eBooks Cube
 
Chapter 13


There are no conditions to which a man cannot become used,
especially if he sees that all around him are living in the same
way. Levin could not have believed three months before that he
could have gone quietly to sleep in the condition in which he was
that day, that leading an aimless irrational life, living too
beyond his means, after drinking to excess (he could not call
what happened at the club anything else), forming inappropriately
friendly relations with a man with whom his wife had once been in
love, and a still more inappropriate call upon a woman who could
only be called a lost woman, after being fascinated by that woman
and causing his wife distress--he could still go quietly to
sleep. But under the influence of fatigue, a sleepless night,
and the wine he had drunk, his sleep was sound and untroubled.

At five o'clock the creak of a door opening waked him. He jumped
up and looked round. Kitty was not in bed beside him. But there
was a light moving behind the screen, and he heard her steps.

"What is it?...what is it?" he said, half-asleep. "Kitty!
What is it?"

"Nothing," she said, coming from behind the screen with a candle
in her hand. "I felt unwell," she said, smiling a particularly
sweet and meaning smile.

"What? has it begun?" he said in terror. "We ought to send..."
and hurriedly he reached after his clothes.

"No, no," she said, smiling and holding his hand. "It's sure to
be nothing. I was rather unwell, only a little. It's all over
now."

And getting into bed, she blew out the candle, lay down and was
still. Though he thought her stillness suspicious, as though she
were holding her breath, and still more suspicious the expression
of peculiar tenderness and excitement with which, as she came
from behind the screen, she said "nothing," he was so sleepy that
he fell asleep at once. Only later he remembered the stillness
of her breathing, and understood all that must have been passing
in her sweet, precious heart while she lay beside him, not
stirring, in anticipation of the greatest event in a woman's
life. At seven o'clock he was waked by the touch of her hand on
his shoulder, and a gentle whisper. She seemed struggling
between regret at waking him, and the desire to talk to him.

"Kostya, don't be frightened. It's all right. But I fancy....
We ought to send for Lizaveta Petrovna."

The candle was lighted again. She was sitting up in bed, holding
some knitting, which she had been busy upon during the last few
days.

"Please, don't be frightened, it's all right. I'm not a bit
afraid," she said, seeing his scared face, and she pressed his
hand to her bosom and then to her lips.

He hurriedly jumped up, hardly awake, and kept his eyes fixed on
her, as he put on his dressing gown; then he stopped, still
looking at her. He had to go, but he could not tear himself from
her eyes. He thought he loved her face, knew her expression, her
eyes, but never had he seen it like this. How hateful and
horrible he seemed to himself, thinking of the distress he had
caused her yesterday. Her flushed face, fringed with soft
curling hair under her night cap, was radiant with joy and
courage.

Though there was so little that was complex or artificial in
Kitty's character in general, Levin was struck by what was
revealed now, when suddenly all disguises were thrown off and the
very kernel of her soul shone in her eyes. And in this
simplicity and nakedness of her soul, she, the very woman he
loved in her, was more manifest than ever. She looked at him,
smiling; but all at once her brows twitched, she threw up her
head, and going quickly up to him, clutched his hand and pressed
close up to him, breathing her hot breath upon him. She was in
pain and was, as it were, complaining to him of her suffering.
And for the first minute, from habit, it seemed to him that he
was to blame. But in her eyes there was a tenderness that told
him that she was far from reproaching him, that she loved him for
her sufferings. "If not I, who is to blame for it?" he thought
unconsciously, seeking someone responsible for this suffering for
him to punish; but there was no one responsible. She was
suffering, complaining, and triumphing in her sufferings, and
rejoicing in them, and loving them. He saw that something
sublime was being accomplished in her soul, but what? He could
not make it out. It was beyond his understanding.

"I have sent to mamma. You go quickly to fetch Lizaveta Petrovna
...Kostya!... Nothing, it's over."

She moved away from him and rang the bell.

"Well, go now; Pasha's coming. I am all right."

And Levin saw with astonishment that she had taken up the
knitting she had brought in in the night and begun working at it
again.

As Levin was going out of one door, he heard the maid-servant
come in at the other. He stood at the door and heard Kitty
giving exact directions to the maid, and beginning to help her
move the bedstead.

He dressed, and while they were putting in his horses, as a hired
sledge was not to be seen yet, he ran again up to the bedroom,
not on tiptoe, it seemed to him, but on wings. Two maid-servants
were carefully moving something in the bedroom.

Kitty was walking about knitting rapidly and giving directions.

"I'm going for the doctor. They have sent for Lizaveta Petrovna,
but I'll go on there too. Isn't there anything wanted? Yes,
shall I go to Dolly's?"

She looked at him, obviously not hearing what he was saying.

"Yes, yes. Do go," she said quickly, frowning and waving her
hand to him.

He had just gone into the drawing room, when suddenly a plaintive
moan sounded from the bedroom, smothered instantly. He stood
still, and for a long while he could not understand.

"Yes, that is she," he said to himself, and clutching at his head
he ran downstairs.

"Lord have mercy on us! pardon us! aid us!" he repeated the words
that for some reason came suddenly to his lips. And he, an
unbeliever, repeated these words not with his lips only. At that
instant he knew that all his doubts, even the impossibility of
believing with his reason, of which he was aware in himself, did
not in the least hinder his turning to God. All of that now
floated out of his soul like dust. To whom was he to turn if not
to Him in whose hands he felt himself, his soul, and his love?

The horse was not yet ready, but feeling a peculiar concentration
of his physical forces and his intellect on what he had to do, he
started off on foot without waiting for the horse, and told
Kouzma to overtake him.

At the corner he met a night cabman driving hurriedly. In the
little sledge, wrapped in a velvet cloak, sat Lizaveta Petrovna
with a kerchief round her head. "Thank God! thank God!" he said,
overjoyed to recognize her little fair face which wore a
peculiarly serious, even stern expression. Telling the driver
not to stop, he ran along beside her.

"For two hours, then? Not more?" she inquired. "You should let
Pyotr Dmitrievitch know, but don't hurry him. And get some opium
at the chemist's."

"So you think that it may go on well? Lord have mercy on us and
help us!" Levin said, seeing his own horse driving out of the
gate. Jumping into the sledge beside Konzma, he told him to
drive to the doctor's.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
Nabou.com: the big site