WHEN she went into Kittys little room, a pretty, pink little room, full of knick-knacks in vieux saxe, as fresh, and pink, and white, and gay as Kitty herself had been two months ago, Dolly remembered how they had decorated the room the year before together, with what love and gaiety. Her heart turned cold when she saw Kitty sitting on a low chair near the door, her eyes fixed immovably on a corner of the rug. Kitty glanced at her sister, and the cold, rather ill-tempered, expression of her face did not change.
Oh, the most awful thing of all for me is this sympathising! shrieked Kitty, suddenly flying into a passion. She turned round on her chair, flushed crimson, and rapidly moving her fingers, pinched the clasp of her belt first with one hand and then with the other. Dolly knew this trick her sister had of clenching her hands when she was much excited; she knew, too, that in moments of excitement Kitty was capable of forgetting herself and saying a great deal too much, and Dolly would have soothed her, but it was too late.
What, what is it you want to make me feel, eh? said Kitty quickly. That Ive been in love with a man who didnt care a straw for me, and that Im dying of love for him? And this is said to me by my own sister, who imagines that that that shes sympathising with me! I dont want these condolences and humbug!
The mention of Levins name seemed to deprive Kitty of the last vestige of self-control. She leaped up from her chair, and flinging her clasp on the ground, she gesticulated rapidly with her hands and said
Why bring Levin in too? I cant understand what you want to torment me for. Ive told you, and I say it again, that I have some pride, and never, never would I do as youre doinggo back to a man whos deceived you, who has cared for another woman. I cant understand it! You may, but I cant!
And saying these words she glanced at her sister, and seeing that Dolly sat silent, her head mournfully bowed, Kitty, instead of running out of the room, as she had meant to do, sat down near the door, and hid her face in her handkerchief.
The silence lasted for two minutes: Dolly was thinking of herself. That humiliation of which she was always conscious came back to her with a peculiar bitterness when her sister reminded her of it. She had not looked for such cruelty in her sister, and she was angry with her. But suddenly she heard the rustle of a skirt, and with it the sound of heartrending, smothered sobbing, and felt arms about her neck. Kitty was on her knees before her.
As though tears were the indispensable oil, without which the machinery of mutual confidence could not run smoothly between the two sisters, the sisters after their tears talked, not of what was uppermost in their minds, but, though they talked of outside matters, they understood each other. Kitty knew that the word she had uttered in anger about her husbands infidelity and her humiliating position, had cut her poor sister to the heart, but that she had forgiven her. Dolly for her part knew all she had wanted to find out. She felt certain that her surmises were correct; that Kittys misery, her inconsolable misery, was due precisely to the fact that Levin had made her an offer and she had refused him, and Vronsky had deceived her, and that she was fully prepared to love Levin and to detest Vronsky. Kitty said not a word of that; she talked of nothing but her spiritual condition.
I have nothing to make me miserable, she said, getting calmer; but can you understand that everything has become hateful, loathsome, coarse to me, and I myself most of all? You cant imagine what loathsome thoughts I have about everything.
The most utterly loathsome and coarse; I cant tell you. Its not unhappiness, or low spirits, but much worse. As though everything that was good in me was all hidden away, and nothing was left but the most loathsome. Come, how am I to tell you? she went on, seeing the puzzled look in her sisters eyes. Father began saying something to me just now. It seems to me he thinks all I want is to be married. Mother takes me to a ball: it seems to me she only takes me to get me married off as soon as may be, and be rid of me. I know its not the truth, but I cant drive away such thoughts. Eligible suitors, as they call themI cant bear to see them. It seems to me theyre taking stock of me and summing me up. In old days to go anywhere in a balldress was a simple joy to me, I admired myself; now I feel ashamed and awkward. And then! The doctor. Then Kitty hesitated; she wanted to say further that ever since this change had taken place in her, Stepan Arkadyevitch had become insufferably repulsive to her, and that she could not see him without the grossest and most hideous conceptions rising before her imagination.
Kitty insisted on having her way, and went to stay at her sisters, and nursed the children all through the scarlatina, for scarlatina it turned out to be. The two sisters brought all the six children successfully through it, but Kitty was no better in health, and in Lent the Shtcherbatskys went abroad.