Anna karenina, p.227
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       Anna Karenina, p.227

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 7

  Agafea Mihalovna went out on tiptoe; the nurse let down the blind,chased a fly out from under the muslin canopy of the crib, and abumblebee struggling on the window-frame, and sat down waving a fadedbranch of birch over the mother and the baby.

  "How hot it is! if God would send a drop of rain," she said.

  "Yes, yes, sh--sh--sh--" was all Kitty answered, rocking a little, andtenderly squeezing the plump little arm, with rolls of fat at the wrist,which Mitya still waved feebly as he opened and shut his eyes. That handworried Kitty; she longed to kiss the little hand, but was afraid to forfear of waking the baby. At last the little hand ceased waving, and theeyes closed. Only from time to time, as he went on sucking, the babyraised his long, curly eyelashes and peeped at his mother with wet eyes,that looked black in the twilight. The nurse had left off fanning, andwas dozing. From above came the peals of the old prince's voice, and thechuckle of Katavasov.

  "They have got into talk without me," thought Kitty, "but still it'svexing that Kostya's out. He's sure to have gone to the bee house again.Though it's a pity he's there so often, still I'm glad. It distracts hismind. He's become altogether happier and better now than in the spring.He used to be so gloomy and worried that I felt frightened for him. Andhow absurd he is!" she whispered, smiling.

  She knew what worried her husband. It was his unbelief. Although, if shehad been asked whether she supposed that in the future life, if he didnot believe, he would be damned, she would have had to admit that hewould be damned, his unbelief did not cause her unhappiness. And she,confessing that for an unbeliever there can be no salvation, and lovingher husband's soul more than anything in the world, thought with a smileof his unbelief, and told herself that he was absurd.

  "What does he keep reading philosophy of some sort for all this year?"she wondered. "If it's all written in those books, he can understandthem. If it's all wrong, why does he read them? He says himself that hewould like to believe. Then why is it he doesn't believe? Surely fromhis thinking so much? And he thinks so much from being solitary. He'salways alone, alone. He can't talk about it all to us. I fancy he'll beglad of these visitors, especially Katavasov. He likes discussions withthem," she thought, and passed instantly to the consideration of whereit would be more convenient to put Katavasov, to sleep alone or to shareSergey Ivanovitch's room. And then an idea suddenly struck her, whichmade her shudder and even disturb Mitya, who glanced severely at her. "Ido believe the laundress hasn't sent the washing yet, and all the bestsheets are in use. If I don't see to it, Agafea Mihalovna will giveSergey Ivanovitch the wrong sheets," and at the very idea of this theblood rushed to Kitty's face.

  "Yes, I will arrange it," she decided, and going back to her formerthoughts, she remembered that some spiritual question of importance hadbeen interrupted, and she began to recall what. "Yes, Kostya, anunbeliever," she thought again with a smile.

  "Well, an unbeliever then! Better let him always be one than like MadameStahl, or what I tried to be in those days abroad. No, he won't eversham anything."

  And a recent instance of his goodness rose vividly to her mind. Afortnight ago a penitent letter had come from Stepan Arkadyevitch toDolly. He besought her to save his honor, to sell her estate to pay hisdebts. Dolly was in despair, she detested her husband, despised him,pitied him, resolved on a separation, resolved to refuse, but ended byagreeing to sell part of her property. After that, with an irrepressiblesmile of tenderness, Kitty recalled her husband's shamefacedembarrassment, his repeated awkward efforts to approach the subject, andhow at last, having thought of the one means of helping Dolly withoutwounding her pride, he had suggested to Kitty--what had not occurred toher before--that she should give up her share of the property.

  "He an unbeliever indeed! With his heart, his dread of offending anyone,even a child! Everything for others, nothing for himself. SergeyIvanovitch simply considers it as Kostya's duty to be his steward. Andit's the same with his sister. Now Dolly and her children are under hisguardianship; all these peasants who come to him every day, as though hewere bound to be at their service."

  "Yes, only be like your father, only like him," she said, handing Mityaover to the nurse, and putting her lips to his cheek.

 
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