`I'm just as happy. I'll never go anywhere, especially not to Moscow.'

`And what were you thinking about?'

`I? I was thinking... No, no, go on writing; don't break off,' she said, pursing up her lips, `and I must cut out these little holes now, do you see?'

She took up her scissors and began cutting them out.

`No; tell me - what was it?' he said, sitting down beside her and watching the circular motion of the tiny scissors.

`Oh! what was I thinking about? I was thinking about Moscow, about the nape of your neck.'

`Why should I, of all people, have such happiness! It's unnatural. Too good,' he said kissing her hand.

`I feel quite the opposite; the better things are, the more natural it seems to me.'

`And you've got a little curl loose,' he said, carefully turning her head round. `A little curl, oh yes. No, no, we are busy at our work!'

Work did not progress further, and they darted apart from one another like culprits when Kouzma came in to announce that tea was ready.

`Have they come from town?' Levin asked Kouzma.

`They've just come; they're unpacking the things.'

`Come quickly,' she said to him as she went out of the study, `or else I shall read the letters without you.'

Left alone, after putting his manuscripts together in the new portfolio bought by her, he washed his hands at the new washstand with the new elegant fittings, which had all made their appearance with her. Levin smiled at his own thoughts, and shook his head disapprovingly at those thoughts; a feeling akin to remorse fretted him. There was something shameful, effeminate, Capuan, as he called it to himself, in his present mode of life. `It's not right to go on like this,' he thought. `It'll soon be three months, and I'm doing next to nothing. Today, almost for the first time, I set to work seriously - and what happened? I did nothing but begin and throw it aside. I have almost given up even my ordinary pursuits. I scarcely walk or drive about at all to look after things on my land. Either I am loath to leave her, or I see she's dull alone. And I used to think that, before marriage, life was nothing much, somehow didn't count, but that after marriage life began in earnest. And here almost three months have passed, and I have spent my time so idly and unprofitably. No, this won't do; I must begin. Of course, it's not her fault. She's not to blame in any way. I ought to be firmer myself, to maintain my masculine independence of action; or else I shall get into such ways, and she'll get used to them too.... Of course she's not to blame,' he told himself.

But it is hard for anyone who is dissatisfied not to blame someone else, and especially the person nearest of all to one, for the basis of one's dissatisfaction. And it vaguely came into Levin's mind that she herself was not to blame (she could not be to blame for anything), but what was to blame was her education, too superficial and frivolous. (`That fool Charsky: I know she wanted to stop him, but didn't know how to.') `Yes, apart from her interest in the house (that she has), apart from dress and broderie anglaise, she has no serious interests. No interest in my work, in the estate, in the peasants, nor in music, though she's rather good at it, nor in reading. She does nothing, and is perfectly satisfied.' Levin, in his heart, censured this, and did not as yet understand that she was preparing for that period of activity which was to come for her when she would at once be the wife of her husband and mistress of the house, and would bear, and nurse, and bring up children. He knew not that she was instinctively aware of this, and preparing herself for this time of terrible toil, did not reproach herself for the moments of carelessness and happiness in her love, which she was enjoying now, while gaily building her nest for the future.

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