"I work, I want to do something, but I had forgotten it must
all end; I had forgotten--death."
He sat on his bed in the darkness, crouched up, hugging his
knees, and holding his breath from the strain of thought, he
pondered. But the more intensely he thought, the clearer it
became to him that it was indubitably so, that in reality,
looking upon life, he had forgotten one little fact--that death
will come, and all ends; that nothing was even worth beginning,
and that there was no helping it anyway. Yes, it was awful, but
it was so.
"But I am alive still. Now what's to be done? what's to be
done?" he said in despair. He lighted a candle, got up
cautiously and went to the looking-glass, and began looking at
his face and hair. Yes, there were gray hairs about his temples.
He opened his mouth. His back teeth were beginning to decay. He
bared his muscular arms. Yes, there was strength in them. But
Nikolay, who lay there breathing with what was left of lungs, had
had a strong, healthy body too. And suddenly he recalled how
they used to go to bed together as children, and how they only
waited till Fyodor Bogdanitch was out of the room to fling
pillows at each other and laugh, laugh irrepressibly, so that
even their awe of Fyodor Bogdanitch could not check the
effervescing, overbrimming sense of life and happiness. "And now
that bent, hollow chest...and I, not knowing what will become of
me, or wherefore..."
"K...ha! K...ha! Damnation! Why do you keep fidgeting, why
don't you go to sleep?" his brother's voice called to him.
"Oh, I don't know, I'm not sleepy."
"I have had a good sleep, I'm not in a sweat now. Just see, feel
my shirt; it's all wet, isn't it?"
Levin felt, withdrew behind the screen, and put out the candle,
but for a long while he could not sleep. The question how to
live had hardly begun to grow a little clearer to him, when a
new, insoluble question presented itself--death.