`I am afraid she does not understand her own position. She is not a judge,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, recovering himself. `She is crushed, simply crushed by your generosity. If she were to read this letter, she would be incapable of saying anything - she would only hang her head lower than ever.'

`Yes, but what's to be done in that case? How explain... how find out her wishes?'

`If you will allow me to give my opinion, I think that it lies with you to point out directly the steps you consider necessary to end the situation.'

`So you consider it must be ended?' Alexei Alexandrovich interrupted him. `But how?' he added, with a gesture of his hands before his eyes, not usual with him. `I see no possible way out of it.'

`There is some way of getting out of every situation,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, standing up and becoming more cheerful. `There was a time when you thought of breaking off... If you are convinced now that you cannot make each other happy...'

`Happiness may be variously understood. But suppose that I agree to everything, that I want nothing: what way is there of getting out of our situation?'

`If you care to know my opinion,' - said Stepan Arkadyevich, with the same smile of softening, almond-oil tenderness with which he had been talking to Anna. His kindly smile was so winning that Alexei Alexandrovich, feeling his own weakness and unconsciously swayed by it, was ready to believe what Stepan Arkadyevich was saying. `She will never speak out about it. But one thing is possible, one thing she might desire,' he went on; `that is the cessation of your relations, and all memories associated with them. To my thinking, in your situation the essential thing is the formation of a new attitude to one another. And that can only rest on a basis of freedom on both sides.'

`Divorce,' Alexei Alexandrovich interrupted, in a tone of aversion.

`Yes, I imagine that divorce... Yes, divorce,' Stepan Arkadyevich repeated, reddening. `That is from every point of view the most rational course for married people who find themselves in the situation you are in. What can be done if married people find that life is impossible for them together? That may always happen.'

Alexei Alexandrovich sighed heavily and closed his eyes.

`There's only one point to be considered: is either of the parties desirous of forming new ties? If not, it is very simple,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, feeling more and more free from constraint.

Alexei Alexandrovich, scowling with emotion, muttered something to himself, and made no answer. All that seemed so simple to Stepan Arkadyevich, Alexei Alexandrovich had thought over thousands of times. And, so far from being simple, it all seemed to him utterly impossible: divorce, the details of which he knew by this time, seemed to him now out of the question, because the sense of his own dignity and respect for religion forbade his taking upon himself a fictitious charge of adultery, and still more, suffering his wife, pardoned and beloved by him, to be caught in the fact and put to public shame. Divorce appeared to him impossible also on other, still more weighty grounds.

What would become of his son in case of a divorce? To leave him with his mother was out of the question. The divorced mother would have her own illegitimate family, in which his status as a stepson, and his education, would be probably bad. Keep him with him? He knew that would be an act of vengeance on his part, and that he did not desire. But, apart from this, what more than all made divorce seem impossible to Alexei Alexandrovich was that, by consenting to a divorce, he would be completely ruining Anna. The saying of Darya Alexandrovna at Moscow, that in deciding on a divorce he was thinking of himself, and not considering that by this he would be ruining her irrevocably, had sunk into his heart. And connecting this saying with his forgiveness of her, with his devotion to the children, he understood

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
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.