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The Idiot

Chapter 15
Katia, the maid-servant, made her appearance, terribly frightened.
"Goodness knows what it means, ma'am," she said. "There is a whole collection of men
come--all tipsy--and want to see you. They say that 'it's Rogojin, and she knows all
about it.'"
"It's all right, Katia, let them all in at once."
"Surely not ALL, ma'am? They seem so disorderly--it's dreadful to see them."
"Yes ALL, Katia, all--every one of them. Let them in, or they'll come in whether you like
or no. Listen! what a noise they are making! Perhaps you are offended, gentlemen, that
I should receive such guests in your presence? I am very sorry, and ask your
forgiveness, but it cannot be helped--and I should be very grateful if you could all stay
and witness this climax. However, just as you please, of course."
The guests exchanged glances; they were annoyed and bewildered by the episode; but
it was clear enough that all this had been pre- arranged and expected by Nastasia
Philipovna, and that there was no use in trying to stop her now--for she was little short
of insane.
Besides, they were naturally inquisitive to see what was to happen. There was nobody
who would be likely to feel much alarm. There were but two ladies present; one of
whom was the lively actress, who was not easily frightened, and the other the silent
German beauty who, it turned out, did not understand a word of Russian, and seemed
to be as stupid as she was lovely.
Her acquaintances invited her to their "At Homes" because she was so decorative. She
was exhibited to their guests like a valuable picture, or vase, or statue, or firescreen. As
for the men, Ptitsin was one of Rogojin's friends; Ferdishenko was as much at home as
a fish in the sea, Gania, not yet recovered from his amazement, appeared to be chained
to a pillory. The old professor did not in the least understand what was happening; but
when he noticed how extremely agitated the mistress of the house, and her friends,
seemed, he nearly wept, and trembled with fright: but he would rather have died than
leave Nastasia Philipovna at such a crisis, for he loved her as if she were his own
granddaughter. Afanasy Ivanovitch greatly disliked having anything to do with the affair,
but he was too much interested to leave, in spite of the mad turn things had taken; and
a few words that had dropped from the lips of Nastasia puzzled him so much, that he
felt he could not go without an explanation. He resolved therefore, to see it out, and to
adopt the attitude of silent spectator, as most suited to his dignity. Genera Epanchin
 
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