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Chapter 6


"Perhaps they're not at home?" said Levin, as he went into the
hall of Countess Bola's house.

"At home; please walk in," said the porter, resolutely removing
his overcoat.

"How annoying!" thought Levin with a sigh, taking off one glove
and stroking his hat. "What did I come for? What have I to say
to them?"

As he passed through the first drawing room Levin met in the
doorway Countess Bola, giving some order to a servant with a
care-worn and severe face. On seeing Levin she smiled, and asked
him to come into the little drawing room, where he heard voices.
In this room there were sitting in armchairs the two daughters of
the countess, and a Moscow colonel, whom Levin knew. Levin went
up, greeted them, and sat down beside the sofa with his hat on
his knees.

"How is your wife? Have you been at the concert? We couldn't
go. Mamma had to be at the funeral service."

"Yes, I heard.... What a sudden death!" said Levin.

The countess came in, sat down on the sofa, and she too asked
after his wife and inquired about the concert.

Levin answered, and repeated an inquiry about Madame Apraksina's
sudden death.

"But she was always in weak health."

"Were you at the opera yesterday?"

"Yes, I was."

"Lucca was very good."

"Yes, very good," he said, and as it was utterly of no
consequence to him what they thought of him, he began repeating
what they had heard a hundred times about the characteristics of
the singer's talent. Countess Bola pretended to be listening.
Then, when he had said enough and paused, the colonel, who had
been silent till then, began to talk. The colonel too talked of
the opera, and about culture. At last, after speaking of the
proposed folle journee at Turin's, the colonel laughed, got up
noisily, and went away. Levin too rose, but he saw by the face
of the countess that it was not yet time for him to go. He must
stay two minutes longer. He sat down.

But as he was thinking all the while how stupid it was, he could
not find a subject for conversation, and sat silent.

"You are not going to the public meeting? They say it will be
very interesting," began the countess.

"No, I promised my belle-soeur to fetch her from it," said
Levin.

A silence followed. The mother once more exchanged glances with
a daughter.

"Well, now I think the time has come," thought Levin, and he got
up. The ladies shook hands with him, and begged him to say mille
choses to his wife for them.

The porter asked him, as he gave him his coat, "Where is your
honor staying?" and immediately wrote down his address in a big
handsomely bound book.

"Of course I don't care, but still I feel ashamed and awfully
stupid," thought Levin, consoling himself with the reflection
that everyone does it. He drove to the public meeting, where he
was to find his sister-in-law, so as to drive home with her.

At the public meeting of the committee there were a great many
people, and almost all the highest society. Levin was in time
for the report which, as everyone said, was very interesting.
When the reading of the report was over, people moved about, and
Levin met Sviazhsky, who invited him very pressingly to come that
evening to a meeting of the Society of Agriculture, where a
celebrated lecture was to be delivered, and Stepan Arkadyevitch,
who had only just come from the races, and many other
acquaintances; and Levin heard and uttered various criticisms on
the meeting, on the new fantasia, and on a public trial. But,
probably from the mental fatigue he was beginning to feel, he
made a blunder in speaking of the trial, and this blunder he
recalled several times with vexation. Speaking of the sentence
upon a foreigner who had been condemned in Russia, and of how
unfair it would be to punish him by exile abroad, Levin repeated
what he had heard the day before in conversation from an
acquaintance.

"I think sending him abroad is much the same as punishing a carp
by putting it into the water," said Levin. Then he recollected
that this idea, which he had heard from an acquaintance and
uttered as his own, came from a fable of Krilov's, and that the
acquaintance had picked it up from a newspaper article.

After driving home with his sister-in-law, and finding Kitty in
good spirits and quite well, Levin drove to the club.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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