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Anna Karenina 219

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

the better. I will inform him at once of my position in regard to his sister, and explain why it is I cant dine with him." "Come in!" he said aloud, collecting his papers, and putting them in the blotting-paper. "There, you see, youre talking nonsense, and hes at home!" responded Stepan Arkadyevitchs voice, addressing the servant, who had refused to let him in, and taking off his coat as he went, Oblonsky walked into the room. "Well, Im awfully glad Ive found you! So I hope..." Stepan Arkadyevitch began cheerfully. "I cannot come," Alexey Alexandrovitch said coldly, standing and not asking his visitor to sit down. Alexey Alexandrovitch had thought to pass at once into those frigid relations in which he ought to stand with the brother of a wife against whom he was beginning a suit for divorce. But he had not taken into account the ocean of kindliness brimming over in the heart of Stepan Arkadyevitch. Stepan Arkadyevitch opened wide his clear, shining eyes. "Why cant you? What do you mean?" he asked in perplexity, speaking in French. "Oh, but its a promise. And were all counting on you." "I want to tell you that I cant dine at your house, because the terms of relationship which have existed between us must cease." "How? How do you mean? What for?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch with a smile. "Because I am beginning an action for divorce against your sister, my wife. I ought to have..." But, before Alexey Alexandrovitch had time to finish his sentence, Stepan Arkadyevitch was behaving not at all as he had expected. He groaned and sank into an armchair. "No, Alexey Alexandrovitch! What are you saying?" cried Oblonsky, and his suffering was apparent in his face. "It is so." "Excuse me, I cant, I cant believe it!" Alexey Alexandrovitch 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, Alexey Alexandrovitch. I know you for an excellent, upright man; I know Anna--excuse me, I cant change my opinion of her--for a good, an excellent woman; and so, excuse me, I cannot believe it. There is some misunderstanding," said he. "Oh, if it were merely a misunderstanding!..." "Pardon, I understand," interposed Stepan Arkadyevitch. "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," Alexey Alexandrovitch 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 Arkadyevitch. "I would do one thing, Alexey Alexandrovitch. 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 shes a wonderful woman. For Gods sake, talk to her! Do me that favor, I beseech you!" Alexey Alexandrovitch pondered, and Stepan Arkadyevitch looked at him sympathetically, without interrupting his silence. "You will go to see her?" "I dont know. That was just why I have not been to see you. I imagine our relations must change." "Why so? I dont 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 Arkadyevitch, pressing his hand. "Even if your worst suppositions were correct, I dont--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 Alexey Alexandrovitch coldly. "However, we wont discuss it." "No; why shouldnt you come today to dine, anyway? My wifes expecting you. Please, do come. And, above all, talk it over with her. Shes a wonderful woman. For Gods sake, on my knees, I implore you!" "If you so much wish it, I will come," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, sighing. And, anxious to change the conversation, he inquired about what interested them both--the new head of Stepan Arkadyevitchs department, a man not yet old, who had suddenly been promoted to so high a position. Alexey Alexandrovitch

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