She instantly sat up and turned round; her eyes simply fastened upon Litvinov.
'What is it,' she cried. 'You 're pale as death, you 're ill. What 's the matter with you?'
Litvinov was confused.
'With me, Irina Pavlovna?'
'Have you had bad news? Some misfortune has happened, tell me, tell me——'
Litvinov in his turn looked at Irina.
'I have had no bad news,' he brought out not without effort, 'but a misfortune has certainly happened, a great misfortune . . . and it has brought me to you.'
'A misfortune? What is it?'
'Why . . . that——'
Litvinov tried to go on . . . and could not. He only pinched his hands together so that his fingers cracked. Irina was bending forward and seemed turned to stone.
'Oh! I love you!' broke at last with a low groan from Litvinov's breast, and he turned away, as though he would hide his face.
'What, Grigory Mihalitch, you' . . . Irina too could not finish her sentence, and leaning back in her chair, she put both her hands to her eyes. 'You . . . love me.'
'Yes . . . yes . . . yes,' he repeated with bitterness, turning his head further and further away.