Besides, from a few words that were dropped, Darya Alexandrovna saw at once that Anna, the two nurses, and the child had no common existence, and that the mother’s visit was something exceptional. Anna wanted to get the baby her plaything, and could not find it.
Most amazing of all was the fact that on being asked how many teeth the baby had, Anna answered wrong, and knew nothing about the two last teeth.
“I sometimes feel sorry I’m so superfluous here,” said Anna, going out of the nursery and holding up her skirt so as to escape the plaything standing in the doorway. “It was very different with my first child.”
“I expected it to be the other way,” said Darya Alexandrovna shyly.
“Oh, no! By the way, do you know I saw Seryozha?” said Anna, screwing up her eyes, as though looking at something far away. “But we’ll talk about that later. You wouldn’t believe it, I’m like a hungry beggar woman when a full dinner is set before her, and she does not know what to begin on first. The dinner is you, and the talks I have before me with you, which I could never have with anyone else; and I don’t know which subject to begin upon first. Mais je ne vous ferai grace de rien. I must have everything out with you.”
“Oh, I ought to give you a sketch of the company you will meet with us,” she went on. “I’ll begin with the ladies. Princess Varvara—you know her, and I know your opinion and Stiva’s about her. Stiva says the whole aim of her existence is to prove her superiority over Auntie Katerina Pavlovna: that’s all true; but she’s a good-natured woman, and I am so grateful to her. In Petersburg there was a moment when a chaperon was absolutely essential for me. Then she turned up. But really she is good-natured. She did a great deal to alleviate my position. I see you don’t understand all the difficulty of my position...there in Petersburg,” she added. “Here I’m perfectly at ease and happy. Well, of that later on, though. Then Sviazhsky—he’s the marshal of the district, and he’s a very good sort of a man, but he wants to get something out of Alexey. You understand, with his property, now that we are settled in the country, Alexey can exercise great influence. Then there’s Tushkevitch—you have seen him, you know—Betsy’s admirer. Now he’s been thrown over and he’s come to see us. As Alexey says, he’s one of those people who are very pleasant if one accepts them for what they try to appear to be, et puis il est comme il faut, as Princess Varvara says. Then Veslovsky...you know him. A very nice boy,” she said, and a sly smile curved her lips. “What’s this wild story about him and the Levins? Veslovsky told Alexey about it, and we don’t believe it. Il est tres gentil et naif,” she said again with the same smile. “Men need occupation, and Alexey needs a circle, so I value all these people. We have to have the house lively and gay, so that Alexey may not long for any novelty. Then you’ll see the steward—a German, a very good fellow, and he understands his work. Alexey has a very high opinion of him. Then the doctor, a young man, not quite a Nihilist perhaps, but you know, eats with his knife...but a very good doctor. Then the architect.... Une petite cour!”