“But what is it all about? Tell me, for Heaven’s sake! Cannot you understand how nearly it touches me? Why are they blackening Evgenie Pavlovitch’s reputation?”
“He is in there,” said she, pointing to the salon.
The prince seemed quite distracted for the moment.
The Epanchin family, or at least the more serious members of it, were sometimes grieved because they seemed so unlike the rest of the world. They were not quite certain, but had at times a strong suspicion that things did not happen to them as they did to other people. Others led a quiet, uneventful life, while they were subject to continual upheavals. Others kept on the rails without difficulty; they ran off at the slightest obstacle. Other houses were governed by a timid routine; theirs was somehow different. Perhaps Lizabetha Prokofievna was alone in making these fretful observations; the girls, though not wanting in intelligence, were still young; the general was intelligent, too, but narrow, and in any difficulty he was content to say, “H’m!” and leave the matter to his wife. Consequently, on her fell the responsibility. It was not that they distinguished themselves as a family by any particular originality, or that their excursions off the track led to any breach of the proprieties. Oh no.

“This evening!” repeated her mother in a tone of despair, but softly, as though to herself. “Then it’s all settled, of course, and there’s no hope left to us. She has anticipated her answer by the present of her portrait. Did he show it you himself?” she added, in some surprise.

“I have heard that my son--” began Ardalion Alexandrovitch.
Everybody laughed.
“How much?”
“Last week? In the night? Have you gone cracked, my good friend?”
“I assure you,” said the general, “that exactly the same thing happened to myself!”
“Cruel?” sobbed Aglaya. “Yes, I _am_ cruel, and worthless, and spoiled--tell father so,--oh, here he is--I forgot Father, listen!” She laughed through her tears.
Aglaya suddenly whispered angrily to herself the word--
“I go to see her every day, every day.” “Are you off?” said Gania, suddenly, remarking that she had risen and was about to leave the room. “Wait a moment--look at this.” “Yes--that’s a copy of a Holbein,” said the prince, looking at it again, “and a good copy, too, so far as I am able to judge. I saw the picture abroad, and could not forget it--what’s the matter?” “No, no! I have my reasons for wishing them not to suspect us of being engaged in any specially important conversation. There are gentry present who are a little too much interested in us. You are not aware of that perhaps, prince? It will be a great deal better if they see that we are friendly just in an ordinary way. They’ll all go in a couple of hours, and then I’ll ask you to give me twenty minutes--half an hour at most.”

“You should search your room and all the cupboards again,” said the prince, after a moment or two of silent reflection.

The prince made a rush after her, but he was caught and held back. The distorted, livid face of Nastasia gazed at him reproachfully, and her blue lips whispered:
“Ah, you want to arouse our curiosity!” said Aglaya. “And how terribly solemn you are about it!”

“How?” he said. “What do you mean? I was half joking, and you took me up quite seriously! Why do you ask me whether I believe in God?”

“No, I tell you I did _not_.” “Come back, father; the neighbours will hear!” cried Varia.
Arrived at the point where the Gorohovaya crosses the Sadovaya, he was surprised to find how excessively agitated he was. He had no idea that his heart could beat so painfully.
“He’s got a stroke!” cried Colia, loudly, realizing what was the matter at last.
“Yes, it was a beautiful turn-out, certainly!”

An ominous expression passed over Nastasia Philipovna’s face, of a sudden. It became obstinate-looking, hard, and full of hatred; but she did not take her eyes off her visitors for a moment.

It was “heads.”

“What shall I write?” asked the prince.

“Hippolyte, Hippolyte, what is the matter with you?” cried Muishkin.

“So I had decided, my friend; not to give her up to anyone,” continued Rogojin. “We’ll be very quiet. I have only been out of the house one hour all day, all the rest of the time I have been with her. I dare say the air is very bad here. It is so hot. Do you find it bad?”

“No, Ferdishenko would not; he is a candid fellow, Nastasia Philipovna,” said that worthy. “But the prince would. You sit here making complaints, but just look at the prince. I’ve been observing him for a long while.”

“What? Impossible! To Nastasia Philipovna? Nonsense!” cried the prince.

The prince wanted to say something, but was so confused and astonished that he could not. However, he moved off towards the drawing-room with the cloak over his arm.
“What! has he arrived?” said the prince, starting up.