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Anna Karenina 26


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Anna Karenina

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persons was for some reason considered unseemly; it was ridiculed by every one, and by the princess herself. But how girls were to be married, and how parents were to marry them, no one knew. Everyone with whom the princess had chanced to discuss the matter said the same thing: "Mercy on us, its high time in our day to cast off all that old-fashioned business. Its the young people have to marry; and not their parents; and so we ought to leave the young people to arrange it as they choose." It was very easy for anyone to say that who had no daughters, but the princess realized that in the process of getting to know each other, her daughter might fall in love, and fall in love with someone who did not care to marry her or who was quite unfit to be her husband. And, however much it was instilled into the princess that in our times young people ought to arrange their lives for themselves, she was unable to believe it, just as she would have been unable to believe that, at any time whatever, the most suitable playthings for children five years old ought to be loaded pistols. And so the princess was more uneasy over Kitty than she had been over her elder sisters. Now she was afraid that Vronsky might confine himself to simply flirting with her daughter. She saw that her daughter was in love with him, but tried to comfort herself with the thought that he was an honorable man, and would not do this. But at the same time she knew how easy it is, with the freedom of manners of today, to turn a girls head, and how lightly men generally regard such a crime. The week before, Kitty had told her mother of a conversation she had with Vronsky during a mazurka. This conversation had partly reassured the princess; but perfectly at ease she could not be. Vronsky had told Kitty that both he and his brother were so used to obeying their mother that they never made up their minds to any important undertaking without consulting her. "And just now, I am impatiently awaiting my mothers arrival from Petersburg, as peculiarly fortunate," he told her. Kitty had repeated this without attaching any significance to the words. But her mother saw them in a different light. She knew that the old lady was expected from day to day, that she would be pleased at her sons choice, and she felt it strange that he should not make his offer through fear of vexing his mother. However, she was so anxious for the marriage itself, and still more for relief from her fears, that she believed it was so. Bitter as it was for the princess to see the unhappiness of her eldest daughter, Dolly, on the point of leaving her husband, her anxiety over the decision of her youngest daughters fate engrossed all her feelings. Today, with Levins reappearance, a fresh source of anxiety arose. She was afraid that her daughter, who had at one time, as she fancied, a feeling for Levin, might, from extreme sense of honor, refuse Vronsky, and that Levins arrival might generally complicate and delay the affair so near being concluded. "Why, has he been here long?" the princess asked about Levin, as they returned home. "He came today, mamma." "Theres one thing I want to say..." began the princess, and from her serious and alert face, Kitty guessed what it would be. "Mamma," she said, flushing hotly and turning quickly to her, "please, please dont say anything about that. I know, I know all about it." She wished for what her mother wished for, but the motives of her mothers wishes wounded her. "I only want to say that to raise hopes..." "Mamma, darling, for goodness sake, dont talk about it. Its so horrible to talk about it." "I wont," said her mother, seeing the tears in her daughters eyes; "but one thing, my love; you promised me you would have no secrets from me. You wont?" "Never, mamma, none," answered Kitty, flushing a little, and looking her mother straight in the face, "but theres no use in my telling you anything, and I...I...if I wanted to, I dont know what to say or how...I dont know..." "No, she could not tell an untruth with those eyes," thought the mother, smiling at her agitation and happiness. The princess smiled that what was taking place just

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