Darya Alexandrovna noticed that at this point in his explanation
he grew confused, and she did not quite understand this
digression, but she felt that having once begun to speak of
matters near his heart, of which he could not speak to Anna, he
was now making a clean breast of everything, and that the
question of his pursuits in the country fell into the same
category of matters near his heart, as the question of his
relations with Anna.
"Well, I will go on," he said, collecting himself. "The great
thing is that as I work I want to have a conviction that what I
am doing will not die with me, that I shall have heirs to come
after me,--and this I have not. Conceive the position of a man
who knows that his children, the children of the woman he loves,
will not be his, but will belong to someone who hates them and
cares nothing about them! It is awful!"
He paused, evidently much moved.
"Yes, indeed, I see that. But what can Anna do?" queried Darya
"Yes, that brings me to the object of my conversation," he said,
calming himself with an effort. "Anna can, it depends on
her.... Even to petition the Tsar for legitimization, a divorce
is essential. And that depends on Anna. Her husband agreed to a
divorce--at that time your husband had arranged it completely.
And now, I know, he would not refuse it. It is only a matter of
writing to him. He said plainly at that time that if she
expressed the desire, he would not refuse. Of course," he said
gloomily, "it is one of those Pharisaical cruelties of which only
such heartless men are capable. He knows what agony any
recollection of him must give her, and knowing her, he must have
a letter from her. I can understand that it is agony to her.
But the matter is of such importance, that one must passer
par-dessus toutes ces finesses de sentiment. Il y va du bonheur
et de l'existence d'Anne et de ses enfants. I won't speak of
myself, though it's hard for me, very hard," he said, with an
expression as though he were threatening someone for its being
hard for him. "And so it is, princess, that I am shamelessly
clutching at you as an anchor of salvation. Help me to persuade
her to write to him and ask for a divorce."