Anna karenina, p.205
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       Anna Karenina, p.205

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 16

  At ten o'clock the old prince, Sergey Ivanovitch, and StepanArkadyevitch were sitting at Levin's. Having inquired after Kitty, theyhad dropped into conversation upon other subjects. Levin heard them, andunconsciously, as they talked, going over the past, over what had beenup to that morning, he thought of himself as he had been yesterday tillthat point. It was as though a hundred years had passed since then. Hefelt himself exalted to unattainable heights, from which he studiouslylowered himself so as not to wound the people he was talking to. Hetalked, and was all the time thinking of his wife, of her condition now,of his son, in whose existence he tried to school himself intobelieving. The whole world of woman, which had taken for him since hismarriage a new value he had never suspected before, was now so exaltedthat he could not take it in in his imagination. He heard them talk ofyesterday's dinner at the club, and thought: "What is happening with hernow? Is she asleep? How is she? What is she thinking of? Is he crying,my son Dmitri?" And in the middle of the conversation, in the middle ofa sentence, he jumped up and went out of the room.

  "Send me word if I can see her," said the prince.

  "Very well, in a minute," answered Levin, and without stopping, he wentto her room.

  She was not asleep, she was talking gently with her mother, making plansabout the christening.

  Carefully set to rights, with hair well-brushed, in a smart little capwith some blue in it, her arms out on the quilt, she was lying on herback. Meeting his eyes, her eyes drew him to her. Her face, brightbefore, brightened still more as he drew near her. There was the samechange in it from earthly to unearthly that is seen in the face of thedead. But then it means farewell, here it meant welcome. Again a rush ofemotion, such as he had felt at the moment of the child's birth, floodedhis heart. She took his hand and asked him if he had slept. He could notanswer, and turned away, struggling with his weakness.

  "I have had a nap, Kostya!" she said to him; "and I am so comfortablenow."

  She looked at him, but suddenly her expression changed.

  "Give him to me," she said, hearing the baby's cry. "Give him to me,Lizaveta Petrovna, and he shall look at him."

  "To be sure, his papa shall look at him," said Lizaveta Petrovna,getting up and bringing something red, and queer, and wriggling. "Wait aminute, we'll make him tidy first," and Lizaveta Petrovna laid the redwobbling thing on the bed, began untrussing and trussing up the baby,lifting it up and turning it over with one finger and powdering it withsomething.

  Levin, looking at the tiny, pitiful creature, made strenuous efforts todiscover in his heart some traces of fatherly feeling for it. He feltnothing towards it but disgust. But when it was undressed and he caughta glimpse of wee, wee, little hands, little feet, saffron-colored, withlittle toes, too, and positively with a little big toe different fromthe rest, and when he saw Lizaveta Petrovna closing the wide-open littlehands, as though they were soft springs, and putting them into linengarments, such pity for the little creature came upon him, and suchterror that she would hurt it, that he held her hand back.

  Lizaveta Petrovna laughed.

  "Don't be frightened, don't be frightened!"

  When the baby had been put to rights and transformed into a firm doll,Lizaveta Petrovna dandled it as though proud of her handiwork, and stooda little away so that Levin might see his son in all his glory.

  Kitty looked sideways in the same direction, never taking her eyes offthe baby. "Give him to me! give him to me!" she said, and even made asthough she would sit up.

  "What are you thinking of, Katerina Alexandrovna, you mustn't move likethat! Wait a minute. I'll give him to you. Here we're showing papa whata fine fellow we are!"

  And Lizaveta Petrovna, with one hand supporting the wobbling head,lifted up on the other arm the strange, limp, red creature, whose headwas lost in its swaddling clothes. But it had a nose, too, and slantingeyes and smacking lips.

  "A splendid baby!" said Lizaveta Petrovna.

  Levin sighed with mortification. This splendid baby excited in him nofeeling but disgust and compassion. It was not at all the feeling he hadlooked forward to.

  He turned away while Lizaveta Petrovna put the baby to the unaccustomedbreast.

  Suddenly laughter made him look round. The baby had taken the breast.

  "Come, that's enough, that's enough!" said Lizaveta Petrovna, but Kittywould not let the baby go. He fell asleep in her arms.

  "Look, now," said Kitty, turning the baby so that he could see it. Theaged-looking little face suddenly puckered up still more and the babysneezed.

  Smiling, hardly able to restrain his tears, Levin kissed his wife andwent out of the dark room. What he felt towards this little creature wasutterly unlike what he had expected. There was nothing cheerful andjoyous in the feeling; on the contrary, it was a new torture ofapprehension. It was the consciousness of a new sphere of liability topain. And this sense was so painful at first, the apprehension lest thishelpless creature should suffer was so intense, that it prevented himfrom noticing the strange thrill of senseless joy and even pride that hehad felt when the baby sneezed.

 

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