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to blame for her ruin." He had thought it all over hundreds of times, and was convinced that a divorce was not at all simple, as Stepan Arkadyevitch had said, but was utterly impossible. He did not believe a single word Stepan Arkadyevitch said to him; to every word he had a thousand objections to make, but he listened to him, feeling that his words were the expression of that mighty brutal force which controlled his life and to which he would have to submit. "The only question is on what terms you agree to give her a divorce. She does not want anything, does not dare ask you for anything, she leaves it all to your generosity." "My God, my God! what for?" thought Alexey Alexandrovitch, remembering the details of divorce proceedings in which the husband took the blame on himself, and with just the same gesture with which Vronsky had done the same, he hid his face for shame in his hands. "You are distressed, I understand that. But if you think it over..." "Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the other also; and if any man take away thy coat, let him have thy cloak also," thought Alexey Alexandrovitch. "Yes, yes!" he cried in a shrill voice. "I will take the disgrace on myself, I will give up even my son, but...but wouldnt it be better to let it alone? Still you may do as you like..." And turning away so that his brother-in-law could not see him, he sat down on a chair at the window. There was bitterness, there was shame in his heart, but with bitterness and shame he felt joy and emotion at the height of his own meekness. Stepan Arkadyevitch was touched. He was silent for a space. "Alexey Alexandrovitch, believe me, she appreciates your generosity," he said. "But it seems it was the will of God," he added, and as he said it felt how foolish a remark it was, and with difficulty repressed a smile at his own foolishness. Alexey Alexandrovitch would have made some reply, but tears stopped him. "This is an unhappy fatality, and one must accept it as such. I accept the calamity as an accomplished fact, and am doing my best to help both her and you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. When he went out of his brother-in-laws room he was touched, but that did not prevent him from being glad he had successfully brought the matter to a conclusion, for he felt certain Alexey Alexandrovitch would not go back on his words. To this satisfaction was added the fact that an idea had just struck him for a riddle turning on his successful achievement, that when the affair was over he would ask his wife and most intimate friends. He put this riddle into two or three different ways. "But Ill work it out better than that," he said to himself with a smile. Chapter 23 Vronskys wound had been a dangerous one, though it did not touch the heart, and for several days he had lain between life and death. The first time he was able to speak, Varya, his brothers wife, was alone in the room. "Varya," he said, looking sternly at her, "I shot myself by accident. And please never speak of it, and tell everyone so. Or else its too ridiculous." Without answering his words, Varya bent over him, and with a delighted smile gazed into his face. His eyes were clear, not feverish; but their expression was stern. "Thank God!" she said. "Youre not in pain?" "A little here." He pointed to his breast. "Then let me change your bandages." In silence, stiffening his broad jaws, he looked at her while she bandaged him up. When she had finished he said: "Im not delirious. Please manage that there may be no talk of my having shot myself on purpose." "No one does say so. Only I hope you wont shoot yourself by accident any more," she said, with a questioning smile. "Of course I wont, but it would have been better..." And he smiled gloomily. In spite of these words and this smile, which so frightened Varya, when the inflammation was over and he began to recover, he felt that he was completely free from one part of his misery. By his action he had, as it were, washed away the shame and humiliation he had felt before. He could now think calmly of Alexey Alexandrovitch. He recognized all

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