Part 12 out of 22
At the table, sitting sideways in a low chair, was Vronsky, his
face hidden in his hands, weeping. He jumped up at the doctor's
voice, took his hands from his face, and saw Alexey
Alexandrovitch. Seeing the husband, he was so overwhelmed that
he sat down again, drawing his head down to his shoulders, as if
he wanted to disappear; but he made an effort over himself, got
up and said:
"She is dying. The doctors say there is no hope. I am entirely
in your power, only let me be here...though I am at your
Alexey Alexandrovitch, seeing Vronsky's tears, felt a rush of
that nervous emotion always produced in him by the sight of other
people's suffering, and turning away his face, he moved hurriedly
to the door, without hearing the rest of his words. From the
bedroom came the sound of Anna's voice saying something. Her
voice was lively, eager, with exceedingly distinct intonations.
Alexey Alexandrovitch went into the bedroom, and went up to the
bed. She was lying turned with her face towards him. Her cheeks
were flushed crimson, her eyes glittered, her little white hands
thrust out from the sleeves of her dressing gown were playing
with the quilt, twisting it about. It seemed as though she were
not only well and blooming, but in the happiest frame of mind.
She was talking rapidly, musically, and with exceptionally
correct articulation and expressive intonation.
"For Alexey--I am speaking of Alexey Alexandrovitch (what a
strange and awful thing that both are Alexey, isn't it?)--Alexey
would not refuse me. I should forget, he would forgive.... But
why doesn't he come? He's so good he doesn't know himself how
good he is. Ah, my God, what agony! Give me some water, quick!
Oh, that will be bad for her, my little girl! Oh, very well
then, give her to a nurse. Yes, I agree, it's better in fact.
He'll be coming; it will hurt him to see her. Give her to the
"Anna Arkadyevna, he has come. Here he is!" said the midwife,
trying to attract her attention to Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Oh, what nonsense!" Anna went on, not seeing her husband. "No,
give her to me; give me my little one! He has not come yet. You
say he won't forgive me, because you don't know him. No one
knows him. I'm the only one, and it was hard for me even. His
eyes I ought to know--Seryozha has just the same eyes--and I
can't bear to see them because of it. Has Seryozha had his
dinner? I know everyone will forget him. He would not forget.
Seryozha must be moved into the corner room, and Mariette must be
asked to sleep with him."
All of a sudden she shrank back, was silent; and in terror, as
though expecting a blow, as though to defend herself, she raised
her hands to her face. She had seen her husband.
"No, no!" she began. "I am not afraid of him; I am afraid of
death. Alexey, come here. I am in a hurry, because I've no
time, I've not long left to live; the fever will begin directly
and I shall understand nothing more. Now I understand, I
understand it all, I see it all!"
Alexey Alexandrovitch's wrinkled face wore an expression of
agony; he took her by the hand and tried to say something, but he
could not utter it; his lower lip quivered, but he still went on
struggling with his emotion, and only now and then glanced at
her. And each time he glanced at her, he saw her eyes gazing at
him with such passionate and triumphant tenderness as he had
never seen in them.
"Wait a minute, you don't know...stay a little, stay!..." She
stopped, as though collecting her ideas. "Yes," she began; "yes,
yes, yes. This is what I wanted to say. Don't be surprised at
me. I'm still the same.... But there is another woman in me,
I'm afraid of her: she loved that man, and I tried to hate you,
and could not forget about her that used to be. I'm not that
woman. Now I'm my real self, all myself. I'm dying now, I know
I shall die, ask him. Even now I feel--see here, the weights on
my feet, on my hands, on my fingers. My fingers--see how huge
they are! But this will soon all be over.... Only one thing I
want: forgive me, forgive me quite. I'm terrible, but my nurse
used to tell me; the holy martyr--what was her name? She was
worse. And I'll go to Rome; there's a wilderness, and there I
shall be no trouble to any one, only I'll take Seryozha and the
little one.... No, you can't forgive me! I know, it can't be
forgiven! No, no, go away, you're too good!" She held his hand
in one burning hand, while she pushed him away with the other.
The nervous agitation of Alexey Alexandrovitch kept increasing,
and had by now reached such a point that he ceased to struggle
with it. He suddenly felt that what he had regarded as nervous
agitation was on the contrary a blissful spiritual condition that
gave him all at once a new happiness he had never known. He did
not think that the Christian law that he had been all his life
trying to follow, enjoined on him to forgive and love his
enemies; but a glad feeling of love and forgiveness for his
enemies filled his heart. He knelt down, and laying his head in
the curve of her arm, which burned him as with fire through the
sleeve, he sobbed like a little child. She put her arm around
his head, moved towards him, and with defiant pride lifted up her
"That is he. I knew him! Now, forgive me, everyone, forgive
me!... They've come again; why don't they go away?... Oh, take
these cloaks off me!"
The doctor unloosed her hands, carefully laying her on the
pillow, and covered her up to the shoulders. She lay back
submissively, and looked before her with beaming eyes.
"Remember one thing, that I needed nothing but forgiveness, and
I want nothing more.... Why doesn't HE come?" she said, turning
to the door towards Vronsky. "Do come, do come! Give him your
Vronsky came to the side of the bed, and seeing Anna, again hid
his face in his hands.
"Uncover your face--look at him! He's a saint," she said. "Oh!
uncover your face, do uncover it!" she said angrily. "Alexey
Alexandrovitch, do uncover his face! I want to see him."
Alexey Alexandrovitch took Vronsky's hands and drew them away
from his face, which was awful with the expression of agony and
shame upon it.
"Give him your hand. Forgive him."
Alexey Alexandrovitch gave him his hand, not attempting to
restrain the tears that streamed from his eyes.
"Thank God, thank God!" she said, "now everything is ready. Only
to stretch my legs a little. There, that's capital. How badly
these flowers are done--not a bit like a violet," she said,
pointing to the hangings. "My God, my God! when will it end?
Give me some morphine. Doctor, give me some morphine! Oh, my
God, my God!"
And she tossed about on the bed.
The doctors said that it was puerperal fever, and that it was
ninety-nine chances in a hundred it would end in death. The
whole day long there was fever, delirium, and unconsciousness.
At midnight the patient lay without consciousness, and almost
The end was expected every minute.
Vronsky had gone home, but in the morning he came to inquire, and
Alexey Alexandrovitch meeting him in the hall, said: "Better
stay, she might ask for you," and himself led him to his wife's
boudoir. Towards morning, there was a return again of
excitement, rapid thought and talk, and again it ended in
unconsciousness. On the third day it was the same thing, and the
doctors said there was hope. That day Alexey Alexandrovitch went
into the boudoir where Vronsky was sitting, and closing the door
sat down opposite him.
"Alexey Alexandrovitch," said Vronsky, feeling that a statement
of the position was coming, "I can't speak, I can't understand.
Spare me! However hard it is for you, believe me, it is more
terrible for me."
He would have risen; but Alexey Alexandrovitch took him by the
hand and said:
"I beg you to hear me out; it is necessary. I must explain my
feelings, the feelings that have guided me and will guide me, so
that you may not be in error regarding me. You know I had
resolved on a divorce, and had even begun to take proceedings.
I won't conceal from you that in beginning this I was in
uncertainty, I was in misery; I will confess that I was pursued
by a desire to revenge myself on you and on her. When I got the
telegram, I came here with the same feelings; I will say more, I
longed for her death. But...." He paused, pondering whether to
disclose or not to disclose his feeling to him. "But I saw her
and forgave her. And the happiness of forgiveness has revealed
to me my duty. I forgive completely. I would offer the other
cheek, I would give my cloak if my coat be taken. I pray to God
only not to take from me the bliss of forgiveness!"
Tears stood in his eyes, and the luminous, serene look in them
"This is my position: you can trample me in the mud, make me the
laughing-stock of the world, I will not abandon her, and I will
never utter a word of reproach to you," Alexey Alexandrovitch
went on. "My duty is clearly marked for me; I ought to be with
her, and I will be. If she wishes to see you, I will let you
know, but now I suppose it would be better for you to go away."
He got up, and sobs cut short his words. Vronsky too was getting
up, and in a stooping, not yet erect posture, looked up at him
from under his brows. He did not understand Alexey
Alexandrovitch's feeling, but he felt that it was something
higher and even unattainable for him with his view of life.
After the conversation with Alexey Alexandrovitch, Vronsky went
out onto the steps of the Karenins' house and stood still, with
difficulty remembering where he was, and where he ought to walk
or drive. He felt disgraced, humiliated, guilty, and deprived of
all possibility of washing away his humiliation. He felt thrust
out of the beaten track along which he had so proudly and lightly
walked till then. All the habits and rules of his life that had
seemed so firm, had turned out suddenly false and inapplicable.
The betrayed husband, who had figured till that time as a
pitiful creature, an incidental and somewhat ludicrous obstacle
to his happiness, had suddenly been summoned by her herself,
elevated to an awe-inspiring pinnacle, and on the pinnacle that
husband had shown himself, not malignant, not false, not
ludicrous, but kind and straightforward and large. Vronsky could
not but feel this, and the parts were suddenly reversed. Vronsky
felt his elevation and his own abasement, his truth and his own
falsehood. He felt that the husband was magnanimous even in his
sorrow, while he had been base and petty in his deceit. But this
sense of his own humiliation before the man he had unjustly
despised made up only a small part of his misery. He felt
unutterably wretched now, for his passion for Anna, which had
seemed to him of late to be growing cooler, now that he knew he
had lost her forever, was stronger than ever it had been. He had
seen all of her in her illness, had come to know her very soul,
and it seemed to him that he had never loved her till then. And
now when he had learned to know her, to love her as she should be
loved, he had been humiliated before her, and had lost her
forever, leaving with her nothing of himself but a shameful
memory. Most terrible of all had been his ludicrous, shameful
position when Alexey Alexandrovitch had pulled his hands away
from his humiliated face. He stood on the steps of the Karenins'
house like one distraught, and did not know what to do.
"A sledge, sir?" asked the porter.
"Yes, a sledge."
On getting home, after three sleepless nights, Vronsky, without
undressing, lay down fiat on the sofa, clasping his hands and
laying his head on them. His head was heavy. Images, memories,
and ideas of the strangest description followed one another with
extraordinary rapidity and vividness. First it was the medicine
he had poured out for the patient and spilt over the spoon, then
the midwife's white hands, then the queer posture of Alexey
Alexandrovitch on the floor beside the bed.
"To sleep! To forget!" he said to himself with the serene
confidence of a healthy man that if he is tired and sleepy, he
will go to sleep at once. And the same instant his head did
begin to feel drowsy and he began to drop off into forgetfulness.
The waves of the sea of unconsciousness had begun to meet over
his head, when all at once--it was as though a violent shock of
electricity had passed over him. He started so that he leaped up
on the springs of the sofa, and leaning on his arms got in a
panic onto his knees. His eyes were wide open as though he had
never been asleep. The heaviness in his head and the weariness
in his limbs that he had felt a minute before had suddenly gone.
"You may trample me in the mud," he heard Alexey Alexandrovitch's
words and saw him standing before him, and saw Anna's face with
its burning flush and glittering eyes, gazing with love and
tenderness not at him but at Alexey Alexandrovitch; he saw his
own, as he fancied, foolish and ludicrous figure when Alexey
Alexandrovitch took his hands away from his face. He stretched
out his legs again and flung himself on the sofa in the same
position and shut his eyes.
"To sleep! To forget!" he repeated to himself. But with his
eyes shut he saw more distinctly than ever Anna's face as it had
been on the memorable evening before the races.
"That is not and will not be, and she wants to wipe it out of her
memory. But I cannot live without it. How can we be reconciled?
how can we be reconciled?" he said aloud, and unconsciously began
to repeat these words. This repetition checked the rising up of
fresh images and memories, which he felt were thronging in his
brain. But repeating words did not check his imagination for
long. Again in extraordinarily rapid succession his best moments
rose before his mind, and then his recent humiliation. "Take
away his hands," Anna's voice says. He takes away his hands and
feels the shamestruck and idiotic expression of his face.
He still lay down, trying to sleep, though he felt there was not
the smallest hope of it, and kept repeating stray words from some
chain of thought, trying by this to check the rising flood of
fresh images. He listened, and heard in a strange, mad whisper
words repeated: "I did not appreciate it, did not make enough of
it. I did not appreciate it, did not make enough of it."
"What's this? Am I going out of my mind?" he said to himself.
"Perhaps. What makes men go out of their minds; what makes men
shoot themselves?" he answered himself, and opening his eyes, he
saw with wonder an embroidered cushion beside him, worked by
Varya, his brother's wife. He touched the tassel of the cushion,
and tried to think of Varya, of when he had seen her last. But
to think of anything extraneous was an agonizing effort. "No, I
must sleep!" He moved the cushion up, and pressed his head into
it, but he had to make an effort to keep his eyes shut. He
jumped up and sat down. "That's all over for me," he said to
himself. "I must think what to do. What is left?" His mind
rapidly ran through his life apart from his love of Anna.
"Ambition? Serpuhovskoy? Society? The court?" He could not
come to a pause anywhere. All of it had had meaning before, but
now there was no reality in it. He got up from the sofa, took
off his coat, undid his belt, and uncovering his hairy chest to
breathe more freely, walked up and down the room. "This is how
people go mad," he repeated, "and how they shoot themselves...to
escape humiliation," he added slowly.
He went to the door and closed it, then with fixed eyes and
clenched teeth he went up to the table, took a revolver, looked
round him, turned it to a loaded barrel, and sank into thought.
For two minutes, his head bent forward with an expression of an
intense effort of thought, he stood with the revolver in his
hand, motionless, thinking.
"Of course," he said to himself, as though a logical, continuous,
and clear chain of reasoning had brought him to an indubitable
conclusion. In reality this "of course," that seemed convincing
to him, was simply the result of exactly the same circle of
memories and images through which he had passed ten times already
during the last hour--memories of happiness lost forever. There
was the same conception of the senselessness of everything to
come in life, the same consciousness of humiliation. Even the
sequence of these images and emotions was the same.
"Of course," he repeated, when for the third time his thought
passed again round the same spellbound circle of memories and
images, and pulling the revolver to the left side of his chest,
and clutching it vigorously with his whole hand, as it were,
squeezing it in his fist, he pulled the trigger. He did not hear
the sound of the shot, but a violent blow on his chest sent him
reeling. He tried to clutch at the edge of the table, dropped
the revolver, staggered, and sat down on the ground, looking
about him in astonishment. He did not recognize his room,
looking up from the ground, at the bent legs of the table, at the
wastepaper basket, and the tiger-skin rug. The hurried, creaking
steps of his servant coming through the drawing room brought him
to his senses. He made an effort at thought, and was aware that
he was on the floor; and seeing blood on the tiger-skin rug and
on his arm, he knew he had shot himself.
"Idiotic! Missed!" he said, fumbling after the revolver. The
revolver was close beside him--he sought further off. Still
feeling for it, he stretched out to the other side, and not being
strong enough to keep his balance, fell over, streaming with
The elegant, whiskered manservant, who used to be continually
complaining to his acquaintances of the delicacy of his nerves,
was so panic-stricken on seeing his master lying on the floor,
that he left him losing blood while he ran for assistance. An
hour later Varya, his brother's wife, had arrived, and with the
assistance of three doctors, whom she had sent for in all
directions, and who all appeared at the same moment, she got the
wounded man to bed, and remained to nurse him.
The mistake made by Alexey Alexandrovitch in that, when preparing
for seeing his wife, he had overlooked the possibility that her
repentance might be sincere, and he might forgive her, and she
might not die--this mistake was two months after his return from
Moscow brought home to him in all its significance. But the
mistake made by him had arisen not simply from his having
overlooked that contingency, but also from the fact that until
that day of his interview with his dying wife, he had not known
his own heart. At his sick wife's bedside he had for the first
time in his life given way to that feeling of sympathetic
suffering always roused in him by the sufferings of others, and
hitherto looked on by him with shame as a harmful weakness. And
pity for her, and remorse for having desired her death, and most
of all, the joy of forgiveness, made him at once conscious, not
simply of the relief of his own sufferings, but of a spiritual
peace he had never experienced before. He suddenly felt that the
very thing that was the source of his sufferings had become the
source of his spiritual joy; that what had seemed insoluble while
he was judging, blaming, and hating, had become clear and simple
when he forgave and loved.
He forgave his wife and pitied her for her sufferings and her
remorse. He forgave Vronsky, and pitied him, especially after
reports reached him of his despairing action. He felt more for
his son than before. And he blamed himself now for having taken
too little interest in him. But for the little newborn baby he
felt a quite peculiar sentiment, not of pity, only, but of
tenderness. At first, from a feeling of compassion alone, he had
been interested in the delicate little creature, who was not his
child, and who was cast on one side during her mother's illness,
and would certainly have died if he had not troubled about her,
and he did not himself observe how fond he became of her. He
would go into the nursery several times a day, and sit there for
a long while, so that the nurses, who were at first afraid of
him, got quite used to his presence. Sometimes for half an hour
at a stretch he would sit silently gazing at the saffron-red,
downy, wrinkled face of the sleeping baby, watching the movements
of the frowning brows, and the fat little hands, with clenched
fingers, that rubbed the little eyes and nose. At such moments
particularly, Alexey Alexandrovitch had a sense of perfect peace
and inward harmony, and saw nothing extraordinary in his
position, nothing that ought to be changed.
But as time went on, he saw more and more distinctly that however
natural the position now seemed to him, he would not long be
allowed to remain in it. He felt that besides the blessed
spiritual force controlling his soul, there was another, a brutal
force, as powerful, or more powerful, which controlled his life,
and that this force would not allow him that humble peace he
longed for. He felt that everyone was looking at him with
inquiring wonder, that he was not understood, and that something
was expected of him. Above all, he felt the instability and
unnaturalness of his relations with his wife.
When the softening effect of the near approach of death had
passed away, Alexey Alexandrovitch began to notice that Anna was
afraid of him, ill at ease with him, and could not look him
straight in the face. She seemed to be wanting, and not daring,
to tell him something; and as though foreseeing their present
relations could not continue, she seemed to be expecting
something from him.
Towards the end of February it happened that Anna's baby
daughter, who had been named Anna too, fell ill. Alexey
Alexandrovitch was in the nursery in the morning, and leaving
orders for the doctor to be sent for, he went to his office. On
finishing his work, he returned home at four. Going into the
hall he saw a handsome groom, in a braided livery and a bear fur
cape, holding a white fur cloak.
"Who is here?" asked Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Princess Elizaveta Federovna Tverskaya," the groom answered, and
it seemed to Alexey Alexandrovitch that he grinned.
During all this difficult time Alexey Alexandrovitch had noticed
that his worldly acquaintances, especially women, took a peculiar
interest in him and his wife. All these acquaintances he
observed with difficulty concealing their mirth at something; the
same mirth that he had perceived in the lawyer's eyes, and just
now in the eyes of this groom. Everyone seemed, somehow, hugely
delighted, as though they had just been at a wedding. When they
met him, with ill-disguised enjoyment they inquired after his
wife's health. The presence of Princess Tverskaya was unpleasant
to Alexey Alexandrovitch from the memories associated with her,
and also because he disliked her, and he went straight to the
nursery. In the day nursery Seryozha, leaning on the table with
his legs on a chair, was drawing and chatting away merrily. The
English governess, who had during Anna's illness replaced the
French one, was sitting near the boy knitting a shawl. She
hurriedly got up, curtseyed, and pulled Seryozha.
Alexey Alexandrovitch stroked his son's hair, answered the
governess's inquiries about his wife, and asked what the doctor
had said of the baby.
"The doctor said it was nothing serious, and he ordered a bath,
"But she is still in pain," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, listening
to the baby's screaming in the next room.
"I think it's the wet-nurse, sir," the Englishwoman said firmly.
"What makes you think so?" he asked, stopping short.
"It's just as it was at Countess Paul's, sir. They gave the baby
medicine, and it turned out that the baby was simply hungry: the
nurse had no milk, sir."
Alexey Alexandrovitch pondered, and after standing still a few
seconds he went in at the other door. The baby was lying with
its head thrown back, stiffening itself in the nurse's arms, and
would not take the plump breast offered it; and it never ceased
screaming in spite of the double hushing of the wet-nurse and the
other nurse, who was bending over her.
"Still no better?" said Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"She's very restless," answered the nurse in a whisper.
"Miss Edwarde says that perhaps the wet-nurse has no milk," he
"I think so too, Alexey Alexandrovitch."
"Then why didn't you say so?"
"Who's one to say it to? Anna Arkadyevna still ill..." said the
The nurse was an old servant of the family. And in her simple
words there seemed to Alexey Alexandrovitch an allusion to his
The baby screamed louder than ever, struggling and sobbing. The
nurse, with a gesture of despair, went to it, took it from the
wet-nurse's arms, and began walking up and down, rocking it.
"You must ask the doctor to examine the wet-nurse," said Alexey
Alexandrovitch. The smartly dressed and healthy-looking nurse,
frightened at the idea of losing her place, muttered something to
herself, and covering her bosom, smiled contemptuously at the
idea of doubts being cast on her abundance of milk. In that
smile, too, Alexey Alexandrovitch saw a sneer at his position.
"Luckless child!" said the nurse, hushing the baby, and still
walking up and down with it.
Alexey Alexandrovitch sat down, and with a despondent and
suffering face watched the nurse walking to and fro.
When the child at last was still, and had been put in a deep bed,
and the nurse, after smoothing the little pillow, had left her,
Alexey Alexandrovitch got up, and walking awkwardly on tiptoe,
approached the baby. For a minute he was still, and with the
same despondent face gazed at the baby; but all at once a smile,
that moved his hair and the skin of his forehead, came out on his
face, and he went as softly out of the room.
In the dining room he rang the bell, and told the servant who
came in to send again for the doctor. He felt vexed with his
wife for not being anxious about this exquisite baby, and in this
vexed humor he had no wish to go to her; he had no wish, either,
to see Princess Betsy. But his wife might wonder why he did not
go to her as usual; and so, overcoming his disinclination, he
went towards the bedroom. As he walked over the soft rug towards
the door, he could not help overhearing a conversation he did not
want to hear.
"If he hadn't been going away, I could have understood your
answer and his too. But your husband ought to be above that,"
Betsy was saying.
"It's not for my husband; for myself I don't wish it. Don't say
that!" answered Anna's excited voice.
"Yes, but you must care to say good-bye to a man who has shot
himself on your account...."
"That's just why I don't want to."
With a dismayed and guilty expression, Alexey Alexandrovitch
stopped and would have gone back unobserved. But reflecting that
this would be undignified, he turned back again, and clearing his
throat, he went up to the bedroom. The voices were silent, and
he went in.
Anna, in a gray dressing gown, with a crop of short clustering
black curls on her round head, was sitting on a settee. The
eagerness died out of her face, as it always did, at the sight of
her husband; she dropped her head and looked round uneasily at
Betsy. Betsy, dressed in the height of the latest fashion, in a
hat that towered somewhere over her head like a shade on a lamp,
in a blue dress with violet crossway stripes slanting one way on
the bodice and the other way on the skirt, was sitting beside
Anna, her tall flat figure held erect. Bowing her head, she
greeted Alexey Alexandrovitch with an ironical smile.
"Ah!" she said, as though surprised. "I'm very glad you're at
home. You never put in an appearance anywhere, and I haven't
seen you ever since Anna has been ill. I have heard all about
it--your anxiety. Yes, you're a wonderful husband!" she said,
with a meaning and affable air, as though she were bestowing an
order of magnanimity on him for his conduct to his wife.
Alexey Alexandrovitch bowed frigidly, and kissing his wife's
hand, asked how she was.
"Better, I think," she said, avoiding his eyes.
"But you've rather a feverish-looking color," he said, laying
stress on the word "feverish."
"We've been talking too much," said Betsy. "I feel it's
selfishness on my part, and I am going away."
She got up, but Anna, suddenly flushing, quickly caught at her
"No, wait a minute, please. I must tell you...no, you." she
turned to Alexey Alexandrovitch, and her neck and brow were
suffused with crimson. "I won't and can't keep anything secret
from you," she said.
Alexey Alexandrovitch cracked his fingers and bowed his head.
"Betsy's been telling me that Count Vronsky wants to come here to
say good-bye before his departure for Tashkend." She did not
look at her husband, and was evidently in haste to have
everything out, however hard it might be for her. "I told her I
could not receive him."
"You said, my dear, that it would depend on Alexey
Alexandrovitch," Betsy corrected her.
"Oh, no, I can't receive him; and what object would there...."
She stopped suddenly, and glanced inquiringly at her husband (he
did not look at her). "In short, I don't wish it...."
Alexey Alexandrovitch advanced and would have taken her hand.
Her first impulse was to jerk back her hand from the damp hand
with big swollen veins that sought hers, but with an obvious
effort to control herself she pressed his hand.
"I am very grateful to you for your confidence, but..." he said,
feeling with confusion and annoyance that what he could decide
easily and clearly by himself, he could not discuss before
Princess Tverskaya, who to him stood for the incarnation of that
brute force which would inevitably control him in the life he led
in the eyes of the world, and hinder him from giving way to his
feeling of love and forgiveness. He stopped short, looking at
"Well, good-bye, my darling," said Betsy, getting up. She kissed
Anna, and went out. Alexey Alexandrovitch escorted her out.
"Alexey Alexandrovitch! I know you are a truly magnanimous man,"
said Betsy, stopping in the little drawing-room, and with special
warmth shaking hands with him once more. "I am an outsider, but
I so love her and respect you that I venture to advise. Receive
him. Alexey Vronsky is the soul of honor, and he is going away
"Thank you, princess, for your sympathy and advice. But the
question of whether my wife can or cannot see anyone she must
He said this from habit, lifting his brows with dignity, and
reflected immediately that whatever his words might be, there
could be no dignity in his position. And he saw this by the
suppressed, malicious, and ironical smile with which Betsy
glanced at him after this phrase.
Alexey Alexandrovitch took leave of Betsy in the drawing room,
and went to his wife. She was lying down, but hearing his steps
she sat up hastily in her former attitude, and looked in a scared
way at him. He saw she had been crying.
"I am very grateful for your confidence in me." He repeated
gently in Russian the phrase he had said in Betsy's presence in
French, and sat down beside her. When he spoke to her in
Russian, using the Russian "thou" of intimacy and affection, it
was insufferably irritating to Anna. "And I am very grateful for
your decision. I, too, imagine that since he is going away,
there is no sort of necessity for Count Vronsky to come here.
"But I've said so already, so why repeat it?" Anna suddenly
interrupted him with an irritation she could not succeed in
repressing. "No sort of necessity," she thought, "for a man to
come and say good-bye to the woman he loves, for whom he was
ready to ruin himself, and has ruined himself, and who cannot
live without him. No sort of necessity!" she compressed her
lips, and dropped her burning eyes to his hands with their
swollen veins. They were rubbing each other.
"Let us never speak of it," she added more calmly.
"I have left this question to you to decide, and I am very glad
to see..." Alexey Alexandrovitch was beginning.
"That my wish coincides with your own," she finished quickly,
exasperated at his talking so slowly while she knew beforehand
all he would say.
"Yes," he assented; "and Princess Tverskaya's interference in the
most difficult private affairs is utterly uncalled for. She
"I don't believe a word of what's said about her," said Anna
quickly. "I know she really cares for me."
Alexey Alexandrovitch sighed and said nothing. She played
nervously with the tassel of her dressing-gown, glancing at him
with that torturing sensation of physical repulsion for which she
blamed herself, though she could not control it. Her only desire
now was to be rid of his oppressive presence.
"I have just sent for the doctor," said Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"I am very well; what do I want the doctor for?"
"No, the little one cries, and they say the nurse hasn't enough
"Why didn't you let me nurse her, when I begged to? Anyway"
(Alexey Alexandrovitch knew what was meant by that "anyway"),
"she's a baby, and they're killing her." She rang the bell and
ordered the baby to be brought her. "I begged to nurse her, I
wasn't allowed to, and now I'm blamed for it."
"I don't blame..."
"Yes, you do blame me! My God! why didn't I die!" And she broke
into sobs. "Forgive me, I'm nervous, I'm unjust," she said,
controlling herself, "but do go away..."
"No, it can't go on like this," Alexey Alexandrovitch said to
himself decidedly as he left his wife's room.
Never had the impossibility of his position in the world's eyes,
and his wife's hatred of him, and altogether the might of that
mysterious brutal force that guided his life against his
spiritual inclinations, and exacted conformity with its decrees
and change in his attitude to his wife, been presented to him
with such distinctness as that day. He saw clearly that all the
world and his wife expected of him something, but what exactly,
he could not make out. He felt that this was rousing in his soul
a feeling of anger destructive of his peace of mind and of all
the good of his achievement. He believed that for Anna herself
it would be better to break off all relations with Vronsky; but
if they all thought this out of the question, he was even ready
to allow these relations to be renewed, so long as the children
were not disgraced, and he was not deprived of them nor forced to
change his position. Bad as this might be, it was anyway better
than a rupture, which would put her in a hopeless and shameful
position, and deprive him of everything he cared for. But he
felt helpless; he knew beforehand that every one was against him,
and that he would not be allowed to do what seemed to him now so
natural and right, but would be forced to do what was wrong,
though it seemed the proper thing to them.
Before Betsy had time to walk out of the drawing-room, she was
met in the doorway by Stepan Arkadyevitch, who had just come from
Yeliseev's, where a consignment of fresh oysters had been
"Ah! princess! what a delightful meeting!" he began. "I've been
to see you."
"A meeting for one minute, for I'm going," said Betsy, smiling
and putting on her glove.
"Don't put on your glove yet, princess; let me kiss your hand.
There's nothing I'm so thankful to the revival of the old
fashions for as the kissing the hand." He kissed Betsy's hand.
"When shall we see each other?"
"You don't deserve it," answered Betsy, smiling.
"Oh, yes, I deserve a great deal, for I've become a most serious
person. I don't only manage my own affairs, but other people's
too," he said with a significant expression.
"Oh, I'm so glad!" answered Betsy, at once understanding that he
was speaking of Anna. And going back into the drawing room, they
stood in a corner. "He's killing her," said Betsy in a whisper
full of meaning. "It's impossible, impossible..."
"I'm so glad you think so," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, shaking his
head with a serious and sympathetically distressed expression,
"that's what I've come to Petersburg for."
"The whole town's talking of it," she said. "It's an impossible
position. She pines and pines away. He doesn't understand that
she's one of those women who can't trifle with their feelings.
One of two things! either let him take her away, act with
energy, or give her a divorce. This is stifling her."
"Yes, yes...just so..." Oblonsky said, sighing. "That's what
I've come for. At least not solely for that...I've been made a
Kammerherr; of course, one has to say thank you. But the chief
thing was having to settle this."
"Well, God help you!" said Betsy.
After accompanying Betsy to the outside hall, once more kissing
her hand above the glove, at the point where the pulse beats, and
murmuring to her such unseemly nonsense that she did not know
whether to laugh or be angry, Stepan Arkadyevitch went to his
sister. He found her in tears.
Although he happened to be bubbling over with good spirits,
Stepan Arkadyevitch immediately and quite naturally fell into the
sympathetic, poetically emotional tone which harmonized with her
mood. He asked her how she was, and how she had spent the
"Very, very miserably. Today and this morning and all past days
and days to come," she said.
"I think you're giving way to pessimism. You must rouse
yourself, you must look life in the face. I know it's hard,
"I have heard it said that women love men even for their vices,"
Anna began suddenly, "but I hate him for his virtues. I can't
live with him. Do you understand? the sight of him has a
physical effect on me, it makes me beside myself. I can't, I
can't live with him. What am I to do? I have been unhappy, and
used to think one couldn't be more unhappy, but the awful state
of things I am going through now, I could never have conceived.
Would you believe it, that knowing he's a good man, a splendid
man, that I'm not worth his little finger, still I hate him. I
hate him for his generosity. And there's nothing left for me
She would have said death, but Stepan Arkadyevitch would not let
"You are ill and overwrought," he said; "believe me, you're
exaggerating dreadfully. There's nothing so terrible in it."
And Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled. No one else in Stepan
Arkadyevitch's place, having to do with such despair, would have
ventured to smile (the smile would have seemed brutal); but in
his smile there was so much of sweetness and almost feminine
tenderness that his smile did not wound, but softened and
soothed. His gentle, soothing words and smiles were as soothing
and softening as almond oil. And Anna soon felt this.
"No, Stiva," she said, "I'm lost, lost! worse than lost! I can't
say yet that all is over; on the contrary, I feel that it's not
over. I'm an overstrained string that must snap. But it's not
ended yet...and it will have a fearful end."
"No matter, we must let the string be loosened, little by little.
There's no position from which there is no way of escape."
"I have thought, and thought. Only one..."
Again he knew from her terrified eyes that this one way of escape
in her thought was death, and he would not let her say it.
"Not at all," he said. "Listen to me. You can't see your own
position as I can. Let me tell you candidly my opinion." Again
he smiled discreetly his almond-oil smile. "I'll begin from the
beginning. You married a man twenty years older than yourself.
You married him without love and not knowing what love was. It
was a mistake, let's admit."
"A fearful mistake!" said Anna.
"But I repeat, it's an accomplished fact. Then you had, let us
say, the misfortune to love a man not your husband. That was a
misfortune; but that, too, is an accomplished fact. And your
husband knew it and forgave it." He stopped at each sentence,
waiting for her to object, but she made no answer. "That's so.
Now the question is: can you go on living with your husband? Do
you wish it? Does he wish it?"
"I know nothing, nothing."
"But you said yourself that you can't endure him."
"No, I didn't say so. I deny it. I can't tell, I don't know
anything about it."
"Yes, but let..."
"You can't understand. I feel I'm lying head downwards in a sort
of pit, but I ought not to save myself. And I can't . . ."
"Never mind, we'll slip something under and pull you out. I
understand you: I understand that you can't take it on yourself
to express your wishes, your feelings."
"There's nothing, nothing I wish...except for it to be all
"But he sees this and knows it. And do you suppose it weighs on
him any less than on you? You're wretched, he's wretched, and
what good can come of it? while divorce would solve the
difficulty completely." With some effort Stepan Arkadyevitch
brought out his central idea, and looked significantly at her.
She said nothing, and shook her cropped head in dissent. But
from the look in her face, that suddenly brightened into its old
beauty, he saw that if she did not desire this, it was simply
because it seemed to her unattainable happiness.
"I'm awfully sorry for you! And how happy I should be if I could
arrange things!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling more boldly.
"Don't speak, don't say a word! God grant only that I may speak
as I feel. I'm going to him."
Anna looked at him with dreamy, shining eyes, and said nothing.
Stepan Arkadyevitch, with the same somewhat solemn expression
with which he used to take his presidential chair at his board,
walked into Alexey Alexandrovitch's room. Alexey Alexandrovitch
was walking about his room with his hands behind his back,
thinking of just what Stepan Arkadyevitch had been discussing
with his wife.
"I'm not interrupting you?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, on the
sight of his brother-in-law becoming suddenly aware of a sense of
embarrassment unusual with him. To conceal this embarrassment he
took out a cigarette case he had just bought that opened in a new
way, and sniffing the leather, took a cigarette out of it.
"No. Do you want anything?" Alexey Alexandrovitch asked without
"Yes, I wished...I wanted...yes, I wanted to talk to you," said
Stepan Arkadyevitch, with surprise aware of an unaccustomed
This feeling was so unexpected and so strange that he did not
believe it was the voice of conscience telling him that what he
was meaning to do was wrong.
Stepan Arkadyevitch made an effort and struggled with the
timidity that had come over him.
"I hope you believe in my love for my sister and my sincere
affection and respect for you," he said, reddening.
Alexey Alexandrovitch stood still and said nothing, but his face
struck Stepan Arkadyevitch by its expression of an unresisting
"I intended...I wanted to have a little talk with you about my
sister and your mutual position," he said, still struggling with
an unaccustomed constraint.
Alexey Alexandrovitch smiled mournfully, looked at his
brother-in-law, and without answering went up to the table, took
from it an unfinished letter, and handed it to his
"I think unceasingly of the same thing. And here is what I had
begun writing, thinking I could say it better by letter, and
that my presence irritates her," he said, as he gave him the
Stepan Arkadyevitch took the letter, looked with incredulous
surprise at the lusterless eyes fixed so immovably on him, and
began to read.
"I see that my presence is irksome to you. Painful as it is to
me to believe it, I see that it is so, and cannot be otherwise.
I don't blame you, and God is my witness that on seeing you at
the time of your illness I resolved with my whole heart to forget
all that had passed between us and to begin a new life. I do not
regret, and shall never regret, what I have done; but I have
desired one thing--your good, the good of your soul--and now I
see I have not attained that. Tell me yourself what will give
you true happiness and peace to your soul. I put myself entirely
in your hands, and trust to your feeling of what's right."
Stepan Arkadyevitch handed back the letter, and with the same
surprise continued looking at his brother-in-law, not knowing
what to say. This silence was so awkward for both of them that
Stepan Arkadyevitch's lips began twitching nervously, while he
still gazed without speaking at Karenin's face.
"That's what I wanted to say to her," said Alexey Alexandrovitch,
"Yes, yes..." said Stepan Arkadyevitch, not able to answer for
the tears that were choking him.
"Yes, yes, I understand you," he brought out at last.
"I want to know what she would like," said Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"I am afraid she does not understand her own position. She is
not a judge," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, recovering himself. "She
is crushed, simply crushed by your generosity. If she were to
read this letter, she would be incapable of saying anything, she
would only hang her head lower than ever."
"Yes, but what's to be done in that case? how explain, how find
out her wishes?"
"If you will allow me to give my opinion, I think that it lies
with you to point out directly the steps you consider necessary
to end the position."
"So you consider it must be ended?" Alexey Alexandrovitch
interrupted him. "But how?" he added, with a gesture of his
hands before his eyes not usual with him. "I see no possible way
out of it."
"There is some way of getting out of every position," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, standing up and becoming more cheerful. "There was
a time when you thought of breaking off.... If you are convinced
now that you cannot make each other happy..."
"Happiness may be variously understood. But suppose that I agree
to everything, that I want nothing: what way is there of getting
out of our position?"
"If you care to know my opinion," said Stepan Arkadyevitch with
the same smile of softening, almond-oil tenderness with which he
had been talking to Anna. His kindly smile was so winning that
Alexey Alexandrovitch, feeling his own weakness and unconsciously
swayed by it, was ready to believe what Stepan Arkadyevitch was
"She will never speak out about it. But one thing is possible,
one thing she might desire," he went on: "that is the cessation
of your relations and all memories associated with them. To my
thinking, in your position what's essential is the formation of a
new attitude to one another. And that can only rest on a basis
of freedom on both sides."
"Divorce," Alexey Alexandrovitch interrupted, in a tone of
"Yes, I imagine that divorce--yes, divorce," Stepan Arkadyevitch
repeated, reddening. "That is from every point of view the most
rational course for married people who find themselves in the
position you are in. What can be done if married people find
that life is impossible for them together? That may always
Alexey Alexandrovitch sighed heavily and closed his eyes.
"There's only one point to be considered: is either of the
parties desirous of forming new ties? If not, it is very
simple," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, feeling more and more free
Alexey Alexandrovitch, scowling with emotion, muttered something
to himself, and made no answer. All that seemed so simple to
Stepan Arkadyevitch, Alexey Alexandrovitch had thought over
thousands of times. And, so far from being simple, it all seemed
to him utterly impossible. Divorce, the details of which he knew
by this time, seemed to him now out of the question, because the
sense of his own dignity and respect for religion forbade his
taking upon himself a fictitious charge of adultery, and still
more suffering his wife, pardoned and beloved by him, to be
caught in the fact and put to public shame. Divorce appeared to
him impossible also on other still more weighty grounds.
What would become of his son in case of a divorce? To leave him
with his mother was out of the question. The divorced mother
would have her own illegitimate family, in which his position as
a stepson and his education would not be good. Keep him with
him? He knew that would be an act of vengeance on his part, and
that he did not want. But apart from this, what more than all
made divorce seem impossible to Alexey Alexandrovitch was, that
by consenting to a divorce he would be completely ruining Anna.
The saying of Darya Alexandrovna at Moscow, that in deciding on a
divorce he was thinking of himself, and not considering that by
this he would be ruining her irrevocably, had sunk into his
heart. And connecting this saying with his forgiveness of her,
with his devotion to the children, he understood it now in his
own way. To consent to a divorce, to give her her freedom, meant
in his thoughts to take from himself the last tie that bound him
to life--the children whom he loved; and to take from her the
last prop that stayed her on the path of right, to thrust her
down to her ruin. If she were divorced, he knew she would join
her life to Vronsky's, and their tie would be an illegitimate and
criminal one, since a wife, by the interpretation of the
ecclesiastical law, could not marry while her husband was living.
"She will join him, and in a year or two he will throw her over,
or she will form a new tie," thought Alexey Alexandrovitch. "And
I, by agreeing to an unlawful divorce, shall be to blame for her
ruin." He had thought it all over hundreds of times, and was
convinced that a divorce was not at all simple, as Stepan
Arkadyevitch had said, but was utterly impossible. He did not
believe a single word Stepan Arkadyevitch said to him; to every
word he had a thousand objections to make, but he listened to
him, feeling that his words were the expression of that mighty
brutal force which controlled his life and to which he would have
"The only question is on what terms you agree to give her a
divorce. She does not want anything, does not dare ask you for
anything, she leaves it all to your generosity."
"My God, my God! what for?" thought Alexey Alexandrovitch,
remembering the details of divorce proceedings in which the
husband took the blame on himself, and with just the same gesture
with which Vronsky had done the same, he hid his face for shame
in his hands.
"You are distressed, I understand that. But if you think it
"Whosoever shall smite thee on thy right cheek, turn to him the
other also; and if any man take away thy coat, let him have thy
cloak also," thought Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Yes, yes!" he cried in a shrill voice. "I will take the
disgrace on myself, I will give up even my son, but...but
wouldn't it be better to let it alone? Still you may do as you
And turning away so that his brother-in-law could not see him, he
sat down on a chair at the window. There was bitterness, there
was shame in his heart, but with bitterness and shame he felt joy
and emotion at the height of his own meekness.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was touched. He was silent for a space.
"Alexey Alexandrovitch, believe me, she appreciates your
generosity," he said. "But it seems it was the will of God," he
added, and as he said it felt how foolish a remark it was, and
with difficulty repressed a smile at his own foolishness.
Alexey Alexandrovitch would have made some reply, but tears
"This is an unhappy fatality, and one must accept it as such. I
accept the calamity as an accomplished fact, and am doing my best
to help both her and you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
When he went out of his brother-in-law's room he was touched, but
that did not prevent him from being glad he had successfully
brought the matter to a conclusion, for he felt certain Alexey
Alexandrovitch would not go back on his words. To this
satisfaction was added the fact that an idea had just struck him
for a riddle turning on his successful achievement, that when the
affair was over he would ask his wife and most intimate friends.
He put this riddle into two or three different ways. "But I'll
work it out better than that," he said to himself with a smile.
Vronsky's wound had been a dangerous one, though it did not
touch the heart, and for several days he had lain between life
and death. The first time he was able to speak, Varya, his
brother's wife, was alone in the room.
"Varya," he said, looking sternly at her, "I shot myself by
accident. And please never speak of it, and tell everyone so.
Or else it's too ridiculous."
Without answering his words, Varya bent over him, and with a
delighted smile gazed into his face. His eyes were clear, not
feverish; but their expression was stern.
"Thank God!" she said. "You're not in pain?"
"A little here." He pointed to his breast.
"Then let me change your bandages."
In silence, stiffening his broad jaws, he looked at her while she
bandaged him up. When she had finished he said:
"I'm not delirious. Please manage that there may be no talk of
my having shot myself on purpose."
"No one does say so. Only I hope you won't shoot yourself by
accident any more," she said, with a questioning smile.
"Of course I won't, but it would have been better..."
And he smiled gloomily.
In spite of these words and this smile, which so frightened
Varya, when the inflammation was over and he began to recover, he
felt that he was completely free from one part of his misery. By
his action he had, as it were, washed away the shame and
humiliation he had felt before. He could now think calmly of
Alexey Alexandrovitch. He recognized all his magnanimity, but he
did not now feel himself humiliated by it. Besides, he got back
again into the beaten track of his life. He saw the possibility
of looking men in the face again without shame, and he could live
in accordance with his own habits. One thing he could not pluck
out of his heart, though he never ceased struggling with it, was
the regret, amounting to despair, that he had lost her forever.
That now, having expiated his sin against the husband, he was
bound to renounce her, and never in future to stand between her
with her repentance and her husband, he had firmly decided in his
heart; but he could not tear out of his heart his regret at the
loss of her love, he could not erase from his memory those
moments of happiness that he had so little prized at the time,
and that haunted him in all their charm.
Serpuhovskoy had planned his appointment at Tashkend, and Vronsky
agreed to the proposition without the slightest hesitation. But
the nearer the time of departure came, the bitterer was the
sacrifice he was making to what he thought his duty.
His wound had healed, and he was driving about making
preparations for his departure for Tashkend.
"To see her once and then to bury myself, to die," he thought,
and as he was paying farewell visits, he uttered this thought to
Betsy. Charged with this commission, Betsy had gone to Anna, and
brought him back a negative reply.
"So much the better," thought Vronsky, when he received the news.
"It was a weakness, which would have shattered what strength I
Next day Betsy herself came to him in the morning, and announced
that she had heard through Oblonsky as a positive fact that
Alexey Alexandrovitch had agreed to a divorce, and that therefore
Vronsky could see Anna.
Without even troubling himself to see Betsy out of his fiat,
forgetting all his resolutions, without asking when he could see
her, where her husband was, Vronsky drove straight to the
Karenins'. He ran up the stairs seeing no one and nothing, and
with a rapid step, almost breaking into a run, he went into her
room. And without considering, without noticing whether there
was anyone in the room or not, he flung his arms round her, and
began to cover her face, her hands, her neck with kisses.
Anna had been preparing herself for this meeting, had thought
what she would say to him, but she did not succeed in saying
anything of it; his passion mastered her. She tried to calm him,
to calm herself, but it was too late. His feeling infected her.
Her lips trembled so that for a long while she could say nothing.
"Yes, you have conquered me, and I am yours," she said at last,
pressing his hands to her bosom.
"So it had to be," he said. "So long as we live, it must be so.
I know it now."
"That's true," she said, getting whiter and whiter, and embracing
his head. "Still there is something terrible in it after all
that has happened."
"It will all pass, it will all pass; we shall be so happy. Our
love, if it could be stronger, will be strengthened by there
being something terrible in it," he said, lifting his head and
parting his strong teeth in a smile.
And she could not but respond with a smile--not to his words, but
to the love in his eyes. She took his hand and stroked her
chilled cheeks and cropped head with it.
"I don't know you with this short hair. You've grown so pretty.
A boy. But how pale you are!"
"Yes, I'm very weak," she said, smiling. And her lips began
"We'll go to Italy; you will get strong," he said.
"Can it be possible we could be like husband and wife, alone,
your family with you?" she said, looking close into his eyes.
"It only seems strange to me that it can ever have been
"Stiva says that HE has agreed to everything, but I can't accept
HIS generosity," she said, looking dreamily past Vronsky's face.
"I don't want a divorce; it's all the same to me now. Only I
don't know what he will decide about Seryozha."
He could not conceive how at this moment of their meeting she
could remember and think of her son, of divorce. What did it all
"Don't speak of that, don't think of it," he said, turning her
hand in his, and trying to draw her attention to him; but still
she did not look at him.
"Oh, why didn't I die! it would have been better," she said, and
silent tears flowed down both her cheeks; but she tried to smile,
so as not to wound him.
To decline the flattering and dangerous appointment at Tashkend
would have been, Vronsky had till then considered, disgraceful
and impossible. But now, without an instant's consideration, he
declined it, and observing dissatisfaction in the most exalted
quarters at this step, he immediately retired from the army.
A month later Alexey Alexandrovitch was left alone with his son
in his house at Petersburg, while Anna and Vronsky had gone
abroad, not having obtained a divorce, but having absolutely
declined all idea of one.
Princess Shtcherbatskaya considered that it was out of the
question for the wedding to take place before Lent, just five
weeks off, since not half the trousseau could possibly be ready
by that time. But she could not but agree with Levin that to fix
it for after Lent would be putting it off too late, as an old
aunt of Prince Shtcherbatsky's was seriously ill and might die,
and then the mourning would delay the wedding still longer. And
therefore, deciding to divide the trousseau into two parts--a
larger and smaller trousseau--the princess consented to have the
wedding before Lent. She determined that she would get the
smaller part of the trousseau all ready now, and the larger part
should be made later, and she was much vexed with Levin because
he was incapable of giving her a serious answer to the question
whether he agreed to this arrangement or not. The arrangement
was the more suitable as, immediately after the wedding, the
young people were to go to the country, where the more important
part of the trousseau would not be wanted.
Levin still continued in the same delirious condition in which it
seemed to him that he and his happiness constituted the chief and
sole aim of all existence, and that he need not now think or care
about anything, that everything was being done and would be done
for him by others. He had not even plans and aims for the
future, he left its arrangement to others, knowing that
everything would be delightful. His brother Sergey Ivanovitch,
Stepan Arkadyevitch, and the princess guided him in doing what he
had to do. All he did was to agree entirely with everything
suggested to him. His brother raised money for him, the princess
advised him to leave Moscow after the wedding. Stepan
Arkadyevitch advised him to go abroad. He agreed to everything.
"Do what you choose, if it amuses you. I'm happy, and my
happiness can be no greater and no less for anything you do," he
thought. When he told Kitty of Stepan Arkadyevitch's advice that
they should go abroad, he was much surprised that she did not
agree to this, and had some definite requirements of her own in
regard to their future. She knew Levin had work he loved in the
country. She did not, as he saw, understand this work, she did
not even care to understand it. But that did not prevent her
from regarding it as a matter of great importance. And then she
knew their home would be in the country, and she wanted to go,
not abroad where she was not going to live, but to the place
where their home would be. This definitely expressed purpose
astonished Levin. But since he did not care either way, he
immediately asked Stepan Arkadyevitch, as though it were his
duty, to go down to the country and to arrange everything there
to the best of his ability with the taste of which he had so
"But I say," Stepan Arkadyevitch said to him one day after he had
come back from the country, where he had got everything ready for
the young people's arrival, "have you a certificate of having
been at confession?"
"No. But what of it?"
"You can't be married without it."
"Aie, aie, aie!" cried Levin. "Why, I believe it's nine years
since I've taken the sacrament! I never thought of it."
"You're a pretty fellow!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch laughing, "and
you call me a Nihilist! But this won't do, you know. You must
take the sacrament."
"When? There are four days left now."
Stepan Arkadyevitch arranged this also, and Levin had to go to
confession. To Levin, as to any unbeliever who respects the
beliefs of others, it was exceedingly disagreeable to be present
at and take part in church ceremonies. At this moment, in his
present softened state of feeling, sensitive to everything, this
inevitable act of hypocrisy was not merely painful to Levin, it
seemed to him utterly impossible. Now, in the heyday of his
highest glory, his fullest flower, he would have to be a liar or
a scoffer. He felt incapable of being either. But though he
repeatedly plied Stepan Arkadyevitch with questions as to the
possibility of obtaining a certificate without actually
communicating, Stepan Arkadyevitch maintained that it was out of
"Besides, what is it to you--two days? And he's an awfully nice
clever old fellow. He'll pull the tooth out for you so gently,
you won't notice it."
Standing at the first litany, Levin attempted to revive in
himself his youthful recollections of the intense religious
emotion he had passed through between the ages of sixteen and
But he was at once convinced that it was utterly impossible to
him. He attempted to look at it all as an empty custom, having
no sort of meaning, like the custom of paying calls. But he felt
that he could not do that either. Levin found himself, like the
majority of his contemporaries, in the vaguest position in regard
to religion. Believe he could not, and at the same time he had
no firm conviction that it was all wrong. And consequently, not
being able to believe in the significance of what he was doing
nor to regard it with indifference as an empty formality, during
the whole period of preparing for the sacrament he was conscious
of a feeling of discomfort and shame at doing what he did not
himself understand, and what, as an inner voice told him, was
therefore false and wrong.
During the service he would first listen to the prayers, trying
to attach some meaning to them not discordant with his own views;
then feeling that he could not understand and must condemn them,
he tried not to listen to them, but to attend to the thoughts,
observations, and memories which floated through his brain with
extreme vividness during this idle time of standing in church.
He had stood through the litany, the evening service and the
midnight service, and the next day he got up earlier than usual,
and without having tea went at eight o'clock in the morning to
the church for the morning service and the confession.
There was no one in the church but a beggar soldier, two old
women, and the church officials. A young deacon, whose long back
showed in two distinct halves through his thin undercassock, met
him, and at once going to a little table at the wall read the
exhortation. During the reading, especially at the frequent and
rapid repetition of the same words, "Lord, have mercy on us!"
which resounded with an echo, Levin felt that thought was shut
and sealed up, and that it must not be touched or stirred now or
confusion would be the result; and so standing behind the deacon
he went on thinking of his own affairs, neither listening nor
examining what was said. "It's wonderful what expression there
is in her hand," he thought, remembering how they had been
sitting the day before at a corner table. They had nothing to
talk about, as was almost always the case at this time, and
laying her hand on the table she kept opening and shutting it,
and laughed herself as she watched her action. He remembered how
he had kissed it and then had examined the lines on the pink
palm. "Have mercy on us again!" thought Levin, crossing himself,
bowing, and looking at the supple spring of the deacon's back
bowing before him. "She took my hand then and examined the lines
'You've got a splendid hand,' she said." And he looked at his own
hand and the short hand of the deacon. "Yes, now it will soon be
over," he thought. "No, it seems to be beginning again," he
thought, listening to the prayers. "No, it's just ending: there
he is bowing down to the ground. That's always at the end."
The deacon's hand in a plush cuff accepted a three-rouble note
unobtrusively, and the deacon said he would put it down in the
register, and his new boots creaking jauntily over the flagstones
of the empty church, he went to the altar. A moment later he
peeped out thence and beckoned to Levin. Thought, till then
locked up, began to stir in Levin's head, but he made haste to
drive it away. "It will come right somehow," he thought, and
went towards the altar-rails. He went up the steps, and turning
to the right saw the priest. The priest, a little old man with a
scanty grizzled beard and weary, good-natured eyes, was standing
at the altar-rails, turning over the pages of a missal. With a
slight bow to Levin he began immediately reading prayers in the
official voice. When he had finished them he bowed down to the
ground and turned, facing Levin.
"Christ is present here unseen, receiving your confession," he
said, pointing to the crucifix. "Do you believe in all the
doctrines of the Holy Apostolic Church?" the priest went on,
turning his eyes away from Levin's face and folding his hands
under his stole.
"I have doubted, I doubt everything," said Levin in a voice that
jarred on himself, and he ceased speaking.
The priest waited a few seconds to see if he would not say more,
and closing his eyes he said quickly, with a broad, Vladimirsky
"Doubt is natural to the weakness of mankind, but we must pray
that God in His mercy will strengthen us. What are your special
sins?" he added, without the slightest interval, as though
anxious not to waste time.
"My chief sin is doubt. I have doubts of everything, and for the
most part I am in doubt."
"Doubt is natural to the weakness of mankind," the priest
repeated the same words. "What do you doubt about principally?"
"I doubt of everything. I sometimes even have doubts of the
existence of God," Levin could not help saying, and he was
horrified at the impropriety of what he was saying. But Levin's
words did not, it seemed, make much impression on the priest.
"What sort of doubt can there be of the existence of God?" he
said hurriedly, with a just perceptible smile.
Levin did not speak.
"What doubt can you have of the Creator when you behold His
creation?" the priest went on in the rapid customary jargon.
"Who has decked the heavenly firmament with its lights? Who has
clothed the earth in its beauty? How explain it without the
Creator?" he said, looking inquiringly at Levin.
Levin felt that it would be improper to enter upon a metaphysical
discussion with the priest, and so he said in reply merely what
was a direct answer to the question.
"I don't know," he said.
"You don't know! Then how can you doubt that God created all?"
the priest said, with good-humored perplexity.
"I don't understand it at all," said Levin, blushing, and feeling
that his words were stupid, and that they could not be anything
but stupid n such a position.
"Pray to God and beseech Him. Even the holy fathers had doubts,
and prayed to God to strengthen their faith. The devil has great
power, and we must resist him. Pray to God, beseech Him. Pray
to God," he repeated hurriedly.
The priest paused for some time, as though meditating.
"You're about, I hear, to marry the daughter of my parishioner
and son in the spirit, Prince Shtcherbatsky?" he resumed, with a
smile. "An excellent young lady."
"Yes," answered Levin, blushing for the priest. "What does he
want to ask me about this at confession for?" he thought.
And, as though answering his thought, the priest said to him:
"You are about to enter into holy matrimony, and God may bless
you with offspring. Well, what sort of bringing-up can you give
your babes if you do not overcome the temptation of the devil,
enticing you to infidelity?" he said, with gentle
reproachfulness. "If you love your child as a good father, you
will not desire only wealth, luxury, honor for your infant; you
will be anxious for his salvation, his spiritual enlightenment
with the light of truth. Eh? What answer will you make him when
the innocent babe asks you: 'Papa! who made all that enchants me
in this world--the earth; the waters, the sun, the flowers, the
grass?' Can you say to him: 'I don't know'? You cannot but know,
since the Lord God in His infinite mercy has revealed it to us.
Or your child will ask you: 'What awaits me in the life beyond
the tomb?' What will you say to him when you know nothing? How
will you answer him? Will you leave him to the allurements of
the world and the devil? That's not right," he said, and he
stopped, putting his head on one side and looking at Levin with
his kindly, gentle eyes.
Levin made no answer this time, not because he did not want to
enter upon a discussion with the priest, but because, so far, no
one had ever asked him such questions, and when his babes did ask
him those questions, it would be time enough to think about
"You are entering upon a time of life," pursued the priest, "when
you must choose your path and keep to it. Pray to God that He
may in His mercy aid you and have mercy on you!" he concluded.
"Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, in the abundance and riches of
His lovingkindness, forgives this child..." and, finishing the
prayer of absolution, the priest blessed him and dismissed him.
On getting home that day, Levin had a delightful sense of relief
at the awkward position being over and having been got through
without his having to tell a lie. Apart from this, there
remained a vague memory that what the kind, nice old fellow had
said had not been at all so stupid as he had fancied at first,
and that there was something in it that must be cleared up.
"Of course, not now," thought Levin, "but some day later on."
Levin felt more than ever now that there was something not clear
and not clean in his soul, and that, in regard to religion, he
was in the same position which he perceived so clearly and
disliked in others, and for which he blamed his friend Sviazhsky.
Levin spent that evening with his betrothed at Dolly's, and was
in very high spirits. To explain to Stepan Arkadyevitch the
state of excitement in which he found himself, he said that he
was happy like a dog being trained to jump through a hoop, who,
having at last caught the idea, and done what was required of
him, whines and wags its tail, and jumps up to the table and the
windows in its delight.
On the day of the wedding, according to the Russian custom (the
princess and Darya Alexandrovna insisted on strictly keeping all
the customs), Levin did not see his betrothed, and dined at his
hotel with three bachelor friends, casually brought together at
his rooms. These were Sergey Ivanovitch, Katavasov, a university
friend, now professor of natural science, whom Levin had met in
the street and insisted on taking home with him, and Tchirikov,
his best man, a Moscow conciliation-board judge, Levin's
companion in his bear-hunts. The dinner was a very merry one:
Sergey Ivanovitch was in his happiest mood, and was much amused
by Katavasov's originality. Katavasov, feeling his originality
was appreciated and understood, made the most of it. Tchirikov
always gave a lively and good-humored support to conversation of
"See, now," said Katavasov, drawling his words from a habit
acquired in the lecture-room, "what a capable fellow was our
friend Konstantin Dmitrievitch. I'm not speaking of present
company, for he's absent. At the time he left the university he
was fond of science, took an interest in humanity; now one-half
of his abilities is devoted to deceiving himself, and the other
to justifying the deceit."
"A more determined enemy of matrimony than you I never saw," said
"Oh, no, I'm not an enemy of matrimony. I'm in favor of division
of labor. People who can do nothing else ought to rear people
while the rest work for their happiness and enlightenment.
That's how I look at it. To muddle up two trades is the error of
the amateur; I'm not one of their number."
"How happy I shall be when I hear that you're in love!" said
Levin. "Please invite me to the wedding."
"I'm in love now."
"Yes, with a cuttlefish! You know," Levin turned to his brother,
"Mihail Semyonovitch is writing a work on the digestive organs of
"Now, make a muddle of it! It doesn't matter what about. And
the fact is, I certainly do love cuttlefish."
"But that's no hindrance to your loving your wife."
"The cuttlefish is no hindrance. The wife is the hindrance."
"Oh, you'll see! You care about farming, hunting,--well, you'd
better look out!"
"Arhip was here today; he said there were a lot of elks in
Prudno, and two bears," said Tchirikov.
"Well, you must go and get them without me."
"Ah, that's the truth," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "And you may say
good-bye to bear-hunting for the future--your wife won't allow
Levin smiled. The picture of his wife not letting him go was so
pleasant that he was ready to renounce the delights of looking
upon bears forever.
"Still, it's a pity they should get those two bears without you.
Do you remember last time at Hapilovo? That was a delightful
hunt!" said Tchirikov.
Levin had not the heart to disillusion him of the notion that
there could be something delightful apart from her, and so said
"There's some sense in this custom of saying good-bye to bachelor
life," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "However happy you may be, you
must regret your freedom."
"And confess there is a feeling that you want to jump out of the
window, like Gogol's bridegroom?"
"Of course there is, but it isn't confessed," said Katavasov, and
he broke into loud laughter.
"Oh, well, the window's open. Let's start off this instant to
Tver! There's a big she-bear; one can go right up to the lair.
Seriously, let's go by the five o'clock! And here let them do
what they like," said Tchirikov, smiling.
"Well, now, on my honor," said Levin, smiling, "I can't find in
my heart that feeling of regret for my freedom."
"Yes, there's such a chaos in your heart just now that you can't
find anything there," said Katavasov. "Wait a bit, when you set
it to rights a little, you'll find it!"
"No; if so, I should have felt a little, apart from my feeling"
(he could not say love before them) "and happiness, a certain
regret at losing my freedom.... On the contrary, I am glad at
the very loss of my freedom."
"Awful! It's a hopeless case!" said Katavasov. "Well, let's
drink to his recovery, or wish that a hundredth part of his
dreams may be realized--and that would be happiness such as never
has been seen on earth!"
Soon after dinner the guests went away to be in time to be
dressed for the wedding.
When he was left alone, and recalled the conversation of these
bachelor friends, Levin asked himself: had he in his heart that
regret for his freedom of which they had spoken? He smiled at
the question. "Freedom! What is freedom for? Happiness is only
in loving and wishing her wishes, thinking her thoughts, that is
to say, not freedom at all--that's happiness!"
"But do I know her ideas, her wishes, her feelings?" some voice
suddenly whispered to him. The smile died away from his face,
and he grew thoughtful. And suddenly a strange feeling came upon
him. There came over him a dread and doubt--doubt of everything.
"What if she does not love me? What if she's marrying me simply
to be married? What if she doesn't see herself what she's
doing?" he asked himself. "She may come to her senses, and only
when she is being married realize that she does not and cannot
love me." And strange, most evil thoughts of her began to come
to him. He was jealous of Vronsky, as he had been a year ago, as
though the evening he had seen her with Vronsky had been
yesterday. He suspected she had not told him everything.
He jumped up quickly. "No, this can't go on!" he said to himself
in despair. "I'll go to her; I'll ask her; I'll say for the last
time: we are free, and hadn't we better stay so? Anything's
better than endless misery, disgrace, unfaithfulness!" With
despair in his heart and bitter anger against all men, against
himself, against her, he went out of the hotel and drove to her
He found her in one of the back rooms. She was sitting on a
chest and making some arrangements with her maid, sorting over
heaps of dresses of different colors, spread on the backs of
chairs and on the floor.
"Ah!" she cried, seeing him, and beaming with delight. "Kostya!
Konstantin Dmitrievitch!" (These latter days she used these names
almost alternately.) "I didn't expect you! I'm going through my
wardrobe to see what's for whom..."
"Oh! that's very nice!" he said gloomily, looking at the maid.
"You can go, Dunyasha, I'll call you presently," said Kitty.
"Kostya, what's the matter?" she asked, definitely adopting this
familiar name as soon as the maid had gone out. She noticed his
strange face, agitated and gloomy, and a panic came over her.
"Kitty! I'm in torture. I can't suffer alone," he said with
despair in his voice, standing before her and looking imploringly
into her eyes. He saw already from her loving, truthful face,
that nothing could come of what he had meant to say, but yet he
wanted her to reassure him herself. "I've come to say that
there's still time. This can all be stopped and set right."
"What? I don't understand. What is the matter?"
"What I have said a thousand times over, and can't help thinking
...that I'm not worthy of you. You couldn't consent to marry
me. Think a little. You've made a mistake. Think it over
thoroughly. You can't love me.... If...better say so," he said,
not looking at her. "I shall be wretched. Let people say what
they like; anything's better than misery.... Far better now
while there's still time...."
"I don't understand," she answered, panic-stricken; "you mean you
want to give it up...don't want it?"
"Yes, if you don't love me."
"You're out of your mind!" she cried, turning crimson with
vexation. But his face was so piteous, that she restrained her
vexation, and flinging some clothes off an arm-chair, she sat
down beside him. "What are you thinking? tell me all."
"I am thinking you can't love me. What can you love me for?"
"My God! what can I do?..." she said, and burst into tears.
"Oh! what have I done?" he cried, and kneeling before her, he
fell to kissing her hands.
When the princess came into the room five minutes later, she
found them completely reconciled. Kitty had not simply assured
him that she loved him, but had gone so far--in answer to his
question, what she loved him for--as to explain what for. She
told him that she loved him because she understood him
completely, because she knew what he would like, and because
everything he liked was good. And this seemed to him perfectly
clear. When the princess came to them, they were sitting side by
side on the chest, sorting the dresses and disputing over Kitty's
wanting to give Dunyasha the brown dress she had been wearing
when Levin proposed to her, while he insisted that that dress
must never be given away, but Dunyasha must have the blue one.
"How is it you don't see? She's a brunette, and it won't suit
her.... I've worked it all out."
Hearing why he had come, the princess was half humorously, half
seriously angry with him, and sent him home to dress and not to
hinder Kitty's hair-dressing, as Charles the hair-dresser was
"As it is, she's been eating nothing lately and is losing her
looks, and then you must come and upset her with your nonsense,"
she said to him. "Get along with you, my dear!"
Levin, guilty and shamefaced, but pacified, went back to his
hotel. His brother, Darya Alexandrovna, and Stepan Arkadyevitch,
all in full dress, were waiting for him to bless him with the
holy picture. There was no time to lose. Darya Alexandrovna had
to drive home again to fetch her curled and pomaded son, who was
to carry the holy pictures after the bride. Then a carriage had
to be sent for the best man, and another that would take Sergey
Ivanovitch away would have to be sent back.... Altogether
there were a great many most complicated matters to be considered
and arranged. One thing was unmistakable, that there must be no
delay, as it was already half-past six.
Nothing special happened at the ceremony of benediction with the
holy picture. Stepan Arkadyevitch stood in a comically solemn
pose beside his wife, took the holy picture, and telling Levin
to bow down to the ground, he blessed him with his kindly,
ironical smile, and kissed him three times; Darya Alexandrovna
did the same, and immediately was in a hurry to get off, and
again plunged into the intricate question of the destinations of
the various carriages.
"Come, I'll tell you how we'll manage: you drive in our carriage
to fetch him, and Sergey Ivanovitch, if he'll be so good, will
drive there and then send his carriage."
"Of course; I shall be delighted."
"We'll come on directly with him. Are your things sent off?"
said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Yes," answered Levin, and he told Kouzma to put out his clothes
for him to dress.
A crowd of people, principally women, was thronging round the
church lighted up for the wedding. Those who had not succeeded
in getting into the main entrance were crowding about the
windows, pushing, wrangling, and peeping through the gratings.
More than twenty carriages had already been drawn up in ranks
along the street by the police. A police officer, regardless of
the frost, stood at the entrance, gorgeous in his uniform. More
carriages were continually driving up, and ladies wearing flowers
and carrying their trains, and men taking off their helmets or
black hats kept walking into the church. Iside the church both
lusters were already lighted, and all the candles before the holy
pictures. The gilt on the red ground of the holy picture-stand,
and the gilt relief on the pictures, and the silver of the
lusters and candlesticks, and the stones of the floor, and the
rugs, and the banners above in the choir, and the steps of the
altar, and the old blackened books, and the cassocks and
surplices--all were flooded with light. On the right side of the
warm church, in the crowd of frock coats and white ties, uniforms
and broadcloth, velvet, satin, hair and flowers, bare shoulders
and arms and long gloves, there was discreet but lively
conversation that echoed strangely in the high cupola. Every
time there was heard the creak of the opened door the
conversation in the crowd died away, and everybody looked round
expecting to see the bride and bridegroom come in. But the door
had opened more than ten times, and each time it was either a
belated guest or guests, who joined the circle of the invited on
the right, or a spectator, who had eluded or softened the police
officer, and went to join the crowd of outsiders on the left.
Both the guests and the outside public had by now passed through
all the phases of anticipation.
At first they imagined that the bride and bridegroom would arrive
immediately, and attached no importance at all to their being
late. Then they began to look more and more often towards the
door, and to talk of whether anything could have happened. Then
the long delay began to be positively discomforting, and
relations and guests tried to look as if they were not thinking
of the bridegroom but were engrossed in conversation.
The head deacon, as though to remind them of the value of his
time, coughed impatiently, making the window-panes quiver in
their frames. In the choir the bored choristers could be heard
trying their voices and blowing their noses. The priest was
continually sending first the beadle and then the deacon to find
out whether the bridegroom had not come, more and more often he
went himself, in a lilac vestment and an embroidered sash, to the
side door, expecting to see the bridegroom. At last one of the
ladies, glancing at her watch, said, "It really is strange,
though!" and all the guests became uneasy and began loudly
expressing their wonder and dissatisfaction. One of the
bridegroom's best men went to find out what had happened. Kitty
meanwhile had long ago been quite ready, and in her white dress
and long veil and wreath of orange blossoms she was standing in
the drawing-room of the Shtcherbatskys' house with her sister,
Madame Lvova, who was her bridal-mother. She was looking out of
the window, and had been for over half an hour anxiously
expecting to hear from her best man that her bridegroom was at
Levin meanwhile, in his trousers, but without his coat and
waistcoat, was walking to and fro in his room at the hotel,
continually putting his head out of the door and looking up and
down the corridor. But in the corridor there was no sign of the
person he was looking for and he came back in despair, and
frantically waving his hands addressed Stepan Arkadyevitch, who
was smoking serenely.
"Was ever a man in such a fearful fool's position?" he said.
"Yes, it is stupid," Stepan Arkadyevitch asserted, smiling
soothingly. "But don't worry, it'll be brought directly."
"No, what is to be done!" said Levin, with smothered fury. "And
these fools of open waistcoats! Out of the question!" he said,
looking at the crumpled front of his shirt. "And what if the
things have been taken on to the railway station!" he roared in
"Then you must put on mine."
"I ought to have done so long ago, if at all."
"It's not nice to look ridiculous.... Wait a bit! it will come
The point was that when Levin asked for his evening suit, Kouzma,
his old servant, had brought him the coat, waistcoat, and
everything that was wanted.
"But the shirt!" cried Levin.
"You've got a shirt on," Konzma answered, with a placid smile.
Kouzma had not thought of leaving out a clean shirt, and on
receiving instructions to pack up everything and send it round to
the Shtcherbatskys' house, from which the young people were to
set out the same evening, he had done so, packing everything but
the dress suit. The shirt worn since the morning was crumpled
and out of the question with the fashionable open waistcoat. It
was a long way to send to the Shtcherbatskys'. They sent out to
buy a shirt. The servant came back; everything was shut up--it
was Sunday. They sent to Stepan Arkadyevitch's and brought a
shirt--it was impossibly wide and short. They sent finally to
the Shtcherbatskys' to unpack the things. The bridegroom was
expected at the church while he was pacing up and down his room
like a wild beast in a cage, peeping out into the corridor, and
with horror and despair recalling what absurd things he had said
to Kitty and what she might be thinking now.
At last the guilty Kouzma flew panting into the room with the
"Only just in time. They were just lifting it into the van,"
Three minutes later Levin ran full speed into the corridor, not
looking at his watch for fear of aggravating his sufferings.
"You won't help matters like this," said Stepan Arkadyevitch with
a smile, hurrying with more deliberation after him. "It will
come round, it will come round...I tell you."
"They've come!" "Here he is!" "Which one?" "Rather young, eh?"
"Why, my dear soul, she looks more dead than alive!" were the
comments in the crowd, when Levin, meeting his bride in the
entrance, walked with her into the church.
Stepan Arkadyevitch told his wife the cause of the delay, and the
guests were whispering it with smiles to one another. Levin saw
nothing and no one; he did not take his eyes off his bride.
Everyone said she had lost her looks dreadfully of late, and was
not nearly so pretty on her wedding day as usual; but Levin did
not think so. He looked at her hair done up high, with the long
white veil and white flowers and the high, stand-up, scalloped
collar, that in such a maidenly fashion hid her long neck at the
sides and only showed it in front, her strikingly slender figure,
and it seemed to him that she looked better than ever--not
because these flowers, this veil, this gown from Paris added
anything to her beauty; but because, in spite of the elaborate
sumptuousness of her attire, the expression of her sweet face, of
her eyes, of her lips was still her own characteristic expression
of guileless truthfulness.
"I was beginning to think you meant to run away," she said, and
smiled to him.
"It's so stupid, what happened to me, I'm ashamed to speak of
it!" he said, reddening, and he was obliged to turn to Sergey
Ivanovitch, who came up to him.
"This is a pretty story of yours about the shirt!" said Sergey
Ivanovitch, shaking his head and smiling.
"Yes, yes!" answered Levin, without an idea of what they were
"Now, Kostya, you have to decide," said Stepan Arkadyevitch with
an air of mock dismay, "a weighty question. You are at this
moment just in the humor to appreciate all its gravity. They ask
me, are they to light the candles that have been lighted before
or candles that have never been lighted? It's a matter of ten