Part 11 out of 22
guessed that something was wrong between the husband and wife.
That was one disagreeable thing. The other slightly disagreeable
fact was that the new head of his department, like all new heads,
had the reputation already of a terrible person, who got up at
six o'clock in the morning, worked like a horse, and insisted on
his subordinates working in the same way. Moreover, this new
head had the further reputation of being a bear in his manners,
and was, according to all reports, a man of a class in all
respects the opposite of that to which his predecessor had
belonged, and to which Stepan Arkadyevitch had hitherto belonged
himself. On the previous day Stepan Arkadyevitch had appeared at
the office in a uniform, and the new chief had been very affable
and had talked to him as to an acquaintance. Consequently Stepan
Arkadyevitch deemed it his duty to call upon him in his
non-official dress. The thought that the new chief might not
tender him a warm reception was the other unpleasant thing. But
Stepan Arkadyevitch instinctively felt that everything would come
round all right. "They're all people, all men, like us poor
sinners; why be nasty and quarrelsome?" he thought as he went
into the hotel.
"Good-day, Vassily," he said, walking into the corridor with his
hat cocked on one side, and addressing a footman he knew; "why,
you've let your whiskers grow! Levin, number seven, eh? Take me
up, please. And find out whether Count Anitchkin" (this was the
new head) "is receiving."
"Yes, sir," Vassily responded, smiling. "You've not been to see
us for a long while."
"I was here yesterday, but at the other entrance. Is this
Levin was standing with a peasant from Tver in the middle of the
room, measuring a fresh bearskin, when Stepan Arkadyevitch went
"What! you killed him?" cried Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Well done!
A she-bear? How are you, Arhip!"
He shook hands with the peasant and sat down on the edge of a
chair, without taking off his coat and hat.
"Come, take off your coat and stay a little," said Levin, taking
"No, I haven't time; I've only looked in for a tiny second,"
answered Stepan Arkadyevitch. He threw open his coat, but
afterwards did take it off, and sat on for a whole hour, talking
to Levin about hunting and the most intimate subjects.
"Come, tell me, please, what you did abroad? Where have you
been?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, when the peasant had gone.
"Oh, I stayed in Germany, in Prussia, in France, and in England--
not in the capitals, but in the manufacturing towns, and saw a
great deal that was new to me. And I'm glad I went."
"Yes, I knew your idea of the solution of the labor question."
"Not a bit: in Russia there can be no labor question. In Russia
the question is that of the relation of the working people to the
land; though the question exists there too--but there it's a
matter of repairing what's been ruined, while with us..."
Stepan Arkadyevitch listened attentively to Levin.
"Yes, yes!" he said, "it's very possible you're right. But I'm
glad you're in good spirits, and are hunting bears, and working,
and interested. Shtcherbatsky told me another story--he met
you--that you were in such a depressed state, talking of nothing
"Well, what of it? I've not given up thinking of death," said
Levin. "It's true that it's high time I was dead; and that all
this is nonsense. It's the truth I'm telling you. I do value
my idea and my work awfully; but in reality only consider this:
all this world of ours is nothing but a speck of mildew, which
has grown up on a tiny planet. And for us to suppose we can have
something great--ideas, work--it's all dust and ashes."
"But all that's as old as the hills, my boy!"
"It is old; but do you know, when you grasp this fully, then
somehow everything becomes of no consequence. When you
understand that you will die tomorrow, if not today, and nothing
will be left, then everything is so unimportant! And I consider
my idea very important, but it turns out really to be as
unimportant too, even if it were carried out, as doing for that
bear. So one goes on living, amusing oneself with hunting, with
work--anything so as not to think of death!"
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled a subtle affectionate smile as he
listened to Levin.
"Well, of course! Here you've come round to my point. Do you
remember you attacked me for seeking enjoyment in life? Don't be
so severe, O moralist!"
"No; all the same, what's fine in life is..." Levin hesitated--
"oh, I don't know. All I know is that we shall soon be dead."
"Why so soon?"
"And do you know, there's less charm in life, when one thinks of
death, but there's more peace."
"On the contrary, the finish is always the best. But I must be
going," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, getting up for the tenth time.
"Oh, no, stay a bit!" said Levin, keeping him. "Now, when shall
we see each other again? I'm going tomorrow."
"I'm a nice person! Why, that's just what I came for! You simply
must come to dinner with us today. Your brother's coming, and
Karenin, my brother-in-law."
"You don't mean to say he's here?" said Levin, and he wanted to
inquire about Kitty. He had heard at the beginning of the winter
that she was at Petersburg with her sister, the wife of the
diplomat, and he did not know whether she had come back or not;
but he changed his mind and did not ask. "Whether she's coming
or not, I don't care," he said to himself.
"So you'll come?"
"At five o'clock, then, and not evening dress."
And Stepan Arkadyevitch got up and went down below to the new
head of his department. Istinct had not misled Stepan
Arkadyevitch. The terrible new head turned out to be an
extremely amenable person, and Stepan Arkadyevitch lunched with
him and stayed on, so that it was four o'clock before he got to
Alexey Alexandrovitch, on coming back from church service, had
spent the whole morning indoors. He had two pieces of business
before him that morning; first, to receive and send on a
deputation from the native tribes which was on its way to
Petersburg, and now at Moscow; secondly, to write the promised
letter to the lawyer. The deputation, though it had been
summoned at Alexey Alexandrovitch's instigation, was not without
its discomforting and even dangerous aspect, and he was glad he
had found it in Moscow. The members of this deputation had not
the slightest conception of their duty and the part they were to
play. They naively believed that it was their business to lay
before the commission their needs and the actual condition of
things, and to ask assistance of the government, and utterly
failed to grasp that some of their statements and requests
supported the contention of the enemy's side, and so spoiled the
whole business. Alexey Alexandrovitch was busily engaged with
them for a long while, drew up a program for them from which they
were not to depart, and on dismissing them wrote a letter to
Petersburg for the guidance of the deputation. He had his chief
support in this affair in the Countess Lidia Ivanovna. She was a
specialist in the matter of deputations, and no one knew better
than she how to manage them, and put them in the way they should
go. Having completed this task, Alexey Alexandrovitch wrote the
letter to the lawyer. Without the slightest hesitation he gave
him permission to act as he might judge best. In the letter he
enclosed three of Vronsky's notes to Anna, which were in the
portfolio he had taken away.
Since Alexey Alexandrovitch had left home with the intention of
not returning to his family again, and since he had been at the
lawyer's and had spoken, though only to one man, of his
intention, since especially he had translated the matter from the
world of real life to the world of ink and paper, he had grown
more and more used to his own intention, and by now distinctly
perceived the feasibility of its execution.
He was sealing the envelope to the lawyer, when he heard the loud
tones of Stepan Arkadyevitch's voice. Stepan Arkadyevitch was
disputing with Alexey Alexandrovitch's servant, and insisting on
"No matter," thought Alexey Alexandrovitch, "so much the better.
I will inform him at once of my position in regard to his
sister, and explain why it is I can't dine with him."
"Come in!" he said aloud, collecting his papers, and putting them
in the blotting-paper.
"There, you see, you're talking nonsense, and he's at home!"
responded Stepan Arkadyevitch's voice, addressing the servant,
who had refused to let him in, and taking off his coat as he
went, Oblonsky walked into the room. "Well, I'm awfully glad
I've found you! So I hope..." Stepan Arkadyevitch began
"I cannot come," Alexey Alexandrovitch said coldly, standing and
not asking his visitor to sit down.
Alexey Alexandrovitch had thought to pass at once into those
frigid relations in which he ought to stand with the brother of a
wife against whom he was beginning a suit for divorce. But he
had not taken into account the ocean of kindliness brimming over
in the heart of Stepan Arkadyevitch.
Stepan Arkadyevitch opened wide his clear, shining eyes.
"Why can't you? What do you mean?" he asked in perplexity,
speaking in French. "Oh, but it's a promise. And we're all
counting on you."
"I want to tell you that I can't dine at your house, because the
terms of relationship which have existed between us must cease."
"How? How do you mean? What for?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch with
"Because I am beginning an action for divorce against your
sister, my wife. I ought to have..."
But, before Alexey Alexandrovitch had time to finish his
sentence, Stepan Arkadyevitch was behaving not at all as he had
expected. He groaned and sank into an armchair.
"No, Alexey Alexandrovitch! What are you saying?" cried
Oblonsky, and his suffering was apparent in his face.
"It is so."
"Excuse me, I can't, I can't believe it!"
Alexey Alexandrovitch sat down, feeling that his words had not
had the effect he anticipated, and that it would be unavoidable
for him to explain his position, and that, whatever explanations
he might make, his relations with his brother-in-law would remain
"Yes, I am brought to the painful necessity of seeking a
divorce," he said.
"I will say one thing, Alexey Alexandrovitch. I know you for an
excellent, upright man; I know Anna--excuse me, I can't change my
opinion of her--for a good, an excellent woman; and so, excuse
me, I cannot believe it. There is some misunderstanding," said
"Oh, if it were merely a misunderstanding!..."
"Pardon, I understand," interposed Stepan Arkadyevitch. "But of
course.... One thing: you must not act in haste. You must not,
you must not act in haste!"
"I am not acting in haste," Alexey Alexandrovitch said coldly,
"but one cannot ask advice of anyone in such a matter. I have
quite made up my mind.
"This is awful!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "I would do one
thing, Alexey Alexandrovitch. I beseech you, do it!" he said.
"No action has yet been taken, if I understand rightly. Before
you take advice, see my wife, talk to her. She loves Anna like a
sister, she loves you, and she's a wonderful woman. For God's
sake, talk to her! Do me that favor, I beseech you!"
Alexey Alexandrovitch pondered, and Stepan Arkadyevitch looked at
him sympathetically, without interrupting his silence.
"You will go to see her?"
"I don't know. That was just why I have not been to see you. I
imagine our relations must change."
"Why so? I don't see that. Allow me to believe that apart from
our connection you have for me, at least in part, the same
friendly feeling I have always had for you...and sincere esteem,"
said Stepan Arkadyevitch, pressing his hand. "Even if your worst
suppositions were correct, I don't--and never would--take on
myself to judge either side, and I see no reason why our
relations should be affected. But now, do this, come and see my
"Well, we look at the matter differently," said Alexey
Alexandrovitch coldly. "However, we won't discuss it."
"No; why shouldn't you come today to dine, anyway? My wife's
expecting you. Please, do come. And, above all, talk it over
with her. She's a wonderful woman. For God's sake, on my knees,
I implore you!"
"If you so much wish it, I will come," said Alexey
And, anxious to change the conversation, he inquired about what
interested them both--the new head of Stepan Arkadyevitch's
department, a man not yet old, who had suddenly been promoted to
so high a position.
Alexey Alexandrovitch had previously felt no liking for Count
Anitchkin, and had always differed from him in his opinions. But
now, from a feeling readily comprehensible to officials--that
hatred felt by one who has suffered a defeat in the service for
one who has received a promotion, he could not endure him.
"Well, have you seen him?" said Alexey Alexandrovitch with a
"Of course; he was at our sitting yesterday. He seems to know
his work capitally, and to be very energetic."
"Yes, but what is his energy directed to?" said Alexey
Alexandrovitch. "Is he aiming at doing anything, or simply
undoing what's been done? It's the great misfortune of our
government--this paper administration, of which he's a worthy
"Really, I don't know what fault one could find with him. His
policy I don't know, but one thing--he's a very nice fellow,"
answered Stepan Arkadyevitch. "I've just been seeing him, and
he's really a capital fellow. We lunched together, and I taught
him how to make, you know that drink, wine and oranges. It's so
cooling. And it's a wonder he didn't know it. He liked it
awfully. No, really he's a capital fellow."
Stepan Arkadyevitch glanced at his watch.
"Why, good heavens, it's four already, and I've still to go to
Dolgovushin's! So please come round to dinner. You can't
imagine how you will grieve my wife and me."
The way in which Alexey Alexandrovitch saw his brother-in-law out
was very different from the manner in which he had met him.
"I've promised, and I'll come," he answered wearily.
"Believe me, I appreciate it, and I hope you won't regret it,"
answered Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling.
And, putting on his coat as he went, he patted the footman on the
head, chuckled, and went out.
"At five o'clock, and not evening dress, please," he shouted once
more, turning at the door.
It was past five, and several guests had already arrived, before
the host himself got home. He went in together with Sergey
Ivanovitch Koznishev and Pestsov, who had reached the street door
at the same moment. These were the two leading representatives
of the Moscow intellectuals, as Oblonsky had called them. Both
were men respected for their character and their intelligence.
They respected each other, but were in complete and hopeless
disagreement upon almost every subject, not because they belonged
to opposite parties, but precisely because they were of the same
party (their enemies refused to see any distinction between their
views); but, in that party, each had his own special shade of
opinion. And since no difference is less easily overcome than
the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions, they
never agreed in any opinion, and had long, indeed, been
accustomed to jeer without anger, each at the other's
They were just going in at the door, talking of the weather, when
Stepan Arkadyevitch overtook them. In the drawing room there
were already sitting Prince Alexander Dmitrievitch Shtcherbatsky,
young Shtcherbatsky, Turovtsin, Kitty, and Karenin.
Stepan Arkadyevitch saw immediately that things were not going
well in the drawing-room without him. Darya Alexandrovna, in her
best gray silk gown, obviously worried about the children, who
were to have their dinner by themselves in the nursery, and by
her husband's absence, was not equal to the task of making the
party mix without him. All were sitting like so many priests'
wives on a visit (so the old prince expressed it), obviously
wondering why they were there, and pumping up remarks simply to
avoid being silent. Turovtsin--good, simple man--felt
unmistakably a fish out of water, and the smile with which his
thick lips greeted Stepan Arkadyevitch said, as plainly as words:
"Well, old boy, you have popped me down in a learned set! A
drinking party now, or the Chateau des Fleurs, would be more in
my line!" The old prince sat in silence, his bright little eyes
watching Karenin from one side, and Stepan Arkadyevitch saw that
he had already formed a phrase to sum up that politician of whom
guests were invited to partake as though he were a sturgeon.
Kitty was looking at the door, calling up all her energies to
keep her from blushing at the entrance of Konstantin Levin.
Young Shtcherbatsky, who had not been introduced to Karenin, was
trying to look as though he were not in the least conscious of
it. Karenin himself had followed the Petersburg fashion for a
dinner with ladies and was wearing evening dress and a white tie.
Stepan Arkadyevitch saw by his face that he had come simply to
keep his promise, and was performing a disagreeable duty in being
present at this gathering. He was indeed the person chiefly
responsible for the chill benumbing all the guests before Stepan
Arkadyevitch came in.
On entering the drawing room Stepan Arkadyevitch apologized,
explaining that he had been detained by that prince, who was
always the scapegoat for all his absences and unpunctualities,
and in one moment he had made all the guests acquainted with each
other, and, bringing together Alexey Alexandrovitch and Sergey
Koznishev, started them on a discussion of the Russification of
Poland, into which they immediately plunged with Pestsov.
Slapping Turovtsin on the shoulder, he whispered something comic
in his ear, and set him down by his wife and the old prince.
Then he told Kitty she was looking very pretty that evening, and
presented Shtcherbatsky to Karenin. In a moment he had so
kneaded together the social dough that the drawing room became
very lively, and there was a merry buzz of voices. Konstantin
Levin was the only person who had not arrived. But this was so
much the better, as going into the dining room, Stepan
Arkadyevitch found to his horror that the port and sherry had
been procured from Depre, and not from Levy, and, directing that
the coachman should be sent off as speedily as possible to
Levy's, he was going back to the drawing room.
In the dining room he was met by Konstantin Levin.
"I'm not late?"
"You can never help being late!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, taking
"Have you a lot of people? Who's here?" asked Levin, unable to
help blushing, as he knocked the snow off his cap with his glove.
"All our own set. Kitty's here. Come along, I'll introduce you
Stepan Arkadyevitch, for all his liberal views, was well aware
that to meet Karenin was sure to be felt a flattering
distinction, and so treated his best friends to this honor. But
at that instant Konstantin Levin was not in a condition to feel
all the gratification of making such an acquaintance. He had not
seen Kitty since that memorable evening when he met Vronsky, not
counting, that is, the moment when he had had a glimpse of her on
the highroad. He had known at the bottom of his heart that he
would see her here today. But to keep his thoughts free, he had
tried to persuade himself that he did not know it. Now when he
heard that she was here, he was suddenly conscious of such
delight, and at the same time of such dread, that his breath
failed him and he could not utter what he wanted to say.
"What is she like, what is she like? Like what she used to be,
or like what she was in the carriage? What if Darya Alexandrovna
told the truth? Why shouldn't it be the truth?" he thought.
"Oh, please, introduce me to Karenin," he brought out with an
effort, and with a desperately determined step he walked into the
drawing room and beheld her.
She was not the same as she used to be, nor was she as she had
been in the carriage; she was quite different.
She was scared, shy, shame-faced, and still more charming from
it. She saw him the very instant he walked into the room. She
had been expecting him. She was delighted, and so confused at
her own delight that there was a moment, the moment when he went
up to her sister and glanced again at her, when she, and he, and
Dolly, who saw it all, thought she would break down and would
begin to cry. She crimsoned, turned white, crimsoned again, and
grew faint, waiting with quivering lips for him to come to her.
He went up to her, bowed, and held out his hand without speaking.
Except for the slight quiver of her lips and the moisture in her
eyes that made them brighter, her smile was almost calm as she
"How long it is since we've seen each other!" and with desperate
determination she pressed his hand with her cold hand.
"You've not seen me, but I've seen you," said Levin, with a
radiant smile of happiness. "I saw you when you were driving
from the railway station to Ergushovo."
"When?" she asked, wondering.
"You were driving to Ergushovo," said Levin, feeling as if he
would sob with the rapture that was flooding his heart. "And how
dared I associate a thought of anything not innocent with this
touching creature? And, yes, I do believe it's true what Darya
Alexandrovna told me," he thought.
Stepan Arkadyevitch took him by the arm and led him away to
"Let me introduce you." He mentioned their names.
"Very glad to meet you again," said Alexey Alexandrovitch coldly,
shaking hands with Levin.
"You are acquainted?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked in surprise.
"We spent three hours together in the train," said Levin smiling,
"but got out, just as in a masquerade, quite mystified--at least
"Nonsense! Come along, please," said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
pointing in the direction of the dining room.
The men went into the dining-room and went up to a table, laid
with six sorts of spirits and as many kinds of cheese, some with
little silver spades and some without, caviar, herrings,
preserves of various kinds, and plates with slices of French
The men stood round the strong-smelling spirits and salt
delicacies, and the discussion of the Russification of Poland
between Koznishev, Karenin, and Pestsov died down in anticipation
Sergey Ivanovitch was unequaled in his skill in winding up the
most heated and serious argument by some unexpected pinch of
Attic salt that changed the disposition of his opponent. He did
Alexey Alexandrovitch had been maintaining that the Russification
of Poland could only be accomplished as a result of larger
measures which ought to be introduced by the Russian government.
Pestsov insisted that one country can only absorb another when it
is the more densely populated.
Koznishev admitted both points, but with limitations. As they
were going out of the drawing room to conclude the argument,
Koznishev said, smiling:
"So, then, for the Russification of our foreign populations there
is but one method--to bring up as many children as one can. My
brother and I are terribly in fault, I see. You married men,
especially you, Stepan Arkadyevitch, are the real patriots: what
number have you reached?" he said, smiling genially at their host
and holding out a tiny wine glass to him.
Everyone laughed, and Stepan Arkadyevitch with particular good
"Oh, yes, that's the best method!" he said, munching cheese and
filling the wine-glass with a special sort of spirit. The
conversation dropped at the jest.
"This cheese is not bad. Shall I give you some?" said the master
of the house. "Why, have you been going in for gymnastics
again?" he asked Levin, pinching his muscle with his left hand.
Levin smiled, bent his arm, and under Stepan Arkadyevitch's
fingers the muscles swelled up like a sound cheese, hard as a
knob of iron, through the fine cloth of the coat.
"What biceps! A perfect Samson!"
"I imagine great strength is needed for hunting bears," observed
Alexey Alexandrovitch, who had the mistiest notions about the
chase. He cut off and spread with cheese a wafer of bread fine
as a spider-web.
"Not at all. Quite the contrary; a child can kill a bear," he
said, with a slight bow moving aside for the ladies, who were
approaching the table.
"You have killed a bear, I've been told!" said Kitty, trying
assiduously to catch with her fork a perverse mushroom that would
slip away, and setting the lace quivering over her white arm.
"Are there bears on your place?" she added, turning her charming
little head to him and smiling.
There was apparently nothing extraordinary in what she said, but
what unutterable meaning there was for him in every sound, in
every turn of her lips, her eyes, her hand as she said it! There
was entreaty for forgiveness, and trust in him, and tenderness--
soft, timid tenderness--and promise and hope and love for him,
which he could not but believe in and which choked him with
"No, we've been hunting in the Tver province. It was coming back
from there that I met your beau-frere in the train, or your
beau-frere's brother-in-law," he said with a smile. "It was an
And he began telling with droll good-humor how, after not
sleeping all night, he had, wearing an old fur-lined,
full-skirted coat, got into Alexey Alexandrovitch's compartment.
"The conductor, forgetting the proverb, would have chucked me out
on account of my attire; but thereupon I began expressing my
feelings in elevated language, and...you, too," he said,
addressing Karenin and forgetting his name, "at first would have
ejected me on the ground of the old coat, but afterwards you took
my part, for which I am extremely grateful."
"The rights of passengers generally to choose their seats are too
ill-defined," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, rubbing the tips of his
fingers on his handkerchief.
"I saw you were in uncertainty about me," said Levin, smiling
good-naturedly, "but I made haste to plunge into intellectual
conversation to smooth over the defects of my attire."
Sergey Ivanovitch, while he kept up a conversation with their
hostess, had one ear for his brother, and he glanced askance at
him. "What is the matter with him today? Why such a conquering
hero?" he thought. He did not know that Levin was feeling as
though he had grown wings. Levin knew she was listening to his
words and that she was glad to listen to him. And this was the
only thing that interested him. Not in that room only, but in
the whole world, there existed for him only himself, with
enormously increased importance and dignity in his own eyes, and
she. He felt himself on a pinnacle that made him giddy, and far
away down below were all those nice excellent Karenins,
Oblonskys, and all the world.
Quite without attracting notice, without glancing at them, as
though there were no other places left, Stepan Arkadyevitch put
Levin and Kitty side by side.
"Oh, you may as well sit there," he said to Levin.
The dinner was as choice as the china, in which Stepan
Arkadyevitch was a connoisseur. The soupe Marie-Louise was a
splendid success; the tiny pies eaten with it melted in the mouth
and were irreproachable. The two footmen and Matvey, in white
cravats, did their duty with the dishes and wines unobtrusively,
quietly, and swiftly. On the material side the dinner was a
success; it was no less so on the immaterial. The conversation,
at times general and at times between individuals, never paused,
and towards the end the company was so lively that the men rose
from the table, without stopping speaking, and even Alexey
Pestsov liked thrashing an argument out to the end, and was not
satisfied with Sergey Ivanovitch's words, especially as he felt
the injustice of his view.
"I did not mean," he said over the soup, addressing Alexey
Alexandrovitch, "mere density of population alone, but in
conjunction with fundamental ideas, and not by means of
"It seems to me," Alexey Alexandrovitch said languidly, and with
no haste, "that that's the same thing. In my opinion, influence
over another people is only possible to the people which has the
higher development, which..."
"But that's just the question," Pestsov broke in in his bass.
He was always in a hurry to speak, and seemed always to put his
whole soul into what he was saying. "In what are we to make
higher development consist? The English, the French, the
Germans, which is at the highest stage of development? Which of
them will nationalize the other? We see the Rhine provinces have
been turned French, but the Germans are not at a lower stage!" he
shouted. "There is another law at work there."
"I fancy that the greater influence is always on the side of true
civilization," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, slightly lifting his
"But what are we to lay down as the outward signs of true
civilization?" said Pestsov.
"I imagine such signs are generally very well known," said Alexey
"But are they fully known?" Sergey Ivanovitch put in with a
subtle smile. "It is the accepted view now that real culture
must be purely classical; but we see most intense disputes on
each side of the question, and there is no denying that the
opposite camp has strong points in its favor."
"You are for classics, Sergey Ivanovitch. Will you take red
wine?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"I am not expressing my own opinion of either form of culture,"
Sergey Ivanovitch said, holding out his glass with a smile of
condescension, as to a child. "I only say that both sides have
strong arguments to support them," he went on, addressing Alexey
Alexandrovitch. "My sympathies are classical from education, but
in this discussion I am personally unable to arrive at a
conclusion. I see no distinct grounds for classical studies
being given a preeminence over scientific studies."
"The natural sciences have just as great an educational value,"
put in Pestsov. "Take astronomy, take botany, or zoology with
its system of general principles."
"I cannot quite agree with that," responded Alexey Alexandrovitch
"It seems to me that one must admit that the very process of
studying the forms of language has a peculiarly favorable
influence on intellectual development. Moreover, it cannot be
denied that the influence of the classical authors is in the
highest degree moral, while, unfortunately, with the study of the
natural sciences are associated the false and noxious doctrines
which are the curse of our day."
Sergey Ivanovitch would have said something, but Pestsov
interrupted him in his rich bass. He began warmly contesting the
justice of this view. Sergey Ivanovitch waited serenely to
speak, obviously with a convincing reply ready.
"But," said Sergey Ivanovitch, smiling subtly, and addressing
Karenin, "One must allow that to weigh all the advantages and
disadvantages of classical and scientific studies is a difficult
task, and the question which form of education was to be
preferred would not have been so quickly and conclusively decided
if there had not been in favor of classical education, as you
expressed it just now, its moral--disons le mot--anti-nihilist
"If it had not been for the distinctive property of
anti-nihilistic influence on the side of classical studies, we
should have considered the subject more, have weighed the
arguments on both sides," said Sergey Ivanovitch with a subtle
smile, "we should have given elbow-room to both tendencies. But
now we know that these little pills of classical learning possess
the medicinal property of anti-nihilism, and we boldly prescribe
them to our patients.... But what if they had no such medicinal
property?" he wound up humorously.
At Sergey Ivanovitch's little pills, everyone laughed; Turovtsin
in especial roared loudly and jovially, glad at last to have
found something to laugh at, all he ever looked for in listening
Stepan Arkadyevitch had not made a mistake in inviting Pestsov.
With Pestsov intellectual conversation never flagged for an
instant. Directly Sergey Ivanovitch had concluded the
conversation with his jest, Pestsov promptly started a new one.
"I can't agree even," said he, "that the government had that aim.
The government obviously is guided by abstract considerations,
and remains indifferent to the influence its measures may
exercise. The education of women, for instance, would naturally
be regarded as likely to be harmful, but the government opens
schools and universities for women."
And the conversation at once passed to the new subject of the
education of women.
Alexey Alexandrovitch expressed the idea that the education of
women is apt to be confounded with the emancipation of women, and
that it is only so that it can be considered dangerous.
"I consider, on the contrary, that the two questions are
inseparably connected together," said Pestsov; "it is a vicious
circle. Woman is deprived of rights from lack of education, and
the lack of education results from the absence of rights. We
must not forget that the subjection of women is so complete, and
dates from such ages back that we are often unwilling to
recognize the gulf that separates them from us," said he.
"You said rights," said Sergey Ivanovitch, waiting till Pestsov
had finished, "meaning the right of sitting on juries, of voting,
of presiding at official meetings, the right of entering the
civil service, of sitting in parliament..."
"But if women, as a rare exception, can occupy such positions, it
seems to me you are wrong in using the expression 'rights.' It
would be more correct to say duties. Every man will agree that
in doing the duty of a juryman, a witness, a telegraph clerk, we
feel we are performing duties. And therefore it would be correct
to say that women are seeking duties, and quite legitimately.
And one can but sympathize with this desire to assist in the
general labor of man."
"Quite so," Alexey Alexandrovitch assented. "The question, I
imagine, is simply whether they are fitted for such duties."
"They will most likely be perfectly fitted," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, "when education has become general among them. We
"How about the proverb?" said the prince, who had a long while
been intent on the conversation, his little comical eyes
twinkling. "I can say it before my daughter: her hair is long,
because her wit is..."
"Just what they thought of the negroes before their
emancipation!" said Pestsov angrily.
"What seems strange to me is that women should seek fresh
duties," said Sergey Ivanovitch, "while we see, unhappily, that
men usually try to avoid them."
"Duties are bound up with rights--power, money, honor; those are
what women are seeking," said Pestsov.
"Just as though I should seek the right to be a wet-nurse and
feel injured because women are paid for the work, while no one
will take me," said the old prince.
Turovtsin exploded in a loud roar of laughter and Sergey
Ivanovitch regretted that he had not made this comparison. Even
Alexey Alexandrovitch smiled.
"Yes, but a man can't nurse a baby," said Pestsov, "while a
"No, there was an Englishman who did suckle his baby on board
ship," said the old prince, feeling this freedom in conversation
permissible before his own daughters.
"There are as many such Englishmen as there would be women
officials," said Sergey Ivanovitch.
"Yes, but what is a girl to do who has no family?" put in Stepan
Arkadyevitch, thinking of Masha Tchibisova, whom he had had in
his mind all along, in sympathizing with Pestsov and supporting
"If the story of such a girl were thoroughly sifted, you would
find she had abandoned a family--her own or a sister's, where she
might have found a woman's duties," Darya Alexandrovna broke in
unexpectedly in a tone of exasperation, probably suspecting what
sort of girl Stepan Arkadyevitch was thinking of.
"But we take our stand on principle as the ideal," replied
Pestsov in his mellow bass. "Woman desires to have rights, to be
independent, educated. She is oppressed, humiliated by the
consciousness of her disabilities."
"And I'm oppressed and humiliated that they won't engage me at
the Foundling," the old prince said again, to the huge delight of
Turovtsin, who in his mirth dropped his asparagus with the thick
end in the sauce.
Everyone took part in the conversation except Kitty and Levin.
At first, when they were talking of the influence that one people
has on another, there rose to Levin's mind what he had to say on
the subject. But these ideas, once of such importance in his
eyes, seemed to come into his brain as in a dream, and had now
not the slightest interest for him. It even struck him as
strange that they should be so eager to talk of what was of no
use to anyone. Kitty, too, should, one would have supposed, have
been interested in what they were saying of the rights and
education of women. How often she had mused on the subject,
thinking of her friend abroad, Varenka, of her painful state of
dependence, how often she had wondered about herself what would
become of her if she did not marry, and how often she had argued
with her sister about it! But it did not interest her at all.
She and Levin had a conversation of their own, yet not a
conversation, but some sort of mysterious communication, which
brought them every moment nearer, and stirred in both a sense of
glad terror before the unknown into which they were entering.
At first Levin, in answer to Kitty's question how he could have
seen her last year in the carriage, told her how he had been
coming home from the mowing along the highroad and had met her.
"It was very, very early in the morning. You were probably only
just awake. Your mother was asleep in the corner. It was an
exquisite morning. I was walking along wondering who it could be
in a four-in-hand? It was a splendid set of four horses with
bells, and in a second you flashed by, and I saw you at the
window--you were sitting like this, holding the strings of your
cap in both hands, and thinking awfully deeply about something,"
he said, smiling. "How I should like to know what you were
thinking about then! Something important?"
"Wasn't I dreadfully untidy?" she wondered, but seeing the smile
of ecstasy these reminiscences called up, she felt that the
impression she had made had been very good. She blushed and
laughed with delight; "Really I don't remember."
"How nicely Turovtsin laughs!" said Levin, admiring his moist
eyes and shaking chest.
"Have you known him longs" asked Kitty.
"Oh, everyone knows him!"
"And I see you think he's a horrid man?"
"Not horrid, but nothing in him."
"Oh, you're wrong! And you must give up thinking so directly!"
said Kitty. "I used to have a very poor opinion of him too, but
he, he's an awfully nice and wonderfully good-hearted man. He
has a heart of gold."
"How could you find out what sort of heart he has?"
"We are great friends. I know him very well. Last winter, soon
after...you came to see us," she said, with a guilty and at
the same time confiding smile, "all Dolly's children had scarlet
fever, and he happened to come and see her. And only fancy," she
said in a whisper, "he felt so sorry for her that he stayed and
began to help her look after the children. Yes, and for three
weeks he stopped with them, and looked after the children like a
"I am telling Konstantin Dmitrievitch about Turovtsin in the
scarlet fever," she said, bending over to her sister.
"Yes, it was wonderful, noble!" said Dolly, glancing towards
Turovtsin, who had become aware they were talking of him, and
smiling gently to him. Levin glanced once more at Turovtsin, and
wondered how it was he had not realized all this man's goodness
"I'm sorry, I'm sorry, and I'll never think ill of people again!"
he said gaily, genuinely expressing what he felt at the moment.
Connected with the conversation that had sprung up on the rights
of women there were certain questions as to the inequality of
rights in marriage improper to discuss before the ladies.
Pestsov had several times during dinner touched upon these
questions, but Sergey Ivanovitch and Stepan Arkadyevitch
carefully drew him off them.
When they rose from the table and the ladies had gone out,
Pestsov did not follow them, but addressing Alexey
Alexandrovitch, began to expound the chief ground of inequality.
The inequality in marriage, in his opinion, lay in the fact that
the infidelity of the wife and infidelity of the husband are
punished unequally, both by the law and by public opinion.
Stepan Arkadyevitch went hurriedly up to Alexey Alexandrovitch
and offered him a cigar.
"No, I don't smoke," Alexey Alexandrovitch answered calmly, and
as though purposely wishing to show that he was not afraid of the
subject, he turned to Pestsov with a chilly smile.
"I imagine that such a view has a foundation in the very nature
of things," he said, and would have gone on to the drawing room.
But at this point Turovtsin broke suddenly and unexpectedly into
the conversation, addressing Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"You heard, perhaps, about Pryatchnikov?" said Turovtsin, warmed
up by the champagne he had drunk, and long waiting for an
opportunity to break the silence that had weighed on him. "Vasya
Pryatchnikov," he said, with a good-natured smile on his damp,
red lips, addressing himself principally to the most important
guest, Alexey Alexandrovitch, "they told me today he fought a
duel with Kvitsky at Tver, and has killed him."
Just as it always seems that one bruises oneself on a sore place,
so Stepan Arkadyevitch felt now that the conversation would by
ill luck fall every moment on Alexey Alexandrovitch's sore spot.
He would again have got his brother-in-law away, but Alexey
Alexandrovitch himself inquired, with curiosity:
"What did Pryatchnikov fight about?"
"His wife. Acted like a man, he did! Called him out and shot
"Ah!" said Alexey Alexandrovitch indifferently, and lifting his
eyebrows, he went into the drawing room.
"How glad I am you have come," Dolly said with a frightened
smile, meeting him in the outer drawing room. "I must talk to
you. Let's sit here."
Alexey Alexandrovitch, with the same expression of indifference,
given him by his lifted eyebrows, sat down beside Darya
Alexandrovna, and smiled affectedly.
"It's fortunate," said he, "especially as I was meaning to ask
you to excuse me, and to be taking leave. I have to start
Darya Alexandrovna was firmly convinced of Anna's innocence, and
she felt herself growing pale and her lips quivering with anger
at this frigid, unfeeling man, who was so calmly intending to
ruin her innocent friend.
"Alexey Alexandrovitch," she said, with desperate resolution
looking him in the face, "I asked you about Anna, you made me no
answer. How is she?"
"She is, I believe, quite well, Darya Alexandrovna," replied
Alexey Alexandrovitch, not looking at her.
"Alexey Alexandrovitch, forgive me, I have no right...but I
love Anna as a sister, and esteem her; I beg, I beseech you to
tell me what is wrong between you? what fault do you find with
Alexey Alexandrovitch frowned, and almost closing his eyes,
dropped his head.
"I presume that your husband has told you the grounds on which I
consider it necessary to change my attitude to Anna Arkadyevna?"
he said, not looking her in the face, but eyeing with displeasure
Shtcherbatsky, who was walking across the drawing room.
"I don't believe it, I don't believe it, I can't believe it!"
Dolly said, clasping her bony hands before her with a vigorous
gesture. She rose quickly, and laid her hand on Alexey
Alexandrovitch's sleeve. "We shall be disturbed here. Come this
Dolly's agitation had an effect on Alexey Alexandrovitch. He got
up and submissively followed her to the schoolroom. They sat
down to a table covered with an oilcloth cut in slits by
"I don't, I don't believe it!" Dolly said, trying to catch his
glance that avoided her.
"One cannot disbelieve facts, Darya Alexandrovna," said he, with
an emphasis on the word "facts."
"But what has she done?" said Darya Alexandrovna. "What
precisely has she done?"
"She has forsaken her duty, and deceived her husband. That's
what she has done," said he.
"No, no, it can't be! No, for God's sake, you are mistaken,"
said Dolly, putting her hands to her temples and closing her
Alexey Alexandrovitch smiled coldly, with his lips alone, meaning
to signify to her and himself the firmness of his conviction; but
this warm defense, though it could not shake him, reopened his
wound. He began to speak with greater heat.
"It is extremely difficult to be mistaken when a wife herself
informs her husband of the fact--informs him that eight years of
her life, and a son, all that's a mistake, and that she wants to
begin life again," he said angrily, with a snort.
"Anna and sin--I cannot connect them, I cannot believe it!"
"Darya Alexandrovna," he said, now looking straight into Dolly's
kindly, troubled face, and feeling that his tongue was being
loosened in spite of himself, "I would give a great deal for
doubt to be still possible. When I doubted, I was miserable, but
it was better than now. When I doubted, I had hope; but now
there is no hope, and still I doubt of everything. I am in such
doubt of everything that I even hate my son, and sometimes do not
believe he is my son. I am very unhappy."
He had no need to say that. Darya Alexandrovna had seen that as
soon as he glanced into her face; and she felt sorry for him, and
her faith in the innocence of her friend began to totter.
"Oh, this is awful, awful! But can it be true that you are
resolved on a divorce?"
"I am resolved on extreme measures. There is nothing else for me
"Nothing else to do, nothing else to do..." she replied, with
tears in her eyes. "Oh no, don't say nothing else to do!" she
"What is horrible in a trouble of this kind is that one cannot,
as in any other--in loss, in death--bear one's trouble in peace,
but that one must act," said he, as though guessing her thought.
"One must get out of the humiliating position in which one is
placed; one can't live a trois."
"I understand, I quite understand that," said Dolly, and her head
sank. She was silent for a little, thinking of herself, of her
own grief in her family, and all at once, with an impulsive
movement, she raised her head and clasped her hands with an
imploring gesture. "But wait a little! You are a Christian.
Think of her! What will become of her, if you cast her off?"
"I have thought, Darya Alexandrovna, I have thought a great
deal," said Alexey Alexandrovitch. His face turned red in
patches, and his dim eyes looked straight before him. Darya
Alexandrovna at that moment pitied him with all her heart. "That
was what I did indeed when she herself made known to me my
humiliation; I left everything as of old. I gave her a chance to
reform, I tried to save her. And with what result? She would
not regard the slightest request--that she should observe
decorum," he said, getting heated. "One may save anyone who does
not want to be ruined; but if the whole nature is so corrupt, so
depraved, that ruin itself seems to be her salvation, what's to
"Anything, only not divorce!" answered Darya Alexandrovna
"But what is anything?"
"No, it is awful! She will be no one's wife, she will be lost!"
"What can I do?" said Alexey Alexandrovitch, raising his
shoulders and his eyebrows. The recollection of his wife's last
act had so incensed him that he had become frigid, as at the
beginning of the conversation. "I am very grateful for your
sympathy, but I must be going," he said, getting up.
"No, wait a minute. You must not ruin her. Wait a little; I
will tell you about myself. I was married, and my husband
deceived me; in anger and jealousy, I would have thrown up
everything, I would myself.... But I came to myself again; and
who did it? Anna saved me. And here I am living on. The
children are growing up, my husband has come back to his family,
and feels his fault, is growing purer, better, and I live on....
I have forgiven it, and you ought to forgive!"
Alexey Alexandrovitch heard her, but her words had no effect on
him now. All the hatred of that day when he had resolved on a
divorce had sprung up again in his soul. He shook himself, and
said in a shrill, loud voice:
"Forgive I cannot, and do not wish to, and I regard it as wrong.
I have done everything for this woman, and she has trodden it all
in the mud to which she is akin. I am not a spiteful man, I have
never hated anyone, but I hate her with my whole soul, and I
cannot even forgive her, because I hate her too much for all the
wrong she has done me!" he said, with tones of hatred in his
"Love those that hate you...." Darya Alexandrovna whispered
Alexey Alexandrovitch smiled contemptuously. That he knew long
ago, but it could not be applied to his case.
"Love those that hate you, but to love those one hates is
impossible. Forgive me for having troubled you. Everyone has
enough to bear in his own grief!" And regaining his
self-possession, Alexey Alexandrovitch quietly took leave and
When they rose from table, Levin would have liked to follow Kitty
into the drawing room; but he was afraid she might dislike this,
as too obviously paying her attention. He remained in the little
ring of men, taking part in the general conversation, and without
looking at Kitty, he was aware of her movements, her looks, and
the place where she was in the drawing room.
He did at once, and without the smallest effort, keep the promise
he had made her--always to think well of all men, and to like
everyone always. The conversation fell on the village commune,
in which Pestsov saw a sort of special principle, called by him
the choral principle. Levin did not agree with Pestsov, nor with
his brother, who had a special attitude of his own, both
admitting and not admitting the significance of the Russian
commune. But he talked to them, simply trying to reconcile and
soften their differences. He was not in the least interested in
what he said himself, and even less so in what they said; all he
wanted was that they and everyone should be happy and contented.
He knew now the one thing of importance; and that one thing was
at first there, in the drawing room, and then began moving across
and came to a standstill at the door. Without turning round he
felt the eyes fixed on him, and the smile, and he could not help
turning round. She was standing in the doorway with
Shtcherbatsky, looking at him.
"I thought you were going towards the piano," said he, going up
to her. "That's something I miss in the country--music."
"No; we only came to fetch you and thank you," she said,
rewarding him with a smile that was like a gift, "for coming.
What do they want to argue for? No one ever convinces anyone,
"Yes; that's true," said Levin; "it generally happens that one
argues warmly simply because one can't make out what one's
opponent wants to prove."
Levin had often noticed in discussions between the most
intelligent people that after enormous efforts, and an enormous
expenditure of logical subtleties and words, the disputants
finally arrived at being aware that what they had so long been
struggling to prove to one another had long ago, from the
beginning of the argument, been known to both, but that they
liked different things, and would not define what they liked for
fear of its being attacked. He had often had the experience of
suddenly in a discussion grasping what it was his opponent liked
and at once liking it too, and immediately he found himself
agreeing, and then all arguments fell away as useless.
Sometimes, too, he had experienced the opposite, expressing at
last what he liked himself, which he was devising arguments to
defend, and, chancing to express it well and genuinely, he had
found his opponent at once agreeing and ceasing to dispute his
position. He tried to say this.
She knitted her brow, trying to understand. But directly he
began to illustrate his meaning, she understood at once.
"I know: one must find out what he is arguing for, what is
precious to him, then one can..."
She had completely guessed and expressed his badly expressed
idea. Levin smiled joyfully; he was struck by this transition
from the confused, verbose discussion with Pestsov and his
brother to this laconic, clear, almost wordless communication of
the most complex ideas.
Shtcherbatsky moved away from them, and Kitty, going up to a
card table, sat down, and, taking up the chalk, began drawing
diverging circles over the new green cloth.
They began again on the subject that had been started at dinner--
the liberty and occupations of women. Levin was of the opinion
of Darya Alexandrovna that a girl who did not marry should find a
woman's duties in a family. He supported this view by the fact
that no family can get on without women to help; that in every
family, poor or rich, there are and must be nurses, either
relations or hired.
"No," said Kitty, blushing, but looking at him all the more
boldly with her truthful eyes; "a girl may be so circumstanced
that she cannot live in the family without humiliation, while she
At the hint he understood her.
"Oh, yes," he said. "Yes, yes, yes--you're right; you're right!"
And he saw all that Pestsov had been maintaining at dinner of the
liberty of woman, simply from getting a glimpse of the terror of
an old maid's existence and its humiliation in Kitty's heart; and
loving her, he felt that terror and humiliation, and at once gave
up his arguments.
A silence followed. She was still drawing with the chalk on the
table. Her eyes were shining with a soft light. Under the
influence of her mood he felt in all his being a continually
growing tension of happiness.
"Ah! I've scribbled all over the table!" she said, and laying
down the chalk, she made a movement as though to get up.
"What! shall I be left alone--without her?" he thought with
horror, and he took the chalk. "Wait a minute," he said, sitting
down to the table. "I've long wanted to ask you one thing."
He looked straight into her caressing, though frightened eyes.
"Please, ask it."
"Here," he said; and he wrote the initial letters, w, y, t, m, i,
c, n, b, d, t, m, n, o, t. These letters meant, "When you told
me it could never be, did that mean never, or then?" There
seemed no likelihood that she could make out this complicated
sentence; but he looked at her as though his life depended on her
understanding the words. She glanced at him seriously, then
leaned her puckered brow on her hands and began to read. Once or
twice she stole a look at him, as though asking him, "Is it what
"I understand," she said, flushing a little.
"What is this word?" he said, pointing to the n that stood for
"It means NEVER," she said; "but that's not true!"
He quickly rubbed out what he had written, gave her the chalk,
and stood up. She wrote, t, i, c, n, a, d.
Dolly was completely comforted in the depression caused by her
conversation with Alexey Alexandrovitch when she caught sight of
the two figures: Kitty with the chalk in her hand, with a shy and
happy smile looking upwards at Levin, and his handsome figure
bending over the table with glowing eyes fastened one minute on
the table and the next on her. He was suddenly radiant: he had
understood. It meant, "Then I could not answer differently."
He glanced at her questioningly, timidly.
"Yes," her smile answered.
"And n...and now?" he asked.
"Well, read this. I'll tell you what I should like--should like
so much!" she wrote the initial letters, i, y, c, f, a, f, w, h.
This meant, "If you could forget and forgive what happened."
He snatched the chalk with nervous, trembling fingers, and
breaking it, wrote the initial letters of the following phrase,
"I have nothing to forget and to forgive; I have never ceased to
She glanced at him with a smile that did not waver.
"I understand," she said in a whisper.
He sat down and wrote a long phrase. She understood it all, and
without asking him, "Is it this?" took the chalk and at once
For a long while he could not understand what she had written,
and often looked into her eyes. He was stupefied with happiness.
He could not supply the word she had meant; but in her charming
eyes, beaming with happiness, he saw all he needed to know. And
he wrote three letters. But he had hardly finished writing when
she read them over her arm, and herself finished and wrote the
"You're playing secretaire?" said the old prince. "But we must
really be getting along if you want to be in time at the
Levin got up and escorted Kitty to the door.
In their conversation everything had been said; it had been said
that she loved him, and that she would tell her father and mother
that he would come tomorrow morning.
When Kitty had gone and Levin was left alone, he felt such
uneasiness without her and such an impatient longing to get as
quickly, as quickly as possible, to tomorrow morning, when he
would see her again and be plighted to her forever, that he felt
afraid, as though of death, of those fourteen hours that he had
to get through without her. It was essential for him to be with
someone to talk to, so as not to be left alone, to kill time.
Stepan Arkadyevitch would have been the companion most congenial
to him, but he was going out, he said, to a soiree, in reality to
the ballet. Levin only had time to tell him he was happy, and
that he loved him, and would never, never forget what he had done
for him. The eyes and the smile of Stepan Arkadyevitch showed
Levin that he comprehended that feeling fittingly.
"Oh, so it's not time to die yet?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
pressing Levin's hand with emotion.
"N-n-no!" said Levin.
Darya Alexandrovna too, as she said good-bye to him, gave him a
sort of congratulation, saying, "How glad I am you have met
Kitty again! One must value old friends." Levin did not like
these words of Darya Alexandrovna's. She could not understand
how lofty and beyond her it all was, and she ought not to have
dared to allude to it. Levin said good-bye to them, but, not to
be left alone, he attached himself to his brother.
"Where are you going?"
"I'm going to a meeting."
"Well, I'll come with you. May I?"
"What for? Yes, come along," said Sergey Ivanovitch, smiling.
"What is the matter with you today?"
"With me? Happiness is the matter with me!" said Levin, letting
down the window of the carriage they were driving in. "You don't
mind?--it's so stifling. It's happiness is the matter with me!
Why is it you have never married?"
Sergey Ivanovitch smiled.
"I am very glad, she seems a nice gi..." Sergey Ivanovitch was
"Don't say it! don't say it!" shouted Levin, clutching at the
collar of his fur coat with both hands, and muffling him up in
it. "She's a nice girl" were such simple, humble words, so out
of harmony with his feeling.
Sergey Ivanovitch laughed outright a merry laugh, which was rare
with him. "Well, anyway, I may say that I'm very glad of it."
"That you may do tomorrow, tomorrow and nothing more! Nothing,
nothing, silence," said Levin, and muffing him once more in his
fur coat, he added: "I do like you so! Well, is it possible for
me to be present at the meeting?"
"Of course it is."
"What is your discussion about today?" asked Levin, never ceasing
They arrived at the meeting. Levin heard the secretary
hesitatingly read the minutes which he obviously did not himself
understand; but Levin saw from this secretary's face what a good,
nice, kind-hearted person he was. This was evident from his
confusion and embarrassment in reading the minutes. Then the
discussion began. They were disputing about the misappropriation
of certain sums and the laying of certain pipes, and Sergey
Ivanovitch was very cutting to two members, and said something at
great length with an air of triumph; and another member,
scribbling something on a bit of paper, began timidly at first,
but afterwards answered him very viciously and delightfully. And
then Sviazhsky (he was there too) said something too, very
handsomely and nobly. Levin listened to them, and saw clearly
that these missing sums and these pipes were not anything real,
and that they were not at all angry, but were all the nicest,
kindest people, and everything was as happy and charming as
possible among them. They did no harm to anyone, and were all
enjoying it. What struck Levin was that he could see through
them all today, and from little, almost imperceptible signs knew
the soul of each, and saw distinctly that they were all good at
heart. And Levin himself in particular they were all extremely
fond of that day. That was evident from the way they spoke to
him, from the friendly, affectionate way even those he did not
know looked at him.
"Well, did you like it?" Sergey Ivanovitch asked him.
"Very much. I never supposed it was so interesting! Capital!
Sviazhsky went up to Levin and invited him to come round to tea
with him. Levin was utterly at a loss to comprehend or recall
what it was he had disliked in Sviazhsky, what he had failed to
find in him. He was a clever and wonderfully good-hearted man.
"Most delighted," he said, and asked after his wife and
sister-in-law. And from a queer association of ideas, because in
his imagination the idea of Sviazhsky's sister-in-law was
connected with marriage, it occurred to him that there was no one
to whom he could more suitably speak of his happiness, and he was
very glad to go and see them.
Sviazhsky questioned him about his improvements on his estate,
presupposing, as he always did, that there was no possibility of
doing anything not done already in Europe, and now this did not
in the least annoy Levin. On the contrary, he felt that
Sviazhsky was right, that the whole business was of little value,
and he saw the wonderful softness and consideration with which
Sviazhsky avoided fully expressing his correct view. The ladies
of the Sviazhsky household were particularly delightful. It
seemed to Levin that they knew all about it already and
sympathized with him, saying nothing merely from delicacy. He
stayed with them one hour, two, three, talking of all sorts of
subjects but the one thing that filled his heart, and did not
observe that he was boring them dreadfully, and that it was long
past their bedtime.
Sviazhsky went with him into the hall, yawning and wondering at
the strange humor his friend was in. It was past one o'clock.
Levin went back to his hotel, and was dismayed at the thought
that all alone now with his impatience he had ten hours still
left to get through. The servant, whose turn it was to be up all
night, lighted his candles, and would have gone away, but Levin
stopped him. This servant, Yegor, whom Levin had noticed before,
struck him as a very intelligent, excellent, and, above all,
"Well, Yegor, it's hard work not sleeping, isn't it?"
"One's got to put up with it! It's part of our work, you see.
In a gentleman's house it's easier; but then here one makes
It appeared that Yegor had a family, three boys and a daughter, a
sempstress, whom he wanted to marry to a cashier in a saddler's
Levin, on hearing this, informed Yegor that, in his opinion, in
marriage the great thing was love, and that with love one would
always be happy, for happiness rests only on oneself. Yegor
listened attentively, and obviously quite took in Levin's idea,
but by way of assent to it he enunciated, greatly to Levin's
surprise, the observation that when he had lived with good
masters he had always been satisfied with his masters, and now
was perfectly satisfied with his employer, though he was a
"Wonderfully good-hearted fellow!" thought Levin.
"Well, but you yourself, Yegor, when you got married, did you
love your wife?"
"Ay! and why not?" responded Yegor.
And Levin saw that Yegor too was in an excited state and
intending to express all his most heartfelt emotions.
"My life, too, has been a wonderful one. From a child up..." he
was beginning with flashing eyes, apparently catching Levin's
enthusiasm, just as people catch yawning.
But at that moment a ring was heard. Yegor departed, and Levin
was left alone. He had eaten scarcely anything at dinner, had
refused tea and supper at Sviazhsky's, but he was incapable of
thinking of supper. He had not slept the previous night, but was
incapable of thinking of sleep either. His room was cold, but he
was oppressed by heat. He opened both the movable panes in his
window and sat down to the table opposite the open panes. Over
the snow-covered roofs could be seen a decorated cross with
chains, and above it the rising triangle of Charles's Wain with
the yellowish light of Capella. He gazed at the cross, then at
the stars, drank in the fresh freezing air that flowed evenly
into the room, and followed as though in a dream the images and
memories that rose in his imagination. At four o'clock he heard
steps in the passage and peeped out at the door. It was the
gambler Myaskin, whom he knew, coming from the club. He walked
gloomily, frowning and coughing. "Poor, unlucky fellow!" thought
Levin, and tears came into his eyes from love and pity for this
man. He would have talked with him, and tried to comfort him,
but remembering that he had nothing but his shirt on, he changed
his mind and sat down again at the open pane to bathe in the cold
air and gaze at the exquisite lines of the cross, silent, but
full of meaning for him, and the mounting lurid yellow star. At
seven o'clock there was a noise of people polishing the floors,
and bells ringing in some servants' department, and Levin felt
that he was beginning to get frozen. He closed the pane, washed,
dressed, and went out into the street.
The streets were still empty. Levin went to the house of the
Shtcherbatskys. The visitors' doors were closed and everything
was asleep. He walked back, went into his room again, and asked
for coffee. The day servant, not Yegor this time, brought it to
him. Levin would have entered into conversation with him, but a
bell rang for the servant, and he went out. Levin tried to drink
coffee and put some roll in his mouth, but his mouth was quite at
a loss what to do with the roll. Levin, rejecting the roll, put
on his coat and went out again for a walk. It was nine o'clock
when he reached the Shtcherbatskys' steps the second time. In
the house they were only just up, and the cook came out to go
marketing. He had to get through at least two hours more.
All that night and morning Levin lived perfectly unconsciously,
and felt perfectly lifted out of the conditions of material life.
He had eaten nothing for a whole day, he had not slept for two
nights, had spent several hours undressed in the frozen air, and
felt not simply fresher and stronger than ever, but felt utterly
independent of his body; he moved without muscular effort, and
felt as if he could do anything. He was convinced he could fly
upwards or lift the corner of the house, if need be. He spent
the remainder of the time in the street, incessantly looking at
his watch and gazing about him.
And what he saw then, he never saw again after. The children
especially going to school, the bluish doves flying down from
the roofs to the pavement, and the little loaves covered with
flour, thrust out by an unseen hand, touched him. Those loaves,
those doves, and those two boys were not earthly creatures. It
all happened at the same time: a boy ran towards a dove and
glanced smiling at Levin; the dove, with a whir of her wings,
darted away, flashing in the sun, amid grains of snow that
quivered in the air, while from a little window there came a
smell of fresh-baked bread, and the loaves were put out. All of
this together was so extraordinarily nice that Levin laughed and
cried with delight. Going a long way round by Gazetny Place and
Kislovka, he went back again to the hotel, and putting his watch
before him, he sat down to wait for twelve o'clock. In the next
room they were talking about some sort of machines, and
swindling, and coughing their morning coughs. They did not
realize that the hand was near twelve. The hand reached it.
Levin went out onto the steps. The sledge-drivers clearly knew
all about it. They crowded round Levin with happy faces,
quarreling among themselves, and offering their services. Trying
not to offend the other sledge drivers, and promising to drive
with them too, Levin took one and told him to drive to the
Shtcherbatskys'. The sledge-driver was splendid in a white
shirt-collar sticking out over his overcoat and into his strong,
full-blooded red neck. The sledge was high and comfortable, and
altogether such a one as Levin never drove in after, and the
horse was a good one, and tried to gallop but didn't seem to
move. The driver knew the Shtcherbatskys' house, and drew up at
the entrance with a curve of his arm and a "Wo!" especially
indicative of respect for his fare. The Shtcherbatskys'
hall-porter certainly knew all about it. This was evident from
the smile in his eyes and the way he said:
"Well, it's a long while since you've been to see us, Konstantin
Not only he knew all about it, but he was unmistakably delighted
and making efforts to conceal his joy. Looking into his kindly
old eyes, Levin realized even something new in his happiness.
"Are they up?"
"Pray walk in! Leave it here," said he, smiling, as Levin would
have come back to take his hat. That meant something.
"To whom shall I announce your honor?" asked the footman.
The footman, though a young man, and one of the new school of
footmen, a dandy, was a very kind-hearted, good fellow, and he
too knew all about it.
"The princess...the prince...the young princess..." said Levin.
The first person he saw was Mademoiselle Linon. She walked
across the room, and her ringlets and her face were beaming. He
had only just spoken to her, when suddenly he heard the rustle of
a skirt at the door, and Mademoiselle Linon vanished from Levin's
eyes, and a joyful terror came over him at the nearness of his
happiness. Mademoiselle Linon was in great haste, and leaving
him, went out at the other door. Directly she had gone out,
swift, swift light steps sounded on the parquet, and his bliss,
his life, himself--what was best in himself, what he had so long
sought and longed for--was quickly, so quickly approaching him.
She did not walk, but seemed, by some unseen force, to float to
him. He saw nothing but her clear, truthful eyes, frightened by
the same bliss of love that flooded his heart. Those eyes were
shining nearer and nearer, blinding him with their light of love.
She stopped still close to him, touching him. Her hands rose and
dropped onto his shoulders.
She had done all she could--she had run up to him and given
herself up entirely, shy and happy. He put his arms round her
and pressed his lips to her mouth that sought his kiss.
She too had not slept all night, and had been expecting him all
Her mother and father had consented without demur, and were happy
in her happiness. She had been waiting for him. She wanted to
be the first to tell him her happiness and his. She had got
ready to see him alone, and had been delighted at the idea, and
had been shy and ashamed, and did not know herself what she was
doing. She had heard his steps and voice, and had waited at the
door for Mademoiselle Linon to go. Mademoiselle Linon had gone
away. Without thinking, without asking herself how and what, she
had gone up to him, and did as she was doing.
"Let us go to mamma!" she said, taking him by the hand. For a
long while he could say nothing, not so much because he was
afraid of desecrating the loftiness of his emotion by a word, as
that every time he tried to say something, instead of words he
felt that tears of happiness were welling up. He took her hand
and kissed it.
"Can it be true?" he said at last in a choked voice. "I can't
believe you love me, dear!"
She smiled at that "dear," and at the timidity with which he
glanced at her.
"Yes!" she said significantly, deliberately. "I am so happy!"
Not letting go his hands, she went into the drawing room. The
princess, seeing them, breathed quickly, and immediately began to
cry and then immediately began to laugh and with a vigorous step
Levin had not expected, ran up to him, and hugging his head,
kissed him, wetting his cheeks with her tears.
"So it is all settled! I am glad. Love her. I am glad....
"You've not been long settling things," said the old prince,
trying to seem unmoved; but Levin noticed that his eyes were wet
when he turned to him.
"I've long, always wished for this!" said the prince, taking
Levin by the arm and drawing him towards himself. "Even when
this little feather-head fancied..."
"Papa!" shrieked Kitty, and shut his mouth with her hands.
"Well, I won't!" he said. "I'm very, very ...plea ...Oh,
what a fool I am..."
He embraced Kitty, kissed her face, her hand, her face again and
made the sign of the cross over her.
And there came over Levin a new feeling of love for this man,
till then so little known to him, when he saw how slowly and
tenderly Kitty kissed his muscular hand.
The princess sat in her armchair, silent and smiling; the prince
sat down beside her. Kitty stood by her father's chair, still
holding his hand. All were silent.
The princess was the first to put everything into words, and to
translate all thoughts and feelings into practical questions.
And all equally felt this strange and painful for the first
"When is it to be? We must have the benediction and
announcement. And when's the wedding to be? What do you think,
"Here he is," said the old prince, pointing to Levin--"he's the
principal person in the matter."
"When?" said Levin blushing. "Tomorrow; If you ask me, I should
say, the benediction today and the wedding tomorrow."
"Come, mon cher, that's nonsense!"
"Well, in a week."
"He's quite mad."
"No, why so?"
"Well, upon my word!" said the mother, smiling, delighted at this
haste. "How about the trousseau?"
"Will there really be a trousseau and all that?" Levin thought
with horror. "But can the trousseau and the benediction and all
that--can it spoil my happiness? Nothing can spoil it!" He
glanced at Kitty, and noticed that she was not in the least, not
in the very least, disturbed by the idea of the trousseau. "Then
it must be all right," he thought.
"Oh, I know nothing about it; I only said what I should like,"
he said apologetically.
"We'll talk it over, then. The benediction and announcement can
take place now. That's very well."
The princess went up to her husband, kissed him, and would have
gone away, but he kept her, embraced her, and tenderly as a young
lover, kissed her several times, smiling. The old people were
obviously muddled for a moment, and did not quite know whether it
was they who were in love again or their daughter. When the
prince and the princess had gone, Levin went up to his betrothed
and took her hand. He was self-possessed now and could speak,
and he had a great deal he wanted to tell her. But he said not
at all what he had to say.
"How I knew it would be so! I never hoped for it; and yet in my
heart I was always sure," he said. "I believe that it was
"And I!" she said. "Even when...." She stopped and went on
again, looking at him resolutely with her truthful eyes, "Even
when I thrust from me my happiness. I always loved you alone,
but I was carried away. I ought to tell you.... Can you forgive
"Perhaps it was for the best. You will have to forgive me so
much. I ought to tell you..."
This was one of the things he had meant to speak about. He had
resolved from the first to tell her two things--that he was not
chaste as she was, and that he was not a believer. It was
agonizing, but he considered he ought to tell her both these
"No, not now, later!" he said.
"Very well, later, but you must certainly tell me. I'm not
afraid of anything. I want to know everything. Now it is
He added: "Settled that you'll take me whatever I may be--you
won't give me up? Yes?"
Their conversation was interrupted by Mademoiselle Linon, who
with an affected but tender smile came to congratulate her
favorite pupil. Before she had gone, the servants came in with
their congratulations. Then relations arrived, and there began
that state of blissful absurdity from which Levin did not emerge
till the day after his wedding. Levin was in a continual state
of awkwardness and discomfort, but the intensity of his happiness
went on all the while increasing. He felt continually that a
great deal was being expected of him--what, he did not know; and
he did everything he was told, and it all gave him happiness. He
had thought his engagement would have nothing about it like
others, that the ordinary conditions of engaged couples would
spoil his special happiness; but it ended in his doing exactly as
other people did, and his happiness being only increased thereby
and becoming more and more special, more and more unlike anything
that had ever happened.
"Now we shall have sweetmeats to eat," said Mademoiselle Linon--
and Levin drove off to buy sweetmeats.
"Well, I'm very glad," said Sviazhsky. "I advise you to get the
bouquets from Fomin's."
"Oh, are they wanted?" And he drove to Fomin's.
His brother offered to lend him money, as he would have so many
expenses, presents to give....
"Oh, are presents wanted?" And he galloped to Foulde's.
And at the confectioner's, and at Fomin's, and at Foulde's he saw
that he was expected; that they were pleased to see him, and
prided themselves on his happiness, just as every one whom he had
to do with during those days. What was extraordinary was that
everyone not only liked him, but even people previously
unsympathetic, cold, and callous, were enthusiastic over him,
gave way to him in everything, treated his feeling with
tenderness and delicacy, and shared his conviction that he was
the happiest man in the world because his betrothed was beyond
perfection. Kitty too felt the same thing. When Countess
Nordston ventured to hint that she had hoped for something
better, Kitty was so angry and proved so conclusively that
nothing in the world could be better than Levin, that Countess
Nordston had to admit it, and in Kitty's presence never met Levin
without a smile of ecstatic admiration.
The confession he had promised was the one painful incident of
this time. He consulted the old prince, and with his sanction
gave Kitty his diary, in which there was written the confession
that tortured him. He had written this diary at the time with a
view to his future wife. Two things caused him anguish: his lack
of purity and his lack of faith. His confession of unbelief
passed unnoticed. She was religious, had never doubted the
truths of religion, but his external unbelief did not affect her
in the least. Through love she knew all his soul, and in his
soul she saw what she wanted, and that such a state of soul
should be called unbelieving was to her a matter of no account.
The other confession set her weeping bitterly.
Levin, not without an inner struggle, handed her his diary. He
knew that between him and her there could not be, and should not
be, secrets, and so he had decided that so it must be. But he
had not realized what an effect it would have on her, he had not
put himself in her place. It was only when the same evening he
came to their house before the theater, went into her room and
saw her tear-stained, pitiful, sweet face, miserable with
suffering he had caused and nothing could undo, he felt the abyss
that separated his shameful past from her dovelike purity, and
was appalled at what he had done.
"Take them, take these dreadful books!" she said, pushing away
the notebooks lying before her on the table. "Why did you give
them me? No, it was better anyway," she added, touched by his
despairing face. "But it's awful, awful!"
His head sank, and he was silent. He could say nothing.
"You can't forgive me," he whispered.
"Yes, I forgive you; but it's terrible!"
But his happiness was so immense that this confession did not
shatter it, it only added another shade to it. She forgave him;
but from that time more than ever he considered himself unworthy
of her, morally bowed down lower than ever before her, and prized
more highly than ever his undeserved happiness.
Unconsciously going over in his memory the conversations that had
taken place during and after dinner, Alexey Alexandrovitch
returned to his solitary room. Darya Alexandrovna's words about
forgiveness had aroused in him nothing but annoyance. The
applicability or non-applicability of the Christian precept to
his own case was too difficult a question to be discussed
lightly, and this question had long ago been answered by Alexey
Alexandrovitch in the negative. Of all that had been said, what
stuck most in his memory was the phrase of stupid, good-natured
Turovtsin--"ACTED LIKE A MAN, HE DID! CALLED HIM OUT AND SHOT
HIM!" Everyone had apparently shared this feeling, though from
politeness they had not expressed it.
"But the matter is settled, it's useless thinking about it,"
Alexey Alexandrovitch told himself. And thinking of nothing but
the journey before him, and the revision work he had to do, he
went into his room and asked the porter who escorted him where
his man was. The porter said that the man had only just gone
out. Alexey Alexandrovitch ordered tea to be sent him, sat down
to the table, and taking the guidebook, began considering the
route of his journey.
"Two telegrams," said his manservant, coming into the room. "I
beg your pardon, your excellency; I'd only just that minute gone
Alexey Alexandrovitch took the telegrams and opened them. The
first telegram was the announcement of Stremov's appointment to
the very post Karenin had coveted. Alexey Alexandrovitch flung
the telegram down, and flushing a little, got up and began to
pace up and down the room. "Quos vult perdere dementat," he
said, meaning by quos the persons responsible for this
appointment. He was not so much annoyed that he had not received
the post, that he had been conspicuously passed over; but it was
incomprehensible, amazing to him that they did not see that the
wordy phrase-monger Stremov was the last man fit for it. How
could they fail to see how they were ruining themselves, lowering
their prestige by this appointment?
"Something else in the same line," he said to himself bitterly,
opening the second telegram. The telegram was from his wife.
Her name, written in blue pencil, "Anna," was the first thing
that caught his eye. "I am dying; I beg, I implore you to come.
I shall die easier with your forgiveness," he read. He smiled
contemptuously, and flung down the telegram. That this was a
trick and a fraud, of that, he thought for the first minute,
there could be no doubt.
"There is no deceit she would stick at. She was near her
confinement. Perhaps it is the confinement. But what can be
their aim? To legitimize the child, to compromise me, and
prevent a divorce," he thought. "But something was said in it: I
am dying...." He read the telegram again, and suddenly the plain
meaning of what was said in it struck him.
"And if it is true?" he said to himself. "If it is true that in
the moment of agony and nearness to death she is genuinely
penitent, and I, taking it for a trick, refuse to go? That would
not only be cruel, and everyone would blame me, but it would be
stupid on my part."
"Piotr, call a coach; I am going to Petersburg," he said to his
Alexey Alexandrovitch decided that he would go to Petersburg and
see his wife. If her illness was a trick, he would say nothing
and go away again. If she was really in danger, and wished to
see him before her death, he would forgive her if he found her
alive, and pay her the last duties if he came too late.
All the way he thought no more of what he ought to do.
With a sense of weariness and uncleanness from the night spent in
the train, in the early fog of Petersburg Alexey Alexandrovitch
drove through the deserted Nevsky and stared straight before him,
not thinking of what was awaiting him. He could not think about
it, because in picturing what would happen, he could not drive
away the reflection that her death would at once remove all the
difficulty of his position. Bakers, closed shops, night-cabmen,
porters sweeping the pavements flashed past his eyes, and he
watched it all, trying to smother the thought of what was
awaiting him, and what he dared not hope for, and yet was hoping
for. He drove up to the steps. A sledge and a carriage with the
coachman asleep stood at the entrance. As he went into the
entry, Alexey Alexandrovitch, as it were, got out his resolution
from the remotest corner of his brain, and mastered it
thoroughly. Its meaning ran: "If it's a trick, then calm
contempt and departure. If truth, do what is proper."
The porter opened the door before Alexey Alexandrovitch rang.
The porter, Kapitonitch, looked queer in an old coat, without a
tie, and in slippers.
"How is your mistress?"
"A successful confinement yesterday."
Alexey Alexandrovitch stopped short and turned white. He felt
distinctly now how intensely he had longed for her death.
"And how is she?"
Korney in his morning apron ran downstairs.
"Very ill," he answered. "There was a consultation yesterday,
and the doctor's here now."
"Take my things," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, and feeling some
relief at the news that there was still hope of her death, he
went into the hall.
On the hatstand there was a military overcoat. Alexey
Alexandrovitch noticed it and asked:
"Who is here?"
"The doctor, the midwife and Count Vronsky."
Alexey Alexandrovitch went into the inner rooms.
I the drawing room there was no one; at the sound of his steps
there came out of her boudoir the midwife in a cap with lilac
She went up to Alexey Alexandrovitch, and with the familiarity
given by the approach of death took him by the arm and drew him
towards the bedroom.
"Thank God you've come! She keeps on about you and nothing but
you," she said.
"Make haste with the ice!" the doctor's peremptory voice said
from the bedroom.
Alexey Alexandrovitch went into her boudoir.