FictionForest

PART ONE : Chapter 13

Leo TolstoyAug 21, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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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 courage.

“Mamma will be down directly. 
She was very much tired….  Yesterday…”

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.

 

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