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PART SEVEN - Chapter 1


The Levins had been three months in Moscow. The date had long
passed on which, according to the most trustworthy calculations
of people learned in such matters, Kitty should have been
confined. But she was still about, and there was nothing to show
that her time was any nearer than two months ago. The doctor,
the monthly nurse, and Dolly and her mother, and most of all
Levin, who could not think of the approaching event without
terror, began to be impatient and uneasy. Kitty was the only
person who felt perfectly calm and happy.

She was distinctly conscious now of the birth of a new feeling of
love for the future child, for her to some extent actually
existing already, and she brooded blissfully over this feeling.
He was not by now altogether a part of herself, but sometimes
lived his own life independently of her. Often this separate
being gave her pain, but at the same time she wanted to laugh
with a strange new joy.

All the people she loved were with her, and all were so good to
her, so attentively caring for her, so entirely pleasant was
everything presented to her, that if she had not known and felt
that it must all soon be over, she could not have wished for a
better and pleasanter life. The only thing that spoiled the
charm of this manner of life was that her husband was not here as
she loved him to be, and as he was in the country.

She liked his serene, friendly, and hospitable manner in the
country. In the town he seemed continually uneasy and on his
guard, as though he were afraid someone would be rude to him, and
still more to her. At home in the country, knowing himself
distinctly to be in his right place, he was never in haste to be
off elsewhere. He was never unoccupied. Here in town he was in
a continual hurry, as though afraid of missing something, and yet
he had nothing to do. And she felt sorry for him. To others,
she knew, he did not appear an object of pity. On the contrary,
when Kitty looked at him in society, as one sometimes looks at
those one loves, trying to see him as if he were a stranger, so
as to catch the impression he must make on others, she saw with a
panic even of jealous fear that he was far indeed from being a
pitiable figure, that he was very attractive with his fine
breeding, his rather old-fashioned, reserved courtesy with women,
his powerful figure, and striking, as she thought, and expressive
face. But she saw him not from without, but from within; she saw
that here he was not himself; that was the only way she could
define his condition to herself. Sometimes she inwardly
reproached him for his inability to live in the town; sometimes
she recognized that it was really hard for him to order his life
here so that he could be satisfied with.

What had he to do, indeed? He did not care for cards; he did not
go to a club. Spending the time with jovial gentlemen of
Oblonsky's type--she knew now what that meant...it meant drinking
and going somewhere after drinking. She could not think without
horror of where men went on such occasions. Was he to go into
society? But she knew he could only find satisfaction in that if
he took pleasure in the society of young women, and that she
could not wish for. Should he stay at home with her, her mother
and her sisters? But much as she liked and enjoyed their
conversations forever on the same subjects--"Aline-Nadine," as
the old prince called the sisters' talks--she knew it must bore
him. What was there left for him to do? To go on writing at his
book he had indeed attempted, and at first he used to go to the
library and make extracts and look up references for his book.
But, as he told her, the more he did nothing, the less time he
had to do anything. And besides, he complained that he had
talked too much about his book here, and that consequently all
his ideas about it were muddled and had lost their interest for
him.

One advantage in this town life was that quarrels hardly ever
happened between them here in town. Whether it was that their
conditions were different, or that they had both become more
careful and sensible in that respect, they had no quarrels in
Moscow from jealousy, which they had so dreaded when they moved
from the country.

One event, an event of great importance to both from that point
of view, did indeed happen--that was Kitty's meeting with
Vronsky.

The old Princess Marya Borissovna, Kitty's godmother, who had
always been very fond of her, had insisted on seeing her. Kitty,
though she did not go into society at all on account of her
condition, went with her father to see the venerable old lady,
and there met Vronsky.

The only thing Kitty could reproach herself for at this meeting
was that at the instant when she recognized in his civilian dress
the features once so familiar to her, her breath failed her, the
blood rushed to her heart, and a vivid blush--she felt it--
overspread her face. But this lasted only a few seconds. Before
her father, who purposely began talking in a loud voice to
Vronsky, had finished, she was perfectly ready to look at
Vronsky, to speak to him, if necessary, exactly as she spoke to
Princess Marya Borissovna, and more than that, to do so in such a
way that everything to the faintest intonation and smile would
have been approved by her husband, whose unseen presence she
seemed to feel about her at that instant.

She said a few words to him, even smiled serenely at his joke
about the elections, which he called "our parliament." (She had
to smile to show she saw the joke.) But she turned away
immediately to Princess Marya Borissovna, and did not once glance
at him till he got up to go; then she looked at him, but
evidently only because it would be uncivil not to look at a man
when he is saying good-bye.

She was grateful to her father for saying nothing to her about
their meeting Vronsky, but she saw by his special warmth to her
after the visit during their usual walk that he was pleased with
her. She was pleased with herself. She had not expected she
would have had the power, while keeping somewhere in the bottom
of her heart all the memories of her old feeling for Vronsky, not
only to seem but to be perfectly indifferent and composed with
him.

Levin flushed a great deal more than she when she told him she
had met Vronsky at Princess Marya Borissovna's. It was very hard
for her to tell him this, but still harder to go on speaking of
the details of the meeting, as he did not question her, but
simply gazed at her with a frown.

"I am very sorry you weren't there," she said. "Not that you
weren't in the room...I couldn't have been so natural in your
presence...I am blushing now much more, much, much more," she
said, blushing till the tears came into her eyes. "But that you
couldn't see through a crack."

The truthful eyes told Levin that she was satisfied with herself,
and in spite of her blushing he was quickly reassured and began
questioning her, which was all she wanted. When he had heard
everything, even to the detail that for the first second she
could not help flushing, but that afterwards she was just as
direct and as much at her ease as with any chance acquaintance,
Levin was quite happy again and said he was glad of it, and would
not now behave as stupidly as he had done at the election, but
would try the first time he met Vronsky to be as friendly as
possible.

"It's so wretched to feel that there's a man almost an enemy whom
it's painful to meet," said Levin. "I'm very, very glad."



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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