"Oh! I suppose the present she wished to make to you, when she took you into the dining-room, was her confidence, eh?"
"I suppose that was it; I cannot explain it otherwise?"
"But why, WHY? Devil take it, what did you do in there? Why did they fancy you? Look here, can't you remember exactly what you said to them, from the very beginning? Can't you remember?"
"Oh, we talked of a great many things. When first I went in we began to speak of Switzerland."
"Oh, the devil take Switzerland!"
"Then about executions."
"Yes — at least about one. Then I told the whole three years' story of my life, and the history of a poor peasant girl — "
"Oh, damn the peasant girl! go on, go on!" said Gania, impatiently.
"Then how Schneider told me about my childish nature, and — "
"Oh, CURSE Schneider and his dirty opinions! Go on."
"Then I began to talk about faces, at least about the EXPRESSIONS of faces, and said that Aglaya Ivanovna was nearly as lovely as Nastasia Philipovna. It was then I blurted out about the portrait — "
"But you didn't repeat what you heard in the study? You didn't repeat that — eh?"
"No, I tell you I did NOT."
"Then how did they — look here! Did Aglaya show my letter to the old lady?"
"Oh, there I can give you my fullest assurance that she did NOT. I was there all the while — she had no time to do it!"
"But perhaps you may not have observed it, oh, you damned idiot, you!" he shouted, quite beside himself with fury. "You can't even describe what went on."
Gania having once descended to abuse, and receiving no check, very soon knew no bounds or limit to his licence, as is often the way in such cases. His rage so blinded him that he had not even been able to detect that this "idiot," whom he was abusing to such an extent, was very far from being slow of comprehension, and had a way of taking in an impression, and afterwards giving it out again, which was very un-idiotic indeed. But something a little unforeseen now occurred.
"I think I ought to tell you, Gavrila Ardalionovitch," said the prince, suddenly, "that though I once was so ill that I really was little better than an idiot, yet now I am almost recovered, and that, therefore, it is not altogether pleasant to be called an idiot to my face. Of course your anger is excusable, considering the treatment you have just experienced; but I must remind you that you have twice abused me rather rudely. I do not like this sort of thing, and especially so at the first time of meeting a man, and, therefore, as we happen to be at this moment standing at a crossroad, don't you think we had better part, you to the left, homewards, and I to the right, here? I have twenty-five roubles, and I shall easily find a lodging."
Gania was much confused, and blushed for shame "Do forgive me, prince!" he cried, suddenly changing his abusive tone for one of great courtesy. "For Heaven's sake, forgive me! You see what a miserable plight I am in, but you hardly know anything of the facts of the case as yet. If you did, I am sure you would forgive me, at least partially. Of course it was inexcusable of me, I know, but — "
"Oh, dear me, I really do not require such profuse apologies," replied the prince, hastily. "I quite understand how unpleasant your position is, and that is what made you abuse me. So come along to your house, after all. I shall be delighted — "
"I am not going to let him go like this," thought Gania, glancing angrily at the prince as they walked along. "The fellow has sucked everything out of me, and now he takes off his mask — there's something more than appears, here we shall see. It shall all be as clear as water by tonight, everything!"
But by this time they had reached Gania's house.