It was only as he was finishing the milk-soup that Laptev realised how very inappropriate it was for him to be dining there. The lady was embarrassed, and kept smiling, showing her teeth. Panaurov expounded didactically what being in love was, and what it was due to.
“We have in it an example of the action of electricity,” he said in French, addressing the lady. “Every man has in his skin microscopic glands which contain currents of electricity. If you meet with a person whose currents are parallel with your own, then you get love.”
When Laptev went home and his sister asked him where he had been he felt awkward, and made no answer.
He felt himself in a false position right up to the time of the wedding. His love grew more intense every day, and Yulia seemed to him a poetic and exalted creature; but, all the same, there was no mutual love, and the truth was that he was buying her and she was selling herself. Sometimes, thinking things over, he fell into despair and asked himself: should he run away? He did not sleep for nights together, and kept thinking how he should meet in Moscow the lady whom he had called in his letters “a certain person,” and what attitude his father and his brother, difficult people, would take towards his marriage and towards Yulia. He was afraid that his father would say something rude to Yulia at their first meeting. And something strange had happened of late to his brother Fyodor. In his long letters he had taken to writing of the importance of health, of the effect of illness on the mental condition, of the meaning of religion, but not a word about Moscow or business. These letters irritated Laptev, and he thought his brother’s character was changing for the worse.
The wedding was in September. The ceremony took place at the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul, after mass, and the same day the young couple set off for Moscow. When Laptev and his wife, in a black dress with a long train, already looking not a girl but a married woman, said good-bye to Nina Fyodorovna, the invalid’s face worked, but there was no tear in her dry eyes. She said:
“If—which God forbid—I should die, take care of my little girls.”
“Oh, I promise!” answered Yulia Sergeyevna, and her lips and eyelids began quivering too.
“I shall come to see you in October,” said Laptev, much moved. “You must get better, my darling.”
They travelled in a special compartment. Both felt depressed and uncomfortable. She sat in the corner without taking off her hat, and made a show of dozing, and he lay on the seat opposite, and he was disturbed by various thoughts—of his father, of “a certain person,” whether Yulia would like her Moscow flat. And looking at his wife, who did not love him, he wondered dejectedly “why this had happened.”