Fyodor Dostoevsky: The Idiot


"I DID not expect you, gentlemen," began the prince. I have been ill until to-day. A month ago," he continued, addressing himself to Antip Burdovsky, "I put your business into Gavrila Ardalionovitch Ivolgin's hands, as I told you then. I do not in the least object to having a personal interview ... but you will agree with me that this is hardly the time ... I propose that we go into another room, if you will not keep me long... As you see, I have friends here, and believe me ..."

"Friends as many as you please, but allow me," interrupted the harsh voice of Lebedeff's nephew--" allow me to tell you that you might have treated us rather more politely, and not have kept us waiting at least two hours ...

"No doubt ... and I ... is that acting like a prince? And you ... you may be a general! But I ... I am not your valet! And I ... I..." stammered Antip Burdovsky.

He was extremely excited; his lips trembled, and the resentment of an embittered soul was in his voice. But he spoke so indistinctly that hardly a dozen words could be gathered.

"It was a princely action!" sneered Hippolyte.

"If anyone had treated me so," grumbled the boxer.

"I mean to say that if I had been in Burdovsky's place...I..."

"Gentlemen, I did not know you were there; I have only just been informed, I assure you," repeated Muishkin.

"We are not afraid of your friends, prince," remarked Lebedeff's nephew, "for we are within our rights."

The shrill tones of Hippolyte interrupted him. "What right have you ... by what right do you demand us to submit this matter, about Burdovsky ... to the judgment of your friends? We know only too well what the judgment of your friends will be! ..."

This beginning gave promise of a stormy discussion. The prince was much discouraged, but at last he managed to make himself heard amid the vociferations of his excited visitors.

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