DURING the time of the childrens tea the grown-up people sat in the balcony and talked as though nothing had happened, though they all, especially Sergey Ivanovitch and Varenka, were very well aware that there had happened an event which, though negative, was of very great importance. They both had the same feeling, rather like that of a schoolboy after an examination, which has left him in the same class or shut him out of the school for ever. Every one present, feeling too that something had happened, talked eagerly about extraneous subjects. Levin and Kitty were particularly happy and conscious of their love that evening. And their happiness in their love seemed to imply a disagreeable slur on those who would have liked to feel the same and could notand they felt a prick of conscience.
And suddenly there was an unexpected quiver in the princesss voice. Her daughters were silent, and looked at one another. Mamma always finds something to be miserable about, they said in that glance. They did not know that happy as the princess was in her daughters house, and useful as she felt herself to be there, she had been extremely miserable, both on her own account and her husbands, ever since they had married their last and favourite daughter, and the old home had been left empty.
Grisha, who was by now at a high school, had to go over the lessons of the term in the summer holidays. Darya Alexandrovna, who had been studying Latin with her son in Moscow before, had made it a rule on coming to the Levins to go over with him, at least once a day, the most difficult lessons of Latin and arithmetic. Levin had offered to take her place, but the mother, having once overheard Levins lesson, and noticing that it was not given exactly as the teacher in Moscow had given it, said resolutely, though with much embarrassment and anxiety not to mortify Levin, that they must keep strictly to the book as the teacher had done, and that she had better undertake it again herself. Levin was amazed both at Stepan Arkadyevitch, who, by neglecting his duty, threw upon the mother the supervision of studies of which she had no comprehension, and at the teachers for teaching the children so badly. But he promised his sister-in-law to give the lessons exactly as she wished. And he went on teaching Grisha, not in his own way, but by the book, and so took little interest in it, and often forgot the hour of the lesson. So it had been to-day.
So you are expecting Stepan Arkadyevitch to-day? said Sergey Ivanovitch, evidently not disposed to pursue the conversation about Varenka. It would be difficult to find two sons-in-law more unlike than yours, eh said with a subtle smile. One all movement, only living in society, like a fish in water; the other our Kostya, lively, alert, quick in everything but as soon as he is in society, he either sinks into apathy, or struggles helplessly like a fish on land.
Yes, hes very heedless, said the princess, addressing Sergey Ivanovitch. Ive been meaning, indeed, to ask you to tell him that its out of the question for her (she indicated Kitty) to stay here; that she positively must come to Moscow. He talks of getting a doctor down
In the middle of their conversation they heard the snorting of horses and the sound of wheels on the gravel. Dolly had not time to get up to go and meet her husband, when from the window of the room below, where Grisha was having his lesson, Levin leaped out and helped Grisha out after him.
But Levin had been mistaken in taking the person sitting in the carriage for the old prince. As he got nearer to the carriage he saw beside Stepan Arkadyevitch not the prince, but a handsome, stout young man in a Scotch cap, with long ends of ribbon behind. This was Vassenka Veslovksy, a distant cousin of the Shtcherbatskys, a brilliant young gentleman in Petersburg and Moscow society. A capital fellow, and a keen sportsman, as Stepan Arkadyevitch said, introducing him.
Not a whit abashed by the disappointment caused by his having come in place of the old prince, Veslovsky greeted Levin gaily, claiming acquaintance with him in the past, and snatching up Grisha into the carriage, lifted him over the pointer that Stepan Arkadyevitch had brought with him.
Levin did not get into the carriage, but walked, behind. He was rather vexed at the non-arrival of the old prince, whom he liked more and more the more he saw of him, and also at the arrival of this Vassenka Veslovsky, a quite uncongenial and superfluous person. He seemed to him still more uncongenial and superfluous when, on approaching the steps where the whole party, children and grown-ups, were gathered together in much excitement, Levin saw Vassenka Veslovsky, with a particularly warm and gallant air, kissing Kittys hand.
Well, are there plenty of birds? Stepan Arkadyevitch said to Levin, hardly leaving time for every one to utter their greetings. Weve come with the most savage intentions. Why, maman, theyve not been in Moscow since! Look, Tanya, heres something for you! Get it, please, its in the carriage, behind! he talked in all directions. How pretty youve grown, Dolly, he said to his wife, once more kissing her hand, holding it in one of his, and patting it with the other.
Even Sergey Ivanovitch, who had come out too on the steps, seemed to him unpleasant with the show of cordiality with which he met Stepan Arkadyevitch, though Levin knew that his brother neither liked nor respected Oblonsky.
And more hateful than any one was Kitty for falling in with the tone of gaiety with which this gentleman regarded his visit in the country, as though it were a holiday for himself and every one else. And, above all, unpleasant was that particular smile with which she responded to his smile.
Kitty saw something was wrong with her husband. She tried to seize a moment to speak to him alone, but he made haste to get away from her, saying he was wanted at the counting-house. It was long since his own work on the estate had seemed to him so important as at that moment. Its all holiday for them, he thought; but these are no holiday matters, they wont wait, and theres no living without them.