Chapter 2

Right after the doctor Dolly arrived. She knew that the consultation was scheduled for that day, and, despite the fact that she had only recently gotten up from her lying-in (she had had another little girl at the end of the winter), despite her having enough trouble and cares of her own, she had left her breast baby and an ailing girl to come and learn Kitty's fate, which was being decided that day.

`Well, what's what?' said she, entering into the drawing room, without taking off her hat. `You're all in good spirits. That means good news, then?'

An attempt was made to tell her what the doctor had said, but it proved that, even though the doctor had talked coherently and long, it was utterly impossible to convey what he had said. The only point of interest was that going abroad was definitely decided upon.

Dolly could not help sighing. Her dearest friend, her sister, was going away. And her life was far from gay. Her relations with Stepan Arkadyevich after their reconciliation had become humiliating. The welding Anna had made proved not at all solid, and family concord had broken down again at the same point. There was nothing definite, but Stepan Arkadyevich was hardly ever at home; also, there was hardly ever any money, and Dolly was constantly being tortured by suspicions of infidelities, and by now she drove them away from her, dreading the agony of jealousy she had already experienced. The first explosion of jealousy, once lived through, could never return, and even the discovery of infidelities could never affect her now as it had the first time. Such a discovery now would only mean breaking up her family habits, and she permitted him to deceive her, despising him - and still more herself - for this weakness. Besides this, the cares of her large family were a constant torment to her: now the nursing of her breast baby did not go well; now the nurse would leave, now (as at the present time) one of the children would fall ill.

`Well, how's everybody in your family?' asked her mother.

`Ah, maman, we have enough trouble of our own. Lili has taken ill, and I'm afraid it's scarlatina. I have come here now to find out about Kitty, and then I shall shut myself up entirely, if - God forbid - it really be scarlatina.'

The old Prince too had come in from his study after the doctor's departure, and, after offering his cheek to Dolly, and chatting awhile with her, he turned to his wife:

`What have you decided - are you going? Well, and what do you want to do with me?'

`I think you had better stay here, Alexandre,' said his wife.

`Just as you wish.'

`Maman, why shouldn't father come with us?' said Kitty. `He'll feel better, and so will we.'

The old Prince got up and stroked Kitty's hair. She lifted her head and looked at him with a forced smile. It always seemed to her that he understood her better than anyone else in the family did, though he spoke but little with her. Being the youngest, she was her father's favorite, and she fancied that his love for her gave him insight. When now her gaze met his blue, kindly eyes, scrutinizing her intently, it seemed to her that he saw right through her, and understood all the evil things that were at work within her. Reddening, she was drawn toward him, expecting a kiss; but he merely patted her hair and said:

`These silly chignons! One can't as much as get near one's real daughter, but simply stroke the hair of defunct females. Well Dolinka,' he turned to his elder daughter, `what's your ace up to now?'

`Nothing, papa,' answered Dolly, who knew that this referred to her husband. `He's always out; I hardly ever see him,' she could not resist adding with a mocking smile.

`Why, hasn't he gone into the country yet - about the sale of the forest?'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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