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Anna Karenina 287

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

started a discussion of the subject, but she performed all the ceremonies of going to church, saying her prayers, and so on, always with the unvarying conviction that this ought to be so. In spite of his assertion to the contrary, she was firmly persuaded that he was as much a Christian as she, and indeed a far better one; and all that he said about it was simply one of his absurd masculine freaks, just as he would say about her _broderie anglaise_ that good people patch holes, but that she cut them on purpose, and so on. "Yes, you see this woman, Marya Nikolaevna, did not know how to manage all this," said Levin. "And...I must own Im very, very glad you came. You are such purity that...." He took her hand and did not kiss it (to kiss her hand in such closeness to death seemed to him improper); he merely squeezed it with a penitent air, looking at her brightening eyes. "It would have been miserable for you to be alone," she said, and lifting her hands which hid her cheeks flushing with pleasure, twisted her coil of hair on the nape of her neck and pinned it there. "No," she went on, "she did not know how.... Luckily, I learned a lot at Soden." "Surely there are not people there so ill?" "Worse." "Whats so awful to me is that I cant see him as he was when he was young. You would not believe how charming he was as a youth, but I did not understand him then." "I can quite, quite believe it. How I feel that we might have been friends!" she said; and, distressed at what she had said, she looked round at her husband, and tears came into her eyes. "Yes, _might have been_," he said mournfully. "Hes just one of those people of whom they say theyre not for this world." "But we have many days before us; we must go to bed," said Kitty, glancing at her tiny watch. Chapter 20 The next day the sick man received the sacrament and extreme unction. During the ceremony Nikolay Levin prayed fervently. His great eyes, fastened on the holy image that was set out on a card table covered with a colored napkin, expressed such passionate prayer and hope that it was awful to Levin to see it. Levin knew that this passionate prayer and hope would only make him feel more bitterly parting from the life he so loved. Levin knew his brother and the workings of his intellect: he knew that his unbelief came not from life being easier for him without faith, but had grown up because step by step the contemporary scientific interpretation of natural phenomena crushed out the possibility of faith; and so he knew that his present return was not a legitimate one, brought about by way of the same working of his intellect, but simply a temporary, interested return to faith in a desperate hope of recovery. Levin knew too that Kitty had strengthened his hope by accounts of the marvelous recoveries she had heard of. Levin knew all this; and it was agonizingly painful to him to behold the supplicating, hopeful eyes and the emaciated wrist, lifted with difficulty, making the sign of the cross on the tense brow, and the prominent shoulders and hollow, gasping chest, which one could not feel consistent with the life the sick man was praying for. During the sacrament Levin did what he, an unbeliever, had done a thousand times. He said, addressing God, "If Thou dost exist, make this man to recover" (of course this same thing has been repeated many times), "and Thou wilt save him and me." After extreme unction the sick man became suddenly much better. He did not cough once in the course of an hour, smiled, kissed Kittys hand, thanking her with tears, and said he was comfortable, free from pain, and that he felt strong and had an appetite. He even raised himself when his soup was brought, and asked for a cutlet as well. Hopelessly ill as he was, obvious as it was at the first glance that he could not recover, Levin and Kitty were for that hour both in the same state of excitement, happy, though fearful of being mistaken. "Is he better?" "Yes, much." "Its wonderful." "Theres nothing wonderful in it." "Anyway, hes better," they said in a whisper, smiling to one another. This self-deception was not of long duration. The

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