The Idiot By Fyodor Dostoevsky Part IV: Chapters 11-12

The latter came at once.

"Is Nastasia Philipovna at your house?"

"Yes."

"And was it you looked out of the window under the blind this morning?"

"Yes."

"Then why did — "

But the prince could not finish his question; he did not know what to say. Besides this, his heart was beating so that he found it difficult to speak at all. Rogojin was silent also and looked at him as before, with an expression of deep thoughtfulness.

"Well, I'm going," he said, at last, preparing to recross the road. "You go along here as before; we will keep to different sides of the road; it's better so, you'll see."

When they reached the Gorohovaya, and came near the house, the prince's legs were trembling so that he could hardly walk. It was about ten o'clock. The old lady's windows were open, as before; Rogojin's were all shut, and in the darkness the white blinds showed whiter than ever. Rogojin and the prince each approached the house on his respective side of the road; Rogojin, who was on the near side, beckoned the prince across. He went over to the doorway.

"Even the porter does not know that I have come home now. I told him, and told them at my mother's too, that I was off to Pavlofsk," said Rogojin, with a cunning and almost satisfied smile. "We'll go in quietly and nobody will hear us."

He had the key in his hand. Mounting the staircase he turned and signalled to the prince to go more softly; he opened the door very quietly, let the prince in, followed him, locked the door behind him, and put the key in his pocket.

"Come along," he whispered.

He had spoken in a whisper all the way. In spite of his apparent outward composure, he was evidently in a state of great mental agitation. Arrived in a large salon, next to the study, he went to the window and cautiously beckoned the prince up to him.

"When you rang the bell this morning I thought it must be you. I went to the door on tip-toe and heard you talking to the servant opposite. I had told her before that if anyone came and rang — especially you, and I gave her your name — she was not to tell about me. Then I thought, what if he goes and stands opposite and looks up, or waits about to watch the house? So I came to this very window, looked out, and there you were staring straight at me. That's how it came about."

"Where is Nastasia Philipovna?" asked the prince, breathlessly.

"She's here," replied Rogojin, slowly, after a slight pause.

"Where?"

Rogojin raised his eyes and gazed intently at the prince.

"Come," he said.

He continued to speak in a whisper, very deliberately as before, and looked strangely thoughtful and dreamy. Even while he told the story of how he had peeped through the blind, he gave the impression of wishing to say something else. They entered the study. In this room some changes had taken place since the prince last saw it. It was now divided into two equal parts by a heavy green silk curtain stretched across it, separating the alcove beyond, where stood Rogojin's bed, from the rest of the room.

The heavy curtain was drawn now, and it was very dark. The bright Petersburg summer nights were already beginning to close in, and but for the full moon, it would have been difficult to distinguish anything in Rogojin's dismal room, with the drawn blinds. They could just see one anothers faces, however, though not in detail. Rogojin's face was white, as usual. His glittering eyes watched the prince with an intent stare.

"Had you not better light a candle?" said Muishkin.

"No, I needn't," replied Rogojin, and taking the other by the hand he drew him down to a chair. He himself took a chair opposite and drew it up so close that he almost pressed against the prince's knees. At their side was a little round table.

"Sit down," said Rogojin; "let's rest a bit." There was silence for a moment.

"I knew you would be at that hotel," he continued, just as men sometimes commence a serious conversation by discussing any outside subject before leading up to the main point. "As I entered the passage it struck me that perhaps you were sitting and waiting for me, just as I was waiting for you. Have you been to the old lady at Ismailofsky barracks?"

"Yes," said the prince, squeezing the word out with difficulty owing to the dreadful beating of his heart.

"I thought you would. 'They'll talk about it,' I thought; so I determined to go and fetch you to spend the night here — 'We will be together,' I thought, 'for this one night — '"

"Rogojin, WHERE is Nastasia Philipovna?" said the prince, suddenly rising from his seat. He was quaking in all his limbs, and his words came in a scarcely audible whisper. Rogojin rose also.

"There," he whispered, nodding his head towards the curtain.

"Asleep?" whispered the prince.

Rogojin looked intently at him again, as before.

"Let's go in — but you mustn't — well — let's go in."

He lifted the curtain, paused — and turned to the prince. "Go in," he said, motioning him to pass behind the curtain. Muishkin went in.

"It's so dark," he said.

"You can see quite enough," muttered Rogojin.

"I can just see there's a bed — "

"Go nearer," suggested Rogojin, softly.

The prince took a step forward — then another — and paused. He stood and stared for a minute or two.

Neither of the men spoke a word while at the bedside. The prince's heart beat so loud that its knocking seemed to be distinctly audible in the deathly silence.

But now his eyes had become so far accustomed to the darkness that he could distinguish the whole of the bed. Someone was asleep upon it — in an absolutely motionless sleep. Not the slightest movement was perceptible, not the faintest breathing could be heard. The sleeper was covered with a white sheet; the outline of the limbs was hardly distinguishable. He could only just make out that a human being lay outstretched there.

All around, on the bed, on a chair beside it, on the floor, were scattered the different portions of a magnificent white silk dress, bits of lace, ribbons and flowers. On a small table at the bedside glittered a mass of diamonds, torn off and thrown down anyhow. From under a heap of lace at the end of the bed peeped a small white foot, which looked as though it had been chiselled out of marble; it was terribly still.

The prince gazed and gazed, and felt that the more he gazed the more death-like became the silence. Suddenly a fly awoke somewhere, buzzed across the room, and settled on the pillow. The prince shuddered.

"Let's go," said Rogojin, touching his shoulder. They left the alcove and sat down in the two chairs they had occupied before, opposite to one another. The prince trembled more and more violently, and never took his questioning eyes off Rogojin's face.

"I see you are shuddering, Lef Nicolaievitch," said the latter, at length, "almost as you did once in Moscow, before your fit; don't you remember? I don't know what I shall do with you — "

The prince bent forward to listen, putting all the strain he could muster upon his understanding in order to take in what Rogojin said, and continuing to gaze at the latter's face.

"Was it you?" he muttered, at last, motioning with his head towards the curtain.

"Yes, it was I," whispered Rogojin, looking down.

Neither spoke for five minutes.

"Because, you know," Rogojin recommenced, as though continuing a former sentence, "if you were ill now, or had a fit, or screamed, or anything, they might hear it in the yard, or even in the street, and guess that someone was passing the night in the house. They would all come and knock and want to come in, because they know I am not at home. I didn't light a candle for the same reason. When I am not here — for two or three days at a time, now and then — no one comes in to tidy the house or anything; those are my orders. So that I want them to not know we are spending the night here — "

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At the end of Part III, Nastasya and Rogozhin each ask Myshkin the same question. What was it?




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