FictionForest

PART ONE : Chapter 15

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

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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 match-making!”

“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 head…”

“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 Dolly.”

“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 opinion.

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.”

 

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