Konstantin Levin looked in at the door, and saw that the speaker was a young man with an immense shock of hair, wearing a Russian coat, and that a pock-marked young woman in a woollen gown, without collar or cuffs, was sitting on the sofa. His brother was not to be seen. Konstantin felt a sharp pang at his heart at the thought of the strange company in which his brother spent his life. No one had heard him, and Konstantin, taking off his galoshes, listened to what the gentleman in the Russian coat was saying. He was speaking of some enterprise.
`Well, the devil flay them, these privileged classes,' his brother's voice responded, with a cough. `Masha! get us some supper, and serve up some wine, if there's any left; or else send for some.'
The woman rose, came out from behind the partition, and saw Konstantin.
`There's some gentleman here, Nikolai Dmitrievich,' she said.
`Whom do you want?' said the voice of Nikolai Levin, angrily.
`It's I,' answered Konstantin Levin, coming forward into the light.
`Who's I?' Nikolai's voice said again, still more angrily. He could be heard getting up hurriedly, stumbling against something, and Levin saw, facing him in the doorway, the big scared eyes, and the huge, gaunt, stooping figure of his brother, so familiar, and yet astonishing in its oddity and sickliness.
He was even thinner than three years before, when Konstantin Levin had seen him last. He was wearing a short coat, and his hands and big bones seemed huger than ever. His hair had grown thinner, the same straight mustache hid his lips, the same eyes gazed strangely and naively at his visitor.
`Ah, Kostia!' he exclaimed suddenly, recognizing his brother, and his eyes lighted up with joy. But the same second he looked round at the young man, and gave the nervous jerk of his head and neck that Konstantin knew so well, as if his cravat were choking him; and a quite different expression - wild, suffering and cruel - rested on his emaciated face.
`I wrote to you and Sergei Ivanovich both that I don't know you, and don't want to know you. What is it you want?'
He was not at all the same as Konstantin had been fancying him. The worst and most oppressive part of his character, which made all relations with him so difficult, had been forgotten by Konstantin Levin when he thought of him; and now, when he saw his face, and especially that nervous twitching of his head, he remembered it all.
`I didn't want to see you for anything,' he answered timidly. `I've simply come to see you.'
His brother's timidity obviously softened Nikolai. His lips twitched.
`Oh, so that's it?' he said. `Well, come in; sit down. Like some supper? Masha, bring supper for three. No, stop a minute. Do you know who this is?' he said, addressing his brother, and indicating the gentleman in the Russian coat: `This is Mr. Kritsky, a friend of my Kiev days - a very remarkable man. He's persecuted by the police, of course, since he's not a scoundrel.'
And he surveyed, as it was a habit of his, everyone in the room. Seeing that the woman standing in the doorway was starting to go, he shouted to her. `Wait a minute, I said.' And with that inability to express himself, the incoherence that Konstantin knew so well, he began, with another look round at everyone, to tell Kritsky's story to his brother: how he had been expelled from the university for starting a benevolent society for the poor students, and classes on Sunday, and how he had afterward been a teacher in a rural school, and had been driven out of that, too; and had afterward been on trial for something or other.
`You're of the Kiev University?' said Konstantin Levin to Kritsky, to break the awkward silence that followed.
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