner of the room where the lamp was burning and sat down underneath it.
“Yes, it is a fact, and this time, let me tell you, on the very eve of their marriage! It was a question of minutes when she slipped off to Petersburg. She came to me directly she arrived--‘Save me, Lukian! find me some refuge, and say nothing to the prince!’ She is afraid of you, even more than she is of him, and in that she shows her wisdom!” And Lebedeff slily put his finger to his brow as he said the last words.

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

“No--Mr. Pavlicheff, who had been supporting me there, died a couple of years ago. I wrote to Mrs. General Epanchin at the time (she is a distant relative of mine), but she did not answer my letter. And so eventually I came back.”

“Let’s go and hear the band, then,” said Lizabetha Prokofievna, angrily rising from her place.

“Keller,” murmured the retired officer.

She did not finish her indefinite sentence; she restrained herself in a moment; but it was enough.

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

“What’s to be done? It’s fate,” said the general, shrugging his shoulders, and, for a long while after, he continued to repeat: “It’s fate, it’s fate!”

“Is it certainly accursed?... or do you only mean it might be? That is an important point,” said Evgenie Pavlovitch.

V.
“Or taken it out of my pocket--two alternatives.”“With pleasure! In fact, it is very necessary. I like your readiness, prince; in fact, I must say--I--I--like you very well, altogether,” said the general.“Gania, Gania, reflect!” cried his mother, hurriedly.
“The devil knows what it means,” growled Ivan Fedorovitch, under his breath; “it must have taken the united wits of fifty footmen to write it.”

“No? You say no, do you?” continued the pitiless Mrs. General. “Very well, I shall remember that you told me this Wednesday morning, in answer to my question, that you are not going to be married. What day is it, Wednesday, isn’t it?”

“What are you shouting about there!” cried Nastasia “I’m not yours yet. I may kick you out for all you know I haven’t taken your money yet; there it all is on the table. Here, give me over that packet! Is there a hundred thousand roubles in that one packet? Pfu! what abominable stuff it looks! Oh! nonsense, Daria Alexeyevna; you surely did not expect me to ruin _him?_” (indicating the prince). “Fancy him nursing me! Why, he needs a nurse himself! The general, there, will be his nurse now, you’ll see. Here, prince, look here! Your bride is accepting money. What a disreputable woman she must be! And you wished to marry her! What are you crying about? Is it a bitter dose? Never mind, you shall laugh yet. Trust to time.” (In spite of these words there were two large tears rolling down Nastasia’s own cheeks.) “It’s far better to think twice of it now than afterwards. Oh! you mustn’t cry like that! There’s Katia crying, too. What is it, Katia, dear? I shall leave you and Pasha a lot of things, I’ve laid them out for you already; but good-bye, now. I made an honest girl like you serve a low woman like myself. It’s better so, prince, it is indeed. You’d begin to despise me afterwards--we should never be happy. Oh! you needn’t swear, prince, I shan’t believe you, you know. How foolish it would be, too! No, no; we’d better say good-bye and part friends. I am a bit of a dreamer myself, and I used to dream of you once. Very often during those five years down at his estate I used to dream and think, and I always imagined just such a good, honest, foolish fellow as you, one who should come and say to me: ‘You are an innocent woman, Nastasia Philipovna, and I adore you.’ I dreamt of you often. I used to think so much down there that I nearly went mad; and then this fellow here would come down. He would stay a couple of months out of the twelve, and disgrace and insult and deprave me, and then go; so that I longed to drown myself in the pond a thousand times over; but I did not dare do it. I hadn’t the heart, and now--well, are you ready, Rogojin?”“You are _afraid_ of it?”

“It seems to me,” interrupted the prince, “that I was foolish to trouble you just now. However, at present you... Good-bye!”

“You know yourself it does not depend on me.”
“I’m not laughing. I am convinced, myself, that that may have been partly the reason.”“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?”
“But you must be mad! It is ridiculous! You should take care of yourself; what is the use of holding a conversation now? Go home to bed, do!” cried Mrs. Epanchin in horror.

In point of fact it is quite possible that the matter would have ended in a very commonplace and natural way in a few minutes. The undoubtedly astonished, but now more collected, General Epanchin had several times endeavoured to interrupt the prince, and not having succeeded he was now preparing to take firmer and more vigorous measures to attain his end. In another minute or two he would probably have made up his mind to lead the prince quietly out of the room, on the plea of his being ill (and it was more than likely that the general was right in his belief that the prince _was_ actually ill), but it so happened that destiny had something different in store.

Lebedeff’s country-house was not large, but it was pretty and convenient, especially the part which was let to the prince.
The man’s suspicions seemed to increase more and more. The prince was too unlike the usual run of daily visitors; and although the general certainly did receive, on business, all sorts and conditions of men, yet in spite of this fact the servant felt great doubts on the subject of this particular visitor. The presence of the secretary as an intermediary was, he judged, essential in this case.
Gania--confused, annoyed, furious--took up his portrait, and turned to the prince with a nasty smile on his face.
“Do you know the Rogojins?” asked his questioner, abruptly.“I don’t know; I thought it was a hallucination. I often have hallucinations nowadays. I feel just as I did five years ago when my fits were about to come on.”
The trip abroad might have been enjoyed later on by Mrs. Epanchin and her two remaining daughters, but for another circumstance.
“Nothing. I was only seeking further information, to put the finishing touch.”

Ptitsin was quiet and not easily offended--he only laughed. But on one occasion he explained seriously to Gania that he was no Jew, that he did nothing dishonest, that he could not help the market price of money, that, thanks to his accurate habits, he had already a good footing and was respected, and that his business was flourishing.

Having placed this before her, he stood with drooped arms and head, as though awaiting his sentence.

He hid his face in his hands.

“You are wonderfully polite. You know he is greatly improved. He loves me better than his life. He let his hand burn before my very eyes in order to prove to me that he loved me better than his life!”

“If you insist: but, judge for yourself, can I go, ought I to go?”
But a moment or two afterwards he began to glance keenly about him. That first vision might only too likely be the forerunner of a second; it was almost certain to be so. Surely he had not forgotten the possibility of such a meeting when he came to the Vauxhall? True enough, he had not remarked where he was coming to when he set out with Aglaya; he had not been in a condition to remark anything at all.
Totski took his hat and rose to go. He and the general exchanged glances, making a private arrangement, thereby, to leave the house together.
“Twenty-five roubles.”

“Be quiet, Ivan Fedorovitch! Leave me alone!” cried Mrs. Epanchin. “Why do you offer me your arm now? You had not sense enough to take me away before. You are my husband, you are a father, it was your duty to drag me away by force, if in my folly I refused to obey you and go quietly. You might at least have thought of your daughters. We can find our way out now without your help. Here is shame enough for a year! Wait a moment ‘till I thank the prince! Thank you, prince, for the entertainment you have given us! It was most amusing to hear these young men... It is vile, vile! A chaos, a scandal, worse than a nightmare! Is it possible that there can be many such people on earth? Be quiet, Aglaya! Be quiet, Alexandra! It is none of your business! Don’t fuss round me like that, Evgenie Pavlovitch; you exasperate me! So, my dear,” she cried, addressing the prince, “you go so far as to beg their pardon! He says, ‘Forgive me for offering you a fortune.’ And you, you mountebank, what are you laughing at?” she cried, turning suddenly on Lebedeff’s nephew. “‘We refuse ten thousand roubles; we do not beseech, we demand!’ As if he did not know that this idiot will call on them tomorrow to renew his offers of money and friendship. You will, won’t you? You will? Come, will you, or won’t you?”

“He is not at home.”

He jumped up and walked off as fast as he could towards the “Petersburg Side.” [One of the quarters of St. Petersburg.] He had asked someone, a little while before, to show him which was the Petersburg Side, on the banks of the Neva. He had not gone there, however; and he knew very well that it was of no use to go now, for he would certainly not find Lebedeff’s relation at home. He had the address, but she must certainly have gone to Pavlofsk, or Colia would have let him know. If he were to go now, it would merely be out of curiosity, but a sudden, new idea had come into his head.

“No, sir, Kapitoshka--not Eroshka. I mean, Kapiton Alexeyevitch--retired major--married Maria Petrovna Lu--Lu--he was my friend and companion--Lutugoff--from our earliest beginnings. I closed his eyes for him--he was killed. Kapiton Eropegoff never existed! tfu!”

“But why wear a coat in holes,” asked the girl, “when your new one is hanging behind the door? Did you not see it?”

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.”

“It hid itself under the cupboard and under the chest of drawers, and crawled into the corners. I sat on a chair and kept my legs tucked under me. Then the beast crawled quietly across the room and disappeared somewhere near my chair. I looked about for it in terror, but I still hoped that as my feet were safely tucked away it would not be able to touch me.
“My sister again,” cried Gania, looking at her with contempt and almost hate. “Look here, mother, I have already given you my word that I shall always respect you fully and absolutely, and so shall everyone else in this house, be it who it may, who shall cross this threshold.”
“If you do not turn those dreadful people out of the house this very instant, I shall hate you all my life--all my life!” It was Aglaya. She seemed almost in a frenzy, but she turned away before the prince could look at her. However, there was no one left to turn out of the house, for they had managed meanwhile to get Hippolyte into the cab, and it had driven off.“The answer--quick--the answer!” said Gania, the instant they were outside. “What did she say? Did you give the letter?” The prince silently held out the note. Gania was struck motionless with amazement.
“I quite agree with you there!” said Prince S., laughing.

“He discovered everything, the monster... himself......”

“What do I care if you are base or not? He thinks he has only to say, ‘I am base,’ and there is an end of it. As to you, prince, are you not ashamed?--I repeat, are you not ashamed, to mix with such riff-raff? I will never forgive you!”

“The face was depicted as though still suffering; as though the body, only just dead, was still almost quivering with agony. The picture was one of pure nature, for the face was not beautified by the artist, but was left as it would naturally be, whosoever the sufferer, after such anguish.

“Why do I wish to unite you two? For your sakes or my own? For my own sake, naturally. All the problems of my life would thus be solved; I have thought so for a long time. I know that once when your sister Adelaida saw my portrait she said that such beauty could overthrow the world. But I have renounced the world. You think it strange that I should say so, for you saw me decked with lace and diamonds, in the company of drunkards and wastrels. Take no notice of that; I know that I have almost ceased to exist. God knows what it is dwelling within me now--it is not myself. I can see it every day in two dreadful eyes which are always looking at me, even when not present. These eyes are silent now, they say nothing; but I know their secret. His house is gloomy, and there is a secret in it. I am convinced that in some box he has a razor hidden, tied round with silk, just like the one that Moscow murderer had. This man also lived with his mother, and had a razor hidden away, tied round with white silk, and with this razor he intended to cut a throat.
Gania might justly complain of the hardness with which fate treated him. Varia dared not speak to him for a long while, as he strode past her, backwards and forwards. At last he went and stood at the window, looking out, with his back turned towards her. There was a fearful row going on upstairs again.

“And he won’t go away!” cried Lebedeff. “He has installed himself here, and here he remains!”

“Don’t be a simpleton. You behave just as though you weren’t a man at all. Come on! I shall see, now, with my own eyes. I shall see all.”
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 estrangement.
“Yes, that’s the chief thing,” said Gania, helping the general out of his difficulties again, and curling his lips in an envenomed smile, which he did not attempt to conceal. He gazed with his fevered eyes straight into those of the general, as though he were anxious that the latter might read his thoughts.
“That is--I suppose you wish to know how I received the hedgehog, Aglaya Ivanovna,--or, I should say, how I regarded your sending him to me? In that case, I may tell you--in a word--that I--in fact--”
Poor General Epanchin “put his foot in it” by answering the above questions in his own way. He said there was no cryptic message at all. As for the hedgehog, it was just a hedgehog, which meant nothing--unless, indeed, it was a pledge of friendship,--the sign of forgetting of offences and so on. At all events, it was a joke, and, of course, a most pardonable and innocent one.

“He is a nice fellow, but a little too simple,” said Adelaida, as the prince 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.

He panted, and could hardly speak for agitation. He advanced into the room mechanically; but perceiving Nina Alexandrovna and Varia he became more or less embarrassed, in spite of his excitement. His followers entered after him, and all paused a moment at sight of the ladies. Of course their modesty was not fated to be long-lived, but for a moment they were abashed. Once let them begin to shout, however, and nothing on earth should disconcert them.

“Better not read it now,” said the prince, putting his hand on the packet.
The prince was much astonished that Evgenie Pavlovitch changed his mind, and took his departure without the conversation he had requested.
“Forty thousand, then--forty thousand roubles instead of eighteen! Ptitsin and another have promised to find me forty thousand roubles by seven o’clock tonight. Forty thousand roubles--paid down on the nail!”“The prince! What on earth has the prince got to do with it? Who the deuce is the prince?” cried the general, who could conceal his wrath no longer.“It is accursed, certainly accursed!” replied the clerk, vehemently.

“Our Russian intensity not only astonishes ourselves; all Europe wonders at our conduct in such cases! For, if one of us goes over to Roman Catholicism, he is sure to become a Jesuit at once, and a rabid one into the bargain. If one of us becomes an Atheist, he must needs begin to insist on the prohibition of faith in God by force, that is, by the sword. Why is this? Why does he then exceed all bounds at once? Because he has found land at last, the fatherland that he sought in vain before; and, because his soul is rejoiced to find it, he throws himself upon it and kisses it! Oh, it is not from vanity alone, it is not from feelings of vanity that Russians become Atheists and Jesuits! But from spiritual thirst, from anguish of longing for higher things, for dry firm land, for foothold on a fatherland which they never believed in because they never knew it. It is easier for a Russian to become an Atheist, than for any other nationality in the world. And not only does a Russian ‘become an Atheist,’ but he actually _believes in_ Atheism, just as though he had found a new faith, not perceiving that he has pinned his faith to a negation. Such is our anguish of thirst! ‘Whoso has no country has no God.’ That is not my own expression; it is the expression of a merchant, one of the Old Believers, whom I once met while travelling. He did not say exactly these words. I think his expression was:

The conversation had been on the subject of land, and the present disorders, and there must have been something amusing said, for the old man had begun to laugh at his companion’s heated expressions.
“But let me resume.”
It so happened that Prince S---- introduced a distant relation of his own into the Epanchin family--one Evgenie Pavlovitch, a young officer of about twenty-eight years of age, whose conquests among the ladies in Moscow had been proverbial. This young gentleman no sooner set eyes on Aglaya than he became a frequent visitor at the house. He was witty, well-educated, and extremely wealthy, as the general very soon discovered. His past reputation was the only thing against him.

“Hurrah for the ‘poor knight’!” cried Colia.

“The noble and intelligent word of an intelligent and most noble man, at last!” exclaimed the boxer.

VI.
“Now, that is a valuable piece of information, Mr. Keller,” replied Gania. “However that may be, I have private information which convinces me that Mr. Burdovsky, though doubtless aware of the date of his birth, knew nothing at all about Pavlicheff’s sojourn abroad. Indeed, he passed the greater part of his life out of Russia, returning at intervals for short visits. The journey in question is in itself too unimportant for his friends to recollect it after more than twenty years; and of course Mr. Burdovsky could have known nothing about it, for he was not born. As the event has proved, it was not impossible to find evidence of his absence, though I must confess that chance has helped me in a quest which might very well have come to nothing. It was really almost impossible for Burdovsky or Tchebaroff to discover these facts, even if it had entered their heads to try. Naturally they never dreamt...”
He hesitated, and appeared so much embarrassed that the prince helped him out.

She would have insisted on sending to Petersburg at once, for a certain great medical celebrity; but her daughters dissuaded her, though they were not willing to stay behind when she at once prepared to go and visit the invalid. Aglaya, however, suggested that it was a little unceremonious to go _en masse_ to see him.

“So would I,” said another, from behind, “with pleasure. Devil take the thing!” he added, in a tempest of despair, “it will all be burnt up in a minute--It’s burning, it’s burning!”

“He beat me, he thrashed me unmercifully!” replied Lebedeff vehemently. “He set a dog on me in Moscow, a bloodhound, a terrible beast that chased me all down the street.”

“The visit to Rogojin exhausted me terribly. Besides, I had felt ill since the morning; and by evening I was so weak that I took to my bed, and was in high fever at intervals, and even delirious. Colia sat with me until eleven o’clock.

“What’s up with you this morning, Lebedeff? You look so important and dignified, and you choose your words so carefully,” said the prince, smiling.

“You should search your room and all the cupboards again,” said the prince, after a moment or two of silent reflection.“My goodness me! and I gave him twenty-five roubles this morning as though he were a beggar,” blurted out the general, half senseless with amazement. “Well, I congratulate you, I congratulate you!” And the general rose from his seat and solemnly embraced the prince. All came forward with congratulations; even those of Rogojin’s party who had retreated into the next room, now crept softly back to look on. For the moment even Nastasia Philipovna was forgotten.

“I have met you somewhere, I believe, but--”