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Chapter 9


On the drive home, as Darya Alexandrovna, with all her children
round her, their heads still wet from their bath, and a kerchief
tied over her own head, was getting near the house, the coachman
said, "There's some gentleman coming: the master of Pokrovskoe,
I do believe."

Darya Alexandrovna peeped out in front, and was delighted when
she recognized in the gray hat and gray coat the familiar figure
of Levin walking to meet them. She was glad to see him at any
time, but at this moment she was specially glad he should see her
in all her glory. No one was better able to appreciate her
grandeur than Levin.

Seeing her, he found himself face to face with one of the
pictures of his daydream of family life.

"You're like a hen with your chickens, Darya Alexandrovna."

"Ah, how glad I am to see you!" she said, holding out her hand
to him.

"Glad to see me, but you didn't let me know. My brother's
staying with me. I got a note from Stiva that you were here."

"From Stiva?" Darya Alexandrovna asked with surprise.

"Yes; he writes that you are here, and that he thinks you might
allow me to be of use to you," said Levin, and as he said it he
became suddenly embarrassed, and, stopping abruptly, he walked on
in silence by the wagonette, snapping off the buds of the
lime trees and nibbling them. He was embarrassed through a sense
that Darya Alexandrovna would be annoyed by receiving from an
outsider help that should by rights have come from her own
husband. Darya Alexandrovna certainly did not like this little
way of Stepan Arkadyevitch's of foisting his domestic duties on
others. And she was at once aware that Levin was aware of this.
It was just for this fineness of perception, for this delicacy,
that Darya Alexandrovna liked Levin.

"I know, of course," said Levin, "that that simply means that you
would like to see me, and I'm exceedingly glad. Though I can
fancy that, used to town housekeeping as you are, you must feel
in the wilds here, and if there's anything wanted, I'm altogether
at your disposal."

"Oh, no!" said Dolly. "At first things were rather
uncomfortable, but now we've settled everything capitally--
thanks to my old nurse," she said, indicating Marya Philimonovna,
who, seeing that they were speaking of her, smiled brightly and
cordially to Levin. She knew him, and knew that he would be a
good match for her young lady, and was very keen to see the
matter settled.

"Won't you get in, sir, we'll make room this side!" she said to
him.

"No, I'll walk. Children, who'd like to race the horses with
me?" The children knew Levin very little, and could not remember
when they had seen him, but they experienced in regard to him
none of that strange feeling of shyness and hostility which
children so often experience towards hypocritical, grown-up
people, and for which they are so often and miserably punished.
Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most
penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes
it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be
disguised. Whatever faults Levin had, there was not a trace of
hypocrisy in him, and so the children showed him the same
friendliness that they saw in their mother's face. On his
invitation, the two elder ones at once jumped out to him and ran
with him as simply as they would have done with their nurse or
Miss Hoole or their mother. Lily, too, began begging to go to
him, and her mother handed her to him; he sat her on his shoulder
and ran along with her.

"Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, Darya Alexandrovna!" he said,
smiling good-humoredly to the mother; "there's no chance of my
hurting or dropping her."

And, looking at his strong, agile, assiduously careful and
needlessly wary movements, the mother felt her mind at rest, and
smiled gaily and approvingly as she watched him.

Here, in the country, with children, and with Darya Alexandrovna,
with whom he was in sympathy, Levin was in a mood not infrequent
with him, of childlike light-heartedness that she particularly
liked in him. As he ran with the children, he taught them
gymnastic feats, set Miss Hoole laughing with his queer English
accent, and talked to Darya Alexandrovna of his pursuits in the
country.

After dinner, Darya Alexandrovna, sitting alone with him on the
balcony, began to speak of Kitty.

"You know, Kitty's coming here, and is going to spend the summer
with me."

"Really," he said, flushing, and at once, to change the
conversation, he said: "Then I'll send you two cows, shall I? If
you insist on a bill you shall pay me five roubles a month; but
it's really too bad of you."

"No, thank you. We can manage very well now."

"Oh, well, then, I'll have a look at your cows, and if you'll
allow me, I'll give directions about their food. Everything
depends on their food."

And Levin, to turn the conversation, explained to Darya
Alexandrovna the theory of cow-keeping, based on the principle
that the cow is simply a machine for the transformation of food
into milk, and so on.

He talked of this, and passionately longed to hear more of Kitty,
and, at the same time, was afraid of hearing it. He dreaded the
breaking up of the inward peace he had gained with such effort.

"Yes, but still all this has to be looked after, and who is there
to look after it?" Darya Alexandrovna responded, without
interest.

She had by now got her household matters so satisfactorily
arranged, thanks to Marya Philimonovna, that she was disinclined
to make any change in them; besides, she had no faith in Levin's
knowledge of farming. General principles, as to the cow being a
machine for the production of milk, she looked on with suspicion.
It seemed to her that such principles could only be a hindrance
in farm management. It all seemed to her a far simpler matter:
all that was needed, as Marya Philimonovna had explained, was to
give Brindle and Whitebreast more food and drink, and not to let
the cook carry all the kitchen slops to the laundry maid's cow.
That was clear. But general propositions as to feeding on meal
and on grass were doubtful and obscure. And, what was most
important, she wanted to talk about Kitty.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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