Anna karenina, p.163
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       Anna Karenina, p.163

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 6

  During the time of the children's tea the grown-up people sat in thebalcony and talked as though nothing had happened, though they all,especially Sergey Ivanovitch and Varenka, were very well aware thatthere had happened an event which, though negative, was of very greatimportance. They both had the same feeling, rather like that of aschoolboy after an examination, which has left him in the same class orshut him out of the school forever. Everyone present, feeling too thatsomething had happened, talked eagerly about extraneous subjects. Levinand Kitty were particularly happy and conscious of their love thatevening. And their happiness in their love seemed to imply adisagreeable slur on those who would have liked to feel the same andcould not--and they felt a prick of conscience.

  "Mark my words, Alexander will not come," said the old princess.

  That evening they were expecting Stepan Arkadyevitch to come down bytrain, and the old prince had written that possibly he might come too.

  "And I know why," the princess went on; "he says that young people oughtto be left alone for a while at first."

  "But papa has left us alone. We've never seen him," said Kitty."Besides, we're not young people!--we're old, married people by now."

  "Only if he doesn't come, I shall say good-bye to you children," saidthe princess, sighing mournfully.

  "What nonsense, mamma!" both the daughters fell upon her at once.

  "How do you suppose he is feeling? Why, now..."

  And suddenly there was an unexpected quiver in the princess's voice. Herdaughters were silent, and looked at one another. "Maman always findssomething to be miserable about," they said in that glance. They did notknow that happy as the princess was in her daughter's house, and usefulas she felt herself to be there, she had been extremely miserable, bothon her own account and her husband's, ever since they had married theirlast and favorite daughter, and the old home had been left empty.

  "What is it, Agafea Mihalovna?" Kitty asked suddenly of AgafeaMihalovna, who was standing with a mysterious air, and a face full ofmeaning.

  "About supper."

  "Well, that's right," said Dolly; "you go and arrange about it, and I'llgo and hear Grisha repeat his lesson, or else he will have nothing doneall day."

  "That's my lesson! No, Dolly, I'm going," said Levin, jumping up.

  Grisha, who was by now at a high school, had to go over the lessons ofthe term in the summer holidays. Darya Alexandrovna, who had beenstudying Latin with her son in Moscow before, had made it a rule oncoming to the Levins' to go over with him, at least once a day, the mostdifficult lessons of Latin and arithmetic. Levin had offered to take herplace, but the mother, having once overheard Levin's lesson, andnoticing that it was not given exactly as the teacher in Moscow hadgiven it, said resolutely, though with much embarrassment and anxietynot to mortify Levin, that they must keep strictly to the book as theteacher had done, and that she had better undertake it again herself.Levin was amazed both at Stepan Arkadyevitch, who, by neglecting hisduty, threw upon the mother the supervision of studies of which she hadno comprehension, and at the teachers for teaching the children sobadly. But he promised his sister-in-law to give the lessons exactly asshe wished. And he went on teaching Grisha, not in his own way, but bythe book, and so took little interest in it, and often forgot the hourof the lesson. So it had been today.

  "No, I'm going, Dolly, you sit still," he said. "We'll do it allproperly, like the book. Only when Stiva comes, and we go out shooting,then we shall have to miss it."

  And Levin went to Grisha.

  Varenka was saying the same thing to Kitty. Even in the happy,well-ordered household of the Levins Varenka had succeeded in makingherself useful.

  "I'll see to the supper, you sit still," she said, and got up to go toAgafea Mihalovna.

  "Yes, yes, most likely they've not been able to get chickens. If so,ours..."

  "Agafea Mihalovna and I will see about it," and Varenka vanished withher.

  "What a nice girl!" said the princess.

  "Not nice, maman; she's an exquisite girl; there's no one else likeher."

  "So you are expecting Stepan Arkadyevitch today?" said SergeyIvanovitch, evidently not disposed to pursue the conversation aboutVarenka. "It would be difficult to find two sons-in-law more unlike thanyours," he said with a subtle smile. "One all movement, only living insociety, like a fish in water; the other our Kostya, lively, alert,quick in everything, but as soon as he is in society, he either sinksinto apathy, or struggles helplessly like a fish on land."

  "Yes, he's very heedless," said the princess, addressing SergeyIvanovitch. "I've been meaning, indeed, to ask you to tell him that it'sout of the question for her" (she indicated Kitty) "to stay here; thatshe positively must come to Moscow. He talks of getting a doctordown..."

  "Maman, he'll do everything; he has agreed to everything," Kitty said,angry with her mother for appealing to Sergey Ivanovitch to judge insuch a matter.

  In the middle of their conversation they heard the snorting of horsesand the sound of wheels on the gravel. Dolly had not time to get up togo and meet her husband, when from the window of the room below, whereGrisha was having his lesson, Levin leaped out and helped Grisha outafter him.

  "It's Stiva!" Levin shouted from under the balcony. "We've finished,Dolly, don't be afraid!" he added, and started running like a boy tomeet the carriage.

  "_Is ea id, ejus, ejus, ejus!_" shouted Grisha, skipping along theavenue.

  "And some one else too! Papa, of course!" cried Levin, stopping at theentrance of the avenue. "Kitty, don't come down the steep staircase, goround."

  But Levin had been mistaken in taking the person sitting in the carriagefor the old prince. As he got nearer to the carriage he saw besideStepan Arkadyevitch not the prince but a handsome, stout young man in aScotch cap, with long ends of ribbon behind. This was VassenkaVeslovsky, a distant cousin of the Shtcherbatskys, a brilliant younggentleman in Petersburg and Moscow society. "A capital fellow, and akeen sportsman," as Stepan Arkadyevitch said, introducing him.

  Not a whit abashed by the disappointment caused by his having come inplace of the old prince, Veslovsky greeted Levin gaily, claimingacquaintance with him in the past, and snatching up Grisha into thecarriage, lifted him over the pointer that Stepan Arkadyevitch hadbrought with him.

  Levin did not get into the carriage, but walked behind. He was rathervexed at the non-arrival of the old prince, whom he liked more and morethe more he saw of him, and also at the arrival of this VassenkaVeslovsky, a quite uncongenial and superfluous person. He seemed to himstill more uncongenial and superfluous when, on approaching the stepswhere the whole party, children and grown-up, were gathered together inmuch excitement, Levin saw Vassenka Veslovsky, with a particularly warmand gallant air, kissing Kitty's hand.

  "Your wife and I are cousins and very old friends," said VassenkaVeslovsky, once more shaking Levin's hand with great warmth.

  "Well, are there plenty of birds?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said to Levin,hardly leaving time for everyone to utter their greetings. "We've comewith the most savage intentions. Why, maman, they've not been in Moscowsince! Look, Tanya, here's something for you! Get it, please, it's inthe carriage, behind!" he talked in all directions. "How pretty you'vegrown, Dolly," he said to his wife, once more kissing her hand, holdingit in one of his, and patting it with the other.

  Levin, who a minute before had been in the happiest frame of mind, nowlooked darkly at everyone, and everything displeased him.

  "Who was it he kissed yesterday with those lips?" he thought, looking atStepan Arkadyevitch's tender demonstrations to his wife. He looked atDolly, and he did not like her either.

  "She doesn't believe in his love. So what is she so pleased about?Revolting!" thought Levin.

  He looked at the princess, who had been so dear to him a minute before,and he did not like the manner in which she welcomed this Vassenka, withhis ribbons, just as though she were in her own house.

  Even Sergey Ivanovitch, who had come out too
onto the steps, seemed tohim unpleasant with the show of cordiality with which he met StepanArkadyevitch, though Levin knew that his brother neither liked norrespected Oblonsky.

  And Varenka, even she seemed hateful, with her air _sainte nitouche_making the acquaintance of this gentleman, while all the while she wasthinking of nothing but getting married.

  And more hateful than anyone was Kitty for falling in with the tone ofgaiety with which this gentleman regarded his visit in the country, asthough it were a holiday for himself and everyone else. And, above all,unpleasant was that particular smile with which she responded to hissmile.

  Noisily talking, they all went into the house; but as soon as they wereall seated, Levin turned and went out.

  Kitty saw something was wrong with her husband. She tried to seize amoment to speak to him alone, but he made haste to get away from her,saying he was wanted at the counting-house. It was long since his ownwork on the estate had seemed to him so important as at that moment."It's all holiday for them," he thought; "but these are no holidaymatters, they won't wait, and there's no living without them."

 
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