`No; he's still getting ready.'

`Oh, that's it!' said the Prince. `And so I'm to be getting ready, too? At your service,' he said to his wife, sitting down. `And as for you, Katia,' he went on, addressing his younger daughter, `you must wake up one fine day and say to yourself: Why, I'm quite well, and merry, and I'm going out again with papa for an early morning stroll in the frost. Eh?'

What her father said seemed simple enough, yet at these words Kitty grew confused and upset, like a criminal caught red-handed. `Yes, he knows all, he understands all, and in these words he's telling me that though I'm ashamed, I must live through my shame.' She could not pluck up spirit enough to make any answer. She made an attempt but suddenly burst into tears, and ran out of the room.

`See what comes of your jokes!' the Princess pounced on her husband. `You're always...' she launched into her reproachful speech.

The Prince listened to the Princess's reproaches rather a long while and kept silent, but his face grew more and more glowering.

`She's so much to be pitied, poor thing, so much to be pitied, yet you don't feel how it pains her to hear the least hint as to the cause of it all. Ah! to be so mistaken in people!' said the Princess, and by the change in her tone both Dolly and the Prince knew she meant Vronsky. `I don't know why there aren't laws against such vile, dishonorable people.'

`Ah, I oughtn't to listen to you!' said the Prince glumly, getting up from his chair, as if to go, yet pausing in the doorway. `There are laws, my dear, and since you've challenged me to it, I'll tell you who's to blame for it all: you - you, you alone. Laws against such young gallants have always existed, and still exist! Yes, if there weren't anything that ought not to have been, I, old as I am, would have called him out to the barrier, this swell. Yes, and now go ahead and physic her, and call in these charlatans.'

The Prince, it seemed, had plenty more to say, but no sooner had the Princess caught his tone than she subsided at once, and became penitent, as was always the case in serious matters.

`Alexandre, Alexandre,' she whispered, approaching him and bursting into tears.

As soon as she began to weep the Prince, too, calmed down. He went up to her.

`There, that's enough, that's enough! You feel badly too, I know. Nothing can be done about it! It's not so very bad. God is merciful... thanks...' he said, without knowing himself what he was saying now, responding to the moist kiss of the Princess that he felt on his hand. And the Prince went out of the room.

No sooner had Kitty gone out of the room, in tears, than Dolly, with her motherly, domestic habit, had promptly perceived that here a woman's work lay before her, and got ready for it. She took off her hat, and, morally speaking, tucked up her sleeves and got ready for action. While her mother was attacking her father, she tried to restrain her mother, so far as daughterly reverence would allow. During the Prince's outburst she was silent; she felt ashamed for her mother and tender toward her father for so quickly being kind again. But when her father left, she made ready for what was most necessary - to go to Kitty and compose her.

`I've intended long since to tell you something, maman: did you know that Levin meant to propose to Kitty when he was here last? He told Stiva so.'

`Well, what of it? I don't understand...'

`Why, perhaps Kitty refused him?... Did she say nothing to you?'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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