Chapter 2

On the terrace were assembled all the ladies of the party. They always liked sitting there after dinner, and that day they had work to do there too. Besides the sewing of baby's chemises and knitting of swaddles, with which all of them were busy, that afternoon jam was being made on the terrace by a method new to Agathya Mikhailovna, without the addition of water. Kitty had introduced this new method, which had been in use in her home. Agathya Mikhailovna, to whom the task of jam making had always been intrusted, considering that what had been done in the Levin household could not be amiss, had nevertheless put water with the strawberries, maintaining that the jam could not be made without it. She had been caught in the act, and was now making raspberry jam before everyone, and it was to be proved to her conclusively that jam could be very well made without water.

Agathya Mikhailovna, her face heated and angry, her hair untidy, and her thin arms bare to the elbows, was swaying the preserving pan in a circular motion over the charcoal stove, looking darkly at the raspberries and devoutly hoping they would stick and not cook properly. The Princess, conscious that Agathya Mikhailovna's wrath must be chiefly directed against her, as the person responsible for the raspberry jam making, tried to appear to be absorbed in other things and not interested in the raspberries, talking of other matters, but cast stealthy glances in the direction of the stove.

`I always buy my maids' dresses myself, at the bargain sale,' the Princess said, continuing the previous conversation. `Isn't it time to skim it, my dear?' she added, addressing Agathya Mikhailovna. `There's not the slightest need for you to do it, and it's hot for you,' she said, stopping Kitty.

`I'll do it,' said Dolly, and, getting up, she carefully passed the spoon over the frothing sugar, and from time to time shook off the clinging jam from the spoon by knocking it on a plate that was covered with yellow-red scum and blood-colored syrup. `How they'll lick this at teatime!' she thought of her children, remembering how she herself as a child had wondered how it was the grown-up people did not eat what was best of all - the scum of the jam.

`Stiva says it's much better to give money,' Dolly took up meanwhile the weighty subject under discussion - of what presents should be made to servants. `But...'

`Money's out of the question!' the Princess and Kitty exclaimed with one voice. `They appreciate a present...'

`Well, last year, for instance, I bought our Matriona Semionovna, not a poplin, but something of that sort,' said the Princess.

`I remember she was wearing it on your name day.'

`A charming pattern - so simple and refined - I should have liked it myself, if she hadn't had it. Something like Varenka's. So pretty and inexpensive.'

`Well, now I think it's done,' said Dolly, dropping the syrup from the spoon.

`When it sets as it drops, it's ready. Cook it a little longer, Agathya Mikhailovna.'

`The flies!' said Agathya Mikhailovna angrily. `It'll be just the same,' she added.

`Ah! How sweet it is! Don't frighten it!' Kitty said suddenly, looking at a sparrow that had settled on the step and was pecking at the center of a raspberry.

`Yes, but you keep a little further from the stove,' said her mother.

`A propos de Varenka,' said Kitty, speaking in French, as they had been doing all the while, so that Agathya Mikhailovna should not understand them, `you know, maman, I somehow expect things to be settled today. You know what I mean. How splendid it would be!'

`But what a famous matchmaker she is!' said Dolly. `How carefully and cleverly she throws them together!...'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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