Getting up from the table, Levin walked with Gagin through the
lofty room to the billiard room, feeling his arms swing as he
walked with a peculiar lightness and ease. As he crossed the big
room, he came upon his father-in-law.
"Well, how do you like our Temple of Idolence?" said the prince,
taking his arm. "Come along, come along!"
"Yes, I wanted to walk about and look at everything. It's
"Yes, it's interesting for you. But its interest for me is quite
different. You look at those little old men now," he said,
pointing to a club member with bent back and projecting lip,
shuffling towards them in his soft boots, "and imagine that they
were shlupiks like that from their birth up."
"I see you don't know that name. That's our club designation.
You know the game of rolling eggs: when one's rolled a long while
it becomes a shlupik. So it is with us; one goes on coming and
coming to the club, and ends by becoming a shlupik. Ah, you
laugh! but we look out, for fear of dropping into it ourselves.
You know Prince Tchetchensky?" inquired the prince; and Levin saw
by his face that he was just going to relate something funny.
"No, I don't know him."
"You don't say so! Well, Prince Tchetchensky is a well-known
figure. No matter, though. He's always playing billiards here.
Only three years ago he was not a shlupik and kept up his spirits
and even used to call other people shlupiks. But one day he
turns up, and our porter...you know Vassily? Why, that fat one;
he's famous for his bon mots. And so Prince Tchetchensky asks
him, 'Come, Vassily, who's here? Any shlupiks here yet?' And he
says, 'You're the third.' Yes, my dear boy, that he did!"