FictionForest

PART SEVEN : Chapter 13

Leo TolstoyAug 25, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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There are no conditions to which a
man cannot become used, especially if he sees that
all around him are living in the same way.  Levin
could not have believed three months before that he
could have gone quietly to sleep in the condition in
which he was that day, that leading an aimless, irrational
life, living too beyond his means, after drinking
to excess (he could not call what happened at the
club anything else), forming inappropriately friendly
relations with a man with whom his wife had once been
in love, and a still more inappropriate call upon
a woman who could only be called a lost woman, after
being fascinated by that woman and causing his wife
distress ­he could still go quietly to sleep. 
But under the influence of fatigue, a sleepless night,
and the wine he had drunk, his sleep was sound and
untroubled.

At five o’clock the creak of
a door opening waked him.  He jumped up and looked
round.  Kitty was not in bed beside him. 
But there was a light moving behind the screen, and
he heard her steps.

“What is it?…what is it?”
he said, half-asleep.  “Kitty!  What
is it?”

“Nothing,” she said, coming
from behind the screen with a candle in her hand. 
“I felt unwell,” she said, smiling a particularly
sweet and meaning smile.

“What? has it begun?”
he said in terror.  “We ought to send…”
and hurriedly he reached after his clothes.

“No, no,” she said, smiling
and holding his hand.  “It’s sure
to be nothing.  I was rather unwell, only a little. 
It’s all over now.”

And getting into bed, she blew out
the candle, lay down and was still.  Though he
thought her stillness suspicious, as though she were
holding her breath, and still more suspicious the expression
of peculiar tenderness and excitement with which, as
she came from behind the screen, she said “nothing,”
he was so sleepy that he fell asleep at once. 
Only later he remembered the stillness of her breathing,
and understood all that must have been passing in
her sweet, precious heart while she lay beside him,
not stirring, in anticipation of the greatest event
in a woman’s life.  At seven o’clock
he was waked by the touch of her hand on his shoulder,
and a gentle whisper.  She seemed struggling
between regret at waking him, and the desire to talk
to him.

“Kostya, don’t be frightened. 
It’s all right.  But I fancy…. 
We ought to send for Lizaveta Petrovna.”

The candle was lighted again. 
She was sitting up in bed, holding some knitting,
which she had been busy upon during the last few days.

“Please, don’t be frightened,
it’s all right.  I’m not a bit afraid,”
she said, seeing his scared face, and she pressed his
hand to her bosom and then to her lips.

He hurriedly jumped up, hardly awake,
and kept his eyes fixed on her, as he put on his dressing
gown; then he stopped, still looking at her. 
He had to go, but he could not tear himself from
her eyes.  He thought he loved her face, knew
her expression, her eyes, but never had he seen it
like this.  How hateful and horrible he seemed
to himself, thinking of the distress he had caused
her yesterday.  Her flushed face, fringed with
soft curling hair under her night cap, was radiant
with joy and courage.

Though there was so little that was
complex or artificial in Kitty’s character in
general, Levin was struck by what was revealed now,
when suddenly all disguises were thrown off and the
very kernel of her soul shone in her eyes.  And
in this simplicity and nakedness of her soul, she,
the very woman he loved in her, was more manifest
than ever.  She looked at him, smiling; but all
at once her brows twitched, she threw up her head,
and going quickly up to him, clutched his hand and
pressed close up to him, breathing her hot breath
upon him.  She was in pain and was, as it were,
complaining to him of her suffering.  And for
the first minute, from habit, it seemed to him that
he was to blame.  But in her eyes there was a
tenderness that told him that she was far from reproaching
him, that she loved him for her sufferings. 
“If not I, who is to blame for it?” he
thought unconsciously, seeking someone responsible
for this suffering for him to punish; but there was
no one responsible.  She was suffering, complaining,
and triumphing in her sufferings, and rejoicing in
them, and loving them.  He saw that something
sublime was being accomplished in her soul, but what? 
He could not make it out.  It was beyond his
understanding.

“I have sent to mamma. 
You go quickly to fetch Lizaveta Petrovna …Kostya!… 
Nothing, it’s over.”

She moved away from him and rang the bell.

“Well, go now; Pasha’s coming.  I
am all right.”

And Levin saw with astonishment that
she had taken up the knitting she had brought in in
the night and begun working at it again.

As Levin was going out of one door,
he heard the maid-servant come in at the other. 
He stood at the door and heard Kitty giving exact
directions to the maid, and beginning to help her
move the bedstead.

He dressed, and while they were putting
in his horses, as a hired sledge was not to be seen
yet, he ran again up to the bedroom, not on tiptoe,
it seemed to him, but on wings.  Two maid-servants
were carefully moving something in the bedroom.

Kitty was walking about knitting rapidly
and giving directions.

“I’m going for the doctor. 
They have sent for Lizaveta Petrovna, but I’ll
go on there too.  Isn’t there anything wanted? 
Yes, shall I go to Dolly’s?”

She looked at him, obviously not hearing
what he was saying.

“Yes, yes.  Do go,”
she said quickly, frowning and waving her hand to
him.

He had just gone into the drawing
room, when suddenly a plaintive moan sounded from
the bedroom, smothered instantly.  He stood still,
and for a long while he could not understand.

“Yes, that is she,” he
said to himself, and clutching at his head he ran
downstairs.

“Lord have mercy on us! pardon
us! aid us!” he repeated the words that for
some reason came suddenly to his lips.  And he,
an unbeliever, repeated these words not with his lips
only.  At that instant he knew that all his doubts,
even the impossibility of believing with his reason,
of which he was aware in himself, did not in the least
hinder his turning to God.  All of that now floated
out of his soul like dust.  To whom was he to
turn if not to Him in whose hands he felt himself,
his soul, and his love?

The horse was not yet ready, but feeling
a peculiar concentration of his physical forces and
his intellect on what he had to do, he started off
on foot without waiting for the horse, and told Kouzma
to overtake him.

At the corner he met a night cabman
driving hurriedly.  In the little sledge, wrapped
in a velvet cloak, sat Lizaveta Petrovna with a kerchief
round her head.  “Thank God! thank God!”
he said, overjoyed to recognize her little fair face
which wore a peculiarly serious, even stern expression. 
Telling the driver not to stop, he ran along beside
her.

“For two hours, then? 
Not more?” she inquired.  “You should
let Pyotr Dmitrievitch know, but don’t hurry
him.  And get some opium at the chemist’s.”

“So you think that it may go
on well?  Lord have mercy on us and help us!”
Levin said, seeing his own horse driving out of the
gate.  Jumping into the sledge beside Kouzma,
he told him to drive to the doctor’s.

 

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