Anna karenina, p.142
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       Anna Karenina, p.142

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 18

  Levin could not look calmly at his brother; he could not himself benatural and calm in his presence. When he went in to the sick man, hiseyes and his attention were unconsciously dimmed, and he did not see anddid not distinguish the details of his brother's position. He smelt theawful odor, saw the dirt, disorder, and miserable condition, and heardthe groans, and felt that nothing could be done to help. It neverentered his head to analyze the details of the sick man's situation, toconsider how that body was lying under the quilt, how those emaciatedlegs and thighs and spine were lying huddled up, and whether they couldnot be made more comfortable, whether anything could not be done to makethings, if not better, at least less bad. It made his blood run coldwhen he began to think of all these details. He was absolutely convincedthat nothing could be done to prolong his brother's life or to relievehis suffering. But a sense of his regarding all aid as out of thequestion was felt by the sick man, and exasperated him. And this made itstill more painful for Levin. To be in the sick-room was agony to him,not to be there still worse. And he was continually, on variouspretexts, going out of the room, and coming in again, because he wasunable to remain alone.

  But Kitty thought, and felt, and acted quite differently. On seeing thesick man, she pitied him. And pity in her womanly heart did not arouseat all that feeling of horror and loathing that it aroused in herhusband, but a desire to act, to find out all the details of his state,and to remedy them. And since she had not the slightest doubt that itwas her duty to help him, she had no doubt either that it was possible,and immediately set to work. The very details, the mere thought of whichreduced her husband to terror, immediately engaged her attention. Shesent for the doctor, sent to the chemist's, set the maid who had comewith her and Marya Nikolaevna to sweep and dust and scrub; she herselfwashed up something, washed out something else, laid something under thequilt. Something was by her directions brought into the sick-room,something else was carried out. She herself went several times to herroom, regardless of the men she met in the corridor, got out and broughtin sheets, pillow cases, towels, and shirts.

  The waiter, who was busy with a party of engineers dining in the dininghall, came several times with an irate countenance in answer to hersummons, and could not avoid carrying out her orders, as she gave themwith such gracious insistence that there was no evading her. Levin didnot approve of all this; he did not believe it would be of any good tothe patient. Above all, he feared the patient would be angry at it. Butthe sick man, though he seemed and was indifferent about it, was notangry, but only abashed, and on the whole as it were interested in whatshe was doing with him. Coming back from the doctor to whom Kitty hadsent him, Levin, on opening the door, came upon the sick man at theinstant when, by Kitty's directions, they were changing his linen. Thelong white ridge of his spine, with the huge, prominent shoulder bladesand jutting ribs and vertebrae, was bare, and Marya Nikolaevna and thewaiter were struggling with the sleeve of the night shirt, and could notget the long, limp arm into it. Kitty, hurriedly closing the door afterLevin, was not looking that way; but the sick man groaned, and she movedrapidly towards him.

  "Make haste," she said.

  "Oh, don't you come," said the sick man angrily. "I'll do it mymyself...."

  "What say?" queried Marya Nikolaevna. But Kitty heard and saw he wasashamed and uncomfortable at being naked before her.

  "I'm not looking, I'm not looking!" she said, putting the arm in. "MaryaNikolaevna, you come this side, you do it," she added.

  "Please go for me, there's a little bottle in my small bag," she said,turning to her husband, "you know, in the side pocket; bring it, please,and meanwhile they'll finish clearing up here."

  Returning with the bottle, Levin found the sick man settled comfortablyand everything about him completely changed. The heavy smell wasreplaced by the smell of aromatic vinegar, which Kitty with pouting lipsand puffed-out, rosy cheeks was squirting through a little pipe. Therewas no dust visible anywhere, a rug was laid by the bedside. On thetable stood medicine bottles and decanters tidily arranged, and thelinen needed was folded up there, and Kitty's _broderie anglaise_. Onthe other table by the patient's bed there were candles and drink andpowders. The sick man himself, washed and combed, lay in clean sheets onhigh raised pillows, in a clean night-shirt with a white collar abouthis astoundingly thin neck, and with a new expression of hope lookedfixedly at Kitty.

  The doctor brought by Levin, and found by him at the club, was not theone who had been attending Nikolay Levin, as the patient wasdissatisfied with him. The new doctor took up a stethoscope and soundedthe patient, shook his head, prescribed medicine, and with extrememinuteness explained first how to take the medicine and then what dietwas to be kept to. He advised eggs, raw or hardly cooked, and seltzerwater, with warm milk at a certain temperature. When the doctor had goneaway the sick man said something to his brother, of which Levin coulddistinguish only the last words: "Your Katya." By the expression withwhich he gazed at her, Levin saw that he was praising her. He calledindeed to Katya, as he called her.

  "I'm much better already," he said. "Why, with you I should have gotwell long ago. How nice it is!" he took her hand and drew it towards hislips, but as though afraid she would dislike it he changed his mind, letit go, and only stroked it. Kitty took his hand in both hers and pressedit.

  "Now turn me over on the left side and go to bed," he said.

  No one could make out what he said but Kitty; she alone understood. Sheunderstood because she was all the while mentally keeping watch on whathe needed.

  "On the other side," she said to her husband, "he always sleeps on thatside. Turn him over, it's so disagreeable calling the servants. I'm notstrong enough. Can you?" she said to Marya Nikolaevna.

  "I'm afraid not," answered Marya Nikolaevna.

  Terrible as it was to Levin to put his arms round that terrible body, totake hold of that under the quilt, of which he preferred to knownothing, under his wife's influence he made his resolute face that sheknew so well, and putting his arms into the bed took hold of the body,but in spite of his own strength he was struck by the strange heavinessof those powerless limbs. While he was turning him over, conscious ofthe huge emaciated arm about his neck, Kitty swiftly and noiselesslyturned the pillow, beat it up and settled in it the sick man's head,smoothing back his hair, which was sticking again to his moist brow.

  The sick man kept his brother's hand in his own. Levin felt that hemeant to do something with his hand and was pulling it somewhere. Levinyielded with a sinking heart: yes, he drew it to his mouth and kissedit. Levin, shaking with sobs and unable to articulate a word, went outof the room.

 

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