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Anna Karenina 132

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

Close by was standing a flaxen-headed Swedish count, whom Kitty knew by name. Several invalids were lingering near the low carriage, staring at the lady as though she were some curiosity. The prince went up to her, and Kitty detected that disconcerting gleam of irony in his eyes. He went up to Madame Stahl, and addressed her with extreme courtesy and affability in that excellent French that so few speak nowadays. "I dont know if you remember me, but I must recall myself to thank you for your kindness to my daughter," he said, taking off his hat and not putting it on again. "Prince Alexander Shtcherbatsky," said Madame Stahl, lifting upon him her heavenly eyes, in which Kitty discerned a look of annoyance. "Delighted! I have taken a great fancy to your daughter." "You are still in weak health?" "Yes; Im used to it," said Madame Stahl, and she introduced the prince to the Swedish count. "You are scarcely changed at all," the prince said to her. "Its ten or eleven years since I had the honor of seeing you." "Yes; God sends the cross and sends the strength to bear it. Often one wonders what is the goal of this life?... The other side!" she said angrily to Varenka, who had rearranged the rug over her feet not to her satisfaction. "To do good, probably," said the prince with a twinkle in his eye. "That is not for us to judge," said Madame Stahl, perceiving the shade of expression on the princes face. "So you will send me that book, dear count? Im very grateful to you," she said to the young Swede. "Ah!" cried the prince, catching sight of the Moscow colonel standing near, and with a bow to Madame Stahl he walked away with his daughter and the Moscow colonel, who joined them. "Thats our aristocracy, prince!" the Moscow colonel said with ironical intention. He cherished a grudge against Madame Stahl for not making his acquaintance. "Shes just the same," replied the prince. "Did you know her before her illness, prince--thats to say before she took to her bed?" "Yes. She took to her bed before my eyes," said the prince. "They say its ten years since she has stood on her feet." "She doesnt stand up because her legs are too short. Shes a very bad figure." "Papa, its not possible!" cried Kitty. "Thats what wicked tongues say, my darling. And your Varenka catches it too," he added. "Oh, these invalid ladies!" "Oh, no, papa!" Kitty objected warmly. "Varenka worships her. And then she does so much good! Ask anyone! Everyone knows her and Aline Stahl." "Perhaps so," said the prince, squeezing her hand with his elbow; "but its better when one does good so that you may ask everyone and no one knows." Kitty did not answer, not because she had nothing to say, but because she did not care to reveal her secret thoughts even to her father. But, strange to say, although she had so made up her mind not to be influenced by her fathers views, not to let him into her inmost sanctuary, she felt that the heavenly image of Madame Stahl, which she had carried for a whole month in her heart, had vanished, never to return, just as the fantastic figure made up of some clothes thrown down at random vanishes when one sees that it is only some garment lying there. All that was left was a woman with short legs, who lay down because she had a bad figure, and worried patient Varenka for not arranging her rug to her liking. And by no effort of the imagination could Kitty bring back the former Madame Stahl. Chapter 35 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

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