FictionForest

PART EIGHT : Chapter 18

Leo TolstoyAug 26, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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During the whole of that day, in the
extremely different conversations in which he took
part, only as it were with the top layer of his mind,
in spite of the disappointment of not finding the
change he expected in himself, Levin had been all the
while joyfully conscious of the fulness of his heart.

After the rain it was too wet to go
for a walk; besides, the storm clouds still hung about
the horizon, and gathered here and there, black and
thundery, on the rim of the sky.  The whole party
spent the rest of the day in the house.

No more discussions sprang up; on
the contrary, after dinner every one was in the most
amiable frame of mind.

At first Katavasov amused the ladies
by his original jokes, which always pleased people
on their first acquaintance with him.  Then Sergey
Ivanovitch induced him to tell them about the very
interesting observations he had made on the habits
and characteristics of common houseflies, and their
life.  Sergey Ivanovitch, too, was in good spirits,
and at tea his brother drew him on to explain his
views of the future of the Eastern question, and he
spoke so simply and so well, that everyone listened
eagerly.

Kitty was the only one who did not
hear it all ­she was summoned to give Mitya
his bath.

A few minutes after Kitty had left
the room she sent for Levin to come to the nursery.

Leaving his tea, and regretfully interrupting
the interesting conversation, and at the same time
uneasily wondering why he had been sent for, as this
only happened on important occasions, Levin went to
the nursery.

Although he had been much interested
by Sergey Ivanovitch’s views of the new epoch
in history that would be created by the emancipation
of forty millions of men of Slavonic race acting with
Russia, a conception quite new to him, and although
he was disturbed by uneasy wonder at being sent for
by Kitty, as soon as he came out of the drawing room
and was alone, his mind reverted at once to the thoughts
of the morning.  And all the theories of the
significance of the Slav element in the history of
the world seemed to him so trivial compared with what
was passing in his own soul, that he instantly forgot
it all and dropped back into the same frame of mind
that he had been in that morning.

He did not, as he had done at other
times, recall the whole train of thought ­that
he did not need.  He fell back at once into the
feeling which had guided him, which was connected with
those thoughts, and he found that feeling in his soul
even stronger and more definite than before. 
He did not, as he had had to do with previous attempts
to find comforting arguments, need to revive a whole
chain of thought to find the feeling.  Now, on
the contrary, the feeling of joy and peace was keener
than ever, and thought could not keep pace with feeling.

He walked across the terrace and looked
at two stars that had come out in the darkening sky,
and suddenly he remembered.  “Yes, looking
at the sky, I thought that the dome that I see is not
a deception, and then I thought something, I shirked
facing something,” he mused.  “But
whatever it was, there can be no disproving it! 
I have but to think, and all will come clear!”

Just as he was going into the nursery
he remembered what it was he had shirked facing. 
It was that if the chief proof of the Divinity was
His revelation of what is right, how is it this revelation
is confined to the Christian church alone?  What
relation to this revelation have the beliefs of the
Buddhists, Mohammedans, who preached and did good
too?

It seemed to him that he had an answer
to this question; but he had not time to formulate
it to himself before he went into the nursery.

Kitty was standing with her sleeves
tucked up over the baby in the bath.  Hearing
her husband’s footstep, she turned towards him,
summoning him to her with her smile.  With one
hand she was supporting the fat baby that lay floating
and sprawling on its back, while with the other she
squeezed the sponge over him.

“Come, look, look!” she
said, when her husband came up to her.  “Agafea
Mihalovna’s right.  He knows us!”

Mitya had on that day given unmistakable,
incontestable signs of recognizing all his friends.

As soon as Levin approached the bath,
the experiment was tried, and it was completely successful. 
The cook, sent for with this object, bent over the
baby.  He frowned and shook his head disapprovingly. 
Kitty bent down to him, he gave her a beaming smile,
propped his little hands on the sponge and chirruped,
making such a queer little contented sound with his
lips, that Kitty and the nurse were not alone in their
admiration.  Levin, too, was surprised and delighted.

The baby was taken out of the bath,
drenched with water, wrapped in towels, dried, and
after a piercing scream, handed to his mother.

“Well, I am glad you are beginning
to love him,” said Kitty to her husband, when
she had settled herself comfortably in her usual place,
with the baby at her breast.  “I am so glad! 
It had begun to distress me.  You said you had
no feeling for him.”

“No; did I say that?  I
only said I was disappointed.”

“What! disappointed in him?”

“Not disappointed in him, but
in my own feeling; I had expected more.  I had
expected a rush of new delightful emotion to come
as a surprise.  And then instead of that ­disgust,
pity…”

She listened attentively, looking
at him over the baby, while she put back on her slender
fingers the rings she had taken off while giving Mitya
his bath.

“And most of all, at there being
far more apprehension and pity than pleasure. 
Today, after that fright during the storm, I understand
how I love him.”

Kitty’s smile was radiant.

“Were you very much frightened?”
she said.  “So was I too, but I feel it
more now that it’s over.  I’m going
to look at the oak.  How nice Katavasov is! 
And what a happy day we’ve had altogether. 
And you’re so nice with Sergey Ivanovitch, when
you care to be….  Well, go back to them. 
It’s always so hot and steamy here after the
bath.”

 

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