“Enough--enough!” said the latter, with insistence, but all of a tremble with excitement.
“He gets most of his conversation in that way,” laughed Evgenie Pavlovitch. “He borrows whole phrases from the reviews. I have long had the pleasure of knowing both Nicholai Ardalionovitch and his conversational methods, but this time he was not repeating something he had read; he was alluding, no doubt, to my yellow waggonette, which has, or had, red wheels. But I have exchanged it, so you are rather behind the times, Colia.”“She is mad, insane--I assure you, she is mad,” replied the prince in trembling tones, holding out both his hands mechanically towards the officer.
“A Kammer-junker? I had not thought of it, but--”
Mrs. Epanchin reflected a moment. The next minute she flew at the prince, seized his hand, and dragged him after her to the door.“I see you are shuddering, Lef Nicolaievitch,” said the latter, at length, “almost as you did once in Moscow, before your fit; don’t you remember? I don’t know what I shall do with you--”
At this idea, he burst out laughing all at once, in quite unaffected mirth, and without giving any explanation.
The general grew purple with anger.
“It seems to me that you have been too painfully impressed by the news of what happened to your good benefactor,” said the old dignitary, kindly, and with the utmost calmness of demeanour. “You are excitable, perhaps as the result of your solitary life. If you would make up your mind to live more among your fellows in society, I trust, I am sure, that the world would be glad to welcome you, as a remarkable young man; and you would soon find yourself able to look at things more calmly. You would see that all these things are much simpler than you think; and, besides, these rare cases come about, in my opinion, from ennui and from satiety.”“Are you off?” said Gania, suddenly, remarking that she had risen and was about to leave the room. “Wait a moment--look at this.”
“The gentle Abbot Pafnute signed this.”“No, I don’t think so. I don’t think I should stay even if they were to invite me. I’ve simply come to make their acquaintance, and nothing more.”“Tell me, how do you intend to live now, and what are your plans?” interrupted the general.“I’ve heard so. Well, we’ll leave that question just now. Why am I a scandal-monger? Why did she call me a scandal-monger? And mind, _after_ she had heard every word I had to tell her, and had asked all sorts of questions besides--but such is the way of women. For _her_ sake I entered into relations with Rogojin--an interesting man! At _her_ request I arranged a personal interview between herself and Nastasia Philipovna. Could she have been angry because I hinted that she was enjoying Nastasia Philipovna’s ‘leavings’? Why, I have been impressing it upon her all this while for her own good. Two letters have I written her in that strain, and I began straight off today about its being humiliating for her. Besides, the word ‘leavings’ is not my invention. At all events, they all used it at Gania’s, and she used it herself. So why am I a scandal-monger? I see--I see you are tremendously amused, at this moment! Probably you are laughing at me and fitting those silly lines to my case--
“I wanted to see how the farce would end.”“No doubt... and I... is that acting like a prince? And you... you may be a general! But I... I am not your valet! And I... I...” stammered Antip Burdovsky.The prince begged him to take a chair.
She put her questions very quickly and talked fast, every now and then forgetting what she had begun to say, and not finishing her sentence. She seemed to be impatient to warn the prince about something or other. She was in a state of unusual excitement, and though she put on a brave and even defiant air, she seemed to be rather alarmed. She was dressed very simply, but this suited her well. She continually trembled and blushed, and she sat on the very edge of the seat.
The impatience of Lizabetha Prokofievna “to get things settled” explained a good deal, as well as the anxiety of both parents for the happiness of their beloved daughter. Besides, Princess Bielokonski was going away soon, and they hoped that she would take an interest in the prince. They were anxious that he should enter society under the auspices of this lady, whose patronage was the best of recommendations for any young man.