"No matter," thought Alexey Alexandrovitch, "so much the better.
I will inform him at once of my position in regard to his
sister, and explain why it is I can't dine with him."
"Come in!" he said aloud, collecting his papers, and putting them
in the blotting-paper.
"There, you see, you're talking nonsense, and he's at home!"
responded Stepan Arkadyevitch's voice, addressing the servant,
who had refused to let him in, and taking off his coat as he
went, Oblonsky walked into the room. "Well, I'm awfully glad
I've found you! So I hope..." Stepan Arkadyevitch began
"I cannot come," Alexey Alexandrovitch said coldly, standing and
not asking his visitor to sit down.
Alexey Alexandrovitch had thought to pass at once into those
frigid relations in which he ought to stand with the brother of a
wife against whom he was beginning a suit for divorce. But he
had not taken into account the ocean of kindliness brimming over
in the heart of Stepan Arkadyevitch.
Stepan Arkadyevitch opened wide his clear, shining eyes.
"Why can't you? What do you mean?" he asked in perplexity,
speaking in French. "Oh, but it's a promise. And we're all
counting on you."
"I want to tell you that I can't dine at your house, because the
terms of relationship which have existed between us must cease."
"How? How do you mean? What for?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch with
"Because I am beginning an action for divorce against your
sister, my wife. I ought to have..."
But, before Alexey Alexandrovitch had time to finish his
sentence, Stepan Arkadyevitch was behaving not at all as he had
expected. He groaned and sank into an armchair.
"No, Alexey Alexandrovitch! What are you saying?" cried
Oblonsky, and his suffering was apparent in his face.