`Time, indeed! Why, there are times one would give a month of for half a rouble, and times you wouldn't give half an hour of for any money. Isn't that so, Katenka? What is it? Why are you so depressed?'

`I'm not depressed.'

`Where are you off to? Stay a little longer,' he said to Varenka.

`I must be going home,' said Varenka, getting up, and again she broke out laughing. When she had recovered, she said good-by, and went into the house to get her hat.

Kitty followed her. Even Varenka struck her as different. She was not inferior, but different from what she had fancied her before.

`Oh, dear! It's a long while since I've laughed so much!' said Varenka, gathering up her parasol and her handbag. `What a dear your father is!'

Kitty did not speak.

`When shall I see you again?' asked Varenka.

`Maman meant to go and see the Petrovs. Won't you be there?' said Kitty, to try Varenka.

`Yes,' answered Varenka. `They're getting ready to go away, so I promised to help them pack.'

`Well, I'll come too, then.'

`No, why should you?'

`Why not? Why not? Why not?' said Kitty, opening her eyes wide, and clutching at Varenka's parasol, so as not to let her go. `No, wait a minute - why not?'

`Oh, nothing; your father has come, and, besides, they will feel awkward at your helping.'

`No, tell me why you don't want me to be often at the Petrovs? You don't want me to - why not?'

`I didn't say that,' said Varenka quietly.

`No, please tell me!'

`Tell you everything?' asked Varenka.

`Everything, everything!' Kitty assented.

`Well, there's really nothing of any consequence; only that Mikhail Alexeievich' (that was the artist's name) `had meant to leave earlier, and now he doesn't want to go away,' said Varenka, smiling.

`Go on, go on!' Kitty urged impatiently, looking somberly at Varenka.

`Well, and for some reason Anna Pavlovna told him that he didn't want to go because you are here. Of course, that was nonsense; but there was a dispute over it - over you. You know how irritable these sick people are.'

Kitty, scowling more than ever, kept silent, and Varenka went on speaking alone, trying to soften or soothe her, and seeing a storm coming - she did not know whether of tears or of words.

`So you'd better not go... You understand; you won't be offended?...'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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