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Anna Karenina 319


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Anna Karenina

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"Itll be just the same," she added. "Ah! how sweet it is! dont frighten it!" Kitty said suddenly, looking at a sparrow that had settled on the step and was pecking at the center of a raspberry. "Yes, but you keep a little further from the stove," said her mother. "_A propos de Varenka_," said Kitty, speaking in French, as they had been doing all the while, so that Agafea Mihalovna should not understand them, "you know, mamma, I somehow expect things to be settled today. You know what I mean. How splendid it would be!" "But what a famous matchmaker she is!" said Dolly. "How carefully and cleverly she throws them together!..." "No; tell me, mamma, what do you think?" "Why, what is one to think? He" (_he_ meant Sergey Ivanovitch) "might at any time have been a match for anyone in Russia; now, of course, hes not quite a young man, still I know ever so many girls would be glad to marry him even now.... Shes a very nice girl, but he might..." "Oh, no, mamma, do understand why, for him and for her too, nothing better could be imagined. In the first place, shes charming!" said Kitty, crooking one of her fingers. "He thinks her very attractive, thats certain," assented Dolly. "Then he occupies such a position in society that he has no need to look for either fortune or position in his wife. All he needs is a good, sweet wife--a restful one." "Well, with her he would certainly be restful," Dolly assented. "Thirdly, that she should love him. And so it is...that is, it would be so splendid!...I look forward to seeing them coming out of the forest--and everything settled. I shall see at once by their eyes. I should be so delighted! What do you think, Dolly?" "But dont excite yourself. Its not at all the thing for you to be excited," said her mother. "Oh, Im not excited, mamma. I fancy he will make her an offer today." "Ah, thats so strange, how and when a man makes an offer!... There is a sort of barrier, and all at once its broken down," said Dolly, smiling pensively and recalling her past with Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Mamma, how did papa make you an offer?" Kitty asked suddenly. "There was nothing out of the way, it was very simple," answered the princess, but her face beamed all over at the recollection. "Oh, but how was it? You loved him, anyway, before you were allowed to speak?" Kitty felt a peculiar pleasure in being able now to talk to her mother on equal terms about those questions of such paramount interest in a womans life. "Of course I did; he had come to stay with us in the country." "But how was it settled between you, mamma?" "You imagine, I dare say, that you invented something quite new? Its always just the same: it was settled by the eyes, by smiles..." "How nicely you said that, mamma! Its just by the eyes, by smiles that its done," Dolly assented. "But what words did he say?" "What did Kostya say to you?" "He wrote it in chalk. It was wonderful.... How long ago it seems!" she said. And the three women all fell to musing on the same thing. Kitty was the first to break the silence. She remembered all that last winter before her marriage, and her passion for Vronsky. "Theres one thing ...that old love affair of Varenkas," she said, a natural chain of ideas bringing her to this point. "I should have liked to say something to Sergey Ivanovitch, to prepare him. Theyre all--all men, I mean," she added, "awfully jealous over our past." "Not all," said Dolly. "You judge by your own husband. It makes him miserable even now to remember Vronsky. Eh? thats true, isnt it?" "Yes," Kitty answered, a pensive smile in her eyes. "But I really dont know," the mother put in in defense of her motherly care of her daughter, "what there was in your past that could worry him? That Vronsky paid you attentions--that happens to every girl." "Oh, yes, but we didnt mean that," Kitty said, flushing a little. "No, let me speak," her mother went on, "why, you yourself would not let me have a talk to Vronsky. Dont you remember?" "Oh, mamma!" said Kitty, with an expression of suffering. "Theres no keeping you young people in check nowadays.... Your friendship could not have gone beyond what was suitable. I should

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