`In the top part there is scarcely any difference - it's in the stalk.'

And as soon as these words were uttered, both he and she felt that it was over, that what was to have been said would not be said; and their emotion, which up to then had been continually growing more intense, began to subside.

`The birch mushroom's stalk suggests a dark man's chin after two days without shaving,' said Sergei Ivanovich, speaking quite calmly now.

`Yes, that's true,' answered Varenka smiling, and unconsciously the direction of their walk changed. They began to turn toward the children. Varenka felt both hurt and ashamed; at the same time she felt a sense of relief.

When he had got home again, and went over the whole set of arguments, Sergei Ivanovich thought his previous decision had been a mistaken one. He could not be false to the memory of Marie.

`Gently, children, gently!' Levin shouted quite angrily to the children, standing before his wife to protect her when the crowd of children flew with shrieks of delight to meet them.

Behind the children Sergei Ivanovich and Varenka walked out of the forest. Kitty had no need to ask Varenka; she saw from the calm and somewhat crestfallen faces of both that her plans had not come off.

`Well?' her husband questioned her as they were going home again.

`No bites,' said Kitty, her smile and manner of speaking recalling her father, a likeness Levin often noticed with pleasure.

`No bites, how?'

`I'll show you,' she said, taking her husband's hand, lifting it to her mouth, and just faintly brushing it with closed lips. `Like a kiss on a priest's hand.'

`Which one didn't bite?' he said, laughing.

`Both. But it should have been like this...'

`There are some peasants coming...'

`Oh, they didn't see.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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