Silence immediately fell on the room; all looked at the prince as though they neither
understood, nor hoped to understand. Gania was motionless with horror.
Nastasia's arrival was a most unexpected and overwhelming event to all parties. In the
first place, she had never been before. Up to now she had been so haughty that she
had never even asked Gania to introduce her to his parents. Of late she had not so
much as mentioned them. Gania was partly glad of this; but still he had put it to her
debit in the account to be settled after marriage.
He would have borne anything from her rather than this visit. But one thing seemed to
him quite clear-her visit now, and the present of her portrait on this particular day,
pointed out plainly enough which way she intended to make her decision!
The incredulous amazement with which all regarded the prince did not last long, for
Nastasia herself appeared at the door and passed in, pushing by the prince again.
"At last I've stormed the citadel! Why do you tie up your bell?" she said, merrily, as she
pressed Gania's hand, the latter having rushed up to her as soon as she made her
appearance. "What are you looking so upset about? Introduce me, please!"
The bewildered Gania introduced her first to Varia, and both women, before shaking
hands, exchanged looks of strange import. Nastasia, however, smiled amiably; but
Varia did not try to look amiable, and kept her gloomy expression. She did not even
vouchsafe the usual courteous smile of etiquette. Gania darted a terrible glance of wrath
at her for this, but Nina Alexandrovna, mended matters a little when Gania introduced
her at last. Hardly, however, had the old lady begun about her " highly gratified
feelings," and so on, when Nastasia left her, and flounced into a chair by Gania's side in
the corner by the window, and cried: "Where's your study? and where are the--the
lodgers? You do take in lodgers, don't you?"
Gania looked dreadfully put out, and tried to say something in reply, but Nastasia
"Why, where are you going to squeeze lodgers in here? Don't you use a study? Does
this sort of thing pay?" she added, turning to Nina Alexandrovna.
"Well, it is troublesome, rather," said the latter; "but I suppose it will 'pay' pretty well. We
have only just begun, however--"
Again Nastasia Philipovna did not hear the sentence out. She glanced at Gania, and
cried, laughing, "What a face! My goodness, what a face you have on at this moment!"