7. CHAPTER VII.
When the prince ceased speaking all were gazing merrily at him--
even Aglaya; but Lizabetha Prokofievna looked the jolliest of
"Well!" she cried, "we HAVE 'put him through his paces,' with a
vengeance! My dears, you imagined, I believe, that you were about
to patronize this young gentleman, like some poor protege picked
up somewhere, and taken under your magnificent protection. What
fools we were, and what a specially big fool is your father! Well
done, prince! I assure you the general actually asked me to put
you through your paces, and examine you. As to what you said
about my face, you are absolutely correct in your judgment. I am
a child, and know it. I knew it long before you said so; you have
expressed my own thoughts. I think your nature and mine must be
extremely alike, and I am very glad of it. We are like two drops
of water, only you are a man and I a woman, and I've not been to
Switzerland, and that is all the difference between us."
"Don't be in a hurry, mother; the prince says that he has some
motive behind his simplicity," cried Aglaya.
"Yes, yes, so he does," laughed the others.
"Oh, don't you begin bantering him," said mamma. "He is probably
a good deal cleverer than all three of you girls put together. We
shall see. Only you haven't told us anything about Aglaya yet,
prince; and Aglaya and I are both waiting to hear."
"I cannot say anything at present. I'll tell you afterwards."
"Why? Her face is clear enough, isn't it?"
"Oh yes, of course. You are very beautiful, Aglaya Ivanovna, so
beautiful that one is afraid to look at you."
"Is that all? What about her character?" persisted Mrs. Epanchin.
"It is difficult to judge when such beauty is concerned. I have
not prepared my judgment. Beauty is a riddle."