Anna Karenina HTML version

Chapter I.22
The ball was only just beginning as Kitty and her mother walked up the great
staircase, flooded with light, and lined with flowers and footmen in powder and
red coats. From the rooms came a constant, steady hum, as from a hive, and the
rustle of movement; and while on the landing between trees they gave last
touches to their hair and dresses before the mirror, they heard from the ballroom
the careful, distinct notes of the fiddles of the orchestra beginning the first waltz.
A little old man in civilian dress, arranging his gray curls before another mirror,
and diffusing an odor of scent, stumbled against them on the stairs, and stood
aside, evidently admiring Kitty, whom he did not know. A beardless youth, one of
those society youths whom the old Prince Shtcherbatsky called "young bucks," in
an exceedingly open waistcoat, straightening his white tie as he went, bowed to
them, and after running by, came back to ask Kitty for a quadrille. As the first
quadrille had already been given to Vronsky, she had to promise this youth the
second. An officer, buttoning his glove, stood aside in the doorway, and stroking
his mustache, admired rosy Kitty.
Although her dress, her coiffure, and all the preparations for the ball had cost
Kitty great trouble and consideration, at this moment she walked into the
ballroom in her elaborate tulle dress over a pink slip as easily and simply as
though all the rosettes and lace, all the minute details of her attire, had not cost
her or her family a moment's attention, as though she had been born in that tulle
and lace, with her hair done up high on her head, and a rose and two leaves on
the top of it.
When, just before entering the ballroom, the princess, her mother, tried to turn
right side out of the ribbon of her sash, Kitty had drawn back a little. She felt that
everything must be right of itself, and graceful, and nothing could need setting
It was one of Kitty's best days. Her dress was not uncomfortable anywhere; her
lace berthe did not droop anywhere; her rosettes were not crushed nor torn off;
her pink slippers with high, hollowed-out heels did not pinch, but gladdened her
feet; and the thick rolls of fair chignon kept up on her head as if they were her
own hair. All the three buttons buttoned up without tearing on the long glove that
covered her hand without concealing its lines. The black velvet of her locket
nestled with special softness round her neck. That velvet was delicious; at home,
looking at her neck in the looking glass, Kitty had felt that that velvet was
speaking. About all the rest there might be a doubt, but the velvet was delicious.
Kitty smiled here too, at the ball, when she glanced at it in the glass. Her bare
shoulders and arms gave Kitty a sense of chill marble, a feeling she particularly
liked. Her eyes sparkled, and her rosy lips could not keep from smiling from the
consciousness of her own attractiveness. She had scarcely entered the ballroom
and reached the throng of ladies, all tulle, ribbons, lace, and flowers, waiting to