“How nicely Turovtsin laughs!” said Levin, admiring his moist eyes and shaking chest.
“Have you known him long?” asked Kitty.
“Oh, everyone knows him!”
“And I see you think he’s a horrid man?”
“Not horrid, but nothing in him.”
“Oh, you’re wrong! And you must give up thinking so directly!” said Kitty. “I used to have a very poor opinion of him too, but he, he’s an awfully nice and wonderfully good-hearted man. He has a heart of gold.”
“How could you find out what sort of heart he has?”
“We are great friends. I know him very well. Last winter, soon after...you came to see us,” she said, with a guilty and at the same time confiding smile, “all Dolly’s children had scarlet fever, and he happened to come and see her. And only fancy,” she said in a whisper, “he felt so sorry for her that he stayed and began to help her look after the children. Yes, and for three weeks he stopped with them, and looked after the children like a nurse.”
“I am telling Konstantin Dmitrievitch about Turovtsin in the scarlet fever,” she said, bending over to her sister.
“Yes, it was wonderful, noble!” said Dolly, glancing towards Turovtsin, who had become aware they were talking of him, and smiling gently to him. Levin glanced once more at Turovtsin, and wondered how it was he had not realized all this man’s goodness before.
“I’m sorry, I’m sorry, and I’ll never think ill of people again!” he said gaily, genuinely expressing what he felt at the moment.
Connected with the conversation that had sprung up on the rights of women there were certain questions as to the inequality of rights in marriage improper to discuss before the ladies. Pestsov had several times during dinner touched upon these questions, but Sergey Ivanovitch and Stepan Arkadyevitch carefully drew him off them.
When they rose from the table and the ladies had gone out, Pestsov did not follow them, but addressing Alexey Alexandrovitch, began to expound the chief ground of inequality. The inequality in marriage, in his opinion, lay in the fact that the infidelity of the wife and the infidelity of the husband are punished unequally, both by the law and by public opinion. Stepan Arkadyevitch went hurriedly up to Alexey Alexandrovitch and offered him a cigar.
“No, I don’t smoke,” Alexey Alexandrovitch answered calmly, and as though purposely wishing to show that he was not afraid of the subject, he turned to Pestsov with a chilly smile.
“I imagine that such a view has a foundation in the very nature of things,” he said, and would have gone on to the drawing room. But at this point Turovtsin broke suddenly and unexpectedly into the conversation, addressing Alexey Alexandrovitch.
“You heard, perhaps, about Pryatchnikov?” said Turovtsin, warmed up by the champagne he had drunk, and long waiting for an opportunity to break the silence that had weighed on him. “Vasya Pryatchnikov,” he said, with a good-natured smile on his damp, red lips, addressing himself principally to the most important guest, Alexey Alexandrovitch, “they told me today he fought a duel with Kvitsky at Tver, and has killed him.”