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Chapter 6


During the time of the children's tea the grown-up people sat in
the balcony and talked as though nothing had happened, though
they all, especially Sergey Ivanovitch and Varenka, were very
well aware that there had happened an event which, though
negative, was of very great importance. They both had the same
feeling, rather like that of a schoolboy after an examination,
which has left him in the same class or shut him out of the
school forever. Everyone present, feeling too that something
had happened, talked eagerly about extraneous subjects. Levin
and Kitty were particularly happy and conscious of their love
that evening. And their happiness in their love seemed to imply
a disagreeable slur on those who would have liked to feel the
same and could not--and they felt a prick of conscience.

"Mark my words, Alexander will not come," said the old princess.

That evening they were expecting Stepan Arkadyevitch to come down
by train, and the old prince had written that possibly he might
come too.

"And I know why," the princess went on; "he says that young
people ought to be left alone for a while at first."

"But papa has left us alone. We've never seen him," said Kitty.
"Besides, we're not young people!--we're old, married people by
now."

"Only if he doesn't come, I shall say good-bye to you children,"
said the princess, sighing mournfully.

"What nonsense, mamma!" both the daughters fell upon her at once.

"How do you suppose he is feeling? Why, now..."

And suddenly there was an unexpected quiver in the princess's
voice. Her daughters were silent, and looked at one another.
"Maman always finds something to be miserable about," they said
in that glance. They did not know that happy as the princess was
in her daughter's house, and useful as she felt herself to be
there, she had been extremely miserable, both on her own account
and her husband's, ever since they had married their last and
favorite daughter, and the old home had been left empty.

"What is it, Agafea Mihalovna?" Kitty asked suddenly of Agafea
Mihalovna, who was standing with a mysterious air, and a face
full of meaning.

"About supper."

"Well, that's right," said Dolly; "you go and arrange about it,
and I'll go and hear Grisha repeat his lesson, or else he will
have nothing done all day."

"That's my lesson! No, Dolly, I'm going," said Levin, jumping
up.

Grisha, who was by now at a high school, had to go over the
lessons of the term in the summer holidays. Darya Alexandrovna,
who had been studying Latin with her son in Moscow before, had
made it a rule on coming to the Levins' to go over with him, at
least once a day, the most difficult lessons of Latin and
arithmetic. Levin had offered to take her place, but the mother,
having once overheard Levin's lesson, and noticing that it was
not given exactly as the teacher in Moscow had given it, said
resolutely, though with much embarrassment and anxiety not to
mortify Levin, that they must keep strictly to the book as the
teacher had done, and that she had better undertake it again
herself. Levin was amazed both at Stepan Arkadyevitch, who, by
neglecting his duty, threw upon the mother the supervision of
studies of which she had no comprehension, and at the teachers
for teaching the children so badly. But he promised his
sister-in-law to give the lessons exactly as she wished. And he
went on teaching Grisha, not in his own way, but by the book, and
so took little interest in it, and often forgot the hour of the
lesson. So it had been today.

"No, I'm going, Dolly, you sit still," he said. "We'll do it all
properly, like the book. Only when Stiva comes, and we go out
shooting, then we shall have to miss it."

And Levin went to Grisha.

Varenka was saying the same thing to Kitty. Even in the happy,
well-ordered household of the Levins Varenka had succeeded in
making herself useful.

"I'll see to the supper, you sit still," she said, and got up to
go to Agafea Mihalovna.

"Yes, yes, most likely they've not been able to get chickens. If
so, ours..."

"Agafea Mihalovna and I will see about it," and Varenka vanished
with her.

"What a nice girl!" said the princess.

"Not nice, maman; she's an exquisite girl; there's no one else
like her."

"So you are expecting Stepan Arkadyevitch today?" said Sergey
Ivanovitch, evidently not disposed to pursue the conversation
about Varenka. "It would be difficult to find two sons-in-law
more unlike than yours," he said with a subtle smile. "One all
movement, only living in society, like a fish in water; the other
our Kostya, lively, alert, quick in everything, but as soon as he
is in society, he either sinks into apathy, or struggles
helplessly like a fish on land."

"Yes, he's very heedless," said the princess, addressing Sergey
Ivanovitch. "I've been meaning, indeed, to ask you to tell him
that it's out of the question for her" (she indicated Kitty) "to
stay here; that she positively must come to Moscow. He talks of
getting a doctor down..."

"Maman, he'll do everything; he has agreed to everything," Kitty
said, angry with her mother for appealing to Sergey Ivanovitch to
judge in such a matter.

In the middle of their conversation they heard the snorting of
horses and the sound of wheels on the gravel. Dolly had not time
to get up to go and meet her husband, when from the window of the
room below, where Grisha was having his lesson, Levin leaped out
and helped Grisha out after him.

"It's Stiva!" Levin shouted from under the balcony. "We've
finished, Dolly, don't be afraid!" he added, and started running
like a boy to meet the carriage.

"Is ea id, ejus, ejus, ejus!" shouted Grisha, skipping along the
avenue.

"And some one else too! Papa, of course!" cried Levin, stopping
at the entrance of the avenue. "Kitty, don't come down the steep
staircase, go round."

But Levin had been mistaken in taking the person sitting in the
carriage for the old prince. As he got nearer to the carriage he
saw beside Stepan Arkadyevitch not the prince but a handsome,
stout young man in a Scotch cap, with long ends of ribbon behind.
This was Vassenka Veslovsky, a distant cousin of the
Shtcherbatskys, a brilliant young gentleman in Petersburg and
Moscow society. "A capital fellow, and a keen sportsman," as
Stepan Arkadyevitch said, introducing him.

Not a whit abashed by the disappointment caused by his having
come in place of the old prince, Veslovsky greeted Levin gaily,
claiming acquaintance with him in the past, and snatching up
Grisha into the carriage, lifted him over the pointer that Stepan
Arkadyevitch had brought with him.

Levin did not get into the carriage, but walked behind. He was
rather vexed at the non-arrival of the old prince, whom he liked
more and more the more he saw of him, and also at the arrival of
this Vassenka Veslovsky, a quite uncongenial and superfluous
person. He seemed to him still more uncongenial and superfluous
when, on approaching the steps where the whole party, children
and grown-up, were gathered together in much excitement, Levin
saw Vassenka Veslovsky, with a particularly warm and gallant air,
kissing Kitty's hand.

"Your wife arid I are cousins and very old friends," said
Vassenka Veslovsky, once more shaking Levin's hand with great
warmth.

"Well, are there plenty of birds?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said to
Levin, hardly leaving time for everyone to utter their greetings.
"We've come with the most savage intentions. Why, maman, they've
not been in Moscow since! Look, Tanya, here's something for you!
Get it, please, it's in the carriage, behind!" he talked in all
directions. "How pretty you've grown, Dolly," he said to his
wife, once more kissing her hand, holding it in one of his, and
patting it with the other.

Levin, who a minute before had been in the happiest frame of
mind, now looked darkly at everyone, and everything displeased
him.

"Who was it he kissed yesterday with those lips?" he thought,
looking at Stepan Arkadyevitch's tender demonstrations to his
wife. He looked at Dolly, and he did not like her either.

"She doesn't believe in his love. So what is she so pleased
about? Revolting!" thought Levin.

He looked at the princess, who had been so dear to him a minute
before, and he did not like the manner in which she welcomed this
Vassenka, with his ribbons, just as though she were in her own
house.

Even Sergey Ivanovitch, who had come out too onto the steps,
seemed to him unpleasant with the show of cordiality with which
he met Stepan Arkadyevitch, though Levin knew that his brother
neither liked nor respected Oblonsky.

And Varenka, even she seemed hateful, with her air sainte
nitouche making the acquaintance of this gentleman, while all the
while she was thinking of nothing but getting married.

And more hateful than anyone was Kitty for falling in with the
tone of gaiety with which this gentleman regarded his visit in
the country, as though it were a holiday for himself and everyone
else. And, above all, unpleasant was that particular smile with
which she responded to his smile.

Noisily talking, they all went into the house; but as soon as
they were all seated, Levin turned and went out.

Kitty saw something was wrong with her husband. She tried to
seize a moment to speak to him alone, but he made haste to get
away from her, saying he was wanted at the counting-house. It
was long since his own work on the estate had seemed to him so
important as at that moment. "It's all holiday for them," he
thought; "but these are no holiday matters, they won't wait, and
there's no living without them."



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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