Varenka lived with her all the while abroad, and everyone who knew Madame Stahl knew and liked Mademoiselle Varenka, as everyone called her.
Having learned all these facts, the princess found nothing to object to in her daughter’s intimacy with Varenka, more especially as Varenka’s breeding and education were of the best—she spoke French and English extremely well—and what was of the most weight, brought a message from Madame Stahl expressing her regret that she was prevented by her ill health from making the acquaintance of the princess.
After getting to know Varenka, Kitty became more and more fascinated by her friend, and every day she discovered new virtues in her.
The princess, hearing that Varenka had a good voice, asked her to come and sing to them in the evening.
“Kitty plays, and we have a piano; not a good one, it’s true, but you will give us so much pleasure,” said the princess with her affected smile, which Kitty disliked particularly just then, because she noticed that Varenka had no inclination to sing. Varenka came, however, in the evening and brought a roll of music with her. The princess had invited Marya Yevgenyevna and her daughter and the colonel.
Varenka seemed quite unaffected by there being persons present she did not know, and she went directly to the piano. She could not accompany herself, but she could sing music at sight very well. Kitty, who played well, accompanied her.
“You have an extraordinary talent,” the princess said to her after Varenka had sung the first song extremely well.
Marya Yevgenyevna and her daughter expressed their thanks and admiration.
“Look,” said the colonel, looking out of the window, “what an audience has collected to listen to you.” There actually was quite a considerable crowd under the windows.
“I am very glad it gives you pleasure,” Varenka answered simply.
Kitty looked with pride at her friend. She was enchanted by her talent, and her voice, and her face, but most of all by her manner, by the way Varenka obviously thought nothing of her singing and was quite unmoved by their praises. She seemed only to be asking: “Am I to sing again, or is that enough?”