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Anna Karenina 22

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

away the sauce. Levin obediently helped himself to sauce, but would not let Stepan Arkadyevitch go on with his dinner. "No, stop a minute, stop a minute," he said. "You must understand that its a question of life and death for me. I have never spoken to any one of this. And theres no one I could speak of it to, except you. You know were utterly unlike each other, different tastes and views and everything; but I know youre fond of me and understand me, and thats why I like you awfully. But for Gods sake, be quite straightforward with me." "I tell you what I think," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling. "But Ill say more: my wife is a wonderful woman..." Stepan Arkadyevitch sighed, remembering his position with his wife, and, after a moments silence, resumed--"She has a gift of foreseeing things. She sees right through people; but thats not all; she knows what will come to pass, especially in the way of marriages. She foretold, for instance, that Princess Shahovskaya would marry Brenteln. No one would believe it, but it came to pass. And shes on your side." "How do you mean?" "Its not only that she likes you--she says that Kitty is certain to be your wife." At these words Levins face suddenly lighted up with a smile, a smile not far from tears of emotion. "She says that!" cried Levin. "I always said she was exquisite, your wife. There, thats enough, enough said about it," he said, getting up from his seat. "All right, but do sit down." But Levin could not sit down. He walked with his firm tread twice up and down the little cage of a room, blinked his eyelids that his tears might not fall, and only then sat down to the table. "You must understand," said he, "its not love. Ive been in love, but its not that. Its not my feeling, but a sort of force outside me has taken possession of me. I went away, you see, because I made up my mind that it could never be, you understand, as a happiness that does not come on earth; but Ive struggled with myself, I see theres no living without it. And it must be settled." "What did you go away for?" "Ah, stop a minute! Ah, the thoughts that come crowding on one! The questions one must ask oneself! Listen. You cant imagine what youve done for me by what you said. Im so happy that Ive become positively hateful; Ive forgotten everything. I heard today that my brother Nikolay...you know, hes here...I had even forgotten him. It seems to me that hes happy too. Its a sort of madness. But one things awful.... Here, youve been married, you know the feeling...its awful that we--old--with a past... not of love, but of sins...are brought all at once so near to a creature pure and innocent; its loathsome, and thats why one cant help feeling oneself unworthy." "Oh, well, youve not many sins on your conscience." "Alas! all the same," said Levin, "when with loathing I go over my life, I shudder and curse and bitterly regret it.... Yes." "What would you have? The worlds made so," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "The one comfort is like that prayer, which I always liked: Forgive me not according to my unworthiness, but according to Thy lovingkindness. Thats the only way she can forgive me." Chapter 11 Levin emptied his glass, and they were silent for a while. "Theres one other thing I ought to tell you. Do you know Vronsky?" Stepan Arkadyevitch asked Levin. "No, I dont. Why do you ask?" "Give us another bottle," Stepan Arkadyevitch directed the Tatar, who was filling up their glasses and fidgeting round them just when he was not wanted. "Why you ought to know Vronsky is that hes one of your rivals." "Whos Vronsky?" said Levin, and his face was suddenly transformed from the look of childlike ecstasy which Oblonsky had just been admiring to an angry and unpleasant expression. "Vronsky is one of the sons of Count Kirill Ivanovitch Vronsky, and one of the finest specimens of the gilded youth of Petersburg. I made his acquaintance in Tver when I was there on official business, and he came there for the levy of recruits. Fearfully rich, handsome, great connections, an aide-de-camp, and with all that a very nice, good-natured fellow. But hes more than simply a good-natured fellow, as Ive found

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