Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with
himself. He was incapable of deceiving himself and persuading
himself that he repented of his conduct. He could not at this
date repent of the fact that he, a handsome, susceptible man of
thirty-four, was not in love with his wife, the mother of five
living and two dead children, and only a year younger than
himself. All he repented of was that he had not succeeded better
in hiding it from his wife. But he felt all the difficulty of
his position and was sorry for his wife, his children, and
himself. Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins
better from his wife if he had anticipated that the knowledge of
them would have had such an effect on her. He had never clearly
thought out the subject, but he had vaguely conceived that his
wife must long ago have suspected him of being unfaithful to her,
and shut her eyes to the fact. He had even supposed that she, a
worn-out woman no longer young or good-looking, and in no way
remarkable or interesting, merely a good mother, ought from a
sense of fairness to take an indulgent view. It had turned out
quite the other way.
"Oh, it's awful! oh dear, oh dear! awful!" Stepan Arkadyevitch
kept repeating to himself, and he could think of nothing to be
done. "And how well things were going up till now! how well we
got on! She was contented and happy in her children; I never
interfered with her in anything; I let her manage the children
and the house just as she liked. It's true it's bad HER having
been a governess in our house. That's bad! There's something
common, vulgar, in flirting with one's governess. But what a
governess!" (He vividly recalled the roguish black eyes of Mlle.
Roland and her smile.) "But after all, while she was in the
house, I kept myself in hand. And the worst of it all is that
she's already...it seems as if ill-luck would have it so! Oh,
oh! But what, what is to be done?"
There was no solution, but that universal solution which life
gives to all questions, even the most complex and insoluble.
That answer is: one must live in the needs of the day--that is,
forget oneself. To forget himself in sleep was impossible now,
at least till nighttime; he could not go back now to the music
sung by the decanter-women; so he must forget himself in the
dream of daily life.