She smiled at his praise, and continued to look about the room over his shoulder. She was not like a girl at her first ball, for whom all faces in the ballroom melt into one vision of fairyland. And she was not a girl who had gone the stale round of balls till every face in the ballroom was familiar and tiresome. But she was in the middle stage between these two; she was excited, and at the same time she had sufficient self-possession to be able to observe. In the left corner of the ballroom she saw the very flower of society grouped together. There - impossibly naked - was the beauty Liddy, Korsunsky's wife; there was the lady of the house; there shone the bald pate of Krivin, always to be found wherever the best people were; in that direction gazed the young men, not venturing to approach;there, too, she descried Stiva, and there she saw the charming figure and head of Anna in a black velvet gown. And he was there. Kitty had not seen him since the evening she refused Levin. With her farsighted eyes, knew him at once, and was even aware that he was looking at her.
`Another turn, eh? You're not tired?' said Korsunsky, a little out of breath.
`No, thank you!'
`Where shall I take you?'
`Madame Karenina's here, I think.... Take me to her.'
`Wherever you command.'
And Korsunsky began waltzing with measured steps straight toward the group in the left corner, continually saying, ` Pardon, mesdames, pardon, pardon, mesdames ,' and steering his course through the sea of lace, tulle and ribbon, and not disarranging a feather, he turned his partner sharply round, so that her slim ankles, in light, transparent stockings, were exposed to view, and her train floated out in fan shape and covered Krivin's knees. Korsunsky bowed, set straight his open shirt front, and gave her his arm to conduct her to Anna Arkadyevna. Kitty, flushed, took her train from Krivin's knees, and, a little giddy, looked round, seeking Anna. Anna was not in lilac, as Kitty had so urgently wished, but in a black, low-cut, velvet gown, showing her full shoulders and bosom, that looked as though carved in old ivory, and her rounded arms, with tiny, slender hands. The whole gown was trimmed with Venetian guipure. On her head, among her black hair - her own, with no false additions - was a little wreath of pansies, and a similar one on the black ribbon of her sash, among white lace. Her coiffure was not striking. All that was noticeable was the little willful tendrils of her curly hair that persisted in escaping on the nape of her neck, and on her temples. Encircling her sculptured, strong neck was a thread of pearls.
Kitty had been seeing Anna every day; she adored her, and had pictured her invariably in lilac. But now, seeing her in black, she felt that she had not fully perceived her charm. She saw her now as someone quite new and surprising to her. Now she understood that Anna could not have been in lilac, and that her charm was precisely in that she always stood out against her attire, that her dress could never be noticeable on her. And her black dress, with its sumptuous lace, was not noticeable on her; it was only the frame and all that was seen was she - simple, natural, elegant, and at the same time gay and animated.
She was standing, as always, very erect, and when Kitty drew near the group she was speaking to the master of the house, her head slightly turned toward him.
`No, I won't cast a stone,' she was saying, in answer to something, `though I can't understand it she went on, shrugging her shoulders, and she turned at once with a soft smile of protection toward Kitty. With a cursory feminine glance she scanned her attire, and made a movement of her head, hardly perceptible, but understood by Kitty, signifying approval of her dress and her looks. `You came into the room dancing,' she added.
`This is one of my most faithful supporters,' said Korsunsky, bowing to Anna Arkadyevna, whom he had not yet seen. `The Princess helps to make any ball festive and successful. Anna Arkadyevna, a waltz?' he said, bending down to her.
`Why, have you met?' inquired their host.
`Is there anyone we have not met? My wife and I are like white wolves - everyone knows us,' answered Korsunsky. `A waltz, Anna Arkadyevna?'
`I don't dance whenever it's possible not to,' she said.
`But tonight it's impossible,' answered Korsunsky.
During the conversation Vronsky was approaching them.
`Well, since it's impossible tonight, let us start,' she said, not noticing Vronsky's bow, and hastily put her hand on Korsunsky's shoulder.
`What is she vexed with him about?' thought Kitty, discerning that Anna had intentionally not responded to Vronsky's bow. Vronsky went up to Kitty, reminding her of the first quadrille, and expressing his regret at not having seen her all this time. Kitty gazed in admiration at Anna waltzing, as she listened to him. She expected him to ask her for a waltz, but he did not, and she glanced wonderingly at him. He flushed, and hurriedly asked her to waltz, but he had barely put his arm round her slender waist and taken the first step when the music suddenly stopped. Kitty looked into his face, which was so close to her own, and long afterward - for several years - this look, full of love, to which he made no response, cut her to the heart with an agony of shame.
` Pardon ! Pardon ! Waltz! Waltz!' shouted Korsunsky from the other side of the room, and, seizing the first young lady he came across he began dancing.
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TOLSTOY: Anna Karenina Part 1, Chapter 23[Previous Chapter] [Table of Contents] Chapter 23 Vronsky and Kitty waltzed several times round the room. After the waltz Kitty went to her mother, and she had hardly time to say a few words to Countess Nordstone when Vronsky came up again for the first quadrille.