ALEXEY ALEXANDROVITCH, on coming back from church service, had spent the whole morning indoors. He had two pieces of business before him that morning: first, to receive and send on a deputation from the native tribes which was on its way to Petersburg, and now at Moscow; secondly, to write the promised letter to the lawyer. The deputation, though it had been summoned at Alexey Alexandrovitchs instigation, was not without its discomforting and even dangerous aspect, and he was very glad he had found it in Moscow. The members of this deputation had not the slightest conception of their duty and the part they were to play. They naïvely believed that it was their business to lay before the commission their needs and the actual condition of things, and to ask assistance of the government, and utterly failed to grasp that some of their statements and requests supported the contention of the enemys side, and so spoiled the whole business. Alexey Alexandrovitch was busily engaged with them for a long while, drew up a programme for them from which they were not to depart, and on dismissing them wrote a letter to Petersburg for the guidance of the deputation. he had his chief support in this affair in the Countess Lidia Ivanovna. She was a specialist in the matter of deputations, and no one knew better than she how to manage them, and put them in the way they should go. Having completed this task, Alexey Alexandrovitch wrote the letter to the lawyer. Without the slightest hesitation he gave him permission to act as he might judge best. In the letter he enclosed three of Vronskys notes to Anna, which were in the portfolio he had taken away.
Since Alexey Alexandrovitch had left home with the intention of not returning to his family again, and since he had been at the lawyers and had spoken, though only to one man, of his intention, since especially he had translated the matter from the world of real life to the world of ink and paper, he had grown more and more used to his own intention, and by now distinctly perceived the feasibility of its execution.
He was sealing the envelope to the lawyer, when he heard the loud tones of Stepan Arkadyevitchs voice. Stepan Arkadyevitch was disputing with Alexey Alexandrovitchs servant, and insisting on being announced.
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.
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.
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.
I will say one thing, Alexey Alexandrovitch. I know you for an excellent, upright man; I know Annaexcuse me, I cant change my opinion of herfor a good, an excellent woman; and so, excuse me, I cannot believe it. There is some misunderstanding, said he.
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 favour, I beseech you!
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 dontand never wouldtake 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.
No; why shouldnt you come to-day 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!
And, anxious to change the conversation, he inquired about what interested them boththe new head of Stepan Arkadyevitchs department, a man not yet old, who had suddenly been promoted to so high a position.
Alexey Alexandrovitch had previously felt no liking for Count Anitchkin, and had always differed from him in his opinions. But now, from a feeling readily comprehensible to officialsthat hatred felt by one who has suffered a defeat in the service for one who has received a promotion, he could not endure him.
Yes, but what is his energy directed to? said Alexey Alexandrovitch. Is he aiming at doing anything, or simply undoing whats been done? Its the great misfortune of our governmentthis paper administration, of which hes a worthy representative.
Really, I dont know what fault one could find with him. His policy I dont know, but one thinghes a very nice fellow, answered Stepan Arkadyevitch. Ive just been seeing him, and hes really a capital fellow. We lunched together, and I taught him how to make, you know that drink, wine and oranges. Its so cooling. And its a wonder he didnt know it. He liked it awfully. No, really, hes a capital fellow.