Ivan Fedorovitch held out his hand to Muishkin, but ran after his wife, who was leaving with every sign of violent indignation, before he had time to shake it. Adelaida, her fiance, and Alexandra, said good-bye to their host with sincere friendliness. Evgenie Pavlovitch did the same, and he alone seemed in good spirits.
"What I expected has happened! But I am sorry, you poor fellow, that you should have had to suffer for it," he murmured, with a most charming smile.
Aglaya left without saying good-bye. But the evening was not to end without a last adventure. An unexpected meeting was yet in store for Lizabetha Prokofievna.
She had scarcely descended the terrace steps leading to the high road that skirts the park at Pavlofsk, when suddenly there dashed by a smart open carriage, drawn by a pair of beautiful white horses. Having passed some ten yards beyond the house, the carriage suddenly drew up, and one of the two ladies seated in it turned sharp round as though she had just caught sight of some acquaintance whom she particularly wished to see.
"Evgenie Pavlovitch! Is that you?" cried a clear, sweet voice, which caused the prince, and perhaps someone else, to tremble. "Well, I AM glad I've found you at last! I've sent to town for you twice today myself! My messengers have been searching for you everywhere!"
Evgenie Pavlovitch stood on the steps like one struck by lightning. Mrs. Epanchin stood still too, but not with the petrified expression of Evgenie. She gazed haughtily at the audacious person who had addressed her companion, and then turned a look of astonishment upon Evgenie himself.
"There's news!" continued the clear voice. "You need not be anxious about Kupferof's IOU's — Rogojin has bought them up. I persuaded him to! — I dare say we shall settle Biscup too, so it's all right, you see! Au revoir, tomorrow! And don't worry!" The carriage moved on, and disappeared.
"The woman's mad!" cried Evgenie, at last, crimson with anger, and looking confusedly around. "I don't know what she's talking about! What IOU's? Who is she?" Mrs. Epanchin continued to watch his face for a couple of seconds; then she marched briskly and haughtily away towards her own house, the rest following her.
A minute afterwards, Evgenie Pavlovitch reappeared on the terrace, in great agitation.
"Prince," he said, "tell me the truth; do you know what all this means?"
"I know nothing whatever about it!" replied the latter, who was, himself, in a state of nervous excitement.
"Well, nor do I!" said Evgenie Pavlovitch, laughing suddenly. "I haven't the slightest knowledge of any such IOU's as she mentioned, I swear I haven't — What's the matter, are you fainting?"
"Oh, no-no-I'm all right, I assure you!"