When they had set off on foot ahead of the others, and had come out of sight of the house onto the beaten dusty road, marked with rusty wheels and sprinkled with grains of corn, she clung faster to his arm and pressed it closer to her. He had quite forgotten the momentary unpleasant impression, and alone with her he felt, now that the thought of her approaching motherhood was never for a moment absent from his mind, a new and delicious bliss, quite pure from all alloy of sense, in the being near to the woman he loved. There was no need of speech, yet he longed to hear the sound of her voice, which like her eyes had changed since she had been with child. In her voice, as in her eyes, there was that softness and gravity which is found in people continually concentrated on some cherished pursuit.
“So you’re not tired? Lean more on me,” said he.
“No, I’m so glad of a chance of being alone with you, and I must own, though I’m happy with them, I do regret our winter evenings alone.”
“That was good, but this is even better. Both are better,” he said, squeezing her hand.
“Do you know what we were talking about when you came in?”
“Oh, yes, about jam too; but afterwards, about how men make offers.”
“Ah!” said Levin, listening more to the sound of her voice than to the words she was saying, and all the while paying attention to the road, which passed now through the forest, and avoiding places where she might make a false step.
“And about Sergey Ivanovitch and Varenka. You’ve noticed?... I’m very anxious for it,” she went on. “What do you think about it?” And she peeped into his face.
“I don’t know what to think,” Levin answered, smiling. “Sergey seems very strange to me in that way. I told you, you know...”
“Yes, that he was in love with that girl who died....”
“That was when I was a child; I know about it from hearsay and tradition. I remember him then. He was wonderfully sweet. But I’ve watched him since with women; he is friendly, some of them he likes, but one feels that to him they’re simply people, not women.”
“Yes, but now with Varenka...I fancy there’s something...”
“Perhaps there is.... But one has to know him.... He’s a peculiar, wonderful person. He lives a spiritual life only. He’s too pure, too exalted a nature.”
“Why? Would this lower him, then?”
“No, but he’s so used to a spiritual life that he can’t reconcile himself with actual fact, and Varenka is after all fact.”
Levin had grown used by now to uttering his thought boldly, without taking the trouble of clothing it in exact language. He knew that his wife, in such moments of loving tenderness as now, would understand what he meant to say from a hint, and she did understand him.
“Yes, but there’s not so much of that actual fact about her as about me. I can see that he would never have cared for me. She is altogether spiritual.”