Stepan Arkadyevitch, with the same somewhat solemn expression
with which he used to take his presidential chair at his board,
walked into Alexey Alexandrovitch's room. Alexey Alexandrovitch
was walking about his room with his hands behind his back,
thinking of just what Stepan Arkadyevitch had been discussing
with his wife.
"I'm not interrupting you?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, on the
sight of his brother-in-law becoming suddenly aware of a sense of
embarrassment unusual with him. To conceal this embarrassment he
took out a cigarette case he had just bought that opened in a new
way, and sniffing the leather, took a cigarette out of it.
"No. Do you want anything?" Alexey Alexandrovitch asked without
"Yes, I wished...I wanted...yes, I wanted to talk to you," said
Stepan Arkadyevitch, with surprise aware of an unaccustomed
This feeling was so unexpected and so strange that he did not
believe it was the voice of conscience telling him that what he
was meaning to do was wrong.
Stepan Arkadyevitch made an effort and struggled with the
timidity that had come over him.
"I hope you believe in my love for my sister and my sincere
affection and respect for you," he said, reddening.
Alexey Alexandrovitch stood still and said nothing, but his face
struck Stepan Arkadyevitch by its expression of an unresisting
"I intended...I wanted to have a little talk with you about my
sister and your mutual position," he said, still struggling with
an unaccustomed constraint.
Alexey Alexandrovitch smiled mournfully, looked at his
brother-in-law, and without answering went up to the table, took
from it an unfinished letter, and handed it to his
"I think unceasingly of the same thing. And here is what I had
begun writing, thinking I could say it better by letter, and
that my presence irritates her," he said, as he gave him the