DARYA ALEXANDROVNA spent the summer with her children at Pokrovskoe, at her sister Kitty Levins. The house on her own estate was quite in ruins, and Levin and his wife had persuaded her to spend the summer with them. Stepan Arkadyevitch greatly approved of the arrangement. He said he was very sorry his official duties prevented him from spending the summer in the country with his family, which would have been the greatest happiness for him; and remaining in Moscow, he came down to the country from time to time for a day or two. Besides the Oblonskys, with all their children and their governess, the old princess too came to stay that summer with the Levins, as she considered it her duty to watch over her inexperienced daughter in her interesting condition. Moreover Varenka, Kittys friend abroad, kept her promise to come to Kitty when she was married, and stayed with her friend. All of these were friends or relations of Levins wife. And though he liked them all, he rather regretted his own Levin world and ways, which was smothered by this influx of the Shtcherbatsky element, as he called it to himself. Of his own relations there stayed with him only Sergey Ivanovitch, but he too was a man of the Koznishev and not the Levin stamp, so that the Levin spirit was utterly obliterated.
In the Levins house, so long deserted, there were now so many people that almost all the rooms were occupied, and almost every day it happened that the old princess, sitting down to table, counted them all over, and put the thirteenth grandson or granddaughter at a separate table. And Kitty, with her careful housekeeping, had no little trouble to get all the chickens, turkeys, and geese, of which so many were needed to satisfy the summer appetites of the visitors and children.
The whole family were sitting at dinner. Dollys children, with their governess and Varenka, were making plans for going to look for mushrooms. Sergey Ivanovitch, who was looked up to by all the party for his intellect and learning, with a respect that almost amounted to awe, surprised every one by joining in the conversation about mushrooms.
Oh, we shall be delighted, answered Varenka, colouring a little. Kitty exchanged meaning glances with Dolly. The proposal of the learned and intellectual Sergey Ivanovitch to go looking for mushrooms with Varenka confirmed certain theories of Kittys with which her mind had been very busy of late. She made haste to address some remark to her brother, so that her look should not be noticed. After dinner Sergey Ivanovitch sat with his cup of coffee at the drawing-room window, and while he took part in a conversation he had begun with his brother, he watched the door through which the children would start on the mushroom-picking expedition. Levin was sitting in the window near his brother.
You have changed in many respects since your marriage, and for the better, said Sergey Ivanovitch, smiling to Kitty, and obviously little interested in the conversation, but you have remained true to your passion for defending the most paradoxical theories.
Boldly running up to Sergey Ivanovitch with shining eyes, so like her fathers fine eyes, she handed him his hat and made as though she would put it on for him, softening her freedom by a shy and friendly smile.
And how sweet my Varenka is! eh? said Kitty to her husband, as soon as Sergey Ivanovitch rose. She spoke so that Sergey Ivanovitch could hear, and it was clear that she meant him to do so. And how good-looking she issuch a refined beauty! Varenka! Kitty shouted. Shall you be in the mill copse? Well come out to you.
Varenka, hearing Kittys voice and her mothers reprimand, went with light, rapid steps up to Kitty. The rapidity of her movement, her flushed and eager face, everything betrayed that something out of the common was going on in her. Kitty knew what this was, and had been watching her intently. She called Varenka at that moment merely in order mentally to give her a blessing for the important event which, as Kitty fancied, was bound to come to pass that day after dinner in the wood.