“Well, the devil flay them, the privileged classes,” his brother’s voice responded, with a cough. “Masha! get us some supper and some wine if there’s any left; or else go and get some.”
The woman rose, came out from behind the screen, and saw Konstantin.
“There’s some gentleman, Nikolay Dmitrievitch,” she said.
“Whom do you want?” said the voice of Nikolay Levin, angrily.
“It’s I,” answered Konstantin Levin, coming forward into the light.
“Who’s I?” Nikolay’s voice said again, still more angrily. He could be heard getting up hurriedly, stumbling against something, and Levin saw, facing him in the doorway, the big, scared eyes, and the huge, thin, stooping figure of his brother, so familiar, and yet astonishing in its weirdness and sickliness.
He was even thinner than three years before, when Konstantin Levin had seen him last. He was wearing a short coat, and his hands and big bones seemed huger than ever. His hair had grown thinner, the same straight mustaches hid his lips, the same eyes gazed strangely and naively at his visitor.
“Ah, Kostya!” he exclaimed suddenly, recognizing his brother, and his eyes lit up with joy. But the same second he looked round at the young man, and gave the nervous jerk of his head and neck that Konstantin knew so well, as if his neckband hurt him; and a quite different expression, wild, suffering, and cruel, rested on his emaciated face.
“I wrote to you and Sergey Ivanovitch both that I don’t know you and don’t want to know you. What is it you want?”
He was not at all the same as Konstantin had been fancying him. The worst and most tiresome part of his character, what made all relations with him so difficult, had been forgotten by Konstantin Levin when he thought of him, and now, when he saw his face, and especially that nervous twitching of his head, he remembered it all.
“I didn’t want to see you for anything,” he answered timidly. “I’ve simply come to see you.”
His brother’s timidity obviously softened Nikolay. His lips twitched.
“Oh, so that’s it?” he said. “Well, come in; sit down. Like some supper? Masha, bring supper for three. No, stop a minute. Do you know who this is?” he said, addressing his brother, and indicating the gentleman in the jerkin: “This is Mr. Kritsky, my friend from Kiev, a very remarkable man. He’s persecuted by the police, of course, because he’s not a scoundrel.”
And he looked round in the way he always did at everyone in the room. Seeing that the woman standing in the doorway was moving to go, he shouted to her, “Wait a minute, I said.” And with the inability to express himself, the incoherence that Konstantin knew so well, he began, with another look round at everyone, to tell his brother Kritsky’s story: how he had been expelled from the university for starting a benefit society for the poor students and Sunday schools; and how he had afterwards been a teacher in a peasant school, and how he had been driven out of that too, and had afterwards been condemned for something.