It was past five, and several guests had already arrived, before
the host himself got home. He went in together with Sergey
Ivanovitch Koznishev and Pestsov, who had reached the street door
at the same moment. These were the two leading representatives
of the Moscow intellectuals, as Oblonsky had called them. Both
were men respected for their character and their intelligence.
They respected each other, but were in complete and hopeless
disagreement upon almost every subject, not because they belonged
to opposite parties, but precisely because they were of the same
party (their enemies refused to see any distinction between their
views); but, in that party, each had his own special shade of
opinion. And since no difference is less easily overcome than
the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions, they
never agreed in any opinion, and had long, indeed, been
accustomed to jeer without anger, each at the other's
They were just going in at the door, talking of the weather, when
Stepan Arkadyevitch overtook them. In the drawing room there
were already sitting Prince Alexander Dmitrievitch Shtcherbatsky,
young Shtcherbatsky, Turovtsin, Kitty, and Karenin.
Stepan Arkadyevitch saw immediately that things were not going
well in the drawing-room without him. Darya Alexandrovna, in her
best gray silk gown, obviously worried about the children, who
were to have their dinner by themselves in the nursery, and by
her husband's absence, was not equal to the task of making the
party mix without him. All were sitting like so many priests'
wives on a visit (so the old prince expressed it), obviously
wondering why they were there, and pumping up remarks simply to
avoid being silent. Turovtsin--good, simple man--felt
unmistakably a fish out of water, and the smile with which his
thick lips greeted Stepan Arkadyevitch said, as plainly as words:
"Well, old boy, you have popped me down in a learned set! A
drinking party now, or the Chateau des Fleurs, would be more in
my line!" The old prince sat in silence, his bright little eyes
watching Karenin from one side, and Stepan Arkadyevitch saw that
he had already formed a phrase to sum up that politician of whom
guests were invited to partake as though he were a sturgeon.
Kitty was looking at the door, calling up all her energies to
keep her from blushing at the entrance of Konstantin Levin.
Young Shtcherbatsky, who had not been introduced to Karenin, was
trying to look as though he were not in the least conscious of
it. Karenin himself had followed the Petersburg fashion for a
dinner with ladies and was wearing evening dress and a white tie.
Stepan Arkadyevitch saw by his face that he had come simply to
keep his promise, and was performing a disagreeable duty in being
present at this gathering. He was indeed the person chiefly
responsible for the chill benumbing all the guests before Stepan
Arkadyevitch came in.
On entering the drawing room Stepan Arkadyevitch apologized,
explaining that he had been detained by that prince, who was
always the scapegoat for all his absences and unpunctualities,
and in one moment he had made all the guests acquainted with each
other, and, bringing together Alexey Alexandrovitch and Sergey
Koznishev, started them on a discussion of the Russification of
Poland, into which they immediately plunged with Pestsov.
Slapping Turovtsin on the shoulder, he whispered something comic
in his ear, and set him down by his wife and the old prince.
Then he told Kitty she was looking very pretty that evening, and
presented Shtcherbatsky to Karenin. In a moment he had so
kneaded together the social dough that the drawing room became
very lively, and there was a merry buzz of voices. Konstantin
Levin was the only person who had not arrived. But this was so
much the better, as going into the dining room, Stepan
Arkadyevitch found to his horror that the port and sherry had
been procured from Depre, and not from Levy, and, directing that
the coachman should be sent off as speedily as possible to
Levy's, he was going back to the drawing room.
In the dining room he was met by Konstantin Levin.
"I'm not late?"
"You can never help being late!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, taking
"Have you a lot of people? Who's here?" asked Levin, unable to
help blushing, as he knocked the snow off his cap with his glove.
"All our own set. Kitty's here. Come along, I'll introduce you
Stepan Arkadyevitch, for all his liberal views, was well aware
that to meet Karenin was sure to be felt a flattering
distinction, and so treated his best friends to this honor. But
at that instant Konstantin Levin was not in a condition to feel
all the gratification of making such an acquaintance. He had not
seen Kitty since that memorable evening when he met Vronsky, not
counting, that is, the moment when he had had a glimpse of her on
the highroad. He had known at the bottom of his heart that he
would see her here today. But to keep his thoughts free, he had
tried to persuade himself that he did not know it. Now when he
heard that she was here, he was suddenly conscious of such
delight, and at the same time of such dread, that his breath
failed him and he could not utter what he wanted to say.
"What is she like, what is she like? Like what she used to be,
or like what she was in the carriage? What if Darya Alexandrovna
told the truth? Why shouldn't it be the truth?" he thought.
"Oh, please, introduce me to Karenin," he brought out with an
effort, and with a desperately determined step he walked into the
drawing room and beheld her.
She was not the same as she used to be, nor was she as she had
been in the carriage; she was quite different.
She was scared, shy, shame-faced, and still more charming from
it. She saw him the very instant he walked into the room. She
had been expecting him. She was delighted, and so confused at
her own delight that there was a moment, the moment when he went
up to her sister and glanced again at her, when she, and he, and
Dolly, who saw it all, thought she would break down and would
begin to cry. She crimsoned, turned white, crimsoned again, and
grew faint, waiting with quivering lips for him to come to her.
He went up to her, bowed, and held out his hand without speaking.
Except for the slight quiver of her lips and the moisture in her
eyes that made them brighter, her smile was almost calm as she
"How long it is since we've seen each other!" and with desperate
determination she pressed his hand with her cold hand.
"You've not seen me, but I've seen you," said Levin, with a
radiant smile of happiness. "I saw you when you were driving
from the railway station to Ergushovo."
"When?" she asked, wondering.
"You were driving to Ergushovo," said Levin, feeling as if he
would sob with the rapture that was flooding his heart. "And how
dared I associate a thought of anything not innocent with this
touching creature? And, yes, I do believe it's true what Darya
Alexandrovna told me," he thought.
Stepan Arkadyevitch took him by the arm and led him away to
"Let me introduce you." He mentioned their names.
"Very glad to meet you again," said Alexey Alexandrovitch coldly,
shaking hands with Levin.
"You are acquainted?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked in surprise.
"We spent three hours together in the train," said Levin smiling,
"but got out, just as in a masquerade, quite mystified--at least
"Nonsense! Come along, please," said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
pointing in the direction of the dining room.
The men went into the dining-room and went up to a table, laid
with six sorts of spirits and as many kinds of cheese, some with
little silver spades and some without, caviar, herrings,
preserves of various kinds, and plates with slices of French
The men stood round the strong-smelling spirits and salt
delicacies, and the discussion of the Russification of Poland
between Koznishev, Karenin, and Pestsov died down in anticipation
Sergey Ivanovitch was unequaled in his skill in winding up the
most heated and serious argument by some unexpected pinch of
Attic salt that changed the disposition of his opponent. He did
Alexey Alexandrovitch had been maintaining that the Russification
of Poland could only be accomplished as a result of larger
measures which ought to be introduced by the Russian government.
Pestsov insisted that one country can only absorb another when it
is the more densely populated.
Koznishev admitted both points, but with limitations. As they
were going out of the drawing room to conclude the argument,
Koznishev said, smiling:
"So, then, for the Russification of our foreign populations there
is but one method--to bring up as many children as one can. My
brother and I are terribly in fault, I see. You married men,
especially you, Stepan Arkadyevitch, are the real patriots: what
number have you reached?" he said, smiling genially at their host
and holding out a tiny wine glass to him.
Everyone laughed, and Stepan Arkadyevitch with particular good
"Oh, yes, that's the best method!" he said, munching cheese and
filling the wine-glass with a special sort of spirit. The
conversation dropped at the jest.
"This cheese is not bad. Shall I give you some?" said the master
of the house. "Why, have you been going in for gymnastics
again?" he asked Levin, pinching his muscle with his left hand.
Levin smiled, bent his arm, and under Stepan Arkadyevitch's
fingers the muscles swelled up like a sound cheese, hard as a
knob of iron, through the fine cloth of the coat.
"What biceps! A perfect Samson!"
"I imagine great strength is needed for hunting bears," observed
Alexey Alexandrovitch, who had the mistiest notions about the
chase. He cut off and spread with cheese a wafer of bread fine
as a spider-web.
"Not at all. Quite the contrary; a child can kill a bear," he
said, with a slight bow moving aside for the ladies, who were
approaching the table.
"You have killed a bear, I've been told!" said Kitty, trying
assiduously to catch with her fork a perverse mushroom that would
slip away, and setting the lace quivering over her white arm.
"Are there bears on your place?" she added, turning her charming
little head to him and smiling.
There was apparently nothing extraordinary in what she said, but
what unutterable meaning there was for him in every sound, in
every turn of her lips, her eyes, her hand as she said it! There
was entreaty for forgiveness, and trust in him, and tenderness--
soft, timid tenderness--and promise and hope and love for him,
which he could not but believe in and which choked him with
"No, we've been hunting in the Tver province. It was coming back
from there that I met your beau-frere in the train, or your
beau-frere's brother-in-law," he said with a smile. "It was an
And he began telling with droll good-humor how, after not
sleeping all night, he had, wearing an old fur-lined,
full-skirted coat, got into Alexey Alexandrovitch's compartment.
"The conductor, forgetting the proverb, would have chucked me out
on account of my attire; but thereupon I began expressing my
feelings in elevated language, and...you, too," he said,
addressing Karenin and forgetting his name, "at first would have
ejected me on the ground of the old coat, but afterwards you took
my part, for which I am extremely grateful."
"The rights of passengers generally to choose their seats are too
ill-defined," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, rubbing the tips of his
fingers on his handkerchief.
"I saw you were in uncertainty about me," said Levin, smiling
good-naturedly, "but I made haste to plunge into intellectual
conversation to smooth over the defects of my attire."
Sergey Ivanovitch, while he kept up a conversation with their
hostess, had one ear for his brother, and he glanced askance at
him. "What is the matter with him today? Why such a conquering
hero?" he thought. He did not know that Levin was feeling as
though he had grown wings. Levin knew she was listening to his
words and that she was glad to listen to him. And this was the
only thing that interested him. Not in that room only, but in
the whole world, there existed for him only himself, with
enormously increased importance and dignity in his own eyes, and
she. He felt himself on a pinnacle that made him giddy, and far
away down below were all those nice excellent Karenins,
Oblonskys, and all the world.
Quite without attracting notice, without glancing at them, as
though there were no other places left, Stepan Arkadyevitch put
Levin and Kitty side by side.
"Oh, you may as well sit there," he said to Levin.
The dinner was as choice as the china, in which Stepan
Arkadyevitch was a connoisseur. The soupe Marie-Louise was a
splendid success; the tiny pies eaten with it melted in the mouth
and were irreproachable. The two footmen and Matvey, in white
cravats, did their duty with the dishes and wines unobtrusively,
quietly, and swiftly. On the material side the dinner was a
success; it was no less so on the immaterial. The conversation,
at times general and at times between individuals, never paused,
and towards the end the company was so lively that the men rose
from the table, without stopping speaking, and even Alexey