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Anna Karenina 286


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Levin and other men like him, though they could have said a great deal about death, obviously did not know this since they were afraid of death, and were absolutely at a loss what to do when people were dying. If Levin had been alone now with his brother Nikolay, he would have looked at him with terror, and with still greater terror waited, and would not have known what else to do. More than that, he did not know what to say, how to look, how to move. To talk of outside things seemed to him shocking, impossible, to talk of death and depressing subjects--also impossible. To be silent, also impossible. "If I look at him he will think I am studying him, I am afraid; if I dont look at him, hell think Im thinking of other things. If I walk on tiptoe, he will be vexed; to tread firmly, Im ashamed." Kitty evidently did not think of herself, and had no time to think about herself: she was thinking about him because she knew something, and all went well. She told him about herself even and about her wedding, and smiled and sympathized with him and petted him, and talked of cases of recovery and all went well; so then she must know. The proof that her behavior and Agafea Mihalovnas was not instinctive, animal, irrational, was that apart from the physical treatment, the relief of suffering, both Agafea Mihalovna and Kitty required for the dying man something else more important than the physical treatment, and something which had nothing in common with physical conditions. Agafea Mihalovna, speaking of the man just dead, had said: "Well, thank God, he took the sacrament and received absolution; God grant each one of us such a death." Katya in just the same way, besides all her care about linen, bedsores, drink, found time the very first day to persuade the sick man of the necessity of taking the sacrament and receiving absolution. On getting back from the sick-room to their own two rooms for the night, Levin sat with hanging head not knowing what to do. Not to speak of supper, of preparing for bed, of considering what they were going to do, he could not even talk to his wife; he was ashamed to. Kitty, on the contrary, was more active than usual. She was even livelier than usual. She ordered supper to be brought, herself unpacked their things, and herself helped to make the beds, and did not even forget to sprinkle them with Persian powder. She showed that alertness, that swiftness of reflection comes out in men before a battle, in conflict, in the dangerous and decisive moments of life--those moments when a man shows once and for all his value, and that all his past has not been wasted but has been a preparation for these moments. Everything went rapidly in her hands, and before it was twelve oclock all their things were arranged cleanly and tidily in her rooms, in such a way that the hotel rooms seemed like home: the beds were made, brushes, combs, looking-glasses were put out, table napkins were spread. Levin felt that it was unpardonable to eat, to sleep, to talk even now, and it seemed to him that every movement he made was unseemly. She arranged the brushes, but she did it all so that there was nothing shocking in it. They could neither of them eat, however, and for a long while they could not sleep, and did not even go to bed. "I am very glad I persuaded him to receive extreme unction tomorrow," she said, sitting in her dressing jacket before her folding looking glass, combing her soft, fragrant hair with a fine comb. "I have never seen it, but I know, mamma has told me, there are prayers said for recovery." "Do you suppose he can possibly recover?" said Levin, watching a slender tress at the back of her round little head that was continually hidden when she passed the comb through the front. "I asked the doctor; he said he couldnt live more than three days. But can they be sure? Im very glad, anyway, that I persuaded him," she said, looking askance at her husband through her hair. "Anything is possible," she added with that peculiar, rather sly expression that was always in her face when she spoke of religion. Since their conversation about religion when they were engaged neither of them had ever

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