Anna karenina, p.171
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       Anna Karenina, p.171

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 14

  Next day at ten o'clock Levin, who had already gone his rounds, knockedat the room where Vassenka had been put for the night.

  "_Entrez!_" Veslovsky called to him. "Excuse me, I've only just finishedmy ablutions," he said, smiling, standing before him in his underclothesonly.

  "Don't mind me, please." Levin sat down in the window. "Have you sleptwell?"

  "Like the dead. What sort of day is it for shooting?"

  "What will you take, tea or coffee?"

  "Neither. I'll wait till lunch. I'm really ashamed. I suppose the ladiesare down? A walk now would be capital. You show me your horses."

  After walking about the garden, visiting the stable, and even doing somegymnastic exercises together on the parallel bars, Levin returned to thehouse with his guest, and went with him into the drawing room.

  "We had splendid shooting, and so many delightful experiences!" saidVeslovsky, going up to Kitty, who was sitting at the samovar. "What apity ladies are cut off from these delights!"

  "Well, I suppose he must say something to the lady of the house," Levinsaid to himself. Again he fancied something in the smile, in theall-conquering air with which their guest addressed Kitty....

  The princess, sitting on the other side of the table with MaryaVlasyevna and Stepan Arkadyevitch, called Levin to her side, and beganto talk to him about moving to Moscow for Kitty's confinement, andgetting ready rooms for them. Just as Levin had disliked all the trivialpreparations for his wedding, as derogatory to the grandeur of theevent, now he felt still more offensive the preparations for theapproaching birth, the date of which they reckoned, it seemed, on theirfingers. He tried to turn a deaf ear to these discussions of the bestpatterns of long clothes for the coming baby; tried to turn away andavoid seeing the mysterious, endless strips of knitting, the trianglesof linen, and so on, to which Dolly attached special importance. Thebirth of a son (he was certain it would be a son) which was promisedhim, but which he still could not believe in--so marvelous itseemed--presented itself to his mind, on one hand, as a happiness soimmense, and therefore so incredible; on the other, as an event somysterious, that this assumption of a definite knowledge of what wouldbe, and consequent preparation for it, as for something ordinary thatdid happen to people, jarred on him as confusing and humiliating.

  But the princess did not understand his feelings, and put down hisreluctance to think and talk about it to carelessness and indifference,and so she gave him no peace. She had commissioned Stepan Arkadyevitchto look at a flat, and now she called Levin up.

  "I know nothing about it, princess. Do as you think fit," he said.

  "You must decide when you will move."

  "I really don't know. I know millions of children are born away fromMoscow, and doctors ... why..."

  "But if so..."

  "Oh, no, as Kitty wishes."

  "We can't talk to Kitty about it! Do you want me to frighten her? Why,this spring Natalia Golitzina died from having an ignorant doctor."

  "I will do just what you say," he said gloomily.

  The princess began talking to him, but he did not hear her. Though theconversation with the princess had indeed jarred upon him, he wasgloomy, not on account of that conversation, but from what he saw at thesamovar.

  "No, it's impossible," he thought, glancing now and then at Vassenkabending over Kitty, telling her something with his charming smile, andat her, flushed and disturbed.

  There was something not nice in Vassenka's attitude, in his eyes, in hissmile. Levin even saw something not nice in Kitty's attitude and look.And again the light died away in his eyes. Again, as before, all of asudden, without the slightest transition, he felt cast down from apinnacle of happiness, peace, and dignity, into an abyss of despair,rage, and humiliation. Again everything and everyone had become hatefulto him.

  "You do just as you think best, princess," he said again, looking round.

  "Heavy is the cap of Monomach," Stepan Arkadyevitch said playfully,hinting, evidently, not simply at the princess's conversation, but atthe cause of Levin's agitation, which he had noticed.

  "How late you are today, Dolly!"

  Everyone got up to greet Darya Alexandrovna. Vassenka only rose for aninstant, and with the lack of courtesy to ladies characteristic of themodern young man, he scarcely bowed, and resumed his conversation again,laughing at something.

  "I've been worried about Masha. She did not sleep well, and isdreadfully tiresome today," said Dolly.

  The conversation Vassenka had started with Kitty was running on the samelines as on the previous evening, discussing Anna, and whether love isto be put higher than worldly considerations. Kitty disliked theconversation, and she was disturbed both by the subject and the tone inwhich it was conducted, and also by the knowledge of the effect it wouldhave on her husband. But she was too simple and innocent to know how tocut short this conversation, or even to conceal the superficial pleasureafforded her by the young man's very obvious admiration. She wanted tostop it, but she did not know what to do. Whatever she did she knewwould be observed by her husband, and the worst interpretation put onit. And, in fact, when she asked Dolly what was wrong with Masha, andVassenka, waiting till this uninteresting conversation was over, beganto gaze indifferently at Dolly, the question struck Levin as anunnatural and disgusting piece of hypocrisy.

  "What do you say, shall we go and look for mushrooms today?" said Dolly.

  "By all means, please, and I shall come too," said Kitty, and sheblushed. She wanted from politeness to ask Vassenka whether he wouldcome, and she did not ask him. "Where are you going, Kostya?" she askedher husband with a guilty face, as he passed by her with a resolutestep. This guilty air confirmed all his suspicions.

  "The mechanician came when I was away; I haven't seen him yet," he said,not looking at her.

  He went downstairs, but before he had time to leave his study he heardhis wife's familiar footsteps running with reckless speed to him.

  "What do you want?" he said to her shortly. "We are busy."

  "I beg your pardon," she said to the German mechanician; "I want a fewwords with my husband."

  The German would have left the room, but Levin said to him:

  "Don't disturb yourself."

  "The train is at three?" queried the German. "I mustn't be late."

  Levin did not answer him, but walked out himself with his wife.

  "Well, what have you to say to me?" he said to her in French.

  He did not look her in the face, and did not care to see that she in hercondition was trembling all over, and had a piteous, crushed look.

  "I ... I want to say that we can't go on like this; that this ismisery..." she said.

  "The servants are here at the sideboard," he said angrily; "don't make ascene."

  "Well, let's go in here!"

  They were standing in the passage. Kitty would have gone into the nextroom, but there the English governess was giving Tanya a lesson.

  "Well, come into the garden."

  In the garden they came upon a peasant weeding the path. And no longerconsidering that the peasant could see her tear-stained and his agitatedface, that they looked like people fleeing from some disaster, they wenton with rapid steps, feeling that they must speak out and clear upmisunderstandings, must be alone together, and so get rid of the miserythey were both feeling.

  "We can't go on like this! It's misery! I am wretched; you are wretched.What for?" she said, when they had at last reached a solitary gardenseat at a turn in the lime tree avenue.

  "But tell me one thing: was there in his tone anything unseemly, notnice, humiliatingly horrible?" he said, standing before her again in thesame position with his clenched fists on his chest, as he had stoodbefore her that night.

  "Yes," she said in a shaking voice; "but, Kostya, surely you see I'm notto blame? All the morning I've been trying to take a tone ... but suchpeople.... Why did he come? How happy we were!" she said, breathlesswith the sobs that shook her.

  Alth
ough nothing had been pursuing them, and there was nothing to runaway from, and they could not possibly have found anything verydelightful on that garden seat, the gardener saw with astonishment thatthey passed him on their way home with comforted and radiant faces.

 

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