Chapter 20

The whole of that day Anna spent at home - that is, at the Oblonsky's, and received no one, though some of her acquaintances had already heard of her arrival, and came to call the same day. Anna spent the whole morning with Dolly and the children. She merely sent a brief note to her brother to tell him that he must not fail to dine at home. `Come, God is merciful,' she wrote.

Oblonsky did dine at home: the conversation was general, and his wife, speaking to him, addressed him as `Stiva,' as she had not done for some time past. In the relations of husband and wife the same estrangement still remained, but there was no talk of separation, and Stepan Arkadyevich saw the possibility of explanation and reconciliation.

Immediately after dinner Kitty came in. She knew Anna Arkadyevna, but only very slightly, and she came now to her sister's with some trepidation, at the prospect of meeting this fashionable Peterburg lady, of whom everyone spoke so highly. But she made a favorable impression on Anna Arkadyevna - she perceived that at once. Anna was unmistakably admiring her loveliness and her youth: before Kitty knew where she was she found herself not merely under Anna's sway, but in love with her, as young girls do fall in love with older and married women. Anna did not resemble a fashionable lady, or the mother of a boy eight years old. In the elasticity of her movements, the freshness and the animation which persisted in her face and broke out in her smile and her glance, she would rather have passed for a girl of twenty, had it not been for a serious and, at times, a mournful look in her eyes, which struck and attracted Kitty. Kitty felt that Anna was perfectly simple and was concealing nothing, but that she had another higher world of interests, complex and poetic, which were inaccessible to Kitty.

After dinner, when Dolly withdrew to her own room, Anna rose quickly and went up to her brother, who was just lighting a cigar.

`Stiva,' she said to him, winking gaily, making the sign of the cross over him, and glancing toward the door, `go, and God help you.

He tossed away his cigar, having understood her, and departed through the doorway.

When Stepan Arkadyevich had disappeared, she went back to the sofa where she had been sitting, surrounded by the children. Either because the children saw that their mother was fond of this aunt, or that they themselves sensed a special charm in her, the two elder ones, and the younger following their lead, as children so often do, had clung about their new aunt since before dinner, and would not leave her side. And it had become a sort of game among them to sit as close as possible to their aunt, to touch her, hold her little hand, kiss it, play with her ring, or even touch the flounce of her skirt.

`Come, come, as we were sitting before,' said Anna Arkadyevna, sitting down in her place.

And again Grisha poked his little face under her arm, and nestled with his head on her gown, beaming with pride and happiness.

`And when is your next ball?' she asked Kitty.

`Next week - and a splendid ball. One of those balls where one always enjoys oneself.'

`Why, are there balls where one always enjoys oneself?' Anna said, with tender irony.

`It's strange, but there are. At the Bobrishchev's one always enjoys oneself, and at the Nikitin's too, while at the Mezhkov's it's always dull. Haven't you noticed it?'

`No, my dear, for me there are no balls now where one enjoys oneself,' said Anna, and Kitty detected in her eyes that peculiar world which was not revealed to her. `For me there are some which are less dull and tiresome than others.'

`How can you be dull at a ball?'

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.