When she went into Kitty's little room, a pretty, pink little
room, full of knick-knacks in vieux saxe, as fresh, and pink,
and white, and gay as Kitty herself had been two months ago,
Dolly remembered how they had decorated the room the year before
together, with what love and gaiety. Her heart turned cold when
she saw Kitty sitting on a low chair near the door, her eyes
fixed immovably on a corner of the rug. Kitty glanced at her
sister, and the cold, rather ill-tempered expression of her face
did not change.
"I'm just going now, and I shall have to keep in and you won't be
able to come to see me," said Dolly, sitting down beside her. "I
want to talk to you."
"What about?" Kitty asked swiftly, lifting her head in dismay.
"What should it be, but your trouble?"
"I have no trouble."
"Nonsense, Kitty. Do you suppose I could help knowing? I know
all about it. And believe me, it's of so little
consequence.... We've all been through it."
Kitty did not speak, And her face had a stern expression.
"He's not worth your grieving over him," pursued Darya
Alexandrovna, coming straight to the point.
"No, because he has treated me with contempt," said Kitty, in a
breaking voice. "Don't talk of it! Please, don't talk of it!"
"But who can have told you so? No one has said that. I'm
certain he was in love with you, and would still be in love with
you, if it hadn't...
"Oh, the most awful thing of all for me is this sympathizing!"
shrieked Kitty, suddenly flying into a passion. She turned round
on her chair, flushed crimson, and rapidly moving her fingers,
pinched the clasp of her belt first with one hand and then with
the other. Dolly knew this trick her sister had of clenching her
hands when she was much excited; she knew, too, that in moments
of excitement Kitty was capable of forgetting herself and saying
a great deal too much, and Dolly would have soothed her, but it
was too late.
"What, what is it you want to make me feel, eh?" said Kitty
quickly. "That I've been in love with a man who didn't care a
straw for me, And that I'm dying of love for him? And this is
said to me by my own sister, who imagines that...that...that
she's sympathizing with me!...I don't want these condolences And
"Kitty, you're unjust."
"Why are you tormenting me?"
"But I...quite the contrary...I see you're unhappy..."
But Kitty in her fury did not hear her.
"I've nothing to grieve over and be comforted about. I am too
proud ever to allow myself to care for a man who does not love
"Yes, I don't say so either.... Only one thing. Tell me the
truth," said Darya Alexandrovna, taking her by the hand: "tell
me, did Levin speak to you?..."
The mention of Levin's name seemed to deprive Kitty of the last
vestige of self-control. She leaped up from her chair, and
flinging her clasp on the ground, she gesticulated rapidly with
her hands and said:
"Why bring Levin in too? I can't understand what you want to
torment me for. I've told you, And I say it again, that I have
some pride, and never, NEVER would I do as you're doing--go back
to a man who's deceived you, who has cared for another woman. I
can't understand it! You may, but I can't!"
And saying these words she glanced at her sister, and seeing that
Dolly sat silent, her head mournfully bowed, Kitty, instead of
running out of the room as she had meant to do, sat down near the
door, and hid her face in her handkerchief.
The silence lasted for two minutes: Dolly was thinking of
herself. That humiliation of which she was always conscious came
back to her with a peculiar bitterness when her sister reminded
her of it. She had not looked for such cruelty in her sister,
and she was angry with her. But suddenly she heard the rustle of
a skirt, and with it the sound of heart-rending, smothered
sobbing, and felt arms about her neck. Kitty was on her knees
"Dolinka, I am so, so wretched!" she whispered penitently. And
the sweet face covered with tears hid itself in Darya
As though tears were the indispensable oil, without which the
machinery of mutual confidence could not run smoothly between the
two sisters, the sisters after their tears talked, not of what
was uppermost in their minds, but, though they talked of outside
matters, they understood each other. Kitty knew that the words
she had uttered in anger about her husband's infidelity and her
humiliating position had cut her poor sister to the heart, but
that she had forgiven her. Dolly for her part knew all she had
wanted to find out. She felt certain that her surmises were
correct; that Kitty's misery, her inconsolable misery, was due
precisely to the fact that Levin had made her an offer and she
had refused him, and Vronsky had deceived her, and that she was
fully prepared to love Levin and to detest Vronsky. Kitty said
not a word of that; she talked of nothing but her spiritual
"I have nothing to make me miserable," she said, getting calmer;
"but can you understand that everything has become hateful,
loathsome, coarse to me, and I myself most of all? You can't
imagine what loathsome thoughts I have about everything."
"Why, whatever loathsome thoughts can you have?" asked Dolly,
"The most utterly loathsome and coarse: I can't tell you. It's
not unhappiness, or low spirits, but much worse. As though
everything that was good in me was all hidden away, and nothing
was left but the most loathsome. Come, how am I to tell you?"
she went on, seeing the puzzled look in her sister's eyes.
"Father began saying something to me just now.... It seems to me
he thinks all I want is to be married. Mother takes me to a
ball: it seems to me she only takes me to get me married off as
soon as may be, and be rid of me. I know it's not the truth, but
I can't drive away such thoughts. Eligible suitors, as they call
them--I can't bear to see them. It seems to me they're taking
stock of me and summing me up. In old days to go anywhere in a
ball dress was a simple joy to me, I admired myself; now I feel
ashamed and awkward. And then! The doctor.... Then..." Kitty
hesitated; she wanted to say further that ever since this change
had taken place in her, Stepan Arkadyevitch had become
insufferably repulsive to her, and that she could not see him
without the grossest and most hideous conceptions rising before
"Oh, well, everything presents itself to me, in the coarsest,
most loathsome light," she went on. "That's my illness. Perhaps
it will pass off."
"But you mustn't think about it."
"I can't help it. I'm never happy except with the children at
"What a pity you can't be with me!"
"Oh, yes, I'm coming. I've had scarlatina, and I'll persuade
mamma to let me."
Kitty insisted on having her way, and went to stay at her
sister's and nursed the children all through the scarlatina, for
scarlatina it turned out to be. The two sisters brought all the
six children successfully through it, but Kitty was no better in
health, and in Lent the Shtcherbatskys went abroad.