footman informed the visitors that the family were all away.
“What a pity! What a pity! It’s just my luck!” repeated Ardalion Alexandrovitch over and over again, in regretful tones. “When your master and mistress return, my man, tell them that General Ivolgin and Prince Muishkin desired to present themselves, and that they were extremely sorry, excessively grieved...”
Just then another person belonging to the household was seen at the back of the hall. It was a woman of some forty years, dressed in sombre colours, probably a housekeeper or a governess.
Hearing the names she came forward with a look of suspicion on her face.
“Marie Alexandrovna is not at