"Have you been here long?" she said, giving him her hand. "Thank
you," she added, as he picked up the handkerchief that had fallen
out of her muff.
"I? I've not long...yesterday...I mean today...I arrived,"
answered Levin, in his emotion not at once understanding her
question. "I was meaning to come and see you," he said; and
then, recollecting with what intention he was trying to see her,
he was promptly overcome with confusion and blushed.
"I didn't know you could skate, and skate so well."
She looked at him earnestly, as though wishing to make out the
cause of his confusion.
"Your praise is worth having. The tradition is kept up here that
you are the best of skaters," she said, with her little
black-gloved hand brushing a grain of hoarfrost off her muff.
"Yes, I used once to skate with passion; I wanted to reach
"You do everything with passion, I think,' she said smiling. "I
should so like to see how you skate. Put on skates, and let us
"Skate together! Can that be possible?" thought Levin, gazing at
"I'll put them on directly," he said.
And he went off to get skates.
"It's a long while since we've seen you here, sir," said the
attendant, supporting his foot, and screwing on the heel of the
skate. "Except you, there's none of the gentlemen first-rate
skaters. Will that be all right?" said he, tightening the strap.
"Oh, yes, yes; make haste, please," answered Levin, with
difficulty restraining the smile of rapture which would
overspread his face. "Yes," he thought, "this now is life, this
is happiness! Together, she said; let us skate together! Speak
to her now? But that's just why I'm afraid to speak--because I'm
happy now, happy in hope, anyway.... And then?.... But I must!
I must! I must! Away with weakness!"