'Yes; you too said very little, I fancy,' observed Litvinov.
Potugin sighed. 'The others said enough and to spare. I listened. Well,' he added, after a moment's pause, raising his eyebrows with a rather humorous expression, 'did you like our building of the Tower of Babel?'
'That 's just what it was. You have expressed it capitally. I kept wanting to ask those gentlemen what they were in such a fuss about.'
Potugin sighed again.
'That 's the whole point of it, that they don't know that themselves. In former days the expression used about them would have been: "they are the blind instruments of higher ends"; well, nowadays we make use of sharper epithets. And take note that I am not in the least intending to blame them; I will say more, they are all . . . that is, almost all, excellent people. Of Madame Suhantchikov, for instance, I know for certain much that is good; she gave away the last of her fortune to her poor nieces. Even admitting that the desire of doing something picturesque, of showing herself off, was not without its influence on her, still you will agree that it was a remarkable act of self-sacrifice in a woman not herself well-off! Of Mr. Pishtchalkin there is no need to speak even; the peasants of his district will certainly in time