Anna karenina, p.164
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       Anna Karenina, p.164

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 7

  Levin came back to the house only when they sent to summon him tosupper. On the stairs were standing Kitty and Agafea Mihalovna,consulting about wines for supper.

  "But why are you making all this fuss? Have what we usually do."

  "No, Stiva doesn't drink ... Kostya, stop, what's the matter?" Kittybegan, hurrying after him, but he strode ruthlessly away to the diningroom without waiting for her, and at once joined in the lively generalconversation which was being maintained there by Vassenka Veslovsky andStepan Arkadyevitch.

  "Well, what do you say, are we going shooting tomorrow?" said StepanArkadyevitch.

  "Please, do let's go," said Veslovsky, moving to another chair, where hesat down sideways, with one fat leg crossed under him.

  "I shall be delighted, we will go. And have you had any shooting yetthis year?" said Levin to Veslovsky, looking intently at his leg, butspeaking with that forced amiability that Kitty knew so well in him, andthat was so out of keeping with him. "I can't answer for our findinggrouse, but there are plenty of snipe. Only we ought to start early.You're not tired? Aren't you tired, Stiva?"

  "Me tired? I've never been tired yet. Suppose we stay up all night.Let's go for a walk!"

  "Yes, really, let's not go to bed at all! Capital!" Veslovsky chimed in.

  "Oh, we all know you can do without sleep, and keep other people uptoo," Dolly said to her husband, with that faint note of irony in hervoice which she almost always had now with her husband. "But to mythinking, it's time for bed now.... I'm going, I don't want supper."

  "No, do stay a little, Dolly," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, going round toher side behind the table where they were having supper. "I've so muchstill to tell you."

  "Nothing really, I suppose."

  "Do you know Veslovsky has been at Anna's, and he's going to them again?You know they're hardly fifty miles from you, and I too must certainlygo over there. Veslovsky, come here!"

  Vassenka crossed over to the ladies, and sat down beside Kitty.

  "Ah, do tell me, please; you have stayed with her? How was she?" DaryaAlexandrovna appealed to him.

  Levin was left at the other end of the table, and though never pausingin his conversation with the princess and Varenka, he saw that there wasan eager and mysterious conversation going on between StepanArkadyevitch, Dolly, Kitty, and Veslovsky. And that was not all. He sawon his wife's face an expression of real feeling as she gazed with fixedeyes on the handsome face of Vassenka, who was telling them somethingwith great animation.

  "It's exceedingly nice at their place," Veslovsky was telling them aboutVronsky and Anna. "I can't, of course, take it upon myself to judge, butin their house you feel the real feeling of home."

  "What do they intend doing?"

  "I believe they think of going to Moscow."

  "How jolly it would be for us all to go over to them together! When areyou going there?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked Vassenka.

  "I'm spending July there."

  "Will you go?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said to his wife.

  "I've been wanting to a long while; I shall certainly go," said Dolly."I am sorry for her, and I know her. She's a splendid woman. I will goalone, when you go back, and then I shall be in no one's way. And itwill be better indeed without you."

  "To be sure," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "And you, Kitty?"

  "I? Why should I go?" Kitty said, flushing all over, and she glancedround at her husband.

  "Do you know Anna Arkadyevna, then?" Veslovsky asked her. "She's a veryfascinating woman."

  "Yes," she answered Veslovsky, crimsoning still more. She got up andwalked across to her husband.

  "Are you going shooting, then, tomorrow?" she said.

  His jealousy had in these few moments, especially at the flush that hadoverspread her cheeks while she was talking to Veslovsky, gone farindeed. Now as he heard her words, he construed them in his own fashion.Strange as it was to him afterwards to recall it, it seemed to him atthe moment clear that in asking whether he was going shooting, all shecared to know was whether he would give that pleasure to VassenkaVeslovsky, with whom, as he fancied, she was in love.

  "Yes, I'm going," he answered her in an unnatural voice, disagreeable tohimself.

  "No, better spend the day here tomorrow, or Dolly won't see anything ofher husband, and set off the day after," said Kitty.

  The motive of Kitty's words was interpreted by Levin thus: "Don'tseparate me from _him_. I don't care about _your_ going, but do let meenjoy the society of this delightful young man."

  "Oh, if you wish, we'll stay here tomorrow," Levin answered, withpeculiar amiability.

  Vassenka meanwhile, utterly unsuspecting the misery his presence hadoccasioned, got up from the table after Kitty, and watching her withsmiling and admiring eyes, he followed her.

  Levin saw that look. He turned white, and for a minute he could hardlybreathe. "How dare he look at my wife like that!" was the feeling thatboiled within him.

  "Tomorrow, then? Do, please, let us go," said Vassenka, sitting down ona chair, and again crossing his leg as his habit was.

  Levin's jealousy went further still. Already he saw himself a deceivedhusband, looked upon by his wife and her lover as simply necessary toprovide them with the conveniences and pleasures of life.... But inspite of that he made polite and hospitable inquiries of Vassenka abouthis shooting, his gun, and his boots, and agreed to go shooting nextday.

  Happily for Levin, the old princess cut short his agonies by getting upherself and advising Kitty to go to bed. But even at this point Levincould not escape another agony. As he said good-night to his hostess,Vassenka would again have kissed her hand, but Kitty, reddening, drewback her hand and said with a naive bluntness, for which the oldprincess scolded her afterwards:

  "We don't like that fashion."

  In Levin's eyes she was to blame for having allowed such relations toarise, and still more to blame for showing so awkwardly that she did notlike them.

  "Why, how can one want to go to bed!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, who,after drinking several glasses of wine at supper, was now in his mostcharming and sentimental humor. "Look, Kitty," he said, pointing to themoon, which had just risen behind the lime trees--"how exquisite!Veslovsky, this is the time for a serenade. You know, he has a splendidvoice; we practiced songs together along the road. He has brought somelovely songs with him, two new ones. Varvara Andreevna and he must singsome duets."

  When the party had broken up, Stepan Arkadyevitch walked a long whileabout the avenue with Veslovsky; their voices could be heard singing oneof the new songs.

  Levin hearing these voices sat scowling in an easy-chair in his wife'sbedroom, and maintained an obstinate silence when she asked him what waswrong. But when at last with a timid glance she hazarded the question:"Was there perhaps something you disliked about Veslovsky?"--it allburst out, and he told her all. He was humiliated himself at what he wassaying, and that exasperated him all the more.

  He stood facing her with his eyes glittering menacingly under hisscowling brows, and he squeezed his strong arms across his chest, asthough he were straining every nerve to hold himself in. The expressionof his face would have been grim, and even cruel, if it had not at thesame time had a look of suffering which touched her. His jaws weretwitching, and his voice kept breaking.

  "You must understand that I'm not jealous, that's a nasty word. I can'tbe jealous, and believe that.... I can't say what I feel, but this isawful.... I'm not jealous, but I'm wounded, humiliated that anybody darethink, that anybody dare look at you with eyes like that."

  "Eyes like what?" said Kitty, trying as conscientiously as possible torecall every word and gesture of that evening and every shade implied inthem.

  At the very bottom of her heart she did think there had been somethingprecisely at the moment when he had crossed over after her to the otherend of the table; but she dared not own it even to herself, and wouldhave been even more unable to bring herself to say so to him, and soincrease his suff
ering.

  "And what can there possibly be attractive about me as I am now?..."

  "Ah!" he cried, clutching at his head, "you shouldn't say that!... Ifyou had been attractive then..."

  "Oh, no, Kostya, oh, wait a minute, oh, do listen!" she said, looking athim with an expression of pained commiseration. "Why, what can you bethinking about! When for me there's no one in the world, no one, noone!... Would you like me never to see anyone?"

  For the first minute she had been offended at his jealousy; she wasangry that the slightest amusement, even the most innocent, should beforbidden her; but now she would readily have sacrificed, not merelysuch trifles, but everything, for his peace of mind, to save him fromthe agony he was suffering.

  "You must understand the horror and comedy of my position," he went onin a desperate whisper; "that he's in my house, that he's done nothingimproper positively except his free and easy airs and the way he sits onhis legs. He thinks it's the best possible form, and so I'm obliged tobe civil to him."

  "But, Kostya, you're exaggerating," said Kitty, at the bottom of herheart rejoicing at the depth of his love for her, shown now in hisjealousy.

  "The most awful part of it all is that you're just as you always are,and especially now when to me you're something sacred, and we're sohappy, so particularly happy--and all of a sudden a little wretch....He's not a little wretch; why should I abuse him? I have nothing to dowith him. But why should my, and your, happiness..."

  "Do you know, I understand now what it's all come from," Kitty wasbeginning.

  "Well, what? what?"

  "I saw how you looked while we were talking at supper."

  "Well, well!" Levin said in dismay.

  She told him what they had been talking about. And as she told him, shewas breathless with emotion. Levin was silent for a space, then hescanned her pale and distressed face, and suddenly he clutched at hishead.

  "Katya, I've been worrying you! Darling, forgive me! It's madness!Katya, I'm a criminal. And how could you be so distressed at suchidiocy?"

  "Oh, I was sorry for you."

  "For me? for me? How mad I am!... But why make you miserable? It's awfulto think that any outsider can shatter our happiness."

  "It's humiliating too, of course."

  "Oh, then I'll keep him here all the summer, and will overwhelm him withcivility," said Levin, kissing her hands. "You shall see. Tomorrow....Oh, yes, we are going tomorrow."

 
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