Tantissimi classici della letteratura e della cultura politica,
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Abbe Prevost - MANON LESCAUT
Alcott, Louisa M. - AN OLDFASHIONED GIRL
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE MEN
Alcott, Louisa M. - LITTLE WOMEN
Alcott, Louisa May - JACK AND JILL
Alcott, Louisa May - LIFE LETTERS AND JOURNALS
Andersen, Hans Christian - FAIRY TALES
Anonimo - BEOWULF
Ariosto, Ludovico - ORLANDO ENRAGED
Aurelius, Marcus - MEDITATIONS
Austen, Jane - EMMA
Austen, Jane - MANSFIELD PARK
Austen, Jane - NORTHANGER ABBEY
Austen, Jane - PERSUASION
Austen, Jane - PRIDE AND PREJUDICE
Austen, Jane - SENSE AND SENSIBILITY
Authors, Various - LETTERS OF ABELARD AND HELOISE
Authors, Various - SELECTED ENGLISH LETTERS
Autori Vari - THE WORLD ENGLISH BIBLE
Bacon, Francis - THE ADVANCEMENT OF LEARNING
Balzac, Honore de - EUGENIE GRANDET
Balzac, Honore de - FATHER GORIOT
Baroness Orczy - THE SCARLET PIMPERNEL
Barrie, J. M. - PETER AND WENDY
Barrie, James M. - PETER PAN
Bierce, Ambrose - THE DEVIL'S DICTIONARY
Blake, William - SONGS OF INNOCENCE AND EXPERIENCE
Boccaccio, Giovanni - DECAMERONE
Brent, Linda - INCIDENTS IN THE LIFE OF A SLAVE GIRL
Bronte, Charlotte - JANE EYRE
Bronte, Charlotte - VILLETTE
Buchan, John - GREENMANTLE
Buchan, John - MR STANDFAST
Buchan, John - THE 39 STEPS
Bunyan, John - THE PILGRIM'S PROGRESS
Burckhardt, Jacob - THE CIVILIZATION OF THE RENAISSANCE IN ITALY
Burnett, Frances H. - A LITTLE PRINCESS
Burnett, Frances H. - LITTLE LORD FAUNTLEROY
Burnett, Frances H. - THE SECRET GARDEN
Butler, Samuel - EREWHON
Carlyle, Thomas - PAST AND PRESENT
Carlyle, Thomas - THE FRENCH REVOLUTION
Cellini, Benvenuto - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Cervantes - DON QUIXOTE
Chaucer, Geoffrey - THE CANTERBURY TALES
Chesterton, G. K. - A SHORT HISTORY OF ENGLAND
Chesterton, G. K. - THE BALLAD OF THE WHITE HORSE
Chesterton, G. K. - THE INNOCENCE OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO KNEW TOO MUCH
Chesterton, G. K. - THE MAN WHO WAS THURSDAY
Chesterton, G. K. - THE WISDOM OF FATHER BROWN
Chesterton, G. K. - TWELVE TYPES
Chesterton, G. K. - WHAT I SAW IN AMERICA
Chesterton, Gilbert K. - HERETICS
Chopin, Kate - AT FAULT
Chopin, Kate - BAYOU FOLK
Chopin, Kate - THE AWAKENING AND SELECTED SHORT STORIES
Clark Hall, John R. - A CONCISE ANGLOSAXON DICTIONARY
Clarkson, Thomas - AN ESSAY ON THE SLAVERY AND COMMERCE OF THE HUMAN SPECIES
Clausewitz, Carl von - ON WAR
Coleridge, Herbert - A DICTIONARY OF THE FIRST OR OLDEST WORDS IN THE ENGLISH
Coleridge, S. T. - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Coleridge, S. T. - HINTS TOWARDS THE FORMATION OF A MORE COMPREHENSIVE THEORY
Coleridge, S. T. - THE RIME OF THE ANCIENT MARINER
Collins, Wilkie - THE MOONSTONE
Collodi - PINOCCHIO
Conan Doyle, Arthur - A STUDY IN SCARLET
Conan Doyle, Arthur - MEMOIRS OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE HOUND OF THE BASKERVILLES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE RETURN OF SHERLOCK HOLMES
Conan Doyle, Arthur - THE SIGN OF THE FOUR
Conrad, Joseph - HEART OF DARKNESS
Conrad, Joseph - LORD JIM
Conrad, Joseph - NOSTROMO
Conrad, Joseph - THE NIGGER OF THE NARCISSUS
Conrad, Joseph - TYPHOON
Crane, Stephen - LAST WORDS
Crane, Stephen - MAGGIE
Crane, Stephen - THE RED BADGE OF COURAGE
Crane, Stephen - WOUNDS IN THE RAIN
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: HELL
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PARADISE
Dante - THE DIVINE COMEDY: PURGATORY
Darwin, Charles - THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF CHARLES DARWIN
Darwin, Charles - THE ORIGIN OF SPECIES
Defoe, Daniel - A GENERAL HISTORY OF THE PYRATES
Defoe, Daniel - A JOURNAL OF THE PLAGUE YEAR
Defoe, Daniel - CAPTAIN SINGLETON
Defoe, Daniel - MOLL FLANDERS
Defoe, Daniel - ROBINSON CRUSOE
Defoe, Daniel - THE COMPLETE ENGLISH TRADESMAN
Defoe, Daniel - THE FURTHER ADVENTURES OF ROBINSON CRUSOE
Deledda, Grazia - AFTER THE DIVORCE
Dickens, Charles - A CHRISTMAS CAROL
Dickens, Charles - A TALE OF TWO CITIES
Dickens, Charles - BLEAK HOUSE
Dickens, Charles - DAVID COPPERFIELD
Dickens, Charles - DONBEY AND SON
Dickens, Charles - GREAT EXPECTATIONS
Dickens, Charles - HARD TIMES
Dickens, Charles - LETTERS VOLUME 1
Dickens, Charles - LITTLE DORRIT
Dickens, Charles - MARTIN CHUZZLEWIT
Dickens, Charles - NICHOLAS NICKLEBY
Dickens, Charles - OLIVER TWIST
Dickens, Charles - OUR MUTUAL FRIEND
Dickens, Charles - PICTURES FROM ITALY
Dickens, Charles - THE MYSTERY OF EDWIN DROOD
Dickens, Charles - THE OLD CURIOSITY SHOP
Dickens, Charles - THE PICKWICK PAPERS
Dickinson, Emily - POEMS
Dostoevsky, Fyodor - CRIME AND PUNISHMENT
Dostoyevsky, Fyodor - THE BROTHERS KARAMAZOV
Du Maurier, George - TRILBY
Dumas, Alexandre - THE COUNT OF MONTE CRISTO
Dumas, Alexandre - THE MAN IN THE IRON MASK
Dumas, Alexandre - THE THREE MUSKETEERS
Eliot, George - DANIEL DERONDA
Eliot, George - MIDDLEMARCH
Eliot, George - SILAS MARNER
Eliot, George - THE MILL ON THE FLOSS
Engels, Frederick - THE CONDITION OF THE WORKING-CLASS IN ENGLAND IN 1844
Equiano - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Esopo - FABLES
Fenimore Cooper, James - THE LAST OF THE MOHICANS
Fielding, Henry - TOM JONES
France, Anatole - THAIS
France, Anatole - THE GODS ARE ATHIRST
France, Anatole - THE LIFE OF JOAN OF ARC
France, Anatole - THE SEVEN WIVES OF BLUEBEARD
Frank Baum, L. - THE PATCHWORK GIRL OF OZ
Frank Baum, L. - THE WONDERFUL WIZARD OF OZ
Franklin, Benjamin - AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Frazer, James George - THE GOLDEN BOUGH
Freud, Sigmund - DREAM PSYCHOLOGY
Galsworthy, John - COMPLETE PLAYS
Galsworthy, John - STRIFE
Galsworthy, John - STUDIES AND ESSAYS
Galsworthy, John - THE FIRST AND THE LAST
Galsworthy, John - THE FORSYTE SAGA
Galsworthy, John - THE LITTLE MAN
Galsworthy, John - THE SILVER BOX
Galsworthy, John - THE SKIN GAME
Gaskell, Elizabeth - CRANFORD
Gaskell, Elizabeth - MARY BARTON
Gaskell, Elizabeth - NORTH AND SOUTH
Gaskell, Elizabeth - THE LIFE OF CHARLOTTE BRONTE
Gay, John - THE BEGGAR'S OPERA
Gentile, Maria - THE ITALIAN COOK BOOK
Gilbert and Sullivan - PLAYS
Goethe - FAUST
Gogol - DEAD SOULS
Goldsmith, Oliver - SHE STOOPS TO CONQUER
Goldsmith, Oliver - THE VICAR OF WAKEFIELD
Grahame, Kenneth - THE WIND IN THE WILLOWS
Grimm, Brothers - FAIRY TALES
Harding, A. R. - GINSENG AND OTHER MEDICINAL PLANTS
Hardy, Thomas - A CHANGED MAN AND OTHER TALES
Hardy, Thomas - FAR FROM THE MADDING CROWD
Hardy, Thomas - JUDE THE OBSCURE
Hardy, Thomas - TESS OF THE D'URBERVILLES
Hardy, Thomas - THE MAYOR OF CASTERBRIDGE
Hartley, Cecil B. - THE GENTLEMEN'S BOOK OF ETIQUETTE
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - LITTLE MASTERPIECES
Hawthorne, Nathaniel - THE SCARLET LETTER
Henry VIII - LOVE LETTERS TO ANNE BOLEYN
Henry, O. - CABBAGES AND KINGS
Henry, O. - SIXES AND SEVENS
Henry, O. - THE FOUR MILLION
Henry, O. - THE TRIMMED LAMP
Henry, O. - WHIRLIGIGS
Hindman Miller, Gustavus - TEN THOUSAND DREAMS INTERPRETED
Hobbes, Thomas - LEVIATHAN
Homer - THE ILIAD
Homer - THE ODYSSEY
Hornaday, William T. - THE EXTERMINATION OF THE AMERICAN BISON
Hume, David - A TREATISE OF HUMAN NATURE
Hume, David - AN ENQUIRY CONCERNING HUMAN UNDERSTANDING
Hume, David - DIALOGUES CONCERNING NATURAL RELIGION
Ibsen, Henrik - A DOLL'S HOUSE
Ibsen, Henrik - AN ENEMY OF THE PEOPLE
Ibsen, Henrik - GHOSTS
Ibsen, Henrik - HEDDA GABLER
Ibsen, Henrik - JOHN GABRIEL BORKMAN
Ibsen, Henrik - ROSMERHOLM
Ibsen, Henrik - THE LADY FROM THE SEA
Ibsen, Henrik - THE MASTER BUILDER
Ibsen, Henrik - WHEN WE DEAD AWAKEN
Irving, Washington - THE LEGEND OF SLEEPY HOLLOW
James, Henry - ITALIAN HOURS
James, Henry - THE ASPERN PAPERS
James, Henry - THE BOSTONIANS
James, Henry - THE PORTRAIT OF A LADY
James, Henry - THE TURN OF THE SCREW
James, Henry - WASHINGTON SQUARE
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN IN A BOAT
Jerome, Jerome K. - THREE MEN ON THE BUMMEL
Jevons, Stanley - POLITICAL ECONOMY
Johnson, Samuel - A GRAMMAR OF THE ENGLISH TONGUE
Jonson, Ben - THE ALCHEMIST
Jonson, Ben - VOLPONE
Joyce, James - A PORTRAIT OF THE ARTIST AS A YOUNG MAN
Joyce, James - CHAMBER MUSIC
Joyce, James - DUBLINERS
Joyce, James - ULYSSES
Keats, John - ENDYMION
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1817
Keats, John - POEMS PUBLISHED IN 1820
King James - THE BIBLE
Kipling, Rudyard - CAPTAINS COURAGEOUS
Kipling, Rudyard - INDIAN TALES
Kipling, Rudyard - JUST SO STORIES
Kipling, Rudyard - KIM
Kipling, Rudyard - THE JUNGLE BOOK
Kipling, Rudyard - THE MAN WHO WOULD BE KING
Kipling, Rudyard - THE SECOND JUNGLE BOOK
Lawrence, D. H - THE RAINBOW
Lawrence, D. H - THE WHITE PEACOCK
Lawrence, D. H - TWILIGHT IN ITALY
Lawrence, D. H. - AARON'S ROD
Lawrence, D. H. - SONS AND LOVERS
Lawrence, D. H. - THE LOST GIRL
Lawrence, D. H. - WOMEN IN LOVE
Lear, Edward - BOOK OF NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - LAUGHABLE LYRICS
Lear, Edward - MORE NONSENSE
Lear, Edward - NONSENSE SONG
Leblanc, Maurice - ARSENE LUPIN VS SHERLOCK HOLMES
Leblanc, Maurice - THE ADVENTURES OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE CONFESSIONS OF ARSENE LUPIN
Leblanc, Maurice - THE HOLLOW NEEDLE
Leblanc, Maurice - THE RETURN OF ARSENE LUPIN
Lehmann, Lilli - HOW TO SING
Leroux, Gaston - THE MAN WITH THE BLACK FEATHER
Leroux, Gaston - THE MYSTERY OF THE YELLOW ROOM
Leroux, Gaston - THE PHANTOM OF THE OPERA
London, Jack - MARTIN EDEN
London, Jack - THE CALL OF THE WILD
London, Jack - WHITE FANG
Machiavelli, Nicolo' - THE PRINCE
Malthus, Thomas - PRINCIPLE OF POPULATION
Mansfield, Katherine - THE GARDEN PARTY AND OTHER STORIES
Marlowe, Christopher - THE JEW OF MALTA
Marryat, Captain - THE CHILDREN OF THE NEW FOREST
Maupassant, Guy De - BEL AMI
Melville, Hermann - MOBY DICK
Melville, Hermann - TYPEE
Mill, John Stuart - PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY
Milton, John - PARADISE LOST
Mitra, S. M. - HINDU TALES FROM THE SANSKRIT
Montaigne, Michel de - ESSAYS
Montgomery, Lucy Maud - ANNE OF GREEN GABLES
More, Thomas - UTOPIA
Nesbit, E. - FIVE CHILDREN AND IT
Nesbit, E. - THE PHOENIX AND THE CARPET
Nesbit, E. - THE RAILWAY CHILDREN
Nesbit, E. - THE STORY OF THE AMULET
Newton, Isaac - OPTICKS
Nietsche, Friedrich - BEYOND GOOD AND EVIL
Nietsche, Friedrich - THUS SPAKE ZARATHUSTRA
Nightingale, Florence - NOTES ON NURSING
Owen, Wilfred - POEMS
Ozaki, Yei Theodora - JAPANESE FAIRY TALES
Pascal, Blaise - PENSEES
Pellico, Silvio - MY TEN YEARS IMPRISONMENT
Perrault, Charles - FAIRY TALES
Pirandello, Luigi - THREE PLAYS
Plato - THE REPUBLIC
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 1
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 2
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 3
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 4
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS 5
Poe, Edgar Allan - THE FALL OF THE HOUSE OF USHER
Potter, Beatrix - THE TALE OF PETER RABBIT
Proust, Marcel - SWANN'S WAY
Radcliffe, Ann - A SICILIAN ROMANCE
Ricardo, David - ON THE PRINCIPLES OF POLITICAL ECONOMY AND TAXATION
Richardson, Samuel - PAMELA
Rider Haggard, H. - ALLAN QUATERMAIN
Rider Haggard, H. - KING SOLOMON'S MINES
Rousseau, J. J. - THE ORIGIN AND FOUNDATION OF INEQUALITY AMONG MANKIND
Ruskin, John - THE SEVEN LAMPS OF ARCHITECTURE
Schiller, Friedrich - THE DEATH OF WALLENSTEIN
Schiller, Friedrich - THE PICCOLOMINI
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE ART OF CONTROVERSY
Schopenhauer, Arthur - THE WISDOM OF LIFE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - FLAPPERS AND PHILOSOPHERS
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - TALES OF THE JAZZ AGE
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THE BEAUTIFUL AND DAMNED
Scott Fitzgerald, F. - THIS SIDE OF PARADISE
Scott, Walter - IVANHOE
Scott, Walter - QUENTIN DURWARD
Scott, Walter - ROB ROY
Scott, Walter - THE BRIDE OF LAMMERMOOR
Scott, Walter - WAVERLEY
Sedgwick, Anne Douglas - THE THIRD WINDOW
Sewell, Anna - BLACK BEAUTY
Shakespeare, William - COMPLETE WORKS
Shakespeare, William - HAMLET
Shakespeare, William - OTHELLO
Shakespeare, William - ROMEO AND JULIET
Shelley, Mary - FRANKENSTEIN
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - A DEFENCE OF POETRY AND OTHER ESSAYS
Shelley, Percy Bysshe - COMPLETE POETICAL WORKS
Sheridan, Richard B. - THE SCHOOL FOR SCANDAL
Sienkiewicz, Henryk - QUO VADIS
Smith, Adam - THE WEALTH OF NATIONS
Smollett, Tobias - TRAVELS THROUGH FRANCE AND ITALY
Spencer, Herbert - ESSAYS ON EDUCATION AND KINDRED SUBJECTS
Spyri, Johanna - HEIDI
Sterne, Laurence - A SENTIMENTAL JOURNEY
Sterne, Laurence - TRISTRAM SHANDY
Stevenson, Robert Louis - A CHILD'S GARDEN OF VERSES
Stevenson, Robert Louis - ESSAYS IN THE ART OF WRITING
Stevenson, Robert Louis - KIDNAPPED
Stevenson, Robert Louis - NEW ARABIAN NIGHTS
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE BLACK ARROW
Stevenson, Robert Louis - THE STRANGE CASE OF DR. JEKYLL AND MR. HYDE
Stevenson, Robert Louis - TREASURE ISLAND
Stoker, Bram - DRACULA
Strindberg, August - LUCKY PEHR
Strindberg, August - MASTER OLOF
Strindberg, August - THE RED ROOM
Strindberg, August - THE ROAD TO DAMASCUS
Strindberg, August - THERE ARE CRIMES AND CRIMES
Swift, Jonathan - A MODEST PROPOSAL
Swift, Jonathan - A TALE OF A TUB
Swift, Jonathan - GULLIVER'S TRAVELS
Swift, Jonathan - THE BATTLE OF THE BOOKS AND OTHER SHORT PIECES
Tagore, Rabindranath - FRUIT GATHERING
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE GARDENER
Tagore, Rabindranath - THE HUNGRY STONES AND OTHER STORIES
Thackeray, William - BARRY LYNDON
Thackeray, William - VANITY FAIR
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE BOOK OF SNOBS
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE ROSE AND THE RING
Thackeray, William Makepeace - THE VIRGINIANS
Thoreau, Henry David - WALDEN
Tolstoi, Leo - A LETTER TO A HINDU
Tolstoy, Lev - ANNA KARENINA
Tolstoy, Lev - WAR AND PEACE
Trollope, Anthony - AN AUTOBIOGRAPHY
Trollope, Anthony - BARCHESTER TOWERS
Trollope, Anthony - FRAMLEY PARSONAGE
Trollope, Anthony - THE EUSTACE DIAMONDS
Trollope, Anthony - THE MAN WHO KEPT HIS MONEY IN A BOX
Trollope, Anthony - THE WARDEN
Trollope, Anthony - THE WAY WE LIVE NOW
Twain, Mark - LIFE ON THE MISSISSIPPI
Twain, Mark - SPEECHES
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF HUCKLEBERRY FINN
Twain, Mark - THE ADVENTURES OF TOM SAWYER
Twain, Mark - THE PRINCE AND THE PAUPER
Vari, Autori - THE MAGNA CARTA
Verga, Giovanni - SICILIAN STORIES
Verne, Jules - 20000 LEAGUES UNDER THE SEAS
Verne, Jules - A JOURNEY TO THE CENTRE OF THE EARTH
Verne, Jules - ALL AROUND THE MOON
Verne, Jules - AROUND THE WORLD IN 80 DAYS
Verne, Jules - FIVE WEEKS IN A BALLOON
Verne, Jules - FROM THE EARTH TO THE MOON
Verne, Jules - MICHAEL STROGOFF
Verne, Jules - THE MYSTERIOUS ISLAND
Voltaire - PHILOSOPHICAL DICTIONARY
Vyasa - MAHABHARATA
Wallace, Edgar - SANDERS OF THE RIVER
Wallace, Edgar - THE DAFFODIL MYSTERY
Wallace, Lew - BEN HUR
Webster, Jean - DADDY LONG LEGS
Wedekind, Franz - THE AWAKENING OF SPRING
Wells, H. G. - KIPPS
Wells, H. G. - THE INVISIBLE MAN
Wells, H. G. - THE ISLAND OF DOCTOR MOREAU
Wells, H. G. - THE STOLEN BACILLUS AND OTHER INCIDENTS
Wells, H. G. - THE TIME MACHINE
Wells, H. G. - THE WAR OF THE WORLDS
Wells, H. G. - WHAT IS COMING
Wharton, Edith - THE AGE OF INNOCENCE
White, Andrew Dickson - FIAT MONEY INFLATION IN FRANCE
Wilde, Oscar - A WOMAN OF NO IMPORTANCE
Wilde, Oscar - AN IDEAL HUSBAND
Wilde, Oscar - DE PROFUNDIS
Wilde, Oscar - LADY WINDERMERE'S FAN
Wilde, Oscar - SALOME
Wilde, Oscar - SELECTED POEMS
Wilde, Oscar - THE BALLAD OF READING GAOL
Wilde, Oscar - THE CANTERVILLE GHOST
Wilde, Oscar - THE HAPPY PRINCE AND OTHER TALES
Wilde, Oscar - THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING EARNEST
Wilde, Oscar - THE PICTURE OF DORIAN GREY
Wilde, Oscar - THE SOUL OF MAN
Wilson, Epiphanius - SACRED BOOKS OF THE EAST
Wollstonecraft, Mary - A VINDICATION OF THE RIGHTS OF WOMAN
Woolf, Virgina - NIGHT AND DAY
Woolf, Virgina - THE VOYAGE OUT
Woolf, Virginia - JACOB'S ROOM
Woolf, Virginia - MONDAY OR TUESDAY
Wordsworth, William - POEMS
Wordsworth, William - PROSE WORKS
Zola, Emile - THERESE RAQUIN
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ISTRUZIONI D'USO DETTAGLIATE
by Leo Tolstoy
Translated by Constance Garnett
Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in
its own way.
Everything was in confusion in the Oblonskys' house. The wife
had discovered that the husband was carrying on an intrigue with
a French girl, who had been a governess in their family, and she
had announced to her husband that she could not go on living in
the same house with him. This position of affairs had now lasted
three days, and not only the husband and wife themselves, but all
the members of their family and household, were painfully
conscious of it. Every person in the house felt that there was
no sense in their living together, and that the stray people
brought together by chance in any inn had more in common with one
another than they, the members of the family and household of the
Oblonskys. The wife did not leave her own room, the husband had
not been at home for three days. The children ran wild all over
the house; the English governess quarreled with the housekeeper,
and wrote to a friend asking her to look out for a new situation
for her; the man-cook had walked off the day before just at
dinner time; the kitchen-maid, and the coachman had given
Three days after the quarrel, Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch
Oblonsky--Stiva, as he was called in the fashionable world--
woke up at his usual hour, that is, at eight o'clock in the
morning, not in his wife's bedroom, but on the leather-covered
sofa in his study. He turned over his stout, well-cared-for
person on the springy sofa, as though he would sink into a long
sleep again; he vigorously embraced the pillow on the other side
and buried his face in it; but all at once he jumped up, sat up
on the sofa, and opened his eyes.
"Yes, yes, how was it now?" he thought, going over his dream.
"Now, how was it? To be sure! Alabin was giving a dinner at
Darmstadt; no, not Darmstadt, but something American. Yes, but
then, Darmstadt was in America. Yes, Alabin was giving a dinner
on glass tables, and the tables sang, "Il mio tesoro"--not "Il mio
tesoro" though, but something better, and there were some sort of
little decanters on the table, and they were women, too," he
Stepan Arkadyevitch's eyes twinkled gaily, and he pondered with a
smile. "Yes, it was nice, very nice. There was a great deal
more that was delightful, only there's no putting it into words,
or even expressing it in one's thoughts awake." And noticing a
gleam of light peeping in beside one of the serge curtains, he
cheerfully dropped his feet over the edge of the sofa, and felt
about with them for his slippers, a present on his last birthday,
worked for him by his wife on gold-colored morocco. And, as he
had done every day for the last nine years, he stretched out his
hand, without getting up, towards the place where his
dressing-gown always hung in his bedroom. And thereupon he
suddenly remembered that he was not sleeping in his wife's room,
but in his study, and why: the smile vanished from his face, he
knitted his brows.
"Ah, ah, ah! Oo!..." he muttered, recalling everything that had
happened. And again every detail of his quarrel with his wife
was present to his imagination, all the hopelessness of his
position, and worst of all, his own fault.
"Yes, she won't forgive me, and she can't forgive me. And the
most awful thing about it is that it's all my fault--all my
fault, though I'm not to blame. That's the point of the whole
situation," he reflected. "Oh, oh, oh!" he kept repeating in
despair, as he remembered the acutely painful sensations caused
him by this quarrel.
Most unpleasant of all was the first minute when, on coming,
happy and good-humored, from the theater, with a huge pear in his
hand for his wife, he had not found his wife in the drawing-room,
to his surprise had not found her in the study either, and saw
her at last in her bedroom with the unlucky letter that revealed
everything in her hand.
She, his Dolly, forever fussing and worrying over household
details, and limited in her ideas, as he considered, was sitting
perfectly still with the letter in her hand, looking at him with
an expression of horror, despair, and indignation.
"What's this? this?" she asked, pointing to the letter.
And at this recollection, Stepan Arkadyevitch, as is so often the
case, was not so much annoyed at the fact itself as at the way in
which he had met his wife's words.
There happened to him at that instant what does happen to people
when they are unexpectedly caught in something very disgraceful.
He did not succeed in adapting his face to the position in which
he was placed towards his wife by the discovery of his fault.
Instead of being hurt, denying, defending himself, begging
forgiveness, instead of remaining indifferent even--anything
would have been better than what he did do--his face utterly
involuntarily (reflex spinal action, reflected Stepan
Arkadyevitch, who was fond of physiology)--utterly involuntarily
assumed its habitual, good-humored, and therefore idiotic smile.
This idiotic smile he could not forgive himself. Catching sight
of that smile, Dolly shuddered as though at physical pain, broke
out with her characteristic heat into a flood of cruel words, and
rushed out of the room. Since then she had refused to see her
"It's that idiotic smile that's to blame for it all," thought
"But what's to be done? What's to be done?" he said to himself
in despair, and found no answer.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with
himself. He was incapable of deceiving himself and persuading
himself that he repented of his conduct. He could not at this
date repent of the fact that he, a handsome, susceptible man of
thirty-four, was not in love with his wife, the mother of five
living and two dead children, and only a year younger than
himself. All he repented of was that he had not succeeded better
in hiding it from his wife. But he felt all the difficulty of
his position and was sorry for his wife, his children, and
himself. Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins
better from his wife if he had anticipated that the knowledge of
them would have had such an effect on her. He had never clearly
thought out the subject, but he had vaguely conceived that his
wife must long ago have suspected him of being unfaithful to her,
and shut her eyes to the fact. He had even supposed that she, a
worn-out woman no longer young or good-looking, and in no way
remarkable or interesting, merely a good mother, ought from a
sense of fairness to take an indulgent view. It had turned out
quite the other way.
"Oh, it's awful! oh dear, oh dear! awful!" Stepan Arkadyevitch
kept repeating to himself, and he could think of nothing to be
done. "And how well things were going up till now! how well we
got on! She was contented and happy in her children; I never
interfered with her in anything; I let her manage the children
and the house just as she liked. It's true it's bad "her" having
been a governess in our house. That's bad! There's something
common, vulgar, in flirting with one's governess. But what a
governess!" (He vividly recalled the roguish black eyes of Mlle.
Roland and her smile.) "But after all, while she was in the
house, I kept myself in hand. And the worst of it all is that
she's already...it seems as if ill-luck would have it so! Oh,
oh! But what, what is to be done?"
There was no solution, but that universal solution which life
gives to all questions, even the most complex and insoluble.
That answer is: one must live in the needs of the day--that is,
forget oneself. To forget himself in sleep was impossible now,
at least till nighttime; he could not go back now to the music
sung by the decanter-women; so he must forget himself in the
dream of daily life.
"Then we shall see," Stepan Arkadyevitch said to himself, and
getting up he put on a gray dressing-gown lined with blue silk,
tied the tassels in a knot, and, drawing a deep breath of air
into his broad, bare chest, he walked to the window with his
usual confident step, turning out his feet that carried his full
frame so easily. He pulled up the blind and rang the bell
loudly. It was at once answered by the appearance of an old
friend, his valet, Matvey, carrying his clothes, his boots, and a
telegram. Matvey was followed by the barber with all the
necessaries for shaving.
"Are there any papers from the office?" asked Stepan
Arkadyevitch, taking the telegram and seating himself at the
"On the table," replied Matvey, glancing with inquiring sympathy
at his master; and, after a short pause, he added with a sly
smile, "They've sent from the carriage-jobbers."
Stepan Arkadyevitch made no reply, he merely glanced at Matvey in
the looking-glass. In the glance, in which their eyes met in the
looking-glass, it was clear that they understood one another.
Stepan Arkadyevitch's eyes asked: "Why do you tell me that?
don't you know?"
Matvey put his hands in his jacket pockets, thrust out one leg,
and gazed silently, good-humoredly, with a faint smile, at his
"I told them to come on Sunday, and till then not to trouble you
or themselves for nothing," he said. He had obviously prepared
the sentence beforehand.
Stepan Arkadyevitch saw Matvey wanted to make a joke and attract
attention to himself. Tearing open the telegram, he read it
through, guessing at the words, misspelt as they always are in
telegrams, and his face brightened.
"Matvey, my sister Anna Arkadyevna will be here tomorrow," he
said, checking for a minute the sleek, plump hand of the barber,
cutting a pink path through his long, curly whiskers.
"Thank God!" said Matvey, showing by this response that he, like
his master, realized the significance of this arrival--that is,
that Anna Arkadyevna, the sister he was so fond of, might bring
about a reconciliation between husband and wife.
"Alone, or with her husband?" inquired Matvey.
Stepan Arkadyevitch could not answer, as the barber was at work
on his upper lip, and he raised one finger. Matvey nodded at the
"Alone. Is the room to be got ready upstairs?"
"Inform Darya Alexandrovna: where she orders."
"Darya Alexandrovna?" Matvey repeated, as though in doubt.
"Yes, inform her. Here, take the telegram; give it to her, and
then do what she tells you."
"You want to try it on," Matvey understood, but he only said,
Stepan Arkadyevitch was already washed and combed and ready to be
dressed, when Matvey, stepping deliberately in his creaky boots,
came back into the room with the telegram in his hand. The
"Darya Alexandrovna told me to inform you that she is going away.
Let him do--that is you--do as he likes," he said, laughing only
with his eyes, and putting his hands in his pockets, he watched
his master with his head on one side. Stepan Arkadyevitch was
silent a minute. Then a good-humored and rather pitiful smile
showed itself on his handsome face.
"Eh, Matvey?" he said, shaking his head.
"It's all right, sir; she will come round," said Matvey.
"Do you think so? Who's there?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch,
hearing the rustle of a woman's dress at the door.
"It's I," said a firm, pleasant, woman's voice, and the stern,
pockmarked face of Matrona Philimonovna, the nurse, was thrust
in at the doorway.
"Well, what is it, Matrona?" queried Stepan Arkadyevitch, going
up to her at the door.
Although Stepan Arkadyevitch was completely in the wrong as
regards his wife, and was conscious of this himself, almost every
one in the house (even the nurse, Darya Alexandrovna's chief
ally) was on his side.
"Well, what now?" he asked disconsolately.
"Go to her, sir; own your fault again. Maybe God will aid you.
She is suffering so, it's sad to see her; and besides, everything
in the house is topsy-turvy. You must have pity, sir, on the
children. Beg her forgiveness, sir. There's no help for it! One
must take the consequences..."
"But she won't see me."
"You do your part. God is merciful; pray to God, sir, pray to
"Come, that'll do, you can go," said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
blushing suddenly. "Well now, do dress me." He turned to Matvey
and threw off his dressing-gown decisively.
Matvey was already holding up the shirt like a horse's collar,
and, blowing off some invisible speck, he slipped it with obvious
pleasure over the well-groomed body of his master.
When he was dressed, Stepan Arkadyevitch sprinkled some scent on
himself, pulled down his shirt-cuffs, distributed into his
pockets his cigarettes, pocketbook, matches, and watch with its
double chain and seals, and shaking out his handkerchief, feeling
himself clean, fragrant, healthy, and physically at ease, in
spite of his unhappiness, he walked with a slight swing on each
leg into the dining-room, where coffee was already waiting for
him, and beside the coffee, letters and papers from the office.
He read the letters. One was very unpleasant, from a merchant
who was buying a forest on his wife's property. To sell this
forest was absolutely essential; but at present, until he was
reconciled with his wife, the subject could not be discussed.
The most unpleasant thing of all was that his pecuniary interests
should in this way enter into the question of his reconciliation
with his wife. And the idea that he might be led on by his
interests, that he might seek a reconciliation with his wife on
account of the sale of the forest--that idea hurt him.
When he had finished his letters, Stepan Arkadyevitch moved the
office-papers close to him, rapidly looked through two pieces of
business, made a few notes with a big pencil, and pushing away
the papers, turned to his coffee. As he sipped his coffee, he
opened a still damp morning paper, and began reading it.
Stepan Arkadyevitch took in and read a liberal paper, not an
extreme one, but one advocating the views held by the majority.
And in spite of the fact that science, art, and politics had no
special interest for him, he firmly held those views on all these
subjects which were held by the majority and by his paper, and he
only changed them when the majority changed them--or, more
strictly speaking, he did not change them, but they imperceptibly
changed of themselves within him.
Stepan Arkadyevitch had not chosen his political opinions or his
views; these political opinions and views had come to him of
themselves, just as he did not choose the shapes of his hat and
coat, but simply took those that were being worn. And for him,
living in a certain society--owing to the need, ordinarily
developed at years of discretion, for some degree of mental
activity--to have views was just as indispensable as to have a
hat. If there was a reason for his preferring liberal to
conservative views, which were held also by many of his circle,
it arose not from his considering liberalism more rational, but
from its being in closer accordance with his manner of life. The
liberal party said that in Russia everything is wrong, and
certainly Stepan Arkadyevitch had many debts and was decidedly
short of money. The liberal party said that marriage is an
institution quite out of date, and that it needs reconstruction;
and family life certainly afforded Stepan Arkadyevitch little
gratification, and forced him into lying and hypocrisy, which was
so repulsive to his nature. The liberal party said, or rather
allowed it to be understood, that religion is only a curb to keep
in check the barbarous classes of the people; and Stepan
Arkadyevitch could not get through even a short service without
his legs aching from standing up, and could never make out what
was the object of all the terrible and high-flown language about
another world when life might be so very amusing in this world.
And with all this, Stepan Arkadyevitch, who liked a joke, was
fond of puzzling a plain man by saying that if he prided himself
on his origin, he ought not to stop at Rurik and disown the first
founder of his family--the monkey. And so Liberalism had become
a habit of Stepan Arkadyevitch's, and he liked his newspaper, as
he did his cigar after dinner, for the slight fog it diffused in
his brain. He read the leading article, in which it was
maintained that it was quite senseless in our day to raise an
outcry that radicalism was threatening to swallow up all
conservative elements, and that the government ought to take
measures to crush the revolutionary hydra; that, on the contrary,
"in our opinion the danger lies not in that fantastic
revolutionary hydra, but in the obstinacy of traditionalism
clogging progress," etc., etc. He read another article, too, a
financial one, which alluded to Bentham and Mill, and dropped
some innuendoes reflecting on the ministry. With his
characteristic quickwittedness he caught the drift of each
innuendo, divined whence it came, at whom and on what ground it
was aimed, and that afforded him, as it always did, a certain
satisfaction. But today that satisfaction was embittered by
Matrona Philimonovna's advice and the unsatisfactory state of the
household. He read, too, that Count Beist was rumored to have
left for Wiesbaden, and that one need have no more gray hair, and
of the sale of a light carriage, and of a young person seeking a
situation; but these items of information did not give him, as
usual, a quiet, ironical gratification. Having finished the
paper, a second cup of coffee and a roll and butter, he got up,
shaking the crumbs of the roll off his waistcoat; and, squaring
his broad chest, he smiled joyously: not because there was
anything particularly agreeable in his mind--the joyous smile
was evoked by a good digestion.
But this joyous smile at once recalled everything to
him, and he grew thoughtful.
Two childish voices (Stepan Arkadyevitch recognized the voices of
Grisha, his youngest boy, and Tanya, his eldest girl) were heard
outside the door. They were carrying something, and dropped it.
"I told you not to sit passengers on the roof," said the little
girl in English; "there, pick them up!"
"Everything's in confusion," thought Stepan Arkadyevitch; "there
are the children running about by themselves." And going to the
door, he called them. They threw down the box, that represented
a train, and came in to their father.
The little girl, her father's favorite, ran up boldly, embraced
him, and hung laughingly on his neck, enjoying as she always did
the smell of scent that came from his whiskers. At last the
little girl kissed his face, which was flushed from his stooping
posture and beaming with tenderness, loosed her hands, and was
about to run away again; but her father held her back.
"How is mamma?" he asked, passing his hand over his daughter's
smooth, soft little neck. "Good morning," he said, smiling to
the boy, who had come up to greet him. He was conscious that he
loved the boy less, and always tried to be fair; but the boy felt
it, and did not respond with a smile to his father's chilly
"Mamma? She is up," answered the girl.
Stepan Arkadyevitch sighed. "That means that she's not slept
again all night," he thought.
"Well, is she cheerful?"
The little girl knew that there was a quarrel between her father
and mother, and that her mother could not be cheerful, and that
her father must be aware of this, and that he was pretending when
he asked about it so lightly. And she blushed for her father.
He at once perceived it, and blushed too.
"I don't know," she said. "She did not say we must do our
lessons, but she said we were to go for a walk with Miss Hoole to
"Well, go, Tanya, my darling. Oh, wait a minute, though," he
said, still holding her and stroking her soft little hand.
He took off the mantelpiece, where he had put it yesterday, a
little box of sweets, and gave her two, picking out her
favorites, a chocolate and a fondant.
"For Grisha?" said the little girl, pointing to the chocolate.
"Yes, yes." And still stroking her little shoulder, he kissed
her on the roots of her hair and neck, and let her go.
"The carriage is ready," said Matvey; "but there's some one to
see you with a petition."
"Been here long?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Half an hour."
"How many times have I told you to tell me at once?"
"One must let you drink your coffee in peace, at least," said
Matvey, in the affectionately gruff tone with which it was
impossible to be angry.
"Well, show the person up at once," said Oblonsky, frowning with
The petitioner, the widow of a staff captain Kalinin, came with a
request impossible and unreasonable; but Stepan Arkadyevitch, as
he generally did, made her sit down, heard her to the end
attentively without interrupting her, and gave her detailed
advice as to how and to whom to apply, and even wrote her, in his
large, sprawling, good and legible hand, a confident and fluent
little note to a personage who might be of use to her. Having
got rid of the staff captain's widow, Stepan Arkadyevitch took
his hat and stopped to recollect whether he had forgotten
anything. It appeared that he had forgotten nothing except what
he wanted to forget--his wife.
"Ah, yes!" He bowed his head, and his handsome face assumed a
harassed expression. "To go, or not to go!" he said to himself;
and an inner voice told him he must not go, that nothing could
come of it but falsity; that to amend, to set right their
relations was impossible, because it was impossible to make her
attractive again and able to inspire love, or to make him an old
man, not susceptible to love. Except deceit and lying nothing
could come of it now; and deceit and lying were opposed to his
"It must be some time, though: it can't go on like this," he
said, trying to give himself courage. He squared his chest, took
out a cigarette, took two whiffs at it, flung it into a
mother-of-pearl ashtray, and with rapid steps walked through the
drawing room, and opened the other door into his wife's bedroom.
Darya Alexandrovna, in a dressing jacket, and with her now
scanty, once luxuriant and beautiful hair fastened up with
hairpins on the nape of her neck, with a sunken, thin face and
large, startled eyes, which looked prominent from the thinness of
her face, was standing among a litter of all sorts of things
scattered all over the room, before an open bureau, from which
she was taking something. Hearing her husband's steps, she
stopped, looking towards the door, and trying assiduously to give
her features a severe and contemptuous expression. She felt she
was afraid of him, and afraid of the coming interview. She was
just attempting to do what she had attempted to do ten times
already in these last three days--to sort out the children's
things and her own, so as to take them to her mother's--and
again she could not bring herself to do this; but now again, as
each time before, she kept saying to herself, "that things cannot
go on like this, that she must take some step" to punish him, put
him to shame, avenge on him some little part at least of the
suffering he had caused her. She still continued to tell
herself that she should leave him, but she was conscious that
this was impossible; it was impossible because she could not get
out of the habit of regarding him as her husband and loving him.
Besides this, she realized that if even here in her own house she
could hardly manage to look after her five children properly,
they would be still worse off where she was going with them all.
As it was, even in the course of these three days, the youngest
was unwell from being given unwholesome soup, and the others had
almost gone without their dinner the day before. She was
conscious that it was impossible to go away; but, cheating
herself, she went on all the same sorting out her things and
pretending she was going.
Seeing her husband, she dropped her hands into the drawer of the
bureau as though looking for something, and only looked round at
him when he had come quite up to her. But her face, to which she
tried to give a severe and resolute expression, betrayed
bewilderment and suffering.
"Dolly!" he said in a subdued and timid voice. He bent his head
towards his shoulder and tried to look pitiful and humble, but
for all that he was radiant with freshness and health. In a
rapid glance she scanned his figure that beamed with health and
freshness. "Yes, he is happy and content!" she thought; "while
I.... And that disgusting good nature, which every one likes him
for and praises--I hate that good nature of his," she thought.
Her mouth stiffened, the muscles of the cheek contracted on the
right side of her pale, nervous face.
"What do you want?" she said in a rapid, deep, unnatural voice.
"Dolly!" he repeated, with a quiver in his voice. "Anna is
"Well, what is that to me? I can't see her!" she cried.
"But you must, really, Dolly..."
"Go away, go away, go away!" she shrieked, not looking at him, as
though this shriek were called up by physical pain.
Stepan Arkadyevitch could be calm when he thought of his wife, he
could hope that she would "come round", as Matvey expressed it, and
could quietly go on reading his paper and drinking his coffee;
but when he saw her tortured, suffering face, heard the tone of
her voice, submissive to fate and full of despair, there was a
catch in his breath and a lump in his throat, and his eyes began
to shine with tears.
"My God! what have I done? Dolly! For God's sake!.... You
know...." He could not go on; there was a sob in his throat.
She shut the bureau with a slam, and glanced at him.
"Dolly, what can I say?.... One thing: forgive...Remember,
cannot nine years of my life atone for an instant...."
She dropped her eyes and listened, expecting what he would say,
as it were beseeching him in some way or other to make her
"--instant of passion?" he said, and would have gone on, but at
that word, as at a pang of physical pain, her lips stiffened
again, and again the muscles of her right cheek worked.
"Go away, go out of the room!" she shrieked still more shrilly,
"and don't talk to me of your passion and your loathsomeness."
She tried to go out, but tottered, and clung to the back of a
chair to support herself. His face relaxed, his lips swelled,
his eyes were swimming with tears.
"Dolly!" he said, sobbing now; "for mercy's sake, think of the
children; they are not to blame! I am to blame, and punish me,
make me expiate my fault. Anything I can do, I am ready to do
anything! I am to blame, no words can express how much I am to
blame! But, Dolly, forgive me!"
She sat down. He listened to her hard, heavy breathing, and he
was unutterably sorry for her. She tried several times to begin
to speak, but could not. He waited.
"You remember the children, Stiva, to play with them; but I
remember them, and know that this means their ruin," she
said--obviously one of the phrases she had more than once
repeated to herself in the course of the last few days.
She had called him "Stiva," and he glanced at her with gratitude,
and moved to take her hand, but she drew back from him with
"I think of the children, and for that reason I would do anything
in the world to save them, but I don't myself know how to save
them. By taking them away from their father, or by leaving them
with a vicious father--yes, a vicious father.... Tell me, after
what...has happened, can we live together? Is that possible?
Tell me, eh, is it possible?" she repeated, raising her voice,
"after my husband, the father of my children, enters into a
love affair with his own children's governess?"
"But what could I do? what could I do?" he kept saying in a
pitiful voice, not knowing what he was saying, as his head sank
lower and lower.
"You are loathsome to me, repulsive!" she shrieked, getting more
and more heated. "Your tears mean nothing! You have never loved
me; you have neither heart nor honorable feeling! You are
hateful to me, disgusting, a stranger--yes, a complete
stranger!" With pain and wrath she uttered the word so terrible
He looked at her, and the fury expressed in her face alarmed and
amazed him. He did not understand how his pity for her
exasperated her. She saw in him sympathy for her, but not love.
"No, she hates me. She will not forgive me," he thought.
"It is awful! awful!" he said.
At that moment in the next room a child began to cry; probably it
had fallen down. Darya Alexandrovna listened, and her face
She seemed to be pulling herself together for a few seconds, as
though she did not know where she was, and what she was doing,
and getting up rapidly, she moved towards the door.
"Well, she loves my child," he thought, noticing the change of
her face at the child's cry, "my child: how can she hate me?"
"Dolly, one word more," he said, following her.
"If you come near me, I will call in the servants, the children!
They may all know you are a scoundrel! I am going away at once,
and you may live here with your mistress!"
And she went out, slamming the door.
Stepan Arkadyevitch sighed, wiped his face, and with a subdued
tread walked out of the room. "Matvey says she will come round;
but how? I don't see the least chance of it. Ah, oh, how
horrible it is! And how vulgarly she shouted," he said to
himself, remembering her shriek and the words--"scoundrel" and
"mistress." "And very likely the maids were listening! Horribly
vulgar! horrible!" Stepan Arkadyevitch stood a few seconds
alone, wiped his face, squared his chest, and walked out of the
It was Friday, and in the dining room the German watchmaker was
winding up the clock. Stepan Arkadyevitch remembered his joke
about this punctual, bald watchmaker, "that the German was wound
up for a whole lifetime himself, to wind up watches," and he
smiled. Stepan Arkadyevitch was fond of a joke: "And maybe she
will come round! That's a good expression, '"come round,"'" he
thought. "I must repeat that."
"Matvey!" he shouted. "Arrange everything with Darya in the
sitting room for Anna Arkadyevna," he said to Matvey when he came
Stepan Arkadyevitch put on his fur coat and went out onto the
"You won't dine at home?" said Matvey, seeing him off.
"That's as it happens. But here's for the housekeeping," he
said, taking ten roubles from his pocketbook. "That'll be
"Enough or not enough, we must make it do," said Matvey, slamming
the carriage door and stepping back onto the steps.
Darya Alexandrovna meanwhile having pacified the child, and
knowing from the sound of the carriage that he had gone off, went
back again to her bedroom. It was her solitary refuge from the
household cares which crowded upon her directly she went out from
it. Even now, in the short time she had been in the nursery, the
English governess and Matrona Philimonovna had succeeded in
putting several questions to her, which did not admit of delay,
and which only she could answer: "What were the children to put
on for their walk? Should they have any milk? Should not a new
cook be sent for?"
"Ah, let me alone, let me alone!" she said, and going back to her
bedroom she sat down in the same place as she had sat when
talking to her husband, clasping tightly her thin hands with the
rings that slipped down on her bony fingers, and fell to going
over in her memory all the conversation. "He has gone! But has
he broken it off with her?" she thought. "Can it be he sees her?
Why didn't I ask him! No, no, reconciliation is impossible.
Even if we remain in the same house, we are strangers--strangers
forever!" She repeated again with special significance the word
so dreadful to her. "And how I loved him! my God, how I loved
him!.... How I loved him! And now don't I love him? Don't I
love him more than before? The most horrible thing is," she
began, but did not finish her thought, because Matrona
Philimonovna put her head in at the door.
"Let us send for my brother," she said; "he can get a dinner
anyway, or we shall have the children getting nothing to eat till
six again, like yesterday."
"Very well, I will come directly and see about it. But did you
send for some new milk?"
And Darya Alexandrovna plunged into the duties of the day, and
drowned her grief in them for a time.
Stepan Arkadyevitch had learned easily at school, thanks to his
excellent abilities, but he had been idle and mischievous, and
therefore was one of the lowest in his class. But in spite of
his habitually dissipated mode of life, his inferior grade in the
service, and his comparative youth, he occupied the honorable and
lucrative position of president of one of the government boards
at Moscow. This post he had received through his sister Anna's
husband, Alexey Alexandrovitch Karenin, who held one of the most
important positions in the ministry to whose department the
Moscow office belonged. But if Karenin had not got his brother-
in-law this berth, then through a hundred other personages--
brothers, sisters, cousins, uncles, and aunts--Stiva Oblonsky
would have received this post, or some other similar one,
together with the salary of six thousand absolutely needful for
him, as his affairs, in spite of his wife's considerable
property, were in an embarrassed condition.
Half Moscow and Petersburg were friends and relations of Stepan
Arkadyevitch. He was born in the midst of those who had been and
are the powerful ones of this world. One-third of the men in the
government, the older men, had been friends of his father's, and
had known him in petticoats; another third were his intimate
chums, and the remainder were friendly acquaintances.
Consequently the distributors of earthly blessings in the shape
of places, rents, shares, and such, were all his friends, and
could not overlook one of their own set; and Oblonsky had no need
to make any special exertion to get a lucrative post. He had
only not to refuse things, not to show jealousy, not to be
quarrelsome or take offense, all of which from his
characteristic good nature he never did. It would have struck
him as absurd if he had been told that he would not get a
position with the salary he required, especially as he expected
nothing out of the way; he only wanted what the men of his own
age and standing did get, and he was no worse qualified for
performing duties of the kind than any other man.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was not merely liked by all who knew him for
his good humor, but for his bright disposition, and his
unquestionable honesty. In him, in his handsome, radiant figure,
his sparkling eyes, black hair and eyebrows, and the white and
red of his face, there was something which produced a physical
effect of kindliness and good humor on the people who met him.
"Aha! Stiva! Oblonsky! Here he is!" was almost always said
with a smile of delight on meeting him. Even though it happened
at times that after a conversation with him it seemed that
nothing particularly delightful had happened, the next day, and
the next, every one was just as delighted at meeting him again.
After filling for three years the post of president of one of the
government boards at Moscow, Stepan Arkadyevitch had won the
respect, as well as the liking, of his fellow-officials,
subordinates, and superiors, and all who had had business with
him. The principal qualities in Stepan Arkadyevitch which had
gained him this universal respect in the service consisted, in
the first place, of his extreme indulgence for others, founded on
a consciousness of his own shortcomings; secondly, of his perfect
liberalism--not the liberalism he read of in the papers, but the
liberalism that was in his blood, in virtue of which he treated
all men perfectly equally and exactly the same, whatever their
fortune or calling might be; and thirdly--the most important
point--his complete indifference to the business in which he was
engaged, in consequence of which he was never carried away, and
never made mistakes.
On reaching the offices of the board, Stepan Arkadyevitch,
escorted by a deferential porter with a portfolio, went into his
little private room, put on his uniform, and went into the
boardroom. The clerks and copyists all rose, greeting him with
good-humored deference. Stepan Arkadyevitch moved quickly, as
ever, to his place, shook hands with his colleagues, and sat
down. He made a joke or two, and talked just as much as was
consistent with due decorum, and began work. No one knew better
than Stepan Arkadyevitch how to hit on the exact line between
freedom, simplicity, and official stiffness necessary for the
agreeable conduct of business. A secretary, with the
good-humored deference common to every one in Stepan
Arkadyevitch's office, came up with papers, and began to speak in
the familiar and easy tone which had been introduced by Stepan
"We have succeeded in getting the information from the government
department of Penza. Here, would you care?...."
"You've got them at last?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laying his
finger on the paper. "Now, gentlemen...."
And the sitting of the board began.
"If they knew," he thought, bending his head with a significant
air as he listened to the report, "what a guilty little boy their
president was half an hour ago." And his eyes were laughing
during the reading of the report. Till two o'clock the sitting
would go on without a break, and at two o'clock there would be an
interval and luncheon.
It was not yet two, when the large glass doors of the boardroom
suddenly opened and someone came in.
All the officials sitting on the further side under the portrait
of the Tsar and the eagle, delighted at any distraction, looked
round at the door; but the doorkeeper standing at the door at
once drove out the intruder, and closed the glass door after him.
When the case had been read through, Stepan Arkadyevitch got up
and stretched, and by way of tribute to the liberalism of the
times took out a cigarette in the boardroom and went into his
private room. Two of the members of the board, the old veteran
in the service, Nikitin, and the "Kammerjunker Grinevitch", went
in with him.
"We shall have time to finish after lunch," said Stepan
"To be sure we shall!" said Nikitin.
"A pretty sharp fellow this Fomin must be," said Grinevitch of
one of the persons taking part in the case they were examining.
Stepan Arkadyevitch frowned at Grinevitch's words, giving him
thereby to understand that it was improper to pass judgment
prematurely, and made him no reply.
"Who was that came in?" he asked the doorkeeper.
"Someone, your excellency, crept in without permission directly
my back was turned. He was asking for you. I told him: when
the members come out, then..."
"Where is he?"
"Maybe he's gone into the passage, but here he comes anyway.
That is he," said the doorkeeper, pointing to a strongly built,
broad-shouldered man with a curly beard, who, without taking off
his sheepskin cap, was running lightly and rapidly up the worn
steps of the stone staircase. One of the members going down--a
lean official with a portfolio--stood out of his way and looked
disapprovingly at the legs of the stranger, then glanced
inquiringly at Oblonsky.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was standing at the top of the stairs. His
good-naturedly beaming face above the embroidered collar of his
uniform beamed more than ever when he recognized the man coming
"Why, it's actually you, Levin, at last!" he said with a friendly
mocking smile, scanning Levin as he approached. "How is it you
have deigned to look me up in this den?" said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, and not content with shaking hands, he kissed his
friend. "Have you been here long?"
"I have just come, and very much wanted to see you," said Levin,
looking shyly and at the same time angrily and uneasily around.
"Well, let's go into my room," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, who knew
his friend's sensitive and irritable shyness, and, taking his
arm, he drew him along, as though guiding him through dangers.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was on familiar terms with almost all his
acquaintances, and called almost all of them by their Christian
names: old men of sixty, boys of twenty, actors, ministers,
merchants, and adjutant-generals, so that many of his intimate
chums were to be found at the extreme ends of the social ladder,
and would have been very much surprised to learn that they had,
through the medium of Oblonsky, something in common. He was the
familiar friend of everyone with whom he took a glass of
champagne, and he took a glass of champagne with everyone, and
when in consequence he met any of his disreputable chums, as he
used in joke to call many of his friends, in the presence of his
subordinates, he well knew how, with his characteristic tact, to
diminish the disagreeable impression made on them. Levin was
not a disreputable chum, but Oblonsky, with his ready tact, felt
that Levin fancied he might not care to show his intimacy with
him before his subordinates, and so he made haste to take him off
into his room.
Levin was almost of the same age as Oblonsky; their intimacy did
not rest merely on champagne. Levin had been the friend and
companion of his early youth. They were fond of one another in
spite of the difference of their characters and tastes, as
friends are fond of one another who have been together in early
youth. But in spite of this, each of them--as is often the way
with men who have selected careers of different kinds--though in
discussion he would even justify the other's career, in his heart
despised it. It seemed to each of them that the life he led
himself was the only real life, and the life led by his friend
was a mere phantasm. Oblonsky could not restrain a slight
mocking smile at the sight of Levin. How often he had seen him
come up to Moscow from the country where he was doing something,
but what precisely Stepan Arkadyevitch could never quite make
out, and indeed he took no interest in the matter. Levin arrived
in Moscow always excited and in a hurry, rather ill at ease and
irritated by his own want of ease, and for the most part with a
perfectly new, unexpected view of things. Stepan Arkadyevitch
laughed at this, and liked it. In the same way Levin in his
heart despised the town mode of life of his friend, and his
official duties, which he laughed at, and regarded as trifling.
But the difference was that Oblonsky, as he was doing the same as
every one did, laughed complacently and good-humoredly, while
Levin laughed without complacency and sometimes angrily.
"We have long been expecting you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
going into his room and letting Levin's hand go as though to show
that here all danger was over. "I am very, very glad to see
you," he went on. "Well, how are you? Eh? When did you come?"
Levin was silent, looking at the unknown faces of Oblonsky's two
companions, and especially at the hand of the elegant Grinevitch,
which had such long white fingers, such long yellow
filbert-shaped nails, and such huge shining studs on the
shirt-cuff, that apparently they absorbed all his attention, and
allowed him no freedom of thought. Oblonsky noticed this at
once, and smiled.
"Ah, to be sure, let me introduce you," he said. "My colleagues:
Philip Ivanitch Nikitin, Mihail Stanislavitch Grinevitch"--and
turning to Levin--"a district councilor, a modern district
councilman, a gymnast who lifts thirteen stone with one hand, a
cattle-breeder and sportsman, and my friend, Konstantin
Dmitrievitch Levin, the brother of Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev."
"Delighted," said the veteran.
"I have the honor of knowing your brother, Sergey Ivanovitch,"
said Grinevitch, holding out his slender hand with its long
Levin frowned, shook hands coldly, and at once turned to
Oblonsky. Though he had a great respect for his half-brother, an
author well known to all Russia, he could not endure it when
people treated him not as Konstantin Levin, but as the brother of
the celebrated Koznishev.
"No, I am no longer a district councilor. I have quarreled with
them all, and don't go to the meetings any more," he said,
turning to Oblonsky.
"You've been quick about it!" said Oblonsky with a smile. "But
"It's a long story. I will tell you some time," said Levin, but
he began telling him at once. "Well, to put it shortly, I was
convinced that nothing was really done by the district councils,
or ever could be," he began, as though some one had just insulted
him. "On one side it's a plaything; they play at being a
parliament, and I'm neither young enough nor old enough to find
amusement in playthings; and on the other side" (he stammered)
"it's a means for the coterie of the district to make money.
Formerly they had wardships, courts of justice, now they have the
district council--not in the form of bribes, but in the form of
unearned salary," he said, as hotly as though someone of those
present had opposed his opinion.
"Aha! You're in a new phase again, I see--a conservative," said
Stepan Arkadyevitch. "However, we can go into that later."
"Yes, later. But I wanted to see you," said Levin, looking with
hatred at Grinevitch's hand.
Stepan Arkadyevitch gave a scarcely perceptible smile.
"How was it you used to say you would never wear European dress
again?" he said, scanning his new suit, obviously cut by a French
tailor. "Ah! I see: a new phase."
Levin suddenly blushed, not as grown men blush, slightly, without
being themselves aware of it, but as boys blush, feeling that
they are ridiculous through their shyness, and consequently
ashamed of it and blushing still more, almost to the point of
tears. And it was so strange to see this sensible, manly face in
such a childish plight, that Oblonsky left off looking at him.
"Oh, where shall we meet? You know I want very much to talk to
you," said Levin.
Oblonsky seemed to ponder.
"I'll tell you what: let's go to Gurin's to lunch, and there we
can talk. I am free till three."
"No," answered Levin, after an instant's thought, "I have got to
go on somewhere else."
"All right, then, let's dine together."
"Dine together? But I have nothing very particular, only a few
words to say, and a question I want to ask you, and we can have a
"Well, say the few words, then, at once, and we'll gossip after
"Well, it's this," said Levin; "but it's of no importance,
His face all at once took an expression of anger from the effort
he was making to surmount his shyness.
"What are the Shtcherbatskys doing? Everything as it used to
be?" he said.
Stepan Arkadyevitch, who had long known that Levin was in love
with his sister-in-law, Kitty, gave a hardly perceptible smile,
and his eyes sparkled merrily.
"You said a few words, but I can't answer in a few words,
because.... Excuse me a minute..."
A secretary came in, with respectful familiarity and the modest
consciousness, characteristic of every secretary, of superiority
to his chief in the knowledge of their business; he went up to
Oblonsky with some papers, and began, under pretense of asking a
question, to explain some objection. Stepan Arkadyevitch,
without hearing him out, laid his hand genially on the
"No, you do as I told you," he said, softening his words with a
smile, and with a brief explanation of his view of the matter he
turned away from the papers, and said: "So do it that way, if you
please, Zahar Nikititch."
The secretary retired in confusion. During the consultation with
the secretary Levin had completely recovered from his
embarrassment. He was standing with his elbows on the back of a
chair, and on his face was a look of ironical attention.
"I don't understand it, I don't understand it," he said.
"What don't you understand?" said Oblonsky, smiling as brightly
as ever, and picking up a cigarette. He expected some queer
outburst from Levin.
"I don't understand what you are doing," said Levin, shrugging
his shoulders. "How can you do it seriously?"
"Why, because there's nothing in it."
"You think so, but we're overwhelmed with work."
"On paper. But, there, you've a gift for it," added Levin.
"That's to say, you think there's a lack of something in me?"
"Perhaps so," said Levin. "But all the same I admire your
grandeur, and am proud that I've a friend in such a great person.
You've not answered my question, though," he went on, with a
desperate effort looking Oblonsky straight in the face.
"Oh, that's all very well. You wait a bit, and you'll come to
this yourself. It's very nice for you to have over six thousand
acres in the Karazinsky district, and such muscles, and the
freshness of a girl of twelve; still you'll be one of us one day.
Yes, as to your question, there is no change, but it's a pity
you've been away so long."
"Oh, why so?" Levin queried, panic-stricken.
"Oh, nothing," responded Oblonsky. "We'll talk it over. But
what's brought you up to town?"
"Oh, we'll talk about that, too, later on," said Levin, reddening
again up to his ears.
"All right. I see," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "I should ask you
to come to us, you know, but my wife's not quite the thing. But
I tell you what; if you want to see them, they're sure now to be
at the Zoological Gardens from four to five. Kitty skates. You
drive along there, and I'll come and fetch you, and we'll go and
dine somewhere together."
"Capital. So good-bye till then."
"Now mind, you'll forget, I know you, or rush off home to the
country!" Stepan Arkadyevitch called out laughing.
And Levin went out of the room, only when he was in the doorway
remembering that he had forgotten to take leave of Oblonsky's
"That gentleman must be a man of great energy," said Grinevitch,
when Levin had gone away.
"Yes, my dear boy," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, nodding his head,
"he's a lucky fellow! Over six thousand acres in the Karazinsky
district; everything before him; and what youth and vigor! Not
like some of us."
"You have a great deal to complain of, haven't you, Stepan
"Ah, yes, I'm in a poor way, a bad way," said Stepan Arkadyevitch
with a heavy sigh.
When Oblonsky asked Levin what had brought him to town, Levin
blushed, and was furious with himself for blushing, because he
could not answer, "I have come to make your sister-in-law an
offer," though that was precisely what he had come for.
The families of the Levins and the Shtcherbatskys were old, noble
Moscow families, and had always been on intimate and friendly
terms. This intimacy had grown still closer during Levin's
student days. He had both prepared for the university with the
young Prince Shtcherbatsky, the brother of Kitty and Dolly, and
had entered at the same time with him. In those days Levin used
often to be in the Shtcherbatskys' house, and he was in love with
the Shtcherbatsky household. Strange as it may appear, it was
with the household, the family, that Konstantin Levin was in
love, especially with the feminine half of the household. Levin
did not remember his own mother, and his only sister was older
than he was, so that it was in the Shtcherbatskys' house that he
saw for the first time that inner life of an old, noble,
cultivated, and honorable family of which he had been deprived by
the death of his father and mother. All the members of that
family, especially the feminine half, were pictured by him, as
it were, wrapped about with a mysterious poetical veil, and he
not only perceived no defects whatever in them, but under the
poetical veil that shrouded them he assumed the existence of the
loftiest sentiments and every possible perfection. Why it was
the three young ladies had one day to speak French, and the next
English; why it was that at certain hours they played by turns on
the piano, the sounds of which were audible in their brother's
room above, where the students used to work; why they were
visited by those professors of French literature, of music, of
drawing, of dancing; why at certain hours all the three young
ladies, with Mademoiselle Linon, drove in the coach to the
Tversky boulevard, dressed in their satin cloaks, Dolly in a long
one, Natalia in a half-long one, and Kitty in one so short that
her shapely legs in tightly-drawn red stockings were visible to
all beholders; why it was they had to walk about the Tversky
boulevard escorted by a footman with a gold cockade in his
hat--all this and much more that was done in their mysterious
world he did not understand, but he was sure that everything that
was done there was very good, and he was in love precisely with
the mystery of the proceedings.
In his student days he had all but been in love with the eldest,
Dolly, but she was soon married to Oblonsky. Then he began being
in love with the second. He felt, as it were, that he had to be
in love with one of the sisters, only he could not quite make out
which. But Natalia, too, had hardly made her appearance in the
world when she married the diplomat Lvov. Kitty was still a
child when Levin left the university. Young Shtcherbatsky went
into the navy, was drowned in the Baltic, and Levin's relations
with the Shtcherbatskys, in spite of his friendship with
Oblonsky, became less intimate. But when early in the winter of
this year Levin came to Moscow, after a year in the country, and
saw the Shtcherbatskys, he realized which of the three sisters he
was indeed destined to love.
One would have thought that nothing could be simpler than for
him, a man of good family, rather rich than poor, and thirty-two
years old, to make the young Princess Shtcherbatskaya an offer of
marriage; in all likelihood he would at once have been looked
upon as a good match. But Levin was in love, and so it seemed to
him that Kitty was so perfect in every respect that she was a
creature far above everything earthly; and that he was a creature
so low and so earthly that it could not even be conceived that
other people and she herself could regard him as worthy of her.
After spending two months in Moscow in a state of enchantment,
seeing Kitty almost every day in society, into which he went so
as to meet her, he abruptly decided that it could not be, and
went back to the country.
Levin's conviction that it could not be was founded on the idea
that in the eyes of her family he was a disadvantageous and
worthless match for the charming Kitty, and that Kitty herself
could not love him. In her family's eyes he had no ordinary,
definite career and position in society, while his contemporaries
by this time, when he was thirty-two, were already, one a
colonel, and another a professor, another director of a bank and
railways, or president of a board like Oblonsky. But he (he knew
very well how he must appear to others) was a country gentleman,
occupied in breeding cattle, shooting game, and building barns;
in other words, a fellow of no ability, who had not turned out
well, and who was doing just what, according to the ideas of the
world, is done by people fit for nothing else.
The mysterious, enchanting Kitty herself could not love such an
ugly person as he conceived himself to be, and, above all, such
an ordinary, in no way striking person. Moreover, his attitude
to Kitty in the past--the attitude of a grown-up person to a
child, arising from his friendship with her brother--seemed to
him yet another obstacle to love. An ugly, good-natured man, as
he considered himself, might, he supposed, be liked as a friend;
but to be loved with such a love as that with which he loved
Kitty, one would need to be a handsome and, still more, a
He had heard that women often did care for ugly and ordinary men,
but he did not believe it, for he judged by himself, and he could
not himself have loved any but beautiful, mysterious, and
But after spending two months alone in the country, he was
convinced that this was not one of those passions of which he had
had experience in his early youth; that this feeling gave him not
an instant's rest; that he could not live without deciding the
question, would she or would she not be his wife, and that his
despair had arisen only from his own imaginings, that he had no
sort of proof that he would be rejected. And he had now come to
Moscow with a firm determination to make an offer, and get
married if he were accepted. Or...he could not conceive what
would become of him if he were rejected.
On arriving in Moscow by a morning train, Levin had put up at the
house of his elder half-brother, Koznishev. After changing his
clothes he went down to his brother's study, intending to talk to
him at once about the object of his visit, and to ask his advice;
but his brother was not alone. With him there was a well-known
professor of philosophy, who had come from Harkov expressly to
clear up a difference that had arisen between them on a very
important philosophical question. The professor was carrying on
a hot crusade against materialists. Sergey Koznishev had been
following this crusade with interest, and after reading the
professor's last article, he had written him a letter stating his
objections. He accused the professor of making too great
concessions to the materialists. And the professor had promptly
appeared to argue the matter out. The point in discussion was
the question then in vogue: Is there a line to be drawn between
psychological and physiological phenomena in man? and if so,
Sergey Ivanovitch met his brother with the smile of chilly
friendliness he always had for everyone, and introducing him to
the professor, went on with the conversation.
A little man in spectacles, with a narrow forehead, tore himself
from the discussion for an instant to greet Levin, and then went
on talking without paying any further attention to him. Levin
sat down to wait till the professor should go, but he soon began
to get interested in the subject under discussion.
Levin had come across the magazine articles about which they were
disputing, and had read them, interested in them as a development
of the first principles of science, familiar to him as a natural
science student at the university. But he had never connected
these scientific deductions as to the origin of man as an animal,
as to reflex action, biology, and sociology, with those questions
as to the meaning of life and death to himself, which had of late
been more and more often in his mind.
As he listened to his brother's argument with the professor, he
noticed that they connected these scientific questions with those
spiritual problems, that at times they almost touched on the
latter; but every time they were close upon what seemed to him
the chief point, they promptly beat a hasty retreat, and plunged
again into a sea of subtle distinctions, reservations,
quotations, allusions, and appeals to authorities, and it was
with difficulty that he understood what they were talking about.
"I cannot admit it," said Sergey Ivanovitch, with his habitual
clearness, precision of expression, and elegance of phrase. "I
cannot in any case agree with Keiss that my whole conception of
the external world has been derived from perceptions. The most
fundamental idea, the idea of existence, has not been received by
me through sensation; indeed, there is no special sense-organ for
the transmission of such an idea."
"Yes, but they--Wurt, and Knaust, and Pripasov--would answer
that your consciousness of existence is derived from the
conjunction of all your sensations, that that consciousness of
existence is the result of your sensations. Wurt, indeed, says
plainly that, assuming there are no sensations, it follows that
there is no idea of existence."
"I maintain the contrary," began Sergey Ivanovitch.
But here it seemed to Levin that just as they were close upon the
real point of the matter, they were again retreating, and he made
up his mind to put a question to the professor.
"According to that, if my senses are annihilated, if my body is
dead, I can have no existence of any sort?" he queried.
The professor, in annoyance, and, as it were, mental suffering
at the interruption, looked round at the strange inquirer, more
like a bargeman than a philosopher, and turned his eyes upon
Sergey Ivanovitch, as though to ask: What's one to say to him?
But Sergey Ivanovitch, who had been talking with far less heat
and one-sidedness than the professor, and who had sufficient
breadth of mind to answer the professor, and at the same time to
comprehend the simple and natural point of view from which the
question was put, smiled and said:
"That question we have no right to answer as yet."
"We have not the requisite data," chimed in the professor, and he
went back to his argument. "No," he said; "I would point out the
fact that if, as Pripasov directly asserts, perception is based
on sensation, then we are bound to distinguish sharply between
these two conceptions."
Levin listened no more, and simply waited for the professor to
When the professor had gone, Sergey Ivanovitch turned to his
"Delighted that you've come. For some time, is it? How's your
farming getting on?"
Levin knew that his elder brother took little interest in
farming, and only put the question in deference to him, and so he
only told him about the sale of his wheat and money matters.
Levin had meant to tell his brother of his determination to get
married, and to ask his advice; he had indeed firmly resolved to
do so. But after seeing his brother, listening to his
conversation with the professor, hearing afterwards the
unconsciously patronizing tone in which his brother questioned
him about agricultural matters (their mother's property had not
been divided, and Levin took charge of both their shares), Levin
felt that he could not for some reason begin to talk to him of
his intention of marrying. He felt that his brother would not
look at it as he would have wished him to.
"Well, how is your district council doing?" asked Sergey
Ivanovitch, who was greatly interested in these local boards and
attached great importance to them.
"I really don't know."
"What! Why, surely you're a member of the board?"
"No, I'm not a member now; I've resigned," answered Levin, "and I
no longer attend the meetings."
"What a pity!" commented Sergey Ivanovitch, frowning.
Levin in self-defense began to describe what took place in the
meetings in his district.
"That's how it always is!" Sergey Ivanovitch interrupted him.
"We Russians are always like that. Perhaps it's our strong
point, really, the faculty of seeing our own shortcomings; but we
overdo it, we comfort ourselves with irony which we always have
on the tip of our tongues. All I say is, give such rights as our
local self-government to any other European people--why, the
Germans or the English would have worked their way to freedom
from them, while we simply turn them into ridicule."
"But how can it be helped?" said Levin penitently. "It was my
last effort. And I did try with all my soul. I can't. I'm no
good at it."
"It's not that you're no good at it," said Sergey Ivanovitch; "it
is that you don't look at it as you should."
"Perhaps not," Levin answered dejectedly.
"Oh! do you know brother Nikolay's turned up again?"
This brother Nikolay was the elder brother of Konstantin Levin,
and half-brother of Sergey Ivanovitch; a man utterly ruined, who
had dissipated the greater part of his fortune, was living in the
strangest and lowest company, and had quarreled with his
"What did you say?" Levin cried with horror. "How do you know?"
"Prokofy saw him in the street."
"Here in Moscow? Where is he? Do you know?" Levin got up from
his chair, as though on the point of starting off at once.
"I am sorry I told you," said Sergey Ivanovitch, shaking his head
at his younger brother's excitement. "I sent to find out where
he is living, and sent him his IOU to Trubin, which I paid. This
is the answer he sent me."
And Sergey Ivanovitch took a note from under a paper-weight and
handed it to his brother.
Levin read in the queer, familiar handwriting: "I humbly beg you
to leave me in peace. That's the only favor I ask of my gracious
Levin read it, and without raising his head stood with the note
in his hands opposite Sergey Ivanovitch.
There was a struggle in his heart between the desire to forget
his unhappy brother for the time, and the consciousness that it
would be base to do so.
"He obviously wants to offend me," pursued Sergey Ivanovitch;
"but he cannot offend me, and I should have wished with all my
heart to assist him, but I know it's impossible to do that."
"Yes, yes," repeated Levin. "I understand and appreciate your
attitude to him; but I shall go and see him."
"If you want to, do; but I shouldn't advise it," said Sergey
Ivanovitch. "As regards myself, I have no fear of your doing so;
he will not make you quarrel with me; but for your own sake, I
should say you would do better not to go. You can't do him any
good; still, do as you please."
"Very likely I can't do any good, but I feel--especially at such
a moment--but that's another thing--I feel I could not be at
"Well, that I don't understand," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "One
thing I do understand," he added; "it's a lesson in humility. I
have come to look very differently and more charitably on what is
called infamous since brother Nikolay has become what he is...you
know what he did..."
"Oh, it's awful, awful!" repeated Levin.
After obtaining his brother's address from Sergey Ivanovitch's
footman, Levin was on the point of setting off at once to see
him, but on second thought he decided to put off his visit till
the evening. The first thing to do to set his heart at rest was
to accomplish what he had come to Moscow for. From his brother's
Levin went to Oblonsky's office, and on getting news of the
Shtcherbatskys from him, he drove to the place where he had been
told he might find Kitty.
At four o'clock, conscious of his throbbing heart, Levin stepped
out of a hired sledge at the Zoological Gardens, and turned along
the path to the frozen mounds and the skating ground, knowing
that he would certainly find her there, as he had seen the
Shtcherbatskys' carriage at the entrance.
It was a bright, frosty day. Rows of carriages, sledges,
drivers, and policemen were standing in the approach. Crowds of
well-dressed people, with hats bright in the sun, swarmed about
the entrance and along the well-swept little paths between the
little houses adorned with carving in the Russian style. The old
curly birches of the gardens, all their twigs laden with snow,
looked as though freshly decked in sacred vestments.
He walked along the path towards the skating-ground, and kept
saying to himself--"You mustn't be excited, you must be calm.
What's the matter with you? What do you want? Be quiet,
stupid," he conjured his heart. And the more he tried to compose
himself, the more breathless he found himself. An acquaintance
met him and called him by his name, but Levin did not even
recognize him. He went towards the mounds, whence came the clank
of the chains of sledges as they slipped down or were dragged up,
the rumble of the sliding sledges, and the sounds of merry
voices. He walked on a few steps, and the skating-ground lay
open before his eyes, and at once, amidst all the skaters, he
He knew she was there by the rapture and the terror that seized
on his heart. She was standing talking to a lady at the opposite
end of the ground. There was apparently nothing striking either
in her dress or her attitude. But for Levin she was as easy to
find in that crowd as a rose among nettles. Everything was made
bright by her. She was the smile that shed light on all round
her. "Is it possible I can go over there on the ice, go up to
her?" he thought. The place where she stood seemed to him a holy
shrine, unapproachable, and there was one moment when he was
almost retreating, so overwhelmed was he with terror. He had to
make an effort to master himself, and to remind himself that
people of all sorts were moving about her, and that he too might
come there to skate. He walked down, for a long while avoiding
looking at her as at the sun, but seeing her, as one does the
sun, without looking.
On that day of the week and at that time of day people of one
set, all acquainted with one another, used to meet on the ice.
There were crack skaters there, showing off their skill, and
learners clinging to chairs with timid, awkward movements, boys,
and elderly people skating with hygienic motives. They seemed to
Levin an elect band of blissful beings because they were here,
near her. All the skaters, it seemed, with perfect
self-possession, skated towards her, skated by her, even spoke to
her, and were happy, quite apart from her, enjoying the capital
ice and the fine weather.
Nikolay Shtcherbatsky, Kitty's cousin, in a short jacket and
tight trousers, was sitting on a garden seat with his skates on.
Seeing Levin, he shouted to him:
"Ah, the first skater in Russia! Been here long? First-rate
ice--do put your skates on."
"I haven't got my skates," Levin answered, marveling at this
boldness and ease in her presence, and not for one second losing
sight of her, though he did not look at her. He felt as though
the sun were coming near him. She was in a corner, and turning
out her slender feet in their high boots with obvious timidity,
she skated towards him. A boy in Russian dress, desperately
waving his arms and bowed down to the ground, overtook her. She
skated a little uncertainly; taking her hands out of the little
muff that hung on a cord, she held them ready for emergency, and
looking towards Levin, whom she had recognized, she smiled at
him, and at her own fears. When she had got round the turn, she
gave herself a push off with one foot, and skated straight up to
Shtcherbatsky. Clutching at his arm, she nodded smiling to
Levin. She was more splendid than he had imagined her.
When he thought of her, he could call up a vivid picture of her
to himself, especially the charm of that little fair head, so
freely set on the shapely girlish shoulders, and so full of
childish brightness and good humor. The childishness of her
expression, together with the delicate beauty of her figure, made
up her special charm, and that he fully realized. But what
always struck him in her as something unlooked for, was the
expression of her eyes, soft, serene, and truthful, and above
all, her smile, which always transported Levin to an enchanted
world, where he felt himself softened and tender, as he
remembered himself in some days of his early childhood.
"Have you been here long?" she said, giving him her hand. "Thank
you," she added, as he picked up the handkerchief that had fallen
out of her muff.
"I? I've not long...yesterday...I mean today...I arrived,"
answered Levin, in his emotion not at once understanding her
question. "I was meaning to come and see you," he said; and
then, recollecting with what intention he was trying to see her,
he was promptly overcome with confusion and blushed.
"I didn't know you could skate, and skate so well."
She looked at him earnestly, as though wishing to make out the
cause of his confusion.
"Your praise is worth having. The tradition is kept up here that
you are the best of skaters," she said, with her little
black-gloved hand brushing a grain of hoarfrost off her muff.
"Yes, I used once to skate with passion; I wanted to reach
"You do everything with passion, I think," she said smiling. "I
should so like to see how you skate. Put on skates, and let us
"Skate together! Can that be possible?" thought Levin, gazing at
"I'll put them on directly," he said.
And he went off to get skates.
"It's a long while since we've seen you here, sir," said the
attendant, supporting his foot, and screwing on the heel of the
skate. "Except you, there's none of the gentlemen first-rate
skaters. Will that be all right?" said he, tightening the strap.
"Oh, yes, yes; make haste, please," answered Levin, with
difficulty restraining the smile of rapture which would
overspread his face. "Yes," he thought, "this now is life, this
is happiness! "Together," she said; "let us skate together!" Speak
to her now? But that's just why I'm afraid to speak--because I'm
happy now, happy in hope, anyway.... And then?.... But I must!
I must! I must! Away with weakness!"
Levin rose to his feet, took off his overcoat, and scurrying over
the rough ice round the hut, came out on the smooth ice and
skated without effort, as it were, by simple exercise of will,
increasing and slackening speed and turning his course. He
approached with timidity, but again her smile reassured him.
She gave him her hand, and they set off side by side, going
faster and faster, and the more rapidly they moved the more
tightly she grasped his hand.
"With you I should soon learn; I somehow feel confidence in you,"
she said to him.
"And I have confidence in myself when you are leaning on me," he
said, but was at once panic-stricken at what he had said, and
blushed. And indeed, no sooner had he uttered these words, when
all at once, like the sun going behind a cloud, her face lost all
its friendliness, and Levin detected the familiar change in her
expression that denoted the working of thought; a crease showed
on her smooth brow.
"Is there anything troubling you?--though I've no right to ask
such a question," he added hurriedly.
"Oh, why so?.... No, I have nothing to trouble me," she
responded coldly; and she added immediately: "You haven't seen
Mlle. Linon, have you?"
"Go and speak to her, she likes you so much."
"What's wrong? I have offended her. Lord help me!" thought
Levin, and he flew towards the old Frenchwoman with the gray
ringlets, who was sitting on a bench. Smiling and showing her
false teeth, she greeted him as an old friend.
"Yes, you see we're growing up," she said to him, glancing
towards Kitty, "and growing old. "Tiny bear" has grown big now!"
pursued the Frenchwoman, laughing, and she reminded him of his
joke about the three young ladies whom he had compared to the
three bears in the English nursery tale. "Do you remember that's
what you used to call them?"
He remembered absolutely nothing, but she had been laughing at
the joke for ten years now, and was fond of it.
"Now, go and skate, go and skate. Our Kitty has learned to skate
nicely, hasn't she?"
When Levin darted up to Kitty her face was no longer stern; her
eyes looked at him with the same sincerity and friendliness, but
Levin fancied that in her friendliness there was a certain note
of deliberate composure. And he felt depressed. After talking a
little of her old governess and her peculiarities, she questioned
him about his life.
"Surely you must be dull in the country in the winter, aren't
you?" she said.
"No, I'm not dull, I am very busy," he said, feeling that she was
holding him in check by her composed tone, which he would not
have the force to break through, just as it had been at the
beginning of the winter.
"Are you going to stay in town long?" Kitty questioned him.
"I don't know," he answered, not thinking of what he was saying.
The thought that if he were held in check by her tone of quiet
friendliness he would end by going back again without deciding
anything came into his mind, and he resolved to make a struggle
"How is it you don't know?"
"I don't know. It depends upon you," he said, and was
immediately horror-stricken at his own words.
Whether it was that she had heard his words, or that she did not
want to hear them, she made a sort of stumble, twice struck out,
and hurriedly skated away from him. She skated up to Mlle.
Linon, said something to her, and went towards the pavilion where
the ladies took off their skates.
"My God! what have I done! Merciful God! help me, guide me,"
said Levin, praying inwardly, and at the same time, feeling a
need of violent exercise, he skated about describing inner and
At that moment one of the young men, the best of the skaters of
the day, came out of the coffee-house in his skates, with a
cigarette in his mouth. Taking a run, he dashed down the steps
in his skates, crashing and bounding up and down. He flew down,
and without even changing the position of his hands, skated away
over the ice.
"Ah, that's a new trick!" said Levin, and he promptly ran up to
the top to do this new trick.
"Don't break your neck! it needs practice!" Nikolay Shtcherbatsky
shouted after him.
Levin went to the steps, took a run from above as best he could,
and dashed down, preserving his balance in this unwonted movement
with his hands. On the last step he stumbled, but barely
touching the ice with his hand, with a violent effort recovered
himself, and skated off, laughing.
"How splendid, how nice he is!" Kitty was thinking at that time,
as she came out of the pavilion with Mlle. Linon, and looked
towards him with a smile of quiet affection, as though he were a
favorite brother. "And can it be my fault, can I have done
anything wrong? They talk of flirtation. I know it's not he
that I love; but still I am happy with him, and he's so jolly.
Only, why did he say that?..." she mused.
Catching sight of Kitty going away, and her mother meeting her at
the steps, Levin, flushed from his rapid exercise, stood still
and pondered a minute. He took off his skates, and overtook the
mother and daughter at the entrance of the gardens.
"Delighted to see you," said Princess Shtcherbatskaya. "On
Thursdays we are home, as always."
"We shall be pleased to see you," the princess said stiffly.
This stiffness hurt Kitty, and she could not resist the desire to
smooth over her mother's coldness. She turned her head, and with
a smile said:
"Good-bye till this evening."
At that moment Stepan Arkadyevitch, his hat cocked on one side,
with beaming face and eyes, strode into the garden like a
conquering hero. But as he approached his mother-in-law, he
responded in a mournful and crestfallen tone to her inquiries
about Dolly's health. After a little subdued and dejected
conversation with his mother-in-law, he threw out his chest
again, and put his arm in Levin's.
"Well, shall we set off?" he asked. "I've been thinking about
you all this time, and I'm very, very glad you've come," he said,
looking him in the face with a significant air.
"Yes, come along," answered Levin in ecstasy, hearing unceasingly
the sound of that voice saying, "Good-bye till this evening," and
seeing the smile with which it was said.
"To the England or the Hermitage?"
"I don't mind which."
"All right, then, the England," said Stepan Arkadyevitch,
selecting that restaurant because he owed more there than at the
Hermitage, and consequently considered it mean to avoid it.
"Have you got a sledge? That's first-rate, for I sent my
The friends hardly spoke all the way. Levin was wondering what
that change in Kitty's expression had meant, and alternately
assuring himself that there was hope, and falling into despair,
seeing clearly that his hopes were insane, and yet all the while
he felt himself quite another man, utterly unlike what he had
been before her smile and those words, "Good-bye till this
Stepan Arkadyevitch was absorbed during the drive in composing
the menu of the dinner.
"You like turbot, don't you?" he said to Levin as they were
"Eh?" responded Levin. "Turbot? Yes, I'm "awfully" fond of
When Levin went into the restaurant with Oblonsky, he could not
help noticing a certain peculiarity of expression, as it were, a
restrained radiance, about the face and whole figure of Stepan
Arkadyevitch. Oblonsky took off his overcoat, and with his hat
over one ear walked into the dining room, giving directions to
the Tatar waiters, who were clustered about him in evening coats,
bearing napkins. Bowing to right and left to the people he met,
and here as everywhere joyously greeting acquaintances, he went
up to the sideboard for a preliminary appetizer of fish and
vodka, and said to the painted Frenchwoman decked in ribbons,
lace, and ringlets, behind the counter, something so amusing that
even that Frenchwoman was moved to genuine laughter. Levin for
his part refrained from taking any vodka simply because he felt
such a loathing of that Frenchwoman, all made up, it seemed, of
false hair, "poudre de riz," and "vinaigre de toilette". He made
haste to move away from her, as from a dirty place. His whole
soul was filled with memories of Kitty, and there was a smile of
triumph and happiness shining in his eyes.
"This way, your excellency, please. Your excellency won't be
disturbed here," said a particularly pertinacious, white-headed
old Tatar with immense hips and coat-tails gaping widely behind.
"Walk in, your excellency," he said to Levin; by way of showing
his respect to Stepan Arkadyevitch, being attentive to his guest
Instantly flinging a fresh cloth over the round table under the
bronze chandelier, though it already had a table cloth on it, he
pushed up velvet chairs, and came to a standstill before Stepan
Arkadyevitch with a napkin and a bill of fare in his hands,
awaiting his commands.
"If you prefer it, your excellency, a private room will be free
directly; Prince Golistin with a lady. Fresh oysters have come
Stepan Arkadyevitch became thoughtful.
"How if we were to change our program, Levin?" he said, keeping
his finger on the bill of fare. And his face expressed serious
hesitation. "Are the oysters good? Mind now."
"They're Flensburg, your excellency. We've no Ostend."
"Flensburg will do, but are they fresh?"
"Only arrived yesterday."
"Well, then, how if we were to begin with oysters, and so change
the whole program? Eh?"
"It's all the same to me. I should like cabbage soup and
porridge better than anything; but of course there's nothing like
""Porridge à la Russe," your honor would like?" said the Tatar,
bending down to Levin, like a nurse speaking to a child.
"No, joking apart, whatever you choose is sure to be good. I've
been skating, and I'm hungry. And don't imagine," he added,
detecting a look of dissatisfaction on Oblonsky's face, "that I
shan't appreciate your choice. I am fond of good things."
"I should hope so! After all, it's one of the pleasures of
life," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Well, then, my friend, you
give us two--or better say three--dozen oysters, clear soup
"Printaniere," prompted the Tatar. But Stepan Arkadyevitch
apparently did not care to allow him the satisfaction of giving
the French names of the dishes.
"With vegetables in it, you know. Then turbot with thick sauce,
then...roast beef; and mind it's good. Yes, and capons, perhaps,
and then sweets."
The Tatar, recollecting that it was Stepan Arkadyevitch's way not
to call the dishes by the names in the French bill of fare, did
not repeat them after him, but could not resist rehearsing the
whole menu to himself according to the bill:--""Soupe
printanière, turbot, sauce Beaumarchais, poulard à l'estragon,
macédoine de fruits"...etc.," and then instantly, as though worked
by springs, laying down one bound bill of fare, he took up
another, the list of wines, and submitted it to Stepan
"What shall we drink?"
"What you like, only not too much. Champagne," said Levin.
"What! to start with? You're right though, I dare say. Do you
like the white seal?"
""Cachet blanc,"" prompted the Tatar.
"Very well, then, give us that brand with the oysters, and then
"Yes, sir. And what table wine?"
"You can give us Nuits. Oh, no, better the classic Chablis."
"Yes, sir. And "your" cheese, your excellency?"
"Oh, yes, Parmesan. Or would you like another?"
"No, it's all the same to me," said Levin, unable to suppress a
And the Tatar ran off with flying coat-tails, and in five minutes
darted in with a dish of opened oysters on mother-of-pearl
shells, and a bottle between his fingers.
Stepan Arkadyevitch crushed the starchy napkin, tucked it into
his waistcoat, and settling his arms comfortably, started on the
"Not bad," he said, stripping the oysters from the pearly shell
with a silver fork, and swallowing them one after another. "Not
bad," he repeated, turning his dewy, brilliant eyes from Levin to
Levin ate the oysters indeed, though white bread and cheese would
have pleased him better. But he was admiring Oblonsky. Even the
Tatar, uncorking the bottle and pouring the sparkling wine into
the delicate glasses, glanced at Stepan Arkadyevitch, and settled
his white cravat with a perceptible smile of satisfaction.
"You don't care much for oysters, do you?" said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, emptying his wine glass, "or you're worried about
He wanted Levin to be in good spirits. But it was not that Levin
was not in good spirits; he was ill at ease. With what he had in
his soul, he felt sore and uncomfortable in the restaurant, in
the midst of private rooms where men were dining with ladies, in
all this fuss and bustle; the surroundings of bronzes, looking
glasses, gas, and waiters--all of it was offensive to him. He
was afraid of sullying what his soul was brimful of.
"I? Yes, I am; but besides, all this bothers me," he said. "You
can't conceive how queer it all seems to a country person like
me, as queer as that gentleman's nails I saw at your place..."
"Yes, I saw how much interested you were in poor Grinevitch's
nails," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing.
"It's too much for me," responded Levin. "Do try, now, and put
yourself in my place, take the point of view of a country person.
We in the country try to bring our hands into such a state as
will be most convenient for working with. So we cut our nails;
sometimes we turn up our sleeves. And here people purposely let
their nails grow as long as they will, and link on small saucers
by way of studs, so that they can do nothing with their hands."
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled gaily.
"Oh, yes, that's just a sign that he has no need to do coarse
work. His work is with the mind..."
"Maybe. But still it's queer to me, just as at this moment it
seems queer to me that we country folks try to get our meals over
as soon as we can, so as to be ready for our work, while here are
we trying to drag out our meal as long as possible, and with that
object eating oysters..."
"Why, of course," objected Stepan Arkadyevitch. "But that's just
the aim of civilization--to make everything a source of
"Well, if that's its aim, I'd rather be a savage."
"And so you are a savage. All you Levins are savages."
Levin sighed. He remembered his brother Nikolay, and felt
ashamed and sore, and he scowled; but Oblonsky began speaking of
a subject which at once drew his attention.
"Oh, I say, are you going tonight to our people, the
Shtcherbatskys', I mean?" he said, his eyes sparkling
significantly as he pushed away the empty rough shells, and drew
the cheese towards him.
"Yes, I shall certainly go," replied Levin; "though I fancied the
princess was not very warm in her invitation."
"What nonsense! That's her manner.... Come, boy, the soup!....
That's her manner--"grande dame,"" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "I'm
coming, too, but I have to go to the Countess Bonina's rehearsal.
Come, isn't it true that you're a savage? How do you explain the
sudden way in which you vanished from Moscow? The Shtcherbatskys
were continually asking me about you, as though I ought to know.
The only thing I know is that you always do what no one else
"Yes," said Levin, slowly and with emotion, "you're right. I am
a savage. Only, my savageness is not in having gone away, but in
coming now. Now I have come..."
"Oh, what a lucky fellow you are!" broke in Stepan Arkadyevitch,
looking into Levin's eyes.
"I know a gallant steed by tokens sure,
And by his eyes I know a youth in love,"
declaimed Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Everything is before you."
"Why, is it over for you already?"
"No; not over exactly, but the future is yours, and the present
is mine, and the present--well, it's not all that it might be."
"Oh, things go wrong. But I don't want to talk of myself, and
besides I can't explain it all," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Well, why have you come to Moscow, then?.... Hi! take away!" he
called to the Tatar.
"You guess?" responded Levin, his eyes like deep wells of light
fixed on Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"I guess, but I can't be the first to talk about it. You can see
by that whether I guess right or wrong," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch, gazing at Levin with a subtle smile.
"Well, and what have you to say to me?" said Levin in a quivering
voice, feeling that all the muscles of his face were quivering
too. "How do you look at the question?"
Stepan Arkadyevitch slowly emptied his glass of Chablis, never
taking his eyes off Levin.
"I?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "there's nothing I desire so much
as that--nothing! It would be the best thing that could be."
"But you're not making a mistake? You know what we're speaking
of?" said Levin, piercing him with his eyes. "You think it's
"I think it's possible. Why not possible?"
"No! do you really think it's possible? No, tell me all you
think! Oh, but if...if refusal's in store for me!... Indeed I
"Why should you think that?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling at
"It seems so to me sometimes. That will be awful for me, and for
"Oh, well, anyway there's nothing awful in it for a girl. Every
girl's proud of an offer."
"Yes, every girl, but not she."
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled. He so well knew that feeling of
Levin's, that for him all the girls in the world were divided
into two classes: one class--all the girls in the world except
her, and those girls with all sorts of human weaknesses, and very
ordinary girls: the other class--she alone, having no weaknesses
of any sort and higher than all humanity.
"Stay, take some sauce," he said, holding back Levin's hand as it
pushed away the sauce.
Levin obediently helped himself to sauce, but would not let
Stepan Arkadyevitch go on with his dinner.
"No, stop a minute, stop a minute," he said. "You must
understand that it's a question of life and death for me. I have
never spoken to any one of this. And there's no one I could
speak of it to, except you. You know we're utterly unlike each
other, different tastes and views and everything; but I know
you're fond of me and understand me, and that's why I like you
awfully. But for God's sake, be quite straightforward with me."
"I tell you what I think," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling.
"But I'll say more: my wife is a wonderful woman..." Stepan
Arkadyevitch sighed, remembering his position with his wife, and,
after a moment's silence, resumed--"She has a gift of foreseeing
things. She sees right through people; but that's not all; she
knows what will come to pass, especially in the way of marriages.
She foretold, for instance, that Princess Shahovskaya would marry
Brenteln. No one would believe it, but it came to pass. And
she's on your side."
"How do you mean?"
"It's not only that she likes you--she says that Kitty is
certain to be your wife."
At these words Levin's face suddenly lighted up with a smile, a
smile not far from tears of emotion.
"She says that!" cried Levin. "I always said she was exquisite,
your wife. There, that's enough, enough said about it," he said,
getting up from his seat.
"All right, but do sit down."
But Levin could not sit down. He walked with his firm tread
twice up and down the little cage of a room, blinked his eyelids
that his tears might not fall, and only then sat down to the
"You must understand," said he, "it's not love. I've been in
love, but it's not that. It's not my feeling, but a sort of
force outside me has taken possession of me. I went away, you
see, because I made up my mind that it could never be, you
understand, as a happiness that does not come on earth; but I've
struggled with myself, I see there's no living without it. And
it must be settled."
"What did you go away for?"
"Ah, stop a minute! Ah, the thoughts that come crowding on one!
The questions one must ask oneself! Listen. You can't imagine
what you've done for me by what you said. I'm so happy that I've
become positively hateful; I've forgotten everything. I heard
today that my brother Nikolay...you know, he's here...I had even
forgotten him. It seems to me that he's happy too. It's a sort
of madness. But one thing's awful.... Here, you've been
married, you know the feeling...it's awful that we--old--with a
past... not of love, but of sins...are brought all at once so
near to a creature pure and innocent; it's loathsome, and that's
why one can't help feeling oneself unworthy."
"Oh, well, you've not many sins on your conscience."
"Alas! all the same," said Levin, "when with loathing I go over
my life, I shudder and curse and bitterly regret it.... Yes."
"What would you have? The world's made so," said Stepan
"The one comfort is like that prayer, which I always liked:
'Forgive me not according to my unworthiness, but according to
Thy lovingkindness.' That's the only way she can forgive me."
Levin emptied his glass, and they were silent for a while.
"There's one other thing I ought to tell you. Do you know
Vronsky?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked Levin.
"No, I don't. Why do you ask?"
"Give us another bottle," Stepan Arkadyevitch directed the Tatar,
who was filling up their glasses and fidgeting round them just
when he was not wanted.
"Why you ought to know Vronsky is that he's one of your rivals."
"Who's Vronsky?" said Levin, and his face was suddenly
transformed from the look of childlike ecstasy which Oblonsky had
just been admiring to an angry and unpleasant expression.
"Vronsky is one of the sons of Count Kirill Ivanovitch Vronsky,
and one of the finest specimens of the gilded youth of
Petersburg. I made his acquaintance in Tver when I was there on
official business, and he came there for the levy of recruits.
Fearfully rich, handsome, great connections, an aide-de-camp, and
with all that a very nice, good-natured fellow. But he's more
than simply a good-natured fellow, as I've found out here--he's
a cultivated man, too, and very intelligent; he's a man who'll
make his mark."
Levin scowled and was dumb.
"Well, he turned up here soon after you'd gone, and as I can see,
he's over head and ears in love with Kitty, and you know that her
"Excuse me, but I know nothing," said Levin, frowning gloomily.
And immediately he recollected his brother Nikolay and how
hateful he was to have been able to forget him.
"You wait a bit, wait a bit," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling
and touching his hand. "I've told you what I know, and I repeat
that in this delicate and tender matter, as far as one can
conjecture, I believe the chances are in your favor."
Levin dropped back in his chair; his face was pale.
"But I would advise you to settle the thing as soon as may be,"
pursued Oblonsky, filling up his glass.
"No, thanks, I can't drink any more," said Levin, pushing away
his glass. "I shall be drunk.... Come, tell me how are you
getting on?" he went on, obviously anxious to change the
"One word more: in any case I advise you to settle the question
soon. Tonight I don't advise you to speak," said Stepan
Arkadyevitch. "Go round tomorrow morning, make an offer in due
form, and God bless you..."
"Oh, do you still think of coming to me for some shooting? Come
next spring, do," said Levin.
Now his whole soul was full of remorse that he had begun this
conversation with Stepan Arkadyevitch. A feeling such as his was
profaned by talk of the rivalry of some Petersburg officer, of
the suppositions and the counsels of Stepan Arkadyevitch.
Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled. He knew what was passing in Levin's
"I'll come some day," he said. "But women, my boy, they're the
pivot everything turns upon. Things are in a bad way with me,
very bad. And it's all through women. Tell me frankly now," he
pursued, picking up a cigar and keeping one hand on his glass;
"give me your advice."
"Why, what is it?"
"I'll tell you. Suppose you're married, you love your wife, but
you're fascinated by another woman..."
"Excuse me, but I'm absolutely unable to comprehend how...just as
I can't comprehend how I could now, after my dinner, go straight
to a baker's shop and steal a roll."
Stepan Arkadyevitch's eyes sparkled more than usual.
"Why not? A roll will sometimes smell so good one can't resist
"Himmlisch ist's, wenn ich bezwungen
Meine irdische Begier;
Aber doch wenn's nich gelungen
Hatt' ich auch recht huebsch Plaisir!"
As he said this, Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled subtly. Levin, too,
could not help smiling.
"Yes, but joking apart," resumed Stepan Arkadyevitch, "you must
understand that the woman is a sweet, gentle loving creature,
poor and lonely, and has sacrificed everything. Now, when the
thing's done, don't you see, can one possibly cast her off? Even
supposing one parts from her, so as not to break up one's family
life, still, can one help feeling for her, setting her on her
feet, softening her lot?"
"Well, you must excuse me there. You know to me all women are
divided into two classes...at least no...truer to say: there are
women and there are...I've never seen exquisite fallen beings,
and I never shall see them, but such creatures as that painted
Frenchwoman at the counter with the ringlets are vermin to my
mind, and all fallen women are the same."
"But the Magdalen?"
"Ah, drop that! Christ would never have said those words if He
had known how they would be abused. Of all the Gospel those
words are the only ones remembered. However, I'm not saying so
much what I think, as what I feel. I have a loathing for fallen
women. You're afraid of spiders, and I of these vermin. Most
likely you've not made a study of spiders and don't know their
character; and so it is with me."
"It's very well for you to talk like that; it's very much like
that gentleman in Dickens who used to fling all difficult
questions over his right shoulder. But to deny the facts is no
answer. What's to be done--you tell me that, what's to be done?
Your wife gets older, while you're full of life. Before you've
time to look round, you feel that you can't love your wife with
love, however much you may esteem her. And then all at once love
turns up, and you're done for, done for," Stepan Arkadyevitch
said with weary despair.
Levin half smiled.
"Yes, you're done for," resumed Oblonsky. "But what's to be
"Don't steal rolls."
Stepan Arkadyevitch laughed outright.
"Oh, moralist! But you must understand, there are two women; one
insists only on her rights, and those rights are your love, which
you can't give her; and the other sacrifices everything for you
and asks for nothing. What are you to do? How are you to act?
There's a fearful tragedy in it."
"If you care for my profession of faith as regards that, I'll
tell you that I don't believe there was any tragedy about it.
And this is why. To my mind, love...both the sorts of love,
which you remember Plato defines in his Banquet, served as the
test of men. Some men only understand one sort, and some only
the other. And those who only know the non-platonic love have no
need to talk of tragedy. In such love there can be no sort of
tragedy. 'I'm much obliged for the gratification, my humble
respects'--that's all the tragedy. And in platonic love there
can be no tragedy, because in that love all is clear and pure,
At that instant Levin recollected his own sins and the inner
conflict he had lived through. And he added unexpectedly:
"But perhaps you are right. Very likely...I don't know, I don't
"It's this, don't you see," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, "you're
very much all of a piece. That's your strong point and your
failing. You have a character that's all of a piece, and you
want the whole of life to be of a piece too--but that's not how
it is. You despise public official work because you want the
reality to be invariably corresponding all the while with the
aim--and that's not how it is. You want a man's work, too,
always to have a defined aim, and love and family life always to
be undivided--and that's not how it is. All the variety, all the
charm, all the beauty of life is made up of light and shadow."
Levin sighed and made no reply. He was thinking of his own
affairs, and did not hear Oblonsky.
And suddenly both of them felt that though they were friends,
though they had been dining and drinking together, which should
have drawn them closer, yet each was thinking only of his own
affairs, and they had nothing to do with one another. Oblonsky
had more than once experienced this extreme sense of aloofness,
instead of intimacy, coming on after dinner, and he knew what to
do in such cases.
"Bill!" he called, and he went into the next room where he
promptly came across an aide-de-camp of his acquaintance and
dropped into conversation with him about an actress and her
protector. And at once in the conversation with the aide-de-camp
Oblonsky had a sense of relaxation and relief after the
conversation with Levin, which always put him to too great a
mental and spiritual strain.
When the Tatar appeared with a bill for twenty-six roubles and
odd kopecks, besides a tip for himself, Levin, who would another
time have been horrified, like any one from the country, at his
share of fourteen roubles, did not notice it, paid, and set off
homewards to dress and go to the Shtcherbatskys' there to decide
The young Princess Kitty Shtcherbatskaya was eighteen. It was
the first winter that she had been out in the world. Her success
in society had been greater than that of either of her elder
sisters, and greater even than her mother had anticipated. To
say nothing of the young men who danced at the Moscow balls being
almost all in love with Kitty, two serious suitors had already
this first winter made their appearance: Levin, and immediately
after his departure, Count Vronsky.
Levin's appearance at the beginning of the winter, his frequent
visits, and evident love for Kitty, had led to the first serious
conversations between Kitty's parents as to her future, and to
disputes between them. The prince was on Levin's side; he said
he wished for nothing better for Kitty. The princess for her
part, going round the question in the manner peculiar to women,
maintained that Kitty was too young, that Levin had done nothing
to prove that he had serious intentions, that Kitty felt no great
attraction to him, and other side issues; but she did not state
the principal point, which was that she looked for a better match
for her daughter, and that Levin was not to her liking, and she
did not understand him. When Levin had abruptly departed, the
princess was delighted, and said to her husband triumphantly:
"You see I was right." When Vronsky appeared on the scene, she
was still more delighted, confirmed in her opinion that Kitty was
to make not simply a good, but a brilliant match.
In the mother's eyes there could be no comparison between Vronsky
and Levin. She disliked in Levin his strange and uncompromising
opinions and his shyness in society, founded, as she supposed, on
his pride and his queer sort of life, as she considered it,
absorbed in cattle and peasants. She did not very much like it
that he, who was in love with her daughter, had kept coming to
the house for six weeks, as though he were waiting for something,
inspecting, as though he were afraid he might be doing them too
great an honor by making an offer, and did not realize that a
man, who continually visits at a house where there is a young
unmarried girl, is bound to make his intentions clear. And
suddenly, without doing so, he disappeared. "It's as well he's
not attractive enough for Kitty to have fallen in love with him,"
thought the mother.
Vronsky satisfied all the mother's desires. Very wealthy,
clever, of aristocratic family, on the highroad to a brilliant
career in the army and at court, and a fascinating man. Nothing
better could be wished for.
Vronsky openly flirted with Kitty at balls, danced with her, and
came continually to the house, consequently there could be no
doubt of the seriousness of his intentions. But, in spite of
that, the mother had spent the whole of that winter in a state of
terrible anxiety and agitation.
Princess Shtcherbatskaya had herself been married thirty years
ago, her aunt arranging the match. Her husband, about whom
everything was well known before hand, had come, looked at his
future bride, and been looked at. The match-making aunt had
ascertained and communicated their mutual impression. That
impression had been favorable. Afterwards, on a day fixed
beforehand, the expected offer was made to her parents, and
accepted. All had passed very simply and easily. So it seemed,
at least, to the princess. But over her own daughters she had
felt how far from simple and easy is the business, apparently so
commonplace, of marrying off one's daughters. The panics that
had been lived through, the thoughts that had been brooded over,
the money that had been wasted, and the disputes with her husband
over marrying the two elder girls, Darya and Natalia! Now, since
the youngest had come out, she was going through the same
terrors, the same doubts, and still more violent quarrels with
her husband than she had over the elder girls. The old prince,
like all fathers indeed, was exceedingly punctilious on the score
of the honor and reputation of his daughters. He was
irrationally jealous over his daughters, especially over Kitty,
who was his favorite. At every turn he had scenes with the
princess for compromising her daughter. The princess had grown
accustomed to this already with her other daughters, but now she
felt that there was more ground for the prince's touchiness. She
saw that of late years much was changed in the manners of
society, that a mother's duties had become still more difficult.
She saw that girls of Kitty's age formed some sort of clubs, went
to some sort of lectures, mixed freely in men's society; drove
about the streets alone, many of them did not curtsey, and, what
was the most important thing, all the girls were firmly convinced
that to choose their husbands was their own affair, and not their
parents'. "Marriages aren't made nowadays as they used to be,"
was thought and said by all these young girls, and even by their
elders. But how marriages were made now, the princess could not
learn from any one. The French fashion--of the parents
arranging their children's future--was not accepted; it was
condemned. The English fashion of the complete independence of
girls was also not accepted, and not possible in Russian society.
The Russian fashion of match-making by the offices of
intermediate persons was for some reason considered unseemly; it
was ridiculed by every one, and by the princess herself. But how
girls were to be married, and how parents were to marry them, no
one knew. Everyone with whom the princess had chanced to discuss
the matter said the same thing: "Mercy on us, it's high time in
our day to cast off all that old-fashioned business. It's the
young people have to marry; and not their parents; and so we
ought to leave the young people to arrange it as they choose." It
was very easy for anyone to say that who had no daughters, but
the princess realized that in the process of getting to know each
other, her daughter might fall in love, and fall in love with
someone who did not care to marry her or who was quite unfit to
be her husband. And, however much it was instilled into the
princess that in our times young people ought to arrange their
lives for themselves, she was unable to believe it, just as she
would have been unable to believe that, at any time whatever, the
most suitable playthings for children five years old ought to be
loaded pistols. And so the princess was more uneasy over Kitty
than she had been over her elder sisters.
Now she was afraid that Vronsky might confine himself to simply
flirting with her daughter. She saw that her daughter was in
love with him, but tried to comfort herself with the thought that
he was an honorable man, and would not do this. But at the same
time she knew how easy it is, with the freedom of manners of
today, to turn a girl's head, and how lightly men generally
regard such a crime. The week before, Kitty had told her mother
of a conversation she had with Vronsky during a mazurka. This
conversation had partly reassured the princess; but perfectly at
ease she could not be. Vronsky had told Kitty that both he and
his brother were so used to obeying their mother that they never
made up their minds to any important undertaking without
consulting her. "And just now, I am impatiently awaiting my
mother's arrival from Petersburg, as peculiarly fortunate," he
Kitty had repeated this without attaching any significance to the
words. But her mother saw them in a different light. She knew
that the old lady was expected from day to day, that she would be
pleased at her son's choice, and she felt it strange that he
should not make his offer through fear of vexing his mother.
However, she was so anxious for the marriage itself, and still
more for relief from her fears, that she believed it was so.
Bitter as it was for the princess to see the unhappiness of her
eldest daughter, Dolly, on the point of leaving her husband, her
anxiety over the decision of her youngest daughter's fate
engrossed all her feelings. Today, with Levin's reappearance, a
fresh source of anxiety arose. She was afraid that her daughter,
who had at one time, as she fancied, a feeling for Levin, might,
from extreme sense of honor, refuse Vronsky, and that Levin's
arrival might generally complicate and delay the affair so near
"Why, has he been here long?" the princess asked about Levin, as
they returned home.
"He came today, mamma."
"There's one thing I want to say..." began the princess, and from
her serious and alert face, Kitty guessed what it would be.
"Mamma," she said, flushing hotly and turning quickly to her,
"please, please don't say anything about that. I know, I know
all about it."
She wished for what her mother wished for, but the motives of her
mother's wishes wounded her.
"I only want to say that to raise hopes..."
"Mamma, darling, for goodness' sake, don't talk about it. It's
so horrible to talk about it."
"I won't," said her mother, seeing the tears in her daughter's
eyes; "but one thing, my love; you promised me you would have no
secrets from me. You won't?"
"Never, mamma, none," answered Kitty, flushing a little, and
looking her mother straight in the face, "but there's no use in
my telling you anything, and I...I...if I wanted to, I don't know
what to say or how...I don't know..."
"No, she could not tell an untruth with those eyes," thought the
mother, smiling at her agitation and happiness. The princess
smiled that what was taking place just now in her soul seemed to
the poor child so immense and so important.
After dinner, and till the beginning of the evening, Kitty was
feeling a sensation akin to the sensation of a young man before a
battle. Her heart throbbed violently, and her thoughts would not
rest on anything.
She felt that this evening, when they would both meet for the
first time, would be a turning point in her life. And she was
continually picturing them to herself, at one moment each
separately, and then both together. When she mused on the past,
she dwelt with pleasure, with tenderness, on the memories of her
relations with Levin. The memories of childhood and of Levin's
friendship with her dead brother gave a special poetic charm to
her relations with him. His love for her, of which she felt
certain, was flattering and delightful to her; and it was
pleasant for her to think of Levin. In her memories of Vronsky
there always entered a certain element of awkwardness, though he
was in the highest degree well-bred and at ease, as though there
were some false note--not in Vronsky, he was very simple and
nice, but in herself, while with Levin she felt perfectly simple
and clear. But, on the other hand, directly she thought of the
future with Vronsky, there arose before her a perspective of
brilliant happiness; with Levin the future seemed misty.
When she went upstairs to dress, and looked into the
looking-glass, she noticed with joy that it was one of her good
days, and that she was in complete possession of all her
forces,--she needed this so for what lay before her: she was
conscious of external composure and free grace in her movements.
At half-past seven she had only just gone down into the drawing
room, when the footman announced, "Konstantin Dmitrievitch
Levin." The princess was still in her room, and the prince had
not come in. "So it is to be," thought Kitty, and all the blood
seemed to rush to her heart. She was horrified at her paleness,
as she glanced into the looking-glass. At that moment she knew
beyond doubt that he had come early on purpose to find her alone
and to make her an offer. And only then for the first time the
whole thing presented itself in a new, different aspect; only
then she realized that the question did not affect her only--
with whom she would be happy, and whom she loved--but that she
would have that moment to wound a man whom she liked. And to
wound him cruelly. What for? Because he, dear fellow, loved
her, was in love with her. But there was no help for it, so it
must be, so it would have to be.
"My God! shall I myself really have to say it to him?" she
thought. "Can I tell him I don't love him? That will be a lie.
What am I to say to him? That I love someone else? No, that's
impossible. I'm going away, I'm going away."
She had reached the door, when she heard his step. "No! it's not
honest. What have I to be afraid of? I have done nothing wrong.
What is to be, will be! I'll tell the truth. And with him one
can't be ill at ease. Here he is," she said to herself, seeing
his powerful, shy figure, with his shining eyes fixed on her.
She looked straight into his face, as though imploring him to
spare her, and gave her hand.
"It's not time yet; I think I'm too early," he said glancing
round the empty drawing room. When he saw that his expectations
were realized, that there was nothing to prevent him from
speaking, his face became gloomy.
"Oh, no," said Kitty, and sat down at the table.
"But this was just what I wanted, to find you alone," he began,
not sitting down, and not looking at her, so as not to lose
"Mamma will be down directly. She was very much tired....
She talked on, not knowing what her lips were uttering, and not
taking her supplicating and caressing eyes off him.
He glanced at her; she blushed, and ceased speaking.
"I told you I did not know whether I should be here long...that
it depended on you..."
She dropped her head lower and lower, not knowing herself what
answer she should make to what was coming.
"That it depended on you," he repeated. "I meant to say...I
meant to say...I came for this...to be my wife!" he brought out,
not knowing what he was saying; but feeling that the most
terrible thing was said, he stopped short and looked at her...
She was breathing heavily, not looking at him. She was feeling
ecstasy. Her soul was flooded with happiness. She had never
anticipated that the utterance of love would produce such a
powerful effect on her. But it lasted only an instant. She
remembered Vronsky. She lifted her clear, truthful eyes, and
seeing his desperate face, she answered hastily:
"That cannot be...forgive me."
A moment ago, and how close she had been to him, of what
importance in his life! And how aloof and remote from him she
had become now!
"It was bound to be so," he said, not looking at her.
He bowed, and was meaning to retreat.
But at that very moment the princess came in. There was a look
of horror on her face when she saw them alone, and their
disturbed faces. Levin bowed to her, and said nothing. Kitty
did not speak nor lift her eyes. "Thank God, she has refused
him," thought the mother, and her face lighted up with the
habitual smile with which she greeted her guests on Thursdays.
She sat down and began questioning Levin about his life in the
country. He sat down again, waiting for other visitors to
arrive, in order to retreat unnoticed.
Five minutes later there came in a friend of Kitty's, married the
preceding winter, Countess Nordston.
She was a thin, sallow, sickly, and nervous woman, with brilliant
black eyes. She was fond of Kitty, and her affection for her
showed itself, as the affection of married women for girls always
does, in the desire to make a match for Kitty after her own ideal
of married happiness; she wanted her to marry Vronsky. Levin she
had often met at the Shtcherbatskys' early in the winter, and she
had always disliked him. Her invariable and favorite pursuit,
when they met, consisted in making fun of him.
"I do like it when he looks down at me from the height of his
grandeur, or breaks off his learned conversation with me because
I'm a fool, or is condescending to me. I like that so; to see
him condescending! I am so glad he can't bear me," she used to
say of him.
She was right, for Levin actually could not bear her, and
despised her for what she was proud of and regarded as a fine
characteristic--her nervousness, her delicate contempt and
indifference for everything coarse and earthly.
The Countess Nordston and Levin got into that relation with one
another not seldom seen in society, when two persons, who remain
externally on friendly terms, despise each other to such a degree
that they cannot even take each other seriously, and cannot even
be offended by each other.
The Countess Nordston pounced upon Levin at once.
"Ah, Konstantin Dmitrievitch! So you've come back to our corrupt
Babylon," she said, giving him her tiny, yellow hand, and
recalling what he had chanced to say early in the winter, that
Moscow was a Babylon. "Come, is Babylon reformed, or have you
degenerated?" she added, glancing with a simper at Kitty.
"It's very flattering for me, countess, that you remember my
words so well," responded Levin, who had succeeded in recovering
his composure, and at once from habit dropped into his tone of
joking hostility to the Countess Nordston. "They must certainly
make a great impression on you."
"Oh, I should think so! I always note them all down. Well,
Kitty, have you been skating again?..."
And she began talking to Kitty. Awkward as it was for Levin to
withdraw now, it would still have been easier for him to
perpetrate this awkwardness than to remain all the evening and
see Kitty, who glanced at him now and then and avoided his eyes.
He was on the point of getting up, when the princess, noticing
that he was silent, addressed him.
"Shall you be long in Moscow? You're busy with the district
council, though, aren't you, and can't be away for long?"
"No, princess, I'm no longer a member of the council," he said.
"I have come up for a few days."
"There's something the matter with him," thought Countess
Nordston, glancing at his stern, serious face. "He isn't in his
old argumentative mood. But I'll draw him out. I do love making
a fool of him before Kitty, and I'll do it."
"Konstantin Dmitrievitch," she said to him, "do explain to me,
please, what's the meaning of it. You know all about such
things. At home in our village of Kaluga all the peasants and
all the women have drunk up all they possessed, and now they
can't pay us any rent. What's the meaning of that? You always
praise the peasants so."
At that instant another lady came into the room, and Levin got
"Excuse me, countess, but I really know nothing about it, and
can't tell you anything," he said, and looked round at the
officer who came in behind the lady.
"That must be Vronsky," thought Levin, and, to be sure of it,
glanced at Kitty. She had already had time to look at Vronsky,
and looked round at Levin. And simply from the look in her eyes,
that grew unconsciously brighter, Levin knew that she loved that
man, knew it as surely as if she had told him so in words. But
what sort of a man was he? Now, whether for good or for ill,
Levin could not choose but remain; he must find out what the man
was like whom she loved.
There are people who, on meeting a successful rival, no matter in
what, are at once disposed to turn their backs on everything good
in him, and to see only what is bad. There are people, on the
other hand, who desire above all to find in that lucky rival the
qualities by which he has outstripped them, and seek with a
throbbing ache at heart only what is good. Levin belonged to the
second class. But he had no difficulty in finding what was good
and attractive in Vronsky. It was apparent at the first glance.
Vronsky was a squarely built, dark man, not very tall, with a
good-humored, handsome, and exceedingly calm and resolute face.
Everything about his face and figure, from his short-cropped
black hair and freshly shaven chin down to his loosely fitting,
brand-new uniform, was simple and at the same time elegant.
Making way for the lady who had come in, Vronsky went up to the
princess and then to Kitty.
As he approached her, his beautiful eyes shone with a specially
tender light, and with a faint, happy, and modestly triumphant
smile (so it seemed to Levin), bowing carefully and respectfully
over her, he held out his small broad hand to her.
Greeting and saying a few words to everyone, he sat down without
once glancing at Levin, who had never taken his eyes off him.
"Let me introduce you," said the princess, indicating Levin.
"Konstantin Dmitrievitch Levin, Count Alexey Kirillovitch
Vronsky got up and, looking cordially at Levin, shook hands with
"I believe I was to have dined with you this winter," he said,
smiling his simple and open smile; "but you had unexpectedly left
for the country."
"Konstantin Dmitrievitch despises and hates town and us
townspeople," said Countess Nordston.
"My words must make a deep impression on you, since you remember
them so well," said Levin, and, suddenly conscious that he had
said just the same thing before, he reddened.
Vronsky looked at Levin and Countess Nordston, and smiled.
"Are you always in the country?" he inquired. "I should think it
must be dull in the winter."
"It's not dull if one has work to do; besides, one's not dull by
oneself," Levin replied abruptly.
"I am fond of the country," said Vronsky, noticing, and affecting
not to notice, Levin's tone.
"But I hope, count, you would not consent to live in the country
always," said Countess Nordston.
"I don't know; I have never tried for long. I experienced a queer
feeling once," he went on. "I never longed so for the country,
Russian country, with bast shoes and peasants, as when I was
spending a winter with my mother in Nice. Nice itself is dull
enough, you know. And indeed, Naples and Sorrento are only
pleasant for a short time. And it's just there that Russia comes
back to me most vividly, and especially the country. It's as
He talked on, addressing both Kitty and Levin, turning his
serene, friendly eyes from one to the other, and saying obviously
just what came into his head.
Noticing that Countess Nordston wanted to say something, he
stopped short without finishing what he had begun, and listened
attentively to her.
The conversation did not flag for an instant, so that the
princess, who always kept in reserve, in case a subject should be
lacking, two heavy guns--the relative advantages of classical
and of modern education, and universal military service--had not
to move out either of them, while Countess Nordston had not a
chance of chaffing Levin.
Levin wanted to, and could not, take part in the general
conversation; saying to himself every instant, "Now go," he still
did not go, as though waiting for something.
The conversation fell upon table-turning and spirits, and
Countess Nordston, who believed in spiritualism, began to
describe the marvels she had seen.
"Ah, countess, you really must take me, for pity's sake do take
me to see them! I have never seen anything extraordinary, though
I am always on the lookout for it everywhere," said Vronsky,
"Very well, next Saturday," answered Countess Nordston. "But
you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch, do you believe in it?" she asked
"Why do you ask me? You know what I shall say."
"But I want to hear your opinion."
"My opinion," answered Levin, "is only that this table-turning
simply proves that educated society--so called--is no higher
than the peasants. They believe in the evil eye, and in
witchcraft and omens, while we..."
"Oh, then you don't believe in it?"
"I can't believe in it, countess."
"But if I've seen it myself?"
"The peasant women too tell us they have seen goblins."
"Then you think I tell a lie?"
And she laughed a mirthless laugh.
"Oh, no, Masha, Konstantin Dmitrievitch said he could not believe
in it," said Kitty, blushing for Levin, and Levin saw this, and,
still more exasperated, would have answered, but Vronsky with his
bright frank smile rushed to the support of the conversation,
which was threatening to become disagreeable.
"You do not admit the conceivability at all?" he queried. "But
why not? We admit the existence of electricity, of which we know
nothing. Why should there not be some new force, still unknown
to us, which..."
"When electricity was discovered," Levin interrupted hurriedly,
"it was only the phenomenon that was discovered, and it was
unknown from what it proceeded and what were its effects, and
ages passed before its applications were conceived. But the
spiritualists have begun with tables writing for them, and
spirits appearing to them, and have only later started saying
that it is an unknown force."
Vronsky listened attentively to Levin, as he always did listen,
obviously interested in his words.
"Yes, but the spiritualists say we don't know at present what
this force is, but there is a force, and these are the conditions
in which it acts. Let the scientific men find out what the force
consists in. No, I don't see why there should not be a new
force, if it..."
"Why, because with electricity," Levin interrupted again, "every
time you rub tar against wool, a recognized phenomenon is
manifested, but in this case it does not happen every time, and
so it follows it is not a natural phenomenon."
Feeling probably that the conversation was taking a tone too
serious for a drawing room, Vronsky made no rejoinder, but by way
of trying to change the conversation, he smiled brightly, and
turned to the ladies.
"Do let us try at once, countess," he said; but Levin would
finish saying what he thought.
"I think," he went on, "that this attempt of the spiritualists to
explain their marvels as some sort of new natural force is most
futile. They boldly talk of spiritual force, and then try to
subject it to material experiment."
Every one was waiting for him to finish, and he felt it.
"And I think you would be a first-rate medium," said Countess
Nordston; "there's something enthusiastic in you."
Levin opened his mouth, was about to say something, reddened, and
"Do let us try table-turning at once, please," said Vronsky.
"Princess, will you allow it?"
And Vronsky stood up, looking for a little table.
Kitty got up to fetch a table, and as she passed, her eyes met
Levin's. She felt for him with her whole heart, the more because
she was pitying him for suffering of which she was herself the
cause. "If you can forgive me, forgive me," said her eyes, "I am
"I hate them all, and you, and myself," his eyes responded, and
he took up his hat. But he was not destined to escape. Just as
they were arranging themselves round the table, and Levin was on
the point of retiring, the old prince came in, and after greeting
the ladies, addressed Levin.
"Ah!" he began joyously. "Been here long, my boy? I didn't even
know you were in town. Very glad to see you." The old prince
embraced Levin, and talking to him did not observe Vronsky, who
had risen, and was serenely waiting till the prince should turn
Kitty felt how distasteful her father's warmth was to Levin after
what had happened. She saw, too, how coldly her father responded
at last to Vronsky's bow, and how Vronsky looked with amiable
perplexity at her father, as though trying and failing to
understand how and why anyone could be hostilely disposed towards
him, and she flushed.
"Prince, let us have Konstantin Dmitrievitch," said Countess
Nordston; "we want to try an experiment."
"What experiment? Table-turning? Well, you must excuse me,
ladies and gentlemen, but to my mind it is better fun to play the
ring game," said the old prince, looking at Vronsky, and guessing
that it had been his suggestion. "There's some sense in that,
Vronsky looked wonderingly at the prince with his resolute eyes,
and, with a faint smile, began immediately talking to Countess
Nordston of the great ball that was to come off next week.
"I hope you will be there?" he said to Kitty. As soon as the old
prince turned away from him, Levin went out unnoticed, and the
last impression he carried away with him of that evening was the
smiling, happy face of Kitty answering Vronsky's inquiry about
At the end of the evening Kitty told her mother of her
conversation with Levin, and in spite of all the pity she felt
for Levin, she was glad at the thought that she had received an
"offer". She had no doubt that she had acted rightly. But after
she had gone to bed, for a long while she could not sleep. One
impression pursued her relentlessly. It was Levin's face, with
his scowling brows, and his kind eyes looking out in dark
dejection below them, as he stood listening to her father, and
glancing at her and at Vronsky. And she felt so sorry for him
that tears came into her eyes. But immediately she thought of
the man for whom she had given him up. She vividly recalled his
manly, resolute face, his noble self-possession, and the
good nature conspicuous in everything towards everyone. She
remembered the love for her of the man she loved, and once more
all was gladness in her soul, and she lay on the pillow, smiling
with happiness. "I'm sorry, I'm sorry; but what could I do?
It's not my fault," she said to herself; but an inner voice told
her something else. Whether she felt remorse at having won
Levin's love, or at having refused him, she did not know. But
her happiness was poisoned by doubts. "Lord, have pity on us;
Lord, have pity on us; Lord, have pity on us!" she repeated to
herself, till she fell asleep.
Meanwhile there took place below, in the prince's little library,
one of the scenes so often repeated between the parents on
account of their favorite daughter.
"What? I'll tell you what!" shouted the prince, waving his arms,
and at once wrapping his squirrel-lined dressing-gown round him
again. "That you've no pride, no dignity; that you're
disgracing, ruining your daughter by this vulgar, stupid
"But, really, for mercy's sake, prince, what have I done?" said
the princess, almost crying.
She, pleased and happy after her conversation with her daughter,
had gone to the prince to say good-night as usual, and though
she had no intention of telling him of Levin's offer and Kitty's
refusal, still she hinted to her husband that she fancied things
were practically settled with Vronsky, and that he would declare
himself so soon as his mother arrived. And thereupon, at those
words, the prince had all at once flown into a passion, and began
to use unseemly language.
"What have you done? I'll tell you what. First of all, you're
trying to catch an eligible gentleman, and all Moscow will be
talking of it, and with good reason. If you have evening
parties, invite everyone, don't pick out the possible suitors.
Invite all the young bucks. Engage a piano player, and let them
dance, and not as you do things nowadays, hunting up good
matches. It makes me sick, sick to see it, and you've gone on
till you've turned the poor wench's head. Levin's a thousand
times the better man. As for this little Petersburg swell,
they're turned out by machinery, all on one pattern, and all
precious rubbish. But if he were a prince of the blood, my
daughter need not run after anyone."
"But what have I done?"
"Why, you've..." The prince was crying wrathfully.
"I know if one were to listen to you," interrupted the princess,
"we should never marry our daughter. If it's to be so, we'd
better go into the country."
"Well, and we had better."
"But do wait a minute. Do I try and catch them? I don't try to
catch them in the least. A young man, and a very nice one, has
fallen in love with her, and she, I fancy..."
"Oh, yes, you fancy! And how if she really is in love, and he's
no more thinking of marriage than I am!... Oh, that I should
live to see it! Ah! spiritualism! Ah! Nice! Ah! the ball!"
And the prince, imagining that he was mimicking his wife, made a
mincing curtsey at each word. "And this is how we're preparing
wretchedness for Kitty; and she's really got the notion into her
"But what makes you suppose so?"
"I don't suppose; I know. We have eyes for such things, though
women-folk haven't. I see a man who has serious intentions,
that's Levin: and I see a peacock, like this feather-head, who's
only amusing himself."
"Oh, well, when once you get an idea into your head!..."
"Well, you'll remember my words, but too late, just as with
"Well, well, we won't talk of it," the princess stopped him,
recollecting her unlucky Dolly.
"By all means, and good night!"
And signing each other with the cross, the husband and wife
parted with a kiss, feeling that they each remained of their own
The princess had at first been quite certain that that evening
had settled Kitty's future, and that there could be no doubt of
Vronsky's intentions, but her husband's words had disturbed her.
And returning to her own room, in terror before the unknown
future, she, too, like Kitty, repeated several times in her
heart, "Lord, have pity; Lord, have pity; Lord, have pity."
Vronsky had never had a real home life. His mother had been in
her youth a brilliant society woman, who had had during her
married life, and still more afterwards, many love affairs
notorious in the whole fashionable world. His father he scarcely
remembered, and he had been educated in the Corps of Pages.
Leaving the school very young as a brilliant officer, he had at
once got into the circle of wealthy Petersburg army men.
Although he did go more or less into Petersburg society, his love
affairs had always hitherto been outside it.
In Moscow he had for the first time felt, after his luxurious and
coarse life at Petersburg, all the charm of intimacy with a sweet
and innocent girl of his own rank, who cared for him. It never
even entered his head that there could be any harm in his
relations with Kitty. At balls he danced principally with her.
He was a constant visitor at their house. He talked to her as
people commonly do talk in society--all sorts of nonsense, but
nonsense to which he could not help attaching a special meaning
in her case. Although he said nothing to her that he could not
have said before everybody, he felt that she was becoming more
and more dependent upon him, and the more he felt this, the
better he liked it, and the tenderer was his feeling for her. He
did not know that his mode of behavior in relation to Kitty had a
definite character, that it is courting young girls with no
intention of marriage, and that such courting is one of the evil
actions common among brilliant young men such as he was. It
seemed to him that he was the first who had discovered this
pleasure, and he was enjoying his discovery.
If he could have heard what her parents were saying that evening,
if he could have put himself at the point ov view of the family
and have heard that Kitty would be unhappy if he did not marry
her, he would have been greatly astonished, and would not have
believed it. He could not believe that what gave such great and
delicate pleasure to him, and above all to her, could be wrong.
Still less could he have believed that he ought to marry.
Marriage had never presented itself to him as a possibility. He
not only disliked family life, but a family, and especially a
husband was, in accordance with the views general in the bachelor
world in which he lived, conceived as something alien, repellant,
and, above all, ridiculous.
But though Vronsky had not the least suspicion what the parents
were saying, he felt on coming away from the Shtcherbatskys' that
the secret spiritual bond which existed between him and Kitty had
grown so much stronger that evening that some step must be taken.
But what step could and ought to be taken he could not imagine.
"What is so exquisite," he thought, as he returned from the
Shtcherbatskys', carrying away with him, as he always did, a
delicious feeling of purity and freshness, arising partly from
the fact that he had not been smoking for a whole evening, and
with it a new feeling of tenderness at her love for him--"what
is so exquisite is that not a word has been said by me or by her,
but we understand each other so well in this unseen language of
looks and tones, that this evening more clearly than ever she
told me she loves me. And how secretly, simply, and most of all,
how trustfully! I feel myself better, purer. I feel that I have
a heart, and that there is a great deal of good in me. Those
sweet, loving eyes! When she said: Indeed I do...'
"Well, what then? Oh, nothing. It's good for me, and good for
her." And he began wondering where to finish the evening.
He passed in review of the places he might go to. "Club? a game
of bezique, champagne with Ignatov? No, I'm not going. "Château
des Fleurs"; there I shall find Oblonsky, songs, the cancan. No,
I'm sick of it. That's why I like the Shtcherbatskys', that I'm
growing better. I'll go home." He went straight to his room at
Dussot's Hotel, ordered supper, and then undressed, and as soon
as his head touched the pillow, fell into a sound sleep.
Next day at eleven o'clock in the morning Vronsky drove to the
station of the Petersburg railway to meet his mother, and the
first person he came across on the great flight of steps was
Oblonsky, who was expecting his sister by the same train.
"Ah! your excellency!" cried Oblonsky, "whom are you meeting?"
"My mother," Vronsky responded, smiling, as everyone did who met
Oblonsky. He shook hands with him, and together they ascended
the steps. "She is to be here from Petersburg today."
"I was looking out for you till two o'clock last night. Where
did you go after the Shtcherbatskys'?"
"Home," answered Vronsky. "I must own I felt so well content
yesterday after the Shtcherbatskys' that I didn't care to go
"I know a gallant steed by tokens sure,
And by his eyes I know a youth in love,"
declaimed Stepan Arkadyevitch, just as he had done before to
Vronsky smiled with a look that seemed to say that he did not
deny it, but he promptly changed the subject.
"And whom are you meeting?" he asked.
"I? I've come to meet a pretty woman," said Oblonsky.
"You don't say so!"
""Honi soit qui mal y pense!" My sister Anna."
"Ah! that's Madame Karenina," said Vronsky.
"You know her, no doubt?"
"I think I do. Or perhaps not...I really am not sure," Vronsky
answered heedlessly, with a vague recollection of something stiff
and tedious evoked by the name Karenina.
"But Alexey Alexandrovitch, my celebrated brother-in-law, you
surely must know. All the world knows him."
"I know him by reputation and by sight. I know that he's clever,
learned, religious somewhat.... But you know that's not..."not
in my line,"" said Vronsky in English.
"Yes, he's a very remarkable man; rather a conservative, but a
splendid man," observed Stepan Arkadyevitch, "a splendid man."
"Oh, well, so much the better for him," said Vronsky smiling.
"Oh, you've come," he said, addressing a tall old footman of his
mother's, standing at the door; "come here."
Besides the charm Oblonsky had in general for everyone, Vronsky
had felt of late specially drawn to him by the fact that in his
imagination he was associated with Kitty.
"Well, what do you say? Shall we give a supper on Sunday for the
"diva?"" he said to him with a smile, taking his arm.
"Of course. I'm collecting subscriptions. Oh, did you make the
acquaintance of my friend Levin?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Yes; but he left rather early."
"He's a capital fellow," pursued Oblonsky. "Isn't he?"
"I don't know why it is," responded Vronsky, "in all Moscow
people--present company of course excepted," he put in
jestingly, "there's something uncompromising. They are all on
the defensive, lose their tempers, as though they all want to
make one feel something..."
"Yes, that's true, it is so," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing
"Will the train soon be in?" Vronsky asked a railway official.
"The train's signaled," answered the man.
The approach of the train was more and more evident by the
preparatory bustle in the station, the rush of porters, the
movement of policemen and attendants, and people meeting the
train. Through the frosty vapor could be seen workmen in short
sheepskins and soft felt boots crossing the rails of the curving
line. The hiss of the boiler could be heard on the distant
rails, and the rumble of something heavy.
"No," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, who felt a great inclination to
tell Vronsky of Levin's intentions in regard to Kitty. "No,
you've not got a true impression of Levin. He's a very nervous
man, and is sometimes out of humor, it's true, but then he is
often very nice. He's such a true, honest nature, and a heart of
gold. But yesterday there were special reasons," pursued Stepan
Arkadyevitch, with a meaning smile, totally oblivious of the
genuine sympathy he had felt the day before for his friend, and
feeling the same sympathy now, only for Vronsky. "Yes, there
were reasons why he could not help being either particularly
happy or particularly unhappy."
Vronsky stood still and asked directly: "How so? Do you mean he
made your "belle-soeur" an offer yesterday?"
"Maybe," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "I fancied something of the
sort yesterday. Yes, if he went away early, and was out of humor
too, it must mean it.... He's been so long in love, and I'm very
sorry for him."
"So that's it! I should imagine, though, she might reckon on a
better match," said Vronsky, drawing himself up and walking about
again, "though I don't know him, of course," he added. "Yes,
that is a hateful position! That's why most fellows prefer to
have to do with Klaras. If you don't succeed with them it only
proves that you've not enough cash, but in this case one's
dignity's at stake. But here's the train."
The engine had already whistled in the distance. A few instants
later the platform was quivering, and with puffs of steam hanging
low in the air from the frost, the engine rolled up, with the
lever of the middle wheel rhythmically moving up and down, and
the stooping figure of the engine-driver covered with frost.
Behind the tender, setting the platform more and more slowly
swaying, came the luggage van with a dog whining in it. At last
the passenger carriages rolled in, oscillating before coming to a
A smart guard jumped out, giving a whistle, and after him one by
one the impatient passengers began to get down: an officer of
the guards, holding himself erect, and looking severely about
him; a nimble little merchant with a satchel, smiling gaily; a
peasant with a sack over his shoulder.
Vronsky, standing beside Oblonsky, watched the carriages and the
passengers, totally oblivious of his mother. What he had just
heard about Kitty excited and delighted him. Unconsciously he
arched his chest, and his eyes flashed. He felt himself a
"Countess Vronskaya is in that compartment," said the smart
guard, going up to Vronsky.
The guard's words roused him, and forced him to think of his
mother and his approaching meeting with her. He did not in his
heart respect his mother, and without acknowledging it to
himself, he did not love her, though in accordance with the
ideas of the set in which he lived, and with his own education,
he could not have conceived of any behavior to his mother not in
the highest degree respectful and obedient, and the more
externally obedient and respectful his behavior, the less in his
heart he respected and loved her.
Vronsky followed the guard to the carriage, and at the door of
the compartment he stopped short to make room for a lady who was
With the insight of a man of the world, from one glance at this
lady's appearance Vronsky classified her as belonging to the best
society. He begged pardon, and was getting into the carriage,
but felt he must glance at her once more; not that she was very
beautiful, not on account of the elegance and modest grace which
were apparent in her whole figure, but because in the expression
of her charming face, as she passed close by him, there was
something peculiarly caressing and soft. As he looked round, she
too turned her head. Her shining gray eyes, that looked dark
from the thick lashes, rested with friendly attention on his
face, as though she were recognizing him, and then promptly
turned away to the passing crowd, as though seeking someone. In
that brief look Vronsky had time to notice the suppressed
eagerness which played over her face, and flitted between the
brilliant eyes and the faint smile that curved her red lips. It
was as though her nature were so brimming over with something
that against her will it showed itself now in the flash of her
eyes, and now in her smile. Deliberately she shrouded the light
in her eyes, but it shone against her will in the faintly
Vronsky stepped into the carriage. His mother, a dried-up old
lady with black eyes and ringlets, screwed up her eyes, scanning
her son, and smiled slightly with her thin lips. Getting up from
the seat and handing her maid a bag, she gave her little wrinkled
hand to her son to kiss, and lifting his head from her hand,
kissed him on the cheek.
"You got my telegram? Quite well? Thank God."
"You had a good journey?" said her son, sitting down beside her,
and involuntarily listening to a woman's voice outside the door.
He knew it was the voice of the lady he had met at the door.
"All the same I don't agree with you," said the lady's voice.
"It's the Petersburg view, madame."
"Not Petersburg, but simply feminine," she responded.
"Well, well, allow me to kiss your hand."
"Good-bye, Ivan Petrovitch. And could you see if my brother is
here, and send him to me?" said the lady in the doorway, and
stepped back again into the compartment.
"Well, have you found your brother?" said Countess Vronskaya,
addressing the lady.
Vronsky understood now that this was Madame Karenina.
"Your brother is here," he said, standing up. "Excuse me, I did
not know you, and, indeed, our acquaintance was so slight," said
Vronsky, bowing, "that no doubt you do not remember me."
"Oh, no," said she, "I should have known you because your mother
and I have been talking, I think, of nothing but you all the
way." As she spoke she let the eagerness that would insist on
coming out show itself in her smile. "And still no sign of my
"Do call him, Alexey," said the old countess. Vronsky stepped
out onto the platform and shouted:
Madame Karenina, however, did not wait for her brother, but
catching sight of him she stepped out with her light, resolute
step. And as soon as her brother had reached her, with a gesture
that struck Vronsky by its decision and its grace, she flung her
left arm around his neck, drew him rapidly to her, and kissed him
warmly. Vronsky gazed, never taking his eyes from her, and
smiled, he could not have said why. But recollecting that his
mother was waiting for him, he went back again into the carriage.
"She's very sweet, isn't she?" said the countess of Madame
Karenina. "Her husband put her with me, and I was delighted to
have her. We've been talking all the way. And so you, I
hear..."vous filez le parfait amour. Tant mieux, mon cher, tant
"I don't know what you are referring to, maman," he answered
coldly. "Come, maman, let us go."
Madame Karenina entered the carriage again to say good-bye to the
"Well, countess, you have met your son, and I my brother," she
said. "And all my gossip is exhausted. I should have nothing
more to tell you."
"Oh, no," said the countess, taking her hand. "I could go all
around the world with you and never be dull. You are one of
those delightful women in whose company it's sweet to be silent
as well as to talk. Now please don't fret over your son; you
can't expect never to be parted."
Madame Karenina stood quite still, holding herself very erect,
and her eyes were smiling.
"Anna Arkadyevna," the countess said in explanation to her son,
"has a little son eight years old, I believe, and she has never
been parted from him before, and she keeps fretting over leaving
"Yes, the countess and I have been talking all the time, I of my
son and she of hers," said Madame Karenina, and again a smile
lighted up her face, a caressing smile intended for him.
"I am afraid that you must have been dreadfully bored," he said,
promptly catching the ball of coquetry she had flung him. But
apparently she did not care to pursue the conversation in that
strain, and she turned to the old countess.
"Thank you so much. The time has passed so quickly. Good-bye,
"Good-bye, my love," answered the countess. "Let me have a kiss
of your pretty face. I speak plainly, at my age, and I tell you
simply that I've lost my heart to you."
Stereotyped as the phrase was, Madame Karenina obviously believed
it and was delighted by it. She flushed, bent down slightly, and
put her cheek to the countess's lips, drew herself up again, and
with the same smile fluttering between her lips and her eyes, she
gave her hand to Vronsky. He pressed the little hand she gave
him, and was delighted, as though at something special, by the
energetic squeeze with which she freely and vigorously shook his
hand. She went out with the rapid step which bore her rather
fully-developed figure with such strange lightness.
"Very charming," said the countess.
That was just what her son was thinking. His eyes followed her
till her graceful figure was out of sight, and then the smile
remained on his face. He saw out of the window how she went up
to her brother, put her arm in his, and began telling him
something eagerly, obviously something that had nothing to do
with him, Vronsky, and at that he felt annoyed.
"Well, maman, are you perfectly well?" he repeated, turning to
"Everything has been delightful. Alexander has been very good,
and Marie has grown very pretty. She's very interesting."
And she began telling him again of what interested her most--the
christening of her grandson, for which she had been staying in
Petersburg, and the special favor shown her elder son by the
"Here's Lavrenty," said Vronsky, looking out of the window; "now
we can go, if you like."
The old butler who had traveled with the countess, came to the
carriage to announce that everything was ready, and the countess
got up to go.
"Come; there's not such a crowd now," said Vronsky.
The maid took a handbag and the lap dog, the butler and a porter
the other baggage. Vronsky gave his mother his arm; but just as
they were getting out of the carriage several men ran suddenly by
with panic-stricken faces. The station-master, too, ran by in
his extraordinary colored cap. Obviously something unusual had
happened. The crowd who had left the train were running back
"What?... What?... Where?... Flung himself!... Crushed!..."
was heard among the crowd. Stepan Arkadyevitch, with his sister
on his arm, turned back. They too looked scared, and stopped at
the carriage door to avoid the crowd.
The ladies got in, while Vronsky and Stepan Arkadyevitch followed
the crowd to find out details of the disaster.
A guard, either drunk or too much muffled up in the bitter frost,
had not heard the train moving back, and had been crushed.
Before Vronsky and Oblonsky came back the ladies heard the facts
from the butler.
Oblonsky and Vronsky had both seen the mutilated corpse.
Oblonsky was evidently upset. He frowned and seemed ready to
"Ah, how awful! Ah, Anna, if you had seen it! Ah, how awful!"
Vronsky did not speak; his handsome face was serious, but
"Oh, if you had seen it, countess," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"And his wife was there.... It was awful to see her!.... She
flung herself on the body. They say he was the only support of
an immense family. How awful!"
"Couldn't one do anything for her?" said Madame Karenina in an
Vronsky glanced at her, and immediately got out of the carriage.
"I'll be back directly, maman," he remarked, turning round in the
When he came back a few minutes later, Stepan Arkadyevitch was
already in conversation with the countess about the new singer,
while the countess was impatiently looking towards the door,
waiting for her son.
"Now let us be off," said Vronsky, coming in. They went out
together. Vronsky was in front with his mother. Behind walked
Madame Karenina with her brother. Just as they were going out of
the station the station-master overtook Vronsky.
"You gave my assistant two hundred roubles. Would you kindly
explain for whose benefit you intend them?"
"For the widow," said Vronsky, shrugging his shoulders. "I
should have thought there was no need to ask."
"You gave that?" cried Oblonsky, behind, and, pressing his
sister's hand, he added: "Very nice, very nice! Isn't he a
splendid fellow? Good-bye, countess."
And he and his sister stood still, looking for her maid.
When they went out the Vronsky's carriage had already driven
away. People coming in were still talking of what happened.
"What a horrible death!" said a gentleman, passing by. "They say
he was cut in two pieces."
"On the contrary, I think it's the easiest--instantaneous,"
"How is it they don't take proper precautions?" said a third.
Madame Karenina seated herself in the carriage, and Stepan
Arkadyevitch saw with surprise that her lips were quivering, and
she was with difficulty restraining her tears.
"What is it, Anna?" he asked, when they had driven a few hundred
"It's an omen of evil," she said.
"What nonsense!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "You've come, that's
the chief thing. You can't conceive how I'm resting my hopes on
"Have you known Vronsky long?" she asked.
"Yes. You know we're hoping he will marry Kitty."
"Yes?" said Anna softly. "Come now, let us talk of you," she
added, tossing her head, as though she would physically shake off
something superfluous oppressing her. "Let us talk of your
affairs. I got your letter, and here I am."
"Yes, all my hopes are in you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"Well, tell me all about it."
And Stepan Arkadyevitch began to tell his story.
On reaching home Oblonsky helped his sister out, sighed, pressed
her hand, and set off to his office.
When Anna went into the room, Dolly was sitting in the little
drawing-room with a white-headed fat little boy, already like his
father, giving him a lesson in French reading. As the boy read,
he kept twisting and trying to tear off a button that was nearly
off his jacket. His mother had several times taken his hand from
it, but the fat little hand went back to the button again. His
mother pulled the button off and put it in her pocket.
"Keep your hands still, Grisha," she said, and she took up her
work, a coverlet she had long been making. She always set to
work on it at depressed moments, and now she knitted at it
nervously, twitching her fingers and counting the stitches.
Though she had sent word the day before to her husband that it
was nothing to her whether his sister came or not, she had made
everything ready for her arrival, and was expecting her
sister-in-law with emotion.
Dolly was crushed by her sorrow, utterly swallowed up by it.
Still she did not forget that Anna, her sister-in-law, was the
wife of one of the most important personages in Petersburg, and
was a Petersburg "grande dame". And, thanks to this circumstance,
she did not carry out her threat to her husband--that is to say,
she remembered that her sister-in-law was coming. "And, after
all, Anna is in no wise to blame," thought Dolly. "I know
nothing of her except the very best, and I have seen nothing but
kindness and affection from her towards myself." It was true
that as far as she could recall her impressions at Petersburg at
the Karenins', she did not like their household itself; there was
something artificial in the whole framework of their family life.
"But why should I not receive her? If only she doesn't take it
into her head to console me!" thought Dolly. "All consolation
and counsel and Christian forgiveness, all that I have thought
over a thousand times, and it's all no use."
All these days Dolly had been alone with her children. She did
not want to talk of her sorrow, but with that sorrow in her heart
she could not talk of outside matters. She knew that in one way
or another she would tell Anna everything, and she was
alternately glad at the thought of speaking freely, and angry at
the necessity of speaking of her humiliation with her, his
sister, and of hearing her ready-made phrases of good advice and
comfort. She had been on the lookout for her, glancing at her
watch every minute, and, as so often happens, let slip just that
minute when her visitor arrived, so that she did not hear the
Catching a sound of skirts and light steps at the door, she
looked round, and her care-worn face unconsciously expressed not
gladness, but wonder. She got up and embraced her sister-in-law.
"What, here already!" she said as she kissed her.
"Dolly, how glad I am to see you!"
"I am glad, too," said Dolly, faintly smiling, and trying by the
expression of Anna's face to find out whether she knew. "Most
likely she knows," she thought, noticing the sympathy in Anna's
face. "Well, come along, I'll take you to your room," she went
on, trying to defer as long as possible the moment of
"Is this Grisha? Heavens, how he's grown!" said Anna; and
kissing him, never taking her eyes off Dolly, she stood still and
flushed a little. "No, please, let us stay here."
She took off her kerchief and her hat, and catching it in a lock
of her black hair, which was a mass of curls, she tossed her head
and shook her hair down.
"You are radiant with health and happiness!" said Dolly, almost
"I?.... Yes," said Anna. "Merciful heavens, Tanya! You're the
same age as my Seryozha," she added, addressing the little girl
as she ran in. She took her in her arms and kissed her.
"Delightful child, delightful! Show me them all."
She mentioned them, not only remembering the names, but the
years, months, characters, illnesses of all the children, and
Dolly could not but appreciate that.
"Very well, we will go to them," she said. "It's a pity Vassya's
After seeing the children, they sat down, alone now, in the
drawing room, to coffee. Anna took the tray, and then pushed it
away from her.
"Dolly," she said, "he has told me."
Dolly looked coldly at Anna; she was waiting now for phrases of
conventional sympathy, but Anna said nothing of the sort.
"Dolly, dear," she said, "I don't want to speak for him to you,
nor to try to comfort you; that's impossible. But, darling, I'm
simply sorry, sorry from my heart for you!"
Under the thick lashes of her shining eyes tears suddenly
glittered. She moved nearer to her sister-in-law and took her
hand in her vigorous little hand. Dolly did not shrink away, but
her face did not lose its frigid expression. She said:
"To comfort me's impossible. Everything's lost after what has
happened, everything's over!"
And directly she had said this, her face suddenly softened. Anna
lifted the wasted, thin hand of Dolly, kissed it and said:
"But, Dolly, what's to be done, what's to be done? How is it
best to act in this awful position--that's what you must think
"All's over, and there's nothing more," said Dolly. "And the
worst of all is, you see, that I can't cast him off: there are
the children, I am tied. And I can't live with him! it's a
torture to me to see him."
"Dolly, darling, he has spoken to me, but I want to hear it from
you: tell me about it."
Dolly looked at her inquiringly.
Sympathy and love unfeigned were visible on Anna's face.
"Very well," she said all at once. "But I will tell you it from
the beginning. You know how I was married. With the education
mamma gave us I was more than innocent, I was stupid. I knew
nothing. I know they say men tell their wives of their former
lives, but Stiva"--she corrected herself--"Stepan Arkadyevitch
told me nothing. You'll hardly believe it, but till now I
imagined that I was the only woman he had known. So I lived
eight years. You must understand that I was so far from
suspecting infidelity, I regarded it as impossible, and then--
try to imagine it--with such ideas, to find out suddenly all the
horror, all the loathsomeness.... You must try and understand
me. To be fully convinced of one's happiness, and all at
once..." continued Dolly, holding back her sobs, "to get a
letter...his letter to his mistress, my governess. No, it's too
awful!" She hastily pulled out her handkerchief and hid her face
in it. "I can understand being carried away by feeling," she
went on after a brief silence, "but deliberately, slyly deceiving
me...and with whom?... To go on being my husband together with
her...it's awful! You can't understand..."
"Oh, yes, I understand! I understand! Dolly, dearest, I do
understand," said Anna, pressing her hand.
"And do you imagine he realizes all the awfulness of my
position?" Dolly resumed. "Not the slightest! He's happy and
"Oh, no!" Anna interposed quickly. "He's to be pitied, he's
weighed down by remorse..."
"Is he capable of remorse?" Dolly interrupted, gazing intently
into her sister-in-law's face.
"Yes. I know him. I could not look at him without feeling sorry
for him. We both know him. He's good-hearted, but he's proud,
and now he's so humiliated. What touched me most..." (and here
Anna guessed what would touch Dolly most) "he's tortured by two
things: that he's ashamed for the children's sake, and that,
loving you--yes, yes, loving you beyond everything on earth,"
she hurriedly interrupted Dolly, who would have answered--"he
has hurt you, pierced you to the heart. 'No, no, she cannot
forgive me,' he keeps saying."
Dolly looked dreamily away beyond her sister-in-law as she
listened to her words.
"Yes, I can see that his position is awful; it's worse for the
guilty than the innocent," she said, "if he feels that all the
misery comes from his fault. But how am I to forgive him, how am
I to be his wife again after her? For me to live with him now
would be torture, just because I love my past love for him..."
And sobs cut short her words. But as though of set design, each
time she was softened she began to speak again of what
"She's young, you see, she's pretty," she went on. "Do you know,
Anna, my youth and my beauty are gone, taken by whom? By him and
his children. I have worked for him, and all I had has gone in
his service, and now of course any fresh, vulgar creature has
more charm for him. No doubt they talked of me together, or,
worse still, they were silent. Do you understand?"
Again her eyes glowed with hatred.
"And after that he will tell me.... What! can I believe him?
Never! No, everything is over, everything that once made my
comfort, the reward of my work, and my sufferings.... Would you
believe it, I was teaching Grisha just now: once this was a joy
to me, now it is a torture. What have I to strive and toil for?
Why are the children here? What's so awful is that all at once
my heart's turned, and instead of love and tenderness, I have
nothing but hatred for him; yes, hatred. I could kill him."
"Darling Dolly, I understand, but don't torture yourself. You
are so distressed, so overwrought, that you look at many things
Dolly grew calmer, and for two minutes both were silent.
"What's to be done? Think for me, Anna, help me. I have thought
over everything, and I see nothing."
Anna could think of nothing, but her heart responded instantly to
each word, to each change of expression of her sister-in-law.
"One thing I would say," began Anna. "I am his sister, I know
his character, that faculty of forgetting everything, everything"
(she waved her hand before her forehead), "that faculty for being
completely carried away, but for completely repenting too. He
cannot believe it, he cannot comprehend now how he can have acted
as he did."
"No; he understands, he understood!" Dolly broke in. "But
I...you are forgetting me...does it make it easier for me?"
"Wait a minute. When he told me, I will own I did not realize
all the awfulness of your position. I saw nothing but him, and
that the family was broken up. I felt sorry for him, but after
talking to you, I see it, as a woman, quite differently. I see
your agony, and I can't tell you how sorry I am for you! But,
Dolly, darling, I fully realize your sufferings, only there is
one thing I don't know; I don't know...I don't know how much love
there is still in your heart for him. That you know--whether
there is enough for you to be able to forgive him. If there is,
"No," Dolly was beginning, but Anna cut her short, kissing her
hand once more.
"I know more of the world than you do," she said. "I know how
men like Stiva look at it. You speak of his talking of you with
her. That never happened. Such men are unfaithful, but their
home and wife are sacred to them. Somehow or other these women
are still looked on with contempt by them, and do not touch on
their feeling for their family. They draw a sort of line that
can't be crossed between them and their families. I don't
understand it, but it is so."
"Yes, but he has kissed her..."
"Dolly, hush, darling. I saw Stiva when he was in love with you.
I remember the time when he came to me and cried, talking of you,
and all the poetry and loftiness of his feeling for you, and I
know that the longer he has lived with you the loftier you have
been in his eyes. You know we have sometimes laughed at him for
putting in at every word: 'Dolly's a marvelous woman.' You have
always been a divinity for him, and you are that still, and this
has not been an infidelity of the heart..."
"But if it is repeated?"
"It cannot be, as I understand it..."
"Yes, but could you forgive it?"
"I don't know, I can't judge.... Yes, I can," said Anna,
thinking a moment; and grasping the position in her thought and
weighing it in her inner balance, she added: "Yes, I can, I can,
I can. Yes, I could forgive it. I could not be the same, no;
but I could forgive it, and forgive it as though it had never
been, never been at all..."
"Oh, of course," Dolly interposed quickly, as though saying what
she had more than once thought, "else it would not be
forgiveness. If one forgives, it must be completely, completely.
Come, let us go; I'll take you to your room," she said, getting
up, and on the way she embraced Anna. "My dear, how glad I am
you came. It has made things better, ever so much better."
The whole of that day Anna spent at home, that's to say at the
Oblonskys', and received no one, though some of her acquaintances
had already heard of her arrival, and came to call; the same day.
Anna spent the whole morning with Dolly and the children. She
merely sent a brief note to her brother to tell him that he must
not fail to dine at home. "Come, God is merciful," she wrote.
Oblonsky did dine at home: the conversation was general, and his
wife, speaking to him, addressed him as "Stiva," as she had not
done before. In the relations of the husband and wife the same
estrangement still remained, but there was no talk now of
separation, and Stepan Arkadyevitch saw the possibility of
explanation and reconciliation.
Immediately after dinner Kitty came in. She knew Anna
Arkadyevna, but only very slightly, and she came now to her
sister's with some trepidation, at the prospect of meeting this
fashionable Petersburg lady, whom everyone spoke so highly of.
But she made a favorable impression on Anna Arkadyevna--she saw
that at once. Anna was unmistakably admiring her loveliness and
her youth: before Kitty knew where she was she found herself not
merely under Anna's sway, but in love with her, as young girls do
fall in love with older and married women. Anna was not like a
fashionable lady, nor the mother of a boy of eight years old. In
the elasticity of her movements, the freshness and the unflagging
eagerness which persisted in her face, and broke out in her smile
and her glance, she would rather have passed for a girl of
twenty, had it not been for a serious and at times mournful look
in her eyes, which struck and attracted Kitty. Kitty felt that
Anna was perfectly simple and was concealing nothing, but that
she had another higher world of interests inaccessible to her,
complex and poetic.
After dinner, when Dolly went away to her own room, Anna rose
quickly and went up to her brother, who was just lighting a
"Stiva," she said to him, winking gaily, crossing him and
glancing towards the door, "go, and God help you."
He threw down the cigar, understanding her, and departed through
When Stepan Arkadyevitch had disappeared, she went back to the
sofa where she had been sitting, surrounded by the children.
Either because the children saw that their mother was fond of
this aunt, or that they felt a special charm in her themselves,
the two elder ones, and the younger following their lead, as
children so often do, had clung about their new aunt since
before dinner, and would not leave her side. And it had become a
sort of game among them to sit a close as possible to their aunt,
to touch her, hold her little hand, kiss it, play with her ring,
or even touch the flounce of her skirt.
"Come, come, as we were sitting before," said Anna Arkadyevna,
sitting down in her place.
And again Grisha poked his little face under her arm, and nestled
with his head on her gown, beaming with pride and happiness.
"And when is your next ball?" she asked Kitty.
"Next week, and a splendid ball. One of those balls where one
always enjoys oneself."
"Why, are there balls where one always enjoys oneself?" Anna
said, with tender irony.
"It's strange, but there are. At the Bobrishtchevs' one always
enjoys oneself, and at the Nikitins' too, while at the Mezhkovs'
it's always dull. Haven't you noticed it?"
"No, my dear, for me there are no balls now where one enjoys
oneself," said Anna, and Kitty detected in her eyes that
mysterious world which was not open to her. "For me there are
some less dull and tiresome."
"How can "you" be dull at a ball?"
"Why should not "I" be dull at a ball?" inquired Anna.
Kitty perceived that Anna knew what answer would follow.
"Because you always look nicer than anyone."
Anna had the faculty of blushing. She blushed a little, and
"In the first place it's never so; and secondly, if it were, what
difference would it make to me?"
"Are you coming to this ball?" asked Kitty.
"I imagine it won't be possible to avoid going. Here, take it,"
she said to Tanya, who was pulling the loosely-fitting ring off
her white, slender-tipped finger.
"I shall be so glad if you go. I should so like to see you at a
"Anyway, if I do go, I shall comfort myself with the thought that
it's a pleasure to you...Grisha, don't pull my hair. It's untidy
enough without that," she said, putting up a straying lock, which
Grisha had been playing with.
"I imagine you at the ball in lilac."
"And why in lilac precisely?" asked Anna, smiling. "Now,
children, run along, run along. Do you hear? Miss Hoole is
calling you to tea," she said, tearing the children from her, and
sending them off to the dining room.
"I know why you press me to come to the ball. You expect a great
deal of this ball, and you want everyone to be there to take part
"How do you know? Yes."
"Oh! what a happy time you are at," pursued Anna. "I remember,
and I know that blue haze like the mist on the mountains in
Switzerland. That mist which covers everything in that blissful
time when childhood is just ending, and out of that vast circle,
happy and gay, there is a path growing narrower and narrower, and
it is delightful and alarming to enter the ballroom, bright and
splendid as it is.... Who has not been through it?"
Kitty smiled without speaking. "But how did she go through it?
How I should like to know all her love story!" thought Kitty,
recalling the unromantic appearance of Alexey Alexandrovitch, her
"I know something. Stiva told me, and I congratulate you. I
liked him so much," Anna continued. "I met Vronsky at the
"Oh, was he there?" asked Kitty, blushing. "What was it Stiva
"Stiva gossiped about it all. And I should be so glad...I
traveled yesterday with Vronsky's mother," she went on; "and his
mother talked without a pause of him, he's her favorite. I know
mothers are partial, but..."
"What did his mother tell you?"
"Oh, a great deal! And I know that he's her favorite; still one
can see how chivalrous he is.... Well, for instance, she told me
that he had wanted to give up all his property to his brother,
that he had done something extraordinary when he was quite a
child, saved a woman out of the water. He's a hero, in fact,"
said Anna, smiling and recollecting the two hundred roubles he
had given at the station.
But she did not tell Kitty about the two hundred roubles. For
some reason it was disagreeable to her to think of it. She felt
that there was something that had to do with her in it, and
something that ought not to have been.
"She pressed me very much to go and see her," Anna went on; "and
I shall be glad to go to see her tomorrow. Stiva is staying a
long while in Dolly's room, thank God," Anna added, changing the
subject, and getting up, Kitty fancied, displeased with
"No, I'm first! No, I!" screamed the children, who had finished
tea, running up to their Aunt Anna.
"All together," said Anna, and she ran laughing to meet them, and
embraced and swung round all the throng of swarming children,
shrieking with delight.
Dolly came out of her room to the tea of the grown-up people.
Stepan Arkadyevitch did not come out. He must have left his
wife's room by the other door.
"I am afraid you'll be cold upstairs," observed Dolly, addressing
Anna; "I want to move you downstairs, and we shall be nearer."
"Oh, please, don't trouble about me," answered Anna, looking
intently into Dolly's face, trying to make out whether there had
been a reconciliation or not.
"It will be lighter for you here," answered her sister-in-law.
"I assure you that I sleep everywhere, and always like a marmot."
"What's the question?" inquired Stepan Arkadyevitch, coming out
of his room and addressing his wife.
From his tone both Kitty and Anna knew that a reconciliation had
"I want to move Anna downstairs, but we must hang up blinds. No
one knows how to do it; I must see to it myself," answered Dolly
"God knows whether they are fully reconciled," thought Anna,
hearing her tone, cold and composed.
"Oh, nonsense, Dolly, always making difficulties," answered her
husband. "Come, I'll do it all, if you like..."
"Yes, they must be reconciled," thought Anna.
"I know how you do everything," answered Dolly. "You tell Matvey
to do what can't be done, and go away yourself, leaving him to
make a muddle of everything," and her habitual, mocking smile
curved the corners of Dolly's lips as she spoke.
"Full, full reconciliation, full," thought Anna; "thank God!" and
rejoicing that she was the cause of it, she went up to Dolly and
"Not at all. Why do you always look down on me and Matvey?" said
Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling hardly perceptibly, and addressing
The whole evening Dolly was, as always, a little mocking in her
tone to her husband, while Stepan Arkadyevitch was happy and
cheerful, but not so as to seem as though, having been forgiven,
he had forgotten his offense.
At half-past nine o'clock a particularly joyful and pleasant
family conversation over the tea-table at the Oblonskys' was
broken up by an apparently simple incident. But this simple
incident for some reason struck everyone as strange. Talking
about common acquaintances in Petersburg, Anna got up quickly.
"She is in my album," she said; "and, by the way, I'll show you
my Seryozha," she added, with a mother's smile of pride.
Towards ten o'clock, when she usually said good-night to her son,
and often before going to a ball put him to bed herself, she felt
depressed at being so far from him; and whatever she was talking
about, she kept coming back in thought to her curly-headed
Seryozha. She longed to look at his photograph and talk of him.
Seizing the first pretext, she got up, and with her light,
resolute step went for her album. The stairs up to her room came
out on the landing of the great warm main staircase.
Just as she was leaving the drawing room, a ring was heard in the
"Who can that be?" said Dolly.
"It's early for me to be fetched, and for anyone else it's late,"
"Sure to be someone with papers for me," put in Stepan
Arkadyevitch. When Anna was passing the top of the staircase, a
servant was running up to announce the visitor, while the visitor
himself was standing under a lamp. Anna glancing down at once
recognized Vronsky, and a strange feeling of pleasure and at the
same time of dread of something stirred in her heart. He was
standing still, not taking off his coat, pulling something out of
his pocket. At the instant when she was just facing the stairs,
he raised his eyes, caught sight of her, and into the expression
of his face there passed a shade of embarrassment and dismay.
With a slight inclination of her head she passed, hearing behind
her Stepan Arkadyevitch's loud voice calling him to come up, and
the quiet, soft, and composed voice of Vronsky refusing.
When Anna returned with the album, he was already gone, and
Stepan Arkadyevitch was telling them that he had called to
inquire about the dinner they were giving next day to a celebrity
who had just arrived. "And nothing would induce him to come up.
What a queer fellow he is!" added Stepan Arkadyevitch.
Kitty blushed. She thought that she was the only person who knew
why he had come, and why he would not come up. "He has been at
home," she thought, "and didn't find me, and thought I should be
here, but he did not come up because he thought it late, and
All of them looked at each other, saying nothing, and began to
look at Anna's album.
There was nothing either exceptional or strange in a man's
calling at half-past nine on a friend to inquire details of a
proposed dinner party and not coming in, but it seemed strange to
all of them. Above all, it seemed strange and not right to Anna.
The ball was only just beginning as Kitty and her mother walked
up the great staircase, flooded with light, and lined with
flowers and footmen in powder and red coats. From the rooms came
a constant, steady hum, as from a hive, and the rustle of
movement; and while on the landing between trees they gave last
touches to their hair and dresses before the mirror, they heard
from the ballroom the careful, distinct notes of the fiddles of
the orchestra beginning the first waltz. A little old man in
civilian dress, arranging his gray curls before another mirror,
and diffusing an odor of scent, stumbled against them on the
stairs, and stood aside, evidently admiring Kitty, whom he did
not know. A beardless youth, one of those society youths whom
the old Prince Shtcherbatsky called "young bucks," in an
exceedingly open waistcoat, straightening his white tie as he
went, bowed to them, and after running by, came back to ask Kitty
for a quadrille. As the first quadrille had already been given
to Vronsky, she had to promise this youth the second. An
officer, buttoning his glove, stood aside in the doorway, and
stroking his mustache, admired rosy Kitty.
Although her dress, her coiffure, and all the preparations for
the ball had cost Kitty great trouble and consideration, at this
moment she walked into the ballroom in her elaborate tulle dress
over a pink slip as easily and simply as though all the rosettes
and lace, all the minute details of her attire, had not cost her
or her family a moment's attention, as though she had been born
in that tulle and lace, with her hair done up high on her head,
and a rose and two leaves on the top of it.
When, just before entering the ballroom, the princess, her
mother, tried to turn right side out of the ribbon of her sash,
Kitty had drawn back a little. She felt that everything must be
right of itself, and graceful, and nothing could need setting
It was one of Kitty's best days. Her dress was not
uncomfortable anywhere; her lace berthe did not droop anywhere;
her rosettes were not crushed nor torn off; her pink slippers
with high, hollowed-out heels did not pinch, but gladdened her
feet; and the thick rolls of fair chignon kept up on her head as
if they were her own hair. All the three buttons buttoned up
without tearing on the long glove that covered her hand without
concealing its lines. The black velvet of her locket nestled
with special softness round her neck. That velvet was delicious;
at home, looking at her neck in the looking glass, Kitty had felt
that that velvet was speaking. About all the rest there might be
a doubt, but the velvet was delicious. Kitty smiled here too, at
the ball, when she glanced at it in the glass. Her bare
shoulders and arms gave Kitty a sense of chill marble, a feeling
she particularly liked. Her eyes sparkled, and her rosy lips
could not keep from smiling from the consciousness of her own
attractiveness. She had scarcely entered the ballroom and
reached the throng of ladies, all tulle, ribbons, lace, and
flowers, waiting to be asked to dance--Kitty was never one of
that throng--when she was asked for a waltz, and asked by the
best partner, the first star in the hierarchy of the ballroom, a
renowned director of dances, a married man, handsome and
well-built, Yegorushka Korsunsky. He had only just left the
Countess Bonina, with whom he had danced the first half of the
waltz, and, scanning his kingdom--that is to say, a few couples
who had started dancing--he caught sight of Kitty, entering, and
flew up to her with that peculiar, easy amble which is confined
to directors of balls. Without even asking her if she cared to
dance, he put out his arm to encircle her slender waist. She
looked round for someone to give her fan to, and their hostess,
smiling to her, took it.
"How nice you've come in good time," he said to her, embracing
her waist; "such a bad habit to be late." Bending her left hand,
she laid it on his shoulder, and her little feet in their pink
slippers began swiftly, lightly, and rhythmically moving over the
slippery floor in time to the music.
"It's a rest to waltz with you," he said to her, as they fell
into the first slow steps of the waltz. "It's exquisite--such
lightness, precision." He said to her the same thing he said to
almost all his partners whom he knew well.
She smiled at his praise, and continued to look about the room
over his shoulder. She was not like a girl at her first ball,
for whom all faces in the ballroom melt into one vision of
fairyland. And she was not a girl who had gone the stale round
of balls till every face in the ballroom was familiar and
tiresome. But she was in the middle stage between these two; she
was excited, and at the same time she had sufficient
self-possession to be able to observe. In the left corner of the
ballroom she saw the cream of society gathered together.
There--incredibly naked--was the beauty Lidi, Korsunsky's wife;
there was the lady of the house; there shone the bald head of
Krivin, always to be found where the best people were. In that
direction gazed the young men, not venturing to approach. There,
too, she descried Stiva, and there she saw the exquisite figure
and head of Anna in a black velvet gown. And "he" was there.
Kitty had not seen him since the evening she refused Levin. With
her long-sighted eyes, she knew him at once, and was even aware
that he was looking at her.
"Another turn, eh? You're not tired?" said Korsunsky, a little
out of breath.
"No, thank you!"
"Where shall I take you?"
"Madame Karenina's here, I think...take me to her."
"Wherever you command."
And Korsunsky began waltzing with measured steps straight towards
the group in the left corner, continually saying, "Pardon,
mesdames, pardon, pardon, mesdames"; and steering his course
through the sea of lace, tulle, and ribbon, and not disarranging
a feather, he turned his partner sharply round, so that her slim
ankles, in light transparent stockings, were exposed to view, and
her train floated out in fan shape and covered Krivin's knees.
Korsunsky bowed, set straight his open shirt front, and gave her
his arm to conduct her to Anna Arkadyevna. Kitty, flushed, took
her train from Krivin's knees, and, a little giddy, looked round,
seeking Anna. Anna was not in lilac, as Kitty had so urgently
wished, but in a black, low-cut, velvet gown, showing her full
throat and shoulders, that looked as though carved in old ivory,
and her rounded arms, with tiny, slender wrists. The whole gown
was trimmed with Venetian guipure. On her head, among her black
hair--her own, with no false additions--was a little wreath of
pansies, and a bouquet of the same in the black ribbon of her
sash among white lace. Her coiffure was not striking. All that
was noticeable was the little wilful tendrils of her curly hair
that would always break free about her neck and temples. Round
her well-cut, strong neck was a thread of pearls.
Kitty had been seeing Anna every day; she adored her, and had
pictured her invariably in lilac. But now seeing her in black,
she felt that she had not fully seen her charm. She saw her now
as someone quite new and surprising to her. Now she understood
that Anna could not have been in lilac, and that her charm was
just that she always stood out against her attire, that her dress
could never be noticeable on her. And her black dress, with its
sumptuous lace, was not noticeable on her; it was only the frame,
and all that was seen was she--simple, natural, elegant, and at
the same time gay and eager.
She was standing holding herself, as always, very erect, and when
Kitty drew near the group she was speaking to the master of the
house, her head slightly turned towards him.
"No, I don't throw stones," she was saying, in answer to
something, "though I can't understand it," she went on, shrugging
her shoulders, and she turned at once with a soft smile of
protection towards Kitty. With a flying, feminine glance she
scanned her attire, and made a movement of her head, hardly
perceptible, but understood by Kitty, signifying approval of her
dress and her looks. "You came into the room dancing," she
"This is one of my most faithful supporters," said Korsunsky,
bowing to Anna Arkadyevna, whom he had not yet seen. "The
princess helps to make balls happy and successful. Anna
Arkadyevna, a waltz?" he said, bending down to her.
"Why, have you met?" inquired their host.
"Is there anyone we have not met? My wife and I are like white
wolves--everyone knows us," answered Korsunsky. "A waltz, Anna
"I don't dance when it's possible not to dance," she said.
"But tonight it's impossible," answered Korsunsky.
At that instant Vronsky came up.
"Well, since it's impossible tonight, let us start," she said,
not noticing Vronsky's bow, and she hastily put her hand on
"What is she vexed with him about?" thought Kitty, discerning
that Anna had intentionally not responded to Vronsky's bow.
Vronsky went up to Kitty reminding her of the first quadrille,
and expressing his regret that he had not seen her all this time.
Kitty gazed in admiration at Anna waltzing, and listened to him.
She expected him to ask her for a waltz, but he did not, and she
glanced wonderingly at him. He flushed slightly, and hurriedly
asked her to waltz, but he had only just put his arm round her
waist and taken the first step when the music suddenly stopped.
Kitty looked into his face, which was so close to her own, and
long afterwards--for several years after--that look, full of
love, to which he made no response, cut her to the heart with an
agony of shame.
""Pardon! pardon!" Waltz! waltz!" shouted Korsunsky from the other
side of the room, and seizing the first young lady he came across
he began dancing himself.
Vronsky and Kitty waltzed several times round the room. After
the first waltz Kitty went to her mother, and she had hardly time
to say a few words to Countess Nordston when Vronsky came up
again for the first quadrille. During the quadrille nothing of
any significance was said: there was disjointed talk between
them of the Korsunskys, husband and wife, whom he described very
amusingly, as delightful children at forty, and of the future
town theater; and only once the conversation touched her to the
quick, when he asked her about Levin, whether he was here, and
added that he liked him so much. But Kitty did not expect much
from the quadrille. She looked forward with a thrill at her
heart to the mazurka. She fancied that in the mazurka everything
must be decided. The fact that he did not during the quadrille
ask her for the mazurka did not trouble her. She felt sure she
would dance the mazurka with him as she had done at former balls,
and refused five young men, saying she was engaged for the
mazurka. The whole ball up to the last quadrille was for Kitty
an enchanted vision of delightful colors, sounds, and motions.
She only sat down when she felt too tired and begged for a rest.
But as she was dancing the last quadrille with one of the
tiresome young men whom she could not refuse, she chanced to be
vis-a-vis with Vronsky and Anna. She had not been near Anna
again since the beginning of the evening, and now again she saw
her suddenly quite new and surprising. She saw in her the signs
of that excitement of success she knew so well in herself; she
saw that she was intoxicated with the delighted admiration she
was exciting. She knew that feeling and knew its signs, and saw
them in Anna; saw the quivering, flashing light in her eyes, and
the smile of happiness and excitement unconsciously playing on
her lips, and the deliberate grace, precision, and lightness of
"Who?" she asked herself. "All or one?" And not assisting the
harassed young man she was dancing with in the conversation, the
thread of which he had lost and could not pick up again, she
obeyed with external liveliness the peremptory shouts of
Korsunsky starting them all into the "grand rond", and then into
the "châine", and at the same time she kept watch with a growing
pang at her heart. "No, it's not the admiration of the crowd has
intoxicated her, but the adoration of one. And that one? can it
be he?" Every time he spoke to Anna the joyous light flashed
into her eyes, and the smile of happiness curved her red lips.
she seemed to make an effort to control herself, to try not to
show these signs of delight, but they came out on her face
of themselves. "But what of him?" Kitty looked at him and was
filled with terror. What was pictured so clearly to Kitty in the
mirror of Anna's face she saw in him. What had become of his
always self-possessed resolute manner, and the carelessly serene
expression of his face? Now every time he turned to her, he bent
his head, as though he would have fallen at her feet, and in his
eyes there was nothing but humble submission and dread. "I would
not offend you," his eyes seemed every time to be saying, "but I
want to save myself, and I don't know how." On his face was a
look such as Kitty had never seen before.
They were speaking of common acquaintances, keeping up the most
trivial conversation, but to Kitty it seemed that every word they
said was determining their fate and hers. And strange it was
that they were actually talking of how absurd Ivan Ivanovitch was
with his French, and how the Eletsky girl might have made a
better match, yet these words had all the while consequence for
them, and they were feeling just as Kitty did. The whole ball,
the whole world, everything seemed lost in fog in Kitty's soul.
Nothing but the stern discipline of her bringing-up supported her
and forced her to do what was expected of her, that is, to dance,
to answer questions, to talk, even to smile. But before the
mazurka, when they were beginning to rearrange the chairs and a
few couples moved out of the smaller rooms into the big room, a
moment of despair and horror came for Kitty. She had refused
five partners, and now she was not dancing the mazurka. She had
not even a hope of being asked for it, because she was so
successful in society that the idea would never occur to anyone
that she had remained disengaged till now. She would have to
tell her mother she felt ill and go home, but she had not the
strength to do this. She felt crushed. She went to the furthest
end of the little drawing room and sank into a low chair. Her
light, transparent skirts rose like a cloud about her slender
waist; one bare, thin, soft, girlish arm, hanging listlessly, was
lost in the folds of her pink tunic; in the other she held her
fan, and with rapid, short strokes fanned her burning face. But
while she looked like a butterfly, clinging to a blade of grass,
and just about to open its rainbow wings for fresh flight, her
heart ached with a horrible despair.
"But perhaps I am wrong, perhaps it was not so?" And again she
recalled all she had seen.
"Kitty, what is it?" said Countess Nordston, stepping noiselessly
over the carpet towards her. "I don't understand it."
Kitty's lower lip began to quiver; she got up quickly.
"Kitty, you're not dancing the mazurka?"
"No, no," said Kitty in a voice shaking with tears.
"He asked her for the mazurka before me," said Countess Nordston,
knowing Kitty would understand who were "he" and "her." "She
said: 'Why, aren't you going to dance it with Princess
"Oh, I don't care!" answered Kitty.
No one but she herself understood her position; no one knew that
she had just refused the man whom perhaps she loved, and refused
him because she had put her faith in another.
Countess Nordston found Korsunsky, with whom she was to dance the
mazurka, and told him to ask Kitty.
Kitty danced in the first couple, and luckily for her she had not
to talk, because Korsunsky was all the time running about
directing the figure. Vronsky and Anna sat almost opposite her.
She saw them with her long-sighted eyes, and saw them, too, close
by, when they met in the figures, and the more she saw of them
the more convinced was she that her unhappiness was complete.
She saw that they felt themselves alone in that crowded room.
And on Vronsky's face, always so firm and independent, she saw
that look that had struck her, of bewilderment and humble
submissiveness, like the expression of an intelligent dog when it
has done wrong.
Anna smiled, and her smile was reflected by him. She grew
thoughtful, and he became serious. Some supernatural force drew
Kitty's eyes to Anna's face. She was fascinating in her simple
black dress, fascinating were her round arms with their
bracelets, fascinating was her firm neck with its thread of
pearls, fascinating the straying curls of her loose hair,
fascinating the graceful, light movements of her little feet and
hands, fascinating was that lovely face in its eagerness, but
there was something terrible and cruel in her fascination.
Kitty admired her more than ever, and more and more acute was her
suffering. Kitty felt overwhelmed, and her face showed it. When
Vronsky saw her, coming across her in the mazurka, he did not at
once recognize her, she was so changed.
"Delightful ball!" he said to her, for the sake of saying
"Yes," she answered.
In the middle of the mazurka, repeating a complicated figure,
newly invented by Korsunsky, Anna came forward into the center of
the circle, chose two gentlemen, and summoned a lady and Kitty.
Kitty gazed at her in dismay as she went up. Anna looked at her
with drooping eyelids, and smiled, pressing her hand. But,
noticing that Kitty only responded to her smile by a look of
despair and amazement, she turned away from her, and began gaily
talking to the other lady.
"Yes, there is something uncanny, devilish and fascinating in
her," Kitty said to herself.
Anna did not mean to stay to supper, but the master of the house
began to press her to do so.
"Nonsense, Anna Arkadyevna," said Korsunsky, drawing her bare arm
under the sleeve of his dress coat, "I've such an idea for a
"cotillion! Un bijou!""
And he moved gradually on, trying to draw her along with him.
Their host smiled approvingly.
"No, I am not going to stay," answered Anna, smiling, but in
spite of her smile, both Korsunsky and the master of the house
saw from her resolute tone that she would not stay.
"No; why, as it is, I have danced more at your ball in Moscow than
I have all the winter in Petersburg," said Anna, looking round at
Vronsky, who stood near her. "I must rest a little before my
"Are you certainly going tomorrow then?" asked Vronsky.
"Yes, I suppose so," answered Anna, as it were wondering at the
boldness of his question; but the irrepressible, quivering
brilliance of her eyes and her smile set him on fire as she said
Anna Arkadyevna did not stay to supper, but went home.
"Yes, there is something in me hateful, repulsive," thought Levin,
as he came away from the Shtcherbatskys', and walked in the
direction of his brother's lodgings. "And I don't get on with
other people. Pride, they say. No, I have no pride. If I had
any pride, I should not have put myself in such a position." And
he pictured to himself Vronsky, happy, good-natured, clever, and
self-possessed, certainly never placed in the awful position in
which he had been that evening. "Yes, she was bound to choose
him. So it had to be, and I cannot complain of anyone or
anything. I am myself to blame. What right had I to imagine she
would care to join her life to mine? Who am I and what am I? A
nobody, not wanted by any one, nor of use to anybody." And he
recalled his brother Nikolay, and dwelt with pleasure on the
thought of him. "Isn't he right that everything in the world is
base and loathsome? And are we fair in our judgment of brother
Nikolay? Of course, from the point of view of Prokofy, seeing
him in a torn cloak and tipsy, he's a despicable person. But I
know him differently. I know his soul, and know that we are like
him. And I, instead of going to seek him out, went out to
dinner, and came here." Levin walked up to a lamppost, read his
brother's address, which was in his pocketbook, and called a
sledge. All the long way to his brother's, Levin vividly
recalled all the facts familiar to him of his brother Nikolay's
life. He remembered how his brother, while at the university,
and for a year afterwards, had, in spite of the jeers of his
companions, lived like a monk, strictly observing all religious
rites, services, and fasts, and avoiding every sort of pleasure,
especially women. And afterwards, how he had all at once broken
out: he had associated with the most horrible people, and rushed
into the most senseless debauchery. He remembered later the
scandal over a boy, whom he had taken from the country to bring
up, and, in a fit of rage, had so violently beaten that
proceedings were brought against him for unlawfully wounding.
Then he recalled the scandal with a sharper, to whom he had lost
money, and given a promissory note, and against whom he had
himself lodged a complaint, asserting that he had cheated him.
(This was the money Sergey Ivanovitch had paid.) Then he
remembered how he had spent a night in the lockup for disorderly
conduct in the street. He remembered the shameful proceedings he
had tried to get up against his brother Sergey Ivanovitch,
accusing him of not having paid him his share of his mother's
fortune, and the last scandal, when he had gone to a western
province in an official capacity, and there had got into trouble
for assaulting a village elder.... It was all horribly
disgusting, yet to Levin it appeared not at all in the same
disgusting light as it inevitably would to those who did not know
Nikolay, did not know all his story, did not know his heart.
Levin remembered that when Nikolay had been in the devout stage,
the period of fasts and monks and church services, when he was
seeking in religion a support and a curb for his passionate
temperament, everyone, far from encouraging him, had jeered at
him, and he, too, with the others. They had teased him, called
him Noah and Monk; and, when he had broken out, no one had helped
him, but everyone had turned away from him with horror and
Levin felt that, in spite of all the ugliness of his life, his
brother Nikolay, in his soul, in the very depths of his soul, was
no more in the wrong than the people who despised him. He was
not to blame for having been born with his unbridled temperament
and his somehow limited intelligence. But he had always wanted
to be good. "I will tell him everything, without reserve, and I
will make him speak without reserve, too, and I'll show him that
I love him, and so understand him," Levin resolved to himself,
as, towards eleven o'clock, he reached the hotel of which he had
"At the top, 12 and 13," the porter answered Levin's inquiry.
"Sure to be at home."
The door of No. 12 was half open, and there came out into the
streak of light thick fumes of cheap, poor tobacco, and the sound
of a voice, unknown to Levin; but he knew at once that his
brother was there; he heard his cough.
As he went in the door, the unknown voice was saying:
"It all depends with how much judgment and knowledge the thing's
Konstantin Levin looked in at the door, and saw that the speaker
was a young man with an immense shock of hair, wearing a Russian
jerkin, and that a pockmarked woman in a woolen gown, without
collar or cuffs, was sitting on the sofa. His brother was not to
be seen. Konstantin felt a sharp pang at his heart at the
thought of the strange company in which his brother spent his
life. No one had heard him, and Konstantin, taking off his
galoshes, listened to what the gentleman in the jerkin was
saying. He was speaking of some enterprise.
"Well, the devil flay them, the privileged classes," his
brother's voice responded, with a cough. "Masha! get us some
supper and some wine if there's any left; or else go and get
The woman rose, came out from behind the screen, and saw
"There's some gentleman, Nikolay Dmitrievitch," she said.
"Whom do you want?" said the voice of Nikolay Levin, angrily.
"It's I," answered Konstantin Levin, coming forward into the
"Who's "I"?" Nikolay's voice said again, still more angrily. He
could be heard getting up hurriedly, stumbling against something,
and Levin saw, facing him in the doorway, the big, scared eyes,
and the huge, thin, stooping figure of his brother, so familiar,
and yet astonishing in its weirdness and sickliness.
He was even thinner than three years before, when Konstantin
Levin had seen him last. He was wearing a short coat, and his
hands and big bones seemed huger than ever. His hair had grown
thinner, the same straight mustaches hid his lips, the same eyes
gazed strangely and naively at his visitor.
"Ah, Kostya!" he exclaimed suddenly, recognizing his brother, and
his eyes lit up with joy. But the same second he looked round at
the young man, and gave the nervous jerk of his head and neck
that Konstantin knew so well, as if his neckband hurt him; and a
quite different expression, wild, suffering, and cruel, rested
on his emaciated face.
"I wrote to you and Sergey Ivanovitch both that I don't know you
and don't want to know you. What is it you want?"
He was not at all the same as Konstantin had been fancying him.
The worst and most tiresome part of his character, what made all
relations with him so difficult, had been forgotten by Konstantin
Levin when he thought of him, and now, when he saw his face, and
especially that nervous twitching of his head, he remembered it
"I didn't want to see you for anything," he answered timidly.
"I've simply come to see you."
His brother's timidity obviously softened Nikolay. His lips
"Oh, so that's it?" he said. "Well, come in; sit down. Like
some supper? Masha, bring supper for three. No, stop a minute.
Do you know who this is?" he said, addressing his brother, and
indicating the gentleman in the jerkin: "This is Mr. Kritsky, my
friend from Kiev, a very remarkable man. He's persecuted by the
police, of course, because he's not a scoundrel."
And he looked round in the way he always did at everyone in the
room. Seeing that the woman standing in the doorway was moving
to go, he shouted to her, "Wait a minute, I said." And with the
inability to express himself, the incoherence that Konstantin
knew so well, he began, with another look round at everyone, to
tell his brother Kritsky's story: how he had been expelled from
the university for starting a benefit society for the poor
students and Sunday schools; and how he had afterwards been a
teacher in a peasant school, and how he had been driven out of
that too, and had afterwards been condemned for something.
"You're of the Kiev university?" said Konstantin Levin to
Kritsky, to break the awkward silence that followed.
"Yes, I was of Kiev," Kritsky replied angrily, his face
"And this woman," Nikolay Levin interrupted him, pointing to her,
"is the partner of my life, Marya Nikolaevna. I took her out of
a bad house," and he jerked his neck saying this; "but I love her
and respect her, and any one who wants to know me," he added,
raising his voice and knitting his brows, "I beg to love her and
respect her. She's just the same as my wife, just the same. So
now you know whom you've to do with. And if you think you're
lowering yourself, well, here's the floor, there's the door."
And again his eyes traveled inquiringly over all of them.
"Why I should be lowering myself, I don't understand."
"Then, Masha, tell them to bring supper; three portions, spirits
and wine.... No, wait a minute.... No, it doesn't matter....
"So you see," pursued Nikolay Levin, painfully wrinkling his
forehead and twitching.
It was obviously difficult for him to think of what to say and
"Here, do you see?"... He pointed to some sort of iron bars,
fastened together with strings, lying in a corner of the room.
"Do you see that? That's the beginning of a new thing we're
going into. It's a productive association..."
Konstantin scarcely heard him. He looked into his sickly,
consumptive face, and he was more and more sorry for him, and he
could not force himself to listen to what his brother was telling
him about the association. He saw that this association was a
mere anchor to save him from self-contempt. Nikolay Levin went
"You know that capital oppresses the laborer. The laborers with
us, the peasants, bear all the burden of labor, and are so placed
that however much they work they can't escape from their position
of beasts of burden. All the profits of labor, on which they
might improve their position, and gain leisure for themselves,
and after that education, all the surplus values are taken from
them by the capitalists. And society's so constituted that the
harder they work, the greater the profit of the merchants and
landowners, while they stay beasts of burden to the end. And
that state of things must be changed," he finished up, and he
looked questioningly at his brother.
"Yes, of course," said Konstantin, looking at the patch of red
that had come out on his brother's projecting cheek bones.
"And so we're founding a locksmiths' association, where all the
production and profit and the chief instruments of production
will be in common."
"Where is the association to be?" asked Konstantin Levin.
"In the village of Vozdrem, Kazan government."
"But why in a village? In the villages, I think, there is plenty
of work as it is. Why a locksmiths' association in a village?"
"Why? Because the peasants are just as much slaves as they ever
were, and that's why you and Sergey Ivanovitch don't like people
to try and get them out of their slavery," said Nikolay Levin,
exasperated by the objection.
Konstantin Levin sighed, looking meanwhile about the cheerless
and dirty room. This sigh seemed to exasperate Nikolay still
"I know your and Sergey Ivanovitch's aristocratic views. I know
that he applies all the power of his intellect to justify
"No; and what do you talk of Sergey Ivanovitch for?" said Levin,
"Sergey Ivanovitch? I'll tell you what for!" Nikolay Levin
shrieked suddenly at the name of Sergey Ivanovitch. "I'll tell
you what for.... But what's the use of talking? There's only one
thing.... What did you come to me for? You look down on this,
and you're welcome to,--and go away, in God's name go away!" he
shrieked, getting up from his chair. "And go away, and go away!"
"I don't look down on it at all," said Konstantin Levin timidly.
"I don't even dispute it."
At that instant Marya Nikolaevna came back. Nikolay Levin
looked round angrily at her. She went quickly to him, and
"I'm not well; I've grown irritable," said Nikolay Levin, getting
calmer and breathing painfully; "and then you talk to me of
Sergey Ivanovitch and his article. It's such rubbish, such
lying, such self-deception. What can a man write of justice who
knows nothing of it? Have you read his article?" he asked
Kritsky, sitting down again at the table, and moving back off
half of it the scattered cigarettes, so as to clear a space.
"I've not read it," Kritsky responded gloomily, obviously not
desiring to enter into the conversation.
"Why not?" said Nikolay Levin, now turning with exasperation upon
"Because I didn't see the use of wasting my time over it."
"Oh, but excuse me, how did you know it would be wasting your
time? That article's too deep for many people--that's to say
it's over their heads. But with me, it's another thing; I see
through his ideas, and I know where its weakness lies."
Everyone was mute. Kritsky got up deliberately and reached his
"Won't you have supper? All right, good-bye! Come round
tomorrow with the locksmith."
Kritsky had hardly gone out when Nikolay Levin smiled and winked.
"He's no good either," he said. "I see, of course..."
But at that instant Kritsky, at the door, called him...
"What do you want now?" he said, and went out to him in the
passage. Left alone with Marya Nikolaevna, Levin turned to her.
"Have you been long with my brother?" he said to her.
"Yes, more than a year. Nikolay Dmitrievitch's health has become
very poor. Nikolay Dmitrievitch drinks a great deal," she said.
"That is...how does he drink?"
"Drinks vodka, and it's bad for him."
"And a great deal?" whispered Levin.
"Yes," she said, looking timidly towards the doorway, where
Nikolay Levin had reappeared.
"What were you talking about?" he said, knitting his brows, and
turning his scared eyes from one to the other. "What was it?"
"Oh, nothing," Konstantin answered in confusion.
"Oh, if you don't want to say, don't. Only it's no good your
talking to her. She's a wench, and you're a gentleman," he said
with a jerk of the neck. "You understand everything, I see, and
have taken stock of everything, and look with commiseration on my
shortcomings," he began again, raising his voice.
"Nikolay Dmitrievitch, Nikolay Dmitrievitch," whispered Marya
Nikolaevna, again going up to him.
"Oh, very well, very well!... But where's the supper? Ah, here
it is," he said, seeing a waiter with a tray. "Here, set it
here," he added angrily, and promptly seizing the vodka, he
poured out a glassful and drank it greedily. "Like a drink?" he
turned to his brother, and at once became better humored.
"Well, enough of Sergey Ivanovitch. I'm glad to see you, anyway.
After all's said and done, we're not strangers. Come, have a
drink. Tell me what you're doing," he went on, greedily munching
a piece of bread, and pouring out another glassful. "How are you
"I live alone in the country, as I used to. I'm busy looking
after the land," answered Konstantin, watching with horror the
greediness with which his brother ate and drank, and trying to
conceal that he noticed it.
"Why don't you get married?"
"It hasn't happened so," Konstantin answered, reddening a little.
"Why not? For me now...everything's at an end! I've made a mess
of my life. But this I've said, and I say still, that if my
share had been given me when I needed it, my whole life would
have been different."
Konstantin made haste to change the conversation.
"Do you know your little Vanya's with me, a clerk in the
countinghouse at Pokrovskoe."
Nikolay jerked his neck, and sank into thought.
"Yes, tell me what's going on at Pokrovskoe. Is the house
standing still, and the birch trees, and our schoolroom? And
Philip the gardener, is he living? How I remember the arbor and
the seat! Now mind and don't alter anything in the house, but
make haste and get married, and make everything as it used to be
again. Then I'll come and see you, if your wife is nice."
"But come to me now," said Levin. "How nicely we would arrange
"I'd come and see you if I were sure I should not find Sergey
"You wouldn't find him there. I live quite independently of
"Yes, but say what you like, you will have to choose between me
and him," he said, looking timidly into his brother's face.
This timidity touched Konstantin.
"If you want to hear my confession of faith on the subject, I
tell you that in your quarrel with Sergey Ivanovitch I take
neither side. You're both wrong. You're more wrong externally,
and he inwardly."
"Ah, ah! You see that, you see that!" Nikolay shouted joyfully.
"But I personally value friendly relations with you more
Konstantin could not say that he valued it more because Nikolay
was unhappy, and needed affection. But Nikolay knew that this
was just what he meant to say, and scowling he took up the vodka
"Enough, Nikolay Dmitrievitch!" said Marya Nikolaevna, stretching
out her plump, bare arm towards the decanter.
"Let it be! Don't insist! I'll beat you!" he shouted.
Marya Nikolaevna smiled a sweet and good-humored smile, which was
at once reflected on Nikolay's face, and she took the bottle.
"And do you suppose she understands nothing?" said Nikolay. "She
understands it all better than any of us. Isn't it true there's
something good and sweet in her?"
"Were you never before in Moscow?" Konstantin said to her, for
the sake of saying something.
"Only you mustn't be polite and stiff with her. It frightens
her. No one ever spoke to her so but the justices of the peace
who tried her for trying to get out of a house of ill-fame.
Mercy on us, the senselessness in the world!" he cried suddenly.
"These new institutions, these justices of the peace, rural
councils, what hideousness it all is!"
And he began to enlarge on his encounters with the new
Konstantin Levin heard him, and the disbelief in the sense of
all public institutions, which he shared with him, and often
expressed, was distasteful to him now from his brother's lips.
"In another world we shall understand it all," he said lightly.
"In another world! Ah, I don't like that other world! I don't
like it," he said, letting his scared eyes rest on his brother's
eyes. "Here one would think that to get out of all the baseness
and the mess, one's own and other people's, would be a good
thing, and yet I'm afraid of death, awfully afraid of death." He
shuddered. "But do drink something. Would you like some
champagne? Or shall we go somewhere? Let's go to the Gypsies!
Do you know I have got so fond of the Gypsies and Russian songs."
His speech had begun to falter, and he passed abruptly from one
subject to another. Konstantin with the help of Masha persuaded
him not to go out anywhere, and got him to bed hopelessly drunk.
Masha promised to write to Konstantin in case of need, and to
persuade Nikolay Levin to go and stay with his brother.
In the morning Konstantin Levin left Moscow, and towards evening
he reached home. On the journey in the train he talked to his
neighbors about politics and the new railways, and, just as in
Moscow, he was overcome by a sense of confusion of ideas,
dissatisfaction with himself, shame of something or other. But
when he got out at his own station, when he saw his one-eyed
coachman, Ignat, with the collar of his coat turned up; when, in
the dim light reflected by the station fires, he saw his own
sledge, his own horses with their tails tied up, in their harness
trimmed with rings and tassels; when the coachman Ignat, as he
put in his luggage, told him the village news, that the
contractor had arrived, and that Pava had calved,--he felt that
little by little the confusion was clearing up, and the shame and
self-dissatisfaction were passing away. He felt this at the mere
sight of Ignat and the horses; but when he had put on the
sheepskin brought for him, had sat down wrapped up in the sledge,
and had driven off pondering on the work that lay before him in
the village, and staring at the side-horse, that had been his
saddle-horse, past his prime now, but a spirited beast from the
Don, he began to see what had happened to him in quite a
different light. He felt himself, and did not want to be any one
else. All he wanted now was to be better than before. In the
first place he resolved that from that day he would give up
hoping for any extraordinary happiness, such as marriage must
have given him, and consequently he would not so disdain what he
really had. Secondly, he would never again let himself give way
to low passion, the memory of which had so tortured him when he
had been making up his mind to make an offer. Then remembering
his brother Nikolay, he resolved to himself that he would never
allow himself to forget him, that he would follow him up, and not
lose sight of him, so as to be ready to help when things should
go ill with him. And that would be soon, he felt. Then, too,
his brother's talk of communism, which he had treated so lightly
at the time, now made him think. He considered a revolution in
economic conditions nonsense. But he always felt the injustice
of his own abundance in comparison with the poverty of the
peasants, and now he determined that so as to feel quite in the
right, though he had worked hard and lived by no means
luxuriously before, he would now work still harder, and would
allow himself even less luxury. And all this seemed to him so
easy a conquest over himself that he spent the whole drive in the
pleasantest daydreams. With a resolute feeling of hope in a new,
better life, he reached home before nine o'clock at night.
The snow of the little quadrangle before the house was lit up by
a light in the bedroom windows of his old nurse, Agafea
Mihalovna, who performed the duties of housekeeper in his house.
She was not yet asleep. Kouzma, waked up by her, came sidling
sleepily out onto the steps. A setter bitch, Laska, ran out too,
almost upsetting Kouzma, and whining, turned round about Levin's
knees, jumping up and longing, but not daring, to put her
forepaws on his chest.
"You're soon back again, sir," said Agafea Mihalovna.
"I got tired of it, Agafea Mihalovna. With friends, one is well;
but at home, one is better," he answered, and went into his
The study was slowly lit up as the candle was brought in. The
familiar details came out: the stag's horns, the bookshelves,
the looking-glass, the stove with its ventilator, which had long
wanted mending, his father's sofa, a large table, on the table an
open book, a broken ash tray, a manuscript book with his
handwriting. As he saw all this, there came over him for an
instant a doubt of the possibility of arranging the new life, of
which he had been dreaming on the road. All these traces of his
life seemed to clutch him, and to say to him: "No, you're not
going to get away from us, and you're not going to be different,
but you're going to be the same as you've always been; with
doubts, everlasting dissatisfaction with yourself, vain efforts
to amend, and falls, and everlasting expectation, of a happiness
which you won't get, and which isn't possible for you."
This the things said to him, but another voice in his heart was
telling him that he must not fall under the sway of the past, and
that one can do anything with oneself. And hearing that voice,
he went into the corner where stood his two heavy dumbbells, and
began brandishing them like a gymnast, trying to restore his
confident temper. There was a creak of steps at the door. He
hastily put down the dumbbells.
The bailiff came in, and said everything, thank God, was doing
well; but informed him that the buckwheat in the new drying
machine had been a little scorched. This piece of news irritated
Levin. The new drying machine had been constructed and partly
invented by Levin. The bailiff had always been against the
drying machine, and now it was with suppressed triumph that he
announced that the buckwheat had been scorched. Levin was firmly
convinced that if the buckwheat had been scorched, it was only
because the precautions had not been taken, for which he had
hundreds of times given orders. He was annoyed, and reprimanded
the bailiff. But there had been an important and joyful event:
Pava, his best cow, an expensive beast, bought at a show, had
"Kouzma, give me my sheepskin. And you tell them to take a
lantern. I'll come and look at her," he said to the bailiff.
The cowhouse for the more valuable cows was just behind the
house. Walking across the yard, passing a snowdrift by the lilac
tree, he went into the cowhouse. There was the warm, steamy
smell of dung when the frozen door was opened, and the cows,
astonished at the unfamiliar light of the lantern, stirred on the
fresh straw. He caught a glimpse of the broad, smooth, black and
piebald back of Hollandka. Berkoot, the bull, was lying down
with his ring in his lip, and seemed about to get up, but thought
better of it, and only gave two snorts as they passed by him.
Pava, a perfect beauty, huge as a hippopotamus, with her back
turned to them, prevented their seeing the calf, as she sniffed
her all over.
Levin went into the pen, looked Pava over, and lifted the red and
spotted calf onto her long, tottering legs. Pava, uneasy, began
lowing, but when Levin put the calf close to her she was soothed,
and, sighing heavily, began licking her with her rough tongue.
The calf, fumbling, poked her nose under her mother's udder, and
stiffened her tail out straight.
"Here, bring the light, Fyodor, this way," said Levin, examining
the calf. "Like the mother! though the color takes after the
father; but that's nothing. Very good. Long and broad in the
haunch. Vassily Fedorovitch, isn't she splendid?" he said to the
bailiff, quite forgiving him for the buckwheat under the
influence of his delight in the calf.
"How could she fail to be? Oh, Semyon the contractor came the
day after you left. You must settle with him, Konstantin
Dmitrievitch," said the bailiff. "I did inform you about the
This question was enough to take Levin back to all the details of
his work on the estate, which was on a large scale, and
complicated. He went straight from the cowhouse to the counting
house, and after a little conversation with the bailiff and
Semyon the contractor, he went back to the house and straight
upstairs to the drawing room.
The house was big and old-fashioned, and Levin, though he lived
alone, had the whole house heated and used. He knew that this
was stupid, he knew that it was positively not right, and
contrary to his present new plans, but this house was a whole
world to Levin. It was the world in which his father and mother
had lived and died. They had lived just the life that to Levin
seemed the ideal of perfection, and that he had dreamed of
beginning with his wife, his family.
Levin scarcely remembered his mother. His conception of her was
for him a sacred memory, and his future wife was bound to be in
his imagination a repetition of that exquisite, holy ideal of a
woman that his mother had been.
He was so far from conceiving of love for woman apart from
marriage that he positively pictured to himself first the family,
and only secondarily the woman who would give him a family. His
ideas of marriage were, consequently, quite unlike those of the
great majority of his acquaintances, for whom getting married was
one of the numerous facts of social life. For Levin it was the
chief affair of life, on which its whole happiness turned. And
now he had to give up that.
When he had gone into the little drawing room, where he always
had tea, and had settled himself in his armchair with a book,
and Agafea Mihalovna had brought him tea, and with her usual,
"Well, I'll stay a while, sir," had taken a chair in the window,
he felt that, however strange it might be, he had not parted from
his daydreams, and that he could not live without them. Whether
with her, or with another, still it would be. He was reading a
book, and thinking of what he was reading, and stopping to listen
to Agafea Mihalovna, who gossiped away without flagging, and yet
with all that, all sorts of pictures of family life and work in
the future rose disconnectedly before his imagination. He felt
that in the depth of his soul something had been put in its
place, settled down, and laid to rest.
He heard Agafea Mihalovna talking of how Prohor had forgotten his
duty to God, and with the money Levin had given him to buy a
horse, had been drinking without stopping, and had beaten his
wife till he'd half killed her. He listened, and read his book,
and recalled the whole train of ideas suggested by his reading.
It was Tyndall's "Treatise on Heat". He recalled his own
criticisms of Tyndall of his complacent satisfaction in the
cleverness of his experiments, and for his lack of philosophic
insight. And suddenly there floated into his mind the joyful
thought: "In two years' time I shall have two Dutch cows; Pava
herself will perhaps still be alive, a dozen young daughters of
Berkoot and the three others--how lovely!"
He took up his book again. "Very good, electricity and heat are
the same thing; but is it possible to substitute the one quantity
for the other in the equation for the solution of any problem?
No. Well, then what of it? The connection between all the
forces of nature is felt instinctively.... It's particulary nice
if Pava's daughter should be a red-spotted cow, and all the herd
will take after her, and the other three, too! Splendid! To go
out with my wife and visitors to meet the herd.... My wife says,
Kostya and I looked after that calf like a child.' 'How can it
interest you so much?' says a visitor. 'Everything that
interests him, interests me.' But who will she be?" And he
remembered what had happened at Moscow.... "Well, there's
nothing to be done.... It's not my fault. But now everything
shall go on in a new way. It's nonsense to pretend that life
won't let one, that the past won't let one. One must struggle to
live better, much better."... He raised his head, and fell to
dreaming. Old Laska, who had not yet fully digested her delight
at his return, and had run out into the yard to bark, came back
wagging her tail, and crept up to him, bringing in the scent of
fresh air, put her head under his hand, and whined plaintively,
asking to be stroked.
"There, who'd have thought it?" said Agafea Mihalovna. "The dog
now...why, she understands that her master's come home, and that
"Do you suppose I don't see it, sir? It's high time I should know
the gentry. Why, I've grown up from a little thing with them.
It's nothing, sir, so long as there's health and a clear
Levin looked intently at her, surprised at how well she knew his
"Shall I fetch you another cup?" said she, and taking his cup she
Laska kept poking her head under his hand. He stroked her, and
she promptly curled up at his feet, laying her head on a hindpaw.
And in token of all now being well and satisfactory, she opened
her mouth a little, smacked her lips, and settling her sticky
lips more comfortably about her old teeth, she sank into blissful
repose. Levin watched all her movements attentively.
"That's what I'll do," he said to himself; "that's what I'll do!
Nothing's amiss.... All's well."
After the ball, early next morning, Anna Arkadyevna sent her
husband a telegram that she was leaving Moscow the same day.
"No, I must go, I must go"; she explained to her sister-in-law
the change in her plans in a tone that suggested that she had to
remember so many things that there was no enumerating them: "no,
it had really better be today!"
Stepan Arkadyevitch was not dining at home, but he promised to
come and see his sister off at seven o'clock.
Kitty, too, did not come, sending a note that she had a headache.
Dolly and Anna dined alone with the children and the English
governess. Whether it was that the children were fickle, or that
they had acute senses, and felt that Anna was quite different
that day from what she had been when they had taken such a fancy
to her, that she was not now interested in them,--but they had
abruptly dropped their play with their aunt, and their love for
her, and were quite indifferent that she was going away. Anna
was absorbed the whole morning in preparations for her
departure. She wrote notes to her Moscow acquaintances, put down
her accounts, and packed. Altogether Dolly fancied she was not
in a placid state of mind, but in that worried mood, which Dolly
knew well with herself, and which does not come without cause,
and for the most part covers dissatisfaction with self. After
dinner, Anna went up to her room to dress, and Dolly followed
"How queer you are today!" Dolly said to her.
"I? Do you think so? I'm not queer, but I'm nasty. I am like
that sometimes. I keep feeling as if I could cry. It's very
stupid, but it'll pass off," said Anna quickly, and she bent her
flushed face over a tiny bag in which she was packing a nightcap
and some cambric handkerchiefs. Her eyes were particularly
bright, and were continually swimming with tears. "In the same
way I didn't want to leave Petersburg, and now I don't want to go
away from here."
"You came here and did a good deed," said Dolly, looking intently
Anna looked at her with eyes wet with tears.
"Don't say that, Dolly. I've done nothing, and could do nothing.
I often wonder why people are all in league to spoil me. What
have I done, and what could I do? In your heart there was found
love enough to forgive..."
"If it had not been for you, God knows what would have happened!
How happy you are, Anna!" said Dolly. "Everything is clear and
good in your heart."
"Every heart has its own "skeletons", as the English say."
"You have no sort of "skeleton", have you? Everything is so clear
"I have!" said Anna suddenly, and, unexpectedly after her tears,
a sly, ironical smile curved her lips.
"Come, he's amusing, anyway, your "skeleton", and not depressing,"
said Dolly, smiling.
"No, he's depressing. Do you know why I'm going today instead of
tomorrow? It's a confession that weighs on me; I want to make it
to you," said Anna, letting herself drop definitely into an
armchair, and looking straight into Dolly's face.
And to her surprise Dolly saw that Anna was blushing up to her
ears, up to the curly black ringlets on her neck.
"Yes," Anna went on. "Do you know why Kitty didn't come to
dinner? She's jealous of me. I have spoiled...I've been the
cause of that ball being a torture to her instead of a pleasure.
But truly, truly, it's not my fault, or only my fault a little
bit," she said, daintily drawling the words "a little bit."
"Oh, how like Stiva you said that!" said Dolly, laughing.
Anna was hurt.
"Oh no, oh no! I'm not Stiva," she said, knitting her brows.
"That's why I'm telling you, just because I could never let
myself doubt myself for an instant," said Anna.
But at the very moment she was uttering the words, she felt that
they were not true. She was not merely doubting herself, she
felt emotion at the thought of Vronsky, and was going away sooner
than she had meant, simply to avoid meeting him.
"Yes, Stiva told me you danced the mazurka with him, and that
"You can't imagine how absurdly it all came about. I only meant
to be matchmaking, and all at once it turned out quite
differently. Possibly against my own will..."
She crimsoned and stopped.
"Oh, they feel it directly?" said Dolly.
"But I should be in despair if there were anything serious in it
on his side," Anna interrupted her. "And I am certain it will
all be forgotten, and Kitty will leave off hating me."
"All the same, Anna, to tell you the truth, I'm not very anxious
for this marriage for Kitty. And it's better it should come to
nothing, if he, Vronsky, is capable of falling in love with you
in a single day."
"Oh, heavens, that would be too silly!" said Anna, and again a
deep flush of pleasure came out on her face, when she heard the
idea, that absorbed her, put into words. "And so here I am going
away, having made an enemy of Kitty, whom I liked so much! Ah,
how sweet she is! But you'll make it right, Dolly? Eh?"
Dolly could scarcely suppress a smile. She loved Anna, but she
enjoyed seeing that she too had her weaknesses.
"An enemy? That can't be."
"I did so want you all to care for me, as I do for you, and now I
care for you more than ever," said Anna, with tears in her eyes.
"Ah, how silly I am today!"
She passed her handkerchief over her face and began dressing.
At the very moment of starting Stepan Arkadyevitch arrived, late,
rosy and good-humored, smelling of wine and cigars.
Anna's emotionalism infected Dolly, and when she embraced her
sister-in-law for the last time, she whispered: "Remember, Anna,
what you've done for me--I shall never forget. And remember
that I love you, and shall always love you as my dearest friend!"
"I don't know why," said Anna, kissing her and hiding her tears.
"You understood me, and you understand. Good-bye, my darling!"
"Come, it's all over, and thank God!" was the first thought that
came to Anna Arkadyevna, when she had said good-bye for the last
time to her brother, who had stood blocking up the entrance to
the carriage till the third bell rang. She sat down on her
lounge beside Annushka, and looked about her in the twilight of
the sleeping-carriage. "Thank God! tomorrow I shall see Seryozha
and Alexey Alexandrovitch, and my life will go on in the old way,
all nice and as usual."
Still in the same anxious frame of mind, as she had been all that
day, Anna took pleasure in arranging herself for the journey with
great care. With her little deft hands she opened and shut her
little red bag, took out a cushion, laid it on her knees, and
carefully wrapping up her feet, settled herself comfortably. An
invalid lady had already lain down to sleep. Two other ladies
began talking to Anna, and a stout elderly lady tucked up her
feet, and made observations about the heating of the train. Anna
answered a few words, but not foreseeing any entertainment from
the conversation, she asked Annushka to get a lamp, hooked it
onto the arm of her seat, and took from her bag a paper knife and
an English novel. At first her reading made no progress. The
fuss and bustle were disturbing; then when the train had started,
she could not help listening to the noises; then the snow beating
on the left window and sticking to the pane, and the sight of the
muffled guard passing by, covered with snow on one side, and the
conversations about the terrible snowstorm raging outside,
distracted her attention. Farther on, it was continually the
same again and again: the same shaking and rattling, the same
snow on the window, the same rapid transitions from steaming
heat to cold, and back again to heat, the same passing glimpses
of the same figures in the twilight, and the same voices, and
Anna began to read and to understand what she read. Annushka was
already dozing, the red bag on her lap, clutched by her broad
hands, in gloves, of which one was torn. Anna Arkadyevna read
and understood, but it was distasteful to her to read, that is,
to follow the reflection of other people's lives. She had too
great a desire to live herself. If she read that the heroine of
the novel was nursing a sick man, she longed to move with
noiseless steps about the room of a sick man; if she read of a
member of Parliament making a speech, she longed to be delivering
the speech; if she read of how Lady Mary had ridden after the
hounds, and had provoked her sister-in-law, and had surprised
everyone by her boldness, she too wished to be doing the same.
But there was no chance of doing anything; and twisting the
smooth paper knife in her little hands, she forced herself to
The hero of the novel was already almost reaching his English
happiness, a baronetcy and an estate, and Anna was feeling a
desire to go with him to the estate, when she suddenly felt that
"he" ought to feel ashamed, and that she was ashamed of the same
thing. But what had he to be ashamed of? "What have I to be
ashamed of?" she asked herself in injured surprise. She laid
down the book and sank against the back of the chair, tightly
gripping the paper cutter in both hands. There was nothing. She
went over all her Moscow recollections. All were good, pleasant.
She remembered the ball, remembered Vronsky and his face of
slavish adoration, remembered all her conduct with him: there
was nothing shameful. And for all that, at the same point in her
memories, the feeling of shame was intensified, as though some
inner voice, just at the point when she thought of Vronsky, were
saying to her, "Warm, very warm, hot." "Well, what is it?" she
said to herself resolutely, shifting her seat in the lounge.
"What does it mean? Am I afraid to look it straight in the face?
Why, what is it? Can it be that between me and this officer boy
there exist, or can exist, any other relations than such as are
common with every acquaintance?" She laughed contemptuously and
took up her book again; but now she was definitely unable to
follow what she read. She passed the paper knife over the window
pane, then laid its smooth, cool surface to her cheek, and almost
laughed aloud at the feeling of delight that all at once without
cause came over her. She felt as though her nerves were strings
being strained tighter and tighter on some sort of screwing peg.
She felt her eyes opening wider and wider, her fingers and toes
twitching nervously, something within oppressing her breathing,
while all shapes and sounds seemed in the uncertain half-light to
strike her with unaccustomed vividness. Moments of doubt were
continually coming upon her, when she was uncertain whether the
train were going forwards or backwards, or were standing still
altogether; whether it were Annushka at her side or a stranger.
"What's that on the arm of the chair, a fur cloak or some beast?
And what am I myself? Myself or some other woman?" She was
afraid of giving way to this delirium. But something drew her
towards it, and she could yield to it or resist it at will. She
got up to rouse herself, and slipped off her plaid and the cape
of her warm dress. For a moment she regained her
self-possession, and realized that the thin peasant who had come
in wearing a long overcoat, with buttons missing from it, was the
stoveheater, that he was looking at the thermometer, that it was
the wind and snow bursting in after him at the door; but then
everything grew blurred again.... That peasant with the long
waist seemed to be gnawing something on the wall, the old lady
began stretching her legs the whole length of the carriage, and
filling it with a black cloud; then there was a fearful shrieking
and banging, as though someone were being torn to pieces; then
there was a blinding dazzle of red fire before her eyes and a
wall seemed to rise up and hide everything. Anna felt as though
she were sinking down. But it was not terrible, but delightful.
The voice of a man muffled up and covered with snow shouted
something in her ear. She got up and pulled herself together;
she realized that they had reached a station and that this was
the guard. She asked Annushka to hand her the cape she had taken
off and her shawl, put them on and moved towards the door.
"Do you wish to get out?" asked Annushka.
"Yes, I want a little air. It's very hot in here." And she
opened the door. The driving snow and the wind rushed to meet
her and struggled with her over the door. But she enjoyed the
She opened the door and went out. The wind seemed as though
lying in wait for her; with gleeful whistle it tried to snatch
her up and bear her off, but she clung to the cold door post, and
holding her skirt got down onto the platform and under the
shelter of the carriages. The wind had been powerful on the
steps, but on the platform, under the lee of the carriages, there
was a lull. With enjoyment she drew deep breaths of the frozen,
snowy air, and standing near the carriage looked about the
platform and the lighted station.
The raging tempest rushed whistling between the wheels of the
carriages, about the scaffolding, and round the corner of the
station. The carriages, posts, people, everything that was to be
seen was covered with snow on one side, and was getting more and
more thickly covered. For a moment there would come a lull in
the storm, but then it would swoop down again with such
onslaughts that it seemed impossible to stand against it.
Meanwhile men ran to and fro, talking merrily together, their
steps crackling on the platform as they continually opened and
closed the big doors. The bent shadow of a man glided by at her
feet, and she heard sounds of a hammer upon iron. "Hand over
that telegram!" came an angry voice out of the stormy darkness on
the other side. "This way! No. 28!" several different voices
shouted again, and muffled figures ran by covered with snow. Two
gentlemen with lighted cigarettes passed by her. She drew one
more deep breath of the fresh air, and had just put her hand out
of her muff to take hold of the door post and get back into the
carriage, when another man in a military overcoat, quite close
beside her, stepped between her and the flickering light of the
lamp post. She looked round, and the same instant recognized
Vronsky's face. Putting his hand to the peak of his cap, he
bowed to her and asked, Was there anything she wanted? Could he
be of any service to her? She gazed rather a long while at him
without answering, and, in spite of the shadow in which he was
standing, she saw, or fancied she saw, both the expression of his
face and his eyes. It was again that expression of reverential
ecstasy which had so worked upon her the day before. More than
once she had told herself during the past few days, and again
only a few moments before, that Vronsky was for her only one of
the hundreds of young men, forever exactly the same, that are met
everywhere, that she would never allow herself to bestow a
thought upon him. But now at the first instant of meeting him,
she was seized by a feeling of joyful pride. She had no need to
ask why he had come. She knew as certainly as if he had told her
that he was here to be where she was.
"I didn't know you were going. What are you coming for?" she
said, letting fall the hand with which she had grasped the door
post. And irrepressible delight and eagerness shone in her face.
"What am I coming for?" he repeated, looking straight into her
eyes. "You know that I have come to be where you are," he said;
"I can't help it."
At that moment the wind, as it were, surmounting all obstacles,
sent the snow flying from the carriage roofs, and clanked some
sheet of iron it had torn off, while the hoarse whistle of the
engine roared in front, plaintively and gloomily. All the
awfulness of the storm seemed to her more splendid now. He had
said what her soul longed to hear, though she feared it with her
reason. She made no answer, and in her face he saw conflict.
"Forgive me, if you dislike what I said," he said humbly.
He had spoken courteously, deferentially, yet so firmly, so
stubbornly, that for a long while she could make no answer.
"It's wrong, what you say, and I beg you, if you're a good man,
to forget what you've said, as I forget it," she said at last.
"Not one word, not one gesture of yours shall I, could I, ever
"Enough, enough!" she cried trying assiduously to give a stern
expression to her face, into which he was gazing greedily. And
clutching at the cold door post, she clambered up the steps and
got rapidly into the corridor of the carriage. But in the little
corridor she paused, going over in her imagination what had
happened. Though she could not recall her own words or his, she
realized instinctively that the momentary conversation had
brought them fearfully closer; and she was panic-stricken and
blissful at it. After standing still a few seconds, she went
into the carriage and sat down in her place. The overstrained
condition which had tormented her before did not only come back,
but was intensified, and reached such a pitch that she was afraid
every minute that something would snap within her from the
excessive tension. She did not sleep all night. But in that
nervous tension, and in the visions that filled her imagination,
there was nothing disagreeable or gloomy: on the contrary there
was something blissful, glowing, and exhilarating. Towards
morning Anna sank into a doze, sitting in her place, and when she
waked it was daylight and the train was near Petersburg. At once
thoughts of home, of husband and of son, and the details of that
day and the following came upon her.
At Petersburg, as soon as the train stopped and she got out, the
first person that attracted her attention was her husband. "Oh,
mercy! why do his ears look like that?" she thought, looking at
his frigid and imposing figure, and especially the ears that
struck her at the moment as propping up the brim of his round
hat. Catching sight of her, he came to meet her, his lips
falling into their habitual sarcastic smile, and his big, tired
eyes looking straight at her. An unpleasant sensation gripped at
her heart when she met his obstinate and weary glance, as though
she had expected to see him different. She was especially struck
by the feeling of dissatisfaction with herself that she
experienced on meeting him. That feeling was an intimate,
familiar feeling, like a consciousness of hypocrisy, which she
experienced in her relations with her husband. But hitherto she
had not taken note of the feeling, now she was clearly and
painfully aware of it.
"Yes, as you see, your tender spouse, as devoted as the first
year after marriage, burned with impatience to see you," he said
in his deliberate, high-pitched voice, and in that tone which he
almost always took with her, a tone of jeering at anyone who
should say in earnest what he said.
"Is Seryozha quite well?" she asked.
"And is this all the reward," said he, "for my ardor? He's quite
Vronsky had not even tried to sleep all that night. He sat in
his armchair, looking straight before him or scanning the people
who got in and out. If he had indeed on previous occasions
struck and impressed people who did not know him by his air of
unhesitating composure, he seemed now more haughty and
self-possessed than ever. He looked at people as if they were
things. A nervous young man, a clerk in a law court, sitting
opposite him, hated him for that look. The young man asked him
for a light, and entered into conversation with him, and even
pushed against him, to make him feel that he was not a thing, but
a person. But Vronsky gazed at him exactly as he did at the
lamp, and the young man made a wry face, feeling that he was
losing his self-possession under the oppression of this refusal
to recognize him as a person.
Vronsky saw nothing and no one. He felt himself a king, not
because he believed that he had made an impression on Anna--he
did not yet believe that,--but because the impression she had
made on him gave him happiness and pride.
What would come of it all he did not know, he did not even think.
He felt that all his forces, hitherto dissipated, wasted, were
centered on one thing, and bent with fearful energy on one
blissful goal. And he was happy at it. He knew only that he had
told her the truth, that he had come where she was, that all the
happiness of his life, the only meaning in life for him, now lay
in seeing and hearing her. And when he got out of the carriage
at Bologova to get some seltzer water, and caught sight of Anna,
involuntarily his first word had told her just what he thought.
And he was glad he had told her it, that she knew it now and was
thinking of it. He did not sleep all night. When he was back in
the carriage, he kept unceasingly going over every position in
which he had seen her, every word she had uttered, and before his
fancy, making his heart faint with emotion, floated pictures of a
When he got out of the train at Petersburg, he felt after his
sleepless night as keen and fresh as after a cold bath. He
paused near his compartment, waiting for her to get out. "Once
more," he said to himself, smiling unconsciously, "once more I
shall see her walk, her face; she will say something, turn her
head, glance, smile, maybe." But before he caught sight of her,
he saw her husband, whom the station-master was deferentially
escorting through the crowd. "Ah, yes! The husband." Only now
for the first time did Vronsky realize clearly the fact that
there was a person attached to her, a husband. He knew that she
had a husband, but had hardly believed in his existence, and only
now fully believed in him, with his head and shoulders, and his
legs clad in black trousers; especially when he saw this husband
calmly take her arm with a sense of property.
Seeing Alexey Alexandrovitch with his Petersburg face and
severely self-confident figure, in his round hat, with his rather
prominent spine, he believed in him, and was aware of a
disagreeable sensation, such as a man might feel tortured by
thirst, who, on reaching a spring, should find a dog, a sheep, or
a pig, who has drunk of it and muddied the water. Alexey
Alexandrovitch's manner of walking, with a swing of the hips and
flat feet, particularly annoyed Vronsky. He could recognize in
no one but himself an indubitable right to love her. But she was
still the same, and the sight of her affected him the same way,
physically reviving him, stirring him, and filling his soul with
rapture. He told his German valet, who ran up to him from the
second class, to take his things and go on, and he himself went
up to her. He saw the first meeting between the husband and
wife, and noted with a lover's insight the signs of slight
reserve with which she spoke to her husband. "No, she does not
love him and cannot love him," he decided to himself.
At the moment when he was approaching Anna Arkadyevna he noticed
too with joy that she was conscious of his being near, and looked
round, and seeing him, turned again to her husband.
"Have you passed a good night?" he asked, bowing to her and her
husband together, and leaving it up to Alexey Alexandrovitch to
accept the bow on his own account, and to recognize it or not, as
he might see fit.
"Thank you, very good," she answered.
Her face looked weary, and there was not that play of eagerness
in it, peeping out in her smile and her eyes; but for a single
instant, as she glanced at him, there was a flash of something in
her eyes, and although the flash died away at once, he was happy
for that moment. She glanced at her husband to find out whether
he knew Vronsky. Alexey Alexandrovitch looked at Vronsky with
displeasure, vaguely recalling who this was. Vronsky's composure
and self-confidence here struck, like a scythe against a stone,
upon the cold self-confidence of Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Count Vronsky," said Anna.
"Ah! We are acquainted, I believe," said Alexey Alexandrovitch
indifferently, giving his hand.
"You set off with the mother and you return with the son," he
said, articulating each syllable, as though each were a separate
favor he was bestowing.
"You're back from leave, I suppose?" he said, and without waiting
for a reply, he turned to his wife in his jesting tone: "Well,
were a great many tears shed at Moscow at parting?"
By addressing his wife like this he gave Vronsky to understand
that he wished to be left alone, and, turning slightly towards
him, he touched his hat; but Vronsky turned to Anna Arkadyevna.
"I hope I may have the honor of calling on you," he said.
Alexey Alexandrovitch glanced with his weary eyes at Vronsky.
"Delighted," he said coldly. "On Mondays we're at home. Most
fortunate," he said to his wife, dismissing Vronsky altogether,
"that I should just have half an hour to meet you, so that I can
prove my devotion," he went on in the same jesting tone.
"You lay too much stress on your devotion for me to value it
much," she responded in the same jesting tone, involuntarily
listening to the sound of Vronsky's steps behind them. "But what
has it to do with me?" she said to herself, and she began asking
her husband how Seryozha had got on without her.
"Oh, capitally! Mariette says he has been very good, And...I
must disappoint you...but he has not missed you as your husband
has. But once more "merci," my dear, for giving me a day. Our
dear "Samovar" will be delighted." (He used to call the Countess
Lidia Ivanovna, well known in society, a samovar, because she was
always bubbling over with excitement.) "She has been continually
asking after you. And, do you know, if I may venture to advise
you, you should go and see her today. You know how she takes
everything to heart. Just now, with all her own cares, she's
anxious about the Oblonskys being brought together."
The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a friend of her husband's, and
the center of that one of the coteries of the Petersburg world
with which Anna was, through her husband, in the closest
"But you know I wrote to her?"
"Still she'll want to hear details. Go and see her, if you're
not too tired, my dear. Well, Kondraty will take you in the
carriage, while I go to my committee. I shall not be alone at
dinner again," Alexey Alexandrovitch went on, no longer in a
sarcastic tone. "You wouldn't believe how I've missed..." And
with a long pressure of her hand and a meaning smile, he put her
in her carriage.
The first person to meet Anna at home was her son. He dashed
down the stairs to her, in spite of the governess's call, and
with desperate joy shrieked: "Mother! mother!" Running up to
her, he hung on her neck.
"I told you it was mother!" he shouted to the governess. "I
And her son, like her husband, aroused in Anna a feeling akin to
disappointment. She had imagined him better than he was in
reality. She had to let herself drop down to the reality to
enjoy him as he really was. But even as he was, he was charming,
with his fair curls, his blue eyes, and his plump, graceful
little legs in tightly pulled-up stockings. Anna experienced
almost physical pleasure in the sensation of his nearness, and
his caresses, and moral soothing, when she met his simple,
confiding, and loving glance, and heard his naïve questions.
Anna took out the presents Dolly's children had sent him, and
told her son what sort of little girl was Tanya at Moscow, and
how Tanya could read, and even taught the other children.
"Why, am I not so nice as she?" asked Seryozha.
"To me you're nicer than anyone in the world."
"I know that," said Seryozha, smiling.
Anna had not had time to drink her coffee when the Countess Lidia
Ivanovna was announced. The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a tall,
stout woman, with an unhealthily sallow face and splendid,
pensive black eyes. Anna liked her, but today she seemed to be
seeing her for the first time with all her defects.
"Well, my dear, so you took the olive branch?" inquired Countess
Lidia Ivanovna, as soon as she came into the room.
"Yes, it's all over, but it was all much less serious than we had
supposed," answered Anna. "My "belle-soeur" is in general too
But Countess Lidia Ivanovna, though she was interested in
everything that did not concern her, had a habit of never
listening to what interested her; she interrupted Anna:
"Yes, there's plenty of sorrow and evil in the world. I am so
"Oh, why?" asked Anna, trying to suppress a smile.
"I'm beginning to be weary of fruitlessly championing the truth,
and sometimes I'm quite unhinged by it. The Society of the
Little Sisters" (this was a religiously-patriotic, philanthropic
institution) "was going splendidly, but with these gentlemen it's
impossible to do anything," added Countess Lidia Ivanovna in a
tone of ironical submission to destiny. "They pounce on the
idea, and distort it, and then work it out so pettily and
unworthily. Two or three people, your husband among them,
understand all the importance of the thing, but the others simply
drag it down. Yesterday Pravdin wrote to me..."
Pravdin was a well-known Panslavist abroad, and Countess Lidia
Ivanovna described the purport of his letter.
Then the countess told her of more disagreements and intrigues
against the work of the unification of the churches, and departed
in haste, as she had that day to be at the meeting of some
society and also at the Slavonic committee.
"It was all the same before, of course; but why was it I didn't
notice it before?" Anna asked herself. "Or has she been very
much irritated today? It's really ludicrous; her object is doing
good; she a Christian, yet she's always angry; and she always has
enemies, and always enemies in the name of Christianity and doing
After Countess Lidia Ivanovna another friend came, the wife of a
chief secretary, who told her all the news of the town. At three
o'clock she too went away, promising to come to dinner. Alexey
Alexandrovitch was at the ministry. Anna, left alone, spent the
time till dinner in assisting at her son's dinner (he dined apart
from his parents) and in putting her things in order, and in
reading and answering the notes and letters which had accumulated
on her table.
The feeling of causeless shame, which she had felt on the
journey, and her excitement, too, had completely vanished. In
the habitual conditions of her life she felt again resolute and
She recalled with wonder her state of mind on the previous day.
"What was it? Nothing. Vronsky said something silly, which it
was easy to put a stop to, and I answered as I ought to have
done. To speak of it to my husband would be unnecessary and out
of the question. To speak of it would be to attach importance to
what has no importance." She remembered how she had told her
husband of what was almost a declaration made her at Petersburg
by a young man, one of her husband's subordinates, and how Alexey
Alexandrovitch had answered that every woman living in the world
was exposed to such incidents, but that he had the fullest
confidence in her tact, and could never lower her and himself by
jealousy. "So then there's no reason to speak of it? And
indeed, thank God, there's nothing to speak of," she told
Alexey Alexandrovitch came back from the meeting of the ministers
at four o'clock, but as often happened, he had not time to come
in to her. He went into his study to see the people waiting for
him with petitions, and to sign some papers brought him by his
chief secretary. At dinner time (there were always a few people
dining with the Karenins) there arrived an old lady, a cousin of
Alexey Alexandrovitch, the chief secretary of the department and
his wife, and a young man who had been recommended to Alexey
Alexandrovitch for the service. Anna went into the drawing room
to receive these guests. Precisely at five o'clock, before the
bronze Peter the First clock had struck the fifth stroke, Alexey
Alexandrovitch came in, wearing a white tie and evening coat with
two stars, as he had to go out directly after dinner. Every
minute of Alexey Alexandrovitch's life was portioned out and
occupied. And to make time to get through all that lay before
him every day, he adhered to the strictest punctuality.
"Unhasting and unresting," was his motto. He came into the
dining hall, greeted everyone, and hurriedly sat down, smiling to
"Yes, my solitude is over. You wouldn't believe how
uncomfortable" (he laid stress on the word "uncomfortable") "it
is to dine alone."
At dinner he talked a little to his wife about Moscow matters,
and, with a sarcastic smile, asked her after Stepan Arkadyevitch;
but the conversation was for the most part general, dealing with
Petersburg official and public news. After dinner he spent half
an hour with his guests, and again, with a smile, pressed his
wife's hand, withdrew, and drove off to the council. Anna did
not go out that evening either to the Princess Betsy Tverskaya,
who, hearing of her return, had invited her, nor to the theater,
where she had a box for that evening. She did not go out
principally because the dress she had reckoned upon was not
ready. Altogether, Anna, on turning, after the departure of her
guests, to the consideration of her attire, was very much
annoyed. She was generally a mistress of the art of dressing
well without great expense, and before leaving Moscow she had
given her dressmaker three dresses to transform. The dresses had
to be altered so that they could not be recognized, and they
ought to have been ready three days before. It appeared that two
dresses had not been done at all, while the other one had not
been altered as Anna had intended. The dressmaker came to
explain, declaring that it would be better as she had done it,
and Anna was so furious that she felt ashamed when she thought of
it afterwards. To regain her serenity completely she went into
the nursery, and spent the whole evening with her son, put him to
bed herself, signed him with the cross, and tucked him up. She
was glad she had not gone out anywhere, and had spent the evening
so well. She felt so light-hearted and serene, she saw so
clearly that all that had seemed to her so important on her
railway journey was only one of the common trivial incidents of
fashionable life, and that she had no reason to feel ashamed
before anyone else or before herself. Anna sat down at the
hearth with an English novel and waited for her husband. Exactly
at half-past nine she heard his ring, and he came into the room.
"Here you are at last!" she observed, holding out her hand to
He kissed her hand and sat down beside her.
"Altogether then, I see your visit was a success," he said to
"Oh, yes," she said, and she began telling him about everything
from the beginning: her journey with Countess Vronskaya, her
arrival, the accident at the station. Then she described the
pity she had felt, first for her brother, and afterwards for
"I imagine one cannot exonerate such a man from blame, though he
is your brother," said Alexey Alexandrovitch severely.
Anna smiled. She knew that he said that simply to show that
family considerations could not prevent him from expressing his
genuine opinion. She knew that characteristic in her husband,
and liked it.
"I am glad it has all ended so satisfactorily, and that you are
back again," he went on. "Come, what do they say about the new
act I have got passed in the council?"
Anna had heard nothing of this act, And she felt
conscience-stricken at having been able so readily to forget what
was to him of such importance.
"Here, on the other hand, it has made a great sensation," he
said, with a complacent smile.
She saw that Alexey Alexandrovitch wanted to tell her something
pleasant to him about it, and she brought him by questions to
telling it. With the same complacent smile he told her of the
ovations he had received in consequence of the act he had
"I was very, very glad. It shows that at last a reasonable and
steady view of the matter is becoming prevalent among us."
Having drunk his second cup of tea with cream, and bread, Alexey
Alexandrovitch got up, and was going towards his study.
"And you've not been anywhere this evening? You've been dull, I
expect?" he said.
"Oh, no!" she answered, getting up after him and accompanying him
across the room to his study. "What are you reading now?" she
"Just now I'm reading Duc de Lille, "Poésie des Enfers,""
he answered. "A very remarkable book."
Anna smiled, as people smile at the weaknesses of those they
love, and, putting her hand under his, she escorted him to the
door of the study. She knew his habit, that had grown into a
necessity, of reading in the evening. She knew, too, that in
spite of his official duties, which swallowed up almost the whole
of his time, he considered it his duty to keep up with everything
of note that appeared in the intellectual world. She knew, too,
that he was really interested in books dealing with politics,
philosophy, and theology, that art was utterly foreign to his
nature; but, in spite of this, or rather, in consequence of it,
Alexey Alexandrovitch never passed over anything in the world of
art, but made it his duty to read everything. She knew that in
politics, in philosophy, in theology, Alexey Alexandrovitch often
had doubts, and made investigations; but on questions of art and
poetry, and, above all, of music, of which he was totally devoid
of understanding, he had the most distinct and decided opinions.
He was fond of talking about Shakespeare, Raphael, Beethoven, of
the significance of new schools of poetry and music, all of which
were classified by him with very conspicuous consistency.
"Well, God be with you," she said at the door of the study, where
a shaded candle and a decanter of water were already put by his
armchair. "And I'll write to Moscow."
He pressed her hand, and again kissed it.
"All the same he's a good man; truthful, good-hearted, and
remarkable in his own line," Anna said to herself going back to
her room, as though she were defending him to someone who had
attacked him and said that one could not love him. "But why is
it his ears stick out so strangely? Or has he had his hair cut?"
Precisely at twelve o'clock, when Anna was still sitting at her
writing table, finishing a letter to Dolly, she heard the sound
of measured steps in slippers, and Alexey Alexandrovitch, freshly
washed and combed, with a book under his arm, came in to her.
"It's time, it's time," said he, with a meaning smile, and he
went into their bedroom.
"And what right had he to look at him like that?" thought Anna,
recalling Vronsky's glance at Alexey Alexandrovitch.
Undressing, she went into the bedroom; but her face had none of
the eagerness which, during her stay in Moscow, had fairly
flashed from her eyes and her smile; on the contrary, now the
fire seemed quenched in her, hidden somewhere far away.
When Vronsky went to Moscow from Petersburg, he had left his
large set of rooms in Morskaia to his friend and favorite comrade
Petritsky was a young lieutenant, not particularly
well-connected, and not merely not wealthy, but always hopelessly
in debt. Towards evening he was always drunk, and he had often
been locked up after all sorts of ludicrous and disgraceful
scandals, but he was a favorite both of his comrades and his
superior officers. On arriving at twelve o'clock from the
station at his flat, Vronsky saw, at the outer door, a hired
carriage familiar to him. While still outside his own door, as
he rang, he heard masculine laughter, the lisp of a feminine
voice, and Petritsky's voice. "If that's one of the villains,
don't let him in!" Vronsky told the servant not to announce him,
and slipped quietly into the first room. Baroness Shilton, a
friend of Petritsky's, with a rosy little face and flaxen hair,
resplendent in a lilac satin gown, and filling the whole room,
like a canary, with her Parisian chatter, sat at the round table
making coffee. Petritsky, in his overcoat, and the cavalry
captain Kamerovsky, in full uniform, probably just come from
duty, were sitting each side of her.
"Bravo! Vronsky!" shouted Petritsky, jumping up, scraping his
chair. "Our host himself! Baroness, some coffee for him out of
the new coffee pot. Why, we didn't expect you! Hope you're
satisfied with the ornament of your study," he said, indicating
the baroness. "You know each other, of course?"
"I should think so," said Vronsky, with a bright smile, pressing
the baroness's little hand. "What next! I'm an old friend."
"You're home after a journey," said the baroness, "so I'm flying.
Oh, I'll be off this minute, if I'm in the way."
"You're home, wherever you are, baroness," said Vronsky. "How do
you do, Kamerovsky?" he added, coldly shaking hands with
"There, you never know how to say such pretty things," said the
baroness, turning to Petritsky.
"No; what's that for? After dinner I say things quite as good."
"After dinner there's no credit in them? Well, then, I'll make
you some coffee, so go and wash and get ready," said the
baroness, sitting down again, and anxiously turning the screw in
the new coffee pot. "Pierre, give me the coffee," she said,
addressing Petritsky, whom she called Pierre as a contraction of
his surname, making no secret of her relations with him. "I'll
put it in."
"You'll spoil it!"
"No, I won't spoil it! Well, and your wife?" said the baroness
suddenly, interrupting Vronsky's conversation with his comrade.
"We've been marrying you here. Have you brought your wife?"
"No, baroness. I was born a Bohemian, and a Bohemian I shall
"So much the better, so much the better. Shake hands on it."
And the baroness, detaining Vronsky, began telling him, with many
jokes, about her last new plans of life, asking his advice.
"He persists in refusing to give me a divorce! Well, what am I
to do?" ("He" was her husband.) "Now I want to begin a suit
against him. What do you advise? Kamerovsky, look after the
coffee; it's boiling over. You see, I'm engrossed with business!
I want a lawsuit, because I must have my property. Do you
understand the folly of it, that on the pretext of my being
unfaithful to him," she said contemptuously, "he wants to get the
benefit of my fortune."
Vronsky heard with pleasure this light-hearted prattle of a
pretty woman, agreed with her, gave her half-joking counsel, and
altogether dropped at once into the tone habitual to him in
talking to such women. In his Petersburg world all people were
divided into utterly opposed classes. One, the lower class,
vulgar, stupid, and, above all, ridiculous people, who believe
that one husband ought to live with the one wife whom he has
lawfully married; that a girl should be innocent, a woman modest,
and a man manly, self-controlled, and strong; that one ought to
bring up one's children, earn one's bread, and pay one's debts;
and various similar absurdities. This was the class of
old-fashioned and ridiculous people. But there was another class
of people, the real people. To this class they all belonged, and
in it the great thing was to be elegant, generous, plucky, gay,
to abandon oneself without a blush to every passion, and to laugh
at everything else.
For the first moment only, Vronsky was startled after the
impression of a quite different world that he had brought with
him from Moscow. But immediately as though slipping his feet
into old slippers, he dropped back into the light-hearted,
pleasant world he had always lived in.
The coffee was never really made, but spluttered over every one,
and boiled away, doing just what was required of it--that is,
providing much cause for much noise and laughter, and spoiling a
costly rug and the baroness's gown.
"Well now, good-bye, or you'll never get washed, and I shall have
on my conscience the worst sin a gentleman can commit. So you
would advise a knife to his throat?"
"To be sure, and manage that your hand may not be far from his
lips. He'll kiss your hand, and all will end satisfactorily,"
"So at the Francais!" and, with a rustle of her skirts, she
Kamerovsky got up too, and Vronsky, not waiting for him to go,
shook hands and went off to his dressing room.
While he was washing, Petritsky described to him in brief
outlines his position, as far as it had changed since Vronsky had
left Petersburg. No money at all. His father said he wouldn't
give him any and pay his debts. His tailor was trying to get him
locked up, and another fellow, too, was threatening to get him
locked up. The colonel of the regiment had announced that if
these scandals did not cease he would have to leave. As for the
baroness, he was sick to death of her, especially since she'd
taken to offering continually to lend him money. But he had
found a girl--he'd show her to Vronsky--a marvel, exquisite, in
the strict Oriental style, "genre of the slave Rebecca, don't
you know." He'd had a row, too, with Berkoshov, and was going to
send seconds to him, but of course it would come to nothing.
Altogether everything was supremely amusing and jolly. And, not
letting his comrade enter into further details of his position,
Petritsky proceeded to tell him all the interesting news. As he
listened to Petritsky's familiar stories in the familiar setting
of the rooms he had spent the last three years in, Vronsky felt a
delightful sense of coming back to the careless Petersburg life
that he was used to.
"Impossible!" he cried, letting down the pedal of the washing
basin in which he had been sousing his healthy red neck.
"Impossible!" he cried, at the news that Laura had flung over
Fertinghof and had made up to Mileev. "And is he as stupid and
pleased as ever? Well, and how's Buzulukov?"
"Oh, there is a tale about Buzulukov--simply lovely!" cried
Petritsky. "You know his weakness for balls, and he never misses
a single court ball. He went to a big ball in a new helmet.
Have you seen the new helmets? Very nice, lighter. Well, so
he's standing.... No, I say, do listen."
"I am listening," answered Vronsky, rubbing himself with a rough
"Up comes the Grand Duchess with some ambassador or other, and,
as ill-luck would have it, she begins talking to him about the
new helmets. The Grand Duchess positively wanted to show the new
helmet to the ambassador. They see our friend standing there."
(Petritsky mimicked how he was standing with the helmet.) "The
Grand Duchess asked him to give her the helmet; he doesn't give
it to her. What do you think of that? Well, every one's winking
at him, nodding, frowning--give it to her, do! He doesn't give
it to her. He's mute as a fish. Only picture it!... Well,
the...what's his name, whatever he was...tries to take the helmet
from him...he won't give it up!... He pulls it from him, and
hands it to the Grand Duchess. 'Here, your Highness,' says he,
'is the new helmet.' She turned the helmet the other side up,
And--just picture it!--plop went a pear and sweetmeats out of it,
two pounds of sweetmeats!...He'd been storing them up, the
Vronsky burst into roars of laughter. And long afterwards, when
he was talking of other things, he broke out into his healthy
laugh, showing his strong, close rows of teeth, when he thought
of the helmet.
Having heard all the news, Vronsky, with the assistance of his
valet, got into his uniform, and went off to report himself. He
intended, when he had done that, to drive to his brother's and to
Betsy's and to pay several visits with a view to beginning to go
into that society where he might meet Madame Karenina. As he
always did in Petersburg, he left home not meaning to return till
late at night.
At the end of the winter, in the Shtcherbatskys' house, a
consultation was being held, which was to pronounce on the state
of Kitty's health and the measures to be taken to restore her
failing strength. She had been ill, and as spring came on she
grew worse. The family doctor gave her cod liver oil, then iron,
then nitrate of silver, but as the first and the second and the
third were alike in doing no good, and as his advice when spring
came was to go abroad, a celebrated physician was called in. The
celebrated physician, a very handsome man, still youngish, asked
to examine the patient. He maintained, with peculiar
satisfaction, it seemed, that maiden modesty is a mere relic of
barbarism, and that nothing could be more natural than for a man
still youngish to handle a young girl naked. He thought it
natural because he did it every day, and felt and thought, as it
seemed to him, no harm as he did it and consequently he
considered modesty in the girl not merely as a relic of
barbarism, but also as an insult to himself.
There was nothing for it but to submit, since, although all the
doctors had studied in the same school, had read the same books,
and learned the same science, and though some people said this
celebrated doctor was a bad doctor, in the princess's household
and circle it was for some reason accepted that this celebrated
doctor alone had some special knowledge, and that he alone could
save Kitty. After a careful examination and sounding of the
bewildered patient, dazed with shame, the celebrated doctor,
having scrupulously washed his hands, was standing in the drawing
room talking to the prince. The prince frowned and coughed,
listening to the doctor. As a man who had seen something of
life, and neither a fool nor an invalid, he had no faith in
medicine, and in his heart was furious at the whole farce,
specially as he was perhaps the only one who fully comprehended
the cause of Kitty's illness. "Conceited blockhead!" he thought,
as he listened to the celebrated doctor's chatter about his
daughter's symptoms. The doctor was meantime with difficulty
restraining the expression of his contempt for this old
gentleman, and with difficulty condescending to the level of his
intelligence. He perceived that it was no good talking to the
old man, and that the principal person in the house was the
mother. Before her he decided to scatter his pearls. At that
instant the princess came into the drawing room with the family
doctor. The prince withdrew, trying not to show how ridiculous
he thought the whole performance. The princess was distracted,
and did not know what to do. She felt she had sinned against
"Well, doctor, decide our fate," said the princess. "Tell me
"Is there hope?" she meant to say, but her lips quivered, and she
could not utter the question. "Well, doctor?"
"Immediately, princess. I will talk it over with my colleague,
and then I will have the honor of laying my opinion before you."
"So we had better leave you?"
"As you please."
The princess went out with a sigh.
When the doctors were left alone, the family doctor began timidly
explaining his opinion, that there was a commencement of
tuberculous trouble, but...and so on. The celebrated doctor
listened to him, and in the middle of his sentence looked at his
big gold watch.
"Yes," said he. "But..."
The family doctor respectfully ceased in the middle of his
"The commencement of the tuberculous process we are not, as you
are aware, able to define; till there are cavities, there is
nothing definite. But we may suspect it. And there are
indications; malnutrition, nervous excitability, and so on. The
question stands thus: in presence of indications of tuberculous
process, what is to be done to maintain nutrition?"
"But, you know, there are always moral, spiritual causes at the
back in these cases," the family doctor permitted himself to
interpolate with a subtle smile.
"Yes, that's an understood thing," responded the celebrated
physician, again glancing at his watch. "Beg pardon, is the
Yausky bridge done yet, or shall I have to drive around?" he
asked. "Ah! it is. Oh, well, then I can do it in twenty
minutes. So we were saying the problem may be put thus: to
maintain nutrition and to give tone to the nerves. The one is in
close connection with the other, one must attack both sides at
"And how about a tour abroad?" asked the family doctor.
"I've no liking for foreign tours. And take note: if there is
an early stage of tuberculous process, of which we cannot be
certain, a foreign tour will be of no use. What is wanted is
means of improving nutrition, and not for lowering it." And the
celebrated doctor expounded his plan of treatment with Soden
waters, a remedy obviously prescribed primarily on the ground
that they could do no harm.
The family doctor listened attentively and respectfully.
"But in favor of foreign travel I would urge the change of
habits, the removal from conditions calling up reminiscences.
And then the mother wishes it," he added.
"Ah! Well, in that case, to be sure, let them go. Only, those
German quacks are mischievous.... They ought to be persuaded....
Well, let them go then."
He glanced once more at his watch.
"Oh! time's up already," And he went to the door. The celebrated
doctor announced to the princess (a feeling of what was due from
him dictated his doing so) that he ought to see the patient once
"What! another examination!" cried the mother, with horror.
"Oh, no, only a few details, princess."
"Come this way."
And the mother, accompanied by the doctor, went into the drawing
room to Kitty. Wasted and flushed, with a peculiar glitter in
her eyes, left there by the agony of shame she had been put
through, Kitty stood in the middle of the room. When the doctor
came in she flushed crimson, and her eyes filled with tears. All
her illness and treatment struck her as a thing so stupid,
ludicrous even! Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as
putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was
broken. Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?
But she could not grieve her mother, especially as her mother
considered herself to blame.
"May I trouble you to sit down, princess?" the celebrated doctor
said to her.
He sat down with a smile, facing her, felt her pulse, and again
began asking her tiresome questions. She answered him, and all at
once got up, furious.
"Excuse me, doctor, but there is really no object in this. This
is the third time you've asked me the same thing."
The celebrated doctor did not take offense.
"Nervous irritability," he said to the princess, when Kitty had
left the room. "However, I had finished..."
And the doctor began scientifically explaining to the princess,
as an exceptionally intelligent woman, the condition of the young
princess, and concluded by insisting on the drinking of
the waters, which were certainly harmless. At the question:
Should they go abroad? the doctor plunged into deep meditation,
as though resolving a weighty problem. Finally his decision was
pronounced: they were to go abroad, but to put no faith in
foreign quacks, and to apply to him in any need.
It seemed as though some piece of good fortune had come to pass
after the doctor had gone. The mother was much more cheerful
when she went back to her daughter, and Kitty pretended to be
more cheerful. She had often, almost always, to be pretending
"Really, I'm quite well, mamma. But if you want to go abroad,
let's go!" she said, and trying to appear interested in the
proposed tour, she began talking of the preparations for the
Soon after the doctor, Dolly had arrived. She knew that there
was to be a consultation that day, and though she was only just
up after her confinement (she had another baby, a little girl,
born at the end of the winter), though she had trouble and
anxiety enough of her own, she had left her tiny baby and a sick
child, to come and hear Kitty's fate, which was to be decided
"Well, well?" she said, coming into the drawing room, without
taking off her hat. "You're all in good spirits. Good news,
They tried to tell her what the doctor had said, but it appeared
that though the doctor had talked distinctly enough and at great
length, it was utterly impossible to report what he had said.
The only point of interest was that it was settled they should go
Dolly could not help sighing. Her dearest friend, her sister,
was going away. And her life was not a cheerful one. Her
relations with Stepan Arkadyevitch after their reconciliation had
become humiliating. The union Anna had cemented turned out to be
of no solid character, and family harmony was breaking down again
at the same point. There had been nothing definite, but Stepan
Arkadyevitch was hardly ever at home; money, too, was hardly ever
forthcoming, and Dolly was continually tortured by suspicions of
infidelity, which she tried to dismiss, dreading the agonies of
jealousy she had been through already. The first onslaught of
jealousy, once lived through, could never come back again, and
even the discovery of infidelities could never now affect her as
it had the first time. Such a discovery now would only mean
breaking up family habits, and she let herself be deceived,
despising him and still more herself, for the weakness. Besides
this, the care of her large family was a constant worry to her:
first, the nursing of her young baby did not go well, then the
nurse had gone away, now one of the children had fallen ill.
"Well, how are all of you?" asked her mother.
"Ah, mamma, we have plenty of troubles of our own. Lili is ill,
and I'm afraid it's scarlatina. I have come here now to hear
about Kitty, and then I shall shut myself up entirely, if--God
forbid--it should be scarlatina."
The old prince too had come in from his study after the doctor's
departure, and after presenting his cheek to Dolly, and saying a
few words to her, he turned to his wife:
"How have you settled it? you're going? Well, and what do you
mean to do with me?"
"I suppose you had better stay here, Alexander," said his wife.
"That's as you like."
"Mamma, why shouldn't father come with us?" said Kitty. "It
would be nicer for him and for us too."
The old prince got up and stroked Kitty's hair. She lifted her
head and looked at him with a forced smile. It always seemed to
her that he understood her better than anyone in the family,
though he did not say much about her. Being the youngest, she
was her father's favorite, and she fancied that his love gave him
insight. When now her glance met his blue kindly eyes looking
intently at her, it seemed to her that he saw right through her,
and understood all that was not good that was passing within her.
Reddening, she stretched out towards him expecting a kiss, but he
only patted her hair and said:
"These stupid chignons! There's no getting at the real daughter.
One simply strokes the bristles of dead women. Well, Dolinka,"
he turned to his elder daughter, "what's your young buck about,
"Nothing, father," answered Dolly, understanding that her husband
was meant. "He's always out; I scarcely ever see him," she could
not resist adding with a sarcastic smile.
"Why, hasn't he gone into the country yet--to see about selling
"No, he's still getting ready for the journey."
"Oh, that's it!" said the prince. "And so am I to be getting
ready for a journey too? At your service," he said to his wife,
sitting down. "And I tell you what, Katia," he went on to his
younger daughter, "you must wake up one fine day and say to
yourself: Why, I'm quite well, and merry, and going out again
with father for an early morning walk in the frost. Hey?"
What her father said seemed simple enough, yet at these words
Kitty became confused and overcome like a detected criminal.
"Yes, he sees it all, he understands it all, and in these words
he's telling me that though I'm ashamed, I must get over my
shame." She could not pluck up spirit to make any answer. She
tried to begin, and all at once burst into tears, and rushed out
of the room.
"See what comes of your jokes!" the princess pounced down on her
husband. "You're always..." she began a string of reproaches.
The prince listened to the princess's scolding rather a long
while without speaking, but his face was more and more frowning.
"She's so much to be pitied, poor child, so much to be pitied,
and you don't feel how it hurts her to hear the slightest
reference to the cause of it. Ah! to be so mistaken in people!"
said the princess, and by the change in her tone both Dolly and
the prince knew she was speaking of Vronsky. "I don't know why
there aren't laws against such base, dishonorable people."
"Ah, I can't bear to hear you!" said the prince gloomily, getting
up from his low chair, and seeming anxious to get away, yet
stopping in the doorway. "There are laws, madam, and since
you've challenged me to it, I'll tell you who's to blame for it
all: you and you, you and nobody else. Laws against such young
gallants there have always been, and there still are! Yes, if
there has been nothing that ought not to have been, old as I am,
I'd have called him out to the barrier, the young dandy. Yes,
and now you physic her and call in these quacks."
The prince apparently had plenty more to say, but as soon as the
princess heard his tone she subsided at once, and became
penitent, as she always did on serious occasions.
"Alexander, Alexander," she whispered, moving to him and
beginning to weep.
As soon as she began to cry the prince too calmed down. He went
up to her.
"There, that's enough, that's enough! You're wretched too, I
know. It can't be helped. There's no great harm done. God is
merciful...thanks..." he said, not knowing what he was saying, as
he responded to the tearful kiss of the princess that he felt on
his hand. And the prince went out of the room.
Before this, as soon as Kitty went out of the room in tears,
Dolly, with her motherly, family instincts, had promptly
perceived that here a woman's work lay before her, and she
prepared to do it. She took off her hat, and, morally speaking,
tucked up her sleeves and prepared for action. While her mother
was attacking her father, she tried to restrain her mother, so
far as filial reverence would allow. During the prince's
outburst she was silent; she felt ashamed for her mother, and
tender towards her father for so quickly being kind again. But
when her father left them she made ready for what was the chief
thing needful--to go to Kitty and console her.
"I'd been meaning to tell you something for a long while, mamma:
did you know that Levin meant to make Kitty an offer when he was
here the last time? He told Stiva so."
"Well, what then? I don't understand..."
"So did Kitty perhaps refuse him?... She didn't tell you so?"
"No, she has said nothing to me either of one or the other; she's
too proud. But I know it's all on account of the other."
"Yes, but suppose she has refused Levin, and she wouldn't have
refused him if it hadn't been for the other, I know. And then,
he has deceived her so horribly."
It was too terrible for the princess to think how she had sinned
against her daughter, and she broke out angrily.
"Oh, I really don't understand! Nowadays they will all go their
own way, and mothers haven't a word to say in anything, and
"Mamma, I'll go up to her."
"Well, do. Did I tell you not to?" said her mother.
When she went into Kitty's little room, a pretty, pink little
room, full of knick-knacks in "vieux saxe," as fresh, and pink,
and white, and gay as Kitty herself had been two months ago,
Dolly remembered how they had decorated the room the year before
together, with what love and gaiety. Her heart turned cold when
she saw Kitty sitting on a low chair near the door, her eyes
fixed immovably on a corner of the rug. Kitty glanced at her
sister, and the cold, rather ill-tempered expression of her face
did not change.
"I'm just going now, and I shall have to keep in and you won't be
able to come to see me," said Dolly, sitting down beside her. "I
want to talk to you."
"What about?" Kitty asked swiftly, lifting her head in dismay.
"What should it be, but your trouble?"
"I have no trouble."
"Nonsense, Kitty. Do you suppose I could help knowing? I know
all about it. And believe me, it's of so little
consequence.... We've all been through it."
Kitty did not speak, and her face had a stern expression.
"He's not worth your grieving over him," pursued Darya
Alexandrovna, coming straight to the point.
"No, because he has treated me with contempt," said Kitty, in a
breaking voice. "Don't talk of it! Please, don't talk of it!"
"But who can have told you so? No one has said that. I'm
certain he was in love with you, and would still be in love with
you, if it hadn't...
"Oh, the most awful thing of all for me is this sympathizing!"
shrieked Kitty, suddenly flying into a passion. She turned round
on her chair, flushed crimson, and rapidly moving her fingers,
pinched the clasp of her belt first with one hand and then with
the other. Dolly knew this trick her sister had of clenching her
hands when she was much excited; she knew, too, that in moments
of excitement Kitty was capable of forgetting herself and saying
a great deal too much, and Dolly would have soothed her, but it
was too late.
"What, what is it you want to make me feel, eh?" said Kitty
quickly. "That I've been in love with a man who didn't care a
straw for me, and that I'm dying of love for him? And this is
said to me by my own sister, who imagines that...that...that
she's sympathizing with me!...I don't want these condolences
"Kitty, you're unjust."
"Why are you tormenting me?"
"But I...quite the contrary...I see you're unhappy..."
But Kitty in her fury did not hear her.
"I've nothing to grieve over and be comforted about. I am too
proud ever to allow myself to care for a man who does not love
"Yes, I don't say so either.... Only one thing. Tell me the
truth," said Darya Alexandrovna, taking her by the hand: "tell
me, did Levin speak to you?..."
The mention of Levin's name seemed to deprive Kitty of the last
vestige of self-control. She leaped up from her chair, and
flinging her clasp on the ground, she gesticulated rapidly with
her hands and said:
"Why bring Levin in too? I can't understand what you want to
torment me for. I've told you, and I say it again, that I have
some pride, and never, "never" would I do as you're doing--go back
to a man who's deceived you, who has cared for another woman. I
can't understand it! You may, but I can't!"
And saying these words she glanced at her sister, and seeing that
Dolly sat silent, her head mournfully bowed, Kitty, instead of
running out of the room as she had meant to do, sat down near the
door, and hid her face in her handkerchief.
The silence lasted for two minutes: Dolly was thinking of
herself. That humiliation of which she was always conscious came
back to her with a peculiar bitterness when her sister reminded
her of it. She had not looked for such cruelty in her sister,
and she was angry with her. But suddenly she heard the rustle of
a skirt, and with it the sound of heart-rending, smothered
sobbing, and felt arms about her neck. Kitty was on her knees
"Dolinka, I am so, so wretched!" she whispered penitently. And
the sweet face covered with tears hid itself in Darya
As though tears were the indispensable oil, without which the
machinery of mutual confidence could not run smoothly between the
two sisters, the sisters after their tears talked, not of what
was uppermost in their minds, but, though they talked of outside
matters, they understood each other. Kitty knew that the words
she had uttered in anger about her husband's infidelity and her
humiliating position had cut her poor sister to the heart, but
that she had forgiven her. Dolly for her part knew all she had
wanted to find out. She felt certain that her surmises were
correct; that Kitty's misery, her inconsolable misery, was due
precisely to the fact that Levin had made her an offer and she
had refused him, and Vronsky had deceived her, and that she was
fully prepared to love Levin and to detest Vronsky. Kitty said
not a word of that; she talked of nothing but her spiritual
"I have nothing to make me miserable," she said, getting calmer;
"but can you understand that everything has become hateful,
loathsome, coarse to me, and I myself most of all? You can't
imagine what loathsome thoughts I have about everything."
"Why, whatever loathsome thoughts can you have?" asked Dolly,
"The most utterly loathsome and coarse: I can't tell you. It's
not unhappiness, or low spirits, but much worse. As though
everything that was good in me was all hidden away, and nothing
was left but the most loathsome. Come, how am I to tell you?"
she went on, seeing the puzzled look in her sister's eyes.
"Father began saying something to me just now.... It seems to me
he thinks all I want is to be married. Mother takes me to a
ball: it seems to me she only takes me to get me married off as
soon as may be, and be rid
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