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Chapter 2


On the terrace were assembled all the ladies of the party. They
always liked sitting there after dinner, and that day they had
work to do there too. Besides the sewing and knitting of
baby clothes, with which all of them were busy, that afternoon
jam was being made on the terrace by a method new to Agafea
Mihalovna, without the addition of water. Kitty had introduced
this new method, which had been in use in her home. Agafea
Mihalovna, to whom the task of jam-making had always been
intrusted, considering that what had been done in the Levin
household could not be amiss, had nevertheless put water with the
strawberries, maintaining that the jam could not be made without
it. She had been caught in the act, and was now making jam
before everyone, and it was to be proved to her conclusively that
jam could be very well made without water.

Agafea Mihalovna, her face heated and angry, her hair untidy, and
her thin arms bare to the elbows, was turning the preserving-pan
over the charcoal stove, looking darkly at the raspberries and
devoutly hoping they would stick and not cook properly. The
princess, conscious that Agafea Mihalovna's wrath must be chiefly
directed against her, as the person responsible for the raspberry
jam-making, tried to appear to be absorbed in other things and
not interested in the jam, talked of other matters, but cast
stealthy glances in the direction of the stove.

"I always buy my maids' dresses myself, of some cheap material,"
the princess said, continuing the previous conversation. "Isn't
it time to skim it, my dear?" she added, addressing Agafea
Mihalovna. "There's not the slightest need for you to do it, and
it's hot for you," she said, stopping Kitty.

"I'll do it," said Dolly, and getting up, she carefully passed
the spoon over the frothing sugar, and from time to time shook
off the clinging jam from the spoon by knocking it on a plate
that was covered with yellow-red scum and blood-colored syrup.
"How they'll enjoy this at tea-time!" she thought of her
children, remembering how she herself as a child had wondered how
it was the grown-up people did not eat what was best of all--the
scum of the jam.

"Stiva says it's much better to give money." Dolly took up
meanwhile the weighty subject under discussion, what presents
should be made to servants. "But..."

"Money's out of the question!" the princess and Kitty exclaimed
with one voice. "They appreciate a present..."

"Well, last year, for instance, I bought our Matrona Semyenovna,
not a poplin, but something of that sort," said the princess.

"I remember she was wearing it on your nameday."

"A charming pattern--so simple and refined,--I should have liked
it myself, if she hadn't had it. Something like Varenka's. So
pretty and inexpensive."

"Well, now I think it's done," said Dolly, dropping the syrup
from the spoon.

"When it sets as it drops, it's ready. Cook it a little longer,
Agafea Mihalovna."

"The flies!" said Agafea Mihalovna angrily. "It'll be just the
same," she added.

"Ah! how sweet it is! don't frighten it!" Kitty said suddenly,
looking at a sparrow that had settled on the step and was pecking
at the center of a raspberry.

"Yes, but you keep a little further from the stove," said her
mother.

"A propos de Varenka," said Kitty, speaking in French, as they
had been doing all the while, so that Agafea Mihalovna should not
understand them, "you know, mamma, I somehow expect things to be
settled today. You know what I mean. How splendid it would be!"

"But what a famous matchmaker she is!" said Dolly. "How
carefully and cleverly she throws them together!..."

"No; tell me, mamma, what do you think?"

"Why, what is one to think? He" (HE meant Sergey Ivanovitch)
"might at any time have been a match for anyone in Russia; now,
of course, he's not quite a young man, still I know ever so many
girls would be glad to marry him even now.... She's a very nice
girl, but he might..."

"Oh, no, mamma, do understand why, for him and for her too,
nothing better could be imagined. In the first place, she's
charming!" said Kitty, crooking one of her fingers.

"He thinks her very attractive, that's certain," assented Dolly.

"Then he occupies such a position in society that he has no need
to look for either fortune or position in his wife. All he needs
is a good, sweet wife--a restful one."

"Well, with her he would certainly be restful," Dolly assented.

"Thirdly, that she should love him. And so it is...that is,
it would be so splendid!...I look forward to seeing them
coming out of the forest--and everything settled. I shall see at
once by their eyes. I should be so delighted! What do you
think, Dolly?"

"But don't excite yourself. It's not at all the thing for you to
be excited," said her mother.

"Oh, I'm not excited, mamma. I fancy he will make her an offer
today."

"Ah, that's so strange, how and when a man makes an offer!...
There is a sort of barrier, and all at once it's broken down,"
said Dolly, smiling pensively and recalling her past with Stepan
Arkadyevitch.

"Mamma, how did papa make you an offer?" Kitty asked suddenly.

"There was nothing out of the way, it was very simple," answered
the princess, but her face beamed all over at the recollection.

"Oh, but how was it? You loved him, anyway, before you were
allowed to speak?"

Kitty felt a peculiar pleasure in being able now to talk to her
mother on equal terms about those questions of such paramount
interest in a woman's life.

"Of course I did; he had come to stay with us in the country."

"But how was it settled between you, mamma?"

"You imagine, I dare say, that you invented something quite new?
It's always just the same: it was settled by the eyes, by
smiles..."

"How nicely you said that, mamma! It's just by the eyes, by
smiles that it's done," Dolly assented.

"But what words did he say?"

"What did Kostya say to you?"

"He wrote it in chalk. It was wonderful.... How long ago it
seems!" she said.

And the three women all fell to musing on the same thing. Kitty
was the first to break the silence. She remembered all that last
winter before her marriage, and her passion for Vronsky.

"There's one thing ...that old love affair of Varenka's," she
said, a natural chain of ideas bringing her to this point. "I
should have liked to say something to Sergey Ivanovitch, to
prepare him. They're all--all men, I mean," she added, "awfully
jealous over our past."

"Not all," said Dolly. "You judge by your own husband. It makes
him miserable even now to remember Vronsky. Eh? that's true,
isn't it?"

"Yes," Kitty answered, a pensive smile in her eyes.

"But I really don't know," the mother put in in defense of her
motherly care of her daughter, "what there was in your past that
could worry him? That Vronsky paid you attentions--that happens
to every girl."

"Oh, yes, but we didn't mean that," Kitty said, flushing a
little.

"No, let me speak," her mother went on, "why, you yourself would
not let me have a talk to Vronsky. Don't you remember?"

"Oh, mamma!" said Kitty, with an expression of suffering.

"There's no keeping you young people in check nowadays.... Your
friendship could not have gone beyond what was suitable. I
should myself have called upon him to explain himself. But, my
darling, it's not right for you to be agitated. Please remember
that, and calm yourself."

"I'm perfectly calm, maman."

"How happy it was for Kitty that Anna came then," said Dolly,
"and how unhappy for her. It turned out quite the opposite," she
said, struck by her own ideas. "Then Anna was so happy, and
Kitty thought herself unhappy. Now it is just the opposite. I
often think of her."

"A nice person to think about! Horrid, repulsive woman--no
heart," said her mother, who could not forget that Kitty had
married not Vronsky, but Levin.

"What do you want to talk of it for?" Kitty said with annoyance.
"I never think about it, and I don't want to think of it....
And I don't want to think of it," she said, catching the sound of
her husband's well-known step on the steps of the terrace.

"What's that you don't want to think about?" inquired Levin,
coming onto the terrace.

But no one answered him, and he did not repeat the question.

"I'm sorry I've broken in on your feminine parliament," he said,
looking round on every one discontentedly, and perceiving that
they had been talking of something which they would not talk
about before him.

For a second he felt that he was sharing the feeling of Agafea
Mihalovna, vexation at their making jam without water, and
altogether at the outside Shtcherbatsky element. He smiled,
however, and went up to Kitty.

"Well, how are you?" he asked her, looking at her with the
expression with which everyone looked at her now.

"Oh, very well," said Kitty, smiling, "and how have things gone
with you?"

"The wagons held three times as much as the old carts did. Well,
are we going for the children? I've ordered the horses to be put
in."

"What! you want to take Kitty in the wagonette?" her mother said
reproachfully.

"Yes, at a walking pace, princess."

Levin never called the princess "maman" as men often do call
their mothers-in-law, and the princess disliked his not doing so.
But though he liked and respected the princess, Levin could not
call her so without a sense of profaning his feeling for his dead
mother.

"Come with us, maman," said Kitty.

"I don't like to see such imprudence."

"Well, I'll walk then, I'm so well." Kitty got up and went to her
husband and took his hand.

"You may be well, but everything in moderation," said the
princess.

"Well, Agafea Mihalovna, is the jam done?" said Levin, smiling to
Agafea Mihalovna, and trying to cheer her up. "Is it all right
in the new way?"

"I suppose it's all right. For our notions it's boiled too
long."

"It'll be all the better, Agafea Mihalovna, it won't mildew, even
though our ice has begun to thaw already, so that we've no cool
cellar to store it," said Kitty, at once divining her husband's
motive, and addressing the old housekeeper with the same feeling;
"but your pickle's so good, that mamma says she never tasted any
like it," she added, smiling, and putting her kerchief straight.

Agafea Mihalovna looked angrily at Kitty.

"You needn't try to console me, mistress. I need only to look at
you with him, and I feel happy," she said, and something in the
rough familiarity of that with him touched Kitty

"Come along with us to look for mushrooms, you will show us the
nest places." Agafea Mihalovna smiled and shook her head, as
though to say: "I should like to be angry with you too, but I
can't."

"Do it, please, by my receipt," said the princess; "put some
paper over the jam, and moisten it with a little rum, and without
even ice, it will never go mildewy."



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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