Trying to be as accurate as possible, Levin began to tell him every unnecessary detail of his wife's condition, interrupting his account repeatedly with entreaties that the doctor would come with him at once.

`Oh, you needn't be in any hurry. You don't understand, you know. I'm certain I'm not wanted; still I've promised, and, if you like, I'll come. But there's no hurry. Please sit down; won't you have some coffee?'

Levin stared at him with eyes that asked whether he was laughing at him; but the doctor had no notion of making fun of him.

`I know, I know,' the doctor said, smiling; `I'm a married man myself; and at these moments we husbands are very much to be pitied. I've a patient whose husband always takes refuge in the stables on such occasions.'

`But what do you think, Piotr Dmitrievich? Do you suppose it will go all right?'

`Everything points to a favorable issue.'

`So you'll come immediately?' said Levin, looking wrathfully at the servant who was bringing in the coffee.

`In just an hour.'

`Oh, for God's sake!'

`Well, let me drink my coffee, anyway.'

The doctor started upon his coffee. Both were silent.

`The Turks are really getting beaten, though. Did you read yesterday's telegrams?' said the doctor, thoroughly masticating a roll.

`No, I can't stand it!' said Levin, jumping up. `So you'll be with us in a quarter of an hour?'

`In half an hour.'

`On your honor?'

When Levin got home, he drove up at the same time as the Princess, and they went up to the bedroom together. The Princess had tears in her eyes, and her hands were shaking. Seeing Levin, she embraced him, and burst into tears.

`Well, my dear Lizaveta Petrovna?' she queried, clasping the hand of the midwife, who came out to meet them with a beaming and anxious face.

`Everything is going on well,' she said; `persuade her to lie down. She will feel easier that way.'

From the moment when he had waked up and understood what was going on, Levin had prepared his mind to bear resolutely what was before him, and without considering or anticipating anything, to avoid upsetting his wife, and, on the contrary, to soothe her and keep up her courage. Without allowing himself even to think of what was to come, of how it would end, judging from his inquiries as to the usual duration of these ordeals, Levin had in his imagination braced himself to bear up and to keep a tight rein on his feelings for five hours, and it had seemed to him he could do this. But when he came back from the doctor's and saw her sufferings again, he fell to repeating more and more frequently: `Lord, have mercy on us, and succor us!' He sighed, and flung his head up, and began to feel afraid he could not bear it, that he would burst into tears or run away - such agony it was to him. Yet only one hour had passed.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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