Levin to an enchanted world, where he felt moved and tender, as he remembered himself during certain rare days of his early childhood.
`Have you been here long?' she said, giving him her hand. `Thank you,' she added, as he picked up the handkerchief that had fallen out of her muff.
`I? Not long ago... yesterday... I mean I arrived... today...' answered Levin, in his emotion not comprehending her question immediately. `I meant to come and see you,' he said; and then, recollecting what his intention was in seeking her, he was promptly overcome with confusion, and blushed. `I didn't know you could skate, and skate so well.'
She looked at him attentively, as though wishing to make out the cause of his confusion.
`Your praise is worth having. The tradition is kept up here that you are the best of skaters,' she said, with her little black-gloved hand brushing some needles of hoarfrost off her muff.
`Yes, I used to skate with passion once upon a time; I wanted to attain perfection.'
`You do everything with passion, I think,' she said smiling. `I should so like to see how you skate. Do put on skates, and let's skate together.'
`Skate together Can that be possible?' thought Levin, gazing at her.
`I'll put them on directly,' he said.
And he went off to get skates.
`It's a long while since we've seen you here, sir,' said the attendant, supporting his foot, and screwing on the heel of the skate. `Except you, there's none of the gentlemen first-rate skaters. Will that be all right?' said he, tightening the strap.
`Oh, yes, yes; make haste, please,' answered Levin, with difficulty restraining the smile of rapture which would overspread his face. `Yes,' he thought, `this is life, this is happiness! Together, she said; let us skate together! Speak to her now? But that's just why I'm afraid to speak - because I'm happy now, happy even though only in hope.... And then?... But I must! I must! I must! Away, faintheartedness!'
Levin rose to his feet, took off his overcoat, and, gaining speed over the rough ice round the pavilion, came out on the smooth ice and skated without effort, as it were, by, simple exercise of will, increasing and slackening speed and turning his course. He approached her with timidity, but again her smile reassured him.
She gave him her hand, and they set off side by side, going faster and faster, and the more rapidly they moved the more tightly she grasped his hand.
`With you I should soon learn; I somehow feel confidence in you,' she said to him.
`And I have confidence in myself when you are leaning on me,' he said, but was at once frightened at what he had said, and blushed. And indeed, no sooner had he uttered these words, than all at once, like the sun going behind a cloud, her face lost all its tenderness, and Levin detected the familiar change in her expression that denoted mental concentration; a tiny wrinkle came upon her smooth brow.
`Is there anything troubling you? However, I've no right to ask such a question,' he said hurriedly.
`Oh, why so?... No, I have nothing to trouble me,' she responded coldly, and immediately added: `You haven't seen Mlle. Linon, have you?'
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|