Kitty’s health, which has been declining all winter, worsens as spring approaches. The family calls in a famous doctor, who insists on examining Kitty naked. The doctor prescribes a trip abroad to take the waters at a spa––not necessarily because it will help, but because it will do no harm. Princess Shcherbatsky, Kitty’s mother, leaps at the opportunity for a trip abroad, and Kitty pretends to be excited.
Tolstoy portrays the famous doctor as a charlatan, more interested in leering at Kitty than presenting her with sound medical advice. Kitty’s mother laps up every word that the doctor says, and even though she knows that no pills will cure her heartbreak, Kitty pretends to be cheered up.