2. CHAPTER II.
"No, no, Lizabetha Prokofievna, take no notice of me. I am not
going to have a fit. I will go away directly; but I know I am
afflicted. I was twenty-four years an invalid, you see--the first
twenty-four years of my life--so take all I do and say as the
sayings and actions of an invalid. I'm going away directly, I
really am--don't be afraid. I am not blushing, for I don't think I
need blush about it, need I? But I see that I am out of place in
society--society is better without me. It's not vanity, I assure
you. I have thought over it all these last three days, and I have
made up my mind that I ought to unbosom myself candidly before
you at the first opportunity. There are certain things, certain
great ideas, which I must not so much as approach, as Prince S.
has just reminded me, or I shall make you all laugh. I have no
sense of proportion, I know; my words and gestures do not express
my ideas--they are a humiliation and abasement of the ideas, and
therefore, I have no right--and I am too sensitive. Still, I
believe I am beloved in this household, and esteemed far more
than I deserve. But I can't help knowing that after twenty-four
years of illness there must be some trace left, so that it is
impossible for people to refrain from laughing at me sometimes;
don't you think so?"
He seemed to pause for a reply, for some verdict, as it were, and
looked humbly around him.
All present stood rooted to the earth with amazement at this
unexpected and apparently uncalled-for outbreak; but the poor
prince's painful and rambling speech gave rise to a strange
"Why do you say all this here?" cried Aglaya, suddenly. "Why do
you talk like this to THEM?"
She appeared to be in the last stages of wrath and irritation;
her eyes flashed. The prince stood dumbly and blindly before her,
and suddenly grew pale.