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Anna Karenina 126


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Anna Karenina

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was in amicable relations with the highest dignitaries of all the churches and sects. Varenka lived with her all the while abroad, and everyone who knew Madame Stahl knew and liked Mademoiselle Varenka, as everyone called her. Having learned all these facts, the princess found nothing to object to in her daughters intimacy with Varenka, more especially as Varenkas breeding and education were of the best--she spoke French and English extremely well--and what was of the most weight, brought a message from Madame Stahl expressing her regret that she was prevented by her ill health from making the acquaintance of the princess. After getting to know Varenka, Kitty became more and more fascinated by her friend, and every day she discovered new virtues in her. The princess, hearing that Varenka had a good voice, asked her to come and sing to them in the evening. "Kitty plays, and we have a piano; not a good one, its true, but you will give us so much pleasure," said the princess with her affected smile, which Kitty disliked particularly just then, because she noticed that Varenka had no inclination to sing. Varenka came, however, in the evening and brought a roll of music with her. The princess had invited Marya Yevgenyevna and her daughter and the colonel. Varenka seemed quite unaffected by there being persons present she did not know, and she went directly to the piano. She could not accompany herself, but she could sing music at sight very well. Kitty, who played well, accompanied her. "You have an extraordinary talent," the princess said to her after Varenka had sung the first song extremely well. Marya Yevgenyevna and her daughter expressed their thanks and admiration. "Look," said the colonel, looking out of the window, "what an audience has collected to listen to you." There actually was quite a considerable crowd under the windows. "I am very glad it gives you pleasure," Varenka answered simply. Kitty looked with pride at her friend. She was enchanted by her talent, and her voice, and her face, but most of all by her manner, by the way Varenka obviously thought nothing of her singing and was quite unmoved by their praises. She seemed only to be asking: "Am I to sing again, or is that enough?" "If it had been I," thought Kitty, "how proud I should have been! How delighted I should have been to see that crowd under the windows! But shes utterly unmoved by it. Her only motive is to avoid refusing and to please mamma. What is there in her? What is it gives her the power to look down on everything, to be calm independently of everything? How I should like to know it and to learn it of her!" thought Kitty, gazing into her serene face. The princess asked Varenka to sing again, and Varenka sang another song, also smoothly, distinctly, and well, standing erect at the piano and beating time on it with her thin, dark-skinned hand. The next song in the book was an Italian one. Kitty played the opening bars, and looked round at Varenka. "Lets skip that," said Varenka, flushing a little. Kitty let her eyes rest on Varenkas face, with a look of dismay and inquiry. "Very well, the next one," she said hurriedly, turning over the pages, and at once feeling that there was something connected with the song. "No," answered Varenka with a smile, laying her hand on the music, "no, lets have that one." And she sang it just as quietly, as coolly, and as well as the others. When she had finished, they all thanked her again, and went off to tea. Kitty and Varenka went out into the little garden that adjoined the house. "Am I right, that you have some reminiscences connected with that song?" said Kitty. "Dont tell me," she added hastily, "only say if Im right." "No, why not? Ill tell you simply," said Varenka, and, without waiting for a reply, she went on: "Yes, it brings up memories, once painful ones. I cared for someone once, and I used to sing him that song." Kitty with big, wide-open eyes gazed silently, sympathetically at Varenka. "I cared for him, and he cared for me; but his mother did not wish it, and he married another girl. Hes living now not far from us, and I see him sometimes. You didnt think I had a love story too," she said, and there was a faint gleam in her handsome face of that fire which Kitty felt must

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