Part 2, Chapter 32 Summary
Princess Shtcherbatsky learns more about Mademoiselle Varenka and her connection to Madame Stahl, a woman she does not much like. Madame Stahl is an unhappy woman who has always suffered poor health. After she separated from her husband, she had a child who had died almost immediately. Her family, fearing the news would kill her, substituted another child for her baby. This child was born in the same hospital on the same night, the daughter of the chief cook in the Imperial Household. That child was Varenka.
Later Madame Stahl learned the truth but continued to raise Varenka as her own daughter, and shortly after that all of Varenka’s relations had died. For the past ten years, Madame Stahl has been living more than ten years abroad and rarely leaves her couch. Though people disagree about her motives, Madame Stahl is a woman given to philanthropy and is comfortable with the highest dignitaries of many religious sects and churches.
Varenka has lived with her all those years and everyone quickly grows to love her. Once she knows these facts about Varenka, the princess has no objection to Kitty’s friendship with her. The more she knows her, the more Kitty admires her new friend and discovers new virtues in her each day.
When she learns Varenka can sing, Kitty asks her to sing for them all that evening. Though she is not in the least interested in singing for them, Varenka appears and brings her music. Several strangers are in attendance, but Varenka is not affected by their presence and goes immediately to the piano where Kitty accompanies her.
She sings quite well, and after she is finished there is a crowd gathered outside the window. Varenka accepts the praise with humility, and Kitty knows if it were her, she would be proud and delighted by the adulation. Kitty wants to learn the secret of such a creature, but for now they prepare to sing and play another song.
Kitty plays the opening bars of the next song in the book, an Italian song, and Varenka flushes a bit and asks if they can...
(The entire section is 552 words.)