Left alone, Darya Alexandrovna, with
a good housewife’s eye, scanned her room.
All she had seen in entering the house and walking
through it, and all she saw now in her room, gave her
an impression of wealth and sumptuousness and of that
modern European luxury of which she had only read
in English novels, but had never seen in Russia and
in the country. Everything was new from the
new French hangings on the walls to the carpet which
covered the whole floor. The bed had a spring
mattress, and a special sort of bolster and silk pillowcases
on the little pillows. The marble washstand,
the dressing table, the little sofa, the tables, the
bronze clock on the chimney piece, the window curtains,
and the portieres were all new and expensive.
The smart maid, who came in to offer
her services, with her hair done up high, and a gown
more fashionable than Dolly’s, was as new and
expensive as the whole room. Darya Alexandrovna
liked her neatness, her deferential and obliging manners,
but she felt ill at ease with her. She felt
ashamed of her seeing the patched dressing jacket
that had unluckily been packed by mistake for her.
She was ashamed of the very patches and darned places
of which she had been so proud at home. At home
it had been so clear that for six dressing jackets
there would be needed twenty-four yards of nainsook
at sixteen pence the yard, which was a matter of thirty
shillings besides the cutting-out and making, and
these thirty shillings had been saved. But before
the maid she felt, if not exactly ashamed, at least
Darya Alexandrovna had a great sense
of relief when Annushka, whom she had known for years,
walked in. The smart maid was sent for to go
to her mistress, and Annushka remained with Darya
Annushka was obviously much pleased
at that lady’s arrival, and began to chatter
away without a pause. Dolly observed that she
was longing to express her opinion in regard to her
mistress’s position, especially as to the love
and devotion of the count to Anna Arkadyevna, but
Dolly carefully interrupted her whenever she began
to speak about this.
“I grew up with Anna Arkadyevna;
my lady’s dearer to me than anything.
Well, it’s not for us to judge. And, to
be sure, there seems so much love…”
“Kindly pour out the water for
me to wash now, please,” Darya Alexandrovna
cut her short.
two women kept specially for washing small things,
but most of the linen’s done by machinery.
The count goes into everything himself. Ah,
what a husband!…”
Dolly was glad when Anna came in,
and by her entrance put a stop to Annushka’s
Anna had put on a very simple batiste
gown. Dolly scrutinized that simple gown attentively.
She knew what it meant, and the price at which such
simplicity was obtained.
“An old friend,” said Anna of Annushka.
Anna was not embarrassed now.
She was perfectly composed and at ease. Dolly
saw that she had now completely recovered from the
impression her arrival had made on her, and had assumed
that superficial, careless tone which, as it were,
closed the door on that compartment in which her deeper
feelings and ideas were kept.
“Well, Anna, and how is your
little girl?” asked Dolly.
“Annie?” (This was what
she called her little daughter Anna.) “Very
well. She has got on wonderfully. Would
you like to see her? Come, I’ll show her
to you. We had a terrible bother,” she
began telling her, “over nurses. We had
an Italian wet-nurse. A good creature, but so
stupid! We wanted to get rid of her, but the
baby is so used to her that we’ve gone on keeping
“But how have you managed?…”
Dolly was beginning a question as to what name the
little girl would have; but noticing a sudden frown
on Anna’s face, she changed the drift of her
“How did you manage? have you weaned her yet?”
But Anna had understood.
“You didn’t mean to ask
that? You meant to ask about her surname.
Yes? That worries Alexey. She has no name that
is, she’s a Karenina,” said Anna, dropping
her eyelids till nothing could be seen but the eyelashes
meeting. “But we’ll talk about all
that later,” her face suddenly brightening.
“Come, I’ll show you her. Elle est
très gentille. She crawls now.”
In the nursery the luxury which had
impressed Dolly in the whole house struck her still
more. There were little go-carts ordered from
England, and appliances for learning to walk, and a
sofa after the fashion of a billiard table, purposely
constructed for crawling, and swings and baths, all
of special pattern, and modern. They were all
English, solid, and of good make, and obviously very
expensive. The room was large, and very light
When they went in, the baby, with
nothing on but her little smock, was sitting in a
little elbow chair at the table, having her dinner
of broth, which she was spilling all over her little
chest. The baby was being fed, and the Russian
nursery maid was evidently sharing her meal.
Neither the wet-nurse nor the head nurse were there;
they were in the next room, from which came the sound
of their conversation in the queer French which was
their only means of communication.
Hearing Anna’s voice, a smart,
tall, English nurse with a disagreeable face and a
dissolute expression walked in at the door, hurriedly
shaking her fair curls, and immediately began to defend
herself though Anna had not found fault with her.
At every word Anna said, the English nurse said hurriedly
several times, “Yes, my lady.”
The rosy baby with her black eyebrows
and hair, her sturdy red little body with tight goose-flesh
skin, delighted Darya Alexandrovna in spite of the
cross expression with which she stared at the stranger.
She positively envied the baby’s healthy appearance.
She was delighted, too, at the baby’s crawling.
Not one of her own children had crawled like that.
When the baby was put on the carpet and its little
dress tucked up behind, it was wonderfully charming.
Looking round like some little wild animal at the
grown-up big people with her bright black eyes, she
smiled, unmistakably pleased at their admiring her,
and holding her legs sideways, she pressed vigorously
on her arms, and rapidly drew her whole back up after,
and then made another step forward with her little
But the whole atmosphere of the nursery,
and especially the English nurse, Darya Alexandrovna
did not like at all. It was only on the supposition
that no good nurse would have entered so irregular
a household as Anna’s that Darya Alexandrovna
could explain to herself how Anna with her insight
into people could take such an unprepossessing, disreputable-looking
woman as nurse to her child.
Besides, from a few words that were
dropped, Darya Alexandrovna saw at once that Anna,
the two nurses, and the child had no common existence,
and that the mother’s visit was something exceptional.
Anna wanted to get the baby her plaything, and could
not find it.
Most amazing of all was the fact that
on being asked how many teeth the baby had, Anna answered
wrong, and knew nothing about the two last teeth.
“I sometimes feel sorry I’m
so superfluous here,” said Anna, going out of
the nursery and holding up her skirt so as to escape
the plaything standing in the doorway. “It
was very different with my first child.”
“I expected it to be the other
way,” said Darya Alexandrovna shyly.
“Oh, no! By the way, do
you know I saw Seryozha?” said Anna, screwing
up her eyes, as though looking at something far away.
“But we’ll talk about that later.
You wouldn’t believe it, I’m like a hungry
beggar woman when a full dinner is set before her,
and she does not know what to begin on first.
The dinner is you, and the talks I have before me
with you, which I could never have with anyone else;
and I don’t know which subject to begin upon
first. Mais je ne vous ferai grace de rien.
I must have everything out with you.”
“Oh, I ought to give you a sketch
of the company you will meet with us,” she went
on. “I’ll begin with the ladies.
Princess Varvara you know her, and I know
your opinion and Stiva’s about her. Stiva
says the whole aim of her existence is to prove her
superiority over Auntie Katerina Pavlovna: that’s
all true; but she’s a good-natured woman, and
I am so grateful to her. In Petersburg there
was a moment when a chaperon was absolutely essential
for me. Then she turned up. But really
she is good-natured. She did a great deal to
alleviate my position. I see you don’t
understand all the difficulty of my position…there
in Petersburg,” she added. “Here
I’m perfectly at ease and happy. Well,
of that later on, though. Then Sviazhsky he’s
the marshal of the district, and he’s a very
good sort of a man, but he wants to get something
out of Alexey. You understand, with his property,
now that we are settled in the country, Alexey can
exercise great influence. Then there’s
Tushkevitch you have seen him, you know Betsy’s
admirer. Now he’s been thrown over and
he’s come to see us. As Alexey says, he’s
one of those people who are very pleasant if one accepts
them for what they try to appear to be, et puis
il est comme il faut, as Princess Varvara says.
Then Veslovsky…you know him. A very nice boy,”
she said, and a sly smile curved her lips. “What’s
this wild story about him and the Levins? Veslovsky
told Alexey about it, and we don’t believe it.
Il est très gentil et naif,” she said
again with the same smile. “Men need occupation,
and Alexey needs a circle, so I value all these people.
We have to have the house lively and gay, so that
Alexey may not long for any novelty. Then you’ll
see the steward a German, a very good fellow,
and he understands his work. Alexey has a very
high opinion of him. Then the doctor, a young
man, not quite a Nihilist perhaps, but you know, eats
with his knife…but a very good doctor. Then
the architect…. Une petite cour!”