Chapter 6

Sergei Ivanovich had not telegraphed to his brother to send to meet him, as he did not know when he should be able to leave Moscow. Levin was not at home when Katavassov and Sergei Ivanovich, in a wagonette hired at the station, drove up to the steps of the Pokrovskoe house, as black as Negroes from the dust of the road. Kitty, sitting on the balcony with her father and sister, recognized her brother- in-law, and ran down to meet him.

`What a shame not to have let us know,' she said, giving her hand to Sergei Ivanovich, and putting her forehead up for him to kiss.

`We drove here capitally, and have not put you out,' answered Sergei Ivanovich. `I'm so dirty. I'm afraid to touch you. I've been so busy, I didn't know when I should be able to tear myself away. And so you're still as ever enjoying your peaceful, quiet happiness,' he said, smiling, `out of the reach of the current in your peaceful backwater. Here's our friend Fiodor Vassilievich, successful in getting here at last.'

`But I'm not a Negro; I shall look like a human being when I wash,' said Katavassov in his jesting fashion, and he shook hands and smiled, his teeth flashing white in his black face.

`Kostia will be delighted. He has gone to his grange. It's time he should be home.'

`Busy as ever with his farming. It really is a peaceful backwater,' said Katavassov; `while we in town think of nothing but the Servian war. Well, how does our friend look at it? He's sure not to think like other people.'

`Oh, I don't know, he's like everybody else,' Kitty answered, a little embarrassed, looking round at Sergei Ivanovich. `I'll send to fetch him. Papa's staying with us. He's only just come home from abroad.'

And making arrangements to send for Levin and for the guests to wash, one in his room and the other in what had been Dolly's, and giving orders for their luncheon, Kitty ran out on the balcony, enjoying the freedom and rapidity of movement, of which she had been deprived during the months of her pregnancy.

`It's Sergei Ivanovich and Katavassov, a professor,' she said.

`Oh, it's hard in such a heat,' said the Prince.

`No, papa, he's very nice, and Kostia's very fond of him,' Kitty said, with a deprecating smile, noticing the irony on her father's face.

`Oh, I didn't say anything.'

`You go to them, darling,' said Kitty to her sister, `and entertain them. They saw Stiva at the station; he was quite well. And I must run to Mitia. As ill luck would have it, I haven't fed him since tea. He's awake now, and sure to be screaming.' And, feeling a rush of milk, she hurried to the nursery.

This was not a mere guess; her connection with the child was still so close that she could gauge by the flow of her milk his need of food, and knew for certain he was hungry.

She knew he was crying before she reached the nursery. And he was indeed crying. She heard him and hastened. But the faster she went the louder he screamed. It was a fine healthy scream, hungry and impatient.

`Has he been screaming long, nurse - very long?' said Kitty, hurriedly seating herself on a chair, and preparing to give the baby the breast. `But give me him quickly. Oh, nurse, how tiresome you are! There, tie the cap afterward, do!'

The baby's greedy scream was passing into sobs.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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