And at this recollection, Stepan Arkadyevitch, as is so often the
case, was not so much annoyed at the fact itself as at the way in
which he had met his wife's words.
There happened to him at that instant what does happen to people
when they are unexpectedly caught in something very disgraceful.
He did not succeed in adapting his face to the position in which
he was placed towards his wife by the discovery of his fault.
Instead of being hurt, denying, defending himself, begging
forgiveness, instead of remaining indifferent even--anything
would have been better than what he did do--his face utterly
involuntarily (reflex spinal action, reflected Stepan
Arkadyevitch, who was fond of physiology)--utterly involuntarily
assumed its habitual, good-humored, and therefore idiotic smile.
This idiotic smile he could not forgive himself. Catching sight
of that smile, Dolly shuddered as though at physical pain, broke
out with her characteristic heat into a flood of cruel words, and
rushed out of the room. Since then she had refused to see her
"It's that idiotic smile that's to blame for it all," thought
"But what's to be done? What's to be done?" he said to himself
in despair, and found no answer.