Anna karenina, p.116
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       Anna Karenina, p.116

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 15

  The streets were still empty. Levin went to the house of theShtcherbatskys. The visitors' doors were closed and everything wasasleep. He walked back, went into his room again, and asked for coffee.The day servant, not Yegor this time, brought it to him. Levin wouldhave entered into conversation with him, but a bell rang for theservant, and he went out. Levin tried to drink coffee and put some rollin his mouth, but his mouth was quite at a loss what to do with theroll. Levin, rejecting the roll, put on his coat and went out again fora walk. It was nine o'clock when he reached the Shtcherbatskys' stepsthe second time. In the house they were only just up, and the cook cameout to go marketing. He had to get through at least two hours more.

  All that night and morning Levin lived perfectly unconsciously, and feltperfectly lifted out of the conditions of material life. He had eatennothing for a whole day, he had not slept for two nights, had spentseveral hours undressed in the frozen air, and felt not simply fresherand stronger than ever, but felt utterly independent of his body; hemoved without muscular effort, and felt as if he could do anything. Hewas convinced he could fly upwards or lift the corner of the house, ifneed be. He spent the remainder of the time in the street, incessantlylooking at his watch and gazing about him.

  And what he saw then, he never saw again after. The children especiallygoing to school, the bluish doves flying down from the roofs to thepavement, and the little loaves covered with flour, thrust out by anunseen hand, touched him. Those loaves, those doves, and those two boyswere not earthly creatures. It all happened at the same time: a boy rantowards a dove and glanced smiling at Levin; the dove, with a whir ofher wings, darted away, flashing in the sun, amid grains of snow thatquivered in the air, while from a little window there came a smell offresh-baked bread, and the loaves were put out. All of this together wasso extraordinarily nice that Levin laughed and cried with delight. Goinga long way round by Gazetny Place and Kislovka, he went back again tothe hotel, and putting his watch before him, he sat down to wait fortwelve o'clock. In the next room they were talking about some sort ofmachines, and swindling, and coughing their morning coughs. They did notrealize that the hand was near twelve. The hand reached it. Levin wentout onto the steps. The sledge-drivers clearly knew all about it. Theycrowded round Levin with happy faces, quarreling among themselves, andoffering their services. Trying not to offend the other sledge drivers,and promising to drive with them too, Levin took one and told him todrive to the Shtcherbatskys'. The sledge-driver was splendid in a whiteshirt-collar sticking out over his overcoat and into his strong,full-blooded red neck. The sledge was high and comfortable, andaltogether such a one as Levin never drove in after, and the horse was agood one, and tried to gallop but didn't seem to move. The driver knewthe Shtcherbatskys' house, and drew up at the entrance with a curve ofhis arm and a "Wo!" especially indicative of respect for his fare. TheShtcherbatskys' hall-porter certainly knew all about it. This wasevident from the smile in his eyes and the way he said:

  "Well, it's a long while since you've been to see us, KonstantinDemitrievitch!"

  Not only he knew all about it, but he was unmistakably delighted andmaking efforts to conceal his joy. Looking into his kindly old eyes,Levin realized even something new in his happiness.

  "Are they up?"

  "Pray walk in! Leave it here," said he, smiling, as Levin would havecome back to take his hat. That meant something.

  "To whom shall I announce your honor?" asked the footman.

  The footman, though a young man, and one of the new school of footmen, adandy, was a very kind-hearted, good fellow, and he too knew all aboutit.

  "The princess ... the prince ... the young princess..." said Levin.

  The first person he saw was Mademoiselle Linon. She walked across theroom, and her ringlets and her face were beaming. He had only justspoken to her, when suddenly he heard the rustle of a skirt at the door,and Mademoiselle Linon vanished from Levin's eyes, and a joyful terrorcame over him at the nearness of his happiness. Mademoiselle Linon wasin great haste, and leaving him, went out at the other door. Directlyshe had gone out, swift, swift light steps sounded on the parquet, andhis bliss, his life, himself--what was best in himself, what he had solong sought and longed for--was quickly, so quickly approaching him. Shedid not walk, but seemed, by some unseen force, to float to him. He sawnothing but her clear, truthful eyes, frightened by the same bliss oflove that flooded his heart. Those eyes were shining nearer and nearer,blinding him with their light of love. She stopped still close to him,touching him. Her hands rose and dropped onto his shoulders.

  She had done all she could--she had run up to him and given herself upentirely, shy and happy. He put his arms round her and pressed his lipsto her mouth that sought his kiss.

  She too had not slept all night, and had been expecting him all themorning.

  Her mother and father had consented without demur, and were happy in herhappiness. She had been waiting for him. She wanted to be the first totell him her happiness and his. She had got ready to see him alone, andhad been delighted at the idea, and had been shy and ashamed, and didnot know herself what she was doing. She had heard his steps and voice,and had waited at the door for Mademoiselle Linon to go. MademoiselleLinon had gone away. Without thinking, without asking herself how andwhat, she had gone up to him, and did as she was doing.

  "Let us go to mamma!" she said, taking him by the hand. For a long whilehe could say nothing, not so much because he was afraid of desecratingthe loftiness of his emotion by a word, as that every time he tried tosay something, instead of words he felt that tears of happiness werewelling up. He took her hand and kissed it.

  "Can it be true?" he said at last in a choked voice. "I can't believeyou love me, dear!"

  She smiled at that "dear," and at the timidity with which he glanced ather.

  "Yes!" she said significantly, deliberately. "I am so happy!"

  Not letting go his hands, she went into the drawing room. The princess,seeing them, breathed quickly, and immediately began to cry and thenimmediately began to laugh, and with a vigorous step Levin had notexpected, ran up to him, and hugging his head, kissed him, wetting hischeeks with her tears.

  "So it is all settled! I am glad. Love her. I am glad.... Kitty!"

  "You've not been long settling things," said the old prince, trying toseem unmoved; but Levin noticed that his eyes were wet when he turned tohim.

  "I've long, always wished for this!" said the prince, taking Levin bythe arm and drawing him towards himself. "Even when this littlefeather-head fancied..."

  "Papa!" shrieked Kitty, and shut his mouth with her hands.

  "Well, I won't!" he said. "I'm very, very ... plea... Oh, what a fool Iam..."

  He embraced Kitty, kissed her face, her hand, her face again, and madethe sign of the cross over her.

  And there came over Levin a new feeling of love for this man, till thenso little known to him, when he saw how slowly and tenderly Kitty kissedhis muscular hand.

 
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