The mother glanced at her. The child broke into sobs, hid her face on her mother's lap, and Dolly laid her thin, tender hand on her head.

`And what is there in common between us and him?' thought Levin, and he went off to look for Veslovsky.

As he passed through the hall he gave orders for the carriage to be got ready to drive to the station.

`The spring was broken yesterday,' said the footman.

`Well, the tarantass then, and make haste. Where's the visitor?'

`The gentleman's gone to his room.'

Levin came upon Vassenka at the moment when the latter, having unpacked his things from his trunk, and laid out some new songs, was putting on his leather gaiters to go out riding.

Whether there was something exceptional in Levin's face, or that Vassenka was himself conscious that le petit brin de cour he was making was out of place in this family; he was somewhat (as much as a young man in society can be) disconcerted at Levin's entrance.

`You ride in gaiters?'

`Yes, it's much cleaner,' said Vassenka, putting his fat leg on a chair, fastening the bottom hook, and smiling with simplehearted good humor.

He was undoubtedly a good-natured fellow, and Levin felt sorry for him and ashamed of himself, as his host, when he saw the shy look on Vassenka's face.

On the table lay a piece of stick which they had broken together that morning at gymnastics, trying to raise up the swollen bars. Levin took the fragment in his hands and began breaking off the split end of the stick, not knowing how to begin.

`I wanted...' He paused, but suddenly, remembering Kitty and everything that had happened, he said, looking him resolutely in the face: `I have ordered the horses to be put to for you.'

`How so?' Vassenka began in surprise. `To drive where?'

`For you to drive to the station,' Levin said gloomily pinching off the end of the stick.

`Are you going away, or has something happened?'

`It happens that I expect visitors,' said Levin, his strong fingers more and more rapidly breaking off the ends of the split stick. `And I'm not expecting visitors, and nothing has happened, but I beg you to go away. You can explain my rudeness as you like.'

Vassenka drew himself up.

`I beg you to explain...' he said with dignity, understanding at last.

`I can't explain,' Levin said softly and deliberately, trying to control the trembling of his jaw; `and you'd better not ask.'

And as the split ends were all broken off, Levin clutched the thick ends in his finger, split the stick in two, and carefully caught the end as it fell.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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