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Anna Karenina 30


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Anna Karenina

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her. The conversation did not flag for an instant, so that the princess, who always kept in reserve, in case a subject should be lacking, two heavy guns--the relative advantages of classical and of modern education, and universal military service--had not to move out either of them, while Countess Nordston had not a chance of chaffing Levin. Levin wanted to, and could not, take part in the general conversation; saying to himself every instant, "Now go," he still did not go, as though waiting for something. The conversation fell upon table-turning and spirits, and Countess Nordston, who believed in spiritualism, began to describe the marvels she had seen. "Ah, countess, you really must take me, for pitys sake do take me to see them! I have never seen anything extraordinary, though I am always on the lookout for it everywhere," said Vronsky, smiling. "Very well, next Saturday," answered Countess Nordston. "But you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch, do you believe in it?" she asked Levin. "Why do you ask me? You know what I shall say." "But I want to hear your opinion." "My opinion," answered Levin, "is only that this table-turning simply proves that educated society--so called--is no higher than the peasants. They believe in the evil eye, and in witchcraft and omens, while we..." "Oh, then you dont believe in it?" "I cant believe in it, countess." "But if Ive seen it myself?" "The peasant women too tell us they have seen goblins." "Then you think I tell a lie?" And she laughed a mirthless laugh. "Oh, no, Masha, Konstantin Dmitrievitch said he could not believe in it," said Kitty, blushing for Levin, and Levin saw this, and, still more exasperated, would have answered, but Vronsky with his bright frank smile rushed to the support of the conversation, which was threatening to become disagreeable. "You do not admit the conceivability at all?" he queried. "But why not? We admit the existence of electricity, of which we know nothing. Why should there not be some new force, still unknown to us, which..." "When electricity was discovered," Levin interrupted hurriedly, "it was only the phenomenon that was discovered, and it was unknown from what it proceeded and what were its effects, and ages passed before its applications were conceived. But the spiritualists have begun with tables writing for them, and spirits appearing to them, and have only later started saying that it is an unknown force." Vronsky listened attentively to Levin, as he always did listen, obviously interested in his words. "Yes, but the spiritualists say we dont know at present what this force is, but there is a force, and these are the conditions in which it acts. Let the scientific men find out what the force consists in. No, I dont see why there should not be a new force, if it..." "Why, because with electricity," Levin interrupted again, "every time you rub tar against wool, a recognized phenomenon is manifested, but in this case it does not happen every time, and so it follows it is not a natural phenomenon." Feeling probably that the conversation was taking a tone too serious for a drawing room, Vronsky made no rejoinder, but by way of trying to change the conversation, he smiled brightly, and turned to the ladies. "Do let us try at once, countess," he said; but Levin would finish saying what he thought. "I think," he went on, "that this attempt of the spiritualists to explain their marvels as some sort of new natural force is most futile. They boldly talk of spiritual force, and then try to subject it to material experiment." Every one was waiting for him to finish, and he felt it. "And I think you would be a first-rate medium," said Countess Nordston; "theres something enthusiastic in you." Levin opened his mouth, was about to say something, reddened, and said nothing. "Do let us try table-turning at once, please," said Vronsky. "Princess, will you allow it?" And Vronsky stood up, looking for a little table. Kitty got up to fetch a table, and as she passed, her eyes met Levins. She felt for him with her whole heart, the more because she was pitying him for suffering of which she was herself the cause. "If you can forgive me, forgive me," said her eyes, "I am so happy." "I hate them all, and you, and myself," his eyes responded, and he took up his hat. But he was not destined to escape. Just as they were arranging themselves round the table, and Levin was on the point of retiring, the old prince came in, and after

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