Anna karenina, p.126
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       Anna Karenina, p.126

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 2

  On the day of the wedding, according to the Russian custom (the princessand Darya Alexandrovna insisted on strictly keeping all the customs),Levin did not see his betrothed, and dined at his hotel with threebachelor friends, casually brought together at his rooms. These wereSergey Ivanovitch, Katavasov, a university friend, now professor ofnatural science, whom Levin had met in the street and insisted on takinghome with him, and Tchirikov, his best man, a Moscow conciliation-boardjudge, Levin's companion in his bear-hunts. The dinner was a very merryone: Sergey Ivanovitch was in his happiest mood, and was much amused byKatavasov's originality. Katavasov, feeling his originality wasappreciated and understood, made the most of it. Tchirikov always gave alively and good-humored support to conversation of any sort.

  "See, now," said Katavasov, drawling his words from a habit acquired inthe lecture-room, "what a capable fellow was our friend KonstantinDmitrievitch. I'm not speaking of present company, for he's absent. Atthe time he left the university he was fond of science, took an interestin humanity; now one-half of his abilities is devoted to deceivinghimself, and the other to justifying the deceit."

  "A more determined enemy of matrimony than you I never saw," said SergeyIvanovitch.

  "Oh, no, I'm not an enemy of matrimony. I'm in favor of division oflabor. People who can do nothing else ought to rear people while therest work for their happiness and enlightenment. That's how I look atit. To muddle up two trades is the error of the amateur; I'm not one oftheir number."

  "How happy I shall be when I hear that you're in love!" said Levin."Please invite me to the wedding."

  "I'm in love now."

  "Yes, with a cuttlefish! You know," Levin turned to his brother, "MihailSemyonovitch is writing a work on the digestive organs of the..."

  "Now, make a muddle of it! It doesn't matter what about. And the factis, I certainly do love cuttlefish."

  "But that's no hindrance to your loving your wife."

  "The cuttlefish is no hindrance. The wife is the hindrance."

  "Why so?"

  "Oh, you'll see! You care about farming, hunting,--well, you'd betterlook out!"

  "Arhip was here today; he said there were a lot of elks in Prudno, andtwo bears," said Tchirikov.

  "Well, you must go and get them without me."

  "Ah, that's the truth," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "And you may saygood-bye to bear-hunting for the future--your wife won't allow it!"

  Levin smiled. The picture of his wife not letting him go was so pleasantthat he was ready to renounce the delights of looking upon bearsforever.

  "Still, it's a pity they should get those two bears without you. Do youremember last time at Hapilovo? That was a delightful hunt!" saidTchirikov.

  Levin had not the heart to disillusion him of the notion that therecould be something delightful apart from her, and so said nothing.

  "There's some sense in this custom of saying good-bye to bachelor life,"said Sergey Ivanovitch. "However happy you may be, you must regret yourfreedom."

  "And confess there is a feeling that you want to jump out of the window,like Gogol's bridegroom?"

  "Of course there is, but it isn't confessed," said Katavasov, and hebroke into loud laughter.

  "Oh, well, the window's open. Let's start off this instant to Tver!There's a big she-bear; one can go right up to the lair. Seriously,let's go by the five o'clock! And here let them do what they like," saidTchirikov, smiling.

  "Well, now, on my honor," said Levin, smiling, "I can't find in my heartthat feeling of regret for my freedom."

  "Yes, there's such a chaos in your heart just now that you can't findanything there," said Katavasov. "Wait a bit, when you set it to rightsa little, you'll find it!"

  "No; if so, I should have felt a little, apart from my feeling" (hecould not say love before them) "and happiness, a certain regret atlosing my freedom.... On the contrary, I am glad at the very loss of myfreedom."

  "Awful! It's a hopeless case!" said Katavasov. "Well, let's drink to hisrecovery, or wish that a hundredth part of his dreams may berealized--and that would be happiness such as never has been seen onearth!"

  Soon after dinner the guests went away to be in time to be dressed forthe wedding.

  When he was left alone, and recalled the conversation of these bachelorfriends, Levin asked himself: had he in his heart that regret for hisfreedom of which they had spoken? He smiled at the question. "Freedom!What is freedom for? Happiness is only in loving and wishing her wishes,thinking her thoughts, that is to say, not freedom at all--that'shappiness!"

  "But do I know her ideas, her wishes, her feelings?" some voice suddenlywhispered to him. The smile died away from his face, and he grewthoughtful. And suddenly a strange feeling came upon him. There cameover him a dread and doubt--doubt of everything.

  "What if she does not love me? What if she's marrying me simply to bemarried? What if she doesn't see herself what she's doing?" he askedhimself. "She may come to her senses, and only when she is being marriedrealize that she does not and cannot love me." And strange, most evilthoughts of her began to come to him. He was jealous of Vronsky, as hehad been a year ago, as though the evening he had seen her with Vronskyhad been yesterday. He suspected she had not told him everything.

  He jumped up quickly. "No, this can't go on!" he said to himself indespair. "I'll go to her; I'll ask her; I'll say for the last time: weare free, and hadn't we better stay so? Anything's better than endlessmisery, disgrace, unfaithfulness!" With despair in his heart and bitteranger against all men, against himself, against her, he went out of thehotel and drove to her house.

  He found her in one of the back rooms. She was sitting on a chest andmaking some arrangements with her maid, sorting over heaps of dresses ofdifferent colors, spread on the backs of chairs and on the floor.

  "Ah!" she cried, seeing him, and beaming with delight. "Kostya!Konstantin Dmitrievitch!" (These latter days she used these names almostalternately.) "I didn't expect you! I'm going through my wardrobe to seewhat's for whom..."

  "Oh! that's very nice!" he said gloomily, looking at the maid.

  "You can go, Dunyasha, I'll call you presently," said Kitty. "Kostya,what's the matter?" she asked, definitely adopting this familiar name assoon as the maid had gone out. She noticed his strange face, agitatedand gloomy, and a panic came over her.

  "Kitty! I'm in torture. I can't suffer alone," he said with despair inhis voice, standing before her and looking imploringly into her eyes. Hesaw already from her loving, truthful face, that nothing could come ofwhat he had meant to say, but yet he wanted her to reassure him herself."I've come to say that there's still time. This can all be stopped andset right."

  "What? I don't understand. What is the matter?"

  "What I have said a thousand times over, and can't help thinking ...that I'm not worthy of you. You couldn't consent to marry me. Think alittle. You've made a mistake. Think it over thoroughly. You can't loveme.... If ... better say so," he said, not looking at her. "I shall bewretched. Let people say what they like; anything's better thanmisery.... Far better now while there's still time...."

  "I don't understand," she answered, panic-stricken; "you mean you wantto give it up ... don't want it?"

  "Yes, if you don't love me."

  "You're out of your mind!" she cried, turning crimson with vexation. Buthis face was so piteous, that she restrained her vexation, and flingingsome clothes off an arm-chair, she sat down beside him. "What are youthinking? tell me all."

  "I am thinking you can't love me. What can you love me for?"

  "My God! what can I do?..." she said, and burst into tears.

  "Oh! what have I done?" he cried, and kneeling before her, he fell tokissing her hands.

  When the princess came into the room five minutes later, she found themcompletely reconciled. Kitty had not simply assured him that she lovedhim, but had gone so far--in answer to his question, what she loved himfor--as to explain what for. She told him that she loved him because sheund
erstood him completely, because she knew what he would like, andbecause everything he liked was good. And this seemed to him perfectlyclear. When the princess came to them, they were sitting side by side onthe chest, sorting the dresses and disputing over Kitty's wanting togive Dunyasha the brown dress she had been wearing when Levin proposedto her, while he insisted that that dress must never be given away, butDunyasha must have the blue one.

  "How is it you don't see? She's a brunette, and it won't suit her....I've worked it all out."

  Hearing why he had come, the princess was half humorously, halfseriously angry with him, and sent him home to dress and not to hinderKitty's hair-dressing, as Charles the hair-dresser was just coming.

  "As it is, she's been eating nothing lately and is losing her looks, andthen you must come and upset her with your nonsense," she said to him."Get along with you, my dear!"

  Levin, guilty and shamefaced, but pacified, went back to his hotel. Hisbrother, Darya Alexandrovna, and Stepan Arkadyevitch, all in full dress,were waiting for him to bless him with the holy picture. There was notime to lose. Darya Alexandrovna had to drive home again to fetch hercurled and pomaded son, who was to carry the holy pictures after thebride. Then a carriage had to be sent for the best man, and another thatwould take Sergey Ivanovitch away would have to be sent back....Altogether there were a great many most complicated matters to beconsidered and arranged. One thing was unmistakable, that there must beno delay, as it was already half-past six.

  Nothing special happened at the ceremony of benediction with the holypicture. Stepan Arkadyevitch stood in a comically solemn pose beside hiswife, took the holy picture, and telling Levin to bow down to theground, he blessed him with his kindly, ironical smile, and kissed himthree times; Darya Alexandrovna did the same, and immediately was in ahurry to get off, and again plunged into the intricate question of thedestinations of the various carriages.

  "Come, I'll tell you how we'll manage: you drive in our carriage tofetch him, and Sergey Ivanovitch, if he'll be so good, will drive thereand then send his carriage."

  "Of course; I shall be delighted."

  "We'll come on directly with him. Are your things sent off?" said StepanArkadyevitch.

  "Yes," answered Levin, and he told Kouzma to put out his clothes for himto dress.

 
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