But, before Alexei Alexandrovich had time to finish his sentence, Stepan Arkadyevich was behaving not at all as he had expected. Stepan Arkadyevich groaned and sank into an armchair.

`No, Alexei Alexandrovich! What are you saying?' cried Oblonsky, and his suffering was apparent in his face.

`It is so.'

`Excuse me, I can't, I can't believe it!'

Alexei Alexandrovich sat down, feeling that his words had not had the effect he anticipated, and that it would be unavoidable for him to explain his position, and that, whatever explanations he might make, his relations with his brother-in-law would remain unchanged.

`Yes, I am brought to the painful necessity of seeking a divorce,' he said.

`I will say one thing, Alexei Alexandrovich. I know you for an excellent, upright man; I know Anna - excuse me, I can't change my opinion of her - for a good, an excellent woman; and so you must excuse me if I cannot believe it. There is some misunderstanding,' said he.

`Oh, if it were merely a misunderstanding!...'

`Pardon, I understand,' interposed Stepan Arkadyevich. `But of course... One thing: you must not act in haste. You must not, you must not act in haste!'

`I am not acting in haste,' Alexei Alexandrovich said coldly, `but one cannot ask advice of anyone in such a matter. I have quite made up my mind.'

`This is awful!' said Stepan Arkadyevich. `I would do one thing, Alexei Alexandrovich. I beseech you - do it!' he said. `No action has yet been taken, if I understand rightly. Before you take advice, see my wife, talk to her. She loves Anna like a sister, she loves you, and she's a wonderful woman. For God's sake, talk to her! Do me that favor, I beseech you!'

Alexei Alexandrovich pondered, and Stepan Arkadyevich looked at him sympathetically, without interrupting his silence.

`You will go to see her?'

`I don't know. That was just why I have not been to see you. I imagine our relations must change.'

`Why so? I don't see that. Allow me to believe that, apart from our connection, you have for me, at least in part, the same friendly feeling I have always had for you... and sincere esteem,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, pressing his hand. `Even if your worst suppositions were correct, I don't - and never would - take on myself to judge either side, and I see no reason why our relations should be affected. But now, do this, come and see my wife.'

`Well, we look at the matter differently,' said Alexei Alexandrovich coldly. `However, we won't discuss it.'

`No; why shouldn't you come today to dine, anyway? My wife's expecting you. Please, do come. And, above all, talk it over with her. She's a wonderful woman. For God's sake, on my knees, I implore you!'

`If you so much wish it, I will come,' said Alexei Alexandrovich, sighing.

And, anxious to change the conversation, he inquired about what interested them both - the new head of Stepan Arkadyevich's board, a man not yet old, who had suddenly been promoted to so high a position.

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