Anna Karenina, v6 by Leo Tolstoy
translated by Constance Garnett
Darya Alexandrovna spent the summer with her children at
Pokrovskoe, at her sister Kitty Levin's. The house on her own estate
was quite in ruins, and Levin and his wife had persuaded her to spend
the summer with them. Stepan Arkadyevich greatly approved of the
arrangement. He said he was very sorry his official duties prevented
him from spending the summer in the country with his family, which
would have been the greatest happiness for him; and remaining in
Moscow, he came down to the country from time to time for a day or
two. Besides the Oblonskys, with all their children and their
governess, the old Princess, too, came to stay that summer with the
Levins, as she considered it her duty to watch over her inexperienced
daughter in her interesting condition. Moreover, Varenka, Kitty's
friend abroad, kept her promise to come to Kitty when she was married,
and stayed with her friend. All of these were friends or relations of
Levin's wife. And though he liked them all, he rather regretted his
own Levin world and ways, which was smothered by this influx of the
"Shcherbatsky element," as he called it to himself. Of his own
relations there stayed with him only Sergei Ivanovich, but he too was
a man of the Koznishev and not the Levin stamp, so that the Levin
spirit was utterly obliterated.
In the Levins' house, so long deserted, there were now so many
people that almost all the rooms were occupied, and almost every day
it happened that the old Princess, sitting down to table, counted them
all over, and put the thirteenth grandson or granddaughter at a
separate table. And Kitty, with her careful housekeeping, had no
little trouble to get all the chickens, turkeys and geese, of which so
many were needed to satisfy the summer appetites of the visitors and
The whole family were sitting at dinner. Dolly's children, with
their governess and Varenka, were making plans for going to look for
mushrooms. Sergei Ivanovich, who was looked up to by all the party for
his intellect and learning, with a respect that almost amounted to
awe, surprised everyone by joining in the conversation about
"Take me with you. I am very fond of picking mushrooms," he said,
looking at Varenka; "I think it's a very fine occupation."
"Oh, we shall be delighted," answered Varenka coloring. Kitty
exchanged meaning glances with Dolly. The proposal of the learned and
intellectual Sergei Ivanovich to go looking for mushrooms with Varenka
confirmed certain theories of Kitty's with which her mind had been
very busy of late. She made haste to address some remark to her
mother, so that her look should not be noticed. After dinner Sergei
Ivanovich sat with his cup of coffee at the drawing-room window, and
while he took part in a conversation he had begun with his brother, he
watched the door through which the children would start on the
mushroom-picking expedition. Levin was sitting on the window sill near
Kitty stood beside her husband, evidently awaiting the end of a
conversation that had no interest for her, in order to tell him
"You have changed in many respects since your marriage, and for
the better," said Sergei Ivanovich, smiling to Kitty, and obviously
little interested in the conversation, "but you have remained true to
your passion for defending the most paradoxical theories."
"Katia, it's not good for you to stand," her husband said to her,
drawing up a chair for her and looking significantly at her.
"Oh, and there's no time either," added Sergei Ivanovich, seeing
the children running out.
At the head of them all Tania galloped sideways, in her tightly
drawn stockings, and waving a basket and Sergei Ivanovich's hat, she
ran straight up to him.
Boldly running up to Sergei Ivanovich with smiling eyes, so like
her father's fine eyes, she handed him his hat and made as though she
would put it on for him, softening her freedom by a shy and friendly
"Varenka's waiting," she said, carefully putting his hat on,
seeing from Sergei Ivanovich's smile that she might do so.
Varenka was standing at the door, dressed in a yellow print gown,
with a white kerchief on her head.
"I'm coming, I'm coming, Varvara Andreevna," said Sergei
Ivanovich, finishing his cup of coffee, and putting into their
separate pockets his handkerchief and cigar case.
"And how sweet my Varenka is! Eh?" said Kitty to her husband, as
soon as Sergei Ivanovich rose. She spoke so that Sergei Ivanovich
could hear, and it was clear that she meant him to do so. "And how
good-looking she is——such a refined beauty! Varenka!" Kitty shouted.
"Shall you be in the mill forest? We'll come out to you."
"You certainly forget your condition, Kitty," said the old
Princess, hurriedly coming out at the door. "You mustn't shout like
Varenka, hearing Kitty's voice and her mother's reprimand, went
with light, rapid steps up to Kitty. The rapidity of her movement, her
flushed and eager face, everything betrayed that something out of the
common was going on in her. Kitty knew what this thing was and had
been watching her intently. She called Varenka at that moment merely
in order mentally to give her a blessing for the important event
which, as Kitty fancied, was bound to come to pass that day after
dinner in the forest.
"Varenka, I should be very happy if a certain something were to
happen," she whispered as she kissed her.
"And are you coming with us?" Varenka said to Levin in confusion,
pretending not to have heard what had been said.
"I am coming, but only as far as the threshing floor, and there I
"Why, what do you want there?" said Kitty.
"I must go to have a look at the new wagons, and to make my
calculations," said Levin; "and where will you be?"
"On the terrace."
On the terrace were assembled all the ladies of the party. They
always liked sitting there after dinner, and that day they had work to
do there too. Besides the sewing of baby's chemises and knitting of
swaddles, with which all of them were busy, that afternoon jam was
being made on the terrace by a method new to Agathya Mikhailovna,
without the addition of water. Kitty had introduced this new method,
which had been in use in her home. Agathya Mikhailovna, to whom the
task of jam making had always been intrusted, considering that what
had been done in the Levin household could not be amiss, had
nevertheless put water with the strawberries, maintaining that the jam
could not be made without it. She had been caught in the act, and was
now making raspberry jam before everyone, and it was to be proved to
her conclusively that jam could be very well made without water.
Agathya Mikhailovna, her face heated and angry, her hair untidy,
and her thin arms bare to the elbows, was swaying the preserving pan
in a circular motion over the charcoal stove, looking darkly at the
raspberries and devoutly hoping they would stick and not cook
properly. The Princess, conscious that Agathya Mikhailovna's wrath
must be chiefly directed against her, as the person responsible for
the raspberry jam making, tried to appear to be absorbed in other
things and not interested in the raspberries, talking of other
matters, but cast stealthy glances in the direction of the stove.
"I always buy my maids' dresses myself, at the bargain sale," the
Princess said, continuing the previous conversation. "Isn't it time to
skim it, my dear?" she added, addressing Agathya Mikhailovna. "There's
not the slightest need for you to do it, and it's hot for you," she
said, stopping Kitty.
"I'll do it," said Dolly, and, getting up, she carefully passed
the spoon over the frothing sugar, and from time to time shook off the
clinging jam from the spoon by knocking it on a plate that was covered
with yellow-red scum and blood-colored syrup. "How they'll lick this
at teatime!" she thought of her children, remembering how she herself
as a child had wondered how it was the grown-up people did not eat
what was best of all——the scum of the jam.
"Stiva says it's much better to give money," Dolly took up
meanwhile the weighty subject under discussion——of what presents
should be made to servants. "But..."
"Money's out of the question!" the Princess and Kitty exclaimed
with one voice. "They appreciate a present..."
"Well, last year, for instance, I bought our Matriona Semionovna,
not a poplin, but something of that sort," said the Princess.
"I remember she was wearing it on your name day."
"A charming pattern——so simple and refined——I should have liked it
myself, if she hadn't had it. Something like Varenka's. So pretty and
"Well, now I think it's done," said Dolly, dropping the syrup from
"When it sets as it drops, it's ready. Cook it a little longer,
"The flies!" said Agathya Mikhailovna angrily. "It'll be just the
same," she added.
"Ah! How sweet it is! Don't frighten it!" Kitty said suddenly,
looking at a sparrow that had settled on the step and was pecking at
the center of a raspberry.
"Yes, but you keep a little further from the stove," said her
"A propos de Varenka," said Kitty, speaking in French, as they had
been doing all the while, so that Agathya Mikhailovna should not
understand them, "you know, maman, I somehow expect things to be
settled today. You know what I mean. How splendid it would be!"
"But what a famous matchmaker she is!" said Dolly. "How carefully
and cleverly she throws them together!..."
"No——tell me, mamma, what do you think?"
"Why, what is one to think? He" ('he' meant Sergei Ivanovich)
"might at any time have been one of the best matches in Russia; now,
of course, he's not quite a young man, still I know ever so many girls
would be glad to marry him, even now.... She's a very nice girl, but
"Oh, no, mamma, do understand why, for him and for her too,
nothing better could be imagined. In the first place, she's charming!"
said Kitty, crooking one of her fingers.
"He thinks her very attractive, that's certain," assented Dolly.
"Then he occupies such a position in society that he has no need
to look for either fortune or position in his wife. All he needs is a
good, sweet wife——a restful one."
"Well, with her he would certainly be restful," Dolly assented.
"Thirdly, that she should love him. And so it is... that is, it
would be so splendid!... I look forward to seeing them coming out of
the forest——and everything settled. I shall see at once by their eyes.
I should be so delighted! What do you think, Dolly?"
"But don't excite yourself. It's not at all the thing for you to
be excited," said her mother.
"Oh, I'm not excited, mamma. I fancy he will propose to her today."
"Ah, that's so strange——how and when a man proposes!... There is a
sort of barrier, and all at once it's broken down," said Dolly,
smiling pensively and recalling her past with Stepan Arkadyevich.
"Mamma, how did papa propose to you?" Kitty asked suddenly.
"There was nothing out of the way——it was very simple," answered
the Princess, but her face beamed all over at the recollection.
"Oh, but how was it? You loved him, at any rate, before you were
allowed to speak?"
Kitty felt a peculiar pleasure in being able now to talk to her
mother on equal terms about those questions of such paramount interest
in a woman's life.
"Of course I did; he had come to stay with us in the country."
"But how was it settled between you, mamma?"
"You imagine, I dare say, that you invented something quite new?
It's always just the same: it was settled by the eyes, by smiles..."
"How well you said that, mamma! It's just by the eyes, by smiles
that it's done," Dolly assented.
"But what words did he say?"
"What did Kostia say to you?"
"He wrote it in chalk. It was wonderful.... How long ago it
seems!" she said.
And the three women all fell to musing on the same thing. Kitty
was the first to break the silence. She remembered all that last
winter before her marriage, and her passion for Vronsky.
"There's one thing... that old love affair of Varenka's," she
said, a natural chain of ideas bringing her to this point. "I should
have liked to say something to Sergei Ivanovich, to prepare him.
They're all——all men, I mean,"——she added, "awfully jealous over our
"Not all," said Dolly. "You judge by your own husband. It makes
him miserable even now to remember Vronsky. Eh? that's true, isn't
"Yes", Kitty answered, a pensive smile in her eyes.
"But I really don't know," the mother put in in defense of her
motherly care of her daughter, "what there was in your past that could
worry him? That Vronsky paid you attentions——that happens to every
"Oh, yes, but we didn't mean that," Kitty said, flushing a little
"No, let me speak," her mother went on, "why, you yourself would
not let me have a talk with Vronsky. Don't you remember?"
"Oh, mamma!" said Kitty, with an expression of suffering.
"There's no keeping you young people in check nowadays.... Your
friendship could not have gone beyond what was suitable. I should
myself have called upon him to explain himself. But, my darling, it's
not right for you to be agitated. Please remember that, and calm
"I'm perfectly calm, maman."
"How happy it was for Kitty that Anna came then," said Dolly, "and
how unhappy for her. It turned out quite the opposite," she said,
struck by her own ideas. "Then Anna was so happy, and Kitty thought
herself unhappy. Now it is just the opposite. I often think of her."
"A fine person to think about! Horrid, repulsive woman——no heart,"
said her mother, who could not forget that Kitty had married not
Vronsky, but Levin.
"What do you want to talk of it for?" Kitty said with annoyance.
"I never think about it, and I don't want to think of it.... And I
don't want to think of it," she said, catching the sound of her
husband's familiar step on the steps of the terrace.
"What's that you don't want to think about?" inquired Levin,
coming onto the terrace.
But no one answered him, and he did not repeat the question.
"I'm sorry I've broken in on your feminine kingdom," he said,
looking round on everyone discontentedly, and perceiving that they had
been talking of something which they would not talk about before him.
For a second he felt that he was sharing the feeling of Agathya
Mikhailovna, vexation at their making jam without water, and, on the
whole, at the outside, Shcherbatsky authority. He smiled, however, and
went up to Kitty.
"Well, how are you?" he asked her, looking at her with the
expression with which everyone looked at her now.
"Oh, very well," said Kitty, smiling, "and how have things gone
"The wagon held three times as much as the telega did. Well, are
we going for the children? I've ordered the horses to be put in."
"What! You want to take Kitty in the wide droshky?" her mother
"Yes——at walking pace, Princess."
Levin never called the princess "maman" as men often do call their
mothers-in-law, and the Princess disliked his not doing so. But though
he liked and respected the Princess, Levin could not call her so
without a sense of profaning his feeling for his dead mother.
"Come with us, maman," said Kitty.
"I don't like to see such imprudence."
"Well, I'll walk then, I'm so well." Kitty got up and went to her
husband and took his hand.
"You may be well, but everything in moderation," said the Princess.
"Well, Agathya Mikhailovna, is the jam done?" said Levin, smiling
to Agathya Mikhailovna, and trying to cheer her up. "Is it all right
in the new way?"
"I suppose it's all right. According to our notions it's boiled
"It'll be all the better, Agathya Mikhailovna, it won't turn sour,
even though the ice in our icehouse has begun to melt already, so that
we've no cool place to store it," said Kitty, at once divining her
husband's motive, and addressing the old housekeeper with the same
feeling; "but your pickles are so good, that mamma says she never
tasted any like them," she added, smiling, and putting her kerchief
Agathya Mikhailovna looked sulkily at Kitty.
"You needn't try to console me, mistress. I need only to look at
you with him, and I feel happy," she said, and something in the rough
familiarity of that with him touched Kitty.
"Come along with us to look for mushrooms, you will show us the
Agathya Mikhailovna smiled and shook her head, as though to say:
"I would even like to be angry with you, but I can't."
"Do it, please, according to my recipe," said the Princess; "put
some paper over the jam, and moisten it with a little rum, and, even
without ice, it will never grow moldy."
Kitty was particularly glad of a chance of being alone with her
husband, for she had noticed the shade of mortification that had
passed over his face——always so quick to reflect every feeling——at the
moment when he had come onto the terrace and asked what they were
talking of, and had got no answer.
When they had set off on foot ahead of the others, and had gotten
out of sight of the house onto the beaten, dusty road, sprinkled with
ears of rye and with separate grains, she clung faster to his arm and
pressed it closer to her. He had quite forgotten the momentary
unpleasant impression, and alone with her he felt, now that the
thought of her approaching motherhood was never for a moment absent
from his mind, a new and delicious bliss, quite pure from all alloy of
sense, in being near to the woman he loved. There was no need of
speech, yet he longed to hear the sound of her voice, which, like her
eyes, had changed since she had become pregnant. In her voice, as in
her eyes, there was that softness and gravity which is found in people
continually concentrated on some cherished pursuit.
"So you're not tired? Lean more on me," said he.
"No, I'm so glad of a chance of being alone with you, and I must
own, though I'm happy with them, I sigh for our winter evenings
"That was good, but this is even better. Both are better," he
said, squeezing her hand.
"Do you know what we were talking about when you came in?"
"Oh, yes, about jam too; but, afterward, about how men propose."
"Ah!" said Levin, listening more to the sound of her voice than to
her words, and all the while paying attention to the road, which
passed now through the forest, and avoiding places where she might
make a false step.
"And about Sergei Ivanovich and Varenka. You've noticed?... I'm
very anxious for it," she went on. "What do you think about it?" And
she peeped into his face.
"I don't know what to think," Levin answered, smiling. "Sergei
seems very strange to me in that way. I told you, you know..."
"Yes, that he was in love with that girl who died...."
"That was when I was a child; I know about it from hearsay and
tradition. I remember him then. He was wonderfully sweet. But I've
watched him since with women; he is friendly, some of them he likes,
but one feels that to him they're simply people, not women."
"Yes, but now with Varenka... I fancy there's something..."
"Perhaps there is.... But one has to know him.... He's a peculiar,
wonderful person. He lives a spiritual life only. He's too pure, too
exalted a nature."
"Why? Would this lower him, then?"
"No, but he's so used to a spiritual life that he can't reconcile
himself with actual fact, and Varenka is after all fact."
Levin had grown used by now to uttering his thought boldly,
without taking the trouble of clothing it in exact language. He knew
that his wife, in such moments of loving tenderness as now, would
understand what he meant to say from a hint, and she did understand
"Yes, but there's not so much of that actual fact about her as
about me. I can see that he would never have cared for me. She is
"Oh, no, he is so fond of you, and I am always so glad when my
people like you...."
"Yes, he's very good to me; but..."
"It's not as it was with poor Nikolenka.... You really cared for
each other," Levin finished. "Why not speak of him?" he added. "I
sometimes blame myself for not doing so; it ends in one's forgetting.
Ah, how terrible and dear he was!... Yes, what were we talking about?"
Levin said, after a pause.
"You think he can't fall in love," said Kitty, translating into
her own language.
"It's not so much that he can't fall in love," Levin said,
smiling, "but he has not the weakness necessary.... I've always envied
him, and even now, when I'm so happy, I still envy him."
"You envy him for not being able to fall in love?"
"I envy him for being better than me," said Levin. "He does not
live for himself. His whole life is subordinated to his duty. And
that's why he can be calm and contented."
"And you?" Kitty asked, with an ironical and loving smile.
She could never have explained the chain of thought that made her
smile; but the last link in it was that her husband, in exalting his
brother and abasing himself, was not quite sincere. Kitty knew that
this insincerity came from his love for his brother, from his sense of
shame at being too happy, and, above all, from his unflagging craving
to be better——she loved this trait in him, and so she smiled.
"And you? What are you dissatisfied with?" she asked, with the
Her disbelief in his self-dissatisfaction delighted him, and
unconsciously he tried to draw her into giving utterance to the
grounds of her disbelief.
"I am happy, but dissatisfied with myself..." he said.
"Why, how can you be dissatisfied with yourself if you are happy?"
"Well, how shall I say?... In my heart I really care for nothing
whatever but that you should not stumble——see? Oh, but really you
mustn't skip about like that!" he cried, breaking off to scold her for
too agile a movement in stepping over a branch that lay in the path.
"But when I think about myself, and compare myself with others,
especially with my brother, I feel I'm a poor creature."
"But in what way?" Kitty pursued with the same smile. "Don't you,
too, work for others? What about your farmsteading, and your
agriculture, and your book?..."
"Oh, but I feel, and particularly just now——it's your fault," he
said, pressing her hand——"that all that doesn't count. I do it, in a
way, halfheartedly. If I could care for all that as I care for you!...
Instead of that, I do it in these days like a task that is set me."
"Well, what would you say about papa?" asked Kitty. "Is he a poor
creature then, as he does nothing for the public good?"
"He? No! But then, one must have the simplicity, the
straight-forwardness, the goodness of your father: and I haven't got
that. I do nothing, and I fret about it. It's all your doing. Before
you——and this too," he added with a glance toward her waist that she
understood——"I put all my energies into work; now I can't, and I'm
ashamed; I do it just as though it were a task set me; I'm
"Well, but would you like to change this minute with Sergei
Ivanovich?" said Kitty. "Would you like to do this work for the
general good, and to love the task set you, as he does, and nothing
"Of course not," said Levin. "But I'm so happy that I don't
understand anything. So you think he'll propose to her today?" he
added after a brief silence.
"I think so, and I don't think so. Only, I'm awfully anxious for
it. Here, wait a minute." She stooped down and picked a wild daisy at
the edge of the path. "Come, count: he will, he won't," she said,
giving him the flower.
"He will, he won't," said Levin, tearing off the white petals.
"No, no!" Kitty, snatching at his hand, stopped him. She had been
watching his fingers with agitation. "You picked off two."
"Oh, but see, this little one shan't count to make up," said
Levin, tearing off a little half-grown petal. "Here's the droshky
"Aren't you tired, Kitty?" called the Princess.
"Not in the least."
"If you are you can get in, as the horses are quiet and walking."
But it was not worth-while to get in; they were quite near the
place, and all walked on together.
Varenka, with her white kerchief on her black hair, surrounded by
the children, gaily and good-humoredly looking after them, and at the
same time visibly excited at the possibility of receiving a
declaration from the man she cared for, was very attractive. Sergei
Ivanovich walked beside her, and never left off admiring her. Looking
at her, he recalled all the delightful things he had heard from her
lips, all the good he knew about her, and became more and more
conscious that the feeling he had for her was something special that
he had felt long, long ago, and only once, in his early youth. The
feeling of happiness in being near her continually grew, and at last
reached such a point that, as he put a huge, slender-stalked mushroom
with rolled brims, in her basket, he looked straight into her face,
and noticing the flush of glad and alarmed excitement that overspread
her face, he was confused himself, and smiled to her in silence a
smile that said too much.
"If so," he said to himself, "I ought to think it over and make up
my mind, and not give way like a boy to the impulse of a moment."
"I'm going to pick by myself apart from all the rest, or else my
efforts will make no show," he said, and he left the edge of the
forest where they were walking on low silky grass between old birch
trees standing far apart, and went more into the heart of the wood,
where between the white birch trunks there were gray trunks of aspen
and dark bushes of hazel. Walking some forty paces away, Sergei
Ivanovich, knowing he was out of sight, stood still behind a bushy
spindle tree in full flower with its rosy-red catkins. It was
perfectly still all round him. Only overhead, in the birches under
which he stood, the flies, like a swarm of bees, buzzed unceasingly,
and from time to time the children's voices floated across to him. All
at once he heard, not far from the edge of the wood, the sound of
Varenka's contralto voice, calling Grisha, and a smile of delight
passed over Sergei Ivanovich's face. Conscious of this smile, he shook
his head disapprovingly at his own state and, taking out a cigar, he
began lighting it. For a long while he could not get a match to light
against the trunk of a birch tree. The soft pellicle of the white bark
stuck around the phosphorus, and the light went out. At last one of
the matches burned, and the fragrant cigar smoke, hovering uncertainly
in flat, wide coils, stretched away forward and upward over a bush
under the overhanging branches of a birch tree. Watching the streak of
smoke, Sergei Ivanovich walked gently on, deliberating on his
"Why not?" he thought. "If it were only a flash in the pan, or a
passion, if it were only this attraction——this mutual attraction (I
can call it a mutual attraction), yet if I felt that it was in
contradiction with the whole bent of my life; if I felt that in giving
way to this attraction I should be false to my vocation and my duty...
But it's not so. The only thing I can say against it is that, when I
lost Marie, I said to myself that I would remain faithful to her
memory. That's the only thing I can say against my feeling.... That's
a great thing," Sergei Ivanovich said to himself, feeling at the same
time that this consideration had not the slightest importance for him
personally, but would only perhaps detract from his romantic character
in the eyes of others. "But apart from that, however much I searched,
I should never find anything to say against my feeling. If I were
choosing by considerations of intellect alone, I could not have found
However many women and girls he thought of whom he knew, he could
not think of a girl who united to such a degree all——positively all——
the qualities he would wish to see in his wife. She had all the charm
and freshness of youth, but she was not a child; and if she loved him,
she loved him consciously, as a woman ought to love; that was one
thing. Another point: she was not only far from being worldly, but had
an unmistakable distaste for worldly society, and at the same time she
knew the world, and had all the ways of a woman of the best society,
which were absolutely essential to Sergei Ivanovich's conception of
the woman who was to share his life. Thirdly: she was religious, and
not like a child, unconsciously religious and good, as Kitty, for
example, was, but her life was founded on religious principles. Even
in trifling matters, Sergei Ivanovich found in her all that he wanted
in his wife: she was poor and alone in the world, so she would not
bring with her a mass of relations and their influence into her
husband's house, as he saw now in Kitty's case. She would owe
everything to her husband, which was what he had always desired, too,
for his future family life. And this girl, who united all these
qualities, loved him. He was a modest man, but he could not help
seeing it. And he loved her. There was one consideration against it——
his age. But he came of a long-lived family, he had not a single gray
hair, no one would have taken him for forty, and he remembered
Varenka's saying that it was only in Russia that men of fifty thought
themselves old, and that in France a man of fifty considers himself
dans la force de l'age, while a man of forty is un jeune homme. But
what did the mere reckoning of years matter when he felt as young in
heart as he had been twenty years ago? Was it not youth to feel as he
felt now, when coming from the other side to the edge of the wood he
saw in the glowing light of the slanting sunbeams the graceful figure
of Varenka in her yellow gown with her basket, walking lightly by the
trunk of an old birch tree, and when this impression of the sight of
Varenka blended so harmoniously with the beauty of the view, of the
yellow oat field lying bathed in the slanting sunshine, and, beyond
it, the distant ancient forest, flecked with yellow and melting into
the blue of the distance? His heart throbbed joyously. A softened
feeling came over him. He felt that he had made up his mind. Varenka,
who had just crouched down to pick a mushroom, rose with a supple
movement and looked round. Flinging away the cigar, Sergei Ivanovich
advanced with resolute steps toward her.
"Varvara Andreevna, when I was very young, I set before myself the
ideal of the woman I loved and should be happy to call my wife. I have
lived through a long life, and now for the first time I have met what
I sought——in you. I love you, and offer you my hand."
Sergei Ivanovich was saying this to himself while he was ten paces
from Varenka. Kneeling down, with her hands over the mushrooms to
guard them from Grisha, she was calling little Masha.
"Come here, little ones! There are so many!" she was saying in her
sweet, deep voice.
Seeing Sergei Ivanovich approaching, she did not get up and did
not change her position, but everything told him that she felt his
presence and was glad of it.
"Well, did you find some?" she asked from under the white
kerchief, turning her handsome, gently smiling face to him.
"Not one," said Sergei Ivanovich. "Did you?"
She did not answer, busy with the children who thronged about her.
"That one too, near the twig," she pointed out to little Masha a
little fungus, split in half across its rosy cap by the dry grass from
under which it thrust itself. Varenka got up while Masha picked the
fungus, breaking it into two white halves. "This brings back my
childhood," she added, moving apart from the children, to Sergei
They walked on for a few steps in silence. Varenka saw that he
wanted to speak; she guessed of what, and felt faint with joy and
panic. They had walked so far away that no one could hear them now,
but still he did not begin. It would have been better for Varenka to
be silent. After a silence it would have been easier for them to say
what they wanted to say, than after talking about mushrooms. But
against her own will, as it were accidentally, Varenka said:
"So you found nothing? In the middle of the wood there are always
Sergei Ivanovich sighed and made no answer. He was annoyed that
she had spoken about the mushrooms. He wanted to bring her back to the
first words she had uttered about her childhood; but after a pause of
some length, as though against his own will, he made an observation in
response to her last words.
"I have heard that the white edible fungi are found principally at
the edge of the wood, though I can't tell them apart."
Some minutes more passed; they moved still farther away from the
children, and were quite alone. Varenka's heart throbbed so that she
heard it beating, and felt that she was turning red, and pale, and red
To be the wife of a man like Koznishev, after her position with
Madame Stahl, was to her imagination the height of happiness. Besides,
she was almost certain that she was in love with him. And this moment
it would have to be decided. She felt frightened. She dreaded both his
speaking and his not speaking.
Now or never it must be said——Sergei Ivanovich felt that too.
Everything in the expression, the flushed cheeks and the downcast eyes
of Varenka betrayed a painful suspense. Sergei Ivanovich saw it, and
felt sorry for her. He felt even that to say nothing now would be a
slight to her. Rapidly in his own mind he ran over all the arguments
in support of his decision. He even said over to himself the words in
which he meant to put his proposal, but instead of those words, some
utterly unexpected reflection that occurred to him made him ask:
"What is the difference between the 'birch' mushroom and the
Varenka's lips quivered with emotion as she answered:
"In the top part there is scarcely any difference——it's in the
And as soon as these words were uttered, both he and she felt that
it was over, that what was to have been said would not be said; and
their emotion, which up to then had been continually growing more
intense, began to subside.
"The birch mushroom's stalk suggests a dark man's chin after two
days without shaving," said Sergei Ivanovich, speaking quite calmly
"Yes, that's true," answered Varenka smiling, and unconsciously
the direction of their walk changed. They began to turn toward the
children. Varenka felt both hurt and ashamed; at the same time she
felt a sense of relief.
When he had got home again, and went over the whole set of
arguments, Sergei Ivanovich thought his previous decision had been a
mistaken one. He could not be false to the memory of Marie.
"Gently, children, gently!" Levin shouted quite angrily to the
children, standing before his wife to protect her when the crowd of
children flew with shrieks of delight to meet them.
Behind the children Sergei Ivanovich and Varenka walked out of the
forest. Kitty had no need to ask Varenka; she saw from the calm and
somewhat crestfallen faces of both that her plans had not come off.
"Well?" her husband questioned her as they were going home again.
"No bites," said Kitty, her smile and manner of speaking recalling
her father, a likeness Levin often noticed with pleasure.
"No bites, how?"
"I'll show you," she said, taking her husband's hand, lifting it
to her mouth, and just faintly brushing it with closed lips. "Like a
kiss on a priest's hand."
"Which one didn't bite?" he said, laughing.
"Both. But it should have been like this..."
"There are some peasants coming..."
"Oh, they didn't see."
During the time of the children's tea the grownups sat on the
balcony and talked as though nothing had happened though they all,
especially Sergei Ivanovich and Varenka, were very well aware that
there had happened an event which, though negative, was of very great
importance. They both had the same feeling, rather like that of a
schoolboy after an unlucky examination, which has left him in the same
class or shut him out of school forever. Everyone present, also
feeling that something had happened, talked eagerly about extraneous
subjects. Levin and Kitty were particularly happy and conscious of
their love that evening. And their happiness in their love seemed to
imply a disagreeable reference to those who would have liked to feel
the same and could not——and they felt a prick of conscience.
"Mark my words, Alexandre will not come," said the old Princess.
That evening they were expecting Stepan Arkadyevich to come down
by train, and the old Prince had written that possibly he might come
"And I know why," the Princess went on; "he says that newly
married couples ought to be left alone for a while at first."
"But papa has left us alone. We've never seen him," said Kitty.
"Besides, we're not newly married!——we're old married people by now.
"Only if he doesn't come, I shall say good-by to you, children,"
said the Princess, sighing mournfully.
"What nonsense, mamma!" both the daughters fell upon her at once.
"How do you suppose he is feeling? Why, now..."
And suddenly there was an unexpected quiver in the Princess's
voice. Her daughters were silent, and looked at one another. "Maman
always finds something to be miserable about," they said in that
glance. They did not know that happy as the Princess was in her
daughter's house, and useful as she felt herself to be there, she had
been extremely miserable, both on her own account and her husband's,
ever since they had married off their last and favorite daughter, and
their family nest had been left empty.
"What is it, Agathya Mikhailovna?" Kitty asked suddenly of Agathya
Mikhailovna, who was standing with a mysterious air, and a face full
"Well, that's right," said Dolly; "you go and arrange about it,
and I'll go and hear Grisha repeat his lesson, or else he will have
done nothing all day."
"That's my duty! No, Dolly, I'm going," said Levin, jumping up.
Grisha, who was by now at a high school, had to go over the
lessons of the term in the summer holidays. Darya Alexandrovna, who
had been studying Latin with her son in Moscow before, had made it a
rule on coming to the Levins' to go over with him, at least once a
day, the most difficult lessons of Latin and arithmetic. Levin had
offered to take her place, but the mother, having once overheard
Levin's lesson, and noticing that it was not given exactly as the
teacher in Moscow had given it, said resolutely, though with much
embarrassment and anxiety not to mortify Levin, that they must keep
strictly to the book as the teacher had done, and that she had better
undertake it again herself. Levin was amazed both at Stepan
Arkadyevich, who, by neglecting his duty, threw upon the mother the
supervision of studies of which she had no comprehension, and at the
teachers for teaching the children so badly. But he promised his
sister-in-law to give the lessons exactly as she wished. And he went
on teaching Grisha, not in his own way, but by the book, and so took
little interest in it, and often forgot the hour of the lesson. So it
had been today.
"No, I'm going, Dolly, you sit still," he said. "We'll do it all
properly, according to the book. Only when Stiva comes, and we go out
shooting, then we shall have to miss it."
And Levin went to Grisha.
Varenka was saying the same thing to Kitty. Even in the happy,
well-ordered household of the Levins, Varenka had succeeded in making
"I'll see to the supper, you sit still," she said, and got up to
go to Agathya Mikhailovna.
"Yes, yes, most likely they've not been able to get chickens. If
"Agathya Mikhailovna and I will see about it," and Varenka
vanished with her.
"What a fine girl!" said the Princess.
"Not merely fine, maman; she's an exquisite girl; there's no one
else like her."
"So you are expecting Stepan Arkadyevich today?" said Sergei
Ivanovich, evidently not disposed to pursue the conversation about
Varenka. "It would be difficult to find two sons-in-law more unlike
than yours," he said with a subtle smile. "One mobility itself, only
living in society, like a fish in water; the other our Kostia, lively,
alert, quick in everything, but, as soon as he is in society, he
either sinks into apathy, or struggles helplessly like a fish on
"Yes, he's very heedless," said the Princess, addressing Sergei
Ivanovich. "I've intended, indeed, to ask you to tell him that it's
out of the question for her" (she indicated Kitty) "to stay here; that
she positively must come to Moscow. He talks of getting a doctor
"Maman, he'll do everything; he has agreed to everything," Kitty
said, angry with her mother for appealing to Sergei Ivanovich to judge
in such a matter.
In the middle of their conversation they heard the snorting of
horses and the sound of wheels on the gravel.
Dolly had not time to get up to go and meet her husband, when from
the window of the room below, where Grisha was having his lesson,
Levin leaped out and helped Grisha out after him.
"It's Stiva!" Levin shouted from under the balcony. "We've
finished, Dolly, don't be afraid!" he added, and started running like
a boy to meet the carriage.
"Is, ea, id, ejus, ejus, ejus!" shouted Grisha, skipping along the
"And someone else too! Papa, of course!" cried Levin, stopping at
the entrance of the avenue. "Kitty, don't come down the steep
But Levin had been mistaken in taking the person sitting in the
carriage for the old Prince. As he got nearer to the carriage he saw
beside Stepan Arkadyevich not the Prince, but a handsome, stout young
man in a Scotch cap, with long ends of ribbon behind. This was
Vassenka Veslovsky, a distant cousin of the Shcherbatskys, a brilliant
young gentleman in Peterburg and Moscow society——a capital fellow, and
a keen sportsman," as Stepan Arkadyevich said, introducing him.
Not a whit abashed by the disappointment caused by his having come
in place of the old Prince, Veslovsky greeted Levin gaily, claiming
acquaintance with him in the past, and snatching up Grisha into the
carriage, lifted him over the pointer that Stepan Arkadyevich had
brought with him.
Levin did not get into the carriage, but walked behind. He was
rather vexed at the nonarrival of the old Prince, whom he liked more
and more the more he saw him, and also the arrival of this Vassenka
Veslovsky, a quite alien and superfluous person. He seemed to him
still more alien and superfluous when, on approaching the steps where
the whole party, children and grownups, were gathered together in much
animation, Levin saw Vassenka Veslovsky, with a particularly warm and
gallant air, kissing Kitty's hand.
"Your wife and I are cousins and very old friends," said Vassenka
Veslovsky, once more shaking Levin's hand with great warmth.
"Well, are there plenty of birds?" Stepan Arkadyevich said to
Levin, hardly leaving time for everyone to exchange greetings. "We've
come with the most savage intentions. Why, maman, they've not been in
Moscow since! Look, Tania, here's something for you! Get it, please,
it's in the carriage, behind!" he talked in all directions. "How
pretty you've grown, Dollenka," he said to his wife, once more kissing
her hand, holding it in one of his, and patting it with the other.
Levin, who a minute before had been in the happiest frame of mind,
now looked darkly at everyone, and everything displeased him.
"Who was it he kissed yesterday with these lips?" he thought,
looking at Stepan Arkadyevich's tender demonstrations to his wife. He
looked at Dolly, and he did not like her either.
"She doesn't believe in his love. So what is she pleased about?
Revolting!" thought Levin.
He looked at the Princess, who had been so dear to him a minute
before, and he did not like the manner in which she welcomed this
Vassenka, with his ribbons, just as though she were in her own house.
Even Sergei Ivanovich, who had come out too on the steps, seemed
to him unpleasant with the show of cordiality with which he met Stepan
Arkadyevich, though Levin knew that his brother neither liked nor
And Varenka——even she seemed hateful, with her air sainte nitouche
making the acquaintance of this gentleman, while all the while she was
thinking of nothing but getting married.
And more hateful than anyone was Kitty, for falling in with the
tone of gaiety with which this gentleman regarded his visit in the
country, as though it were a holiday for himself and everyone else.
And, more unpleasant than everything else, was that peculiar smile
with which she responded to his smile.
Noisily talking, they all went into the house; but as soon as they
were all seated, Levin turned and went out.
Kitty saw something was wrong with her husband. She tried to seize
a moment to speak to him alone, but he made haste to get away from
her, saying he was wanted at the countinghouse. It was long since his
own work on the estate had seemed to him so important as at that
moment. "It's all holiday for them," he thought; "but these are no
holiday matters, they won't wait, and there's no living without them."
Levin came back to the house only when they sent to summon to
supper. On the stairs were standing Kitty and Agathya Mikhailovna,
consulting about wines for supper.
"But why are you making all this fuss? Have what we usually do."
"No, Stiva doesn't drink... Kostia, stop, what's the matter?"
Kitty began, hurrying after him, but he strode ruthlessly away to the
dining room without waiting for her, and at once joined in the lively
general conversation which was being maintained there by Vassenka
Veslovsky and Stepan Arkadyevich.
"Well, what do you say, are we going shooting tomorrow?" said
"Please, do let's go," said Veslovsky, moving to another chair,
where he sat down sideways, with one fat leg crossed under him.
"I shall be delighted, we will go. And have you had any shooting
yet this year?" said Levin to Veslovsky, looking intently at his leg,
but speaking with that forced amiability that Kitty knew so well in
him, and that was so out of keeping with him. "I can't answer for our
finding double snipe, but there are plenty of jacksnipe. Only we ought
to start early. You're not tired? Aren't you tired, Stiva?"
"Me tired? I've never been tired yet. Suppose we stay up all
night. Let's go for a walk!"
"Yes, really, let's not go to bed at all! Capital!" Veslovsky
"Oh, we all know you can do without sleep, and keep other people
up too," Dolly said to her husband, with that faint note of irony in
her voice which she almost always had now with her husband. "But to my
thinking, it's time for bed now... I'm going, I don't want supper."
"No, do stay a little, Dollenka," said Stepan Arkadyevich, going
round to her side behind the table where they were having supper.
"I've so much still to tell you."
"Nothing really, I suppose."
"Do you know Veslovsky has been at Anna's, and he's going to them
again? You know they're hardly seventy verstas from you, and I too
must certainly go over there. Veslovsky, come here!"
Vassenka crossed over to the ladies, and sat down beside Kitty.
"Ah, do tell me, please; you have visited her? How was she?" Darya
Alexandrovna appealed to him.
Levin was left at the other end of the table, and though never
pausing in his conversation with the Princess and Varenka, he saw that
there was an eager and mysterious conversation going on between Stepan
Arkadyevich, Dolly, Kitty, and Veslovsky. And that was not all. He saw
on his wife's face an expression of real feeling as she gazed with
fixed eyes on the handsome face of Vassenka, who was telling them
something with great animation.
"It's exceedingly nice at their place," Veslovsky was telling them
about Vronsky and Anna. "I can't, of course, take it upon myself to
judge, but in their house you feel the real feeling of home."
"What do they intend doing?"
"I believe they think of going to Moscow for the winter."
"How jolly it would be for us all to go over to them together!
When are you going there?" Stepan Arkadyevich asked Vassenka.
"I'm spending July there."
"Will you go?" Stepan Arkadyevich said to his wife.
"I've been wanting to a long while; I shall certainly go," said
Dolly. "I am sorry for her, and I know her. She's a splendid woman. I
will go alone, when you go back, and then I shall be in no one's way.
And it will be better indeed without you."
"To be sure," said Stepan Arkadyevich. "And you, Kitty?"
"I? Why should I go?" Kitty said, flushing all over, and she
glanced round at her husband.
"Do you know Anna Arkadyevna, then?" Veslovsky asked her. "She's a
very fascinating woman?"
"Yes," she answered Veslovsky, crimsoning still more. She got up
and walked across to her husband.
"Are you going shooting, then, tomorrow?" she said.
His jealousy had in these few moments, especially at the flush
that had overspread her cheeks while she was talking to Veslovsky,
gone far indeed. Now as he heard her words, he construed them in his
own fashion. Strange as it was to him afterward to recall it, it
seemed to him at the moment clear that in asking whether he was going
shooting, all she cared to know was whether he would give that
pleasure to Vassenka Veslovsky, with whom, as he fancied, she was in
"Yes, I'm going," he answered her in an unnatural voice,
disagreeable to himself.
"No, better spend the day here tomorrow, or Dolly won't see
anything of her husband, and set off the day after," said Kitty.
The motive of Kitty's words was interpreted by Levin thus: "Don't
separate me from him. I don't care about your going, but do let me
enjoy the society of this delightful young man."
"Oh, if you wish, we'll stay here tomorrow," Levin answered, with
Vassenka meanwhile, utterly unsuspecting the misery his presence
had occasioned, got up from the table after Kitty, and watching her
with smiling and admiring eyes, he followed her.
Levin saw that look. He turned white, and for a minute he could
hardly breathe. "How dare he look at my wife like that!" was the
feeling that boiled within him.
"Tomorrow, then? Do, please, let us go," said Vassenka, sitting
down on a chair, and again crossing his leg as his habit was.
Levin's jealousy went further still. Already he saw himself a
deceived husband, looked upon by his wife and her lover as simply
necessary to provide them with the conveniences and pleasures of
life.... But in spite of that he made polite and hospitable inquiries
of Vassenka about his shooting, his gun, and his boots, and agreed to
go shooting next day.
Happily for Levin, the old Princess cut short his agonies by
getting up herself and advising Kitty to go to bed. But even at this
point Levin could not escape another agony. As he said good night to
his hostess, Vassenka would again have kissed her hand, but Kitty,
reddening, drew back her hand and said with a naive bluntness, for
which the old Princess scolded her afterward:
"We don't like that fashion."
In Levin's eyes she was to blame for having allowed such relations
to arise, and still more to blame for showing so awkwardly that she
did not like them.
"Why, how can one want to go to bed!" said Stepan Arkadyevich,
who, after drinking several glasses of wine at supper, was now in his
most charming and lyrical humor. "Look, Kitty," he said, pointing to
the moon, which had just risen behind the linden trees, "how
exquisite! Veslovsky, this is the time for a serenade. You know, he
has a splendid voice; we practised songs together along the road. He
has brought some lovely songs with him——two new ones. Varvara
Andreevna and he must sing some duets."
When the party had broken up, Stepan Arkadyevich walked a long
while about the avenue with Veslovsky; their voices could be heard
singing one of the new songs.
Levin, hearing these voices, sat scowling in an easy chair in his
wife's bedroom, and maintained an obstinate silence when she asked him
what was wrong. But when at last with a timid glance she hazarded the
question: "Was there perhaps something you disliked about Veslovsky?"——
it all burst out, and he told her all. He was hurt himself by what he
was saying, and that exasperated him all the more.
He stood facing her with his eyes glittering menacingly under his
scowling brows, and he squeezed his strong arms across his chest, as
though he were straining every nerve to hold himself in. The
expression of his face would have been grim, and even cruel, if it had
not at the same time had a look of suffering which touched her. His
jaws were twitching, and his voice kept breaking.
"You must understand that I'm not jealous, that's a nasty word. I
can't be jealous, and believe that... I can't say what I feel, but
this is awful... I'm not jealous, but I'm wounded, humiliated that
anybody dare think, that anybody dare look at you with eyes like
"Eyes like what?" said Kitty, trying as conscientiously as
possible to recall every word and gesture of that evening and every
shade implied in them.
At the very bottom of her heart she did think there had been
something, precisely at the moment when he had crossed over after her
to the other end of the table; but she dared not own it even to
herself, and would have been even more unable to bring herself to say
so to him, and so increase his suffering.
"And what can there possibly be attractive about me as I am
"Ah!" he cried, clutching at his head, "You shouldn't say that!...
If you had been attractive, then..."
"Oh, no, Kostia, oh, wait a minute, oh, do listen!" she said,
looking at him with an expression of pained commiseration. "Why, what
can you be thinking about! When for me there's no one in the world, no
one, no one!... Would you like me never to see anyone?
For the first minute she had been offended at his jealousy; she
was angry that the slightest amusement, even the most innocent, should
be forbidden her; but now she would readily have sacrificed, not
merely such trifles, but everything, for his peace of mind, to save
him from the agony he was suffering.
"You must understand the horror and comedy of my position," he
went on in a desperate whisper; "that he's in my house, that he's done
nothing positively improper——one can take exception only to his free
and easy airs and the way he tucks his legs in under him. He thinks
it's the best possible form, and so I'm obliged to be civil to him."
"But, Kostia, you're exaggerating," said Kitty, at the bottom of
her heart rejoicing at the depth of his love for her, shown now in his
"The most awful part of it all is that you're just as you always
are, and especially now when to me you're something sacred, and we're
so happy, so particularly happy——and all of a sudden a little
wretch... He's not a little wretch; why should I abuse him? I have
nothing to do with him. But why should my, and your, happiness..."
"Do you know, I understand now what it all came from," Kitty was
"Well, what? What?"
"I saw how you looked while we were talking at supper."
"Well, well!" Levin said in dismay.
She told him what they had been talking about. And as she told
him, she was breathless with emotion. Levin was silent for a space,
then he scanned her pale and distressed face, and suddenly he clutched
at his head.
"Katia, I've been worrying you! Darling, forgive me! It's madness!
Katia, I'm a criminal. And how could you be so distressed at such
"Oh, I was sorry for you."
"For me? For me? How mad I am!... But why make you miserable? It's
awful to think that any outsider can shatter our happiness."
"It's humiliating too, of course."
"Oh, then I'll keep him here all the summer, and will overwhelm
him with civility," said Levin, kissing her hands. "You shall see.
Tomorrow... oh, yes, we are going tomorrow."
Next day, before the ladies were up, the carriages for the
shooting party, the droshky and a trap, were at the door, and Laska,
aware since early morning that they were going shooting, after much
whining and darting to and fro, had sat herself down in the droshky
beside the coachman, and, disapproving of the delay, was excitedly
watching the door from which the sportsmen still did not issue. The
first to come out was Vassenka Veslovsky, in new high boots that
reached halfway up his thick thighs, in a green blouse, with a new
cartridge belt, redolent of leather, and in his Scotch cap with
ribbons, with a brand-new English gun without a sling. Laska flew up
to him, welcomed him, and, jumping up, asked him in her own way
whether the others were coming soon; but getting no answer from him,
she returned to her post of observation and sank into repose again,
her head on one side, and one ear pricked up to listen. At last the
door opened with a creak, and Stepan Arkadyevich's spot-and-tan
pointer Krak flew out, running round and round and turning over in the
air. Stepan Arkadyevich himself followed with a gun in his hand and a
cigar in his mouth. "Soho, soho, Krak!" he cried encouragingly to the
dog, who put his paws up on his chest, catching at his gamebag. Stepan
Arkadyevich was dressed in brogues and puttees, in torn trousers and a
short coat. On his head there was a wreck of a hat of indefinite form,
but his gun of a new patent was a perfect gem, and his gamebag and
cartridge belt, though worn, were of the very best quality.
Vassenka Veslovsky had had no notion before that it was truly chic
for a sportsman to be in tatters, but to have his shooting outfit of
the best quality. He saw it now as he looked at Stepan Arkadyevich,
radiant in his rags, graceful, well-fed, and joyous, a typical Russian
nobleman. And he made up his mind that next time he went shooting he
would certainly adopt the same getup.
"Well, and what about our host?" he asked.
"A young wife," said Stepan Arkadyevich, smiling.
"Yes, and such a charming one!"
"He came down dressed. No doubt he's run up to her again."
Stepan Arkadyevich guessed right. Levin had run up again to his
wife to ask her once more if she forgave him for his idiocy yesterday,
and, moreover, to beg her in Christ's name to be more careful. The
great thing was for her to keep away from the children——they might any
minute jostle against her. Then he had once more to hear her declare
that she was not angry with him for going away for two days, and to
beg her to be sure to send a note next morning by a servant on
horseback, to write him, if it were but two words only, to let him
know that all was well with her.
Kitty was distressed, as she always was, at parting for a couple
of days from her husband, but when she saw his eager figure, looking
big and strong in his shooting boots and his white blouse, and a sort
of sportsman elation and excitement incomprehensible to her, she
forgot her own chagrin for the sake of his pleasure, and said good-by
to him cheerfully.
"Pardon, gentlemen!" he said, running out on the steps. "Have you
put the lunch in? Why is the chestnut on the right? Well, it doesn't
matter. Laska, down; go and lie down!"
"Put them with the herd of heifers," he said to the herdsman who
was waiting for him at the steps to ask him what was to be done with
the geld oxen. "Excuse me, here comes another villain."
Levin jumped out of the droshky, in which he had already taken his
seat, to meet the carpenter, who came toward the steps with a rule in
"You didn't come to the countinghouse yesterday, and now you're
detaining me. Well, what is it?"
"Would your honor let me make another turning? There's only three
steps to add. And we make it just fit at the same time. It will be
much more convenient."
"You should have listened to me," Levin answered with annoyance.
"I said: Put the lines and then fit in the steps. Now there's no
setting it right. Do as I told you, and make a new staircase."
The point was that in the wing that was being built the carpenter
had spoiled the staircase, fitting it together without calculating the
space it was to fill, so that the steps were all sloping when it was
put in place. Now the carpenter wanted to keep the same staircase, by
adding three steps.
"It will be much better."
"But where's your staircase coming out with its three steps?"
"Why, upon my word, sir," the carpenter said with a contemptuous
smile. "It comes out right at the very spot. It starts here," he said,
with a persuasive gesture, "then it'll go up, and go up and come out."
"But three steps will add to the length too... where is it to come
"Why, to be sure, it'll go up, and come out," the carpenter said
obstinately and convincingly.
"It'll reach the ceiling and the wall."
"Upon my word! Why, it'll go up, and go up, and come out like
Levin took out a ramrod and began sketching him the staircase in
"There, do you see?"
"As your honor likes," said the carpenter, with a sudden gleam in
his eyes, obviously understanding the thing at last. "It seems it'll
be best to make a new one."
"Well, then, do it as you're told," Levin shouted, seating himself
in the droshky. "Down! Hold the dogs, Philip!"
Levin felt now at leaving behind all his family and household
cares such an eager sense of joy in life and expectation that he was
not disposed to talk. Besides that, he had that feeling of
concentrated excitement that every sportsman experiences as he
approaches the scene of action. If he had anything on his mind at that
moment, it was only the doubt whether they would start anything in the
Kolpensky marsh, whether Laska would show to advantage in comparison
with Krak, and whether he would shoot well that day himself. Not to
disgrace himself before a new spectator——not to be outdone by
Oblonsky——that too was a thought that crossed his brain.
Oblonsky was feeling the same, and he too was not talkative.
Vassenka Veslovsky alone kept up a ceaseless flow of cheerful chatter.
As he listened to him now, Levin felt ashamed to think how unfair he
had been to him the day before. Vassenka was really a fine fellow,
simple, goodhearted, and very good-humored. If Levin had met him
before he was married, he would have made friends with him. Levin
rather disliked his holiday attitude to life and a sort of free and
easy assumption of elegance. It was as though he assumed a high degree
of importance in himself that could not be disputed, because he had
long nails and a stylish cap, and everything else to correspond; but
this could be forgiven for the sake of his good nature and good
breeding. Levin liked him for his good education, for speaking French
and English with such an excellent accent, and for being a man of his
Vassenka was extremely delighted with the left outrigger, a horse
of the Don steppes. He kept praising him enthusiastically. "How fine
it must be galloping over the steppes on a steppe horse! Eh? Isn't
it?" he said. He had imagined riding on a steppe horse as something
wild and romantic, and it turned out nothing of the sort. But his
simplicity, particularly in conjunction with his good looks, his
amiable smile, and the grace of his movements, was very attractive.
Either because his nature was sympathetic to Levin, or because Levin
was trying to atone for his sins of the previous evening by seeing
nothing but what was good in him——at any rate, he liked his society.
After they had driven three verstas from home, Veslovsky all at
once felt for a cigar and his pocketbook, and did not know whether he
had lost them or left them on the table. In the pocketbook there were
three hundred and seventy roubles, and so the matter could not be left
"Do you know what, Levin, I'll gallop home on that outrigger. That
will be splendid. Eh?" he said, preparing to get out.
"No, why should you?" answered Levin, calculating that Vassenka
could hardly weigh less than six poods. "I'll send the coachman."
The coachman rode back on the outrigger, and Levin himself drove
the remaining pair.
"Well, now, what's our plan of campaign? Tell us all about it,"
said Stepan Arkadyevich.
"Our plan is this. Now we're driving to Gvozdiov. In Gvozdiov
there's a double snipe marsh on this side, and beyond Gvozdiov come
some magnificent jacksnipe marshes, where there are double snipe too.
It's hot now, and we'll get there——it's twenty verstas——toward
evening, and have some evening shooting; we'll spend the night there
and go on tomorrow to the bigger moors."
"And is there nothing on the way?"
"Yes; but we'll save ourselves; besides, it's hot. There are two
good little places, but I doubt there being anything to shoot."
Levin would himself have liked to go into these little places, but
they were near home; he could shoot them over any time, and they were
only little places——there would hardly be room for three to shoot. And
so, with some insincerity, he said that he doubted there being
anything to shoot. When they reached a little marsh Levin would have
driven by, but Stepan Arkadyevich, with the experienced eye of a
sportsman, at once detected a soggy spot visible from the road.
"Shan't we try that?" he said, pointing to the little marsh.
"Levin, do, please! How delightful!" Vassenka Veslovsky began
begging, and Levin could not but consent.
Before they had time to stop, the dogs had flown one before the
other into the marsh.
The dogs came back.
"There won't be room for three. I'll stay here," said Levin,
hoping they would find nothing but pewits, which had been startled by
the dogs, and, turning over in their flight, were plaintively wailing
over the marsh.
"No! Come along, Levin, let's go together!" Veslovsky called.
"Really, there's no room. Laska, back, Laska! You won't want
another dog, will you?"
Levin remained with the droshky, and looked enviously at the
sportsmen. They walked across the marsh. Except one moor hen and
pewits, of which Vassenka killed one, there was nothing in the marsh.
"Come, you see now that it was not that I grudged the marsh," said
Levin, "only it's wasting time."
"Oh, no, it was jolly all the same. Did you see us?" said Vassenka
Veslovsky, clambering awkwardly into the droshky with his gun and his
pewit in his hands. "How splendidly I shot this bird! Didn't I? Well,
shall we soon be getting to the real place?"
The horses started off suddenly, Levin knocked his head against
the stock of someone's gun, and there was the report of a shot. The
gun did actually go off first, but that was how it seemed to Levin. It
appeared that Vassenka Veslovsky making the cocks safe had pressed one
trigger, and had held back the other cock. The charge flew into the
ground without doing harm to anyone. Stepan Arkadyevich shook his head
and laughed reprovingly at Veslovsky. But Levin had not the heart to
reprove him. In the first place, any reproach would have seemed to be
called forth by the danger he had incurred and the bump that had come
up on Levin's forehead. And besides, Veslovsky was at first so naively
distressed, and then laughed so good-humoredly and infectiously at
their general dismay, that one could not but laugh with him.
When they reached the second marsh, which was fairly large, and
would inevitably take some time to shoot over, Levin tried to persuade
them to pass it by. But Veslovsky again talked him over. Again, as the
marsh was narrow, Levin, like a good host, remained with the
Krak made straight for hummocks; Vassenka Veslovsky was the first
to run after the dog. Before Stepan Arkadyevich had time to come up, a
double snipe flew out. Veslovsky missed it and it flew into an unmown
meadow. This double snipe was left for Veslovsky to follow up. Krak
found it again and pointed, and Veslovsky shot it and went back to the
"Now you go and I'll stay with the horses," he said.
Levin had begun to feel the pangs of a sportsman's envy. He handed
the reins to Veslovsky and walked into the marsh.
Laska, who had been plaintively whining and fretting against the
injustice of her treatment, flew straight ahead to an unfailing place,
covered with mossy hummocks, that Levin knew well, and that Krak had
not yet come upon.
"Why don't you stop her?" shouted Stepan Arkadyevich.
"She won't scare them," answered Levin, sympathizing with his
bitch's pleasure and hurrying after her.
As she came nearer and nearer to the familiar hummocks there was
more and more earnestness in Laska's exploration. A little marsh bird
did not divert her attention for more than an instant. She made one
circuit round the hummocks, was beginning a second, and suddenly
quivered with excitement and stood stock-still.
"Come, come, Stiva!" shouted Levin, feeling his heart beginning to
beat more violently; and all of a sudden, as though some sort of
shutter had been drawn back from his straining ears, all sounds,
confused but loud, began to beat on his hearing, losing all sense of
distance. He heard the steps of Stepan Arkadyevich, mistaking them for
the tramp of the horses in the distance; he heard the brittle sound of
the tussock which came off with its roots when he had trodden on a
hummock, and he took this sound for the flight of a double snipe. He
heard too, not far behind him, a splashing in the water, which he
could not explain to himself.
Picking his steps, he moved up to the dog.
Not a double but a jacksnipe flew up from beside the dog. Levin
had lifted his gun, but at the very instant when he was taking aim,
the sound of splashing grew louder, came closer, and was joined with
the sound of Veslovsky's voice, shouting something with strange
loudness. Levin saw he had his gun pointed behind the snipe, but still
When he had made sure he had missed, Levin looked round and saw
the horses and the droshky not on the road but in the marsh.
Veslovsky, eager to see the shooting, had driven into the marsh,
and got the horses stuck in the mud.
"Damn the fellow!" Levin said to himself, as he went back to the
carriage that had sunk in the mire. "What did you drive in for?" he
said to him dryly, and, calling the coachman he began pulling the
Levin was vexed both at being hindered from shooting and at his
horses getting stuck in the mud, and still more at the fact that
neither Stepan Arkadyevich nor Veslovsky helped him and the coachman
to unharness the horses and get them out, since neither of them had
the slightest notion of harnessing. Without answering a syllable to
Vassenka's protestations that it had been quite dry there, Levin
worked in silence with the coachman at extricating the horses. But
then, as he got warm at the work and saw how assiduously Veslovsky was
tugging at the droshky by one of the splashboards, so that he broke it
indeed, Levin blamed himself for having under the influence of
yesterday's feelings been too cold to Veslovsky, and tried to be
particularly genial so as to smooth over his chilliness. When
everything had been put right, and the vehicles had been brought back
to the road, Levin had the lunch served.
"Bon appetit——bonne conscience! Ce poulet va tomber jusqu'au fond
de mes bottes," Vassenka, who had recovered his spirits, quoted the
French saying as he finished his second chicken. "Well, now our
troubles are over, now everything's going to go well. Only, to atone
for my sins, I'm bound to sit on the box. That's so? Eh? No, no! I'll
be your Automedon. You shall see how I'll get you along," he answered,
without letting go the rein, when Levin begged him to let the coachman
drive. "No, I must atone for my sins, and I'm very comfortable on the
box." And he drove.
Levin was a little afraid he would exhaust the horses, especially
the left of them, the chestnut, whom he did not know how to hold in;
but unconsciously he fell under the influence of his gaiety and
listened to the songs he sang all the way on the box, or the
descriptions and representations he gave of driving in the English
fashion, four-in-hand; and it was in the very best of spirits that
after lunch they drove to the Gvozdiov marsh.
Vassenka drove the horses so fast that they reached the marsh too
early, while it was still hot.
As they drew near this more important marsh, the chief aim of
their expedition, Levin could not help considering how he could get
rid of Vassenka and be free in his movements. Stepan Arkadyevich
evidently had the same desire, and on his face Levin saw the look of
anxiety always present in a true sportsman when beginning shooting,
together with a certain good-humored slyness peculiar to him.
"How shall we go? It's a splendid marsh, I see, and there are
hawks," said Stepan Arkadyevich, pointing to two great birds hovering
over the sedge. "Where there are hawks, there is sure to be game."
"Now, gentlemen," said Levin, pulling up his boots and examining
the lock of his gun with a somewhat somber expression, "do you see
that sedge?" He pointed to an oasis of blackish green in the huge
half-mown wet meadow that stretched along the right bank of the river.
"The marsh begins here, straight in front of us, do you see——where it
is greener? From here it runs to the right where the horses are; there
are hummocks there, and double snipe, and all round that sedge as far
as that alder tree, and right up to the mill. Over there, do you see,
where the creek is? That's the best place. There I once shot seventeen
jacksnipe. We'll separate with the dogs and go in different
directions, and then meet over there at the mill."
"Well, who'll go left, and who to the right?" asked Stepan
Arkadyevich. "It's wider to the right; you two go that way and I'll
take the left," he said with apparent carelessness.
"Capital! We'll make the bigger bag! Yes, come along, come along!"
Levin could do nothing but agree, and they divided.
As soon as they entered the marsh, the two dogs began hunting
about together and made toward the rust-colored spot. Levin knew
Laska's method, wary and indefinite; he knew the place too, and
expected a whole covey of snipe.
"Veslovsky, walk beside me——beside me!" he said in a faint voice
to his companion splashing in the water behind him. Levin could not
help feeling an interest in the direction his gun was pointed, after
that casual shot near the Kolpensky marsh.
"Oh, I won't get in your way, don't trouble about me."
But Levin could not help troubling, and recalled Kitty's words at
parting: "Mind you don't shoot one another." The dogs came nearer and
nearer, passed each other, each pursuing its own scent. The
expectation of snipe was so intense that to Levin the smacking sound
of his own heel, as he drew it up out of the rusty mire, seemed to be
the call of a snipe, and he clutched and pressed the butt of his gun.
Bang! bang! sounded almost in his ear. Vassenka had fired at a
flock of ducks which was hovering over the marsh and flying at that
moment toward the sportsmen, far out of range. Before Levin had time
to look round, there was the whir of one snipe, another, a third, and
some eight more rose one after another.
Stepan Arkadyevich hit one at the very moment when it was
beginning its zigzag movements, and the snipe fell as a clod into the
quagmire. Oblonsky aimed deliberately at another, still flying low
toward the sedge, and together with the report of the shot, that snipe
too fell, and it could be seen fluttering out where the sedge had been
cut, its unhurt wing showing white beneath.
Levin was not so lucky: he aimed at his first bird too low, and
missed; he aimed at it again, just as it was rising, but at that
instant another snipe flew up at his very feet, distracting him so
that he missed again.
While they were reloading their guns, another snipe rose, and
Veslovsky, who had had time to reload again, sent two charges of small
shot into the water. Stepan Arkadyevich picked up his snipe, and with
sparkling eyes looked at Levin.
"Well, now let us separate," said Stepan Arkadyevich, and limping
on his left foot, holding his gun in readiness and whistling to his
dog, he walked off in one direction. Levin and Veslovsky walked off in
It always happened with Levin that when his first shots were a
failure he got heated and out of temper, and shot badly the whole day.
So was it that day. The snipe showed themselves in numbers. They kept
flying up from just under the dogs, from under the sportsmen's legs,
and Levin might have retrieved his ill luck. But the more he shot, the
more he felt disgraced in the eyes of Veslovsky, who kept popping away
merrily and indiscriminately, killing nothing, and not in the
slightest abashed by his ill success. Levin, in feverish haste, could
not restrain himself, got more and more out of temper, and ended by
shooting almost without a hope of hitting. Laska, indeed, seemed to
understand this. She began searching more listlessly, and gazed back
at the sportsmen with apparent perplexity or reproach in her eyes.
Shots followed shots in rapid succession. The smoke of the powder hung
about the sportsmen, while in the great roomy net of the gamebag there
were only three light, small snipe. And of these one had been killed
by Veslovsky alone, and one by both of them together. Meanwhile, from
the other side of the marsh, came the sound of Stepan Arkadyevich's
shots, not frequent, but, as Levin fancied, well directed, for almost
after each they heard "Krak, Krak, apporte!"
This excited Levin still more. The snipe were floating continually
in the air over the sedge. Their whirring wings close to the earth,
and their harsh cries high in the air, could be heard on all sides;
the snipe that had risen first and flown up into the air, settled
again before the sportsmen. Instead of two hawks there were now dozens
of them hovering with shrill cries over the marsh.
After walking through the larger half of the marsh, Levin and
Veslovsky reached the place where the peasants' mowing grass was
divided into long strips reaching to the sedge, marked off in one
place by the trampled grass, in another by a path mown through it.
Half of these strips had already been mown.
Though there was not so much hope of finding birds in the uncut
part as the cut part, Levin had promised Stepan Arkadyevich to meet
him, and so he walked on with his companion through the cut and uncut
"Hi, hunters!" shouted one of a group of peasants, sitting on an
unharnessed telega: "Come and have some lunch with us! Have a drop of
Levin looked round.
"Come along, it's all right!" shouted a good-humored-looking
bearded peasant with a red face, showing his white teeth in a grin,
and holding up a greenish bottle that flashed in the sunlight.
"Qu'est-ce qu'ils disent?" asked Veslovsky.
"They invite you to have some vodka. Most likely they've been
dividing the meadow into lots. I should have some," said Levin, not
without some guile, hoping Veslovsky would be tempted by the vodka,
and would go off to them.
"Why do they offer it?"
"Oh, they're merrymaking. Really, you should join them. You would
"Allons, c'est curieux."
"You go, you go, you'll find the way to the mill!" cried Levin,
and looking round he perceived with satisfaction that Veslovsky, bent
and stumbling with weariness, holding his gun out at arm's length, was
making his way out of the marsh toward the peasants.
"You come too!" the peasant shouted to Levin. "Never fear! Taste
Levin felt a strong inclination for a drink of vodka and a bite of
bread. He was exhausted, and felt it a great effort to drag his
staggering legs out of the mire, and for a minute he hesitated. But
Laska was pointing. And immediately all his weariness vanished, and he
walked lightly through the swamp toward the dog. A snipe flew up at
his feet; he fired and killed it. Laska still pointed.——"Fetch it!"
Another bird flew up close to the dog. Levin fired. But it was an
unlucky day for him; he missed it, and when he went to look for the
one he had shot, he could not find that either. He wandered all about
the sedge, but Laska did not believe he had shot it, and when he sent
her to find it, she pretended to hunt for it, but did not really do
And in the absence of Vassenka, on whom Levin threw the blame of
his failure, things went no better. There was plenty of snipe still,
but Levin made one miss after another.
The slanting rays of the sun were still hot; his clothes, soaked
through with perspiration, stuck to his body; his left boot full of
water weighed heavily on his leg and squelched at every step; the
sweat ran in drops down his powder-grimed face, his mouth was full of
a bitter taste, his nose of the smell of powder and stagnant water,
his ears were ringing with the incessant whir of the snipe; he could
not touch the barrel of his gun, it was so hot; his heart beat with
short, rapid throbs; his hands shook with excitement, and his weary
legs stumbled and staggered over the hummocks and in the swamp, but
still he walked on and still he shot. At last, after a disgraceful
miss, he flung his gun and his hat on the ground.
"No, I must control myself," he said to himself. Picking up his
gun and his hat, he called Laska, and went out of the swamp. When he
got onto dry ground he sat down on a hummock, pulled off his boot and
emptied it, then walked to the marsh, drank some rust-tasting water,
moistened the burning hot barrel of his gun, and washed his face and
hands. Feeling refreshed, he went back to the spot where a snipe had
settled, firmly resolved to keep cool.
He tried to be calm, but it was the same again. His finger pressed
the trigger before he had taken a good aim at the bird. It got worse
He had only five birds in his gamebag when he walked out of the
marsh toward the alders, where he was to rejoin Stepan Arkadyevich.
Before he caught sight of Stepan Arkadyevich he saw his dog. Krak,
black all over with the stinking mire of the marsh, darted out from
behind the twisted root of an alder, and, with the air of a conqueror,
sniffed Laska. Behind Krak there came into view in the shade of the
alder tree the shapely figure of Stepan Arkadyevich. He came to meet
him, red and perspiring, with unbuttoned neckband, still limping in
the same way.
"Well? You have been popping away!" he said, smiling
"How have you got on?" queried Levin. But there was no need to
ask, for he had already seen the full gamebag.
"Oh, pretty fair."
He had fourteen birds.
"A splendid marsh! I've no doubt Veslovsky got in your way. It's
awkward too, shooting with one dog," said Stepan Arkadyevich, to
soften his triumph.
When Levin and Stepan Arkadyevich reached the peasant's hut where
Levin always used to stay, Veslovsky was already there. He was sitting
in the middle of the hut, clinging with both hands to the bench from
which he was being pulled by a soldier, the brother of the peasant's
wife, who was helping him off with his miry boots. Veslovsky was
laughing his infectious, good-humored laugh.
"I've only just come. Ils ont ete charmants. Just fancy they gave
me drink, and fed me! Such bread——it was exquisite! Dilicieux! And the
vodka——I never tasted any better. And they would not take a penny for
anything. And they kept saying: 'Excuse our homely ways.'"
"What should they take anything for? They were entertaining you,
to be sure. Do you suppose they keep vodka for sale?" said the
soldier, succeeding at last in pulling the soaked boot off, together
with the blackened stocking.
In spite of the dirtiness of the hut, which was all muddied by
their boots and the filthy dogs licking themselves clean, and the
smells of the marsh and the powder that filled the room, and the
absence of knives and forks, the party drank their tea and ate their
supper with a relish only known to sportsmen. Washed and clean, they
went into a hay barn swept ready for them, where the coachmen had been
making up beds for the gentlemen.
Though it was dusk, not one of them wanted to go to sleep.
After wavering among reminiscences and anecdotes of guns, of dogs,
and of former shooting parties, the conversation rested on a topic
that interested all of them. After Vassenka had several times over
expressed his appreciation of this delightful sleeping place among the
fragrant hay, this delightful broken telega (he supposed it to be
broken because the shafts had been taken out), of the good nature of
the peasants who had treated him to vodka, of the dogs who lay at the
feet of their respective masters, Oblonsky began telling them of a
delightful shooting party at Malthus's where he had stayed the
previous summer. Malthus was a well-known capitalist, who had made his
money by speculation in railway shares. Stepan Arkadyevich described
what snipe moors this Malthus had taken on lease in the Tver province,
and how they were preserved, and of the carriages and dogcarts in
which the shooting party had been driven, and the luncheon pavilion
that had been rigged up at the marsh.
"I don't understand you," said Levin, sitting up in the hay; "how
is it such people don't disgust you? I can understand a lunch with
Lafitte is all very pleasant, but don't you dislike just that very
sumptuousness? All these people, just like our tax farmers in the old
days, get their money in a way that gains them the contempt of
everyone. They don't care for their contempt, and then they use their
dishonest gains to buy off the contempt they have deserved."
"Perfectly true!" chimed in Vassenka Veslovsky. "Perfectly!
Oblonsky, of course, goes out of bonhomie, but other people say:
'Well, Oblonsky stays with them.'"
"Not a bit of it." Levin could hear that Oblonsky was smiling as
he spoke. "I simply don't consider him more dishonest than any other
wealthy merchant or nobleman. They've all made their money alike——by
their work and their intelligence."
"Oh, by what work? Do you call it work to get hold of concessions
and speculate with them?"
"Of course it's work. Work in this sense, that if it were not for
him and others like him, there would have been no railways."
"But that's not work, like the work of a peasant, or in a learned
"Granted, but it's work in the sense that his activity produces a
result——the railways. But of course you think the railways useless."
"No, that's another question; I am disposed to admit that they're
useful. But all profit that is out of proportion to the labor expended
"But who is to define what is proportionate?"
"Making profit by dishonest means, by trickery," said Levin,
conscious that he could not draw a distinct line between honesty and
dishonesty. "Such as banking, for instance," he went on. "It's an
evil——the amassing of huge fortunes without labor, just the same thing
as with the tax farmers——it's only the form that's changed. Le roi est
mort, vive le roi! No sooner were the tax farmers abolished than the
railways came up, and banking companies; that, too, is profit without
"Yes, that may all be very true and clever.... Lie down, Krak!"
Stepan Arkadyevich called to his dog, who was scratching and turning
over all the hay. He was obviously convinced of the correctness of his
position, and so talked serenely and without haste. "But you have not
drawn the line between honest and dishonest work. That I receive a
bigger salary than my chief clerk, though he knows more about the work
than I do——that's dishonest, I suppose?"
"I can't say."
"Well, but I can tell you: your receiving some five thousand,
let's say, for your work on the land, while our host, the peasant
here, however hard he works, can never get more than fifty roubles, is
just as dishonest as my earning more than my chief clerk, and Malthus
getting more than a railway expert. No, quite the contrary; I see that
society takes up a sort of antagonistic attitude to these people,
which is utterly baseless, and I fancy there's envy at the bottom of
"No, that's unfair," said Veslovsky; "how could envy come in?
There is something unclean about that sort of business."
"You say," Levin went on, "that it's unjust for me to receive five
thousand, while the peasant has fifty roubles; that's true. It is
unfair, and I feel it, but..."
"It really is. Why is it we spend our time riding, drinking,
shooting, doing nothing while they are forever at work?" said Vassenka
Veslovsky, obviously for the first time in his life reflecting on the
question, and consequently considering it with perfect sincerity.
"Yes, you feel it, but you don't give him your property," said
Stepan Arkadyevich, intentionally, as it seemed, provoking Levin.
There had arisen of late something like a secret antagonism
between the two brothers-in-law; as though, since they had married
sisters, a kind of rivalry had sprung up between them as to which was
ordering his life best, and now this hostility showed itself in the
conversation, as it began to take a personal note.
"I don't give it away, because no one demands that from me, and if
I wanted to, I could not give it away," answered Levin, "and have no
one to give it to."
"Give it to this peasant, he would not refuse it."
"Yes, but how am I to give it up? Am I to go to him and make a
"I don't know; but if you are convinced that you have no right..."
"I'm not at all convinced. On the contrary, I feel have no right
to give it up, that I have duties both to the land and to my family."
"No, excuse me, but if you consider this inequality is unjust, why
is it you don't act accordingly?..."
"Well, I do act negatively on that idea, so far as not trying to
increase the difference of position existing between him and me."
"No, excuse me, that's a paradox."
"Yes, there's something of a sophistry about that," Veslovsky
agreed. "Ah! Our host!" he said to the peasant who came into the barn,
opening the creaking door. "How is it you're not asleep yet?"
"No, how's one to sleep! I thought our gentlemen would be asleep,
but I heard them chattering. I want to get a hook from here. She won't
bite?" he added, stepping cautiously with his bare feet.
"And where are you going to sleep?"
"We are going out for night watching."
"Ah, what a night!" said Veslovsky, looking out at the edge of the
hut and the unharnessed droshky that could be seen in the faint light
of the evening glow in the great frame of the open doors. "But listen,
there are women's voices singing, and, on my word, not badly too!
Who's that singing, my friend?"
"That's the housemaids from hard by here."
"Let's go——let's take a walk! We shan't go to sleep, you know.
Oblonsky, come along!"
"If one could only do both, lie here and go," answered Oblonsky,
stretching. "It's capital lying here."
"Well, I shall go by myself," said Veslovsky, getting up eagerly,
and putting on his boots and stockings. "Good-by, gentlemen. If it's
fun, I'll fetch you. You've treated me to some good sport, and I won't
"He really is a capital fellow, isn't he?" said Stepan Arkadyevich
when Veslovsky had gone out and the peasant had closed the door after
"Yes, capital," answered Levin, still thinking of the subject of
their conversation just before. It seemed to him that he had clearly
expressed his thoughts and feelings to the best of his capacity, and
yet both of them, straightforward men and not fools, had said with one
voice that he was comforting himself with sophistries. This
"It's just this, my dear boy. One must do one of two things:
either admit that the existing order of society is just, and then
stick up for one's rights in it; or acknowledge that you are enjoying
unjust privileges, as I do, and then enjoy them and be satisfied."
"No, if it were unjust, you could not enjoy these advantages and
be satisfied——at least I could not. The great thing for me is to feel
that I'm not to blame."
"What do you say——why not go after all?" said Stepan Arkadyevich,
evidently weary of the strain of thought. "We shan't go to sleep, you
know. Come, let's go!"
Levin did not answer. What they had said in the conversation that
he acted justly only in a negative sense absorbed his thoughts. "Can
it be that it's only possible to be just negatively?" he was asking
"How strong the smell of the fresh hay is, though," said Stepan
Arkadyevich, getting up. "There's not a chance of sleeping. Vassenka
has been getting up some fun there. Do you hear the laughter and his
voice? Hadn't we better go? Come along!"
"No, I'm not coming," answered Levin.
"Surely that's not a matter of principle too," said Stepan
Arkadyevich, smiling, as he felt about in the dark for his cap.
"It's not a matter of principle, but why should I go?"
"But do you know you are preparing trouble for yourself," said
Stepan Arkadyevich, finding his cap and getting up.
"Do you suppose I don't see the line you've taken up with your
wife? I heard how it's a question of the greatest consequence, whether
or not you're to be away for a couple of days' shooting. That's all
very well as an idyllic episode, but for your whole life that won't
answer. A man must be independent; he has his masculine interests. A
man has to be manly," said Oblonsky, opening the door.
"In what way? To go running after servant girls?" said Levin.
"Why not, if it amuses him? Ca ne tire pas a consequence. It won't
do my wife any harm, and it'll amuse me. The great thing is to respect
the sanctity of the home. There should be nothing in the home. But
don't tie your own hands."
"Perhaps so," said Levin dryly, and he turned on his side.
"Tomorrow, early, I want to go shooting, and I won't wake anyone, and
shall set off at daybreak."
"Messieurs, venez vite!" they heard the voice of Veslovsky coming
back. "Charmante! I've made such a discovery. Charmante! A perfect
Gretchen, and I've already made friends with her. Really, exceedingly
pretty," he declared in a tone of approval, as though she had been
made pretty entirely on his account, and he were expressing his
satisfaction with the entertainment that had been provided for him.
Levin pretended to be asleep, while Oblonsky, putting on his
slippers, and lighting a cigar, walked out of the barn, and soon their
voices were lost.
For a long while Levin could not get to sleep. He heard his horses
munching hay, then he heard the peasant and his elder boy getting
ready, and then going off for the night watching, then he heard the
soldier arranging his bed on the other side of the barn, with his
nephew, the younger son of their peasant host. He heard the boy in his
shrill little voice telling his uncle what he thought about the dogs,
who seemed to him huge and terrible creatures, and asking what the
dogs were going to hunt next day, and the soldier in a husky, sleepy
voice, telling him the sportsmen were going in the morning to the
marsh, and would shoot with their guns; and then, to check the boy's
questions, he said, "Go to sleep, Vaska; go to sleep or you'll catch
it," and soon after he began snoring himself, and everything was
still. He could only hear the neigh of the horses, and the guttural
cry of a snipe. "Is it really only negative? he repeated to himself.
"Well, what of it? It's not my fault." And he began thinking about the
"Tomorrow I'll go out early, and I'll make a point of keeping
cool. There are lots of snipe; and there are double snipe too. When I
come back there'll be the note from Kitty. Yes, Stiva may be right,
I'm not manly with her, I'm tied to her apron strings.... Well, it
can't be helped! Negative again...."
Half asleep, he heard the laughter and mirthful talk of Veslovsky
and Stepan Arkadyevich. For an instant he opened his eyes: the moon
was up, and in the open doorway, brightly lighted up by the moonlight,
they were standing talking. Stepan Arkadyevich was saying something of
the freshness of one girl, comparing her to a freshly peeled nut, and
Veslovsky with his infectious laugh was repeating some words, probably
said to him by a peasant: "Ah, you'd better get round your own wife!"
Levin, half asleep, said:
"Gentlemen, tomorrow before daylight!" and fell asleep.
Waking up at earliest dawn, Levin tried to wake his companions.
Vassenka, lying on his stomach, with one leg in a stocking thrust out,
was sleeping so soundly that he could elicit no response. Oblonsky,
half asleep, declined to get up so early. Even Laska, who was asleep,
curled up in the hay, got up unwillingly, and lazily stretched out and
straightened her hind legs one after the other. Getting on his boots,
taking his gun, and carefully opening the creaking door of the barn,
Levin went out into the road. The coachmen were sleeping near their
carriages; the horses were dozing. Only one was lazily eating oats,
scattering them in the manger when snorting. It was still gray
"Why are you up so early, my dear?" the old woman, their hostess,
said, coming out of the hut and addressing him affectionately as an
"Going shooting, auntie. Do I go this way to the marsh?"
"Straight out at the back; by our threshing floor, my dear, and
hemp patches; there's a little footpath."
Stepping carefully with her sunburned, bare feet, the old woman
conducted Levin, and moved back the gate for him by the threshing
"Straight ahead, and you'll come to the marsh. Our lads drove the
horses there yesterday evening."
Laska ran eagerly forward along the little path. Levin followed
her with a light, rapid step, continually looking at the sky. He hoped
the sun would not be up before he reached the marsh. But the sun did
not delay. The moon, which had been bright when he went out, by now
shone only like a crescent of quicksilver. The rosy flush of dawn,
which one could not help seeing before, now had to be sought to be
discerned at all. What before had been undefined, vague blurs in the
distant countryside, could now be distinctly seen. They were sheaves
of rye. The dew, not visible till the sun was up, wetted Levin's legs
and his blouse above his belt in the high-growing, fragrant hemp
patch, from which the male plants had already been gathered in. In the
transparent stillness of morning the smallest sounds were audible. A
bee flew by Levin's ear with the whizzing sound of a bullet. He looked
carefully, and saw a second and a third. They were all flying from the
beehives behind the hedge, and they disappeared over the hemp patch in
the direction of the marsh. The path led straight to the marsh. The
marsh could be recognized by the mist which rose from it, thicker in
one place and thinner in another, so that the sedge and willow bushes
swayed like islands in this mist. At the edge of the marsh and the
road peasant boys and men, who had been herding for the night, were
lying, and in the dawn all were asleep under their coats. Not far from
them were three hobbled horses. One of them clanked a chain. Laska
walked beside her master, pressing a little forward and looking round.
Passing the sleeping peasants and reaching the first reeds, Levin
examined his percussion caps and unleashed his dog. One of the horses,
a sleek, dark-brown three-year-old, seeing the dog, started away,
switched its tail and snorted. The other horses too were frightened,
and splashing through the water with their hobbled legs, and drawing
their hoofs out of the thick mud with a squelching sound, they bounded
out of the marsh. Laska stopped, looking ironically at the horses and
inquiringly at Levin. Levin patted Laska, and whistled as a sign that
she might begin.
Laska ran joyfully and anxiously through the quagmire that quaked
Running into the marsh among the familiar scents of roots, marsh
plants, and dross, and the extraneous smell of horse manure, Laska
detected at once a smell that pervaded the whole marsh, the scent of
that strong-smelling bird that always excited her more than any other.
Here and there among the moss and marsh plants this scent was very
strong, but it was impossible to determine in which direction it grew
stronger or fainter. To find the direction, she had to get farther
away from the wind. Not feeling the motion of her legs, Laska bounded
with a still gallop, so that at each bound she could stop short, to
the right, away from the wind that blew from the east before sunrise,
and turned facing the wind. Sniffing in the air with dilated nostrils,
she felt at once that not their traces only, but they themselves, were
here before her——not one, but many. Laska slackened her speed. They
were here, but where precisely she could not yet determine. To find
the very spot, she began to make a circle, when suddenly her master's
voice drew her off. "Laska! Here!" he said, pointing her to a
different direction. She stopped, asking him if she had better not go
on doing as she had begun. But he repeated his command in an angry
voice, pointing to a hummock spot covered with water, where there
could not be anything. She obeyed him, pretending she was searching so
as to please him, went round it, and went back to her former position,
and was at once aware of the scent again. Now when he was not
hindering her, she knew what to do, and, without looking at what was
under her feet, and to her vexation stumbling over a hummock into the
water, but righting herself with her strong, supple legs, she began
making the circuit which was to make all clear to her. The scent of
them reached her, stronger and stronger, and more and more defined,
and all at once it became perfectly clear to her that one of them was
here, behind this hummock, five paces in front of her; she stopped,
and her whole body was still and rigid. On her short legs she could
see nothing in front of her, but by the scent she knew it was sitting
not more than five paces off. She stood still, feeling more and more
conscious of it, and enjoying it in anticipation. Her tail was
stretched straight and tense, and only wagged at the extreme tip. Her
mouth was slightly open, her ears raised. One ear had been turned
wrong side out as she ran up, and she breathed heavily but warily, and
still more warily she turned around, but more with her eyes than her
head, to her master. He was coming along with the face she knew so
well, though the eyes were always terrible to her. He stumbled over
the hummocks as he came, and moved, as she thought, extraordinarily
slowly. She thought he came slowly, but he was running.
Noticing Laska's special attitude as she crouched on the ground,
as it were, scratching big prints with her hind paws, and with her
mouth slightly open, Levin knew she was pointing at double snipe, and
with an inward prayer for luck, especially with the first bird, he ran
up to her. Coming quite close up to her, he could from his height look
beyond her, and he saw with his eyes what she was seeing with her
nose. In a space between two little hummocks, at a couple of yards'
distance, he could see a double snipe. Turning its head, it was
listening. Then lightly preening and folding its wings, it disappeared
round a corner with a clumsy wag of its tail.
"Fetch it, fetch it!" shouted Levin, giving Laska a shove from
"But I can't go," thought Laska. "Where am I to go? From here I
feel them, but if I move forward I shall know nothing of where they
are, or who they are." But then he shoved her with his knee, and in an
excited whisper said, "Fetch it, Lassochka, fetch it."
"Well, if that's what he wishes, I'll do it, but I can't answer
for myself now," she thought, and darted forward as fast as her legs
would carry her between the hummocks. She scented nothing now; she
could only see and hear, without understanding anything.
Ten paces from her former place a double snipe rose with a
guttural cry and the peculiar convex sound of its wings. And
immediately after the shot it splashed heavily with its white breast
on the wet mire. Another bird did not linger, but rose behind Levin,
without the dog's offices.
When Levin turned toward it, it was already some way off. But his
shot caught it. Flying twenty paces farther, the second double snipe
rose upward, and, whirling round like a ball, dropped heavily on a dry
"Come, this is going to be some good!" thought Levin, packing the
warm and fat snipe into his gamebag. "Eh, Laska, will it be good?"
When Levin, after reloading his gun, moved on, the sun had fully
risen, though unseen behind clouds. The moon had lost all of its
luster, and was like a white cloud in the sky. Not a single star could
be seen. The soggy places, silvery with dew before, now shone like
gold. The rusty pools were all like amber. The blue of the grass had
changed to yellow green. The marsh birds twittered and swarmed about
the brook and upon the bushes that glittered with dew and cast long
shadows. A hawk woke up and settled on a haycock, turning its head
from side to side and looking discontentedly at the marsh. Crows were
flying about the field, and a barelegged boy was driving the horses to
an old man, who had got up from under his long coat and was combing
his hair. The smoke from the gun was white as milk over the green of
One of the boys ran up to Levin.
"Uncle, there were ducks here yesterday!" he shouted to him, and
he walked a little way off behind him.
And Levin was doubly pleased, in sight of the boy, who expressed
his approval, at killing three jacksnipe, one after another, straight
The sportsman's saying, that if the first beast or the first bird
is not missed, the shooting will be lucky, turned out correct.
At ten o'clock Levin, weary, hungry, and happy after a tramp of
thirty verstas, returned to his night's lodging with nineteen head of
fine game and one duck, which he tied to his belt, as it would not go
into the gamebag. His companions had long been awake, and had had time
to get hungry and have breakfast.
"Wait a bit, wait a bit, I know there are nineteen," said Levin,
counting a second time over the double snipe and jacksnipe, that
looked so much less important now, bent and dry and bloodstained, with
heads crookedly to one side, than they did when they were flying.
The number was verified, and Stepan Arkadyevich's envy pleased
Levin. He was pleased too on returning to find that the man sent by
Kitty with a note was already here.
"I am perfectly well and happy. If you were uneasy about me, you
can feel easier than ever. I've a new bodyguard, Marya Vlassyevna."
(This was the midwife, a new and important personage in Levin's
domestic life.) "She has come to have a look at me. She found me
perfectly well, and we are holding her till you are back. All are
happy and well, and please, don't be in a hurry to come back, but, if
the sport is good, stay another day."
These two pleasures, his lucky shooting and the letter from his
wife, were so great that two slightly disagreeable incidents passed
lightly over Levin. One was that the chestnut trace horse, who had
been unmistakably overworked on the previous day, was off his feed and
out of sorts. The coachman said the horse was overstrained.
"Overdriven yesterday, Konstantin Dmitrievich!" he said. "Yes,
indeed! Driving ten miles without any sense!"
The other unpleasant incident, which for the first minute
destroyed his good humor, though later he laughed at it a great deal,
was to find that of all the provisions which Kitty had provided in
such abundance, that one would have thought there was enough for a
week, nothing was left. On his way back, tired and hungry, from
shooting, Levin had so distinct a vision of meat pies that as he
approached the hut he seemed to smell and taste them, as Laska had
smelt the game, and he immediately told Philip to give him some. It
appeared that there were no pies left——nor even any chicken.
"Well, this fellow's appetite!" said Stepan Arkadyevich, laughing
and pointing at Vassenka Veslovsky. "I never suffer from loss of
appetite, but he's really marvelous!..."
"Well, it can't be helped," said Levin, looking gloomily at
Veslovsky. "Well, Philip, give me some beef, then."
"The beef's been eaten, and the bones given to the dogs," answered
Levin was so hurt that he said, in a tone of vexation: "You might
have left me something!" and he felt ready to cry.
"Then disembowel the game," he said in a shaking voice to Philip,
trying not to look at Vassenka, "and cover them with some nettles. And
you might at least ask for some milk for me."
But when he had drunk some milk, he felt ashamed immediately at
having shown his annoyance to a stranger, and he began to laugh at his
In the evening they went shooting again, and Veslovsky, too, had
several successful shots, and in the night they drove home.
Their homeward journey was as lively as their drive out had been.
Veslovsky sang songs and related with enjoyment his adventures with
the peasants, who had regaled him with vodka, and said to him, "Excuse
our homely ways," and his night's adventures with tug of war, and the
servant girl, and the peasant, who had asked him was he married and on
learning that he was not, said to him: "Well, mind you don't run after
other men's wives——you'd better get round your own." These words had
particularly amused Veslovsky.
"Altogether, I've enjoyed our outing awfully. And you, Levin?"
"I have, very much," Levin said quite sincerely. It was
particularly delightful to him to have got rid of the hostility he had
been feeling toward Vassenka Veslovsky at home, and to feel instead
the most friendly disposition to him.
Next day at ten o'clock Levin, who had already gone his rounds,
knocked at the room where Vassenka had been put for the night.
"Entrez!" Veslovsky called to him. "Excuse me, I've only just
finished my ablutions," he said, smiling, standing before him in his
"Don't mind me, please," Levin sat down in the window. "Have you
"Like the dead. What sort of day is it for shooting?"
"What will you take, tea or coffee?"
"Neither. I'll wait till lunch. I'm really ashamed. I suppose the
ladies are down? A walk now would be capital. You show me your
After walking about the garden, visiting the stable, and even
doing some gymnastic exercises together on the parallel bars, Levin
returned to the house with his guest, and went with him into the
"We had splendid shooting, and so many delightful experiences!"
said Veslovsky, going up to Kitty, who was sitting at the samovar.
"What a pity ladies are cut off from these delights!"
"Well, I suppose he must say something to the lady of the house,"
Levin said to himself. Again he fancied something in the smile, in the
all-conquering air with which their guest addressed Kitty...
The Princess, sitting on the other side of the table with Marya
Vlassyevna and Stepan Arkadyevich, called Levin to her side, and began
to talk to him about moving to Moscow for Kitty's confinement, and
getting ready rooms for them. Just as Levin had disliked all the
trivial preparations for his wedding, as derogatory to the grandeur of
the event, now he felt still more offensive the preparations for the
approaching birth, the date of which they reckoned, it seemed, on
their fingers. He tried to turn a deaf ear to these discussions of the
best patterns of long clothes for the coming baby; tried to turn away
and avoid seeing the mysterious, endless strips of knitting, the
triangles of linen, to which Dolly attached special importance, and so
on. The birth of a son (he was certain it would be a son) which was
promised him, but which he still could not believe in——so marvelous it
seemed——presented itself to his mind, on one hand, as a happiness so
immense, and therefore so incredible; on the other, as an event so
mysterious, that this assumption of a definite knowledge of what would
be, and consequent preparation for it, as for something ordinary that
did happen to people, jarred on him as confusing and humiliating.
But the Princess did not understand his feelings, and put down his
reluctance to think and talk about it to carelessness and
indifference, and so she gave him no peace. She had commissioned
Stepan Arkadyevich to look at an apartment, and now she called Levin
"I know nothing about it, Princess. Do as you think fit," he said.
"You must decide when you will move."
"I really don't know. I know millions of children are born away
from Moscow, and doctors... Why..."
"But if so..."
"Oh, no, as Kitty wishes."
"We can't talk to Kitty about it! Do you want me to frighten her?
Why, this spring Natalie Golitzina died from having an ignorant
"I will do just what you say," he said gloomily.
The Princess began talking to him, but he did not hear her. Though
the conversation with the Princess had indeed jarred upon him, he was
gloomy not on account of that conversation, but from what he saw at
"No, it's impossible," he thought, glancing now and then at
Vassenka bending over Kitty, telling her something with his charming
smile, and at her, flushed and disturbed.
There was something unclean in Vassenka's attitude, in his eyes,
in his smile. Levin even saw something unclean in Kitty's attitude and
look. And again the light died away in his eyes. Again, as before, all
of a sudden, without the slightest transition, he felt cast down from
a pinnacle of happiness, peace, and dignity, into an abyss of despair,
rage, and humiliation. Again everything and everyone had become
hateful to him.
"You do just as you think best, Princess," he said again, looking
"Uneasy lies the head that wears a crown!" Stepan Arkadyevich said
playfully, hinting, evidently, not simply at the Princess's
conversation, but at the cause of Levin's agitation, which he had
noticed. "How late you are today, Dolly!"
Everyone got up to greet Darya Alexandrovna. Vassenka only rose
for an instant, and, with the lack of courtesy to ladies
characteristic of the modern young man, he scarcely bowed, and resumed
his conversation again, laughing at something.
"Masha has been almost the end of me. She did not sleep well, and
is dreadfully capricious today," said Dolly.
The conversation Vassenka had started with Kitty was running on
the same lines as on the previous evening——discussing Anna, and
whether love is to be put higher than worldly considerations. Kitty
disliked the conversation, and she was disturbed both by the subject
and the tone in which it was conducted, and especially by the
knowledge of the effect it would have on her husband. But she was too
simple and unsophisticated to know how to cut short this conversation,
or even to conceal the superficial pleasure afforded her by the young
man's very obvious admiration. She wanted to stop this conversation,
but she did not know what to do. Whatever she did, she knew it would
be observed by her husband, and the worst interpretation put on it.
And, in fact, when she asked Dolly what was wrong with Masha, and
Vassenka, waiting till this uninteresting conversation was over, began
to gaze indifferently at Dolly, the question struck Levin as an
unnatural and disgusting piece of hypocrisy.
"What do you say, shall we go and look for mushrooms today?" said
"By all means, please, and I shall come too," said Kitty, and she
blushed. She wanted from politeness to ask Vassenka whether he would
come, and she did not ask him. "Where are you going, Kostia?" she
asked her husband with a guilty face, as he passed by her with a
resolute step. This guilty air confirmed all his suspicions.
"The mechanician came when I was away; I haven't seen him yet," he
said, not looking at her.
He went downstairs, but before he had time to leave his study he
heard his wife's familiar footsteps running with reckless speed to
"What do you want?" he said to her shortly. "We are busy."
"I beg your pardon," she said to the German mechanician; "I want a
few words with my husband."
The German would have left the room, but Levin said to him:
"Don't disturb yourself"
"The train is at three?" queried the German. "I mustn't be late."
Levin did not answer him, but walked out himself with his wife.
"Well, what have you to say to me?" he said to her in French.
He did not look her in the face, and did not care to see that she
in her condition was trembling all over, and had a piteous, crushed
"I... I want to say that we can't go on like this; that this is
misery..." she said.
"The servants are here at the buttery," he said angrily; "don't
make a scene."
"Well, let's go in here!"
They were standing in the passage room. Kitty would have gone into
the next room, but there the English governess was giving Tania a
"Well, come into the garden."
In the garden they came upon a peasant weeding the path. And no
longer considering that the peasant could see her tear-stained and his
agitated face, that they looked like people fleeing from some
disaster, they went on with rapid steps, feeling that they must speak
out and clear up misunderstandings, must be alone together, and so get
rid of the misery they were both feeling.
"We can't go on like this! It's misery! I am wretched; you are
wretched. What for?" she said, when they had at last reached a
solitary garden seat at a turn in the linden tree avenue.
"But tell me one thing: was there in his tone anything unseemly,
unclean, humiliatingly horrible?" he said, standing before her again
in the same position, with his clenched fists on his chest, as he had
stood before her that night.
"Yes," she said in a shaking voice; "but, Kostia, surely you see
I'm not to blame? All the morning I've been trying to take a tone...
But such people... Why did he come? How happy we were!" she said,
breathless with the sobs that shook her.
Although nothing had been pursuing them, and there was nothing to
run away from, and they could not possibly have found anything very
delightful on that garden seat, the gardener saw with astonishment
that they passed him on their way home with comforted and radiant
After escorting his wife upstairs, Levin went to Dolly's part of
the house. Darya Alexandrovna, for her part, was also in great
distress that day. She was walking about the room, talking angrily to
a little girl, who stood in the corner bawling.
"And you shall stand all day in the corner, and have your dinner
all alone, and not see one of your dolls, and I won't make you a new
frock," she said, not knowing how to punish her.
"Oh, she is a disgusting child!" she turned to Levin. "Where does
she get such wicked propensities?"
"Why, what has she done?" Levin said without much interest, for he
had wanted to ask her advice, and so was annoyed that he had come at
an unlucky moment.
"Grisha and she went into the raspberries, and there... I can't
tell you really what she did. It's a thousand pities Miss Elliot's not
with us. This one sees to nothing——she's a machine.... Figurez-vous
que la petite?..."
And Darya Alexandrovna described Masha's crime.
"That proves nothing; it's not a question of evil propensities at
all, it's simply mischief," Levin assured her.
"But you are upset about something? What have you come for?" asked
Dolly. "What's going on there?"
And in the tone of her question Levin heard that it would be easy
for him to say what he had meant to say.
"I've not been in there, I've been alone in the garden with Kitty.
We've had a quarrel for the second time since... Stiva came."
Dolly looked at him with her shrewd, comprehending eyes.
"Come, tell me, honor bright, has there been... Not in Kitty, but
in that gentleman's behavior, a tone which might be unpleasant——not
unpleasant, but horrible, offensive to a husband?"
"You mean, how shall I say... Stand there——stand in the corner!"
she said to Masha, who, detecting a faint smile on her mother's face,
had been turning round. "The opinion of the world would be that he is
behaving as young men do behave. Il fait le cour a une jeune et jolie
femme, and a husband who's a man of the world should only be flattered
"Yes, yes," said Levin gloomily; "but you noticed it?"
"Not only I, but Stiva noticed it. Just after breakfast he said to
me: Je crois que Veslovsky fait un petit brin de cour a Kitty."
"Well, that's all right then; now I'm satisfied. I'll send him
away," said Levin.
"What do you mean! Are you crazy?" Dolly cried in horror.
"Nonsense, Kostia, only think!" she said, laughing. "You can go now to
Fanny," she said to Masha. "No, if you wish it, I'll speak to Stiva.
He'll take him away. He can say you're expecting visitors. Altogether
he doesn't fit into the house."
"No, no, I'll do it myself."
"But you'll quarrel with him?"
"Not a bit. I shall so enjoy it," Levin said, his eyes flashing
with real enjoyment. "Come, forgive her, Dolly, she won't do it
again," he said of the little sinner, who had not gone to Fanny, but
was standing irresolutely before her mother, waiting and looking up
from under her brows to catch her mother's eye.
The mother glanced at her. The child broke into sobs, hid her face
on her mother's lap, and Dolly laid her thin, tender hand on her head.
"And what is there in common between us and him?" thought Levin,
and he went off to look for Veslovsky.
As he passed through the hall he gave orders for the carriage to
be got ready to drive to the station.
"The spring was broken yesterday," said the footman.
"Well, the tarantass then, and make haste. Where's the visitor?"
"The gentleman's gone to his room."
Levin came upon Vassenka at the moment when the latter, having
unpacked his things from his trunk, and laid out some new songs, was
putting on his leather gaiters to go out riding.
Whether there was something exceptional in Levin's face, or that
Vassenka was himself conscious that ce petit brin de cour he was
making was out of place in this family; he was somewhat (as much as a
young man in society can be) disconcerted at Levin's entrance.
"You ride in gaiters?"
"Yes, it's much cleaner," said Vassenka, putting his fat leg on a
chair, fastening the bottom hook, and smiling with simplehearted good
He was undoubtedly a good-natured fellow, and Levin felt sorry for
him and ashamed of himself, as his host, when he saw the shy look on
On the table lay a piece of stick which they had broken together
that morning at gymnastics, trying to raise up the swollen bars. Levin
took the fragment in his hands and began breaking off the split end of
the stick, not knowing how to begin.
"I wanted..." He paused, but suddenly, remembering Kitty and
everything that had happened, he said, looking him resolutely in the
face: "I have ordered the horses to be put to for you."
"How so?" Vassenka began in surprise. "To drive where?"
"For you to drive to the station," Levin said gloomily pinching
off the end of the stick.
"Are you going away, or has something happened?"
"It happens that I expect visitors," said Levin, his strong
fingers more and more rapidly breaking off the ends of the split
stick. "And I'm not expecting visitors, and nothing has happened, but
I beg you to go away. You can explain my rudeness as you like."
Vassenka drew himself up.
"I beg you to explain..." he said with dignity, understanding at
"I can't explain," Levin said softly and deliberately, trying to
control the trembling of his jaw; "and you'd better not ask."
And as the split ends were all broken off, Levin clutched the
thick ends in his finger, split the stick in two, and carefully caught
the end as it fell.
Probably the sight of those tense hands, of the same muscles he
had proved that morning at gymnastics, of the glittering eyes, the
soft voice, and quivering jaws, convinced Vassenka better than any
words. He bowed, shrugging his shoulders, and smiling contemptuously.
"May I not see Oblonsky?"
The shrug and the smile did not irritate Levin. "What else was
there for him to do?" he thought.
"I'll send him to you at once."
"What madness is this?" Stepan Arkadyevich said when, after
hearing from his friend that he was being turned out of the house, he
found Levin in the garden, where he was walking about waiting for his
guest's departure. "Mais c'est ridicule! What flea has bitten you?
Mais c'est du dernier ridicule! What did you think, if a young man..."
But the place where Levin had been bitten was evidently still
sore, for he turned pale again, when Stepan Arkadyevich would have
enlarged on the reason, and he himself cut him short.
"Please don't go into it! I can't help it. I feel ashamed of the
way I'm treating you and him. But it won't be, I imagine, a great
grief to him to go, and his presence was distasteful to me and to my
"But it's insulting to him! Et puis c'est ridicule."
"And to me it's both insulting and distressing! And I'm not in
fault in any way, and there's no need for me to suffer."
"Well, this I didn't expect of you! On peut etre jaloux, mais a ce
point c'est du dernier ridicule!"
Levin turned quickly, and walked away from him into the depths of
the avenue, and he went on walking up and down alone. Soon he heard
the rumble of the tarantass, and saw from behind the trees how
Vassenka, sitting in the hay (unluckily there was no seat in the
tarantass) in his Scotch cap, was driven along the avenue, jolting up
and down over the ruts.
"What's this?" Levin thought, when a footman ran out of the house
and stopped the tarantass. It was the mechanician, whom Levin had
totally forgotten. The mechanician, bowing low, said something to
Veslovsky, then clambered into the tarantass and they drove off
Stepan Arkadyevich and the Princess were much upset by Levin's
action. And he himself felt not only in the highest degree ridicule,
but also utterly guilty and disgraced. But remembering what sufferings
he and his wife had been through, when he asked himself how he should
act another time, he answered that he would do precisely the same.
In spite of all this, toward the end of that day, everyone, except
the Princess, who could not pardon Levin's action, became
extraordinarily lively and good-humored, like children after a
punishment, or grown-up people after a dreary, ceremonious reception,
so that by the evening Vassenka's dismissal was spoken of, in the
absence of the Princess, as though it were some remote event. And
Dolly, who had inherited her father's gift of humorous storytelling,
made Varenka helpless with laughter as she related for the third and
fourth time, always with fresh humorous additions, how she had just
put on her new ribands for the benefit of the visitor, and, on going
into the drawing room, had suddenly heard the rumble of the chariot.
And who should be in the chariot but Vassenka himself, with his Scotch
cap, and his songs, and his gaiters, and all, sitting in the hay.
"If only you'd ordered out the carriage! But no! And then I hear:
'Stop!' Oh, I thought they've relented. I look out——and a fat German
is being sat down by him, and they're driving away... And my new
ribands all for nothing!..."
Darya Alexandrovna carried out her intention and went to see Anna.
She was sorry to annoy her sister and to do anything Levin disliked.
She quite understood how right the Levins were in not wishing to have
anything to do with Vronsky. But she felt she must go and see Anna,
and show her that her feelings could not be changed, in spite of the
change in her position.
That she might be independent of the Levins in this expedition,
Darya Alexandrovna sent to the village to hire horses for the drive;
but Levin learning of it went to her to protest.
"What makes you suppose that I dislike your going? But, even if
did dislike it, I should still more dislike your not taking my
horses," he said. "You never told me that you were going definitely.
Hiring horses in the village is disagreeable to me, and, what's of
more importance, they'll undertake the job and never get you there. I
have horses. And if you don't want to wound me, you'll take mine."
Darya Alexandrovna had to consent, and on the day fixed Levin had
ready for his sister-in-law a set of four horses and relays, getting
them together from the farm and saddle horses——not at all a
smart-looking set, but capable of taking Darya Alexandrovna the whole
distance in a single day. At that moment, when horses were wanted for
the Princess, who was going, and for the midwife, it was a difficult
matter for Levin to make up the number, but the duties of hospitality
would not let him allow Darya Alexandrovna to hire horses when staying
in his house. Moreover, he was well aware that the twenty roubles that
would be asked for the journey were a serious matter for her; Darya
Alexandrovna's pecuniary affairs, which were in a very unsatisfactory
state, were taken to heart by the Levins as if they were their own.
Darya Alexandrovna, by Levin's advice, started before daybreak.
The road was good, the carriage comfortable, the horses trotted along
merrily, and on the box, beside the coachman, sat the countinghouse
clerk, whom Levin was sending instead of a groom for greater security.
Darya Alexandrovna dozed and waked up only on reaching the inn where
the horses were to be changed.
After drinking tea at the same well-to-do peasant's with whom
Levin had stayed on the way to Sviiazhsky's, and chatting with the
women about their children, and with the old man about Count Vronsky,
whom the latter praised very highly, Darya Alexandrovna, at ten
o'clock, went on again. At home, looking after her children, she had
no time to think. So now, after this journey of four hours, all the
thoughts she had suppressed before rushed swarming into her brain, and
she thought over all her life as she never had before, and from the
most different points of view. Her thoughts seemed strange even to
herself. At first she thought about the children, about whom she was
uneasy, although the Princess and Kitty (she reckoned more upon her)
had promised to look after them. "If only Masha does not begin her
naughty tricks, if Grisha isn't kicked by a horse, and Lily's stomach
isn't upset again!" But these questions of the present were succeeded
by questions of the immediate future. She began thinking how she had
to get a new flat in Moscow for the coming winter, to renew the
drawing-room furniture, and to make her elder girl a cloak. Then
questions of the more remote future occurred to her: how she was to
place her children in the world. "The girls are all right," she
thought; "but the boys?"
"It's all very fine for me to be teaching Grisha, but of course
that's only because I am free myself now, I'm not with child. Stiva,
of course, there's no counting on. And with the help of good-natured
friends I can bring them up; but if there's another baby coming?..."
And the thought struck her how unjustly it was said, that the curse
laid on woman was that in sorrow she should bring forth children. "The
birth itself, that's nothing; but the months of carrying the child——
that's what's so intolerable," she thought, picturing to herself her
last pregnancy, and the death of the last baby. And she recalled the
conversation she had just had with the young woman at the inn. On
being asked whether she had any children, the handsome young woman had
"I had a girl baby, but God set me free; I buried her last Lent."
"Well, did you grieve very much for her?" asked Darya Alexandrovna.
"Why grieve? The old man has grandchildren enough as it is. It was
only a trouble. No working, nor nothing. Only a tie."
This answer had struck Darya Alexandrovna as revolting in spite of
the good-natured and pleasing face of the young woman; but now she
could not help recalling these words. In those cynical words there was
indeed a grain of truth.
"Yes, in general," thought Darya Alexandrovna, looking back over
her whole existence during those fifteen years of her married life,
"pregnancy, sickness, mental incapacity, indifference to everything——
and, most of all, hideousness. Kitty, young and pretty as she is, even
Kitty has lost her looks; and I, when I'm with child, become hideous,
I know it. The birth, the agony, the hideous agonies, that last
moment... Then the nursing, the sleepless nights, the fearful
Darya Alexandrovna shuddered at the mere recollection of the pain
from sore breasts which she had suffered with almost every child.
"Then the children's illnesses, that everlasting apprehension; then
bringing them up; evil propensities" (she thought of little Masha's
crime among the raspberries), "education, Latin——it's all so
incomprehensible and difficult. And, on the top of it all, the death
of these children." And there rose again before her imagination the
cruel memory that always tore her mother's heart, of the death of her
last little baby, who had died of croup; his funeral, the callous
indifference of all at the little pink coffin, and her own torn heart,
and her lonely anguish at the sight of the pale little brow with the
curls falling on temples, and the open, wondering little mouth seen in
the coffin at the moment when it was being covered with the little
pink lid with a gallooned cross on it.
"And all this——what's it for? What is to come of it all? This: I'm
wasting my life, never having a moment's peace, either with child, or
nursing a child, forever irritable, peevish, wretched myself and
worrying others, repulsive to my husband, while the children are
growing up unhappy, badly educated and penniless. Even now, if it
weren't for spending the summer at the Levins', I don't know how we
should be managing to live. Of course Kostia and Kitty have so much
tact that we don't feel it; but it can't go on. They'll have children,
they won't be able to keep us; it's a drag on them as it is. How is
papa, who has hardly anything left for himself, to help us? So that I
can't even bring the children up by myself, and may find it hard with
the help of other people, at the cost of humiliation. Why, even if we
suppose the greatest good luck, that the children don't die, and I
bring them up somehow. At the very best they'll simply be decent
people. That's all I can hope for. And to gain simply that——what
agonies, what toil!... One's whole life ruined!" Again she recalled
what the young peasant woman had said, and again she was revolted at
the thought; but she could not help admitting that there was a grain
of brutal truth in the words.
"Is it far now, Mikhaila?" Darya Alexandrovna asked the
countinghouse clerk, to turn her mind from thoughts that were
"From this village, they say, it's seven verstas."
The carriage drove along the village street and onto a bridge. On
the bridge was a crowd of peasant women with coils of ties for the
sheaves on their shoulders, cheerfully chattering. They stood still on
the bridge, staring inquisitively at the carriage. All the faces
turned to Darya Alexandrovna looked to her healthy and happy, making
her envious of their enjoyment of life. "They're all living, they're
all enjoying life," Darya Alexandrovna still mused when she had passed
the peasant women and was driving uphill again at a trot, seated
comfortably on the soft springs of the old carriage, "while I, let
out, as it were from prison, from the world of worries that fret me to
death, am only looking about me now for an instant. They all live;
those peasant women, and my sister Natalie, and Varenka, and Anna,
whom I am going to see——all, but not I."
"And they attack Anna. What for? Am I any better? I have, at any
rate, a husband I love——not as I should like to love him——still, I do
love him; while Anna never loved hers. How is she to blame? She wants
to live. God has put that in our hearts. Very likely I should have
done the same. Even to this day I don't feel sure I did right in
listening to her at that terrible time when she came to me in Moscow.
I ought then to have cast off my husband and have begun my life anew.
I might have loved and have been loved in reality. And is it any
better as it is? I don't respect him. He's necessary to me," she
thought about her husband, "and I put up with him. Is that any better?
At that time I could still have been admired, I had beauty left me
still," Darya Alexandrovna pursued her thoughts, and she would have
liked to look at herself in the looking glass. She had a traveling
looking glass in her handbag, and she wanted to take it out; but
looking at the backs of the coachman and the swaying countinghouse
clerk, she felt that she would be ashamed if either of them were to
look round, and she did not take out the glass.
But, without looking in the glass, she thought that even now it
was not too late; and she thought of Sergei Ivanovich, who was always
particularly attentive to her, of Stiva's goodhearted friend,
Turovtsin, who had helped her nurse her children through the
scarlatina, and was in love with her. And there was someone else,
quite a young man, who——her husband had told her it as a joke——thought
her more beautiful than either of her sisters. And the most passionate
and impossible romances rose before Darya Alexandrovna's imagination.
"Anna did quite right, and certainly I shall never reproach her for
it. She is happy, she makes another person happy, and she's not broken
down as I am, but most likely just as she always was, bright, clever,
open to every impression," thought Darya Alexandrovna—— and a sly smile
curved her lips, for, as she pondered on Anna's love affair, Darya
Alexandrovna constructed on parallel lines an almost identical love
affair for herself, with an imaginary composite figure, the ideal man
who was in love with her. She, like Anna, confessed the whole affair
to her husband. And the amazement and perplexity of Stepan Arkadyevich
at this avowal made her smile.
In such daydreams she reached the turning of the highroad that led
The coachman pulled up his four horses and looked round to the
right, to a field of rye, where some peasants were sitting near a
telega. The countinghouse clerk was just going to jump down, but on
second thought he shouted peremptorily to the peasants instead, and
beckoned to them to come up. The wind, that seemed to blow as they
drove, dropped when the carriage stood still; gadflies settled on the
steaming horses that angrily shook them off. The metallic clank of a
whetstone against a scythe, that came to them from the telega, ceased.
One of the peasants got up and came toward the carriage.
"Well, you are slow!" the countinghouse clerk shouted angrily to
the peasant who was stepping slowly with his bare feet over the ruts
of the unbeaten, sun-baked road. "Come along, do!"
A curly-headed old man with a bit of bast tied round his hair, and
his bent back dark with perspiration, came toward the carriage,
quickening his steps, and took hold of the mudguard with his sunburned
"Vozdvizhenskoe——the manor house? The Count's?" he repeated. "Go
on to the end of this slope. Then turn to the left. Straight along the
avenue, and you'll come right upon it. But whom do you want? The Count
"Well, are they at home, my good man?" Darya Alexandrovna said
vaguely, not knowing how to ask about Anna, even of this peasant.
"At home for sure," said the peasant, shifting from one bare foot
to the other, and leaving a distinct print of five toes and a heel in
the dust. "Sure to be at home," he repeated, evidently eager to talk.
"Only yesterday visitors arrived. There's a sight of visitors come.
What do you want?" He turned round and called to a lad, who was
shouting something to him from the telega. "Oh! They all rode by here
not long since, to look at a reaping machine. They'll be home by now.
And who may you belong to?..."
"We've come a long way," said the coachman, climbing onto the box.
"So it's not far?"
"I tell you, it's just here. As soon as you get out..." he said,
keeping hold all the while of the mudguard of the carriage.
A healthy-looking, broad-shouldered young fellow came up too.
"What, is it laborers they want for the harvest?" he asked.
"I don't know, my boy."
"So you keep to the left, and you'll come right on it," said the
peasant, unmistakably loath to let the travelers go, and eager to
The coachman started the horses, but they were only just turning
off when the peasant shouted: "Stop! Hi, friend! Stop!" The coachman
"They're coming! They're yonder!" shouted the peasant. "See what a
turnout!" he said, pointing to four persons on horseback, and two in a
charabanc, coming along the road.
They were Vronsky with a jockey, Veslovsky, and Anna on horseback,
and Princess Varvara and Sviiazhsky in the charabanc. They had gone
out to look at the working of a new reaping machine.
When the carriage stopped, the party on horseback were coming at a
walking pace. Anna was in front beside Veslovsky. Anna was quietly
walking her horse, a sturdy English cob with cropped mane and short
tail; Anna, with her beautiful head, her black hair straying loose
under her high hat, her full shoulders, her slender waist in her black
riding habit, and all the ease and grace of her deportment, impressed
For the first minute it seemed to her unsuitable for Anna to be on
horseback. The conception of riding on horseback for a lady was, in
Darva Alexandrovna's mind, associated with ideas of youthful
flirtation and frivolity, which, in her opinion, was unbecoming in
Anna's position. But when she had scrutinized her, seeing her closer,
she was at once reconciled to her riding. In spite of her elegance,
everything was so simple, quiet and dignified in the attitude, the
dress and the movements of Anna, that nothing could have been more
By the side of Anna, on a hot-looking gray cavalry horse, was
Vassenka Veslovsky in his Scotch cap with floating ribbons, his stout
legs stretched out in front, obviously pleased with his own
appearance. Darya Alexandrovna could not suppress a good-humored smile
as she recognized him. Behind rode Vronsky on a dark bay mare,
obviously heated from galloping. He was holding her in, pulling at the
After him rode a little man in the dress of a jockey. Sviiazhsky
and Princess Varvara in a new charabanc with a big, raven-black
trotting horse, overtook the party on horseback.
Anna's face suddenly beamed with a joyful smile at the instant
when, in the little figure huddled in a corner of the old carriage,
she recognized Dolly. She uttered a cry, started in the saddle, and
set her horse into a gallop. On reaching the carriage she jumped off
without assistance, and, holding up her riding habit, she ran up to
"I thought it was you and dared not think it. How delightful! You
can't fancy how glad I am!" she said, at one moment pressing her face
against Dolly and kissing her, and at the next holding her off and
examining her with a smile. "Here's a delightful surprise, Alexei!"
she said, looking round at Vronsky, who had dismounted, and was
walking toward them.
Vronsky, taking off his tall gray hat, went up to Dolly.
"You wouldn't believe how glad we are to see you," he said, giving
peculiar significance to the words, and showing his strong white teeth
in a smile.
Vassenka Veslovsky, without getting off his horse, took off his
cap and greeted the visitor by gleefully waving the ribbons over his
"That's Princess Varvara," Anna said in reply to a glance of
inquiry from Dolly as the charabanc drove up.
"Ah!" said Darya Alexandrovna, and unconsciously her face betrayed
Princess Varvara was her husband's aunt, and she had long known
her, and did not respect her. She knew that Princess Varvara had
passed her whole life toadying to her rich relations, but that she
should now be sponging on Vronsky, a man who was nothing to her,
mortified Dolly on account of her kinship with her husband. Anna
noticed Dolly's expression, and was disconcerted by it. She blushed,
dropped her riding habit, and stumbled over it.
Darya Alexandrovna went up to the charabanc and coldly greeted
Princess Varvara. Sviiazhsky, too, she knew. He inquired how his queer
friend with the young wife was, and running his eyes over the
ill-matched horses and the carriage with its patched mudguards,
proposed to the ladies that they should get into the charabanc.
"And I'll get in this vehicle," he said. "The horse is quiet, and
the Princess drives capitally."
"No, stay as you were," said Anna, coming up, "and we'll go in the
carriage," and, taking Dolly's arm, she drew her away.
Darya Alexandrovna's eyes were fairly dazzled by the elegant
carriage of a pattern she had never seen before, the splendid horses,
and the elegant and gorgeous people surrounding her. But what struck
her most of all was the change that had taken place in Anna, whom she
knew so well and loved. Any other woman, a less close observer, not
knowing Anna before, and particularly not having thought as Darya
Alexandrovna had been thinking on the road, would not have noticed
anything special in Anna. But now Dolly was struck by that temporary
beauty, which is only found in women during the moments of love, and
which she saw now in Anna's face. Everything in her face, the clearly
marked dimples in her cheeks and chin, the line of her lips, the smile
which, as it were, fluttered about her face, the brilliance of her
eyes, the grace and rapidity of her movements, the fullness of the
notes of her voice, even the manner in which, with a sort of angry
friendliness, she answered Veslovsky when he asked permission to get
on her cob, so as to teach it to gallop with the right leg foremost——
it was all peculiarly fascinating, and it seemed as if Anna herself
were aware of it, and rejoicing in it.
When both the women were seated in the carriage, a sudden
embarrassment came over both of them. Anna was disconcerted by the
intent look of inquiry Dolly fixed upon her. Dolly was embarrassed
because after Sviiazhsky's phrase about "this vehicle," she could not
help feeling ashamed of the dirty old carriage in which Anna was
sitting with her. The coachman Philip and the countinghouse clerk were
experiencing the same sensation. The countinghouse clerk, to conceal
his confusion, busied himself settling the ladies, but Philip the
coachman became sullen, and was bracing himself not to be overawed in
future by this external superiority. He smiled ironically, looking at
the raven horse, and was already deciding in his own mind that this
smart trotter in the charabanc was only good for promenade, and
wouldn't do forty verstas straight off in the heat.
The peasants had all got up from the telega and were inquisitively
and mirthfully staring at the meeting of the friends, making their
comments on it.
"They're pleased, too; haven't seen each other for a long while,"
said the curly-headed old man with the bast round his hair.
"I say, Uncle Gherasim, if we could take that raven horse now, to
cart the corn, that 'ud be quick work!"
"Look-ee! Is that a woman in breeches?" said one of them, pointing
to Vassenka Veslovsky sitting in a sidesaddle.
"Nay, a man! See how smartly he's going it!"
"Eh, lads! Seems we're not going to sleep, then?"
"What chance of sleep today!" said the old man, with a sidelong
look at the sun. "Midday's past, look-ee! Get your hooks, and come
Anna looked at Dolly's thin, careworn face, with its wrinkles
filled with dust from the road, and she was on the point of saying
what she was thinking——that is, that Dolly had grown thinner. But,
conscious that she herself had grown handsomer, and that Dolly's eyes
were telling her so, she sighed and began to speak about herself.
"You are looking at me," she said, "and wondering how I can be
happy in my position? Well! It's shameful to confess, but I... I'm
inexcusably happy. Something magical has happened to me, like a dream,
when you're frightened, panic-stricken, and all of a sudden you wake
up and all the horrors are no more. I have waked up. I have lived
through the misery, the dread, and now for a long while past,
especially since we've been here, I've been so happy!..." she said,
with a timid smile of inquiry looking at Dolly.
"How glad I am!" said Dolly smiling, involuntarily speaking more
coldly than she wanted to. "I'm very glad for you. Why haven't you
written to me?"
"Why?... Because I hadn't the courage.... You forget my
"To me? Hadn't the courage? If you knew how I... I look at..."
Darya Alexandrovna wanted to express her thoughts of the morning,
but for some reason it seemed to her now out of place to do so.
"But of that we'll talk later. What's this——what are all these
buildings?" she asked, wanting to change the conversation and pointing
to the red and green roofs that came into view behind the green hedges
of acacia and lilac. "Quite a little town."
But Anna did not answer.
"No, no! How do you look at my position, what do you think of it?"
"I consider..." Darya Alexandrovna was beginning, but at that
instant Vassenka Veslovsky, having brought the cob to gallop with the
right leg foremost, galloped past them, bumping heavily up and down in
his short jacket on the chamois leather of the sidesaddle. "He's doing
it, Anna Arkadyevna!" he shouted. Anna did not even glance at him; but
again it seemed to Darya Alexandrovna out of place to enter upon such
a long conversation in the carriage, and so she cut short her thought.
"I don't think anything," she said, "but I always loved you, and
if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as that person
is, and not as one would like her or him to be...."
Anna, taking her eyes off her friend's face and dropping her
eyelids (this was a new habit Dolly had not seen in her before),
pondered, trying to penetrate the full significance of the words. And
obviously interpreting them as she would have wished, she glanced at
"If you had any sins," she said, "they would all be forgiven you
for your coming to see me, and these words."
And Dolly saw that the tears stood in her eyes. She pressed Anna's
hand in silence.
"Well, what are these buildings? How many there are of them!"
After a moment's silence she repeated her question.
"These are the servant's houses, stud farm, and stables," answered
Anna. "And there the park begins. It had all gone to ruin, but Alexei
had everything renewed. He is very fond of this place, and, what I
never expected, he has become intensely interested in looking after
it. But his is such a rich nature! Whatever he takes up, he does
splendidly. So far from being bored by it, he works with passionate
interest. He——with his temperament as I know it——he has become careful
and businesslike, a first-rate manager, he positively reckons every
penny in his management of the land. But only in that. When it's a
question of tens of thousands, he doesn't think of money." She spoke
with that gleefully sly smile with which women often talk of the
secret characteristics——only known to them——of those they love. "Do
you see that big building? That's the new hospital. I believe it will
cost over a hundred thousand; that's his dada just now. And do you
know how it all came about? The peasants asked him for some
meadowland, I think it was, at a cheaper rate, and he refused, and I
accused him of being miserly. Of course it was not really because of
that, but because of everything together——he began this hospital to
prove, do you see, that he was not miserly about money. C'est une
petitesse, if you like, but I love him all the more for it. And now
you'll see the house in a moment. It was his grandfather's house, and
he has had nothing changed outside."
"How beautiful!" said Dolly, looking with involuntary admiration
at the handsome house with columns, standing out among the
different-colored greens of the old trees in the garden.
"Isn't it fine? And from the house, from the top, the view is
They drove into a courtyard strewn with gravel and bright with
flowers, in which two laborers were at work putting an edging of
stones round the light mold of a flower bed, and drew up in a covered
"Ah, they're here already!" said Anna, looking at the saddle
horses, which were just being led away from the steps. "It is a good
horse, isn't it? It's my cob; my favorite. Lead him here and bring me
some sugar. Where is the Count?" she inquired of two smart footmen who
darted out. "Ah, there he is!" she said, seeing Vronsky coming to meet
her with Veslovsky.
"Where are you going to put the Princess?" said Vronsky in French,
addressing Anna, and without waiting for a reply, he once more greeted
Darya Alexandrovna, and this time he kissed her hand. "I think the big
"Oh, no, that's too far off! Better in the corner room, we shall
see each other more. Come, let's go up," said Anna, as she gave her
favorite horse the sugar the footman had brought her.
"Et vous oubliez votre devoir," she said to Veslovsky, who came
out too on the steps.
"Pardon, j'en ai tout plein les poches," he answered, smiling,
putting his fingers in his waistcoat pocket.
"Mais vous venez trop tard," she said, rubbing her handkerchief on
her hand, which the horse had made wet in taking the sugar.
Anna turned to Dolly, "You can stay some time? For one day only?
"I promised to be back, and the children..." said Dolly, feeling
embarrassed both because she had to get her bag out of the carriage,
and because she knew her face must be covered with dust.
"No, Dolly, darling!... Well, we'll see. Come along, come along!"
and Anna led Dolly to her room.
That room was not the smart guestchamber Vronsky had suggested,
but the one which Anna had said Dolly would surely excuse. And this
room, for which excuse was needed, was more full of luxury than any in
which Dolly had ever stayed, a luxury that reminded her of the best
"Well, darling, how happy I am!" Anna said, sitting down in her
riding habit for a moment beside Dolly. "Tell me about all of you.
Stiva I had only a glimpse of, and he cannot tell one about the
children. How is my favorite, Tania? Quite a big girl, I expect?"
"Yes, she's very tall," Darya Alexandrovna answered shortly,
surprised herself that she should respond so coolly about her
children. "We are having a delightful stay at the Levins'," she added.
"Oh, if I had known," said Anna, "that you do not despise me!...
You might have all come to us. Stiva's an old friend and a great
friend of Alexei's, you know," she added, and suddenly she blushed.
"Yes, but we are all..." Dolly answered in confusion.
"But in my delight I'm talking nonsense. The one thing, darling,
is that I am so glad to have you!" said Anna, kissing her again. "You
haven't told me yet how and what you think about me, and I keep
wanting to know. But I'm glad you will see me as I am. The chief thing
I shouldn't like would be for people to imagine I want to prove
anything. I don't want to prove anything; I merely want to live, to do
no one harm but myself. I have the right to do that, haven't I? But it
is a big subject, and we'll talk over everything properly later. Now
I'll go and dress and send a maid to you."
Left alone, Darya Alexandrovna, with a good housewife's eye,
scanned her room. All she had seen in entering the house and walking
through it, and all she saw now in her room, gave her an impression of
wealth and sumptuousness and of that modern European luxury of which
she had only read in English novels, but had never seen in Russia and
in the country. Everything was new, from the new French hangings on
the walls to the carpet which covered the whole floor. The bed had a
spring mattress, and a special sort of bolster and taffeta pillowcases
on the small pillows. The marble washstand, the dressing table, the
little sofa, the tables, the bronze clock on the chimney piece, the
window curtains and the portieres were all new and expensive.
The smart maid, who came in to offer her services, with her hair
done up high, and a gown more fashionable that Dolly's, was as new and
expensive as the whole room. Darya Alexandrovna liked her neatness,
her deferential and obliging manners, but she felt ill at ease with
her. She felt ashamed of her seeing the patched dressing jacket that
had unluckily been packed by mistake for her. She was ashamed of the
very patches and darned places of which she had been so proud at home.
At home it had been so clear that for six dressing jackets there would
be needed twenty-four arsheenes of nainsook at sixty-five kopecks the
yard, which was a matter of fifteen roubles, besides the cutting out
and making, and these fifteen roubles had been saved. But before the
maid she felt, if not exactly ashamed, at least uncomfortable.
Darya Alexandrovna had a great sense of relief when Annushka, whom
she had known for years, walked in. The smart maid was sent for to go
to her mistress, and Annushka remained with Darya Alexandrovna.
Annushka was obviously much pleased at that lady's arrival, and
began to chatter away without a pause. Dolly observed that she was
longing to express her opinion in regard to her mistress's position,
especially as to the love and devotion of the Count to Anna
Arkadyevna, but Dolly carefully interrupted her whenever she began to
speak about this.
"I grew up with Anna Arkadyevna; my lady's dearer to me than
anything. Well, it's not for us to judge. And, to be sure, there seems
so much love..."
"Kindly order these things washed for me, please," Darya
Alexandrovna cut her short.
"Certainly. We've two women kept specially for washing small
things, but most of the linen's done by machinery. The Count goes into
everything himself. Ah, what a husband he would make!..."
Dolly was glad when Anna came in, and by her entrance put a stop
to Annushka's gossip.
Anna had put on a very simple batiste gown. Dolly scrutinized that
simple gown attentively. She knew what it meant, and the price at
which such simplicity was obtained.
"An old friend," said Anna of Annushka.
Anna was not embarrassed now. She was perfectly composed and at
ease. Dolly saw that she had now completely recovered from the
impression her arrival had made on her, and had assumed that
superficial, careless tone which, as it were, closed the door on that
compartment in which her deeper feelings and intimate meditations were
"Well, Anna, and how is your little girl?" asked Dolly.
"Annie?" (This was what she called her little daughter Anna.)
"Very well. She has got on wonderfully. Would you like to see her?
Come, I'll show her to you. We had a terrible bother," she began
telling her, "over nurses. We had an Italian wet nurse. A good
creature, but so stupid! We wanted to get rid of her, but the baby is
so used to her that we've gone on keeping her still."
"But how have you managed?..." Dolly was beginning a question as
to what name the little girl would have; but noticing a sudden frown
on Anna's face, she changed the drift of her question. "How did you
manage? Have you weaned her yet?"
But Anna had understood.
"You didn't mean to ask that? You meant to ask about her surname.
Yes? That worries Alexei. She has no name——that is, she's a Karenina,"
said Anna, dropping her eyelids till nothing could be seen but the
eyelashes meeting. "But we'll talk about all that later," her face
suddenly brightening. "Come, I'll show her to you. Elle est tres
gentille. She crawls now."
In the nursery the luxury which had impressed Dolly in the whole
house struck her still more. There were little gocarts ordered from
England, and appliances for learning to walk, and a sofa after the
fashion of a billiard table, purposely constructed for crawling, and
swings, and baths, all of special pattern, and modern. They were all
English, solid, and of good make, and obviously very expensive. The
room was large, and very light and lofty.
When they went in, the baby, with nothing on but her little smock,
was sitting in a little elbowchair at the table, having her dinner of
broth, which she was spilling all over her little chest. The baby was
being fed, and the Russian nurserymaid was evidently sharing her meal.
Neither the wet nurse nor the head nurse were there; they were in the
next room, from which came the sound of their conversation in the
queer French which was their only means of communication.
Hearing Anna's voice, a smart, tall English nurse with a
disagreeable face and a dissolute expression walked in at the door,
hurriedly shaking her fair curls, and immediately began to defend
herself though Anna had not found fault with her. At every word Anna
said the English nurse said hurriedly several times, "Yes, my lady."
The rosy baby with her black eyebrows and hair, her sturdy red
little body with tight goose-flesh skin, delighted Darya Alexandrovna
in spite of the cross expression with which she stared at the
stranger. She positively envied the baby's healthy appearance. She was
delighted, too, at the baby's crawling. Not one of her own children
had crawled like that. When the baby was put on the carpet and its
little dress tucked up behind, it was wonderfully charming. Looking
round like some little wild animal at the grown-up big people with her
bright black eyes, she smiled, unmistakably pleased at their admiring
her, and, holding her legs sideways, she pressed vigorously on her
arms, and rapidly drew her whole back up after, and then made another
step forward with her little arms.
But the whole atmosphere of the nursery, and especially the
English nurse, Darya Alexandrovna did not like at all. It was only on
the supposition that no good nurse would have entered so irregular a
household as Anna's that Darya Alexandrovna could explain to herself
how Anna with her insight into people could take such an
unprepossessing, indecorous woman as nurse to her child. Besides, from
a few words that were dropped, Darya Alexandrovna saw at once that
Anna, the two nurses, and the child, had no existence in common, and
that the mother's visit was something exceptional. Anna wanted to get
the baby her plaything, and could not find it.
Most amazing of all was the fact that on being asked how many
teeth the baby had, Anna answered wrong, and knew nothing about the
two last teeth.
"I sometimes feel sorry I'm, as it were, superfluous here," said
Anna, going out of the nursery, and holding up her skirt so as to
escape the plaything standing near the doorway. "It was very different
with my first child."
"I expected it to be the other way," said Darya Alexandrovna shyly.
"Oh, no! By the way, do you know I saw Seriozha?" said Anna,
screwing up her eyes, as though looking at something far away. "But
we'll talk about that later. You wouldn't believe it, I'm like a
hungry beggar woman when a full dinner is set before her, and she does
not know what to begin on first. The full dinner is you, and the talks
I have before me with you, which I could never have with anyone else;
and I don't know which subject to begin upon first. Mais je ne vous
ferai grace de rien. I must have everything out with you. Oh, I ought
to give you a sketch of the company you will meet with us," she began.
"I'll begin with the ladies. Princess Varvara——you know her, and I
know your opinion and Stiva's about her. Stiva says the whole aim of
her existence is to prove her superiority over Auntie Katerina
Pavlovna: that's all true; but she's a good-natured woman, and I am so
grateful to her. In Peterburg there was a moment when un chaperon was
absolutely essential for me. Then she turned up. But, really, she is
good-natured. She did a great deal to alleviate my position. I see you
don't understand all the difficulty of my position... there in
Peterburg," she added. "Here I'm perfectly at ease and happy. Well, of
that later on, though. Then Sviiazhsky—— he's the marshal of the
district, and he's a very good sort of a man, but he wants to get
something out of Alexei. You understand, with his property, now that
we are settled in the country, Alexei can exercise great influence.
Then there's Tushkevich——you have seen him, you know——Betsy's admirer.
Now he's been thrown over, and he's come to see us. As Alexei says,
he's one of those people who are very pleasant if one accepts them for
what they try to appear to be, et puis, il est comme il faut, as
Princess Varvara says. Then Veslovsky... you know him. A very charming
boy," she said, and a sly smile curved her lips. "What's this wild
story about him and the Levins? Veslovsky told Alexei about it, and we
don't believe it. Il est tres gentil et naif," she said again with the
same smile. "Men need occupation, and Alexei needs a circle, so I
value all these people. We have to have the house lively and gay, so
that Alexei may not long for any novelty. Then you'll see the steward——
a German, a very good fellow, and he understands his work. Alexei has
a very high opinion of him. Then the doctor, a young man, not quite a
Nihilist perhaps, but, you know, he eats with his knife... But a very
good doctor. Then the architect... Une petite cour."
"Here's Dolly for you, Princess, you were so anxious to see her,"
said Anna, coming out with Darya Alexandrovna on the stone terrace
where Princess Varvara was sitting in the shade at an embroidery
frame, working at a cover for Count Alexei Kirillovich's easy chair.
"She says she doesn't want anything before dinner, but please order
some lunch for her, and I'll go look for Alexei and bring them all
Princess Varvara gave Dolly a cordial and rather patronizing
reception, and began at once explaining to her that she was living
with Anna because she had always cared more for her than her sister,
that aunt that had brought Anna up; and that now, when everyone had
abandoned Anna, she thought it her duty to help her in this most
difficult period of transition.
"Her husband will give her a divorce, and then I shall go back to
my solitude; but now I can be of use, and I am doing my duty, however
difficult it may be for me——not like some other people. And how sweet
it is of you, how right of you to have come! They live like the best
of married couples; it's for God to judge them, not for us. And didn't
Biriuzovsky and Madame Avenieva... and Nikandrov himself, and
Vassiliev with Madame Mamonova, and Liza Neptunova... Did no one say
anything about them? And it has ended by their being received by
everyone. And then, c'est un interieur si joli, si comme il faut.
Tout-a-fait a l'anglaise. On se reunit le matin au breakfast, et puis
on se separe. Everyone does as he pleases till dinnertime. Dinner at
seven o'clock. Stiva did very rightly to send you. He needs their
support. You know that through his mother and brother he can do
everything. And then they do so much good. He didn't tell you about
his hospital? Ce sera admirable——everything from Paris."
Their conversation was interrupted by Anna, who had found the men
of the party in the billiard room, and returned with them to the
terrace. There was still a long time before the dinner hour, it was
exquisite weather, and so several different methods of spending the
next two hours were proposed. There were very many methods of passing
the time at Vozdvizhenskoe, and these were all unlike those in use at
"Une partie de lawn tennis," Veslovsky proposed, with his handsome
smile. "We'll be partners again, Anna Arkadyevna."
"No, it's too hot; better stroll about the garden and have a row
in the boat——show Darya Alexandrovna the riverbanks," Vronsky
"I agree to anything," said Sviiazhsky.
"I imagine that what Dolly would like best would be a stroll——
wouldn't you? And then the boat, perhaps," said Anna.
So it was decided. Veslovsky and Tushkevich went off to the
bathing place, promising to get the boat ready and to wait there for
They walked along the path in two couples, Anna with Sviiazhsky,
and Dolly with Vronsky. Dolly was a little embarrassed and anxious in
the new surroundings in which she found herself Abstractly,
theoretically, she did not merely justify——she positively approved of
Anna's conduct. As is indeed not infrequent with women of
unimpeachable virtue, weary of the monotony of virtuous existence, at
a distance she not only excused illicit love——she positively envied
it. Besides, she loved Anna with all her heart. But seeing Anna in
actual life among these strangers, with this fashionable tone that was
so new to Darya Alexandrovna, she felt ill at ease. What she disliked
particularly was seeing Princess Varvara ready to overlook everything
for the sake of the comforts she enjoyed.
As a general principle, abstractly, Dolly approved of Anna's
action; but to see the man for whose sake her action had been taken
was disagreeable to her. Moreover, she had never liked Vronsky. She
thought him very proud, and saw nothing in him of which he could be
proud except his wealth. But against her own will, here in his own
house, he imposed upon her more than ever, and she could not be at
ease with him. She experienced with him the same feeling she had had
the maid about her dressing jacket. Just as with the maid she had felt
not exactly ashamed, but embarrassed at her darns, so she felt with
him not exactly ashamed, but embarrassed at herself.
Dolly was ill at ease, and tried to find a subject of
conversation. Even though she supposed that, through his pride, praise
of his house and garden would be sure to be disagreeable to him, she
did all the same tell him how much she liked his house.
"Yes, it's a very fine building, and in the good old-fashioned
style," he said.
"I like so much the court in front of the steps. Was that always
"Oh, no!" he said, and his face beamed with pleasure. "If you
could only have seen the court last spring!"
And he began, at first rather diffidently, but more and more
carried away by the subject as he went on, to draw her attention to
the various details of the decoration of his house and garden. It was
evident that, having devoted a great deal of trouble to improve and
beautify his home, Vronsky felt a need to show off the improvements to
a new person, and was genuinely delighted at Darya Alexandrovna's
"If you would care to look at the hospital, and are not really
tired, it's not far. Shall we go?" he said, glancing into her face to
convince himself that she was not bored. "Are you coming, Anna?" he
turned to her.
"We will come, won't we?" she said, addressing Sviiazhsky. "Mais
il ne faut pas laisser le pauvre Veslovsky et Tushkevich se morfondre
la dans le bateau. We must send and tell them."
"Yes, this is a monument he is setting up here," said Anna,
turning to Dolly with that sly smile of comprehension with which she
had previously talked about the hospital.
"Oh, it's a work of real importance!" said Sviiazhsky. But to show
he was not trying to ingratiate himself with Vronsky, he promptly
added some slightly critical remarks. "I wonder, though, Count," he
said, "that while you do so much for the health of the peasants, you
take so little interest in the schools."
"C'est devenu tellement commun les ecoles," said Vronsky. "You
understand it's not on that account, but it just happens so, my
interest has been diverted elsewhere. This way, then, to the
hospital," he said to Darya Alexandrovna, pointing to a side path
leading out of the avenue.
The ladies put up their parasols and turned into the side path.
After going down several turnings, and going through a little gate,
Darya Alexandrovna saw standing on rising ground before her a large
pretentious-looking red building, almost finished. The iron roof,
which was not yet painted, shone with dazzling brightness in the
sunshine. Beside the finished building another had been begun,
surrounded by scaffolding. Workmen in aprons, standing on scaffolds,
were laying bricks, pouring mortar out of vats, and smoothing it with
"How quickly work gets done with you!" said Sviiazhsky. "When I
was here last time the roof was not on."
"By the autumn it will all be ready. Inside almost everything is
done," said Anna.
"And what's this new building?"
"That's the house for the doctor and the dispensary," answered
Vronsky; seeing the architect in a short jacket coming toward him, and
excusing himself to the ladies, he went to meet him.
Going round a hole where the workmen were slaking lime, he stood
still with the architect and began talking rather warmly.
"The pediment looks still too low," he said to Anna, who had asked
what was the matter.
"I said the foundation ought to be raised," said Anna.
"Yes, of course, it would have been much better, Anna Arkadyevna,"
said the architect, "but now it's too late."
"Yes, I take a great interest in it," Anna answered Sviiazhsky,
who was expressing his surprise at her knowledge of architecture.
"This new building ought to have been in harmony with the hospital. It
was an afterthought, and was begun without a plan."
Vronsky, having finished his talk with the architect, joined the
ladies, and led them inside the hospital.
Although they were still at work on the cornices outside and were
painting on the ground floor, upstairs almost all the rooms were
finished. Going up the broad cast-iron staircase to the landing, they
walked into the first large room. The walls were stuccoed to look like
marble, the huge plate-glass windows were already in, only the parquet
floor was not yet finished, and the carpenters, who were planing a
block of it, left their work, taking off the bands that fastened their
hair, to greet the gentry.
"This is the reception room," said Vronsky. "Here there will be a
desk, a cupboard, and benches, and nothing more."
"This way; let us go in here. Don't go near the window," said
Anna, trying the paint to see if it were dry. "Alexei, the paint's dry
already," she added.
From the reception room they went into the corridor. Here Vronsky
showed them the mechanism for ventilation on a novel system. Then he
showed them marble baths, and beds with extraordinary springs. Then he
showed them the wards one after another, the storeroom, the linen
room, then the heating stove of a new pattern, then the trolleys,
which would make no noise as they carried everything needed along the
corridors, and many other things. Sviiazhsky, as a connoisseur in the
latest mechanical improvements, appreciated everything fully. Dolly
simply wondered at all as something she had not seen before, and,
anxious to understand it all, made minute inquiries about everything,
which gave Vronsky apparent satisfaction.
"Yes, I imagine that this will be the solitary example of a
properly fitted hospital in Russia," said Sviiazhsky.
"And won't you have a lying-in ward?" asked Dolly. "That's so much
needed in the country. I have often..."
In spite of his usual courtesy, Vronsky interrupted her.
"This is not a lying-in home, but a hospital for the sick, and is
intended for all diseases, except infectious complaints," he said.
"Ah! Look at this," and he rolled up to Darya Alexandrovna an invalid
chair that had just been ordered for convalescents. "Look!" He sat
down in the chair and began moving it. "The patient can't walk—— still
too weak, perhaps, or something wrong with his legs, but he must have
air, and he moves, rolls himself along...."
Darya Alexandrovna was interested by everything. She liked
everything very much, but most of all she liked Vronsky himself, with
his natural, simplehearted enthusiasm. "Yes, he's a very dear, good
man," she thought several times, not hearing what he said, but looking
at him and penetrating into his expression, while she mentally put
herself in Anna's place. She liked him so much just now with his eager
interest that she saw how Anna could be in love with him.
"No, I think the Princess is tired, and horses don't interest
her," Vronsky said to Anna, who wanted to go on to the stud farm,
where Sviiazhsky wished to see the new stallion. "You go on, while I
escort the Princess home, and we'll have a little talk," he said. "If
you would like that?" he added, turning to her.
"I know nothing about horses, and I shall be delighted to go back
with you," answered Darya Alexandrovna, rather astonished.
She saw by Vronsky's face that he wanted something from her. She
was not mistaken. As soon as they had passed through the little gate
back into the garden, he looked in the direction Anna had taken, and,
having made sure that she could neither hear nor see them, he began:
"You guess that I have something I want to say to you," he said,
looking at her with laughing eyes. "I am not wrong in believing you to
be a friend of Anna's." He took off his hat, and taking out his
handkerchief, wiped his head, which was growing bald.
Darya Alexandrovna made no answer, and merely stared at him with
dismay. When she was left alone with him, she suddenly felt afraid;
his laughing eyes and stern expression scared her.
The most diverse suppositions as to what he was about to say to
her flashed into her brain. "He is going to beg me to come to stay
with them with the children, and I shall have to refuse; or to create
a set that will receive Anna in Moscow.... Or isn't it Vassenka
Veslovsky and his relations with Anna? Or perhaps about Kitty——that he
feels he was to blame?" All her conjectures were unpleasant, but she
did not guess what he really wanted to talk about to her.
"You have so much influence with Anna, she is so fond of you," he
said; "do help me."
Darya Alexandrovna looked with timid inquiry into his energetic
face, which under the linden trees was continually being lighted up in
patches by the sunshine, and then passing into complete shadow again.
She waited for him to say more, but he walked in silence beside her,
scratching with his cane in the gravel.
"You have come to see us, you, the only woman of Anna's former
friends——I don't count Princess Varvara——but I know that you have done
this not because you regard our position as normal, but because,
understanding all the difficulty of the position, you still love her
and want to be a help to her. Have I understood you rightly?" he
asked, looking round at her.
"Oh, yes," answered Darya Alexandrovna, putting down her sunshade,
"No," he broke in, and unconsciously, oblivious of the awkward
position in which he was putting his companion, he stopped abruptly,
so that she had to stop short too. "No one feels more deeply and
intensely than I do all the difficulty of Anna's position; and that
you may well understand, if you do me the honor of supposing I have
any heart. I am to blame for that position, and that is why I feel
"I understand," said Darya Alexandrovna, involuntarily admiring
the sincerity and firmness with which he said this. "But just because
you feel yourself responsible, you exaggerate it, I am afraid," she
said. "Her position in the world is difficult, I can well understand."
"In the world it is hell!" he brought out quickly, frowning
darkly. "You can't imagine moral sufferings greater than what she went
through in Peterburg during that fortnight.... And I beg you to
"Yes, but here, so long as neither Anna... nor you want society..."
"Society!" he said contemptuously. "How could I want society?"
"So far——and it may be so always——you are happy and at peace. I
see in Anna that she is happy, perfectly happy——she has had time to
tell me so much already," said Darya Alexandrovna, smiling; and
involuntarily, as she said this, at the same moment a doubt entered
her mind whether Anna really were happy.
But Vronsky, it appeared, had no doubts on that score.
"Yes, yes," he said, "I know that she has revived after all her
sufferings; she is happy. She is happy in the present. But I?... I am
afraid of what is before us... I beg your pardon——you would like to
"No, I don't mind."
"Well, then, let us sit here."
Darya Alexandrovna sat down on a garden seat in a corner of the
avenue. He stood up, facing her.
"I see that she is happy," he repeated, and the doubt whether she
were happy sank more deeply into Darya Alexandrovna's mind. "But can
it last? Whether we have acted rightly or wrongly is another question,
but the die is cast," he said, passing from Russian to French, "and we
are bound together for life. We are united by all the ties of love
that we hold most sacred. We have a child, we may have other children.
But the law and all the conditions of our position are such that
thousands of complications arise which she does not see at present,
and does not want to see, setting her heart at rest after all these
sufferings and ordeals. And that one can well understand. But I can't
help seeing them. My daughter is by law not my daughter, but
Karenin's. I cannot bear this falsity!" he said, with a vigorous
gesture of refusal, and he looked with gloomy inquiry toward Darya
She made no answer, but simply gazed at him. He went on:
"One day a son may be born, my son, and he will be legally a
Karenin; he will not be the heir of my name nor of my property; and
however happy we may be in our home life, and however many children we
may have, there will be no real tie between us. They will be
Karenin's. You will understand the bitterness and horror of this
position! I have tried to speak of this to Anna. It irritates her. She
does not understand, and to her I cannot speak plainly of all this.
Now look at another side. I am happy, happy in her love, but I must
have occupation. I have found occupation, and am proud of what I am
doing, and consider it nobler than the pursuits of my former
companions at Court and in the army. And most certainly I would not
change the work I am doing for theirs. I am working here, settled in
my own place, and I am happy and contented, and we need nothing more
to make us happy. I love my work here. Ce n'est pas un pis-aller, on
Darya Alexandrovna noticed that at this point in his explanation
he grew confused, and she did not quite understand this digression,
but she felt that having once begun to speak of matters near his
heart, of which he could not speak to Anna, he was now making a clean
breast of everything, and that the question of his pursuits in the
country fell into the same compartment of his intimate meditations as
the question of his relations with Anna.
"Well, I will go on," he said, collecting himself. "The great
thing is that as I work I want to have a conviction that what I am
doing will not die with me, that I shall have heirs to come after me——
and this I have not. Conceive the position of a man who knows that his
children, the children of the woman he loves, will not be his, but
will belong to someone who hates them and cares nothing about them! It
He paused, evidently much moved.
"Yes, indeed, I see that. But what can Anna do?" queried Darya
"Yes, that brings me to the object of my conversation," he said,
calming himself with an effort. "Anna can, it depends on her.... Even
to petition the Czar for legitimization, a divorce is essential. And
that depends on Anna. Her husband agreed to a divorce——at that time
your husband had arranged it completely. And now, I know, he would not
refuse it. It is only a matter of writing to him. He said plainly at
that time that if she expressed the desire, he would not refuse. Of
course," he said gloomily, "it is one of those Pharisaical cruelties
of which only such heartless men are capable. He knows what agony any
recollection of him must give her, and knowing her, he must have a
letter from her. I can understand that it is agony to her. But the
matter is of such importance, that one must passer pardessus toutes
ces finesses de sentiment. Il y va du bonheur et de l'existence d'Anne
et de ses enfants. I won't speak of myself, though it's hard for me,
very hard," he said, with an expression as though he were threatening
someone for its being hard for him. "And so it is, Princess, that I am
shamelessly clutching at you as an anchor of salvation. Help me to
persuade her to write to him and ask for a divorce."
"Yes, of course," Darya Alexandrovna said dreamily, as she vividly
recalled her last interview with Alexei Alexandrovich. "Yes, of
course," she repeated with decision, thinking of Anna.
"Use your influence with her, make her write. I don't like——I'm
almost unable to speak about this to her."
"Very well, I will talk to her. But how is it she does not think
of it herself?" said Darya Alexandrovna, and for some reason she
suddenly at that point recalled Anna's strange new habit of
half-closing her eyes. And she remembered that Anna drooped her
eyelids just when the deeper questions of life were touched upon.
"Just as though she half-shut her eyes to her own life, so as not to
see everything," thought Dolly. "Yes, indeed, for my own sake and for
hers, I will talk to her," Dolly said in reply to his expression of
They got up and walked to the house.
When Anna found Dolly at home before her, she looked intently in
her eyes, as though questioning her about the talk she had had with
Vronsky, but she made no inquiry in words.
"I believe it's dinnertime," she said. "We've not seen each other
at all yet. I am reckoning on the evening. Now I want to go and dress.
I expect you do too; we all got splashed at the buildings."
Dolly went to her room and she felt amused. To change her dress
was impossible, for she had already put on her best dress. But in
order to signify in some way her preparation for dinner, she asked the
maid to brush her dress, changed her cuffs and rosette, and put some
lace on her head.
"This is all I can do," she said with a smile to Anna, who came in
to her in a third dress, again of extreme simplicity.
"Yes, we are too prim here," she said, as it were apologizing for
her finery. "Alexei is delighted at your visit, as he rarely is at
anything. He has completely lost his heart to you," she added. "You're
There was no time for talking about anything before dinner. Going
into the drawing room they found Princess Varvara already there, and
the gentlemen of the party in black frock coats. The architect wore a
swallow-tailed coat. Vronsky presented the doctor and the steward to
his guest. The architect he had already introduced to her at the
A stout butler, resplendent with a smoothly shaven round chin and
a starched white cravat, announced that dinner was ready, and the
ladies got up. Vronsky asked Sviiazhsky to take in Anna Arkadyevna,
and himself offered his arm to Dolly. Veslovsky was before Tushkevich
in offering his arm to Princess Varvara, so that Tushkevich with the
steward and the doctor walked in alone.
The dinner, the dining room, the service, the waiting at table,
the wine and the food, were not simply in keeping with the general
tone of modern luxury throughout the house, but seemed even more
sumptuous and modern. Darya Alexandrovna watched this luxury which was
novel to her, and as a good housekeeper used to managing a household——
though she never dreamed of adapting anything she saw to her own
household, as it was all in a style of luxury far above her own manner
of living——she could not help scrutinizing every detail, and wondering
how and by whom it was all done. Vassenka Veslovsky, her husband, and
even Sviiazhsky, and many other people she knew, would never have
considered this question, and would have readily believed what every
well-bred host tries to make his guests feel, that is, that all that
is well-ordered in his house has cost him, the host, no trouble
whatever, but comes of itself. Darya Alexandrovna was well aware that
even porridge for the children's breakfast does not come of itself,
and that therefore, where so complicated and magnificent a style of
luxury was maintained, someone must give earnest attention to its
organization. And from the glance with which Alexei Kirillovich
scanned the table, from the way he nodded to the butler, and offered
Darya Alexandrovna her choice between cold soup and hot soup, she saw
that it was all organized and maintained by the care of the master of
the house himself. It was evident that it all rested no more upon Anna
than upon Veslovsky. She, Sviiazhsky, the Princess, and Veslovsky,
were equally guests, with light hearts enjoying what had been arranged
Anna was the hostess only in conducting the conversation. The
conversation was a difficult one for the lady of the house at a small
table with persons present, like the steward and the architect,
belonging to a completely different world, struggling not to be
overawed by an elegance to which they were unaccustomed, and unable to
sustain a large share in the general conversation. But this difficult
conversation Anna directed with her usual tact and naturalness, and
indeed she did so with actual enjoyment, as Darya Alexandrovna
The conversation began about the row Tushkevich and Veslovsky had
taken alone together in the boat, and Tushkevich began describing the
last boat races in Peterburg at the Yacht Club. But Anna, seizing the
first pause, at once turned to the architect to draw him out of his
"Nikolai Ivanich was struck," she said meaning Sviiazhsky, "at the
progress the new building had made since he was here last; but I am
there every day, and every day I wonder at the rate at which it
"It's first-rate working with His Excellency," said the architect
with a smile (he was respectful and composed, though with a sense of
his own dignity). "It's a very different matter to have to do with the
district authorities. Where one would have to write out sheaves of
papers, here I call upon the Count, and in three words we settle the
"The American way of doing business," said Sviiazhsky, with a
"Yes, there they build in a rational fashion...."
The conversation passed to the misuse of political power in the
United States, but Anna quickly brought it round to another topic, so
as to draw the steward into talk.
"Have you ever seen a reaping machine?" she said, addressing Darya
Alexandrovna. "We had just ridden over to look at one when we met.
It's the first time I ever saw one."
"How do they work?" asked Dolly.
"Exactly like scissors. A plank and a lot of little scissors. Like
Anna took a knife and fork in her beautiful white hands, covered
with rings, and began showing how the machine worked. It was clear
that she saw nothing would be understood from her explanation; but
aware that her talk was pleasant, and her hands beautiful, she went on
"More like little penknives," Veslovsky said playfully, never
taking his eyes off her.
Anna gave a just perceptible smile, but made no answer. "Isn't it
true, Karl Fedorich, that it's just like scissors?" she said to the
"Oh, ja," answered the German. "Es ist ein ganz einfaches Ding,"
and he began to explain the construction of the machine.
"It's a pity it doesn't bind too. I saw one at the Vienna
exhibition, which binds with a wire," said Sviiazhsky. "They would be
more profitable in use."
"Es kommt drauf an... Der Preis vom Draht muss ausgerechnet
werden." And the German, roused from his taciturnity, turned to
Vronsky. "Das lasst sich ausrechnen, Erlaucht." The German was just
feeling in the pocket where were his pencil and the notebook he always
wrote in, but recollecting that he was at a dinner, and observing
Vronsky's chilly glance, he checked himself. "Zu compliziert, macht zu
viel pains," he concluded.
"Wunscht man gains, so hat man auch pains," said Vassenka
Veslovsky, bantering the German. "J'adore l'allemand," he addressed
Anna again with the same smile.
"Cessez," she said with playful severity.
"We expected to find you in the fields, Vassilii Semionich," she
said to the doctor, a sickly-looking man; "have you been there?"
"I went there, but I evaporated," the doctor answered with gloomy
"Then you've taken a good constitutional?"
"Well, and how was the old woman? I hope it's not typhus?"
"Typhus it isn't, but she's not to be found to the best advantage."
"What a pity!" said Anna, and having thus paid the dues of
civility to her domestic circle, she turned to her own friends.
"It would be a hard task, though, to construct a machine from your
description, Anna Arkadyevna," Sviiazhsky said jestingly.
"Oh, no, why so?" said Anna with a smile that betrayed that she
knew there was something charming in her disquisitions upon the
machine, that had been noticed by Sviiazhsky too. This new trait of
girlish coquettishness made an unpleasant impression on Dolly.
"But Anna Arkadyevna's knowledge of architecture is marvelous,"
"To be sure, I heard Anna Arkadyevna saying yesterday: 'by cramp'
and 'plinths,'" said Veslovsky. "Have I got it right?"
"There's nothing marvelous about it, when one sees and hears so
much of it," said Anna. "But, I dare say, you don't even know what
houses are made of?"
Darya Alexandrovna saw that Anna disliked the tone of playfulness
that existed between her and Veslovsky, but fell in with it against
Vronsky acted in this matter quite differently from Levin. He
obviously attached no significance to Veslovsky's chattering; on the
contrary, he encouraged his jests.
"Come now, tell us, Veslovsky, how are the stones held together?"
"By cement, of course."
"Bravo! And what is cement?"
"Oh, some sort of paste.... No, putty," said Veslovsky, raising a
The company at dinner, with the exception of the doctor, the
architect, and the steward, who remained plunged in gloomy silence,
kept up a conversation that never paused, glancing off one subject,
fastening on another, and at times stinging one or the other of the
company to the quick. Once Darya Alexandrovna felt wounded to the
quick, and got so hot that she positively flushed and wondered
afterward whether she had said anything extreme or unpleasant.
Sviiazhsky began talking of Levin, describing his strange view that
machinery is simply pernicious in its effects on Russian agriculture.
"I have not the pleasure of knowing this M. Levin," Vronsky said,
smiling, "but most likely he has never seen the machines he condemns;
or if he has seen and tried any, it must have been after a queer
fashion, some Russian imitation, not a machine from abroad. What sort
of views can anyone have on such a subject?"
"Turkish views, in general," Veslovsky said, turning to Anna with
"I can't defend his opinions," Darya Alexandrovna said, flaring
up; "but I can say that he's a highly cultivated man, and if he were
here he would know very well how to answer you, though I am not
capable of doing so."
"I like him extremely, and we are great friends," Sviiazhsky said,
smiling good-naturedly. "Mais pardon, il est un petit peu toque; he
maintains, for instance, that zemstvoes and justices of the peace are
all of no use, and he is unwilling to take part in anything."
"It's our Russian apathy," said Vronsky, pouring water from an
iced decanter into a delicate glass on a high stem; "we've no sense of
the duties our privileges impose upon us, and so we refuse to
recognize these duties."
"I know no man more strict in the performance of his duties," said
Darya Alexandrovna, irritated by Vronsky's tone of superiority.
"For my part," pursued Vronsky, who was evidently for some reason
or other keenly affected by this conversation, "such as I am, I am, on
the contrary, extremely grateful for the honor they have done me,
thanks to Nikolai Ivanich" (he indicated Sviiazhsky), "in electing me
an honorary justice of the peace. I consider that for me the duty of
being present at the session, of judging some peasants' quarrel about
a horse, is as important as anything I can do. And I shall regard it
as an honor if they elect me for the district council. It's only in
that way I can pay for the advantages I enjoy as a landowner.
Unluckily they don't understand the importance that the big landowners
ought to have in the state."
It was strange to Darya Alexandrovna to hear how serenely
confident he was of being right at his own table. She thought how
Levin, who believed the opposite, was just as positive in his opinions
at his own table. But she loved Levin, and so she was on his side.
"So we can reckon upon you, Count, for the coming elections?" said
Sviiazhsky. "But you must come a little beforehand, so as to be on the
spot by the eighth. If you would do me the honor to stop with me!"
"I rather agree with your beau-frere", said Anna, "though not
quite on the same ground as he," she added with a smile. "I'm afraid
that we have too many of these public duties in these latter days.
Just as in the old days there were so many government functionaries
that one had to call in a functionary for every single thing, so now
everyone's doing some sort of public duty. Alexei has been here now
six months, and he's a member, I do believe, of five or six different
public bodies, a guardian, a justice of the peace, a member of the
council, a juryman, an equine something. Du train que cela va, his
whole time will be wasted on it. And I'm afraid that with such a
multiplicity of these bodies, they'll end in being a mere form. How
many are you a member of, Nikolai Ivanich?" she turned to Sviiazhsky.
"Over twenty, I fancy."
Anna spoke lightly, but irritation could be discerned in her tone.
Darya Alexandrovna, watching Anna and Vronsky attentively, detected it
instantly. She noticed, too, that as she spoke Vronsky's face had
immediately taken a serious and obstinate expression. Noticing this,
and that Princess Varvara at once made haste to change the
conversation by talking of Peterburg acquaintances, and remembering
what Vronsky had without apparent connection said in the garden of his
work in the country, Dolly surmised that this question of public
activity was connected with some deep private disagreement between
Anna and Vronsky.
The dinner, the wine, the dinner set, were all very good; but it
was all like what Darya Alexandrovna had seen at formal dinners and
balls which of late years had become quite unfamiliar to her; it all
had the same impersonal and constrained character, and so on an
ordinary day and in a little circle of friends it made a disagreeable
impression on her.
After dinner they sat on the terrace; then they proceeded to play
lawn tennis. The players, divided into two parties, stood on opposite
sides of a tightly drawn net with gilt poles, on the carefully leveled
and rolled croquet ground. Darya Alexandrovna made an attempt to play,
but it was a long time before she could understand the game, and by
the time she did understand it she was so tired that she sat down with
Princess Varvara and simply looked on at the players. Her partner,
Tushkevich, gave up playing too, but the others kept the game up for a
long time. Sviiazhsky and Vronsky both played very well and seriously.
They kept a sharp lookout on the balls served to them, and without
loitering, they ran adroitly up to them, waited for the rebound, and
neatly and accurately returned them over the net. Veslovsky played
worse than the others. He was too eager, but he kept the players
lively with his high spirits. His laughter and outcries never paused.
Like the other men of the party, with the ladies' permission, he took
off his coat, and his solid, comely figure in his white shirt sleeves,
with his red perspiring face and his impulsive movements, made a
picture that imprinted itself vividly on the memory.
When Darya Alexandrovna lay in bed that night, as soon as she
closed her eyes, she saw Vassenka Veslovsky flying about the croquet
During the game Darya Alexandrovna was not enjoying herself. She
did not like the light tone of playfulness that was kept up all the
time between Vassenka Veslovsky and Anna, and the unnaturalness,
altogether, of grown-up people, all alone without children, playing at
a child's game. But to avoid breaking up the party and to get through
the time somehow, after a rest she joined the game again, and
pretended to be enjoying it. All that day it seemed to her as though
she were acting in a theater with actors cleverer than she, and that
her bad acting was spoiling the whole performance.
She had come with the intention of staying two days, if all went
well. But in the evening, during the game, she made up her mind that
she would go home next day. The maternal cares and worries, which she
had so hated on the way, now, after a day spent without them struck
her in quite another light, and tempted her back to them.
When, after evening tea and a row by night in the boat, Darya
Alexandrovna went alone to her room, took off her dress, and began
arranging her thin hair for the night, she had a great sense of
It was positively disagreeable to her to think that Anna would be
coming to see her immediately. She longed to be alone with her own
Dolly was just about to go to bed when Anna came in to see her,
attired for the night.
In the course of the day Anna had several times begun to speak of
matters near her heart, and every time after a few words she had
stopped: "Afterward, by ourselves, we'll talk about everything. I've
got so much I want to tell you," she had said.
Now they were by themselves, and Anna did not know what to talk
about. She sat in the window looking at Dolly, and going over in her
own mind all the stores of intimate talk which had seemed so
inexhaustible beforehand, and she found nothing. At that moment it
seemed to her that everything had been said already.
"Well, what of Kitty?" she said with a heavy sigh, looking
penitently at Dolly. "Tell me the truth, Dolly: isn't she angry with
"Angry? Oh, no!" said Darya Alexandrovna, smiling.
"But she hates me, despises me?"
"Oh, no! But you know that sort of thing isn't forgiven."
"Yes, yes," said Anna, turning away and looking out of the open
window. "But I was not to blame. And who is to blame? What's the
meaning of being to blame? Could it have been otherwise? What do you
think? Could it possibly have happened otherwise than that you should
become the wife of Stiva?"
"Really, I don't know. But this is what I want you to tell me..."
"Yes, yes, but we've not finished about Kitty. Is she happy? He's
a very fine man, they say."
"He's much more than very fine. I don't know a better man."
"Ah, how glad I am! I'm so glad! Much more than very fine," she
"But tell me about yourself. We've a great deal to talk about. And
I've had a talk with..." Dolly did not know what to call him. She felt
it awkward to call him either the Count or Alexei Kirillovich.
"With Alexei," said Anna, "I know what you talked about. But I
wanted to ask you directly what you think of me, of my life?"
"How am I to say anything so suddenly? I really don't know."
"No, tell me all the same.... You see my life. But you mustn't
forget that you're seeing us in the summer, when you have come to us
and we are not alone.... But we came here early in the spring, lived
quite alone, and shall be alone again, and I desire nothing better.
But imagine me living alone without him, alone, and that will be... I
see by everything that it will often be repeated, that he will be half
the time away from home," she said, getting up and sitting down close
by Dolly. "Of course," she interrupted Dolly, who would have answered,
"of course I won't try to keep him by force. I don't keep him indeed.
The races are just coming, his horses are running, he will go. I'm
very glad. But think of me, fancy my position.... But what's the use
of talking about it!" She smiled. "Well, what did he talk about with
"He spoke of what I want to speak about myself, and it's easy for
me to be his advocate; of whether there is not a possibility...
whether you could not..." (Darya Alexandrovna hesitated) "correct, or
improve your position.... You know how I look at it... But all the
same, if possible, you should get married...."
"Divorce, you mean?" said Anna. "Do you know, the only woman who
came to see me in Peterburg was Betsy Tverskaia? You know her, of
course? Au fond, c'est la femme la plus dipravee qui existe. She had
an intrigue with Tushkevich, deceiving her husband in the basest way.
And she told me that she did not care to know me so long as my
position was irregular. Don't imagine I would compare... I know you,
darling. But I could not help remembering... Well, so what did he say
to you?" she repeated.
"He said that he was unhappy on your account and his own. Perhaps
you will say that it's egoism, but what a legitimate and noble egoism.
He wants first of all to legitimize his daughter, and to be your
husband, to have a legal right to you."
"What wife, what slave can be so utterly a slave as I, in my
position?" she put in gloomily.
"The chief thing he desires... he desires that you should not
"That's impossible. Well?"
"Well, and the most legitimate desire——he wishes that your
children should have a name."
"What children?" Anna said, not looking at Dolly, and half closing
"Annie and those to come..."
"He need not trouble on that score; I shall have no more children."
"How can you tell that you won't?"
"I shall not, because I don't wish it." And, in spite of all her
emotion, Anna smiled, as she caught the naive expression of curiosity,
wonder, and horror on Dolly's face.
"The doctor told me after my illness..."
"Impossible!" said Dolly, opening her eyes wide. For here this was
one of those discoveries the consequences and deductions from which
are so immense that all that one feels for the first instant is that
it is impossible to take it all in, and that one will have to reflect
a great, great deal upon it.
This discovery, suddenly throwing light on all those families of
one or two children, which had hitherto been so incomprehensible to
her, aroused so many ideas, reflections, and contradictory emotions,
that she had nothing to say, and simply gazed with wide-open eyes of
wonder at Anna. This was the very thing she had been dreaming of, but
now learning that it was possible, she was horrified. She felt that it
was too simple a solution of too complicated a problem.
"N'est-ce pas immoral?" was all she said, after a brief pause.
"Why so? Think——I have a choice between two alternatives: either
to be with child, that is an invalid, or to be the friend and
companion of my husband——practically my husband," Anna said in a tone
intentionally superficial and frivolous.
"Yes, yes," said Darya Alexandrovna, hearing the very arguments
she had used to herself, and not finding the same force in them as
"For you, for other people," said Anna, as though divining her
thoughts, "there may be reason to hesitate; but for me... You must
consider——I am not his wife; he loves me as long as he loves me. And
how am I to keep his love? Not like this!"
She moved her white hands in a curve before her waist.
With extraordinary rapidity, as happens during moments of
excitement, ideas and memories rushed into Darya Alexandrovna's head.
"I," she thought, "did not keep my attraction for Stiva; he left me
for others, and the first woman for whom he betrayed me did not keep
him by being always pretty and lively. He deserted her and took
another. And can Anna attract and keep Count Vronsky in that way? If
that is what he looks for, he will find dresses and manners still more
attractive and charming. And, however white and beautiful her bare
arms are, however beautiful her full figure and her eager face under
her black curls, he will find something better still, just as my
disgusting, pitiful, and charming husband does."
Dolly made no answer, she merely sighed. Anna noticed this sigh,
indicating dissent, and she went on. In her armory she had other
arguments so strong that no answer could be made to them.
"Do you say that it's not right? But you must consider," she went
on; "you forget my position. How can I desire children? I'm not
speaking of the suffering——I'm not afraid of that. Think, only——what
are my children to be? Ill-fated children, who will have to bear a
stranger's name. For the very fact of their birth they will be forced
to be ashamed of their mother, their father, their birth."
"But that is just why a divorce is necessary."
But Anna did not hear her. She longed to give utterance to all the
arguments with which she had so many times convinced herself.
"What is reason given me for, if I am not to use it to avoid
bringing unhappy beings into the world!"
She looked at Dolly, but without waiting for a reply she went on:
"I should always feel I had wronged these unhappy children," she
said. "If there are none, at any rate they are not unhappy; while if
they are unhappy, I alone should be to blame for it."
These were the very arguments Darya Alexandrovna had used in her
own reflections; but she heard them now without understanding them.
"How can one wrong creatures that don't exist?" she thought. And all
at once the idea struck her. Could it possibly, under any
circumstances, have been better for her favorite Grisha if he had
never existed? And this seemed to her so wild, so strange, that she
shook her head to drive away this tangle of whirling, mad ideas.
"No, I don't know; it's not right," was all she said, with an
expression of disgust on her face.
"Yes, but you mustn't forget what you are and what I am.... And
besides that," added Anna, in spite of the wealth of her arguments and
the poverty of Dolly's objections, seeming still to admit that it was
not right, "don't forget the chief point, that I am not now in the
same position as you. For you the question is: Do you desire not to
have any more children? While for me it is: Do I desire to have them?
And that's a great difference. You must see that I can't desire them
in my position."
Darya Alexandrovna made no reply. She suddenly felt that she had
got away from Anna so far, that there lay between them a barrier of
questions on which they could never agree, and about which it was
better not to speak.
"Then there is all the more reason for you to legalize your
position, if possible," said Dolly.
"Yes, if possible," said Anna, speaking all at once in an utterly
different tone, subdued and mournful.
"Surely you don't mean a divorce is impossible? I was told your
husband had consented to it."
"Dolly, I don't want to talk about that."
"Oh, we won't then," Darya Alexandrovna hastened to say, noticing
the expression of suffering on Anna's face. "All I see is that you
take too gloomy a view of things."
"I? Not at all! I'm very satisfied and happy. You see, je fais
"Yes, to tell the truth, I don't like Veslovsky's tone," said
Darya Alexandrovna, anxious to change the subject.
"Oh, that's nonsense! It amuses Alexei, and that's all; but he's a
boy, and quite under control. You know, I turn him as I please. It's
just as it might be with your Grisha.... Dolly!" she suddenly changed
the subject. "You say I take too gloomy a view of things. You can't
understand. It's too awful! I try not to take any view of it at all."
"But I think you ought to. You ought to do all you can."
"But what can I do? Nothing. You tell me to marry Alexei, and say
I don't think about it. I don't think about it!" she repeated, and a
flush rose into her face. She got up, straightening her chest, and
sighed heavily. With her light step she began pacing up and down the
room, stopping now and then. "I don't think of it? Not a day, not an
hour passes that I don't think of it, and blame myself for what I
think... because thinking of that may drive me mad. Drive me mad!" she
repeated. "When I think of it, I can't sleep without morphine. But
never mind. Let us talk quietly. They tell me——divorce. In the first
place, he won't give me a divorce. He's under the influence of
Countess Lidia Ivanovna now."
Darya Alexandrovna, sitting erect on a chair, turned her head
following Anna with a face of sympathetic suffering.
"You ought to make the attempt," she said softly.
"Suppose I make the attempt. What does it mean?" she said,
evidently giving utterance to a thought, a thousand times thought over
and learned by heart. "It means that I, hating him, but still
recognizing that I have wronged him——and I consider him magnanimous——
that I humiliate myself to write to him.... Well, suppose I make the
effort; I do it. Either I receive a humiliating refusal, or consent.
Well, I have received his consent, say..." Anna was at that moment at
the farthest end of the room, and she stopped there, doing something
to the curtain at the window. "I receive his consent, but my... my
son? They won't give him up to me. He will grow up despising me, with
his father, whom I've abandoned. Do you see, I love equally, I think,
but both more than myself, two beings——Seriozha and Alexei."
She came out into the middle of the room and stood facing Dolly,
with her arms pressed tightly across her chest. In her white dressing
gown her figure seemed more than usually grand and broad. She bent her
head, and with shining, wet eyes looked from under her brows at Dolly,
a thin little pitiful figure in her patched dressing jacket and
nightcap, shaking all over with emotion.
"It is only those two beings whom I love, and one excludes the
other. I can't have them together, and that's the only thing I want.
And since I can't have that, I don't care about the rest. I don't care
about anything——anything. And it will end one way or another, and so I
can't, I don't like to talk of it. So don't blame me, don't judge me
for anything. You can't with your pure heart understand all that I'm
She went up, sat down beside Dolly, and, with a guilty look,
peeped into her face and took her hand.
"What are you thinking? What are you thinking about me? Don't
despise me. I don't deserve contempt. I'm simply unhappy. If anyone is
unhappy, I am," she uttered, and turning away, she burst into tears.
Left alone, Dolly said her prayers and went to bed. She had felt
for Anna with all her heart while she was speaking to her, but now she
could not force herself to think of her. The memories of home and of
her children rose up in her imagination with a peculiar charm quite
new to her, with a sort of new brilliance. That world of her own
seemed to her now so sweet and precious that she would not on any
account spend an extra day outside it, and she made up her mind that
she would certainly go back the next day.
Anna meantime went back to her boudoir, took a wineglass, and
dropped into it several drops of a medicine, of which the principal
ingredient was morphine. After drinking it off and sitting still a
little while, she went into her bedroom in a soothed and more cheerful
frame of mind.
When she went into the bedroom, Vronsky looked intently at her. He
was looking for traces of the conversation which he knew, staying so
long in Dolly's room, she must have had with her. But in her
expression of restrained excitement, and of a sort of reserve, he
could find nothing but the beauty that always bewitched him afresh
though he was used to it, the consciousness of it, and the desire that
it should affect him. He did not want to ask her what they had been
talking of, but he hoped that she would tell him something of her own
accord. But she only said:
"I am so glad you like Dolly. You do, don't you?"
"Oh, I've known her a long while. She's very goodhearted, I
suppose, mais excessivement terre-a-terre. Still, I'm very glad to see
He took Anna's hand and looked inquiringly into her eyes.
Misinterpreting the look, she smiled to him.
Next morning, in spite of the protests of her hosts, Darya
Alexandrovna prepared for her homeward journey. Levin's coachman, in
his by no means new coat and shabby hat, with his ill-matched horses
and his carriage with the patched mudguards, drove with gloomy
determination into the covered gravel approach.
Darya Alexandrovna disliked taking leave of Princess Varvara and
the gentlemen of the party. After a day spent together, both she and
her hosts were distinctly aware that they did not get on together, and
that it was better for them not to meet. Only Anna was sad. She knew
that now, after Dolly's departure, no one again would stir up within
her soul the feelings that had been roused by their conversation. It
hurt her to stir up these feelings, but yet she knew that that was the
best part of her soul, and that that part of her soul would quickly
grow weedy in the life she was leading.
As she drove out into the open country, Darya Alexandrovna had a
delightful sense of relief, and she felt tempted to ask the two men
how they had liked being at Vronsky's, when suddenly the coachman,
Philip, expressed himself unasked:
"Rolling in wealth they may be, but three pots of oats was all
they gave us. Everything cleared up till there wasn't a grain left by
cock-crow. What are three pots? A mere mouthful! And oats now you
could get from innkeepers for forty-five kopecks. At our place, no
fear, all comers may have as much as they can eat."
"The master's a screw," put in the countinghouse clerk.
"Well, did you like their horses?" asked Dolly.
"The horses! There's no two opinions about them. And the food was
good. But it seemed to me sort of dreary there, Darya Alexandrovna. I
don't know what you thought," he said, turning his handsome,
good-natured face to her.
"I thought so too. Well, shall we get home by evening?"
"Eh, we must!"
On reaching home and finding everyone entirely safe and
particularly charming, Darya Alexandrovna began with great liveliness
telling them about her arrival, her warm reception, about the luxury
and good taste in which the Vronskys lived, and about their
recreations, and she would not allow a word to be said against them.
"One has to know Anna and Vronsky——I have got to know him better
now——to see how fine they are, and how touching," she said, speaking
now with perfect sincerity, and forgetting the vague feeling of
dissatisfaction and awkwardness she had experienced there.
Vronsky and Anna spent the whole summer and part of the autumn in
the country, living in just the same condition, and still taking no
steps to obtain a divorce. It was a decided thing between them that
they should not go away anywhere; but both felt, the longer they lived
alone, especially in the autumn, and without guests in the house, that
they could not stand this existence, and that they would have to
Their life was apparently such that nothing better could be
desired. They had the fullest abundance of everything; they had a
child, and both had occupation. Anna devoted just as much care to her
appearance when they had no visitors, and she did a great deal of
reading, both of novels and of what serious literature was in fashion.
She ordered all the books that were praised in the foreign papers and
journals she received, and read them with that concentrated attention
which is only given to what is read in seclusion. Moreover, every
subject that was of interest to Vronsky, she studied in books and
special journals, so that he often went straight to her with questions
relating to agriculture or architecture, sometimes even with questions
relating to horse breeding or sport. He was amazed at her knowledge,
her memory, and at first was disposed to doubt it, to ask for
confirmation of her facts; and she would find what he asked for in
some book, and show it to him.
The building of the hospital, too, interested her. She did not
merely assist, but planned and suggested a great deal herself. But her
chief thought was still of herself——how far she was dear to Vronsky,
how far she could make up to him for all he had given up. Vronsky
appreciated this desire not only to please, but to serve him, which
had become the sole aim of her existence, but at the same time he
wearied of the loving snares in which she tried to hold him fast. As
time went on, and he saw himself more and more often held fast in
these snares, he had an ever-growing desire, not so much to escape
from them, as to try whether they hindered his freedom. Had it not
been for this growing desire to be free, not to have scenes every time
he wanted to go to the town to a session or a race, Vronsky would have
been perfectly satisfied with his life. The role he had taken up, the
role of a wealthy landowner, one of that class which ought to be the
very heart of the Russian aristocracy, was entirely to his taste; and
now, after spending six months in that role, he derived even greater
satisfaction from it. And his management of his estate, which occupied
and absorbed him more and more, was most successful. In spite of the
immense sums which the hospital, the machinery, the cows ordered from
Switzerland, and many other things, cost him, he was convinced that he
was not wasting but increasing his substance. In all matters affecting
income, the sales of timber, wheat, and wool, the letting of lands,
Vronsky was hard as a rock, and knew well how to keep up prices. In
all operations on a large scale on this and his other estates, he kept
to the simplest methods involving no risk, and in trifling details he
was careful and exacting to an extreme degree. In spite of all the
cunning and ingenuity of the German steward, who would try to tempt
him into purchases by making his original estimate always far larger
than really required, and then representing to Vronsky that he might
get the thing cheaper, and so make a profit, Vronsky did not give in.
He listened to his steward, cross-examined him, and only agreed to his
suggestions when the implement to be ordered or constructed was the
very newest, not yet known in Russia, and likely to excite wonder.
Apart from such exceptions, he resolved upon an increased outlay only
where there was a surplus, and in making such an outlay he went into
the minutest details, and insisted on getting the very best for his
money; so that by the method on which he managed his affairs, it was
clear that he was not wasting, but increasing his substance.
In October there were the provincial nobility elections in the
Kashinsky province, where were the estates of Vronsky, Sviiazhsky,
Koznishev, Oblonsky, and a small part of Levin's land.
These elections were attracting public attention from several
circumstances connected with them, and also from the people taking
part in them. There had been a great deal of talk about these
elections, and great preparations were being made for them. Persons
who never attended the elections were coming from Moscow, from
Peterburg, and from abroad to attend these.
Vronsky had long before promised Sviiazhsky to go to them.
Before the elections Sviiazhsky, who often visited Vozdvizhenskoe,
drove over to fetch Vronsky.
On the day before there had been almost a quarrel between Vronsky
and Anna over this proposed expedition. It was the very dullest autumn
weather, which is so dreary in the country, and so, preparing himself
for a struggle, Vronsky, with a hard and cold expression, informed
Anna of his departure as he had never spoken to her before. But, to
his surprise, Anna accepted the information with great composure, and
merely asked when he would be back. He looked intently at her, at a
loss to explain this composure. She smiled at his look. He knew that
way she had of withdrawing into herself, and knew that it only
happened when she had determined upon something without letting him
know her plans. He was afraid of this; but he was so anxious to avoid
a scene that he kept up appearances, and half sincerely believed in
what he longed to believe in——her reasonableness.
"I hope you won't be dull?"
"I hope not," said Anna. "I got a box of books yesterday from
Gautier's. No, I shan't be dull."
"She's trying to take that tone, and so much the better," he
thought, "or else it would be the same thing over and over again."
And he set off for the elections without appealing to her for a
candid explanation. It was the first time since the beginning of their
intimacy that he had parted from her without a full explanation. From
one point of view this troubled him, but on the other side he felt
that it was better so. "At first there will be, as this time,
something undefined, kept back, and then she will get used to it. In
any case I can give up anything for her, but not my masculine
independence," he thought.
In September Levin moved to Moscow for Kitty's confinement. He had
spent a whole month in Moscow with nothing to do, when Sergei
Ivanovich, who had property in the Kashinsky province, and took great
interest in the question of the approaching elections, made ready to
set off to the elections. He invited his brother, who had a vote in
the Selezniovsky district, to come with him. Levin had, moreover, to
transact in Kashin some extremely important business relating to the
wardship, and to the receiving of certain redemption money for his
sister, who was abroad.
Levin still hesitated, but Kitty, who saw that he was bored in
Moscow, and urged him to go, on her own authority ordered him the
proper nobleman's uniform, costing eighty roubles. And this eighty
roubles paid for the uniform was the chief reason that finally decided
Levin to go. He went to Kashin.
Levin had been five days in Kashin, visiting the assembly each
day, and busily engaged about his sister's business, which still
dragged on. The district marshals of nobility were all occupied with
the elections, and it was impossible to get the simplest thing done
that depended upon the court of wardship. The other matter, the
receipt of the sums due, was also met by difficulties. After long
negotiations over the lifting of the prohibition, the money was at
last ready to be paid; but the notary, a most obliging person, could
not hand over the order, because it must have the signature of the
president, and the president, though he had not given over his duties
to a deputy, was at the elections. All these worrying negotiations,
this endless going from place to place, and talking with pleasant and
excellent people, who quite saw the unpleasantness of the petitioner's
position, but were powerless to assist him——all these efforts that
yielded no result, led to a feeling of misery in Levin akin to the
mortifying helplessness one experiences in dreams, when one tries to
use physical force. He felt this frequently as he talked to his
exceedingly good-natured solicitor. This solicitor did, it seemed,
everything possible, and strained every nerve to get him out of his
difficulties. "I tell you what you might try," he said more than once;
"go to so-and-so and so-and-so," and the solicitor drew up a regular
plan for getting round the fatal point that hindered everything. But
he would add immediately, "It'll mean some delay, anyway, but you
might try it." And Levin did try, and did go. Everyone was kind and
civil, but the point evaded seemed to crop up again in the end, and
again to bar the way. What was particularly trying, was that Levin
could not make out with whom he was struggling, to whose interest it
was that his business should not be done. That no one seemed to know;
the solicitor certainly did not know. If Levin could have understood
why, just as he saw why one can only approach the booking office of a
railway station in single file, it would not have been so vexatious
and tiresome to him. But in the case of the hindrances that confronted
him in his business, no one could explain why they existed.
But Levin had changed a good deal since his marriage; he was
patient, and if he could not see why it was all arranged like this, he
told himself that he could not judge without knowing all about it, and
that most likely it must be so, and he tried not to resent it.
In attending the elections, too, and taking part in them, he tried
now not to judge, not to fall foul of them, but to comprehend as fully
as he could the question which was so earnestly and ardently absorbing
honest and excellent men whom he respected. Since his marriage there
had been revealed to Levin so many new and serious aspects of life
which had previously, through his frivolous attitude to them, seemed
of no importance, that in the question of the elections, too, he
assumed and tried to find some serious significance.
Sergei Ivanovich explained to him the meaning and object of the
proposed radical change at the elections. The marshal of the province
in whose hands the law had placed the control of so many important
public functions——the guardianship of wards (the very department which
was giving Levin so much trouble just now), the disposal of large sums
subscribed by the nobility of the province, the high schools, for
girls, for boys, and military, and primary instruction on the new
statute and finally, the Zemstvo——the marshal of the province,
Snetkov, was a nobleman of the old school, dissipating an immense
fortune, a goodhearted man, honest after his own fashion, but utterly
without any comprehension of the needs of modern days. He always took,
in every question, the side of the nobility; he was positively
antagonistic to the spread of primary education, and he succeeded in
giving a purely party character to the Zemstvo which ought by rights
to be of such an immense importance. What was needed was to put in his
place a fresh, capable, perfectly modern man, of contemporary ideas,
and to frame their policy so as to derive, from the rights conferred
upon the nobles (not as the nobility, but as an element of the
Zemstvo), all the benefits of self-government that could possibly be
derived from them. In the wealthy Kashinsky province, which always
took the lead of other provinces in everything, there was now such a
preponderance of forces that this policy, once carried through
properly there, might serve as a model for other provinces——for all
Russia. And hence the whole question was of the greatest importance.
It was proposed to elect as marshal in place of Snetkov either
Sviiazhsky, or, better still, Neviedovsky, a former university
professor, a man of remarkable intelligence, and a great friend of
The meeting was opened by the governor, who made a speech to the
nobles, urging them to elect the public functionaries, not from regard
for persons, but for the service and welfare of the native country,
and hoping that the honorable nobility of the Kashinsky province
would, as at all former elections, hold their duty as sacred, and
vindicate the exalted confidence of the Monarch.
When he had finished his speech, the governor walked out of the
hall, and the noblemen noisily and eagerly——some even
enthusiastically——followed him and thronged round him while he put on
his fur coat and conversed amicably with the marshal of the province.
Levin, anxious to see into everything and not miss anything, also
stood there in the crowd, and heard the governor say: "Please, tell
Marya Ivanovna my wife is very sorry she could not visit the charity
school." And thereupon the nobles in high good humor sorted out their
fur coats and all drove off to the cathedral.
In the cathedral Levin, lifting his hand like the rest, and
repeating the words of the dean, vowed with the most awesome oaths to
do all the governor had hoped they would do. Church services always
affected Levin, and as he uttered the words: "I kiss the cross," and
glanced round at the crowd of young and old men repeating the same, he
On the second and third days there was business relating to the
finances of the nobility, and the high school for girls, of no
importance whatever, as Sergei Ivanovich explained, and Levin, busy
seeing after his own affairs, did not attend the meetings. On the
fourth day the auditing of the marshal's accounts took place at the
high table of the marshal of the province. And then there occurred the
first skirmish between the new party and the old. The committee which
had been deputed to verify the accounts reported to the meeting that
all was in order. The marshal of the province got up, thanked the
nobility for their confidence, and shed tears. The nobles gave him a
loud welcome and shook hands with him. But at that instant a nobleman
of Sergei Ivanovich's party said that he had heard that the committee
had not verified the accounts, considering such a verification an
insult to the marshal of the province. One of the members of the
committee incautiously admitted this. Then a small gentleman, very
young-looking but very venomous, began to say that it would probably
be agreeable to the marshal of the province to give an account of his
expenditures of the public moneys, and that the misplaced delicacy of
the members of the committee was depriving him of this moral
satisfaction. Then the members of the committee tried to withdraw
their admission, and Sergei Ivanovich began to prove that they must
logically admit either that they had verified the accounts or that
they had not, and he developed this dilemma in detail. Sergei
Ivanovich was answered by the talker of the opposite party. Then
Sviiazhsky spoke, and then the venomous gentleman again. The
discussion lasted a long time and ended in nothing. Levin was
surprised that they should dispute upon this subject so long,
especially as, when he asked Sergei Ivanovich whether he supposed that
money had been misappropriated, Sergei Ivanovich answered:
"Oh, no! He's an honest man. But those old-fashioned methods of
paternal family arrangements in the management of nobility affairs
must be broken down."
On the fifth day came the elections of the district marshals. It
was rather a stormy day in several districts. In the Selezniovsky
district Sviiazhsky was elected unanimously without a ballot, and he
gave a dinner that evening.
The sixth day was fixed for the election of the marshal of the
province. The rooms, large and small, were full of nobleman in all
sorts of uniforms. Many had come only for that day. Men who had not
seen each other for years, some from the Crimea, some from Peterburg,
some from abroad, met in the rooms of the Hall of Nobility. There was
much discussion around the province table under the portrait of the
The nobles, both in the larger and in the smaller rooms, grouped
themselves in camps, and from their hostile and suspicious glances,
from the silence that fell upon them when outsiders approached a
group, and from the way that some, whispering together, retreated to
the farther corridor, it was evident that each side had secrets from
the other. In appearance the noblemen were sharply divided into two
classes: the old and the new. The old were for the most part either in
the old uniform of the nobility, buttoned up closely, with spurs and
hats, or in their own special naval, cavalry, infantry uniforms,
earned by their former service. The uniforms of the older men were
embroidered in the old-fashioned way with small puffs on their
shoulders; they were unmistakably tight and short in the waists, as
though their wearers had grown out of them. The younger men wore the
uniform of the nobility with long waists and broad shoulders,
unbuttoned over white waistcoats, or uniforms with black collars and
with the embroidered laurel leaves of justices of the peace. To the
younger men belonged the Court uniforms that here and there brightened
up the crowd.
But the division into young and old did not correspond with the
division of parties. Some of the young men, as Levin observed,
belonged to the old party; and some of the very oldest noblemen, on
the contrary, were whispering with Sviiazhsky, and were evidently
ardent partisans of the new party.
Levin stood in the smaller room, where they were smoking and
taking light refreshments, close to his own friends, and, listening to
what they were saying, he vainly exerted all his intelligence trying
to understand what was said. Sergei Ivanovich was the center round
which the others grouped themselves. He was listening at that moment
to Sviiazhsky and Khliustov, the marshal of another district, who
belonged to their party. Khliustov would not agree to go with his
district to ask Snetkov to be a candidate, while Sviiazhsky was
persuading him to do so, and Sergei Ivanovich was approving of the
plan. Levin could not make out why the opposition had to ask the
marshal to be a candidate when they wanted to supersede him.
Stepan Arkadyevich, who had just been drinking and taking some
snack lunch, came up to them in his uniform of a gentleman of the
bedchamber, wiping his lips with a perfumed handkerchief of bordered
"We are placing our forces," he said, pulling out his side
whiskers, "Sergei Ivanovich!"
And listening to the conversation, he supported Sviiazhsky's
"One district's enough, and Sviiazhsky's obviously of the
opposition," he said, words evidently intelligible to all except
"Why, Kostia, you, it seems, get the taste for these affairs too!"
he added, turning to Levin and drawing his arm through his. Levin
would have been glad indeed to get the taste for these affairs, but
could not make out what the point was, and retreating a few steps from
the speakers, he explained to Stepan Arkadyevich his inability to
understand why the marshal of the province should be asked to be a
"O sancta simplicitas!" said Stepan Arkadyevich, and briefly and
clearly he explained it to Levin.
If, as at previous elections, all the districts asked the marshal
of the province to be a candidate, then he would be elected without a
ballot. That must not be. Now eight districts had agreed to call upon
him: if two refused to do so, Snetkov might decline the candidacy
entirely; and then the old party might choose another of their party,
which would throw them completely out in their reckoning. But if only
one district, Sviiazhsky's, did not call upon him to be a candidate,
Snetkov would let himself be balloted for. They were even, some of
them, going to vote for him, and purposely to let him get a good many
votes, so that the enemy might be thrown off the scent, and when a
candidate of the other side was put up, they too might give him some
votes. Levin understood to some extent, but not fully, and would have
put a few more questions, when suddenly everyone began talking and
making a noise, and they moved toward the big room.
"What is it? Eh? Whom?... Proxy? Whose? What?... They won't pass
him?... No proxy?... They won't let Fliorov in?... Eh, because of the
charge against him?... Why, at this rate, they won't admit anyone.
It's a swindle!... The law!" Levin heard exclamations on all sides,
and he moved into the big room together with the others, all hurrying
somewhere and afraid of missing something. Squeezed by the crowding
noblemen, he drew near the high table where the marshal of the
province, Sviiazhsky, and the other leaders, were hotly disputing
Levin was standing rather far off. A nobleman breathing heavily
and hoarsely at his side, and another whose thick boots were creaking,
prevented him from hearing distinctly. He could only hear the soft
voice of the marshal faintly, then the shrill voice of the venomous
gentleman, and then the voice of Sviiazhsky. They were disputing, as
far as he could make out, as to the interpretation to be put on the
act and the exact meaning of the words: "liable to be called up for
The crowd parted to make way for Sergei Ivanovich approaching the
table. Sergei Ivanovich, waiting till the venomous gentleman had
finished speaking, said that he thought the best solution would be to
refer to the act itself, and asked the secretary to find the act. The
act said that in case of difference of opinion, there must be a
Sergei Ivanovich read the act and began to explain its meaning,
but at that point a tall, stout, stoop-shouldered landowner, with dyed
mustache, in a tight uniform that made the back of his neck bulge up,
interrupted him. He went up to the table, and striking it with his
finger ring, he shouted loudly:
"A ballot! Put it to the vote! No need for more talking!"
Then several voices began to talk all at once, and the tall
nobleman with the ring, getting more and more exasperated, shouted
more and more loudly. But it was impossible to make out what he said.
He was shouting for the very course Sergei Ivanovich had proposed;
but it was evident that he hated him and all his party, and this
feeling of hatred spread through the whole party and roused in
opposition to it the same vindictiveness, though in a more seemly
form, on the other side. Shouts were raised, and for a moment all was
confusion, so that the marshal of the province had to call for order.
"A ballot! A ballot! Whoever is a nobleman understands! We shed
our blood for our country!... The confidence of the Monarch.... No
checking of the accounts of the marshal——he's not a cashier!... But
that's not the point.... Votes, please! What vileness!..." shouted
furious and violent voices on all sides. Looks and faces were even
more violent and furious than their words. They expressed the most
implacable hatred. Levin did not in the least understand what it was
all about, and he marveled at the passion with which it was disputed
whether or not the decision about Fliorov should be put to the vote.
He forgot, as Sergei Ivanovich explained to him afterward, this
syllogism: that it was necessary for the public good to get rid of the
marshal of the province; that to get rid of the marshal it was
necessary to have a majority of votes; that to get a majority of votes
it was necessary to secure Fliorov's right to vote; that to secure the
recognition of Fliorov's right to vote they must decide on the
interpretation to be put on the act.
"And one vote may decide the whole question, and one must be
serious and consecutive, if one wants to be of use in public life,"
concluded Sergei Ivanovich. But Levin forgot all that, and it was
painful to him to see all these excellent persons, for whom he had
respect, in such an unpleasant and vicious state of excitement. To
escape from this painful feeling he went away into the other room
where there was nobody except the waiters at the refreshment bar.
Seeing the waiters busy washing up the crockery and setting in order
their plates and wineglasses, seeing their alert and vivacious faces,
Levin felt an unexpected sense of relief, as though he had come out of
a stuffy room into the fresh air. He began walking up and down,
looking with pleasure at the waiters. He particularly liked the way
one gray-whiskered waiter, who showed his scorn for the other younger
ones, and was jeered at by them, was teaching them how to fold napkins
properly. Levin was just about to enter into conversation with the old
waiter, when the secretary of the court of wardship, a little old man
whose speciality it was to know all the noblemen of the province by
name and patronymic, drew him away.
"Please come, Konstantin Dmitrievich," he said, "your brother's
looking for you. They are voting on the legal point."
Levin walked into the room, received a white ball, and followed
his brother, Sergei Ivanovich, to the table where Sviiazhsky was
standing with a significant and ironical face, holding his beard in
his fist and sniffing at it. Sergei Ivanovich put his hand into the
box, put the ball somewhere, and, making room for Levin, stopped.
Levin advanced, but utterly forgetting what he was to do, and much
embarrassed, he turned to Sergei Ivanovich with the question, "Where
am I to put it?" He asked this softly, at a moment when there was
talking going on near, so that he had hoped his question would not be
overheard. But the persons speaking paused, and his improper question
was overheard. Sergei Ivanovich frowned.
"That is a matter for each man's own decision," he said severely.
Several people smiled. Levin crimsoned, hurriedly thrust his hand
under the cloth, and put the ball to the right as it was in his right
hand. Having put it in, he recollected that he ought to have thrust
his left hand in too, and so he thrust it in though too late, and,
still more overcome with confusion, he beat a hasty retreat into the
"A hund'ed and twenty-six fo' admission! Ninety-eight against!"
sang out the voice of the secretary, who could not pronounce the
letter r. Then there was a laugh; a button and two hazelnuts were
found in the box. The nobleman was allowed the right to vote, and the
new party had conquered.
But the old party did not consider themselves conquered. Levin
heard that they were asking Snetkov to be candidate, and he saw that a
crowd of noblemen was surrounding the marshal, who was saying
something. Levin went nearer. In reply Snetkov spoke of the trust the
noblemen of the province had placed in him, the affection they had
shown him, which he did not deserve, as his only merit had been his
attachment to the nobility, to whom he had devoted twelve years of
service. Several times he repeated the words: "I have served to the
best of my powers with truth and good faith; I value your goodness and
thank you," and suddenly he stopped short from the tears that choked
him, and went out of the room. Whether these tears came from a sense
of the injustice being done him, from his love for the nobility, or
from the strain of the position he was placed in, feeling himself
surrounded by enemies, his emotion infected the assembly, the majority
were touched, and Levin felt a tenderness for Snetkov.
In the doorway the marshal of the province jostled against Levin.
"Beg pardon——excuse me, please," he said as to a stranger, but,
recognizing Levin, he smiled timidly. It seemed to Levin that he would
have liked to say something, but could not speak for emotion. His face
and his whole figure in his uniform with the crosses, and white
trousers striped with galloons, as he moved hurriedly along, reminded
Levin of some hunted beast who sees that he is in evil plight. This
expression on the marshal's face was particularly touching to Levin,
because, only the day before, he had been at his house about his
guardianship business and had seen him in all his grandeur, a
kindhearted, fatherly man. The big house with the old family
furniture; the rather slovenly, far from stylish, but respectful
footmen——unmistakably old house serfs who had stuck to their master;
the stout, good-natured wife in a cap with lace and a Turkish shawl,
petting her pretty grandchild, her daughter's daughter; the young son,
a sixth-form high school boy, coming home from school, and greeting
his father by kissing his big hand; the genuine, cordial words and
gestures of the old man——all this had the day before roused an
instinctive feeling of respect and sympathy in Levin. This old man was
a touching and pathetic figure to Levin now, and he longed to say
something pleasant to him.
"So you're our marshal again," he said.
"It's not likely," said the marshal, looking round with a scared
expression. "I'm worn-out, I'm old. If there are men younger and more
deserving than I, let them serve."
And the marshal disappeared through a side door.
The most solemn moment was at hand. They were to proceed
immediately to the election. The leaders of both parties were
reckoning white and black on their fingers.
The discussion upon Fliorov had given the new party not only
Fliorov's vote, but had also gained time for them, so that they could
send to fetch three noblemen who had been rendered unable to take part
in the elections by the wiles of the other party. Two noble gentlemen,
who had a weakness for strong drink, had been made drunk by the
partisans of Snetkov, and a third had been relieved of his uniform.
On learning this, the new party had made haste, during the dispute
about Fliorov, to send some of their men in a cab to clothe the
stripped gentleman, and to bring along one of the intoxicated to the
"I've brought one after bringing him to by throwing water——over
him," said the landowner who had gone on this errand, to Sviiazhsky.
"Never mind——he'll do."
"Not too drunk——he won't fall down?" said Sviiazhsky, shaking his
"No, he's first-rate. If only they don't give him any more
here.... I've told the barman not to give him anything, on any
The narrow room, in which they were smoking and taking
refreshment, was full of noblemen. The excitement grew more intense,
and every face betrayed some uneasiness. The excitement was specially
keen for the leaders of each party, who knew every detail, and had
reckoned up every vote. They were the generals organizing the
approaching battle. The rest, like the rank and file before an
engagement, though they were getting ready for the fight, sought for
other distractions in the interval. Some were lunching, standing at
the bar, or sitting at the table; others were walking up and down the
long room, smoking cigarettes, and talking with friends whom they had
not seen for a long while.
Levin did not care to eat, and he was not a smoker; he did not
want to join his own friends——that is Sergei Ivanovich, Stepan
Arkadyevich, Sviiazhsky, and the rest, because Vronsky in his
equerry's uniform was standing with them in eager conversation. Levin
had seen him already at the meeting on the previous day, and he had
studiously avoided him, not caring to greet him. He went to the window
and sat down, scanning the groups, and listening to what was being
said around him. He felt depressed, especially because everyone else
was, as he saw, eager, anxious, and interested, and he alone, with an
old, toothless little man with mumbling lips, wearing a naval uniform
who sat beside him, had no interest in it, and nothing to do.
"He's such a blackguard! I have told him so, but it makes no
difference. Only think of it! He couldn't collect it in three years!"
he heard vigorously uttered by a stoop-shouldered, short country
gentleman, who had pomaded hair hanging over his embroidered collar,
and new boots obviously put on for the occasion, with heels that
tapped energetically as he spoke. Casting a displeased glance at
Levin, this gentleman sharply turned his back.
"Yes, it's a dirty business, there's no denying," another puny
landowner assented in a high voice.
Next, a whole crowd of country gentlemen, surrounding a stout
general, hurriedly came near Levin. These persons were unmistakably
seeking a place where they could talk without being overheard.
"How dare he say I had his breeches stolen! Pawned them for drink,
I expect. Damn the fellow——Prince indeed! He'd better not say it——
"But excuse me! They take their stand on the act," was being said
in another group; "the wife must be registered as a noble."
"Oh, damn your acts! I speak from my heart. We're all gentlemen,
aren't we? Have trust in us."
"Shall we go on, Your Excellency——fine champagne?"
Another group was following a nobleman who was shouting something
in a loud voice; it was one of the three intoxicated gentlemen.
"I always advised Marya Semionovna to let for a fair rent, for she
can never save a profit," he heard a pleasant voice say. The speaker
was a country gentleman with white mustache, wearing the regimental
uniform of an old general staff officer. It was the very landowner
Levin had met at Sviiazhsky's. He knew him at once. The landowner too
stared at Levin, and they exchanged greetings.
"Very glad to see you! To be sure! I remember you very well. Last
year at our district marshal's, Nikolai Ivanovich's."
"Well, and how is your land doing?" asked Levin.
"Oh, still just the same, always at a loss," the landowner
answered with a resigned smile, but with an expression of serenity and
conviction that it must be thus. "And how do you come to be in our
province?" he asked. "Come to take part in our coup d'etat?" he said,
confidently pronouncing the French words with a bad accent.
"All Russia's here——gentlemen of the bedchamber, and everything
short of the ministry." He pointed to the imposing figure of Stepan
Arkadyevich in white trousers and his court uniform, walking by with a
"I ought to own that I don't very well understand the drift of the
provincial elections," said Levin.
The landowner looked at him.
"Why, what is there to understand? There's no meaning in it at
all. It's a decaying institution that goes on running only by the
force of inertia. Just look, the very uniforms tell you that it's an
assembly of justices of the peace, permanent members of the boards,
and so on, but not of noblemen."
"Then why do you come?" asked Levin.
"From habit, nothing else. Then, too, one must keep up
connections. It's a moral obligation of a sort. And then, to tell the
truth, there are one's own interests. My son-in-law wants to run as a
permanent member; they're not rich people, and he must be brought
forward. These gentlemen, now——what do they come for?" he said,
pointing to the venomous gentleman, who was talking at the high table.
"That's the new generation of nobility."
"New it may be, but nobility it isn't. They're landed proprietors——
but we're the landowners. As noblemen, they're cutting their own
"But you say it's an institution that's served its time."
"That it may be, but still, it ought to be treated a little more
respectfully. Snetkov, now... We may be of use, or we may not, but
we're the growth of a thousand years. If we're laying out a garden,
planning one before the house, you know, and there you've a tree
that's stood for centuries in the very spot... Old and gnarled it may
be, and yet you don't cut down the old fellow to make room for the
flowerbeds, but lay out your beds so as to take advantage of the tree.
You won't grow him again in a year," he said cautiously, and he
immediately changed the conversation. "Well, and how is your estate
"Oh, not very well. I make about five per cent."
"Yes, but you don't reckon your own work. Aren't you worth
something too? I'll tell you my own case. Before I took to seeing
after the land, I had a salary of three thousand roubles from the
service. Now I do more work than I did in the service, and, like you,
I get five per cent on the land, and thank God for that. But one's
work is thrown in for nothing."
"Then why do you do it, if it's a clear loss?"
"Oh, well, one does it! What would you have? It's habit, and one
knows it's as it should be. And what's more," the landowner went on,
leaning on the window and chatting on, "my son, I must tell you, has
no taste for it. There's no doubt he'll be a savant. So there'll be no
one to keep it up. And yet one does it. Here this year I've planted an
"Yes, yes," said Levin, "that's perfectly true. I always feel
there's no real balance of gain in my work on the land, and yet one
does it.... It's a sort of duty one feels to the land."
"But I tell you what," the landowner pursued; "a neighbor of mine,
a merchant, was at my place. We walked about the fields and the park.
'No,' said he, 'Stepan Vassilyevich——everything's well looked after
but your garden's neglected.' But, as a fact, it's well kept up. 'To
my thinking, I'd cut down the linden trees. Only do it when they're
running sap. Here's a thousand lindens, and each would make two good
bundles of bast. And nowadays that bast's worth something. And you'd
cut down the lot of the linden shells.'"
"And with what he made he'd buy up livestock, or buy some land for
a trifle, and let it out to the peasants," Levin added, smiling. He
had evidently more than once come across those commercial
calculations. "And he'd make his fortune. But you and I must thank God
if we keep what we've got and leave it to our children."
"You're married, I've heard?" said the landowner.
"Yes," Levin answered, with proud satisfaction. "Yes, all this is
rather strange," he went on. "So we live on without any reckoning, as
though we were the vestals of antiquity, set to guard a sacred fire or
The landowner chuckled under his white mustaches.
"There are some among us, too, like our friend Nikolai Ivanovich,
or Count Vronsky, who's settled here lately——they try to set up an
agronomic industry; but so far it leads to nothing but making away
"But why is it we don't do like the merchants? Why don't we cut
down our parks for bast?" said Levin, returning to a thought that had
"Why, as you said, to guard the fire. Besides, that's not work for
a nobleman. And our work as noblemen isn't done here at the elections,
but yonder, each in his own nook. There's a class instinct, too, of
what one ought and oughtn't to do. There are the peasants, too——I
wonder at them sometimes; any good peasant tries to take all the land
he can. However bad the land is, he'll work it. Without a reckoning
too. At a simple loss."
"Just as we do," said Levin. "Very, very glad to have met you," he
added, seeing Sviiazhsky approaching him.
"And here we've met for the first time since we met at your
place," said the landowner to Sviiazhsky, "and we've had a good talk,
"Well, have you been attacking the new order of things?" said
Sviiazhsky with a smile.
"That we're bound to do."
"You've been relieving your feelings."
Sviiazhsky took Levin's arm, and went with him to his own friends.
This time there was no avoiding Vronsky. He was standing with Stepan
Arkadyevich and Sergei Ivanovich, and looking straight at Levin as he
"Delighted! I believe I've had the pleasure of meeting you... at
Princess Shcherbatskaia's," he said, giving Levin his hand.
"Yes, I quite remember our meeting," said Levin, and, blushing
crimson, he turned away immediately, and began talking to his brother.
With a slight smile Vronsky went on talking to Sviiazhsky,
obviously without the slightest inclination to enter into conversation
with Levin. But Levin, as he talked to his brother, was continually
looking round at Vronsky, trying to think of something to say to him
to smooth over his rudeness.
"What are we waiting for now?" asked Levin, looking at Sviiazhsky
"For Snetkov. He has to refuse or accept the candidacy," answered
"Well, and what has he done——consented or not?"
"That's the point: he's done neither," said Vronsky.
"And if he refuses, who will run then?" asked Levin, looking at
"Whoever chooses to," said Sviiazhsky.
"Shall you?" asked Levin.
"Certainly not I," said Sviiazhsky, looking confused, and turning
an alarmed glance at the venomous gentleman, who was standing beside
"Who then? Neviedovsky?" said Levin, feeling he was putting his
foot into it.
But this was worse still. Neviedovsky and Sviiazhsky were the two
"I certainly shall not, under any circumstances," answered the
This was Neviedovsky himself. Sviiazhsky introduced him to Levin.
"Well, do you find it exciting too?" said Stepan Arkadyevich,
winking at Vronsky. "It's something like a race. One might bet on it."
"Yes, it is keenly exciting," said Vronsky. "And once taking the
thing up, one's eager to see it through. It's a fight!" he said,
scowling and setting his powerful jaws.
"What a businessman Sviiazhsky is! Sees it all so clearly."
"Oh, yes!" Vronsky assented indifferently.
A silence followed, during which Vronsky——since he had to look at
something——looked at Levin, at his feet, at his frock coat, then at
his face, and noticing his gloomy eyes fixed upon him, he said, in
order to say something:
"How is it that you, living constantly in the country, are not a
justice of the peace? You are not in the uniform of one."
"It's because I consider the justice of the peace a silly
institution," morosely answered Levin, who had been all the time
looking for an opportunity to enter into conversation with Vronsky, so
as to smooth over his rudeness at their first meeting.
"I don't think so——quite the contrary," Vronsky said, with calm
"It's a plaything," Levin cut him short. "We don't want justices
of the peace. I've never had a single thing to do with them during
eight years. And what I have had, was decided wrongly by them. The
justice of the peace is over thirty miles from me. For a matter of two
roubles or so, I should have to send a lawyer, who costs me fifteen."
And he related how a peasant had stolen some flour from the
miller, and when the miller told him of it, had lodged a complaint for
slander. All this was utterly uncalled-for and stupid, and Levin felt
it himself as he said it.
"Oh, this is such an original fellow!" said Stepan Arkadyevich
with his most soothing, almond-oil smile. "But come along; I think
And they separated.
"I can't understand," said Sergei Ivanovich, who had observed his
brother's gaucherie, "I can't understand how anyone can be so
absolutely devoid of political tact. That's where we Russians are so
deficient. The marshal of the province is our opponent, and with him
you're ami cochon, and you beg him to be candidate. Count Vronsky,
now... I'm not making a friend of him——he's asked me to dinner, and
I'm not going; but he's one of our side——why make an enemy of him?
Then you ask Neviedovsky if he's going to run. That's not done."
"Oh, I don't understand it at all! And it's all such nonsense,"
Levin answered somberly.
"You say it's all such nonsense——yet as soon as you have anything
to do with it, you make a muddle."
Levin did not answer, and they walked together into the big room.
The marshal of the province, though he was vaguely conscious in
the air of some trap being prepared for him, and though he had not
been called upon by all to run, had nevertheless made up his mind to
run for office. All was silence in the room. The secretary announced
in a loud voice that Mikhail Stepanovich Snetkov, captain of the
guards, would now be balloted for as marshal of the province.
The district marshals walked carrying plates, on which were balls,
from their tables to the province table, and the election began.
"Put it in the right side," whispered Stepan Arkadyevich, as Levin
with his brother followed the marshal of his district to the table.
But Levin had forgotten by now the machination that had been explained
to him, and was afraid Stepan Arkadyevich might be mistaken in saying
"the right side." Surely Snetkov was the enemy. As he went up, he held
the ball in his right hand, but thinking he was wrong, just at the box
he changed to the left hand, and undoubtedly put the ball to the left.
An adept in the business, standing at the box and seeing by the mere
action of the elbow where each put his ball, scowled with annoyance.
It was no good for him to use his insight.
Everything was still, and the counting of the balls was heard.
Then a single voice rose and proclaimed the numbers for and against.
The marshal had been voted for by a considerable majority. All was
noise and eager movement toward the doors. Snetkov came in, and the
nobles thronged round him, congratulating him.
"Well, now, is it over?" Levin asked Sergei Ivanovich.
"It's only just beginning," Sviiazhsky said, replying for Sergei
Ivanovich with a smile. "Some other candidate may receive more votes
than the marshal."
Levin had quite forgotten about that again. Now he could only
remember that there was some sort of trickery in it, but he was too
bored to think what it was exactly. He felt depressed, and longed to
get out of the crowd.
As no one was paying any attention to him, and no one apparently
needed him, he quietly slipped away into the little room where the
refreshments were, and again had a great sense of comfort when he saw
the waiters. The little old waiter pressed him to have something, and
Levin agreed. After eating a cutlet with beans and talking to the
waiters of their former masters, Levin, not wishing to go back to the
hall, where it was all so distasteful to him, proceeded to walk
through the galleries.
The galleries were full of fashionably dressed ladies, leaning
over the balustrade and trying not to lose a single word of what was
being said below. With the ladies were sitting and standing smart
lawyers, high school teachers in spectacles, and officers. Everywhere
they were talking of the election, and of how worried the marshal was,
and how splendid the discussions had been. In one group Levin heard
his brother's praises. One lady was telling a lawyer:
"How glad I am I heard Koznishev! It's worth missing one's lunch.
He's exquisite! So clear and distinct——all of it! There's not one of
you in the law courts that speaks like that. The only one is Meidel,
and he's very far from being so eloquent."
Finding a free place, Levin leaned over the balustrade and began
looking and listening.
All the noblemen were sitting railed off behind barriers,
according to their districts. In the middle of the room stood a man in
a uniform, who shouted in a loud high voice:
"As a candidate for the marshalship of the nobility of the
province we call upon staff captain Eugenii Ivanovich Apukhtin!" A
dead silence followed, and then a weak old voice was heard:
"We call upon the privy councilor Piotr Petrovich Bol," the voice
"Declined!" a high boyish voice replied.
Again it began, and again came the "Declined." And so it went on
for about an hour. Levin, with his elbows on the balustrade, looked
and listened. At first he wondered and wanted to know what it meant;
then feeling sure that he could not make it out he began to be bored.
Then, recalling all the excitement and vindictiveness he had seen on
all the faces, he felt sad; he made up his mind to go, and went
downstairs. As he passed through the entry to the galleries he met a
dejected high school boy walking up and down with tired-looking eyes.
On the stairs he met a couple——a lady running quickly on her high
heels and the jaunty deputy prosecutor.
"I told you you weren't late," the deputy prosecutor was saying at
the moment when Levin moved aside to let the lady pass.
Levin was on the stairs to the way out, and was just feeling in
his waistcoat pocket for his overcoat check, when the secretary
overtook him. "This way, please, Konstantin Dmitrievich; they are
The candidate who was being voted on was Neviedovsky, who had so
stoutly denied all idea of candidacy.
Levin went up to the door of the room; it was locked. The
secretary knocked, the door opened, and Levin was met by two red-faced
gentlemen, who darted out.
"I can't stand any more of it," said one red-faced gentleman.
After them the face of the marshal of the province was poked out.
His face was dreadful-looking from exhaustion and dismay.
"I told you not to let anyone out!" he cried to the doorkeeper.
"I let someone in, Your Excellency!"
"Mercy on us!" And with a heavy sigh the marshal of the province
walked with downcast head to the high table in the middle of the room,
his white-trousered legs wavering from fatigue.
Neviedovsky had scored a higher majority, as they had planned, and
he was the new marshal of the province. Many people were amused, many
were pleased and happy, many were in ecstasies, many were disgusted
and unhappy. The former marshal of the province was in a state of
despair which he could not conceal. When Neviedovsky went out of the
room, the crowd thronged round him and followed him enthusiastically,
just as they had followed the governor on the first day, when he had
opened the meetings, and just as they had followed Snetkov when he had
The newly elected marshal and many of the successful party dined
that day with Vronsky.
Vronsky had come to the elections partly because he was bored in
the country and wanted to show Anna his right to independence, and
also to repay Sviiazhsky by his support at the election for all the
trouble he had taken for Vronsky at the Zemstvo election, but chiefly
for the strict performance of all those duties of a nobleman and
landowner which he had taken upon himself. But he had not in the least
expected that the election would interest him so, so keenly excite
him, and that he would be so good at this kind of thing. He was quite
a new man in the circle of the nobility of the province, but his
success was unmistakable, and he was not wrong in supposing that he
had already obtained a certain influence. This influence was due to
his wealth and aristocracy; the capital house in the town lent him by
his old friend Shirkov, who had a post in the department of finances
and was director of a flourishing bank in Kashin; the excellent cook
Vronsky had brought from the country; and his friendship with the
governor, who was a schoolfellow of Vronsky——a schoolfellow he had
patronized and protected indeed. But what contributed more than all to
his success was his direct, equable manner with everyone, which very
quickly made the majority of the noblemen reverse the current opinion
of his supposed haughtiness. He was himself conscious that, except for
that mad gentleman married to Kitty Shcherbatskaia, who had a propos
de bottes poured out a stream of irrelevant absurdities with such
spiteful fury, every nobleman with whom he had made acquaintance had
become his adherent. He saw clearly, and other people recognized it,
too, that he had done a great deal to secure the success of
Neviedovsky. And now at his own table, celebrating Neviedovsky's
election, he was experiencing an agreeable sense of triumph over the
success of his candidate. The election itself had so fascinated him
that, if he could succeed in getting married during the next three
years, he began to think of running for office himself——much as, after
winning a race ridden by a jockey, he had longed to ride a race
Today he was celebrating the success of his jockey. Vronsky sat at
the head of the table, on his right hand sat the young governor, a
general of high rank. To all the rest he was the master of the
province, who had solemnly opened the elections with his speech, and
aroused a feeling of respect and even of awe in many people, as
Vronsky saw; to Vronsky he was Katka Maslov——that had been his
nickname in the Pages' Corps——whom he felt to be shy and tried to put
at ease. On the left hand sat Neviedovsky with his youthful, stubborn,
and venomous countenance. With him Vronsky was simple and deferential.
Sviiazhsky took his failure very lightheartedly. It was indeed no
failure in his eyes, as he said himself, turning, glass in hand, to
Neviedovsky: they could not have found a better representative of the
new movement, which the nobility ought to follow. And so every honest
person, as he said, was on the side of today's success and was
celebrating over it.
Stepan Arkadyevich was glad, too, because he was having a good
time, and because everyone was pleased. The episodes of the elections
served as a good occasion for a capital dinner. Sviiazhsky comically
imitated the tearful discourse of marshal, and observed, addressing
Neviedovsky, that His Excellency would have to select another, more
complicated method of auditing accounts than tears. Another nobleman
jocosely described how footmen in stockings had been imported for the
marshal's ball, and how now they would have to be sent back unless the
new marshal would give a ball with footmen in stockings.
Continually during dinner they said of Neviedovsky: "Our Marshal"
and "Your Excellency."
This was said with the same pleasure with which a young wife is
called "Madame" and by her husband's name. Neviedovsky affected to be
not merely indifferent but scornful of this appellation, but it was
obvious that he was highly delighted, and had to keep a curb on
himself not to betray the triumph which was unsuitable to their new,
In the course of dinner several telegrams were sent to people
interested in the result of the election. And Stepan Arkadyevich, who
was in high spirits, sent Darya Alexandrovna a telegram: "Neviedovsky
elected by twenty votes. Congratulations. Tell people." He dictated it
aloud, saying: "We must let them share our rejoicing." Darya
Alexandrovna, getting the message, simply sighed over the rouble
wasted on it, and understood that it was an afterdinner affair. She
knew Stiva had a weakness after dining for faire jouer le telegraphe.
Everything, together with the excellent dinner and the wine, not
from Russian merchants, but imported direct from abroad, was extremely
dignified, simple, and enjoyable. The party——some twenty——had been
selected by Sviiazhsky from among the more active new liberals, all of
the same way of thinking, who were at the same time clever and
well-bred. They drank, also half in jest, to the health of the new
marshal of the province, of the governor, of the bank director, and of
"our amiable host."
Vronsky was satisfied. He had never expected to find so pleasant a
tone in the provinces.
Toward the end of dinner it was still more lively. The governor
asked Vronsky to come to a concert for the benefit of the brethren
which his wife, who was anxious to make his acquaintance, had been
"There'll be a ball, and you'll see the belle of the province.
Worth seeing, really."
"Not in my line," Vronsky answered. He liked that English phrase.
But he smiled, and promised to come.
Before they rose from the table, when all of them were smoking,
Vronsky's valet went up to him with a letter on a tray.
"From Vozdvizhenskoe by special messenger," he said with a
"Astonishing! How like he is to the deputy prosecutor Sventitsky,"
said one of the guests in French of the valet, while Vronsky,
frowning, read the letter.
The letter was from Anna. Before he read the letter, he knew its
contents. Expecting the elections to be over in five days, he had
promised to be back on Friday. Today was Saturday, and he knew that
the letter contained reproaches for not being back at the time fixed.
The letter he had sent the previous evening had probably not reached
The letter was what he had expected, but the form of it was
unexpected, and particularly disagreeable to him. "Annie is very ill,
the doctor says it may be inflammation of the lungs. I am losing my
head all alone. Princess Varvara is no help, but a hindrance. I
expected you the day before yesterday, and yesterday, and now I am
sending to find out where you are and what you are doing. I wanted to
come myself, but thought better of it, knowing you would dislike it.
Send some answer, that I may know what to do."
The child ill, yet she had thought of coming herself. Their
daughter ill——and this hostile tone.
The innocent festivities over the election, and this gloomy,
burdensome love to which he had to return, struck Vronsky by their
contrast. But he had to go, and by the first train that night he set
Before Vronsky's departure for the elections, Anna had reflected
that the scenes constantly repeated between them each time he left
home might only make him cold to her instead of attaching him to her,
and resolved to do all she could to control herself so as to bear the
parting with composure. But the cold, severe glance with which he had
looked at her when he came to tell her he was going had wounded her,
and before he had started her peace of mind was destroyed.
In solitude, later, thinking over that glance which had expressed
his right to freedom, she came, as she always did, to the same point——
the sense of her own humiliation. "He has the right to go away when
and where he chooses. Not simply to go away, but to leave me. He has
every right, and I have none. But knowing that, he ought not to do it.
What has he done, though?... He looked at me with a cold, severe
expression. Of course that is something indefinable, impalpable, but
it has never been so before, and that glance means a great deal," she
thought. "That glance shows the beginning of coolness."
And though she felt sure that a coolness was beginning, there was
nothing she could do; she could not in any way alter her relations to
him. Just as before, only by love and by charm could she keep him. And
so, just as before, only by occupation in the day, by morphine at
night, could she stifle the fearful thought of what would come if he
ceased to love her. It is true there was still one means; not to keep
him——for that she wanted nothing more than his love——but to be nearer
to him, to be in such a position that he would not leave her. That
means was divorce and marriage. And she began to long for that, and
made up her mind to agree to it the first time he or Stiva approached
her on the subject.
Absorbed in such thoughts, she passed five days without him, the
five days that he was to be absent.
Walks, conversation with Princess Varvara, visits to the hospital,
and, most of all, reading——reading of one book after another——filled
up her time. But on the sixth day, when the coachman came back without
him, and she felt that now she was utterly incapable of stifling the
thought of him and of what he was doing there——just at that time her
little girl was taken ill. Anna began to look after her, but even that
did not distract her mind, especially as the illness was not serious.
However hard she tried, she could not love this little child, and to
feign love was beyond her powers. Toward the evening of that day,
still alone, Anna was in such a panic about him that she decided to
start for the town, but on second thought wrote him the contradictory
letter that Vronsky received, and, without reading it through, sent it
off by a special messenger. The next morning she received his letter
and regretted her own. She dreaded a repetition of the severe look he
had flung at her at parting, especially when he would learn that the
baby was not dangerously ill. But still, she was glad she had written
to him. By now Anna was admitting to herself that she was a burden to
him, that he would relinquish his freedom regretfully to return to
her, and in spite of that she was glad he was coming. Let him weary of
her, but he would be here with her, so that she would see him, would
know of every action he took.
She was sitting in the drawing room near a lamp, with a new volume
of Taine, and, as she read, listening to the sound of the wind
outside, and every minute expecting the carriage to arrive. Several
times she had fancied she heard the sound of wheels, but she had been
mistaken. At last she heard not the sound of wheels, but the
coachman's shout and the dull rumble in the covered entry. Even
Princess Varvara, playing solitaire, confirmed this, and Anna,
flushing hotly, got up; but, instead of going down, as she had done
twice before, she stood still. She suddenly felt ashamed of her
duplicity, but even more she dreaded how he might meet her. All
feeling of wounded pride had passed now; she was only afraid of the
expression of his displeasure. She remembered that her child had been
perfectly well again for the last day. She felt positively vexed with
her for getting better from the very moment her letter was sent off.
Then she thought of him, that he was here——all of him, with his hands,
his eyes. She heard his voice. And forgetting everything, she ran
joyfully to meet him.
"Well, how is Annie?" he said apprehensively from below, looking
up to Anna as she ran down to him.
He was sitting on a chair, and a footman was pulling off his warm
"Oh, she is better."
"And you?" he said, shaking himself.
She took his hand in both of hers, and drew it to her waist, never
taking her eyes off him.
"Well, I'm glad," he said, coldly scanning her, her hair, her
dress, which he knew she had put on for him. All was charming, but how
many times it had charmed him! And the stern, stony expression that
she so dreaded settled upon his face.
"Well, I'm glad. And are you well?" he said, wiping his damp beard
with his handkerchief and kissing her hand.
"Never mind," she thought, "only let him be here, and so long as
he's here he cannot, he dare not, cease to love me."
The evening was spent happily and gaily in the presence of
Princess Varvara, who complained to him that Anna had been taking
morphine in his absence.
"What am I to do? I couldn't sleep.... My thoughts prevented me.
When he's here I never take it——hardly ever."
He told her about the election, and Anna knew how by adroit
questions to bring him to what gave him most pleasure——his own
success. She told him of everything that interested him at home; and
all that she told him was of the most cheerful description.
But late in the evening, when they were alone, Anna, seeing that
she had regained complete possession of him, wanted to erase the
painful impression of the glance he had given her for her letter. She
"Tell me frankly, you were vexed at getting my letter, and you
didn't believe me?"
As soon as she had said it, she felt that however warm his
feelings were to her, he had not forgiven her for that.
"Yes," he said, "the letter was so strange. First, Annie ill, and
then you thought of coming yourself."
"It was all the truth."
"Oh, I don't doubt it."
"Yes, you do doubt it. You are vexed, I see."
"Not for one moment. I'm only vexed, that's true, that you seem
somehow unwilling to admit that there are duties..."
"The duty of going to a concert...."
"But we won't talk about it," he said.
"Why not talk about it?" she said.
"I only meant to say that matters of real importance may turn up.
Now, for instance, I shall have to go to Moscow to arrange about the
house.... Oh, Anna, why are you so irritable? Don't you know that I
can't live without you?"
"If so," said Anna, her voice suddenly changing, "it means that
you are sick of this life.... Yes, you will come for a day and go
away, as men do...."
"Anna, that's cruel. I am ready to give up my whole life."
But she did not hear him.
"If you go to Moscow, I will go too. I will not stay here. Either
we must separate or else live together."
"Why, you know, that's my one desire. But to do that..."
"We must get a divorce. I will write to him. I see I cannot go on
like this.... But I will come with you to Moscow."
"You talk as if you were threatening me. But I desire nothing so
much as never to be parted from you," said Vronsky, smiling.
But as he said these words there gleamed in his eyes not merely a
cold look, but the vindictive look of a man persecuted and made cruel.
She saw the look and correctly divined its meaning.
"And, if things have come to such a pass, it's a calamity!" that
glance told her. It was a moment's impression, but she never forgot
Anna wrote to her husband asking him about a divorce, and toward
the end of November, taking leave of Princess Varvara, who wanted to
go to Peterburg, she went with Vronsky to Moscow. Expecting every day
an answer from Alexei Alexandrovich, and after that the divorce, they
now established themselves together, like married people.