FictionForest

PART SIX : Chapter 1

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

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Darya Alexandrovna spent the summer
with her children at Pokrovskoe, at her sister Kitty
Levin’s.  The house on her own estate was
quite in ruins, and Levin and his wife had persuaded
her to spend the summer with them.  Stepan Arkadyevitch
greatly approved of the arrangement.  He said
he was very sorry his official duties prevented him
from spending the summer in the country with his family,
which would have been the greatest happiness for him;
and remaining in Moscow, he came down to the country
from time to time for a day or two.  Besides the
Oblonskys, with all their children and their governess,
the old princess too came to stay that summer with
the Levins, as she considered it her duty to watch
over her inexperienced daughter in her interesting
condition
.  Moreover, Varenka, Kitty’s
friend abroad, kept her promise to come to Kitty when
she was married, and stayed with her friend. 
All of these were friends or relations of Levin’s
wife.  And though he liked them all, he rather
regretted his own Levin world and ways, which was
smothered by this influx of the “Shtcherbatsky
element,” as he called it to himself. 
Of his own relations there stayed with him only Sergey
Ivanovitch, but he too was a man of the Koznishev and
not the Levin stamp, so that the Levin spirit was utterly
obliterated.

In the Levins’ house, so long
deserted, there were now so many people that almost
all the rooms were occupied, and almost every day
it happened that the old princess, sitting down to
table, counted them all over, and put the thirteenth
grandson or granddaughter at a separate table. 
And Kitty, with her careful housekeeping, had no
little trouble to get all the chickens, turkeys, and
geese, of which so many were needed to satisfy the
summer appetites of the visitors and children.

The whole family were sitting at dinner. 
Dolly’s children, with their governess and
Varenka, were making plans for going to look for mushrooms. 
Sergey Ivanovitch, who was looked up to by all the
party for his intellect and learning, with a respect
that almost amounted to awe, surprised everyone by
joining in the conversation about mushrooms.

“Take me with you.  I am
very fond of picking mushrooms,” he said, looking
at Varenka; “I think it’s a very nice occupation.”

“Oh, we shall be delighted,”
answered Varenka, coloring a little.  Kitty exchanged
meaningful glances with Dolly.  The proposal of
the learned and intellectual Sergey Ivanovitch to go
looking for mushrooms with Varenka confirmed certain
theories of Kitty’s with which her mind had
been very busy of late.  She made haste to address
some remark to her mother, so that her look should
not be noticed.  After dinner Sergey Ivanovitch
sat with his cup of coffee at the drawing-room window,
and while he took part in a conversation he had begun
with his brother, he watched the door through which
the children would start on the mushroom-picking expedition. 
Levin was sitting in the window near his brother.

Kitty stood beside her husband, evidently
awaiting the end of a conversation that had no interest
for her, in order to tell him something.

“You have changed in many respects
since your marriage, and for the better,” said
Sergey Ivanovitch, smiling to Kitty, and obviously
little interested in the conversation, “but you
have remained true to your passion for defending the
most paradoxical theories.”

“Katya, it’s not good
for you to stand,” her husband said to her,
putting a chair for her and looking significantly at
her.

“Oh, and there’s no time
either,” added Sergey Ivanovitch, seeing the
children running out.

At the head of them all Tanya galloped
sideways, in her tightly-drawn stockings, and waving
a basket and Sergey Ivanovitch’s hat, she ran
straight up to him.

Boldly running up to Sergey Ivanovitch
with shining eyes, so like her father’s fine
eyes, she handed him his hat and made as though she
would put it on for him, softening her freedom by a
shy and friendly smile.

“Varenka’s waiting,”
she said, carefully putting his hat on, seeing from
Sergey Ivanovitch’s smile that she might do so.

Varenka was standing at the door,
dressed in a yellow print gown, with a white kerchief
on her head.

“I’m coming, I’m
coming, Varvara Andreevna,” said Sergey Ivanovitch,
finishing his cup of coffee, and putting into their
separate pockets his handkerchief and cigar-case.

“And how sweet my Varenka is!
eh?” said Kitty to her husband, as soon as Sergey
Ivanovitch rose.  She spoke so that Sergey Ivanovitch
could hear, and it was clear that she meant him to
do so.  “And how good-looking she is ­such
a refined beauty!  Varenka!” Kitty shouted. 
“Shall you be in the mill copse?  We’ll
come out to you.”

“You certainly forget your condition,
Kitty,” said the old princess, hurriedly coming
out at the door.  “You mustn’t shout
like that.”

Varenka, hearing Kitty’s voice
and her mother’s reprimand, went with light,
rapid steps up to Kitty.  The rapidity of her
movement, her flushed and eager face, everything betrayed
that something out of the common was going on in her. 
Kitty knew what this was, and had been watching her
intently.  She called Varenka at that moment
merely in order mentally to give her a blessing for
the important event which, as Kitty fancied, was bound
to come to pass that day after dinner in the wood.

“Varenka, I should be very happy
if a certain something were to happen,” she
whispered as she kissed her.

“And are you coming with us?”
Varenka said to Levin in confusion, pretending not
to have heard what had been said.

“I am coming, but only as far
as the threshing-floor, and there I shall stop.”

“Why, what do you want there?” said Kitty.

“I must go to have a look at
the new wagons, and to check the invoice,” said
Levin; “and where will you be?”

“On the terrace.”

 

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