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Chapter 35


The prince communicated his good humor to his own family and his
friends, and even to the German landlord in whose rooms the
Shtcherbatskys were staying.

On coming back with Kitty from the springs, the prince, who had
asked the colonel, and Marya Yevgenyevna, and Varenka all to come
and have coffee with them, gave orders for a table and chairs to
be taken into the garden under the chestnut tree, and lunch to be
laid there. The landlord and the servants, too, grew brisker
under the influence of his good spirits. They knew his
open-handedness; and half an hour later the invalid doctor from
Hamburg, who lived on the top floor, looked enviously out of the
window at the merry party of healthy Russians assembled under the
chestnut tree. In the trembling circles of shadow cast by the
leaves, at a table, covered with a white cloth, and set with
coffeepot, bread-and-butter, cheese, and cold game, sat the
princess in a high cap with lilac ribbons, distributing cups and
bread-and-butter. At the other end sat the prince, eating
heartily, and talking loudly and merrily. The prince had spread
out near him his purchases, carved boxes, and knick-knacks,
paper-knives of all sorts, of which he bought a heap at every
watering-place, and bestowed them upon everyone, including
Lieschen, the servant girl, and the landlord, with whom he jested
in his comically bad German, assuring him that it was not the
water had cured Kitty, but his splendid cookery, especially his
plum soup. The princess laughed at her husband for his Russian
ways, but she was more lively and good-humored than she had been
all the while she had been at the waters. The colonel smiled, as
he always did, at the prince's jokes, but as far as regards
Europe, of which he believed himself to be making a careful
study, he took the princess's side. The simple-hearted Marya
Yevgenyevna simply roared with laughter at everything absurd the
prince said, and his jokes made Varenka helpless with feeble but
infectious laughter, which was something Kitty had never seen
before.

Kitty was glad of all this, but she could not be light-hearted.
she could not solve the problem her father had unconsciously set
her by his goodhumored view of her friends, and of the life that
had so attracted her. To this doubt there was joined the change
in her relations with the Petrovs, which had been so
conspicuously and unpleasantly marked that morning. Everyone was
good humored, but Kitty could not feel good humored, and this
increased her distress. She felt a feeling such as she had known
in childhood, when she had been shut in her room as a punishment,
and had heard her sisters' merry laughter outside.

"Well, but what did you buy this mass of things for?" said the
princess, smiling, and handing her husband a cup of coffee.

"One goes for a walk, one looks in a shop, and they ask you to
buy. 'Erlaucht, Durchlaucht?' Directly they say 'Durchlaucht,'
I can't hold out. I lose ten thalers."

"It's simply from boredom," said the princess.

"Of course it is. Such boredom, my dear, that one doesn't know
what to do with oneself."

"How can you be bored, prince? There's so much that's interesting
now in Germany," said Marya Yevgenyevna.

"But I know everything that's interesting: the plum soup I know,
and the pea sausages I know. I know everything."

"No, you may say what you like, prince, there's the interest of
their institutions," said the colonel.

"But what is there interesting about it? They're all as pleased
as brass halfpence. They've conquered everybody, and why am I
to be pleased at that? I haven't conquered anyone; and I'm
obliged to take off my own boots, yes, and put them away too; in
the morning, get up and dress at once, and go to the dining room
to drink bad tea! How different it is at home! You get up in no
haste, you get cross, grumble a little, and come round again.
You've time to think things over, and no hurry."

"But time's money, you forget that," said the colonel.

"Time, indeed, that depends! Why, there's time one would give a
month of for sixpence, and time you wouldn't give half an hour of
for any money. Isn't that so, Katinka? What is it? why are you
so depressed?"

"I'm not depressed."

"Where are you off to? Stay a little longer," he said to
Varenka.

"I must be going home," said Varenka, getting up, and again she
went off into a giggle. When she had recovered, she said
good-bye, and went into the house to get her hat.

Kitty followed her. Even Varenka struck her as different. She
was not worse, but different from what she had fancied her
before.

"Oh, dear! it's a long while since I've laughed so much!" said
Varenka, gathering up her parasol and her bag. "How nice he is,
your father!"

Kitty did not speak.

"When shall I see you again?" asked Varenka.

"Mamma meant to go and see the Petrovs. Won't you be there?"
said Kitty, to try Varenka.

"Yes," answered Varenka. "They're getting ready to go away, so
I promised to help them pack."

"Well, I'll come too, then."

"No, why should you?"

"Why not? why not? why not?" said Kitty, opening her eyes wide,
and clutching at Varenka's parasol, so as not to let her go.
"No, wait a minute; why not?"

"Oh, nothing; your father has come, and besides, they will feel
awkward at your helping."

"No, tell me why you don't want me to be often at the Petrovs'.
You don't want me to--why not?"

"I didn't say that," said Varenka quietly.

"No, please tell me!"

"Tell you everything?" asked Varenka.

"Everything, everything!" Kitty assented.

"Well, there's really nothing of any consequence; only that
Mihail Alexeyevitch" (that was the artist's name) "had meant to
leave earlier, and now he doesn't want to go away," said Varenka,
smiling.

"Well, well!" Kitty urged impatiently, looking darkly at Varenka.

"Well, and for some reason Anna Pavlovna told him that he didn't
want to go because you are here. Of course, that was nonsense;
but there was a dispute over it--over you. You know how
irritable these sick people are."

Kitty, scowling more than ever, kept silent, and Varenka went on
speaking alone, trying to soften or soothe her, and seeing a
storm coming--she did not know whether of tears or of words.

"So you'd better not go.... You understand; you won't be
offended?..."

"And it serves me right! And it serves me right!" Kitty cried
quickly, snatching the parasol out of Varenka's hand, and looking
past her friend's face.

Varenka felt inclined to smile, looking at her childish fury, but
she was afraid of wounding her.

"How does it serve you right? I don't understand," she said.

"It serves me right, because it was all sham; because it was all
done on purpose, and not from the heart. What business had I to
interfere with outsiders? And so it's come about that I'm a
cause of quarrel, and that I've done what nobody asked me to do.
Because it was all a sham! a sham! a sham! . . ."

"A sham! with what object?" said Varenka gently.

"Oh, it's so idiotic! so hateful! There was no need whatever for
me.... Nothing but sham!" she said, opening and shutting the
parasol.

"But with what object?"

"To seem better to people, to myself, to God; to deceive
everyone. No! now I won't descend to that. I'll be bad; but
anyway not a liar, a cheat."

"But who is a cheat?" said Varenka reproachfully. "You speak as
if..."

But Kitty was in one of her gusts of fury, and she would not let
her finish.

"I don't talk about you, not about you at all. You're
perfection. Yes, yes, I know you're all perfection; but what am
I to do if I'm bad? This would never have been if I weren't bad.
So let me be what I am. I won't be a sham. What have I to do
with Anna Pavlovna? Let them go their way, and me go mine. I
can't be different.... And yet it's not that, it's not that."

"What is not that?" asked Varenka in bewilderment.

"Everything. I can't act except from the heart, and you act
from principle. I liked you simply, but you most likely only
wanted to save me, to improve me."

"You are unjust," said Varenka.

"But I'm not speaking of other people, I'm speaking of myself."

"Kitty," they heard her mother's voice, "come here, show papa
your necklace."

Kitty, with a haughty air, without making peace with her friend,
took the necklace in a little box from the table and went to her
mother.

"What's the matter? Why are you so red?" her mother and father
said to her with one voice.

"Nothing," she answered. "I'll be back directly," and she ran
back.

"She's still here," she thought. "What am I to say to her? Oh,
dear! what have I done, what have I said? Why was I rude to
her? What am I to do? What am I to say to her?" thought Kitty,
and she stopped in the doorway.

Varenka in her hat and with the parasol in her hands was sitting
at the table examining the spring which Kitty had broken. She
lifted her head.

"Varenka, forgive me, do forgive me," whispered Kitty, going up
to her. "I don't remember what I said. I..."

"I really didn't mean to hurt you," said Varenka, smiling.

Peace was made. But with her father's coming all the world in
which she had been living was transformed for Kitty. She did not
give up everything she had learned, but she became aware that she
had deceived herself in supposing she could be what she wanted to
be. Her eyes were, it seemed, opened; she felt all the
difficulty of maintaining herself without hypocrisy and
self-conceit on the pinnacle to which she had wished to mount.
Moreover, she became aware of all the dreariness of the world of
sorrow, of sick and dying people, in which she had been living.
The efforts she had made to like it seemed to her intolerable,
and she felt a longing to get back quickly into the fresh air, to
Russia, to Ergushovo, where, as she knew from letters, her sister
Dolly had already gone with her children.

But her affection for Varenka did not wane. As she said
good-bye, Kitty begged her to come to them in Russia.

"I'll come when you get married," said Varenka.

"I shall never marry."

"Well, then, I shall never come."

"Well, then, I shall be married simply for that. Mind now,
remember your promise," said Kitty.

The doctor's prediction was fulfilled. Kitty returned home to
Russia cured. She was not so gay and thoughtless as before, but
she was serene. Her Moscow troubles had become a memory to her.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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