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Chapter 5

  • Mrs. General Epanchin was a proud woman by nature. What must her feelings hav_een when she heard that Prince Muishkin, the last of his and her line, ha_rrived in beggar's guise, a wretched idiot, a recipient of charity—all o_hich details the general gave out for greater effect! He was anxious to stea_er interest at the first swoop, so as to distract her thoughts from othe_atters nearer home.
  • Mrs. Epanchin was in the habit of holding herself very straight, and starin_efore her, without speaking, in moments of excitement.
  • She was a fine woman of the same age as her husband, with a slightly hooke_ose, a high, narrow forehead, thick hair turning a little grey, and a sallo_omplexion. Her eyes were grey and wore a very curious expression at times.
  • She believed them to be most effective—a belief that nothing could alter.
  • "What, receive him! Now, at once?" asked Mrs. Epanchin, gazing vaguely at he_usband as he stood fidgeting before her.
  • "Oh, dear me, I assure you there is no need to stand on ceremony with him,"
  • the general explained hastily. "He is quite a child, not to say a pathetic- looking creature. He has fits of some sort, and has just arrived fro_witzerland, straight from the station, dressed like a German and without _arthing in his pocket. I gave him twenty-five roubles to go on with, and a_oing to find him some easy place in one of the government offices. I shoul_ike you to ply him well with the victuals, my dears, for I should think h_ust be very hungry."
  • "You astonish me," said the lady, gazing as before. "Fits, and hungry too!
  • What sort of fits?"
  • "Oh, they don't come on frequently, besides, he's a regular child, though h_eems to be fairly educated. I should like you, if possible, my dears," th_eneral added, making slowly for the door, "to put him through his paces _it, and see what he is good for. I think you should be kind to him; it is _ood deed, you know—however, just as you like, of course—but he is a sort o_elation, remember, and I thought it might interest you to see the youn_ellow, seeing that this is so."
  • "Oh, of course, mamma, if we needn't stand on ceremony with him, we must giv_he poor fellow something to eat after his journey; especially as he has no_he least idea where to go to," said Alexandra, the eldest of the girls.
  • "Besides, he's quite a child; we can entertain him with a little hide-and- seek, in case of need," said Adelaida.
  • "Hide-and-seek? What do you mean?" inquired Mrs. Epanchin.
  • "Oh, do stop pretending, mamma," cried Aglaya, in vexation. "Send him up, father; mother allows."
  • The general rang the bell and gave orders that the prince should be shown in.
  • "Only on condition that he has a napkin under his chin at lunch, then," sai_rs. Epanchin, "and let Fedor, or Mavra, stand behind him while he eats. Is h_uiet when he has these fits? He doesn't show violence, does he?"
  • "On the contrary, he seems to be very well brought up. His manners ar_xcellent—but here he is himself. Here you are, prince—let me introduce you, the last of the Muishkins, a relative of your own, my dear, or at least of th_ame name. Receive him kindly, please. They'll bring in lunch directly, prince; you must stop and have some, but you must excuse me. I'm in a hurry, _ust be off—"
  • "We all know where YOU must be off to!" said Mrs. Epanchin, in a meanin_oice.
  • "Yes, yes—I must hurry away, I'm late! Look here, dears, let him write yo_omething in your albums; you've no idea what a wonderful caligraphist he is, wonderful talent! He has just written out 'Abbot Pafnute signed this' for me.
  • Well, au revoir!"
  • "Stop a minute; where are you off to? Who is this abbot?" cried Mrs. Epanchi_o her retreating husband in a tone of excited annoyance.
  • "Yes, my dear, it was an old abbot of that name-I must be off to see th_ount, he's waiting for me, I'm late—Good-bye! Au revoir, prince!"—and th_eneral bolted at full speed.
  • "Oh, yes—I know what count you're going to see!" remarked his wife in _utting manner, as she turned her angry eyes on the prince. "Now then, what'_ll this about?—What abbot—Who's Pafnute?" she added, brusquely.
  • "Mamma!" said Alexandra, shocked at her rudeness.
  • Aglaya stamped her foot.
  • "Nonsense! Let me alone!" said the angry mother. "Now then, prince, sit dow_ere, no, nearer, come nearer the light! I want to have a good look at you.
  • So, now then, who is this abbot?"
  • "Abbot Pafnute," said our friend, seriously and with deference.
  • "Pafnute, yes. And who was he?"
  • Mrs. Epanchin put these questions hastily and brusquely, and when the princ_nswered she nodded her head sagely at each word he said.
  • "The Abbot Pafnute lived in the fourteenth century," began the prince; "he wa_n charge of one of the monasteries on the Volga, about where our presen_ostroma government lies. He went to Oreol and helped in the great matter_hen going on in the religious world; he signed an edict there, and I hav_een a print of his signature; it struck me, so I copied it. When the genera_sked me, in his study, to write something for him, to show my handwriting, _rote 'The Abbot Pafnute signed this,' in the exact handwriting of the abbot.
  • The general liked it very much, and that's why he recalled it just now."
  • "Aglaya, make a note of 'Pafnute,' or we shall forget him. H'm! and where i_his signature?"
  • "I think it was left on the general's table."
  • "Let it be sent for at once!"
  • "Oh, I'll write you a new one in half a minute," said the prince, "if yo_ike!"
  • "Of course, mamma!" said Alexandra. "But let's have lunch now, we are al_ungry!"
  • "Yes; come along, prince," said the mother, "are you very hungry?"
  • "Yes; I must say that I am pretty hungry, thanks very much."
  • "H'm! I like to see that you know your manners; and you are by no means such _erson as the general thought fit to describe you. Come along; you sit here, opposite to me," she continued, "I wish to be able to see your face.
  • Alexandra, Adelaida, look after the prince! He doesn't seem so very ill, doe_e? I don't think he requires a napkin under his chin, after all; are yo_ccustomed to having one on, prince?"
  • "Formerly, when I was seven years old or so. I believe I wore one; but now _sually hold my napkin on my knee when I eat."
  • "Of course, of course! And about your fits?"
  • "Fits?" asked the prince, slightly surprised. "I very seldom have fit_owadays. I don't know how it may be here, though; they say the climate may b_ad for me."
  • "He talks very well, you know!" said Mrs. Epanchin, who still continued to no_t each word the prince spoke. "I really did not expect it at all; in fact, _uppose it was all stuff and nonsense on the general's part, as usual. Ea_way, prince, and tell me where you were born, and where you were brought up.
  • I wish to know all about you, you interest me very much!"
  • The prince expressed his thanks once more, and eating heartily the while, recommenced the narrative of his life in Switzerland, all of which we hav_eard before. Mrs. Epanchin became more and more pleased with her guest; th_irls, too, listened with considerable attention. In talking over the questio_f relationship it turned out that the prince was very well up in the matte_nd knew his pedigree off by heart. It was found that scarcely any connectio_xisted between himself and Mrs. Epanchin, but the talk, and the opportunit_f conversing about her family tree, gratified the latter exceedingly, and sh_ose from the table in great good humour.
  • "Let's all go to my boudoir," she said, "and they shall bring some coffee i_here. That's the room where we all assemble and busy ourselves as we lik_est," she explained. "Alexandra, my eldest, here, plays the piano, or read_r sews; Adelaida paints landscapes and portraits (but never finishes any); and Aglaya sits and does nothing. I don't work too much, either. Here we are, now; sit down, prince, near the fire and talk to us. I want to hear you relat_omething. I wish to make sure of you first and then tell my old friend, Princess Bielokonski, about you. I wish you to know all the good people and t_nterest them. Now then, begin!"
  • "Mamma, it's rather a strange order, that!" said Adelaida, who was fussin_mong her paints and paint-brushes at the easel. Aglaya and Alexandra ha_ettled themselves with folded hands on a sofa, evidently meaning to b_isteners. The prince felt that the general attention was concentrated upo_imself.
  • "I should refuse to say a word if I were ordered to tell a story like that!"
  • observed Aglaya.
  • "Why? what's there strange about it? He has a tongue. Why shouldn't he tell u_omething? I want to judge whether he is a good story-teller; anything yo_ike, prince-how you liked Switzerland, what was your first impression, anything. You'll see, he'll begin directly and tell us all about i_eautifully."
  • "The impression was forcible—" the prince began.
  • "There, you see, girls," said the impatient lady, "he has begun, you see."
  • "Well, then, LET him talk, mamma," said Alexandra. "This prince is a grea_umbug and by no means an idiot," she whispered to Aglaya.
  • "Oh, I saw that at once," replied the latter. "I don't think it at all nice o_im to play a part. What does he wish to gain by it, I wonder?"
  • "My first impression was a very strong one," repeated the prince. "When the_ook me away from Russia, I remember I passed through many German towns an_ooked out of the windows, but did not trouble so much as to ask question_bout them. This was after a long series of fits. I always used to fall into _ort of torpid condition after such a series, and lost my memory almos_ntirely; and though I was not altogether without reason at such times, yet _ad no logical power of thought. This would continue for three or four days, and then I would recover myself again. I remember my melancholy wa_ntolerable; I felt inclined to cry; I sat and wondered and wondere_ncomfortably; the consciousness that everything was strange weighed terribl_pon me; I could understand that it was all foreign and strange. I recollect _woke from this state for the first time at Basle, one evening; the bray of _onkey aroused me, a donkey in the town market. I saw the donkey and wa_xtremely pleased with it, and from that moment my head seemed to clear."
  • "A donkey? How strange! Yet it is not strange. Anyone of us might fall in lov_ith a donkey! It happened in mythological times," said Madame Epanchin, looking wrathfully at her daughters, who had begun to laugh. "Go on, prince."
  • "Since that evening I have been specially fond of donkeys. I began to as_uestions about them, for I had never seen one before; and I at once came t_he conclusion that this must be one of the most useful of animals—strong, willing, patient, cheap; and, thanks to this donkey, I began to like the whol_ountry I was travelling through; and my melancholy passed away."
  • "All this is very strange and interesting," said Mrs. Epanchin. "Now let'_eave the donkey and go on to other matters. What are you laughing at, Aglaya?
  • and you too, Adelaida? The prince told us his experiences very cleverly; h_aw the donkey himself, and what have you ever seen? YOU have never bee_broad."
  • "I have seen a donkey though, mamma!" said Aglaya.
  • "And I've heard one!" said Adelaida. All three of the girls laughed out loud, and the prince laughed with them.
  • "Well, it's too bad of you," said mamma. "You must forgive them, prince; the_re good girls. I am very fond of them, though I often have to be scoldin_hem; they are all as silly and mad as march hares."
  • "Oh, why shouldn't they laugh?" said the prince. "I shouldn't have let th_hance go by in their place, I know. But I stick up for the donkey, all th_ame; he's a patient, good-natured fellow."
  • "Are you a patient man, prince? I ask out of curiosity," said Mrs. Epanchin.
  • All laughed again.
  • "Oh, that wretched donkey again, I see!" cried the lady. "I assure you, prince, I was not guilty of the least—"
  • "Insinuation? Oh! I assure you, I take your word for it." And the princ_ontinued laughing merrily.
  • "I must say it's very nice of you to laugh. I see you really are a kind- hearted fellow," said Mrs. Epanchin.
  • "I'm not always kind, though."
  • "I am kind myself, and ALWAYS kind too, if you please!" she retorted, unexpectedly; "and that is my chief fault, for one ought not to be alway_ind. I am often angry with these girls and their father; but the worst of i_s, I am always kindest when I am cross. I was very angry just before yo_ame, and Aglaya there read me a lesson—thanks, Aglaya, dear—come and kis_e—there—that's enough" she added, as Aglaya came forward and kissed her lip_nd then her hand. "Now then, go on, prince. Perhaps you can think o_omething more exciting than about the donkey, eh?"
  • "I must say, again, I can't understand how you can expect anyone to tell yo_tories straight away, so," said Adelaida. "I know I never could!"
  • "Yes, but the prince can, because he is clever—cleverer than you are by ten o_wenty times, if you like. There, that's so, prince; and seriously, let's dro_he donkey now—what else did you see abroad, besides the donkey?"
  • "Yes, but the prince told us about the donkey very cleverly, all the same,"
  • said Alexandra. "I have always been most interested to hear how people go ma_nd get well again, and that sort of thing. Especially when it happen_uddenly."
  • "Quite so, quite so!" cried Mrs. Epanchin, delighted. "I see you CAN b_ensible now and then, Alexandra. You were speaking of Switzerland, prince?"
  • "Yes. We came to Lucerne, and I was taken out in a boat. I felt how lovely i_as, but the loveliness weighed upon me somehow or other, and made me fee_elancholy."
  • "Why?" asked Alexandra.
  • "I don't know; I always feel like that when I look at the beauties of natur_or the first time; but then, I was ill at that time, of course!"
  • "Oh, but I should like to see it!" said Adelaida; "and I don't know WHEN w_hall ever go abroad. I've been two years looking out for a good subject for _icture. I've done all I know. 'The North and South I know by heart,' as ou_oet observes. Do help me to a subject, prince."
  • "Oh, but I know nothing about painting. It seems to me one only has to look, and paint what one sees."
  • "But I don't know HOW to see!"
  • "Nonsense, what rubbish you talk!" the mother struck in. "Not know how to see!
  • Open your eyes and look! If you can't see here, you won't see abroad either.
  • Tell us what you saw yourself, prince!"
  • "Yes, that's better," said Adelaida; "the prince learned to see abroad."
  • "Oh, I hardly know! You see, I only went to restore my health. I don't kno_hether I learned to see, exactly. I was very happy, however, nearly all th_ime."
  • "Happy! you can be happy?" cried Aglaya. "Then how can you say you did no_earn to see? I should think you could teach us to see!"
  • "Oh! DO teach us," laughed Adelaida.
  • "Oh! I can't do that," said the prince, laughing too. "I lived almost all th_hile in one little Swiss village; what can I teach you? At first I was onl_ust not absolutely dull; then my health began to improve—then every da_ecame dearer and more precious to me, and the longer I stayed, the deare_ecame the time to me; so much so that I could not help observing it; but wh_his was so, it would be difficult to say."
  • "So that you didn't care to go away anywhere else?"
  • "Well, at first I did; I was restless; I didn't know however I should manag_o support life—you know there are such moments, especially in solitude. Ther_as a waterfall near us, such a lovely thin streak of water, like a thread bu_hite and moving. It fell from a great height, but it looked quite low, and i_as half a mile away, though it did not seem fifty paces. I loved to listen t_t at night, but it was then that I became so restless. Sometimes I went an_limbed the mountain and stood there in the midst of the tall pines, all alon_n the terrible silence, with our little village in the distance, and the sk_o blue, and the sun so bright, and an old ruined castle on the mountain-side, far away. I used to watch the line where earth and sky met, and longed to g_nd seek there the key of all mysteries, thinking that I might find there _ew life, perhaps some great city where life should be grander and richer—an_hen it struck me that life may be grand enough even in a prison."
  • "I read that last most praiseworthy thought in my manual, when I was twelv_ears old," said Aglaya.
  • "All this is pure philosophy," said Adelaida. "You are a philosopher, prince, and have come here to instruct us in your views."
  • "Perhaps you are right," said the prince, smiling. "I think I am _hilosopher, perhaps, and who knows, perhaps I do wish to teach my views o_hings to those I meet with?"
  • "Your philosophy is rather like that of an old woman we know, who is rich an_et does nothing but try how little she can spend. She talks of nothing bu_oney all day. Your great philosophical idea of a grand life in a prison an_our four happy years in that Swiss village are like this, rather," sai_glaya.
  • "As to life in a prison, of course there may be two opinions," said th_rince. "I once heard the story of a man who lived twelve years in a prison—_eard it from the man himself. He was one of the persons under treatment wit_y professor; he had fits, and attacks of melancholy, then he would weep, an_nce he tried to commit suicide. HIS life in prison was sad enough; his onl_cquaintances were spiders and a tree that grew outside his grating-but _hink I had better tell you of another man I met last year. There was a ver_trange feature in this case, strange because of its extremely rar_ccurrence. This man had once been brought to the scaffold in company wit_everal others, and had had the sentence of death by shooting passed upon hi_or some political crime. Twenty minutes later he had been reprieved and som_ther punishment substituted; but the interval between the two sentences, twenty minutes, or at least a quarter of an hour, had been passed in th_ertainty that within a few minutes he must die. I was very anxious to hea_im speak of his impressions during that dreadful time, and I several time_nquired of him as to what he thought and felt. He remembered everything wit_he most accurate and extraordinary distinctness, and declared that he woul_ever forget a single iota of the experience.
  • "About twenty paces from the scaffold, where he had stood to hear th_entence, were three posts, fixed in the ground, to which to fasten th_riminals (of whom there were several). The first three criminals were take_o the posts, dressed in long white tunics, with white caps drawn over thei_aces, so that they could not see the rifles pointed at them. Then a group o_oldiers took their stand opposite to each post. My friend was the eighth o_he list, and therefore he would have been among the third lot to go up. _riest went about among them with a cross: and there was about five minutes o_ime left for him to live.
  • "He said that those five minutes seemed to him to be a most interminabl_eriod, an enormous wealth of time; he seemed to be living, in these minutes, so many lives that there was no need as yet to think of that last moment, s_hat he made several arrangements, dividing up the time into portions—one fo_aying farewell to his companions, two minutes for that; then a couple mor_or thinking over his own life and career and all about himself; and anothe_inute for a last look around. He remembered having divided his time like thi_uite well. While saying good-bye to his friends he recollected asking one o_hem some very usual everyday question, and being much interested in th_nswer. Then having bade farewell, he embarked upon those two minutes which h_ad allotted to looking into himself; he knew beforehand what he was going t_hink about. He wished to put it to himself as quickly and clearly a_ossible, that here was he, a living, thinking man, and that in three minute_e would be nobody; or if somebody or something, then what and where? H_hought he would decide this question once for all in these last thre_inutes. A little way off there stood a church, and its gilded spire glittere_n the sun. He remembered staring stubbornly at this spire, and at the rays o_ight sparkling from it. He could not tear his eyes from these rays of light; he got the idea that these rays were his new nature, and that in three minute_e would become one of them, amalgamated somehow with them.
  • "The repugnance to what must ensue almost immediately, and the uncertainty, were dreadful, he said; but worst of all was the idea, 'What should I do if _ere not to die now? What if I were to return to life again? What an eternit_f days, and all mine! How I should grudge and count up every minute of it, s_s to waste not a single instant!' He said that this thought weighed so upo_im and became such a terrible burden upon his brain that he could not bea_t, and wished they would shoot him quickly and have done with it."
  • The prince paused and all waited, expecting him to go on again and finish th_tory.
  • "Is that all?" asked Aglaya.
  • "All? Yes," said the prince, emerging from a momentary reverie.
  • "And why did you tell us this?"
  • "Oh, I happened to recall it, that's all! It fitted into the conversation—"
  • "You probably wish to deduce, prince," said Alexandra, "that moments of tim_annot be reckoned by money value, and that sometimes five minutes are wort_riceless treasures. All this is very praiseworthy; but may I ask about thi_riend of yours, who told you the terrible experience of his life? He wa_eprieved, you say; in other words, they did restore to him that 'eternity o_ays.' What did he do with these riches of time? Did he keep careful accoun_f his minutes?"
  • "Oh no, he didn't! I asked him myself. He said that he had not lived a bit a_e had intended, and had wasted many, and many a minute."
  • "Very well, then there's an experiment, and the thing is proved; one canno_ive and count each moment; say what you like, but one CANNOT."
  • "That is true," said the prince, "I have thought so myself. And yet, wh_houldn't one do it?"
  • "You think, then, that you could live more wisely than other people?" sai_glaya.
  • "I have had that idea."
  • "And you have it still?"
  • "Yes—I have it still," the prince replied.
  • He had contemplated Aglaya until now, with a pleasant though rather timi_mile, but as the last words fell from his lips he began to laugh, and looke_t her merrily.
  • "You are not very modest!" said she.
  • "But how brave you are!" said he. "You are laughing, and I—that man's tal_mpressed me so much, that I dreamt of it afterwards; yes, I dreamt of thos_ive minutes… "
  • He looked at his listeners again with that same serious, searching expression.
  • "You are not angry with me?" he asked suddenly, and with a kind of nervou_urry, although he looked them straight in the face.
  • "Why should we be angry?" they cried.
  • "Only because I seem to be giving you a lecture, all the time!"
  • At this they laughed heartily.
  • "Please don't be angry with me," continued the prince. "I know very well tha_ have seen less of life than other people, and have less knowledge of it. _ust appear to speak strangely sometimes… "
  • He said the last words nervously.
  • "You say you have been happy, and that proves you have lived, not less, bu_ore than other people. Why make all these excuses?" interrupted Aglaya in _ocking tone of voice. "Besides, you need not mind about lecturing us; yo_ave nothing to boast of. With your quietism, one could live happily for _undred years at least. One might show you the execution of a felon, or sho_ou one's little finger. You could draw a moral from either, and be quit_atisfied. That sort of existence is easy enough."
  • "I can't understand why you always fly into a temper," said Mrs. Epanchin, wh_ad been listening to the conversation and examining the faces of the speaker_n turn. "I do not understand what you mean. What has your little finger to d_ith it? The prince talks well, though he is not amusing. He began all right, but now he seems sad."
  • "Never mind, mamma! Prince, I wish you had seen an execution," said Aglaya. "_hould like to ask you a question about that, if you had."
  • "I have seen an execution," said the prince.
  • "You have!" cried Aglaya. "I might have guessed it. That's a fitting crown t_he rest of the story. If you have seen an execution, how can you say yo_ived happily all the while?"
  • "But is there capital punishment where you were?" asked Adelaida.
  • "I saw it at Lyons. Schneider took us there, and as soon as we arrived we cam_n for that."
  • "Well, and did you like it very much? Was it very edifying and instructive?"
  • asked Aglaya.
  • "No, I didn't like it at all, and was ill after seeing it; but I confess _tared as though my eyes were fixed to the sight. I could not tear them away."
  • "I, too, should have been unable to tear my eyes away," said Aglaya.
  • "They do not at all approve of women going to see an execution there. Th_omen who do go are condemned for it afterwards in the newspapers."
  • "That is, by contending that it is not a sight for women they admit that it i_ sight for men. I congratulate them on the deduction. I suppose you quit_gree with them, prince?"
  • "Tell us about the execution," put in Adelaida.
  • "I would much rather not, just now," said the prince, a little disturbed an_rowning slightly.
  • "You don't seem to want to tell us," said Aglaya, with a mocking air.
  • "No,—the thing is, I was telling all about the execution a little while ago, and—"
  • "Whom did you tell about it?"
  • "The man-servant, while I was waiting to see the general."
  • "Our man-servant?" exclaimed several voices at once.
  • "Yes, the one who waits in the entrance hall, a greyish, red-faced man—"
  • "The prince is clearly a democrat," remarked Aglaya.
  • "Well, if you could tell Aleksey about it, surely you can tell us too."
  • "I do so want to hear about it," repeated Adelaida.
  • "Just now, I confess," began the prince, with more animation, "when you aske_e for a subject for a picture, I confess I had serious thoughts of giving yo_ne. I thought of asking you to draw the face of a criminal, one minute befor_he fall of the guillotine, while the wretched man is still standing on th_caffold, preparatory to placing his neck on the block."
  • "What, his face? only his face?" asked Adelaida. "That would be a strang_ubject indeed. And what sort of a picture would that make?"
  • "Oh, why not?" the prince insisted, with some warmth. "When I was in Basle _aw a picture very much in that style—I should like to tell you about it; _ill some time or other; it struck me very forcibly."
  • "Oh, you shall tell us about the Basle picture another time; now we must hav_ll about the execution," said Adelaida. "Tell us about that face as; i_ppeared to your imagination-how should it be drawn?—just the face alone, d_ou mean?"
  • "It was just a minute before the execution," began the prince, readily, carried away by the recollection and evidently forgetting everything else in _oment; "just at the instant when he stepped off the ladder on to th_caffold. He happened to look in my direction: I saw his eyes and understoo_ll, at once—but how am I to describe it? I do so wish you or somebody els_ould draw it, you, if possible. I thought at the time what a picture it woul_ake. You must imagine all that went before, of course, all—all. He had live_n the prison for some time and had not expected that the execution would tak_lace for at least a week yet—he had counted on all the formalities and so o_aking time; but it so happened that his papers had been got ready quickly. A_ive o'clock in the morning he was asleep—it was October, and at five in th_orning it was cold and dark. The governor of the prison comes in on tip-to_nd touches the sleeping man's shoulder gently. He starts up. 'What is it?' h_ays. 'The execution is fixed for ten o'clock.' He was only just awake, an_ould not believe at first, but began to argue that his papers would not b_ut for a week, and so on. When he was wide awake and realized the truth, h_ecame very silent and argued no more—so they say; but after a bit he said:
  • 'It comes very hard on one so suddenly' and then he was silent again and sai_othing.
  • "The three or four hours went by, of course, in necessary preparations—th_riest, breakfast, (coffee, meat, and some wine they gave him; doesn't it see_idiculous?) And yet I believe these people give them a good breakfast out o_ure kindness of heart, and believe that they are doing a good action. Then h_s dressed, and then begins the procession through the town to the scaffold. _hink he, too, must feel that he has an age to live still while they cart hi_long. Probably he thought, on the way, 'Oh, I have a long, long time yet.
  • Three streets of life yet! When we've passed this street there'll be tha_ther one; and then that one where the baker's shop is on the right; and whe_hall we get there? It's ages, ages!' Around him are crowds shouting, yelling—ten thousand faces, twenty thousand eyes. All this has to be endured, and especially the thought: 'Here are ten thousand men, and not one of them i_oing to be executed, and yet I am to die.' Well, all that is preparatory.
  • "At the scaffold there is a ladder, and just there he burst into tears—an_his was a strong man, and a terribly wicked one, they say! There was a pries_ith him the whole time, talking; even in the cart as they drove along, h_alked and talked. Probably the other heard nothing; he would begin to liste_ow and then, and at the third word or so he had forgotten all about it.
  • "At last he began to mount the steps; his legs were tied, so that he had t_ake very small steps. The priest, who seemed to be a wise man, had stoppe_alking now, and only held the cross for the wretched fellow to kiss. At th_oot of the ladder he had been pale enough; but when he set foot on th_caffold at the top, his face suddenly became the colour of paper, positivel_ike 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 i_oments of terrible fear, when one does not lose one's wits, but is absolutel_owerless to move? If some dreadful thing were suddenly to happen; if a hous_ere just about to fall on one;—don't you know how one would long to sit dow_nd shut one's eyes and wait, and wait? Well, when this terrible feeling cam_ver him, the priest quickly pressed the cross to his lips, without a word—_ittle silver cross it was-and he kept on pressing it to the man's lips ever_econd. And whenever the cross touched his lips, the eyes would open for _oment, 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 o_ts being useful to him afterwards, though he could hardly have had an_onnected religious thoughts at the time. And so up to the very block.
  • "How strange that criminals seldom swoon at such a moment! On the contrary, the brain is especially active, and works incessantly—probably hard, hard, hard—like an engine at full pressure. I imagine that various thoughts mus_eat loud and fast through his head—all unfinished ones, and strange, funn_houghts, very likely!—like this, for instance: 'That man is looking at me, and he has a wart on his forehead! and the executioner has burst one of hi_uttons, and the lowest one is all rusty!' And meanwhile he notices an_emembers everything. There is one point that cannot be forgotten, round whic_verything else dances and turns about; and because of this point he canno_aint, and this lasts until the very final quarter of a second, when th_retched neck is on the block and the victim listens and waits an_NOWS—that's the point, he KNOWS that he is just NOW about to die, and listen_or the rasp of the iron over his head. If I lay there, I should certainl_isten for that grating sound, and hear it, too! There would probably be bu_he tenth part of an instant left to hear it in, but one would certainly hea_t. And imagine, some people declare that when the head flies off it i_ONSCIOUS of having flown off! Just imagine what a thing to realize! Fancy i_onsciousness were to last for even five seconds!
  • "Draw the scaffold so that only the top step of the ladder comes in clearly.
  • The criminal must be just stepping on to it, his face as white as note-paper.
  • The priest is holding the cross to his blue lips, and the criminal kisses it, and knows and sees and understands everything. The cross and the head—there'_our picture; the priest and the executioner, with his two assistants, and _ew heads and eyes below. Those might come in as subordinate accessories—_ort of mist. There's a picture for you." The prince paused, and looke_round.
  • "Certainly that isn't much like quietism," murmured Alexandra, half t_erself.
  • "Now tell us about your love affairs," said Adelaida, after a moment's pause.
  • The prince gazed at her in amazement.
  • "You know," Adelaida continued, "you owe us a description of the Basl_icture; but first I wish to hear how you fell in love. Don't deny the fact, for you did, of course. Besides, you stop philosophizing when you are tellin_bout anything."
  • "Why are you ashamed of your stories the moment after you have told them?"
  • asked Aglaya, suddenly.
  • "How silly you are!" said Mrs. Epanchin, looking indignantly towards the las_peaker.
  • "Yes, that wasn't a clever remark," said Alexandra.
  • "Don't listen to her, prince," said Mrs. Epanchin; "she says that sort o_hing out of mischief. Don't think anything of their nonsense, it mean_othing. They love to chaff, but they like you. I can see it in their faces—_now their faces."
  • "I know their faces, too," said the prince, with a peculiar stress on th_ords.
  • "How so?" asked Adelaida, with curiosity.
  • "What do YOU know about our faces?" exclaimed the other two, in chorus.
  • But the prince was silent and serious. All awaited his reply.
  • "I'll tell you afterwards," he said quietly.
  • "Ah, you want to arouse our curiosity!" said Aglaya. "And how terribly solem_ou are about it!"
  • "Very well," interrupted Adelaida, "then if you can read faces so well, yo_ust have been in love. Come now; I've guessed—let's have the secret!"
  • "I have not been in love," said the prince, as quietly and seriously a_efore. "I have been happy in another way."
  • "How, how?"
  • "Well, I'll tell you," said the prince, apparently in a deep reverie.