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Just before the Prince enters the chamber of Mrs. Yepanchin and her daughters, the ladies are shown pursuing their normal activities. Endowed with good health and appetite, they eat heartily. They have coffee soon after they wake up from bed and then present themselves at the dining room to have lunch with their mother at thirty minutes past twelve. They wait eagerly to partake off a hearty meal in a well-laid out table. Mr. Yepanchin who usually joins his family for lunch, was hesitant to do so today because of certain recent developments.
General Yepanchin had made the acquaintance of Ivan Totsky and the two had become friends. Totsky had hinted to the General that he would be interested in marrying one of the elder daughters. He had also revealed to Yepanchin about his relationship with Nastasya Philippovna. Nastasya was the orphaned daughter of a businessman named Barashkov, whose acquaintance Totsky had made in the past. After the demise of Barashkov, Totsky had taken Nastasya under his care. He had kept her in his estate and arranged for her upbringing. When she was twelve, her youthful beauty had captured his eyes and he had decided to provide her education and refinement.
General Yepanchin and Totsky had been upset to hear about these recent developments. Madam Yepanchin was feeling disturbed because she had heard rumors linking her husband with Nastasya. It had come to the ears of the lady that the General, who had fallen for the charms of Nastasya, had bought the girl a string of costly pearls for her birthday. Lizaveta Prokofyevna had decided to question her husband about it. Mr. Yepanchin was aware of his wife’s suspicions and was guilty to face her at lunch. Thus, he was happy with the visit of the Prince. The General could divert the attention of his wife from himself to the Prince.