`Well then, come in,' said Kitty, turning to Marya Nikolaevna, who had recovered herself - but, noticing her husband's face of dismay - `or go on; go, and then come for me,' she said, and went back into the room. Levin went to his brother's room.

He had not in the least expected what he saw and felt in his brother's room. He had expected to find him in the same state of self-deception which he had heard was so frequent with the consumptive, and which had struck him so much during his brother's visit in the autumn. He had expected to find the physical signs of the approach of death more marked - greater weakness, greater emaciation, but still almost the same condition of things. He had expected himself to feel the same distress at the loss of the brother he loved and the same horror in face of death as he had felt then, only in a greater degree. And he had prepared himself for this; but he found something utterly different.

In a little dirty room with the painted panels of its walls filthy with spittle; with conversation audible from the next room through the thin partition, in a stifling atmosphere saturated with impurities, on a bedstead moved away from the wall, there lay, covered with a quilt, a body. One arm of this body was above the quilt, and the wrist, huge as a rake handle, was attached, inconceivably it seemed, to the thin, long bobbin smooth from the beginning to the middle. The head lay sideways on the pillow. Levin could see the scanty locks wet with sweat on the temples and the tensed, seemingly transparent forehead.

`It cannot be that that fearful body was my brother Nikolai?' thought Levin. But he went closer, saw the face, and doubt became impossible. In spite of the terrible change in the face, Levin had only to glance at those eager eyes at his approach, only to catch the faint movement of the mouth under the sticky mustache, to realize the terrible truth that this dead body was his living brother.

The glittering eyes looked sternly and reproachfully at the brother as he drew near. And immediately this glance established a living relationship between living men. Levin immediately felt the reproach in the eyes fixed on him, and felt remorse at his own happiness.

When Konstantin took him by the hand, Nikolai smiled. The smile was faint, scarcely perceptible, and in spite of the smile the stern expression of the eyes was unchanged.

`You did not expect to find me like this,' he articulated with effort.

`Yes... no,' said Levin, hesitating over his words. `How was it you didn't let me know before - that is, at the time of my wedding? I made inquiries in all directions.'

He had to talk so as not to be silent, and he did not know what to say, especially as his brother made no reply, and simply stared without dropping his eyes, and apparently penetrated to the inner meaning of each word. Levin told his brother that his wife had come with him. Nikolai expressed pleasure, but said he was afraid of frightening her by his condition. A silence followed. Suddenly Nikolai stirred, and began to say something. Levin expected something of peculiar gravity and importance from the expression of his face, but Nikolai began speaking of his health. He found fault with the doctor, regretting he had not a celebrated Moscow doctor. Levin saw that he still had hopes.

Seizing the first moment of silence, Levin got up, anxious to escape, if only for an instant, from his agonizing emotion, and said that he would go and fetch his wife.

`Very well, and I'll tell Masha to tidy up here. It's dirty and stinking here, I expect. Masha! Clear up the room,' the sick man said with effort. `And when you've cleared up, you go away,' he added, looking inquiringly at his brother.

Levin made no answer. Going out into the corridor, he stopped short. He had said he would fetch his wife, but now, taking stock of the emotion he was feeling, he decided that, on the contrary, he would try to persuade her not to go in to the sick man. `Why should she suffer as I am suffering?' he thought.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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