"Perhaps they're not at home?" said Levin, as he went into the
hall of Countess Bola's house.
"At home; please walk in," said the porter, resolutely removing
"How annoying!" thought Levin with a sigh, taking off one glove
and stroking his hat. "What did I come for? What have I to say
As he passed through the first drawing room Levin met in the
doorway Countess Bola, giving some order to a servant with a
care-worn and severe face. On seeing Levin she smiled, and asked
him to come into the little drawing room, where he heard voices.
In this room there were sitting in armchairs the two daughters of
the countess, and a Moscow colonel, whom Levin knew. Levin went
up, greeted them, and sat down beside the sofa with his hat on
"How is your wife? Have you been at the concert? We couldn't
go. Mamma had to be at the funeral service."
"Yes, I heard.... What a sudden death!" said Levin.
The countess came in, sat down on the sofa, and she too asked
after his wife and inquired about the concert.
Levin answered, and repeated an inquiry about Madame Apraksina's
"But she was always in weak health."
"Were you at the opera yesterday?"
"Yes, I was."
"Lucca was very good."
"Yes, very good," he said, and as it was utterly of no
consequence to him what they thought of him, he began repeating
what they had heard a hundred times about the characteristics of
the singer's talent. Countess Bola pretended to be listening.
Then, when he had said enough and paused, the colonel, who had
been silent till then, began to talk. The colonel too talked of
the opera, and about culture. At last, after speaking of the
proposed folle journee at Turin's, the colonel laughed, got up
noisily, and went away. Levin too rose, but he saw by the face
of the countess that it was not yet time for him to go. He must
stay two minutes longer. He sat down.