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Chapter 9

  • ARRIVED at her house, Lizabetha Prokofievna paused in the first room. Sh_ould go no farther, and subsided on to a couch quite exhausted; too feeble t_emember so much as to ask the prince to take a seat. This was a larg_eception-room, full of flowers, and with a glass door leading into th_arden.
  • Alexandra and Adelaida came in almost immediately, and looked inquiringly a_he prince and their mother.
  • The girls generally rose at about nine in the morning in the country; Aglaya, of late, had been in the habit of getting up rather earlier and having a wal_n the garden, but not at seven o'clock; about eight or a little later was he_sual time.
  • Lizabetha Prokofievna, who really had not slept all night, rose at about eigh_n purpose to meet Aglaya in the garden and walk with her; but she could no_ind her either in the garden or in her own room.
  • This agitated the old lady considerably; and she awoke her other daughters.
  • Next, she learned from the maid that Aglaya had gone into the park befor_even o'clock. The sisters made a joke of Aglaya's last freak, and told thei_other that if she went into the park to look for her, Aglaya would probabl_e very angry with her, and that she was pretty sure to be sitting reading o_he green bench that she had talked of two or three days since, and abou_hich she had nearly quarrelled with Prince S., who did not see anythin_articularly lovely in it.
  • Arrived at the rendezvous of the prince and her daughter, and hearing th_trange words of the latter, Lizabetha Prokofievna had been dreadfull_larmed, for many reasons. However, now that she had dragged the prince hom_ith her, she began to feel a little frightened at what she had undertaken.
  • Why should not Aglaya meet the prince in the park and have a talk with him, even if such a meeting should be by appointment?
  • "Don't suppose, prince," she began, bracing herself up for the effort, "don'_uppose that I have brought you here to ask questions. After last night, _ssure you, I am not so exceedingly anxious to see you at all; I could hav_ostponed the pleasure for a long while." She paused.
  • "But at the same time you would be very glad to know how I happened to mee_glaya Ivanovna this morning?" The prince finished her speech for her with th_tmost composure.
  • "Well, what then? Supposing I should like to know?" cried Lizabeth_rokofievna, blushing. "I'm sure I am not afraid of plain speaking. I'm no_ffending anyone, and I never wish to, and—"
  • "Pardon me, it is no offence to wish to know this; you are her mother. We me_t the green bench this morning, punctually at seven o'clock,—according to a_greement made by Aglaya Ivanovna with myself yesterday. She said that sh_ished to see me and speak to me about something important. We met an_onversed for an hour about matters concerning Aglaya Ivanovna herself, an_hat's all."
  • "Of course it is all, my friend. I don't doubt you for a moment," sai_izabetha Prokofievna with dignity.
  • "Well done, prince, capital!" cried Aglaya, who entered the room at thi_oment. "Thank you for assuming that I would not demean myself with lies.
  • Come, is that enough, mamma, or do you intend to put any more questions?"
  • "You know I have never needed to blush before you, up to this day, thoug_erhaps you would have been glad enough to make me," said Lizabeth_rokofievna,—with majesty. "Good-bye, prince; forgive me for bothering you. _rust you will rest assured of my unalterable esteem for you."
  • The prince made his bows and retired at once. Alexandra and Adelaida smile_nd whispered to each other, while Lizabetha Prokofievna glared severely a_hem. "We are only laughing at the prince's beautiful bows, mamma," sai_delaida. "Sometimes he bows just like a meal-sack, but to-day he wa_ike—like Evgenie Pavlovitch!"
  • "It is the HEART which is the best teacher of refinement and dignity, not th_ancing-master," said her mother, sententiously, and departed upstairs to he_wn room, not so much as glancing at Aglaya.
  • When the prince reached home, about nine o'clock, he found Vera Lebedeff an_he maid on the verandah. They were both busy trying to tidy up the plac_fter last night's disorderly party.
  • "Thank goodness, we've just managed to finish it before you came in!" sai_era, joyfully.
  • "Good-morning! My head whirls so; I didn't sleep all night. I should like t_ave a nap now."
  • "Here, on the verandah? Very well, I'll tell them all not to come and wak_ou. Papa has gone out somewhere."
  • The servant left the room. Vera was about to follow her, but returned an_pproached the prince with a preoccupied air.
  • "Prince!" she said, "have pity on that poor boy; don't turn him out today."
  • "Not for the world; he shall do just as he likes."
  • "He won't do any harm now; and—and don't be too severe with him."
  • "Oh dear no! Why—"
  • "And—and you won't LAUGH at him? That's the chief thing."
  • "Oh no! Never."
  • "How foolish I am to speak of such things to a man like you," said Vera, blushing. "Though you  _do_  look tired," she added, half turning away, "you_yes are so splendid at this moment—so full of happiness."
  • "Really?" asked the prince, gleefully, and he laughed in delight.
  • But Vera, simple-minded little girl that she was (just like a boy, in fact), here became dreadfully confused, of a sudden, and ran hastily out of the room, laughing and blushing.
  • "What a dear little thing she is," thought the prince, and immediately forgo_ll about her.
  • He walked to the far end of the verandah, where the sofa stood, with a tabl_n front of it. Here he sat down and covered his face with his hands, and s_emained for ten minutes. Suddenly he put his hand in his coat-pocket an_urriedly produced three letters.
  • But the door opened again, and out came Colia.
  • The prince actually felt glad that he had been interrupted,—and might retur_he letters to his pocket. He was glad of the respite.
  • "Well," said Colia, plunging in medias res, as he always did, "here's a go!
  • What do you think of Hippolyte now? Don't respect him any longer, eh?"
  • "Why not? But look here, Colia, I'm tired; besides, the subject is to_elancholy to begin upon again. How is he, though?"
  • "Asleep—he'll sleep for a couple of hours yet. I quite understand—you haven'_lept—you walked about the park, I know. Agitation—excitement—all that sort o_hing—quite natural, too!"
  • "How do you know I walked in the park and didn't sleep at home?"
  • "Vera just told me. She tried to persuade me not to come, but I couldn't hel_yself, just for one minute. I have been having my turn at the bedside for th_ast two hours; Kostia Lebedeff is there now. Burdovsky has gone. Now, li_own, prince, make yourself comfortable, and sleep well! I'm awfull_mpressed, you know."
  • "Naturally, all this—"
  • "No, no, I mean with the 'explanation,' especially that part of it where h_alks about Providence and a future life. There is a gigantic thought there."
  • The prince gazed affectionately at Colia, who, of course, had come in solel_or the purpose of talking about this "gigantic thought."
  • "But it is not any one particular thought, only; it is the genera_ircumstances of the case. If Voltaire had written this now, or Rousseau, _hould have just read it and thought it remarkable, but should not have bee_o IMPRESSED by it. But a man who knows for certain that he has but te_inutes to live and can talk like that—why—it's—it's PRIDE, that is! It i_eally a most extraordinary, exalted assertion of personal dignity, it's—it'_EFIANT! What a GIGANTIC strength of will, eh? And to accuse a fellow lik_hat of not putting in the cap on purpose; it's base and mean! You know h_eceived us last night, the cunning rascal. I never packed his bag for him, and I never saw his pistol. He packed it himself. But he put me off my guar_ike that, you see. Vera says you are going to let him stay on; I swea_here's no danger, especially as we are always with him."
  • "Who was by him at night?"
  • "I, and Burdovsky, and Kostia Lebedeff. Keller stayed a little while, and the_ent over to Lebedeff's to sleep. Ferdishenko slept at Lebedeff's, too; but h_ent away at seven o'clock. My father is always at Lebedeff's; but he has gon_ut just now. I dare say Lebedeff will be coming in here directly; he has bee_ooking for you; I don't know what he wants. Shall we let him in or not, i_ou are asleep? I'm going to have a nap, too. By-the-by, such a curious thin_appened. Burdovsky woke me at seven, and I met my father just outside th_oom, so drunk, he didn't even know me. He stood before me like a log, an_hen he recovered himself, asked hurriedly how Hippolyte was. 'Yes,' he said, when I told him, 'that's all very well, but I REALLY came to warn you that yo_ust be very careful what you say before Ferdishenko.' Do you follow me, prince?"
  • "Yes. Is it really so? However, it's all the same to us, of course."
  • "Of course it is; we are not a secret society; and that being the case, it i_ll the more curious that the general should have been on his way to wake m_p in order to tell me this."
  • "Ferdishenko has gone, you say?"
  • "Yes, he went at seven o'clock. He came into the room on his way out; I wa_atching just then. He said he was going to spend 'the rest of the night' a_ilkin's; there's a tipsy fellow, a friend of his, of that name. Well, I'_ff. Oh, here's Lebedeff himself! The prince wants to go to sleep, Lukia_imofeyovitch, so you may just go away again."
  • "One moment, my dear prince, just one. I must absolutely speak to you abou_omething which is most grave," said Lebedeff, mysteriously and solemnly, entering the room with a bow and looking extremely important. He had but jus_eturned, and carried his hat in his hand. He looked preoccupied and mos_nusually dignified.
  • The prince begged him to take a chair.
  • "I hear you have called twice; I suppose you are still worried abou_esterday's affair."
  • "What, about that boy, you mean? Oh dear no, yesterday my ideas were _ittle—well—mixed. Today, I assure you, I shall not oppose in the slightes_egree any suggestions it may please you to make."
  • "What's up with you this morning, Lebedeff? You look so important an_ignified, and you choose your words so carefully," said the prince, smiling.
  • "Nicolai Ardalionovitch!" said Lebedeff, in a most amiable tone of voice, addressing the boy. "As I have a communication to make to the prince whic_oncerns only myself—"
  • "Of course, of course, not my affair. All right," said Colia, and away h_ent.
  • "I love that boy for his perception," said Lebedeff, looking after him. "M_ear prince," he continued, "I have had a terrible misfortune, either las_ight or early this morning. I cannot tell the exact time."
  • "What is it?"
  • "I have lost four hundred roubles out of my side pocket! They're gone!" sai_ebedeff, with a sour smile.
  • "You've lost four hundred roubles? Oh! I'm sorry for that."
  • "Yes, it is serious for a poor man who lives by his toil."
  • "Of course, of course! How was it?"
  • "Oh, the wine is to blame, of course. I confess to you, prince, as I would t_rovidence itself. Yesterday I received four hundred roubles from a debtor a_bout five in the afternoon, and came down here by train. I had my purse in m_ocket. When I changed, I put the money into the pocket of my plain clothes, intending to keep it by me, as I expected to have an applicant for it in th_vening."
  • "It's true then, Lebedeff, that you advertise to lend money on gold or silve_rticles?"
  • "Yes, through an agent. My own name doesn't appear. I have a large family, yo_ee, and at a small percentage—"
  • "Quite so, quite so. I only asked for information—excuse the question. Go on."
  • "Well, meanwhile that sick boy was brought here, and those guests came in, an_e had tea, and—well, we made merry—to my ruin! Hearing of your birthda_fterwards, and excited with the circumstances of the evening, I ran upstair_nd changed my plain clothes once more for my uniform [Civil Service clerks i_ussia wear uniform.]—you must have noticed I had my uniform on all th_vening? Well, I forgot the money in the pocket of my old coat—you know whe_od will ruin a man he first of all bereaves him of his senses—and it was onl_his morning at half-past seven that I woke up and grabbed at my coat pocket, first thing. The pocket was empty—the purse gone, and not a trace to b_ound!"
  • "Dear me! This is very unpleasant!"
  • "Unpleasant! Indeed it is. You have found a very appropriate expression," sai_ebedeff, politely, but with sarcasm.
  • "But what's to be done? It's a serious matter," said the prince, thoughtfully.
  • "Don't you think you may have dropped it out of your pocket whils_ntoxicated?"
  • "Certainly. Anything is possible when one is intoxicated, as you neatl_xpress it, prince. But consider—if I, intoxicated or not, dropped an objec_ut of my pocket on to the ground, that object ought to remain on the ground.
  • Where is the object, then?"
  • "Didn't you put it away in some drawer, perhaps?"
  • "I've looked everywhere, and turned out everything."
  • "I confess this disturbs me a good deal. Someone must have picked it up, then."
  • "Or taken it out of my pocket—two alternatives."
  • "It is very distressing, because WHO—? That's the question!"
  • "Most undoubtedly, excellent prince, you have hit it—that is the ver_uestion. How wonderfully you express the exact situation in a few words!"
  • "Come, come, Lebedeff, no sarcasm! It's a serious—"
  • "Sarcasm!" cried Lebedeff, wringing his hands. "All right, all right, I'm no_ngry. I'm only put out about this. Whom do you suspect?"
  • "That is a very difficult and complicated question. I cannot suspect th_ervant, for she was in the kitchen the whole evening, nor do I suspect any o_y children."
  • "I should think not. Go on."
  • "Then it must be one of the guests."
  • "Is such a thing possible?"
  • "Absolutely and utterly impossible—and yet, so it must be. But one thing I a_ure of, if it be a theft, it was committed, not in the evening when we wer_ll together, but either at night or early in the morning; therefore, by on_f those who slept here. Burdovsky and Colia I except, of course. They did no_ven come into my room."
  • "Yes, or even if they had! But who did sleep with you?"
  • "Four of us, including myself, in two rooms. The general, myself, Keller, an_erdishenko. One of us four it must have been. I don't suspect myself, thoug_uch cases have been known."
  • "Oh!  _do_  go on, Lebedeff! Don't drag it out so."
  • "Well, there are three left, then—Keller firstly. He is a drunkard to begi_ith, and a liberal (in the sense of other people's pockets), otherwise wit_ore of the ancient knight about him than of the modern liberal. He was wit_he sick man at first, but came over afterwards because there was no place t_ie down in the room and the floor was so hard."
  • "You suspect him?"
  • "I DID suspect him. When I woke up at half-past seven and tore my hair i_espair for my loss and carelessness, I awoke the general, who was sleepin_he sleep of innocence near me. Taking into consideration the sudde_isappearance of Ferdishenko, which was suspicious in itself, we decided t_earch Keller, who was lying there sleeping like a top. Well, we searched hi_lothes thoroughly, and not a farthing did we find; in fact, his pockets al_ad holes in them. We found a dirty handkerchief, and a love-letter from som_cullery-maid. The general decided that he was innocent. We awoke him fo_urther inquiries, and had the greatest difficulty in making him understan_hat was up. He opened his mouth and stared—he looked so stupid and s_bsurdly innocent. It wasn't Keller."
  • "Oh, I'm so glad!" said the prince, joyfully. "I was so afraid."
  • "Afraid! Then you had some grounds for supposing he might be the culprit?"
  • said Lebedeff, frowning.
  • "Oh no—not a bit! It was foolish of me to say I was afraid! Don't repeat i_lease, Lebedeff, don't tell anyone I said that!"
  • "My dear prince! your words lie in the lowest depth of my heart—it is thei_omb!" said Lebedeff, solemnly, pressing his hat to the region of his heart.
  • "Thanks; very well. Then I suppose it's Ferdishenko; that is, I mean, yo_uspect Ferdishenko?"
  • "Whom else?" said Lebedeff, softly, gazing intently into the prince s face.
  • "Of course—quite so, whom else? But what are the proofs?"
  • "We have evidence. In the first place, his mysterious disappearance at seve_'clock, or even earlier."
  • "I know, Colia told me that he had said he was off to—I forget the name, som_riend of his, to finish the night."
  • "H'm! then Colia has spoken to you already?"
  • "Not about the theft."
  • "He does not know of it; I have kept it a secret. Very well, Ferdishenko wen_ff to Wilkin's. That is not so curious in itself, but here the evidence open_ut further. He left his address, you see, when he went. Now prince, consider, why did he leave his address? Why do you suppose he went out of his way t_ell Colia that he had gone to Wilkin's? Who cared to know that he was goin_o Wilkin's? No, no! prince, this is finesse, thieves' finesse! This is a_ood as saying, 'There, how can I be a thief when I leave my address? I'm no_oncealing my movements as a thief would.' Do you understand, prince?"
  • "Oh yes, but that is not enough."
  • "Second proof. The scent turns out to be false, and the address given is _ham. An hour after—that is at about eight, I went to Wilkin's myself, an_here was no trace of Ferdishenko. The maid did tell me, certainly, that a_our or so since someone had been hammering at the door, and had smashed th_ell; she said she would not open the door because she didn't want to wake he_aster; probably she was too lazy to get up herself. Such phenomena are me_ith occasionally!"
  • "But is that all your evidence? It is not enough!"
  • "Well, prince, whom are we to suspect, then? Consider!" said Lebedeff wit_lmost servile amiability, smiling at the prince. There was a look of cunnin_n his eyes, however.
  • "You should search your room and all the cupboards again," said the prince, after a moment or two of silent reflection.
  • "But I have done so, my dear prince!" said Lebedeff, more sweetly than ever.
  • "H'm! why must you needs go up and change your coat like that?" asked th_rince, banging the table with his fist, in annoyance.
  • "Oh, don't be so worried on my account, prince! I assure you I am not wort_t! At least, not I alone. But I see you are suffering on behalf of th_riminal too, for wretched Ferdishenko, in fact!"
  • "Of course you have given me a disagreeable enough thing to think about," sai_he prince, irritably, "but what are you going to do, since you are so sure i_as Ferdishenko?"
  • "But who else COULD it be, my very dear prince?" repeated Lebedeff, as swee_s sugar again. "If you don't wish me to suspect Mr. Burdovsky?"
  • "Of course not."
  • "Nor the general? Ha, ha, ha!"
  • "Nonsense!" said the prince, angrily, turning round upon him.
  • "Quite so, nonsense! Ha, ha, ha! dear me! He did amuse me, did the general! W_ent off on the hot scent to Wilkin's together, you know; but I must firs_bserve that the general was even more thunderstruck than I myself thi_orning, when I awoke him after discovering the theft; so much so that hi_ery face changed—he grew red and then pale, and at length flew into _aroxysm of such noble wrath that I assure you I was quite surprised! He is _ost generous-hearted man! He tells lies by the thousands, I know, but it i_erely a weakness; he is a man of the highest feelings; a simple-minded ma_oo, and a man who carries the conviction of innocence in his very appearance.
  • I love that man, sir; I may have told you so before; it is a weakness of mine.
  • Well—he suddenly stopped in the middle of the road, opened out his coat an_ared his breast. 'Search me,' he says, 'you searched Keller; why don't yo_earch me too? It is only fair!' says he." And all the while his legs an_ands were trembling with anger, and he as white as a sheet all over! So _aid to him, "Nonsense, general; if anybody but yourself had said that to me, I'd have taken my head, my own head, and put it on a large dish and carried i_ound to anyone who suspected you; and I should have said: 'There, you se_hat head? It's my head, and I'll go bail with that head for him! Yes, an_alk through the fire for him, too. There,' says I, 'that's how I'd answer fo_ou, general!' Then he embraced me, in the middle of the street, and hugged m_o tight (crying over me all the while) that I coughed fit to choke! 'You ar_he one friend left to me amid all my misfortunes,' says he. Oh, he's a man o_entiment, that! He went on to tell me a story of how he had been accused, o_uspected, of stealing five hundred thousand roubles once, as a young man; an_ow, the very next day, he had rushed into a burning, blazing house and save_he very count who suspected him, and Nina Alexandrovna (who was then a youn_irl), from a fiery death. The count embraced him, and that was how he came t_arry Nina Alexandrovna, he said. As for the money, it was found among th_uins next day in an English iron box with a secret lock; it had got under th_loor somehow, and if it had not been for the fire it would never have bee_ound! The whole thing is, of course, an absolute fabrication, though when h_poke of Nina Alexandrovna he wept! She's a grand woman, is Nina Alexandrovna, though she is very angry with me!"
  • "Are you acquainted with her?"
  • "Well, hardly at all. I wish I were, if only for the sake of justifying mysel_n her eyes. Nina Alexandrovna has a grudge against me for, as she thinks, encouraging her husband in drinking; whereas in reality I not only do no_ncourage him, but I actually keep him out of harm's way, and out of ba_ompany. Besides, he's my friend, prince, so that I shall not lose sight o_im, again. Where he goes, I go. He's quite given up visiting the captain'_idow, though sometimes he thinks sadly of her, especially in the morning, when he's putting on his boots. I don't know why it's at that time. But he ha_o money, and it's no use his going to see her without. Has he borrowed an_oney from you, prince?"
  • "No, he has not."
  • "Ah, he's ashamed to! He MEANT to ask you, I know, for he said so. I suppos_e thinks that as you gave him some once (you remember), you would probabl_efuse if he asked you again."
  • "Do you ever give him money?"
  • "Prince! Money! Why I would give that man not only my money, but my very life, if he wanted it. Well, perhaps that's exaggeration; not life, we'll say, bu_ome illness, a boil or a bad cough, or anything of that sort, I would stan_ith pleasure, for his sake; for I consider him a great man fallen—money, indeed!"
  • "H'm, then you DO give him money?"
  • "N-no, I have never given him money, and he knows well that I will never giv_im any; because I am anxious to keep him out of intemperate ways. He is goin_o town with me now; for you must know I am off to Petersburg afte_erdishenko, while the scent is hot; I'm certain he is there. I shall let th_eneral go one way, while I go the other; we have so arranged matters in orde_o pop out upon Ferdishenko, you see, from different sides. But I am going t_ollow that naughty old general and catch him, I know where, at a certai_idow's house; for I think it will be a good lesson, to put him to shame b_atching him with the widow."
  • "Oh, Lebedeff, don't, don't make any scandal about it!" said the prince, muc_gitated, and speaking in a low voice.
  • "Not for the world, not for the world! I merely wish to make him ashamed o_imself. Oh, prince, great though this misfortune be to myself, I cannot hel_hinking of his morals! I have a great favour to ask of you, esteemed prince; I confess that it is the chief object of my visit. You know the Ivolgins, yo_ave even lived in their house; so if you would lend me your help, honoure_rince, in the general's own interest and for his good."
  • Lebedeff clasped his hands in supplication.
  • "What help do you want from me? You may be certain that I am most anxious t_nderstand you, Lebedeff."
  • "I felt sure of that, or I should not have come to you. We might manage i_ith the help of Nina Alexandrovna, so that he might be closely watched in hi_wn house. Unfortunately I am not on terms… otherwise… but Nicola_rdalionovitch, who adores you with all his youthful soul, might help, too."
  • "No, no! Heaven forbid that we should bring Nina Alexandrovna into thi_usiness! Or Colia, either. But perhaps I have not yet quite understood you, Lebedeff?"
  • Lebedeff made an impatient movement.
  • "But there is nothing to understand! Sympathy and tenderness, that is all—tha_s all our poor invalid requires! You will permit me to consider him a_nvalid?"
  • "Yes, it shows delicacy and intelligence on your part."
  • "I will explain my idea by a practical example, to make it clearer. You kno_he sort of man he is. At present his only failing is that he is crazy abou_hat captain's widow, and he cannot go to her without money, and I mean t_atch him at her house today—for his own good; but supposing it was not onl_he widow, but that he had committed a real crime, or at least some ver_ishonourable action (of which he is, of course, incapable), I repeat tha_ven in that case, if he were treated with what I may call generou_enderness, one could get at the whole truth, for he is very soft-hearted!
  • Believe me, he would betray himself before five days were out; he would burs_nto tears, and make a clean breast of the matter; especially if managed wit_act, and if you and his family watched his every step, so to speak. Oh, m_ear prince," Lebedeff added most emphatically, "I do not positively asser_hat he has… I am ready, as the saying is, to shed my last drop of blood fo_im this instant; but you will admit that debauchery, drunkenness, and th_aptain's widow, all these together may lead him very far."
  • "I am, of course, quite ready to add my efforts to yours in such a case," sai_he 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?"
  • Lebedeff clasped his hands once more.
  • "Why, who else could I possibly suspect? Who else, most outspoken prince?" h_eplied, with an unctuous smile.
  • Muishkin frowned, and rose from his seat.
  • "You see, Lebedeff, a mistake here would be a dreadful thing. Thi_erdishenko, I would not say a word against him, of course; but, who knows?
  • Perhaps it really was he? I mean he really does seem to be a more likely ma_han… than any other."
  • Lebedeff strained his eyes and ears to take in what the prince was saying. Th_atter was frowning more and more, and walking excitedly up and down, tryin_ot to look at Lebedeff.
  • "You see," he said, "I was given to understand that Ferdishenko was that sor_f man,—that one can't say everything before him. One has to take care not t_ay too much, you understand? I say this to prove that he really is, so t_peak, more likely to have done this than anyone else, eh? You understand? Th_mportant thing is, not to make a mistake."
  • "And who told you this about Ferdishenko?"
  • "Oh, I was told. Of course I don't altogether believe it. I am very sorry tha_ should have had to say this, because I assure you I don't believe it myself; it is all nonsense, of course. It was stupid of me to say anything about it."
  • "You see, it is very important, it is most important to know where you go_his report from," said Lebedeff, excitedly. He had risen from his seat, an_as trying to keep step with the prince, running after him, up and down.
  • "Because look here, prince, I don't mind telling you now that as we were goin_long to Wilkin's this morning, after telling me what you know about the fire, and saving the count and all that, the general was pleased to drop certai_ints to the same effect about Ferdishenko, but so vaguely and clumsily that _hought better to put a few questions to him on the matter, with the resul_hat I found the whole thing was an invention of his excellency's own mind. O_ourse, he only lies with the best intentions; still, he lies. But, such bein_he case, where could you have heard the same report? It was the inspiratio_f the moment with him, you understand, so who could have told YOU? It is a_mportant question, you see!"
  • "It was Colia told me, and his father told HIM at about six this morning. The_et at the threshold, when Colia was leaving the room for something or other."
  • The prince told Lebedeff all that Colia had made known to himself, in detail.
  • "There now, that's what we may call SCENT!" said Lebedeff, rubbing his hand_nd laughing silently. "I thought it must be so, you see. The genera_nterrupted his innocent slumbers, at six o'clock, in order to go and wake hi_eloved son, and warn him of the dreadful danger of companionship wit_erdishenko. Dear me! what a dreadfully dangerous man Ferdishenko must be, an_hat touching paternal solicitude, on the part of his excellency, ha! ha! ha!"
  • "Listen, Lebedeff," began the prince, quite overwhelmed; "DO act quietly—don'_ake a scandal, Lebedeff, I ask you—I entreat you! No one must know—NO ONE, mind! In that case only, I will help you."
  • "Be assured, most honourable, most worthy of princes—be assured that the whol_atter shall be buried within my heart!" cried Lebedeff, in a paroxysm o_xaltation. "I'd give every drop of my blood… Illustrious prince, I am a poo_retch in soul and spirit, but ask the veriest scoundrel whether he woul_refer to deal with one like himself, or with a noble-hearted man like you, and there is no doubt as to his choice! He'll answer that he prefers th_oble-hearted man—and there you have the triumph of virtue! Au revoir, honoured prince! You and I together—softly! softly!"