Chapter 35

The Prince communicated his good humor to his own family and his friends, and even to the German landlord in whose rooms the Shcherbatskys were staying.

On coming back with Kitty from the springs, the Prince, who had asked the colonel, and Marya Eugenyevna, and Varenka all to come and have coffee with them, gave orders for a table and chairs to be taken into the tiny garden under the chestnut tree, and lunch to be laid there. The landlord and the servants, too, grew brisker under the influence of his good spirits. They knew his openhandedness; and half an hour later the invalid doctor from Hamburg, who lived on the top floor, looked enviously out of his window at the merry party of healthy Russians assembled under the chestnut tree. In the trembling circles of shadow cast by the leaves, at a table covered with a white cloth, and set with coffeepot, bread, butter, cheese, and cold game, sat the Princess in a high cap with lilac ribbons, distributing cups and sandwiches. At the other end sat the Prince, eating heartily, and talking loudly and merrily. The Prince had spread out near him his purchases - carved boxes, and knickknacks, and paper knives of all sorts, of which he had bought a heap at every watering place, and bestowed them upon everyone, including Lieschen, the servant girl, and the landlord, with whom he jested in his comically bad German, assuring him that it was not the water had cured Kitty, but his splendid cookery - especially his plum soup. The Princess laughed at her husband for his Russian ways, but she was more lively and good-humored than she had been all the while she had been at the waters. The colonel smiled, as he always did, at the Prince's jokes, but as far as regards Europe, of which he believed himself to be making a careful study, he took the Princess's side. The goodhearted Marya Eugenyevna simply roared with laughter at everything absurd the Prince said, and his jokes made Varenka helpless with feeble but infectious laughter, which was something Kitty had never seen before.

Kitty was glad of all this, but she could not be lighthearted. She could not solve the problem her father had unconsciously set her by his good-humored view of her friends, and of the life that had so attracted her. To this doubt there was joined the change in her relations with the Petrovs, which had been so conspicuously and unpleasantly marked that morning. Everyone was good-humored, but Kitty could not feel good-humored, and this increased her distress. She felt a feeling such as she had known in childhood, when she had been shut in her room as a punishment, and had heard her sisters' merry laughter outside.

`Well, but what did you buy this mass of things for? said the Princess, smiling, and handing her husband a cup of coffee.

`One goes for a walk, one looks in a shop, and they ask you to buy. ``Erlaucht, Excellenz, Durchlaucht?'' Directly they say ``Durchlaucht,'' I can't hold out - and ten thalers are gone.'

`It's simply from boredom,' said the Princess.

`Of course it is. Such boredom, my dear, that one doesn't know what to do with oneself.'

`How can you be bored, Prince? There's so much that's interesting now in Germany,' said Marya Eugenyevna.

`But I know everything that's interesting: the plum soup I know and the pea sausages I know. I know everything.'

`No, you may say what you like, Prince - there's the interest of their institutions,' said the colonel.

`But what is there interesting? They're all as beaming with joy as brass halfpence; they've conquered everybody. And why am I to be pleased at that? I haven't conquered anyone; only I have myself to take off my own boots, and, besides, to expose them before the door; in the morning, get up and dress at once, and go to the coffeeroom to drink bad tea! How different it is at home! You get up in no haste, you get cross, grumble a little and come round again. You've time to think things over, and no hurry.'

`But time's money, you forget that,' said the colonel.

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