Anna karenina, p.193
Anna Karenina, p.193graf Leo Tolstoy
Lvov, the husband of Natalia, Kitty's sister, had spent all his life inforeign capitals, where he had been educated, and had been in thediplomatic service.
During the previous year he had left the diplomatic service, not owingto any "unpleasantness" (he never had any "unpleasantness" with anyone),and was transferred to the department of the court of the palace inMoscow, in order to give his two boys the best education possible.
In spite of the striking contrast in their habits and views and the factthat Lvov was older than Levin, they had seen a great deal of oneanother that winter, and had taken a great liking to each other.
Lvov was at home, and Levin went in to him unannounced.
Lvov, in a house coat with a belt and in chamois leather shoes, wassitting in an armchair, and with a pince-nez with blue glasses he wasreading a book that stood on a reading desk, while in his beautiful handhe held a half-burned cigarette daintily away from him.
His handsome, delicate, and still youthful-looking face, to which hiscurly, glistening silvery hair gave a still more aristocratic air,lighted up with a smile when he saw Levin.
"Capital! I was meaning to send to you. How's Kitty? Sit here, it's morecomfortable." He got up and pushed up a rocking chair. "Have you readthe last circular in the _Journal de St. Petersbourg?_ I think it'sexcellent," he said, with a slight French accent.
Levin told him what he had heard from Katavasov was being said inPetersburg, and after talking a little about politics, he told him ofhis interview with Metrov, and the learned society's meeting. To Lvov itwas very interesting.
"That's what I envy you, that you are able to mix in these interestingscientific circles," he said. And as he talked, he passed as usual intoFrench, which was easier to him. "It's true I haven't the time for it.My official work and the children leave me no time; and then I'm notashamed to own that my education has been too defective."
"That I don't believe," said Levin with a smile, feeling, as he alwaysdid, touched at Lvov's low opinion of himself, which was not in theleast put on from a desire to seem or to be modest, but was absolutelysincere.
"Oh, yes, indeed! I feel now how badly educated I am. To educate mychildren I positively have to look up a great deal, and in fact simplyto study myself. For it's not enough to have teachers, there must besomeone to look after them, just as on your land you want laborers andan overseer. See what I'm reading"--he pointed to Buslaev's _Grammar_ onthe desk--"it's expected of Misha, and it's so difficult.... Come,explain to me.... Here he says..."
Levin tried to explain to him that it couldn't be understood, but thatit had to be taught; but Lvov would not agree with him.
"Oh, you're laughing at it!"
"On the contrary, you can't imagine how, when I look at you, I'm alwayslearning the task that lies before me, that is the education of one'schildren."
"Well, there's nothing for you to learn," said Lvov.
"All I know," said Levin, "is that I have never seen better brought-upchildren than yours, and I wouldn't wish for children better thanyours."
Lvov visibly tried to restrain the expression of his delight, but he waspositively radiant with smiles.
"If only they're better than I! That's all I desire. You don't know yetall the work," he said, "with boys who've been left like mine to runwild abroad."
"You'll catch all that up. They're such clever children. The great thingis the education of character. That's what I learn when I look at yourchildren."
"You talk of the education of character. You can't imagine how difficultthat is! You have hardly succeeded in combating one tendency when otherscrop up, and the struggle begins again. If one had not a support inreligion--you remember we talked about that--no father could bringchildren up relying on his own strength alone without that help."
This subject, which always interested Levin, was cut short by theentrance of the beauty Natalia Alexandrovna, dressed to go out.
"I didn't know you were here," she said, unmistakably feeling no regret,but a positive pleasure, in interrupting this conversation on a topicshe had heard so much of that she was by now weary of it. "Well, how isKitty? I am dining with you today. I tell you what, Arseny," she turnedto her husband, "you take the carriage."
And the husband and wife began to discuss their arrangements for theday. As the husband had to drive to meet someone on official business,while the wife had to go to the concert and some public meeting of acommittee on the Eastern Question, there was a great deal to considerand settle. Levin had to take part in their plans as one of themselves.It was settled that Levin should go with Natalia to the concert and themeeting, and that from there they should send the carriage to the officefor Arseny, and he should call for her and take her to Kitty's; or that,if he had not finished his work, he should send the carriage back andLevin would go with her.
"He's spoiling me," Lvov said to his wife; "he assures me that ourchildren are splendid, when I know how much that's bad there is inthem."
"Arseny goes to extremes, I always say," said his wife. "If you look forperfection, you will never be satisfied. And it's true, as papasays,--that when we were brought up there was one extreme--we were keptin the basement, while our parents lived in the best rooms; now it'sjust the other way--the parents are in the wash house, while thechildren are in the best rooms. Parents now are not expected to live atall, but to exist altogether for their children."
"Well, what if they like it better?" Lvov said, with his beautifulsmile, touching her hand. "Anyone who didn't know you would think youwere a stepmother, not a true mother."
"No, extremes are not good in anything," Natalia said serenely, puttinghis paper knife straight in its proper place on the table.
"Well, come here, you perfect children," Lvov said to the two handsomeboys who came in, and after bowing to Levin, went up to their father,obviously wishing to ask him about something.
Levin would have liked to talk to them, to hear what they would say totheir father, but Natalia began talking to him, and then Lvov'scolleague in the service, Mahotin, walked in, wearing his court uniform,to go with him to meet someone, and a conversation was kept up without abreak upon Herzegovina, Princess Korzinskaya, the town council, and thesudden death of Madame Apraksina.
Levin even forgot the commission intrusted to him. He recollected it ashe was going into the hall.
"Oh, Kitty told me to talk to you about Oblonsky," he said, as Lvov wasstanding on the stairs, seeing his wife and Levin off.
"Yes, yes, maman wants us, _les beaux-freres,_ to attack him," he said,blushing. "But why should I?"
"Well, then, I will attack him," said Madame Lvova, with a smile,standing in her white sheepskin cape, waiting till they had finishedspeaking. "Come, let us go."
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