Chapter 24

`Yes, there must be something disgusting, repulsive about me,' reflected Levin, as he left the Shcherbatsky's, and set out on foot for his brother's lodgings. `And I don't get on with other people. Pride, they say. No, I haven't even pride. If I had any pride, I should not have put myself in such a position.' And he pictured to himself Vronsky, happy, good-natured, clever and calm - certainly never placed in the awful position in which he had been that evening. `Yes, she was bound to choose him. It must be so, and I cannot complain of anyone or anything. I am myself to blame. What right had I to imagine she would care to join her life to mine? Who am I, and what am I? A nobody, not wanted by anyone, nor of use to anybody.' And he recalled his brother Nikolai, and dwelt with pleasure on the thought of him. `Isn't he right in saying that everything in the world is bad and vile? And are we fair in our judgment, present and past, of brother Nikolai? Of course, from the point of view of Procophii, seeing him in a torn cloak and tipsy, he's a despicable person. But I know him differently. I know his soul, and know that we are alike. And I, instead of going to seek him out, went out to dinner, and then came here.' Levin walked up to a lamppost, read his brother's address, which was in his pocketbook, and called a cabby. All the long way to his brother's Levin vividly recalled all the facts, familiar to him, of his brother Nikolai's life. He remembered how his brother, while at the university, and for a year afterward, had, in spite of the jeers of his companions, lived like a monk, strictly observing all religious rites, services and fasts, and avoiding every sort of pleasure - especially women. And now, afterward, he had all at once broken out: had associated with the most horrible people, and rushed into the most senseless debauchery. He remembered later the scandal over a boy, whom he had taken from the country to bring up, and, in a fit of rage, had so violently beaten that proceedings were brought against him for personal injury. Then he remembered the scandal with a sharper, to whom he had lost money, and given a promissory note, and against whom he had himself lodged a complaint, asserting that he had cheated him. (This was the money Sergei Ivanovich had paid.) Then he remembered how he had spent a night in a police station for disorderly conduct in the street. He remembered the shameful proceedings he had instituted against his brother Sergei Ivanovich, accusing him of not having paid him, apparently, his share of his mother's estate; and the last scandal, when he had gone to a Western province in an official capacity, and there had got into trouble for assaulting a village elder.... It was all horribly vile, yet to Levin it appeared not at all as vile as it inevitably would to those who did not know Nikolai, did not know all his story, did not know his heart.

Levin remembered that when Nikolai had been in the devout stage, the period of fasts and monks and church services, when he was seeking in religion a support and a curb for his passionate temperament, everyone, far from encouraging him, had jeered at him - and Levin had, too, with the others. They had teased him, calling him Noah and Monk; yet, when he had broken out, no one had helped him, but had all turned away from him, with horror and loathing.

Levin felt that brother Nikolai, in spite of all the ugliness of his life, in his soul, in the very depths of his soul, was no more in the wrong than the people who despised him. He was not to blame for having been born with his unbridled character and some pressure upon his intellect. For he had always wanted to be good. `I will tell him everything, without reserve, and I will make him speak without reserve, too, and I'll show him that I love him, and therefore understand him,' Levin resolved to himself, as, toward eleven o'clock, he reached the hotel of which he had the address.

`At the top, twelve and thirteen,' the porter answered Levin's inquiry.

`At home?'

`Probably he is at home.'

The door of No. 12 was half open, and, together with a streak of light, there issued thick fumes of cheap, poor tobacco, and the sound of a voice, unknown to Levin; but he knew at once that his brother was there: he recognized his cough.

As he went in at the door, the unknown voice was saying:

`It all depends with how much judgment and knowledge the thing's done.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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