`I'm not well; I've grown irritable,' said Nikolai Levin, getting calmer and breathing painfully; `and then you talk to me of Sergei Ivanovich and his essay. It's such rubbish, such lying, such self-deception! What can a man write about justice who knows nothing of it? Have you read his essay?' he turned to Kritsky, sitting down again at the table, and clearing a space for himself by pushing back some half-made cigarettes.
`I haven't,' Kritsky responded gloomily, obviously not desiring to enter into the conversation.
`Why not?' said Nikolai Levin, now turning with exasperation upon Kritsky.
`Because I didn't see the use of wasting my time over it.'
`Oh, if you please - how did you know it would be wasting your time? That essay's too deep for many people - that is to say, it's over their heads. But it's different with me, I see through his ideas, and I know wherein the essay's weakness lies.'
They all fell silent. Kritsky got up sluggishly and reached for his cap.
`Won't you have supper? All right, good-by! Come round tomorrow with the locksmith.'
Kritsky had hardly gone out when Nikolai Levin smiled and winked.
`He, too, is poor stuff,' he said. `For I can see...'
But at that instant Kritsky, at the door, called him.
`What do you want now?' he said, and went out to him in the passage. Left alone with Marya Nikolaevna, Levin turned to her.
`Have you been long with my brother?' he said to her.
`Yes, more than a year. His health has become very poor. He drinks a great deal,' she said.
`He drinks vodka, and it's bad for him.'
`And a great deal?' whispered Levin.
`Yes,' she said, looking timidly toward the doorway, where Nikolai Levin had reappeared.
`What were you talking about?' he said, knitting his brows, and turning his scared eyes from one to the other. `What was it?'
`Oh, nothing,' Konstantin answered in confusion.
`Oh, if you don't want to say, don't. Only it's no good your talking to her. She's a wench, and you're a gentleman,' he said, with a jerk of the neck. `You understand everything, I see, and have taken stock of everything, and look with commiseration on my transgressions,' he began again, raising his voice.
`Nikolai Dmitrich, Nikolai Dmitrich,' whispered Marya Nikolaevna, again going up to him.
`Oh, very well, very well!... But where's the supper? Ah, here it is,' he said, seeing a waiter with a tray. `Here, set it here,' he added angrily, and promptly seizing the vodka, he poured out a pony and drank it greedily. `Like a drink?' he turned to his brother, and at once became better-humored. `Well, enough of Sergei Ivanovich. I'm glad to see you, anyway. After all's said and done, we're not strangers. Come, have a drink. Tell me what you're doing,' he went on, greedily munching a piece of bread, and pouring out another pony. `How are things with you?'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|