It was past five, and several guests had already arrived, before
the host himself got home. He went in together with Sergey
Ivanovitch Koznishev and Pestsov, who had reached the street door
at the same moment. These were the two leading representatives
of the Moscow intellectuals, as Oblonsky had called them. Both
were men respected for their character and their intelligence.
They respected each other, but were in complete and hopeless
disagreement upon almost every subject, not because they belonged
to opposite parties, but precisely because they were of the same
party (their enemies refused to see any distinction between their
views); but, in that party, each had his own special shade of
opinion. And since no difference is less easily overcome than
the difference of opinion about semi-abstract questions, they
never agreed in any opinion, and had long, indeed, been
accustomed to jeer without anger, each at the other's
They were just going in at the door, talking of the weather, when
Stepan Arkadyevitch overtook them. In the drawing room there
were already sitting Prince Alexander Dmitrievitch Shtcherbatsky,
young Shtcherbatsky, Turovtsin, Kitty, and Karenin.
Stepan Arkadyevitch saw immediately that things were not going
well in the drawing-room without him. Darya Alexandrovna, in her
best gray silk gown, obviously worried about the children, who
were to have their dinner by themselves in the nursery, and by
her husband's absence, was not equal to the task of making the
party mix without him. All were sitting like so many priests'
wives on a visit (so the old prince expressed it), obviously
wondering why they were there, and pumping up remarks simply to
avoid being silent. Turovtsin--good, simple man--felt
unmistakably a fish out of water, and the smile with which his
thick lips greeted Stepan Arkadyevitch said, as plainly as words:
"Well, old boy, you have popped me down in a learned set! A
drinking party now, or the Chateau des Fleurs, would be more in
my line!" The old prince sat in silence, his bright little eyes
watching Karenin from one side, and Stepan Arkadyevitch saw that
he had already formed a phrase to sum up that politician of whom
guests were invited to partake as though he were a sturgeon.
Kitty was looking at the door, calling up all her energies to
keep her from blushing at the entrance of Konstantin Levin.
Young Shtcherbatsky, who had not been introduced to Karenin, was
trying to look as though he were not in the least conscious of
it. Karenin himself had followed the Petersburg fashion for a
dinner with ladies and was wearing evening dress and a white tie.
Stepan Arkadyevitch saw by his face that he had come simply to
keep his promise, and was performing a disagreeable duty in being
present at this gathering. He was indeed the person chiefly
responsible for the chill benumbing all the guests before Stepan
Arkadyevitch came in.