KITTY was particularly glad of a chance of being alone with her husband, for she had noticed the shade of mortification that had passed over his facealways so quick to reflect every feelingat the moment when he had come on to the terrace and asked what they were talking of, and had got no answer.
When they had set off on foot ahead of the others, and had come out of sight of the house on to the beaten dusty road, marked with rusty wheels and sprinkled with grains of corn, she clung faster to his arm and pressed it closer to her. He had quite forgotten the momentary unpleasant impression, and alone with her he felt, now that the thought of her approaching motherhood was never for a moment absent from his mind, a new and delicious bliss, quite pure from all alloy of sense, in the being near to the woman he loved. There was no need of speech, yet he longed to hear the sound of her voice, which like her eyes had changed since she had been with child. In her voice, as in her eyes, there was that softness and gravity which is found in people continually concentrated on some cherished pursuit.
Ah! said Levin, listening more to the sound of her voice than to the words she was saying, and all the while paying attention to the road, which passed now through the forest, and avoiding places where she might make a false step.
That was when I was a child; I know about it from hearsay and tradition. I remember him then. He was wonderfully sweet. But Ive watched him since with women; he is friendly, some of them he likes, but one feels that to him theyre simply people, not women.
Levin had grown used by now to uttering his thought boldly, without taking the trouble of clothing it in exact language. He knew that his wife, in such moments of loving tenderness as now, would understand what he meant to say from a hint, and she did understand him.
Its not as it was with poor Nikolay you really cared for each other, Levin finished. Why not speak of him? he added. I sometimes blame myself for not; it ends in ones forgetting. Ah, how terrible and dear he was! Yes, what were we talking about? Levin said, after a pause.
She could never have explained the chain of thought that made her smile; but the last link in it was that her husband, in exalting his brother and abasing himself, was not quite sincere. Kitty knew that this insincerity came from his love for his brother, from his sense of shame at being too happy, and above all from his unflagging craving to be bettershe loved it in him, and so she smiled.
Well, how shall I say? In my heart I really care for nothing whatever but that you should not stumblesee? Oh, but really you mustnt skip about like that! he cried, breaking off to scold her for too agile a movement in stepping over a branch that lay in the path. But when I think about myself, and compare myself with others, especially with my brother, I feel Im a poor creature.
Oh, but I feel, and particularly just nowits your fault, he said, pressing her handthat all that doesnt count. I do it in a way half-heartedly. If I could care for all that as I care for you! Instead of that, I do it in these days like a task that is set me.
He?no! But then one must have the simplicity, the straightforwardness, the goodness of your father: and I havent got that. I do nothing, and I fret about it. Its all your doing. Before there was youand this too, he added with a glance towards her waist that she understoodI put all my energies into work; now I cant, and Im ashamed; I do it just as though it were a task set me, Im pretending.
I think so, and I dont think so. Only Im awfully anxious for it. Here, wait a minute. She stooped down and picked a wild camomile at the edge of the path. Come, count: he does propose, he doesnt, she said, giving him the flower.