`No - tell me, mamma, what do you think?'

`Why, what is one to think? He' (``he' meant Sergei Ivanovich) `might at any time have been one of the best matches in Russia; now, of course, he's not quite a young man, still I know ever so many girls would be glad to marry him, even now.... She's a very nice girl, but he might...'

`Oh, no, mamma, do understand why, for him and for her too, nothing better could be imagined. In the first place, she's charming!' said Kitty, crooking one of her fingers.

`He thinks her very attractive, that's certain,' assented Dolly.

`Then he occupies such a position in society that he has no need to look for either fortune or position in his wife. All he needs is a good, sweet wife - a restful one.'

`Well, with her he would certainly be restful,' Dolly assented.

`Thirdly, that she should love him. And so it is... that is, it would be so splendid!... I look forward to seeing them coming out of the forest - and everything settled. I shall see at once by their eyes. I should be so delighted! What do you think, Dolly?'

`But don't excite yourself. It's not at all the thing for you to be excited,' said her mother.

`Oh, I'm not excited, mamma. I fancy he will propose to her today.'

`Ah, that's so strange - how and when a man proposes!... There is a sort of barrier, and all at once it's broken down,' said Dolly, smiling pensively and recalling her past with Stepan Arkadyevich.

`Mamma, how did papa propose to you?' Kitty asked suddenly.

`There was nothing out of the way - it was very simple,' answered the Princess, but her face beamed all over at the recollection.

`Oh, but how was it? You loved him, at any rate, before you were allowed to speak?'

Kitty felt a peculiar pleasure in being able now to talk to her mother on equal terms about those questions of such paramount interest in a woman's life.

`Of course I did; he had come to stay with us in the country.'

`But how was it settled between you, mamma?'

`You imagine, I dare say, that you invented something quite new? It's always just the same: it was settled by the eyes, by smiles...'

`How well you said that, mamma! It's just by the eyes, by smiles that it's done,' Dolly assented.

`But what words did he say?'

`What did Kostia say to you?'

`He wrote it in chalk. It was wonderful.... How long ago it seems!' she said.

And the three women all fell to musing on the same thing. Kitty was the first to break the silence. She remembered all that last winter before her marriage, and her passion for Vronsky.

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