“How is it Anna Pavlovna’s not been to see us for so long?” the princess said one day of Madame Petrova. “I’ve asked her, but she seems put out about something.”
“No, I’ve not noticed it, maman,” said Kitty, flushing hotly.
“Is it long since you went to see them?”
“We’re meaning to make an expedition to the mountains tomorrow,” answered Kitty,
“Well, you can go,” answered the princess, gazing at her daughter’s embarrassed face and trying to guess the cause of her embarrassment.
That day Varenka came to dinner and told them that Anna Pavlovna had changed her mind and given up the expedition for the morrow. And the princess noticed again that Kitty reddened.
“Kitty, haven’t you had some misunderstanding with the Petrovs?” said the princess, when they were left alone. “Why has she given up sending the children and coming to see us?”
Kitty answered that nothing had happened between them, and that she could not tell why Anna Pavlovna seemed displeased with her. Kitty answered perfectly truly. She did not know the reason Anna Pavlovna had changed to her, but she guessed it. She guessed at something which she could not tell her mother, which she did not put into words to herself. It was one of those things which one knows but which one can never speak of even to oneself, so terrible and shameful would it be to be mistaken.
Again and again she went over in her memory all her relations with the family. She remembered the simple delight expressed on the round, good-humored face of Anna Pavlovna at their meetings; she remembered their secret confabulations about the invalid, their plots to draw him away from the work which was forbidden him, and to get him out-of-doors; the devotion of the youngest boy, who used to call her “my Kitty,” and would not go to bed without her. How nice it all was! Then she recalled the thin, terribly thin figure of Petrov, with his long neck, in his brown coat, his scant, curly hair, his questioning blue eyes that were so terrible to Kitty at first, and his painful attempts to seem hearty and lively in her presence. She recalled the efforts she had made at first to overcome the repugnance she felt for him, as for all consumptive people, and the pains it had cost her to think of things to say to him. She recalled the timid, softened look with which he gazed at her, and the strange feeling of compassion and awkwardness, and later of a sense of her own goodness, which she had felt at it. How nice it all was! But all that was at first. Now, a few days ago, everything was suddenly spoiled. Anna Pavlovna had met Kitty with affected cordiality, and had kept continual watch on her and on her husband.
Could that touching pleasure he showed when she came near be the cause of Anna Pavlovna’s coolness?
“Yes,” she mused, “there was something unnatural about Anna Pavlovna, and utterly unlike her good nature, when she said angrily the day before yesterday: ’There, he will keep waiting for you; he wouldn’t drink his coffee without you, though he’s grown so dreadfully weak.’”