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Chapter 10


"Kitty writes to me that there's nothing she longs for so much as
quiet and solitude," Dolly said after the silence that had
followed.

"And how is she--better?" Levin asked in agitation.

"Thank God, she's quite well again. I never believed her lungs
were affected."

"Oh, I'm very glad!" said Levin, and Dolly fancied she saw
something touching, helpless, in his face as he said this and
looked silently into her face.

"Let me ask you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," said Darya
Alexandrovna, smiling her kindly and rather mocking smile, "why
is it you are angry with Kitty?"

"I? I'm not angry with her," said Levin.

"Yes, you are angry. Why was it you did not come to see us nor
them when you were in Moscow?"

"Darya Alexandrovna," he said, blushing up to the roots of his
hair, "I wonder really that with your kind heart you don't feel
this. How it is you feel no pity for me, if nothing else, when
you know..."

"What do I know?"

"You know I made an offer and that I was refused," said Levin,
and all the tenderness he had been feeling for Kitty a minute
before was replaced by a feeling of anger for the slight he had
suffered.

"What makes you suppose I know?"

"Because everybody knows it..."

"That's just where you are mistaken; I did not know it, though
I had guessed it was so."

"Well, now you know it."

"All I knew was that something had happened that made her
dreadfully miserable, and that she begged me never to speak of
it. And if she would not tell me, she would certainly not speak
of it to anyone else. But what did pass between you? Tell me."

"I have told you."

"When was it?"

"When I was at their house the last time."

"Do you know that," said Darya Alexandrovna, "I am awfully,
awfully sorry for her. You suffer only from pride...."

"Perhaps so," said Levin, "but..."

She interrupted him.

"But she, poor girl...I am awfully, awfully sorry for her. Now I
see it all."

"Well, Darya Alexandrovna, you must excuse me," he said, getting
up. "Good-bye, Darya Alexandrovna, till we meet again."

"No, wait a minute," she said, clutching him by the sleeve.
"Wait a minute, sit down."

"Please, please, don't let us talk of this," he said, sitting
down, and at the same time feeling rise up and stir within his
heart a hope he had believed to be buried.

"If I did not like you," she said, and tears came into her eyes;
"if I did not know you, as I do know you . . ."

The feeling that had seemed dead revived more and more, rose up
and took possession of Levin's heart.

"Yes, I understand it all now," said Darya Alexandrovna. "You
can't understand it; for you men, who are free and make your own
choice, it's always clear whom you love. But a girl's in a
position of suspense, with all a woman's or maiden's modesty, a
girl who sees you men from afar, who takes everything on trust,--
a girl may have, and often has, such a feeling that she cannot
tell what to say."

"Yes, if the heart does not speak..."

"No, the heart does speak; but just consider: you men have views
about a girl, you come to the house, you make friends, you
criticize, you wait to see if you have found what you love, and
then, when you are sure you love her, you make an offer...."

"Well, that's not quite it."

"Anyway you make an offer, when your love is ripe or when the
balance has completely turned between the two you are choosing
from. But a girl is not asked. She is expected to make her
choice, and yet she cannot choose, she can only answer 'yes' or
'no.'"

"Yes, to choose between me and Vronsky," thought Levin, and the
dead thing that had come to life within him died again, and only
weighed on his heart and set it aching.

"Darya Alexandrovna," he said, "that's how one chooses a new
dress or some purchase or other, not love. The choice has been
made, and so much the better.... And there can be no repeating
it."

"Ah, pride, pride!" said Darya Alexandrovna, as though despising
him for the baseness of this feeling in comparison with that
other feeling which only women know. "At the time when you made
Kitty an offer she was just in a position in which she could not
answer. She was in doubt. Doubt between you and Vronsky. Him
she was seeing every day, and you she had not seen for a long
while. Supposing she had been older...I, for instance, in her
place could have felt no doubt. I always disliked him, and so it
has turned out."

Levin recalled Kitty's answer. She had said: "No, that cannot
be..."

"Darya Alexandrovna," he said dryly, "I appreciate your
confidence in me; I believe you are making a mistake. But
whether I am right or wrong, that pride you so despise makes any
thought of Katerina Alexandrovna out of the question for me,--
you understand, utterly out of the question."

"I will only say one thing more: you know that I am speaking of
my sister, whom I love as I love my own children. I don't say
she cared for you, all I meant to say is that her refusal at that
moment proves nothing."

"I don't know!" said Levin, jumping up. "If you only knew how
you are hurting me. It's just as if a child of yours were dead,
and they were to say to you: He would have been like this and
like that, and he might have lived, and how happy you would have
been in him. But he's dead, dead, dead!..."

"How absurd you are!" said Darya Alexandrovna, looking with
mournful tenderness at Levin's excitement. "Yes, I see it all
more and more clearly," she went on musingly. "So you won't come
to see us, then, when Kitty's here?"

"No, I shan't come. Of course I won't avoid meeting Katerina
Alexandrovna, but as far as I can, I will try to save her the
annoyance of my presence."

"You are very, very absurd," repeated Darya Alexandrovna, looking
with tenderness into his face. "Very well then, let it be as
though we had not spoken of this. What have you come for,
Tanya?" she said in French to the little girl who had come in.

"Where's my spade, mamma?"

"I speak French, and you must too."

The little girl tried to say it in French, but could not remember
the French for spade; the mother prompted her, and then told her
in French where to look for the spade. And this made a
disagreeable impression on Levin.

Everything in Darya Alexandrovna's house and children struck him
now as by no means so charming as a little while before. "And
what does she talk French with the children for?" he thought;
"how unnatural and false it is! And the children feel it so:
Learning French and unlearning sincerity," he thought to himself,
unaware that Darya Alexandrovna had thought all that over twenty
times already, and yet, even at the cost of some loss of
sincerity, believed it necessary to teach her children French in
that way.

"But why are you going? Do stay a little."

Levin stayed to tea; but his good-humor had vanished, and he felt
ill at ease.

After tea he went out into the hall to order his horses to be put
in, and, when he came back, he found Darya Alexandrovna greatly
disturbed, with a troubled face, and tears in her eyes. While
Levin had been outside, an incident had occurred which had
utterly shattered all the happiness she had been feeling that
day, and her pride in her children. Grisha and Tanya had been
fighting over a ball. Darya Alexandrovna, hearing a scream in
the nursery, ran in and saw a terrible sight. Tanya was pulling
Grisha's hair, while he, with a face hideous with rage, was
beating her with his fists wherever he could get at her.
Something snapped in Darya Alexandrovna's heart when she saw
this. It was as if darkness had swooped down upon her life; she
felt that these children of hers, that she was so proud of, were
not merely most ordinary, but positively bad, ill-bred children,
with coarse, brutal propensities--wicked children.

She could not talk or think of anything else, and she could not
speak to Levin of her misery.

Levin saw she was unhappy and tried to comfort her, saying that
it showed nothing bad, that all children fight; but, even as he
said it, he was thinking in his heart: "No, I won't be
artificial and talk French with my children; but my children
won't be like that. All one has to do is not spoil children, not
to distort their nature, and they'll be delightful. No, my
children won't be like that."

He said good-bye and drove away, and she did not try to keep him.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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