Anna karenina, p.176
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       Anna Karenina, p.176

           graf Leo Tolstoy

  Chapter 19

  Left alone, Darya Alexandrovna, with a good housewife's eye, scanned herroom. All she had seen in entering the house and walking through it, andall she saw now in her room, gave her an impression of wealth andsumptuousness and of that modern European luxury of which she had onlyread in English novels, but had never seen in Russia and in the country.Everything was new from the new French hangings on the walls to thecarpet which covered the whole floor. The bed had a spring mattress, anda special sort of bolster and silk pillowcases on the little pillows.The marble washstand, the dressing table, the little sofa, the tables,the bronze clock on the chimney piece, the window curtains, and the_portieres_ were all new and expensive.

  The smart maid, who came in to offer her services, with her hair done uphigh, and a gown more fashionable than Dolly's, was as new and expensiveas the whole room. Darya Alexandrovna liked her neatness, herdeferential and obliging manners, but she felt ill at ease with her. Shefelt ashamed of her seeing the patched dressing jacket that hadunluckily been packed by mistake for her. She was ashamed of the verypatches and darned places of which she had been so proud at home. Athome it had been so clear that for six dressing jackets there would beneeded twenty-four yards of nainsook at sixteen pence the yard, whichwas a matter of thirty shillings besides the cutting-out and making, andthese thirty shillings had been saved. But before the maid she felt, ifnot exactly ashamed, at least uncomfortable.

  Darya Alexandrovna had a great sense of relief when Annushka, whom shehad known for years, walked in. The smart maid was sent for to go to hermistress, and Annushka remained with Darya Alexandrovna.

  Annushka was obviously much pleased at that lady's arrival, and began tochatter away without a pause. Dolly observed that she was longing toexpress her opinion in regard to her mistress's position, especially asto the love and devotion of the count to Anna Arkadyevna, but Dollycarefully interrupted her whenever she began to speak about this.

  "I grew up with Anna Arkadyevna; my lady's dearer to me than anything.Well, it's not for us to judge. And, to be sure, there seems so muchlove..."

  "Kindly pour out the water for me to wash now, please," DaryaAlexandrovna cut her short.

  "Certainly. We've two women kept specially for washing small things, butmost of the linen's done by machinery. The count goes into everythinghimself. Ah, what a husband!..."

  Dolly was glad when Anna came in, and by her entrance put a stop toAnnushka's gossip.

  Anna had put on a very simple batiste gown. Dolly scrutinized thatsimple gown attentively. She knew what it meant, and the price at whichsuch simplicity was obtained.

  "An old friend," said Anna of Annushka.

  Anna was not embarrassed now. She was perfectly composed and at ease.Dolly saw that she had now completely recovered from the impression herarrival had made on her, and had assumed that superficial, careless tonewhich, as it were, closed the door on that compartment in which herdeeper feelings and ideas were kept.

  "Well, Anna, and how is your little girl?" asked Dolly.

  "Annie?" (This was what she called her little daughter Anna.) "Verywell. She has got on wonderfully. Would you like to see her? Come, I'llshow her to you. We had a terrible bother," she began telling her, "overnurses. We had an Italian wet-nurse. A good creature, but so stupid! Wewanted to get rid of her, but the baby is so used to her that we've goneon keeping her still."

  "But how have you managed?..." Dolly was beginning a question as to whatname the little girl would have; but noticing a sudden frown on Anna'sface, she changed the drift of her question.

  "How did you manage? have you weaned her yet?"

  But Anna had understood.

  "You didn't mean to ask that? You meant to ask about her surname. Yes?That worries Alexey. She has no name--that is, she's a Karenina," saidAnna, dropping her eyelids till nothing could be seen but the eyelashesmeeting. "But we'll talk about all that later," her face suddenlybrightening. "Come, I'll show you her. _Elle est tres gentille_. Shecrawls now."

  In the nursery the luxury which had impressed Dolly in the whole housestruck her still more. There were little go-carts ordered from England,and appliances for learning to walk, and a sofa after the fashion of abilliard table, purposely constructed for crawling, and swings andbaths, all of special pattern, and modern. They were all English, solid,and of good make, and obviously very expensive. The room was large, andvery light and lofty.

  When they went in, the baby, with nothing on but her little smock, wassitting in a little elbow chair at the table, having her dinner ofbroth, which she was spilling all over her little chest. The baby wasbeing fed, and the Russian nursery maid was evidently sharing her meal.Neither the wet-nurse nor the head nurse were there; they were in thenext room, from which came the sound of their conversation in the queerFrench which was their only means of communication.

  Hearing Anna's voice, a smart, tall, English nurse with a disagreeableface and a dissolute expression walked in at the door, hurriedly shakingher fair curls, and immediately began to defend herself though Anna hadnot found fault with her. At every word Anna said, the English nursesaid hurriedly several times, "Yes, my lady."

  The rosy baby with her black eyebrows and hair, her sturdy red littlebody with tight goose-flesh skin, delighted Darya Alexandrovna in spiteof the cross expression with which she stared at the stranger. Shepositively envied the baby's healthy appearance. She was delighted, too,at the baby's crawling. Not one of her own children had crawled likethat. When the baby was put on the carpet and its little dress tucked upbehind, it was wonderfully charming. Looking round like some little wildanimal at the grown-up big people with her bright black eyes, shesmiled, unmistakably pleased at their admiring her, and holding her legssideways, she pressed vigorously on her arms, and rapidly drew her wholeback up after, and then made another step forward with her little arms.

  But the whole atmosphere of the nursery, and especially the Englishnurse, Darya Alexandrovna did not like at all. It was only on thesupposition that no good nurse would have entered so irregular ahousehold as Anna's that Darya Alexandrovna could explain to herself howAnna with her insight into people could take such an unprepossessing,disreputable-looking woman as nurse to her child.

  Besides, from a few words that were dropped, Darya Alexandrovna saw atonce that Anna, the two nurses, and the child had no common existence,and that the mother's visit was something exceptional. Anna wanted toget the baby her plaything, and could not find it.

  Most amazing of all was the fact that on being asked how many teeth thebaby had, Anna answered wrong, and knew nothing about the two lastteeth.

  "I sometimes feel sorry I'm so superfluous here," said Anna, going outof the nursery and holding up her skirt so as to escape the playthingstanding in the doorway. "It was very different with my first child."

  "I expected it to be the other way," said Darya Alexandrovna shyly.

  "Oh, no! By the way, do you know I saw Seryozha?" said Anna, screwing upher eyes, as though looking at something far away. "But we'll talk aboutthat later. You wouldn't believe it, I'm like a hungry beggar woman whena full dinner is set before her, and she does not know what to begin onfirst. The dinner is you, and the talks I have before me with you, whichI could never have with anyone else; and I don't know which subject tobegin upon first. _Mais je ne vous ferai grace de rien_. I must haveeverything out with you."

  "Oh, I ought to give you a sketch of the company you will meet with us,"she went on. "I'll begin with the ladies. Princess Varvara--you knowher, and I know your opinion and Stiva's about her. Stiva says the wholeaim of her existence is to prove her superiority over Auntie KaterinaPavlovna: that's all true; but she's a good-natured woman, and I am sograteful to her. In Petersburg there was a moment when a chaperon wasabsolutely essential for me. Then she turned up. But really she isgood-natured. She did a great deal to alleviate my position. I see youdon't understand all the difficulty of my position ... there inPetersburg," she added. "Here I'm perfectly at ease and happy. Well,
ofthat later on, though. Then Sviazhsky--he's the marshal of the district,and he's a very good sort of a man, but he wants to get something out ofAlexey. You understand, with his property, now that we are settled inthe country, Alexey can exercise great influence. Then there'sTushkevitch--you have seen him, you know--Betsy's admirer. Now he's beenthrown over and he's come to see us. As Alexey says, he's one of thosepeople who are very pleasant if one accepts them for what they try toappear to be, _et puis il est comme il faut_, as Princess Varvara says.Then Veslovsky ... you know him. A very nice boy," she said, and a slysmile curved her lips. "What's this wild story about him and the Levins?Veslovsky told Alexey about it, and we don't believe it. _Il est tresgentil et naif_," she said again with the same smile. "Men needoccupation, and Alexey needs a circle, so I value all these people. Wehave to have the house lively and gay, so that Alexey may not long forany novelty. Then you'll see the steward--a German, a very good fellow,and he understands his work. Alexey has a very high opinion of him. Thenthe doctor, a young man, not quite a Nihilist perhaps, but you know,eats with his knife ... but a very good doctor. Then the architect...._Une petite cour!_"

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