eBooks Cube
 
Chapter 2


On the day of the wedding, according to the Russian custom (the
princess and Darya Alexandrovna insisted on strictly keeping all
the customs), Levin did not see his betrothed, and dined at his
hotel with three bachelor friends, casually brought together at
his rooms. These were Sergey Ivanovitch, Katavasov, a university
friend, now professor of natural science, whom Levin had met in
the street and insisted on taking home with him, and Tchirikov,
his best man, a Moscow conciliation-board judge, Levin's
companion in his bear-hunts. The dinner was a very merry one:
Sergey Ivanovitch was in his happiest mood, and was much amused
by Katavasov's originality. Katavasov, feeling his originality
was appreciated and understood, made the most of it. Tchirikov
always gave a lively and good-humored support to conversation of
any sort.

"See, now," said Katavasov, drawling his words from a habit
acquired in the lecture-room, "what a capable fellow was our
friend Konstantin Dmitrievitch. I'm not speaking of present
company, for he's absent. At the time he left the university he
was fond of science, took an interest in humanity; now one-half
of his abilities is devoted to deceiving himself, and the other
to justifying the deceit."

"A more determined enemy of matrimony than you I never saw," said
Sergey Ivanovitch.

"Oh, no, I'm not an enemy of matrimony. I'm in favor of division
of labor. People who can do nothing else ought to rear people
while the rest work for their happiness and enlightenment.
That's how I look at it. To muddle up two trades is the error of
the amateur; I'm not one of their number."

"How happy I shall be when I hear that you're in love!" said
Levin. "Please invite me to the wedding."

"I'm in love now."

"Yes, with a cuttlefish! You know," Levin turned to his brother,
"Mihail Semyonovitch is writing a work on the digestive organs of
the..."

"Now, make a muddle of it! It doesn't matter what about. And
the fact is, I certainly do love cuttlefish."

"But that's no hindrance to your loving your wife."

"The cuttlefish is no hindrance. The wife is the hindrance."

"Why so?"

"Oh, you'll see! You care about farming, hunting,--well, you'd
better look out!"

"Arhip was here today; he said there were a lot of elks in
Prudno, and two bears," said Tchirikov.

"Well, you must go and get them without me."

"Ah, that's the truth," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "And you may say
good-bye to bear-hunting for the future--your wife won't allow
it!"

Levin smiled. The picture of his wife not letting him go was so
pleasant that he was ready to renounce the delights of looking
upon bears forever.

"Still, it's a pity they should get those two bears without you.
Do you remember last time at Hapilovo? That was a delightful
hunt!" said Tchirikov.

Levin had not the heart to disillusion him of the notion that
there could be something delightful apart from her, and so said
nothing.

"There's some sense in this custom of saying good-bye to bachelor
life," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "However happy you may be, you
must regret your freedom."

"And confess there is a feeling that you want to jump out of the
window, like Gogol's bridegroom?"

"Of course there is, but it isn't confessed," said Katavasov, and
he broke into loud laughter.

"Oh, well, the window's open. Let's start off this instant to
Tver! There's a big she-bear; one can go right up to the lair.
Seriously, let's go by the five o'clock! And here let them do
what they like," said Tchirikov, smiling.

"Well, now, on my honor," said Levin, smiling, "I can't find in
my heart that feeling of regret for my freedom."

"Yes, there's such a chaos in your heart just now that you can't
find anything there," said Katavasov. "Wait a bit, when you set
it to rights a little, you'll find it!"

"No; if so, I should have felt a little, apart from my feeling"
(he could not say love before them) "and happiness, a certain
regret at losing my freedom.... On the contrary, I am glad at
the very loss of my freedom."

"Awful! It's a hopeless case!" said Katavasov. "Well, let's
drink to his recovery, or wish that a hundredth part of his
dreams may be realized--and that would be happiness such as never
has been seen on earth!"

Soon after dinner the guests went away to be in time to be
dressed for the wedding.

When he was left alone, and recalled the conversation of these
bachelor friends, Levin asked himself: had he in his heart that
regret for his freedom of which they had spoken? He smiled at
the question. "Freedom! What is freedom for? Happiness is only
in loving and wishing her wishes, thinking her thoughts, that is
to say, not freedom at all--that's happiness!"

"But do I know her ideas, her wishes, her feelings?" some voice
suddenly whispered to him. The smile died away from his face,
and he grew thoughtful. And suddenly a strange feeling came upon
him. There came over him a dread and doubt--doubt of everything.

"What if she does not love me? What if she's marrying me simply
to be married? What if she doesn't see herself what she's
doing?" he asked himself. "She may come to her senses, and only
when she is being married realize that she does not and cannot
love me." And strange, most evil thoughts of her began to come
to him. He was jealous of Vronsky, as he had been a year ago, as
though the evening he had seen her with Vronsky had been
yesterday. He suspected she had not told him everything.

He jumped up quickly. "No, this can't go on!" he said to himself
in despair. "I'll go to her; I'll ask her; I'll say for the last
time: we are free, and hadn't we better stay so? Anything's
better than endless misery, disgrace, unfaithfulness!" With
despair in his heart and bitter anger against all men, against
himself, against her, he went out of the hotel and drove to her
house.

He found her in one of the back rooms. She was sitting on a
chest and making some arrangements with her maid, sorting over
heaps of dresses of different colors, spread on the backs of
chairs and on the floor.

"Ah!" she cried, seeing him, and beaming with delight. "Kostya!
Konstantin Dmitrievitch!" (These latter days she used these names
almost alternately.) "I didn't expect you! I'm going through my
wardrobe to see what's for whom..."

"Oh! that's very nice!" he said gloomily, looking at the maid.

"You can go, Dunyasha, I'll call you presently," said Kitty.
"Kostya, what's the matter?" she asked, definitely adopting this
familiar name as soon as the maid had gone out. She noticed his
strange face, agitated and gloomy, and a panic came over her.

"Kitty! I'm in torture. I can't suffer alone," he said with
despair in his voice, standing before her and looking imploringly
into her eyes. He saw already from her loving, truthful face,
that nothing could come of what he had meant to say, but yet he
wanted her to reassure him herself. "I've come to say that
there's still time. This can all be stopped and set right."

"What? I don't understand. What is the matter?"

"What I have said a thousand times over, and can't help thinking
...that I'm not worthy of you. You couldn't consent to marry
me. Think a little. You've made a mistake. Think it over
thoroughly. You can't love me.... If...better say so," he said,
not looking at her. "I shall be wretched. Let people say what
they like; anything's better than misery.... Far better now
while there's still time...."

"I don't understand," she answered, panic-stricken; "you mean you
want to give it up...don't want it?"

"Yes, if you don't love me."

"You're out of your mind!" she cried, turning crimson with
vexation. But his face was so piteous, that she restrained her
vexation, and flinging some clothes off an arm-chair, she sat
down beside him. "What are you thinking? tell me all."

"I am thinking you can't love me. What can you love me for?"

"My God! what can I do?..." she said, and burst into tears.

"Oh! what have I done?" he cried, and kneeling before her, he
fell to kissing her hands.

When the princess came into the room five minutes later, she
found them completely reconciled. Kitty had not simply assured
him that she loved him, but had gone so far--in answer to his
question, what she loved him for--as to explain what for. She
told him that she loved him because she understood him
completely, because she knew what he would like, and because
everything he liked was good. And this seemed to him perfectly
clear. When the princess came to them, they were sitting side by
side on the chest, sorting the dresses and disputing over Kitty's
wanting to give Dunyasha the brown dress she had been wearing
when Levin proposed to her, while he insisted that that dress
must never be given away, but Dunyasha must have the blue one.

"How is it you don't see? She's a brunette, and it won't suit
her.... I've worked it all out."

Hearing why he had come, the princess was half humorously, half
seriously angry with him, and sent him home to dress and not to
hinder Kitty's hair-dressing, as Charles the hair-dresser was
just coming.

"As it is, she's been eating nothing lately and is losing her
looks, and then you must come and upset her with your nonsense,"
she said to him. "Get along with you, my dear!"

Levin, guilty and shamefaced, but pacified, went back to his
hotel. His brother, Darya Alexandrovna, and Stepan Arkadyevitch,
all in full dress, were waiting for him to bless him with the
holy picture. There was no time to lose. Darya Alexandrovna had
to drive home again to fetch her curled and pomaded son, who was
to carry the holy pictures after the bride. Then a carriage had
to be sent for the best man, and another that would take Sergey
Ivanovitch away would have to be sent back.... Altogether
there were a great many most complicated matters to be considered
and arranged. One thing was unmistakable, that there must be no
delay, as it was already half-past six.

Nothing special happened at the ceremony of benediction with the
holy picture. Stepan Arkadyevitch stood in a comically solemn
pose beside his wife, took the holy picture, and telling Levin
to bow down to the ground, he blessed him with his kindly,
ironical smile, and kissed him three times; Darya Alexandrovna
did the same, and immediately vas in a hurry to get off, and
again plunged into the intricate question of the destinations of
the various carriages.

"Come, I'll tell you how we'll manage: you drive in our carriage
to fetch him, and Sergey Ivanovitch, if he'll be so good, will
drive there and then send his carriage."

"Of course; I shall be delighted."

"We'll come on directly with him. Are your things sent off?"
said Stepan Arkadyevitch.

"Yes," answered Levin, and he told Kouzma to put out his clothes
for him to dress.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
Nabou.com: the big site