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
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 and humbug!”
“Kitty, you’re unjust.”
“Why are you tormenting me?”
“But I…quite the contrary…I see you’re
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
“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
“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 before her.
“Dolinka, I am so, so wretched!”
she whispered penitently. And the sweet face
covered with tears hid itself in Darya Alexandrovna’s
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 condition.
“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, smiling.
“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 of me. I know it’s not the
truth, but I can’t drive away such thoughts.
Eligible suitors, as they call them I
can’t bear to see them. It seems to me
they’re taking stock of me and summing me up.
In old days to go anywhere in a ball dress was a
simple joy to me, I admired myself; now I feel ashamed
and awkward. And then! The doctor….
Then…” Kitty hesitated; she wanted to
say further that ever since this change had taken
place in her, Stepan Arkadyevitch had become insufferably
repulsive to her, and that she could not see him without
the grossest and most hideous conceptions rising before
“Oh, well, everything presents
itself to me, in the coarsest, most loathsome light,”
she went on. “That’s my illness.
Perhaps it will pass off.”
“But you mustn’t think about it.”
“I can’t help it.
I’m never happy except with the children at
“What a pity you can’t be with me!”
“Oh, yes, I’m coming.
I’ve had scarlatina, and I’ll persuade
mamma to let me.”
Kitty insisted on having her way,
and went to stay at her sister’s and nursed
the children all through the scarlatina, for scarlatina
it turned out to be. The two sisters brought
all the six children successfully through it, but
Kitty was no better in health, and in Lent the Shtcherbatskys