Anna karenina, p.37
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       Anna Karenina, p.37

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 3

  When she went into Kitty's little room, a pretty, pink little room, fullof knick-knacks in _vieux saxe,_ as fresh, and pink, and white, and gayas Kitty herself had been two months ago, Dolly remembered how they haddecorated the room the year before together, with what love and gaiety.Her heart turned cold when she saw Kitty sitting on a low chair near thedoor, her eyes fixed immovably on a corner of the rug. Kitty glanced ather sister, and the cold, rather ill-tempered expression of her face didnot change.

  "I'm just going now, and I shall have to keep in and you won't be ableto come to see me," said Dolly, sitting down beside her. "I want to talkto you."

  "What about?" Kitty asked swiftly, lifting her head in dismay.

  "What should it be, but your trouble?"

  "I have no trouble."

  "Nonsense, Kitty. Do you suppose I could help knowing? I know all aboutit. And believe me, it's of so little consequence.... We've all beenthrough it."

  Kitty did not speak, and her face had a stern expression.

  "He's not worth your grieving over him," pursued Darya Alexandrovna,coming straight to the point.

  "No, because he has treated me with contempt," said Kitty, in a breakingvoice. "Don't talk of it! Please, don't talk of it!"

  "But who can have told you so? No one has said that. I'm certain he wasin love with you, and would still be in love with you, if it hadn't...

  "Oh, the most awful thing of all for me is this sympathizing!" shriekedKitty, suddenly flying into a passion. She turned round on her chair,flushed crimson, and rapidly moving her fingers, pinched the clasp ofher belt first with one hand and then with the other. Dolly knew thistrick her sister had of clenching her hands when she was much excited;she knew, too, that in moments of excitement Kitty was capable offorgetting herself and saying a great deal too much, and Dolly wouldhave soothed her, but it was too late.

  "What, what is it you want to make me feel, eh?" said Kitty quickly."That I've been in love with a man who didn't care a straw for me, andthat I'm dying of love for him? And this is said to me by my own sister,who imagines that ... that ... that she's sympathizing with me!... Idon't want these condolences and humbug!"

  "Kitty, you're unjust."

  "Why are you tormenting me?"

  "But I ... quite the contrary ... I see you're unhappy..."

  But Kitty in her fury did not hear her.

  "I've nothing to grieve over and be comforted about. I am too proud everto allow myself to care for a man who does not love me."

  "Yes, I don't say so either.... Only one thing. Tell me the truth," saidDarya Alexandrovna, taking her by the hand: "tell me, did Levin speak toyou?..."

  The mention of Levin's name seemed to deprive Kitty of the last vestigeof self-control. She leaped up from her chair, and flinging her clasp onthe ground, she gesticulated rapidly with her hands and said:

  "Why bring Levin in too? I can't understand what you want to torment mefor. I've told you, and I say it again, that I have some pride, andnever, _never_ would I do as you're doing--go back to a man who'sdeceived you, who has cared for another woman. I can't understand it!You may, but I can't!"

  And saying these words she glanced at her sister, and seeing that Dollysat silent, her head mournfully bowed, Kitty, instead of running out ofthe room as she had meant to do, sat down near the door, and hid herface in her handkerchief.

  The silence lasted for two minutes: Dolly was thinking of herself. Thathumiliation of which she was always conscious came back to her with apeculiar bitterness when her sister reminded her of it. She had notlooked for such cruelty in her sister, and she was angry with her. Butsuddenly she heard the rustle of a skirt, and with it the sound ofheart-rending, smothered sobbing, and felt arms about her neck. Kittywas on her knees before her.

  "Dolinka, I am so, so wretched!" she whispered penitently. And the sweetface covered with tears hid itself in Darya Alexandrovna's skirt.

  As though tears were the indispensable oil, without which the machineryof mutual confidence could not run smoothly between the two sisters, thesisters after their tears talked, not of what was uppermost in theirminds, but, though they talked of outside matters, they understood eachother. Kitty knew that the words she had uttered in anger about herhusband's infidelity and her humiliating position had cut her poorsister to the heart, but that she had forgiven her. Dolly for her partknew all she had wanted to find out. She felt certain that her surmiseswere correct; that Kitty's misery, her inconsolable misery, was dueprecisely to the fact that Levin had made her an offer and she hadrefused him, and Vronsky had deceived her, and that she was fullyprepared to love Levin and to detest Vronsky. Kitty said not a word ofthat; she talked of nothing but her spiritual condition.

  "I have nothing to make me miserable," she said, getting calmer; "butcan you understand that everything has become hateful, loathsome, coarseto me, and I myself most of all? You can't imagine what loathsomethoughts I have about everything."

  "Why, whatever loathsome thoughts can you have?" asked Dolly, smiling.

  "The most utterly loathsome and coarse: I can't tell you. It's notunhappiness, or low spirits, but much worse. As though everything thatwas good in me was all hidden away, and nothing was left but the mostloathsome. Come, how am I to tell you?" she went on, seeing the puzzledlook in her sister's eyes. "Father began saying something to me justnow.... It seems to me he thinks all I want is to be married. Mothertakes me to a ball: it seems to me she only takes me to get me marriedoff as soon as may be, and be rid of me. I know it's not the truth, butI can't drive away such thoughts. Eligible suitors, as they call them--Ican't bear to see them. It seems to me they're taking stock of me andsumming me up. In old days to go anywhere in a ball dress was a simplejoy to me, I admired myself; now I feel ashamed and awkward. And then!The doctor.... Then..." Kitty hesitated; she wanted to say further thatever since this change had taken place in her, Stepan Arkadyevitch hadbecome insufferably repulsive to her, and that she could not see himwithout the grossest and most hideous conceptions rising before herimagination.

  "Oh, well, everything presents itself to me, in the coarsest, mostloathsome light," she went on. "That's my illness. Perhaps it will passoff."

  "But you mustn't think about it."

  "I can't help it. I'm never happy except with the children at yourhouse."

  "What a pity you can't be with me!"

  "Oh, yes, I'm coming. I've had scarlatina, and I'll persuade mamma tolet me."

  Kitty insisted on having her way, and went to stay at her sister's andnursed the children all through the scarlatina, for scarlatina it turnedout to be. The two sisters brought all the six children successfullythrough it, but Kitty was no better in health, and in Lent theShtcherbatskys went abroad.

 
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