Anna karenina, p.78
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       Anna Karenina, p.78

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 9

  On the drive home, as Darya Alexandrovna, with all her children roundher, their heads still wet from their bath, and a kerchief tied over herown head, was getting near the house, the coachman said, "There's somegentleman coming: the master of Pokrovskoe, I do believe."

  Darya Alexandrovna peeped out in front, and was delighted when sherecognized in the gray hat and gray coat the familiar figure of Levinwalking to meet them. She was glad to see him at any time, but at thismoment she was specially glad he should see her in all her glory. No onewas better able to appreciate her grandeur than Levin.

  Seeing her, he found himself face to face with one of the pictures ofhis daydream of family life.

  "You're like a hen with your chickens, Darya Alexandrovna."

  "Ah, how glad I am to see you!" she said, holding out her hand to him.

  "Glad to see me, but you didn't let me know. My brother's staying withme. I got a note from Stiva that you were here."

  "From Stiva?" Darya Alexandrovna asked with surprise.

  "Yes; he writes that you are here, and that he thinks you might allow meto be of use to you," said Levin, and as he said it he became suddenlyembarrassed, and, stopping abruptly, he walked on in silence by thewagonette, snapping off the buds of the lime trees and nibbling them. Hewas embarrassed through a sense that Darya Alexandrovna would be annoyedby receiving from an outsider help that should by rights have come fromher own husband. Darya Alexandrovna certainly did not like this littleway of Stepan Arkadyevitch's of foisting his domestic duties on others.And she was at once aware that Levin was aware of this. It was just forthis fineness of perception, for this delicacy, that Darya Alexandrovnaliked Levin.

  "I know, of course," said Levin, "that that simply means that you wouldlike to see me, and I'm exceedingly glad. Though I can fancy that, usedto town housekeeping as you are, you must feel in the wilds here, and ifthere's anything wanted, I'm altogether at your disposal."

  "Oh, no!" said Dolly. "At first things were rather uncomfortable, butnow we've settled everything capitally--thanks to my old nurse," shesaid, indicating Marya Philimonovna, who, seeing that they were speakingof her, smiled brightly and cordially to Levin. She knew him, and knewthat he would be a good match for her young lady, and was very keen tosee the matter settled.

  "Won't you get in, sir, we'll make room this side!" she said to him.

  "No, I'll walk. Children, who'd like to race the horses with me?" Thechildren knew Levin very little, and could not remember when they hadseen him, but they experienced in regard to him none of that strangefeeling of shyness and hostility which children so often experiencetowards hypocritical, grown-up people, and for which they are so oftenand miserably punished. Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive thecleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of childrenrecognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may bedisguised. Whatever faults Levin had, there was not a trace of hypocrisyin him, and so the children showed him the same friendliness that theysaw in their mother's face. On his invitation, the two elder ones atonce jumped out to him and ran with him as simply as they would havedone with their nurse or Miss Hoole or their mother. Lily, too, beganbegging to go to him, and her mother handed her to him; he sat her onhis shoulder and ran along with her.

  "Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, Darya Alexandrovna!" he said, smilinggood-humoredly to the mother; "there's no chance of my hurting ordropping her."

  And, looking at his strong, agile, assiduously careful and needlesslywary movements, the mother felt her mind at rest, and smiled gaily andapprovingly as she watched him.

  Here, in the country, with children, and with Darya Alexandrovna, withwhom he was in sympathy, Levin was in a mood not infrequent with him, ofchildlike light-heartedness that she particularly liked in him. As heran with the children, he taught them gymnastic feats, set Miss Hoolelaughing with his queer English accent, and talked to Darya Alexandrovnaof his pursuits in the country.

  After dinner, Darya Alexandrovna, sitting alone with him on the balcony,began to speak of Kitty.

  "You know, Kitty's coming here, and is going to spend the summer withme."

  "Really," he said, flushing, and at once, to change the conversation, hesaid: "Then I'll send you two cows, shall I? If you insist on a bill youshall pay me five roubles a month; but it's really too bad of you."

  "No, thank you. We can manage very well now."

  "Oh, well, then, I'll have a look at your cows, and if you'll allow me,I'll give directions about their food. Everything depends on theirfood."

  And Levin, to turn the conversation, explained to Darya Alexandrovna thetheory of cow-keeping, based on the principle that the cow is simply amachine for the transformation of food into milk, and so on.

  He talked of this, and passionately longed to hear more of Kitty, and,at the same time, was afraid of hearing it. He dreaded the breaking upof the inward peace he had gained with such effort.

  "Yes, but still all this has to be looked after, and who is there tolook after it?" Darya Alexandrovna responded, without interest.

  She had by now got her household matters so satisfactorily arranged,thanks to Marya Philimonovna, that she was disinclined to make anychange in them; besides, she had no faith in Levin's knowledge offarming. General principles, as to the cow being a machine for theproduction of milk, she looked on with suspicion. It seemed to her thatsuch principles could only be a hindrance in farm management. It allseemed to her a far simpler matter: all that was needed, as MaryaPhilimonovna had explained, was to give Brindle and Whitebreast morefood and drink, and not to let the cook carry all the kitchen slops tothe laundry maid's cow. That was clear. But general propositions as tofeeding on meal and on grass were doubtful and obscure. And, what wasmost important, she wanted to talk about Kitty.

 

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