"Yes; God sends the cross and sends the strength to bear it.
Often one wonders what is the goal of this life?... The other
side!" she said angrily to Varenka, who had rearranged the rug
over her feet not to her satisfaction.
"To do good, probably," said the prince with a twinkle in his
"That is not for us to judge," said Madame Stahl, perceiving the
shade of expression on the prince's face. "So you will send me
that book, dear count? I'm very grateful to you," she said to
the young Swede.
"Ah!" cried the prince, catching sight of the Moscow colonel
standing near, and with a bow to Madame Stahl he walked away with
his daughter and the Moscow colonel, who joined them.
"That's our aristocracy, prince!" the Moscow colonel said with
ironical intention. He cherished a grudge against Madame Stahl
for not making his acquaintance.
"She's just the same," replied the prince.
"Did you know her before her illness, prince--that's to say
before she took to her bed?"
"Yes. She took to her bed before my eyes," said the prince.
"They say it's ten years since she has stood on her feet."
"She doesn't stand up because her legs are too short. She's a
very bad figure."
"Papa, it's not possible!" cried Kitty.
"That's what wicked tongues say, my darling. And your Varenka
catches it too," he added. "Oh, these invalid ladies!"
"Oh, no, papa!" Kitty objected warmly. "Varenka worships her.
And then she does so much good! Ask anyone! Everyone knows her
and Aline Stahl."
"Perhaps so," said the prince, squeezing her hand with his elbow;
"but it's better when one does good so that you may ask everyone
and no one knows."