Produced by David Brannan.
by Leo Tolstoy
Translated by Constance Garnett
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its ownway.
Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys' house. The wife haddiscovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with a Frenchgirl, who had been a governess in their family, and she had announced toher husband that she could not go on living in the same house with him.This position of affairs had now lasted three days, and not only thehusband and wife themselves, but all the members of their family andhousehold, were painfully conscious of it. Every person in the housefelt that there was no sense in their living together, and that thestray people brought together by chance in any inn had more in commonwith one another than they, the members of the family and household ofthe Oblonskys. The wife did not leave her own room, the husband had notbeen at home for three days. The children ran wild all over the house;the English governess quarreled with the housekeeper, and wrote to afriend asking her to look out for a new situation for her; the man-cookhad walked off the day before just at dinner time; the kitchen-maid, andthe coachman had given warning.
Three days after the quarrel, Prince Stepan ArkadyevitchOblonsky--Stiva, as he was called in the fashionable world--woke up athis usual hour, that is, at eight o'clock in the morning, not in hiswife's bedroom, but on the leather-covered sofa in his study. He turnedover his stout, well-cared-for person on the springy sofa, as though hewould sink into a long sleep again; he vigorously embraced the pillow onthe other side and buried his face in it; but all at once he jumped up,sat up on the sofa, and opened his eyes.
Yes, yes, how was it now? he thought, going over his dream. Now, howwas it? To be sure! Alabin was giving a dinner at Darmstadt; no, notDarmstadt, but something American. Yes, but then, Darmstadt was inAmerica. Yes, Alabin was giving a dinner on glass tables, and the tablessang, _Il mio tesoro_--not _Il mio tesoro_ though, but something better,and there were some sort of little decanters on the table, and they werewomen, too, he remembered.
Stepan Arkadyevitch's eyes twinkled gaily, and he pondered with a smile.Yes, it was nice, very nice. There was a great deal more that wasdelightful, only there's no putting it into words, or even expressing itin one's thoughts awake. And noticing a gleam of light peeping inbeside one of the serge curtains, he cheerfully dropped his feet overthe edge of the sofa, and felt about with them for his slippers, apresent on his last birthday, worked for him by his wife on gold-coloredmorocco. And, as he had done every day for the last nine years, hestretched out his hand, without getting up, towards the place where hisdressing-gown always hung in his bedroom. And thereupon he suddenlyremembered that he was not sleeping in his wife's room, but in hisstudy, and why: the smile vanished from his face, he knitted his brows.
Ah, ah, ah! Oo!... he muttered, recalling everything that hadhappened. And again every detail of his quarrel with his wife waspresent to his imagination, all the hopelessness of his position, andworst of all, his own fault.
Yes, she won't forgive me, and she can't forgive me. And the most awfulthing about it is that it's all my fault--all my fault, though I'm notto blame. That's the point of the whole situation, he reflected. Oh,oh, oh! he kept repeating in despair, as he remembered the acutelypainful sensations caused him by this quarrel.
Most unpleasant of all was the first minute when, on coming, happy andgood-humored, from the theater, with a huge pear in his hand for hiswife, he had not found his wife in the drawing-room, to his surprise hadnot found her in the study either, and saw her at last in her bedroomwith the unlucky letter that revealed everything in her hand.
She, his Dolly, forever fussing and worrying over household details, andlimited in her ideas, as he considered, was sitting perfectly still withthe letter in her hand, looking at him with an expression of horror,despair, and indignation.
What's this? this? she asked, pointing to the letter.
And at this recollection, Stepan Arkadyevitch, as is so often the case,was not so much annoyed at the fact itself as at the way in which he hadmet his wife's words.
There happened to him at that instant what does happen to people whenthey are unexpectedly caught in something very disgraceful. He did notsucceed in adapting his face to the position in which he was placedtowards his wife by the discovery of his fault. Instead of being hurt,denying, defending himself, begging forgiveness, instead of remainingindifferent even--anything would have been better than what he diddo--his face utterly involuntarily (reflex spinal action, reflectedStepan Arkadyevitch, who was fond of physiology)--utterly involuntarilyassumed its habitual, good-humored, and therefore idiotic smile.
This idiotic smile he could not forgive himself. Catching sight of thatsmile, Dolly shuddered as though at physical pain, broke out with hercharacteristic heat into a flood of cruel words, and rushed out of theroom. Since then she had refused to see her husband.
It's that idiotic smile that's to blame for it all, thought StepanArkadyevitch.
But what's to be done? What's to be done? he said to himself indespair, and found no answer.