The prince now left the room and shut himself up in his own chamber. Colia followed
him almost at once, anxious to do what he could to console him. The poor boy seemed
to be already so attached to him that he could hardly leave him.
"You were quite right to go away!" he said. "The row will rage there worse than ever
now; and it's like this every day with us-- and all through that Nastasia 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 is much 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 you think of
Nastasia Philipovna? She is beautiful, isn't she? I had never seen her before, though I
had a great wish to do so. She fascinated me. I could forgive Gania if he were to marry
her for love, but for money! Oh dear! that is 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 looking at things!
Because some fool, or a rogue pretending to be a fool, strikes a man, that man is to be
dishonoured for his whole life, unless he wipes out the disgrace with blood, or makes
his assailant beg forgiveness on his knees! I think that so very absurd and tyrannical.
Lermontoff's Bal Masque is based on that idea--a stupid and unnatural one, in my
opinion; but he was hardly more than 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 you did 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 she would 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."