6. CHAPTER VI.
As to the evening party at the Epanchins' at which Princess
Bielokonski was to be present, Varia had reported with accuracy;
though she had perhaps expressed herself too strongly.
The thing was decided in a hurry and with a certain amount of
quite unnecessary excitement, doubtless because "nothing could be
done in this house like anywhere else."
The impatience of Lizabetha Prokofievna "to get things settled"
explained a good deal, as well as the anxiety of both parents for
the happiness of their beloved daughter. Besides, Princess
Bielokonski was going away soon, and they hoped that she would
take an interest in the prince. They were anxious that he should
enter society under the auspices of this lady, whose patronage
was the best of recommendations for any young man.
Even if there seems something strange about the match, the
general and his wife said to each other, the "world" will accept
Aglaya's fiance without any question if he is under the patronage
of the princess. In any case, the prince would have to be "shown"
sooner or later; that is, introduced into society, of which he
had, so far, not the least idea. Moreover, it was only a question
of a small gathering of a few intimate friends. Besides Princess
Bielokonski, only one other lady was expected, the wife of a high
dignitary. Evgenie Pavlovitch, who was to escort the princess,
was the only young man.
Muishkin was told of the princess's visit three days beforehand,
but nothing was said to him about the party until the night
before it was to take place.
He could not help observing the excited and agitated condition of
all members of the family, and from certain hints dropped in
conversation he gathered that they were all anxious as to the
impression he should make upon the princess. But the Epanchins,
one and all, believed that Muishkin, in his simplicity of mind,
was quite incapable of realizing that they could be feeling any
anxiety on his account, and for this reason they all looked at
him with dread and uneasiness.