FictionForest

PART TWO : Chapter 35

Leo TolstoyAug 22, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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The prince communicated his good humor
to his own family and his friends, and even to the
German landlord in whose rooms the Shtcherbatskys
were staying.

On coming back with Kitty from the
springs, the prince, who had asked the colonel, and
Marya Yevgenyevna, and Varenka all to come and have
coffee with them, gave orders for a table and chairs
to be taken into the garden under the chestnut tree,
and lunch to be laid there.  The landlord and
the servants, too, grew brisker under the influence
of his good spirits.  They knew his open-handedness;
and half an hour later the invalid doctor from Hamburg,
who lived on the top floor, looked enviously out of
the window at the merry party of healthy Russians
assembled under the chestnut tree.  In the trembling
circles of shadow cast by the leaves, at a table,
covered with a white cloth, and set with coffeepot,
bread-and-butter, cheese, and cold game, sat the princess
in a high cap with lilac ribbons, distributing cups
and bread-and-butter.  At the other end sat the
prince, eating heartily, and talking loudly and merrily. 
The prince had spread out near him his purchases,
carved boxes, and knick-knacks, paper-knives of all
sorts, of which he bought a heap at every watering-place,
and bestowed them upon everyone, including Lieschen,
the servant girl, and the landlord, with whom he jested
in his comically bad German, assuring him that it was
not the water had cured Kitty, but his splendid cookery,
especially his plum soup.  The princess laughed
at her husband for his Russian ways, but she was more
lively and good-humored than she had been all the
while she had been at the waters.  The colonel
smiled, as he always did, at the prince’s jokes,
but as far as regards Europe, of which he believed
himself to be making a careful study, he took the
princess’s side.  The simple-hearted Marya
Yevgenyevna simply roared with laughter at everything
absurd the prince said, and his jokes made Varenka
helpless with feeble but infectious laughter, which
was something Kitty had never seen before.

Kitty was glad of all this, but she
could not be light-hearted.  She could not solve
the problem her father had unconsciously set her by
his goodhumored view of her friends, and of the life
that had so attracted her.  To this doubt there
was joined the change in her relations with the Petrovs,
which had been so conspicuously and unpleasantly marked
that morning.  Everyone was good humored, but
Kitty could not feel good humored, and this increased
her distress.  She felt a feeling such as she
had known in childhood, when she had been shut in
her room as a punishment, and had heard her sisters’
merry laughter outside.

“Well, but what did you buy
this mass of things for?” said the princess,
smiling, and handing her husband a cup of coffee.

“One goes for a walk, one looks
in a shop, and they ask you to buy. ‘Erlaucht,
Durchlaucht?
’ Directly they say ‘Durchlaucht,’
I can’t hold out.  I lose ten thalers.”

“It’s simply from boredom,” said
the princess.

“Of course it is.  Such
boredom, my dear, that one doesn’t know what
to do with oneself.”

“How can you be bored, prince? 
There’s so much that’s interesting now
in Germany,” said Marya Yevgenyevna.

“But I know everything that’s
interesting:  the plum soup I know, and the pea
sausages I know.  I know everything.”

“No, you may say what you like,
prince, there’s the interest of their institutions,”
said the colonel.

“But what is there interesting
about it?  They’re all as pleased as brass
halfpence.  They’ve conquered everybody,
and why am I to be pleased at that?  I haven’t
conquered anyone; and I’m obliged to take off
my own boots, yes, and put them away too; in the morning,
get up and dress at once, and go to the dining room
to drink bad tea!  How different it is at home! 
You get up in no haste, you get cross, grumble a
little, and come round again.  You’ve time
to think things over, and no hurry.”

“But time’s money, you
forget that,” said the colonel.

“Time, indeed, that depends! 
Why, there’s time one would give a month of
for sixpence, and time you wouldn’t give half
an hour of for any money.  Isn’t that so,
Katinka?  What is it? why are you so depressed?”

“I’m not depressed.”

“Where are you off to? 
Stay a little longer,” he said to Varenka.

“I must be going home,”
said Varenka, getting up, and again she went off into
a giggle.  When she had recovered, she said good-bye,
and went into the house to get her hat.

Kitty followed her.  Even Varenka
struck her as different.  She was not worse,
but different from what she had fancied her before.

“Oh, dear! it’s a long
while since I’ve laughed so much!” said
Varenka, gathering up her parasol and her bag. 
“How nice he is, your father!”

Kitty did not speak.

“When shall I see you again?” asked Varenka.

“Mamma meant to go and see the
Petrovs.  Won’t you be there?” said
Kitty, to try Varenka.

“Yes,” answered Varenka. 
“They’re getting ready to go away, so
I promised to help them pack.”

“Well, I’ll come too, then.”

“No, why should you?”

“Why not? why not? why not?”
said Kitty, opening her eyes wide, and clutching at
Varenka’s parasol, so as not to let her go. 
“No, wait a minute; why not?”

“Oh, nothing; your father has
come, and besides, they will feel awkward at your
helping.”

“No, tell me why you don’t
want me to be often at the Petrovs’.  You
don’t want me to ­why not?”

“I didn’t say that,” said Varenka
quietly.

“No, please tell me!”

“Tell you everything?” asked Varenka.

“Everything, everything!” Kitty assented.

“Well, there’s really
nothing of any consequence; only that Mihail Alexeyevitch”
(that was the artist’s name) “had meant
to leave earlier, and now he doesn’t want to
go away,” said Varenka, smiling.

“Well, well!” Kitty urged impatiently,
looking darkly at Varenka.

“Well, and for some reason Anna
Pavlovna told him that he didn’t want to go
because you are here.  Of course, that was nonsense;
but there was a dispute over it ­over you. 
You know how irritable these sick people are.”

Kitty, scowling more than ever, kept
silent, and Varenka went on speaking alone, trying
to soften or soothe her, and seeing a storm coming ­she
did not know whether of tears or of words.

“So you’d better not go…. 
You understand; you won’t be offended?…”

“And it serves me right! 
And it serves me right!” Kitty cried quickly,
snatching the parasol out of Varenka’s hand,
and looking past her friend’s face.

Varenka felt inclined to smile, looking
at her childish fury, but she was afraid of wounding
her.

“How does it serve you right? 
I don’t understand,” she said.

“It serves me right, because
it was all sham; because it was all done on purpose,
and not from the heart.  What business had I to
interfere with outsiders?  And so it’s come
about that I’m a cause of quarrel, and that
I’ve done what nobody asked me to do.  Because
it was all a sham! a sham! a sham!…”

“A sham! with what object?” said Varenka
gently.

“Oh, it’s so idiotic!
so hateful!  There was no need whatever for me…. 
Nothing but sham!” she said, opening and shutting
the parasol.

“But with what object?”

“To seem better to people, to
myself, to God; to deceive everyone.  No! now
I won’t descend to that.  I’ll be
bad; but anyway not a liar, a cheat.”

“But who is a cheat?”
said Varenka reproachfully.  “You speak
as if…”

But Kitty was in one of her gusts
of fury, and she would not let her finish.

“I don’t talk about you,
not about you at all.  You’re perfection. 
Yes, yes, I know you’re all perfection; but
what am I to do if I’m bad?  This would
never have been if I weren’t bad.  So let
me be what I am.  I won’t be a sham. 
What have I to do with Anna Pavlovna?  Let them
go their way, and me go mine.  I can’t
be different….  And yet it’s not that,
it’s not that.”

“What is not that?” asked Varenka in bewilderment.

“Everything.  I can’t
act except from the heart, and you act from principle. 
I liked you simply, but you most likely only wanted
to save me, to improve me.”

“You are unjust,” said Varenka.

“But I’m not speaking of other people,
I’m speaking of myself.”

“Kitty,” they heard her
mother’s voice, “come here, show papa
your necklace.”

Kitty, with a haughty air, without
making peace with her friend, took the necklace in
a little box from the table and went to her mother.

“What’s the matter? 
Why are you so red?” her mother and father
said to her with one voice.

“Nothing,” she answered. 
“I’ll be back directly,” and she
ran back.

“She’s still here,”
she thought.  “What am I to say to her? 
Oh, dear! what have I done, what have I said? 
Why was I rude to her?  What am I to do? 
What am I to say to her?” thought Kitty, and
she stopped in the doorway.

Varenka in her hat and with the parasol
in her hands was sitting at the table examining the
spring which Kitty had broken.  She lifted her
head.

“Varenka, forgive me, do forgive
me,” whispered Kitty, going up to her. 
“I don’t remember what I said.  I…”

“I really didn’t mean
to hurt you,” said Varenka, smiling.

Peace was made.  But with her
father’s coming all the world in which she had
been living was transformed for Kitty.  She did
not give up everything she had learned, but she became
aware that she had deceived herself in supposing she
could be what she wanted to be.  Her eyes were,
it seemed, opened; she felt all the difficulty of
maintaining herself without hypocrisy and self-conceit
on the pinnacle to which she had wished to mount. 
Moreover, she became aware of all the dreariness of
the world of sorrow, of sick and dying people, in
which she had been living.  The efforts she had
made to like it seemed to her intolerable, and she
felt a longing to get back quickly into the fresh air,
to Russia, to Ergushovo, where, as she knew from letters,
her sister Dolly had already gone with her children.

But her affection for Varenka did
not wane.  As she said good-bye, Kitty begged
her to come to them in Russia.

“I’ll come when you get married,”
said Varenka.

“I shall never marry.”

“Well, then, I shall never come.”

“Well, then, I shall be married
simply for that.  Mind now, remember your promise,”
said Kitty.

The doctor’s prediction was
fulfilled.  Kitty returned home to Russia cured. 
She was not so gay and thoughtless as before, but
she was serene.  Her Moscow troubles had become
a memory to her.

 

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