to her position, she would have gone on living in the country. But you promised it, and she wrote to you, and moved to Moscow. And here she's been for six months in Moscow, where every chance meeting cuts her to the heart, every day expecting an answer. Why, it's like keeping a condemned criminal for six months with the rope round his neck, promising him perhaps death, perhaps mercy. Have pity on her, and I will undertake to arrange everything.... Vos scrupules...'

`I am not talking about that, about that...' Alexei Alexandrovich interrupted with disgust. `But, perhaps, I promised what I had no right to promise.'

`So you go back on your promise?'

`I have never refused to do all that is possible, but I want time to consider how much of what I promised is possible.'

`No, Alexei Alexandrovich!' cried Oblonsky, jumping up. `I won't believe that! She's unhappy as only a woman can be unhappy, and you cannot refuse in such...'

`As much of what I promised as is possible. Vous professez d'être libre penseur. But I, as a believer, cannot, in a matter of such gravity, act in opposition to the Christian law.'

`But in Christian societies and among us, as far as I'm aware, divorce is allowed,' said Stepan Arkadyevich. `Divorce is sanctioned even by our church. And we see...'

`It is allowed, but not in the sense...'

`Alexei Alexandrovich, you are not like yourself,' said Oblonsky, after a brief pause. `Wasn't it you (and didn't we all appreciate it in you?) who forgave everything, and, moved simply by Christian feeling, were ready to make any sacrifice? You said yourself: if a man take thy cloak, give him thy coat also, and now...'

`I beg,' said Alexei Alexandrovich shrilly, getting suddenly onto his feet, his face white and his jaws twitching, `I beg you to drop this... to drop... this subject!'

`Oh, no! Oh, forgive me, forgive me if I have wounded you,' said Stepan Arkadyevich, holding out his hand with a smile of embarrassment; `but like a messenger I have simply performed the commission given me.'

Alexei Alexandrovich gave him his hand, pondered a little, and said:

`I must think it over and seek for guidance. The day after tomorrow I will give you a final answer,' he said, after considering a moment.

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.