The young Princess Kitty Shtcherbatskaya was eighteen. It was the first winter
that she had been out in the world. Her success in society had been greater than
that of either of her elder sisters, and greater even than her mother had
anticipated. To say nothing of the young men who danced at the Moscow balls
being almost all in love with Kitty, two serious suitors had already this first winter
made their appearance: Levin, and immediately after his departure, Count
Levin's appearance at the beginning of the winter, his frequent visits, and evident
love for Kitty, had led to the first serious conversations between Kitty's parents as
to her future, and to disputes between them. The prince was on Levin's side; he
said he wished for nothing better for Kitty. The princess for her part, going round
the question in the manner peculiar to women, maintained that Kitty was too
young, that Levin had done nothing to prove that he had serious intentions, that
Kitty felt no great attraction to him, and other side issues; but she did not state
the principal point, which was that she looked for a better match for her daughter,
and that Levin was not to her liking, and she did not understand him. When Levin
had abruptly departed, the princess was delighted, and said to her husband
triumphantly: "You see I was right." When Vronsky appeared on the scene, she
was still more delighted, confirmed in her opinion that Kitty was to make not
simply a good, but a brilliant match.
In the mother's eyes there could be no comparison between Vronsky and Levin.
She disliked in Levin his strange and uncompromising opinions and his shyness
in society, founded, as she supposed, on his pride and his queer sort of life, as
she considered it, absorbed in cattle and peasants. She did not very much like it
that he, who was in love with her daughter, had kept coming to the house for six
weeks, as though he were waiting for something, inspecting, as though he were
afraid he might be doing them too great an honor by making an offer, and did not
realize that a man, who continually visits at a house where there is a young
unmarried girl, is bound to make his intentions clear. And suddenly, without doing
so, he disappeared. "It's as well he's not attractive enough for Kitty to have fallen
in love with him," thought the mother.
Vronsky satisfied all the mother's desires. Very wealthy, clever, of aristocratic
family, on the highroad to a brilliant career in the army and at court, and a
fascinating man. Nothing better could be wished for.
Vronsky openly flirted with Kitty at balls, danced with her, and came continually to
the house, consequently there could be no doubt of the seriousness of his
intentions. But, in spite of that, the mother had spent the whole of that winter in a
state of terrible anxiety and agitation.