7. CHAPTER VII.
Four persons entered, led by General Ivolgin, in a state of great
excitement, and talking eloquently.
"He is for me, undoubtedly!" thought the prince, with a smile.
Colia also had joined the party, and was talking with animation
to Hippolyte, who listened with a jeering smile on his lips.
The prince begged the visitors to sit down. They were all so
young that it made the proceedings seem even more extraordinary.
Ivan Fedorovitch, who really understood nothing of what was going
on, felt indignant at the sight of these youths, and would have
interfered in some way had it not been for the extreme interest
shown by his wife in the affair. He therefore remained, partly
through curiosity, partly through good-nature, hoping that his
presence might be of some use. But the bow with which General
Ivolgin greeted him irritated him anew; he frowned, and decided
to be absolutely silent.
As to the rest, one was a man of thirty, the retired officer, now
a boxer, who had been with Rogojin, and in his happier days had
given fifteen roubles at a time to beggars. Evidently he had
joined the others as a comrade to give them moral, and if
necessary material, support. The man who had been spoken of as
"Pavlicheff's son," although he gave the name of Antip Burdovsky,
was about twenty-two years of age, fair, thin and rather tall. He
was remarkable for the poverty, not to say uncleanliness, of his
personal appearance: the sleeves of his overcoat were greasy; his
dirty waistcoat, buttoned up to his neck, showed not a trace of
linen; a filthy black silk scarf, twisted till it resembled a
cord, was round his neck, and his hands were unwashed. He looked
round with an air of insolent effrontery. His face, covered with
pimples, was neither thoughtful nor even contemptuous; it wore an
expression of complacent satisfaction in demanding his rights and
in being an aggrieved party. His voice trembled, and he spoke so
fast, and with such stammerings, that he might have been taken
for a foreigner, though the purest Russian blood ran in his
veins. Lebedeff's nephew, whom the reader has seen already,
accompanied him, and also the youth named Hippolyte Terentieff.
The latter was only seventeen or eighteen. He had an intelligent
face, though it was usually irritated and fretful in expression.
His skeleton-like figure, his ghastly complexion, the brightness
of his eyes, and the red spots of colour on his cheeks, betrayed
the victim of consumption to the most casual glance. He coughed
persistently, and panted for breath; it looked as though he had
but a few weeks more to live. He was nearly dead with fatigue,
and fell, rather than sat, into a chair. The rest bowed as they
came in; and being more or less abashed, put on an air of extreme
self-assurance. In short, their attitude was not that which one
would have expected in men who professed to despise all
trivialities, all foolish mundane conventions, and indeed
everything, except their own personal interests.