The doctor started upon his coffee. Both were silent.
“The Turks are really getting beaten, though. Did you read yesterday’s telegrams?” said the doctor, munching some roll.
“No, I can’t stand it!” said Levin, jumping up. “So you’ll be with us in a quarter of an hour.”
“In half an hour.”
“On your honor?”
When Levin got home, he drove up at the same time as the princess, and they went up to the bedroom door together. The princess had tears in her eyes, and her hands were shaking. Seeing Levin, she embraced him, and burst into tears.
“Well, my dear Lizaveta Petrovna?” she queried, clasping the hand of the midwife, who came out to meet them with a beaming and anxious face.
“She’s going on well,” she said; “persuade her to lie down. She will be easier so.”
From the moment when he had waked up and understood what was going on, Levin had prepared his mind to bear resolutely what was before him, and without considering or anticipating anything, to avoid upsetting his wife, and on the contrary to soothe her and keep up her courage. Without allowing himself even to think of what was to come, of how it would end, judging from his inquiries as to the usual duration of these ordeals, Levin had in his imagination braced himself to bear up and to keep a tight rein on his feelings for five hours, and it had seemed to him he could do this. But when he came back from the doctor’s and saw her sufferings again, he fell to repeating more and more frequently: “Lord, have mercy on us, and succor us!” He sighed, and flung his head up, and began to feel afraid he could not bear it, that he would burst into tears or run away. Such agony it was to him. And only one hour had passed.
But after that hour there passed another hour, two hours, three, the full five hours he had fixed as the furthest limit of his sufferings, and the position was still unchanged; and he was still bearing it because there was nothing to be done but bear it; every instant feeling that he had reached the utmost limits of his endurance, and that his heart would break with sympathy and pain.
But still the minutes passed by and the hours, and still hours more, and his misery and horror grew and were more and more intense.
All the ordinary conditions of life, without which one can form no conception of anything, had ceased to exist for Levin. He lost all sense of time. Minutes—those minutes when she sent for him and he held her moist hand, that would squeeze his hand with extraordinary violence and then push it away—seemed to him hours, and hours seemed to him minutes. He was surprised when Lizaveta Petrovna asked him to light a candle behind a screen, and he found that it was five o’clock in the afternoon. If he had been told it was only ten o’clock in the morning, he would not have been more surprised. Where he was all this time, he knew as little as the time of anything.