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Chapter 11

  • THE prince now left the room and shut himself up in his own chamber. Coli_ollowed him almost at once, anxious to do what he could to console him. Th_oor boy seemed to be already so attached to him that he could hardly leav_im.
  • "You were quite right to go away!" he said. "The row will rage there wors_han ever now; and it's like this every day with us—and all through tha_astasia Philipovna."
  • "You have so many sources of trouble here, Colia," said the prince.
  • "Yes, indeed, and it is all our own fault. But I have a great friend who i_uch worse off even than we are. Would you like to know him?"
  • "Yes, very much. Is he one of your school-fellows?"
  • "Well, not exactly. I will tell you all about him some day… . What do yo_hink of Nastasia Philipovna? She is beautiful, isn't she? I had never see_er before, though I had a great wish to do so. She fascinated me. I coul_orgive Gania if he were to marry her for love, but for money! Oh dear! tha_s horrible!"
  • "Yes, your brother does not attract me much."
  • "I am not surprised at that. After what you… But I do hate that way of lookin_t things! Because some fool, or a rogue pretending to be a fool, strikes _an, that man is to be dishonoured for his whole life, unless he wipes out th_isgrace with blood, or makes his assailant beg forgiveness on his knees! _hink that so very absurd and tyrannical. Lermontoff's Bal Masque is based o_hat idea—a stupid and unnatural one, in my opinion; but he was hardly mor_han a child when he wrote it."
  • "I like your sister very much."
  • "Did you see how she spat in Gania's face! Varia is afraid of no one. But yo_id not follow her example, and yet I am sure it was not through cowardice.
  • Here she comes! Speak of a wolf and you see his tail! I felt sure that sh_ould come. She is very generous, though of course she has her faults."
  • Varia pounced upon her brother.
  • "This is not the place for you," said she. "Go to father. Is he plaguing you, prince?"
  • "Not in the least; on the contrary, he interests me."
  • "Scolding as usual, Varia! It is the worst thing about her. After all, _elieve father may have started off with Rogojin. No doubt he is sorry now.
  • Perhaps I had better go and see what he is doing," added Colia, running off.
  • "Thank God, I have got mother away, and put her to bed without another scene!
  • Gania is worried—and ashamed—not without reason! What a spectacle! I have com_o thank you once more, prince, and to ask you if you knew Nastasia Philipovn_efore?"
  • "No, I have never known her."
  • "Then what did you mean, when you said straight out to her that she was no_eally 'like that'? You guessed right, I fancy. It is quite possible she wa_ot herself at the moment, though I cannot fathom her meaning. Evidently sh_eant to hurt and insult us. I have heard curious tales about her before now, but if she came to invite us to her house, why did she behave so to my mother?
  • Ptitsin knows her very well; he says he could not understand her today. Wit_ogojin, too! No one with a spark of self-respect could have talked like tha_n the house of her… Mother is extremely vexed on your account, too…
  • "That is nothing!" said the prince, waving his hand.
  • "But how meek she was when you spoke to her!"
  • "Meek! What do you mean?"
  • "You told her it was a shame for her to behave so, and her manner changed a_nce; she was like another person. You have some influence over her, prince,"
  • added Varia, smiling a little.
  • The door opened at this point, and in came Gania most unexpectedly.
  • He was not in the least disconcerted to see Varia there, but he stood a momen_t the door, and then approached the prince quietly.
  • "Prince," he said, with feeling, "I was a blackguard. Forgive me!" His fac_ave evidence of suffering. The prince was considerably amazed, and did no_eply at once. "Oh, come, forgive me, forgive me!" Gania insisted, rathe_mpatiently. "If you like, I'll kiss your hand. There!"
  • The prince was touched; he took Gania's hands, and embraced him heartily, while each kissed the other.
  • "I never, never thought you were like that," said Muishkin, drawing a dee_reath. "I thought you—you weren't capable of—"
  • "Of what? Apologizing, eh? And where on earth did I get the idea that you wer_n idiot? You always observe what other people pass by unnoticed; one coul_alk sense to you, but—"
  • "Here is another to whom you should apologize," said the prince, pointing t_aria.
  • "No, no! they are all enemies! I've tried them often enough, believe me," an_ania turned his back on Varia with these words.
  • "But if I beg you to make it up?" said Varia.
  • "And you'll go to Nastasia Philipovna's this evening—"
  • "If you insist: but, judge for yourself, can I go, ought I to go?"
  • "But she is not that sort of woman, I tell you!" said Gania, angrily. "She wa_nly acting."
  • "I know that—I know that; but what a part to play! And think what she mus_ake YOU for, Gania! I know she kissed mother's hand, and all that, but sh_aughed at you, all the same. All this is not good enough for seventy-fiv_housand roubles, my dear boy. You are capable of honourable feelings still, and that's why I am talking to you so. Oh! DO take care what you are doing!
  • Don't you know yourself that it will end badly, Gania?"
  • So saying, and in a state of violent agitation, Varia left the room.
  • "There, they are all like that," said Gania, laughing, "just as if I do no_now all about it much better than they do."
  • He sat down with these words, evidently intending to prolong his visit.
  • "If you know it so well," said the prince a little timidly, "why do you choos_ll this worry for the sake of the seventy-five thousand, which, you confess, does not cover it?"
  • "I didn't mean that," said Gania; "but while we are upon the subject, let m_ear your opinion. Is all this worry worth seventy-five thousand or not?
  • "Certainly not."
  • "Of course! And it would be a disgrace to marry so, eh?"
  • "A great disgrace."
  • "Oh, well, then you may know that I shall certainly do it, now. I shal_ertainly marry her. I was not quite sure of myself before, but now I am.
  • Don't say a word: I know what you want to tell me—"
  • "No. I was only going to say that what surprises me most of all is you_xtraordinary confidence."
  • "How so? What in?"
  • "That Nastasia Philipovna will accept you, and that the question is as good a_ettled; and secondly, that even if she did, you would be able to pocket th_oney. Of course, I know very little about it, but that's my view. When a ma_arries for money it often happens that the wife keeps the money in her ow_ands."
  • "Of course, you don't know all; but, I assure you, you needn't be afraid, i_on't be like that in our case. There are circumstances," said Gania, rathe_xcitedly. "And as to her answer to me, there's no doubt about that. Wh_hould you suppose she will refuse me?"
  • "Oh, I only judge by what I see. Varvara Ardalionovna said just now—"
  • "Oh she—they don't know anything about it! Nastasia was only chaffing Rogojin.
  • I was alarmed at first, but I have thought better of it now; she was simpl_aughing at him. She looks on me as a fool because I show that I meant he_oney, and doesn't realize that there are other men who would deceive her i_ar worse fashion. I'm not going to pretend anything, and you'll see she'l_arry me, all right. If she likes to live quietly, so she shall; but if sh_ives me any of her nonsense, I shall leave her at once, but I shall keep th_oney. I'm not going to look a fool; that's the first thing, not to look _ool."
  • "But Nastasia Philipovna seems to me to be such a SENSIBLE woman, and, a_uch, why should she run blindly into this business? That's what puzzles m_o," said the prince.
  • "You don't know all, you see; I tell you there are things—and besides, I'_ure that she is persuaded that I love her to distraction, and I give you m_ord I have a strong suspicion that she loves me, too—in her own way, o_ourse. She thinks she will be able to make a sort of slave of me all my life; but I shall prepare a little surprise for her. I don't know whether I ought t_e confidential with you, prince; but, I assure you, you are the only decen_ellow I have come across. I have not spoken so sincerely as I am doing a_his moment for years. There are uncommonly few honest people about, prince; there isn't one honester than Ptitsin, he's the best of the lot. Are yo_aughing? You don't know, perhaps, that blackguards like honest people, an_eing one myself I like you. WHY am I a blackguard? Tell me honestly, now.
  • They all call me a blackguard because of her, and I have got into the way o_hinking myself one. That's what is so bad about the business."
  • "I for one shall never think you a blackguard again," said the prince. "_onfess I had a poor opinion of you at first, but I have been so joyfull_urprised about you just now; it's a good lesson for me. I shall never judg_gain without a thorough trial. I see now that you are riot only not _lackguard, but are not even quite spoiled. I see that you are quite a_rdinary man, not original in the least degree, but rather weak."
  • Gania laughed sarcastically, but said nothing. The prince, seeing that he di_ot quite like the last remark, blushed, and was silent too.
  • "Has my father asked you for money?" asked Gania, suddenly.
  • "No."
  • "Don't give it to him if he does. Fancy, he was a decent, respectable ma_nce! He was received in the best society; he was not always the liar he i_ow. Of course, wine is at the bottom of it all; but he is a good deal wors_han an innocent liar now. Do you know that he keeps a mistress? I can'_nderstand how mother is so long-suffering. Did he tell you the story of th_iege of Kars? Or perhaps the one about his grey horse that talked? He loves, to enlarge on these absurd histories." And Gania burst into a fit of laughter.
  • Suddenly he turned to the prince and asked: "Why are you looking at me lik_hat?"
  • "I am surprised to see you laugh in that way, like a child. You came to mak_riends with me again just now, and you said, 'I will kiss your hand, if yo_ike,' just as a child would have said it. And then, all at once you ar_alking of this mad project—of these seventy-five thousand roubles! It al_eems so absurd and impossible."
  • "Well, what conclusion have you reached?"
  • "That you are rushing madly into the undertaking, and that you would do wel_o think it over again. It is more than possible that Varvara Ardalionovna i_ight."
  • "Ah! now you begin to moralize! I know that I am only a child, very well,"
  • replied Gania impatiently. "That is proved by my having this conversation wit_ou. It is not for money only, prince, that I am rushing into this affair," h_ontinued, hardly master of his words, so closely had his vanity been touched.
  • "If I reckoned on that I should certainly be deceived, for I am still too wea_n mind and character. I am obeying a passion, an impulse perhaps, because _ave but one aim, one that overmasters all else. You imagine that once I am i_ossession of these seventy-five thousand roubles, I shall rush to buy _arriage… No, I shall go on wearing the old overcoat I have worn for thre_ears, and I shall give up my club. I shall follow the example of men who hav_ade their fortunes. When Ptitsin was seventeen he slept in the street, h_old pen-knives, and began with a copeck; now he has sixty thousand roubles, but to get them, what has he not done? Well, I shall be spared such a har_eginning, and shall start with a little capital. In fifteen years people wil_ay, 'Look, that's Ivolgin, the king of the Jews!' You say that I have n_riginality. Now mark this, prince—there is nothing so offensive to a man o_ur time and race than to be told that he is wanting in originality, that h_s weak in character, has no particular talent, and is, in short, an ordinar_erson. You have not even done me the honour of looking upon me as a rogue. D_ou know, I could have knocked you down for that just now! You wounded me mor_ruelly than Epanchin, who thinks me capable of selling him my wife! Observe, it was a perfectly gratuitous idea on his part, seeing there has never bee_ny discussion of it between us! This has exasperated me, and I am determine_o make a fortune! I will do it! Once I am rich, I shall be a genius, a_xtremely original man. One of the vilest and most hateful things connecte_ith money is that it can buy even talent; and will do so as long as the worl_asts. You will say that this is childish—or romantic. Well, that will be al_he better for me, but the thing shall be done. I will carry it through. H_aughs most, who laughs last. Why does Epanchin insult me? Simply because, socially, I am a nobody. However, enough for the present. Colia has put hi_ose in to tell us dinner is ready, twice. I'm dining out. I shall come an_alk to you now and then; you shall be comfortable enough with us. They ar_ure to make you one of the family. I think you and I will either be grea_riends or enemies. Look here now, supposing I had kissed your hand just now, as I offered to do in all sincerity, should I have hated you for i_fterwards?"
  • "Certainly, but not always. You would not have been able to keep it up, an_ould have ended by forgiving me," said the prince, after a pause fo_eflection, and with a pleasant smile.
  • "Oho, how careful one has to be with you, prince! Haven't you put a drop o_oison in that remark now, eh? By the way—ha, ha, ha!—I forgot to ask, was _ight in believing that you were a good deal struck yourself with Nastasi_hilipovna."
  • "Ye-yes."
  • "Are you in love with her?"
  • "N-no."
  • "And yet you flush up as red as a rosebud! Come—it's all right. I'm not goin_o laugh at you. Do you know she is a very virtuous woman? Believe it or not, as you like. You think she and Totski—not a bit of it, not a bit of it! No_or ever so long! Au revoir!"
  • Gania left the room in great good humour. The prince stayed behind, an_editated alone for a few minutes. At length, Colia popped his head in onc_ore.
  • "I don't want any dinner, thanks, Colia. I had too good a lunch at Genera_panchin's."
  • Colia came into the room and gave the prince a note; it was from the genera_nd was carefully sealed up. It was clear from Colia's face how painful it wa_o him to deliver the missive. The prince read it, rose, and took his hat.
  • "It's only a couple of yards," said Colia, blushing.
  • "He's sitting there over his bottle—and how they can give him credit, I canno_nderstand. Don't tell mother I brought you the note, prince; I have sworn no_o do it a thousand times, but I'm always so sorry for him. Don't stand o_eremony, give him some trifle, and let that end it."
  • "Come along, Colia, I want to see your father. I have an idea," said th_rince.