French had carried conventionality further than anyone, and that consequently they see a great merit in the return to realism. In the fact of not lying they see poetry.

Never had anything clever said by Levin given him so much pleasure as this remark. Anna's face lighted up at once, as she immediately appreciated the thought. She laughed.

`I laugh,' she said, `as one laughs when one sees a very true portrait. What you said so perfectly hits off French art now, painting - and literature too, indeed - Zola, Daudet. But perhaps it is always so, that men form their conceptions from fictitious, conventional types, and then - all the combinaisons made - they are tired of the fictitious figures and begin to invent more natural, true figures.'

`That's perfectly true,' said Vorkuev.

`So you've been at the club?' she said to her brother.

`Yes, yes, this a woman!' Levin thought, forgetting himself and staring persistently at her lovely, mobile face, which at that moment was all at once completely transformed. Levin did not hear what she was talking of as she leaned over to her brother, but he was struck by the change of her expression. Her face - so handsome a moment before in its repose - suddenly wore a look of strange curiosity, anger, and pride. But this lasted only an instant. She half-closed her eyes, as though recollecting something.

`Oh, well, but that's of no interest to anyone,' she said, and she turned to the English girl.

`Please order the tea in the drawing room,' she said in English.

The girl got up and went out.

`Well, how did she get through her examination?' asked Stepan Arkadyevich.

`Splendidly! She's a very gifted child and a sweet character.'

`It will end in your loving her more than your own.'

`There a man speaks. In love there's no such thing as more or less. I love my daughter with one love, and her with another.'

`I was just telling Anna Arkadyevna,' said Vorkuev, `that if she were to put a hundredth part of the energy she devotes to this English girl to the public question of the education of Russian children, she would be doing a great and useful work.'

`Yes, but I can't help it; I couldn't do it. Count Alexei Kirillovich urged me very much' (as she uttered the words Count Alexei Kirillovich she glanced with appealing timidity at Levin, and he unconsciously responded with a respectful and reassuring look), `he urged me to take up the school in the village. I visited it several times. The children were very dear, but I could not feel drawn to the work. You speak of energy. Energy rests upon love; and, come as it will, there's no forcing it. I took to this child - I could not myself say why.'

And she glanced again at Levin. And her smile and her glance - all told him that it was to him only she was addressing her words, valuing his good opinion, and at the same time sure beforehand that they understood one another.

`I quite understand that,' Levin answered. `It's impossible to give one's heart to a school or such institutions in general, and I believe that that's just why philanthropic institutions always give such poor results.'

She was silent for a while, then she smiled. `Yes, yes,' she agreed; `I never could. Je n'ai pas le coeur assez large to love a whole asylum of horrid little girls. Cela ne m'a jamais réussi. There are so many women who have made themselves une position sociale in that way. And now more than ever,' she said

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter/page Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.