The Idiot By Fyodor Dostoevsky Part IV: Chapter 9

"Her happiness? Oh, no! I am only marrying her — well, because she wished it. It means nothing — it's all the same. She would certainly have died. I see now that that marriage with Rogojin was an insane idea. I understand all now that I did not understand before; and, do you know, when those two stood opposite to one another, I could not bear Nastasia Philipovna's face! You must know, Evgenie Pavlovitch, I have never told anyone before — not even Aglaya — that I cannot bear Nastasia Philipovna's face." (He lowered his voice mysteriously as he said this.) "You described that evening at Nastasia Philipovna's (six months since) very accurately just now; but there is one thing which you did not mention, and of which you took no account, because you do not know. I mean her FACE — I looked at her face, you see. Even in the morning when I saw her portrait, I felt that I could not BEAR to look at it. Now, there's Vera Lebedeff, for instance, her eyes are quite different, you know. I'm AFRAID of her face!" he added, with real alarm.

"You are AFRAID of it?"

"Yes — she's mad!" he whispered, growing pale.

"Do you know this for certain?" asked Evgenie, with the greatest curiosity.

"Yes, for certain — quite for certain, now! I have discovered it ABSOLUTELY for certain, these last few days."

"What are you doing, then?" cried Evgenie, in horror. "You must be marrying her solely out of FEAR, then! I can't make head or tail of it, prince. Perhaps you don't even love her?"

"Oh, no; I love her with all my soul. Why, she is a child! She's a child now — a real child. Oh! you know nothing about it at all, I see."

"And are you assured, at the same time, that you love Aglaya too?"

"Yes — yes — oh; yes!"

"How so? Do you want to make out that you love them BOTH?"

"Yes — yes — both! I do!"

"Excuse me, prince, but think what you are saying! Recollect yourself!"

"Without Aglaya — I — I MUST see Aglaya! — I shall die in my sleep very soon — I thought I was dying in my sleep last night. Oh! if Aglaya only knew all — I mean really, REALLY all! Because she must know ALL — that's the first condition towards understanding. Why cannot we ever know all about another, especially when that other has been guilty? But I don't know what I'm talking about — I'm so confused. You pained me so dreadfully. Surely — surely Aglaya has not the same expression now as she had at the moment when she ran away? Oh, yes! I am guilty and I know it — I know it! Probably I am in fault all round — I don't quite know how — but I am in fault, no doubt. There is something else, but I cannot explain it to you, Evgenie Pavlovitch. I have no words; but Aglaya will understand. I have always believed Aglaya will understand — I am assured she will."

"No, prince, she will not. Aglaya loved like a woman, like a human being, not like an abstract spirit. Do you know what, my poor prince? The most probable explanation of the matter is that you never loved either the one or the other in reality."

"I don't know — perhaps you are right in much that you have said, Evgenie Pavlovitch. You are very wise, Evgenie Pavlovitch — oh! how my head is beginning to ache again! Come to her, quick — for God's sake, come!"

"But I tell you she is not in Pavlofsk! She's in Colmina."

"Oh, come to Colmina, then! Come — let us go at once!"

"No — no, impossible!" said Evgenie, rising.

"Look here — I'll write a letter — take a letter for me!"

"No — no, prince; you must forgive me, but I can't undertake any such commissions! I really can't."

And so they parted.

Evgenie Pavlovitch left the house with strange convictions. He, too, felt that the prince must be out of his mind.

"And what did he mean by that FACE — a face which he so fears, and yet so loves? And meanwhile he really may die, as he says, without seeing Aglaya, and she will never know how devotedly he loves her! Ha, ha, ha! How does the fellow manage to love two of them? Two different kinds of love, I suppose! This is very interesting — poor idiot! What on earth will become of him now?"

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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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