Dmitri walks up to the table and asks if he may stay with them until morning. The “fat little man with the pipe” tells him that it’s a private party. Pyotr Fomich ignores him and invites Dmitri to sit. They shake hands, though Dmitri grips Pyotr Fomich’s too hard. Grushenka senses something different in Dmitri’s manner. Next, Maximov greets the visitor. He then asks the panie (the Polish officers) to excuse him for intruding and invites them to have a drink. Grushenka asserts that she wants Dmitri to sit with them and, if he leaves, she’ll leave. With that, the short Polish officer sitting on the sofa invites Dmitri to join them.
The “fat little man” is Pan Mussyalovich, Grushenka’s former fiancé. Dostoevsky doesn’t say much else about him beyond this description, which conveys to the reader that there is nothing remarkable about this man. Dmitri, it seems, is much more impressive. It’s possible that Grushenka only remained fixated on him because he rejected her. He is the “indisputable one” because he is the only man to choose another over her.
The group drinks champagne and Dmitri takes time to examine the panie. The one with the pipe speaks Russian well. Maximov tells a story, saying that he was once married to a Polish woman. She was lame but concealed it; Maximov thought she was just skipping from being in high spirits all the time. Pyotr Fomich laughs and asks if Maximov thought that she was skipping from the joy of being married to him. Maximov says that he did think that. Supposedly, his wife jumped over a puddle during her younger years and injured her foot. Pyotr Fomich and Grushenka laugh at this story.
There is tension between Dmitri and the panie, part of it due to Pan Mussyalovich’s relationship with Grushenka, while the other part could be cultural, representative of Russia’s traditionally tense relations with Poland. In 1795, Russia conducted three partitions of Poland that erased the country from the map. Maximov’s silly stories inject sorely needed levity into the moment.
Pyotr Fomich says that Maximov is talking about his first wife; the second one is still alive but ran away. Maximov explains how his second wife ran off with another man, but first transferred his village to her name. He says that Dmitri is “an educated man,” so he'll always be able to make a living, but Maximov was left with nothing.
Maximov seems to care less about his second wife’s infidelity than he does about the property she took from him, leaving him destitute. He never speaks with bitterness, however, but with self-pity, as though he is a victim of fate.
Pyotr Fomich says that, if Maximov is lying, it’s fine because it’s the kind of lie that amuses everyone. Maximov can be mean, he says, but it is natural to him, not a behavior that he puts on to gain something. He also lies frequently and said that Nikolai Gogol wrote about him in Dead Souls, which does include among his characters a landowner named Maximov.
Pyotr Fomich isn’t sure if Maximov’s suffering is authentic or a show that he performs to gain sympathy from those willing to listen to him. Like Fyodor, he’s a theatrical storyteller who, in his tales, often comes out looking like a buffoon.
The Polish officer with the pipe, Pan Mussyalovich, addresses the tall pan, Pan Vrublevsky, with a bored look. Grushenka expresses irritation with their boredom, but encourages Maximov to continue his story. Maximov refrains from saying anything more “because it’s all foolishness.” The tall Polish officer begins pacing while Grushenka looks at him contemptuously. The shorter officer keeps glancing “irritably” at his friend. Dmitri invites them both to a drink and pours three glass of champagne. Finally, the officers introduce themselves. They toast to Poland, then to Russia. Pan Vrublevsky toasts “to Russia within her borders before 1772.” When Dmitri calls them fools, the officers get angry and Grushenka commands them not to quarrel.
The Polish officers are bored because they have no real interest in socializing with Grushenka and her friends. Later, it will become clear that they have only come to Mokroye to convince Grushenka to give them money. Pan Vrublevsky’s reference is to the first partition of Poland, which occurred in 1772. The enmity between the men is increased by the enmity between their countries. As military men, there is equal obligation to defend their countries.
Dmitri suggests that they do something fun. Maximov offers that they play another game of baccarat. They all agree, and Dmitri bets two hundred roubles. He wins the first hand. Quickly, he starts doubling his stakes and loses. Pyotr Fomich covers the bills with his hand and orders, “Enough!” He won’t let Dmitri bet anymore. Grushenka agrees that he should quit, but the panie are offended. Pan Vrubelvsky shouts at Pyotr Fomich, and Grushenka scolds him.
Pyotr worries that Dmitri will land himself in greater debt, furthering his desperation over money. Once again, Pyotr acts as the reasonable advisor, helplessly watching Dmitri destroy himself. However, given that Dmitri has already confessed to his intention to commit suicide, his efforts seem pointless.
Dmitri invites the panie into the other room, assuring Grushenka that they’ll be back momentarily. In the other room, Dmitri offers the officers three thousand roubles to take and go wherever they would like. He also offers to have his troika harnessed for the officers, if they will just leave and not return. Dmitri offers to give them five hundred roubles now and swears on his honor to produce the two thousand five hundred the next day. The panie exchange glances and Dmitri ups his offer to seven hundred. The panie spit and tell Dmitri that he should be ashamed of himself. Dmitri feels despair and says that the officers are only refusing his offer because they expect to get more money from Grushenka. Pan Mussyalovich reddens at the insult and walks back into the main room.
Dmitri, in another desperate and foolish act, tries to bribe the Polish officers into leaving. Strangely, he bribes them with the very same amount of money that he needs to overcome his troubles, again suggesting that he is fixated on this particular amount as a kind of magic number. The fact that he swears on his honor is comical, given the ease with which he betrays others (Grigory and Katerina) and his lack of family loyalty. The officers become more contemptuous of him and use his offer to make themselves seem superior. Dmitri’s accusation against them, however, is accurate.
The panie are speaking Polish angrily, and Grushenka loses patience and demands that they speak Russian. Pan Mussyalovich says that he came to her to forget the past and to forgive it. He tells her that Mitya offered him three thousand roubles to leave. Grushenka angrily asks Dmitri if this is true, if he really acted as though she were for sale. Dmitri says that it’s a lie. He says that Grushenka is pure and they have never been lovers. She’s more offended by his defense of her virtue. Dmitri says that the officer was willing to take money from him, but he wanted all three thousand at once. Grushenka then figures that her former fiancé has only returned because he heard that she has money. She tells him to leave and says that she feels like a fool.
Grushenka reveals something important about herself here. Though she is a woman of ill-repute, known for taking money and other favors from men, she insists on doing things on her own terms. Moreover, Grushenka is unimpressed by Dmitri’s defense of her virtue. Dmitri is trying to protect himself against Grushenka’s potential anger or disfavor. In this instance, she learns the truth about her relationship with Pan Mussyalovich and admits that it was all a fantasy.
When the Mokroye girls enter to sing, Pan Vrublevsky demands that the innkeeper throw them out. Trifon Borisich tells him to shut up. He then reports that the panie played baccarat with marked cards. The innkeeper shows his own deck, which remained unopened. Pyotr Fomich says that he saw one of the panie “palm a card twice.” Pan Vrublevsky turns to Grushenka and calls her a “public slut,” prompting Dmitri to rush at him, lift him up, and carry him from the room. Trifon Borisich offers to give Dmitri the money that the officers cheated him out of, but Dmitri refuses. Grushenka praises him for being above it all.
The Polish officers are so desperate for money that they cheat at cards. This act contrasts with their pretension of resenting Dmitri for his dishonorable offer, and seems to prove Dmitri’s suspicion that they rejected his offer in favor of the potential promise of a larger sum. During this episode in Mokroye, Dostoevsky reveals the various ways in which people dishonor themselves and others due to coveting money.