Kitty began to entreat her mother still more urgently to let her make acquaintance with Varenka. And, disagreeable as it was to the Princess to seem to take the first step in wishing to make the acquaintance of Madame Stahl, who thought fit to give herself airs, she made inquiries about Varenka, and, having ascertained particulars about her tending to prove that there could he no harm, even if little good in the acquaintance, she herself approached Varenka and made acquaintance with her.
Choosing a time when her daughter had gone to the spring, while Varenka had stopped outside the baker's, the Princess approached her.
`Allow me to make your acquaintance,' she said, with her dignified smile. `My daughter has lost her heart to you,' she said. `Possibly you do not know me. I am...'
`That feeling is more than reciprocal, Princess,' Varenka answered hurriedly.
`What a good deed you did yesterday to our poor compatriot!' said the Princess.
Varenka flushed a little.
`I don't remember. I don't think I did anything,' she said.
`Why, you saved that Levin from disagreeable consequences.'
`Yes, sa compagne called me, and I tried to pacify him; he's very ill, and was dissatisfied with the doctor. I'm used to looking after such invalids.'
`Yes, I've heard you live at Mentone with your aunt - I think - Madame Stahl: I used to know her belle- soeur.'
`No, she's not my aunt. I call her maman, but I am not related to her; I was brought up by her,' answered Varenka, flushing a little again.
This was so simply said, and so sweet was the truthful and candid expression of her face, that the Princess saw why Kitty had taken such a fancy to Varenka.
`Well, and what's this Levin going to do?' asked the Princess.
`He's going away,' answered Varenka.
At that instant Kitty came up from the spring beaming with delight because her mother had become acquainted with her unknown friend.
`See, Kitty, your intense desire to make friends with Mademoiselle...'
`Varenka,' Varenka put in smiling, `that's what everyone calls me.'
Kitty blushed with pleasure, and slowly, without speaking, squeezed her new friend's hand, which did not respond to her pressure, but lay motionless in her hand. The hand did not respond to her pressure, but the face of Mademoiselle Varenka glowed with a soft, glad, though rather mournful, smile, that showed large but handsome teeth.
`I have long wished for this too,' she said.
`But `But you are so busy...'
`Oh, no I'm not at all busy,' answered Varenka, but at that moment she had to leave her new friends because two little Russian girls, children of an invalid, ran up to her.
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