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Now we jump to Germany and the Shcherbatskys. (Remember that Kitty is at a German spa trying to recover from her heartbreak over losing Vronsky.)
The novel observes that, in any international gathering of people, such as Kitty's German spa, each individual has their own predetermined place in the society of that gathering.
After some time, Kitty is bored with her predetermined clique, and spends her time observing all the classes of people who have come to visit this spa.
Kitty dreams beautiful lives for all these people, because that's part of her nature.
She develops a close friendship with a woman named Varenka, who is accompanying an elderly invalid named Madame Stahl. (Both women are Russian.)
Varenka isn't attractive in the conventional sense, though her features are quite beautiful. Tolstoy notes that Varenka lacks the same qualities that makes Kitty attractive to men: vivacity and a fire for life.
We learn that Varenka is a young woman of indeterminate age who spends her time helping other people.
Kitty idealizes Varenka, because Varenka has numerous interests in life, as well as a consistent system of values.
Kitty and Varenka cross paths frequently, and both seem to want to get to know each other. Kitty figures out that Varenka is neither Madame Stahl's paid companion nor her relative, which adds to Varenka's general mystique.
Varenka is constantly doing things for other people.
A new Russian couple arrive at the springs shortly after the Shcherbatskys' arrival; they arouse general disapproval with their unattractive looks and poor dress.
In Kitty's dreams, the couple has a sweet and beautiful romance.
When she realizes that the man in the couple is Constantine Levin's brother, Nicolas, she begins to dislike the couple immensely. (The woman, by the way, is Masha Nikolaevna, the former prostitute whom Nicholas treats as his wife.)