“Have you let it?”

“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.”

“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.

Once she turned and observed the prince hurrying after them. Noticing his anxiety to catch them up, she smiled ironically, and then looked back no more. At length, just as they neared the house, General Epanchin came out and met them; he had only just arrived from town.

And he handed the prince the very letter from Aglaya to Gania, which the latter showed with so much triumph to his sister at a later hour.

“You drunken moujik,” said Daria Alexeyevna, once more. “You ought to be kicked out of the place.”
Suddenly, a quarter of an hour after the prince’s departure, Aglaya had rushed out of her room in such a hurry that she had not even wiped her eyes, which were full of tears. She came back because Colia had brought a hedgehog. Everybody came in to see the hedgehog. In answer to their questions Colia explained that the hedgehog was not his, and that he had left another boy, Kostia Lebedeff, waiting for him outside. Kostia was too shy to come in, because he was carrying a hatchet; they had bought the hedgehog and the hatchet from a peasant whom they had met on the road. He had offered to sell them the hedgehog, and they had paid fifty copecks for it; and the hatchet had so taken their fancy that they had made up their minds to buy it of their own accord. On hearing this, Aglaya urged Colia to sell her the hedgehog; she even called him “dear Colia,” in trying to coax him. He refused for a long time, but at last he could hold out no more, and went to fetch Kostia Lebedeff. The latter appeared, carrying his hatchet, and covered with confusion. Then it came out that the hedgehog was not theirs, but the property of a schoolmate, one Petroff, who had given them some money to buy Schlosser’s History for him, from another schoolfellow who at that moment was driven to raising money by the sale of his books. Colia and Kostia were about to make this purchase for their friend when chance brought the hedgehog to their notice, and they had succumbed to the temptation of buying it. They were now taking Petroff the hedgehog and hatchet which they had bought with his money, instead of Schlosser’s History. But Aglaya so entreated them that at last they consented to sell her the hedgehog. As soon as she had got possession of it, she put it in a wicker basket with Colia’s help, and covered it with a napkin. Then she said to Colia: “Go and take this hedgehog to the prince from me, and ask him to accept it as a token of my profound respect.” Colia joyfully promised to do the errand, but he demanded explanations. “What does the hedgehog mean? What is the meaning of such a present?” Aglaya replied that it was none of his business. “I am sure that there is some allegory about it,” Colia persisted. Aglaya grew angry, and called him “a silly boy.” “If I did not respect all women in your person,” replied Colia, “and if my own principles would permit it, I would soon prove to you, that I know how to answer such an insult!” But, in the end, Colia went off with the hedgehog in great delight, followed by Kostia Lebedeff. Aglaya’s annoyance was soon over, and seeing that Colia was swinging the hedgehog’s basket violently to and fro, she called out to him from the verandah, as if they had never quarrelled: “Colia, dear, please take care not to drop him!” Colia appeared to have no grudge against her, either, for he stopped, and answered most cordially: “No, I will not drop him! Don’t be afraid, Aglaya Ivanovna!” After which he went on his way. Aglaya burst out laughing and ran up to her room, highly delighted. Her good spirits lasted the whole day.

“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.”

“And was it you looked out of the window under the blind this morning?”
“No, I have never known her.”
“‘Here lies a Dead Soul, Shame pursues me.’
“Ferdishenko--either tell us your story, or be quiet, and mind your own business. You exhaust all patience,” cuttingly and irritably remarked Nastasia Philipovna.

“I don’t understand what you are driving at!” he cried, almost angrily, “and, and--what an intriguer you are, Lebedeff!” he added, bursting into a fit of genuine laughter.

“Don’t come with me,” she cried, “_Au revoir_, till the evening--do you hear? _Au revoir!_”
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 pocket.
“Colia goes to see her often, does he not?”
There was silence for a moment. Then Ptitsin spoke.

“Well, then, _let_ him talk, mamma,” said Alexandra. “This prince is a great humbug and by no means an idiot,” she whispered to Aglaya.

“She writes to _her_--and the girl reads the letters. Haven’t you heard?--You are sure to hear; she’s sure to show you the letters herself.”

“Oh, thank you, thank you, I’m sure,” replied the general, considerably taken aback. “May I ask where you have taken up your quarters?”
“Religion!--I admit eternal life--and perhaps I always did admit it.
At this moment she was called by someone. She broke loose from him with an air of relief and ran away.

“Do you hear, prince--do you hear that?” said Lizabetha Prokofievna, turning towards him.

“Oh, just out of curiosity,” said Lebedeff, rubbing his hands and sniggering.
He hesitated no longer; but opened the glazed door at the bottom of the outer stairs and made his way up to the second storey. The place was dark and gloomy-looking; the walls of the stone staircase were painted a dull red. Rogojin and his mother and brother occupied the whole of the second floor. The servant who opened the door to Muishkin led him, without taking his name, through several rooms and up and down many steps until they arrived at a door, where he knocked.

“I can just see there’s a bed--”

This was the first time in his life that he had seen a little corner of what was generally known by the terrible name of “society.” He had long thirsted, for reasons of his own, to penetrate the mysteries of the magic circle, and, therefore, this assemblage was of the greatest possible interest to him.

“Do you know what time it is?”

“Be quiet! How dare they laugh at me in your house?” said Aglaya, turning sharply on her mother in that hysterical frame of mind that rides recklessly over every obstacle and plunges blindly through proprieties. “Why does everyone, everyone worry and torment me? Why have they all been bullying me these three days about you, prince? I will not marry you--never, and under no circumstances! Know that once and for all; as if anyone could marry an absurd creature like you! Just look in the glass and see what you look like, this very moment! Why, _why_ do they torment me and say I am going to marry you? You must know it; you are in the plot with them!”
“It is not like her, you say? My friend, that’s absurd. Perhaps such an act would horrify her, if she were with you, but it is quite different where I am concerned. She looks on me as vermin. Her affair with Keller was simply to make a laughing-stock of me. You don’t know what a fool she made of me in Moscow; and the money I spent over her! The money! the money!”

Lebedeff started, and at sight of the prince stood like a statue for a moment. Then he moved up to him with an ingratiating smile, but stopped short again.

There was absolute hatred in his eyes as he said this, but his look of fear and his trembling had not left him.

An hour later, towards four o’clock, the prince went into the park. He had endeavoured to fall asleep, but could not, owing to the painful beating of his heart. “I want to go and look after my country estates. You advised me to do that yourself,” was the reply. “And then I wish to go abroad.”
The prince did not exactly pant for breath, but he “seemed almost to _choke_ out of pure simplicity and goodness of heart,” as Adelaida expressed it, on talking the party over with her fiance, the Prince S., next morning.
“I assure you I am not deceiving you; you shall not have to answer for me. As to my being dressed like this, and carrying a bundle, there’s nothing surprising in that--the fact is, my circumstances are not particularly rosy at this moment.”

Nastasia did not reject all this, she even loved her comforts and luxuries, but, strangely enough, never became, in the least degree, dependent upon them, and always gave the impression that she could do just as well without them. In fact, she went so far as to inform Totski on several occasions that such was the case, which the latter gentleman considered a very unpleasant communication indeed.

Rogojin’s eyes flashed, and a smile of insanity distorted his countenance. His right hand was raised, and something glittered in it. The prince did not think of trying to stop it. All he could remember afterwards was that he seemed to have called out: “But--why?”

“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?”

“Come, you know nothing about _her_,” said Rogojin, impatiently.
Gania said all this perfectly seriously, and without the slightest appearance of joking; indeed, he seemed strangely gloomy.

But there were other defenders for Nastasia on the spot by this time. The gentleman known as the “boxer” now confronted the enraged officer.

“I knew it had been written, but I would not have advised its publication,” said Lebedeff’s nephew, “because it is premature.”

“Parfen, I am not your enemy, and I do not intend to oppose your intentions in any way. I repeat this to you now just as I said it to you once before on a very similar occasion. When you were arranging for your projected marriage in Moscow, I did not interfere with you--you know I did not. That first time she fled to me from you, from the very altar almost, and begged me to ‘save her from you.’ Afterwards she ran away from me again, and you found her and arranged your marriage with her once more; and now, I hear, she has run away from you and come to Petersburg. Is it true? Lebedeff wrote me to this effect, and that’s why I came here. That you had once more arranged matters with Nastasia Philipovna I only learned last night in the train from a friend of yours, Zaleshoff--if you wish to know.

“Why not? Let in anyone who wants to see me. I assure you, Lebedeff, you have misunderstood my position from the very first; you have been wrong all along. I have not the slightest reason to hide myself from anyone,” replied the prince gaily.
Then seeing that Radomski was laughing, he began to laugh himself, nudged Colia, who was sitting beside him, with his elbow, and again asked what time it was. He even pulled Colia’s silver watch out of his hand, and looked at it eagerly. Then, as if he had forgotten everything, he stretched himself out on the sofa, put his hands behind his head, and looked up at the sky. After a minute or two he got up and came back to the table to listen to Lebedeff’s outpourings, as the latter passionately commentated on Evgenie Pavlovitch’s paradox.
“Ha, ha, ha!” she cried, “this is an unexpected climax, after all. I didn’t expect this. What are you all standing up for, gentlemen? Sit down; congratulate me and the prince! Ferdishenko, just step out and order some more champagne, will you? Katia, Pasha,” she added suddenly, seeing the servants at the door, “come here! I’m going to be married, did you hear? To the prince. He has a million and a half of roubles; he is Prince Muishkin, and has asked me to marry him. Here, prince, come and sit by me; and here comes the wine. Now then, ladies and gentlemen, where are your congratulations?”
“Wait a bit, my boy, I’ll just go--you stay here, you know. But do just explain, if you can, Lef Nicolaievitch, how in the world has all this come about? And what does it all mean? You must understand, my dear fellow; I am a father, you see, and I ought to be allowed to understand the matter--do explain, I beg you!”
“Then within his distant castle, Home returned, he dreamed his days-- Silent, sad,--and when death took him He was mad, the legend says.” “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.
“No, Varia, I shall sit it out to the end.”
“Twenty-seventh!” said Gania.
He tried to give the prince an affectionate smile, and it seemed to the latter as though in this smile of his something had broken, and that he could not mend it, try as he would.
“I am, of course, quite ready to add my efforts to yours in such a case,” said the prince, rising; “but I confess, Lebedeff, that I am terribly perplexed. Tell me, do you still think... plainly, you say yourself that you suspect Mr. Ferdishenko?”
His words seemed tinged with a kind of sarcastic mockery, yet he was extremely agitated, casting suspicious glances around him, growing confused, and constantly losing the thread of his ideas. All this, together with his consumptive appearance, and the frenzied expression of his blazing eyes, naturally attracted the attention of everyone present.
“I meant to say--I only meant to say,” said the prince, faltering, “I merely meant to explain to Aglaya Ivanovna--to have the honour to explain, as it were--that I had no intention--never had--to ask the honour of her hand. I assure you I am not guilty, Aglaya Ivanovna, I am not, indeed. I never did wish to--I never thought of it at all--and never shall--you’ll see it yourself--you may be quite assured of it. Some wicked person has been maligning me to you; but it’s all right. Don’t worry about it.”

“You must make allowances,” murmured Varia.

“Oh! if you will sell it, very good--and thank you. You shall not be a loser! But for goodness’ sake, don’t twist about like that, sir! I have heard of you; they tell me you are a very learned person. We must have a talk one of these days. You will bring me the books yourself?”

“Do you believe all this?” asked Muishkin, looking curiously at his companion.
“Poodle? What was that? And in a railway carriage? Dear me,” said Nastasia, thoughtfully, as though trying to recall something to mind.
“And natural,” repeated Lebedeff with pedantic obstinacy. “Besides, a Catholic monk is by nature excessively curious; it would be quite easy therefore to entice him into a wood, or some secret place, on false pretences, and there to deal with him as said. But I do not dispute in the least that the number of persons consumed appears to denote a spice of greediness.”
“He was terribly confused and did not seem able to collect his scattered senses; the pocket-book was still in his left hand.
“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!”

It soon became clear to Gania, after scenes of wrath and quarrellings at the domestic hearth, that his family were seriously opposed to the match, and that Nastasia was aware of this fact was equally evident. She said nothing about it, though he daily expected her to do so.

“Then you wanted me to lend you money?”
“But, you wretched man, at least she must have said something? There must be _some_ answer from her!”
He took her hand and seated her on the bench; then sat down beside her and reflected.
“I don’t think you need break your heart over Gania,” said the prince; “for if what you say is true, he must be considered dangerous in the Epanchin household, and if so, certain hopes of his must have been encouraged.”
“A refined man, but--lost,” murmured the general. 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.
“The very time when he was cringing before you and making protestations of devotion! Oh, the mean wretches! I will have nothing to do with your Pushkin, and your daughter shall not set foot in my house!”
“Is he raving?” said the general. “Are we really in a mad-house?”
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.
“I never said you were Rogojin’s mistress--you are _not!_” said the prince, in trembling accents.
Nastasia smiled amiably at him; but evidently her depression and irritability were increasing with every moment. Totski was dreadfully alarmed to hear her promise a revelation out of her own life.

The prince replied that he saw it.

“I don’t understand you. How could he have me in view, and not be aware of it himself? And yet, I don’t know--perhaps I do. Do you know I have intended to poison myself at least thirty times--ever since I was thirteen or so--and to write to my parents before I did it? I used to think how nice it would be to lie in my coffin, and have them all weeping over me and saying it was all their fault for being so cruel, and all that--what are you smiling at?” she added, knitting her brow. “What do _you_ think of when you go mooning about alone? I suppose you imagine yourself a field-marshal, and think you have conquered Napoleon?”