1. CHAPTER I.
Two days after the strange conclusion to Nastasia Philipovna's
birthday party, with the record of which we concluded the first
part of this story, Prince Muishkin hurriedly left St. Petersburg
for Moscow, in order to see after some business connected with
the receipt of his unexpected fortune.
It was said that there were other reasons for his hurried
departure; but as to this, and as to his movements in Moscow, and
as to his prolonged absence from St. Petersburg, we are able to
give very little information.
The prince was away for six months, and even those who were most
interested in his destiny were able to pick up very little news
about him all that while. True, certain rumours did reach his
friends, but these were both strange and rare, and each one
contradicted the last.
Of course the Epanchin family was much interested in his
movements, though he had not had time to bid them farewell before
his departure. The general, however, had had an opportunity of
seeing him once or twice since the eventful evening, and had
spoken very seriously with him; but though he had seen the
prince, as I say, he told his family nothing about the
circumstance. In fact, for a month or so after his departure it
was considered not the thing to mention the prince's name in the
Epanchin household. Only Mrs. Epanchin, at the commencement of
this period, had announced that she had been "cruelly mistaken in
the prince!" and a day or two after, she had added, evidently
alluding to him, but not mentioning his name, that it was an
unalterable characteristic of hers to be mistaken in people. Then
once more, ten days later, after some passage of arms with one of
her daughters, she had remarked sententiously. "We have had
enough of mistakes. I shall be more careful in future!" However,
it was impossible to avoid remarking that there was some sense of
oppression in the household--something unspoken, but felt;
something strained. All the members of the family wore frowning
looks. The general was unusually busy; his family hardly ever saw
As to the girls, nothing was said openly, at all events; and
probably very little in private. They were proud damsels, and
were not always perfectly confidential even among themselves. But
they understood each other thoroughly at the first word on all
occasions; very often at the first glance, so that there was no
need of much talking as a rule.