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Chapter 7


Agafea Mihalovna went out on tiptoe; the nurse let down the
blind, chased a fly out from under the muslin canopy of the crib,
and a bumblebee struggling on the window-frame, and sat down
waving a faded branch of birch over the mother and the baby.

"How hot it is! if God would send a drop of rain," she said.

"Yes, yes, sh--sh--sh--" was all Kitty answered, rocking a
little, and tenderly squeezing the plump little arm, with rolls
of fat at the wrist, which Mitya still waved feebly as he opened
and shut his eyes. That hand worried Kitty; she longed to kiss
the little hand, but was afraid to for fear of waking the baby.
At last the little hand ceased waving, and the eyes closed. Only
from time to time, as he went on sucking, the baby raised his
long, curly eyelashes and peeped at his mother with wet eyes,
that looked black in the twilight. The nurse had left off
fanning, and was dozing. From above came the peals of the old
prince's voice, and the chuckle of Katavasov.

"They have got into talk without me," thought Kitty, "but still
it's vexing that Kostya's out. He's sure to have gone to the
bee house again. Though it's a pity he's there so often, still
I'm glad. It distracts his mind. He's become altogether happier
and better now than in the spring. He used to be so gloomy and
worried that I felt frightened for him. And how absurd he is!"
she whispered, smiling.

She knew what worried her husband. It was his unbelief.
Although, if she had been asked whether she supposed that in the
future life, if he did not believe, he would be damned, she would
have had to admit that he would be damned, his unbelief did not
cause her unhappiness. And she, confessing that for an
unbeliever there can be no salvation, and loving her husband's
soul more than anything in the world, thought with a smile of his
unbelief, and told herself that he was absurd.

"What does he keep reading philosophy of some sort for all this
year?" she wondered. "If it's all written in those books, he can
understand them. If it's all wrong, why does he read them? He
says himself that he would like to believe. Then why is it he
doesn't believe? Surely from his thinking so much? And he
thinks so much from being solitary. He's always alone, alone.
He can't talk about it all to us. I fancy he'll be glad of these
visitors, especially Katavasov. He likes discussions with them,"
she thought, and passed instantly to the consideration of where
it would be more convenient to put Katavasov, to sleep alone or
to share Sergey Ivanovitch's room. And then an idea suddenly
struck her, which made her shudder and even disturb Mitya, who
glanced severely at her. "I do believe the laundress hasn't sent
the washing yet, and all the best sheets are in use. If I don't
see to it, Agafea Mihalovna will give Sergey Ivanovitch the wrong
sheets," and at the very idea of this the blood rushed to Kitty's
face.

"Yes, I will arrange it," she decided, and going back to her
former thoughts, she remembered that some spiritual question of
importance had been interrupted, and she began to recall what.
"Yes, Kostya, an unbeliever," she thought again with a smile.

"Well, an unbeliever then! Better let him always be one than
like Madame Stahl, or what I tried to be in those days abroad.
No, he won't ever sham anything."

And a recent instance of his goodness rose vividly to her mind.
A fortnight ago a penitent letter had come from Stepan
Arkadyevitch to Dolly. He besought her to save his honor, to
sell her estate to pay his debts. Dolly was in despair, she
detested her husband, despised him, pitied him, resolved on a
separation, resolved to refuse, but ended by agreeing to sell
part of her property. After that, with an irrepressible smile of
tenderness, Kitty recalled her husband's shamefaced
embarrassment, his repeated awkward efforts to approach the
subject, and how at last, having thought of the one means of
helping Dolly without wounding her pride, he had suggested to
Kitty--what had not occurred to her before--that she should give
up her share of the property.

"He an unbeliever indeed! With his heart, his dread of offending
anyone, even a child! Everything for others, nothing for
himself. Sergey Ivanovitch simply considers it as Kostya's duty
to be his steward. And it's the same with his sister. Now Dolly
and her children are under his guardianship; all these peasants
who come to him every day, as though he were bound to be at their
service."

"Yes, only be like your father, only like him," she said, handing
Mitya over to the nurse, and putting her lips to his cheek.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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