LEFT alone, Darya Alexandrovna, with a good housewifes eye, scanned her room. All she had seen in entering the house and walking through it, and all she saw now in her room, gave her an impression of wealth and sumptuousness and of that modern European luxury of which she had only read in English novels, but had never seen in Russia and in the country. Everything was new from the new French hangings on the walls to the carpet which covered the whole floor. The bed had a spring mattress, and a special sort of bolster and silk pillow-cases on the little pillows. The marble washstand, the dressing-table, the little sofa, the tables, the bronze clock on the chimney-piece, the window-curtains and the portières were all new and expensive.
The smart maid, who came in to offer her services, with her hair done up high, and a gown more fashionable than Dollys, was as new and expensive as the whole room. Darya Alexandrovna liked her neatness, her deferential and obliging manners, but she felt ill at ease with her. She felt ashamed of her seeing the patched dressing-jacket that had unluckily been packed by mistake for her. She was ashamed of the very patches and darned places of which she had been so proud at home. At home it had been so clear that for six dressing-jackets there would be needed twenty-four yards of nainsook at sixteenpence the yard, which was a matter of thirty shillings besides the cutting-out and making, and these thirty shillings had been saved. But before the maid she felt, if not exactly ashamed, at least uncomfortable.
Annushka was obviously much pleased at that ladys arrival, and began to chatter away without a pause. Dolly observed that she was longing to express her opinion in regard to her mistresss position, especially as to the love and devotion of the count to Anna Arkadyevna, but Dolly carefully interrupted her whenever she began to speak about this.
Anna was not embarrassed now. She was perfectly composed and at ease. Dolly saw that she had now completely recovered from the impression her arrival had made on her, and had assumed that superficial, careless tone which, as it were, closed the door on that compartment in which her deeper feelings and ideas were kept.
Annie? (this was what she called her little daughter Anna). Very well. She has got on wonderfully. Would you like to see her? Come, Ill show her to you. We had a terrible bother, she began telling her, over nurses. We had an Italian wet-nurse. A good creature, but so stupid! We wanted to get rid of her, but the baby is so used to her, that weve gone on keeping her still.
You didnt mean to ask that? You meant to ask about her surname. Yes? That worries Alexey. She has no namethat is, shes a Karenin, said Anna, dropping her eyelids till nothing could be seen but the eyelashes meeting. But well talk about all that later, her face suddenly brightening. Come, Ill show you her. Elle est très gentille. She crawls now.
In the nursery the luxury which had impressed Dolly in the whole house struck her still more. There were little go-carts ordered from England, and appliances for learning to walk, and a sofa after the fashion of a billiard-table, purposely constructed for crawling, and swings and baths, all of special pattern, and modern. They were all English, solid, and of good make, and obviously very expensive. The room was large, and very light and lofty.
When they went in, the baby, with nothing on but her little smock, was sitting in a little elbow-chair at the table, having her dinner of broth, which she was spilling all over her little chest. The baby was being fed, and the Russian nursery-maid was evidently sharing her meal. Neither the wet-nurse nor the head-nurse were there; they were in the next room, from which came the sound of their conversation in the queer French, which was their only means of communication.
Hearing Annas voice, a smart, tall English nurse with a disagreeable face and a dissolute expression walked in at the door, hurriedly shaking her fair curls, and immediately began to defend herself though Anna had not found fault with her. At every word Anna said the English nurse said hurriedly several times, Yes, my lady.
The rosy baby with her black eyebrows and hair, her sturdy red little body with tight goose-flesh skin, delighted Darya Alexandrovna in spite of the cross expression with which she started at the stranger. She positively envied the babys healthy appearance. She was delighted, too, at the babys crawling. Not one of her own children had crawled like that. When the baby was put on the carpet and its little dress tucked up behind, it was wonderfully charming. Looking round like some little wild animal at the grown-up big people with her bright black eyes, she smiled, unmistakably pleased at their admiring her, and holding her legs sideways, she pressed vigorously on her arms, and rapidly drew her whole back up after, and then made another step forward with her little arms.
But the whole atmosphere of the nursery, and especially the English nurse, Darya Alexandrovna did not like at all. It was only on the supposition that no good nurse would have entered so irregular a household as Annas that Darya Alexandrovna could explain to herself how Anna with her insight into people could take such an unprepossessing, disreputable-looking woman as nurse to her child.
Besides, from a few words that were dropped, Darya Alexandrovna saw at once that Anna, the two nurses and the child had no common existence, and that the mothers visit was something exceptional. Anna wanted to get the baby her plaything, and could not find it.
I sometimes feel sorry Im so superfluous here, said Anna, going out of the nursery and holding up her skirt so as to escape the plaything standing in the doorway. It was very different with my first child.
Oh no! By the way, do you know I saw Seryozha? said Anna, screwing up her eyes, as though looking at something far away. But well talk about that later. You wouldnt believe it, Im like a hungry beggar-woman when a full dinner is set before her, and she does not know what to begin on first. The dinner is you, and the talks I have before me with you, which I could never have with any one else; and I dont know which subject to begin upon first. Mais je ne vous ferai grâce de rien. I must have everything out with you.
Oh, I ought to give you a sketch of the company you will meet with us, she began. Ill begin with the ladies. Princess Varvarayou know her, and I know your opinion and Stivas about her. Stiva says the whole aim of her existence is to prove her superiority over Auntie Katerina Pavlovna: thats all true; but shes a good-natured woman, and I am so grateful to her. In Petersburg there was a moment when a chaperon was absolutely essential for me. Then she turned up. But really she is good-natured. She did a great deal to alleviate my position. I see you dont understand all the difficulty of my position there in Petersburg, she added. Here Im perfectly at ease and happy. Well, of that later on, though. Then Sviazhskyhes the marshal of the district, and hes a very good sort of man, but he wants to get something out of Alexey. You understand, with his property, now that we are settled in the country, Alexey can exercise great influence. Then theres Tushkevitchyou have seen him, you knowBetsys admirer. Now hes been thrown over and hes come to see us. As Alexey says, hes one of those people who are very pleasant if one accepts them for what they try to appear to be, et puis il est comme il faut, as Princess Varvara says. Then Veslovsky you know him. A very nice boy, she said, and a sly smile curved her lips. Whats this wild story about him and the Levins? Veslovsky told Alexey about it, and we dont believe it. Il est très gentil et naif, she said again with the same smile. Men need occupation, and Alexey needs a circle, so I value all these people. We have to have the house lively and gay, so that Alexey may not long for any novelty. Then youll see the stewarda German, a very good fellow, and he understands his work. Alexey has a very high opinion of him. Then the doctor, a young man, not quite a Nihilist perhaps, but you know, eats with his knife but a very good doctor. Then the architect Une petite cour.