Anna karenina, p.117
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       Anna Karenina, p.117

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 16

  The princess sat in her armchair, silent and smiling; the prince satdown beside her. Kitty stood by her father's chair, still holding hishand. All were silent.

  The princess was the first to put everything into words, and totranslate all thoughts and feelings into practical questions. And allequally felt this strange and painful for the first minute.

  "When is it to be? We must have the benediction and announcement. Andwhen's the wedding to be? What do you think, Alexander?"

  "Here he is," said the old prince, pointing to Levin--"he's theprincipal person in the matter."

  "When?" said Levin blushing. "Tomorrow; If you ask me, I should say, thebenediction today and the wedding tomorrow."

  "Come, _mon cher_, that's nonsense!"

  "Well, in a week."

  "He's quite mad."

  "No, why so?"

  "Well, upon my word!" said the mother, smiling, delighted at this haste."How about the trousseau?"

  "Will there really be a trousseau and all that?" Levin thought withhorror. "But can the trousseau and the benediction and all that--can itspoil my happiness? Nothing can spoil it!" He glanced at Kitty, andnoticed that she was not in the least, not in the very least, disturbedby the idea of the trousseau. "Then it must be all right," he thought.

  "Oh, I know nothing about it; I only said what I should like," he saidapologetically.

  "We'll talk it over, then. The benediction and announcement can takeplace now. That's very well."

  The princess went up to her husband, kissed him, and would have goneaway, but he kept her, embraced her, and, tenderly as a young lover,kissed her several times, smiling. The old people were obviously muddledfor a moment, and did not quite know whether it was they who were inlove again or their daughter. When the prince and the princess had gone,Levin went up to his betrothed and took her hand. He was self-possessednow and could speak, and he had a great deal he wanted to tell her. Buthe said not at all what he had to say.

  "How I knew it would be so! I never hoped for it; and yet in my heart Iwas always sure," he said. "I believe that it was ordained."

  "And I!" she said. "Even when...." She stopped and went on again,looking at him resolutely with her truthful eyes, "Even when I thrustfrom me my happiness. I always loved you alone, but I was carried away.I ought to tell you.... Can you forgive that?"

  "Perhaps it was for the best. You will have to forgive me so much. Iought to tell you..."

  This was one of the things he had meant to speak about. He had resolvedfrom the first to tell her two things--that he was not chaste as shewas, and that he was not a believer. It was agonizing, but he consideredhe ought to tell her both these facts.

  "No, not now, later!" he said.

  "Very well, later, but you must certainly tell me. I'm not afraid ofanything. I want to know everything. Now it is settled."

  He added: "Settled that you'll take me whatever I may be--you won't giveme up? Yes?"

  "Yes, yes."

  Their conversation was interrupted by Mademoiselle Linon, who with anaffected but tender smile came to congratulate her favorite pupil.Before she had gone, the servants came in with their congratulations.Then relations arrived, and there began that state of blissful absurdityfrom which Levin did not emerge till the day after his wedding. Levinwas in a continual state of awkwardness and discomfort, but theintensity of his happiness went on all the while increasing. He feltcontinually that a great deal was being expected of him--what, he didnot know; and he did everything he was told, and it all gave himhappiness. He had thought his engagement would have nothing about itlike others, that the ordinary conditions of engaged couples would spoilhis special happiness; but it ended in his doing exactly as other peopledid, and his happiness being only increased thereby and becoming moreand more special, more and more unlike anything that had ever happened.

  "Now we shall have sweetmeats to eat," said Mademoiselle Linon--andLevin drove off to buy sweetmeats.

  "Well, I'm very glad," said Sviazhsky. "I advise you to get the bouquetsfrom Fomin's."

  "Oh, are they wanted?" And he drove to Fomin's.

  His brother offered to lend him money, as he would have so manyexpenses, presents to give....

  "Oh, are presents wanted?" And he galloped to Foulde's.

  And at the confectioner's, and at Fomin's, and at Foulde's he saw thathe was expected; that they were pleased to see him, and pridedthemselves on his happiness, just as every one whom he had to do withduring those days. What was extraordinary was that everyone not onlyliked him, but even people previously unsympathetic, cold, and callous,were enthusiastic over him, gave way to him in everything, treated hisfeeling with tenderness and delicacy, and shared his conviction that hewas the happiest man in the world because his betrothed was beyondperfection. Kitty too felt the same thing. When Countess Nordstonventured to hint that she had hoped for something better, Kitty was soangry and proved so conclusively that nothing in the world could bebetter than Levin, that Countess Nordston had to admit it, and inKitty's presence never met Levin without a smile of ecstatic admiration.

  The confession he had promised was the one painful incident of thistime. He consulted the old prince, and with his sanction gave Kitty hisdiary, in which there was written the confession that tortured him. Hehad written this diary at the time with a view to his future wife. Twothings caused him anguish: his lack of purity and his lack of faith. Hisconfession of unbelief passed unnoticed. She was religious, had neverdoubted the truths of religion, but his external unbelief did not affecther in the least. Through love she knew all his soul, and in his soulshe saw what she wanted, and that such a state of soul should be calledunbelieving was to her a matter of no account. The other confession sether weeping bitterly.

  Levin, not without an inner struggle, handed her his diary. He knew thatbetween him and her there could not be, and should not be, secrets, andso he had decided that so it must be. But he had not realized what aneffect it would have on her, he had not put himself in her place. It wasonly when the same evening he came to their house before the theater,went into her room and saw her tear-stained, pitiful, sweet face,miserable with suffering he had caused and nothing could undo, he feltthe abyss that separated his shameful past from her dovelike purity, andwas appalled at what he had done.

  "Take them, take these dreadful books!" she said, pushing away thenotebooks lying before her on the table. "Why did you give them me? No,it was better anyway," she added, touched by his despairing face. "Butit's awful, awful!"

  His head sank, and he was silent. He could say nothing.

  "You can't forgive me," he whispered.

  "Yes, I forgive you; but it's terrible!"

  But his happiness was so immense that this confession did not shatterit, it only added another shade to it. She forgave him; but from thattime more than ever he considered himself unworthy of her, morally boweddown lower than ever before her, and prized more highly than ever hisundeserved happiness.

 
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