Kitty knew that the princess was offended that Madame Stahl had seemed to avoid making her acquaintance. Kitty did not insist.
“How wonderfully sweet she is!” she said, gazing at Varenka just as she handed a glass to the Frenchwoman. “Look how natural and sweet it all is.”
“It’s so funny to see your engouements,” said the princess. “No, we’d better go back,” she added, noticing Levin coming towards them with his companion and a German doctor, to whom he was talking very noisily and angrily.
They turned to go back, when suddenly they heard, not noisy talk, but shouting. Levin, stopping short, was shouting at the doctor, and the doctor, too, was excited. A crowd gathered about them. The princess and Kitty beat a hasty retreat, while the colonel joined the crowd to find out what was the matter.
A few minutes later the colonel overtook them.
“What was it?” inquired the princess.
“Scandalous and disgraceful!” answered the colonel. “The one thing to be dreaded is meeting Russians abroad. That tall gentleman was abusing the doctor, flinging all sorts of insults at him because he wasn’t treating him quite as he liked, and he began waving his stick at him. It’s simply a scandal!”
“Oh, how unpleasant!” said the princess. “Well, and how did it end?”
“Luckily at that point that...the one in the mushroom hat... intervened. A Russian lady, I think she is,” said the colonel.
“Mademoiselle Varenka?” asked Kitty.
“Yes, yes. She came to the rescue before anyone; she took the man by the arm and led him away.”
“There, mamma,” said Kitty; “you wonder that I’m enthusiastic about her.”
The next day, as she watched her unknown friend, Kitty noticed that Mademoiselle Varenka was already on the same terms with Levin and his companion as with her other proteges. She went up to them, entered into conversation with them, and served as interpreter for the woman, who could not speak any foreign language.
Kitty began to entreat her mother still more urgently to let her make friends with Varenka. And, disagreeable as it was to the princess to seem to take the first step in wishing to make the acquaintance of Madame Stahl, who thought fit to give herself airs, she made inquiries about Varenka, and, having ascertained particulars about her tending to prove that there could be no harm though little good in the acquaintance, she herself approached Varenka and made acquaintance with her.
Choosing a time when her daughter had gone to the spring, while Varenka had stopped outside the baker’s, the princess went up to her.
“Allow me to make your acquaintance,” she said, with her dignified smile. “My daughter has lost her heart to you,” she said. “Possibly you do not know me. I am...”
“That feeling is more than reciprocal, princess,” Varenka answered hurriedly.