“Yes, if the heart does not speak...”
“No, the heart does speak; but just consider: you men have views about a girl, you come to the house, you make friends, you criticize, you wait to see if you have found what you love, and then, when you are sure you love her, you make an offer....”
“Well, that’s not quite it.”
“Anyway you make an offer, when your love is ripe or when the balance has completely turned between the two you are choosing from. But a girl is not asked. She is expected to make her choice, and yet she cannot choose, she can only answer ‘yes’ or ‘no.’”
“Yes, to choose between me and Vronsky,” thought Levin, and the dead thing that had come to life within him died again, and only weighed on his heart and set it aching.
“Darya Alexandrovna,” he said, “that’s how one chooses a new dress or some purchase or other, not love. The choice has been made, and so much the better.... And there can be no repeating it.”
“Ah, pride, pride!” said Darya Alexandrovna, as though despising him for the baseness of this feeling in comparison with that other feeling which only women know. “At the time when you made Kitty an offer she was just in a position in which she could not answer. She was in doubt. Doubt between you and Vronsky. Him she was seeing every day, and you she had not seen for a long while. Supposing she had been older...I, for instance, in her place could have felt no doubt. I always disliked him, and so it has turned out.”
Levin recalled Kitty’s answer. She had said: “No, that cannot be...”
“Darya Alexandrovna,” he said dryly, “I appreciate your confidence in me; I believe you are making a mistake. But whether I am right or wrong, that pride you so despise makes any thought of Katerina Alexandrovna out of the question for me,— you understand, utterly out of the question.”
“I will only say one thing more: you know that I am speaking of my sister, whom I love as I love my own children. I don’t say she cared for you, all I meant to say is that her refusal at that moment proves nothing.”
“I don’t know!” said Levin, jumping up. “If you only knew how you are hurting me. It’s just as if a child of yours were dead, and they were to say to you: He would have been like this and like that, and he might have lived, and how happy you would have been in him. But he’s dead, dead, dead!...”
“How absurd you are!” said Darya Alexandrovna, looking with mournful tenderness at Levin’s excitement. “Yes, I see it all more and more clearly,” she went on musingly. “So you won’t come to see us, then, when Kitty’s here?”
“No, I shan’t come. Of course I won’t avoid meeting Katerina Alexandrovna, but as far as I can, I will try to save her the annoyance of my presence.”
“You are very, very absurd,” repeated Darya Alexandrovna, looking with tenderness into his face. “Very well then, let it be as though we had not spoken of this. What have you come for, Tanya?” she said in French to the little girl who had come in.