Anna Karenina HTML version

Chapter I.10
When Levin went into the restaurant with Oblonsky, he could not help noticing a
certain peculiarity of expression, as it were, a restrained radiance, about the face
and whole figure of Stepan Arkadyevitch. Oblonsky took off his overcoat, and
with his hat over one ear walked into the dining room, giving directions to the
Tatar waiters, who were clustered about him in evening coats, bearing napkins.
Bowing to right and left to the people he met, and here as everywhere joyously
greeting acquaintances, he went up to the sideboard for a preliminary appetizer
of fish and vodka, and said to the painted Frenchwoman decked in ribbons, lace,
and ringlets, behind the counter, something so amusing that even that
Frenchwoman was moved to genuine laughter. Levin for his part refrained from
taking any vodka simply because he felt such a loathing of that Frenchwoman, all
made up, it seemed, of false hair, poudre de riz, and vinaigre de toilette. He
made haste to move away from her, as from a dirty place. His whole soul was
filled with memories of Kitty, and there was a smile of triumph and happiness
shining in his eyes.
"This way, your excellency, please. Your excellency won't be disturbed here,"
said a particularly pertinacious, white-headed old Tatar with immense hips and
coattails gaping widely behind. "Walk in, your excellency," he said to Levin; by
way of showing his respect to Stepan Arkadyevitch, being attentive to his guest
as well.
Instantly flinging a fresh cloth over the round table under the bronze chandelier,
though it already had a table cloth on it, he pushed up velvet chairs, and came to
a standstill before Stepan Arkadyevitch with a napkin and a bill of fare in his
hands, awaiting his commands.
"If you prefer it, your excellency, a private room will be free directly; Prince
Golistin with a lady. Fresh oysters have come in."
"Ah! oysters."
Stepan Arkadyevitch became thoughtful.
"How if we were to change our program, Levin?" he said keeping his finger on
the bill of fare. And his face expressed serious hesitation. "Are the oysters good?
Mind now."
"They're Flensburg, your excellency. We've no Ostend."
"Flensburg will do, but are they fresh?"