Anna karenina, p.114
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       Anna Karenina, p.114

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 13

  When they rose from table, Levin would have liked to follow Kitty intothe drawing room; but he was afraid she might dislike this, as tooobviously paying her attention. He remained in the little ring of men,taking part in the general conversation, and without looking at Kitty,he was aware of her movements, her looks, and the place where she was inthe drawing room.

  He did at once, and without the smallest effort, keep the promise he hadmade her--always to think well of all men, and to like everyone always.The conversation fell on the village commune, in which Pestsov saw asort of special principle, called by him the choral principle. Levin didnot agree with Pestsov, nor with his brother, who had a special attitudeof his own, both admitting and not admitting the significance of theRussian commune. But he talked to them, simply trying to reconcile andsoften their differences. He was not in the least interested in what hesaid himself, and even less so in what they said; all he wanted was thatthey and everyone should be happy and contented. He knew now the onething of importance; and that one thing was at first there, in thedrawing room, and then began moving across and came to a standstill atthe door. Without turning round he felt the eyes fixed on him, and thesmile, and he could not help turning round. She was standing in thedoorway with Shtcherbatsky, looking at him.

  "I thought you were going towards the piano," said he, going up to her."That's something I miss in the country--music."

  "No; we only came to fetch you and thank you," she said, rewarding himwith a smile that was like a gift, "for coming. What do they want toargue for? No one ever convinces anyone, you know."

  "Yes; that's true," said Levin; "it generally happens that one argueswarmly simply because one can't make out what one's opponent wants toprove."

  Levin had often noticed in discussions between the most intelligentpeople that after enormous efforts, and an enormous expenditure oflogical subtleties and words, the disputants finally arrived at beingaware that what they had so long been struggling to prove to one anotherhad long ago, from the beginning of the argument, been known to both,but that they liked different things, and would not define what theyliked for fear of its being attacked. He had often had the experience ofsuddenly in a discussion grasping what it was his opponent liked and atonce liking it too, and immediately he found himself agreeing, and thenall arguments fell away as useless. Sometimes, too, he had experiencedthe opposite, expressing at last what he liked himself, which he wasdevising arguments to defend, and, chancing to express it well andgenuinely, he had found his opponent at once agreeing and ceasing todispute his position. He tried to say this.

  She knitted her brow, trying to understand. But directly he began toillustrate his meaning, she understood at once.

  "I know: one must find out what he is arguing for, what is precious tohim, then one can..."

  She had completely guessed and expressed his badly expressed idea. Levinsmiled joyfully; he was struck by this transition from the confused,verbose discussion with Pestsov and his brother to this laconic, clear,almost wordless communication of the most complex ideas.

  Shtcherbatsky moved away from them, and Kitty, going up to a card table,sat down, and, taking up the chalk, began drawing diverging circles overthe new green cloth.

  They began again on the subject that had been started at dinner--theliberty and occupations of women. Levin was of the opinion of DaryaAlexandrovna that a girl who did not marry should find a woman's dutiesin a family. He supported this view by the fact that no family can geton without women to help; that in every family, poor or rich, there areand must be nurses, either relations or hired.

  "No," said Kitty, blushing, but looking at him all the more boldly withher truthful eyes; "a girl may be so circumstanced that she cannot livein the family without humiliation, while she herself..."

  At the hint he understood her.

  "Oh, yes," he said. "Yes, yes, yes--you're right; you're right!"

  And he saw all that Pestsov had been maintaining at dinner of theliberty of woman, simply from getting a glimpse of the terror of an oldmaid's existence and its humiliation in Kitty's heart; and loving her,he felt that terror and humiliation, and at once gave up his arguments.

  A silence followed. She was still drawing with the chalk on the table.Her eyes were shining with a soft light. Under the influence of her moodhe felt in all his being a continually growing tension of happiness.

  "Ah! I've scribbled all over the table!" she said, and, laying down thechalk, she made a movement as though to get up.

  "What! shall I be left alone--without her?" he thought with horror, andhe took the chalk. "Wait a minute," he said, sitting down to the table."I've long wanted to ask you one thing."

  He looked straight into her caressing, though frightened eyes.

  "Please, ask it."

  "Here," he said; and he wrote the initial letters, _w, y, t, m, i, c, n,b, d, t, m, n, o, t_. These letters meant, "When you told me it couldnever be, did that mean never, or then?" There seemed no likelihood thatshe could make out this complicated sentence; but he looked at her asthough his life depended on her understanding the words. She glanced athim seriously, then leaned her puckered brow on her hands and began toread. Once or twice she stole a look at him, as though asking him, "Isit what I think?"

  "I understand," she said, flushing a little.

  "What is this word?" he said, pointing to the n that stood for _never_.

  "It means _never_," she said; "but that's not true!"

  He quickly rubbed out what he had written, gave her the chalk, and stoodup. She wrote, _t, i, c, n, a, d_.

  Dolly was completely comforted in the depression caused by herconversation with Alexey Alexandrovitch when she caught sight of the twofigures: Kitty with the chalk in her hand, with a shy and happy smilelooking upwards at Levin, and his handsome figure bending over the tablewith glowing eyes fastened one minute on the table and the next on her.He was suddenly radiant: he had understood. It meant, "Then I could notanswer differently."

  He glanced at her questioningly, timidly.

  "Only then?"

  "Yes," her smile answered.

  "And n... and now?" he asked.

  "Well, read this. I'll tell you what I should like--should like somuch!" she wrote the initial letters, i, y, c, f, a, f, w, h. Thismeant, "If you could forget and forgive what happened."

  He snatched the chalk with nervous, trembling fingers, and breaking it,wrote the initial letters of the following phrase, "I have nothing toforget and to forgive; I have never ceased to love you."

  She glanced at him with a smile that did not waver.

  "I understand," she said in a whisper.

  He sat down and wrote a long phrase. She understood it all, and withoutasking him, "Is it this?" took the chalk and at once answered.

  For a long while he could not understand what she had written, and oftenlooked into her eyes. He was stupefied with happiness. He could notsupply the word she had meant; but in her charming eyes, beaming withhappiness, he saw all he needed to know. And he wrote three letters. Buthe had hardly finished writing when she read them over her arm, andherself finished and wrote the answer, "Yes."

  "You're playing _secretaire_?" said the old prince. "But we must reallybe getting along if you want to be in time at the theater."

  Levin got up and escorted Kitty to the door.

  In their conversation everything had been said; it had been said thatshe loved him, and that she would tell her father and mother that hewould come tomorrow morning.

 
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