Part 7, Chapter 21 Summary
After a sumptuous meal and a great deal of cognac, Stepan Arkadyevitch is only slightly late for his appointment at Countess Lidia’s. Alexey Alexandrovitch and Count Bezzubov are already there, and Stepan Arkadyevitch intends to make a good impression, both to gain his sister’s divorce and a recommendation for the appointment he is seeking. Though it is still light outside, the drawing room is nearly dark and Alexey Alexandrovitch is talking quietly with Countess Lidia. Across the room, a very thin, pale, and handsome man is standing and examining the portraits on the wall.
Countess Lidia introduces her guest to the count and he immediately goes back to gazing at the portraits; Alexey Alexandrovitch and Countess Lidia exchange a meaningful look. They tell Stepan Arkadyevitch that Landau will be returning to Paris, for he heard a voice yesterday. The visitor from Moscow feels as if he must remain as circumspect as he can in this rather peculiar environment which he does not really understand.
After a silence, Countess Lidia begins talking about understanding the spiritual state of one’s friends, and it is clear to her that Stepan Arkadyevitch is not doing that with Alexey Alexandrovitch, does not appreciate that there has been a spiritual change, one which does not lessen but intensifies the love in his heart. Stepan Arkadyevitch says he understands (though he really does not); Countess Lidia doubts him and orders tea.
After more vague references to hearts and happiness and conviction, Stepan Arkadyevitch finally realizes that, despite her obvious love for Alexey Alexandrovitch, she is speaking about religion. Across the room, Landau has fallen nearly asleep in a chair under the portraits; when he senses he is being watched, he raises his head and looks at them with a smile of “childlike artlessness.”
The countess claims that she has heard...
(The entire section is 460 words.)