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Anna Karenina 254


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your child will ask you: What awaits me in the life beyond the tomb? What will you say to him when you know nothing? How will you answer him? Will you leave him to the allurements of the world and the devil? Thats not right," he said, and he stopped, putting his head on one side and looking at Levin with his kindly, gentle eyes. Levin made no answer this time, not because he did not want to enter upon a discussion with the priest, but because, so far, no one had ever asked him such questions, and when his babes did ask him those questions, it would be time enough to think about answering them. "You are entering upon a time of life," pursued the priest, "when you must choose your path and keep to it. Pray to God that He may in His mercy aid you and have mercy on you!" he concluded. "Our Lord and God, Jesus Christ, in the abundance and riches of His lovingkindness, forgives this child..." and, finishing the prayer of absolution, the priest blessed him and dismissed him. On getting home that day, Levin had a delightful sense of relief at the awkward position being over and having been got through without his having to tell a lie. Apart from this, there remained a vague memory that what the kind, nice old fellow had said had not been at all so stupid as he had fancied at first, and that there was something in it that must be cleared up. "Of course, not now," thought Levin, "but some day later on." Levin felt more than ever now that there was something not clear and not clean in his soul, and that, in regard to religion, he was in the same position which he perceived so clearly and disliked in others, and for which he blamed his friend Sviazhsky. Levin spent that evening with his betrothed at Dollys, and was in very high spirits. To explain to Stepan Arkadyevitch the state of excitement in which he found himself, he said that he was happy like a dog being trained to jump through a hoop, who, having at last caught the idea, and done what was required of him, whines and wags its tail, and jumps up to the table and the windows in its delight. Chapter 2 On the day of the wedding, according to the Russian custom (the princess and Darya Alexandrovna insisted on strictly keeping all the customs), Levin did not see his betrothed, and dined at his hotel with three bachelor friends, casually brought together at his rooms. These were Sergey Ivanovitch, Katavasov, a university friend, now professor of natural science, whom Levin had met in the street and insisted on taking home with him, and Tchirikov, his best man, a Moscow conciliation-board judge, Levins companion in his bear-hunts. The dinner was a very merry one: Sergey Ivanovitch was in his happiest mood, and was much amused by Katavasovs originality. Katavasov, feeling his originality was appreciated and understood, made the most of it. Tchirikov always gave a lively and good-humored support to conversation of any sort. "See, now," said Katavasov, drawling his words from a habit acquired in the lecture-room, "what a capable fellow was our friend Konstantin Dmitrievitch. Im not speaking of present company, for hes absent. At the time he left the university he was fond of science, took an interest in humanity; now one-half of his abilities is devoted to deceiving himself, and the other to justifying the deceit." "A more determined enemy of matrimony than you I never saw," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "Oh, no, Im not an enemy of matrimony. Im in favor of division of labor. People who can do nothing else ought to rear people while the rest work for their happiness and enlightenment. Thats how I look at it. To muddle up two trades is the error of the amateur; Im not one of their number." "How happy I shall be when I hear that youre in love!" said Levin. "Please invite me to the wedding." "Im in love now." "Yes, with a cuttlefish! You know," Levin turned to his brother, "Mihail Semyonovitch is writing a work on the digestive organs of the..." "Now, make a muddle of it! It doesnt matter what about. And the fact is, I certainly do love cuttlefish." "But thats no hindrance to your loving your wife." "The cuttlefish is no hindrance. The wife is the hindrance." "Why so?" "Oh, youll see!

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