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Anna Karenina 229


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brow, trying to understand. But directly he began to illustrate his meaning, she understood at once. "I know: one must find out what he is arguing for, what is precious to him, then one can..." She had completely guessed and expressed his badly expressed idea. Levin smiled joyfully; he was struck by this transition from the confused, verbose discussion with Pestsov and his brother to this laconic, clear, almost wordless communication of the most complex ideas. Shtcherbatsky moved away from them, and Kitty, going up to a card table, sat down, and, taking up the chalk, began drawing diverging circles over the new green cloth. They began again on the subject that had been started at dinner-- the liberty and occupations of women. Levin was of the opinion of Darya Alexandrovna that a girl who did not marry should find a womans duties in a family. He supported this view by the fact that no family can get on without women to help; that in every family, poor or rich, there are and must be nurses, either relations or hired. "No," said Kitty, blushing, but looking at him all the more boldly with her truthful eyes; "a girl may be so circumstanced that she cannot live in the family without humiliation, while she herself..." At the hint he understood her. "Oh, yes," he said. "Yes, yes, yes--youre right; youre right!" And he saw all that Pestsov had been maintaining at dinner of the liberty of woman, simply from getting a glimpse of the terror of an old maids existence and its humiliation in Kittys heart; and loving her, he felt that terror and humiliation, and at once gave up his arguments. A silence followed. She was still drawing with the chalk on the table. Her eyes were shining with a soft light. Under the influence of her mood he felt in all his being a continually growing tension of happiness. "Ah! Ive scribbled all over the table!" she said, and, laying down the chalk, she made a movement as though to get up. "What! shall I be left alone--without her?" he thought with horror, and he took the chalk. "Wait a minute," he said, sitting down to the table. "Ive long wanted to ask you one thing." He looked straight into her caressing, though frightened eyes. "Please, ask it." "Here," he said; and he wrote the initial letters, _w, y, t, m, i, c, n, b, d, t, m, n, o, t_. These letters meant, "When you told me it could never be, did that mean never, or then?" There seemed no likelihood that she could make out this complicated sentence; but he looked at her as though his life depended on her understanding the words. She glanced at him seriously, then leaned her puckered brow on her hands and began to read. Once or twice she stole a look at him, as though asking him, "Is it what I think?" "I understand," she said, flushing a little. "What is this word?" he said, pointing to the n that stood for _never_. "It means _never_," she said; "but thats not true!" He quickly rubbed out what he had written, gave her the chalk, and stood up. She wrote, _t, i, c, n, a, d_. Dolly was completely comforted in the depression caused by her conversation with Alexey Alexandrovitch when she caught sight of the two figures: Kitty with the chalk in her hand, with a shy and happy smile looking upwards at Levin, and his handsome figure bending over the table with glowing eyes fastened one minute on the table and the next on her. He was suddenly radiant: he had understood. It meant, "Then I could not answer differently." He glanced at her questioningly, timidly. "Only then?" "Yes," her smile answered. "And n...and now?" he asked. "Well, read this. Ill tell you what I should like--should like so much!" she wrote the initial letters, i, y, c, f, a, f, w, h. This meant, "If you could forget and forgive what happened." He snatched the chalk with nervous, trembling fingers, and breaking it, wrote the initial letters of the following phrase, "I have nothing to forget and to forgive; I have never ceased to love you." She glanced at him with a smile that did not waver. "I understand," she said in a whisper. He sat down and wrote a long phrase. She understood it all, and without asking him, "Is it this?" took the chalk and at once answered. For a long while he could not understand what

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