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Anna Karenina 419


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enter into the spiritual state of ones friend, and I fear that you are not doing so in the case of Alexey Alexandrovitch. You understand what I mean?" she said, lifting her fine pensive eyes. "In part, countess, I understand the position of Alexey Alexandrovitch..." said Oblonsky. Having no clear idea what they were talking about, he wanted to confine himself to generalities. "The change is not in his external position," Countess Lidia Ivanovna said sternly, following with eyes of love the figure of Alexey Alexandrovitch as he got up and crossed over to Landau; "his heart is changed, a new heart has been vouchsafed him, and I fear you dont fully apprehend the change that has taken place in him." "Oh, well, in general outlines I can conceive the change. We have always been friendly, and now..." said Stepan Arkadyevitch, responding with a sympathetic glance to the expression of the countess, and mentally balancing the question with which of the two ministers she was most intimate, so as to know about which to ask her to speak for him. "The change that has taken place in him cannot lessen his love for his neighbors; on the contrary, that change can only intensify love in his heart. But I am afraid you do not understand me. Wont you have some tea?" she said, with her eyes indicating the footman, who was handing round tea on a tray. "Not quite, countess. Of course, his misfortune..." "Yes, a misfortune which has proved the highest happiness, when his heart was made new, was filled full of it," she said, gazing with eyes full of love at Stepan Arkadyevitch. "I do believe I might ask her to speak to both of them," thought Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Oh, of course, countess," he said; "but I imagine such changes are a matter so private that no one, even the most intimate friend, would care to speak of them." "On the contrary! We ought to speak freely and help one another." "Yes, undoubtedly so, but there is such a difference of convictions, and besides..." said Oblonsky with a soft smile. "There can be no difference where it is a question of holy truth." "Oh, no, of course; but..." and Stepan Arkadyevitch paused in confusion. He understood at last that they were talking of religion. "I fancy he will fall asleep immediately," said Alexey Alexandrovitch in a whisper full of meaning, going up to Lidia Ivanovna. Stepan Arkadyevitch looked round. Landau was sitting at the window, leaning on his elbow and the back of his chair, his head drooping. Noticing that all eyes were turned on him he raised his head and smiled a smile of childlike artlessness. "Dont take any notice," said Lidia Ivanovna, and she lightly moved a chair up for Alexey Alexandrovitch. "I have observed..." she was beginning, when a footman came into the room with a letter. Lidia Ivanovna rapidly ran her eyes over the note, and excusing herself, wrote an answer with extraordinary rapidity, handed it to the man, and came back to the table. "I have observed," she went on, "that Moscow people, especially the men, are more indifferent to religion than anyone." "Oh, no, countess, I thought Moscow people had the reputation of being the firmest in the faith," answered Stepan Arkadyevitch. "But as far as I can make out, you are unfortunately one of the indifferent ones," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, turning to him with a weary smile. "How anyone can be indifferent!" said Lidia Ivanovna. "I am not so much indifferent on that subject as I am waiting in suspense," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, with his most deprecating smile. "I hardly think that the time for such questions has come yet for me." Alexey Alexandrovitch and Lidia Ivanovna looked at each other. "We can never tell whether the time has come for us or not," said Alexey Alexandrovitch severely. "We ought not to think whether we are ready or not ready. Gods grace is not guided by human considerations: sometimes it comes not to those that strive for it, and comes to those that are unprepared, like Saul." "No, I believe it wont be just yet," said Lidia Ivanovna, who had been meanwhile watching the movements of the Frenchman. Landau got up and came to them. "Do you allow me to listen?" he asked. "Oh, yes; I did not want to disturb you," said Lidia Ivanovna, gazing tenderly at him; "sit here with us." "One has only not to close ones eyes to shut out the light," Alexey Alexandrovitch went on. "Ah, if you knew the happiness

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