"Well, what if they like it better?" Lvov said, with his
beautiful smile, touching her hand. "Anyone who didn't know you
would think you were a stepmother, not a true mother."
"No, extremes are not good in anything," Natalia said serenely,
putting his paper knife straight in its proper place on the
"Well, come here, you perfect children," Lvov said to the two
handsome boys who came in, and after bowing to Levin, went up to
their father, obviously wishing to ask him about something.
Levin would have liked to talk to them, to hear what they would
say to their father, but Natalia began talking to him, and then
Lvov's colleague in the service, Mahotin, walked in, wearing his
court uniform, to go with him to meet someone, and a conversation
was kept up without a break upon Herzegovina, Princess
Korzinskaya, the town council, and the sudden death of Madame
Levin even forgot the commission intrusted to him. He
recollected it as he was going into the hall.
"Oh, Kitty told me to talk to you about Oblonsky," he said, as
Lvov was standing on the stairs, seeing his wife and Levin off.
"Yes, yes, maman wants us, les beaux-freres, to attack him," he
said, blushing. "But why should I?"
"Well, then, I will attack him," said Madame Lvova, with a smile,
standing in her white sheepskin cape, waiting till they had
finished speaking. "Come, let us go."