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|PART 7: Chapter 1|| |
The Levins had been three months in Moscow. The date had long passed on which, according to the most trustworthy calculations of people learned in such matters, Kitty should have been confined. But she was still about, and there was nothing to show that her time was any nearer than two months ago. The doctor, the monthly nurse, and Dolly and her mother, and most of all Levin, who could not think of the approaching event without terror, began to be impatient and uneasy. Kitty was the only person who felt perfectly calm and happy.
She was distinctly conscious now of the birth of a new feeling of love for the future child, for her to some extent actually existing already, and she brooded blissfully over this feeling. He was not by now altogether a part of herself, but sometimes lived his own life independently of her. Often this separate being gave her pain, but at the same time she wanted to laugh with a strange new joy.
All the people she loved were with her, and all were so good to her, so attentively caring for her, so entirely pleasant was everything presented to her, that if she had not known and felt that it must all soon be over, she could not have wished for a better and pleasanter life. The only thing that spoiled the charm of this manner of life was that her husband was not here as she loved him to be, and as he was in the country.
She liked his serene, friendly, and hospitable manner in the country. In the town he seemed continually uneasy and on his guard, as though he were afraid someone would be rude to him, and still more to her. At home in the country, knowing himself distinctly to be in his right place, he was never in haste to be off elsewhere. He was never unoccupied. Here in town he was in a continual hurry, as though afraid of missing something, and yet he had nothing to do. And she felt sorry for him. To others, she knew, he did not appear an object of pity. On the contrary, when Kitty looked at him in society, as one sometimes looks at those one loves, trying to see him as if he were a stranger, so as to catch the impression he must make on others, she saw with a panic even of jealous fear that he was far indeed from being a pitiable figure, that he was very attractive with his fine breeding, his rather old-fashioned, reserved courtesy with women, his powerful figure, and striking, as she thought, and expressive face. But she saw him not from without, but from within; she saw that here he was not himself; that was the only way she could define his condition to herself. Sometimes she inwardly reproached him for his inability to live in the town; sometimes she recognized that it was really hard for him to order his life here so that he could be satisfied with it.
What had he to do, indeed? He did not care for cards; he did not go to a club. Spending the time with jovial gentlemen of Oblonsky’s type—she knew now what that meant ... it meant drinking and going somewhere after drinking. She could not think without horror of where men went on such occasions. Was he to go into society? But she knew he could only find satisfaction in that if he took pleasure in the society of young women, and that she could not wish for. Should he stay at home with her, her mother and her sisters? But much as she liked and enjoyed their conversations forever on the same subjects—"Aline-Nadine," as the old prince called the sisters’ talks—she knew it must bore him. What was there left for him to do? To go on writing at his book he had indeed attempted, and at first he used to go to the library and make extracts and look up references for his book. But, as he told her, the more he did nothing, the less time he had to do anything. And besides, he complained that he had talked too much about his book here, and that consequently all his ideas about it were muddled and had lost their interest for him.
One advantage in this town life was that quarrels hardly ever happened between them here in town. Whether it was that their conditions were different, or that they had both become more careful and sensible in that respect, they had no quarrels in Moscow from jealousy, which they had so dreaded when they moved from the country.
One event, an event of great importance to both from that point of view, did indeed happen—that was Kitty’s meeting with Vronsky.
The old Princess Marya Borissovna, Kitty’s godmother, who had always been very fond of her, had insisted on seeing her. Kitty, though she did not go into society at all on account of her condition, went with her father to see the venerable old lady, and there met Vronsky.
The only thing Kitty could reproach herself for at this meeting was that at the instant when she recognized in his civilian dress the features once so familiar to her, her breath failed her, the blood rushed to her heart, and a vivid blush—she felt it—overspread her face. But this lasted only a few seconds. Before her father, who purposely began talking in a loud voice to Vronsky, had finished, she was perfectly ready to look at Vronsky, to speak to him, if necessary, exactly as she spoke to Princess Marya Borissovna, and more than that, to do so in such a way that everything to the faintest intonation and smile would have been approved by her husband, whose unseen presence she seemed to feel about her at that instant.
She said a few words to him, even smiled serenely at his joke about the elections, which he called "our parliament." (She had to smile to show she saw the joke.) But she turned away immediately to Princess Marya Borissovna, and did not once glance at him till he got up to go; then she looked at him, but evidently only because it would be uncivil not to look at a man when he is saying good-bye.
She was grateful to her father for saying nothing to her about their meeting Vronsky, but she saw by his special warmth to her after the visit during their usual walk that he was pleased with her. She was pleased with herself. She had not expected she would have had the power, while keeping somewhere in the bottom of her heart all the memories of her old feeling for Vronsky, not only to seem but to be perfectly indifferent and composed with him.
Levin flushed a great deal more than she when she told him she had met Vronsky at Princess Marya Borissovna’s. It was very hard for her to tell him this, but still harder to go on speaking of the details of the meeting, as he did not question her, but simply gazed at her with a frown.
"I am very sorry you weren’t there," she said. "Not that you weren’t in the room ... I couldn’t have been so natural in your presence ... I am blushing now much more, much, much more," she said, blushing till the tears came into her eyes. "But that you couldn’t see through a crack."
The truthful eyes told Levin that she was satisfied with herself, and in spite of her blushing he was quickly reassured and began questioning her, which was all she wanted. When he had heard everything, even to the detail that for the first second she could not help flushing, but that afterwards she was just as direct and as much at her ease as with any chance acquaintance, Levin was quite happy again and said he was glad of it, and would not now behave as stupidly as he had done at the election, but would try the first time he met Vronsky to be as friendly as possible.
"It’s so wretched to feel that there’s a man almost an enemy whom it’s painful to meet," said Levin. "I’m very, very glad."
"Go, please, go then and call on the Bols," Kitty said to her husband, when he came in to see her at eleven o’clock before going out. "I know you are dining at the club; papa put down your name. But what are you going to do in the morning?"
"I am only going to Katavasov," answered Levin.
"Why so early?"
"He promised to introduce me to Metrov. I wanted to talk to him about my work. He’s a distinguished scientific man from Petersburg," said Levin.
"Yes; wasn’t it his article you were praising so? Well, and after that?" said Kitty.
"I shall go to the court, perhaps, about my sister’s business."
"And the concert?" she queried.
"I shan’t go there all alone."
"No? do go; there are going to be some new things.... That interested you so. I should certainly go."
"Well, anyway, I shall come home before dinner," he said, looking at his watch.
"Put on your frock coat, so that you can go straight to call on Countess Bola."
"But is it absolutely necessary?"
"Oh, absolutely! He has been to see us. Come, what is it? You go in, sit down, talk for five minutes of the weather, get up and go away."
"Oh, you wouldn’t believe it! I’ve got so out of the way of all this that it makes me feel positively ashamed. It’s such a horrible thing to do! A complete outsider walks in, sits down, stays on with nothing to do, wastes their time and worries himself, and walks away!"
"Why, I suppose you used to pay calls before you were married, didn’t you?"
"Yes, I did, but I always felt ashamed, and now I’m so out of the way of it that, by Jove! I’d sooner go two days running without my dinner than pay this call! One’s so ashamed! I feel all the while that they’re annoyed, that they’re saying, ‘What has he come for?’"
"No, they won’t. I’ll answer for that," said Kitty, looking into his face with a laugh. She took his hand. "Well, good-bye.... Do go, please."
He was just going out after kissing his wife’s hand, when she stopped him.
"Kostya, do you know I’ve only fifty roubles left?"
"Oh, all right, I’ll go to the bank and get some. How much?" he said, with the expression of dissatisfaction she knew so well.
"No, wait a minute." She held his hand. "Let’s talk about it, it worries me. I seem to spend nothing unnecessary, but money seems to fly away simply. We don’t manage well, somehow."
"Oh, it’s all right," he said with a little cough, looking at her from under his brows.
That cough she knew well. It was a sign of intense dissatisfaction, not with her, but with himself. He certainly was displeased not at so much money being spent, but at being reminded of what he, knowing something was unsatisfactory, wanted to forget.
"I have told Sokolov to sell the wheat, and to borrow an advance on the mill. We shall have money enough in any case."
"Yes, but I’m afraid that altogether..."
"Oh, it’s all right, all right," he repeated. "Well, good-bye, darling."
"No, I’m really sorry sometimes that I listened to mamma. How nice it would have been in the country! As it is, I’m worrying you all, and we’re wasting our money."
"Not at all, not at all. Not once since I’ve been married have I said that things could have been better than they are...."
"Truly?" she said, looking into his eyes.
He had said it without thinking, simply to console her. But when he glanced at her and saw those sweet truthful eyes fastened questioningly on him, he repeated it with his whole heart. "I was positively forgetting her," he thought. And he remembered what was before them, so soon to come.
"Will it be soon? How do you feel?" he whispered, taking her two hands.
"I have so often thought so, that now I don’t think about it or know anything about it."
"And you’re not frightened?"
She smiled contemptuously.
"Not the least little bit," she said.
"Well, if anything happens, I shall be at Katavasov’s."
"No, nothing will happen, and don’t think about it. I’m going for a walk on the boulevard with papa. We’re going to see Dolly. I shall expect you before dinner. Oh, yes! Do you know that Dolly’s position is becoming utterly impossible? She’s in debt all round; she hasn’t a penny. We were talking yesterday with mamma and Arseny" (this was her sister’s husband Lvov), "and we determined to send you with him to talk to Stiva. It’s really unbearable. One can’t speak to papa about it.... But if you and he..."
"Why, what can we do?" said Levin.
"You’ll be at Arseny’s, anyway; talk to him, he will tell what we decided."
"Oh, I agree to everything Arseny thinks beforehand. I’ll go and see him. By the way, if I do go to the concert, I’ll go with Natalia. Well, good-bye."
On the steps Levin was stopped by his old servant Kouzma, who had been with him before his marriage, and now looked after their household in town.
"Beauty" (that was the left shaft-horse brought up from the country) "has been badly shod and is quite lame," he said. "What does your honor wish to be done?"
During the first part of their stay in Moscow, Levin had used his own horses brought up from the country. He had tried to arrange this part of their expenses in the best and cheapest way possible; but it appeared that their own horses came dearer than hired horses, and they still hired too.
"Send for the veterinary, there may be a bruise."
"And for Katerina Alexandrovna?" asked Kouzma.
Levin was not by now struck as he had been at first by the fact that to get from one end of Moscow to the other he had to have two powerful horses put into a heavy carriage, to take the carriage three miles through the snowy slush and to keep it standing there four hours, paying five roubles every time.
Now it seemed quite natural.
"Hire a pair for our carriage from the jobmaster," said he.
And so, simply and easily, thanks to the facilities of town life, Levin settled a question which, in the country, would have called for so much personal trouble and exertion, and going out onto the steps, he called a sledge, sat down, and drove to Nikitsky. On the way he thought no more of money, but mused on the introduction that awaited him to the Petersburg savant, a writer on sociology, and what he would say to him about his book.
Only during the first days of his stay in Moscow Levin had been struck by the expenditure, strange to one living in the country, unproductive but inevitable, that was expected of him on every side. But by now he had grown used to it. That had happened to him in this matter which is said to happen to drunkards—the first glass sticks in the throat, the second flies down like a hawk, but after the third they’re like tiny little birds. When Levin had changed his first hundred-rouble note to pay for liveries for his footmen and hall-porter he could not help reflecting that these liveries were of no use to anyone—but they were indubitably necessary, to judge by the amazement of the princess and Kitty when he suggested that they might do without liveries,—that these liveries would cost the wages of two laborers for the summer, that is, would pay for about three hundred working days from Easter to Ash Wednesday, and each a day of hard work from early morning to late evening—and that hundred-rouble note did stick in his throat. But the next note, changed to pay for providing a dinner for their relations, that cost twenty-eight roubles, though it did excite in Levin the reflection that twenty-eight roubles meant nine measures of oats, which men would with groans and sweat have reaped and bound and thrashed and winnowed and sifted and sown,—this next one he parted with more easily. And now the notes he changed no longer aroused such reflections, and they flew off like little birds. Whether the labor devoted to obtaining the money corresponded to the pleasure given by what was bought with it, was a consideration he had long ago dismissed. His business calculation that there was a certain price below which he could not sell certain grain was forgotten too. The rye, for the price of which he had so long held out, had been sold for fifty kopecks a measure cheaper than it had been fetching a month ago. Even the consideration that with such an expenditure he could not go on living for a year without debt, that even had no force. Only one thing was essential: to have money in the bank, without inquiring where it came from, so as to know that one had the wherewithal to buy meat for tomorrow. And this condition had hitherto been fulfilled; he had always had the money in the bank. But now the money in the bank had gone, and he could not quite tell where to get the next installment. And this it was which, at the moment when Kitty had mentioned money, had disturbed him; but he had no time to think about it. He drove off, thinking of Katavasov and the meeting with Metrov that was before him.
Levin had on this visit to town seen a great deal of his old friend at the university, Professor Katavasov, whom he had not seen since his marriage. He liked in Katavasov the clearness and simplicity of his conception of life. Levin thought that the clearness of Katavasov’s conception of life was due to the poverty of his nature; Katavasov thought that the disconnectedness of Levin’s ideas was due to his lack of intellectual discipline; but Levin enjoyed Katavasov’s clearness, and Katavasov enjoyed the abundance of Levin’s untrained ideas, and they liked to meet and to discuss.
Levin had read Katavasov some parts of his book, and he had liked them. On the previous day Katavasov had met Levin at a public lecture and told him that the celebrated Metrov, whose article Levin had so much liked, was in Moscow, that he had been much interested by what Katavasov had told him about Levin’s work, and that he was coming to see him tomorrow at eleven, and would be very glad to make Levin’s acquaintance.
"You’re positively a reformed character, I’m glad to see," said Katavasov, meeting Levin in the little drawing room. "I heard the bell and thought: Impossible that it can be he at the exact time!... Well, what do you say to the Montenegrins now? They’re a race of warriors."
"Why, what’s happened?" asked Levin.
Katavasov in a few words told him the last piece of news from the war, and going into his study, introduced Levin to a short, thick-set man of pleasant appearance. This was Metrov. The conversation touched for a brief space on politics and on how recent events were looked at in the higher spheres in Petersburg. Metrov repeated a saying that had reached him through a most trustworthy source, reported as having been uttered on this subject by the Tsar and one of the ministers. Katavasov had heard also on excellent authority that the Tsar had said something quite different. Levin tried to imagine circumstances in which both sayings might have been uttered, and the conversation on that topic dropped.
"Yes, here he’s written almost a book on the natural conditions of the laborer in relation to the land," said Katavasov; "I’m not a specialist, but I, as a natural science man, was pleased at his not taking mankind as something outside biological laws; but, on the contrary, seeing his dependence on his surroundings, and in that dependence seeking the laws of his development."
"That’s very interesting," said Metrov.
"What I began precisely was to write a book on agriculture; but studying the chief instrument of agriculture, the laborer," said Levin, reddening, "I could not help coming to quite unexpected results."
And Levin began carefully, as it were, feeling his ground, to expound his views. He knew Metrov had written an article against the generally accepted theory of political economy, but to what extent he could reckon on his sympathy with his own new views he did not know and could not guess from the clever and serene face of the learned man.
"But in what do you see the special characteristics of the Russian laborer?" said Metrov; "in his biological characteristics, so to speak, or in the condition in which he is placed?"
Levin saw that there was an idea underlying this question with which he did not agree. But he went on explaining his own idea that the Russian laborer has a quite special view of the land, different from that of other people; and to support this proposition he made haste to add that in his opinion this attitude of the Russian peasant was due to the consciousness of his vocation to people vast unoccupied expanses in the East.
"One may easily be led into error in basing any conclusion on the general vocation of a people," said Metrov, interrupting Levin. "The condition of the laborer will always depend on his relation to the land and to capital."
And without letting Levin finish explaining his idea, Metrov began expounding to him the special point of his own theory.
In what the point of his theory lay, Levin did not understand, because he did not take the trouble to understand. He saw that Metrov, like other people, in spite of his own article, in which he had attacked the current theory of political economy, looked at the position of the Russian peasant simply from the point of view of capital, wages, and rent. He would indeed have been obliged to admit that in the eastern—much the larger—part of Russia rent was as yet nil, that for nine-tenths of the eighty millions of the Russian peasants wages took the form simply of food provided for themselves, and that capital does not so far exist except in the form of the most primitive tools. Yet it was only from that point of view that he considered every laborer, though in many points he differed from the economists and had his own theory of the wage-fund, which he expounded to Levin.
Levin listened reluctantly, and at first made objections. He would have liked to interrupt Metrov, to explain his own thought, which in his opinion would have rendered further exposition of Metrov’s theories superfluous. But later on, feeling convinced that they looked at the matter so differently, that they could never understand one another, he did not even oppose his statements, but simply listened. Although what Metrov was saying was by now utterly devoid of interest for him, he yet experienced a certain satisfaction in listening to him. It flattered his vanity that such a learned man should explain his ideas to him so eagerly, with such intensity and confidence in Levin’s understanding of the subject, sometimes with a mere hint referring him to a whole aspect of the subject. He put this down to his own credit, unaware that Metrov, who had already discussed his theory over and over again with all his intimate friends, talked of it with special eagerness to every new person, and in general was eager to talk to anyone of any subject that interested him, even if still obscure to himself.
"We are late though," said Katavasov, looking at his watch directly Metrov had finished his discourse.
"Yes, there’s a meeting of the Society of Amateurs today in commemoration of the jubilee of Svintitch," said Katavasov in answer to Levin’s inquiry. "Pyotr Ivanovitch and I were going. I’ve promised to deliver an address on his labors in zoology. Come along with us, it’s very interesting."
"Yes, and indeed it’s time to start," said Metrov. "Come with us, and from there, if you care to, come to my place. I should very much like to hear your work."
"Oh, no! It’s no good yet, it’s unfinished. But I shall be very glad to go to the meeting."
"I say, friends, have you heard? He has handed in the separate report," Katavasov called from the other room, where he was putting on his frock coat.
And a conversation sprang up upon the university question, which was a very important event that winter in Moscow. Three old professors in the council had not accepted the opinion of the younger professors. The young ones had registered a separate resolution. This, in the judgment of some people, was monstrous, in the judgment of others it was the simplest and most just thing to do, and the professors were split up into two parties.
One party, to which Katavasov belonged, saw in the opposite party a scoundrelly betrayal and treachery, while the opposite party saw in them childishness and lack of respect for the authorities. Levin, though he did not belong to the university, had several times already during his stay in Moscow heard and talked about this matter, and had his own opinion on the subject. He took part in the conversation that was continued in the street, as they all three walked to the buildings of the old university.
The meeting had already begun. Round the cloth-covered table, at which Katavasov and Metrov seated themselves, there were some half-dozen persons, and one of these was bending close over a manuscript, reading something aloud. Levin sat down in one of the empty chairs that were standing round the table, and in a whisper asked a student sitting near what was being read. The student, eyeing Levin with displeasure, said:
Though Levin was not interested in the biography, he could not help listening, and learned some new and interesting facts about the life of the distinguished man of science.
When the reader had finished, the chairman thanked him and read some verses of the poet Ment sent him on the jubilee, and said a few words by way of thanks to the poet. Then Katavasov in his loud, ringing voice read his address on the scientific labors of the man whose jubilee was being kept.
When Katavasov had finished, Levin looked at his watch, saw it was past one, and thought that there would not be time before the concert to read Metrov his book, and indeed, he did not now care to do so. During the reading he had thought over their conversation. He saw distinctly now that though Metrov’s ideas might perhaps have value, his own ideas had a value too, and their ideas could only be made clear and lead to something if each worked separately in his chosen path, and that nothing would be gained by putting their ideas together. And having made up his mind to refuse Metrov’s invitation, Levin went up to him at the end of the meeting. Metrov introduced Levin to the chairman, with whom he was talking of the political news. Metrov told the chairman what he had already told Levin, and Levin made the same remarks on his news that he had already made that morning, but for the sake of variety he expressed also a new opinion which had only just struck him. After that the conversation turned again on the university question. As Levin had already heard it all, he made haste to tell Metrov that he was sorry he could not take advantage of his invitation, took leave, and drove to Lvov’s.
Lvov, the husband of Natalia, Kitty’s sister, had spent all his life in foreign capitals, where he had been educated, and had been in the diplomatic service.
During the previous year he had left the diplomatic service, not owing to any "unpleasantness" (he never had any "unpleasantness" with anyone), and was transferred to the department of the court of the palace in Moscow, in order to give his two boys the best education possible.
In spite of the striking contrast in their habits and views and the fact that Lvov was older than Levin, they had seen a great deal of one another that winter, and had taken a great liking to each other.
Lvov was at home, and Levin went in to him unannounced.
Lvov, in a house coat with a belt and in chamois leather shoes, was sitting in an armchair, and with a pince-nez with blue glasses he was reading a book that stood on a reading desk, while in his beautiful hand he held a half-burned cigarette daintily away from him.
His handsome, delicate, and still youthful-looking face, to which his curly, glistening silvery hair gave a still more aristocratic air, lighted up with a smile when he saw Levin.
"Capital! I was meaning to send to you. How’s Kitty? Sit here, it’s more comfortable." He got up and pushed up a rocking chair. "Have you read the last circular in the Journal de St. Petersbourg? I think it’s excellent," he said, with a slight French accent.
Levin told him what he had heard from Katavasov was being said in Petersburg, and after talking a little about politics, he told him of his interview with Metrov, and the learned society’s meeting. To Lvov it was very interesting.
"That’s what I envy you, that you are able to mix in these interesting scientific circles," he said. And as he talked, he passed as usual into French, which was easier to him. "It’s true I haven’t the time for it. My official work and the children leave me no time; and then I’m not ashamed to own that my education has been too defective."
"That I don’t believe," said Levin with a smile, feeling, as he always did, touched at Lvov’s low opinion of himself, which was not in the least put on from a desire to seem or to be modest, but was absolutely sincere.
"Oh, yes, indeed! I feel now how badly educated I am. To educate my children I positively have to look up a great deal, and in fact simply to study myself. For it’s not enough to have teachers, there must be someone to look after them, just as on your land you want laborers and an overseer. See what I’m reading"—he pointed to Buslaev’s Grammar on the desk—"it’s expected of Misha, and it’s so difficult.... Come, explain to me.... Here he says..."
Levin tried to explain to him that it couldn’t be understood, but that it had to be taught; but Lvov would not agree with him.
"Oh, you’re laughing at it!"
"On the contrary, you can’t imagine how, when I look at you, I’m always learning the task that lies before me, that is the education of one’s children."
"Well, there’s nothing for you to learn," said Lvov.
"All I know," said Levin, "is that I have never seen better brought-up children than yours, and I wouldn’t wish for children better than yours."
Lvov visibly tried to restrain the expression of his delight, but he was positively radiant with smiles.
"If only they’re better than I! That’s all I desire. You don’t know yet all the work," he said, "with boys who’ve been left like mine to run wild abroad."
"You’ll catch all that up. They’re such clever children. The great thing is the education of character. That’s what I learn when I look at your children."
"You talk of the education of character. You can’t imagine how difficult that is! You have hardly succeeded in combating one tendency when others crop up, and the struggle begins again. If one had not a support in religion—you remember we talked about that—no father could bring children up relying on his own strength alone without that help."
This subject, which always interested Levin, was cut short by the entrance of the beauty Natalia Alexandrovna, dressed to go out.
"I didn’t know you were here," she said, unmistakably feeling no regret, but a positive pleasure, in interrupting this conversation on a topic she had heard so much of that she was by now weary of it. "Well, how is Kitty? I am dining with you today. I tell you what, Arseny," she turned to her husband, "you take the carriage."
And the husband and wife began to discuss their arrangements for the day. As the husband had to drive to meet someone on official business, while the wife had to go to the concert and some public meeting of a committee on the Eastern Question, there was a great deal to consider and settle. Levin had to take part in their plans as one of themselves. It was settled that Levin should go with Natalia to the concert and the meeting, and that from there they should send the carriage to the office for Arseny, and he should call for her and take her to Kitty’s; or that, if he had not finished his work, he should send the carriage back and Levin would go with her.
"He’s spoiling me," Lvov said to his wife; "he assures me that our children are splendid, when I know how much that’s bad there is in them."
"Arseny goes to extremes, I always say," said his wife. "If you look for perfection, you will never be satisfied. And it’s true, as papa says,—that when we were brought up there was one extreme—we were kept in the basement, while our parents lived in the best rooms; now it’s just the other way—the parents are in the wash house, while the children are in the best rooms. Parents now are not expected to live at all, but to exist altogether for their children."
"Well, what if they like it better?" Lvov said, with his beautiful smile, touching her hand. "Anyone who didn’t know you would think you were a stepmother, not a true mother."
"No, extremes are not good in anything," Natalia said serenely, putting his paper knife straight in its proper place on the table.
"Well, come here, you perfect children," Lvov said to the two handsome boys who came in, and after bowing to Levin, went up to their father, obviously wishing to ask him about something.
Levin would have liked to talk to them, to hear what they would say to their father, but Natalia began talking to him, and then Lvov’s colleague in the service, Mahotin, walked in, wearing his court uniform, to go with him to meet someone, and a conversation was kept up without a break upon Herzegovina, Princess Korzinskaya, the town council, and the sudden death of Madame Apraksina.
Levin even forgot the commission intrusted to him. He recollected it as he was going into the hall.
"Oh, Kitty told me to talk to you about Oblonsky," he said, as Lvov was standing on the stairs, seeing his wife and Levin off.
"Yes, yes, maman wants us, les beaux-frères, to attack him," he said, blushing. "But why should I?"
"Well, then, I will attack him," said Madame Lvova, with a smile, standing in her white sheepskin cape, waiting till they had finished speaking. "Come, let us go."
At the concert in the afternoon two very interesting things were performed. One was a fantasia, King Lear; the other was a quartette dedicated to the memory of Bach. Both were new and in the new style, and Levin was eager to form an opinion of them. After escorting his sister-in-law to her stall, he stood against a column and tried to listen as attentively and conscientiously as possible. He tried not to let his attention be distracted, and not to spoil his impression by looking at the conductor in a white tie, waving his arms, which always disturbed his enjoyment of music so much, or the ladies in bonnets, with strings carefully tied over their ears, and all these people either thinking of nothing at all or thinking of all sorts of things except the music. He tried to avoid meeting musical connoisseurs or talkative acquaintances, and stood looking at the floor straight before him, listening.
But the more he listened to the fantasia of King Lear the further he felt from forming any definite opinion of it. There was, as it were, a continual beginning, a preparation of the musical expression of some feeling, but it fell to pieces again directly, breaking into new musical motives, or simply nothing but the whims of the composer, exceedingly complex but disconnected sounds. And these fragmentary musical expressions, though sometimes beautiful, were disagreeable, because they were utterly unexpected and not led up to by anything. Gaiety and grief and despair and tenderness and triumph followed one another without any connection, like the emotions of a madman. And those emotions, like a madman’s, sprang up quite unexpectedly.
During the whole of the performance Levin felt like a deaf man watching people dancing, and was in a state of complete bewilderment when the fantasia was over, and felt a great weariness from the fruitless strain on his attention. Loud applause resounded on all sides. Everyone got up, moved about, and began talking. Anxious to throw some light on his own perplexity from the impressions of others, Levin began to walk about, looking for connoisseurs, and was glad to see a well-known musical amateur in conversation with Pestsov, whom he knew.
"Marvelous!" Pestsov was saying in his mellow bass. "How are you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch? Particularly sculpturesque and plastic, so to say, and richly colored is that passage where you feel Cordelia’s approach, where woman, das ewig Weibliche, enters into conflict with fate. Isn’t it?"
"You mean ... what has Cordelia to do with it?" Levin asked timidly, forgetting that the fantasia was supposed to represent King Lear.
"Cordelia comes in ... see here!" said Pestsov, tapping his finger on the satiny surface of the program he held in his hand and passing it to Levin.
Only then Levin recollected the title of the fantasia, and made haste to read in the Russian translation the lines from Shakespeare that were printed on the back of the program.
"You can’t follow it without that," said Pestsov, addressing Levin, as the person he had been speaking to had gone away, and he had no one to talk to.
In the entr’acte Levin and Pestsov fell into an argument upon the merits and defects of music of the Wagner school. Levin maintained that the mistake of Wagner and all his followers lay in their trying to take music into the sphere of another art, just as poetry goes wrong when it tries to paint a face as the art of painting ought to do, and as an instance of this mistake he cited the sculptor who carved in marble certain poetic phantasms flitting round the figure of the poet on the pedestal. "These phantoms were so far from being phantoms that they were positively clinging on the ladder," said Levin. The comparison pleased him, but he could not remember whether he had not used the same phrase before, and to Pestsov, too, and as he said it he felt confused.
Pestsov maintained that art is one, and that it can attain its highest manifestations only by conjunction with all kinds of art.
The second piece that was performed Levin could not hear. Pestsov, who was standing beside him, was talking to him almost all the time, condemning the music for its excessive affected assumption of simplicity, and comparing it with the simplicity of the Pre-Raphaelites in painting. As he went out Levin met many more acquaintances, with whom he talked of politics, of music, and of common acquaintances. Among others he met Count Bol, whom he had utterly forgotten to call upon.
"Well, go at once then," Madame Lvova said, when he told her; "perhaps they’ll not be at home, and then you can come to the meeting to fetch me. You’ll find me still there."
"Perhaps they’re not at home?" said Levin, as he went into the hall of Countess Bola’s house.
"At home; please walk in," said the porter, resolutely removing his overcoat.
"How annoying!" thought Levin with a sigh, taking off one glove and stroking his hat. "What did I come for? What have I to say to them?"
As he passed through the first drawing room Levin met in the doorway Countess Bola, giving some order to a servant with a care-worn and severe face. On seeing Levin she smiled, and asked him to come into the little drawing room, where he heard voices. In this room there were sitting in armchairs the two daughters of the countess, and a Moscow colonel, whom Levin knew. Levin went up, greeted them, and sat down beside the sofa with his hat on his knees.
"How is your wife? Have you been at the concert? We couldn’t go. Mamma had to be at the funeral service."
"Yes, I heard.... What a sudden death!" said Levin.
The countess came in, sat down on the sofa, and she too asked after his wife and inquired about the concert.
Levin answered, and repeated an inquiry about Madame Apraksina’s sudden death.
"But she was always in weak health."
"Were you at the opera yesterday?"
"Yes, I was."
"Lucca was very good."
"Yes, very good," he said, and as it was utterly of no consequence to him what they thought of him, he began repeating what they had heard a hundred times about the characteristics of the singer’s talent. Countess Bola pretended to be listening. Then, when he had said enough and paused, the colonel, who had been silent till then, began to talk. The colonel too talked of the opera, and about culture. At last, after speaking of the proposed folle journée at Turin’s, the colonel laughed, got up noisily, and went away. Levin too rose, but he saw by the face of the countess that it was not yet time for him to go. He must stay two minutes longer. He sat down.
But as he was thinking all the while how stupid it was, he could not find a subject for conversation, and sat silent.
"You are not going to the public meeting? They say it will be very interesting," began the countess.
"No, I promised my belle-soeur to fetch her from it," said Levin.
A silence followed. The mother once more exchanged glances with a daughter.
"Well, now I think the time has come," thought Levin, and he got up. The ladies shook hands with him, and begged him to say mille choses to his wife for them.
The porter asked him, as he gave him his coat, "Where is your honor staying?" and immediately wrote down his address in a big handsomely bound book.
"Of course I don’t care, but still I feel ashamed and awfully stupid," thought Levin, consoling himself with the reflection that everyone does it. He drove to the public meeting, where he was to find his sister-in-law, so as to drive home with her.
At the public meeting of the committee there were a great many people, and almost all the highest society. Levin was in time for the report which, as everyone said, was very interesting. When the reading of the report was over, people moved about, and Levin met Sviazhsky, who invited him very pressingly to come that evening to a meeting of the Society of Agriculture, where a celebrated lecture was to be delivered, and Stepan Arkadyevitch, who had only just come from the races, and many other acquaintances; and Levin heard and uttered various criticisms on the meeting, on the new fantasia, and on a public trial. But, probably from the mental fatigue he was beginning to feel, he made a blunder in speaking of the trial, and this blunder he recalled several times with vexation. Speaking of the sentence upon a foreigner who had been condemned in Russia, and of how unfair it would be to punish him by exile abroad, Levin repeated what he had heard the day before in conversation from an acquaintance.
"I think sending him abroad is much the same as punishing a carp by putting it into the water," said Levin. Then he recollected that this idea, which he had heard from an acquaintance and uttered as his own, came from a fable of Krilov’s, and that the acquaintance had picked it up from a newspaper article.
After driving home with his sister-in-law, and finding Kitty in good spirits and quite well, Levin drove to the club.
Levin reached the club just at the right time. Members and visitors were driving up as he arrived. Levin had not been at the club for a very long while—not since he lived in Moscow, when he was leaving the university and going into society. He remembered the club, the external details of its arrangement, but he had completely forgotten the impression it had made on him in old days. But as soon as, driving into the wide semicircular court and getting out of the sledge, he mounted the steps, and the hall porter, adorned with a crossway scarf, noiselessly opened the door to him with a bow; as soon as he saw in the porter’s room the cloaks and galoshes of members who thought it less trouble to take them off downstairs; as soon as he heard the mysterious ringing bell that preceded him as he ascended the easy, carpeted staircase, and saw the statue on the landing, and the third porter at the top doors, a familiar figure grown older, in the club livery, opening the door without haste or delay, and scanning the visitors as they passed in—Levin felt the old impression of the club come back in a rush, an impression of repose, comfort, and propriety.
"Your hat, please," the porter said to Levin, who forgot the club rule to leave his hat in the porter’s room. "Long time since you’ve been. The prince put your name down yesterday. Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch is not here yet."
The porter did not only know Levin, but also all his ties and relationships, and so immediately mentioned his intimate friends.
Passing through the outer hall, divided up by screens, and the room partitioned on the right, where a man sits at the fruit buffet, Levin overtook an old man walking slowly in, and entered the dining room full of noise and people.
He walked along the tables, almost all full, and looked at the visitors. He saw people of all sorts, old and young; some he knew a little, some intimate friends. There was not a single cross or worried-looking face. All seemed to have left their cares and anxieties in the porter’s room with their hats, and were all deliberately getting ready to enjoy the material blessings of life. Sviazhsky was here and Shtcherbatsky, Nevyedovsky and the old prince, and Vronsky and Sergey Ivanovitch.
"Ah! why are you late?" the prince said smiling, and giving him his hand over his own shoulder. "How’s Kitty?" he added, smoothing out the napkin he had tucked in at his waistcoat buttons.
"All right; they are dining at home, all the three of them."
"Ah, ‘Aline-Nadine,’ to be sure! There’s no room with us. Go to that table, and make haste and take a seat," said the prince, and turning away he carefully took a plate of eel soup.
"Levin, this way!" a good-natured voice shouted a little farther on. It was Turovtsin. He was sitting with a young officer, and beside them were two chairs turned upside down. Levin gladly went up to them. He had always liked the good-hearted rake, Turovtsin—he was associated in his mind with memories of his courtship—and at that moment, after the strain of intellectual conversation, the sight of Turovtsin’s good-natured face was particularly welcome.
"For you and Oblonsky. He’ll be here directly."
The young man, holding himself very erect, with eyes forever twinkling with enjoyment, was an officer from Petersburg, Gagin. Turovtsin introduced them.
"Oblonsky’s always late."
"Ah, here he is!"
"Have you only just come?" said Oblonsky, coming quickly towards them. "Good day. Had some vodka? Well, come along then."
Levin got up and went with him to the big table spread with spirits and appetizers of the most various kinds. One would have thought that out of two dozen delicacies one might find something to one’s taste, but Stepan Arkadyevitch asked for something special, and one of the liveried waiters standing by immediately brought what was required. They drank a wine glassful and returned to their table.
At once, while they were still at the soup, Gagin was served with champagne, and told the waiter to fill four glasses. Levin did not refuse the wine, and asked for a second bottle. He was very hungry, and ate and drank with great enjoyment, and with still greater enjoyment took part in the lively and simple conversation of his companions. Gagin, dropping his voice, told the last good story from Petersburg, and the story, though improper and stupid, was so ludicrous that Levin broke into roars of laughter so loud that those near looked round.
"That’s in the same style as, ‘that’s a thing I can’t endure!’ You know the story?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Ah, that’s exquisite! Another bottle," he said to the waiter, and he began to relate his good story.
"Pyotr Illyitch Vinovsky invites you to drink with him," a little old waiter interrupted Stepan Arkadyevitch, bringing two delicate glasses of sparkling champagne, and addressing Stepan Arkadyevitch and Levin. Stepan Arkadyevitch took the glass, and looking towards a bald man with red mustaches at the other end of the table, he nodded to him, smiling.
"Who’s that?" asked Levin.
"You met him once at my place, don’t you remember? A good-natured fellow."
Levin did the same as Stepan Arkadyevitch and took the glass.
Stepan Arkadyevitch’s anecdote too was very amusing. Levin told his story, and that too was successful. Then they talked of horses, of the races, of what they had been doing that day, and of how smartly Vronsky’s Atlas had won the first prize. Levin did not notice how the time passed at dinner.
"Ah! and here they are!" Stepan Arkadyevitch said towards the end of dinner, leaning over the back of his chair and holding out his hand to Vronsky, who came up with a tall officer of the Guards. Vronsky’s face too beamed with the look of good-humored enjoyment that was general in the club. He propped his elbow playfully on Stepan Arkadyevitch’s shoulder, whispering something to him, and he held out his hand to Levin with the same good-humored smile.
"Very glad to meet you," he said. "I looked out for you at the election, but I was told you had gone away."
"Yes, I left the same day. We’ve just been talking of your horse. I congratulate you," said Levin. "It was very rapidly run."
"Yes; you’ve race horses too, haven’t you?"
"No, my father had; but I remember and know something about it."
"Where have you dined?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"We were at the second table, behind the columns."
"We’ve been celebrating his success," said the tall colonel. "It’s his second Imperial prize. I wish I might have the luck at cards he has with horses. Well, why waste the precious time? I’m going to the ‘infernal regions,’" added the colonel, and he walked away.
"That’s Yashvin," Vronsky said in answer to Turovtsin, and he sat down in the vacated seat beside them. He drank the glass offered him, and ordered a bottle of wine. Under the influence of the club atmosphere or the wine he had drunk, Levin chatted away to Vronsky of the best breeds of cattle, and was very glad not to feel the slightest hostility to this man. He even told him, among other things, that he had heard from his wife that she had met him at Princess Marya Borissovna’s.
"Ah, Princess Marya Borissovna, she’s exquisite!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, and he told an anecdote about her which set them all laughing. Vronsky particularly laughed with such simplehearted amusement that Levin felt quite reconciled to him.
"Well, have we finished?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, getting up with a smile. "Let us go."
Getting up from the table, Levin walked with Gagin through the lofty room to the billiard room, feeling his arms swing as he walked with a peculiar lightness and ease. As he crossed the big room, he came upon his father-in-law.
"Well, how do you like our Temple of Indolence?" said the prince, taking his arm. "Come along, come along!"
"Yes, I wanted to walk about and look at everything. It’s interesting."
"Yes, it’s interesting for you. But its interest for me is quite different. You look at those little old men now," he said, pointing to a club member with bent back and projecting lip, shuffling towards them in his soft boots, "and imagine that they were shlupiks like that from their birth up."
"I see you don’t know that name. That’s our club designation. You know the game of rolling eggs: when one’s rolled a long while it becomes a shlupik. So it is with us; one goes on coming and coming to the club, and ends by becoming a shlupik. Ah, you laugh! but we look out, for fear of dropping into it ourselves. You know Prince Tchetchensky?" inquired the prince; and Levin saw by his face that he was just going to relate something funny.
"No, I don’t know him."
"You don’t say so! Well, Prince Tchetchensky is a well-known figure. No matter, though. He’s always playing billiards here. Only three years ago he was not a shlupik and kept up his spirits and even used to call other people shlupiks. But one day he turns up, and our porter ... you know Vassily? Why, that fat one; he’s famous for his bon mots. And so Prince Tchetchensky asks him, ‘Come, Vassily, who’s here? Any shlupiks here yet?’ And he says, ‘You’re the third.’ Yes, my dear boy, that he did!"
Talking and greeting the friends they met, Levin and the prince walked through all the rooms: the great room where tables had already been set, and the usual partners were playing for small stakes; the divan room, where they were playing chess, and Sergey Ivanovitch was sitting talking to somebody; the billiard room, where, about a sofa in a recess, there was a lively party drinking champagne—Gagin was one of them. They peeped into the "infernal regions," where a good many men were crowding round one table, at which Yashvin was sitting. Trying not to make a noise, they walked into the dark reading room, where under the shaded lamps there sat a young man with a wrathful countenance, turning over one journal after another, and a bald general buried in a book. They went, too, into what the prince called the intellectual room, where three gentlemen were engaged in a heated discussion of the latest political news.
"Prince, please come, we’re ready," said one of his card party, who had come to look for him, and the prince went off. Levin sat down and listened, but recalling all the conversation of the morning he felt all of a sudden fearfully bored. He got up hurriedly, and went to look for Oblonsky and Turovtsin, with whom it had been so pleasant.
Turovtsin was one of the circle drinking in the billiard room, and Stepan Arkadyevitch was talking with Vronsky near the door at the farther corner of the room.
"It’s not that she’s dull; but this undefined, this unsettled position," Levin caught, and he was hurrying away, but Stepan Arkadyevitch called to him.
"Levin," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, and Levin noticed that his eyes were not full of tears exactly, but moist, which always happened when he had been drinking, or when he was touched. Just now it was due to both causes. "Levin, don’t go," he said, and he warmly squeezed his arm above the elbow, obviously not at all wishing to let him go.
"This is a true friend of mine—almost my greatest friend," he said to Vronsky. "You have become even closer and dearer to me. And I want you, and I know you ought, to be friends, and great friends, because you’re both splendid fellows."
"Well, there’s nothing for us now but to kiss and be friends," Vronsky said, with good-natured playfulness, holding out his hand.
Levin quickly took the offered hand, and pressed it warmly.
"I’m very, very glad," said Levin.
"Waiter, a bottle of champagne," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"And I’m very glad," said Vronsky.
But in spite of Stepan Arkadyevitch’s desire, and their own desire, they had nothing to talk about, and both felt it.
"Do you know, he has never met Anna?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said to Vronsky. "And I want above everything to take him to see her. Let us go, Levin!"
"Really?" said Vronsky. "She will be very glad to see you. I should be going home at once," he added, "but I’m worried about Yashvin, and I want to stay on till he finishes."
"Why, is he losing?"
"He keeps losing, and I’m the only friend that can restrain him."
"Well, what do you say to pyramids? Levin, will you play? Capital!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Get the table ready," he said to the marker.
"It has been ready a long while," answered the marker, who had already set the balls in a triangle, and was knocking the red one about for his own diversion.
"Well, let us begin."
After the game Vronsky and Levin sat down at Gagin’s table, and at Stepan Arkadyevitch’s suggestion Levin took a hand in the game.
Vronsky sat down at the table, surrounded by friends, who were incessantly coming up to him. Every now and then he went to the "infernal" to keep an eye on Yashvin. Levin was enjoying a delightful sense of repose after the mental fatigue of the morning. He was glad that all hostility was at an end with Vronsky, and the sense of peace, decorum, and comfort never left him.
When the game was over, Stepan Arkadyevitch took Levin’s arm.
"Well, let us go to Anna’s, then. At once? Eh? She is at home. I promised her long ago to bring you. Where were you meaning to spend the evening?"
"Oh, nowhere specially. I promised Sviazhsky to go to the Society of Agriculture. By all means, let us go," said Levin.
"Very good; come along. Find out if my carriage is here," Stepan Arkadyevitch said to the waiter.
Levin went up to the table, paid the forty roubles he had lost; paid his bill, the amount of which was in some mysterious way ascertained by the little old waiter who stood at the counter, and swinging his arms he walked through all the rooms to the way out.
"Oblonsky’s carriage!" the porter shouted in an angry bass. The carriage drove up and both got in. It was only for the first few moments, while the carriage was driving out of the clubhouse gates, that Levin was still under the influence of the club atmosphere of repose, comfort, and unimpeachable good form. But as soon as the carriage drove out into the street, and he felt it jolting over the uneven road, heard the angry shout of a sledge driver coming towards them, saw in the uncertain light the red blind of a tavern and the shops, this impression was dissipated, and he began to think over his actions, and to wonder whether he was doing right in going to see Anna. What would Kitty say? But Stepan Arkadyevitch gave him no time for reflection, and, as though divining his doubts, he scattered them.
"How glad I am," he said, "that you should know her! You know Dolly has long wished for it. And Lvov’s been to see her, and often goes. Though she is my sister," Stepan Arkadyevitch pursued, "I don’t hesitate to say that she’s a remarkable woman. But you will see. Her position is very painful, especially now."
"Why especially now?"
"We are carrying on negotiations with her husband about a divorce. And he’s agreed; but there are difficulties in regard to the son, and the business, which ought to have been arranged long ago, has been dragging on for three months past. As soon as the divorce is over, she will marry Vronsky. How stupid these old ceremonies are, that no one believes in, and which only prevent people being comfortable!" Stepan Arkadyevitch put in. "Well, then their position will be as regular as mine, as yours."
"What is the difficulty?" said Levin.
"Oh, it’s a long and tedious story! The whole business is in such an anomalous position with us. But the point is she has been for three months in Moscow, where everyone knows her, waiting for the divorce; she goes out nowhere, sees no woman except Dolly, because, do you understand, she doesn’t care to have people come as a favor. That fool Princess Varvara, even she has left her, considering this a breach of propriety. Well, you see, in such a position any other woman would not have found resources in herself. But you’ll see how she has arranged her life—how calm, how dignified she is. To the left, in the crescent opposite the church!" shouted Stepan Arkadyevitch, leaning out of the window. "Phew! how hot it is!" he said, in spite of twelve degrees of frost, flinging his open overcoat still wider open.
"But she has a daughter: no doubt she’s busy looking after her?" said Levin.
"I believe you picture every woman simply as a female, une couveuse," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "If she’s occupied, it must be with her children. No, she brings her up capitally, I believe, but one doesn’t hear about her. She’s busy, in the first place, with what she writes. I see you’re smiling ironically, but you’re wrong. She’s writing a children’s book, and doesn’t talk about it to anyone, but she read it to me and I gave the manuscript to Vorkuev ... you know the publisher ... and he’s an author himself too, I fancy. He understands those things, and he says it’s a remarkable piece of work. But are you fancying she’s an authoress?—not a bit of it. She’s a woman with a heart, before everything, but you’ll see. Now she has a little English girl with her, and a whole family she’s looking after."
"Oh, something in a philanthropic way?"
"Why, you will look at everything in the worst light. It’s not from philanthropy, it’s from the heart. They—that is, Vronsky—had a trainer, an Englishman, first-rate in his own line, but a drunkard. He’s completely given up to drink—delirium tremens—and the family were cast on the world. She saw them, helped them, got more and more interested in them, and now the whole family is on her hands. But not by way of patronage, you know, helping with money; she’s herself preparing the boys in Russian for the high school, and she’s taken the little girl to live with her. But you’ll see her for yourself."
The carriage drove into the courtyard, and Stepan Arkadyevitch rang loudly at the entrance where sledges were standing.
And without asking the servant who opened the door whether the lady were at home, Stepan Arkadyevitch walked into the hall. Levin followed him, more and more doubtful whether he was doing right or wrong.
Looking at himself in the glass, Levin noticed that he was red in the face, but he felt certain he was not drunk, and he followed Stepan Arkadyevitch up the carpeted stairs. At the top Stepan Arkadyevitch inquired of the footman, who bowed to him as to an intimate friend, who was with Anna Arkadyevna, and received the answer that it was M. Vorkuev.
"Where are they?"
"In the study."
Passing through the dining room, a room not very large, with dark, paneled walls, Stepan Arkadyevitch and Levin walked over the soft carpet to the half-dark study, lighted up by a single lamp with a big dark shade. Another lamp with a reflector was hanging on the wall, lighting up a big full-length portrait of a woman, which Levin could not help looking at. It was the portrait of Anna, painted in Italy by Mihailov. While Stepan Arkadyevitch went behind the treillage, and the man’s voice which had been speaking paused, Levin gazed at the portrait, which stood out from the frame in the brilliant light thrown on it, and he could not tear himself away from it. He positively forgot where he was, and not even hearing what was said, he could not take his eyes off the marvelous portrait. It was not a picture, but a living, charming woman, with black curling hair, with bare arms and shoulders, with a pensive smile on the lips, covered with soft down; triumphantly and softly she looked at him with eyes that baffled him. She was not living only because she was more beautiful than a living woman can be.
"I am delighted!" He heard suddenly near him a voice, unmistakably addressing him, the voice of the very woman he had been admiring in the portrait. Anna had come from behind the treillage to meet him, and Levin saw in the dim light of the study the very woman of the portrait, in a dark blue shot gown, not in the same position nor with the same expression, but with the same perfection of beauty which the artist had caught in the portrait. She was less dazzling in reality, but, on the other hand, there was something fresh and seductive in the living woman which was not in the portrait.
She had risen to meet him, not concealing her pleasure at seeing him; and in the quiet ease with which she held out her little vigorous hand, introduced him to Vorkuev and indicated a red-haired, pretty little girl who was sitting at work, calling her her pupil, Levin recognized and liked the manners of a woman of the great world, always self-possessed and natural.
"I am delighted, delighted," she repeated, and on her lips these simple words took for Levin’s ears a special significance. "I have known you and liked you for a long while, both from your friendship with Stiva and for your wife’s sake.... I knew her for a very short time, but she left on me the impression of an exquisite flower, simply a flower. And to think she will soon be a mother!"
She spoke easily and without haste, looking now and then from Levin to her brother, and Levin felt that the impression he was making was good, and he felt immediately at home, simple and happy with her, as though he had known her from childhood.
"Ivan Petrovitch and I settled in Alexey’s study," she said in answer to Stepan Arkadyevitch’s question whether he might smoke, "just so as to be able to smoke"—and glancing at Levin, instead of asking whether he would smoke, she pulled closer a tortoise-shell cigar-case and took a cigarette.
"How are you feeling today?" her brother asked her.
"Oh, nothing. Nerves, as usual."
"Yes, isn’t it extraordinarily fine?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, noticing that Levin was scrutinizing the picture.
"I have never seen a better portrait."
"And extraordinarily like, isn’t it?" said Vorkuev.
Levin looked from the portrait to the original. A peculiar brilliance lighted up Anna’s face when she felt his eyes on her. Levin flushed, and to cover his confusion would have asked whether she had seen Darya Alexandrovna lately; but at that moment Anna spoke. "We were just talking, Ivan Petrovitch and I, of Vashtchenkov’s last pictures. Have you seen them?"
"Yes, I have seen them," answered Levin.
"But, I beg your pardon, I interrupted you ... you were saying?..."
Levin asked if she had seen Dolly lately.
"She was here yesterday. She was very indignant with the high school people on Grisha’s account. The Latin teacher, it seems, had been unfair to him."
"Yes, I have seen his pictures. I didn’t care for them very much," Levin went back to the subject she had started.
Levin talked now not at all with that purely businesslike attitude to the subject with which he had been talking all the morning. Every word in his conversation with her had a special significance. And talking to her was pleasant; still pleasanter it was to listen to her.
Anna talked not merely naturally and cleverly, but cleverly and carelessly, attaching no value to her own ideas and giving great weight to the ideas of the person she was talking to.
The conversation turned on the new movement in art, on the new illustrations of the Bible by a French artist. Vorkuev attacked the artist for a realism carried to the point of coarseness.
Levin said that the French had carried conventionality further than anyone, and that consequently they see a great merit in the return to realism. In the fact of not lying they see poetry.
Never had anything clever said by Levin given him so much pleasure as this remark. Anna’s face lighted up at once, as at once she appreciated the thought. She laughed.
"I laugh," she said, "as one laughs when one sees a very true portrait. What you said so perfectly hits off French art now, painting and literature too, indeed—Zola, Daudet. But perhaps it is always so, that men form their conceptions from fictitious, conventional types, and then—all the combinaisons made—they are tired of the fictitious figures and begin to invent more natural, true figures."
"That’s perfectly true," said Vorknev.
"So you’ve been at the club?" she said to her brother.
"Yes, yes, this is a woman!" Levin thought, forgetting himself and staring persistently at her lovely, mobile face, which at that moment was all at once completely transformed. Levin did not hear what she was talking of as she leaned over to her brother, but he was struck by the change of her expression. Her face—so handsome a moment before in its repose—suddenly wore a look of strange curiosity, anger, and pride. But this lasted only an instant. She dropped her eyelids, as though recollecting something.
"Oh, well, but that’s of no interest to anyone," she said, and she turned to the English girl.
"Please order the tea in the drawing room," she said in English.
The girl got up and went out.
"Well, how did she get through her examination?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Splendidly! She’s a very gifted child and a sweet character."
"It will end in your loving her more than your own."
"There a man speaks. In love there’s no more nor less. I love my daughter with one love, and her with another."
"I was just telling Anna Arkadyevna," said Vorkuev, "that if she were to put a hundredth part of the energy she devotes to this English girl to the public question of the education of Russian children, she would be doing a great and useful work."
"Yes, but I can’t help it; I couldn’t do it. Count Alexey Kirillovitch urged me very much" (as she uttered the words Count Alexey Kirillovitch she glanced with appealing timidity at Levin, and he unconsciously responded with a respectful and reassuring look); "he urged me to take up the school in the village. I visited it several times. The children were very nice, but I could not feel drawn to the work. You speak of energy. Energy rests upon love; and come as it will, there’s no forcing it. I took to this child—I could not myself say why."
And she glanced again at Levin. And her smile and her glance—all told him that it was to him only she was addressing her words, valuing his good opinion, and at the same time sure beforehand that they understood each other.
"I quite understand that," Levin answered. "It’s impossible to give one’s heart to a school or such institutions in general, and I believe that’s just why philanthropic institutions always give such poor results."
She was silent for a while, then she smiled.
"Yes, yes," she agreed; "I never could. Je n’ai pas le coeur assez large to love a whole asylum of horrid little girls. Cela ne m’a jamais réussi. There are so many women who have made themselves une position sociale in that way. And now more than ever," she said with a mournful, confiding expression, ostensibly addressing her brother, but unmistakably intending her words only for Levin, "now when I have such need of some occupation, I cannot." And suddenly frowning (Levin saw that she was frowning at herself for talking about herself) she changed the subject. "I know about you," she said to Levin; "that you’re not a public-spirited citizen, and I have defended you to the best of my ability."
"How have you defended me?"
"Oh, according to the attacks made on you. But won’t you have some tea?" She rose and took up a book bound in morocco.
"Give it to me, Anna Arkadyevna," said Vorkuev, indicating the book. "It’s well worth taking up."
"Oh, no, it’s all so sketchy."
"I told him about it," Stepan Arkadyevitch said to his sister, nodding at Levin.
"You shouldn’t have. My writing is something after the fashion of those little baskets and carving which Liza Mertsalova used to sell me from the prisons. She had the direction of the prison department in that society," she turned to Levin; "and they were miracles of patience, the work of those poor wretches."
And Levin saw a new trait in this woman, who attracted him so extraordinarily. Besides wit, grace, and beauty, she had truth. She had no wish to hide from him all the bitterness of her position. As she said that she sighed, and her face suddenly taking a hard expression, looked as it were turned to stone. With that expression on her face she was more beautiful than ever; but the expression was new; it was utterly unlike that expression, radiant with happiness and creating happiness, which had been caught by the painter in her portrait. Levin looked more than once at the portrait and at her figure, as taking her brother’s arm she walked with him to the high doors and he felt for her a tenderness and pity at which he wondered himself.
She asked Levin and Vorkuev to go into the drawing room, while she stayed behind to say a few words to her brother. "About her divorce, about Vronsky, and what he’s doing at the club, about me?" wondered Levin. And he was so keenly interested by the question of what she was saying to Stepan Arkadyevitch, that he scarcely heard what Vorkuev was telling him of the qualities of the story for children Anna Arkadyevna had written.
At tea the same pleasant sort of talk, full of interesting matter, continued. There was not a single instant when a subject for conversation was to seek; on the contrary, it was felt that one had hardly time to say what one had to say, and eagerly held back to hear what the others were saying. And all that was said, not only by her, but by Vorkuev and Stepan Arkadyevitch—all, so it seemed to Levin, gained peculiar significance from her appreciation and her criticism. While he followed this interesting conversation, Levin was all the time admiring her—her beauty, her intelligence, her culture, and at the same time her directness and genuine depth of feeling. He listened and talked, and all the while he was thinking of her inner life, trying to divine her feelings. And though he had judged her so severely hitherto, now by some strange chain of reasoning he was justifying her and was also sorry for her, and afraid that Vronsky did not fully understand her. At eleven o’clock, when Stepan Arkadyevitch got up to go (Vorkuev had left earlier), it seemed to Levin that he had only just come. Regretfully Levin too rose.
"Good-bye," she said, holding his hand and glancing into his face with a winning look. "I am very glad que la glace est rompue."
She dropped his hand, and half closed her eyes.
"Tell your wife that I love her as before, and that if she cannot pardon me my position, then my wish for her is that she may never pardon it. To pardon it, one must go through what I have gone through, and may God spare her that."
"Certainly, yes, I will tell her..." Levin said, blushing.
"What a marvelous, sweet and unhappy woman!" he was thinking, as he stepped out into the frosty air with Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Well, didn’t I tell you?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, seeing that Levin had been completely won over.
"Yes," said Levin dreamily, "an extraordinary woman! It’s not her cleverness, but she has such wonderful depth of feeling. I’m awfully sorry for her!"
"Now, please God, everything will soon be settled. Well, well, don’t be hard on people in future," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, opening the carriage door. "Good-bye; we don’t go the same way."
Still thinking of Anna, of everything, even the simplest phrase in their conversation with her, and recalling the minutest changes in her expression, entering more and more into her position, and feeling sympathy for her, Levin reached home.
At home Kouzma told Levin that Katerina Alexandrovna was quite well, and that her sisters had not long been gone, and he handed him two letters. Levin read them at once in the hall, that he might not over look them later. One was from Sokolov, his bailiff. Sokolov wrote that the corn could not be sold, that it was fetching only five and a half roubles, and that more than that could not be got for it. The other letter was from his sister. She scolded him for her business being still unsettled.
"Well, we must sell it at five and a half if we can’t get more," Levin decided the first question, which had always before seemed such a weighty one, with extraordinary facility on the spot. "It’s extraordinary how all one’s time is taken up here," he thought, considering the second letter. He felt himself to blame for not having got done what his sister had asked him to do for her. "Today, again, I’ve not been to the court, but today I’ve certainly not had time." And resolving that he would not fail to do it next day, he went up to his wife. As he went in, Levin rapidly ran through mentally the day he had spent. All the events of the day were conversations, conversations he had heard and taken part in. All the conversations were upon subjects which, if he had been alone at home, he would never have taken up, but here they were very interesting. And all these conversations were right enough, only in two places there was something not quite right. One was what he had said about the carp, the other was something not "quite the thing" in the tender sympathy he was feeling for Anna.
Levin found his wife low-spirited and dull. The dinner of the three sisters had gone off very well, but then they had waited and waited for him, all of them had felt dull, the sisters had departed, and she had been left alone.
"Well, and what have you been doing?" she asked him, looking straight into his eyes, which shone with rather a suspicious brightness. But that she might not prevent his telling her everything, she concealed her close scrutiny of him, and with an approving smile listened to his account of how he had spent the evening.
"Well, I’m very glad I met Vronsky. I felt quite at ease and natural with him. You understand, I shall try not to see him, but I’m glad that this awkwardness is all over," he said, and remembering that by way of trying not to see him, he had immediately gone to call on Anna, he blushed. "We talk about the peasants drinking; I don’t know which drinks most, the peasantry or our own class; the peasants do on holidays, but..."
But Kitty took not the slightest interest in discussing the drinking habits of the peasants. She saw that he blushed, and she wanted to know why.
"Well, and then where did you go?"
"Stiva urged me awfully to go and see Anna Arkadyevna."
And as he said this, Levin blushed even more, and his doubts as to whether he had done right in going to see Anna were settled once for all. He knew now that he ought not to have done so.
Kitty’s eyes opened in a curious way and gleamed at Anna’s name, but controlling herself with an effort, she concealed her emotion and deceived him.
"Oh!" was all she said.
"I’m sure you won’t be angry at my going. Stiva begged me to, and Dolly wished it," Levin went on.
"Oh, no!" she said, but he saw in her eyes a constraint that boded him no good.
"She is a very sweet, very, very unhappy, good woman," he said, telling her about Anna, her occupations, and what she had told him to say to her.
"Yes, of course, she is very much to be pitied," said Kitty, when he had finished. "Whom was your letter from?"
He told her, and believing in her calm tone, he went to change his coat.
Coming back, he found Kitty in the same easy chair. When he went up to her, she glanced at him and broke into sobs.
"What? what is it?" he asked, knowing beforehand what.
"You’re in love with that hateful woman; she has bewitched you! I saw it in your eyes. Yes, yes! What can it all lead to? You were drinking at the club, drinking and gambling, and then you went ... to her of all people! No, we must go away.... I shall go away tomorrow."
It was a long while before Levin could soothe his wife. At last he succeeded in calming her, only by confessing that a feeling of pity, in conjunction with the wine he had drunk, had been too much for him, that he had succumbed to Anna’s artful influence, and that he would avoid her. One thing he did with more sincerity confess to was that living so long in Moscow, a life of nothing but conversation, eating and drinking, he was degenerating. They talked till three o’clock in the morning. Only at three o’clock were they sufficiently reconciled to be able to go to sleep.
After taking leave of her guests, Anna did not sit down, but began walking up and down the room. She had unconsciously the whole evening done her utmost to arouse in Levin a feeling of love—as of late she had fallen into doing with all young men—and she knew she had attained her aim, as far as was possible in one evening, with a married and conscientious man. She liked him indeed extremely, and, in spite of the striking difference, from the masculine point of view, between Vronsky and Levin, as a woman she saw something they had in common, which had made Kitty able to love both. Yet as soon as he was out of the room, she ceased to think of him.
One thought, and one only, pursued her in different forms, and refused to be shaken off. "If I have so much effect on others, on this man, who loves his home and his wife, why is it he is so cold to me?... not cold exactly, he loves me, I know that! But something new is drawing us apart now. Why wasn’t he here all the evening? He told Stiva to say he could not leave Yashvin, and must watch over his play. Is Yashvin a child? But supposing it’s true. He never tells a lie. But there’s something else in it if it’s true. He is glad of an opportunity of showing me that he has other duties; I know that, I submit to that. But why prove that to me? He wants to show me that his love for me is not to interfere with his freedom. But I need no proofs, I need love. He ought to understand all the bitterness of this life for me here in Moscow. Is this life? I am not living, but waiting for an event, which is continually put off and put off. No answer again! And Stiva says he cannot go to Alexey Alexandrovitch. And I can’t write again. I can do nothing, can begin nothing, can alter nothing; I hold myself in, I wait, inventing amusements for myself—the English family, writing, reading—but it’s all nothing but a sham, it’s all the same as morphine. He ought to feel for me," she said, feeling tears of self-pity coming into her eyes.
She heard Vronsky’s abrupt ring and hurriedly dried her tears—not only dried her tears, but sat down by a lamp and opened a book, affecting composure. She wanted to show him that she was displeased that he had not come home as he had promised—displeased only, and not on any account to let him see her distress, and least of all, her self-pity. She might pity herself, but he must not pity her. She did not want strife, she blamed him for wanting to quarrel, but unconsciously put herself into an attitude of antagonism.
"Well, you’ve not been dull?" he said, eagerly and good-humoredly, going up to her. "What a terrible passion it is—gambling!"
"No, I’ve not been dull; I’ve learned long ago not to be dull. Stiva has been here and Levin."
"Yes, they meant to come and see you. Well, how did you like Levin?" he said, sitting down beside her.
"Very much. They have not long been gone. What was Yashvin doing?"
"He was winning—seventeen thousand. I got him away. He had really started home, but he went back again, and now he’s losing."
"Then what did you stay for?" she asked, suddenly lifting her eyes to him. The expression of her face was cold and ungracious. "You told Stiva you were staying on to get Yashvin away. And you have left him there."
The same expression of cold readiness for the conflict appeared on his face too.
"In the first place, I did not ask him to give you any message; and secondly, I never tell lies. But what’s the chief point, I wanted to stay, and I stayed," he said, frowning. "Anna, what is it for, why will you?" he said after a moment’s silence, bending over towards her, and he opened his hand, hoping she would lay hers in it.
She was glad of this appeal for tenderness. But some strange force of evil would not let her give herself up to her feelings, as though the rules of warfare would not permit her to surrender.
"Of course you wanted to stay, and you stayed. You do everything you want to. But what do you tell me that for? With what object?" she said, getting more and more excited. "Does anyone contest your rights? But you want to be right, and you’re welcome to be right."
His hand closed, he turned away, and his face wore a still more obstinate expression.
"For you it’s a matter of obstinacy," she said, watching him intently and suddenly finding the right word for that expression that irritated her, "simply obstinacy. For you it’s a question of whether you keep the upper hand of me, while for me...." Again she felt sorry for herself, and she almost burst into tears. "If you knew what it is for me! When I feel as I do now that you are hostile, yes, hostile to me, if you knew what this means for me! If you knew how I feel on the brink of calamity at this instant, how afraid I am of myself!" And she turned away, hiding her sobs.
"But what are you talking about?" he said, horrified at her expression of despair, and again bending over her, he took her hand and kissed it. "What is it for? Do I seek amusements outside our home? Don’t I avoid the society of women?"
"Well, yes! If that were all!" she said.
"Come, tell me what I ought to do to give you peace of mind? I am ready to do anything to make you happy," he said, touched by her expression of despair; "what wouldn’t I do to save you from distress of any sort, as now, Anna!" he said.
"It’s nothing, nothing!" she said. "I don’t know myself whether it’s the solitary life, my nerves.... Come, don’t let us talk of it. What about the race? You haven’t told me!" she inquired, trying to conceal her triumph at the victory, which had anyway been on her side.
He asked for supper, and began telling her about the races; but in his tone, in his eyes, which became more and more cold, she saw that he did not forgive her for her victory, that the feeling of obstinacy with which she had been struggling had asserted itself again in him. He was colder to her than before, as though he were regretting his surrender. And she, remembering the words that had given her the victory, "how I feel on the brink of calamity, how afraid I am of myself," saw that this weapon was a dangerous one, and that it could not be used a second time. And she felt that beside the love that bound them together there had grown up between them some evil spirit of strife, which she could not exorcise from his, and still less from her own heart.
There are no conditions to which a man cannot become used, especially if he sees that all around him are living in the same way. Levin could not have believed three months before that he could have gone quietly to sleep in the condition in which he was that day, that leading an aimless, irrational life, living too beyond his means, after drinking to excess (he could not call what happened at the club anything else), forming inappropriately friendly relations with a man with whom his wife had once been in love, and a still more inappropriate call upon a woman who could only be called a lost woman, after being fascinated by that woman and causing his wife distress—he could still go quietly to sleep. But under the influence of fatigue, a sleepless night, and the wine he had drunk, his sleep was sound and untroubled.
At five o’clock the creak of a door opening waked him. He jumped up and looked round. Kitty was not in bed beside him. But there was a light moving behind the screen, and he heard her steps.
"What is it?... what is it?" he said, half-asleep. "Kitty! What is it?"
"Nothing," she said, coming from behind the screen with a candle in her hand. "I felt unwell," she said, smiling a particularly sweet and meaning smile.
"What? has it begun?" he said in terror. "We ought to send..." and hurriedly he reached after his clothes.
"No, no," she said, smiling and holding his hand. "It’s sure to be nothing. I was rather unwell, only a little. It’s all over now."
And getting into bed, she blew out the candle, lay down and was still. Though he thought her stillness suspicious, as though she were holding her breath, and still more suspicious the expression of peculiar tenderness and excitement with which, as she came from behind the screen, she said "nothing," he was so sleepy that he fell asleep at once. Only later he remembered the stillness of her breathing, and understood all that must have been passing in her sweet, precious heart while she lay beside him, not stirring, in anticipation of the greatest event in a woman’s life. At seven o’clock he was waked by the touch of her hand on his shoulder, and a gentle whisper. She seemed struggling between regret at waking him, and the desire to talk to him.
"Kostya, don’t be frightened. It’s all right. But I fancy.... We ought to send for Lizaveta Petrovna."
The candle was lighted again. She was sitting up in bed, holding some knitting, which she had been busy upon during the last few days.
"Please, don’t be frightened, it’s all right. I’m not a bit afraid," she said, seeing his scared face, and she pressed his hand to her bosom and then to her lips.
He hurriedly jumped up, hardly awake, and kept his eyes fixed on her, as he put on his dressing gown; then he stopped, still looking at her. He had to go, but he could not tear himself from her eyes. He thought he loved her face, knew her expression, her eyes, but never had he seen it like this. How hateful and horrible he seemed to himself, thinking of the distress he had caused her yesterday. Her flushed face, fringed with soft curling hair under her night cap, was radiant with joy and courage.
Though there was so little that was complex or artificial in Kitty’s character in general, Levin was struck by what was revealed now, when suddenly all disguises were thrown off and the very kernel of her soul shone in her eyes. And in this simplicity and nakedness of her soul, she, the very woman he loved in her, was more manifest than ever. She looked at him, smiling; but all at once her brows twitched, she threw up her head, and going quickly up to him, clutched his hand and pressed close up to him, breathing her hot breath upon him. She was in pain and was, as it were, complaining to him of her suffering. And for the first minute, from habit, it seemed to him that he was to blame. But in her eyes there was a tenderness that told him that she was far from reproaching him, that she loved him for her sufferings. "If not I, who is to blame for it?" he thought unconsciously, seeking someone responsible for this suffering for him to punish; but there was no one responsible. She was suffering, complaining, and triumphing in her sufferings, and rejoicing in them, and loving them. He saw that something sublime was being accomplished in her soul, but what? He could not make it out. It was beyond his understanding.
"I have sent to mamma. You go quickly to fetch Lizaveta Petrovna ... Kostya!... Nothing, it’s over."
She moved away from him and rang the bell.
"Well, go now; Pasha’s coming. I am all right."
And Levin saw with astonishment that she had taken up the knitting she had brought in in the night and begun working at it again.
As Levin was going out of one door, he heard the maid-servant come in at the other. He stood at the door and heard Kitty giving exact directions to the maid, and beginning to help her move the bedstead.
He dressed, and while they were putting in his horses, as a hired sledge was not to be seen yet, he ran again up to the bedroom, not on tiptoe, it seemed to him, but on wings. Two maid-servants were carefully moving something in the bedroom.
Kitty was walking about knitting rapidly and giving directions.
"I’m going for the doctor. They have sent for Lizaveta Petrovna, but I’ll go on there too. Isn’t there anything wanted? Yes, shall I go to Dolly’s?"
She looked at him, obviously not hearing what he was saying.
"Yes, yes. Do go," she said quickly, frowning and waving her hand to him.
He had just gone into the drawing room, when suddenly a plaintive moan sounded from the bedroom, smothered instantly. He stood still, and for a long while he could not understand.
"Yes, that is she," he said to himself, and clutching at his head he ran downstairs.
"Lord have mercy on us! pardon us! aid us!" he repeated the words that for some reason came suddenly to his lips. And he, an unbeliever, repeated these words not with his lips only. At that instant he knew that all his doubts, even the impossibility of believing with his reason, of which he was aware in himself, did not in the least hinder his turning to God. All of that now floated out of his soul like dust. To whom was he to turn if not to Him in whose hands he felt himself, his soul, and his love?
The horse was not yet ready, but feeling a peculiar concentration of his physical forces and his intellect on what he had to do, he started off on foot without waiting for the horse, and told Kouzma to overtake him.
At the corner he met a night cabman driving hurriedly. In the little sledge, wrapped in a velvet cloak, sat Lizaveta Petrovna with a kerchief round her head. "Thank God! thank God!" he said, overjoyed to recognize her little fair face which wore a peculiarly serious, even stern expression. Telling the driver not to stop, he ran along beside her.
"For two hours, then? Not more?" she inquired. "You should let Pyotr Dmitrievitch know, but don’t hurry him. And get some opium at the chemist’s."
"So you think that it may go on well? Lord have mercy on us and help us!" Levin said, seeing his own horse driving out of the gate. Jumping into the sledge beside Kouzma, he told him to drive to the doctor’s.
The doctor was not yet up, and the footman said that "he had been up late, and had given orders not to be waked, but would get up soon." The footman was cleaning the lamp-chimneys, and seemed very busy about them. This concentration of the footman upon his lamps, and his indifference to what was passing in Levin, at first astounded him, but immediately on considering the question he realized that no one knew or was bound to know his feelings, and that it was all the more necessary to act calmly, sensibly, and resolutely to get through this wall of indifference and attain his aim.
"Don’t be in a hurry or let anything slip," Levin said to himself, feeling a greater and greater flow of physical energy and attention to all that lay before him to do.
Having ascertained that the doctor was not getting up, Levin considered various plans, and decided on the following one: that Kouzma should go for another doctor, while he himself should go to the chemist’s for opium, and if when he came back the doctor had not yet begun to get up, he would either by tipping the footman, or by force, wake the doctor at all hazards.
At the chemist’s the lank shopman sealed up a packet of powders for a coachman who stood waiting, and refused him opium with the same callousness with which the doctor’s footman had cleaned his lamp chimneys. Trying not to get flurried or out of temper, Levin mentioned the names of the doctor and midwife, and explaining what the opium was needed for, tried to persuade him. The assistant inquired in German whether he should give it, and receiving an affirmative reply from behind the partition, he took out a bottle and a funnel, deliberately poured the opium from a bigger bottle into a little one, stuck on a label, sealed it up, in spite of Levin’s request that he would not do so, and was about to wrap it up too. This was more than Levin could stand; he took the bottle firmly out of his hands, and ran to the big glass doors. The doctor was not even now getting up, and the footman, busy now in putting down the rugs, refused to wake him. Levin deliberately took out a ten rouble note, and, careful to speak slowly, though losing no time over the business, he handed him the note, and explained that Pyotr Dmitrievitch (what a great and important personage he seemed to Levin now, this Pyotr Dmitrievitch, who had been of so little consequence in his eyes before!) had promised to come at any time; that he would certainly not be angry! and that he must therefore wake him at once.
The footman agreed, and went upstairs, taking Levin into the waiting room.
Levin could hear through the door the doctor coughing, moving about, washing, and saying something. Three minutes passed; it seemed to Levin that more than an hour had gone by. He could not wait any longer.
"Pyotr Dmitrievitch, Pyotr Dmitrievitch!" he said in an imploring voice at the open door. "For God’s sake, forgive me! See me as you are. It’s been going on more than two hours already."
"In a minute; in a minute!" answered a voice, and to his amazement Levin heard that the doctor was smiling as he spoke.
"For one instant."
"In a minute."
Two minutes more passed while the doctor was putting on his boots, and two minutes more while the doctor put on his coat and combed his hair.
"Pyotr Dmitrievitch!" Levin was beginning again in a plaintive voice, just as the doctor came in dressed and ready. "These people have no conscience," thought Levin. "Combing his hair, while we’re dying!"
"Good morning!" the doctor said to him, shaking hands, and, as it were, teasing him with his composure. "There’s no hurry. Well now?"
Trying to be as accurate as possible, Levin began to tell him every unnecessary detail of his wife’s condition, interrupting his account repeatedly with entreaties that the doctor would come with him at once.
"Oh, you needn’t be in any hurry. You don’t understand, you know. I’m certain I’m not wanted, still I’ve promised, and if you like, I’ll come. But there’s no hurry. Please sit down; won’t you have some coffee?"
Levin stared at him with eyes that asked whether he was laughing at him; but the doctor had no notion of making fun of him.
"I know, I know," the doctor said, smiling; "I’m a married man myself; and at these moments we husbands are very much to be pitied. I’ve a patient whose husband always takes refuge in the stables on such occasions."
"But what do you think, Pyotr Dmitrievitch? Do you suppose it may go all right?"
"Everything points to a favorable issue."
"So you’ll come immediately?" said Levin, looking wrathfully at the servant who was bringing in the coffee.
"In an hour’s time."
"Oh, for mercy’s sake!"
"Well, let me drink my coffee, anyway."
The doctor started upon his coffee. Both were silent.
"The Turks are really getting beaten, though. Did you read yesterday’s telegrams?" said the doctor, munching some roll.
"No, I can’t stand it!" said Levin, jumping up. "So you’ll be with us in a quarter of an hour."
"In half an hour."
"On your honor?"
When Levin got home, he drove up at the same time as the princess, and they went up to the bedroom door together. The princess had tears in her eyes, and her hands were shaking. Seeing Levin, she embraced him, and burst into tears.
"Well, my dear Lizaveta Petrovna?" she queried, clasping the hand of the midwife, who came out to meet them with a beaming and anxious face.
"She’s going on well," she said; "persuade her to lie down. She will be easier so."
From the moment when he had waked up and understood what was going on, Levin had prepared his mind to bear resolutely what was before him, and without considering or anticipating anything, to avoid upsetting his wife, and on the contrary to soothe her and keep up her courage. Without allowing himself even to think of what was to come, of how it would end, judging from his inquiries as to the usual duration of these ordeals, Levin had in his imagination braced himself to bear up and to keep a tight rein on his feelings for five hours, and it had seemed to him he could do this. But when he came back from the doctor’s and saw her sufferings again, he fell to repeating more and more frequently: "Lord, have mercy on us, and succor us!" He sighed, and flung his head up, and began to feel afraid he could not bear it, that he would burst into tears or run away. Such agony it was to him. And only one hour had passed.
But after that hour there passed another hour, two hours, three, the full five hours he had fixed as the furthest limit of his sufferings, and the position was still unchanged; and he was still bearing it because there was nothing to be done but bear it; every instant feeling that he had reached the utmost limits of his endurance, and that his heart would break with sympathy and pain.
But still the minutes passed by and the hours, and still hours more, and his misery and horror grew and were more and more intense.
All the ordinary conditions of life, without which one can form no conception of anything, had ceased to exist for Levin. He lost all sense of time. Minutes—those minutes when she sent for him and he held her moist hand, that would squeeze his hand with extraordinary violence and then push it away—seemed to him hours, and hours seemed to him minutes. He was surprised when Lizaveta Petrovna asked him to light a candle behind a screen, and he found that it was five o’clock in the afternoon. If he had been told it was only ten o’clock in the morning, he would not have been more surprised. Where he was all this time, he knew as little as the time of anything. He saw her swollen face, sometimes bewildered and in agony, sometimes smiling and trying to reassure him. He saw the old princess too, flushed and overwrought, with her gray curls in disorder, forcing herself to gulp down her tears, biting her lips; he saw Dolly too and the doctor, smoking fat cigarettes, and Lizaveta Petrovna with a firm, resolute, reassuring face, and the old prince walking up and down the hall with a frowning face. But why they came in and went out, where they were, he did not know. The princess was with the doctor in the bedroom, then in the study, where a table set for dinner suddenly appeared; then she was not there, but Dolly was. Then Levin remembered he had been sent somewhere. Once he had been sent to move a table and sofa. He had done this eagerly, thinking it had to be done for her sake, and only later on he found it was his own bed he had been getting ready. Then he had been sent to the study to ask the doctor something. The doctor had answered and then had said something about the irregularities in the municipal council. Then he had been sent to the bedroom to help the old princess to move the holy picture in its silver and gold setting, and with the princess’s old waiting maid he had clambered on a shelf to reach it and had broken the little lamp, and the old servant had tried to reassure him about the lamp and about his wife, and he carried the holy picture and set it at Kitty’s head, carefully tucking it in behind the pillow. But where, when, and why all this had happened, he could not tell. He did not understand why the old princess took his hand, and looking compassionately at him, begged him not to worry himself, and Dolly persuaded him to eat something and led him out of the room, and even the doctor looked seriously and with commiseration at him and offered him a drop of something.
All he knew and felt was that what was happening was what had happened nearly a year before in the hotel of the country town at the deathbed of his brother Nikolay. But that had been grief—this was joy. Yet that grief and this joy were alike outside all the ordinary conditions of life; they were loop-holes, as it were, in that ordinary life through which there came glimpses of something sublime. And in the contemplation of this sublime something the soul was exalted to inconceivable heights of which it had before had no conception, while reason lagged behind, unable to keep up with it.
"Lord, have mercy on us, and succor us!" he repeated to himself incessantly, feeling, in spite of his long and, as it seemed, complete alienation from religion, that he turned to God just as trustfully and simply as he had in his childhood and first youth.
All this time he had two distinct spiritual conditions. One was away from her, with the doctor, who kept smoking one fat cigarette after another and extinguishing them on the edge of a full ash tray, with Dolly, and with the old prince, where there was talk about dinner, about politics, about Marya Petrovna’s illness, and where Levin suddenly forgot for a minute what was happening, and felt as though he had waked up from sleep; the other was in her presence, at her pillow, where his heart seemed breaking and still did not break from sympathetic suffering, and he prayed to God without ceasing. And every time he was brought back from a moment of oblivion by a scream reaching him from the bedroom, he fell into the same strange terror that had come upon him the first minute. Every time he heard a shriek, he jumped up, ran to justify himself, remembered on the way that he was not to blame, and he longed to defend her, to help her. But as he looked at her, he saw again that help was impossible, and he was filled with terror and prayed: "Lord, have mercy on us, and help us!" And as time went on, both these conditions became more intense; the calmer he became away from her, completely forgetting her, the more agonizing became both her sufferings and his feeling of helplessness before them. He jumped up, would have liked to run away, but ran to her.
Sometimes, when again and again she called upon him, he blamed her; but seeing her patient, smiling face, and hearing the words, "I am worrying you," he threw the blame on God; but thinking of God, at once he fell to beseeching God to forgive him and have mercy.
He did not know whether it was late or early. The candles had all burned out. Dolly had just been in the study and had suggested to the doctor that he should lie down. Levin sat listening to the doctor’s stories of a quack mesmerizer and looking at the ashes of his cigarette. There had been a period of repose, and he had sunk into oblivion. He had completely forgotten what was going on now. He heard the doctor’s chat and understood it. Suddenly there came an unearthly shriek. The shriek was so awful that Levin did not even jump up, but holding his breath, gazed in terrified inquiry at the doctor. The doctor put his head on one side, listened, and smiled approvingly. Everything was so extraordinary that nothing could strike Levin as strange. "I suppose it must be so," he thought, and still sat where he was. Whose scream was this? He jumped up, ran on tiptoe to the bedroom, edged round Lizaveta Petrovna and the princess, and took up his position at Kitty’s pillow. The scream had subsided, but there was some change now. What it was he did not see and did not comprehend, and he had no wish to see or comprehend. But he saw it by the face of Lizaveta Petrovna. Lizaveta Petrovna’s face was stern and pale, and still as resolute, though her jaws were twitching, and her eyes were fixed intently on Kitty. Kitty’s swollen and agonized face, a tress of hair clinging to her moist brow, was turned to him and sought his eyes. Her lifted hands asked for his hands. Clutching his chill hands in her moist ones, she began squeezing them to her face.
"Don’t go, don’t go! I’m not afraid, I’m not afraid!" she said rapidly. "Mamma, take my earrings. They bother me. You’re not afraid? Quick, quick, Lizaveta Petrovna..."
She spoke quickly, very quickly, and tried to smile. But suddenly her face was drawn, she pushed him away.
"Oh, this is awful! I’m dying, I’m dying! Go away!" she shrieked, and again he heard that unearthly scream.
Levin clutched at his head and ran out of the room.
"It’s nothing, it’s nothing, it’s all right," Dolly called after him.
But they might say what they liked, he knew now that all was over. He stood in the next room, his head leaning against the door post, and heard shrieks, howls such as he had never heard before, and he knew that what had been Kitty was uttering these shrieks. He had long ago ceased to wish for the child. By now he loathed this child. He did not even wish for her life now, all he longed for was the end of this awful anguish.
"Doctor! What is it? What is it? By God!" he said, snatching at the doctor’s hand as he came up.
"It’s the end," said the doctor. And the doctor’s face was so grave as he said it that Levin took the end as meaning her death.
Beside himself, he ran into the bedroom. The first thing he saw was the face of Lizaveta Petrovna. It was even more frowning and stern. Kitty’s face he did not know. In the place where it had been was something that was fearful in its strained distortion and in the sounds that came from it. He fell down with his head on the wooden framework of the bed, feeling that his heart was bursting. The awful scream never paused, it became still more awful, and as though it had reached the utmost limit of terror, suddenly it ceased. Levin could not believe his ears, but there could be no doubt; the scream had ceased and he heard a subdued stir and bustle, and hurried breathing, and her voice, gasping, alive, tender, and blissful, uttered softly, "It’s over!"
He lifted his head. With her hands hanging exhausted on the quilt, looking extraordinarily lovely and serene, she looked at him in silence and tried to smile, and could not.
And suddenly, from the mysterious and awful far-away world in which he had been living for the last twenty-two hours, Levin felt himself all in an instant borne back to the old every-day world, glorified though now, by such a radiance of happiness that he could not bear it. The strained chords snapped, sobs and tears of joy which he had never foreseen rose up with such violence that his whole body shook, that for long they prevented him from speaking.
Falling on his knees before the bed, he held his wife’s hand before his lips and kissed it, and the hand, with a weak movement of the fingers, responded to his kiss. And meanwhile, there at the foot of the bed, in the deft hands of Lizaveta Petrovna, like a flickering light in a lamp, lay the life of a human creature, which had never existed before, and which would now with the same right, with the same importance to itself, live and create in its own image.
"Alive! alive! And a boy too! Set your mind at rest!" Levin heard Lizaveta Petrovna saying, as she slapped the baby’s back with a shaking hand.
"Mamma, is it true?" said Kitty’s voice.
The princess’s sobs were all the answers she could make. And in the midst of the silence there came in unmistakable reply to the mother’s question, a voice quite unlike the subdued voices speaking in the room. It was the bold, clamorous, self-assertive squall of the new human being, who had so incomprehensibly appeared.
If Levin had been told before that Kitty was dead, and that he had died with her, and that their children were angels, and that God was standing before him, he would have been surprised at nothing. But now, coming back to the world of reality, he had to make great mental efforts to take in that she was alive and well, and that the creature squalling so desperately was his son. Kitty was alive, her agony was over. And he was unutterably happy. That he understood; he was completely happy in it. But the baby? Whence, why, who was he?... He could not get used to the idea. It seemed to him something extraneous, superfluous, to which he could not accustom himself.
At ten o’clock the old prince, Sergey Ivanovitch, and Stepan Arkadyevitch were sitting at Levin’s. Having inquired after Kitty, they had dropped into conversation upon other subjects. Levin heard them, and unconsciously, as they talked, going over the past, over what had been up to that morning, he thought of himself as he had been yesterday till that point. It was as though a hundred years had passed since then. He felt himself exalted to unattainable heights, from which he studiously lowered himself so as not to wound the people he was talking to. He talked, and was all the time thinking of his wife, of her condition now, of his son, in whose existence he tried to school himself into believing. The whole world of woman, which had taken for him since his marriage a new value he had never suspected before, was now so exalted that he could not take it in in his imagination. He heard them talk of yesterday’s dinner at the club, and thought: "What is happening with her now? Is she asleep? How is she? What is she thinking of? Is he crying, my son Dmitri?" And in the middle of the conversation, in the middle of a sentence, he jumped up and went out of the room.
"Send me word if I can see her," said the prince.
"Very well, in a minute," answered Levin, and without stopping, he went to her room.
She was not asleep, she was talking gently with her mother, making plans about the christening.
Carefully set to rights, with hair well-brushed, in a smart little cap with some blue in it, her arms out on the quilt, she was lying on her back. Meeting his eyes, her eyes drew him to her. Her face, bright before, brightened still more as he drew near her. There was the same change in it from earthly to unearthly that is seen in the face of the dead. But then it means farewell, here it meant welcome. Again a rush of emotion, such as he had felt at the moment of the child’s birth, flooded his heart. She took his hand and asked him if he had slept. He could not answer, and turned away, struggling with his weakness.
"I have had a nap, Kostya!" she said to him; "and I am so comfortable now."
She looked at him, but suddenly her expression changed.
"Give him to me," she said, hearing the baby’s cry. "Give him to me, Lizaveta Petrovna, and he shall look at him."
"To be sure, his papa shall look at him," said Lizaveta Petrovna, getting up and bringing something red, and queer, and wriggling. "Wait a minute, we’ll make him tidy first," and Lizaveta Petrovna laid the red wobbling thing on the bed, began untrussing and trussing up the baby, lifting it up and turning it over with one finger and powdering it with something.
Levin, looking at the tiny, pitiful creature, made strenuous efforts to discover in his heart some traces of fatherly feeling for it. He felt nothing towards it but disgust. But when it was undressed and he caught a glimpse of wee, wee, little hands, little feet, saffron-colored, with little toes, too, and positively with a little big toe different from the rest, and when he saw Lizaveta Petrovna closing the wide-open little hands, as though they were soft springs, and putting them into linen garments, such pity for the little creature came upon him, and such terror that she would hurt it, that he held her hand back.
Lizaveta Petrovna laughed.
"Don’t be frightened, don’t be frightened!"
When the baby had been put to rights and transformed into a firm doll, Lizaveta Petrovna dandled it as though proud of her handiwork, and stood a little away so that Levin might see his son in all his glory.
Kitty looked sideways in the same direction, never taking her eyes off the baby. "Give him to me! give him to me!" she said, and even made as though she would sit up.
"What are you thinking of, Katerina Alexandrovna, you mustn’t move like that! Wait a minute. I’ll give him to you. Here we’re showing papa what a fine fellow we are!"
And Lizaveta Petrovna, with one hand supporting the wobbling head, lifted up on the other arm the strange, limp, red creature, whose head was lost in its swaddling clothes. But it had a nose, too, and slanting eyes and smacking lips.
"A splendid baby!" said Lizaveta Petrovna.
Levin sighed with mortification. This splendid baby excited in him no feeling but disgust and compassion. It was not at all the feeling he had looked forward to.
He turned away while Lizaveta Petrovna put the baby to the unaccustomed breast.
Suddenly laughter made him look round. The baby had taken the breast.
"Come, that’s enough, that’s enough!" said Lizaveta Petrovna, but Kitty would not let the baby go. He fell asleep in her arms.
"Look, now," said Kitty, turning the baby so that he could see it. The aged-looking little face suddenly puckered up still more and the baby sneezed.
Smiling, hardly able to restrain his tears, Levin kissed his wife and went out of the dark room. What he felt towards this little creature was utterly unlike what he had expected. There was nothing cheerful and joyous in the feeling; on the contrary, it was a new torture of apprehension. It was the consciousness of a new sphere of liability to pain. And this sense was so painful at first, the apprehension lest this helpless creature should suffer was so intense, that it prevented him from noticing the strange thrill of senseless joy and even pride that he had felt when the baby sneezed.
Stepan Arkadyevitch’s affairs were in a very bad way.
The money for two-thirds of the forest had all been spent already, and he had borrowed from the merchant in advance at ten per cent discount, almost all the remaining third. The merchant would not give more, especially as Darya Alexandrovna, for the first time that winter insisting on her right to her own property, had refused to sign the receipt for the payment of the last third of the forest. All his salary went on household expenses and in payment of petty debts that could not be put off. There was positively no money.
This was unpleasant and awkward, and in Stepan Arkadyevitch’s opinion things could not go on like this. The explanation of the position was, in his view, to be found in the fact that his salary was too small. The post he filled had been unmistakably very good five years ago, but it was so no longer.
Petrov, the bank director, had twelve thousand; Sventitsky, a company director, had seventeen thousand; Mitin, who had founded a bank, received fifty thousand.
"Clearly I’ve been napping, and they’ve overlooked me," Stepan Arkadyevitch thought about himself. And he began keeping his eyes and ears open, and towards the end of the winter he had discovered a very good berth and had formed a plan of attack upon it, at first from Moscow through aunts, uncles, and friends, and then, when the matter was well advanced, in the spring, he went himself to Petersburg. It was one of those snug, lucrative berths of which there are so many more nowadays than there used to be, with incomes ranging from one thousand to fifty thousand roubles. It was the post of secretary of the committee of the amalgamated agency of the southern railways, and of certain banking companies. This position, like all such appointments, called for such immense energy and such varied qualifications, that it was difficult for them to be found united in any one man. And since a man combining all the qualifications was not to be found, it was at least better that the post be filled by an honest than by a dishonest man. And Stepan Arkadyevitch was not merely an honest man—unemphatically—in the common acceptation of the words, he was an honest man—emphatically—in that special sense which the word has in Moscow, when they talk of an "honest" politician, an "honest" writer, an "honest" newspaper, an "honest" institution, an "honest" tendency, meaning not simply that the man or the institution is not dishonest, but that they are capable on occasion of taking a line of their own in opposition to the authorities.
Stepan Arkadyevitch moved in those circles in Moscow in which that expression had come into use, was regarded there as an honest man, and so had more right to this appointment than others.
The appointment yielded an income of from seven to ten thousand a year, and Oblonsky could fill it without giving up his government position. It was in the hands of two ministers, one lady, and two Jews, and all these people, though the way had been paved already with them, Stepan Arkadyevitch had to see in Petersburg. Besides this business, Stepan Arkadyevitch had promised his sister Anna to obtain from Karenin a definite answer on the question of divorce. And begging fifty roubles from Dolly, he set off for Petersburg.
Stepan Arkadyevitch sat in Karenin’s study listening to his report on the causes of the unsatisfactory position of Russian finance, and only waiting for the moment when he would finish to speak about his own business or about Anna.
"Yes, that’s very true," he said, when Alexey Alexandrovitch took off the pince-nez, without which he could not read now, and looked inquiringly at his former brother-in-law, "that’s very true in particular cases, but still the principle of our day is freedom."
"Yes, but I lay down another principle, embracing the principle of freedom," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, with emphasis on the word "embracing," and he put on his pince-nez again, so as to read the passage in which this statement was made. And turning over the beautifully written, wide-margined manuscript, Alexey Alexandrovitch read aloud over again the conclusive passage.
"I don’t advocate protection for the sake of private interests, but for the public weal, and for the lower and upper classes equally," he said, looking over his pince-nez at Oblonsky. "But they cannot grasp that, they are taken up now with personal interests, and carried away by phrases."
Stepan Arkadyevitch knew that when Karenin began to talk of what they were doing and thinking, the persons who would not accept his report and were the cause of everything wrong in Russia, that it was coming near the end. And so now he eagerly abandoned the principle of free-trade, and fully agreed. Alexey Alexandrovitch paused, thoughtfully turning over the pages of his manuscript.
"Oh, by the way," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "I wanted to ask you, some time when you see Pomorsky, to drop him a hint that I should be very glad to get that new appointment of secretary of the committee of the amalgamated agency of the southern railways and banking companies." Stepan Arkadyevitch was familiar by now with the title of the post he coveted, and he brought it out rapidly without mistake.
Alexey Alexandrovitch questioned him as to the duties of this new committee, and pondered. He was considering whether the new committee would not be acting in some way contrary to the views he had been advocating. But as the influence of the new committee was of a very complex nature, and his views were of very wide application, he could not decide this straight off, and taking off his pince-nez, he said:
"Of course, I can mention it to him; but what is your reason precisely for wishing to obtain the appointment?"
"It’s a good salary, rising to nine thousand, and my means..."
"Nine thousand!" repeated Alexey Alexandrovitch, and he frowned. The high figure of the salary made him reflect that on that side Stepan Arkadyevitch’s proposed position ran counter to the main tendency of his own projects of reform, which always leaned towards economy.
"I consider, and I have embodied my views in a note on the subject, that in our day these immense salaries are evidence of the unsound economic assiette of our finances."
"But what’s to be done?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Suppose a bank director gets ten thousand—well, he’s worth it; or an engineer gets twenty thousand—after all, it’s a growing thing, you know!"
"I assume that a salary is the price paid for a commodity, and it ought to conform with the law of supply and demand. If the salary is fixed without any regard for that law, as, for instance, when I see two engineers leaving college together, both equally well trained and efficient, and one getting forty thousand while the other is satisfied with two; or when I see lawyers and hussars, having no special qualifications, appointed directors of banking companies with immense salaries, I conclude that the salary is not fixed in accordance with the law of supply and demand, but simply through personal interest. And this is an abuse of great gravity in itself, and one that reacts injuriously on the government service. I consider..."
Stepan Arkadyevitch made haste to interrupt his brother-in-law.
"Yes; but you must agree that it’s a new institution of undoubted utility that’s being started. After all, you know, it’s a growing thing! What they lay particular stress on is the thing being carried on honestly," said Stepan Arkadyevitch with emphasis.
But the Moscow significance of the word "honest" was lost on Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Honesty is only a negative qualification," he said.
"Well, you’ll do me a great service, anyway," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "by putting in a word to Pomorsky—just in the way of conversation...."
"But I fancy it’s more in Volgarinov’s hands," said Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Volgarinov has fully assented, as far as he’s concerned," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, turning red. Stepan Arkadyevitch reddened at the mention of that name, because he had been that morning at the Jew Volgarinov’s, and the visit had left an unpleasant recollection.
Stepan Arkadyevitch believed most positively that the committee in which he was trying to get an appointment was a new, genuine, and honest public body, but that morning when Volgarinov had—intentionally, beyond a doubt—kept him two hours waiting with other petitioners in his waiting room, he had suddenly felt uneasy.
Whether he was uncomfortable that he, a descendant of Rurik, Prince Oblonsky, had been kept for two hours waiting to see a Jew, or that for the first time in his life he was not following the example of his ancestors in serving the government, but was turning off into a new career, anyway he was very uncomfortable. During those two hours in Volgarinov’s waiting room Stepan Arkadyevitch, stepping jauntily about the room, pulling his whiskers, entering into conversation with the other petitioners, and inventing an epigram on his position, assiduously concealed from others, and even from himself, the feeling he was experiencing.
But all the time he was uncomfortable and angry, he could not have said why—whether because he could not get his epigram just right, or from some other reason. When at last Volgarinov had received him with exaggerated politeness and unmistakable triumph at his humiliation, and had all but refused the favor asked of him, Stepan Arkadyevitch had made haste to forget it all as soon as possible. And now, at the mere recollection, he blushed.
"Now there is something I want to talk about, and you know what it is. About Anna," Stepan Arkadyevitch said, pausing for a brief space, and shaking off the unpleasant impression.
As soon as Oblonsky uttered Anna’s name, the face of Alexey Alexandrovitch was completely transformed; all the life was gone out of it, and it looked weary and dead.
"What is it exactly that you want from me?" he said, moving in his chair and snapping his pince-nez.
"A definite settlement, Alexey Alexandrovitch, some settlement of the position. I’m appealing to you" ("not as an injured husband," Stepan Arkadyevitch was going to say, but afraid of wrecking his negotiation by this, he changed the words) "not as a statesman" (which did not sound à propos), "but simply as a man, and a good-hearted man and a Christian. You must have pity on her," he said.
"That is, in what way precisely?" Karenin said softly.
"Yes, pity on her. If you had seen her as I have!—I have been spending all the winter with her—you would have pity on her. Her position is awful, simply awful!"
"I had imagined," answered Alexey Alexandrovitch in a higher, almost shrill voice, "that Anna Arkadyevna had everything she had desired for herself."
"Oh, Alexey Alexandrovitch, for heaven’s sake, don’t let us indulge in recriminations! What is past is past, and you know what she wants and is waiting for—divorce."
"But I believe Anna Arkadyevna refuses a divorce, if I make it a condition to leave me my son. I replied in that sense, and supposed that the matter was ended. I consider it at an end," shrieked Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"But, for heaven’s sake, don’t get hot!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, touching his brother-in-law’s knee. "The matter is not ended. If you will allow me to recapitulate, it was like this: when you parted, you were as magnanimous as could possibly be; you were ready to give her everything—freedom, divorce even. She appreciated that. No, don’t think that. She did appreciate it—to such a degree that at the first moment, feeling how she had wronged you, she did not consider and could not consider everything. She gave up everything. But experience, time, have shown that her position is unbearable, impossible."
"The life of Anna Arkadyevna can have no interest for me," Alexey Alexandrovitch put in, lifting his eyebrows.
"Allow me to disbelieve that," Stepan Arkadyevitch replied gently. "Her position is intolerable for her, and of no benefit to anyone whatever. She has deserved it, you will say. She knows that and asks you for nothing; she says plainly that she dare not ask you. But I, all of us, her relatives, all who love her, beg you, entreat you. Why should she suffer? Who is any the better for it?"
"Excuse me, you seem to put me in the position of the guilty party," observed Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Oh, no, oh, no, not at all! please understand me," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, touching his hand again, as though feeling sure this physical contact would soften his brother-in-law. "All I say is this: her position is intolerable, and it might be alleviated by you, and you will lose nothing by it. I will arrange it all for you, so that you’ll not notice it. You did promise it, you know."
"The promise was given before. And I had supposed that the question of my son had settled the matter. Besides, I had hoped that Anna Arkadyevna had enough generosity..." Alexey Alexandrovitch articulated with difficulty, his lips twitching and his face white.
"She leaves it all to your generosity. She begs, she implores one thing of you—to extricate her from the impossible position in which she is placed. She does not ask for her son now. Alexey Alexandrovitch, you are a good man. Put yourself in her position for a minute. The question of divorce for her in her position is a question of life and death. If you had not promised it once, she would have reconciled herself to her position, she would have gone on living in the country. But you promised it, and she wrote to you, and moved to Moscow. And here she’s been for six months in Moscow, where every chance meeting cuts her to the heart, every day expecting an answer. Why, it’s like keeping a condemned criminal for six months with the rope round his neck, promising him perhaps death, perhaps mercy. Have pity on her, and I will undertake to arrange everything. Vos scrupules..."
"I am not talking about that, about that..." Alexey Alexandrovitch interrupted with disgust. "But, perhaps, I promised what I had no right to promise."
"So you go back from your promise?"
"I have never refused to do all that is possible, but I want time to consider how much of what I promised is possible."
"No, Alexey Alexandrovitch!" cried Oblonsky, jumping up, "I won’t believe that! She’s unhappy as only an unhappy woman can be, and you cannot refuse in such..."
"As much of what I promised as is possible. Vous professez d’être libre penseur. But I as a believer cannot, in a matter of such gravity, act in opposition to the Christian law."
"But in Christian societies and among us, as far as I’m aware, divorce is allowed," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Divorce is sanctioned even by our church. And we see..."
"It is allowed, but not in the sense..."
"Alexey Alexandrovitch, you are not like yourself," said Oblonsky, after a brief pause. "Wasn’t it you (and didn’t we all appreciate it in you?) who forgave everything, and moved simply by Christian feeling was ready to make any sacrifice? You said yourself: if a man take thy coat, give him thy cloak also, and now..."
"I beg," said Alexey Alexandrovitch shrilly, getting suddenly onto his feet, his face white and his jaws twitching, "I beg you to drop this ... to drop ... this subject!"
"Oh, no! Oh, forgive me, forgive me if I have wounded you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, holding out his hand with a smile of embarrassment; "but like a messenger I have simply performed the commission given me."
Alexey Alexandrovitch gave him his hand, pondered a little, and said:
"I must think it over and seek for guidance. The day after tomorrow I will give you a final answer," he said, after considering a moment.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was about to go away when Korney came in to announce:
"Who’s Sergey Alexyevitch?" Stepan Arkadyevitch was beginning, but he remembered immediately.
"Ah, Seryozha!" he said aloud. "Sergey Alexyevitch! I thought it was the director of a department. Anna asked me to see him too," he thought.
And he recalled the timid, piteous expression with which Anna had said to him at parting: "Anyway, you will see him. Find out exactly where he is, who is looking after him. And Stiva ... if it were possible! Could it be possible?" Stepan Arkadyevitch knew what was meant by that "if it were possible,"—if it were possible to arrange the divorce so as to let her have her son.... Stepan Arkadyevitch saw now that it was no good to dream of that, but still he was glad to see his nephew.
Alexey Alexandrovitch reminded his brother-in-law that they never spoke to the boy of his mother, and he begged him not to mention a single word about her.
"He was very ill after that interview with his mother, which we had not foreseen," said Alexey Alexandrovitch. "Indeed, we feared for his life. But with rational treatment, and sea-bathing in the summer, he regained his strength, and now, by the doctor’s advice, I have let him go to school. And certainly the companionship of school has had a good effect on him, and he is perfectly well, and making good progress."
"What a fine fellow he’s grown! He’s not Seryozha now, but quite full-fledged Sergey Alexyevitch!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling, as he looked at the handsome, broad-shouldered lad in blue coat and long trousers, who walked in alertly and confidently. The boy looked healthy and good-humored. He bowed to his uncle as to a stranger, but recognizing him, he blushed and turned hurriedly away from him, as though offended and irritated at something. The boy went up to his father and handed him a note of the marks he had gained in school.
"Well, that’s very fair," said his father, "you can go."
"He’s thinner and taller, and has grown out of being a child into a boy; I like that," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Do you remember me?"
The boy looked back quickly at his uncle.
"Yes, mon oncle," he answered, glancing at his father, and again he looked downcast.
His uncle called him to him, and took his hand.
"Well, and how are you getting on?" he said, wanting to talk to him, and not knowing what to say.
The boy, blushing and making no answer, cautiously drew his hand away. As soon as Stepan Arkadyevitch let go his hand, he glanced doubtfully at his father, and like a bird set free, he darted out of the room.
A year had passed since the last time Seryozha had seen his mother. Since then he had heard nothing more of her. And in the course of that year he had gone to school, and made friends among his schoolfellows. The dreams and memories of his mother, which had made him ill after seeing her, did not occupy his thoughts now. When they came back to him, he studiously drove them away, regarding them as shameful and girlish, below the dignity of a boy and a schoolboy. He knew that his father and mother were separated by some quarrel, he knew that he had to remain with his father, and he tried to get used to that idea.
He disliked seeing his uncle, so like his mother, for it called up those memories of which he was ashamed. He disliked it all the more as from some words he had caught as he waited at the study door, and still more from the faces of his father and uncle, he guessed that they must have been talking of his mother. And to avoid condemning the father with whom he lived and on whom he was dependent, and, above all, to avoid giving way to sentimentality, which he considered so degrading, Seryozha tried not to look at his uncle who had come to disturb his peace of mind, and not to think of what he recalled to him.
But when Stepan Arkadyevitch, going out after him, saw him on the stairs, and calling to him, asked him how he spent his playtime at school, Seryozha talked more freely to him away from his father’s presence.
"We have a railway now," he said in answer to his uncle’s question. "It’s like this, do you see: two sit on a bench—they’re the passengers; and one stands up straight on the bench. And all are harnessed to it by their arms or by their belts, and they run through all the rooms—the doors are left open beforehand. Well, and it’s pretty hard work being the conductor!"
"That’s the one that stands?" Stepan Arkadyevitch inquired, smiling.
"Yes, you want pluck for it, and cleverness too, especially when they stop all of a sudden, or someone falls down."
"Yes, that must be a serious matter," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, watching with mournful interest the eager eyes, like his mother’s; not childish now—no longer fully innocent. And though he had promised Alexey Alexandrovitch not to speak of Anna, he could not restrain himself.
"Do you remember your mother?" he asked suddenly.
"No, I don’t," Seryozha said quickly. He blushed crimson, and his face clouded over. And his uncle could get nothing more out of him. His tutor found his pupil on the staircase half an hour later, and for a long while he could not make out whether he was ill-tempered or crying.
"What is it? I expect you hurt yourself when you fell down?" said the tutor. "I told you it was a dangerous game. And we shall have to speak to the director."
"If I had hurt myself, nobody should have found it out, that’s certain."
"Well, what is it, then?"
"Leave me alone! If I remember, or if I don’t remember?... what business is it of his? Why should I remember? Leave me in peace!" he said, addressing not his tutor, but the whole world.
Stepan Arkadyevitch, as usual, did not waste his time in Petersburg. In Petersburg, besides business, his sister’s divorce, and his coveted appointment, he wanted, as he always did, to freshen himself up, as he said, after the mustiness of Moscow.
In spite of its cafés chantants and its omnibuses, Moscow was yet a stagnant bog. Stepan Arkadyevitch always felt it. After living for some time in Moscow, especially in close relations with his family, he was conscious of a depression of spirits. After being a long time in Moscow without a change, he reached a point when he positively began to be worrying himself over his wife’s ill-humor and reproaches, over his children’s health and education, and the petty details of his official work; even the fact of being in debt worried him. But he had only to go and stay a little while in Petersburg, in the circle there in which he moved, where people lived—really lived—instead of vegetating as in Moscow, and all such ideas vanished and melted away at once, like wax before the fire. His wife?... Only that day he had been talking to Prince Tchetchensky. Prince Tchetchensky had a wife and family, grown-up pages in the corps, ... and he had another illegitimate family of children also. Though the first family was very nice too, Prince Tchetchensky felt happier in his second family; and he used to take his eldest son with him to his second family, and told Stepan Arkadyevitch that he thought it good for his son, enlarging his ideas. What would have been said to that in Moscow?
His children? In Petersburg children did not prevent their parents from enjoying life. The children were brought up in schools, and there was no trace of the wild idea that prevailed in Moscow, in Lvov’s household, for instance, that all the luxuries of life were for the children, while the parents have nothing but work and anxiety. Here people understood that a man is in duty bound to live for himself, as every man of culture should live.
His official duties? Official work here was not the stiff, hopeless drudgery that it was in Moscow. Here there was some interest in official life. A chance meeting, a service rendered, a happy phrase, a knack of facetious mimicry, and a man’s career might be made in a trice. So it had been with Bryantsev, whom Stepan Arkadyevitch had met the previous day, and who was one of the highest functionaries in government now. There was some interest in official work like that.
The Petersburg attitude on pecuniary matters had an especially soothing effect on Stepan Arkadyevitch. Bartnyansky, who must spend at least fifty thousand to judge by the style he lived in, had made an interesting comment the day before on that subject.
As they were talking before dinner, Stepan Arkadyevitch said to Bartnyansky:
"You’re friendly, I fancy, with Mordvinsky; you might do me a favor: say a word to him, please, for me. There’s an appointment I should like to get—secretary of the agency..."
"Oh, I shan’t remember all that, if you tell it to me.... But what possesses you to have to do with railways and Jews?... Take it as you will, it’s a low business."
Stepan Arkadyevitch did not say to Bartnyansky that it was a "growing thing"—Bartnyansky would not have understood that.
"I want the money, I’ve nothing to live on."
"You’re living, aren’t you?"
"Yes, but in debt."
"Are you, though? Heavily?" said Bartnyansky sympathetically.
"Very heavily: twenty thousand."
Bartnyansky broke into good-humored laughter.
"Oh, lucky fellow!" said he. "My debts mount up to a million and a half, and I’ve nothing, and still I can live, as you see!"
And Stepan Arkadyevitch saw the correctness of this view not in words only but in actual fact. Zhivahov owed three hundred thousand, and hadn’t a farthing to bless himself with, and he lived, and in style too! Count Krivtsov was considered a hopeless case by everyone, and yet he kept two mistresses. Petrovsky had run through five millions, and still lived in just the same style, and was even a manager in the financial department with a salary of twenty thousand. But besides this, Petersburg had physically an agreeable effect on Stepan Arkadyevitch. It made him younger. In Moscow he sometimes found a gray hair in his head, dropped asleep after dinner, stretched, walked slowly upstairs, breathing heavily, was bored by the society of young women, and did not dance at balls. In Petersburg he always felt ten years younger.
His experience in Petersburg was exactly what had been described to him on the previous day by Prince Pyotr Oblonsky, a man of sixty, who had just come back from abroad:
"We don’t know the way to live here," said Pyotr Oblonsky. "I spent the summer in Baden, and you wouldn’t believe it, I felt quite a young man. At a glimpse of a pretty woman, my thoughts.... One dines and drinks a glass of wine, and feels strong and ready for anything. I came home to Russia—had to see my wife, and, what’s more, go to my country place; and there, you’d hardly believe it, in a fortnight I’d got into a dressing gown and given up dressing for dinner. Needn’t say I had no thoughts left for pretty women. I became quite an old gentleman. There was nothing left for me but to think of my eternal salvation. I went off to Paris—I was as right as could be at once."
Stepan Arkadyevitch felt exactly the difference that Pyotr Oblonsky described. In Moscow he degenerated so much that if he had had to be there for long together, he might in good earnest have come to considering his salvation; in Petersburg he felt himself a man of the world again.
Between Princess Betsy Tverskaya and Stepan Arkadyevitch there had long existed rather curious relations. Stepan Arkadyevitch always flirted with her in jest, and used to say to her, also in jest, the most unseemly things, knowing that nothing delighted her so much. The day after his conversation with Karenin, Stepan Arkadyevitch went to see her, and felt so youthful that in this jesting flirtation and nonsense he recklessly went so far that he did not know how to extricate himself, as unluckily he was so far from being attracted by her that he thought her positively disagreeable. What made it hard to change the conversation was the fact that he was very attractive to her. So that he was considerably relieved at the arrival of Princess Myakaya, which cut short their tête-à-tête.
"Ah, so you’re here!" said she when she saw him. "Well, and what news of your poor sister? You needn’t look at me like that," she added. "Ever since they’ve all turned against her, all those who’re a thousand times worse than she, I’ve thought she did a very fine thing. I can’t forgive Vronsky for not letting me know when she was in Petersburg. I’d have gone to see her and gone about with her everywhere. Please give her my love. Come, tell me about her."
"Yes, her position is very difficult; she..." began Stepan Arkadyevitch, in the simplicity of his heart accepting as sterling coin Princess Myakaya’s words "tell me about her." Princess Myakaya interrupted him immediately, as she always did, and began talking herself.
"She’s done what they all do, except me—only they hide it. But she wouldn’t be deceitful, and she did a fine thing. And she did better still in throwing up that crazy brother-in-law of yours. You must excuse me. Everybody used to say he was so clever, so very clever; I was the only one that said he was a fool. Now that he’s so thick with Lidia Ivanovna and Landau, they all say he’s crazy, and I should prefer not to agree with everybody, but this time I can’t help it."
"Oh, do please explain," said Stepan Arkadyevitch; "what does it mean? Yesterday I was seeing him on my sister’s behalf, and I asked him to give me a final answer. He gave me no answer, and said he would think it over. But this morning, instead of an answer, I received an invitation from Countess Lidia Ivanovna for this evening."
"Ah, so that’s it, that’s it!" said Princess Myakaya gleefully, "they’re going to ask Landau what he’s to say."
"Ask Landau? What for? Who or what’s Landau?"
"What! you don’t know Jules Landau, le fameux Jules Landau, le clairvoyant? He’s crazy too, but on him your sister’s fate depends. See what comes of living in the provinces—you know nothing about anything. Landau, do you see, was a commis in a shop in Paris, and he went to a doctor’s; and in the doctor’s waiting room he fell asleep, and in his sleep he began giving advice to all the patients. And wonderful advice it was! Then the wife of Yury Meledinsky—you know, the invalid?—heard of this Landau, and had him to see her husband. And he cured her husband, though I can’t say that I see he did him much good, for he’s just as feeble a creature as ever he was, but they believed in him, and took him along with them and brought him to Russia. Here there’s been a general rush to him, and he’s begun doctoring everyone. He cured Countess Bezzubova, and she took such a fancy to him that she adopted him."
"Yes, as her son. He’s not Landau any more now, but Count Bezzubov. That’s neither here nor there, though; but Lidia—I’m very fond of her, but she has a screw loose somewhere—has lost her heart to this Landau now, and nothing is settled now in her house or Alexey Alexandrovitch’s without him, and so your sister’s fate is now in the hands of Landau, alias Count Bezzubov."
After a capital dinner and a great deal of cognac drunk at Bartnyansky’s, Stepan Arkadyevitch, only a little later than the appointed time, went in to Countess Lidia Ivanovna’s.
"Who else is with the countess?—a Frenchman?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked the hall porter, as he glanced at the familiar overcoat of Alexey Alexandrovitch and a queer, rather artless-looking overcoat with clasps.
"Alexey Alexandrovitch Karenin and Count Bezzubov," the porter answered severely.
"Princess Myakaya guessed right," thought Stepan Arkadyevitch, as he went upstairs. "Curious! It would be quite as well, though, to get on friendly terms with her. She has immense influence. If she would say a word to Pomorsky, the thing would be a certainty."
It was still quite light out-of-doors, but in Countess Lidia Ivanovna’s little drawing room the blinds were drawn and the lamps lighted. At a round table under a lamp sat the countess and Alexey Alexandrovitch, talking softly. A short, thinnish man, very pale and handsome, with feminine hips and knock-kneed legs, with fine brilliant eyes and long hair lying on the collar of his coat, was standing at the end of the room gazing at the portraits on the wall. After greeting the lady of the house and Alexey Alexandrovitch, Stepan Arkadyevitch could not resist glancing once more at the unknown man.
"Monsieur Landau!" the countess addressed him with a softness and caution that impressed Oblonsky. And she introduced them.
Landau looked round hurriedly, came up, and smiling, laid his moist, lifeless hand in Stepan Arkadyevitch’s outstretched hand and immediately walked away and fell to gazing at the portraits again. The countess and Alexey Alexandrovitch looked at each other significantly.
"I am very glad to see you, particularly today," said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, pointing Stepan Arkadyevitch to a seat beside Karenin.
"I introduced you to him as Landau," she said in a soft voice, glancing at the Frenchman and again immediately after at Alexey Alexandrovitch, "but he is really Count Bezzubov, as you’re probably aware. Only he does not like the title."
"Yes, I heard so," answered Stepan Arkadyevitch; "they say he completely cured Countess Bezzubova."
"She was here today, poor thing!" the countess said, turning to Alexey Alexandrovitch. "This separation is awful for her. It’s such a blow to her!"
"And he positively is going?" queried Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Yes, he’s going to Paris. He heard a voice yesterday," said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, looking at Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Ah, a voice!" repeated Oblonsky, feeling that he must be as circumspect as he possibly could in this society, where something peculiar was going on, or was to go on, to which he had not the key.
A moment’s silence followed, after which Countess Lidia Ivanovna, as though approaching the main topic of conversation, said with a fine smile to Oblonsky:
"I’ve known you for a long while, and am very glad to make a closer acquaintance with you. Les amis de nos amis sont nos amis. But to be a true friend, one must enter into the spiritual state of one’s friend, and I fear that you are not doing so in the case of Alexey Alexandrovitch. You understand what I mean?" she said, lifting her fine pensive eyes.
"In part, countess, I understand the position of Alexey Alexandrovitch..." said Oblonsky. Having no clear idea what they were talking about, he wanted to confine himself to generalities.
"The change is not in his external position," Countess Lidia Ivanovna said sternly, following with eyes of love the figure of Alexey Alexandrovitch as he got up and crossed over to Landau; "his heart is changed, a new heart has been vouchsafed him, and I fear you don’t fully apprehend the change that has taken place in him."
"Oh, well, in general outlines I can conceive the change. We have always been friendly, and now..." said Stepan Arkadyevitch, responding with a sympathetic glance to the expression of the countess, and mentally balancing the question with which of the two ministers she was most intimate, so as to know about which to ask her to speak for him.
"The change that has taken place in him cannot lessen his love for his neighbors; on the contrary, that change can only intensify love in his heart. But I am afraid you do not understand me. Won’t you have some tea?" she said, with her eyes indicating the footman, who was handing round tea on a tray.
"Not quite, countess. Of course, his misfortune..."
"Yes, a misfortune which has proved the highest happiness, when his heart was made new, was filled full of it," she said, gazing with eyes full of love at Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"I do believe I might ask her to speak to both of them," thought Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Oh, of course, countess," he said; "but I imagine such changes are a matter so private that no one, even the most intimate friend, would care to speak of them."
"On the contrary! We ought to speak freely and help one another."
"Yes, undoubtedly so, but there is such a difference of convictions, and besides..." said Oblonsky with a soft smile.
"There can be no difference where it is a question of holy truth."
"Oh, no, of course; but..." and Stepan Arkadyevitch paused in confusion. He understood at last that they were talking of religion.
"I fancy he will fall asleep immediately," said Alexey Alexandrovitch in a whisper full of meaning, going up to Lidia Ivanovna.
Stepan Arkadyevitch looked round. Landau was sitting at the window, leaning on his elbow and the back of his chair, his head drooping. Noticing that all eyes were turned on him he raised his head and smiled a smile of childlike artlessness.
"Don’t take any notice," said Lidia Ivanovna, and she lightly moved a chair up for Alexey Alexandrovitch. "I have observed..." she was beginning, when a footman came into the room with a letter. Lidia Ivanovna rapidly ran her eyes over the note, and excusing herself, wrote an answer with extraordinary rapidity, handed it to the man, and came back to the table. "I have observed," she went on, "that Moscow people, especially the men, are more indifferent to religion than anyone."
"Oh, no, countess, I thought Moscow people had the reputation of being the firmest in the faith," answered Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"But as far as I can make out, you are unfortunately one of the indifferent ones," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, turning to him with a weary smile.
"How anyone can be indifferent!" said Lidia Ivanovna.
"I am not so much indifferent on that subject as I am waiting in suspense," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, with his most deprecating smile. "I hardly think that the time for such questions has come yet for me."
Alexey Alexandrovitch and Lidia Ivanovna looked at each other.
"We can never tell whether the time has come for us or not," said Alexey Alexandrovitch severely. "We ought not to think whether we are ready or not ready. God’s grace is not guided by human considerations: sometimes it comes not to those that strive for it, and comes to those that are unprepared, like Saul."
"No, I believe it won’t be just yet," said Lidia Ivanovna, who had been meanwhile watching the movements of the Frenchman. Landau got up and came to them.
"Do you allow me to listen?" he asked.
"Oh, yes; I did not want to disturb you," said Lidia Ivanovna, gazing tenderly at him; "sit here with us."
"One has only not to close one’s eyes to shut out the light," Alexey Alexandrovitch went on.
"Ah, if you knew the happiness we know, feeling His presence ever in our hearts!" said Countess Lidia Ivanovna with a rapturous smile.
"But a man may feel himself unworthy sometimes to rise to that height," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, conscious of hypocrisy in admitting this religious height, but at the same time unable to bring himself to acknowledge his free-thinking views before a person who, by a single word to Pomorsky, might procure him the coveted appointment.
"That is, you mean that sin keeps him back?" said Lidia Ivanovna. "But that is a false idea. There is no sin for believers, their sin has been atoned for. Pardon," she added, looking at the footman, who came in again with another letter. She read it and gave a verbal answer: "Tomorrow at the Grand Duchess’s, say." "For the believer sin is not," she went on.
"Yes, but faith without works is dead," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, recalling the phrase from the catechism, and only by his smile clinging to his independence.
"There you have it—from the epistle of St. James," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, addressing Lidia Ivanovna, with a certain reproachfulness in his tone. It was unmistakably a subject they had discussed more than once before. "What harm has been done by the false interpretation of that passage! Nothing holds men back from belief like that misinterpretation. ‘I have not works, so I cannot believe,’ though all the while that is not said. But the very opposite is said."
"Striving for God, saving the soul by fasting," said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, with disgusted contempt, "those are the crude ideas of our monks.... Yet that is nowhere said. It is far simpler and easier," she added, looking at Oblonsky with the same encouraging smile with which at court she encouraged youthful maids of honor, disconcerted by the new surroundings of the court.
"We are saved by Christ who suffered for us. We are saved by faith," Alexey Alexandrovitch chimed in, with a glance of approval at her words.
"Vous comprenez l’anglais?" asked Lidia Ivanovna, and receiving a reply in the affirmative, she got up and began looking through a shelf of books.
"I want to read him ‘Safe and Happy,’ or ‘Under the Wing,’" she said, looking inquiringly at Karenin. And finding the book, and sitting down again in her place, she opened it. "It’s very short. In it is described the way by which faith can be reached, and the happiness, above all earthly bliss, with which it fills the soul. The believer cannot be unhappy because he is not alone. But you will see." She was just settling herself to read when the footman came in again. "Madame Borozdina? Tell her, tomorrow at two o’clock. Yes," she said, putting her finger in the place in the book, and gazing before her with her fine pensive eyes, "that is how true faith acts. You know Marie Sanina? You know about her trouble? She lost her only child. She was in despair. And what happened? She found this comforter, and she thanks God now for the death of her child. Such is the happiness faith brings!"
"Oh, yes, that is most..." said Stepan Arkadyevitch, glad they were going to read, and let him have a chance to collect his faculties. "No, I see I’d better not ask her about anything today," he thought. "If only I can get out of this without putting my foot in it!"
"It will be dull for you," said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, addressing Landau; "you don’t know English, but it’s short."
"Oh, I shall understand," said Landau, with the same smile, and he closed his eyes. Alexey Alexandrovitch and Lidia Ivanovna exchanged meaningful glances, and the reading began.
Stepan Arkadyevitch felt completely nonplussed by the strange talk which he was hearing for the first time. The complexity of Petersburg, as a rule, had a stimulating effect on him, rousing him out of his Moscow stagnation. But he liked these complications, and understood them only in the circles he knew and was at home in. In these unfamiliar surroundings he was puzzled and disconcerted, and could not get his bearings. As he listened to Countess Lidia Ivanovna, aware of the beautiful, artless—or perhaps artful, he could not decide which—eyes of Landau fixed upon him, Stepan Arkadyevitch began to be conscious of a peculiar heaviness in his head.
The most incongruous ideas were in confusion in his head. "Marie Sanina is glad her child’s dead.... How good a smoke would be now!... To be saved, one need only believe, and the monks don’t know how the thing’s to be done, but Countess Lidia Ivanovna does know.... And why is my head so heavy? Is it the cognac, or all this being so queer? Anyway, I fancy I’ve done nothing unsuitable so far. But anyway, it won’t do to ask her now. They say they make one say one’s prayers. I only hope they won’t make me! That’ll be too imbecile. And what stuff it is she’s reading! but she has a good accent. Landau—Bezzubov—what’s he Bezzubov for?" All at once Stepan Arkadyevitch became aware that his lower jaw was uncontrollably forming a yawn. He pulled his whiskers to cover the yawn, and shook himself together. But soon after he became aware that he was dropping asleep and on the very point of snoring. He recovered himself at the very moment when the voice of Countess Lidia Ivanovna was saying "he’s asleep." Stepan Arkadyevitch started with dismay, feeling guilty and caught. But he was reassured at once by seeing that the words "he’s asleep" referred not to him, but to Landau. The Frenchman was asleep as well as Stepan Arkadyevitch. But Stepan Arkadyevitch’s being asleep would have offended them, as he thought (though even this, he thought, might not be so, as everything seemed so queer), while Landau’s being asleep delighted them extremely, especially Countess Lidia Ivanovna.
"Mon ami," said Lidia Ivanovna, carefully holding the folds of her silk gown so as not to rustle, and in her excitement calling Karenin not Alexey Alexandrovitch, but "mon ami," "donnez-lui la main. Vous voyez? Sh!" she hissed at the footman as he came in again. "Not at home."
The Frenchman was asleep, or pretending to be asleep, with his head on the back of his chair, and his moist hand, as it lay on his knee, made faint movements, as though trying to catch something. Alexey Alexandrovitch got up, tried to move carefully, but stumbled against the table, went up and laid his hand in the Frenchman’s hand. Stepan Arkadyevitch got up too, and opening his eyes wide, trying to wake himself up if he were asleep, he looked first at one and then at the other. It was all real. Stepan Arkadyevitch felt that his head was getting worse and worse.
"Que la personne qui est arrivee la derniere, celle qui demande, qu’elle sorte! Qu’elle sorte!" articulated the Frenchman, without opening his eyes.
"Vous m’excuserez, mais vous voyez.... Revenez vers dix heures, encore mieux demain."
"Qu’elle sorte!" repeated the Frenchman impatiently.
"C’est moi, n’est-ce pas?" And receiving an answer in the affirmative, Stepan Arkadyevitch, forgetting the favor he had meant to ask of Lidia Ivanovna, and forgetting his sister’s affairs, caring for nothing, but filled with the sole desire to get away as soon as possible, went out on tiptoe and ran out into the street as though from a plague-stricken house. For a long while he chatted and joked with his cab-driver, trying to recover his spirits.
At the French theater where he arrived for the last act, and afterwards at the Tatar restaurant after his champagne, Stepan Arkadyevitch felt a little refreshed in the atmosphere he was used to. But still he felt quite unlike himself all that evening.
On getting home to Pyotr Oblonsky’s, where he was staying, Stepan Arkadyevitch found a note from Betsy. She wrote to him that she was very anxious to finish their interrupted conversation, and begged him to come next day. He had scarcely read this note, and frowned at its contents, when he heard below the ponderous tramp of the servants, carrying something heavy.
Stepan Arkadyevitch went out to look. It was the rejuvenated Pyotr Oblonsky. He was so drunk that he could not walk upstairs; but he told them to set him on his legs when he saw Stepan Arkadyevitch, and clinging to him, walked with him into his room and there began telling him how he had spent the evening, and fell asleep doing so.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was in very low spirits, which happened rarely with him, and for a long while he could not go to sleep. Everything he could recall to his mind, everything was disgusting; but most disgusting of all, as if it were something shameful, was the memory of the evening he had spent at Countess Lidia Ivanovna’s.
Next day he received from Alexey Alexandrovitch a final answer, refusing to grant Anna’s divorce, and he understood that this decision was based on what the Frenchman had said in his real or pretended trance.
In order to carry through any undertaking in family life, there must necessarily be either complete division between the husband and wife, or loving agreement. When the relations of a couple are vacillating and neither one thing nor the other, no sort of enterprise can be undertaken.
Many families remain for years in the same place, though both husband and wife are sick of it, simply because there is neither complete division nor agreement between them.
Both Vronsky and Anna felt life in Moscow insupportable in the heat and dust, when the spring sunshine was followed by the glare of summer, and all the trees in the boulevards had long since been in full leaf, and the leaves were covered with dust. But they did not go back to Vozdvizhenskoe, as they had arranged to do long before; they went on staying in Moscow, though they both loathed it, because of late there had been no agreement between them.
The irritability that kept them apart had no external cause, and all efforts to come to an understanding intensified it, instead of removing it. It was an inner irritation, grounded in her mind on the conviction that his love had grown less; in his, on regret that he had put himself for her sake in a difficult position, which she, instead of lightening, made still more difficult. Neither of them gave full utterance to their sense of grievance, but they considered each other in the wrong, and tried on every pretext to prove this to one another.
In her eyes the whole of him, with all his habits, ideas, desires, with all his spiritual and physical temperament, was one thing—love for women, and that love, she felt, ought to be entirely concentrated on her alone. That love was less; consequently, as she reasoned, he must have transferred part of his love to other women or to another woman—and she was jealous. She was jealous not of any particular woman but of the decrease of his love. Not having got an object for her jealousy, she was on the lookout for it. At the slightest hint she transferred her jealousy from one object to another. At one time she was jealous of those low women with whom he might so easily renew his old bachelor ties; then she was jealous of the society women he might meet; then she was jealous of the imaginary girl whom he might want to marry, for whose sake he would break with her. And this last form of jealousy tortured her most of all, especially as he had unwarily told her, in a moment of frankness, that his mother knew him so little that she had had the audacity to try and persuade him to marry the young Princess Sorokina.
And being jealous of him, Anna was indignant against him and found grounds for indignation in everything. For everything that was difficult in her position she blamed him. The agonizing condition of suspense she had passed in Moscow, the tardiness and indecision of Alexey Alexandrovitch, her solitude—she put it all down to him. If he had loved her he would have seen all the bitterness of her position, and would have rescued her from it. For her being in Moscow and not in the country, he was to blame too. He could not live buried in the country as she would have liked to do. He must have society, and he had put her in this awful position, the bitterness of which he would not see. And again, it was his fault that she was forever separated from her son.
Even the rare moments of tenderness that came from time to time did not soothe her; in his tenderness now she saw a shade of complacency, of self-confidence, which had not been of old, and which exasperated her.
It was dusk. Anna was alone, and waiting for him to come back from a bachelor dinner. She walked up and down in his study (the room where the noise from the street was least heard), and thought over every detail of their yesterday’s quarrel. Going back from the well-remembered, offensive words of the quarrel to what had been the ground of it, she arrived at last at its origin. For a long while she could hardly believe that their dissension had arisen from a conversation so inoffensive, of so little moment to either. But so it actually had been. It all arose from his laughing at the girls’ high schools, declaring they were useless, while she defended them. He had spoken slightingly of women’s education in general, and had said that Hannah, Anna’s English protegée, had not the slightest need to know anything of physics.
This irritated Anna. She saw in this a contemptuous reference to her occupations. And she bethought her of a phrase to pay him back for the pain he had given her. "I don’t expect you to understand me, my feelings, as anyone who loved me might, but simple delicacy I did expect," she said.
And he had actually flushed with vexation, and had said something unpleasant. She could not recall her answer, but at that point, with an unmistakable desire to wound her too, he had said:
"I feel no interest in your infatuation over this girl, that’s true, because I see it’s unnatural."
The cruelty with which he shattered the world she had built up for herself so laboriously to enable her to endure her hard life, the injustice with which he had accused her of affectation, of artificiality, aroused her.
"I am very sorry that nothing but what’s coarse and material is comprehensible and natural to you," she said and walked out of the room.
When he had come in to her yesterday evening, they had not referred to the quarrel, but both felt that the quarrel had been smoothed over, but was not at an end.
Today he had not been at home all day, and she felt so lonely and wretched in being on bad terms with him that she wanted to forget it all, to forgive him, and be reconciled with him; she wanted to throw the blame on herself and to justify him.
"I am myself to blame. I’m irritable, I’m insanely jealous. I will make it up with him, and we’ll go away to the country; there I shall be more at peace."
"Unnatural!" She suddenly recalled the word that had stung her most of all, not so much the word itself as the intent to wound her with which it was said. "I know what he meant; he meant—unnatural, not loving my own daughter, to love another person’s child. What does he know of love for children, of my love for Seryozha, whom I’ve sacrificed for him? But that wish to wound me! No, he loves another woman, it must be so."
And perceiving that, while trying to regain her peace of mind, she had gone round the same circle that she had been round so often before, and had come back to her former state of exasperation, she was horrified at herself. "Can it be impossible? Can it be beyond me to control myself?" she said to herself, and began again from the beginning. "He’s truthful, he’s honest, he loves me. I love him, and in a few days the divorce will come. What more do I want? I want peace of mind and trust, and I will take the blame on myself. Yes, now when he comes in, I will tell him I was wrong, though I was not wrong, and we will go away tomorrow."
And to escape thinking any more, and being overcome by irritability, she rang, and ordered the boxes to be brought up for packing their things for the country.
At ten o’clock Vronsky came in.
"Well, was it nice?" she asked, coming out to meet him with a penitent and meek expression.
"Just as usual," he answered, seeing at a glance that she was in one of her good moods. He was used by now to these transitions, and he was particularly glad to see it today, as he was in a specially good humor himself.
"What do I see? Come, that’s good!" he said, pointing to the boxes in the passage.
"Yes, we must go. I went out for a drive, and it was so fine I longed to be in the country. There’s nothing to keep you, is there?"
"It’s the one thing I desire. I’ll be back directly, and we’ll talk it over; I only want to change my coat. Order some tea."
And he went into his room.
There was something mortifying in the way he had said "Come, that’s good," as one says to a child when it leaves off being naughty, and still more mortifying was the contrast between her penitent and his self-confident tone; and for one instant she felt the lust of strife rising up in her again, but making an effort she conquered it, and met Vronsky as good-humoredly as before.
When he came in she told him, partly repeating phrases she had prepared beforehand, how she had spent the day, and her plans for going away.
"You know it came to me almost like an inspiration," she said. "Why wait here for the divorce? Won’t it be just the same in the country? I can’t wait any longer! I don’t want to go on hoping, I don’t want to hear anything about the divorce. I have made up my mind it shall not have any more influence on my life. Do you agree?"
"Oh, yes!" he said, glancing uneasily at her excited face.
"What did you do? Who was there?" she said, after a pause.
Vronsky mentioned the names of the guests. "The dinner was first rate, and the boat race, and it was all pleasant enough, but in Moscow they can never do anything without something ridicule. A lady of a sort appeared on the scene, teacher of swimming to the Queen of Sweden, and gave us an exhibition of her skill."
"How? did she swim?" asked Anna, frowning.
"In an absurd red costume de natation; she was old and hideous too. So when shall we go?"
"What an absurd fancy! Why, did she swim in some special way, then?" said Anna, not answering.
"There was absolutely nothing in it. That’s just what I say, it was awfully stupid. Well, then, when do you think of going?"
Anna shook her head as though trying to drive away some unpleasant idea.
"When? Why, the sooner the better! By tomorrow we shan’t be ready. The day after tomorrow."
"Yes ... oh, no, wait a minute! The day after tomorrow’s Sunday, I have to be at maman’s," said Vronsky, embarrassed, because as soon as he uttered his mother’s name he was aware of her intent, suspicious eyes. His embarrassment confirmed her suspicion. She flushed hotly and drew away from him. It was now not the Queen of Sweden’s swimming-mistress who filled Anna’s imagination, but the young Princess Sorokina. She was staying in a village near Moscow with Countess Vronskaya.
"Can’t you go tomorrow?" she said.
"Well, no! The deeds and the money for the business I’m going there for I can’t get by tomorrow," he answered.
"If so, we won’t go at all."
"But why so?"
"I shall not go later. Monday or never!"
"What for?" said Vronsky, as though in amazement. "Why, there’s no meaning in it!"
"There’s no meaning in it to you, because you care nothing for me. You don’t care to understand my life. The one thing that I cared for here was Hannah. You say it’s affectation. Why, you said yesterday that I don’t love my daughter, that I love this English girl, that it’s unnatural. I should like to know what life there is for me that could be natural!"
For an instant she had a clear vision of what she was doing, and was horrified at how she had fallen away from her resolution. But even though she knew it was her own ruin, she could not restrain herself, could not keep herself from proving to him that he was wrong, could not give way to him.
"I never said that; I said I did not sympathize with this sudden passion."
"How is it, though you boast of your straightforwardness, you don’t tell the truth?"
"I never boast, and I never tell lies," he said slowly, restraining his rising anger. "It’s a great pity if you can’t respect..."
"Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be. And if you don’t love me any more, it would be better and more honest to say so."
"No, this is becoming unbearable!" cried Vronsky, getting up from his chair; and stopping short, facing her, he said, speaking deliberately: "What do you try my patience for?" looking as though he might have said much more, but was restraining himself. "It has limits."
"What do you mean by that?" she cried, looking with terror at the undisguised hatred in his whole face, and especially in his cruel, menacing eyes.
"I mean to say..." he was beginning, but he checked himself. "I must ask what it is you want of me?"
"What can I want? All I can want is that you should not desert me, as you think of doing," she said, understanding all he had not uttered. "But that I don’t want; that’s secondary. I want love, and there is none. So then all is over."
She turned towards the door.
"Stop! sto-op!" said Vronsky, with no change in the gloomy lines of his brows, though he held her by the hand. "What is it all about? I said that we must put off going for three days, and on that you told me I was lying, that I was not an honorable man."
"Yes, and I repeat that the man who reproaches me with having sacrificed everything for me," she said, recalling the words of a still earlier quarrel, "that he’s worse than a dishonorable man—he’s a heartless man."
"Oh, there are limits to endurance!" he cried, and hastily let go her hand.
"He hates me, that’s clear," she thought, and in silence, without looking round, she walked with faltering steps out of the room. "He loves another woman, that’s even clearer," she said to herself as she went into her own room. "I want love, and there is none. So, then, all is over." She repeated the words she had said, "and it must be ended."
"But how?" she asked herself, and she sat down in a low chair before the looking glass.
Thoughts of where she would go now, whether to the aunt who had brought her up, to Dolly, or simply alone abroad, and of what he was doing now alone in his study; whether this was the final quarrel, or whether reconciliation were still possible; and of what all her old friends at Petersburg would say of her now; and of how Alexey Alexandrovitch would look at it, and many other ideas of what would happen now after this rupture, came into her head; but she did not give herself up to them with all her heart. At the bottom of her heart was some obscure idea that alone interested her, but she could not get clear sight of it. Thinking once more of Alexey Alexandrovitch, she recalled the time of her illness after her confinement, and the feeling which never left her at that time. "Why didn’t I die?" and the words and the feeling of that time came back to her. And all at once she knew what was in her soul. Yes, it was that idea which alone solved all. "Yes, to die!... And the shame and disgrace of Alexey Alexandrovitch and of Seryozha, and my awful shame, it will all be saved by death. To die! and he will feel remorse; will be sorry; will love me; he will suffer on my account." With the trace of a smile of commiseration for herself she sat down in the armchair, taking off and putting on the rings on her left hand, vividly picturing from different sides his feelings after her death.
Approaching footsteps—his steps—distracted her attention. As though absorbed in the arrangement of her rings, she did not even turn to him.
He went up to her, and taking her by the hand, said softly:
"Anna, we’ll go the day after tomorrow, if you like. I agree to everything."
She did not speak.
"What is it?" he urged.
"You know," she said, and at the same instant, unable to restrain herself any longer, she burst into sobs.
"Cast me off!" she articulated between her sobs. "I’ll go away tomorrow ... I’ll do more. What am I? An immoral woman! A stone round your neck. I don’t want to make you wretched, I don’t want to! I’ll set you free. You don’t love me; you love someone else!"
Vronsky besought her to be calm, and declared that there was no trace of foundation for her jealousy; that he had never ceased, and never would cease, to love her; that he loved her more than ever.
"Anna, why distress yourself and me so?" he said to her, kissing her hands. There was tenderness now in his face, and she fancied she caught the sound of tears in his voice, and she felt them wet on her hand. And instantly Anna’s despairing jealousy changed to a despairing passion of tenderness. She put her arms round him, and covered with kisses his head, his neck, his hands.
Feeling that the reconciliation was complete, Anna set eagerly to work in the morning preparing for their departure. Though it was not settled whether they should go on Monday or Tuesday, as they had each given way to the other, Anna packed busily, feeling absolutely indifferent whether they went a day earlier or later. She was standing in her room over an open box, taking things out of it, when he came in to see her earlier than usual, dressed to go out.
"I’m going off at once to see maman; she can send me the money by Yegorov. And I shall be ready to go tomorrow," he said.
Though she was in such a good mood, the thought of his visit to his mother’s gave her a pang.
"No, I shan’t be ready by then myself," she said; and at once reflected, "so then it was possible to arrange to do as I wished." "No, do as you meant to do. Go into the dining room, I’m coming directly. It’s only to turn out those things that aren’t wanted," she said, putting something more on the heap of frippery that lay in Annushka’s arms.
Vronsky was eating his beefsteak when she came into the dining-room.
"You wouldn’t believe how distasteful these rooms have become to me," she said, sitting down beside him to her coffee. "There’s nothing more awful than these chambres garnies. There’s no individuality in them, no soul. These clocks, and curtains, and, worst of all, the wallpapers—they’re a nightmare. I think of Vozdvizhenskoe as the promised land. You’re not sending the horses off yet?"
"No, they will come after us. Where are you going to?"
"I wanted to go to Wilson’s to take some dresses to her. So it’s really to be tomorrow?" she said in a cheerful voice; but suddenly her face changed.
Vronsky’s valet came in to ask him to sign a receipt for a telegram from Petersburg. There was nothing out of the way in Vronsky’s getting a telegram, but he said, as though anxious to conceal something from her, that the receipt was in his study, and he turned hurriedly to her.
"By tomorrow, without fail, I will finish it all."
"From whom is the telegram?" she asked, not hearing him.
"From Stiva," he answered reluctantly.
"Why didn’t you show it to me? What secret can there be between Stiva and me?"
Vronsky called the valet back, and told him to bring the telegram.
"I didn’t want to show it to you, because Stiva has such a passion for telegraphing: why telegraph when nothing is settled?"
"About the divorce?"
"Yes; but he says he has not been able to come at anything yet. He has promised a decisive answer in a day or two. But here it is; read it."
With trembling hands Anna took the telegram, and read what Vronsky had told her. At the end was added: "Little hope; but I will do everything possible and impossible."
"I said yesterday that it’s absolutely nothing to me when I get, or whether I never get, a divorce," she said, flushing crimson. "There was not the slightest necessity to hide it from me." "So he may hide and does hide his correspondence with women from me," she thought.
"Yashvin meant to come this morning with Voytov," said Vronsky; "I believe he’s won from Pyevtsov all and more than he can pay, about sixty thousand."
"No," she said, irritated by his so obviously showing by this change of subject that he was irritated, "why did you suppose that this news would affect me so, that you must even try to hide it? I said I don’t want to consider it, and I should have liked you to care as little about it as I do."
"I care about it because I like definiteness," he said.
"Definiteness is not in the form but the love," she said, more and more irritated, not by his words, but by the tone of cool composure in which he spoke. "What do you want it for?"
"My God! love again," he thought, frowning.
"Oh, you know what for; for your sake and your children’s in the future."
"There won’t be children in the future."
"That’s a great pity," he said.
"You want it for the children’s sake, but you don’t think of me?" she said, quite forgetting or not having heard that he had said, "for your sake and the children’s."
The question of the possibility of having children had long been a subject of dispute and irritation to her. His desire to have children she interpreted as a proof he did not prize her beauty.
"Oh, I said: for your sake. Above all for your sake," he repeated, frowning as though in pain, "because I am certain that the greater part of your irritability comes from the indefiniteness of the position."
"Yes, now he has laid aside all pretense, and all his cold hatred for me is apparent," she thought, not hearing his words, but watching with terror the cold, cruel judge who looked mocking her out of his eyes.
"The cause is not that," she said, "and, indeed, I don’t see how the cause of my irritability, as you call it, can be that I am completely in your power. What indefiniteness is there in the position? on the contrary..."
"I am very sorry that you don’t care to understand," he interrupted, obstinately anxious to give utterance to his thought. "The indefiniteness consists in your imagining that I am free."
"On that score you can set your mind quite at rest," she said, and turning away from him, she began drinking her coffee.
She lifted her cup, with her little finger held apart, and put it to her lips. After drinking a few sips she glanced at him, and by his expression, she saw clearly that he was repelled by her hand, and her gesture, and the sound made by her lips.
"I don’t care in the least what your mother thinks, and what match she wants to make for you," she said, putting the cup down with a shaking hand.
"But we are not talking about that."
"Yes, that’s just what we are talking about. And let me tell you that a heartless woman, whether she’s old or not old, your mother or anyone else, is of no consequence to me, and I would not consent to know her."
"Anna, I beg you not to speak disrespectfully of my mother."
"A woman whose heart does not tell her where her son’s happiness and honor lie has no heart."
"I repeat my request that you will not speak disrespectfully of my mother, whom I respect," he said, raising his voice and looking sternly at her.
She did not answer. Looking intently at him, at his face, his hands, she recalled all the details of their reconciliation the previous day, and his passionate caresses. "There, just such caresses he has lavished, and will lavish, and longs to lavish on other women!" she thought.
"You don’t love your mother. That’s all talk, and talk, and talk!" she said, looking at him with hatred in her eyes.
"Even if so, you must..."
"Must decide, and I have decided," she said, and she would have gone away, but at that moment Yashvin walked into the room. Anna greeted him and remained.
Why, when there was a tempest in her soul, and she felt she was standing at a turning point in her life, which might have fearful consequences—why, at that minute, she had to keep up appearances before an outsider, who sooner or later must know it all—she did not know. But at once quelling the storm within her, she sat down and began talking to their guest.
"Well, how are you getting on? Has your debt been paid you?" she asked Yashvin.
"Oh, pretty fair; I fancy I shan’t get it all, but I shall get a good half. And when are you off?" said Yashvin, looking at Vronsky, and unmistakably guessing at a quarrel.
"The day after tomorrow, I think," said Vronsky.
"You’ve been meaning to go so long, though."
"But now it’s quite decided," said Anna, looking Vronsky straight in the face with a look which told him not to dream of the possibility of reconciliation.
"Don’t you feel sorry for that unlucky Pyevtsov?" she went on, talking to Yashvin.
"I’ve never asked myself the question, Anna Arkadyevna, whether I’m sorry for him or not. You see, all my fortune’s here"—he touched his breast pocket—"and just now I’m a wealthy man. But today I’m going to the club, and I may come out a beggar. You see, whoever sits down to play with me—he wants to leave me without a shirt to my back, and so do I him. And so we fight it out, and that’s the pleasure of it."
"Well, but suppose you were married," said Anna, "how would it be for your wife?"
"That’s why I’m not married, and never mean to be."
"And Helsingfors?" said Vronsky, entering into the conversation and glancing at Anna’s smiling face. Meeting his eyes, Anna’s face instantly took a coldly severe expression as though she were saying to him: "It’s not forgotten. It’s all the same."
"Were you really in love?" she said to Yashvin.
"Oh heavens! ever so many times! But you see, some men can play but only so that they can always lay down their cards when the hour of a rendezvous comes, while I can take up love, but only so as not to be late for my cards in the evening. That’s how I manage things."
"No, I didn’t mean that, but the real thing." She would have said Helsingfors, but would not repeat the word used by Vronsky.
Voytov, who was buying the horse, came in. Anna got up and went out of the room.
Before leaving the house, Vronsky went into her room. She would have pretended to be looking for something on the table, but ashamed of making a pretense, she looked straight in his face with cold eyes.
"What do you want?" she asked in French.
"To get the guarantee for Gambetta, I’ve sold him," he said, in a tone which said more clearly than words, "I’ve no time for discussing things, and it would lead to nothing."
"I’m not to blame in any way," he thought. "If she will punish herself, tant pis pour elle." But as he was going he fancied that she said something, and his heart suddenly ached with pity for her.
"Eh, Anna?" he queried.
"I said nothing," she answered just as coldly and calmly.
"Oh, nothing, tant pis then," he thought, feeling cold again, and he turned and went out. As he was going out he caught a glimpse in the looking glass of her face, white, with quivering lips. He even wanted to stop and to say some comforting word to her, but his legs carried him out of the room before he could think what to say. The whole of that day he spent away from home, and when he came in late in the evening the maid told him that Anna Arkadyevna had a headache and begged him not to go in to her.
Never before had a day been passed in quarrel. Today was the first time. And this was not a quarrel. It was the open acknowledgment of complete coldness. Was it possible to glance at her as he had glanced when he came into the room for the guarantee?—to look at her, see her heart was breaking with despair, and go out without a word with that face of callous composure? He was not merely cold to her, he hated her because he loved another woman—that was clear.
And remembering all the cruel words he had said, Anna supplied, too, the words that he had unmistakably wished to say and could have said to her, and she grew more and more exasperated.
"I won’t prevent you," he might say. "You can go where you like. You were unwilling to be divorced from your husband, no doubt so that you might go back to him. Go back to him. If you want money, I’ll give it to you. How many roubles do you want?"
All the most cruel words that a brutal man could say, he said to her in her imagination, and she could not forgive him for them, as though he had actually said them.
"But didn’t he only yesterday swear he loved me, he, a truthful and sincere man? Haven’t I despaired for nothing many times already?" she said to herself afterwards.
All that day, except for the visit to Wilson’s, which occupied two hours, Anna spent in doubts whether everything were over or whether there were still hope of reconciliation, whether she should go away at once or see him once more. She was expecting him the whole day, and in the evening, as she went to her own room, leaving a message for him that her head ached, she said to herself, "If he comes in spite of what the maid says, it means that he loves me still. If not, it means that all is over, and then I will decide what I’m to do!..."
In the evening she heard the rumbling of his carriage stop at the entrance, his ring, his steps and his conversation with the servant; he believed what was told him, did not care to find out more, and went to his own room. So then everything was over.
And death rose clearly and vividly before her mind as the sole means of bringing back love for her in his heart, of punishing him and of gaining the victory in that strife which the evil spirit in possession of her heart was waging with him.
Now nothing mattered: going or not going to Vozdvizhenskoe, getting or not getting a divorce from her husband—all that did not matter. The one thing that mattered was punishing him. When she poured herself out her usual dose of opium, and thought that she had only to drink off the whole bottle to die, it seemed to her so simple and easy, that she began musing with enjoyment on how he would suffer, and repent and love her memory when it would be too late. She lay in bed with open eyes, by the light of a single burned-down candle, gazing at the carved cornice of the ceiling and at the shadow of the screen that covered part of it, while she vividly pictured to herself how he would feel when she would be no more, when she would be only a memory to him. "How could I say such cruel things to her?" he would say. "How could I go out of the room without saying anything to her? But now she is no more. She has gone away from us forever. She is...." Suddenly the shadow of the screen wavered, pounced on the whole cornice, the whole ceiling; other shadows from the other side swooped to meet it, for an instant the shadows flitted back, but then with fresh swiftness they darted forward, wavered, commingled, and all was darkness. "Death!" she thought. And such horror came upon her that for a long while she could not realize where she was, and for a long while her trembling hands could not find the matches and light another candle, instead of the one that had burned down and gone out. "No, anything—only to live! Why, I love him! Why, he loves me! This has been before and will pass," she said, feeling that tears of joy at the return to life were trickling down her cheeks. And to escape from her panic she went hurriedly to his room.
He was asleep there, and sleeping soundly. She went up to him, and holding the light above his face, she gazed a long while at him. Now when he was asleep, she loved him so that at the sight of him she could not keep back tears of tenderness. But she knew that if he waked up he would look at her with cold eyes, convinced that he was right, and that before telling him of her love, she would have to prove to him that he had been wrong in his treatment of her. Without waking him, she went back, and after a second dose of opium she fell towards morning into a heavy, incomplete sleep, during which she never quite lost consciousness.
In the morning she was waked by a horrible nightmare, which had recurred several times in her dreams, even before her connection with Vronsky. A little old man with unkempt beard was doing something bent down over some iron, muttering meaningless French words, and she, as she always did in this nightmare (it was what made the horror of it), felt that this peasant was taking no notice of her, but was doing something horrible with the iron—over her. And she waked up in a cold sweat.
When she got up, the previous day came back to her as though veiled in mist.
"There was a quarrel. Just what has happened several times. I said I had a headache, and he did not come in to see me. Tomorrow we’re going away; I must see him and get ready for the journey," she said to herself. And learning that he was in his study, she went down to him. As she passed through the drawing room she heard a carriage stop at the entrance, and looking out of the window she saw the carriage, from which a young girl in a lilac hat was leaning out giving some direction to the footman ringing the bell. After a parley in the hall, someone came upstairs, and Vronsky’s steps could be heard passing the drawing room. He went rapidly downstairs. Anna went again to the window. She saw him come out onto the steps without his hat and go up to the carriage. The young girl in the lilac hat handed him a parcel. Vronsky, smiling, said something to her. The carriage drove away, he ran rapidly upstairs again.
The mists that had shrouded everything in her soul parted suddenly. The feelings of yesterday pierced the sick heart with a fresh pang. She could not understand now how she could have lowered herself by spending a whole day with him in his house. She went into his room to announce her determination.
"That was Madame Sorokina and her daughter. They came and brought me the money and the deeds from maman. I couldn’t get them yesterday. How is your head, better?" he said quietly, not wishing to see and to understand the gloomy and solemn expression of her face.
She looked silently, intently at him, standing in the middle of the room. He glanced at her, frowned for a moment, and went on reading a letter. She turned, and went deliberately out of the room. He still might have turned her back, but she had reached the door, he was still silent, and the only sound audible was the rustling of the note paper as he turned it.
"Oh, by the way," he said at the very moment she was in the doorway, "we’re going tomorrow for certain, aren’t we?"
"You, but not I," she said, turning round to him.
"Anna, we can’t go on like this..."
"You, but not I," she repeated.
"This is getting unbearable!"
"You ... you will be sorry for this," she said, and went out.
Frightened by the desperate expression with which these words were uttered, he jumped up and would have run after her, but on second thoughts he sat down and scowled, setting his teeth. This vulgar—as he thought it—threat of something vague exasperated him. "I’ve tried everything," he thought; "the only thing left is not to pay attention," and he began to get ready to drive into town, and again to his mother’s to get her signature to the deeds.
She heard the sound of his steps about the study and the dining room. At the drawing room he stood still. But he did not turn in to see her, he merely gave an order that the horse should be given to Voytov if he came while he was away. Then she heard the carriage brought round, the door opened, and he came out again. But he went back into the porch again, and someone was running upstairs. It was the valet running up for his gloves that had been forgotten. She went to the window and saw him take the gloves without looking, and touching the coachman on the back he said something to him. Then without looking up at the window he settled himself in his usual attitude in the carriage, with his legs crossed, and drawing on his gloves he vanished round the corner.
"He has gone! It is over!" Anna said to herself, standing at the window; and in answer to this statement the impression of the darkness when the candle had flickered out, and of her fearful dream mingling into one, filled her heart with cold terror.
"No, that cannot be!" she cried, and crossing the room she rang the bell. She was so afraid now of being alone, that without waiting for the servant to come in, she went out to meet him.
"Inquire where the count has gone," she said. The servant answered that the count had gone to the stable.
"His honor left word that if you cared to drive out, the carriage would be back immediately."
"Very good. Wait a minute. I’ll write a note at once. Send Mihail with the note to the stables. Make haste."
She sat down and wrote:
"I was wrong. Come back home; I must explain. For God’s sake come! I’m afraid."
She sealed it up and gave it to the servant.
She was afraid of being left alone now; she followed the servant out of the room, and went to the nursery.
"Why, this isn’t it, this isn’t he! Where are his blue eyes, his sweet, shy smile?" was her first thought when she saw her chubby, rosy little girl with her black, curly hair instead of Seryozha, whom in the tangle of her ideas she had expected to see in the nursery. The little girl sitting at the table was obstinately and violently battering on it with a cork, and staring aimlessly at her mother with her pitch-black eyes. Answering the English nurse that she was quite well, and that she was going to the country tomorrow, Anna sat down by the little girl and began spinning the cork to show her. But the child’s loud, ringing laugh, and the motion of her eyebrows, recalled Vronsky so vividly that she got up hurriedly, restraining her sobs, and went away. "Can it be all over? No, it cannot be!" she thought. "He will come back. But how can he explain that smile, that excitement after he had been talking to her? But even if he doesn’t explain, I will believe. If I don’t believe, there’s only one thing left for me, and I can’t."
She looked at her watch. Twenty minutes had passed. "By now he has received the note and is coming back. Not long, ten minutes more.... But what if he doesn’t come? No, that cannot be. He mustn’t see me with tear-stained eyes. I’ll go and wash. Yes, yes; did I do my hair or not?" she asked herself. And she could not remember. She felt her head with her hand. "Yes, my hair has been done, but when I did it I can’t in the least remember." She could not believe the evidence of her hand, and went up to the pier glass to see whether she really had done her hair. She certainly had, but she could not think when she had done it. "Who’s that?" she thought, looking in the looking glass at the swollen face with strangely glittering eyes, that looked in a scared way at her. "Why, it’s I!" she suddenly understood, and looking round, she seemed all at once to feel his kisses on her, and twitched her shoulders, shuddering. Then she lifted her hand to her lips and kissed it.
"What is it? Why, I’m going out of my mind!" and she went into her bedroom, where Annushka was tidying the room.
"Annushka," she said, coming to a standstill before her, and she stared at the maid, not knowing what to say to her.
"You meant to go and see Darya Alexandrovna," said the girl, as though she understood.
"Darya Alexandrovna? Yes, I’ll go."
"Fifteen minutes there, fifteen minutes back. He’s coming, he’ll be here soon." She took out her watch and looked at it. "But how could he go away, leaving me in such a state? How can he live, without making it up with me?" She went to the window and began looking into the street. Judging by the time, he might be back now. But her calculations might be wrong, and she began once more to recall when he had started and to count the minutes.
At the moment when she had moved away to the big clock to compare it with her watch, someone drove up. Glancing out of the window, she saw his carriage. But no one came upstairs, and voices could be heard below. It was the messenger who had come back in the carriage. She went down to him.
"We didn’t catch the count. The count had driven off on the lower city road."
"What do you say? What!..." she said to the rosy, good-humored Mihail, as he handed her back her note.
"Why, then, he has never received it!" she thought.
"Go with this note to Countess Vronskaya’s place, you know? and bring an answer back immediately," she said to the messenger.
"And I, what am I going to do?" she thought. "Yes, I’m going to Dolly’s, that’s true or else I shall go out of my mind. Yes, and I can telegraph, too." And she wrote a telegram. "I absolutely must talk to you; come at once." After sending off the telegram, she went to dress. When she was dressed and in her hat, she glanced again into the eyes of the plump, comfortable-looking Annushka. There was unmistakable sympathy in those good-natured little gray eyes.
"Annushka, dear, what am I to do?" said Anna, sobbing and sinking helplessly into a chair.
"Why fret yourself so, Anna Arkadyevna? Why, there’s nothing out of the way. You drive out a little, and it’ll cheer you up," said the maid.
"Yes, I’m going," said Anna, rousing herself and getting up. "And if there’s a telegram while I’m away, send it on to Darya Alexandrovna’s ... but no, I shall be back myself."
"Yes, I mustn’t think, I must do something, drive somewhere, and most of all, get out of this house," she said, feeling with terror the strange turmoil going on in her own heart, and she made haste to go out and get into the carriage.
"Where to?" asked Pyotr before getting onto the box.
"To Znamenka, the Oblonskys’."
It was bright and sunny. A fine rain had been falling all the morning, and now it had not long cleared up. The iron roofs, the flags of the roads, the flints of the pavements, the wheels and leather, the brass and the tinplate of the carriages—all glistened brightly in the May sunshine. It was three o’clock, and the very liveliest time in the streets.
As she sat in a corner of the comfortable carriage, that hardly swayed on its supple springs, while the grays trotted swiftly, in the midst of the unceasing rattle of wheels and the changing impressions in the pure air, Anna ran over the events of the last days, and she saw her position quite differently from how it had seemed at home. Now the thought of death seemed no longer so terrible and so clear to her, and death itself no longer seemed so inevitable. Now she blamed herself for the humiliation to which she had lowered herself. "I entreat him to forgive me. I have given in to him. I have owned myself in fault. What for? Can’t I live without him?" And leaving unanswered the question how she was going to live without him, she fell to reading the signs on the shops. "Office and warehouse. Dental surgeon. Yes, I’ll tell Dolly all about it. She doesn’t like Vronsky. I shall be sick and ashamed, but I’ll tell her. She loves me, and I’ll follow her advice. I won’t give in to him; I won’t let him train me as he pleases. Filippov, bun shop. They say they send their dough to Petersburg. The Moscow water is so good for it. Ah, the springs at Mitishtchen, and the pancakes!"
And she remembered how, long, long ago, when she was a girl of seventeen, she had gone with her aunt to Troitsa. "Riding, too. Was that really me, with red hands? How much that seemed to me then splendid and out of reach has become worthless, while what I had then has gone out of my reach forever! Could I ever have believed then that I could come to such humiliation? How conceited and self-satisfied he will be when he gets my note! But I will show him.... How horrid that paint smells! Why is it they’re always painting and building? Modes et robes," she read. A man bowed to her. It was Annushka’s husband. "Our parasites"; she remembered how Vronsky had said that. "Our? Why our? What’s so awful is that one can’t tear up the past by its roots. One can’t tear it out, but one can hide one’s memory of it. And I’ll hide it." And then she thought of her past with Alexey Alexandrovitch, of how she had blotted the memory of it out of her life. "Dolly will think I’m leaving my second husband, and so I certainly must be in the wrong. As if I cared to be right! I can’t help it!" she said, and she wanted to cry. But at once she fell to wondering what those two girls could be smiling about. "Love, most likely. They don’t know how dreary it is, how low.... The boulevard and the children. Three boys running, playing at horses. Seryozha! And I’m losing everything and not getting him back. Yes, I’m losing everything, if he doesn’t return. Perhaps he was late for the train and has come back by now. Longing for humiliation again!" she said to herself. "No, I’ll go to Dolly, and say straight out to her, I’m unhappy, I deserve this, I’m to blame, but still I’m unhappy, help me. These horses, this carriage—how loathsome I am to myself in this carriage—all his; but I won’t see them again."
Thinking over the words in which she would tell Dolly, and mentally working her heart up to great bitterness, Anna went upstairs.
"Is there anyone with her?" she asked in the hall.
"Katerina Alexandrovna Levin," answered the footman.
"Kitty! Kitty, whom Vronsky was in love with!" thought Anna, "the girl he thinks of with love. He’s sorry he didn’t marry her. But me he thinks of with hatred, and is sorry he had anything to do with me."
The sisters were having a consultation about nursing when Anna called. Dolly went down alone to see the visitor who had interrupted their conversation.
"Well, so you’ve not gone away yet? I meant to have come to you," she said; "I had a letter from Stiva today."
"We had a telegram too," answered Anna, looking round for Kitty.
"He writes that he can’t make out quite what Alexey Alexandrovitch wants, but he won’t go away without a decisive answer."
"I thought you had someone with you. Can I see the letter?"
"Yes; Kitty," said Dolly, embarrassed. "She stayed in the nursery. She has been very ill."
"So I heard. May I see the letter?"
"I’ll get it directly. But he doesn’t refuse; on the contrary, Stiva has hopes," said Dolly, stopping in the doorway.
"I haven’t, and indeed I don’t wish it," said Anna.
"What’s this? Does Kitty consider it degrading to meet me?" thought Anna when she was alone. "Perhaps she’s right, too. But it’s not for her, the girl who was in love with Vronsky, it’s not for her to show me that, even if it is true. I know that in my position I can’t be received by any decent woman. I knew that from the first moment I sacrificed everything to him. And this is my reward! Oh, how I hate him! And what did I come here for? I’m worse here, more miserable." She heard from the next room the sisters’ voices in consultation. "And what am I going to say to Dolly now? Amuse Kitty by the sight of my wretchedness, submit to her patronizing? No; and besides, Dolly wouldn’t understand. And it would be no good my telling her. It would only be interesting to see Kitty, to show her how I despise everyone and everything, how nothing matters to me now."
Dolly came in with the letter. Anna read it and handed it back in silence.
"I knew all that," she said, "and it doesn’t interest me in the least."
"Oh, why so? On the contrary, I have hopes," said Dolly, looking inquisitively at Anna. She had never seen her in such a strangely irritable condition. "When are you going away?" she asked.
Anna, half-closing her eyes, looked straight before her and did not answer.
"Why does Kitty shrink from me?" she said, looking at the door and flushing red.
"Oh, what nonsense! She’s nursing, and things aren’t going right with her, and I’ve been advising her.... She’s delighted. She’ll be here in a minute," said Dolly awkwardly, not clever at lying. "Yes, here she is."
Hearing that Anna had called, Kitty had wanted not to appear, but Dolly persuaded her. Rallying her forces, Kitty went in, walked up to her, blushing, and shook hands.
"I am so glad to see you," she said with a trembling voice.
Kitty had been thrown into confusion by the inward conflict between her antagonism to this bad woman and her desire to be nice to her. But as soon as she saw Anna’s lovely and attractive face, all feeling of antagonism disappeared.
"I should not have been surprised if you had not cared to meet me. I’m used to everything. You have been ill? Yes, you are changed," said Anna.
Kitty felt that Anna was looking at her with hostile eyes. She ascribed this hostility to the awkward position in which Anna, who had once patronized her, must feel with her now, and she felt sorry for her.
They talked of Kitty’s illness, of the baby, of Stiva, but it was obvious that nothing interested Anna.
"I came to say good-bye to you," she said, getting up.
"Oh, when are you going?"
But again not answering, Anna turned to Kitty.
"Yes, I am very glad to have seen you," she said with a smile. "I have heard so much of you from everyone, even from your husband. He came to see me, and I liked him exceedingly," she said, unmistakably with malicious intent. "Where is he?"
"He has gone back to the country," said Kitty, blushing.
"Remember me to him, be sure you do."
"I’ll be sure to!" Kitty said naïvely, looking compassionately into her eyes.
"So good-bye, Dolly." And kissing Dolly and shaking hands with Kitty, Anna went out hurriedly.
"She’s just the same and just as charming! She’s very lovely!" said Kitty, when she was alone with her sister. "But there’s something piteous about her. Awfully piteous!"
"Yes, there’s something unusual about her today," said Dolly. "When I went with her into the hall, I fancied she was almost crying."
Anna got into the carriage again in an even worse frame of mind than when she set out from home. To her previous tortures was added now that sense of mortification and of being an outcast which she had felt so distinctly on meeting Kitty.
"Where to? Home?" asked Pyotr.
"Yes, home," she said, not even thinking now where she was going.
"How they looked at me as something dreadful, incomprehensible, and curious! What can he be telling the other with such warmth?" she thought, staring at two men who walked by. "Can one ever tell anyone what one is feeling? I meant to tell Dolly, and it’s a good thing I didn’t tell her. How pleased she would have been at my misery! She would have concealed it, but her chief feeling would have been delight at my being punished for the happiness she envied me for. Kitty, she would have been even more pleased. How I can see through her! She knows I was more than usually sweet to her husband. And she’s jealous and hates me. And she despises me. In her eyes I’m an immoral woman. If I were an immoral woman I could have made her husband fall in love with me ... if I’d cared to. And, indeed, I did care to. There’s someone who’s pleased with himself," she thought, as she saw a fat, rubicund gentleman coming towards her. He took her for an acquaintance, and lifted his glossy hat above his bald, glossy head, and then perceived his mistake. "He thought he knew me. Well, he knows me as well as anyone in the world knows me. I don’t know myself. I know my appetites, as the French say. They want that dirty ice cream, that they do know for certain," she thought, looking at two boys stopping an ice cream seller, who took a barrel off his head and began wiping his perspiring face with a towel. "We all want what is sweet and nice. If not sweetmeats, then a dirty ice. And Kitty’s the same—if not Vronsky, then Levin. And she envies me, and hates me. And we all hate each other. I Kitty, Kitty me. Yes, that’s the truth. ‘Tiutkin, coiffeur.’ Je me fais coiffer par Tiutkin.... I’ll tell him that when he comes," she thought and smiled. But the same instant she remembered that she had no one now to tell anything amusing to. "And there’s nothing amusing, nothing mirthful, really. It’s all hateful. They’re singing for vespers, and how carefully that merchant crosses himself! as if he were afraid of missing something. Why these churches and this singing and this humbug? Simply to conceal that we all hate each other like these cab drivers who are abusing each other so angrily. Yashvin says, ‘He wants to strip me of my shirt, and I him of his.’ Yes, that’s the truth!"
She was plunged in these thoughts, which so engrossed her that she left off thinking of her own position, when the carriage drew up at the steps of her house. It was only when she saw the porter running out to meet her that she remembered she had sent the note and the telegram.
"Is there an answer?" she inquired.
"I’ll see this minute," answered the porter, and glancing into his room, he took out and gave her the thin square envelope of a telegram. "I can’t come before ten o’clock.—Vronsky," she read.
"And hasn’t the messenger come back?"
"No," answered the porter.
"Then, since it’s so, I know what I must do," she said, and feeling a vague fury and craving for revenge rising up within her, she ran upstairs. "I’ll go to him myself. Before going away forever, I’ll tell him all. Never have I hated anyone as I hate that man!" she thought. Seeing his hat on the rack, she shuddered with aversion. She did not consider that his telegram was an answer to her telegram and that he had not yet received her note. She pictured him to herself as talking calmly to his mother and Princess Sorokina and rejoicing at her sufferings. "Yes, I must go quickly," she said, not knowing yet where she was going. She longed to get away as quickly as possible from the feelings she had gone through in that awful house. The servants, the walls, the things in that house—all aroused repulsion and hatred in her and lay like a weight upon her.
"Yes, I must go to the railway station, and if he’s not there, then go there and catch him." Anna looked at the railway timetable in the newspapers. An evening train went at two minutes past eight. "Yes, I shall be in time." She gave orders for the other horses to be put in the carriage, and packed in a traveling-bag the things needed for a few days. She knew she would never come back here again.
Among the plans that came into her head she vaguely determined that after what would happen at the station or at the countess’s house, she would go as far as the first town on the Nizhni road and stop there.
Dinner was on the table; she went up, but the smell of the bread and cheese was enough to make her feel that all food was disgusting. She ordered the carriage and went out. The house threw a shadow now right across the street, but it was a bright evening and still warm in the sunshine. Annushka, who came down with her things, and Pyotr, who put the things in the carriage, and the coachman, evidently out of humor, were all hateful to her, and irritated her by their words and actions.
"I don’t want you, Pyotr."
"But how about the ticket?"
"Well, as you like, it doesn’t matter," she said crossly.
Pyotr jumped on the box, and putting his arms akimbo, told the coachman to drive to the booking-office.
"Here it is again! Again I understand it all!" Anna said to herself, as soon as the carriage had started and swaying lightly, rumbled over the tiny cobbles of the paved road, and again one impression followed rapidly upon another.
"Yes; what was the last thing I thought of so clearly?" she tried to recall it. "‘Tiutkin, coiffeur?’—no, not that. Yes, of what Yashvin says, the struggle for existence and hatred is the one thing that holds men together. No, it’s a useless journey you’re making," she said, mentally addressing a party in a coach and four, evidently going for an excursion into the country. "And the dog you’re taking with you will be no help to you. You can’t get away from yourselves." Turning her eyes in the direction Pyotr had turned to look, she saw a factory hand almost dead drunk, with hanging head, being led away by a policeman. "Come, he’s found a quicker way," she thought. "Count Vronsky and I did not find that happiness either, though we expected so much from it." And now for the first time Anna turned that glaring light in which she was seeing everything on to her relations with him, which she had hitherto avoided thinking about. "What was it he sought in me? Not love so much as the satisfaction of vanity." She remembered his words, the expression of his face, that recalled an abject setter-dog, in the early days of their connection. And everything now confirmed this. "Yes, there was the triumph of success in him. Of course there was love too, but the chief element was the pride of success. He boasted of me. Now that’s over. There’s nothing to be proud of. Not to be proud of, but to be ashamed of. He has taken from me all he could, and now I am no use to him. He is weary of me and is trying not to be dishonorable in his behavior to me. He let that out yesterday—he wants divorce and marriage so as to burn his ships. He loves me, but how? The zest is gone, as the English say. That fellow wants everyone to admire him and is very much pleased with himself," she thought, looking at a red-faced clerk, riding on a riding school horse. "Yes, there’s not the same flavor about me for him now. If I go away from him, at the bottom of his heart he will be glad."
This was not mere supposition, she saw it distinctly in the piercing light, which revealed to her now the meaning of life and human relations.
"My love keeps growing more passionate and egoistic, while his is waning and waning, and that’s why we’re drifting apart." She went on musing. "And there’s no help for it. He is everything for me, and I want him more and more to give himself up to me entirely. And he wants more and more to get away from me. We walked to meet each other up to the time of our love, and then we have been irresistibly drifting in different directions. And there’s no altering that. He tells me I’m insanely jealous, and I have told myself that I am insanely jealous; but it’s not true. I’m not jealous, but I’m unsatisfied. But..." she opened her lips, and shifted her place in the carriage in the excitement, aroused by the thought that suddenly struck her. "If I could be anything but a mistress, passionately caring for nothing but his caresses; but I can’t and I don’t care to be anything else. And by that desire I rouse aversion in him, and he rouses fury in me, and it cannot be different. Don’t I know that he wouldn’t deceive me, that he has no schemes about Princess Sorokina, that he’s not in love with Kitty, that he won’t desert me! I know all that, but it makes it no better for me. If without loving me, from duty he’ll be good and kind to me, without what I want, that’s a thousand times worse than unkindness! That’s—hell! And that’s just how it is. For a long while now he hasn’t loved me. And where love ends, hate begins. I don’t know these streets at all. Hills it seems, and still houses, and houses .... And in the houses always people and people.... How many of them, no end, and all hating each other! Come, let me try and think what I want, to make me happy. Well? Suppose I am divorced, and Alexey Alexandrovitch lets me have Seryozha, and I marry Vronsky." Thinking of Alexey Alexandrovitch, she at once pictured him with extraordinary vividness as though he were alive before her, with his mild, lifeless, dull eyes, the blue veins in his white hands, his intonations and the cracking of his fingers, and remembering the feeling which had existed between them, and which was also called love, she shuddered with loathing. "Well, I’m divorced, and become Vronsky’s wife. Well, will Kitty cease looking at me as she looked at me today? No. And will Seryozha leave off asking and wondering about my two husbands? And is there any new feeling I can awaken between Vronsky and me? Is there possible, if not happiness, some sort of ease from misery? No, no!" she answered now without the slightest hesitation. "Impossible! We are drawn apart by life, and I make his unhappiness, and he mine, and there’s no altering him or me. Every attempt has been made, the screw has come unscrewed. Oh, a beggar woman with a baby. She thinks I’m sorry for her. Aren’t we all flung into the world only to hate each other, and so to torture ourselves and each other? Schoolboys coming—laughing Seryozha?" she thought. "I thought, too, that I loved him, and used to be touched by my own tenderness. But I have lived without him, I gave him up for another love, and did not regret the exchange till that love was satisfied." And with loathing she thought of what she meant by that love. And the clearness with which she saw life now, her own and all men’s, was a pleasure to her. "It’s so with me and Pyotr, and the coachman, Fyodor, and that merchant, and all the people living along the Volga, where those placards invite one to go, and everywhere and always," she thought when she had driven under the low-pitched roof of the Nizhigorod station, and the porters ran to meet her.
"A ticket to Obiralovka?" said Pyotr.
She had utterly forgotten where and why she was going, and only by a great effort she understood the question.
"Yes," she said, handing him her purse, and taking a little red bag in her hand, she got out of the carriage.
Making her way through the crowd to the first-class waiting-room, she gradually recollected all the details of her position, and the plans between which she was hesitating. And again at the old sore places, hope and then despair poisoned the wounds of her tortured, fearfully throbbing heart. As she sat on the star-shaped sofa waiting for the train, she gazed with aversion at the people coming and going (they were all hateful to her), and thought how she would arrive at the station, would write him a note, and what she would write to him, and how he was at this moment complaining to his mother of his position, not understanding her sufferings, and how she would go into the room, and what she would say to him. Then she thought that life might still be happy, and how miserably she loved and hated him, and how fearfully her heart was beating.
A bell rang, some young men, ugly and impudent, and at the same time careful of the impression they were making, hurried by. Pyotr, too, crossed the room in his livery and top-boots, with his dull, animal face, and came up to her to take her to the train. Some noisy men were quiet as she passed them on the platform, and one whispered something about her to another—something vile, no doubt. She stepped up on the high step, and sat down in a carriage by herself on a dirty seat that had been white. Her bag lay beside her, shaken up and down by the springiness of the seat. With a foolish smile Pyotr raised his hat, with its colored band, at the window, in token of farewell; an impudent conductor slammed the door and the latch. A grotesque-looking lady wearing a bustle (Anna mentally undressed the woman, and was appalled at her hideousness), and a little girl laughing affectedly ran down the platform.
"Katerina Andreevna, she’s got them all, ma tante!" cried the girl.
"Even the child’s hideous and affected," thought Anna. To avoid seeing anyone, she got up quickly and seated herself at the opposite window of the empty carriage. A misshapen-looking peasant covered with dirt, in a cap from which his tangled hair stuck out all round, passed by that window, stooping down to the carriage wheels. "There’s something familiar about that hideous peasant," thought Anna. And remembering her dream, she moved away to the opposite door, shaking with terror. The conductor opened the door and let in a man and his wife.
"Do you wish to get out?"
Anna made no answer. The conductor and her two fellow-passengers did not notice under her veil her panic-stricken face. She went back to her corner and sat down. The couple seated themselves on the opposite side, and intently but surreptitiously scrutinized her clothes. Both husband and wife seemed repulsive to Anna. The husband asked, would she allow him to smoke, obviously not with a view to smoking but to getting into conversation with her. Receiving her assent, he said to his wife in French something about caring less to smoke than to talk. They made inane and affected remarks to one another, entirely for her benefit. Anna saw clearly that they were sick of each other, and hated each other. And no one could have helped hating such miserable monstrosities.
A second bell sounded, and was followed by moving of luggage, noise, shouting and laughter. It was so clear to Anna that there was nothing for anyone to be glad of, that this laughter irritated her agonizingly, and she would have liked to stop up her ears not to hear it. At last the third bell rang, there was a whistle and a hiss of steam, and a clank of chains, and the man in her carriage crossed himself. "It would be interesting to ask him what meaning he attaches to that," thought Anna, looking angrily at him. She looked past the lady out of the window at the people who seemed whirling by as they ran beside the train or stood on the platform. The train, jerking at regular intervals at the junctions of the rails, rolled by the platform, past a stone wall, a signal-box, past other trains; the wheels, moving more smoothly and evenly, resounded with a slight clang on the rails. The window was lighted up by the bright evening sun, and a slight breeze fluttered the curtain. Anna forgot her fellow passengers, and to the light swaying of the train she fell to thinking again, as she breathed the fresh air.
"Yes, what did I stop at? That I couldn’t conceive a position in which life would not be a misery, that we are all created to be miserable, and that we all know it, and all invent means of deceiving each other. And when one sees the truth, what is one to do?"
"That’s what reason is given man for, to escape from what worries him," said the lady in French, lisping affectedly, and obviously pleased with her phrase.
The words seemed an answer to Anna’s thoughts.
"To escape from what worries him," repeated Anna. And glancing at the red-cheeked husband and the thin wife, she saw that the sickly wife considered herself misunderstood, and the husband deceived her and encouraged her in that idea of herself. Anna seemed to see all their history and all the crannies of their souls, as it were turning a light upon them. But there was nothing interesting in them, and she pursued her thought.
"Yes, I’m very much worried, and that’s what reason was given me for, to escape; so then one must escape: why not put out the light when there’s nothing more to look at, when it’s sickening to look at it all? But how? Why did the conductor run along the footboard, why are they shrieking, those young men in that train? why are they talking, why are they laughing? It’s all falsehood, all lying, all humbug, all cruelty!..."
When the train came into the station, Anna got out into the crowd of passengers, and moving apart from them as if they were lepers, she stood on the platform, trying to think what she had come here for, and what she meant to do. Everything that had seemed to her possible before was now so difficult to consider, especially in this noisy crowd of hideous people who would not leave her alone. One moment porters ran up to her proffering their services, then young men, clacking their heels on the planks of the platform and talking loudly, stared at her; people meeting her dodged past on the wrong side. Remembering that she had meant to go on further if there were no answer, she stopped a porter and asked if her coachman were not here with a note from Count Vronsky.
"Count Vronsky? They sent up here from the Vronskys just this minute, to meet Princess Sorokina and her daughter. And what is the coachman like?"
Just as she was talking to the porter, the coachman Mihail, red and cheerful in his smart blue coat and chain, evidently proud of having so successfully performed his commission, came up to her and gave her a letter. She broke it open, and her heart ached before she had read it.
"I am very sorry your note did not reach me. I will be home at ten," Vronsky had written carelessly....
"Yes, that’s what I expected!" she said to herself with an evil smile.
"Very good, you can go home then," she said softly, addressing Mihail. She spoke softly because the rapidity of her heart’s beating hindered her breathing. "No, I won’t let you make me miserable," she thought menacingly, addressing not him, not herself, but the power that made her suffer, and she walked along the platform.
Two maid-servants walking along the platform turned their heads, staring at her and making some remarks about her dress. "Real," they said of the lace she was wearing. The young men would not leave her in peace. Again they passed by, peering into her face, and with a laugh shouting something in an unnatural voice. The station-master coming up asked her whether she was going by train. A boy selling kvas never took his eyes off her. "My God! where am I to go?" she thought, going farther and farther along the platform. At the end she stopped. Some ladies and children, who had come to meet a gentleman in spectacles, paused in their loud laughter and talking, and stared at her as she reached them. She quickened her pace and walked away from them to the edge of the platform. A luggage train was coming in. The platform began to sway, and she fancied she was in the train again.
And all at once she thought of the man crushed by the train the day she had first met Vronsky, and she knew what she had to do. With a rapid, light step she went down the steps that led from the tank to the rails and stopped quite near the approaching train.
She looked at the lower part of the carriages, at the screws and chains and the tall cast-iron wheel of the first carriage slowly moving up, and trying to measure the middle between the front and back wheels, and the very minute when that middle point would be opposite her.
"There," she said to herself, looking into the shadow of the carriage, at the sand and coal dust which covered the sleepers—"there, in the very middle, and I will punish him and escape from everyone and from myself."
She tried to fling herself below the wheels of the first carriage as it reached her; but the red bag which she tried to drop out of her hand delayed her, and she was too late; she missed the moment. She had to wait for the next carriage. A feeling such as she had known when about to take the first plunge in bathing came upon her, and she crossed herself. That familiar gesture brought back into her soul a whole series of girlish and childish memories, and suddenly the darkness that had covered everything for her was torn apart, and life rose up before her for an instant with all its bright past joys. But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second carriage. And exactly at the moment when the space between the wheels came opposite her, she dropped the red bag, and drawing her head back into her shoulders, fell on her hands under the carriage, and lightly, as though she would rise again at once, dropped on to her knees. And at the same instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. "Where am I? What am I doing? What for?" She tried to get up, to drop backwards; but something huge and merciless struck her on the head and rolled her on her back. "Lord, forgive me all!" she said, feeling it impossible to struggle. A peasant muttering something was working at the iron above her. And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness, flickered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever.
Almost two months had passed. The hot summer was half over, but Sergey Ivanovitch was only just preparing to leave Moscow.
Sergey Ivanovitch’s life had not been uneventful during this time. A year ago he had finished his book, the fruit of six years’ labor, "Sketch of a Survey of the Principles and Forms of Government in Europe and Russia." Several sections of this book and its introduction had appeared in periodical publications, and other parts had been read by Sergey Ivanovitch to persons of his circle, so that the leading ideas of the work could not be completely novel to the public. But still Sergey Ivanovitch had expected that on its appearance his book would be sure to make a serious impression on society, and if it did not cause a revolution in social science it would, at any rate, make a great stir in the scientific world.
After the most conscientious revision the book had last year been published, and had been distributed among the booksellers.
Though he asked no one about it, reluctantly and with feigned indifference answered his friends’ inquiries as to how the book was going, and did not even inquire of the booksellers how the book was selling, Sergey Ivanovitch was all on the alert, with strained attention, watching for the first impression his book would make in the world and in literature.
But a week passed, a second, a third, and in society no impression whatever could be detected. His friends who were specialists and savants, occasionally—unmistakably from politeness—alluded to it. The rest of his acquaintances, not interested in a book on a learned subject, did not talk of it at all. And society generally—just now especially absorbed in other things—was absolutely indifferent. In the press, too, for a whole month there was not a word about his book.
Sergey Ivanovitch had calculated to a nicety the time necessary for writing a review, but a month passed, and a second, and still there was silence.
Only in the Northern Beetle, in a comic article on the singer Drabanti, who had lost his voice, there was a contemptuous allusion to Koznishev’s book, suggesting that the book had been long ago seen through by everyone, and was a subject of general ridicule.
At last in the third month a critical article appeared in a serious review. Sergey Ivanovitch knew the author of the article. He had met him once at Golubtsov’s.
The author of the article was a young man, an invalid, very bold as a writer, but extremely deficient in breeding and shy in personal relations.
In spite of his absolute contempt for the author, it was with complete respect that Sergey Ivanovitch set about reading the article. The article was awful.
The critic had undoubtedly put an interpretation upon the book which could not possibly be put on it. But he had selected quotations so adroitly that for people who had not read the book (and obviously scarcely anyone had read it) it seemed absolutely clear that the whole book was nothing but a medley of high-flown phrases, not even—as suggested by marks of interrogation—used appropriately, and that the author of the book was a person absolutely without knowledge of the subject. And all this was so wittily done that Sergey Ivanovitch would not have disowned such wit himself. But that was just what was so awful.
In spite of the scrupulous conscientiousness with which Sergey Ivanovitch verified the correctness of the critic’s arguments, he did not for a minute stop to ponder over the faults and mistakes which were ridiculed; but unconsciously he began immediately trying to recall every detail of his meeting and conversation with the author of the article.
"Didn’t I offend him in some way?" Sergey Ivanovitch wondered.
And remembering that when they met he had corrected the young man about something he had said that betrayed ignorance, Sergey Ivanovitch found the clue to explain the article.
This article was followed by a deadly silence about the book both in the press and in conversation, and Sergey Ivanovitch saw that his six years’ task, toiled at with such love and labor, had gone, leaving no trace.
Sergey Ivanovitch’s position was still more difficult from the fact that, since he had finished his book, he had had no more literary work to do, such as had hitherto occupied the greater part of his time.
Sergey Ivanovitch was clever, cultivated, healthy, and energetic, and he did not know what use to make of his energy. Conversations in drawing rooms, in meetings, assemblies, and committees—everywhere where talk was possible—took up part of his time. But being used for years to town life, he did not waste all his energies in talk, as his less experienced younger brother did, when he was in Moscow. He had a great deal of leisure and intellectual energy still to dispose of.
Fortunately for him, at this period so difficult for him from the failure of his book, the various public questions of the dissenting sects, of the American alliance, of the Samara famine, of exhibitions, and of spiritualism, were definitely replaced in public interest by the Slavonic question, which had hitherto rather languidly interested society, and Sergey Ivanovitch, who had been one of the first to raise this subject, threw himself into it heart and soul.
In the circle to which Sergey Ivanovitch belonged, nothing was talked of or written about just now but the Servian War. Everything that the idle crowd usually does to kill time was done now for the benefit of the Slavonic States. Balls, concerts, dinners, matchboxes, ladies’ dresses, beer, restaurants—everything testified to sympathy with the Slavonic peoples.
From much of what was spoken and written on the subject, Sergey Ivanovitch differed on various points. He saw that the Slavonic question had become one of those fashionable distractions which succeed one another in providing society with an object and an occupation. He saw, too, that a great many people were taking up the subject from motives of self-interest and self-advertisement. He recognized that the newspapers published a great deal that was superfluous and exaggerated, with the sole aim of attracting attention and outbidding one another. He saw that in this general movement those who thrust themselves most forward and shouted the loudest were men who had failed and were smarting under a sense of injury—generals without armies, ministers not in the ministry, journalists not on any paper, party leaders without followers. He saw that there was a great deal in it that was frivolous and absurd. But he saw and recognized an unmistakable growing enthusiasm, uniting all classes, with which it was impossible not to sympathize. The massacre of men who were fellow Christians, and of the same Slavonic race, excited sympathy for the sufferers and indignation against the oppressors. And the heroism of the Servians and Montenegrins struggling for a great cause begot in the whole people a longing to help their brothers not in word but in deed.
But in this there was another aspect that rejoiced Sergey Ivanovitch. That was the manifestation of public opinion. The public had definitely expressed its desire. The soul of the people had, as Sergey Ivanovitch said, found expression. And the more he worked in this cause, the more incontestable it seemed to him that it was a cause destined to assume vast dimensions, to create an epoch.
He threw himself heart and soul into the service of this great cause, and forgot to think about his book. His whole time now was engrossed by it, so that he could scarcely manage to answer all the letters and appeals addressed to him. He worked the whole spring and part of the summer, and it was only in July that he prepared to go away to his brother’s in the country.
He was going both to rest for a fortnight, and in the very heart of the people, in the farthest wilds of the country, to enjoy the sight of that uplifting of the spirit of the people, of which, like all residents in the capital and big towns, he was fully persuaded. Katavasov had long been meaning to carry out his promise to stay with Levin, and so he was going with him.
Sergey Ivanovitch and Katavasov had only just reached the station of the Kursk line, which was particularly busy and full of people that day, when, looking round for the groom who was following with their things, they saw a party of volunteers driving up in four cabs. Ladies met them with bouquets of flowers, and followed by the rushing crowd they went into the station.
One of the ladies, who had met the volunteers, came out of the hall and addressed Sergey Ivanovitch.
"You too come to see them off?" she asked in French.
"No, I’m going away myself, princess. To my brother’s for a holiday. Do you always see them off?" said Sergey Ivanovitch with a hardly perceptible smile.
"Oh, that would be impossible!" answered the princess. "Is it true that eight hundred have been sent from us already? Malvinsky wouldn’t believe me."
"More than eight hundred. If you reckon those who have been sent not directly from Moscow, over a thousand," answered Sergey Ivanovitch.
"There! That’s just what I said!" exclaimed the lady. "And it’s true too, I suppose, that more than a million has been subscribed?"
"What do you say to today’s telegram? Beaten the Turks again."
"Yes, so I saw," answered Sergey Ivanovitch. They were speaking of the last telegram stating that the Turks had been for three days in succession beaten at all points and put to flight, and that tomorrow a decisive engagement was expected.
"Ah, by the way, a splendid young fellow has asked leave to go, and they’ve made some difficulty, I don’t know why. I meant to ask you; I know him; please write a note about his case. He’s being sent by Countess Lidia Ivanovna."
Sergey Ivanovitch asked for all the details the princess knew about the young man, and going into the first-class waiting-room, wrote a note to the person on whom the granting of leave of absence depended, and handed it to the princess.
"You know Count Vronsky, the notorious one ... is going by this train?" said the princess with a smile full of triumph and meaning, when he found her again and gave her the letter.
"I had heard he was going, but I did not know when. By this train?"
"I’ve seen him. He’s here: there’s only his mother seeing him off. It’s the best thing, anyway, that he could do."
"Oh, yes, of course."
While they were talking the crowd streamed by them into the dining room. They went forward too, and heard a gentleman with a glass in his hand delivering a loud discourse to the volunteers. "In the service of religion, humanity, and our brothers," the gentleman said, his voice growing louder and louder; "to this great cause mother Moscow dedicates you with her blessing. Jivio!" he concluded, loudly and tearfully.
Everyone shouted Jivio! and a fresh crowd dashed into the hall, almost carrying the princess off her legs.
"Ah, princess! that was something like!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, suddenly appearing in the middle of the crowd and beaming upon them with a delighted smile. "Capitally, warmly said, wasn’t it? Bravo! And Sergey Ivanovitch! Why, you ought to have said something—just a few words, you know, to encourage them; you do that so well," he added with a soft, respectful, and discreet smile, moving Sergey Ivanovitch forward a little by the arm.
"No, I’m just off."
"To the country, to my brother’s," answered Sergey Ivanovitch.
"Then you’ll see my wife. I’ve written to her, but you’ll see her first. Please tell her that they’ve seen me and that it’s ‘all right,’ as the English say. She’ll understand. Oh, and be so good as to tell her I’m appointed secretary of the committee.... But she’ll understand! You know, les petites misères de la vie humaine," he said, as it were apologizing to the princess. "And Princess Myakaya—not Liza, but Bibish—is sending a thousand guns and twelve nurses. Did I tell you?"
"Yes, I heard so," answered Koznishev indifferently.
"It’s a pity you’re going away," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Tomorrow we’re giving a dinner to two who’re setting off—Dimer-Bartnyansky from Petersburg and our Veslovsky, Grisha. They’re both going. Veslovsky’s only lately married. There’s a fine fellow for you! Eh, princess?" he turned to the lady.
The princess looked at Koznishev without replying. But the fact that Sergey Ivanovitch and the princess seemed anxious to get rid of him did not in the least disconcert Stepan Arkadyevitch. Smiling, he stared at the feather in the princess’s hat, and then about him as though he were going to pick something up. Seeing a lady approaching with a collecting box, he beckoned her up and put in a five-rouble note.
"I can never see these collecting boxes unmoved while I’ve money in my pocket," he said. "And how about today’s telegram? Fine chaps those Montenegrins!"
"You don’t say so!" he cried, when the princess told him that Vronsky was going by this train. For an instant Stepan Arkadyevitch’s face looked sad, but a minute later, when, stroking his mustaches and swinging as he walked, he went into the hall where Vronsky was, he had completely forgotten his own despairing sobs over his sister’s corpse, and he saw in Vronsky only a hero and an old friend.
"With all his faults one can’t refuse to do him justice," said the princess to Sergey Ivanovitch as soon as Stepan Arkadyevitch had left them. "What a typically Russian, Slav nature! Only, I’m afraid it won’t be pleasant for Vronsky to see him. Say what you will, I’m touched by that man’s fate. Do talk to him a little on the way," said the princess.
"Yes, perhaps, if it happens so."
"I never liked him. But this atones for a great deal. He’s not merely going himself, he’s taking a squadron at his own expense."
"Yes, so I heard."
A bell sounded. Everyone crowded to the doors. "Here he is!" said the princess, indicating Vronsky, who with his mother on his arm walked by, wearing a long overcoat and wide-brimmed black hat. Oblonsky was walking beside him, talking eagerly of something.
Vronsky was frowning and looking straight before him, as though he did not hear what Stepan Arkadyevitch was saying.
Probably on Oblonsky’s pointing them out, he looked round in the direction where the princess and Sergey Ivanovitch were standing, and without speaking lifted his hat. His face, aged and worn by suffering, looked stony.
Going onto the platform, Vronsky left his mother and disappeared into a compartment.
On the platform there rang out "God save the Tsar," then shouts of "hurrah!" and "jivio!" One of the volunteers, a tall, very young man with a hollow chest, was particularly conspicuous, bowing and waving his felt hat and a nosegay over his head. Then two officers emerged, bowing too, and a stout man with a big beard, wearing a greasy forage cap.
Saying good-bye to the princess, Sergey Ivanovitch was joined by Katavasov; together they got into a carriage full to overflowing, and the train started.
At Tsaritsino station the train was met by a chorus of young men singing "Hail to Thee!" Again the volunteers bowed and poked their heads out, but Sergey Ivanovitch paid no attention to them. He had had so much to do with the volunteers that the type was familiar to him and did not interest him. Katavasov, whose scientific work had prevented his having a chance of observing them hitherto, was very much interested in them and questioned Sergey Ivanovitch.
Sergey Ivanovitch advised him to go into the second-class and talk to them himself. At the next station Katavasov acted on this suggestion.
At the first stop he moved into the second-class and made the acquaintance of the volunteers. They were sitting in a corner of the carriage, talking loudly and obviously aware that the attention of the passengers and Katavasov as he got in was concentrated upon them. More loudly than all talked the tall, hollow-chested young man. He was unmistakably tipsy, and was relating some story that had occurred at his school. Facing him sat a middle-aged officer in the Austrian military jacket of the Guards uniform. He was listening with a smile to the hollow-chested youth, and occasionally pulling him up. The third, in an artillery uniform, was sitting on a box beside them. A fourth was asleep.
Entering into conversation with the youth, Katavasov learned that he was a wealthy Moscow merchant who had run through a large fortune before he was two-and-twenty. Katavasov did not like him, because he was unmanly and effeminate and sickly. He was obviously convinced, especially now after drinking, that he was performing a heroic action, and he bragged of it in the most unpleasant way.
The second, the retired officer, made an unpleasant impression too upon Katavasov. He was, it seemed, a man who had tried everything. He had been on a railway, had been a land-steward, and had started factories, and he talked, quite without necessity, of all he had done, and used learned expressions quite inappropriately.
The third, the artilleryman, on the contrary, struck Katavasov very favorably. He was a quiet, modest fellow, unmistakably impressed by the knowledge of the officer and the heroic self-sacrifice of the merchant and saying nothing about himself. When Katavasov asked him what had impelled him to go to Servia, he answered modestly:
"Oh, well, everyone’s going. The Servians want help, too. I’m sorry for them."
"Yes, you artillerymen especially are scarce there," said Katavasov.
"Oh, I wasn’t long in the artillery, maybe they’ll put me into the infantry or the cavalry."
"Into the infantry when they need artillery more than anything?" said Katavasov, fancying from the artilleryman’s apparent age that he must have reached a fairly high grade.
"I wasn’t long in the artillery; I’m a cadet retired," he said, and he began to explain how he had failed in his examination.
All of this together made a disagreeable impression on Katavasov, and when the volunteers got out at a station for a drink, Katavasov would have liked to compare his unfavorable impression in conversation with someone. There was an old man in the carriage, wearing a military overcoat, who had been listening all the while to Katavasov’s conversation with the volunteers. When they were left alone, Katavasov addressed him.
"What different positions they come from, all those fellows who are going off there," Katavasov said vaguely, not wishing to express his own opinion, and at the same time anxious to find out the old man’s views.
The old man was an officer who had served on two campaigns. He knew what makes a soldier, and judging by the appearance and the talk of those persons, by the swagger with which they had recourse to the bottle on the journey, he considered them poor soldiers. Moreover, he lived in a district town, and he was longing to tell how one soldier had volunteered from his town, a drunkard and a thief whom no one would employ as a laborer. But knowing by experience that in the present condition of the public temper it was dangerous to express an opinion opposed to the general one, and especially to criticize the volunteers unfavorably, he too watched Katavasov without committing himself.
"Well, men are wanted there," he said, laughing with his eyes. And they fell to talking of the last war news, and each concealed from the other his perplexity as to the engagement expected next day, since the Turks had been beaten, according to the latest news, at all points. And so they parted, neither giving expression to his opinion.
Katavasov went back to his own carriage, and with reluctant hypocrisy reported to Sergey Ivanovitch his observations of the volunteers, from which it would appear that they were capital fellows.
At a big station at a town the volunteers were again greeted with shouts and singing, again men and women with collecting boxes appeared, and provincial ladies brought bouquets to the volunteers and followed them into the refreshment room; but all this was on a much smaller and feebler scale than in Moscow.
While the train was stopping at the provincial town, Sergey Ivanovitch did not go to the refreshment room, but walked up and down the platform.
The first time he passed Vronsky’s compartment he noticed that the curtain was drawn over the window; but as he passed it the second time he saw the old countess at the window. She beckoned to Koznishev.
"I’m going, you see, taking him as far as Kursk," she said.
"Yes, so I heard," said Sergey Ivanovitch, standing at her window and peeping in. "What a noble act on his part!" he added, noticing that Vronsky was not in the compartment.
"Yes, after his misfortune, what was there for him to do?"
"What a terrible thing it was!" said Sergey Ivanovitch.
"Ah, what I have been through! But do get in.... Ah, what I have been through!" she repeated, when Sergey Ivanovitch had got in and sat down beside her. "You can’t conceive it! For six weeks he did not speak to anyone, and would not touch food except when I implored him. And not for one minute could we leave him alone. We took away everything he could have used against himself. We lived on the ground floor, but there was no reckoning on anything. You know, of course, that he had shot himself once already on her account," she said, and the old lady’s eyelashes twitched at the recollection. "Yes, hers was the fitting end for such a woman. Even the death she chose was low and vulgar."
"It’s not for us to judge, countess," said Sergey Ivanovitch; "but I can understand that it has been very hard for you."
"Ah, don’t speak of it! I was staying on my estate, and he was with me. A note was brought him. He wrote an answer and sent it off. We hadn’t an idea that she was close by at the station. In the evening I had only just gone to my room, when my Mary told me a lady had thrown herself under the train. Something seemed to strike me at once. I knew it was she. The first thing I said was, he was not to be told. But they’d told him already. His coachman was there and saw it all. When I ran into his room, he was beside himself—it was fearful to see him. He didn’t say a word, but galloped off there. I don’t know to this day what happened there, but he was brought back at death’s door. I shouldn’t have known him. Prostration complete, the doctor said. And that was followed almost by madness. Oh, why talk of it!" said the countess with a wave of her hand. "It was an awful time! No, say what you will, she was a bad woman. Why, what is the meaning of such desperate passions? It was all to show herself something out of the way. Well, and that she did do. She brought herself to ruin and two good men—her husband and my unhappy son."
"And what did her husband do?" asked Sergey Ivanovitch.
"He has taken her daughter. Alexey was ready to agree to anything at first. Now it worries him terribly that he should have given his own child away to another man. But he can’t take back his word. Karenin came to the funeral. But we tried to prevent his meeting Alexey. For him, for her husband, it was easier, anyway. She had set him free. But my poor son was utterly given up to her. He had thrown up everything, his career, me, and even then she had no mercy on him, but of set purpose she made his ruin complete. No, say what you will, her very death was the death of a vile woman, of no religious feeling. God forgive me, but I can’t help hating the memory of her, when I look at my son’s misery!"
"But how is he now?"
"It was a blessing from Providence for us—this Servian war. I’m old, and I don’t understand the rights and wrongs of it, but it’s come as a providential blessing to him. Of course for me, as his mother, it’s terrible; and what’s worse, they say, ce n’est pas très bien vu a Pétersbourg. But it can’t be helped! It was the one thing that could rouse him. Yashvin—a friend of his—he had lost all he had at cards and he was going to Servia. He came to see him and persuaded him to go. Now it’s an interest for him. Do please talk to him a little. I want to distract his mind. He’s so low-spirited. And as bad luck would have it, he has toothache too. But he’ll be delighted to see you. Please do talk to him; he’s walking up and down on that side."
Sergey Ivanovitch said he would be very glad to, and crossed over to the other side of the station.
In the slanting evening shadows cast by the baggage piled up on the platform, Vronsky in his long overcoat and slouch hat, with his hands in his pockets, strode up and down, like a wild beast in a cage, turning sharply after twenty paces. Sergey Ivanovitch fancied, as he approached him, that Vronsky saw him but was pretending not to see. This did not affect Sergey Ivanovitch in the slightest. He was above all personal considerations with Vronsky.
At that moment Sergey Ivanovitch looked upon Vronsky as a man taking an important part in a great cause, and Koznishev thought it his duty to encourage him and express his approval. He went up to him.
Vronsky stood still, looked intently at him, recognized him, and going a few steps forward to meet him, shook hands with him very warmly.
"Possibly you didn’t wish to see me," said Sergey Ivanovitch, "but couldn’t I be of use to you?"
"There’s no one I should less dislike seeing than you," said Vronsky. "Excuse me; and there’s nothing in life for me to like."
"I quite understand, and I merely meant to offer you my services," said Sergey Ivanovitch, scanning Vronsky’s face, full of unmistakable suffering. "Wouldn’t it be of use to you to have a letter to Ristitch—to Milan?"
"Oh, no!" Vronsky said, seeming to understand him with difficulty. "If you don’t mind, let’s walk on. It’s so stuffy among the carriages. A letter? No, thank you; to meet death one needs no letters of introduction. Nor for the Turks..." he said, with a smile that was merely of the lips. His eyes still kept their look of angry suffering.
"Yes; but you might find it easier to get into relations, which are after all essential, with anyone prepared to see you. But that’s as you like. I was very glad to hear of your intention. There have been so many attacks made on the volunteers, and a man like you raises them in public estimation."
"My use as a man," said Vronsky, "is that life’s worth nothing to me. And that I’ve enough bodily energy to cut my way into their ranks, and to trample on them or fall—I know that. I’m glad there’s something to give my life for, for it’s not simply useless but loathsome to me. Anyone’s welcome to it." And his jaw twitched impatiently from the incessant gnawing toothache, that prevented him from even speaking with a natural expression.
"You will become another man, I predict," said Sergey Ivanovitch, feeling touched. "To deliver one’s brother-men from bondage is an aim worth death and life. God grant you success outwardly—and inwardly peace," he added, and he held out his hand. Vronsky warmly pressed his outstretched hand.
"Yes, as a weapon I may be of some use. But as a man, I’m a wreck," he jerked out.
He could hardly speak for the throbbing ache in his strong teeth, that were like rows of ivory in his mouth. He was silent, and his eyes rested on the wheels of the tender, slowly and smoothly rolling along the rails.
And all at once a different pain, not an ache, but an inner trouble, that set his whole being in anguish, made him for an instant forget his toothache. As he glanced at the tender and the rails, under the influence of the conversation with a friend he had not met since his misfortune, he suddenly recalled her—that is, what was left of her when he had run like one distraught into the cloak room of the railway station—on the table, shamelessly sprawling out among strangers, the bloodstained body so lately full of life; the head unhurt dropping back with its weight of hair, and the curling tresses about the temples, and the exquisite face, with red, half-opened mouth, the strange, fixed expression, piteous on the lips and awful in the still open eyes, that seemed to utter that fearful phrase—that he would be sorry for it—that she had said when they were quarreling.
And he tried to think of her as she was when he met her the first time, at a railway station too, mysterious, exquisite, loving, seeking and giving happiness, and not cruelly revengeful as he remembered her on that last moment. He tried to recall his best moments with her, but those moments were poisoned forever. He could only think of her as triumphant, successful in her menace of a wholly useless remorse never to be effaced. He lost all consciousness of toothache, and his face worked with sobs.
Passing twice up and down beside the baggage in silence and regaining his self-possession, he addressed Sergey Ivanovitch calmly:
"You have had no telegrams since yesterday’s? Yes, driven back for a third time, but a decisive engagement expected for tomorrow."
And after talking a little more of King Milan’s proclamation, and the immense effect it might have, they parted, going to their carriages on hearing the second bell.
Sergey Ivanovitch had not telegraphed to his brother to send to meet him, as he did not know when he should be able to leave Moscow. Levin was not at home when Katavasov and Sergey Ivanovitch in a fly hired at the station drove up to the steps of the Pokrovskoe house, as black as Moors from the dust of the road. Kitty, sitting on the balcony with her father and sister, recognized her brother-in-law, and ran down to meet him.
"What a shame not to have let us know," she said, giving her hand to Sergey Ivanovitch, and putting her forehead up for him to kiss.
"We drove here capitally, and have not put you out," answered Sergey Ivanovitch. "I’m so dirty. I’m afraid to touch you. I’ve been so busy, I didn’t know when I should be able to tear myself away. And so you’re still as ever enjoying your peaceful, quiet happiness," he said, smiling, "out of the reach of the current in your peaceful backwater. Here’s our friend Fyodor Vassilievitch who has succeeded in getting here at last."
"But I’m not a negro, I shall look like a human being when I wash," said Katavasov in his jesting fashion, and he shook hands and smiled, his teeth flashing white in his black face.
"Kostya will be delighted. He has gone to his settlement. It’s time he should be home."
"Busy as ever with his farming. It really is a peaceful backwater," said Katavasov; "while we in town think of nothing but the Servian war. Well, how does our friend look at it? He’s sure not to think like other people."
"Oh, I don’t know, like everybody else," Kitty answered, a little embarrassed, looking round at Sergey Ivanovitch. "I’ll send to fetch him. Papa’s staying with us. He’s only just come home from abroad."
And making arrangements to send for Levin and for the guests to wash, one in his room and the other in what had been Dolly’s, and giving orders for their luncheon, Kitty ran out onto the balcony, enjoying the freedom, and rapidity of movement, of which she had been deprived during the months of her pregnancy.
"It’s Sergey Ivanovitch and Katavasov, a professor," she said.
"Oh, that’s a bore in this heat," said the prince.
"No, papa, he’s very nice, and Kostya’s very fond of him," Kitty said, with a deprecating smile, noticing the irony on her father’s face.
"Oh, I didn’t say anything."
"You go to them, darling," said Kitty to her sister, "and entertain them. They saw Stiva at the station; he was quite well. And I must run to Mitya. As ill-luck would have it, I haven’t fed him since tea. He’s awake now, and sure to be screaming." And feeling a rush of milk, she hurried to the nursery.
This was not a mere guess; her connection with the child was still so close, that she could gauge by the flow of her milk his need of food, and knew for certain he was hungry.
She knew he was crying before she reached the nursery. And he was indeed crying. She heard him and hastened. But the faster she went, the louder he screamed. It was a fine healthy scream, hungry and impatient.
"Has he been screaming long, nurse, very long?" said Kitty hurriedly, seating herself on a chair, and preparing to give the baby the breast. "But give me him quickly. Oh, nurse, how tiresome you are! There, tie the cap afterwards, do!"
The baby’s greedy scream was passing into sobs.
"But you can’t manage so, ma’am," said Agafea Mihalovna, who was almost always to be found in the nursery. "He must be put straight. A-oo! a-oo!" she chanted over him, paying no attention to the mother.
The nurse brought the baby to his mother. Agafea Mihalovna followed him with a face dissolving with tenderness.
"He knows me, he knows me. In God’s faith, Katerina Alexandrovna, ma’am, he knew me!" Agafea Mihalovna cried above the baby’s screams.
But Kitty did not hear her words. Her impatience kept growing, like the baby’s.
Their impatience hindered things for a while. The baby could not get hold of the breast right, and was furious.
At last, after despairing, breathless screaming, and vain sucking, things went right, and mother and child felt simultaneously soothed, and both subsided into calm.
"But poor darling, he’s all in perspiration!" said Kitty in a whisper, touching the baby.
"What makes you think he knows you?" she added, with a sidelong glance at the baby’s eyes, that peered roguishly, as she fancied, from under his cap, at his rhythmically puffing cheeks, and the little red-palmed hand he was waving.
"Impossible! If he knew anyone, he would have known me," said Kitty, in response to Agafea Mihalovna’s statement, and she smiled.
She smiled because, though she said he could not know her, in her heart she was sure that he knew not merely Agafea Mihalovna, but that he knew and understood everything, and knew and understood a great deal too that no one else knew, and that she, his mother, had learned and come to understand only through him. To Agafea Mihalovna, to the nurse, to his grandfather, to his father even, Mitya was a living being, requiring only material care, but for his mother he had long been a mortal being, with whom there had been a whole series of spiritual relations already.
"When he wakes up, please God, you shall see for yourself. Then when I do like this, he simply beams on me, the darling! Simply beams like a sunny day!" said Agafea Mihalovna.
"Well, well; then we shall see," whispered Kitty. "But now go away, he’s going to sleep."
Agafea Mihalovna went out on tiptoe; the nurse let down the blind, chased a fly out from under the muslin canopy of the crib, and a bumblebee struggling on the window-frame, and sat down waving a faded branch of birch over the mother and the baby.
"How hot it is! if God would send a drop of rain," she said.
"Yes, yes, sh—sh—sh—" was all Kitty answered, rocking a little, and tenderly squeezing the plump little arm, with rolls of fat at the wrist, which Mitya still waved feebly as he opened and shut his eyes. That hand worried Kitty; she longed to kiss the little hand, but was afraid to for fear of waking the baby. At last the little hand ceased waving, and the eyes closed. Only from time to time, as he went on sucking, the baby raised his long, curly eyelashes and peeped at his mother with wet eyes, that looked black in the twilight. The nurse had left off fanning, and was dozing. From above came the peals of the old prince’s voice, and the chuckle of Katavasov.
"They have got into talk without me," thought Kitty, "but still it’s vexing that Kostya’s out. He’s sure to have gone to the bee house again. Though it’s a pity he’s there so often, still I’m glad. It distracts his mind. He’s become altogether happier and better now than in the spring. He used to be so gloomy and worried that I felt frightened for him. And how absurd he is!" she whispered, smiling.
She knew what worried her husband. It was his unbelief. Although, if she had been asked whether she supposed that in the future life, if he did not believe, he would be damned, she would have had to admit that he would be damned, his unbelief did not cause her unhappiness. And she, confessing that for an unbeliever there can be no salvation, and loving her husband’s soul more than anything in the world, thought with a smile of his unbelief, and told herself that he was absurd.
"What does he keep reading philosophy of some sort for all this year?" she wondered. "If it’s all written in those books, he can understand them. If it’s all wrong, why does he read them? He says himself that he would like to believe. Then why is it he doesn’t believe? Surely from his thinking so much? And he thinks so much from being solitary. He’s always alone, alone. He can’t talk about it all to us. I fancy he’ll be glad of these visitors, especially Katavasov. He likes discussions with them," she thought, and passed instantly to the consideration of where it would be more convenient to put Katavasov, to sleep alone or to share Sergey Ivanovitch’s room. And then an idea suddenly struck her, which made her shudder and even disturb Mitya, who glanced severely at her. "I do believe the laundress hasn’t sent the washing yet, and all the best sheets are in use. If I don’t see to it, Agafea Mihalovna will give Sergey Ivanovitch the wrong sheets," and at the very idea of this the blood rushed to Kitty’s face.
"Yes, I will arrange it," she decided, and going back to her former thoughts, she remembered that some spiritual question of importance had been interrupted, and she began to recall what. "Yes, Kostya, an unbeliever," she thought again with a smile.
"Well, an unbeliever then! Better let him always be one than like Madame Stahl, or what I tried to be in those days abroad. No, he won’t ever sham anything."
And a recent instance of his goodness rose vividly to her mind. A fortnight ago a penitent letter had come from Stepan Arkadyevitch to Dolly. He besought her to save his honor, to sell her estate to pay his debts. Dolly was in despair, she detested her husband, despised him, pitied him, resolved on a separation, resolved to refuse, but ended by agreeing to sell part of her property. After that, with an irrepressible smile of tenderness, Kitty recalled her husband’s shamefaced embarrassment, his repeated awkward efforts to approach the subject, and how at last, having thought of the one means of helping Dolly without wounding her pride, he had suggested to Kitty—what had not occurred to her before—that she should give up her share of the property.
"He an unbeliever indeed! With his heart, his dread of offending anyone, even a child! Everything for others, nothing for himself. Sergey Ivanovitch simply considers it as Kostya’s duty to be his steward. And it’s the same with his sister. Now Dolly and her children are under his guardianship; all these peasants who come to him every day, as though he were bound to be at their service."
"Yes, only be like your father, only like him," she said, handing Mitya over to the nurse, and putting her lips to his cheek.
Ever since, by his beloved brother’s deathbed, Levin had first glanced into the questions of life and death in the light of these new convictions, as he called them, which had during the period from his twentieth to his thirty-fourth year imperceptibly replaced his childish and youthful beliefs—he had been stricken with horror, not so much of death, as of life, without any knowledge of whence, and why, and how, and what it was. The physical organization, its decay, the indestructibility of matter, the law of the conservation of energy, evolution, were the words which usurped the place of his old belief. These words and the ideas associated with them were very well for intellectual purposes. But for life they yielded nothing, and Levin felt suddenly like a man who has changed his warm fur cloak for a muslin garment, and going for the first time into the frost is immediately convinced, not by reason, but by his whole nature that he is as good as naked, and that he must infallibly perish miserably.
From that moment, though he did not distinctly face it, and still went on living as before, Levin had never lost this sense of terror at his lack of knowledge.
He vaguely felt, too, that what he called his new convictions were not merely lack of knowledge, but that they were part of a whole order of ideas, in which no knowledge of what he needed was possible.
At first, marriage, with the new joys and duties bound up with it, had completely crowded out these thoughts. But of late, while he was staying in Moscow after his wife’s confinement, with nothing to do, the question that clamored for solution had more and more often, more and more insistently, haunted Levin’s mind.
The question was summed up for him thus: "If I do not accept the answers Christianity gives to the problems of my life, what answers do I accept?" And in the whole arsenal of his convictions, so far from finding any satisfactory answers, he was utterly unable to find anything at all like an answer.
He was in the position of a man seeking food in toy shops and tool shops.
Instinctively, unconsciously, with every book, with every conversation, with every man he met, he was on the lookout for light on these questions and their solution.
What puzzled and distracted him above everything was that the majority of men of his age and circle had, like him, exchanged their old beliefs for the same new convictions, and yet saw nothing to lament in this, and were perfectly satisfied and serene. So that, apart from the principal question, Levin was tortured by other questions too. Were these people sincere? he asked himself, or were they playing a part? or was it that they understood the answers science gave to these problems in some different, clearer sense than he did? And he assiduously studied both these men’s opinions and the books which treated of these scientific explanations.
One fact he had found out since these questions had engrossed his mind, was that he had been quite wrong in supposing from the recollections of the circle of his young days at college, that religion had outlived its day, and that it was now practically non-existent. All the people nearest to him who were good in their lives were believers. The old prince, and Lvov, whom he liked so much, and Sergey Ivanovitch, and all the women believed, and his wife believed as simply as he had believed in his earliest childhood, and ninety-nine hundredths of the Russian people, all the working people for whose life he felt the deepest respect, believed.
Another fact of which he became convinced, after reading many scientific books, was that the men who shared his views had no other construction to put on them, and that they gave no explanation of the questions which he felt he could not live without answering, but simply ignored their existence and attempted to explain other questions of no possible interest to him, such as the evolution of organisms, the materialistic theory of consciousness, and so forth.
Moreover, during his wife’s confinement, something had happened that seemed extraordinary to him. He, an unbeliever, had fallen into praying, and at the moment he prayed, he believed. But that moment had passed, and he could not make his state of mind at that moment fit into the rest of his life.
He could not admit that at that moment he knew the truth, and that now he was wrong; for as soon as he began thinking calmly about it, it all fell to pieces. He could not admit that he was mistaken then, for his spiritual condition then was precious to him, and to admit that it was a proof of weakness would have been to desecrate those moments. He was miserably divided against himself, and strained all his spiritual forces to the utmost to escape from this condition.
These doubts fretted and harassed him, growing weaker or stronger from time to time, but never leaving him. He read and thought, and the more he read and the more he thought, the further he felt from the aim he was pursuing.
Of late in Moscow and in the country, since he had become convinced that he would find no solution in the materialists, he had read and re-read thoroughly Plato, Spinoza, Kant, Schelling, Hegel, and Schopenhauer, the philosophers who gave a non-materialistic explanation of life.
Their ideas seemed to him fruitful when he was reading or was himself seeking arguments to refute other theories, especially those of the materialists; but as soon as he began to read or sought for himself a solution of problems, the same thing always happened. As long as he followed the fixed definition of obscure words such as spirit, will, freedom, essence, purposely letting himself go into the snare of words the philosophers set for him, he seemed to comprehend something. But he had only to forget the artificial train of reasoning, and to turn from life itself to what had satisfied him while thinking in accordance with the fixed definitions, and all this artificial edifice fell to pieces at once like a house of cards, and it became clear that the edifice had been built up out of those transposed words, apart from anything in life more important than reason.
At one time, reading Schopenhauer, he put in place of his will the word love, and for a couple of days this new philosophy charmed him, till he removed a little away from it. But then, when he turned from life itself to glance at it again, it fell away too, and proved to be the same muslin garment with no warmth in it.
His brother Sergey Ivanovitch advised him to read the theological works of Homiakov. Levin read the second volume of Homiakov’s works, and in spite of the elegant, epigrammatic, argumentative style which at first repelled him, he was impressed by the doctrine of the church he found in them. He was struck at first by the idea that the apprehension of divine truths had not been vouchsafed to man, but to a corporation of men bound together by love—to the church. What delighted him was the thought how much easier it was to believe in a still existing living church, embracing all the beliefs of men, and having God at its head, and therefore holy and infallible, and from it to accept the faith in God, in the creation, the fall, the redemption, than to begin with God, a mysterious, far-away God, the creation, etc. But afterwards, on reading a Catholic writer’s history of the church, and then a Greek orthodox writer’s history of the church, and seeing that the two churches, in their very conception infallible, each deny the authority of the other, Homiakov’s doctrine of the church lost all its charm for him, and this edifice crumbled into dust like the philosophers’ edifices.
All that spring he was not himself, and went through fearful moments of horror.
"Without knowing what I am and why I am here, life’s impossible; and that I can’t know, and so I can’t live," Levin said to himself.
"In infinite time, in infinite matter, in infinite space, is formed a bubble-organism, and that bubble lasts a while and bursts, and that bubble is Me."
It was an agonizing error, but it was the sole logical result of ages of human thought in that direction.
This was the ultimate belief on which all the systems elaborated by human thought in almost all their ramifications rested. It was the prevalent conviction, and of all other explanations Levin had unconsciously, not knowing when or how, chosen it, as anyway the clearest, and made it his own.
But it was not merely a falsehood, it was the cruel jeer of some wicked power, some evil, hateful power, to whom one could not submit.
He must escape from this power. And the means of escape every man had in his own hands. He had but to cut short this dependence on evil. And there was one means—death.
And Levin, a happy father and husband, in perfect health, was several times so near suicide that he hid the cord that he might not be tempted to hang himself, and was afraid to go out with his gun for fear of shooting himself.
But Levin did not shoot himself, and did not hang himself; he went on living.
When Levin thought what he was and what he was living for, he could find no answer to the questions and was reduced to despair, but he left off questioning himself about it. It seemed as though he knew both what he was and for what he was living, for he acted and lived resolutely and without hesitation. Indeed, in these latter days he was far more decided and unhesitating in life than he had ever been.
When he went back to the country at the beginning of June, he went back also to his usual pursuits. The management of the estate, his relations with the peasants and the neighbors, the care of his household, the management of his sister’s and brother’s property, of which he had the direction, his relations with his wife and kindred, the care of his child, and the new bee-keeping hobby he had taken up that spring, filled all his time.
These things occupied him now, not because he justified them to himself by any sort of general principles, as he had done in former days; on the contrary, disappointed by the failure of his former efforts for the general welfare, and too much occupied with his own thought and the mass of business with which he was burdened from all sides, he had completely given up thinking of the general good, and he busied himself with all this work simply because it seemed to him that he must do what he was doing—that he could not do otherwise. In former days—almost from childhood, and increasingly up to full manhood—when he had tried to do anything that would be good for all, for humanity, for Russia, for the whole village, he had noticed that the idea of it had been pleasant, but the work itself had always been incoherent, that then he had never had a full conviction of its absolute necessity, and that the work that had begun by seeming so great, had grown less and less, till it vanished into nothing. But now, since his marriage, when he had begun to confine himself more and more to living for himself, though he experienced no delight at all at the thought of the work he was doing, he felt a complete conviction of its necessity, saw that it succeeded far better than in old days, and that it kept on growing more and more.
Now, involuntarily it seemed, he cut more and more deeply into the soil like a plough, so that he could not be drawn out without turning aside the furrow.
To live the same family life as his father and forefathers—that is, in the same condition of culture—and to bring up his children in the same, was incontestably necessary. It was as necessary as dining when one was hungry. And to do this, just as it was necessary to cook dinner, it was necessary to keep the mechanism of agriculture at Pokrovskoe going so as to yield an income. Just as incontestably as it was necessary to repay a debt was it necessary to keep the property in such a condition that his son, when he received it as a heritage, would say "thank you" to his father as Levin had said "thank you" to his grandfather for all he built and planted. And to do this it was necessary to look after the land himself, not to let it, and to breed cattle, manure the fields, and plant timber.
It was impossible not to look after the affairs of Sergey Ivanovitch, of his sister, of the peasants who came to him for advice and were accustomed to do so—as impossible as to fling down a child one is carrying in one’s arms. It was necessary to look after the comfort of his sister-in-law and her children, and of his wife and baby, and it was impossible not to spend with them at least a short time each day.
And all this, together with shooting and his new bee-keeping, filled up the whole of Levin’s life, which had no meaning at all for him, when he began to think.
But besides knowing thoroughly what he had to do, Levin knew in just the same way how he had to do it all, and what was more important than the rest.
He knew he must hire laborers as cheaply as possible; but to hire men under bond, paying them in advance at less than the current rate of wages, was what he must not do, even though it was very profitable. Selling straw to the peasants in times of scarcity of provender was what he might do, even though he felt sorry for them; but the tavern and the pothouse must be put down, though they were a source of income. Felling timber must be punished as severely as possible, but he could not exact forfeits for cattle being driven onto his fields; and though it annoyed the keeper and made the peasants not afraid to graze their cattle on his land, he could not keep their cattle as a punishment.
To Pyotr, who was paying a money-lender 10 per cent. a month, he must lend a sum of money to set him free. But he could not let off peasants who did not pay their rent, nor let them fall into arrears. It was impossible to overlook the bailiff’s not having mown the meadows and letting the hay spoil; and it was equally impossible to mow those acres where a young copse had been planted. It was impossible to excuse a laborer who had gone home in the busy season because his father was dying, however sorry he might feel for him, and he must subtract from his pay those costly months of idleness. But it was impossible not to allow monthly rations to the old servants who were of no use for anything.
Levin knew that when he got home he must first of all go to his wife, who was unwell, and that the peasants who had been waiting for three hours to see him could wait a little longer. He knew too that, regardless of all the pleasure he felt in taking a swarm, he must forego that pleasure, and leave the old man to see to the bees alone, while he talked to the peasants who had come after him to the bee-house.
Whether he were acting rightly or wrongly he did not know, and far from trying to prove that he was, nowadays he avoided all thought or talk about it.
Reasoning had brought him to doubt, and prevented him from seeing what he ought to do and what he ought not. When he did not think, but simply lived, he was continually aware of the presence of an infallible judge in his soul, determining which of two possible courses of action was the better and which was the worse, and as soon as he did not act rightly, he was at once aware of it.
So he lived, not knowing and not seeing any chance of knowing what he was and what he was living for, and harassed at this lack of knowledge to such a point that he was afraid of suicide, and yet firmly laying down his own individual definite path in life.
The day on which Sergey Ivanovitch came to Pokrovskoe was one of Levin’s most painful days. It was the very busiest working time, when all the peasantry show an extraordinary intensity of self-sacrifice in labor, such as is never shown in any other conditions of life, and would be highly esteemed if the men who showed these qualities themselves thought highly of them, and if it were not repeated every year, and if the results of this intense labor were not so simple.
To reap and bind the rye and oats and to carry it, to mow the meadows, turn over the fallows, thrash the seed and sow the winter corn—all this seems so simple and ordinary; but to succeed in getting through it all everyone in the village, from the old man to the young child, must toil incessantly for three or four weeks, three times as hard as usual, living on rye-beer, onions, and black bread, thrashing and carrying the sheaves at night, and not giving more than two or three hours in the twenty-four to sleep. And every year this is done all over Russia.
Having lived the greater part of his life in the country and in the closest relations with the peasants, Levin always felt in this busy time that he was infected by this general quickening of energy in the people.
In the early morning he rode over to the first sowing of the rye, and to the oats, which were being carried to the stacks, and returning home at the time his wife and sister-in-law were getting up, he drank coffee with them and walked to the farm, where a new thrashing machine was to be set working to get ready the seed-corn.
He was standing in the cool granary, still fragrant with the leaves of the hazel branches interlaced on the freshly peeled aspen beams of the new thatch roof. He gazed through the open door in which the dry bitter dust of the thrashing whirled and played, at the grass of the thrashing floor in the sunlight and the fresh straw that had been brought in from the barn, then at the speckly-headed, white-breasted swallows that flew chirping in under the roof and, fluttering their wings, settled in the crevices of the doorway, then at the peasants bustling in the dark, dusty barn, and he thought strange thoughts.
"Why is it all being done?" he thought. "Why am I standing here, making them work? What are they all so busy for, trying to show their zeal before me? What is that old Matrona, my old friend, toiling for? (I doctored her, when the beam fell on her in the fire)" he thought, looking at a thin old woman who was raking up the grain, moving painfully with her bare, sun-blackened feet over the uneven, rough floor. "Then she recovered, but today or tomorrow or in ten years she won’t; they’ll bury her, and nothing will be left either of her or of that smart girl in the red jacket, who with that skillful, soft action shakes the ears out of their husks. They’ll bury her and this piebald horse, and very soon too," he thought, gazing at the heavily moving, panting horse that kept walking up the wheel that turned under him. "And they will bury her and Fyodor the thrasher with his curly beard full of chaff and his shirt torn on his white shoulders—they will bury him. He’s untying the sheaves, and giving orders, and shouting to the women, and quickly setting straight the strap on the moving wheel. And what’s more, it’s not them alone—me they’ll bury too, and nothing will be left. What for?"
He thought this, and at the same time looked at his watch to reckon how much they thrashed in an hour. He wanted to know this so as to judge by it the task to set for the day.
"It’ll soon be one, and they’re only beginning the third sheaf," thought Levin. He went up to the man that was feeding the machine, and shouting over the roar of the machine he told him to put it in more slowly. "You put in too much at a time, Fyodor. Do you see—it gets choked, that’s why it isn’t getting on. Do it evenly."
Fyodor, black with the dust that clung to his moist face, shouted something in response, but still went on doing it as Levin did not want him to.
Levin, going up to the machine, moved Fyodor aside, and began feeding the corn in himself. Working on till the peasants’ dinner hour, which was not long in coming, he went out of the barn with Fyodor and fell into talk with him, stopping beside a neat yellow sheaf of rye laid on the thrashing floor for seed.
Fyodor came from a village at some distance from the one in which Levin had once allotted land to his cooperative association. Now it had been let to a former house porter.
Levin talked to Fyodor about this land and asked whether Platon, a well-to-do peasant of good character belonging to the same village, would not take the land for the coming year.
"It’s a high rent; it wouldn’t pay Platon, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," answered the peasant, picking the ears off his sweat-drenched shirt.
"But how does Kirillov make it pay?"
"Mituh!" (so the peasant called the house porter, in a tone of contempt), "you may be sure he’ll make it pay, Konstantin Dmitrievitch! He’ll get his share, however he has to squeeze to get it! He’s no mercy on a Christian. But Uncle Fokanitch" (so he called the old peasant Platon), "do you suppose he’d flay the skin off a man? Where there’s debt, he’ll let anyone off. And he’ll not wring the last penny out. He’s a man too."
"But why will he let anyone off?"
"Oh, well, of course, folks are different. One man lives for his own wants and nothing else, like Mituh, he only thinks of filling his belly, but Fokanitch is a righteous man. He lives for his soul. He does not forget God."
"How thinks of God? How does he live for his soul?" Levin almost shouted.
"Why, to be sure, in truth, in God’s way. Folks are different. Take you now, you wouldn’t wrong a man...."
"Yes, yes, good-bye!" said Levin, breathless with excitement, and turning round he took his stick and walked quickly away towards home. At the peasant’s words that Fokanitch lived for his soul, in truth, in God’s way, undefined but significant ideas seemed to burst out as though they had been locked up, and all striving towards one goal, they thronged whirling through his head, blinding him with their light.
Levin strode along the highroad, absorbed not so much in his thoughts (he could not yet disentangle them) as in his spiritual condition, unlike anything he had experienced before.
The words uttered by the peasant had acted on his soul like an electric shock, suddenly transforming and combining into a single whole the whole swarm of disjointed, impotent, separate thoughts that incessantly occupied his mind. These thoughts had unconsciously been in his mind even when he was talking about the land.
He was aware of something new in his soul, and joyfully tested this new thing, not yet knowing what it was.
"Not living for his own wants, but for God? For what God? And could one say anything more senseless than what he said? He said that one must not live for one’s own wants, that is, that one must not live for what we understand, what we are attracted by, what we desire, but must live for something incomprehensible, for God, whom no one can understand nor even define. What of it? Didn’t I understand those senseless words of Fyodor’s? And understanding them, did I doubt of their truth? Did I think them stupid, obscure, inexact? No, I understood him, and exactly as he understands the words. I understood them more fully and clearly than I understand anything in life, and never in my life have I doubted nor can I doubt about it. And not only I, but everyone, the whole world understands nothing fully but this, and about this only they have no doubt and are always agreed.
"And I looked out for miracles, complained that I did not see a miracle which would convince me. A material miracle would have persuaded me. And here is a miracle, the sole miracle possible, continually existing, surrounding me on all sides, and I never noticed it!
"Fyodor says that Kirillov lives for his belly. That’s comprehensible and rational. All of us as rational beings can’t do anything else but live for our belly. And all of a sudden the same Fyodor says that one mustn’t live for one’s belly, but must live for truth, for God, and at a hint I understand him! And I and millions of men, men who lived ages ago and men living now—peasants, the poor in spirit and the learned, who have thought and written about it, in their obscure words saying the same thing—we are all agreed about this one thing: what we must live for and what is good. I and all men have only one firm, incontestable, clear knowledge, and that knowledge cannot be explained by the reason—it is outside it, and has no causes and can have no effects.
"If goodness has causes, it is not goodness; if it has effects, a reward, it is not goodness either. So goodness is outside the chain of cause and effect.
"And yet I know it, and we all know it.
"What could be a greater miracle than that?
"Can I have found the solution of it all? can my sufferings be over?" thought Levin, striding along the dusty road, not noticing the heat nor his weariness, and experiencing a sense of relief from prolonged suffering. This feeling was so delicious that it seemed to him incredible. He was breathless with emotion and incapable of going farther; he turned off the road into the forest and lay down in the shade of an aspen on the uncut grass. He took his hat off his hot head and lay propped on his elbow in the lush, feathery, woodland grass.
"Yes, I must make it clear to myself and understand," he thought, looking intently at the untrampled grass before him, and following the movements of a green beetle, advancing along a blade of couch-grass and lifting up in its progress a leaf of goat-weed. "What have I discovered?" he asked himself, bending aside the leaf of goat-weed out of the beetle’s way and twisting another blade of grass above for the beetle to cross over onto it. "What is it makes me glad? What have I discovered?
"I have discovered nothing. I have only found out what I knew. I understand the force that in the past gave me life, and now too gives me life. I have been set free from falsity, I have found the Master.
"Of old I used to say that in my body, that in the body of this grass and of this beetle (there, she didn’t care for the grass, she’s opened her wings and flown away), there was going on a transformation of matter in accordance with physical, chemical, and physiological laws. And in all of us, as well as in the aspens and the clouds and the misty patches, there was a process of evolution. Evolution from what? into what?—Eternal evolution and struggle.... As though there could be any sort of tendency and struggle in the eternal! And I was astonished that in spite of the utmost effort of thought along that road I could not discover the meaning of life, the meaning of my impulses and yearnings. Now I say that I know the meaning of my life: ‘To live for God, for my soul.’ And this meaning, in spite of its clearness, is mysterious and marvelous. Such, indeed, is the meaning of everything existing. Yes, pride," he said to himself, turning over on his stomach and beginning to tie a noose of blades of grass, trying not to break them.
"And not merely pride of intellect, but dulness of intellect. And most of all, the deceitfulness; yes, the deceitfulness of intellect. The cheating knavishness of intellect, that’s it," he said to himself.
And he briefly went through, mentally, the whole course of his ideas during the last two years, the beginning of which was the clear confronting of death at the sight of his dear brother hopelessly ill.
Then, for the first time, grasping that for every man, and himself too, there was nothing in store but suffering, death, and forgetfulness, he had made up his mind that life was impossible like that, and that he must either interpret life so that it would not present itself to him as the evil jest of some devil, or shoot himself.
But he had not done either, but had gone on living, thinking, and feeling, and had even at that very time married, and had had many joys and had been happy, when he was not thinking of the meaning of his life.
What did this mean? It meant that he had been living rightly, but thinking wrongly.
He had lived (without being aware of it) on those spiritual truths that he had sucked in with his mother’s milk, but he had thought, not merely without recognition of these truths, but studiously ignoring them.
Now it was clear to him that he could only live by virtue of the beliefs in which he had been brought up.
"What should I have been, and how should I have spent my life, if I had not had these beliefs, if I had not known that I must live for God and not for my own desires? I should have robbed and lied and killed. Nothing of what makes the chief happiness of my life would have existed for me." And with the utmost stretch of imagination he could not conceive the brutal creature he would have been himself, if he had not known what he was living for.
"I looked for an answer to my question. And thought could not give an answer to my question—it is incommensurable with my question. The answer has been given me by life itself, in my knowledge of what is right and what is wrong. And that knowledge I did not arrive at in any way, it was given to me as to all men, given, because I could not have got it from anywhere.
"Where could I have got it? By reason could I have arrived at knowing that I must love my neighbor and not oppress him? I was told that in my childhood, and I believed it gladly, for they told me what was already in my soul. But who discovered it? Not reason. Reason discovered the struggle for existence, and the law that requires us to oppress all who hinder the satisfaction of our desires. That is the deduction of reason. But loving one’s neighbor reason could never discover, because it’s irrational."
And Levin remembered a scene he had lately witnessed between Dolly and her children. The children, left to themselves, had begun cooking raspberries over the candles and squirting milk into each other’s mouths with a syringe. Their mother, catching them at these pranks, began reminding them in Levin’s presence of the trouble their mischief gave to the grown-up people, and that this trouble was all for their sake, and that if they smashed the cups they would have nothing to drink their tea out of, and that if they wasted the milk, they would have nothing to eat, and die of hunger.
And Levin had been struck by the passive, weary incredulity with which the children heard what their mother said to them. They were simply annoyed that their amusing play had been interrupted, and did not believe a word of what their mother was saying. They could not believe it indeed, for they could not take in the immensity of all they habitually enjoyed, and so could not conceive that what they were destroying was the very thing they lived by.
"That all comes of itself," they thought, "and there’s nothing interesting or important about it because it has always been so, and always will be so. And it’s all always the same. We’ve no need to think about that, it’s all ready. But we want to invent something of our own, and new. So we thought of putting raspberries in a cup, and cooking them over a candle, and squirting milk straight into each other’s mouths. That’s fun, and something new, and not a bit worse than drinking out of cups."
"Isn’t it just the same that we do, that I did, searching by the aid of reason for the significance of the forces of nature and the meaning of the life of man?" he thought.
"And don’t all the theories of philosophy do the same, trying by the path of thought, which is strange and not natural to man, to bring him to a knowledge of what he has known long ago, and knows so certainly that he could not live at all without it? Isn’t it distinctly to be seen in the development of each philosopher’s theory, that he knows what is the chief significance of life beforehand, just as positively as the peasant Fyodor, and not a bit more clearly than he, and is simply trying by a dubious intellectual path to come back to what everyone knows?
"Now then, leave the children to themselves to get things alone and make their crockery, get the milk from the cows, and so on. Would they be naughty then? Why, they’d die of hunger! Well, then, leave us with our passions and thoughts, without any idea of the one God, of the Creator, or without any idea of what is right, without any idea of moral evil.
"Just try and build up anything without those ideas!
"We only try to destroy them, because we’re spiritually provided for. Exactly like the children!
"Whence have I that joyful knowledge, shared with the peasant, that alone gives peace to my soul? Whence did I get it?
"Brought up with an idea of God, a Christian, my whole life filled with the spiritual blessings Christianity has given me, full of them, and living on those blessings, like the children I did not understand them, and destroy, that is try to destroy, what I live by. And as soon as an important moment of life comes, like the children when they are cold and hungry, I turn to Him, and even less than the children when their mother scolds them for their childish mischief, do I feel that my childish efforts at wanton madness are reckoned against me.
"Yes, what I know, I know not by reason, but it has been given to me, revealed to me, and I know it with my heart, by faith in the chief thing taught by the church.
"The church! the church!" Levin repeated to himself. He turned over on the other side, and leaning on his elbow, fell to gazing into the distance at a herd of cattle crossing over to the river.
"But can I believe in all the church teaches?" he thought, trying himself, and thinking of everything that could destroy his present peace of mind. Intentionally he recalled all those doctrines of the church which had always seemed most strange and had always been a stumbling block to him.
"The Creation? But how did I explain existence? By existence? By nothing? The devil and sin. But how do I explain evil?... The atonement?...
"But I know nothing, nothing, and I can know nothing but what has been told to me and all men."
And it seemed to him that there was not a single article of faith of the church which could destroy the chief thing—faith in God, in goodness, as the one goal of man’s destiny.
Under every article of faith of the church could be put the faith in the service of truth instead of one’s desires. And each doctrine did not simply leave that faith unshaken, each doctrine seemed essential to complete that great miracle, continually manifest upon earth, that made it possible for each man and millions of different sorts of men, wise men and imbeciles, old men and children—all men, peasants, Lvov, Kitty, beggars and kings to understand perfectly the same one thing, and to build up thereby that life of the soul which alone is worth living, and which alone is precious to us.
Lying on his back, he gazed up now into the high, cloudless sky. "Do I not know that that is infinite space, and that it is not a round arch? But, however I screw up my eyes and strain my sight, I cannot see it not round and not bounded, and in spite of my knowing about infinite space, I am incontestably right when I see a solid blue dome, and more right than when I strain my eyes to see beyond it."
Levin ceased thinking, and only, as it were, listened to mysterious voices that seemed talking joyfully and earnestly within him.
"Can this be faith?" he thought, afraid to believe in his happiness. "My God, I thank Thee!" he said, gulping down his sobs, and with both hands brushing away the tears that filled his eyes.
Levin looked before him and saw a herd of cattle, then he caught sight of his trap with Raven in the shafts, and the coachman, who, driving up to the herd, said something to the herdsman. Then he heard the rattle of the wheels and the snort of the sleek horse close by him. But he was so buried in his thoughts that he did not even wonder why the coachman had come for him.
He only thought of that when the coachman had driven quite up to him and shouted to him. "The mistress sent me. Your brother has come, and some gentleman with him."
Levin got into the trap and took the reins. As though just roused out of sleep, for a long while Levin could not collect his faculties. He stared at the sleek horse flecked with lather between his haunches and on his neck, where the harness rubbed, stared at Ivan the coachman sitting beside him, and remembered that he was expecting his brother, thought that his wife was most likely uneasy at his long absence, and tried to guess who was the visitor who had come with his brother. And his brother and his wife and the unknown guest seemed to him now quite different from before. He fancied that now his relations with all men would be different.
"With my brother there will be none of that aloofness there always used to be between us, there will be no disputes; with Kitty there shall never be quarrels; with the visitor, whoever he may be, I will be friendly and nice; with the servants, with Ivan, it will all be different."
Pulling the stiff rein and holding in the good horse that snorted with impatience and seemed begging to be let go, Levin looked round at Ivan sitting beside him, not knowing what to do with his unoccupied hand, continually pressing down his shirt as it puffed out, and he tried to find something to start a conversation about with him. He would have said that Ivan had pulled the saddle-girth up too high, but that was like blame, and he longed for friendly, warm talk. Nothing else occurred to him.
"Your honor must keep to the right and mind that stump," said the coachman, pulling the rein Levin held.
"Please don’t touch and don’t teach me!" said Levin, angered by this interference. Now, as always, interference made him angry, and he felt sorrowfully at once how mistaken had been his supposition that his spiritual condition could immediately change him in contact with reality.
He was not a quarter of a mile from home when he saw Grisha and Tanya running to meet him.
"Uncle Kostya! mamma’s coming, and grandfather, and Sergey Ivanovitch, and someone else," they said, clambering up into the trap.
"Who is he?"
"An awfully terrible person! And he does like this with his arms," said Tanya, getting up in the trap and mimicking Katavasov.
"Old or young?" asked Levin, laughing, reminded of someone, he did not know whom, by Tanya’s performance.
"Oh, I hope it’s not a tiresome person!" thought Levin.
As soon as he turned, at a bend in the road, and saw the party coming, Levin recognized Katavasov in a straw hat, walking along swinging his arms just as Tanya had shown him. Katavasov was very fond of discussing metaphysics, having derived his notions from natural science writers who had never studied metaphysics, and in Moscow Levin had had many arguments with him of late.
And one of these arguments, in which Katavasov had obviously considered that he came off victorious, was the first thing Levin thought of as he recognized him.
"No, whatever I do, I won’t argue and give utterance to my ideas lightly," he thought.
Getting out of the trap and greeting his brother and Katavasov, Levin asked about his wife.
"She has taken Mitya to Kolok" (a copse near the house). "She meant to have him out there because it’s so hot indoors," said Dolly. Levin had always advised his wife not to take the baby to the wood, thinking it unsafe, and he was not pleased to hear this.
"She rushes about from place to place with him," said the prince, smiling. "I advised her to try putting him in the ice cellar."
"She meant to come to the bee house. She thought you would be there. We are going there," said Dolly.
"Well, and what are you doing?" said Sergey Ivanovitch, falling back from the rest and walking beside him.
"Oh, nothing special. Busy as usual with the land," answered Levin. "Well, and what about you? Come for long? We have been expecting you for such a long time."
"Only for a fortnight. I’ve a great deal to do in Moscow."
At these words the brothers’ eyes met, and Levin, in spite of the desire he always had, stronger than ever just now, to be on affectionate and still more open terms with his brother, felt an awkwardness in looking at him. He dropped his eyes and did not know what to say.
Casting over the subjects of conversation that would be pleasant to Sergey Ivanovitch, and would keep him off the subject of the Servian war and the Slavonic question, at which he had hinted by the allusion to what he had to do in Moscow, Levin began to talk of Sergey Ivanovitch’s book.
"Well, have there been reviews of your book?" he asked.
Sergey Ivanovitch smiled at the intentional character of the question.
"No one is interested in that now, and I less than anyone," he said. "Just look, Darya Alexandrovna, we shall have a shower," he added, pointing with a sunshade at the white rain clouds that showed above the aspen tree-tops.
And these words were enough to re-establish again between the brothers that tone—hardly hostile, but chilly—which Levin had been so longing to avoid.
Levin went up to Katavasov.
"It was jolly of you to make up your mind to come," he said to him.
"I’ve been meaning to a long while. Now we shall have some discussion, we’ll see to that. Have you been reading Spencer?"
"No, I’ve not finished reading him," said Levin. "But I don’t need him now."
"How’s that? that’s interesting. Why so?"
"I mean that I’m fully convinced that the solution of the problems that interest me I shall never find in him and his like. Now..."
But Katavasov’s serene and good-humored expression suddenly struck him, and he felt such tenderness for his own happy mood, which he was unmistakably disturbing by this conversation, that he remembered his resolution and stopped short.
"But we’ll talk later on," he added. "If we’re going to the bee house, it’s this way, along this little path," he said, addressing them all.
Going along the narrow path to a little uncut meadow covered on one side with thick clumps of brilliant heart’s-ease among which stood up here and there tall, dark green tufts of hellebore, Levin settled his guests in the dense, cool shade of the young aspens on a bench and some stumps purposely put there for visitors to the bee house who might be afraid of the bees, and he went off himself to the hut to get bread, cucumbers, and fresh honey, to regale them with.
Trying to make his movements as deliberate as possible, and listening to the bees that buzzed more and more frequently past him, he walked along the little path to the hut. In the very entry one bee hummed angrily, caught in his beard, but he carefully extricated it. Going into the shady outer room, he took down from the wall his veil, that hung on a peg, and putting it on, and thrusting his hands into his pockets, he went into the fenced-in bee-garden, where there stood in the midst of a closely mown space in regular rows, fastened with bast on posts, all the hives he knew so well, the old stocks, each with its own history, and along the fences the younger swarms hived that year. In front of the openings of the hives, it made his eyes giddy to watch the bees and drones whirling round and round about the same spot, while among them the working bees flew in and out with spoils or in search of them, always in the same direction into the wood to the flowering lime trees and back to the hives.
His ears were filled with the incessant hum in various notes, now the busy hum of the working bee flying quickly off, then the blaring of the lazy drone, and the excited buzz of the bees on guard protecting their property from the enemy and preparing to sting. On the farther side of the fence the old bee-keeper was shaving a hoop for a tub, and he did not see Levin. Levin stood still in the midst of the beehives and did not call him.
He was glad of a chance to be alone to recover from the influence of ordinary actual life, which had already depressed his happy mood. He thought that he had already had time to lose his temper with Ivan, to show coolness to his brother, and to talk flippantly with Katavasov.
"Can it have been only a momentary mood, and will it pass and leave no trace?" he thought. But the same instant, going back to his mood, he felt with delight that something new and important had happened to him. Real life had only for a time overcast the spiritual peace he had found, but it was still untouched within him.
Just as the bees, whirling round him, now menacing him and distracting his attention, prevented him from enjoying complete physical peace, forced him to restrain his movements to avoid them, so had the petty cares that had swarmed about him from the moment he got into the trap restricted his spiritual freedom; but that lasted only so long as he was among them. Just as his bodily strength was still unaffected, in spite of the bees, so too was the spiritual strength that he had just become aware of.
"Do you know, Kostya, with whom Sergey Ivanovitch traveled on his way here?" said Dolly, doling out cucumbers and honey to the children; "with Vronsky! He’s going to Servia."
"And not alone; he’s taking a squadron out with him at his own expense," said Katavasov.
"That’s the right thing for him," said Levin. "Are volunteers still going out then?" he added, glancing at Sergey Ivanovitch.
Sergey Ivanovitch did not answer. He was carefully with a blunt knife getting a live bee covered with sticky honey out of a cup full of white honeycomb.
"I should think so! You should have seen what was going on at the station yesterday!" said Katavasov, biting with a juicy sound into a cucumber.
"Well, what is one to make of it? For mercy’s sake, do explain to me, Sergey Ivanovitch, where are all those volunteers going, whom are they fighting with?" asked the old prince, unmistakably taking up a conversation that had sprung up in Levin’s absence.
"With the Turks," Sergey Ivanovitch answered, smiling serenely, as he extricated the bee, dark with honey and helplessly kicking, and put it with the knife on a stout aspen leaf.
"But who has declared war on the Turks?—Ivan Ivanovitch Ragozov and Countess Lidia Ivanovna, assisted by Madame Stahl?"
"No one has declared war, but people sympathize with their neighbors’ sufferings and are eager to help them," said Sergey Ivanovitch.
"But the prince is not speaking of help," said Levin, coming to the assistance of his father-in-law, "but of war. The prince says that private persons cannot take part in war without the permission of the government."
"Kostya, mind, that’s a bee! Really, they’ll sting us!" said Dolly, waving away a wasp.
"But that’s not a bee, it’s a wasp," said Levin.
"Well now, well, what’s your own theory?" Katavasov said to Levin with a smile, distinctly challenging him to a discussion. "Why have not private persons the right to do so?"
"Oh, my theory’s this: war is on one side such a beastly, cruel, and awful thing, that no one man, not to speak of a Christian, can individually take upon himself the responsibility of beginning wars; that can only be done by a government, which is called upon to do this, and is driven inevitably into war. On the other hand, both political science and common sense teach us that in matters of state, and especially in the matter of war, private citizens must forego their personal individual will."
Sergey Ivanovitch and Katavasov had their replies ready, and both began speaking at the same time.
"But the point is, my dear fellow, that there may be cases when the government does not carry out the will of the citizens and then the public asserts its will," said Katavasov.
But evidently Sergey Ivanovitch did not approve of this answer. His brows contracted at Katavasov’s words and he said something else.
"You don’t put the matter in its true light. There is no question here of a declaration of war, but simply the expression of a human Christian feeling. Our brothers, one with us in religion and in race, are being massacred. Even supposing they were not our brothers nor fellow-Christians, but simply children, women, old people, feeling is aroused and Russians go eagerly to help in stopping these atrocities. Fancy, if you were going along the street and saw drunken men beating a woman or a child—I imagine you would not stop to inquire whether war had been declared on the men, but would throw yourself on them, and protect the victim."
"But I should not kill them," said Levin.
"Yes, you would kill them."
"I don’t know. If I saw that, I might give way to my impulse of the moment, but I can’t say beforehand. And such a momentary impulse there is not, and there cannot be, in the case of the oppression of the Slavonic peoples."
"Possibly for you there is not; but for others there is," said Sergey Ivanovitch, frowning with displeasure. "There are traditions still extant among the people of Slavs of the true faith suffering under the yoke of the ‘unclean sons of Hagar.’ The people have heard of the sufferings of their brethren and have spoken."
"Perhaps so," said Levin evasively; "but I don’t see it. I’m one of the people myself, and I don’t feel it."
"Here am I too," said the old prince. "I’ve been staying abroad and reading the papers, and I must own, up to the time of the Bulgarian atrocities, I couldn’t make out why it was all the Russians were all of a sudden so fond of their Slavonic brethren, while I didn’t feel the slightest affection for them. I was very much upset, thought I was a monster, or that it was the influence of Carlsbad on me. But since I have been here, my mind’s been set at rest. I see that there are people besides me who’re only interested in Russia, and not in their Slavonic brethren. Here’s Konstantin too."
"Personal opinions mean nothing in such a case," said Sergey Ivanovitch; "it’s not a matter of personal opinions when all Russia—the whole people—has expressed its will."
"But excuse me, I don’t see that. The people don’t know anything about it, if you come to that," said the old prince.
"Oh, papa!... how can you say that? And last Sunday in church?" said Dolly, listening to the conversation. "Please give me a cloth," she said to the old man, who was looking at the children with a smile. "Why, it’s not possible that all..."
"But what was it in church on Sunday? The priest had been told to read that. He read it. They didn’t understand a word of it. Then they were told that there was to be a collection for a pious object in church; well, they pulled out their halfpence and gave them, but what for they couldn’t say."
"The people cannot help knowing; the sense of their own destinies is always in the people, and at such moments as the present that sense finds utterance," said Sergey Ivanovitch with conviction, glancing at the old bee-keeper.
The handsome old man, with black grizzled beard and thick silvery hair, stood motionless, holding a cup of honey, looking down from the height of his tall figure with friendly serenity at the gentlefolk, obviously understanding nothing of their conversation and not caring to understand it.
"That’s so, no doubt," he said, with a significant shake of his head at Sergey Ivanovitch’s words.
"Here, then, ask him. He knows nothing about it and thinks nothing," said Levin. "Have you heard about the war, Mihalitch?" he said, turning to him. "What they read in the church? What do you think about it? Ought we to fight for the Christians?"
"What should we think? Alexander Nikolaevitch our Emperor has thought for us; he thinks for us indeed in all things. It’s clearer for him to see. Shall I bring a bit more bread? Give the little lad some more?" he said addressing Darya Alexandrovna and pointing to Grisha, who had finished his crust.
"I don’t need to ask," said Sergey Ivanovitch, "we have seen and are seeing hundreds and hundreds of people who give up everything to serve a just cause, come from every part of Russia, and directly and clearly express their thought and aim. They bring their halfpence or go themselves and say directly what for. What does it mean?"
"It means, to my thinking," said Levin, who was beginning to get warm, "that among eighty millions of people there can always be found not hundreds, as now, but tens of thousands of people who have lost caste, ne’er-do-wells, who are always ready to go anywhere—to Pogatchev’s bands, to Khiva, to Serbia..."
"I tell you that it’s not a case of hundreds or of ne’er-do-wells, but the best representatives of the people!" said Sergey Ivanovitch, with as much irritation as if he were defending the last penny of his fortune. "And what of the subscriptions? In this case it is a whole people directly expressing their will."
"That word ‘people’ is so vague," said Levin. "Parish clerks, teachers, and one in a thousand of the peasants, maybe, know what it’s all about. The rest of the eighty millions, like Mihalitch, far from expressing their will, haven’t the faintest idea what there is for them to express their will about. What right have we to say that this is the people’s will?"
Sergey Ivanovitch, being practiced in argument, did not reply, but at once turned the conversation to another aspect of the subject.
"Oh, if you want to learn the spirit of the people by arithmetical computation, of course it’s very difficult to arrive at it. And voting has not been introduced among us and cannot be introduced, for it does not express the will of the people; but there are other ways of reaching that. It is felt in the air, it is felt by the heart. I won’t speak of those deep currents which are astir in the still ocean of the people, and which are evident to every unprejudiced man; let us look at society in the narrow sense. All the most diverse sections of the educated public, hostile before, are merged in one. Every division is at an end, all the public organs say the same thing over and over again, all feel the mighty torrent that has overtaken them and is carrying them in one direction."
"Yes, all the newspapers do say the same thing," said the prince. "That’s true. But so it is the same thing that all the frogs croak before a storm. One can hear nothing for them."
"Frogs or no frogs, I’m not the editor of a paper and I don’t want to defend them; but I am speaking of the unanimity in the intellectual world," said Sergey Ivanovitch, addressing his brother. Levin would have answered, but the old prince interrupted him.
"Well, about that unanimity, that’s another thing, one may say," said the prince. "There’s my son-in-law, Stepan Arkadyevitch, you know him. He’s got a place now on the committee of a commission and something or other, I don’t remember. Only there’s nothing to do in it—why, Dolly, it’s no secret!—and a salary of eight thousand. You try asking him whether his post is of use, he’ll prove to you that it’s most necessary. And he’s a truthful man too, but there’s no refusing to believe in the utility of eight thousand roubles."
"Yes, he asked me to give a message to Darya Alexandrovna about the post," said Sergey Ivanovitch reluctantly, feeling the prince’s remark to be ill-timed.
"So it is with the unanimity of the press. That’s been explained to me: as soon as there’s war their incomes are doubled. How can they help believing in the destinies of the people and the Slavonic races ... and all that?"
"I don’t care for many of the papers, but that’s unjust," said Sergey Ivanovitch.
"I would only make one condition," pursued the old prince. "Alphonse Karr said a capital thing before the war with Prussia: ‘You consider war to be inevitable? Very good. Let everyone who advocates war be enrolled in a special regiment of advance-guards, for the front of every storm, of every attack, to lead them all!’"
"A nice lot the editors would make!" said Katavasov, with a loud roar, as he pictured the editors he knew in this picked legion.
"But they’d run," said Dolly, "they’d only be in the way."
"Oh, if they ran away, then we’d have grape-shot or Cossacks with whips behind them," said the prince.
"But that’s a joke, and a poor one too, if you’ll excuse my saying so, prince," said Sergey Ivanovitch.
"I don’t see that it was a joke, that..." Levin was beginning, but Sergey Ivanovitch interrupted him.
"Every member of society is called upon to do his own special work," said he. "And men of thought are doing their work when they express public opinion. And the single-hearted and full expression of public opinion is the service of the press and a phenomenon to rejoice us at the same time. Twenty years ago we should have been silent, but now we have heard the voice of the Russian people, which is ready to rise as one man and ready to sacrifice itself for its oppressed brethren; that is a great step and a proof of strength."
"But it’s not only making a sacrifice, but killing Turks," said Levin timidly. "The people make sacrifices and are ready to make sacrifices for their soul, but not for murder," he added, instinctively connecting the conversation with the ideas that had been absorbing his mind.
"For their soul? That’s a most puzzling expression for a natural science man, do you understand? What sort of thing is the soul?" said Katavasov, smiling.
"Oh, you know!"
"No, by God, I haven’t the faintest idea!" said Katavasov with a loud roar of laughter.
"‘I bring not peace, but a sword,’ says Christ," Sergey Ivanovitch rejoined for his part, quoting as simply as though it were the easiest thing to understand the very passage that had always puzzled Levin most.
"That’s so, no doubt," the old man repeated again. He was standing near them and responded to a chance glance turned in his direction.
"Ah, my dear fellow, you’re defeated, utterly defeated!" cried Katavasov good-humoredly.
Levin reddened with vexation, not at being defeated, but at having failed to control himself and being drawn into argument.
"No, I can’t argue with them," he thought; "they wear impenetrable armor, while I’m naked."
He saw that it was impossible to convince his brother and Katavasov, and he saw even less possibility of himself agreeing with them. What they advocated was the very pride of intellect that had almost been his ruin. He could not admit that some dozens of men, among them his brother, had the right, on the ground of what they were told by some hundreds of glib volunteers swarming to the capital, to say that they and the newspapers were expressing the will and feeling of the people, and a feeling which was expressed in vengeance and murder. He could not admit this, because he neither saw the expression of such feelings in the people among whom he was living, nor found them in himself (and he could not but consider himself one of the persons making up the Russian people), and most of all because he, like the people, did not know and could not know what is for the general good, though he knew beyond a doubt that this general good could be attained only by the strict observance of that law of right and wrong which has been revealed to every man, and therefore he could not wish for war or advocate war for any general objects whatever. He said as Mihalitch did and the people, who had expressed their feeling in the traditional invitations of the Varyagi: "Be princes and rule over us. Gladly we promise complete submission. All the labor, all humiliations, all sacrifices we take upon ourselves; but we will not judge and decide." And now, according to Sergey Ivanovitch’s account, the people had foregone this privilege they had bought at such a costly price.
He wanted to say too that if public opinion were an infallible guide, then why were not revolutions and the commune as lawful as the movement in favor of the Slavonic peoples? But these were merely thoughts that could settle nothing. One thing could be seen beyond doubt—that was that at the actual moment the discussion was irritating Sergey Ivanovitch, and so it was wrong to continue it. And Levin ceased speaking and then called the attention of his guests to the fact that the storm clouds were gathering, and that they had better be going home before it rained.
The old prince and Sergey Ivanovitch got into the trap and drove off; the rest of the party hastened homewards on foot.
But the storm-clouds, turning white and then black, moved down so quickly that they had to quicken their pace to get home before the rain. The foremost clouds, lowering and black as soot-laden smoke, rushed with extraordinary swiftness over the sky. They were still two hundred paces from home and a gust of wind had already blown up, and every second the downpour might be looked for.
The children ran ahead with frightened and gleeful shrieks. Darya Alexandrovna, struggling painfully with her skirts that clung round her legs, was not walking, but running, her eyes fixed on the children. The men of the party, holding their hats on, strode with long steps beside her. They were just at the steps when a big drop fell splashing on the edge of the iron guttering. The children and their elders after them ran into the shelter of the house, talking merrily.
"Katerina Alexandrovna?" Levin asked of Agafea Mihalovna, who met them with kerchiefs and rugs in the hall.
"We thought she was with you," she said.
"In the copse, he must be, and the nurse with him."
Levin snatched up the rugs and ran towards the copse.
In that brief interval of time the storm clouds had moved on, covering the sun so completely that it was dark as an eclipse. Stubbornly, as though insisting on its rights, the wind stopped Levin, and tearing the leaves and flowers off the lime trees and stripping the white birch branches into strange unseemly nakedness, it twisted everything on one side—acacias, flowers, burdocks, long grass, and tall tree-tops. The peasant girls working in the garden ran shrieking into shelter in the servants’ quarters. The streaming rain had already flung its white veil over all the distant forest and half the fields close by, and was rapidly swooping down upon the copse. The wet of the rain spurting up in tiny drops could be smelt in the air.
Holding his head bent down before him, and struggling with the wind that strove to tear the wraps away from him, Levin was moving up to the copse and had just caught sight of something white behind the oak tree, when there was a sudden flash, the whole earth seemed on fire, and the vault of heaven seemed crashing overhead. Opening his blinded eyes, Levin gazed through the thick veil of rain that separated him now from the copse, and to his horror the first thing he saw was the green crest of the familiar oak-tree in the middle of the copse uncannily changing its position. "Can it have been struck?" Levin hardly had time to think when, moving more and more rapidly, the oak tree vanished behind the other trees, and he heard the crash of the great tree falling upon the others.
The flash of lightning, the crash of thunder, and the instantaneous chill that ran through him were all merged for Levin in one sense of terror.
"My God! my God! not on them!" he said.
And though he thought at once how senseless was his prayer that they should not have been killed by the oak which had fallen now, he repeated it, knowing that he could do nothing better than utter this senseless prayer.
Running up to the place where they usually went, he did not find them there.
They were at the other end of the copse under an old lime-tree; they were calling him. Two figures in dark dresses (they had been light summer dresses when they started out) were standing bending over something. It was Kitty with the nurse. The rain was already ceasing, and it was beginning to get light when Levin reached them. The nurse was not wet on the lower part of her dress, but Kitty was drenched through, and her soaked clothes clung to her. Though the rain was over, they still stood in the same position in which they had been standing when the storm broke. Both stood bending over a perambulator with a green umbrella.
"Alive? Unhurt? Thank God!" he said, splashing with his soaked boots through the standing water and running up to them.
Kitty’s rosy wet face was turned towards him, and she smiled timidly under her shapeless sopped hat.
"Aren’t you ashamed of yourself? I can’t think how you can be so reckless!" he said angrily to his wife.
"It wasn’t my fault, really. We were just meaning to go, when he made such a to-do that we had to change him. We were just..." Kitty began defending herself.
Mitya was unharmed, dry, and still fast asleep.
"Well, thank God! I don’t know what I’m saying!"
They gathered up the baby’s wet belongings; the nurse picked up the baby and carried it. Levin walked beside his wife, and, penitent for having been angry, he squeezed her hand when the nurse was not looking.
During the whole of that day, in the extremely different conversations in which he took part, only as it were with the top layer of his mind, in spite of the disappointment of not finding the change he expected in himself, Levin had been all the while joyfully conscious of the fulness of his heart.
After the rain it was too wet to go for a walk; besides, the storm clouds still hung about the horizon, and gathered here and there, black and thundery, on the rim of the sky. The whole party spent the rest of the day in the house.
No more discussions sprang up; on the contrary, after dinner every one was in the most amiable frame of mind.
At first Katavasov amused the ladies by his original jokes, which always pleased people on their first acquaintance with him. Then Sergey Ivanovitch induced him to tell them about the very interesting observations he had made on the habits and characteristics of common houseflies, and their life. Sergey Ivanovitch, too, was in good spirits, and at tea his brother drew him on to explain his views of the future of the Eastern question, and he spoke so simply and so well, that everyone listened eagerly.
Kitty was the only one who did not hear it all—she was summoned to give Mitya his bath.
A few minutes after Kitty had left the room she sent for Levin to come to the nursery.
Leaving his tea, and regretfully interrupting the interesting conversation, and at the same time uneasily wondering why he had been sent for, as this only happened on important occasions, Levin went to the nursery.
Although he had been much interested by Sergey Ivanovitch’s views of the new epoch in history that would be created by the emancipation of forty millions of men of Slavonic race acting with Russia, a conception quite new to him, and although he was disturbed by uneasy wonder at being sent for by Kitty, as soon as he came out of the drawing room and was alone, his mind reverted at once to the thoughts of the morning. And all the theories of the significance of the Slav element in the history of the world seemed to him so trivial compared with what was passing in his own soul, that he instantly forgot it all and dropped back into the same frame of mind that he had been in that morning.
He did not, as he had done at other times, recall the whole train of thought—that he did not need. He fell back at once into the feeling which had guided him, which was connected with those thoughts, and he found that feeling in his soul even stronger and more definite than before. He did not, as he had had to do with previous attempts to find comforting arguments, need to revive a whole chain of thought to find the feeling. Now, on the contrary, the feeling of joy and peace was keener than ever, and thought could not keep pace with feeling.
He walked across the terrace and looked at two stars that had come out in the darkening sky, and suddenly he remembered. "Yes, looking at the sky, I thought that the dome that I see is not a deception, and then I thought something, I shirked facing something," he mused. "But whatever it was, there can be no disproving it! I have but to think, and all will come clear!"
Just as he was going into the nursery he remembered what it was he had shirked facing. It was that if the chief proof of the Divinity was His revelation of what is right, how is it this revelation is confined to the Christian church alone? What relation to this revelation have the beliefs of the Buddhists, Mohammedans, who preached and did good too?
It seemed to him that he had an answer to this question; but he had not time to formulate it to himself before he went into the nursery.
Kitty was standing with her sleeves tucked up over the baby in the bath. Hearing her husband’s footstep, she turned towards him, summoning him to her with her smile. With one hand she was supporting the fat baby that lay floating and sprawling on its back, while with the other she squeezed the sponge over him.
"Come, look, look!" she said, when her husband came up to her. "Agafea Mihalovna’s right. He knows us!"
Mitya had on that day given unmistakable, incontestable signs of recognizing all his friends.
As soon as Levin approached the bath, the experiment was tried, and it was completely successful. The cook, sent for with this object, bent over the baby. He frowned and shook his head disapprovingly. Kitty bent down to him, he gave her a beaming smile, propped his little hands on the sponge and chirruped, making such a queer little contented sound with his lips, that Kitty and the nurse were not alone in their admiration. Levin, too, was surprised and delighted.
The baby was taken out of the bath, drenched with water, wrapped in towels, dried, and after a piercing scream, handed to his mother.
"Well, I am glad you are beginning to love him," said Kitty to her husband, when she had settled herself comfortably in her usual place, with the baby at her breast. "I am so glad! It had begun to distress me. You said you had no feeling for him."
"No; did I say that? I only said I was disappointed."
"What! disappointed in him?"
"Not disappointed in him, but in my own feeling; I had expected more. I had expected a rush of new delightful emotion to come as a surprise. And then instead of that—disgust, pity..."
She listened attentively, looking at him over the baby, while she put back on her slender fingers the rings she had taken off while giving Mitya his bath.
"And most of all, at there being far more apprehension and pity than pleasure. Today, after that fright during the storm, I understand how I love him."
Kitty’s smile was radiant.
"Were you very much frightened?" she said. "So was I too, but I feel it more now that it’s over. I’m going to look at the oak. How nice Katavasov is! And what a happy day we’ve had altogether. And you’re so nice with Sergey Ivanovitch, when you care to be.... Well, go back to them. It’s always so hot and steamy here after the bath."
Going out of the nursery and being again alone, Levin went back at once to the thought, in which there was something not clear.
Instead of going into the drawing room, where he heard voices, he stopped on the terrace, and leaning his elbows on the parapet, he gazed up at the sky.
It was quite dark now, and in the south, where he was looking, there were no clouds. The storm had drifted on to the opposite side of the sky, and there were flashes of lightning and distant thunder from that quarter. Levin listened to the monotonous drip from the lime trees in the garden, and looked at the triangle of stars he knew so well, and the Milky Way with its branches that ran through its midst. At each flash of lightning the Milky Way, and even the bright stars, vanished, but as soon as the lightning died away, they reappeared in their places as though some hand had flung them back with careful aim.
"Well, what is it perplexes me?" Levin said to himself, feeling beforehand that the solution of his difficulties was ready in his soul, though he did not know it yet. "Yes, the one unmistakable, incontestable manifestation of the Divinity is the law of right and wrong, which has come into the world by revelation, and which I feel in myself, and in the recognition of which—I don’t make myself, but whether I will or not—I am made one with other men in one body of believers, which is called the church. Well, but the Jews, the Mohammedans, the Confucians, the Buddhists—what of them?" he put to himself the question he had feared to face. "Can these hundreds of millions of men be deprived of that highest blessing without which life has no meaning?" He pondered a moment, but immediately corrected himself. "But what am I questioning?" he said to himself. "I am questioning the relation to Divinity of all the different religions of all mankind. I am questioning the universal manifestation of God to all the world with all those misty blurs. What am I about? To me individually, to my heart has been revealed a knowledge beyond all doubt, and unattainable by reason, and here I am obstinately trying to express that knowledge in reason and words.
"Don’t I know that the stars don’t move?" he asked himself, gazing at the bright planet which had shifted its position up to the topmost twig of the birch-tree. "But looking at the movements of the stars, I can’t picture to myself the rotation of the earth, and I’m right in saying that the stars move.
"And could the astronomers have understood and calculated anything, if they had taken into account all the complicated and varied motions of the earth? All the marvelous conclusions they have reached about the distances, weights, movements, and deflections of the heavenly bodies are only founded on the apparent motions of the heavenly bodies about a stationary earth, on that very motion I see before me now, which has been so for millions of men during long ages, and was and will be always alike, and can always be trusted. And just as the conclusions of the astronomers would have been vain and uncertain if not founded on observations of the seen heavens, in relation to a single meridian and a single horizon, so would my conclusions be vain and uncertain if not founded on that conception of right, which has been and will be always alike for all men, which has been revealed to me as a Christian, and which can always be trusted in my soul. The question of other religions and their relations to Divinity I have no right to decide, and no possibility of deciding."
"Oh, you haven’t gone in then?" he heard Kitty’s voice all at once, as she came by the same way to the drawing-room.
"What is it? you’re not worried about anything?" she said, looking intently at his face in the starlight.
But she could not have seen his face if a flash of lightning had not hidden the stars and revealed it. In that flash she saw his face distinctly, and seeing him calm and happy, she smiled at him.
"She understands," he thought; "she knows what I’m thinking about. Shall I tell her or not? Yes, I’ll tell her." But at the moment he was about to speak, she began speaking.
"Kostya! do something for me," she said; "go into the corner room and see if they’ve made it all right for Sergey Ivanovitch. I can’t very well. See if they’ve put the new wash stand in it."
"Very well, I’ll go directly," said Levin, standing up and kissing her.
"No, I’d better not speak of it," he thought, when she had gone in before him. "It is a secret for me alone, of vital importance for me, and not to be put into words.
"This new feeling has not changed me, has not made me happy and enlightened all of a sudden, as I had dreamed, just like the feeling for my child. There was no surprise in this either. Faith—or not faith—I don’t know what it is—but this feeling has come just as imperceptibly through suffering, and has taken firm root in my soul.
"I shall go on in the same way, losing my temper with Ivan the coachman, falling into angry discussions, expressing my opinions tactlessly; there will be still the same wall between the holy of holies of my soul and other people, even my wife; I shall still go on scolding her for my own terror, and being remorseful for it; I shall still be as unable to understand with my reason why I pray, and I shall still go on praying; but my life now, my whole life apart from anything that can happen to me, every minute of it is no more meaningless, as it was before, but it has the positive meaning of goodness, which I have the power to put into it."