“What is it?”
“She’s mad--quite!” said Alexandra.

Then, of course, there was Gania who was by no means so amiable as his elders, but stood apart, gloomy, and miserable, and silent. He had determined not to bring Varia with him; but Nastasia had not even asked after her, though no sooner had he arrived than she had reminded him of the episode between himself and the prince. The general, who had heard nothing of it before, began to listen with some interest, while Gania, drily, but with perfect candour, went through the whole history, including the fact of his apology to the prince. He finished by declaring that the prince was a most extraordinary man, and goodness knows why he had been considered an idiot hitherto, for he was very far from being one.

“I quite understand. You are trying to comfort me for the naiveness with which you disagreed with me--eh? Ha! ha! ha! You are a regular child, prince! However, I cannot help seeing that you always treat me like--like a fragile china cup. Never mind, never mind, I’m not a bit angry! At all events we have had a very funny talk. Do you know, all things considered, I should like to be something better than Osterman! I wouldn’t take the trouble to rise from the dead to be an Osterman. However, I see I must make arrangements to die soon, or I myself--. Well--leave me now! _Au revoir._ Look here--before you go, just give me your opinion: how do you think I ought to die, now? I mean--the best, the most virtuous way? Tell me!”
“I will say you are quite wrong, if you wish.”“But he interested me too much, and all that day I was under the influence of strange thoughts connected with him, and I determined to return his visit the next day.
“Nowhere, as yet.”
“Prince Muishkin, I believe? The gentleman to whom I had the honour of being introduced?”
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.
“Oh, I was told. Of course I don’t altogether believe it. I am very sorry that I should have had to say this, because I assure you I don’t believe it myself; it is all nonsense, of course. It was stupid of me to say anything about it.”“Won’t you come?” asked the prince in a gentle voice.“Hippolyte,” said the prince, “give me the papers, and go to bed like a sensible fellow. We’ll have a good talk tomorrow, but you really mustn’t go on with this reading; it is not good for you!”

“But it will lead at least to solidarity, and balance of interests,” said Ptitsin.

Mrs. Epanchin left the room.

“Yes.”

Such was Vera’s story afterwards.

“As much as usual, prince--why?”
A new fancy! The prince reflected, and then mounted the stairs once more. He pulled out the cross without taking it off his neck.
“Oh! _do_ teach us,” laughed Adelaida.
“Lef Nicolaievitch!” interposed Madame Epanchin, suddenly, “read this at once, this very moment! It is about this business.”

“Oh, then you _do_ intend to take a room?”

“I felt sure of that, or I should not have come to you. We might manage it with the help of Nina Alexandrovna, so that he might be closely watched in his own house. Unfortunately I am not on terms... otherwise... but Nicolai Ardalionovitch, who adores you with all his youthful soul, might help, too.”

“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?”
The prince trembled.
“Last week? In the night? Have you gone cracked, my good friend?”
“Quite so--together! But the second time I thought better to say nothing about finding it. I found it alone.”
“Yes--those very ones,” interrupted Rogojin, impatiently, and with scant courtesy. I may remark that he had not once taken any notice of the blotchy-faced passenger, and had hitherto addressed all his remarks direct to the prince.
“My eyes!” said Rogojin, really surprised at last. “The devil take the fellow, how does he know that?”“What are you making such a fuss about?” said the old lady, with annoyance. “You are a good fellow, but very silly. One gives you a halfpenny, and you are as grateful as though one had saved your life. You think this is praiseworthy on your part, but it is not--it is not, indeed.”
Keller suddenly left his seat, and approached Lizabetha Prokofievna.
Lebedeff had not returned, so towards evening Keller managed to penetrate into the prince’s apartments. He was not drunk, but in a confidential and talkative mood. He announced that he had come to tell the story of his life to Muishkin, and had only remained at Pavlofsk for that purpose. There was no means of turning him out; nothing short of an earthquake would have removed him.
“Oh, nonsense, nonsense,” said the general, with decision. “What extraordinary ideas you have, Gania! As if she would hint; that’s not her way at all. Besides, what could _you_ give her, without having thousands at your disposal? You might have given her your portrait, however. Has she ever asked you for it?”
The prince would rather have kept this particular cross.

“They are quarrelling,” said the prince, and entered the drawing-room, just as matters in there had almost reached a crisis. Nina Alexandrovna had forgotten that she had “submitted to everything!” She was defending Varia. Ptitsin was taking her part, too. Not that Varia was afraid of standing up for herself. She was by no means that sort of a girl; but her brother was becoming ruder and more intolerable every moment. Her usual practice in such cases as the present was to say nothing, but stare at him, without taking her eyes off his face for an instant. This manoeuvre, as she well knew, could drive Gania distracted.

“Good heavens! And I very nearly struck him!”
“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.”
“No, it is impossible for me to come to your house again,” he added slowly.
He had moved a pace or two away, and was hiding his hands behind him.

“But what is it all about? Tell me, for Heaven’s sake! Cannot you understand how nearly it touches me? Why are they blackening Evgenie Pavlovitch’s reputation?”

“Very likely--I don’t recollect,” continued Prince S.

“Get out, keep your distance!” shouted Rogojin.
“If you were there yourself you must have known that I was _not_ there!”
“Loves him? She is head over ears in love, that’s what she is,” put in Alexandra.
Aglaya alone seemed sad and depressed; her face was flushed, perhaps with indignation.“Bravo! That’s frank, at any rate!” shouted Ferdishenko, and there was general laughter.

“Where did they tell you so,--at his door?”

The present visitor, Ptitsin, was also afraid of her. This was a young fellow of something under thirty, dressed plainly, but neatly. His manners were good, but rather ponderously so. His dark beard bore evidence to the fact that he was not in any government employ. He could speak well, but preferred silence. On the whole he made a decidedly agreeable impression. He was clearly attracted by Varvara, and made no secret of his feelings. She trusted him in a friendly way, but had not shown him any decided encouragement as yet, which fact did not quell his ardour in the least.

At last he was wide awake.
Alexandra now joined in, and it looked as though the three sisters were going to laugh on for ever.

“Nastasia Philipovna,” he began, and there paused; he was clearly much agitated and annoyed. The prince reminded him of the portrait.

The prince actually felt glad that he had been interrupted,--and might return the letters to his pocket. He was glad of the respite.
The prince wanted to say something, but was so confused and astonished that he could not. However, he moved off towards the drawing-room with the cloak over his arm.
“Your bundle has some importance, however,” continued the clerk, when they had laughed their fill (it was observable that the subject of their mirth joined in the laughter when he saw them laughing); “for though I dare say it is not stuffed full of friedrichs d’or and louis d’or--judge from your costume and gaiters--still--if you can add to your possessions such a valuable property as a relation like Mrs. General Epanchin, then your bundle becomes a significant object at once. That is, of course, if you really are a relative of Mrs. Epanchin’s, and have not made a little error through--well, absence of mind, which is very common to human beings; or, say--through a too luxuriant fancy?”
“I don’t know of many people going to Pavlofsk, and as for the house, Ivan Ptitsin has let me one of his villas rather cheaply. It is a pleasant place, lying on a hill surrounded by trees, and one can live there for a mere song. There is good music to be heard, so no wonder it is popular. I shall stay in the lodge. As to the villa itself...”

“Nastasia Philipovna, I can’t; my hands won’t obey me,” said Ferdishenko, astounded and helpless with bewilderment.

So saying, Aglaya burst into bitter tears, and, hiding her face in her handkerchief, sank back into a chair.“What music?”

“She looked at him, and stared and stared, and hung on every word he said,” said Lizabetha afterwards, to her husband, “and yet, tell her that she loves him, and she is furious!”

VI.

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.
“I am telling you the truth,” said the prince in his former composed tone of voice; “and believe me, I am extremely sorry that the circumstance should have made such an unpleasant impression upon you!”
“Strange--it’s strange,” he said, “and you love her very much?”

He smiled absently at her; then suddenly he felt a burning sensation in his ear as an angry voice whispered:

And suddenly, just as twice already he had awaked from sleep with the same vision, that very apparition now seemed to rise up before him. The woman appeared to step out from the park, and stand in the path in front of him, as though she had been waiting for him there.
“Then you were there yesterday?”
“And I have heard of _you_,” continued the prince, addressing Ivan Petrovitch, “that when some of your villagers were burned out you gave them wood to build up their houses again, though they were no longer your serfs and had behaved badly towards you.”
“The necessity of eating and drinking, that is to say, solely the instinct of self-preservation...”

“General, they say you require rest,” said Nastasia Philipovna, with the melancholy face of a child whose toy is taken away.

He gasped as he spoke, and his strange agitation seemed to increase.

II.

“Good-morning! My head whirls so; I didn’t sleep all night. I should like to have a nap now.”

“Let’s play at some game!” suggested the actress.The prince was haunted all that day by the face of Lebedeff’s nephew whom he had seen for the first time that morning, just as one is haunted at times by some persistent musical refrain. By a curious association of ideas, the young man always appeared as the murderer of whom Lebedeff had spoken when introducing him to Muishkin. Yes, he had read something about the murder, and that quite recently. Since he came to Russia, he had heard many stories of this kind, and was interested in them. His conversation with the waiter, an hour ago, chanced to be on the subject of this murder of the Zemarins, and the latter had agreed with him about it. He thought of the waiter again, and decided that he was no fool, but a steady, intelligent man: though, said he to himself, “God knows what he may really be; in a country with which one is unfamiliar it is difficult to understand the people one meets.” He was beginning to have a passionate faith in the Russian soul, however, and what discoveries he had made in the last six months, what unexpected discoveries! But every soul is a mystery, and depths of mystery lie in the soul of a Russian. He had been intimate with Rogojin, for example, and a brotherly friendship had sprung up between them--yet did he really know him? What chaos and ugliness fills the world at times! What a self-satisfied rascal is that nephew of Lebedeff’s! “But what am I thinking,” continued the prince to himself. “Can he really have committed that crime? Did he kill those six persons? I seem to be confusing things... how strange it all is.... My head goes round... And Lebedeff’s daughter--how sympathetic and charming her face was as she held the child in her arms! What an innocent look and child-like laugh she had! It is curious that I had forgotten her until now. I expect Lebedeff adores her--and I really believe, when I think of it, that as sure as two and two make four, he is fond of that nephew, too!”“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.”
The prince approached Evgenie Pavlovitch last of all. The latter immediately took his arm.

As before, Rogojin walked in advance of his troop, who followed him with mingled self-assertion and timidity. They were specially frightened of Nastasia Philipovna herself, for some reason.

“I know nothing whatever about it!” replied the latter, who was, himself, in a state of nervous excitement.
Many of our young women have thought fit to cut their hair short, put on blue spectacles, and call themselves Nihilists. By doing this they have been able to persuade themselves, without further trouble, that they have acquired new convictions of their own. Some men have but felt some little qualm of kindness towards their fellow-men, and the fact has been quite enough to persuade them that they stand alone in the van of enlightenment and that no one has such humanitarian feelings as they. Others have but to read an idea of somebody else’s, and they can immediately assimilate it and believe that it was a child of their own brain. The “impudence of ignorance,” if I may use the expression, is developed to a wonderful extent in such cases;--unlikely as it appears, it is met with at every turn.
Sure enough there was something sticking out of the front of the coat--something large. It certainly felt as though it might well be the purse fallen through a hole in the pocket into the lining.
A pool of blood on the steps near his head gave rise to grave fears. Was it a case of accident, or had there been a crime? It was, however, soon recognized as a case of epilepsy, and identification and proper measures for restoration followed one another, owing to a fortunate circumstance. Colia Ivolgin had come back to his hotel about seven o’clock, owing to a sudden impulse which made him refuse to dine at the Epanchins’, and, finding a note from the prince awaiting him, had sped away to the latter’s address. Arrived there, he ordered a cup of tea and sat sipping it in the coffee-room. While there he heard excited whispers of someone just found at the bottom of the stairs in a fit; upon which he had hurried to the spot, with a presentiment of evil, and at once recognized the prince.

The prince reflected a little, but very soon he replied, with absolute conviction in his tone, though he still spoke somewhat shyly and timidly:

As before, Rogojin walked in advance of his troop, who followed him with mingled self-assertion and timidity. They were specially frightened of Nastasia Philipovna herself, for some reason.
“A. E.”

After a formal introduction by Gania (who greeted his mother very shortly, took no notice of his sister, and immediately marched Ptitsin out of the room), Nina Alexandrovna addressed a few kind words to the prince and forthwith requested Colia, who had just appeared at the door, to show him to the “middle room.”

“Hadn’t we better hear it tomorrow?” asked the prince timidly.
The general was satisfied. He had excited himself, and was evidently now regretting that he had gone so far. He turned to the prince, and suddenly the disagreeable thought of the latter’s presence struck him, and the certainty that he must have heard every word of the conversation. But he felt at ease in another moment; it only needed one glance at the prince to see that in that quarter there was nothing to fear.
“My lady! my sovereign!” lamented Lebedeff, falling on his knees before Nastasia Philipovna, and stretching out his hands towards the fire; “it’s a hundred thousand roubles, it is indeed, I packed it up myself, I saw the money! My queen, let me get into the fire after it--say the word--I’ll put my whole grey head into the fire for it! I have a poor lame wife and thirteen children. My father died of starvation last week. Nastasia Philipovna, Nastasia Philipovna!” The wretched little man wept, and groaned, and crawled towards the fire.

“Oh yes!” cried the prince, starting. “Hippolyte’s suicide--”

Muishkin stopped short.

“He is a lodger of ours,” explained the latter.

“Well, that is the murderer! It is he--in fact--”

“Pavlicheff was a man of bright intellect and a good Christian, a sincere Christian,” said the prince, suddenly. “How could he possibly embrace a faith which is unchristian? Roman Catholicism is, so to speak, simply the same thing as unchristianity,” he added with flashing eyes, which seemed to take in everybody in the room.“You must really excuse me,” interrupted the general, “but I positively haven’t another moment now. I shall just tell Elizabetha Prokofievna about you, and if she wishes to receive you at once--as I shall advise her--I strongly recommend you to ingratiate yourself with her at the first opportunity, for my wife may be of the greatest service to you in many ways. If she cannot receive you now, you must be content to wait till another time. Meanwhile you, Gania, just look over these accounts, will you? We mustn’t forget to finish off that matter--”So saying, she reseated herself; a strange smile played on her lips. She sat quite still, but watched the door in a fever of impatience.“What is it then, for goodness’ sake?”

But it was more serious than he wished to think. As soon as the visitors had crossed the low dark hall, and entered the narrow reception-room, furnished with half a dozen cane chairs, and two small card-tables, Madame Terentieff, in the shrill tones habitual to her, continued her stream of invectives.

Aglaya left the room in a fit of irritation, and it was not until late in the evening, past eleven, when the prince was taking his departure, that she said a word or two to him, privately, as she accompanied him as far as the front door.
“Yes, my boy. I wish to present him: General Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin! But what’s the matter?... what?... How is Marfa Borisovna?”