“How beautiful that is!” cried Mrs. Epanchin, with sincere admiration. “Whose is it?”
“But it will lead at least to solidarity, and balance of interests,” said Ptitsin.
“H’m! and you think there was something of this sort here, do you? Dear me--a very remarkable comparison, you know! But you must have observed, my dear Ptitsin, that I did all I possibly could. I could do no more than I did. And you must admit that there are some rare qualities in this woman. I felt I could not speak in that Bedlam, or I should have been tempted to cry out, when she reproached me, that she herself was my best justification. Such a woman could make anyone forget all reason--everything! Even that moujik, Rogojin, you saw, brought her a hundred thousand roubles! Of course, all that happened tonight was ephemeral, fantastic, unseemly--yet it lacked neither colour nor originality. My God! What might not have been made of such a character combined with such beauty! Yet in spite of all efforts--in spite of all education, even--all those gifts are wasted! She is an uncut diamond.... I have often said so.”
Prince S. ran up to her and persuaded her, at last, to come home with them.
“At last he began to mount the steps; his legs were tied, so that he had to take very small steps. The priest, who seemed to be a wise man, had stopped talking now, and only held the cross for the wretched fellow to kiss. At the foot of the ladder he had been pale enough; but when he set foot on the scaffold at the top, his face suddenly became the colour of paper, positively like white notepaper. His legs must have become suddenly feeble and helpless, and he felt a choking in his throat--you know the sudden feeling one has in moments of terrible fear, when one does not lose one’s wits, but is absolutely powerless to move? If some dreadful thing were suddenly to happen; if a house were just about to fall on one;--don’t you know how one would long to sit down and shut one’s eyes and wait, and wait? Well, when this terrible feeling came over him, the priest quickly pressed the cross to his lips, without a word--a little silver cross it was--and he kept on pressing it to the man’s lips every second. And whenever the cross touched his lips, the eyes would open for a moment, and the legs moved once, and he kissed the cross greedily, hurriedly--just as though he were anxious to catch hold of something in case of its being useful to him afterwards, though he could hardly have had any connected religious thoughts at the time. And so up to the very block.
At the door they met Gania coming in.
“At last he began to mount the steps; his legs were tied, so that he had to take very small steps. The priest, who seemed to be a wise man, had stopped talking now, and only held the cross for the wretched fellow to kiss. At the foot of the ladder he had been pale enough; but when he set foot on the scaffold at the top, his face suddenly became the colour of paper, positively like white notepaper. His legs must have become suddenly feeble and helpless, and he felt a choking in his throat--you know the sudden feeling one has in moments of terrible fear, when one does not lose one’s wits, but is absolutely powerless to move? If some dreadful thing were suddenly to happen; if a house were just about to fall on one;--don’t you know how one would long to sit down and shut one’s eyes and wait, and wait? Well, when this terrible feeling came over him, the priest quickly pressed the cross to his lips, without a word--a little silver cross it was--and he kept on pressing it to the man’s lips every second. And whenever the cross touched his lips, the eyes would open for a moment, and the legs moved once, and he kissed the cross greedily, hurriedly--just as though he were anxious to catch hold of something in case of its being useful to him afterwards, though he could hardly have had any connected religious thoughts at the time. And so up to the very block.
“I know, prince, of course I know, but I’m afraid I shall not carry it out; for to do so one needs a heart like your own. He is so very irritable just now, and so proud. At one moment he will embrace me, and the next he flies out at me and sneers at me, and then I stick the lining forward on purpose. Well, _au revoir_, prince, I see I am keeping you, and boring you, too, interfering with your most interesting private reflections.”
“Thoroughly honest, quite so, prince, thoroughly honest!” said Lebedeff, with flashing eyes. “And only you, prince, could have found so very appropriate an expression. I honour you for it, prince. Very well, that’s settled; I shall find the purse now and not tomorrow. Here, I find it and take it out before your eyes! And the money is all right. Take it, prince, and keep it till tomorrow, will you? Tomorrow or next day I’ll take it back again. I think, prince, that the night after its disappearance it was buried under a bush in the garden. So I believe--what do you think of that?” “What then?” But why recall all this? There was insanity on both sides. For him, the prince, to love this woman with passion, was unthinkable. It would be cruel and inhuman. Yes. Rogojin is not fair to himself; he has a large heart; he has aptitude for sympathy. When he learns the truth, and finds what a pitiable being is this injured, broken, half-insane creature, he will forgive her all the torment she has caused him. He will become her slave, her brother, her friend. Compassion will teach even Rogojin, it will show him how to reason. Compassion is the chief law of human existence. Oh, how guilty he felt towards Rogojin! And, for a few warm, hasty words spoken in Moscow, Parfen had called him “brother,” while he--but no, this was delirium! It would all come right! That gloomy Parfen had implied that his faith was waning; he must suffer dreadfully. He said he liked to look at that picture; it was not that he liked it, but he felt the need of looking at it. Rogojin was not merely a passionate soul; he was a fighter. He was fighting for the restoration of his dying faith. He must have something to hold on to and believe, and someone to believe in. What a strange picture that of Holbein’s is! Why, this is the street, and here’s the house, No. 16. “‘I think you dropped this,’ I remarked, as quietly and drily as I could. (I thought it best to treat him so.) For some while he stood before me in downright terror, and seemed unable to understand. He then suddenly grabbed at his side-pocket, opened his mouth in alarm, and beat his forehead with his hand.

This beginning gave promise of a stormy discussion. The prince was much discouraged, but at last he managed to make himself heard amid the vociferations of his excited visitors.

“Lef Nicolaievitch!” interposed Madame Epanchin, suddenly, “read this at once, this very moment! It is about this business.”
“Not the railways, oh dear, no!” replied Lebedeff, with a mixture of violent anger and extreme enjoyment. “Considered alone, the railways will not pollute the springs of life, but as a whole they are accursed. The whole tendency of our latest centuries, in its scientific and materialistic aspect, is most probably accursed.”
For some minutes he did not seem to comprehend the excitement around him; that is, he comprehended it and saw everything, but he stood aside, as it were, like someone invisible in a fairy tale, as though he had nothing to do with what was going on, though it pleased him to take an interest in it.
“You will have to excuse very much in my husband, if you stay with us,” said Nina Alexandrovna; “but he will not disturb you often. He dines alone. Everyone has his little peculiarities, you know, and some people perhaps have more than those who are most pointed at and laughed at. One thing I must beg of you--if my husband applies to you for payment for board and lodging, tell him that you have already paid me. Of course anything paid by you to the general would be as fully settled as if paid to me, so far as you are concerned; but I wish it to be so, if you please, for convenience’ sake. What is it, Varia?” “Why, don’t you, aren’t you--” began the general, in alarm.

“I’ll wear it; and you shall have mine. I’ll take it off at once.”

“Had you any emeralds?” asked the prince.
Mrs. Epanchin, long accustomed to her husband’s infidelities, had heard of the pearls, and the rumour excited her liveliest curiosity and interest. The general remarked her suspicions, and felt that a grand explanation must shortly take place--which fact alarmed him much.

The whole of Rogojin’s being was concentrated in one rapturous gaze of ecstasy. He could not take his eyes off Nastasia. He stood drinking her in, as it were. He was in the seventh heaven of delight.

“I don’t understand your thoughts, Lizabetha Prokofievna; but I can see that the fact of my having written is for some reason repugnant to you. You must admit that I have a perfect right to refuse to answer your questions; but, in order to show you that I am neither ashamed of the letter, nor sorry that I wrote it, and that I am not in the least inclined to blush about it” (here the prince’s blushes redoubled), “I will repeat the substance of my letter, for I think I know it almost by heart.”

“If you really intended to shoot yourself, Terentieff,” said Evgenie Pavlovitch, laughing, “if I were you, after all these compliments, I should just not shoot myself in order to vex them all.”
“Very well--afterwards. You are always interrupting me. What woman was it you were dreaming about?”
“No! I trust you--but I can’t understand. It seems to me that your pity is greater than my love.” A hungry longing to speak his mind out seemed to flash in the man’s eyes, combined with an intense anger.
“Read this,” she said, handing him Gania’s note.

“You wouldn’t draw his portrait for us, that’s why you are to blame! Aglaya Ivanovna asked you to draw his portrait, and gave you the whole subject of the picture. She invented it herself; and you wouldn’t.”

As is well known, these fits occur instantaneously. The face, especially the eyes, become terribly disfigured, convulsions seize the limbs, a terrible cry breaks from the sufferer, a wail from which everything human seems to be blotted out, so that it is impossible to believe that the man who has just fallen is the same who emitted the dreadful cry. It seems more as though some other being, inside the stricken one, had cried. Many people have borne witness to this impression; and many cannot behold an epileptic fit without a feeling of mysterious terror and dread.
“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 can tell you all about Colia,” said the young man

“Calm yourself, my dear fellow. You are exaggerating again; you really have no occasion to be so grateful to us. It is a feeling which does you great credit, but an exaggeration, for all that.”

There are many strange circumstances such as this before us; but in our opinion they do but deepen the mystery, and do not in the smallest degree help us to understand the case.

“Perhaps he really doesn’t understand me! They do say that you are a--you know what! She loves another--there, you can understand that much! Just as I love her, exactly so she loves another man. And that other man is--do you know who? It’s you. There--you didn’t know that, eh?”
It was the beginning of June, and for a whole week the weather in St. Petersburg had been magnificent. The Epanchins had a luxurious country-house at Pavlofsk, [One of the fashionable summer resorts near St. Petersburg.] and to this spot Mrs. Epanchin determined to proceed without further delay. In a couple of days all was ready, and the family had left town. A day or two after this removal to Pavlofsk, Prince Muishkin arrived in St. Petersburg by the morning train from Moscow. No one met him; but, as he stepped out of the carriage, he suddenly became aware of two strangely glowing eyes fixed upon him from among the crowd that met the train. On endeavouring to re-discover the eyes, and see to whom they belonged, he could find nothing to guide him. It must have been a hallucination. But the disagreeable impression remained, and without this, the prince was sad and thoughtful already, and seemed to be much preoccupied.
“Very glad, I’m particularly hungry. Yes, yes, a strange coincidence--almost a psychological--”

“I did not come to marry at all,” replied the prince.

There are many strange circumstances such as this before us; but in our opinion they do but deepen the mystery, and do not in the smallest degree help us to understand the case.

The prince seemed quite distracted for the moment.

“But there is nothing to understand! Sympathy and tenderness, that is all--that is all our poor invalid requires! You will permit me to consider him an invalid?”

“Yes, that wall of Meyer’s could tell a tale if it liked. There was no spot on its dirty surface that I did not know by heart. Accursed wall! and yet it is dearer to me than all the Pavlofsk trees!--That is--it _would_ be dearer if it were not all the same to me, now!
“Oh, on the contrary! my mother will be very glad,” said Gania, courteously and kindly.
The course of events had marched in the following order. When Lebedeff returned, in company with the general, after their expedition to town a few days since, for the purpose of investigation, he brought the prince no information whatever. If the latter had not himself been occupied with other thoughts and impressions at the time, he must have observed that Lebedeff not only was very uncommunicative, but even appeared anxious to avoid him.

The prince jumped up in alarm at Aglaya’s sudden wrath, and a mist seemed to come before his eyes.

“When I observed that it was all the same whether one died among trees or in front of a blank brick wall, as here, and that it was not worth making any fuss over a fortnight, he agreed at once. But he insisted that the good air at Pavlofsk and the greenness would certainly cause a physical change for the better, and that my excitement, and my _dreams_, would be perhaps relieved. I remarked to him, with a smile, that he spoke like a materialist, and he answered that he had always been one. As he never tells a lie, there must be something in his words. His smile is a pleasant one. I have had a good look at him. I don’t know whether I like him or not; and I have no time to waste over the question. The hatred which I felt for him for five months has become considerably modified, I may say, during the last month. Who knows, perhaps I am going to Pavlofsk on purpose to see him! But why do I leave my chamber? Those who are sentenced to death should not leave their cells. If I had not formed a final resolve, but had decided to wait until the last minute, I should not leave my room, or accept his invitation to come and die at Pavlofsk. I must be quick and finish this explanation before tomorrow. I shall have no time to read it over and correct it, for I must read it tomorrow to the prince and two or three witnesses whom I shall probably find there.

Gania was much confused, and blushed for shame “Do forgive me, prince!” he cried, suddenly changing his abusive tone for one of great courtesy. “For Heaven’s sake, forgive me! You see what a miserable plight I am in, but you hardly know anything of the facts of the case as yet. If you did, I am sure you would forgive me, at least partially. Of course it was inexcusable of me, I know, but--”

Gania left the room in great good humour. The prince stayed behind, and meditated alone for a few minutes. At length, Colia popped his head in once more.

“At the first glimpse of the rising sun, prince, I will go to bed. I told you I would, word of honour! You shall see!” cried Hippolyte. “You think I’m not capable of opening this packet, do you?” He glared defiantly round at the audience in general.

“Yes, he went at seven o’clock. He came into the room on his way out; I was watching just then. He said he was going to spend ‘the rest of the night’ at Wilkin’s; there’s a tipsy fellow, a friend of his, of that name. Well, I’m off. Oh, here’s Lebedeff himself! The prince wants to go to sleep, Lukian Timofeyovitch, so you may just go away again.”
“Ye-yes!” replied Rogojin, starting at the unexpected question.
“Yet I remember all he talked about, and every word we said, though whenever my eyes closed for a moment I could picture nothing but the image of Surikoff just in the act of finding a million roubles. He could not make up his mind what to do with the money, and tore his hair over it. He trembled with fear that somebody would rob him, and at last he decided to bury it in the ground. I persuaded him that, instead of putting it all away uselessly underground, he had better melt it down and make a golden coffin out of it for his starved child, and then dig up the little one and put her into the golden coffin. Surikoff accepted this suggestion, I thought, with tears of gratitude, and immediately commenced to carry out my design.
Aglaya wanted to be angry, of course, but suddenly some quite unexpected feeling seized upon her heart, all in a moment.
“Why? Do you know anything about it? Look here,” continued the general, more agitated than ever, and trembling with excitement, “maybe I have been letting the cat out of the bag too freely with you, if so, it is because you are--that sort of man, you know! Perhaps you have some special information?”
He awaited the reply in deadly anxiety.
“You’ve been _there?_” he asked, suddenly.

To all this her mother replied that Alexandra was a freethinker, and that all this was due to that “cursed woman’s rights question.”

Muishkin was told of the princess’s visit three days beforehand, but nothing was said to him about the party until the night before it was to take place.
“You must have forgotten Russia, hadn’t you?”

“How dreadfully you look at me, Parfen!” said the prince, with a feeling of dread.

“Yes, I am afraid...” began the prince.
“‘In Moscow,’ I said, ‘there was an old state counsellor, a civil general, who, all his life, had been in the habit of visiting the prisons and speaking to criminals. Every party of convicts on its way to Siberia knew beforehand that on the Vorobeef Hills the “old general” would pay them a visit. He did all he undertook seriously and devotedly. He would walk down the rows of the unfortunate prisoners, stop before each individual and ask after his needs--he never sermonized them; he spoke kindly to them--he gave them money; he brought them all sorts of necessaries for the journey, and gave them devotional books, choosing those who could read, under the firm conviction that they would read to those who could not, as they went along.
“So that I have not offended any of you? You will not believe how happy I am to be able to think so. It is as it should be. As if I _could_ offend anyone here! I should offend you again by even suggesting such a thing.”
“Why, of course,” replied the clerk, gesticulating with his hands.

A week had elapsed since the rendezvous of our two friends on the green bench in the park, when, one fine morning at about half-past ten o’clock, Varvara Ardalionovna, otherwise Mrs. Ptitsin, who had been out to visit a friend, returned home in a state of considerable mental depression.

“Impossible?” cried Keller, almost pityingly. “Oh prince, how little you really seem to understand human nature!”
“Bravo! That’s frank, at any rate!” shouted Ferdishenko, and there was general laughter.
For some time the prince wandered about without aim or object. He did not know the town well. He stopped to look about him on bridges, at street corners. He entered a confectioner’s shop to rest, once. He was in a state of nervous excitement and perturbation; he noticed nothing and no one; and he felt a craving for solitude, to be alone with his thoughts and his emotions, and to give himself up to them passively. He loathed the idea of trying to answer the questions that would rise up in his heart and mind. “I am not to blame for all this,” he thought to himself, half unconsciously. “How strangely you speak, and how odd you look!” said the other, involuntarily.
“He has been very ill,” added Varia.

“So do I, so do I! This moment, if I could! I’d give every farthing I have to do it.”

“Not bad that, not bad at all!” put in Ferdishenko, “_se non è vero_--”

But Muishkin had risen, and was on his way to open the door for his visitors.

The prince made one step forward, and then turned round.

They were in no hurry to marry. They liked good society, but were not too keen about it. All this was the more remarkable, because everyone was well aware of the hopes and aims of their parents. “Aglaya Ivanovna, it’s absurd.”
“Meanwhile he continued to sit and stare jeeringly at me.

“Her mother allowed all this to go on, and nodded her head and encouraged them. The old woman was very ill at that time, and knew she was dying (she really did die a couple of months later), and though she felt the end approaching she never thought of forgiving her daughter, to the very day of her death. She would not even speak to her. She made her sleep on straw in a shed, and hardly gave her food enough to support life.

As to recollecting what he had been thinking of all that time, he could not. He caught himself, however, indulging in one thought which made him roar with laughter, though there was nothing really to laugh at in it; but he felt that he must laugh, and go on laughing.

“Goodness gracious! good heavens!” came from all quarters of the room.

IV.

It is true that her nature sometimes rebelled against these dictates of reason, and that she grew yearly more capricious and impatient; but having a respectful and well-disciplined husband under her thumb at all times, she found it possible, as a rule, to empty any little accumulations of spleen upon his head, and therefore the harmony of the family was kept duly balanced, and things went as smoothly as family matters can.

“Were you to blame, or not?”
“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.
“Oh, no; oh, no! Not to theology alone, I assure you! Why, Socialism is the progeny of Romanism and of the Romanistic spirit. It and its brother Atheism proceed from Despair in opposition to Catholicism. It seeks to replace in itself the moral power of religion, in order to appease the spiritual thirst of parched humanity and save it; not by Christ, but by force. ‘Don’t dare to believe in God, don’t dare to possess any individuality, any property! _Fraternité ou la Mort_; two million heads. ‘By their works ye shall know them’--we are told. And we must not suppose that all this is harmless and without danger to ourselves. Oh, no; we must resist, and quickly, quickly! We must let our Christ shine forth upon the Western nations, our Christ whom we have preserved intact, and whom they have never known. Not as slaves, allowing ourselves to be caught by the hooks of the Jesuits, but carrying our Russian civilization to _them_, we must stand before them, not letting it be said among us that their preaching is ‘skilful,’ as someone expressed it just now.”
Next moment he was absolutely unconscious; black darkness blotted out everything.

“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!”

“Yes--yes--yes! Run away from home!” she repeated, in a transport of rage. “I won’t, I won’t be made to blush every minute by them all! I don’t want to blush before Prince S. or Evgenie Pavlovitch, or anyone, and therefore I have chosen you. I shall tell you everything, _everything_, even the most important things of all, whenever I like, and you are to hide nothing from me on your side. I want to speak to at least one person, as I would to myself. They have suddenly begun to say that I am waiting for you, and in love with you. They began this before you arrived here, and so I didn’t show them the letter, and now they all say it, every one of them. I want to be brave, and be afraid of nobody. I don’t want to go to their balls and things--I want to do good. I have long desired to run away, for I have been kept shut up for twenty years, and they are always trying to marry me off. I wanted to run away when I was fourteen years old--I was a little fool then, I know--but now I have worked it all out, and I have waited for you to tell me about foreign countries. I have never seen a single Gothic cathedral. I must go to Rome; I must see all the museums; I must study in Paris. All this last year I have been preparing and reading forbidden books. Alexandra and Adelaida are allowed to read anything they like, but I mayn’t. I don’t want to quarrel with my sisters, but I told my parents long ago that I wish to change my social position. I have decided to take up teaching, and I count on you because you said you loved children. Can we go in for education together--if not at once, then afterwards? We could do good together. I won’t be a general’s daughter any more! Tell me, are you a very learned man?”
Lebedeff clasped his hands in supplication.

Lizabetha Prokofievna frowned, but had not as yet grasped the subject, which seemed to have arisen out of a heated argument. Aglaya sat apart, almost in the corner, listening in stubborn silence.

“It’s so dark,” he said.

“I have lost four hundred roubles out of my side pocket! They’re gone!” said Lebedeff, with a sour smile.

“Do you ever give him money?”
“There, you see, girls,” said the impatient lady, “he _has_ begun, you see.”
“Well? What have I seen?” he continued. “I have seen men of graceful simplicity of intellect; I have seen an old man who is not above speaking kindly and even _listening_ to a boy like myself; I see before me persons who can understand, who can forgive--kind, good Russian hearts--hearts almost as kind and cordial as I met abroad. Imagine how delighted I must have been, and how surprised! Oh, let me express this feeling! I have so often heard, and I have even believed, that in society there was nothing but empty forms, and that reality had vanished; but I now see for myself that this can never be the case _here_, among us--it may be the order elsewhere, but not in Russia. Surely you are not all Jesuits and deceivers! I heard Prince N.’s story just now. Was it not simple-minded, spontaneous humour? Could such words come from the lips of a man who is dead?--a man whose heart and talents are dried up? Could dead men and women have treated me so kindly as you have all been treating me to-day? Is there not material for the future in all this--for hope? Can such people fail to _understand?_ Can such men fall away from reality?”
VIII.
“And she is not guilty--oh God!--Every moment she bemoans and bewails herself, and cries out that she does not admit any guilt, that she is the victim of circumstances--the victim of a wicked libertine.
“Oh, they don’t come on frequently, besides, he’s a regular child, though he seems to be fairly educated. I should like you, if possible, my dears,” the general added, making slowly for the door, “to put him through his paces a bit, and see what he is good for. I think you should be kind to him; it is a good deed, you know--however, just as you like, of course--but he is a sort of relation, remember, and I thought it might interest you to see the young fellow, seeing that this is so.”