Chapter 9

On the drive home, as Darya Alexandrovna, with all her children round her, their heads still wet from their baths, and a kerchief tied over her own head, was getting near the house, the coachman said: `There's some gentleman coming: the master of Pokrovskoe, I do believe.'

Darya Alexandrovna peeped out in front, and was delighted when she recognized in the gray hat and gray coat the familiar figure of Levin walking to meet them. She was glad to see him at any time, but at this moment she was specially glad he should see her in all her glory. No one was better able to appreciate her grandeur than Levin.

Seeing her, he found himself face to face with one of the pictures of his daydream of family life.

`You're like a hen with your brood, Darya Alexandrovna.'

`Ah, how glad I am to see you!' she said, holding out her hand to him.

`Glad to see me - but you didn't let me know. My brother's staying with me. I got a note from Stiva that you were here.'

`From Stiva?' Darya Alexandrovna asked with surprise.

`Yes; he writes that you are here, and that he thinks you might allow me to be of use to you,' said Levin, and as he said it he became suddenly embarrassed, and, stopping abruptly, he walked on in silence by the droshky, snapping off the buds of the lime trees and nibbling them. He was embarrassed through a sense that Darya Alexandrovna would be annoyed by receiving from an outsider help that should by rights have come from her own husband. Darya Alexandrovna certainly did not like this little way of Stepan Arkadyevich's of foisting his domestic duties on others. And she was at once aware that Levin was aware of this. It was just for this fineness of perception, for this delicacy, that Darya Alexandrovna liked Levin.

`I know, of course,' said Levin, `that this simply means that you would like to see me, and I'm exceedingly glad. Though I can fancy that, used to town housekeeping as you are, you must feel you are in the wilds here, and if there's anything wanted, I'm altogether at your disposal.'

`Oh, no!' said Dolly. `At first things were rather uncomfortable, but now we've settled everything capitally - thanks to my old nurse,' she said, indicating Matriona Philimonovna, who, seeing that they were speaking of her, smiled brightly and cordially to Levin. She knew him, and knew that he would be a good match for her young lady, and was very keen to see the matter settled.

`Won't you get in, sir, we'll make room on this side!' she said to him.

`No, I'll walk. Children, who'd like to race the horses with me?'

The children knew Levin very little, and could not remember when they had seen him, but they experienced in regard to him none of that strange feeling of shyness and hostility which children so often experience toward hypocritical, grown-up people, and for which they are so often and miserably punished. Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be disguised. Whatever faults Levin had, there was not a trace of hypocrisy in him, and so the children showed him the same friendliness that they saw in their mother's face. On his invitation, the two elder ones at once jumped out to him and ran with him as simply as they would have done with their nurse, or Miss Hoole, or their mother. Lily, too, began begging to go to him, and her mother handed her over to him; he sat her on his shoulder and ran along with her.

`Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, Darya Alexandrovna!' he said, smiling good-humoredly to the mother; `there's no chance of my hurting or dropping her.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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