2. CHAPTER II.
IT was the beginning of June, and for a whole week the weather in
St. Petersburg had been magnificent. The Epanchins had a
luxurious country-house at Pavlofsk, [One of the fashionable
summer resorts near St. Petersburg.] and to this spot Mrs.
Epanchin determined to proceed without further delay. In a couple
of days all was ready, and the family had left town. A day or two
after this removal to Pavlofsk, Prince Muishkin arrived in St.
Petersburg by the morning train from Moscow. No one met him; but,
as he stepped out of the carriage, he suddenly became aware of
two strangely glowing eyes fixed upon him from among the crowd
that met the train. On endeavouring to re-discover the eyes, and
see to whom they belonged, he could find nothing to guide him. It
must have been a hallucination. But the disagreeable impression
remained, and without this, the prince was sad and thoughtful
already, and seemed to be much preoccupied.
His cab took him to a small and bad hotel near the Litaynaya.
Here he engaged a couple of rooms, dark and badly furnished. He
washed and changed, and hurriedly left the hotel again, as though
anxious to waste no time. Anyone who now saw him for the first
time since he left Petersburg would judge that he had improved
vastly so far as his exterior was concerned. His clothes
certainly were very different; they were more fashionable,
perhaps even too much so, and anyone inclined to mockery might
have found something to smile at in his appearance. But what is
there that people will not smile at?
The prince took a cab and drove to a street near the Nativity,
where he soon discovered the house he was seeking. It was a small
wooden villa, and he was struck by its attractive and clean
appearance; it stood in a pleasant little garden, full of
flowers. The windows looking on the street were open, and the
sound of a voice, reading aloud or making a speech, came through
them. It rose at times to a shout, and was interrupted
occasionally by bursts of laughter.
Prince Muishkin entered the court-yard, and ascended the steps. A
cook with her sleeves turned up to the elbows opened the door.
The visitor asked if Mr. Lebedeff were at home.
"He is in there," said she, pointing to the salon.