Though Levin tried to control himself, he was gloomy and silent. He wanted to put one question to Stepan Arkadyevitch, but he could not bring himself to the point, and could not find the words or the moment in which to put it. Stepan Arkadyevitch had gone down to his room, undressed, again washed, and attired in a nightshirt with goffered frills, he had got into bed, but Levin still lingered in his room, talking of various trifling matters, and not daring to ask what he wanted to know.
“How wonderfully they make this soap,” he said gazing at a piece of soap he was handling, which Agafea Mihalovna had put ready for the visitor but Oblonsky had not used. “Only look; why, it’s a work of art.”
“Yes, everything’s brought to such a pitch of perfection nowadays,” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, with a moist and blissful yawn. “The theater, for instance, and the entertainments... a—a—a!” he yawned. “The electric light everywhere...a—a—a!”
“Yes, the electric light,” said Levin. “Yes. Oh, and where’s Vronsky now?” he asked suddenly, laying down the soap.
“Vronsky?” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, checking his yawn; “he’s in Petersburg. He left soon after you did, and he’s not once been in Moscow since. And do you know, Kostya, I’ll tell you the truth,” he went on, leaning his elbow on the table, and propping on his hand his handsome ruddy face, in which his moist, good-natured, sleepy eyes shone like stars. “It’s your own fault. You took fright at the sight of your rival. But, as I told you at the time, I couldn’t say which had the better chance. Why didn’t you fight it out? I told you at the time that....” He yawned inwardly, without opening his mouth.
“Does he know, or doesn’t he, that I did make an offer?” Levin wondered, gazing at him. “Yes, there’s something humbugging, diplomatic in his face,” and feeling he was blushing, he looked Stepan Arkadyevitch straight in the face without speaking.
“If there was anything on her side at the time, it was nothing but a superficial attraction,” pursued Oblonsky. “His being such a perfect aristocrat, don’t you know, and his future position in society, had an influence not with her, but with her mother.”
Levin scowled. The humiliation of his rejection stung him to the heart, as though it were a fresh wound he had only just received. But he was at home, and the walls of home are a support.
“Stay, stay,” he began, interrupting Oblonsky. “You talk of his being an aristocrat. But allow me to ask what it consists in, that aristocracy of Vronsky or of anybody else, beside which I can be looked down upon? You consider Vronsky an aristocrat, but I don’t. A man whose father crawled up from nothing at all by intrigue, and whose mother—God knows whom she wasn’t mixed up with.... No, excuse me, but I consider myself aristocratic, and people like me, who can point back in the past to three or four honorable generations