Anna karenina, p.36
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       Anna Karenina, p.36

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 2

  Soon after the doctor, Dolly had arrived. She knew that there was to bea consultation that day, and though she was only just up after herconfinement (she had another baby, a little girl, born at the end of thewinter), though she had trouble and anxiety enough of her own, she hadleft her tiny baby and a sick child, to come and hear Kitty's fate,which was to be decided that day.

  "Well, well?" she said, coming into the drawing room, without taking offher hat. "You're all in good spirits. Good news, then?"

  They tried to tell her what the doctor had said, but it appeared thatthough the doctor had talked distinctly enough and at great length, itwas utterly impossible to report what he had said. The only point ofinterest was that it was settled they should go abroad.

  Dolly could not help sighing. Her dearest friend, her sister, was goingaway. And her life was not a cheerful one. Her relations with StepanArkadyevitch after their reconciliation had become humiliating. Theunion Anna had cemented turned out to be of no solid character, andfamily harmony was breaking down again at the same point. There had beennothing definite, but Stepan Arkadyevitch was hardly ever at home;money, too, was hardly ever forthcoming, and Dolly was continuallytortured by suspicions of infidelity, which she tried to dismiss,dreading the agonies of jealousy she had been through already. The firstonslaught of jealousy, once lived through, could never come back again,and even the discovery of infidelities could never now affect her as ithad the first time. Such a discovery now would only mean breaking upfamily habits, and she let herself be deceived, despising him and stillmore herself, for the weakness. Besides this, the care of her largefamily was a constant worry to her: first, the nursing of her young babydid not go well, then the nurse had gone away, now one of the childrenhad fallen ill.

  "Well, how are all of you?" asked her mother.

  "Ah, mamma, we have plenty of troubles of our own. Lili is ill, and I'mafraid it's scarlatina. I have come here now to hear about Kitty, andthen I shall shut myself up entirely, if--God forbid--it should bescarlatina."

  The old prince too had come in from his study after the doctor'sdeparture, and after presenting his cheek to Dolly, and saying a fewwords to her, he turned to his wife:

  "How have you settled it? you're going? Well, and what do you mean to dowith me?"

  "I suppose you had better stay here, Alexander," said his wife.

  "That's as you like."

  "Mamma, why shouldn't father come with us?" said Kitty. "It would benicer for him and for us too."

  The old prince got up and stroked Kitty's hair. She lifted her head andlooked at him with a forced smile. It always seemed to her that heunderstood her better than anyone in the family, though he did not saymuch about her. Being the youngest, she was her father's favorite, andshe fancied that his love gave him insight. When now her glance met hisblue kindly eyes looking intently at her, it seemed to her that he sawright through her, and understood all that was not good that was passingwithin her. Reddening, she stretched out towards him expecting a kiss,but he only patted her hair and said:

  "These stupid chignons! There's no getting at the real daughter. Onesimply strokes the bristles of dead women. Well, Dolinka," he turned tohis elder daughter, "what's your young buck about, hey?"

  "Nothing, father," answered Dolly, understanding that her husband wasmeant. "He's always out; I scarcely ever see him," she could not resistadding with a sarcastic smile.

  "Why, hasn't he gone into the country yet--to see about selling thatforest?"

  "No, he's still getting ready for the journey."

  "Oh, that's it!" said the prince. "And so am I to be getting ready for ajourney too? At your service," he said to his wife, sitting down. "And Itell you what, Katia," he went on to his younger daughter, "you mustwake up one fine day and say to yourself: Why, I'm quite well, andmerry, and going out again with father for an early morning walk in thefrost. Hey?"

  What her father said seemed simple enough, yet at these words Kittybecame confused and overcome like a detected criminal. "Yes, he sees itall, he understands it all, and in these words he's telling me thatthough I'm ashamed, I must get over my shame." She could not pluck upspirit to make any answer. She tried to begin, and all at once burstinto tears, and rushed out of the room.

  "See what comes of your jokes!" the princess pounced down on herhusband. "You're always..." she began a string of reproaches.

  The prince listened to the princess's scolding rather a long whilewithout speaking, but his face was more and more frowning.

  "She's so much to be pitied, poor child, so much to be pitied, and youdon't feel how it hurts her to hear the slightest reference to the causeof it. Ah! to be so mistaken in people!" said the princess, and by thechange in her tone both Dolly and the prince knew she was speaking ofVronsky. "I don't know why there aren't laws against such base,dishonorable people."

  "Ah, I can't bear to hear you!" said the prince gloomily, getting upfrom his low chair, and seeming anxious to get away, yet stopping in thedoorway. "There are laws, madam, and since you've challenged me to it,I'll tell you who's to blame for it all: you and you, you and nobodyelse. Laws against such young gallants there have always been, and therestill are! Yes, if there has been nothing that ought not to have been,old as I am, I'd have called him out to the barrier, the young dandy.Yes, and now you physic her and call in these quacks."

  The prince apparently had plenty more to say, but as soon as theprincess heard his tone she subsided at once, and became penitent, asshe always did on serious occasions.

  "Alexander, Alexander," she whispered, moving to him and beginning toweep.

  As soon as she began to cry the prince too calmed down. He went up toher.

  "There, that's enough, that's enough! You're wretched too, I know. Itcan't be helped. There's no great harm done. God is merciful ...thanks..." he said, not knowing what he was saying, as he responded tothe tearful kiss of the princess that he felt on his hand. And theprince went out of the room.

  Before this, as soon as Kitty went out of the room in tears, Dolly, withher motherly, family instincts, had promptly perceived that here awoman's work lay before her, and she prepared to do it. She took off herhat, and, morally speaking, tucked up her sleeves and prepared foraction. While her mother was attacking her father, she tried to restrainher mother, so far as filial reverence would allow. During the prince'soutburst she was silent; she felt ashamed for her mother, and tendertowards her father for so quickly being kind again. But when her fatherleft them she made ready for what was the chief thing needful--to go toKitty and console her.

  "I'd been meaning to tell you something for a long while, mamma: did youknow that Levin meant to make Kitty an offer when he was here the lasttime? He told Stiva so."

  "Well, what then? I don't understand..."

  "So did Kitty perhaps refuse him?... She didn't tell you so?"

  "No, she has said nothing to me either of one or the other; she's tooproud. But I know it's all on account of the other."

  "Yes, but suppose she has refused Levin, and she wouldn't have refusedhim if it hadn't been for the other, I know. And then, he has deceivedher so horribly."

  It was too terrible for the princess to think how she had sinned againsther daughter, and she broke out angrily.

  "Oh, I really don't understand! Nowadays they will all go their own way,and mothers haven't a word to say in anything, and then..."

  "Mamma, I'll go up to her."

  "Well, do. Did I tell you not to?" said her mother.

 
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