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to what was coming. "That it depended on you," he repeated. "I meant to say...I meant to say...I came for this...to be my wife!" he brought out, not knowing what he was saying; but feeling that the most terrible thing was said, he stopped short and looked at her... She was breathing heavily, not looking at him. She was feeling ecstasy. Her soul was flooded with happiness. She had never anticipated that the utterance of love would produce such a powerful effect on her. But it lasted only an instant. She remembered Vronsky. She lifted her clear, truthful eyes, and seeing his desperate face, she answered hastily: "That cannot be...forgive me." A moment ago, and how close she had been to him, of what importance in his life! And how aloof and remote from him she had become now! "It was bound to be so," he said, not looking at her. He bowed, and was meaning to retreat. Chapter 14 But at that very moment the princess came in. There was a look of horror on her face when she saw them alone, and their disturbed faces. Levin bowed to her, and said nothing. Kitty did not speak nor lift her eyes. "Thank God, she has refused him," thought the mother, and her face lighted up with the habitual smile with which she greeted her guests on Thursdays. She sat down and began questioning Levin about his life in the country. He sat down again, waiting for other visitors to arrive, in order to retreat unnoticed. Five minutes later there came in a friend of Kittys, married the preceding winter, Countess Nordston. She was a thin, sallow, sickly, and nervous woman, with brilliant black eyes. She was fond of Kitty, and her affection for her showed itself, as the affection of married women for girls always does, in the desire to make a match for Kitty after her own ideal of married happiness; she wanted her to marry Vronsky. Levin she had often met at the Shtcherbatskys early in the winter, and she had always disliked him. Her invariable and favorite pursuit, when they met, consisted in making fun of him. "I do like it when he looks down at me from the height of his grandeur, or breaks off his learned conversation with me because Im a fool, or is condescending to me. I like that so; to see him condescending! I am so glad he cant bear me," she used to say of him. She was right, for Levin actually could not bear her, and despised her for what she was proud of and regarded as a fine characteristic--her nervousness, her delicate contempt and indifference for everything coarse and earthly. The Countess Nordston and Levin got into that relation with one another not seldom seen in society, when two persons, who remain externally on friendly terms, despise each other to such a degree that they cannot even take each other seriously, and cannot even be offended by each other. The Countess Nordston pounced upon Levin at once. "Ah, Konstantin Dmitrievitch! So youve come back to our corrupt Babylon," she said, giving him her tiny, yellow hand, and recalling what he had chanced to say early in the winter, that Moscow was a Babylon. "Come, is Babylon reformed, or have you degenerated?" she added, glancing with a simper at Kitty. "Its very flattering for me, countess, that you remember my words so well," responded Levin, who had succeeded in recovering his composure, and at once from habit dropped into his tone of joking hostility to the Countess Nordston. "They must certainly make a great impression on you." "Oh, I should think so! I always note them all down. Well, Kitty, have you been skating again?..." And she began talking to Kitty. Awkward as it was for Levin to withdraw now, it would still have been easier for him to perpetrate this awkwardness than to remain all the evening and see Kitty, who glanced at him now and then and avoided his eyes. He was on the point of getting up, when the princess, noticing that he was silent, addressed him. "Shall you be long in Moscow? Youre busy with the district council, though, arent you, and cant be away for long?" "No, princess, Im no longer a member of the council," he said. "I have come up for a few days." "Theres something the matter with him," thought Countess Nordston, glancing at his stern, serious face. "He isnt in his old

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