“You imagine, I dare say, that you invented something quite new? It’s always just the same: it was settled by the eyes, by smiles...”
“How nicely you said that, mamma! It’s just by the eyes, by smiles that it’s done,” Dolly assented.
“But what words did he say?”
“What did Kostya say to you?”
“He wrote it in chalk. It was wonderful.... How long ago it seems!” she said.
And the three women all fell to musing on the same thing. Kitty was the first to break the silence. She remembered all that last winter before her marriage, and her passion for Vronsky.
“There’s one thing ...that old love affair of Varenka’s,” she said, a natural chain of ideas bringing her to this point. “I should have liked to say something to Sergey Ivanovitch, to prepare him. They’re all—all men, I mean,” she added, “awfully jealous over our past.”
“Not all,” said Dolly. “You judge by your own husband. It makes him miserable even now to remember Vronsky. Eh? that’s true, isn’t it?”
“Yes,” Kitty answered, a pensive smile in her eyes.
“But I really don’t know,” the mother put in in defense of her motherly care of her daughter, “what there was in your past that could worry him? That Vronsky paid you attentions—that happens to every girl.”
“Oh, yes, but we didn’t mean that,” Kitty said, flushing a little.
“No, let me speak,” her mother went on, “why, you yourself would not let me have a talk to Vronsky. Don’t you remember?”
“Oh, mamma!” said Kitty, with an expression of suffering.
“There’s no keeping you young people in check nowadays.... Your friendship could not have gone beyond what was suitable. I should myself have called upon him to explain himself. But, my darling, it’s not right for you to be agitated. Please remember that, and calm yourself.”
“I’m perfectly calm, maman.”
“How happy it was for Kitty that Anna came then,” said Dolly, “and how unhappy for her. It turned out quite the opposite,” she said, struck by her own ideas. “Then Anna was so happy, and Kitty thought herself unhappy. Now it is just the opposite. I often think of her.”
“A nice person to think about! Horrid, repulsive woman—no heart,” said her mother, who could not forget that Kitty had married not Vronsky, but Levin.
“What do you want to talk of it for?” Kitty said with annoyance. “I never think about it, and I don’t want to think of it.... And I don’t want to think of it,” she said, catching the sound of her husband’s well-known step on the steps of the terrace.
“What’s that you don’t want to think about?” inquired Levin, coming onto the terrace.
But no one answered him, and he did not repeat the question.
“I’m sorry I’ve broken in on your feminine parliament,” he said, looking round on every one discontentedly, and perceiving that they had been talking of something which they would not talk about before him.