“I’ve forgotten how the rooms go,” he said in extreme confusion. “It’s a strange house. Isn’t it a strange house!”
He seemed utterly overcome as he put on his coat, and there was a look of pain on his face. Laptev felt no more anger; he was frightened, and at the same time felt sorry for Fyodor, and the warm, true love for his brother, which seemed to have died down in his heart during those three years, awoke, and he felt an intense desire to express that love.
“Come to dinner with us to-morrow, Fyodor,” he said, and stroked him on the shoulder. “Will you come?”
“Yes, yes; but give me some water.”
Laptev ran himself to the dining-room to take the first thing he could get from the sideboard. This was a tall beer-jug. He poured water into it and brought it to his brother. Fyodor began drinking, but bit a piece out of the jug; they heard a crunch, and then sobs. The water ran over his fur coat and his jacket, and Laptev, who had never seen men cry, stood in confusion and dismay, not knowing what to do. He looked on helplessly while Yulia and the servant took off Fyodor’s coat and helped him back again into the room, and went with him, feeling guilty.
Yulia made Fyodor lie down on the sofa and knelt beside him.
“It’s nothing,” she said, trying to comfort him. “It’s your nerves. . . .”
“I’m so miserable, my dear!” he said. “I am so unhappy, unhappy . . . but all the time I’ve been hiding it, I’ve been hiding it!”
He put his arm round her neck and whispered in her ear:
“Every night I see my sister Nina. She comes and sits in the chair near my bed. . . .”
When, an hour later, he put on his fur coat in the hall, he was smiling again and ashamed to face the servant. Laptev went with him to Pyatnitsky Street.
“Come and have dinner with us to-morrow,” he said on the way, holding him by the arm, “and at Easter we’ll go abroad together. You absolutely must have a change, or you’ll be getting quite morbid.”
When he got home Laptev found his wife in a state of great nervous agitation. The scene with Fyodor had upset her, and she could not recover her composure. She wasn’t crying but kept tossing on the bed, clutching with cold fingers at the quilt, at the pillows, at her husband’s hands. Her eyes looked big and frightened.
“Don’t go away from me, don’t go away,” she said to her husband. “Tell me, Alyosha, why have I left off saying my prayers? What has become of my faith? Oh, why did you talk of religion before me? You’ve shaken my faith, you and your friends. I never pray now.”
He put compresses on her forehead, chafed her hands, gave her tea to drink, while she huddled up to him in terror. . . .
Towards morning she was worn out and fell asleep, while Laptev sat beside her and held her hand. So that he could get no sleep. The whole day afterwards he felt shattered and dull, and wandered listlessly about the rooms without a thought in his head.