`Why bring Levin in too? I can't understand - what you want to torture me for? I've told you, and I repeat it - I have some pride, and never, never would I do what you're doing - going back to a man who's deceived you, who has come to love another woman. I can't understand this! You may - but I can't do it!'

And, having said these words, she glanced at her sister, and seeing that Dolly sat silent, her head mournfully bowed, Kitty, instead of leaving the room, as she had intended, sat down near the door, and, hiding her face in her shawl, let her head drop.

The silence lasted for two minutes. Dolly's thoughts were of herself. That humiliation of which she was always conscious came back to her with special pain when her sister reminded her of it. She had not expected such cruelty from her sister, and was resentful. But suddenly she heard the rustle of a skirt, and, simultaneously, an outburst of smothered sobbing, and felt arms clasping her neck from below. Kitty was on her knees before her.

`Dolinka, I am so, so unhappy!' she whispered penitently.

And the endearing face, covered with tears, hid itself in Darya Alexandrovna's skirt.

It was as if tears were the indispensable oil without which the machinery of mutual communion could not run smoothly between the two sisters; the sisters, after their tears, discussed everything but that which engrossed them; but, even in talking of outside matters, they understood one another. Kitty knew that what she had uttered in anger about her husband's infidelity and her humiliating position had struck her poor sister to the very depths of her heart, but she also knew that the latter had forgiven her. Dolly for her part had comprehended all she had wanted to find out. She had become convinced that her surmises were correct; that Kitty's misery, her incurable misery, was due precisely to the fact that Levin had proposed to her and she had refused him, while Vronsky had deceived her, and that she stood ready to love Levin and to hate Vronsky. Kitty said no word of this; she spoke of nothing save her own spiritual state.

`I have nothing to grieve over,' she said, calming down, `but you could understand that everything has become loathsome, hateful, coarse to me - and I myself most of all. You can't imagine what loathsome thoughts I have about everything.'

`Why, whatever loathsome thoughts can you have?' asked Dolly, smiling.

`Most, most loathsome and coarse: I couldn't tell you. This is not melancholy, nor boredom, but far worse. As if everything of good that I had were gone out of sight, while only that which was most loathsome were left. Well, how shall I put it to you?' she went on, seeing incomprehension in her sister's eyes. `Papa began saying something to me just now... It seems to me he thinks all I need is to marry. If mamma takes me to a ball - it seems to me she takes me only to marry me off as fast as possible, and get me off her hands. I know this isn't so, but I can't drive away such thoughts. These suitors so called - I can't bear the sight of them. It seems to me as if they're always taking stock of me. Formerly, to go anywhere in a ball dress was a downright joy to me; I used to admire myself; now I feel ashamed, in at ease. Well, take any example you like... This doctor... Now...'

Kitty hesitated; she wanted to say further that ever since this change had taken place in her, Stepan Arkadyevich had become unbearably repulsive to her, and that she could not see him without imagining the grossest and most hideous things.

`Well now, everything appears to me, in the coarsest, most loathsome aspect,' she went on. `That is my ailment. Perhaps all this will pass...'

`Try not to think of such things...'

`I can't help it. I feel well only when I am with the children, at your house.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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