Anna karenina, p.79
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       Anna Karenina, p.79

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 10

  "Kitty writes to me that there's nothing she longs for so much as quietand solitude," Dolly said after the silence that had followed.

  "And how is she--better?" Levin asked in agitation.

  "Thank God, she's quite well again. I never believed her lungs wereaffected."

  "Oh, I'm very glad!" said Levin, and Dolly fancied she saw somethingtouching, helpless, in his face as he said this and looked silently intoher face.

  "Let me ask you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," said Darya Alexandrovna,smiling her kindly and rather mocking smile, "why is it you are angrywith Kitty?"

  "I? I'm not angry with her," said Levin.

  "Yes, you are angry. Why was it you did not come to see us nor them whenyou were in Moscow?"

  "Darya Alexandrovna," he said, blushing up to the roots of his hair, "Iwonder really that with your kind heart you don't feel this. How it isyou feel no pity for me, if nothing else, when you know..."

  "What do I know?"

  "You know I made an offer and that I was refused," said Levin, and allthe tenderness he had been feeling for Kitty a minute before wasreplaced by a feeling of anger for the slight he had suffered.

  "What makes you suppose I know?"

  "Because everybody knows it..."

  "That's just where you are mistaken; I did not know it, though I hadguessed it was so."

  "Well, now you know it."

  "All I knew was that something had happened that made her dreadfullymiserable, and that she begged me never to speak of it. And if she wouldnot tell me, she would certainly not speak of it to anyone else. Butwhat did pass between you? Tell me."

  "I have told you."

  "When was it?"

  "When I was at their house the last time."

  "Do you know that," said Darya Alexandrovna, "I am awfully, awfullysorry for her. You suffer only from pride...."

  "Perhaps so," said Levin, "but..."

  She interrupted him.

  "But she, poor girl ... I am awfully, awfully sorry for her. Now I seeit all."

  "Well, Darya Alexandrovna, you must excuse me," he said, getting up."Good-bye, Darya Alexandrovna, till we meet again."

  "No, wait a minute," she said, clutching him by the sleeve. "Wait aminute, sit down."

  "Please, please, don't let us talk of this," he said, sitting down, andat the same time feeling rise up and stir within his heart a hope he hadbelieved to be buried.

  "If I did not like you," she said, and tears came into her eyes; "if Idid not know you, as I do know you . . ."

  The feeling that had seemed dead revived more and more, rose up and tookpossession of Levin's heart.

  "Yes, I understand it all now," said Darya Alexandrovna. "You can'tunderstand it; for you men, who are free and make your own choice, it'salways clear whom you love. But a girl's in a position of suspense, withall a woman's or maiden's modesty, a girl who sees you men from afar,who takes everything on trust,--a girl may have, and often has, such afeeling that she cannot tell what to say."

  "Yes, if the heart does not speak..."

  "No, the heart does speak; but just consider: you men have views about agirl, you come to the house, you make friends, you criticize, you waitto see if you have found what you love, and then, when you are sure youlove her, you make an offer...."

  "Well, that's not quite it."

  "Anyway you make an offer, when your love is ripe or when the balancehas completely turned between the two you are choosing from. But a girlis not asked. She is expected to make her choice, and yet she cannotchoose, she can only answer 'yes' or 'no.'"

  "Yes, to choose between me and Vronsky," thought Levin, and the deadthing that had come to life within him died again, and only weighed onhis heart and set it aching.

  "Darya Alexandrovna," he said, "that's how one chooses a new dress orsome purchase or other, not love. The choice has been made, and so muchthe better.... And there can be no repeating it."

  "Ah, pride, pride!" said Darya Alexandrovna, as though despising him forthe baseness of this feeling in comparison with that other feeling whichonly women know. "At the time when you made Kitty an offer she was justin a position in which she could not answer. She was in doubt. Doubtbetween you and Vronsky. Him she was seeing every day, and you she hadnot seen for a long while. Supposing she had been older ... I, forinstance, in her place could have felt no doubt. I always disliked him,and so it has turned out."

  Levin recalled Kitty's answer. She had said: "_No, that cannot be_..."

  "Darya Alexandrovna," he said dryly, "I appreciate your confidence inme; I believe you are making a mistake. But whether I am right or wrong,that pride you so despise makes any thought of Katerina Alexandrovna outof the question for me,--you understand, utterly out of the question."

  "I will only say one thing more: you know that I am speaking of mysister, whom I love as I love my own children. I don't say she cared foryou, all I meant to say is that her refusal at that moment provesnothing."

  "I don't know!" said Levin, jumping up. "If you only knew how you arehurting me. It's just as if a child of yours were dead, and they were tosay to you: He would have been like this and like that, and he mighthave lived, and how happy you would have been in him. But he's dead,dead, dead!..."

  "How absurd you are!" said Darya Alexandrovna, looking with mournfultenderness at Levin's excitement. "Yes, I see it all more and moreclearly," she went on musingly. "So you won't come to see us, then, whenKitty's here?"

  "No, I shan't come. Of course I won't avoid meeting KaterinaAlexandrovna, but as far as I can, I will try to save her the annoyanceof my presence."

  "You are very, very absurd," repeated Darya Alexandrovna, looking withtenderness into his face. "Very well then, let it be as though we hadnot spoken of this. What have you come for, Tanya?" she said in Frenchto the little girl who had come in.

  "Where's my spade, mamma?"

  "I speak French, and you must too."

  The little girl tried to say it in French, but could not remember theFrench for spade; the mother prompted her, and then told her in Frenchwhere to look for the spade. And this made a disagreeable impression onLevin.

  Everything in Darya Alexandrovna's house and children struck him now asby no means so charming as a little while before. "And what does shetalk French with the children for?" he thought; "how unnatural and falseit is! And the children feel it so: Learning French and unlearningsincerity," he thought to himself, unaware that Darya Alexandrovna hadthought all that over twenty times already, and yet, even at the cost ofsome loss of sincerity, believed it necessary to teach her childrenFrench in that way.

  "But why are you going? Do stay a little."

  Levin stayed to tea; but his good-humor had vanished, and he felt ill atease.

  After tea he went out into the hall to order his horses to be put in,and, when he came back, he found Darya Alexandrovna greatly disturbed,with a troubled face, and tears in her eyes. While Levin had beenoutside, an incident had occurred which had utterly shattered all thehappiness she had been feeling that day, and her pride in her children.Grisha and Tanya had been fighting over a ball. Darya Alexandrovna,hearing a scream in the nursery, ran in and saw a terrible sight. Tanyawas pulling Grisha's hair, while he, with a face hideous with rage, wasbeating her with his fists wherever he could get at her. Somethingsnapped in Darya Alexandrovna's heart when she saw this. It was as ifdarkness had swooped down upon her life; she felt that these children ofhers, that she was so proud of, were not merely most ordinary, butpositively bad, ill-bred children, with coarse, brutalpropensities--wicked children.

  She could not talk or think of anything else, and she could not speak toLevin of her misery.

  Levin saw she was unhappy and tried to comfort her, saying that itshowed nothing bad, that all children fight; but, even as he said it, hewas thinking in his heart: "No, I won't be artificial and talk Frenchwith my children; but my children won't be like that. All one has to dois not spoil children, not to distort their nature, and th
ey'll bedelightful. No, my children won't be like that."

  He said good-bye and drove away, and she did not try to keep him.

 
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