AFTER dinner, and till the beginning of the evening, Kitty was feeling a sensation akin to the sensation of a young man before a battle. Her heart throbbed violently, and her thoughts would not rest on anything.
She felt that this evening, when they would both meet for the first time, would be a turning-point in her life. And she was continually picturing them to herself, at one moment each separately, and then both together. When she mused on the past, she dwelt with pleasure, with tenderness, on the memories of her relations with Levin. The memories of childhood and of Levins friendship with her dead brother gave a special poetic charm to her relations with him. His love for her of which she felt certain, was flattering and delightful to her; and it was pleasant for her to think of Levin. In her memories of Vronsky there always entered a certain element of awkwardness, though he was in the highest degree well-bred and at ease, as though there were some false notenot in Vronsky, he was very simple and nice, but in herself, while with Levin she felt perfectly simple and clear. But, on the other hand, directly she thought of the future with Vronsky, there arose before her a perspective of brilliant happiness; with Levin the future seemed misty.
When she went upstairs to dress, and looked into the looking-glass, she noticed with joy that it was one of her good days, and that she was in complete possession of all her forces,she needed this so for what lay before her: she was conscious of external composure and free grace in her movements.
At half-past seven she had only just gone down into the drawing-room, when the footman announced, Konstantin Dmitrievitch Levin. The princess was still in her room, and the prince had not come in. So it is to be, thought Kitty, and all the blood seemed to rush to her heart. She was horrified at her paleness, as she glanced into the looking glass. At that moment she knew beyond doubt that he had come early on purpose to find her alone and to make her an offer. And then for the first time the whole thing presented itself in a new, different aspect; only then she realised that the question did not affect her onlywith whom she would be happy, and whom she lovedbut that she would have that moment to wound a man whom she liked. And to wound him cruelly. What for? Because he, dear fellow, loved her, was in love with her. But there was no help for it, so it must be, so it would have to be.
My God! shall I myself really have to say it to him? she thought. Can I tell him I dont love him? That will be a lie. What am I to say to him? That I love some one else? No, thats impossible. Im going away, Im going away.
She had reached the door, when she heard his step. No! its not honest. What have I to be afraid of? I have done nothing wrong. What is to be, will be! Ill tell the truth. And with him one cant be ill at ease. Here he is, she said to herself, seeing his powerful, shy figure, with his shining eyes fixed on her. She looked straight into his face, as though imploring him to spare her, and gave her hand.
Its not time yet; I think Im too early, he said, glancing round the empty drawing-room. When he saw that his expectations were realised, that there was nothing to prevent him from speaking, his face became gloomy.
That it depended on you, he repeated. I meant to say I meant to say I came for this to be my wife! he brought it out, not knowing what he was saying; but feeling that the most terrible thing was said, he stopped short and looked at her .
She was breathing heavily, not looking at him. She was feeling ecstasy. Her soul was flooded with happiness. She had never anticipated that the utterance of love would produce such a powerful effect on her. But it lasted only an instant. She remembered Vronsky. She lifted her clear, truthful eyes, and seeing his desperate face, she answered hastily