The levee was drawing to a close. People met as they were going
away, and gossiped of the latest news, of the newly bestowed
honors and the changes in the positions of the higher
"If only Countess Marya Borissovna were Minister of War, and
Princess Vatkovskaya were Commander-in-Chief," said a
gray-headed, little old man in a gold-embroidered uniform,
addressing a tall, handsome maid of honor who had questioned him
about the new appointments.
"And me among the adjutants," said the maid of honor, smiling.
"You have an appointment already. You're over the ecclesiastical
department. And your assistant's Karenin."
"Good-day, prince!" said the little old man to a man who came up
"What were you saying of Karenin?" said the prince.
"He and Putyatov have received the Alexander Nevsky."
"I thought he had it already."
"No. Just look at him," said the little old man, pointing with
his embroidered hat to Karenin in a court uniform with the new
red ribbon across his shoulders, standing in the doorway of the
hall with an influential member of the Imperial Council.
"Pleased and happy as a brass farthing," he added, stopping to
shake hands with a handsome gentleman of the bedchamber of
"No; he's looking older," said the gentleman of the bedchamber.
"From overwork. He's always drawing up projects nowadays. He
won't let a poor devil go nowadays till he's explained it all to
him under heads."
"Looking older, did you say? Il fait des passions. I believe
Countess Lidia Ivanovna's jealous now of his wife."
"Oh, come now, please don't say any harm of Countess Lidia
"Why, is there any harm in her being in love with Karenin?"