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Chapter 7


Levin came back to the house only when they sent to summon him to
supper. On the stairs were standing Kitty and Agafea Mihalovna,
consulting about wines for supper.

"But why are you making all this fuss? Have what we usually do."

"No, Stiva doesn't drink...Kostya, stop, what's the matter?"
Kitty began, hurrying after him, but he strode ruthlessly away to
the dining room without waiting for her, and at once joined in
the lively general conversation which was being maintained there
by Vassenka Veslovsky and Stepan Arkadyevitch.

"Well, what do you say, are we going shooting tomorrow?" said
Stepan Arkadyevitch.

"Please, do let's go," said Veslovsky, moving to another chair,
where he sat down sideways, with one fat leg crossed under him.

"I shall be delighted, we will go. And have you had any shooting
yet this year?" said Levin to Veslovsky, looking intently at his
leg, but speaking with that forced amiability that Kitty knew so
well in him, and that was so out of keeping with him. "I can't
answer for our finding grouse, but there are plenty of snipe.
Only we ought to start early. You're not tired? Aren't you
tired, Stiva?"

"Me tired? I've never been tired yet. Suppose we stay up all
night. Let's go for a walk!"

"Yes, really, let's not go to bed at all! Capital!" Veslovsky
chimed in.

"Oh, we all know you can do without sleep, and keep other people
up too," Dolly said to her husband, with that faint note of irony
in her voice which she almost always had now with her husband.
"But to my thinking, it's time for bed now.... I'm going, I
don't want supper."

"No, do stay a little, Dolly," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, going
round to her side behind the table where they were having supper.
"I've so much still to tell you."

"Nothing really, I suppose."

"Do you know Veslovsky has been at Anna's, and he's going to them
again? You know they're hardly fifty miles from you, and I too
must certainly go over there. Veslovsky, come here!"

Vassenka crossed over to the ladies, and sat down beside Kitty.

"Ah, do tell me, please; you have stayed with her? How was she?"
Darya Alexandrovna appealed to him.

Levin was left at the other end of the table, and though never
pausing in his conversation with the princess and Varenka, he saw
that there was an eager and mysterious conversation going on
between Stepan Arkadyevitch, Dolly, Kitty, and Veslovsky. And
that was not all. He saw on his wife's face an expression of
real feeling as she gazed with fixed eyes on the handsome face of
Vassenka, who was telling them something with great animation.

"It's exceedingly nice at their place," Veslovsky was telling
them about Vronsky and Anna. "I can't, of course, take it upon
myself to judge, but in their house you feel the real feeling of
home."

"What do they intend doing?"

"I believe they think of going to Moscow."

"How jolly it would be for us all to go over to them together'
When are you going there?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked Vassenka.

"I'm spending July there."

"Will you go?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said to his wife.

"I've been wanting to a long while; I shall certainly go," said
Dolly. "I am sorry for her, and I know her. She's a splendid
woman. I will go alone, when you go back, and then I shall be in
no one's way. And it will be better indeed without you."

"To be sure," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "And you, Kitty?"

"I? Why should I go?" Kitty said, flushing all over, and she
glanced round at her husband.

"Do you know Anna Arkadyevna, then?" Veslovsky asked her. "She's
a very fascinating woman."

"Yes," she answered Veslovsky, crimsoning still more. She got up
and walked across to her husband.

"Are you going shooting, then, tomorrow?" she said.

His jealousy had in these few moments, especially at the flush
that had overspread her cheeks while she was talking to
Veslovsky, gone far indeed. Now as he heard her words, he
construed them in his own fashion. Strange as it was to him
afterwards to recall it, it seemed to him at the moment clear
that in asking whether he was going shooting, all she cared to
know was whether he would give that pleasure to Vassenka
Veslovsky, with whom, as he fancied, she was in love.

"Yes, I'm going," he answered her in an unnatural voice,
disagreeable to himself.

"No, better spend the day here tomorrow, or Dolly won't see
anything of her husband, and set off the day after," said Kitty.

The motive of Kitty's words was interpreted by Levin thus: "Don't
separate me from HIM. I don't care about YOUR going, but do let
me enjoy the society of this delightful young man."

"Oh, if you wish, we'll stay here tomorrow," Levin answered,
with peculiar amiability.

Vassenka meanwhile, utterly unsuspecting the misery his presence
had occasioned, got up from the table after Kitty, and watching
her with smiling and admiring eyes, he followed her.

Levin saw that look. He turned white, and for a minute he could
hardly breathe. "How dare he look at my wife like that!" was the
feeling that boiled within him.

"Tomorrow, then? Do, please, let us go," said Vassenka, sitting
down on a chair, and again crossing his leg as his habit was.

Levin's jealousy went further still. Already he saw himself a
deceived husband, looked upon by his wife and her lover as simply
necessary to provide them with the conveniences and pleasures of
life.... But in spite of that he made polite and hospitable
inquiries of Vassenka about his shooting, his gun, and his boots,
and agreed to go shooting next day.

Happily for Levin, the old princess cut short his agonies by
getting up herself and advising Kitty to go to bed. But even at
this point Levin could not escape another agony. As he said
good-night to his hostess, Vassenka would again have kissed her
hand, but Kitty, reddening, drew back her hand and said with a
naive bluntness, for which the old princess scolded her
afterwards:

"We don't like that fashion."

In Levin's eyes she was to blame for having allowed such
relations to arise, and still more to blame for showing so
awkwardly that she did not like them.

"Why, how can one want to go to bed!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
who, after drinking several glasses of wine at supper, was now in
his most charming and sentimental humor. "Look, Kitty," he said,
pointing to the moon, which had just risen behind the lime trees-
-"how exquisite! Veslovsky, this is the time for a serenade.
You know, he has a splendid voice; we practiced songs together
along the road. He has brought some lovely songs with him, two
new ones. Varvara Andreevna and he must sing some duets."

When the party had broken up, Stepan Arkadyevitch walked a long
while about the avenue with Veslovsky; their voices could be
heard singing one of the new songs.

Levin hearing these voices sat scowling in an easy-chair in his
wife's bedroom, and maintained an obstinate silence when she
asked him what was wrong. But when at last with a timid glance
she hazarded the question: "Was there perhaps something you
disliked about Veslovsky?"--it all burst out, and he told her
all. He was humiliated himself at what he was saying, and that
exasperated him all the more.

He stood facing her with his eyes glittering menacingly under his
scowling brows, and he squeezed his strong arms across his chest,
as though he were straining every nerve to hold himself in. The
expression of his face would have been grim, and even cruel, if
it had not at the same time had a look of suffering which touched
her. His jaws were twitching, and his voice kept breaking.

"You must understand that I'm not jealous, that's a nasty word.
I can't be jealous, and believe that.... I can't say what I
feel, but this is awful.... I'm not jealous, but I'm wounded,
humiliated that anybody dare think, that anybody dare look at
you with eyes like that."

"Eyes like what?" said Kitty, trying as conscientiously as
possible to recall every word and gesture of that evening and
every shade implied in them.

At the very bottom of her heart she did think there had been
something precisely at the moment when he had crossed over after
her to the other end of the table; but she dared not own it even
to herself, and would have been even more unable to bring herself
to say so to him, and so increase his suffering.

"And what can there possibly be attractive about me as I am
now?..."

"Ah!" he cried, clutching at his head, "you shouldn't say
that!... If you had been attractive then..."

"Oh, no, Kostya, oh, wait a minute, oh, do listen!" she said,
looking at him with an expression of pained commiseration. "Why,
what can you be thinking about! When for me there's no one in
the world, no one, no one!... Would you like me never to see
anyone?"

For the first minute she had been offended at his jealousy; she
was angry that the slightest amusement, even the most innocent,
should be forbidden her; but now she would readily have
sacrificed, not merely such trifles, but everything, for his
peace of mind, to save him from the agony he was suffering.

"You must understand the horror and comedy of my position," he
went on in a desperate whisper; "that he's in my house, that he's
done nothing improper positively except his free and easy airs
and the way he sits on his legs. He thinks it's the best
possible form, and so I'm obliged to be civil to him."

"But, Kostya, you're exaggerating," said Kitty, at the bottom of
her heart rejoicing at the depth of his love for her, shown now
in his jealousy.

"The most awful part of it all is that you're just as you always
are, and especially now when to me you're something sacred, and
we're so happy, so particularly happy--and all of a sudden a
little wretch.... He's not a little wretch; why should I abuse
him? I have nothing to do with him. But why should my, and
your, happiness..."

"Do you know, I understand now what it's all come from," Kitty
was beginning.

"Well, what? what?"

"I saw how you looked while we were talking at supper."

"Well, well!" Levin said in dismay.

She told him what they had been talking about. And as she told
him, she was breathless with emotion. Levin was silent for a
space, then he scanned her pale and distressed face, and suddenly
he clutched at his head.

"Katya, I've been worrying you! Darling, forgive me! It's
madness! Katya, I'm a criminal. And how could you be so
distressed at such idiocy?"

"Oh, I was sorry for you."

"For me? for me? How mad I am!... But why make you miserable?
It's awful to think that any outsider can shatter our happiness."

"It's humiliating too, of course."

"Oh, then I'll keep him here all the summer, and will overwhelm
him with civility," said Levin, kissing her hands. "You shall
see. Tomorrow.... Oh, yes, we are going tomorrow."



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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