12. CHAPTER XII.
"PRINCE LEF NICOLAIEVITCH,--If you think fit, after all that has
passed, to honour our house with a visit, I can assure you you
will not find me among the number of those who are in any way
delighted to see you.
Mrs. Epanchin reflected a moment. The next minute she flew at the
prince, seized his hand, and dragged him after her to the door.
"Quick--come along!" she cried, breathless with agitation and
impatience. "Come along with me this moment!"
"But you declared I wasn't--"
"Don't be a simpleton. You behave just as though you weren't a
man at all. Come on! I shall see, now, with my own eyes. I shall
"Well, let me get my hat, at least."
"Here's your miserable hat He couldn't even choose a respectable
shape for his hat! Come on! She did that because I took your part
and said you ought to have come--little vixen!--else she would
never have sent you that silly note. It's a most improper note, I
call it; most improper for such an intelligent, well-brought-up
girl to write. H'm! I dare say she was annoyed that you didn't
come; but she ought to have known that one can't write like that
to an idiot like you, for you'd be sure to take it literally."
Mrs. Epanchin was dragging the prince along with her all the
time, and never let go of his hand for an instant. "What are you
listening for?" she added, seeing that she had committed herself
a little. "She wants a clown like you--she hasn't seen one for
some time--to play with. That's why she is anxious for you to
come to the house. And right glad I am that she'll make a
thorough good fool of you. You deserve it; and she can do it--oh!
she can, indeed!--as well as most people."