Anna Karenina HTML version

Chapter I.6
When Oblonsky asked Levin what had brought him to town, Levin blushed, and
was furious with himself for blushing, because he could not answer, "I have come
to make your sister-in-law an offer," though that was precisely what he had come
The families of the Levins and the Shtcherbatskys were old, noble Moscow
families, and had always been on intimate and friendly terms. This intimacy had
grown still closer during Levin's student days. He had both prepared for the
university with the young Prince Shtcherbatsky, the brother of Kitty and Dolly,
and had entered at the same time with him. In those days Levin used often to be
in the Shtcherbatskys' house, and he was in love with the Shtcherbatsky
household. Strange as it may appear, it was with the household, the family, that
Konstantin Levin was in love, especially with the feminine half of the household.
Levin did not remember his own mother, and his only sister was older than he
was, so that it was in the Shtcherbatskys' house that he saw for the first time that
inner life of an old, noble, cultivated, and honorable family of which he had been
deprived by the death of his father and mother. All the members of that family,
especially the feminine half, were pictured by him, as it were, wrapped about with
a mysterious poetical veil, and he not only perceived no defects whatever in
them, but under the poetical veil that shrouded them he assumed the existence
of the loftiest sentiments and every possible perfection. Why it was the three
young ladies had one day to speak French, and the next English; why it was that
at certain hours they played by turns on the piano, the sounds of which were
audible in their brother's room above, where the students used to work; why they
were visited by those professors of French literature, of music, of drawing, of
dancing; why at certain hours all the three young ladies, with Mademoiselle
Linon, drove in the coach to the Tversky boulevard, dressed in their satin cloaks,
Dolly in a long one, Natalia in a half-long one, and Kitty in one so short that her
shapely legs in tightly-drawn red stockings were visible to all beholders; why it
was they had to walk about the Tversky boulevard escorted by a footman with a
gold cockade in his hat--all this and much more that was done in their mysterious
world he did not understand, but he was sure that everything that was done there
was very good, and he was in love precisely with the mystery of the proceedings.
In his student days he had all but been in love with the eldest, Dolly, but she was
soon married to Oblonsky. Then he began being in love with the second. He felt,
as it were, that he had to be in love with one of the sisters, only he could not
quite make out which. But Natalia, too, had hardly made her appearance in the
world when she married the diplomat Lvov. Kitty was still a child when Levin left
the university. Young Shtcherbatsky went into the navy, was drowned in the