"I must say and express fully the following points: first,
exposition of the value to be attached to public opinion and to
decorum; secondly, exposition of religious significance of
marriage; thirdly, if need be, reference to the calamity possibly
ensuing to our son; fourthly, reference to the unhappiness likely
to result to herself." And, interlacing his fingers, Alexey
Alexandrovitch stretched them, and the joints of the fingers
cracked. This trick, a bad habit, the cracking of his fingers,
always soothed him, and gave precision to his thoughts, so
needful to him at this juncture.
There was the sound of a carriage driving up to the front door.
Alexey Alexandrovitch halted in the middle of the room.
A woman's step was heard mounting the stairs. Alexey
Alexandrovitch, ready for his speech, stood compressing his
crossed fingers, waiting to see if the crack would not come
again. One joint cracked.
Already, from the sound of light steps on the stairs, he was
aware that she was close, and though he was satisfied with his
speech, he felt frightened of the explanation confronting him...