Anna karenina, p.140
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       Anna Karenina, p.140
 

          

  Chapter 16

  When Levin went upstairs, his wife was sitting near the new silversamovar behind the new tea service, and, having settled old AgafeaMihalovna at a little table with a full cup of tea, was reading a letterfrom Dolly, with whom they were in continual and frequentcorrespondence.

  "You see, your good lady's settled me here, told me to sit a bit withher," said Agafea Mihalovna, smiling affectionately at Kitty.

  In these words of Agafea Mihalovna, Levin read the final act of thedrama which had been enacted of late between her and Kitty. He saw that,in spite of Agafea Mihalovna's feelings being hurt by a new mistresstaking the reins of government out of her hands, Kitty had yet conqueredher and made her love her.

  "Here, I opened your letter too," said Kitty, handing him an illiterateletter. "It's from that woman, I think, your brother's..." she said. "Idid not read it through. This is from my people and from Dolly. Fancy!Dolly took Tanya and Grisha to a children's ball at the Sarmatskys':Tanya was a French marquise."

  But Levin did not hear her. Flushing, he took the letter from MaryaNikolaevna, his brother's former mistress, and began to read it. Thiswas the second letter he had received from Marya Nikolaevna. In thefirst letter, Marya Nikolaevna wrote that his brother had sent her awayfor no fault of hers, and, with touching simplicity, added that thoughshe was in want again, she asked for nothing, and wished for nothing,but was only tormented by the thought that Nikolay Dmitrievitch wouldcome to grief without her, owing to the weak state of his health, andbegged his brother to look after him. Now she wrote quite differently.She had found Nikolay Dmitrievitch, had again made it up with him inMoscow, and had moved with him to a provincial town, where he hadreceived a post in the government service. But that he had quarreledwith the head official, and was on his way back to Moscow, only he hadbeen taken so ill on the road that it was doubtful if he would everleave his bed again, she wrote. "It's always of you he has talked, and,besides, he has no more money left."

  "Read this; Dolly writes about you," Kitty was beginning, with a smile;but she stopped suddenly, noticing the changed expression on herhusband's face.

  "What is it? What's the matter?"

  "She writes to me that Nikolay, my brother, is at death's door. I shallgo to him."

  Kitty's face changed at once. Thoughts of Tanya as a marquise, of Dolly,all had vanished.

  "When are you going?" she said.

  "Tomorrow."

  "And I will go with you, can I?" she said.

  "Kitty! What are you thinking of?" he said reproachfully.

  "How do you mean?" offended that he should seem to take her suggestionunwillingly and with vexation. "Why shouldn't I go? I shan't be in yourway. I..."

  "I'm going because my brother is dying," said Levin. "Why should you..."

  "Why? For the same reason as you."

  "And, at a moment of such gravity for me, she only thinks of her beingdull by herself," thought Levin. And this lack of candor in a matter ofsuch gravity infuriated him.

  "It's out of the question," he said sternly.

  Agafea Mihalovna, seeing that it was coming to a quarrel, gently putdown her cup and withdrew. Kitty did not even notice her. The tone inwhich her husband had said the last words wounded her, especiallybecause he evidently did not believe what she had said.

  "I tell you, that if you go, I shall come with you; I shall certainlycome," she said hastily and wrathfully. "Why out of the question? Why doyou say it's out of the question?"

  "Because it'll be going God knows where, by all sorts of roads and toall sorts of hotels. You would be a hindrance to me," said Levin, tryingto be cool.

  "Not at all. I don't want anything. Where you can go, I can...."

  "Well, for one thing then, because this woman's there whom you can'tmeet."

  "I don't know and don't care to know who's there and what. I know thatmy husband's brother is dying and my husband is going to him, and I gowith my husband too...."

  "Kitty! Don't get angry. But just think a little: this is a matter ofsuch importance that I can't bear to think that you should bring in afeeling of weakness, of dislike to being left alone. Come, you'll bedull alone, so go and stay at Moscow a little."

  "There, you always ascribe base, vile motives to me," she said withtears of wounded pride and fury. "I didn't mean, it wasn't weakness, itwasn't ... I feel that it's my duty to be with my husband when he's introuble, but you try on purpose to hurt me, you try on purpose not tounderstand...."

  "No; this is awful! To be such a slave!" cried Levin, getting up, andunable to restrain his anger any longer. But at the same second he feltthat he was beating himself.

  "Then why did you marry? You could have been free. Why did you, if youregret it?" she said, getting up and running away into the drawing room.

  When he went to her, she was sobbing.

  He began to speak, trying to find words not to dissuade but simply tosoothe her. But she did not heed him, and would not agree to anything.He bent down to her and took her hand, which resisted him. He kissed herhand, kissed her hair, kissed her hand again--still she was silent. Butwhen he took her face in both his hands and said "Kitty!" she suddenlyrecovered herself, and began to cry, and they were reconciled.

  It was decided that they should go together the next day. Levin told hiswife that he believed she wanted to go simply in order to be of use,agreed that Marya Nikolaevna's being with his brother did not make hergoing improper, but he set off at the bottom of his heart dissatisfiedboth with her and with himself. He was dissatisfied with her for beingunable to make up her mind to let him go when it was necessary (and howstrange it was for him to think that he, so lately hardly daring tobelieve in such happiness as that she could love him--now was unhappybecause she loved him too much!), and he was dissatisfied with himselffor not showing more strength of will. Even greater was the feeling ofdisagreement at the bottom of his heart as to her not needing toconsider the woman who was with his brother, and he thought with horrorof all the contingencies they might meet with. The mere idea of hiswife, his Kitty, being in the same room with a common wench, set himshuddering with horror and loathing.

 
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