16. CHAPTER XVI.
"It's good business," said Ptitsin, at last, folding the letter
and handing it back to the prince. "You will receive, without the
slightest trouble, by the last will and testament of your aunt, a
very large sum of money indeed."
"Impossible!" cried the general, starting up as if he had been
Ptitsin explained, for the benefit of the company, that the
prince's aunt had died five months since. He had never known her,
but she was his mother's own sister, the daughter of a Moscow
merchant, one Paparchin, who had died a bankrupt. But the elder
brother of this same Paparchin, had been an eminent and very rich
merchant. A year since it had so happened that his only two sons
had both died within the same month. This sad event had so
affected the old man that he, too, had died very shortly after.
He was a widower, and had no relations left, excepting the
prince's aunt, a poor woman living on charity, who was herself
at the point of death from dropsy; but who had
time, before she died, to set Salaskin to work to find her
nephew, and to make her will bequeathing her newly-acquired
fortune to him.
It appeared that neither the prince, nor the doctor with whom he
lived in Switzerland, had thought of waiting for further
communications; but the prince had started straight away with
Salaskin's letter in his pocket.
"One thing I may tell you, for certain," concluded Ptitsin,
addressing the prince, "that there is no question about the
authenticity of this matter. Anything that Salaskin writes you as
regards your unquestionable right to this inheritance, you may
look upon as so much money in your pocket. I congratulate you,
prince; you may receive a million and a half of roubles, perhaps
more; I don't know. All I DO know is that Paparchin was a very
rich merchant indeed."
"Hurrah!" cried Lebedeff, in a drunken voice. "Hurrah for the
last of the Muishkins!"