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The Idiot

Chapter 12
Colia took the prince to a public-house in the Litaynaya, not far off. In one of the side
rooms there sat at a table--looking like one of the regular guests of the establishment--
Ardalion Alexandrovitch, with a bottle before him, and a newspaper on his knee. He was
waiting for the prince, and no sooner did the latter appear than he began a long
harangue about something or other; but so far gone was he that the prince could hardly
understand a word.
"I have not got a ten-rouble note," said the prince; "but here is a twenty-five. Change it
and give me back the fifteen, or I shall be left without a farthing myself."
"Oh, of course, of course; and you quite understand that I--"
"Yes; and I have another request to make, general. Have you ever been at Nastasia
Philipovna's?"
"I? I? Do you mean me? Often, my friend, often! I only pretended I had not in order to
avoid a painful subject. You saw today, you were a witness, that I did all that a kind, an
indulgent father could do. Now a father of altogether another type shall step into the
scene. You shall see; the old soldier shall lay bare this intrigue, or a shameless woman
will force her way into a respectable and noble family."
"Yes, quite so. I wished to ask you whether you could show me the way to Nastasia
Philipovna's tonight. I must go; I have business with her; I was not invited but I was
introduced. Anyhow I am ready to trespass the laws of propriety if only I can get in
somehow or other."
"My dear young friend, you have hit on my very idea. It was not for this rubbish I asked
you to come over here" (he pocketed the money, however, at this point), "it was to invite
your alliance in the campaign against Nastasia Philipovna tonight. How well it sounds,
'General Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin.' That'll fetch her, I think, eh? Capital! We'll go at
nine; there's time yet."
"Where does she live?"
"Oh, a long way off, near the Great Theatre, just in the square there--It won't be a large
party."
The general sat on and on. He had ordered a fresh bottle when the prince arrived; this
took him an hour to drink, and then he had another, and another, during the
consumption of which he told pretty nearly the whole story of his life. The prince was in
despair. He felt that though he had but applied to this miserable old drunkard because
 
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