unconsciously become agitated over what was the affair of her conscience, and was struggling against some imaginary barrier.
`This is what I meant to say to you,' he went on coldly and composedly, `and I beg you to hear me to the end. I consider jealousy, as you know, a humiliating and degrading feeling, and I shall never allow myself to be guided by it; but there are certain rules of decency which cannot be disregarded with impunity. This evening it was not I who observed it - but, judging by the impression made on the company, everyone observed that your conduct and deportment were not altogether what one would desire.'
`I positively don't understand,' said Anna, shrugging her shoulders. `He doesn't care,' she thought. `But other people noticed it and that's what upsets him.' - `You're not well, Alexei Alexandrovich,' she added, and, getting up, was about to pass through the door; but he moved forward as though he would stop her.
His face was gloomy and forbidding, as Anna had never seen it before. She stopped, and bending her head back and to one side, began taking out her hairpins with her quick-darting hand.
`Well, I'm listening - what does follow?' she said, calmly and ironically; `and, indeed, I am listening even with interest, for I should like to understand what it is all about.'
She spoke, and marveled at the confident, calm and natural tone in which she spoke, and at the choice of the words she used.
`To enter into all the details of your feelings I have no right, and, besides, I regard that as useless and even harmful,' began Alexei Alexandrovich. `Rummaging in our souls, we often bring up something that might have otherwise lain there unnoticed. Your feelings are an affair of your own conscience; but I am in duty bound to you, to myself and to God, to point out to you your duties. Our life has been joined, not by man, but by God. That union can only be severed by a crime, and a crime of that nature brings its own chastisement.'
`I don't understand a word. And, oh dear! how sleepy I am, unluckily,' she said, rapidly passing her hand through her hair, feeling for the remaining hairpins.
`Anna, for God's sake don't speak like that!' he said gently. `Perhaps I am mistaken, but believe me, that which I am saying I say as much for myself as for you. I am your husband, and I love you.'
For an instant her face fell, and the mocking gleam in her eyes died away; but the phrase `I love' threw her into revolt again. She thought: `Love? Can he love? If he hadn't heard there was such a thing as love, he would never have used the word. He doesn't even know what love is.'
`Alexei Alexandrovich, I really do not understand,' she said. `Define what it is you consider...'
`Pardon, let me say all I have to say. I love you. But I am not speaking of myself; the most important persons in this matter are our son and yourself. It may very well be, I repeat, that my words seem to you utterly unnecessary and out of place; it may be that they are called forth by my mistaken impression. In that case, I beg you to forgive me. But if you are conscious yourself of even the smallest foundation for them, then I beg you to think a little, and if your heart prompts you, to speak out to me...'
Alexei Alexandrovich was unconsciously saying something utterly unlike what he had prepared.
`I have nothing to say. And besides she said suddenly, with difficulty repressing a smile, `it's really time to be in bed.'
Alexei Alexandrovich sighed, and, without saying more, went into the bedroom.
When she came into the bedroom, he was already in bed. His lips were sternly compressed, and his eyes looked away from her. Anna got into her bed, and lay expecting every minute that he would begin
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