Part 6, Chapter 1 Summary
Darya Alexandrovna and her children spend the summer with her sister, Kitty Levin. Her own house in the area is in ruins, and both Kitty and Levin persuaded her to spend the summer with them. Stepan Arkadyevitch is happy with the arrangement. Though his duties keep him in Moscow much of the time, he does come to the country to visit his family for several days at a time throughout the summer. The old princess also spends her summer in the country, seeing it as her duty to oversee her inexperienced daughter’s pregnancy. And, as she promised to do when she married, Kitty’s friend from abroad, Varenka, comes to visit.
All of these visitors are from Kitty’s side of the family, and Levin often regrets not being able to live as he wishes, though he likes them all. The “Levin ways” are smothered by what he calls the “Shtcherbatsky element” The closest he gets to his own kind is a visit by Sergey Ivanovitch; however, even he is only a half-brother, so the Levin spirit is “totally obliterated.”
The house which used to be almost deserted is now full; nearly every room is used, and often the number at meals is more than a dozen. Though Kitty is a wise steward of their resources, she is often taxed by the simple task of providing suitable meals for all their guests. Today everyone is sitting at dinner, and Dolly’s children along with their governess and Varenka are making plans to go looking for mushrooms. Sergey Ivanovitch asks to join them, much to everyone’s surprise; the request is made directly to Varenka, who blushes a bit but says he is welcome. Kitty has been watching this pair and feels as if something may be developing between them.
Sergey Ivanovitch visits with his brother as he waits for the mushroom-hunting party to pass through; Kitty is hovering nearby, obviously waiting to speak with her husband. Soon the children come in and capture Sergey Ivanovitch for their adventure, and Dolly’s oldest daughter teases him a bit about Varenka. As he is leaving, Kitty remarks, loudly enough for him to hear, that she thinks her friend is so pretty and refined. The old princess comes in and tells her daughter that, in her condition, she should not be shouting.
When Varenka enters the room, she is flustered and her eager face betrays that something is out of the ordinary with her. Kitty is sure she knows the cause of this condition, for she has been watching Varenka intently. She now pulls her friend aside and whispers that she would be most pleased if “a certain something” were to happen today. Varenka pretends not to have heard and asks Levin if he will be joining them. Levin is going with them as far as the threshing floor where he must stop to work. Kitty will be waiting on the terrace.