Anna karenina, p.195
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       Anna Karenina, p.195

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 6

  "Perhaps they're not at home?" said Levin, as he went into the hall ofCountess Bola's house.

  "At home; please walk in," said the porter, resolutely removing hisovercoat.

  "How annoying!" thought Levin with a sigh, taking off one glove andstroking his hat. "What did I come for? What have I to say to them?"

  As he passed through the first drawing room Levin met in the doorwayCountess Bola, giving some order to a servant with a care-worn andsevere face. On seeing Levin she smiled, and asked him to come into thelittle drawing room, where he heard voices. In this room there weresitting in armchairs the two daughters of the countess, and a Moscowcolonel, whom Levin knew. Levin went up, greeted them, and sat downbeside the sofa with his hat on his knees.

  "How is your wife? Have you been at the concert? We couldn't go. Mammahad to be at the funeral service."

  "Yes, I heard.... What a sudden death!" said Levin.

  The countess came in, sat down on the sofa, and she too asked after hiswife and inquired about the concert.

  Levin answered, and repeated an inquiry about Madame Apraksina's suddendeath.

  "But she was always in weak health."

  "Were you at the opera yesterday?"

  "Yes, I was."

  "Lucca was very good."

  "Yes, very good," he said, and as it was utterly of no consequence tohim what they thought of him, he began repeating what they had heard ahundred times about the characteristics of the singer's talent. CountessBola pretended to be listening. Then, when he had said enough andpaused, the colonel, who had been silent till then, began to talk. Thecolonel too talked of the opera, and about culture. At last, afterspeaking of the proposed _folle journee_ at Turin's, the colonellaughed, got up noisily, and went away. Levin too rose, but he saw bythe face of the countess that it was not yet time for him to go. He muststay two minutes longer. He sat down.

  But as he was thinking all the while how stupid it was, he could notfind a subject for conversation, and sat silent.

  "You are not going to the public meeting? They say it will be veryinteresting," began the countess.

  "No, I promised my _belle-soeur_ to fetch her from it," said Levin.

  A silence followed. The mother once more exchanged glances with adaughter.

  "Well, now I think the time has come," thought Levin, and he got up. Theladies shook hands with him, and begged him to say _mille choses_ to hiswife for them.

  The porter asked him, as he gave him his coat, "Where is your honorstaying?" and immediately wrote down his address in a big handsomelybound book.

  "Of course I don't care, but still I feel ashamed and awfully stupid,"thought Levin, consoling himself with the reflection that everyone doesit. He drove to the public meeting, where he was to find hissister-in-law, so as to drive home with her.

  At the public meeting of the committee there were a great many people,and almost all the highest society. Levin was in time for the reportwhich, as everyone said, was very interesting. When the reading of thereport was over, people moved about, and Levin met Sviazhsky, whoinvited him very pressingly to come that evening to a meeting of theSociety of Agriculture, where a celebrated lecture was to be delivered,and Stepan Arkadyevitch, who had only just come from the races, and manyother acquaintances; and Levin heard and uttered various criticisms onthe meeting, on the new fantasia, and on a public trial. But, probablyfrom the mental fatigue he was beginning to feel, he made a blunder inspeaking of the trial, and this blunder he recalled several times withvexation. Speaking of the sentence upon a foreigner who had beencondemned in Russia, and of how unfair it would be to punish him byexile abroad, Levin repeated what he had heard the day before inconversation from an acquaintance.

  "I think sending him abroad is much the same as punishing a carp byputting it into the water," said Levin. Then he recollected that thisidea, which he had heard from an acquaintance and uttered as his own,came from a fable of Krilov's, and that the acquaintance had picked itup from a newspaper article.

  After driving home with his sister-in-law, and finding Kitty in goodspirits and quite well, Levin drove to the club.

 

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