Part 2 out of 22
"Oh, what a lucky fellow you are!" broke in Stepan Arkadyevitch,
looking into Levin's eyes.
"I know a gallant steed by tokens sure, And by his eyes I know a
youth in love," declaimed Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Everything is
"Why, is it over for you already?"
"No; not over exactly, but the future is yours, and the present
is mine, and the present--well, it's not all that it might be."
"Oh, things go wrong. But I don't want to talk of myself, and
besides I can't explain it all," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Well, why have you come to Moscow, then?.... Hi! take away!" he
called to the Tatar.
"You guess?" responded Levin, his eyes like deep wells of light
fixed on Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"I guess, but I can't be the first to talk about it. You can see
by that whether I guess right or wrong," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, gazing at Levin with a subtle smile.
"Well, and what have you to say to me?" said Levin in a quivering
voice, feeling that all the muscles of his face were quivering
too. "How do you look at the question?"
Stepan Arkadyevitch slowly emptied his glass of Chablis, never
taking his eyes off Levin.
"I?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "there's nothing I desire so much
as that--nothing! It would be the best thing that could be."
"But you're not making a mistake? You know what we're speaking
of?" said Levin, piercing him with his eyes. "You think it's
"I think it's possible. Why not possible?"
"No! do you really think it's possible? No, tell me all you
think! Oh, but if...if refusal's in store for me!... Indeed I
"Why should you think that?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling at
"It seems so to me sometimes. That will be awful for me, and for
"Oh, well, anyway there's nothing awful in it for a girl. Every
girl's proud of an offer."
"Yes, every girl, but not she."
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled. He so well knew that feeling of
Levin's, that for him all the girls in the world were divided
into two classes: one class--all the girls in the world except
her, and those girls with all sorts of human weaknesses, and very
ordinary girls: the other class--she alone, having no weaknesses
of any sort and higher than all humanity.
"Stay, take some sauce," he said, holding back Levin's hand as it
pushed away the sauce.
Levin obediently helped himself to sauce, but would not let
Stepan Arkadyevitch go on with his dinner.
"No, stop a minute, stop a minute," he said. "You must
understand that it's a question of life and death for me. I have
never spoken to any one of this. And there's no one I could
speak of it to, except you. You know we're utterly unlike each
other, different tastes and views and everything; but I know
you're fond of me and understand me, and that's why I like you
awfully. But for God's sake, be quite straightforward with me."
"I tell you what I think," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling.
"But I'll say more: my wife is a wonderful woman..." Stepan
Arkadyevitch sighed, remembering his position with his wife, and,
after a moment's silence, resumed--"She has a gift of foreseeing
things. She sees right through people; but that's not all; she
knows what will come to pass, especially in the way of marriages.
She foretold, for instance, that Princess Shahovskaya would marry
Brenteln. No one would believe it, but it came to pass. And
she's on your side."
"How do you mean?"
"It's not only that she likes you--she says that Kitty is
certain to be your wife."
At these words Levin's face suddenly lighted up with a smile, a
smile not far from tears of emotion.
"She says that!" cried Levin. "I always said she was exquisite,
your wife. There, that's enough, enough said about it," he said,
getting up from his seat.
"All right, but do sit down."
But Levin could not sit down. He walked with his firm tread
twice up and down the little cage of a room, blinked his eyelids
that his tears might not fall, and only then sat down to the
"You must understand," said he, "it's not love. I've been in
love, but it's not that. It's not my feeling, but a sort of
force outside me has taken possession of me. I went away, you
see, because I made up my mind that it could never be, you
understand, as a happiness that does not come on earth; but I've
struggled with myself, I see there's no living without it. And
it must be settled."
"What did you go away for?"
"Ah, stop a minute! Ah, the thoughts that come crowding on one!
The questions one must ask oneself! Listen. You can't imagine
what you've done for me by what you said. I'm so happy that I've
become positively hateful; I've forgotten everything. I heard
today that my brother Nikolay...you know, he's here...I had even
forgotten him. It seems to me that he's happy too. It's a sort
of madness. But one thing's awful.... Here, you've been
married, you know the feeling...it's awful that we--old--with a
past... not of love, but of sins...are brought all at once so
near to a creature pure and innocent; it's loathsome, and that's
why one can't help feeling oneself unworthy."
"Oh, well, you've not many sins on your conscience."
"Alas! all the same," said Levin, "when with loathing I go over
my life, I shudder and curse and bitterly regret it.... Yes."
"What would you have? The world's made so," said Stepan
"The one comfort is like that prayer, which I always liked:
'Forgive me not according to my unworthiness, but according to
Thy lovingkindness.' That's the only way she can forgive me."
Levin emptied his glass, and they were silent for a while.
"There's one other thing I ought to tell you. Do you know
Vronsky?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked Levin.
"No, I don't. Why do you ask?"
"Give us another bottle," Stepan Arkadyevitch directed the Tatar,
who was filling up their glasses and fidgeting round them just
when he was not wanted.
"Why you ought to know Vronsky is that he's one of your rivals."
"Who's Vronsky?" said Levin, and his face was suddenly
transformed from the look of childlike ecstasy which Oblonsky had
just been admiring to an angry and unpleasant expression.
"Vronsky is one of the sons of Count Kirill Ivanovitch Vronsky,
and one of the finest specimens of the gilded youth of
Petersburg. I made his acquaintance in Tver when I was there on
official business, and he came there for the levy of recruits.
Fearfully rich, handsome, great connections, an aide-de-camp, and
with all that a very nice, good-natured fellow. But he's more
than simply a good-natured fellow, as I've found out here--he's
a cultivated man, too, and very intelligent; he's a man who'll
make his mark."
Levin scowled and was dumb.
"Well, he turned up here soon after you'd gone, and as I can see,
he's over head and ears in love with Kitty, and you know that her
"Excuse me, but I know nothing," said Levin, frowning gloomily.
And immediately he recollected his brother Nikolay and how
hateful he was to have been able to forget him.
"You wait a bit, wait a bit," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling
and touching his hand. "I've told you what I know, and I repeat
that in this delicate and tender matter, as far as one can
conjecture, I believe the chances are in your favor."
Levin dropped back in his chair; his face was pale.
"But I would advise you to settle the thing as soon as may be,"
pursued Oblonsky, filling up his glass.
"No, thanks, I can't drink any more," said Levin, pushing away
his glass. "I shall be drunk.... Come, tell me how are you
getting on?" he went on, obviously anxious to change the
"One word more: in any case I advise you to settle the question
soon. Tonight I don't advise you to speak," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch. "Go round tomorrow morning, make an offer in due
form, and God bless you..."
"Oh, do you still think of coming to me for some shooting? Come
next spring, do," said Levin.
Now his whole soul was full of remorse that he had begun this
conversation with Stepan Arkadyevitch. A feeling such as his was
prefaced by talk of the rivalry of some Petersburg officer, of
the suppositions and the counsels of Stepan Arkadyevitch.
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled. He knew what was passing in Levin's
"I'll come some day," he said. "But women, my boy, they're the
pivot everything turns upon. Things are in a bad way with me,
very bad. And it's all through women. Tell me frankly now," he
pursued, picking up a cigar and keeping one hand on his glass;
"give me your advice."
"Why, what is it?"
"I'll tell you. Suppose you're married, you love your wife, but
you're fascinated by another woman..."
"Excuse me, but I'm absolutely unable to comprehend how...just as
I can't comprehend how I could now, after my dinner, go straight
to a baker's shop and steal a roll."
Stepan Arkadyevitch's eyes sparkled more than usual.
"Why not? A roll will sometimes smell so good one can't resist
"Himmlisch ist's, wenn ich bezwungen
Meine irdische Begier;
Aber doch wenn's nich gelungen
Hatt' ich auch recht huebsch Plaisir!"
As he said this, Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled subtly. Levin, too,
could not help smiling.
"Yes, but joking apart," resumed Stepan Arkadyevitch, "you must
understand that the woman is a sweet, gentle loving creature,
poor and lonely, and has sacrificed everything. Now, when the
thing's done, don't you see, can one possibly cast her off? Even
supposing one parts from her, so as not to break up one's family
life, still, can one help feeling for her, setting her on her
feet, softening her lot?"
"Well, you must excuse me there. You know to me all women are
divided into two classes...at least no...truer to say: there are
women and there are...I've never seen exquisite fallen beings,
and I never shall see them, but such creatures as that painted
Frenchwoman at the counter with the ringlets are vermin to my
mind, and all fallen women are the same."
"But the Magdalen?"
"Ah, drop that! Christ would never have said those words if He
had known how they would be abused. Of all the Gospel those
words are the only ones remembered. However, I'm not saying so
much what I think, as what I feel. I have a loathing for fallen
women. You're afraid of spiders, and I of these vermin. Most
likely you've not made a study of spiders and don't know their
character; and so it is with me."
"It's very well for you to talk like that; it's very much like
that gentleman in Dickens who used to fling all difficult
questions over his right shoulder. But to deny the facts is no
answer. What's to be done--you tell me that, what's to be done?
Your wife gets older, while you're full of life. Before you've
time to look round, you feel that you can't love your wife with
love, however much you may esteem her. And then all at once love
turns up, and you're done for, done for," Stepan Arkadyevitch
said with weary despair.
Levin half smiled.
"Yes, you're done for," resumed Oblonsky. "But what's to be
"Don't steal rolls."
Stepan Arkadyevitch laughed outright.
"Oh, moralist! But you must understand, there are two women; one
insists only on her rights, and those rights are your love, which
you can't give her; and the other sacrifices everything for you
and asks for nothing. What are you to do? How are you to act?
There's a fearful tragedy in it."
"If you care for my profession of faith as regards that, I'll
tell you that I don't believe there was any tragedy about it.
And this is why. To my mind, love...both the sorts of love,
which you remember Plato defines in his Banquet, served as the
test of men. Some men only understand one sort, and some only
the other. And those who only know the non-platonic love have no
need to talk of tragedy. In such love there can be no sort of
tragedy. 'I'm much obliged for the gratification, my humble
respects'--that's all the tragedy. And in platonic love there
can be no tragedy, because in that love all is clear and pure,
At that instant Levin recollected his own sins and the inner
conflict he had lived through. And he added unexpectedly:
"But perhaps you are right. Very likely...I don't know, I don't
"It's this, don't you see," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "you're
very much all of a piece. That's your strong point and your
failing. You have a character that's all of a piece, and you
want the whole of life to be of a piece too--but that's not how
it is. You despise public official work because you want the
reality to be invariably corresponding all the while with the
aim--and that's not how it is. You want a man's work, too,
always to have a defined aim, and love and family life always to
be undivided--and that's not how it is. All the variety, all the
charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow."
Levin sighed and made no reply. He was thinking of his own
affairs, and did not hear Oblonsky.
And suddenly both of them felt that though they were friends,
though they had been dining and drinking together, which should
have drawn them closer, yet each was thinking only of his own
affairs, and they had nothing to do with one another. Oblonsky
had more than once experienced this extreme sense of aloofness,
instead of intimacy, coming on after dinner, and he knew what to
do in such cases.
"Bill!" he called, and he went into the next room where he
promptly came across and aide-de-camp of his acquaintance and
dropped into conversation with him about an actress and her
protector. And at once in the conversation with the aide-de-camp
Oblonsky had a sense of relaxation and relief after the
conversation with Levin, which always put him to too great a
mental and spiritual strain.
When the Tatar appeared with a bill for twenty-six roubles and
odd kopecks, besides a tip for himself, Levin, who would another
time have been horrified, like any one from the country, at his
share of fourteen roubles, did not notice it, paid, and set off
homewards to dress and go to the Shtcherbatskys' there to decide
The young Princess Kitty Shtcherbatskaya was eighteen. It was
the first winter that she had been out in the world. Her success
in society had been greater than that of either of her elder
sisters, and greater even than her mother had anticipated. To
say nothing of the young men who danced at the Moscow balls being
almost all in love with Kitty, two serious suitors had already
this first winter made their appearance: Levin, and immediately
after his departure, Count Vronsky.
Levin's appearance at the beginning of the winter, his frequent
visits, and evident love for Kitty, had led to the first serious
conversations between Kitty's parents as to her future, and to
disputes between them. The prince was on Levin's side; he said
he wished for nothing better for Kitty. The princess for her
part, going round the question in the manner peculiar to women,
maintained that Kitty was too young, that Levin had done nothing
to prove that he had serious intentions, that Kitty felt no great
attraction to him, and other side issues; but she did not state
the principal point, which was that she looked for a better match
for her daughter, and that Levin was not to her liking, and she
did not understand him. When Levin had abruptly departed, the
princess was delighted, and said to her husband triumphantly:
"You see I was right." When Vronsky appeared on the scene, she
was still more delighted, confirmed in her opinion that Kitty was
to make not simply a good, but a brilliant match.
In the mother's eyes there could be no comparison between Vronsky
and Levin. She disliked in Levin his strange and uncompromising
opinions and his shyness in society, founded, as she supposed, on
his pride and his queer sort of life, as she considered it,
absorbed in cattle and peasants. She did not very much like it
that he, who was in love with her daughter, had kept coming to
the house for six weeks, as though he were waiting for something,
inspecting, as though he were afraid he might be doing them too
great an honor by making an offer, and did not realize that a
man, who continually visits at a house where there is a young
unmarried girl, is bound to make his intentions clear. And
suddenly, without doing so, he disappeared. "It's as well he's
not attractive enough for Kitty to have fallen in love with him,"
thought the mother.
Vronsky satisfied all the mother's desires. Very wealthy,
clever, of aristocratic family, on the highroad to a brilliant
career in the army and at court, and a fascinating man. Nothing
better could be wished for.
Vronsky openly flirted with Kitty at balls, danced with her, and
came continually to the house, consequently there could be no
doubt of the seriousness of his intentions. But, in spite of
that, the mother had spent the whole of that winter in a state of
terrible anxiety and agitation.
Princess Shtcherbatskaya had herself been married thirty years
ago, her aunt arranging the match. Her husband, about whom
everything was well known before hand, had come, looked at his
future bride, and been looked at. The match-making aunt had
ascertained and communicated their mutual impression. That
impression had been favorable. Afterwards, on a day fixed
beforehand, the expected offer was made to her parents, and
accepted. All had passed very simply and easily. So it seemed,
at least, to the princess. But over her own daughters she had
felt how far from simple and easy is the business, apparently so
commonplace, of marrying off one's daughters. The panics that
had been lived through, the thoughts that had been brooded over,
the money that had been wasted, and the disputes with her husband
over marrying the two elder girls, Darya and Natalia! Now, since
the youngest had come out, she was going through the same
terrors, the same doubts, and still more violent quarrels with
her husband than she had over the elder girls. The old prince,
like all fathers indeed, was exceedingly punctilious on the score
of the honor and reputation of his daughters. He was
irrationally jealous over his daughters, especially over Kitty,
who was his favorite. At every turn he had scenes with the
princess for compromising her daughter. The princess had grown
accustomed to this already with her other daughters, but now she
felt that there was more ground for the prince's touchiness. She
saw that of late years much was changed in the manners of
society, that a mother's duties had become still more difficult.
She saw that girls of Kitty's age formed some sort of clubs, went
to some sort of lectures, mixed freely in men's society; drove
about the streets alone, many of them did not curtsey, and, what
was the most important thing, all the girls were firmly convinced
that to choose their husbands was their own affair, and not their
parents'. "Marriages aren't made nowadays as they used to be,"
was thought and said by all these young girls, and even by their
elders. But how marriages were made now, the princess could not
learn from any one. The French fashion--of the parents
arranging their children's future--was not accepted; it was
condemned. The English fashion of the complete independence of
girls was also not accepted, and not possible in Russian society.
The Russian fashion of match-making by the offices if
intermediate persons was for some reason considered unseemly; it
was ridiculed by every one, and by the princess herself. But how
girls were to be married, and how parents were to marry them, no
one knew. Everyone with whom the princess had chanced to discuss
the matter said the same thing: "Mercy on us, it's high time in
our day to cast off all that old-fashioned business. It's the
young people have to marry; and not their parents; and so we
ought to leave the young people to arrange it as they choose." It
was very easy for anyone to say that who had no daughters, but
the princess realized that in the process of getting to know each
other, her daughter might fall in love, and fall in love with
someone who did not care to marry her or who was quite unfit to
be her husband. And, however much it was instilled into the
princess that in our times young people ought to arrange their
lives for themselves, she was unable to believe it, just as she
would have been unable to believe that, at any time whatever, the
most suitable playthings for children five years old ought to be
loaded pistols. And so the princess was more uneasy over Kitty
than she had been over her elder sisters.
Now she was afraid that Vronsky might confine himself to simply
flirting with her daughter. She saw that her daughter was in
love with him, but tried to comfort herself with the thought that
he was an honorable man, and would not do this. But at the same
time she knew how easy it is, with the freedom of manners of
today, to turn a girl's head, and how lightly men generally
regard such a crime. The week before, Kitty had told her mother
of a conversation she had with Vronsky during a mazurka. This
conversation had partly reassured the princess; but perfectly at
ease she could not be. Vronsky had told Kitty that both he and
his brother were so used to obeying their mother that they never
made up their minds to any important undertaking without
consulting her. "And just now, I am impatiently awaiting my
mother's arrival from Petersburg, as peculiarly fortunate," he
Kitty had repeated this without attaching any significance to the
words. But her mother saw them in a different light. She knew
that the old lady was expected from day to day, that she would be
pleased at her son's choice, and she felt it strange that he
should not make his offer through fear of vexing his mother.
However, she was so anxious for the marriage itself, and still
more for relief from her fears, that she believed it was so.
Bitter as it was for the princess to see the unhappiness of her
eldest daughter, Dolly, on the point of leaving her husband, her
anxiety over the decision of her youngest daughter's fate
engrossed all her feelings. Today, with Levin's reappearance, a
fresh source of anxiety arose. She was afraid that her daughter,
who had at one time, as she fancied, a feeling for Levin, might,
from extreme sense of honor, refuse Vronsky, and that Levin's
arrival might generally complicate and delay the affair so near
"Why, has he been here long?" the princess asked about Levin, as
they returned home.
"He came today, mamma."
"There's one thing I want to say..." began the princess, and from
her serious and alert face, Kitty guessed what it would be.
"Mamma," she said, flushing hotly and turning quickly to her,
"please, please don't say anything about that. I know, I know
all about it."
She wished for what her mother wished for, but the motives of her
mother's wishes wounded her.
"I only want to say that to raise hopes..."
"Mamma, darling, for goodness' sake, don't talk about it. It's
so horrible to talk about it."
"I won't," said her mother, seeing the tears in her daughter's
eyes; "but one thing, my love; you promised me you would have no
secrets from me. You won't?"
"Never, mamma, none," answered Kitty, flushing a little, and
looking her mother straight in the face, "but there's no use in
my telling you anything, and I...I...if I wanted to, I don't know
what to say or how...I don't know..."
"No, she could not tell an untruth with those eyes," thought the
mother, smiling at her agitation and happiness. The princess
smiled that what was taking place just now in her soul seemed to
the poor child so immense and so important.
After dinner, and till the beginning of the evening, Kitty was
feeling a sensation akin to the sensation of a young man before a
battle. Her heat throbbed violently, and her thoughts would not
rest on anything.
She felt that this evening, when they would both meet for the
first time, would be a turning point in her life. And she was
continually picturing them to herself, at one moment each
separately, and then both together. When she mused on the past,
she dwelt with pleasure, with tenderness, on the memories of her
relations with Levin. The memories of childhood and of Levin's
friendship with her dead brother gave a special poetic charm to
her relations with him. His love for her, of which she felt
certain, was flattering and delightful to her; and it was
pleasant for her to think of Levin. In her memories of Vronsky
there always entered a certain element of awkwardness, though he
was in the highest degree well-bred and at ease, as though there
were some false note--not in Vronsky, he was very simple and
nice, but in herself, while with Levin she felt perfectly simple
and clear. But, on the other hand, directly she thought of the
future with Vronsky, there arose before her a perspective of
brilliant happiness; with Levin the future seemed misty.
When she went upstairs to dress, and looked into the
looking-glass, she noticed with joy that it was one of her good
days, and that she was in complete possession of all her
forces,--she needed this so for what lay before her: she was
conscious of external composure and free grace in her movements.
At half-past seven she had only just gone down into the drawing
room, when the footman announced, "Konstantin Dmitrievitch
Levin." The princess was still in her room, and the prince had
not come in. "So it is to be," thought Kitty, and all the blood
seemed to rush to her heart. She was horrified at her paleness,
as she glanced into the looking-glass. At that moment she knew
beyond doubt that he had come early on purpose to find her alone
and to make her an offer. And only then for the first time the
whole thing presented itself in a new, different aspect; only
then she realized that the question did not affect her only--
with whom she would be happy, and whom she loved--but that she
would have that moment to wound a man whom she liked. And to
wound him cruelly. What for? Because he, dear fellow, loved
her, was in love with her. But there was no help for it, so it
must be, so it would have to be.
"My God! shall I myself really have to say it to him?" she
thought. "Can I tell him I don't love him? That will be a lie.
What am I to say to him? That I love someone else? No, that's
impossible. I'm going away, I'm going away."
She had reached the door, when she heard his step. "No! it's not
honest. What have I to be afraid of? I have done nothing wrong.
What is to be, will be! I'll tell the truth. And with him one
can't be ill at ease. Here he is," she said to herself, seeing
his powerful, shy figure, with his shining eyes fixed on her.
She looked straight into his face, as thought imploring him to
spare her, and gave her hand.
"It's not time yet; I think I'm too early," he said glancing
round the empty drawing room. When he saw that his expectations
were realized, that there was nothing to prevent him from
speaking, his face became gloomy.
"Oh, no," said Kitty, and sat down at the table.
"But this was just what I wanted, to find you alone," he began,
not sitting down, and not looking at her, so as not to lose
"Mamma will be down directly. She was very much tired....
She talked on, not knowing what her lips were uttering, and not
taking her supplicating and caressing eyes off him.
He glanced at her; she blushed, and ceased speaking.
"I told you I did not know whether I should be here long...that
it depended on you..."
She dropped her head lower and lower, not knowing herself what
answer she should make to what was coming.
"That it depended on you," he repeated. "I meant to say...I
meant to say...I came for this...to be my wife!" he brought out,
not knowing what he was saying; but feeling that the most
terrible thing was said, he stopped short and looked at her...
She was breathing heavily, not looking at him. She was feeling
ecstasy. Her soul was flooded with happiness. She had never
anticipated that the utterance of love would produce such a
powerful effect on her. But it lasted only an instant. She
remembered Vronsky. She lifted her clear, truthful eyes, and
seeing his desperate face, she answered hastily:
"That cannot be...forgive me."
A moment ago, and how close she had been to him, of what
importance in his life! And how aloof and remote from him she
had become now!
"It was bound to be so," he said, not looking at her.
He bowed, and was meaning to retreat.
But at that very moment the princess came in. There was a look
of horror on her face when she saw them alone, and their
disturbed faces. Levin bowed to her, and said nothing. Kitty
did not speak nor lift her eyes. "Thank God, she has refused
him," thought the mother, and her face lighted up with the
habitual smile with which she greeted her guests on Thursdays.
She sat down and began questioning Levin about his life in the
country. He sat down again, waiting for other visitors to
arrive, in order to retreat unnoticed.
Five minutes later there came in a friend of Kitty's, married the
preceding winter, Countess Nordston.
She was a thin, sallow, sickly, and nervous woman, with brilliant
black eyes. She was fond of Kitty, and her affection for her
showed itself, as the affection of married women for girls always
does, in the desire to make a match for Kitty after her own ideal
of married happiness; she wanted her to marry Vronsky. Levin she
had often met at the Shtcherbatskys' early in the winter, and she
had always disliked him. Her invariable and favorite pursuit,
when they met, consisted in making fun of him.
"I do like it when he looks down at me from the height of his
grandeur, or breaks off his learned conversation with me because
I'm a fool, or is condescending to me. I like that so; to see
him condescending! I am so glad he can't bear me," she used to
say of him.
She was right, for Levin actually could not bear her, and
despised her for what she was proud of and regarded as a fine
characteristic--her nervousness, her delicate contempt and
indifference for everything coarse and earthly.
The Countess Nordston and Levin got into that relation with one
another not seldom seen in society, when two persons, who remain
externally on friendly terms, despise each other to such a degree
that they cannot even take each other seriously, and cannot even
be offended by each other.
The Countess Nordston pounced upon Levin at once.
"Ah, Konstantin Dmitrievitch! So you've come back to our corrupt
Babylon," she said, giving him her tiny, yellow hand, and
recalling what he had chanced to say early in the winter, that
Moscow was a Babylon. "Come, is Babylon reformed, or have you
degenerated?" she added, glancing with a simper at Kitty.
"It's very flattering for me, countess, that you remember my
words so well," responded Levin, who had succeeded in recovering
his composure, and at once from habit dropped into his tone of
joking hostility to the Countess Nordston. "They must certainly
make a great impression on you."
"Oh, I should think so! I always note them all down. Well,
Kitty, have you been skating again?..."
And she began talking to Kitty. Awkward as it was for Levin to
withdraw now, it would still have been easier for him to
perpetrate this awkwardness than to remain all the evening and
see Kitty, who glanced at him now and then and avoided his eyes.
He was on the point of getting up, when the princess, noticing
that he was silent, addressed him.
"Shall you be long in Moscow? You're busy with the district
council, though, aren't you, and can't be away for long?"
"No, princess, I'm no longer a member of the council," he said.
"I have come up for a few days."
"There's something the matter with him," thought Countess
Nordston, glancing at his stern, serious face. "He isn't in his
old argumentative mood. But I'll draw him out. I do love making
a fool of him before Kitty, and I'll do it."
"Konstantin Dmitrievitch," she said to him, "do explain to me,
please, what's the meaning of it. You know all about such
things. At home in our village of Kaluga all the peasants and
all the women have drunk up all they possessed, and now they
can't pay us any rent. What's the meaning of that? You always
praise the peasants so."
At that instant another lady came into the room, and Levin got
"Excuse me, countess, but I really know nothing about it, and
can't tell you anything," he said, and looked round at the
officer who came in behind the lady.
"That must be Vronsky," thought Levin, and, to be sure of it,
glanced at Kitty. She had already had time to look at Vronsky,
and looked round at Levin. And simply from the look in her eyes,
that grew unconsciously brighter, Levin knew that she loved that
man, knew it as surely as if she had told him so in words. But
what sort of a man was he? Now, whether for good or for ill,
Levin could not choose but remain; he must find out what the man
was like whom she loved.
There are people who, on meeting a successful rival, no matter in
what, are at once disposed to turn their backs on everything good
in him, and to see only what is bad. There are people, on the
other hand, who desire above all to find in that lucky rival the
qualities by which he has outstripped them, and seek with a
throbbing ache at heart only what is good. Levin belonged to the
second class. But he had no difficulty in finding what was good
and attractive in Vronsky. It was apparent at the first glance.
Vronsky was a squarely built, dark man, not very tall, with a
good-humored, handsome, and exceedingly calm and resolute face.
Everything about his face and figure, from his short-cropped
black hair and freshly shaven chin down to his loosely fitting,
brand-new uniform, was simple and at the same time elegant.
Making way for the lady who had come in, Vronsky went up to the
princess and then to Kitty.
As he approached her, his beautiful eyes shone with a specially
tender light, and with a faint, happy, and modestly triumphant
smile (so it seemed to Levin), bowing carefully and respectfully
over her, he held out his small broad hand to her.
Greeting and saying a few words to everyone, he sat down without
once glancing at Levin, who had never taken his eyes off him.
"Let me introduce you," said the princess, indicating Levin.
"Konstantin Dmitrievitch Levin, Count Alexey Kirillovitch
Vronsky got up and, looking cordially at Levin, shook hands with
"I believe I was to have dined with you this winter," he said,
smiling his simple and open smile; "but you had unexpectedly left
for the country."
"Konstantin Dmitrievitch despises and hates town and us
townspeople," said Countess Nordston.
"My words must make a deep impression on you, since you remember
them so well," said Levin, and suddenly conscious that he had
said just the same thing before, he reddened.
Vronsky looked at Levin and Countess Nordston, and smiled.
"Are you always in the country?" he inquired. "I should think it
must be dull in the winter."
"It's not dull if one has work to do; besides, one's not dull by
oneself," Levin replied abruptly.
"I am fond of the country," said Vronsky, noticing, and affecting
not to notice, Levin's tone.
"But I hope, count, you would not consent to live in the country
always," said Countess Nordston.
"I don't know; I have never tried for long. I experience a queer
feeling once," he went on. "I never longed so for the country,
Russian country, with bast shoes and peasants, as when I was
spending a winter with my mother in Nice. Nice itself is dull
enough, you know. And indeed, Naples and Sorrento are only
pleasant for a short time. And it's just there that Russia comes
back to me most vividly, and especially the country. It's as
He talked on, addressing both Kitty and Levin, turning his
serene, friendly eyes from one to the other, and saying obviously
just what came into his head.
Noticing that Countess Nordston wanted to say something, he
stopped short without finishing what he had begun, and listened
attentively to her.
The conversation did not flag for an instant, so that the
princess, who always kept in reserve, in case a subject should be
lacking, two heavy guns--the relative advantages of classical
and of modern education, and universal military service--had not
to move out either of them, while Countess Nordston had not a
chance of chaffing Levin.
Levin wanted to, and could not, take part in the general
conversation; saying to himself every instant, "Now go," he still
did not go, as though waiting for something.
The conversation fell upon table-turning and spirits, and
Countess Nordston, who believed in spiritualism, began to
describe the marvels she had seen.
"Ah, countess, you really must take me, for pity's sake do take
me to see them! I have never seen anything extraordinary, though
I am always on the lookout for it everywhere," said Vronsky,
"Very well, next Saturday," answered Countess Nordston. "But
you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch, do you believe in it?" she asked
"Why do you ask me? You know what I shall say."
"But I want to hear your opinion."
"My opinion," answered Levin, "is only that this table-turning
simply proves that educated society--so called--is no higher
than the peasants. They believe in the evil eye, and in
witchcraft and omens, while we..."
"Oh, then you don't believe in it?"
"I can't believe in it, countess."
"But if I've seen it myself?"
"The peasant women too tell us they have seen goblins."
"Then you think I tell a lie?"
And she laughed a mirthless laugh.
"Oh, no, Masha, Konstantin Dmitrievitch said he could not believe
in it," said Kitty, blushing for Levin, and Levin saw this, and,
still more exasperated, would have answered, but Vronsky with his
bright frank smile rushed to the support of the conversation,
which was threatening to become disagreeable.
"You do not admit the conceivability at all?" he queried. "But
why not? We admit the existence of electricity, of which we know
nothing. Why should there not be some new force, still unknown
to us, which..."
"When electricity was discovered," Levin interrupted hurriedly,
"it was only the phenomenon that was discovered, and it was
unknown from what it proceeded and what were its effects, and
ages passed before its applications were conceived. But the
spiritualists have begun with tables writing for them, and
spirits appearing to them, and have only later started saying
that it is an unknown force."
Vronsky listened attentively to Levin, as he always did listen,
obviously interested in his words.
"Yes, but the spiritualists say we don't know at present what
this force is, but there is a force, and these are the conditions
in which it acts. Let the scientific men find out what the force
consists in. Not, I don't see why there should not be a new
force, if it..."
"Why, because with electricity," Levin interrupted again, "every
time you rub tar against wool, a recognized phenomenon is
manifested, but in this case it does not happen every time, and
so it follows it is not a natural phenomenon."
Feeling probably that the conversation was taking a tone too
serious for a drawing room, Vronsky made no rejoinder, but by way
of trying to change the conversation, he smiled brightly, and
turned to the ladies.
"Do let us try at once, countess," he said; but Levin would
finish saying what he thought.
"I think," he went on, "that this attempt of the spiritualists to
explain their marvels as some sort of new natural force is most
futile. They boldly talk of spiritual force, and then try to
subject it to material experiment."
Every one was waiting for him to finish, and he felt it.
"And I think you would be a first-rate medium," said Countess
Nordston; "there's something enthusiastic in you."
Levin opened his mouth, was about to say something, reddened, and
"Do let us try table-turning at once, please," said Vronsky.
"Princess, will you allow it?"
And Vronsky stood up, looking for a little table.
Kitty got up to fetch a table, and as she passed, her eyes met
Levin's. She felt for him with her whole heart, the more because
she was pitying him for suffering of which she was herself the
cause. "If you can forgive me, forgive me," said her eyes, "I am
"I hate them all, and you, and myself," his eyes responded, and
he took up his hat. But he was not destined to escape. Just as
they were arranging themselves round the table, and Levin was on
the point of retiring, the old prince came in, and after greeting
the ladies, addressed Levin.
"Ah!" he began joyously. "Been here long, my boy? I didn't even
know you were in town. Very glad to see you." The old prince
embraced Levin, and talking to him did not observe Vronsky, who
had risen, and was serenely waiting till the prince should turn
Kitty felt how distasteful her father's warmth was to Levin after
what had happened. She saw, too, how coldly her father responded
at last to Vronsky's bow, and how Vronsky looked with amiable
perplexity at her father, as though trying and failing to
understand how and why anyone could be hostilely disposed towards
him, and she flushed.
"Prince, let us have Konstantin Dmitrievitch," said Countess
Nordston; "we want to try an experiment."
"What experiment? Table-turning? Well, you must excuse me,
ladies and gentlemen, but to my mind it is better fun to play the
ring game," said the old prince, looking at Vronsky, and guessing
that it had been his suggestion. "There's some sense in that,
Vronsky looked wonderingly at the prince with his resolute eyes,
and, with a faint smile, began immediately talking to Countess
Nordston of the great ball that was to come off next week.
"I hope you will be there?" he said to Kitty. As soon as the old
prince turned away from him, Levin went out unnoticed, and the
last impression he carried away with him of that evening was the
smiling, happy face of Kitty answering Vronsky's inquiry about
At the end of the evening Kitty told her mother of her
conversation with Levin, and in spite of all the pity she felt
for Levin, she was glad at the thought that she had received an
OFFER. She had no doubt that she had acted rightly. But after
she had gone to bed, for a long while she could not sleep. One
impression pursued her relentlessly. It was Levin's face, with
his scowling brows, and his kind eyes looking out in dark
dejection below them, as he stood listening to her father, and
glancing at her and at Vronsky. And she felt so sorry for him
that tears came into her eyes. But immediately she thought of
the man for whom she had given him up. She vividly recalled his
manly, resolute face, his noble self-possession, and the
good nature conspicuous in everything towards everyone. She
remembered the love for her of the man she loved, and once more
all was gladness in her soul, and she lay on the pillow, smiling
with happiness. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry; but what could I do?
It's not my fault," she said to herself; but an inner voice told
her something else. Whether she felt remorse at having won
Levin's love, or at having refused him, she did not know. But
her happiness was poisoned by doubts. "Lord, have pity on us;
Lord, have pity on us; Lord, have pity on us!" she repeated to
herself, till she fell asleep.
Meanwhile there took place below, in the prince's little library,
one of the scenes so often repeated between the parents on
account of their favorite daughter.
"What? I'll tell you what!" shouted the prince, waving his arms,
and at once wrapping his squirrel-lined dressing-gown round him
again. "That you've no pride, no dignity; that you're
disgracing, ruining your daughter by this vulgar, stupid
"But, really, for mercy's sake, prince, what have I done?" said
the princess, almost crying.
She, pleased and happy after her conversation with her daughter,
had gone to the prince to say good-night as usual, and though
she had no intention of telling him of Levin's offer and Kitty's
refusal, still she hinted to her husband that she fancied things
were practically settled with Vronsky, and that he would declare
himself so soon as his mother arrived. And thereupon, at those
words, the prince had all at once flown into a passion, and began
to use unseemly language.
"What have you done? I'll tell you what. First of all, you're
trying to catch an eligible gentleman, and all Moscow will be
talking of it, and with good reason. If you have evening
parties, invite everyone, don't pick out the possible suitors.
Invite all the young bucks. Engage a piano player, and let them
dance, and not as you do things nowadays, hunting up good
matches. It makes me sick, sick to see it, and you've gone on
till you've turned the poor wench's head. Levin's a thousand
times the better man. As for this little Petersburg swell,
they're turned out by machinery, all on one pattern, and all
precious rubbish. But if he were a prince of the blood, my
daughter need not run after anyone."
"But what have I done?"
"Why, you've..." The prince was crying wrathfully.
"I know if one were to listen to you," interrupted the princess,
"we should never marry our daughter. If it's to be so, we'd
better go into the country."
"Well, and we had better."
"But do wait a minute. Do I try and catch them? I don't try to
catch them in the least. A young man, and a very nice one, has
fallen in love with her, and she, I fancy..."
"Oh, yes, you fancy! And how if she really is in love, and he's
no more thinking of marriage than I am!... Oh, that I should
live to see it! Ah! spiritualism! Ah! Nice! Ah! the ball!"
And the prince, imagining that he was mimicking his wife, made a
mincing curtsey at each word. "And this is how we're preparing
wretchedness for Kitty; and she's really got the notion into her
"But what makes you suppose so?"
"I don't suppose; I know. We have eyes for such things, though
women-folk haven't. I see a man who has serious intentions,
that's Levin: and I see a peacock, like this feather-head, who's
only amusing himself."
"Oh, well, when once you get an idea into your head!..."
"Well, you'll remember my words, but too late, just as with
"Well, well, we won't talk of it," the princess stopped him,
recollecting her unlucky Dolly.
"By all means, and good night!"
And signing each other with the cross, the husband and wife
parted with a kiss, feeling that they each remained of their own
The princess had at first been quite certain that that evening
had settled Kitty's future, and theat there could be no doubt of
Vronsky's intentions, but her husband's words had disturbed her.
And returning to her own room, in terror before the unknown
future, she, too, like Kitty, repeated several times in her
heart, "Lord, have pity; Lord, have pity; Lord, have pity."
Vronsky had never had a real home life. His mother had been in
her youth a brilliant society woman, who had had during her
married life, and still more afterwards, many love affairs
notorious in the whole fashionable world. His father he scarcely
remembered, and he had been educated in the Corps of Pages.
Leaving the school very young as a brilliant officer, he had at
once got into the circle of wealthy Petersburg army men.
Although he did go more or less into Petersburg society, his love
affairs had always hitherto been outside it.
In Moscow he had for the first time felt, after his luxurious and
coarse life at Petersburg, all the charm of intimacy with a sweet
and innocent girl of his own rank, who cared for him. It never
even entered his head that there could be any harm in his
relations with Kitty. At balls he danced principally with her.
He was a constant visitor at their house. He talked to her as
people commonly do talk in society--all sorts of nonsense, but
nonsense to which he could not help attaching a special meaning
in her case. Although he said nothing to her that he could not
have said before everybody, he felt that she was becoming more
and more dependent upon him, and the more he felt this, the
better he liked it, and the tenderer was his feeling for her. He
did not know that his mode of behavior in relation to Kitty had a
definite character, that it is courting young girls with no
intention of marriage, and that such courting is one of the evil
actions common among brilliant young men such as he was. It
seemed to him that he was the first who had discovered this
pleasure, and he was enjoying his discovery.
If he could have heard what her parents were saying that evening,
if he could have put himself at the point ov view of the family
and have heard that Kitty would be unhappy if he did not marry
her, he would have been greatly astonished, and would not have
believed it. He could not believe that what gave such great and
delicate pleasure to him, and above all to her, could be wrong.
Still less could he have believed that he ought to marry.
Marriage had never presented itself to him as a possibility. He
not only disliked family life, but a family, and especially a
husband was, in accordance with the views general in the bachelor
world in which he lived, conceived as something alien, repellant,
and, above all, ridiculous.
But though Vronsky had not the least suspicion what the parents
were saying, he felt on coming away from the Shtcherbatskys' that
the secret spiritual bond which existed between him and Kitty had
grown so much stronger that evening that some step must be taken.
But what step could and ought to be taken he could not imagine.
"What is so exquisite," he thought, as he returned from the
Shtcherbatskys', carrying away with him, as he always did, a
delicious feeling of purity and freshness, arising partly from
the fact that he had not been smoking for a whole evening, and
with it a new feeling of tenderness at her love for him--"what
is so exquisite is that not a word has been said by me or by her,
but we understand each other so well in this unseen language of
looks and tones, that this evening more clearly than ever she
told me she loves me. And how secretly, simply, and most of all,
how trustfully! I feel myself better, purer. I feel that I have
a heart, and that there is a great deal of good in me. Those
sweet, loving eyes! When she said: Indeed I do...'
"Well, what then? Oh, nothing. It's good for me, and good for
her." And he began wondering where to finish the evening.
He passed in review of the places he might go to. "Club? a game
of bezique, champagne with Ignatov? No, I'm not going. Chateau
des Fleurs; there I shall find Oblonsky, songs, the cancan. No,
I'm sick of it. That's why I like the Shtcherbatskys', that I'm
growing better. I'll go home." He went straight to his room at
Dussot's Hotel, ordered supper, and then undressed, and as soon
as his head touched the pillow, fell into a sound sleep.
Next day at eleven o'clock in the morning Vronsky drove to the
station of the Petersburg railway to meet his mother, and the
first person he came across on the great flight of steps was
Oblonsky, who was expecting his sister by the same train.
"Ah! your excellency!" cried Oblonsky, "whom are you meeting?"
"My mother," Vronsky responded, smiling, as everyone did who met
Oblonsky. He shook hands with him, and together they ascended
the steps. "She is to be here from Petersburg today."
"I was looking out for you till two o'clock last night. Where
did you go after the Shtcherbatskys'?"
"Home," answered Vronsky. "I must own I felt so well content
yesterday after the Shtcherbatskys' that I didn't care to go
"I know a gallant steed by tokens sure,
And by his eyes I know a youth in love,"
declaimed Stepan Arkadyevitch, just as he had done before to
Vronsky smiled with a look that seemed to say that he did not
deny it, but he promptly changed the subject.
"And whom are you meeting?" he asked.
"I? I've come to meet a pretty woman," said Oblonsky.
"You don't say so!"
"Honi soit qui mal y pense! My sister Anna."
"Ah! that's Madame Karenina," said Vronsky.
"You know her, no doubt?"
"I think I do. Or perhaps not...I really am not sure," Vronsky
answered heedlessly, with a vague recollection of something stiff
and tedious evoked by the name Karenina.
"But Alexey Alexandrovitch, my celebrated brother-in-law, you
surely must know. All the world knows him."
"I know him by reputation and by sight. I know that he's clever,
learned, religious somewhat.... But you know that's not...not
in my line," said Vronsky in English.
"Yes, he's a very remarkable man; rather a conservative, but a
splendid man," observed Stepan Arkadyevitch, "a splendid man."
"Oh, well, so much the better for him," said Vronsky smiling.
"Oh, you've come," he said, addressing a tall old footman of his
mother's, standing at the door; "come here."
Besides the charm Oblonsky had in general for everyone, Vronsky
had felt of late specially drawn to him by the fact that in his
imagination he was associated with Kitty.
"Well, what do you say? Shall we give a supper on Sunday for the
diva?" he said to him with a smile, taking his arm.
"Of course. I'm collecting subscriptions. Oh, did yo make the
acquaintance of my friend Levin?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Yes; but he left rather early."
"He's a capital fellow," pursued Oblonsky. "Isn't he?"
"I don't know why it is," responded Vronsky, "in all Moscow
people--present company of course excepted," he put in
jestingly, "there's something uncompromising. They are all on
the defensive, lose their tempers, as though they all want to
make one feel something..."
"Yes, that's true, it is so," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing
"Will the train soon be in?" Vronsky asked a railway official.
"The train's signaled," answered the man.
The approach of the train was more and more evident by the
preparatory bustle in the station, the rush of porters, the
movement of policemen and attendants, and people meeting the
train. Through the frosty vapor could be seen workmen in short
sheepskins and soft felt boots crossing the rails of the curving
line. The hiss of the boiler could be heard on the distant
rails, and the rumble of something heavy.
"No," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, who felt a great inclination to
tell Vronsky of Levin's intentions in regard to Kitty. "No,
you've not got a true impression of Levin. He's a very nervous
man, and is sometimes out of humor, it's true, but then he is
often very nice. He's such a true, honest nature, and a heart of
gold. But yesterday there were special reasons," pursued Stepan
Arkadyevitch, with a meaning smile, totally oblivious of the
genuine sympathy he had felt the day before for his friend, and
feeling the same sympathy now, only for Vronsky. "Yes, there
were reasons why he could not help being either particularly
happy or particularly unhappy."
Vronsky stood still and asked directly: "How so? Do you mean he
made your belle-soeur an offer yesterday?"
"Maybe," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "I fancied something of the
sort yesterday. Yes, if he went away early, and was out of humor
too, it must mean it.... He's been so long in love, and I'm very
sorry for him."
"So that's it! I should imagine, though, she might reckon on a
better match," said Vronsky, drawing himself up and walking about
again, "though I don't know him, of course," he added. "Yes,
that is a hateful position! That's why most fellows prefer to
have to do with Klaras. If you don't succeed with them it only
proves that you've not enough cash, but in this case one's
dignity's at stake. But here's the train."
The engine had already whistled in the distance. A few instants
later the platform was quivering, and with puffs of steam hanging
low in the air from the frost, the engine rolled up, with the
lever of the middle wheel rhythmically moving up and down, and
the stooping figure of the engine-driver covered with frost.
Behind the tender, setting the platform more and more slowly
swaying, came the luggage van with a dog whining in it. At last
the passenger carriages rolled in, oscillating before coming to a
A smart guard jumped out, giving a whistle, and after him one by
one the impatient passengers began to get down: an officer of
the guards, holding himself erect, and looking severely about
him; a nimble little merchant with a satchel, smiling gaily; a
peasant with a sack over his shoulder.
Vronsky, standing beside Oblonsky, watched the carriages and the
passengers, totally oblivious of his mother. What he had just
heard about Kitty excited and delighted him. Unconsciously he
arched his chest, and his eyes flashed. He felt himself a
"Countess Vronskaya is in that compartment," said the smart
guard, going up to Vronsky.
The guard's words roused him, and forced him to think of his
mother and his approaching meeting with her. He did not in his
heart respect his mother, and without acknowledging it to
himself, he did not love her, though in accordance with the
ideas of the set in which he lived, and with his own education,
he could not have conceived of any behavior to his mother not in
the highest degree respectful and obedient, and the more
externally obedient and respectful his behavior, the less in his
heart he respected and loved her.
Vronsky followed the guard to the carriage, and at the door of
the compartment he stopped short to make room for a lady who was
With the insight of a man of the world, from one glance at this
lady's appearance Vronsky classified her as belonging to the best
society. He begged pardon, and was getting into the carriage,
but felt he must glance at her once more; not that she was very
beautiful, not on account of the elegance and modest grace which
were apparent in her whole figure, but because in the expression
of her charming face, as she passed close by him, there was
something peculiarly caressing and soft. As he looked round, she
too turned her head. Her shining gray eyes, that looked dark
from the thick lashes, rested with friendly attention on his
face, as though she were recognizing him, and then promptly
turned away to the passing crowd, as though seeking someone. In
that brief look Vronsky had time to notice the suppressed
eagerness which played over her face, and flitted between the
brilliant eyes and the faint smile that curved her red lips. It
was as though her nature were so brimming over with something
that against her will it showed itself now in the flash of her
eyes, and now in her smile. Deliberately she shrouded the light
in her eyes, but it shone against her will in the faintly
Vronsky stepped into the carriage. His mother, a dried-up old
lady with black eyes and ringlets, screwed up her eyes, scanning
her son, and smiled slightly with her thin lips. Getting up from
the seat and handing her maid a bag, she gave her little wrinkled
hand to her son to kiss, and lifting his head from her hand,
kissed him on the cheek.
"You got my telegram? Quite well? Thank God."
"You had a good journey?" said her son, sitting down beside her,
and involuntarily listening to a woman's voice outside the door.
He knew it was the voice of the lady he had met at the door.
"All the same I don't agree with you," said the lady's voice.
"It's the Petersburg view, madame."
"Not Petersburg, but simply feminine," she responded.
"Well, well, allow me to kiss your hand."
"Good-bye, Ivan Petrovitch. And could you see if my brother is
here, and send him to me?" said the lady in the doorway, and
stepped back again into the compartment.
"Well, have you found your brother?" said Countess Vronskaya,
addressing the lady.
Vronsky understood now that this was Madame Karenina.
"Your brother is here," he said, standing up. "Excuse me, I did
not know you, and, indeed, our acquaintance was so slight," said
Vronsky, bowing, "that no doubt you do not remember me."
"Oh, no," said she, "I should have known you because your mother
and I have been talking, I think, of nothing but you all the
way." As she spoke she let the eagerness that would insist on
coming out show itself in her smile. "And still no sign of my
"Do call him, Alexey," said the old countess. Vronsky stepped
out onto the platform and shouted:
Madame Karenina, however, did not wait for her brother, but
catching sight of him she stepped out with her light, resolute
step. And as soon as her brother had reached her, with a gesture
that struck Vronsky by its decision and its grace, she flung her
left arm around his neck, drew him rapidly to her, and kissed him
warmly. Vronsky gazed, never taking his eyes from her, and
smiled, he could not have said why. But recollecting that his
mother was waiting for him, he went back again into the carriage.
"She's very sweet, isn't she?" said the countess of Madame
Karenina. "Her husband put her with me, and I was delighted to
have her. We've been talking all the way. And so you, I
hear...vous filez le parfait amour. Tant mieux, mon cher, tant
"I don't know what you are referring to, maman," he answered
coldly. "Come, maman, let us go."
Madame Karenina entered the carriage again to say good-bye to the
"Well, countess, you have met your son, and I my brother," she
said. "And all my gossip is exhausted. I should have nothing
more to tell you."
"Oh, no," said the countess, taking her hand. "I could go all
around the world with you and never be dull. You are one of
those delightful women in whose company it's sweet to be silent
as well as to talk. Now please don't fret over your son; you
can't expect never to be parted."
Madame Karenina stood quite still, holding herself very erect,
and her eyes were smiling.
"Anna Arkadyevna," the countess said in explanation to her son,
"has a little son eight years old, I believe, and she has never
been parted from him before, and she keeps fretting over leaving
"Yes, the countess and I have been talking all the time, I of my
son and she of hers," said Madame Karenina, and again a smile
lighted up her face, a caressing smile intended for him.
"I am afraid that you must have been dreadfully bored," he said,
promptly catching the ball of coquetry she had flung him. But
apparently she did not care to pursue the conversation in that
strain, and she turned to the old countess.
"Thank you so much. The time has passed so quickly. Good-bye,
"Good-bye, my love," answered the countess. "Let me have a kiss
of your pretty face. I speak plainly, at my age, and I tell you
simply that I've lost my heart to you."
Stereotyped as the phrase was, Madame Karenina obviously believed
it and was delighted by it. She flushed, bent down slightly, and
put her cheek to the countess's lips, drew herself up again, and
with the same smile fluttering between her lips and her eyes, she
gave her hand to Vronsky. He pressed the little hand she gave
him, and was delighted, as though at something special, by the
energetic squeeze with which she freely and vigorously shook his
hand. She went out with the rapid step which bore her rather
fully-developed figure with such strange lightness.
"Very charming," said the countess.
That was just what her son was thinking. His eyes followed her
till her graceful figure was out of sight, and then the smile
remained on his face. He saw out of the window how she went up
to her brother, put her arm in his, and began telling him
something eagerly, obviously something that had nothing to do
with him, Vronsky, and at that he felt annoyed.
"Well, maman, are you perfectly well?" he repeated, turning to
"Everything has been delightful. Alexander has been very good,
and Marie has grown very pretty. She's very interesting."
And she began telling him again of what interested her most--the
christening of her grandson, for which she had been staying in
Petersburg, and the special favor shown her elder son by the
"Here's Lavrenty," said Vronsky, looking out of the window; "now
we can go, if you like."
The old butler who had traveled with the countess, came to the
carriage to announce that everything was ready, and the countess
got up to go.
"Come; there's not such a crowd now," said Vronsky.
The maid took a handbag and the lap dog, the butler and a porter
the other baggage. Vronsky gave his mother his arm; but just as
they were getting out of the carriage several men ran suddenly by
with panic-stricken faces. The station-master, too, ran by in
his extraordinary colored cap. Obviously something unusual had
happened. The crowd who had left the train were running back
"What?... What?... Where?... Flung himself!... Crushed!..."
was heard among the crowd. Stepan Arkadyevitch, with his sister
on his arm, turned back. They too looked scared, and stopped at
the carriage door to avoid the crowd.
The ladies go in, while Vronsky and Stepan Arkadyevitch followed
the crowd to find out details of the disaster.
A guard, either dunk or too much muffled up in the bitter frost,
had not heard the train moving back, and had been crushed.
Before Vronsky and Oblonsky came back the ladies heard the facts
from the butler.
Oblonsky and Vronsky had both seen the mutilated corpse.
Oblonsky was evidently upset. He frowned and seemed ready to
"Ah, how awful! Ah, Anna, if you had seen it! Ah, how awful!"
Vronsky did not speak; his handsome face was serious, but
"Oh, if you had seen it, countess," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"And his wife was there.... It was awful to see her!.... She
flung herself on the body. They say he was the only support of
an immense family. How awful!"
"Couldn't one do anything for her?" said Madame Karenina in an
Vronsky glanced at her, and immediately got out of the carriage.
"I'll be back directly, maman," he remarked, turning round in the
When he came back a few minutes later, Stepan Arkadyevitch was
already in conversation with the countess about the new singer,
while the countess was impatiently looking towards the door,
waiting for her son.
"Now let us be off," said Vronsky, coming in. They went out
together. Vronsky was in front with his mother. Behind walked
Madame Karenina with her brother. Just as they were going out of
the station the station-master overtook Vronsky.
"You gave my assistant two hundred roubles. Would you kindly
explain for whose benefit you intend them?"
"For the widow," said Vronsky, shrugging his shoulders. "I
should have thought there was no need to ask."
"You gave that?" cried Oblonsky, behind, and, pressing his
sister's hand, he added: "Very nice, very nice! Isn't he a
splendid fellow? Good-bye, countess."
And he and his sister stood still, looking for her maid.
When they went out the Vronsky's carriage had already driven
away. People coming in were still talking of what happened.
"What a horrible death!" said a gentleman, passing by. "They say
he was cut in two pieces."
"On the contrary, I think it's the easiest--instantaneous,"
"How is it they don't take proper precautions?" said a third.
Madame Karenina seated herself in the carriage, and Stepan
Arkadyevitch saw with surprise that her lips were quivering, and
she was with difficulty restraining her tears.
"What is it, Anna?" he asked, when they had driven a few hundred
"It's an omen of evil," she said.
"What nonsense!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "You've come, that's
the chief thing. You can't conceive how I'm resting my hopes on
"Have you known Vronsky long?" she asked.
"Yes. You know we're hoping he will marry Kitty."
"Yes?" said Anna softly. "Come now, let us talk of you," she
added, tossing her head, as though she would physically shake off
something superfluous oppressing her. "Let us talk of your
affairs. I got your letter, and here I am."
"Yes, all my hopes are in you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Well, tell me all about it."
And Stepan Arkadyevitch began to tell his story.
On reaching home Oblonsky helped his sister out, sighed, pressed
her hand, and set off to his office.
When Anna went into the room, Dolly was sitting in the little
drawing-room with a white-headed fat little boy, already like his
father, giving him a lesson in French reading. As the boy read,
he kept twisting and trying to tear off a button that was nearly
off his jacket. His mother had several times taken his hand from
it, but the fat little hand went back to the button again. His
mother pulled the button off and put it in her pocket.
"Keep your hands still, Grisha," she said, and she took up her
work, a coverlet she had long been making. She always set to
work on it at depressed moments, and now she knitted at it
nervously, twitching her fingers and counting the stitches.
Though she had sent word the day before to her husband that it
was nothing to her whether his sister came or not, she had made
everything ready for her arrival, and was expecting her
sister-in-law with emotion.
Dolly was crushed by her sorrow, utterly swallowed up by it.
Still she did not forget that Anna, her sister-in-law, was the
wife of one of the most important personages in Petersburg, and
was a Petersburg grande dame. And, thanks to this circumstance,
she did not carry out her threat to her husband--that is to say,
she remembered that her sister-in-law was coming. "And, after
all, Anna is in no wise to blame," thought Dolly. "I know
nothing of her except the very best, and I have seen nothing but
kindness and affection from her towards myself." It was true
that as far as she could recall her impressions at Petersburg at
the Karenins', she did not like their household itself; there was
something artificial in the whole framework of their family life.
"But why should I not receive her? If only she doesn't take it
into her head to console me!" thought Dolly. "All consolation
and counsel and Christian forgiveness, all that I have thought
over a thousand times, and it's all no use."
All these days Dolly had been alone with her children. She did
not want to talk of her sorrow, but with that sorrow in her heart
she could not talk of outside matters. She knew that in one way
or another she would tell Anna everything, and she was
alternately glad at the thought of speaking freely, and angry at
the necessity of speaking of her humiliation with her, his
sister, and of hearing her ready-made phrases of good advice and
comfort. She had been on the lookout for her, glancing at her
watch every minute, and, as so often happens, let slip just that
minute when her visitor arrived, so that she did not hear the
Catching a sound of skirts and light steps at the door, she
looked round, and her care-worn face unconsciously expressed not
gladness, but wonder. She got up and embraced her sister-in-law.
"What, here already!" she said as she kissed her.
"Dolly, how glad I am to see you!"
"I am glad, too," said Dolly, faintly smiling, and trying by the
expression of Anna's face to find out whether she knew. "Most
likely she knows," she thought, noticing the sympathy in Anna's
face. "Well, come along, I'll take you to your room," she went
on, trying to defer as long as possible the moment of
"Is this Grisha? Heavens, how he's grown!" said Anna; and
kissing him, never taking her eyes off Dolly, she stood still and
flushed a little. "No, please, let us stay here."
She took off her kerchief and her hat, and catching it in a lock
of her black hair, which was a mass of curls, she tossed her head
and shook her hair down.
"You are radiant with health and happiness!" said Dolly, almost
"I?.... Yes," said Anna. "Merciful heavens, Tanya! You're the
same age as my Seryozha," she added, addressing the little girl
as she ran in. She took her in her arms and kissed her.
"Delightful child, delightful! Show me them all."
She mentioned them, not only remembering the names, but the
years, months, characters, illnesses of all the children, and
Dolly could not but appreciate that.
"Very well, we will go to them," she said. "It's a pity Vassya's
After seeing the children, They sat down, alone now, in the
drawing room, to coffee. Anna took the tray, and then pushed it
away from her.
"Dolly," she said, "he has told me."
Dolly looked coldly at Anna; she was waiting now for phrases of
conventional sympathy, but Anna said nothing of the sort.
"Dolly, dear," she said, "I don't want to speak for him to you,
nor to try to comfort you; that's impossible. But, darling, I'm
simply sorry, sorry from my heart for you!"
Under the thick lashes of her shining eyes tears suddenly
glittered. She moved nearer to her sister-in-law and took her
hand in her vigorous little hand. Dolly did not shrink away, but
her face did not lose its frigid expression. She said:
"To comfort me's impossible. Everything's lost after what has
happened, everything's over!"
And directly she had said this, her face suddenly softened. Anna
lifted the wasted, thin hand of Dolly, kissed it and said:
"But, Dolly, what's to be done, what's to be done? How is it
best to act in this awful position--that's what you must think
"All's over, and there's nothing more," said Dolly. "And the
worst of all is, you see, that I can't cast him off: there are
the children, I am tied. And I can't live with him! it's a
torture to me to see him."
"Dolly, darling, he has spoken to me, but I want to hear it from
you: tell me about it."
Dolly looked at her inquiringly.
Sympathy and love unfeigned were visible on Anna's face.
"Very well," she said all at once. "But I will tell you it from
the beginning. You know how I was married. With the education
mamma gave us I was more than innocent, I was stupid. I knew
nothing. I know they say men tell their wives of their former
lives, but Stiva"--she corrected herself--"Stepan Arkadyevitch
told me nothing. You'll hardly believe it, but till now I
imagined that I was the only woman he had known. So I lived
eight years. You must understand that I was so far from
suspecting infidelity, I regarded it as impossible, and then--
try to imagine it--with such ideas, to find out suddenly all the
horror, all the loathsomeness.... You must try and understand
me. To be fully convinced of one's happiness, and all at
once..." continued Dolly, holding back her sobs, "to get a
letter...his letter to his mistress, my governess. No, it's too
awful!" She hastily pulled out her handkerchief and hid her face
in it. "I can understand being carried away by feeling," she
went on after a brief silence, "but deliberately, slyly deceiving
me...and with whom?... To go on being my husband together with
her...it's awful! You can't understand..."
"Oh, yes, I understand! I understand! Dolly, dearest, I do
understand," said Anna, pressing her hand.
"And do you imagine he realizes all the awfulness of my
position?" Dolly resumed. "Not the slightest! He's happy and
"Oh, no!" Anna interposed quickly. "He's to be pitied, he's
weighed down by remorse..."
"Is he capable of remorse?" Dolly interrupted, gazing intently
into her sister-in-law's face.
"Yes. I know him. I could not look at him without feeling sorry
for him. We both know him. He's good-hearted, but he's proud,
and now he's so humiliated. What touched me most..." (and here
Anna guessed what would touch Dolly most) "he's tortured by two
things: that he's ashamed for the children's sake, and that,
loving you--yes, yes, loving you beyond everything on earth,"
she hurriedly interrupted Dolly, who would have answered--"he
has hurt you, pierced you to the heart. 'No, no, she cannot
forgive me,' he keeps saying."
Dolly looked dreamily away beyond her sister-in-law as she
listened to her words.
"Yes, I can see that his position is awful; it's worse for the
guilty than the innocent," she said, "if he feels that all the
misery comes from his fault. But how am I to forgive him, how am
I to be his wife again after her? For me to live with him now
would be torture, just because I love my past love for him..."
And sobs cut short her words. But as though of set design, each
time she was softened she began to speak again of what
"She's young, you see, she's pretty," she went on. "Do you know,
Anna, my youth and my beauty are gone, taken by whom? By him and
his children. I have worked for him, and all I had has gone in
his service, and now of course any fresh, vulgar creature has
more charm for him. No doubt they talked of me together, or,
worse still, they were silent. Do you understand?"
Again her eyes glowed with hatred.
"And after that he will tell me.... What! can I believe him?
Never! No, everything is over, everything that once made my
comfort, the reward of my work, and my sufferings.... Would you
believe it, I was teaching Grisha just now: once this was a joy
to me, now it is a torture. What have I to strive and toil for?
Why are the children here? What's so awful is that all at once
my heart's turned, and instead of love and tenderness, I have
nothing but hatred for him; yes, hatred. I could kill him."
"Darling Dolly, I understand, but don't torture yourself. You
are so distressed, so overwrought, that you look at many things
Dolly grew calmer, and for two minutes both were silent.
"What's to be done? Think for me, Anna, help me. I have thought
over everything, and I see nothing."
Anna could think of nothing, but her heart responded instantly to
each word, to each change of expression of her sister-in-law.
"One thing I would say," began Anna. "I am his sister, I know
his character, that faculty of forgetting everything, everything"
(she waved her hand before her forehead), "that faculty for being
completely carried away, but for completely repenting too. He
cannot believe it, he cannot comprehend now how he can have acted
as he did."
"No; he understands, he understood!" Dolly broke in. "But
I...you are forgetting me...does it make it easier for me?"
"Wait a minute. When he told me, I will own I did not realize
all the awfulness of your position. I saw nothing but him, and
that the family was broken up. I felt sorry for him, but after
talking to you, I see it, as a woman, quite differently. I see
your agony, and I can't tell you how sorry I am for you! But,
Dolly, darling, I fully realize your sufferings, only there is
one thing I don't know; I don't know...I don't know how much love
there is still in your heart for him. That you know--whether
there is enough for you to be able to forgive him. If there is,
"No," Dolly was beginning, but Anna cut her short, kissing her
hand once more.
"I know more of the world than you do," she said. "I know how
met like Stiva look at it. You speak of his talking of you with
her. That never happened. Such men are unfaithful, but their
home and wife are sacred to them. Somehow or other these women
are still looked on with contempt by them, and do not touch on
their feeling for their family. They draw a sort of line that
can't be crossed between them and their families. I don't
understand it, but it is so."
"Yes, but he has kissed her..."
"Dolly, hush, darling. I saw Stiva when he was in love with you.
I remember the time when he came to me and cried, talking of you,
and all the poetry and loftiness of his feeling for you, and I
know that the longer he has lived with you the loftier you have
been in his eyes. You know we have sometimes laughed at him for
putting in at every word: 'Dolly's a marvelous woman.' You have
always been a divinity for him, and you are that still, and this
has not been an infidelity of the heart..."
"But if it is repeated?"
"It cannot be, as I understand it..."
"Yes, but could you forgive it?"
"I don't know, I can't judge.... Yes, I can," said Anna,
thinking a moment; and grasping the position in her thought and
weighing it in her inner balance, she added: "Yes, I can, I can,
I can. Yes, I could forgive it. I could not be the same, no;
but I could forgive it, and forgive it as though it had never
been, never been at all..."
"Oh, of course," Dolly interposed quickly, as though saying what
she had more than once thought, "else it would not be
forgiveness. If one forgives, it must be completely, completely.
Come, let us go; I'll take you to your room," she said, getting
up, and on the way she embraced Anna. "My dear, how glad I am
you came. It has made things better, ever so much better."
The whole of that day Anna spent at home, that's to say at the
Oblonskys', and received no one, though some of her acquaintances
had already heard of her arrival, and came to call; the same day.
Anna spent the whole morning with Dolly and the children. She
merely sent a brief note to her brother to tell him that he must
not fail to dine at home. "Come, God is merciful," she wrote.
Oblonsky did dine at home: the conversation was general, and his
wife, speaking to him, addressed him as "Stiva," as she had not
done before. In the relations of the husband and wife the same
estrangement still remained, but there was no talk now of
separation, and Stepan Arkadyevitch saw the possibility of
explanation and reconciliation.
Immediately after dinner Kitty came in. She knew Anna
Arkadyevna, but only very slightly, and she came now to her
sister's with some trepidation, at the prospect of meeting this
fashionable Petersburg lady, whom everyone spoke so highly of.
But she made a favorable impression on Anna Arkadyevna--she saw
that at once. Anna was unmistakably admiring her loveliness and
her youth: before Kitty knew where she was she found herself not
merely under Anna's sway, but in love with her, as young girls do
fall in love with older and married women. Anna was not like a
fashionable lady, nor the mother of a boy of eight years old. In
the elasticity of her movements, the freshness and the unflagging
eagerness which persisted in her face, and broke out in her smile
and her glance, she would rather have passed for a girl of
twenty, had it not been for a serious and at times mournful look
in her eyes, which struck and attracted Kitty. Kitty felt that
Anna was perfectly simple and was concealing nothing, but that
she had another higher world of interests inaccessible to her,
complex and poetic.
After dinner, when Dolly went away to her own room, Anna rose
quickly and went up to her brother, who was just lighting a
"Stiva," she said to him, winking gaily, crossing him and
glancing towards the door, "go, and God help you."
He threw down the cigar, understanding her, and departed through
When Stepan Arkadyevitch had disappeared, she went back to the
sofa where she had been sitting, surrounded by the children.
Either because the children saw that their mother was fond of
this aunt, or that they felt a special charm in her themselves,
the two elder ones, and the younger following their lead, as
children so often do, had clung about their new aunt since
before dinner, and would not leave her side. And it had become a
sort of game among them to sit a close as possible to their aunt,
to touch her, hold her little hand, kiss it, play with her ring,
or even touch the flounce of her skirt.
"Come, come, as we were sitting before," said Anna Arkadyevna,
sitting down in her place.
And again Grisha poked his little face under her arm, and nestled
with his head on her gown, beaming with pride and happiness.
"And when is your next ball?" she asked Kitty.
"Next week, and a splendid ball. One of those balls where one
always enjoys oneself."
"Why, are there balls where one always enjoys oneself?" Anna
said, with tender irony.
"It's strange, but there are. At the Bobrishtchevs' one always
enjoys oneself, and at the Nikitins' too, while at the Mezhkovs'
it's always dull. Haven't you noticed it?"
"No, my dear, for me there are no balls now where one enjoys
oneself," said Anna, and Kitty detected in her eyes that
mysterious world which was not open to her. "For me there are
some less dull and tiresome."
"How can YOU be dull at a ball?"
"Why should not _I_ be dull at a ball?" inquired Anna.
Kitty perceived that Anna knew what answer would follow.
"Because you always look nicer than anyone."
Anna had the faculty of blushing. She blushed a little, and
"In the first place it's never so; and secondly, if it were, what
difference would it make to me?"
"Are you coming to this ball?" asked Kitty.
"I imagine it won't be possible to avoid going. Here, take it,"
she said to Tanya, who was bulling the loosely-fitting ring off
her white, slender-tipped finger.
"I shall be so glad if you go. I should so like to see you at a
"Anyway, if I do go, I shall comfort myself with the thought that
it's a pleasure to you...Grisha, don't pull my hair. It's untidy
enough without that," she said, putting up a straying lock, which
Grisha had been playing with.
"I imagine you at the ball in lilac."
"And why in lilac precisely?" asked Anna, smiling. "Now,
children, run along, run along. Do you hear? Miss Hoole is
calling you to tea," she said, tearing the children form her, and
sending them off to the dining room.
"I know why you press me to come to the ball. You expect a great
deal of this ball, and you want everyone to be there to take part
"How do you know? Yes."
"Oh! what a happy time you are at," pursued Anna. "I remember,
and I know that blue haze like the mist on the mountains in
Switzerland. That mist which covers everything in that blissful
time when childhood is just ending, and out of that vast circle,