Laptev put on his coat, too, and went out. After seeing his brother part of the way home, he took a sledge and drove to Yar’s.
“And this is family happiness!” he said, jeering at himself. “This is love!”
His teeth were chattering, and he did not know if it were jealousy or something else. He walked about near the tables; listened to a comic singer in the hall. He had not a single phrase ready if he should meet his own party; and he felt sure beforehand that if he met his wife, he would only smile pitifully and not cleverly, and that every one would understand what feeling had induced him to come here. He was bewildered by the electric light, the loud music, the smell of powder, and the fact that the ladies he met looked at him. He stood at the doors trying to see and to hear what was going on in the private rooms, and it seemed to him that he was somehow playing a mean, contemptible part on a level with the comic singers and those ladies. Then he went to Strelna, but he found none of his circle there, either; and only when on the way home he was again driving up to Yar’s, a three-horse sledge noisily overtook him. The driver was drunk and shouting, and he could hear Yartsev laughing: “Ha, ha, ha!”
Laptev returned home between three and four. Yulia Sergeyevna was in bed. Noticing that she was not asleep, he went up to her and said sharply:
“I understand your repulsion, your hatred, but you might spare me before other people; you might conceal your feelings.”
She got up and sat on the bed with her legs dangling. Her eyes looked big and black in the lamplight.
“I beg your pardon,” she said.
He could not utter a single word from excitement and the trembling of his whole body; he stood facing her and was dumb. She trembled, too, and sat with the air of a criminal waiting for explanations.
“How I suffer!” he said at last, and he clutched his head. “I’m in hell, and I’m out of my mind.”
“And do you suppose it’s easy for me?” she asked, with a quiver in her voice. “God alone knows what I go through.”
“You’ve been my wife for six months, but you haven’t a spark of love for me in your heart. There’s no hope, not one ray of light! Why did you marry me?” Laptev went on with despair. “Why? What demon thrust you into my arms? What did you hope for? What did you want?”
She looked at him with terror, as though she were afraid he would kill her.
“Did I attract you? Did you like me?” he went on, gasping for breath. “No. Then what? What? Tell me what?” he cried. “Oh, the cursed money! The cursed money!”
“I swear to God, no!” she cried, and she crossed herself. She seemed to shrink under the insult, and for the first time he heard her crying. “I swear to God, no!” she repeated. “I didn’t think about your money; I didn’t want it. I simply thought I should do wrong if I refused you. I was afraid of spoiling your life and mine. And now I am suffering for my mistake. I’m suffering unbearably!”