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Anna Karenina 294


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Anna Karenina

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to the bill that had been brought him, but his voice shook, and he stopped. That bill on blue paper, for a hat and ribbons, he could not recall without a rush of self-pity. "I understand, dear friend," said Lidia Ivanovna. "I understand it all. Succor and comfort you will find not in me, though I have come only to aid you if I can. If I could take from off you all these petty, humiliating cares...I understand that a womans word, a womans superintendence is needed. You will intrust it to me?" Silently and gratefully Alexey Alexandrovitch pressed her hand. "Together we will take care of Seryozha. Practical affairs are not my strong point. But I will set to work. I will be your housekeeper. Dont thank me. I do it not from myself..." "I cannot help thanking you." "But, dear friend, do not give way to the feeling of which you spoke--being ashamed of what is the Christians highest glory: _he who humbles himself shall be exalted_. And you cannot thank me. You must thank Him, and pray to Him for succor. In Him alone we find peace, consolation, salvation, and love," she said, and turning her eyes heavenwards, she began praying, as Alexey Alexandrovitch gathered from her silence. Alexey Alexandrovitch listened to her now, and those expressions which had seemed to him, if not distasteful, at least exaggerated, now seemed to him natural and consolatory. Alexey Alexandrovitch had disliked this new enthusiastic fervor. He was a believer, who was interested in religion primarily in its political aspect, and the new doctrine which ventured upon several new interpretations, just because it paved the way to discussion and analysis, was in principle disagreeable to him. He had hitherto taken up a cold and even antagonistic attitude to this new doctrine, and with Countess Lidia Ivanovna, who had been carried away by it, he had never argued, but by silence had assiduously parried her attempts to provoke him into argument. Now for the first time he heard her words with pleasure, and did not inwardly oppose them. "I am very, very grateful to you, both for your deeds and for your words," he said, when she had finished praying. Countess Lidia Ivanovna once more pressed both her friends hands. "Now I will enter upon my duties," she said with a smile after a pause, as she wiped away the traces of tears. "I am going to Seryozha. Only in the last extremity shall I apply to you." And she got up and went out. Countess Lidia Ivanovna went into Seryozhas part of the house, and dropping tears on the scared childs cheeks, she told him that his father was a saint and his mother was dead. Countess Lidia Ivanovna kept her promise. She did actually take upon herself the care of the organization and management of Alexey Alexandrovitchs household. But she had not overstated the case when saying that practical affairs were not her strong point. All her arrangements had to be modified because they could not be carried out, and they were modified by Korney, Alexey Alexandrovitchs valet, who, though no one was aware of the fact, now managed Karenins household, and quietly and discreetly reported to his master while he was dressing all it was necessary for him to know. But Lidia Ivanovnas help was none the less real; she gave Alexey Alexandrovitch moral support in the consciousness of her love and respect for him, and still more, as it was soothing to her to believe, in that she almost turned him to Christianity--that is, from an indifferent and apathetic believer she turned him into an ardent and steadfast adherent of the new interpretation of Christian doctrine, which had been gaining ground of late in Petersburg. It was easy for Alexey Alexandrovitch to believe in this teaching. Alexey Alexandrovitch, like Lidia Ivanovna indeed, and others who shared their views, was completely devoid of vividness of imagination, that spiritual faculty in virtue of which the conceptions evoked by the imagination become so vivid that they must needs be in harmony with other conceptions, and with actual fact. He saw nothing impossible and inconceivable in the idea that death, though existing for unbelievers, did not exist for him, and that, as he was possessed of the most perfect faith, of the measure of which he was himself the judge, therefore there was no sin in his soul, and he was experiencing complete salvation here on earth. It is true that the

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