FictionForest

PART FOUR : Chapter 15

Leo TolstoyAug 24, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

Light off Small Medium Large

The streets were still empty. 
Levin went to the house of the Shtcherbatskys. 
The visitors’ doors were closed and everything
was asleep.  He walked back, went into his room
again, and asked for coffee.  The day servant,
not Yegor this time, brought it to him.  Levin
would have entered into conversation with him, but
a bell rang for the servant, and he went out. 
Levin tried to drink coffee and put some roll in
his mouth, but his mouth was quite at a loss what
to do with the roll.  Levin, rejecting the roll,
put on his coat and went out again for a walk. 
It was nine o’clock when he reached the Shtcherbatskys’
steps the second time.  In the house they were
only just up, and the cook came out to go marketing. 
He had to get through at least two hours more.

All that night and morning Levin lived
perfectly unconsciously, and felt perfectly lifted
out of the conditions of material life.  He had
eaten nothing for a whole day, he had not slept for
two nights, had spent several hours undressed in the
frozen air, and felt not simply fresher and stronger
than ever, but felt utterly independent of his body;
he moved without muscular effort, and felt as if he
could do anything.  He was convinced he could
fly upwards or lift the corner of the house, if need
be.  He spent the remainder of the time in the
street, incessantly looking at his watch and gazing
about him.

And what he saw then, he never saw
again after.  The children especially going to
school, the bluish doves flying down from the roofs
to the pavement, and the little loaves covered with
flour, thrust out by an unseen hand, touched him. 
Those loaves, those doves, and those two boys were
not earthly creatures.  It all happened at the
same time:  a boy ran towards a dove and glanced
smiling at Levin; the dove, with a whir of her wings,
darted away, flashing in the sun, amid grains of snow
that quivered in the air, while from a little window
there came a smell of fresh-baked bread, and the loaves
were put out.  All of this together was so extraordinarily
nice that Levin laughed and cried with delight. 
Going a long way round by Gazetny Place and Kislovka,
he went back again to the hotel, and putting his watch
before him, he sat down to wait for twelve o’clock. 
In the next room they were talking about some sort
of machines, and swindling, and coughing their morning
coughs.  They did not realize that the hand was
near twelve.  The hand reached it.  Levin
went out onto the steps.  The sledge-drivers clearly
knew all about it.  They crowded round Levin
with happy faces, quarreling among themselves, and
offering their services.  Trying not to offend
the other sledge drivers, and promising to drive with
them too, Levin took one and told him to drive to the
Shtcherbatskys’.  The sledge-driver was
splendid in a white shirt-collar sticking out over
his overcoat and into his strong, full-blooded red
neck.  The sledge was high and comfortable, and
altogether such a one as Levin never drove in after,
and the horse was a good one, and tried to gallop
but didn’t seem to move.  The driver knew
the Shtcherbatskys’ house, and drew up at the
entrance with a curve of his arm and a “Wo!”
especially indicative of respect for his fare. 
The Shtcherbatskys’ hall-porter certainly knew
all about it.  This was evident from the smile
in his eyes and the way he said: 

“Well, it’s a long while
since you’ve been to see us, Konstantin Demitrievitch!”

Not only he knew all about it, but
he was unmistakably delighted and making efforts to
conceal his joy.  Looking into his kindly old
eyes, Levin realized even something new in his happiness.

“Are they up?”

“Pray walk in!  Leave it
here,” said he, smiling, as Levin would have
come back to take his hat.  That meant something.

“To whom shall I announce your
honor?” asked the footman.

The footman, though a young man, and
one of the new school of footmen, a dandy, was a very
kind-hearted, good fellow, and he too knew all about
it.

“The princess…the prince…the
young princess…” said Levin.

The first person he saw was Mademoiselle
Linon.  She walked across the room, and her ringlets
and her face were beaming.  He had only just
spoken to her, when suddenly he heard the rustle of
a skirt at the door, and Mademoiselle Linon vanished
from Levin’s eyes, and a joyful terror came
over him at the nearness of his happiness.  Mademoiselle
Linon was in great haste, and leaving him, went out
at the other door.  Directly she had gone out,
swift, swift light steps sounded on the parquet, and
his bliss, his life, himself ­what was best
in himself, what he had so long sought and longed
for ­was quickly, so quickly approaching
him.  She did not walk, but seemed, by some unseen
force, to float to him.  He saw nothing but her
clear, truthful eyes, frightened by the same bliss
of love that flooded his heart.  Those eyes were
shining nearer and nearer, blinding him with their
light of love.  She stopped still close to him,
touching him.  Her hands rose and dropped onto
his shoulders.

She had done all she could ­she
had run up to him and given herself up entirely, shy
and happy.  He put his arms round her and pressed
his lips to her mouth that sought his kiss.

She too had not slept all night, and
had been expecting him all the morning.

Her mother and father had consented
without demur, and were happy in her happiness. 
She had been waiting for him.  She wanted to
be the first to tell him her happiness and his. 
She had got ready to see him alone, and had been
delighted at the idea, and had been shy and ashamed,
and did not know herself what she was doing. 
She had heard his steps and voice, and had waited
at the door for Mademoiselle Linon to go.  Mademoiselle
Linon had gone away.  Without thinking, without
asking herself how and what, she had gone up to him,
and did as she was doing.

“Let us go to mamma!”
she said, taking him by the hand.  For a long
while he could say nothing, not so much because he
was afraid of desecrating the loftiness of his emotion
by a word, as that every time he tried to say something,
instead of words he felt that tears of happiness were
welling up.  He took her hand and kissed it.

“Can it be true?” he said
at last in a choked voice.  “I can’t
believe you love me, dear!”

She smiled at that “dear,”
and at the timidity with which he glanced at her.

“Yes!” she said significantly,
deliberately.  “I am so happy!”

Not letting go his hands, she went
into the drawing room.  The princess, seeing
them, breathed quickly, and immediately began to cry
and then immediately began to laugh, and with a vigorous
step Levin had not expected, ran up to him, and hugging
his head, kissed him, wetting his cheeks with her
tears.

“So it is all settled! 
I am glad.  Love her.  I am glad…. 
Kitty!”

“You’ve not been long
settling things,” said the old prince, trying
to seem unmoved; but Levin noticed that his eyes were
wet when he turned to him.

“I’ve long, always wished
for this!” said the prince, taking Levin by
the arm and drawing him towards himself.  “Even
when this little feather-head fancied…”

“Papa!” shrieked Kitty,
and shut his mouth with her hands.

“Well, I won’t!”
he said.  “I’m very, very …plea
…Oh, what a fool I am…”

He embraced Kitty, kissed her face,
her hand, her face again, and made the sign of the
cross over her.

And there came over Levin a new feeling
of love for this man, till then so little known to
him, when he saw how slowly and tenderly Kitty kissed
his muscular hand.

 

Leave a Reply