A crisis develops in the Oblonsky household when Dolly finds out about her husbands affair. Stivas sister, Anna Karenina, arrives to reconcile the couple and dissuades Dolly from getting a divorce. Konstantin Levin, Stivas friend, arrives in Moscow to propose to the eighteen year old Kitty Shtcherbatsky. She refuses him, for she loves Count Vronsky, a dashing army officer who has no intentions of marrying.
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The liberal party said, or rather allowed it to be understood, that religion is only a curb to keep in check the barbarous classes of the people; and Stepan Arkadyevitch could not get through even a short service without his legs aching from standing up, and could never make out what was the object of all the terrible and high-flown language about another world when life might be so very amusing in this world.
She was just attempting to do what she had attempted to do ten times already in these last three days?to sort out the childrens things and her own, so as to take them to her mothers?and again she could not bring herself to do this; but now again, as each time before, she kept saying to herself, that things cannot go on like this, that she must take some step to punish him, put him to shame, avenge on him some little part at least of the suffering he had caused her.
Stepan Arkadyevitch could be calm when he thought of his wife, he could hope that she would come round, as Matvey expressed it, and could quietly go on reading his paper and drinking his coffee; but when he saw her tortured, suffering face, heard the tone of her voice, submissive to fate and full of despair, there was a catch in his breath and a lump in his throat, and his eyes began to shine with tears.
The principal qualities in Stepan Arkadyevitch which had gained him this universal respect in the service consisted, in the first place, of his extreme indulgence for others, founded on a consciousness of his own shortcomings; secondly, of his perfect liberalism?not the liberalism he read of in the papers, but the liberalism that was in his blood, in virtue of which he treated all men perfectly equally and exactly the same, whatever their fortune or calling might be; and thirdly?the most important point?his complete indifference to the business in which he was engaged, in consequence of which he was never carried away, and never made mistakes.
Why it was the three young ladies had one day to speak French, and the next English; why it was that at certain hours they played by turns on the piano, the sounds of which were audible in their brothers room above, where the students used to work; why they were visited by those professors of French literature, of music, of drawing, of dancing; why at certain hours all the three young ladies, with Mademoiselle Linon, drove in the coach to the Tversky boulevard, dressed in their satin cloaks, Dolly in a long one, Natalia in a half-long one, and Kitty in one so short that her shapely legs in tightly-drawn red stockings were visible to all beholders; why it was they had to walk about the Tversky boulevard escorted by a footman with a gold cockade in his hat?all this and much more that was done in their mysterious world he did not understand, but he was sure that everything that was done there was very good, and he was in love precisely with the mystery of the proceedings.
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