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The Idiot

Chapter 13
The prince was very nervous as he reached the outer door; but he did his best to
encourage himself with the reflection that the worst thing that could happen to him
would be that he would not be received, or, perhaps, received, then laughed at for
coming.
But there was another question, which terrified him considerably, and that was: what
was he going to do when he did get in? And to this question he could fashion no
satisfactory reply.
If only he could find an opportunity of coming close up to Nastasia Philipovna and
saying to her: "Don't ruin yourself by marrying this man. He does not love you, he only
loves your money. He told me so himself, and so did Aglaya Ivanovna, and I have come
on purpose to warn you"--but even that did not seem quite a legitimate or practicable
thing to do. Then, again, there was another delicate question, to which he could not find
an answer; dared not, in fact, think of it; but at the very idea of which he trembled and
blushed. However, in spite of all his fears and heart-quakings he went in, and asked for
Nastasia Philipovna.
Nastasia occupied a medium-sized, but distinctly tasteful, flat, beautifully furnished and
arranged. At one period of these five years of Petersburg life, Totski had certainly not
spared his expenditure upon her. He had calculated upon her eventual love, and tried to
tempt her with a lavish outlay upon comforts and luxuries, knowing too well how easily
the heart accustoms itself to comforts, and how difficult it is to tear one's self away from
luxuries which have become habitual and, little by little, indispensable.
Nastasia did not reject all this, she even loved her comforts and luxuries, but, strangely
enough, never became, in the least degree, dependent upon them, and always gave the
impression that she could do just as well without them. In fact, she went so far as to
inform Totski on several occasions that such was the case, which the latter gentleman
considered a very unpleasant communication indeed.
But, of late, Totski had observed many strange and original features and characteristics
in Nastasia, which he had neither known nor reckoned upon in former times, and some
of these fascinated him, even now, in spite of the fact that all his old calculations with
regard to her were long ago cast to the winds.
A maid opened the door for the prince (Nastasia's servants were all females) and, to his
surprise, received his request to announce him to her mistress without any
astonishment. Neither his dirty boots, nor his wide-brimmed hat, nor his sleeveless
cloak, nor his evident confusion of manner, produced the least impression upon her.
 
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