Simon Griffee Design Photography Writing Illustration

Levin and Kitty on the Ice

2011 January 7

He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.

‘With you I’d learn quicker; for some reason I have confidence in you,’ she said to him. ‘And I have confidence in myself when you lean on my arm,’ he said, but at once felt afraid of what he had said and blushed. Indeed, as soon as he uttered those words, her face lost all its gentleness, as if the sun had suddenly gone behind a cloud, and Levin recognized the familiar play of her face that indicated the effort of thought: a little wrinkle swelled on her smooth forehead.

When Levin again raced up to Kitty, her face was no longer stern, the look in her eyes was as truthful and gentle as ever, but is seemed to Levin that her gentleness had a special, deliberately calm tone. And he felt sad. After talking about her old governess and her quirks, she asked him about his life. ‘Is it really not boring for you in the country during the winter?’ she said. ‘No, it’s not boring, I’m very busy,’ he said, sensing that she was subjecting him to her calm tone, which he would be unable to get out of, just as had happened at the beginning of winter. ‘Have you come for long?’ Kitty asked him. ‘I don’t know,’ he replied, not thinking of what he was saying. It occurred to him that if he yielded again to this tone of calm friendship, he would again leave without having decided anything, and he decided to rebel. ‘Why don’t you know?’ ‘I don’t know. That depends on you,’ he said and at once was horrified at his words. She did not hear his words, or did not wish to hear, but seemed to stumble, tapped her foot twice, and hurriedly skated away from him.

— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina