The proposal Laptev had made so suddenly threw Yulia Sergeyevna into despair.
She knew Laptev very little, had made his acquaintance by chance; he was a rich man, a partner in the well-known Moscow firm of “Fyodor Laptev and Sons”; always serious, apparently clever, and anxious about his sister’s illness. It had seemed to her that he took no notice of her whatever, and she did not care about him in the least —and then all of a sudden that declaration on the stairs, that pitiful, ecstatic face. . . .
The offer had overwhelmed her by its suddenness and by the fact that the word wife had been uttered, and by the necessity of rejecting it. She could not remember what she had said to Laptev, but she still felt traces of the sudden, unpleasant feeling with which she had rejected him. He did not attract her; he looked like a shopman; he was not interesting; she could not have answered him except with a refusal, and yet she felt uncomfortable, as though she had done wrong.
“My God! without waiting to get into the room, on the stairs,” she said to herself in despair, addressing the ikon which hung over her pillow; “and no courting beforehand, but so strangely, so oddly. . . .”
In her solitude her agitation grew more intense every hour, and it was beyond her strength to master this oppressive feeling alone. She needed some one to listen to her story and to tell her that she had done right. But she had no one to talk to. She had lost her mother long before; she thought her father a queer man, and could not talk to him seriously. He worried her with his whims, his extreme readiness to take offence, and his meaningless gestures; and as soon as one began to talk to him, he promptly turned the conversation on himself. And in her prayer she was not perfectly open, because she did not know for certain what she ought to pray for.
The samovar was brought in. Yulia Sergeyevna, very pale and tired, looking dejected, came into the dining-room to make tea—it was one of her duties—and poured out a glass for her father. Sergey Borisovitch, in his long coat that reached below his knees, with his red face and unkempt hair, walked up and down the room with his hands in his pockets, pacing, not from corner to corner, but backwards and forwards at random, like a wild beast in its cage. He would stand still by the table, sip his glass of tea with relish, and pace about again, lost in thought.