Chapter 16When Levin went upstairs, his wife was sitting near the new silver samovar and the new tea service, and, having settled old Agathya Mikhailovna at a little table with a full cup of tea, was reading a letter from Dolly, with whom they were in continual and frequent correspondence.
`You see, your lady's settled me here, told me to sit a bit with her,' said Agathya Mikhailovna, smiling amicably at Kitty.
In these words of Agathya Mikhailovna Levin read the final act of the drama which had been enacted of late between her and Kitty. He saw that, in spite of Agathya Mikhailovna's feelings being hurt by a new mistress taking the reins of government out of her hands, Kitty had yet conquered her and made her love her.
`Here, I opened your letter too,' said Kitty, handing him an illiterate letter. `It's from that woman, I think - your brother's...' she said. `I did not read it through. This is from my people and from Dolly. Fancy! Dolly took Tania and Grisha to a children's ball at the Sarmatskys': Tania was a French marquise.'
But Levin did not hear her. Flushing, he took the letter from Marya Nikolaevna, his brother's former mistress, and began to read it. This was the second letter he had received from Marya Nikolaevna. In the first letter, Marya Nikolaevna wrote that his brother had sent her packing for no fault of hers, and, with touching simplicity, added that though she was in want again, she asked for nothing, and wished for nothing, but was only tormented by the thought that Nikolai Dmitrievich would come to grief without her, owing to the weak state of his health, and begged his brother to look after him. Now she wrote quite differently. She had found Nikolai Dmitrievich, had again made it up with him in Moscow, and had moved with him to a provincial town, where he had received a post in the government service. But, she wrote, he had quarreled with the head official, and was on his way back to Moscow, only he had been taken so ill on the road that it was doubtful if he would ever leave his bed again. `It's always of you he has talked, and, besides he has no more money left.'
`Read this; Dolly writes about you,' Kitty was beginning, with a smile; but she stopped suddenly, noticing the changed expression on her husband's face. `What is it? What's the matter?'
`She writes to me that Nikolai, my brother, is at death's door. I shall go to him.'
Kitty's face changed at once. Thoughts of Tania as a marquise, of Dolly, all had vanished.
`When are you going?' she said.
`And I will go with you - may I?' she said.
`Kitty! What are you thinking of?' he said reproachfully.
`What am I thinking of?' offended that he should seem to take her suggestion unwillingly and with vexation.
`Why shouldn't I go? I shan't be in your way. I...'
`I'm going because my brother is dying,' said Levin. `Why should you...'
`Why? For the same reason as you.'
`And, at a moment of such gravity for me, she only thinks of her being dull by herself,' thought Levin. And this subterfuge in a matter of such gravity infuriated him.
`It's out of the question,' he said sternly.
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