Toward the end of winter, in the house of the Shcherbatskys, a consultation was being held, which was to determine the state of Kitty's health, and what was to be done to restore her failing strength. She had been ill, and, as spring came on, she grew worse. The family doctor gave her cod-liver oil, then iron, then lunar caustic; but since neither the first, nor the second, nor the third availed, and since his advice was to go abroad before the beginning of the spring, a celebrated doctor was called in. The celebrated doctor, not yet old and a very handsome man, demanded an examination of the patient. He maintained, with special satisfaction, it seemed, that maiden modesty is merely a relic of barbarism, and that nothing could be more natural than for a man who was not yet old to handle a young girl in the nude. He deemed this natural, because he did it every day, and neither felt nor thought, as it seemed to him, anything evil as he did it and, consequently, he considered girlish modesty not merely as a relic of barbarism, but, as well, an insult to himself.
It was necessary to submit, for, although all the doctors studied in the same school, all using the same textbooks, and all learned in the same science, and though some people said this celebrated doctor was but a poor doctor, in the Princess's household and circle it was for some reason held that this celebrated doctor alone had some peculiar knowledge, and that he alone could save Kitty. After thorough examination and tapping of the patient, distraught and dazed with shame, the celebrated doctor, having painstakingly washed his hands, was standing in the drawing room talking to the Prince. The Prince frowned and coughed as he listened to the doctor. As a man who had seen something of life, and neither a fool nor an invalid, he had no faith in medicine, and at soul was wrought up with all this comedy, especially as he was probably the only one who fully understood the cause of Kitty's illness. "You're barking up the wrong tree," he mentally applied this phrase from the hunter's vocabulary to the celebrated doctor, as he listened to the latter's patter about the symptoms of his daughter's complaint. The doctor, for his part, found difficulty in restraining the expression of his contempt for this old grandee, as well as in condescending to the low level of his comprehension. He perceived that it was useless to talk to the old man, and that the head of this house was the mother- and she it was before whom he intended to scatter his pearls. It was at this point that the Princess entered the drawing room with the family doctor. The Prince retreated, doing his best not to betray how ridiculous he regarded the whole comedy. The Princess was distraught, and did not know what to do. She felt herself at fault before Kitty.
"Well, doctor, decide our fate," said the Princess. "Tell me everything."- "Is there any hope?" was what she had wanted to say, but her lips quivered, and she could not utter this question. "Well, doctor?"
"Immediately, Princess- I will discuss the matter with my colleague, and then have the honor of laying my opinion before you."
"Then we had better leave you?"
"As you please."
The Princess, with a sigh, stepped outside.
When the doctors were left alone, the family doctor began timidly explaining his opinion, that there was an incipient tubercular process, but... and so on. The celebrated doctor listened to him, and in the middle of the other's speech looked at his big gold watch.
"That is so," said he. "But..."
The family doctor respectfully ceased in the middle of his speech.
"As you know, we cannot determine the incipience of the tubercular process; until the appearance of vomicae there is nothing determinate. But we may suspect it. And there are indications: malnutrition, nervous excitability, and so on. The question stands thus: if we suspect a tubercular process, what must we do to maintain nutrition?"
"But then, you know, there are always moral, spiritual causes at the back of these cases," the family doctor permitted himself to interpolate with a subtle smile.
"Yes, that's to be taken for granted," retorted the celebrated doctor, again glancing at his watch. "Beg pardon- but is the Iauzsky bridge finished yet, or must one still make a detour?" he asked. "Ah! It is finished. Well, in that case I can make it in twenty minutes. As we were saying, the question may be posited thus: the nutrition must be maintained and the nerves improved. The one is bound with the other; one must work upon both sides of this circle."
"But what about the trip abroad?" asked the family doctor.
"I am a foe to trips abroad. And take notice: if there is any incipient tubercular process, which we cannot know, a trip abroad will not help. We must have a remedy that would improve nutrition, and do no harm."
And the celebrated doctor expounded his plan of treatment with Soden waters, in designating which his main end was evidently their harmlessness.
The family doctor heard him out attentively and respectfully.
"But in favor of foreign travel I would urge the change of habits, the removal from conditions which evoke memories. And then- the mother wishes it," he added.
"Ah! Well, in that case, one might go; well, let them go; but those German charlatans may do harm.... Our instructions ought to be followed.... Well, let them go then."
He again glanced at his watch.
"Oh! it's time to go," and he went to the door.
The celebrated doctor informed the Princess (prompted by a feeling of propriety) that he must see the patient once more.
"What! Another examination!" the mother exclaimed in horror.
"Oh, no- I merely need certain details, Princess."
"Come this way."
And the mother, followed by the doctor, went into the drawing room to Kitty. Wasted and blushing, with a peculiar glitter in her eyes- a consequence of the shame she had gone through, Kitty was standing in the middle of the room. When the doctor came in she turned crimson, and her eyes filled with tears. All her illness and its treatment seemed to her a thing so stupid- even funny! Treatment seemed to her as funny as reconstructing the pieces of a broken vase. It was her heart that was broken. Why, then, did they want to cure her with pills and powders? But she could not hurt her mother- all the more so since her mother considered herself to blame.
"May I trouble you to sit down, Princess?" the celebrated doctor said to her.
Smiling, he, sat down facing her, felt her pulse, and again started in with his tiresome questions. She answered him, and suddenly, becoming angry, got up.
"You must pardon me, doctor- but really, this will lead us nowhere. You ask me the same things, three times running."
The celebrated doctor did not take umbrage.
"Sickly irritability," said he to the Princess, when Kitty had left the room. "However, I had finished...."
And the doctor scientifically defined to the Princess, as to an exceptionally clever woman, the condition of the young Princess, and concluded by explaining the mode of drinking the unnecessary waters. When the question of going abroad came up, the doctor was plunged into profound considerations, as though deciding a weighty problem. Finally his decision was given: they might go abroad, but must put no faith in charlatans, but turn to him in everything.
It seemed as though some cheerful influence had sprung up after the doctor's departure. The mother grew more cheerful when she returned to her daughter, while Kitty too pretended to be more cheerful. She had frequent, almost constant, occasions to be pretending now.
"Really, I'm quite well, maman. But if you want to go abroad, let's!" she said, and, trying to show that she was interested in the proposed trip, she began talking of the preparations for the departure.
Right after the doctor Dolly arrived. She knew that the consultation was scheduled for that day, and, despite the fact that she had only recently gotten up from her lying-in (she had had another little girl at the end of the winter), despite her having enough trouble and cares of her own, she had left her breast baby and an ailing girl to come and learn Kitty's fate, which was being decided that day.
"Well, what's what?" said she, entering into the drawing room, without taking off her hat. "You're all in good spirits. That means good news, then?"
An attempt was made to tell her what the doctor had said, but it proved that, even though the doctor had talked coherently and long, it was utterly impossible to convey what he had said. The only point of interest was that going abroad was definitely decided upon.
Dolly could not help sighing. Her dearest friend, her sister, was going away. And her life was far from gay. Her relations with Stepan Arkadyevich after their reconciliation had become humiliating. The welding Anna had made proved not at all solid, and family concord had broken down again at the same point. There was nothing definite, but Stepan Arkadyevich was hardly ever at home; also, there was hardly ever any money, and Dolly was constantly being tortured by suspicions of infidelities, and by now she drove them away from her, dreading the agony of jealousy she had already experienced. The first explosion of jealousy, once lived through, could never return, and even the discovery of infidelities could never affect her now as it had the first time. Such a discovery now would only mean breaking up her family habits, and she permitted him to deceive her, despising him- and still more herself- for this weakness. Besides this, the cares of her large family were a constant torment to her: now the nursing of her breast baby did not go well; now the nurse would leave, now (as at the present time) one of the children would fall ill.
"Well, how's everybody in your family?" asked her mother.
"Ah, maman, we have enough trouble of our own. Lili has taken ill, and I'm afraid it's scarlatina. I have come here now to find out about Kitty, and then I shall shut myself up entirely, if- God forbid- it really be scarlatina."
The old Prince too had come in from his study after the doctor's departure, and, after offering his cheek to Dolly, and chatting awhile with her, he turned to his wife:
"What have you decided- are you going? Well, and what do you want to do with me?"
"I think you had better stay here, Alexandre," said his wife.
"Just as you wish."
"Maman, why shouldn't father come with us?" said Kitty. "He'll feel better, and so will we."
The old Prince got up and stroked Kitty's hair. She lifted her head and looked at him with a forced smile. It always seemed to her that he understood her better than anyone else in the family did, though he spoke but little with her. Being the youngest, she was her father's favorite, and she fancied that his love for her gave him insight. When now her gaze met his blue, kindly eyes, scrutinizing her intently, it seemed to her that he saw right through her, and understood all the evil things that were at work within her. Reddening, she was drawn toward him, expecting a kiss; but he merely patted her hair and said:
"These silly chignons! One can't as much as get near one's real daughter, but simply stroke the hair of defunct females. Well Dolinka," he turned to his elder daughter, "what's your ace up to now?"
"Nothing, papa," answered Dolly, who knew that this referred to her husband. "He's always out; I hardly ever see him," she could not resist adding with a mocking smile.
"Why, hasn't he gone into the country yet- about the sale of the forest?"
"No; he's still getting ready."
"Oh, that's it!" said the Prince. "And so I'm to be getting ready, too? At your service," he said to his wife, sitting down. "And as for you, Katia," he went on, addressing his younger daughter, "you must wake up one fine day and say to yourself: Why, I'm quite well, and merry, and I'm going out again with papa for an early morning stroll in the frost. Eh?"
What her father said seemed simple enough, yet at these words Kitty grew confused and upset, like a criminal caught red-handed. "Yes, he knows all, he understands all, and in these words he's telling me that though I'm ashamed, I must live through my shame." She could not pluck up spirit enough to make any answer. She made an attempt but suddenly burst into tears, and ran out of the room.
"See what comes of your jokes!" the Princess pounced on her husband. "You're always..." she launched into her reproachful speech.
The Prince listened to the Princess's reproaches rather a long while and kept silent, but his face grew more and more glowering.
"She's so much to be pitied, poor thing, so much to be pitied, yet you don't feel how it pains her to hear the least hint as to the cause of it all. Ah! to be so mistaken in people!" said the Princess, and by the change in her tone both Dolly and the Prince knew she meant Vronsky. "I don't know why there aren't laws against such vile, dishonorable people."
"Ah, I oughtn't to listen to you!" said the Prince glumly, getting up from his chair, as if to go, yet pausing in the doorway. "There are laws, my dear, and since you've challenged me to it, I'll tell you who's to blame for it all: you- you, you alone. Laws against such young gallants have always existed, and still exist! Yes, if there weren't anything that ought not to have been, I, old as I am, would have called him out to the barrier, this swell. Yes, and now go ahead and physic her, and call in these charlatans."
The Prince, it seemed, had plenty more to say, but no sooner had the Princess caught his tone than she subsided at once, and became penitent, as was always the case in serious matters.
"Alexandre, Alexandre," she whispered, approaching him and bursting into tears.
As soon as she began to weep the Prince, too, calmed down. He went up to her.
"There, that's enough, that's enough! You feel badly too, I know. Nothing can be done about it! It's not so very bad. God is merciful... thanks..." he said, without knowing himself what he was saying now, responding to the moist kiss of the Princess that he felt on his hand. And the Prince went out of the room.
No sooner had Kitty gone out of the room, in tears, than Dolly, with her motherly, domestic habit, had promptly perceived that here a woman's work lay before her, and got ready for it. She took off her hat, and, morally speaking, tucked up her sleeves and got ready for action. While her mother was attacking her father, she tried to restrain her mother, so far as daughterly reverence would allow. During the Prince's outburst she was silent; she felt ashamed for her mother and tender toward her father for so quickly being kind again. But when her father left, she made ready for what was most necessary- to go to Kitty and compose her.
"I've intended long since to tell you something, maman: did you know that Levin meant to propose to Kitty when he was here last? He told Stiva so."
"Well, what of it? I don't understand..."
"Why, perhaps Kitty refused him?... Did she say nothing to you?"
"No, she said nothing to me either of the one or the other; she's too proud. But I know it's all on account of this..."
"Yes, but suppose she has refused Levin- and she wouldn't have refused him if it hadn't been for the other, I know. And then, this fellow has deceived her so horribly."
It was too frightful for the Princess to think how much at fault she was before her daughter, and she grew angry.
"Oh, now I really understand nothing! Nowadays everybody thinks to live after his own way; a mother isn't told a thing, and then you have..."
"Maman, I'll go to her."
"Do. Am I forbidding you?"
When she went into Kitty's little sanctum, a pretty, rosy little room, full of knickknacks in vieux saxe, as youthful and rosy and gay as Kitty herself had been only two months ago, Dolly recalled how they had together decorated the room the year before, with what gaiety and love. Her heart turned cold when she beheld Kitty sitting on the low chair nearest the door, her eyes fixed immovably on a corner of the rug. Kitty glanced at her sister, and the cold, rather austere expression of her face did not change.
"I'm going now, and shall entrench myself at home, and you won't be able to come to see me," said Darya Alexandrovna sitting down beside her. "I want to talk to you."
"What about?" Kitty asked swiftly, lifting her head in fright.
"What should it be, save what's grieving you?"
"I have no grief."
"Come, Kitty. Do you possibly think I cannot know? I know all. And, believe me, this is so insignificant... We've all been through it."
Kitty did not speak, and her face had a stern expression.
"He's not worth your suffering on his account," pursued Darya Alexandrovna, coming straight to the point.
"Yes- because he has disdained me," said Kitty, in a jarring voice. "Don't say anything! Please, don't say anything!"
"But whoever told you that? No one has said that. I'm certain he was in love with you, and remained in love with you, but..."
"Oh, the most awful thing of all for me are these condolences!" cried out Kitty, in a sudden fit of anger. She turned round on her chair, turned red, and her fingers moved quickly, as she pinched the buckle of the belt she held, now with one hand, now with the other. Dolly knew this trick her sister had of grasping something in turn with each of her hands, when in excitement; she knew that, in a moment of excitement Kitty was capable of forgetting herself and saying a great deal too much and much that was unpleasant, and Dolly would have calmed her; but it was already too late.
"What- what is it you want to make me feel, eh?" said Kitty quickly. "That I've been in love with a man who didn't even care to know me, and that I'm dying for love of him? And this is said to me by my own sister, who imagines that... that... that she's sympathizing with me!... I don't want these condolences and hypocrisies!"
"Kitty, you're unjust."
"Why do you torment me?"
"But I... On the contrary... I can see you're hurt...."
But Kitty in her heat did not hear her.
"I've nothing to despair over and be comforted about. I'm sufficiently proud never to allow myself to care for a man who does not love me."
"Why, I don't say anything of the kind... Only, tell me the truth," said Darya Alexandrovna, taking her by the hand, "tell me- did Levin speak to you?..."
The mention of Levin seemed to deprive Kitty of the last vestige of self-control. She leaped up from her chair, and, flinging the buckle to the ground, gesticulating rapidly with her hands, she said:
"Why bring Levin in too? I can't understand- what you want to torture me for? I've told you, and I repeat it- I have some pride, and never, never would I do what you're doing- going back to a man who's deceived you, who has come to love another woman. I can't understand this! You may- but I can't do it!"
And, having said these words, she glanced at her sister, and seeing that Dolly sat silent, her head mournfully bowed, Kitty, instead of leaving the room, as she had intended, sat down near the door, and, hiding her face in her shawl, let her head drop.
The silence lasted for two minutes. Dolly's thoughts were of herself. That humiliation of which she was always conscious came back to her with special pain when her sister reminded her of it. She had not expected such cruelty from her sister, and was resentful. But suddenly she heard the rustle of a skirt, and, simultaneously, an outburst of smothered sobbing, and felt arms clasping her neck from below. Kitty was on her knees before her.
"Dolinka, I am so, so unhappy!" she whispered penitently.
And the endearing face, covered with tears, hid itself in Darya Alexandrovna's skirt.
It was as if tears were the indispensable oil without which the machinery of mutual communion could not run smoothly between the two sisters; the sisters, after their tears, discussed everything but that which engrossed them; but, even in talking of outside matters, they understood one another. Kitty knew that what she had uttered in anger about her husband's infidelity and her humiliating position had struck her poor sister to the very depths of her heart, but she also knew that the latter had forgiven her. Dolly for her part had comprehended all she had wanted to find out. She had become convinced that her surmises were correct; that Kitty's misery, her incurable misery, was due precisely to the fact that Levin had proposed to her and she had refused him, while Vronsky had deceived her, and that she stood ready to love Levin and to hate Vronsky. Kitty said no word of this; she spoke of nothing save her own spiritual state.
"I have nothing to grieve over," she said, calming down, "but you could understand that everything has become loathsome, hateful, coarse to me- and I myself most of all. You can't imagine what loathsome thoughts I have about everything."
"Why, whatever loathsome thoughts can you have?" asked Dolly, smiling.
"Most, most loathsome and coarse: I couldn't tell you. This is not melancholy, nor boredom, but far worse. As if everything of good that I had were gone out of sight, while only that which was most loathsome were left. Well, how shall I put it to you?" she went on, seeing incomprehension in her sister's eyes. "Papa began saying something to me just now... It seems to me he thinks all I need is to marry. If mamma takes me to a ball- it seems to me she takes me only to marry me off as fast as possible, and get me off her hands. I know this isn't so, but I can't drive away such thoughts. These suitors so called- I can't bear the sight of them. It seems to me as if they're always taking stock of me. Formerly, to go anywhere in a ball dress was a downright joy to me; I used to admire myself; now I feel ashamed, in at ease. Well, take any example you like... This doctor... Now..."
Kitty hesitated; she wanted to say further that ever since this change had taken place in her, Stepan Arkadyevich had become unbearably repulsive to her, and that she could not see him without imagining the grossest and most hideous things.
"Well now, everything appears to me, in the coarsest, most loathsome aspect," she went on. "That is my ailment. Perhaps all this will pass..."
"Try not to think of such things..."
"I can't help it. I feel well only when I am with the children, at your house."
"What a pity you can't visit me!"
"Oh, yes, I'll come.- I've had scarlatina, and I'll persuade maman to let me come."
Kitty insisted on having her way, and went to stay at her sister's and nursed the children all through the scarlatina- for it really proved to be scarlatina. The two sisters brought all the six children successfully through it; Kitty's health, however, did not improve, and in Lent the Shcherbatskys went abroad.
There is really only one circle of Peterburg upper society: everyone knows everyone else, even visits each other. But this great circle has subdivisions of its own. Anna Arkadyevna Karenina had friends and close ties in three different circles. One circle was her husband's set of civil servants and officials, consisting of his colleagues and subordinates, brought together in a most diversified and capricious manner, yet separated by social conditions. Anna could now recall only with difficulty the feeling of almost pious reverence which she had at first borne for these persons. Now she knew all of them, as people know one another in a provincial town; she knew their habits and weaknesses, and where the shoe pinched each one of them. She knew their attitudes toward one another and to the chief center; knew who backed whom, and how and wherewithal each one maintained his position, and who agreed or disagreed with whom; but this circle of political, masculine interests could not interest her, and, in spite of Countess Lidia Ivanovna's suggestions, she avoided it.
Another small circle, with which Anna was intimate, was the one by means of which Alexei Alexandrovich had made his career. The center of this circle was the Countess Lidia Ivanovna. This was a circle of elderly, homely, virtuous and pious women, and clever, learned and ambitious men. One of the clever people belonging to this small circle had called it "the conscience of Peterburg society." Alexei Alexandrovich appreciated this circle very much, and Anna, who knew so well how to get on with all, had in the early days of her life in Peterburg found friends even in this circle. But now, upon her return from Moscow, this set had become unbearable to her. It seemed to her that both she and all of them were dissimulating, and she experienced such boredom and lack of ease in their society that she tried to visit the Countess Lidia Ivanovna as infrequently as possible.
And, finally, the third circle with which Anna had ties was the really fashionable world- the world of balls, of dinners, of sumptuous dresses; the world that hung on to the court with one hand, in order not to sink to the level of the demimonde, which the members of the fashionable world believed they despised- yet the tastes of both were not only similar, but precisely the same. Her connection with this circle was maintained through Princess Betsy Tverskaia, her cousin's wife, who had an income of a hundred and twenty thousand roubles, and who had taken a great liking to Anna ever since she first came out, looking after her and drawing her into her own circle, poking fun at that of Countess Lidia Ivanovna.
"When I'm old and shall have lost my looks, I'll be the same," Betsy used to say; "but for a young and pretty woman like you it's much too early to join that Old Ladies' Home."
Anna had at first avoided, as much as she could, Princess Tverskaia's world, because it necessitated expenditures above her means- and, besides, at soul she preferred the first circle; but after her trip to Moscow, things fell out quite the other way. She avoided her moral friends, and went out into the fashionable world. There she would meet Vronsky, and experienced an agitating joy at such meetings. Especially often did she meet Vronsky at Betsy's, for Betsy was a Vronsky by birth, and his cousin. Vronsky went everywhere where he might meet Anna, and, at every chance he had, spoke to her of his love. She offered him no encouragement, yet every time she met him there was kindled in her soul that same feeling of animation which had come upon her that day in the railway carriage when she had seen him for the first time. She felt herself that her delight shone in her eyes and puckered her lips into a smile- and she could not quench the expression of this delight.
At first Anna had sincerely believed that she was displeased with him for daring to pursue her; but not long after her return from Moscow, on arriving at a soiree where she had anticipated meeting him, yet not finding him there, she realized clearly, from the feeling of sadness which overcame her, that she had been deceiving herself, and that this pursuit was not merely not distasteful to her, but that it constituted all the interest of her life.
It was the second performance of a celebrated cantatrice, and all the fashionable world was in the theater. Vronsky, seeing his cousin from his seat in the front row, did not wait till the entr'acte, but went to her box.
"Why didn't you come to dinner?" she said to him. "I marvel at this clairvoyance of lovers," she added with a smile, so that no one but he could hear, "she wasn't there. But do come after the opera."
Vronsky looked inquiringly at her. She nodded. He thanked her by a smile, and sat down beside her.
"But how I remember your jeers!" continued Princess Betsy, who took special delight in following up the progress of this passion. "What's become of all that? You're caught, my dear fellow."
"That's my one desire- to be caught," answered Vronsky, with his calm, good-natured smile. "If I complain at all, it's only that I'm not caught enough, if the truth were told. I begin to lose hope."
"Why, whatever hope can you expect?" said Betsy, offended on behalf of her friend. "Entendons nous...." But in her eyes flitted gleams of light, which proclaimed that she understood very well, even as much as he did, what hope he might entertain.
"None whatever," said Vronsky, laughing and showing his closely set teeth. "Excuse me," he added, taking the binoculars out of her hand, and proceeding to scrutinize, over her bare shoulder, the row of boxes opposite them. "I'm afraid I'm becoming ridiculous."
He was very well aware that he ran no risk of being ridiculous in the eyes of Betsy and all other fashionable people. He was very well aware that in the eyes of these people the role of the hapless lover of a girl, or in general, of any woman free to marry, might be ridiculous; but the role of a man pursuing a married woman, and, regardless of everything, staking his life on drawing her into adultery- that role has something beautiful and majestic about it, and can never be ridiculous, and so it was with a proud and gay smile under his mustaches that he lowered the binoculars and looked at his cousin.
"But why didn't you come to dinner?" she said, admiring him.
"I must tell you about that. I was busy- and with what, do you suppose? I'll give you a hundred guesses, a thousand... you'd never guess. I've been reconciling a husband with a man who'd insulted his wife. Yes, really!"
"Well, did you reconcile them?"
"You really must tell me about it," she said, getting up. "Come to me in the next entr'acte."
"I can't; I'm going to the French theater."
"Leaving Nilsson?" Betsy queried in horror, though she could not herself have distinguished Nilsson from any chorus girl.
"What can I do? I've an appointment there, all because of my mission of peace."
"'Blessed are the peacemakers;' 'they shall be saved'," said Betsy, recalling something of that sort she had heard from somebody or other. "Very well, then, sit down, and tell me what it's all about."
And she resumed her seat.
"This is rather indiscreet, but it's so charming that one is awfully tempted to tell the story," said Vronsky, looking at her with laughing eyes. "I don't intend to mention any names."
"But I shall guess them- so much the better."
"Listen, then: two festive young men were driving along..."
"Officers of your regiment, of course?"
"I didn't say they were officers- just two young men who had been lunching."
"In other words, drinking."
"Possibly. They were driving on their way to dinner with a friend in the gayest of moods. And they catch sight of a pretty woman in a hired sleigh, who overtakes them, looks back at them, and- so it seemed to them, at any rate- nods to them and laughs. They, of course, follow her- galloping at full speed. To their amazement, the fair one alights at the entrance of the very house to which they were going. The fair one darts upstairs to the top floor. All they got was a glimpse of rosebud lips under a short veil, and of exquisite little feet."
"You tell this with such feeling that it seems to me you yourself must have been one of the two."
"But what did you tell me just now?... Well, the young men enter their comrade's apartment- he was giving a farewell dinner. There they certainly did take a drop too much, as is always the case at farewell dinners. And at dinner they inquire who lives at the top in that house. No one knows; only their host's valet, in answer to their inquiry whether any 'young ladies' are living on the top floor, answered that there were a great many of them. After dinner the two young men go into their host's study, and write a letter to the fair unknown. They composed a passionate epistle, really a declaration, and then carry the letter upstairs themselves, so as to explain whatever might prove not altogether clear in the letter."
"Why do you tell me such nasty things? And then?"
"They ring. A maidservant opens the door, they hand her the letter, and assure her that they're both so enamored that they'll die on the spot at the door. The maid, stupefied, carries on the negotiations. Suddenly a gentleman appears- with side whiskers like country sausages, he is as red as a lobster and, informing them that there is no one living in that flat except his wife, he sends them both packing."
"How do you know he had side whiskers like sausages, as you put it?"
"Ah, do but listen. Recently I went to make peace between them."
"Well, and what was the upshot?"
"That's the most interesting part. This couple turned out to be a most happy one- a government clerk and his lady. The government clerk lodges a complaint, whereupon I become a mediator- and what a mediator!... I assure you Talleyrand was a nobody compared to me."
"Just what was the difficulty?"
"Ah, do but listen.... We make fitting apologies: 'We are in despair; we entreat forgiveness for the unfortunate misunderstanding.' The government clerk with the country sausages begins to melt, and he, too, desires to express his sentiments, but no sooner does he begin to express them than he gets heated and says nasty things, and again I'm obliged to trot out all my diplomatic talents. 'I agree that their action was bad, but I beg of you to take into consideration the misunderstanding, and their youth; besides, the young men had just come from their lunch. You understand. Their repentance is heartfelt and they beg you to forgive their misbehavior.' The government clerk was softened once more. 'I consent, Count, and am ready to forgive but you must understand that my wife- my wife!- a respectable woman is subjected to annoyances, and insults, and impertinences by certain milksops, scou-...' Yet, you understand, the milksop is present, and it is up to me to make peace between them. Again I trot out all my diplomacy, and again, just as the matter is about to be concluded, our friend the government clerk gets heated and turns red while his country sausages bristle up, and I once more exert diplomatic finesse."
"Ah, you must hear this story!" said Betsy, laughing, to a lady who was entering the box. "He has made me laugh so much... Well, bonne chance!" she added, giving Vronsky the one finger free from holding her fan, and with a shrug of her shoulders letting down the bodice of her gown, that had worked up, so as to be fittingly and fully nude as she moved forward, toward the footlights, into the lights of the gas, and within the ken of all.
Vronsky drove to the French theater, where he really had to see the colonel of his regiment, who never missed a single performance there; he wanted to talk over his peacemaking, which had been occupying and amusing him for the last three days. Petritsky, whom he liked, was implicated in the affair, as well as another fine fellow and excellent comrade, who had lately joined the regiment- the young Prince Kedrov. But, mainly, the interests of the regiment were involved as well.
Both culprits were in Vronsky's squadron. The colonel of the regiment had received a call from the government clerk, Venden, with a complaint against his officers, who had insulted his wife. His young wife, as Venden told the story- he had been married half a year- had been at church with her mother, and, suddenly feeling indisposed, due to her interesting condition, found that she could not remain standing and drove home in the first sleigh with the mettlesome coachman she came across. It was then that the officers set off in pursuit of her; she was alarmed, and, feeling still worse, ran home up the staircase. Venden himself, on returning from his office, had heard a ring at their bell and voices, had stepped out, and seeing the intoxicated officers with a letter, he had pushed them out. He was asking that the culprits be severely punished.
"You may say what you will," said the colonel to Vronsky, whom he had invited to come and see him. "Petritsky is becoming impossible. Not a week goes by without some scrape. This clerk chap won't let matters drop- he'll go on with the thing."
Vronsky saw all the thanklessness of the business, and that a duel was out of the question here; that everything must be done to soften this government clerk, and hush the matter up. The colonel had called in Vronsky precisely because he knew him to be an honorable and intelligent man, but, above all, one to whom the honor of the regiment was dear. They talked it over, and decided that Petritsky and Kedrov must go with Vronsky to this government clerk and apologize. The colonel and Vronsky were both fully aware that Vronsky's name and insignia of aide-de-camp were bound to go a long way toward softening the government clerk. And these two influences proved in fact not without effect; though the result of the mediation remained, as Vronsky had described, uncertain.
On reaching the French theater, Vronsky retired to the foyer with the colonel, and reported to him his success- or lack of it. The colonel, thinking it all over, decided not to go on with the matter; but then, for his own delectation, proceeded to question Vronsky about the details of his interview and for a long while could not restrain his laughter as he listened to Vronsky's story of how the government clerk, after subsiding for a while, would suddenly flare up again, as he recalled the details, and how Vronsky, at the last half-word of conciliation, had skillfully maneuvered a retreat, shoving Petritsky out before him.
"It's a disgraceful scrape, but a killing one. Kedrov really can't fight this gentleman! So he was awfully wrought up?" he asked again, laughing. "But what do you think of Claire today? She's a wonder!" he went on, speaking of a new French actress. "No matter how often you see her, she's different each time. It's only the French who can do that."
Princess Betsy drove home from the theater without waiting for the end of the last act. She had just time enough to go into her dressing room, sprinkle her long, pale face with powder, rub it off, set her dress to rights, and order tea in the big drawing room, when one after another carriages drove up to her huge house on the Bolshaia Morskaia. Her guests dismounted at the wide entrance, and the stout porter, who used to read newspapers mornings behind the glass door, to the edification of the passers-by, noiselessly opened the immense door, letting the visitors pass by him into the house.
Almost at the same instant that the hostess, with freshly arranged coiffure and freshened face, entered at one door, her guests entered at the other, into the drawing room, a large room with dark walls, downy rugs and a brightly lighted table, gleaming with the light of candles, the whiteness of napery, the silver of the samovar and the tea service of transparent porcelain.
The hostess sat down at the samovar and took off her gloves. Chairs were set with the aid of footmen, moving almost imperceptibly about the room; the party settled itself, divided into two groups: one round the samovar near the hostess, the other at the opposite end of the drawing room, round the handsome wife of an ambassador, in black velvet, with sharply defined black eyebrows. In both groups conversation wavered, as it always does, for the first few minutes, broken up by meetings, salutations, offers of tea, and, as it were, seeking for some point in common.
"She's exceptionally fine as an actress; one can see she's studied Kaulbach," said a diplomatist in the circle of the ambassador's wife. "Did you notice how she fell down?..."
"Oh, please, don't let us talk about Nilsson! No one can possibly say anything new about her," said a fat, red-faced, flaxen-headed lady, without eyebrows and without chignon, wearing an old silk dress. This was Princess Miaghkaia, noted for her simplicity and the roughness of her manners, and nicknamed enfant terrible. Princess Miaghkaia was seated halfway between the two groups, and, listening to both, took part in the conversation first of one and then of the other. "Three people have used that very phrase about Kaulbach to me today, just as though they had conspired. And I don't know why that phrase should be so much to their liking."
The conversation was cut short by this observation, and again a new subject had to be thought of.
"Do tell us something amusing, yet not spiteful," said the ambassador's wife, a great proficient in the art of that elegant conversation called by the English small talk. She addressed the diplomatist, who was now at a loss just what to begin upon.
"That is said to be a difficult task- only that which is spiteful is supposed to be amusing," he began with a smile. "However, I'll make the attempt. Give me a theme. it's all a matter of the theme. If the theme be but given, it's easy enough to embroider it. I often think that the celebrated conversationalists of the last century would find it difficult to talk cleverly now. Everything clever has become such a bore...."
"That has been said long ago," the ambassador's wife interrupted him, laughing.
The conversation had begun amiably, but just because it was too amiable, it came to a stop again. They had to have recourse to the sure, never-failing remedy- malicious gossip.
"Don't you think there's something Louis Quinze about Tushkevich?" he said, glancing toward a handsome, fair-haired young man, standing at the table.
"Oh, yes! He's in the same style as the drawing room, and that's why it is he's so often here."
This conversation was kept up, since it depended on allusions to what could not be talked of in that room- that is to say, of the relations of Tushkevich with their hostess.
Round the samovar and the hostess the conversation having, in the meanwhile, vacillated in precisely the same way between the three inevitable topics- the latest piece of public news, the theater, and censuring the fellow creature- had finally come to rest on the last topic- that is, malicious gossip.
"Have you heard that even the Maltishcheva- the mother, not the daughter- has ordered a costume in diable rose color?"
"Impossible! No, that's just charming!"
"I wonder that with her sense- for after all she's no fool- she doesn't see how funny she is."
Every one had something to say in censure or ridicule of the hapless Maltishcheva, and the conversation crackled merrily, like a blazing bonfire.
The husband of Princess Betsy, a good-natured corpulent man, an ardent collector of engravings, hearing that his wife had visitors, had come into the drawing room before leaving for his club. Stepping noiselessly over the thick rugs, he approached Princess Miaghkaia.
"How did you like Nilsson?" he asked.
"Oh, how can you steal up on anyone like that! How you startled me!" she responded. "Please don't talk to me about the opera; you know nothing about music. I'd rather come down to your own level, and discuss with you your majolica and engravings. Come, now, what treasure have you been buying lately at the rag fair?"
"Would you like me to show you? But you don't understand such things."
"Yes, show me. I've been learning about them at those- what's their names?... those bankers... They have some splendid engravings. They showed them to us."
"Why, have you been at the Schutzburgs?" asked the hostess from behind the samovar.
"Yes, ma chere. They asked my husband and myself to dinner, and I was told that the sauce at that dinner cost a thousand roubles," Princess Miaghkaia said, speaking loudly, conscious that all were listening; "and very nasty sauce it was- some green mess. We had to ask them, and I made a sauce for eighty-five kopecks, and everybody was very much pleased with it. I can't afford thousand-rouble sauces."
"She's unique!" said the lady of the house.
"Amazing!" somebody else added.
The effect produced by Princess Miaghkaia's speeches was always the same, and the secret of the effect she produced lay in the fact that though she spoke not always appropriately, as now, she said homely truths, not devoid of sense. In the society in which she lived such utterances had the same result as the most pungent wit. Princess Miaghkaia could never see why it had that result, but she knew it had, and took advantage of it.
Since everyone had been listening while Princess Miaghkaia spoke, and the conversation around the ambassador's wife had dropped, Princess Betsy tried to bring the whole party together, and she addressed the ambassador's wife.
"Really won't you have tea? Do come and join us."
"No, we're very comfortable here," the ambassador's wife responded with a smile, and went on with the interrupted conversation.
It was a most agreeable conversation. They were censuring the Karenins, husband and wife.
"Anna is quite changed since her stay in Moscow. There's something strange about her," said one of her feminine friends.
"The great change is that she has brought back with her the shadow of Alexei Vronsky," said the ambassador's wife.
"Well, what of it? There's a fable of Grimm's about a man without a shadow- a man deprived of his shadow. As a punishment for something or other. I never could understand just how this was a punishment. Yet a woman must probably feel uncomfortable without a shadow."
"Yes, but women followed by a shadow usually come to a bad end," said Anna's friend.
"Bite your tongue!" said Princess Miaghkaia suddenly. "Karenina is a splendid woman. I don't like her husband- but her I like very much."
"Why don't you like her husband? He's such a remarkable man," said the ambassador's wife. "My husband says there are few statesmen like him in Europe."
"And my husband tells me just the same, but I don't believe it," said Princess Miaghkaia. "If our husbands didn't talk to us, we should see the facts as they are. Alexei Alexandrovich, to my thinking, is simply a fool. I say it in a whisper.... But doesn't it really make everything clear? Before, when I was told to consider him clever, I kept looking for his ability, and thought myself a fool for not seeing it; but directly I said, he's a fool, though only in a whisper, everything became clear- isn't that so?"
"How spiteful you are today!"
"Not a bit. I'd no other way out of it. One of us two had to be the fool. And, as you know, one could never say that of oneself."
"No one is satisfied with his fortune, and everyone is satisfied with his wit," the diplomatist repeated the French saying.
"That's it- that's just it," Princess Miaghkaia turned to him promptly. "But the point is that I won't abandon Anna to your mercies. She's such a dear, so charming. How can she help it if they're all in love with her, and follow her about like shadows?"
"Oh, I had no idea of censuring her," Anna's friend said in self-defense.
"If we have no shadows following us, it does not prove that we've any right to blame her."
And, having duly disposed of Anna's friend, the Princess Miaghkaia got up, and, together with the ambassador's wife, joined the group at the table, where the general conversation had to do with the king of Prussia.
"What were you gossiping so maliciously about?" asked Betsy.
"About the Karenins. The Princess gave us a character sketch of Alexei Alexandrovich," said the ambassador's wife with a smile, as she sat down at the table.
"Pity we didn't hear it!" said Princess Betsy, glancing toward the door. "Ah, here you are at last!" she said, turning with a smile to Vronsky who was entering.
Vronsky was not merely acquainted with all the persons whom he was meeting here; he saw them all every day; and so he came in with the quiet manner with which one enters a room full of people whom one had left only a short while ago.
"Where do I come from?" he repeated the question of the ambassador's wife. "Well, there's no help for it- I must confess. From the opera bouffe. I do believe I've seen it a hundred times, and always with fresh enjoyment. It's exquisite! I know it's disgraceful, but I go to sleep at the opera, yet I sit out the opera bouffe to the last minute, and enjoy it. This evening..."
He mentioned a French actress, and was about to tell something about her; but the ambassador's wife, with playful trepidation, cut him short.
"Please, don't tell us about that horror."
"Very well, I won't- especially as everyone knows those horrors."
"And we should all go to see them if it were accepted as the correct thing, like the opera," chimed in Princess Miaghkaia.
Steps were heard at the door, and Princess Betsy, knowing it was Madame Karenina, glanced at Vronsky. He was looking toward the door, and his face wore a strange new expression. Joyfully, intently, and at the same time timidly, he gazed at the approaching figure, and slowly he rose to his feet. Anna walked into the drawing room. Holding herself extremely erect, as always, looking straight before her, and moving with her swift, resolute and light step, that distinguished her walk from that of other society women, she crossed the few paces that separated her from her hostess, shook hands with her, smiled, and with the same smile looked around at Vronsky. Vronsky bowed low and pushed a chair up for her.
She acknowledged this only by a slight nod, flushed, and frowned. But immediately, while rapidly greeting her acquaintances, and shaking the hands proffered to her, she addressed Princess Betsy:
"I have been at Countess Lidia's, and meant to have come here earlier, but I stayed on. Sir John was there. A most interesting man."
"Oh, that's this missionary?"
"Yes; he told us about life in India, most interestingly."
The conversation, interrupted by her coming in, flickered up again like the light of a lamp being blown out.
"Sir John! Yes, Sir John. I've seen him. He speaks well. Vlassieva is altogether in love with him."
"And is it true that the younger Vlassieva is to marry Topov?"
"Yes- they say it's quite settled."
"I wonder at the parents! They say it's a marriage of passion."
"Of passion? What antediluvian notions you have! Whoever talks of passion nowadays?" said the ambassador's wife.
"What would you do? This silly old fashion is still far from dead," said Vronsky.
"So much the worse for those who keep up the fashion. The only happy marriages I know are marriages of prudence."
"Yes,- but then, how often the happiness of these prudent marriages is scattered like dust, precisely because that passion to which recognition has been denied appears on the scene," said Vronsky.
"But by marriages of prudence we mean those in which both parties have sown their wild oats already. That's like scarlatina- one has to go through with it and get it over with."
"In that case we must learn how to vaccinate for love, like small-pox."
"I was in love in my young days- with a church clerk," said the Princess Miaghkaia. "I don't know that it did me any good."
"No; I think- all jokes aside- that to know love, one must first make a fault, and then mend it," said Princess Betsy.
"Even after marriage?" said the ambassador's wife playfully.
"It's never too late to mend," the diplomatist repeated the English proverb.
"Just so," Betsy agreed; "one must make a mistake and rectify it. What do you think about it?" She turned to Anna, who, with a barely perceptible resolute smile on her lips, was listening to the conversation.
"I think" said Anna, playing with the glove she had taken off, "I think... if there are as many minds as there are heads, then surely there must be as many kinds of love as there are hearts."
Vronsky was gazing at Anna, and with a heart sinking was waiting for what she would say. He sighed as after a danger escaped when she had uttered these words.
Anna suddenly turned to him.
"Oh, I have had a letter from Moscow. They write me that Kitty Shcherbatskaia's very ill."
"Really?" said Vronsky, knitting his brows.
Anna looked sternly at him.
"That doesn't interest you?"
"On the contrary, it does- very much. What is it, exactly, that they write you, if may know?" he asked.
Anna got up and went to Betsy.
"Give me a cup of tea," she said, pausing behind her chair.
While Betsy was pouring out the tea, Vronsky walked up to Anna.
"What is it they write you?" he repeated.
"I often think men have no understanding of what is dishonorable, though they're forever talking of it," said Anna, without answering him. "I've wanted to tell you something for a long while," she added, and, moving a few steps away, she sat down at a corner table which held albums.
"I don't quite understand the significance of your words," he said, handing her the cup.
She glanced towards the sofa beside her, and he instantly sat down.
"Yes, I've wanted to tell you," she said, without looking at him. "Your action was wrong- wrong, very wrong."
"Do you suppose I don't know that I've acted wrongly? But who was the cause of my doing so?"
"Why do you say that to me?" she said looking at him sternly.
"You know why," he answered, boldly and joyously, meeting her glance and without dropping his eyes.
It was not he, but she, who became confused.
"That merely proves you have no heart," she said. But her eyes said that she knew he had a heart, and that was why she was afraid of him.
"What you spoke of just now was a mistake, and not love."
"Remember that I have forbidden you to utter that word, that detestable word," said Anna, with a shudder. But at once she felt that by that very word "forbidden" she had shown that she acknowledged certain rights over him, and by that very fact was encouraging him to speak of love. "I have long meant to tell you this," she went on, looking resolutely into his eyes, and all aflame from the burning flush on her cheeks. "I've come here purposely this evening, knowing I should meet you. I have come to tell you that this must end. I have never blushed before anyone, and you force me to feel guilty of something."
He looked at her and was struck by a new spiritual beauty in her face.
"What do you wish of me?" he said, simply and gravely.
"I want you to go to Moscow and ask for Kitty's forgiveness," she said.
"That is not your wish," he said.
He saw she was saying what she was forcing herself to say, not what she wanted to say.
"If you love me, as you say," she whispered, "you will do this, so that I may be at peace."
His face grew radiant.
"Don't you know that you're all my life to me? But I know no peace, and I can't give it to you; all of myself, and love- yes. I can't think of you and myself apart. You and I are one to me. And I see no possibility before us of peace- either for me or for you. I see a possibility of despair, of wretchedness.... Or else I see a possibility of happiness- and what a happiness!... Can it be impossible?" he added, his lips barely moving- yet she heard.
She strained every effort of her mind to say what ought to be said. But instead of that she let her eyes rest on him, full of love, and made no answer.
"It's come!" he thought in ecstasy. "When I was beginning to despair, and it seemed there would be no end- it's come! She loves me! She owns it!"
"Then do this for me: never say such things to me, and let us be friends," she said in words; but her eyes spoke quite differently.
"Friends we shall never be- that you know yourself. Whether we shall be the happiest or the most wretched of people- that lies within your power."
She would have said something, but he interrupted her.
"For I ask but one thing: I ask for the right to hope, to suffer- even as I am doing now. But if even that cannot be, command me to disappear, and I disappear. You shall not see me if my presence is painful to you."
"I don't want to drive you away."
"Only don't change anything- leave everything as it is," said he, in a shaky voice. "Here's your husband."
At that instant Alexei Alexandrovich did in fact walk into the room with his calm, ungainly gait.
Glancing at his wife and Vronsky, he went up to the lady of the house, and, sitting down for a cup of tea, began talking in his unhasty, always audible voice, in his habitual tone of banter, as if he were teasing someone.
"Your Rambouillet is in full conclave," he said looking round at all the party; "the graces and the muses."
But Princess Betsy could not endure that tone of his- sneering, as she called it, using the English word, and like a clever hostess she at once brought him around to a serious conversation on the subject of universal conscription. Alexei Alexandrovich was immediately carried away by the subject, and began seriously defending the new imperial decree before Princess Betsy, who had attacked it.
Vronsky and Anna still sat at the little table.
"This is getting indecorous," whispered one lady, with an expressive glance at Madame Karenina, her husband and Vronsky.
"What did I tell you?" said Anna's friend.
But it was not only these ladies who watched them- almost everyone in the room, even the Princess Miaghkaia and Betsy herself, looked several times in the direction of the two who had withdrawn from the general circle, as though they found it a hindrance. Alexei Alexandrovich was the only person who did not once look in their direction, and was not diverted from the interesting discussion he had entered upon.
Noticing the disagreeable impression that was being made on everyone, Princess Betsy slipped someone else into her place to listen to Alexei Alexandrovich, and walked over to Anna.
"I'm always amazed at the clearness and precision of your husband's language," she said. "The most transcendent ideas seem to be within my grasp when he's speaking."
"Oh, yes!" said Anna, radiant with a smile of happiness, and not understanding a word of what Betsy had said. She crossed over to the big table and took part in the general conversation.
Alexei Alexandrovich, after staying half an hour, walked up to his wife and suggested that they go home together. But she answered, without looking at him, that she was staying to supper. Alexei Alexandrovich bowed himself out.
The fat old Tatar, Madame Karenina's coachman, in a glistening leather coat, was with difficulty bridling the left of her pair of grays, chilled with the cold and rearing at the entrance. A footman stood by the carriage door he had opened. The hall porter stood holding open the great door of the house. Anna Arkadyevna, with her quick little hand, was unfastening the lace of her sleeve, caught in the hook of her fur cloak, and with bent head was listening rapturously to the words Vronsky murmured as he saw her down to her carriage.
"You've said nothing, of course, and I ask nothing," he was saying; "but you know that friendship is not what I want: that there's only one happiness in life for me- that word you dislike so... yes, love!..."
"Love..." she repeated slowly, in an inner voice, and suddenly, at the very instant she unhooked the lace, she added, "I don't like the word precisely because it means too much to me, far more than you can understand," and she glanced into his face. "Good-by."
She gave him her hand, and with her rapid, springy step she passed by the porter and vanished into the carriage.
Her glance, the touch of her hand, had seared him. He kissed the palm of his hand where she had touched it, and went home, happy in the realization that he had got nearer to the attainment of his aims that evening than during the two last months.
Alexei Alexandrovich had seen nothing striking or improper in the fact that his wife was sitting with Vronsky at a table apart, in eager conversation with him about something. But he noticed that to the rest of the party this appeared as something striking and improper, and for that reason it seemed to him, too, to be improper. He made up his mind that he must speak of it to his wife.
On reaching home Alexei Alexandrovich went to his study, as he usually did, seated himself in his low chair, opened a book on the Papacy at the place he had marked by inserting the paper knife, read till one o'clock, just as he usually did. But from time to time he would rub his high forehead and shake his head, as though to drive away something. At his usual time he got up and made his toilet for the night. Anna Arkadyevna had not yet come in. With a book under his arm he went upstairs. But this evening, instead of his usual thoughts and meditations upon official details, his thoughts were absorbed by his wife and something disagreeable connected with her. Contrary to his usual habit, he did not get into bed, but fell to walking up and down the rooms with his hands clasped behind his back. He could not go to bed, feeling that it was absolutely needful for him first to think thoroughly over the situation that had just arisen.
When Alexei Alexandrovich had made up his mind that he must have a talk with his wife, it had seemed a very easy and simple matter. But now, when he began to think over the question that had just presented itself, it seemed to him very complicated and difficult.
Alexei Alexandrovich was not jealous. Jealousy, according to his notions, was an insult to one's wife, and one ought to have confidence in one's wife. Why one ought to have that confidence- that is to say, a complete conviction that his young wife would always love him- he did not ask himself. But he had never experienced such a lack of confidence, because he had confidence in her, and told himself that he ought to have it. Now, though his conviction that jealousy was a shameful feeling, and that one ought to feel confidence, had not broken down, he still felt that he was standing face to face with something illogical and fatuous, and did not know what ought to be done. Alexei Alexandrovich was standing face to face with life, with the possibility of his wife's loving someone other than himself, and this seemed to him very fatuous and incomprehensible, because it was of the very stuff of life. All his life Alexei Alexandrovich had lived and worked in official spheres, having to do merely with the reflections of life. And every time he had stumbled against life itself he had shrunk away from it. Now he experienced a feeling akin to that of a man who, while calmly crossing a precipice by a bridge, should suddenly discover that the bridge is broken, and that there is a chasm below. That chasm was life itself- the bridge, that artificial life in which Alexei Alexandrovich had lived. For the first time the question presented itself to him of the possibility of his wife's loving someone else, and he was horrified at it.
He did not undress, but walked up and down with his regular tread over the resounding parquet of the dining room, where one lamp was burning; over the carpet of the dark drawing room, in which the light was reflected merely on the big new portrait of himself hanging over the sofa; and across her boudoir, where two candles burned, lighting up the portraits of her parents and feminine friends, and the pretty knickknacks of her writing table, every one of which he knew so well. He walked across her boudoir to the bedroom door and turned back again.
At each turn in his walk, especially on the parquet of the well-lit dining room, he halted and said to himself, "Yes, this I must decide and put a stop to; I must express my view of it and my decision." And he turned back again. "But just what shall I express? And what decision?" he would say to himself in the drawing room- and found no answer. "But, after all," he asked himself before turning into the boudoir," what has occurred? Nothing. She was talking a long while with him. But what of that? Surely women in society can talk to whom they please. And then, jealousy means debasing both her and myself," he soliloquized as he entered her boudoir; but this dictum, which had always had such weight with him before, had now no weight and no meaning whatsoever. And from the bedroom door he turned back again; but as he entered the dark drawing room some inner voice told him that it was not so, and that if others had noticed, it meant that there was something. And he said to himself again in the dining room: "Yes, I must decide and put a stop to it, and express my views...." And again at the turn in the drawing room he asked himself: "Decide how?" And again he asked inwardly: "What has occurred?" And answered: "Nothing," and recollected that jealousy was a feeling insulting to his wife; but again in the drawing room he was convinced that something had happened. His thoughts, like his body, were describing a complete circle, without alighting upon anything new. He noticed this, rubbed his forehead, and sat down in her boudoir.
There, looking at her table, with the malachite blotting case lying at the top, and an unfinished letter, his thoughts suddenly changed. He began to think of her, of what her thoughts and emotions must be. For the first time he pictured vividly to himself her personal life, her ideas, her desires, and the thought that she could and must have a separate life of her own seemed to him so appalling that he made haste to drive it away. It was the chasm which he was afraid to peep into. To put himself in thought and feeling in another person's place was a spiritual action foreign to Alexei Alexandrovich. He looked on this spiritual action as a harmful and dangerous abuse of the fancy.
"And the worst of it all," thought he, "is that just now, at the very moment when my great work is approaching completion" (he was thinking of the project he was bringing forward at the time), "when I stand in need of all my mental peace and all my energies- just now this stupid worry has to come falling about my ears. But what's to be done? I'm not one of those men who submit to uneasiness and worry without having the force of character to face them."
"I must think this over, come to a decision, and put it out of my mind," he said aloud.
"The question of her feelings, of what has passed and may be passing in her soul- that's not my affair; that's the affair of her conscience, and falls under the head of religion," he said to himself, feeling consolation in the sense that he had found to which division of regulating principles this new circumstance could be properly referred.
"And so," Alexei Alexandrovich said to himself, "questions as to her feelings, and so on, are questions for her conscience, with which I can have nothing to do. My duty is clearly defined. As the head of the family, I am a person bound in duty to guide her, and, consequently, in part the person responsible; I am bound to point out the danger I perceive, to warn her, even to use my authority. I ought to speak plainly to her."
And everything that he would say tonight to his wife took clear shape in Alexei Alexandrovich's head. Thinking over what he would say, he somewhat regretted that he should have to use his time and mental powers for domestic consumption, with so little to show for it, but, in spite of that, the form and consistency of the speech before him shaped itself as clearly and distinctly in his head as a ministerial report. "I must speak on, and express fully, the following points: first, an explanation of the value to be attached to public opinion and to decorum; secondly, an explanation of the religious significance of marriage; thirdly, if need be, a reference to the calamity possibly ensuing to our son; fourthly, a reference to the unhappiness likely to result to herself." And, interlacing his fingers, the palms downward, Alexei Alexandrovich stretched his hands, and the joints of the fingers cracked.
This gesture, this bad habit- the joining of his hands cracking his fingers, always soothed him, and gave precision to his thoughts, so needful to him now. There was the sound of a carriage driving up to the front door. Alexei Alexandrovich halted in the middle of the room.
A woman's step was heard mounting the stairs. Alexei Alexandrovich, ready for his speech, stood squeezing his crossed fingers, waiting for their crack to come again. One joint cracked.
Already, from the sound of light steps on the stairs, he was aware that she was close, and though he was satisfied with his speech, he felt frightened because of the explanation confronting him.
Anna came in with her head bent, playing with the tassels of her hood. Her face was glowing with a vivid glow; but this glow was not one of joyousness- it recalled the fearful glow of a conflagration in the midst of a dark night. On seeing her husband, Anna raised her head and smiled, as though she had just waked up.
"You're not in bed? What a miracle!" she said throwing off her hood and, without stopping, she went on into the dressing room. "It's late, Alexei Alexandrovich," she said, from behind the door.
"Anna, I must have a talk with you."
"With me?" she said, wonderingly. She came out from the door, and looked at him. "Why, what is it? What about?" she asked, sitting down. "Well, let's talk, if it's so necessary. But it would be better to go to sleep."
Anna was saying whatever came to her tongue, and marveled, hearing herself, at her own capacity for lying. How simple and natural were her words, and how likely that she was simply sleepy She felt herself clad in an impenetrable armor of falsehood. She felt that some unseen force had come to her aid and was supporting her.
"Anna, I must warn you," he began.
"Warn me? she said. "Of what?
She looked at him so simply, so brightly, that anyone who did not know her as her husband knew her could not have noticed anything unnatural, either in the sound or the sense of her words. But to him, knowing her, knowing that whenever he went to bed five minutes later than usual, she noticed it, and asked him the reason- to him, knowing that every joy, every pleasure and pain that she felt she communicated to him at once- to him it meant a great deal to see now that she did not care to notice his state of mind, that she did not care to say a word about herself. He saw that the inmost recesses of her soul, that had always hitherto lain open before him, were now closed against him. More than that, he saw from her tone that she was not even perturbed at that, but seemed to be saying straightforwardly to him: "Yes, it is closed now, which is as it should be, and will be so in future." Now he experienced a feeling such as a man might have who, returning home, finds his own house locked up. "But perhaps the key may yet be found," thought Alexei Alexandrovich.
"I want to warn you," he said in a low voice, "that through thoughtlessness and lack of caution you may cause yourself to be talked about in society. Your too animated conversation this evening with Count Vronsky" (he enunciated the name firmly and with quiet intervals) "attracted attention."
He talked and looked at her laughing eyes, which frightened him now with their impenetrable look, and, as he talked, he felt all the uselessness and futility of his words.
"You're always like that," she answered as though completely misapprehending him, and of all he had said only taking in the last phrase. "One time you don't like my being dull, and another time you don't like my being lively. I wasn't dull. Does that offend you?"
Alexei Alexandrovich shivered, and bent his hands to make the joints crack.
"Oh, please, don't do that- I dislike it so," she said.
"Anna, is this you?" said Alexei Alexandrovich quietly, making an effort over himself, and restraining the motion of his hands.
"But what is it all about?" she said, with such genuine and droll wonder. "What do you want of me?"
Alexei Alexandrovich paused, and rubbed his forehead and his eyes. He saw that instead of doing as he had intended- that is to say, warning his wife against a mistake in the eyes of the world- he had unconsciously become agitated over what was the affair of her conscience, and was struggling against some imaginary barrier.
"This is what I meant to say to you," he went on coldly and composedly, "and I beg you to hear me to the end. I consider jealousy, as you know, a humiliating and degrading feeling, and I shall never allow myself to be guided by it; but there are certain rules of decency which cannot be disregarded with impunity. This evening it was not I who observed it- but, judging by the impression made on the company, everyone observed that your conduct and deportment were not altogether what one would desire."
"I positively don't understand," said Anna, shrugging her shoulders. "He doesn't care," she thought. "But other people noticed it and that's what upsets him."- "You're not well, Alexei Alexandrovich," she added, and, getting up, was about to pass through the door; but he moved forward as though he would stop her.
His face was gloomy and forbidding, as Anna had never seen it before. She stopped, and bending her head back and to one side, began taking out her hairpins with her quick-darting hand.
"Well, I'm listening- what does follow?" she said, calmly and ironically; "and, indeed, I am listening even with interest, for I should like to understand what it is all about."
She spoke, and marveled at the confident, calm and natural tone in which she spoke, and at the choice of the words she used.
"To enter into all the details of your feelings I have no right, and, besides, I regard that as useless and even harmful," began Alexei Alexandrovich. "Rummaging in our souls, we often bring up something that might have otherwise lain there unnoticed. Your feelings are an affair of your own conscience; but I am in duty bound to you, to myself and to God, to point out to you your duties. Our life has been joined, not by man, but by God. That union can only be severed by a crime, and a crime of that nature brings its own chastisement."
"I don't understand a word. And, oh dear! how sleepy I am, unluckily," she said, rapidly passing her hand through her hair, feeling for the remaining hairpins.
"Anna, for God's sake don't speak like that!" he said gently. "Perhaps I am mistaken, but believe me, that which I am saying I say as much for myself as for you. I am your husband, and I love you."
For an instant her face fell, and the mocking gleam in her eyes died away; but the phrase "I love" threw her into revolt again. She thought: "Love? Can he love? If he hadn't heard there was such a thing as love, he would never have used the word. He doesn't even know what love is."
"Alexei Alexandrovich, I really do not understand," she said. "Define what it is you consider..."
"Pardon, let me say all I have to say. I love you. But I am not speaking of myself; the most important persons in this matter are our son and yourself. It may very well be, I repeat, that my words seem to you utterly unnecessary and out of place; it may be that they are called forth by my mistaken impression. In that case, I beg you to forgive me. But if you are conscious yourself of even the smallest foundation for them, then I beg you to think a little, and if your heart prompts you, to speak out to me..."
Alexei Alexandrovich was unconsciously saying something utterly unlike what he had prepared.
"I have nothing to say. And besides she said suddenly, with difficulty repressing a smile, "it's really time to be in bed."
Alexei Alexandrovich sighed, and, without saying more, went into the bedroom.
When she came into the bedroom, he was already in bed. His lips were sternly compressed, and his eyes looked away from her. Anna got into her bed, and lay expecting every minute that he would begin to speak to her again. She both feared his speaking and wished for it. But he was silent. She waited for a long while without moving, and forgot about him. She thought of that other; she pictured him, and felt how her heart was flooded with emotion and guilty delight at the thought of him. Suddenly she heard an even, tranquil snore. For the first instant Alexei Alexandrovich seemed, as it were, appalled at his own snoring, and ceased; but after a pause of one or two breaths, the snore sounded again, with a new tranquil rhythm.
"It's late, it's late," she whispered with a smile. A long while she lay, without moving, and with open eyes, whose brilliance she almost fancied she could herself see in the darkness.
From that time a new life began for Alexei Alexandrovich and for his wife. Nothing special happened. Anna went out into society, as she had always done, was particularly often at Princess Betsy's, and met Vronsky everywhere. Alexei Alexandrovich saw this, but was powerless to do anything. All his efforts to draw her into open discussion she confronted with a barrier which he could not penetrate, made up of a sort of amused perplexity. Outwardly everything was the same, but their inner relations were completely changed. Alexei Alexandrovich, a man of great power in the world of politics, felt himself helpless in this matter. Like an ox with head bent submissively, he waited the fall of the poleax which he felt was lifted over him. Every time he began to think about it, he felt that he must try once more; that by kindness, tenderness and persuasion there was still hope of saving her, of bringing her back to herself, and every day he was on the verge of talking to her. But every time he began he felt that the spirit of evil and deceit, which had taken possession of her, had possession of him too, and he talked to her in a tone quite unlike that which he had meant to use. Involuntarily he talked to her in his habitual tone of bantering at anyone who should say what he was saying. And in that tone it was impossible to say to her what the occasion demanded.
That which to Vronsky had been for almost a whole year the one absorbing desire of his life, replacing all his old desires; that which to Anna had been an impossible, terrible, and, for that very reason, a more entrancing dream of happiness- that desire had been fulfilled. He stood before her, pale, his lower jaw quivering, and besought her to be calm, without himself knowing how or why.
"Anna! Anna!" he said with a quivering voice, "Anna, for God's sake!..."
But the louder he spoke, the lower she cast down her once proud and gay, but now shame-stricken head, and she bowed down and sank from the sofa where she was sitting- down on the floor, at his feet; she would have fallen on the carpet if he had not held her.
"My God!" Forgive me!" she said, sobbing, pressing his hands to her bosom.
She felt so sinful, so guilty, that nothing was left her but to humiliate herself and beg forgiveness, and as now there was no one in her life but him, to him, too, she addressed her prayer for forgiveness. Looking at him, she had a physical sense of her humiliation, and she could say nothing more. And he felt as a murderer must feel when he beholds the body he has robbed of life. That body, robbed by him of life, was their love, the first stage of their love. There was something awful and revolting in the memory of what had been bought at this fearful price of shame. Shame at her spiritual nakedness crushed her and infected him. But in spite of all the murderer's horror before the body of his victim, he must hack it to pieces, hide the body, must use what the murderer had gained by his murder.
And as the murderer, with fury, and, as it were, with passion, falls on the body, and drags it, and hacks at it- so he covered her face and shoulders with kisses. She held his hand, and did not stir. Yes, these kisses- that is what has been bought by this shame. Yes, and this one hand, which will always be mine- the hand of my accomplice. She lifted up that hand and kissed it. He sank on his knees and tried to see her face; but she hid it, and said nothing. At last, as though making an effort over herself, she got up and pushed him away. Her face was still as beautiful, but it was only the more pitiful for that.
"All is over," she said; "I have nothing but you. Remember that."
"I can never forget what is my whole life. For one instant of this happiness..."
"Happiness!" she said with horror and loathing and her horror unconsciously infected him. "For God's sake, not a word, not a word more."
She rose quickly and moved away from him.
"Not a word more," she repeated, and with a look of chill despair, incomprehensible to him, she parted from him. She felt that at that moment she could not put into words the sense of shame, of rapture, and of horror at this stepping into a new life, and she did not want to speak of it, to vulgarize this feeling by inappropriate words. But later too, and the next day, and the day after, she still found no words in which she could express the complexity of those feelings; indeed, she could not even find thoughts in which she could clearly think out all that was in her soul.
She said to herself. "No, just now I can't think of it- later on, when I am calmer." But this calm for thoughts never came; every time the thought rose of what she had done and what would happen to her, and what she ought to do, a horror came over her and she drove those thoughts away.
"Later, later," she said, "when I am calmer."
But in her dreams, when she had no control over her thoughts, her position presented itself to her in all its hideous nakedness. One dream haunted her almost every night. She dreamed that both were husbands at once, that both were lavishing caresses on her. Alexei Alexandrovich was weeping, kissing her hands, and saying, "How happy we are now!" And Alexei Vronsky was there too, and he, too, was her husband. And she was marveling that it had once seemed impossible to her, was explaining to them, laughing, that this was ever so much simpler, and that now both of them were happy and contented. But this dream weighed on her like a nightmare, and she would awake from it in terror.
In the early days, after his return from Moscow, whenever Levin shuddered and grew red, remembering the disgrace of his rejection, he would say to himself: "This was just how I used to shudder and blush, thinking everything utterly lost, when I was flunked in physics and did not get promoted; and this is also how I thought myself utterly ruined after I had mismanaged that affair of my sister's with which I had been entrusted. And yet, now that the years have passed, I recall it and wonder that it could distress me so much. It will be the same thing with this trouble as well. Time will go by, and I shall not mind this either."
But three months had passed and he had not left off minding about it; and it was as painful for him to think of it now as it had been during those first days. He could not be at peace because, after dreaming so long of family life, and feeling himself so ripe for it, he was still not married, and was farther than ever from marriage. He was painfully conscious himself, as were all about him, that at his years it is not good that man should be alone. He remembered how before starting for Moscow he had once said to his cowherd Nicolai, a simplehearted peasant, to whom he liked to talk: "Well, Nicolai! I mean to get married," and how Nicolai had promptly answered, as of a matter on which there could be no possible doubt: "And high time too, Konstantin Dmitrich." But marriage had now become farther off than ever. The place was taken, and whenever he tried to imagine any of the girls he knew in that place, he felt that it was utterly impossible. Moreover, the recollection of the rejection and the part he had played in the affair tortured him with shame. However often he told himself that he was in no wise to blame in it, that recollection, like other similarly humiliating recollections, made him wince and blush. There had been in his past, as in every man's, actions, recognized by him as bad, for which his conscience ought to have tormented him; but the recollection of these evil actions was far from causing him as much suffering as these trivial but humiliating recollections. These wounds never healed. And with these recollections was now ranged his rejection and the sorry plight in which he must have appeared to others that evening. Yet time and labor were doing their work. Bitter recollections were more and more being covered up by the incidents- inconspicuous ones, but important- of his country life. Every week he thought less often of Kitty. He was impatiently looking forward to the news that she was married, or just going to be married, hoping that such news would, like having a tooth out, completely cure him.
Meanwhile spring came on, beautiful and kindly, without the delays and treacheries incident to spring- one of those rare springs in which plants, beasts and man rejoice alike. This lovely spring roused Levin still more, and strengthened him in his resolution of renouncing all his past and building up his lonely life firmly and independently. Though many of the plans with which he had returned to the country had not been carried out, his most important resolution- that of purity of life- had nevertheless been kept by him. He was free from that shame which had usually harassed him after a fall; and he could look everyone straight in the face. In February he had received a letter from Marya Nikolaevna telling him that his brother Nikolai's health was getting worse, but that he would not take advice, and in consequence of this letter Levin went to Moscow to his brother's, and succeeded in persuading him to see a doctor and to go to a watering place abroad. He succeeded so well in persuading his brother, and in lending him money for the journey without irritating him, that he was satisfied with himself on that score. In addition to his farming, which called for special attention in spring, in addition to reading Levin had begun that winter a work on agriculture, the plan of which turned on taking into account the character of the laborer on the land as one of the unalterable data of the question, like the climate and the soil, and consequently deducing all the principles of scientific culture, not simply from the data of soil and climate, but from the data of soil, climate and a certain unalterable character of the laborer. Thus, in spite of his solitude, or in consequence of his solitude, life was exceedingly full, save that, on rare occasions, he suffered from an unsatisfied desire to communicate his stray ideas to someone besides Agathya Mikhailovna. With her indeed he not infrequently fell into discussions upon physics, the theory of agriculture, and, especially, philosophy: philosophy was Agathya Mikhailovna's favorite subject.
Spring was slow in unfolding. For the last few weeks of Lent it had been steadily fine and frosty weather. In the daytime there was a thaw in the sun, but at night there were as many as seven degrees of frost. The snow was so packed and frozen that loads could be carried along anywhere, regardless of roads. Easter came in snow. Then all of a sudden, on Easter Monday, a warm wind sprang up, storm clouds swooped down, and for three days and three nights the warm, tempestuous rain fell in torrents. On Thursday the wind dropped, and a thick gray fog brooded over the land, as though screening the mysteries of the transformations that were being wrought in nature. Behind the fog there was the flowing of water, the cracking and floating of ice, the swift rush of turbid, foaming torrents; and on the following Monday, in the evening, the fog parted, the storm clouds split up into little curling crests of cloud, the sky cleared, and the real spring had come. In the morning the sun arose brilliant and quickly wore away the thin layer of ice that covered the water, and all the warm air was quivering with the steam that rose up from the quickened earth. The old grass looked greener, and the young grass thrust up its tiny blades; the buds of the guelder-rose and of the currant, and the sticky birch buds were swollen with sap, and an exploring bee was humming about the golden blossoms that studded the willow. Larks trilled unseen above the velvety green fields and the ice-covered stubble land; pewits wailed over the lowlands and marshes, flooded by the pools; cranes and wild geese flew high across the sky uttering their spring calls. The cattle, bald in patches where the new hair had not grown yet, lowed in the pastures; bowlegged lambs frisked round their bleating dams, who were shedding their fleece; nimble-footed children ran along the drying paths, covered with the prints of bare feet; there was a merry chatter of peasant women over their linen at the pond, and the ring of axes in the yard, where the peasants were repairing plows and harrows. The real spring had come.
Levin put on his big boots, and, for the first time, a cloth overcoat instead of his fur cloak, and went out to look after his farm, stepping over streams of water that flashed in the sunshine and dazzled his eyes, and stepping one minute on ice and the next into sticky mud.
Spring is the time of plans and projects. And, as he came out into the farmyard, Levin, like a tree in spring that knows not what form will be taken by the young shoots and twigs imprisoned in its swelling buds, hardly knew what undertakings he was going to launch upon now in the farmwork that was so dear to him. But he felt that he was full of the most splendid plans and projects. First of all he went to the cattle. The cows had been let out into their paddock, and their smooth sides were already glossy with their new, sleek, spring coats; they basked in the sunshine and lowed to go to the meadow. Levin gazed admiringly at the cows he knew so intimately to the minutest detail of their condition, and gave orders for them to be driven out into the meadow, and the calves to be let into the paddock. The herdsman ran gaily to get ready for the meadow. The cowherd girls, picking up their petticoats, ran splashing through the mud with bare legs, still white, not yet brown from the sun, waving brushwood in their hands, chasing the calves that frolicked in the mirth of spring.
After admiring the increase of that year, which were particularly fine- the early calves were the size of a peasant's cow, and Pava's daughter, at three months old, was as big as a yearling- Levin gave orders for a trough to be brought out and hay to be put in the racks. But it appeared that, since the paddock had not been used during the winter, the racks made in the autumn were broken. He sent for the carpenter, who, according to his orders, ought to have been at work at the threshing machine. But it appeared that the carpenter was repairing the harrows, which ought to have been repaired before Lent. This was very annoying to Levin. It was annoying to come upon that everlasting slovenliness in the farmwork against which he had been striving with all his might for so many years. The racks, as he ascertained, being not wanted in winter, had been carried to the cart horses' stable, and there broken, as they were of light construction, only meant for foddering calves. Moreover, it was apparent also that the harrows and all the agricultural implements, which he had directed to be looked over and repaired in the winter, for which very purpose he had hired three carpenters, had not been put into repair, and the harrows were being repaired when they ought to have been harrowing the field. Levin sent for his bailiff, but immediately went off himself to look for him. The bailiff, beaming all over, like everything that day, in a sheepskin bordered with astrakhan, came out of the barn, twisting a bit of straw in his hands.
"Why isn't the carpenter at the threshing machine?"
"Oh, I meant to tell you yesterday, the harrows want repairing. Here it's time they got to work in the fields."
"But what were they doing in the winter, then?"
"But what did you want the carpenter for?"
"Where are the racks for the calves' paddock?"
"I ordered them to be got ready. What would you have with those people!" said the bailiff, with a wave of his hand.
"It's not those people but this bailiff!" said Levin, getting angry. "Why, what do I keep you for?" he cried. But, bethinking himself that this would not help matters, he stopped short in the middle of a sentence, and merely sighed. "Well, what do you say? Can sowing begin?" he asked, after a pause.
"Behind Turkino, tomorrow or next day, they might begin."
"And the clover?"
"I've sent Vassilii and Mishka; they're sowing it. Only I don't know if they'll manage to get through; it's so slushy."
"How many dessiatinas?
"Why not sow all?" cried Levin.
That they were only sowing the clover on six dessiatinas, not in all the twenty, was still more annoying to him. Clover, as he knew, both from books and from his own experience, never did well except when it was sown as early as possible, almost in the snow. And yet Levin could never get this done.
"There's no one to send. What would you do with such people? Three haven't turned up. And there's Semion..."
"Well, you should have taken some men from the chaffcutter."
"And so I have, as it is."
"Where are the peasants, then?"
"Five are making compote" (which meant compost), "and four are shifting the oats for fear of being touched, Konstantin Dmitrich."
Levin knew very well that "touching" meant that his English seed oats were already spoiled. Again they had not done as he had ordered.
"Why, but I told you during Lent to put in pipes," he cried.
"Don't be put out; we shall get it all done in time."
Levin made an angry gesture, and went into the granary to glance at the oats, and then to the stable. The oats were not yet spoiled. But the laborers were carrying the oats in spades when they might simply let them slide down into the lower granary; and arranging for this to be done, and taking two laborers from there for sowing clover, Levin got over the vexation his bailiff had caused him. Indeed, it was such a lovely day that one could not be angry.
"Ignat!" he called to the coachman, who, with his sleeves tucked up, was washing the carriage wheels, "saddle..."
"Well, let it be Kolpik."
While they were saddling his horse, Levin again called the bailiff, who was hanging about in sight, to make it up with him, and began talking to him about the spring operations before them, and his plans for the farming.
The wagons were to begin carting manure earlier, so as to get all done before the early mowing. And the plowing of the outlying land was to go on without a break, so as to let it lie black fallow and furrowed. And the moving to be all done by hired labor, not on half-profits.
The bailiff listened attentively, and obviously made an effort to approve of his employer's projects. But still he had that look Levin knew so well that always irritated him, a look of hopelessness and despondency. That look said: "That's all very well, but as God wills."
Nothing mortified Levin so much as that tone. But it was the tone common to all the bailiffs he had ever had. They had all taken that attitude to his plans, and so now he was not angered by it, but mortified, and felt all the more roused to struggle against this apparently elemental force continually ranged against him, for which he could find no other name than "as God wills."
"If we can manage it, Konstantin Dmitrich," said the bailiff.
"Why shouldn't you manage it?"
"We positively must have fifteen laborers more. And they don't turn up. There were some here today asking seventy roubles for the summer."
Levin was silent. Again he was brought face to face with that opposing force. He knew that however much they tried, they could not hire more than forty- thirty-seven perhaps or thirty-eight- laborers for a reasonable sum; some forty had been taken on, and there were no more. But still he could not help struggling against it.
"Send to Sury, to Chefirovka, if they don't come. We must look for them."
"I'll send, to be sure," said Vassilii Fiodorovich despondently. "But then there are the horses- they're not good for much."
"We'll get some more. I know, of course," Levin added laughing, "you always want to do with as little and as poor a quality as possible; but this year I'm not going to let you have things your own way. I'll see to everything myself."
"Why, I don't think you take much rest as it is. It cheers us up to work under the master's eye...."
"So they're sowing clover behind the Birch Dale? I'll go and have a look at them," he said, mounting the little bay cob, Kolpik, who was led up by the coachman.
"You can't get across the stream, Konstantin Dmitrich," the coachman shouted.
"All right, I'll go by the forest."
And Levin rode through the slush of the farmyard to the gate and out into the open country, his good little horse, after his long inactivity, ambling easily, snorting over the pools, and asking, as it were, for guidance.
If Levin had felt happy before in the cattle pens and farmyard, he felt happier yet in the open country. Swaying rhythmically with the ambling paces of his good little cob, drinking in the warm yet fresh scent of the snow and the air, as he rode through his forest over the crumbling, wasted snow, still left in parts, and covered with dissolving tracks, he rejoiced over every tree, with the moss reviving on its bark and the buds swelling on its shoots. When he came out of the forest, in the immense plain before him, his winter fields stretched in an unbroken carpet of green, without one bare place or swamp, only spotted here and there in the hollows with patches of melting snow. He was not put out of temper even by the sight of the peasants' horse and colt trampling down his young grass (he told a peasant he met to drive them out), nor by the sarcastic and stupid reply of the peasant Ipat, whom he met on the way, and asked, "Well, Ipat, shall we soon be sowing?" "We must get the plowing done first, Konstantin Dmitrich," answered Ipat. The farther he rode, the happier he became, and plans for the land rose to his mind each better than the last: to plant all his fields with hedges along the southern borders, so that the snow should not lie under them; to divide them up into six fields of tillage and three for pasture and hay; to build a cattle yard at the further end of the estate, and to dig a pond and to construct movable pens for the cattle as a means of manuring the land. And then three hundred dessiatinas of wheat, one hundred of potatoes, and one hundred and fifty of clover, and not a dessiatina exhausted.
Absorbed in such dreams, carefully keeping his horse by the hedges so as not to trample his young winter fields, he rode up to the laborers who had been sent to sow clover. A telega with the seed in it was standing, not at the edge, but in the middle of the tillage, and the winter corn had been torn up by the wheels and trampled by the horse. Both the laborers were sitting in the hedge, probably smoking a pipe, turn and turn about. The earth in the telega, with which the seed was mixed, was not crushed to powder, but crusted together or adhering in clods. Seeing the master, the laborer, Vassilii, went toward the telega, while Mishka set to work sowing. This was not as it should be, but with the laborers Levin seldom lost his temper. When Vassilii came up, Levin told him to lead the horse to the hedge.
"Never mind, sir, it'll spring up again," responded Vassilii.
"Please don't argue," said Levin, "but do as you're told."
"Yes, sir," answered Vassilii, and he took the horse's head. "What a sowing, Konstantin Dmitrich!" he said ingratiatingly. "First-rate. Only it's a work to get about! A fellow drags thirty pounds of earth at every step."
"Why is it you have earth that's not sifted?" said Levin.
"Well, we crumble it up," answered Vassilii, taking up some seed and rolling the earth in his palms.
Vassilii was not to blame for their having fired up his telega with unsifted earth, but still it was annoying.
Levin had already, more than once, tried a way he knew for stifling his anger, and turning all that seemed dark right again, and he tried that way now. He watched how Mishka strode along, swinging the huge clods of earth that clung to each foot; and, getting off his horse, he took the sieve from Vassilii and started sowing himself.
"Where did you stop?"
Vassilii pointed to the mark with his foot, and Levin went forward as best he could, scattering the seed on the land. Walking was as difficult as on a bog, and by the time Levin had ended the row he was in a great heat, and, stopping, gave the sieve over to Vassilii.
"Well master, when summer's here, mind you don't scold me for this row," said Vassilii.
"Eh?" said Levin cheerily, already feeling the effect of his method.
"Why, you'll see in the summertime. It'll look different. Look you where I sowed last spring. How I did work at it I do my best, Konstantin Dmitrich, d'ye see, as I would for my own father. I don't like botchwork myself, nor would I let another man do it. What's good for the master is good for us too. It does one's heart good," said Vassilii, pointing, "to look over yonder."
"It's a lovely spring, Vassilii."
"Why, it's a spring such as even the old men don't remember the like of. I was up home; my father there has sown wheat too, three osminas of it. He was saying you couldn't tell it from rye."
"Have you been sowing wheat long?"
"Why, sir, it was you taught us, the year before last. You gave me two measures. We sold about one chetvert and sowed three osminas."
"Well, mind you crumble up the clods," said Levin, going toward his horse, "and keep an eye on Mishka. And if there's a good crop you shall have half a rouble for every dessiatina."
"Thank you, kindly. We are very well content, sir, with your treatment, as it is."
Levin got on his horse and rode toward the field where last year's clover was, and the one which was plowed ready for the spring corn.
The crop of clover coming up in the stubble was magnificent. It had revived already, and stood up vividly green through the broken stalks of last year's wheat. The horse sank in up to the pasterns, and he drew each hoof with a sucking sound out of the half-thawed ground. Over the plowland the riding was utterly impossible; the horse could only keep a foothold where there was ice, and in the thawing furrows he sank in deep at each step. The plowland was in splendid condition; in a couple of days it would be fit for harrowing and sowing. Everything was capital, everything was cheering. Levin rode back across the streams, hoping the water would have gone down. And he did in fact get across, and startled two ducks. "There must be woodcock here too," he thought, and just as he reached the turning homewards he met the forest keeper, who confirmed his theory about the woodcock.
Levin went home at a trot, so as to have time to eat his dinner and get his gun ready for the evening.
As he rode up to the house in the happiest frame of mind, Levin heard the bell ring at the side of the principal entrance of the house.
"Yes, that's someone from the railway station," he thought, "just the time to be here from the Moscow train.... Who could it be? What if it's brother Nikolai? He did say: 'I may go to the waters, or I may come down to you.'" He felt dismayed and vexed for the first minute that his brother Nikolai's presence should come to his happy mood of spring. But he felt ashamed of the feeling, and at once he opened, as it were, the arms of his soul, and with a softened feeling of joy and expectation, he now hoped with all his heart that it was his brother. He spurred on his horse, and as he rode out from behind the acacias, he saw a hired troika from the railway station, and a gentleman in a fur coat. It was not his brother. "Oh, if it were only some pleasant person one could talk to a little!" he thought.
"Ah," cried Levin joyfully, flinging up both his hands. "Here's a delightful visitor! Ah, how glad I am to see you!" he shouted, recognizing Stepan Arkadyevich.
"I shall find out for certain whether she's married, or when she's going to be married," he thought.
And on that delicious spring day he felt that the thought of her did not hurt him at all.
"Didn't expect me, did you?" said Stepan Arkadyevich, getting out of the sleigh, splashed with mud on the bridge of his nose, on his cheek, and on his eyebrows, but radiant with health and good spirits. "I've come primarily to see you," he said, embracing and kissing him, "secondly, to have some stand shooting, and thirdly, to sell the forest at Ergushovo."
"Delightful! What a spring we're having! How ever did you get along in a sleigh?"
"In a wagon it would have been worse still, Konstantin Dmitrievich," answered the driver, who knew him.
"Well, I'm very, very glad to see you," said Levin, with a genuine smile of childlike delight.
Levin led his friend to the guest room, where Stepan Arkadyevich's things were also carried- a bag, a gun in a case, a satchel for cigars. Leaving him there to wash and change his clothes, Levin went off to the countinghouse to speak about the plowing and the clover. Agathya Mikhailovna, always very anxious for the credit of the house, met him in the hall with inquiries about dinner.
"Do just as you like, only let it be as soon as possible," he said, and went to the bailiff.
When he came back, Stepan Arkadyevich, washed and combed, came out of his room with a beaming smile, and they went upstairs together.
"Well, I am glad I managed to get away to you! Now I shall understand what the mysterious business is that you are always absorbed in here. No, really, I envy you. What a house, how splendid it all is! So bright, so cheerful!" said Stepan Arkadyevich, forgetting that it was not always spring and fine weather as on this day. "And your old nurse is simply charming! A pretty maid in an apron might be even more agreeable, perhaps; but for your severe monastic style it does very well."
Stepan Arkadyevich imparted to him many interesting bits of news; especially interesting to Levin was the news that his brother, Sergei Ivanovich, was intending to spend the summer with him in the country.
Not one word did Stepan Arkadyevich say in reference to Kitty and the Shcherbatskys; he merely gave him greetings from his wife. Levin was grateful to him for his delicacy, and rejoiced exceedingly over his guest. As always happened with him during his solitude, a mass of ideas and feelings had been accumulating within him, which he could not communicate to those about him. And now he poured out upon Stepan Arkadyevich his poetic joy over the spring, and his failures and plans for the land, and his thoughts and criticisms on the books he had been reading, and the idea of his own book, the basis of which really was, though he was unaware of it himself, a criticism of all the old books on agriculture. Stepan Arkadyevich, always charming, understanding everything at the slightest reference, was particularly charming on this visit, and Levin noticed in him a special tenderness, as it were, and a new tone of respect that flattered him.
The efforts of Agathya Mikhailovna and the cook to have the dinner particularly good, only ended in the two famished friends attacking the preliminary course, eating a great deal of bread and butter, salt goose and salted mushrooms, and in Levin's finally ordering the soup to be served without the accompaniment of little patties, with which the cook had particularly meant to impress their visitor. But though Stepan Arkadyevich was accustomed to very different dinners, he thought everything excellent: the herb brandy, and the bread, and the butter, and, above all, the salt goose and the mushrooms, and the nettle soup, and the chicken in white sauce, and the white Crimean wine- everything was excellent and marvelous.
"Splendid, splendid!" he said, lighting a fat cigar after the roast. "I feel as if, coming to you, I had landed on a peaceful shore after the noise and jolting of a steamer. And so you maintain that the laborer himself is an element to be studied, and to regulate the choice of methods in agriculture. Of course, I'm an ignorant outsider; but I should fancy theory and its application will have its influence on the laborer too."
"Yes, but wait a bit. I'm not talking of political economy- I'm talking of the science of agriculture. It ought to be like the natural sciences, and to observe given phenomena and the laborer in his economic, ethnographical..."
At that instant Agathya Mikhailovna came in with jam.
"Oh, Agathya Fiodorovna," said Stepan Arkadyevich, kissing the tips of his plump fingers, "what salt goose, what herb brandy!... What do you think, isn't it time to start, Kostia?" he added.
Levin looked out of the window at the sun sinking behind the bare treetops of the forest.
"Yes, it's time," he said. "Kouzma, get ready the wide droshky," and he ran downstairs.
Stepan Arkadyevich, going down, carefully took the canvas cover off his varnished gun case with his own hands, and opening it, began to get ready his expensive, new-fashioned gun. Kouzma, who already scented a big tip, never left Stepan Arkadyevich's side, and put on him both his stockings and boots, a task which Stepan Arkadyevich readily left to him.
"Kostia, give orders that if the merchant Riabinin comes- I told him to come today- he's to be shown in and asked to wait for me..."
"Why, do you mean to say you're selling the forest to Riabinin?"
"Yes. Do you know him?"
"To be sure I do. I have had to do business with him, 'positively and definitively.'"
Stepan Arkadyevich laughed. 'Positively and definitively' were the merchant's favorite words.
"Yes, it's wonderfully funny the way he talks. She knows where her master's going!" he added, patting Laska, who hung about Levin, whining and licking his hands, his boots, and his gun.
The droshky was already at the steps when they went out.
"I told them to bring the droshky round, though it's not far to go; or would you rather walk?"
"No, we'd better drive," said Stepan Arkadyevich, getting into the droshky. He sat down, tucked the tiger-striped rug round him, and lighted a cigar. "How is it you don't smoke? A cigar is a sort of thing, not exactly a pleasure, but the crown and outward sign of pleasure. Come, this is life! How splendid it is! This is how I should like to live!"
"Why, who prevents you?" said Levin, smiling.
"No, you're a lucky man! You've got everything you like. You like horses- and you have them; dogs- you have them; shooting- you have it; farming- you have it."
"Perhaps because I rejoice in what I have, and don't fret for what I haven't," said Levin, thinking of Kitty.
Stepan Arkadyevich comprehended, looked at him, but said nothing.
Levin was grateful to Oblonsky, for noticing, with his never-failing tact, that he dreaded conversation about the Shcherbatskys, and so saying nothing about them. But now Levin was longing to find out about that which was tormenting him so, yet had not the courage to begin.
"Come, tell me how things are going with you," said Levin, bethinking himself that it was not good of him to think only of himself.
Stepan Arkadyevich's eyes sparkled merrily.
"You don't admit, I know, that one can be fond of new rolls when one has had one's ration of bread- to your mind it's a crime; but I don't count life as life without love," he said, taking Levin's question in his own way. "What am I to do? I'm made that way. And really, one does so little harm to anyone, and gives oneself so much pleasure..."
"What! is there something new, then?" queried Levin.
"Yes, my boy, there is! There, do you see, you know the type of Ossian's women... women, such as one sees in dreams... Well, these women are sometimes to be met with in reality.... And these women are terrible. Woman, don't you know, is such a subject that no matter how much you study it, it's always perfectly new."
"Well, then, it would be better not to study it."
"No. Some mathematician has said that enjoyment lies in the search for truth, not in the finding of it."
Levin listened in silence, and, in spite of all the efforts he made, he could not in the least enter into the feelings of his friend and understand his sentiments and the charm of studying such women.
The place fixed on for the stand shooting was not far above a stream in a little aspen copse. On reaching the copse, Levin got out of the droshky and led Oblonsky to a corner of a mossy, swampy glade, already quite free from snow. He went back himself to a double birch tree on the other side, and, leaning his gun on the fork of a dead lower branch, he took off his full overcoat, fastened his belt again, and worked his arms to see if they were free.
Gray old Laska, who had followed them, sat down warily opposite him and pricked up her ears. The sun was setting behind a thick forest, and in the glow of sunset the birch trees, dotted about in the aspen copse, stood out clearly with their hanging twigs, and their buds swollen almost to bursting.
From the thickest parts of the copse, where the snow still remained, came the faint sound of narrow winding streamlets of water running away. Tiny birds twittered, and now and then fluttered from tree to tree.
In the pauses of complete stillness there came the rustle of last year's leaves, stirred by the thawing of the earth and the growth of grasses.
"Imagine! One can hear and see the grass growing!" Levin said to himself, noticing a wet, slate-colored aspen leaf moving beside a blade of young grass. He stood, listened, and gazed sometimes down at the wet mossy ground, sometimes at Laska listening all alert, sometimes at the sea of bare treetops that stretched on the slope below him, sometimes at the darkening sky, covered with white streaks of cloud. A hawk flew high over a forest far away with a slow sweep of its wings; another flew with exactly the same motion in the same direction and vanished. The birds twittered more and more loudly and busily in the thicket. An owl hooted not far off, and Laska, starting, stepped cautiously a few steps forward, and, putting her head on one side, began to listen intently. Beyond the stream was heard the cuckoo. Twice she uttered her usual call, and then became hoarse, hurried, and broke down.
"Imagine! The cuckoo already!" said Stepan Arkadyevich, coming out from behind a bush.
"Yes, I hear it," answered Levin, reluctantly breaking the stillness with his voice, which sounded disagreeable to himself. "Now it's coming!"
Stepan Arkadyevich's figure again went behind the bush, and Levin saw nothing but the bright flash of a match, followed by the red glow and blue smoke of a cigarette.
Tchk! Tchk! came the snapping sound of Stepan Arkadyevich cocking his gun.
"What's that cry?" asked Oblonsky, drawing Levin's attention to a prolonged cry, as though a colt were whinnying in a high voice, in play.
"Oh, don't you know it? That's a buck hare. But enough talking! Listen- here it comes!" almost shrieked Levin, cocking his gun.
They heard a shrill whistle in the distance, and in the exact time, so well known to the sportsman, two seconds later- another, a third, and, after the third whistle, the hoarse, guttural cry could be heard.
Levin looked about him to right and to left, and there, just facing him against the dusky blue sky above the confused mass of tender shoots of the aspens, he saw the flying bird. It was flying straight toward him; the guttural cry, like the even tearing of some strong stuff, sounded close to his ear; the long beak and neck of the bird could be seen, and at the very instant when Levin was taking aim, behind the bush where Oblonsky stood, there was a flash of red lightning: the bird dropped like an arrow, and darted upward again. Again came the red flash and the sound of a blow, and, fluttering its wings as though trying to keep up in the air, the bird paused, stopped still an instant, and fell with a heavy splash to the slushy ground.
"Can I possibly have missed it?" shouted Stepan Arkadyevich, who could not see for the smoke.
"Here it is!" said Levin, pointing to Laska, who, with one ear pricked up, wagging the tip of her shaggy tail, was coming slowly back, as though she would prolong the pleasure, and seemingly smiling, was bringing the dead bird to her master. "Well, I'm glad you were successful," said Levin, who, at the same time, had a sense of envy that he had not succeeded in shooting the woodcock.
"It was a bad shot from the right barrel," responded Stepan Arkadyevich, loading his gun. "Sh... Here it comes!"
The shrill whistles rapidly following one another were heard again. Two woodcocks, playing and chasing one another, and only whistling, not crying, flew straight at the very heads of the sportsmen. There was the report of four shots, and like swallows, the woodcocks turned swift somersaults in the air and vanished from sight.
The stand shooting was capital. Stepan Arkadyevich shot two more birds, and Levin two, of which one was not found. It began to get dark. Venus, bright and silvery, shone with her soft light low down in the west, behind the birch trees, and high up in the east twinkled the red fires of somber Arcturus. Over his head Levin made out the stars of the Great Bear and lost them again. The woodcocks had ceased flying; but Levin resolved to stay a little longer, till Venus, which he saw below a branch of birch, should be above it, and the stars of the Great Bear should be perfectly plain. Venus had risen above the branch, and the chariot of the Great Bear with its shaft was now all plainly visible against the dark blue sky, yet still he waited.
"Isn't it time to go home?" said Stepan Arkadyevich.
It was quite still now in the copse, and not a bird was stirring.
"Let's stay a little while," answered Levin.
"As you like."
They were standing now about fifteen paces from one another.
"Stiva!" said Levin unexpectedly; "how is it you don't tell me whether your sister-in-law's married yet, or when she's going to be?"
Levin felt so resolute and serene that no answer he fancied could affect him. But he had never dreamed of the answer which Stepan Arkadyevich made.
"She's never thought of being married, and isn't thinking of it; but she's very ill, and the doctors have sent her abroad. They're positively afraid she may not live."
"What!" cried Levin. "Very ill? What is wrong with her? How is she?..."
While they were speaking, Laska, with ears pricked up, was looking upward at the sky, and, reproachfully, at them.
"What a time they have chosen to gab," she was thinking. "There it comes.... Here it is- yes, sure enough. They'll miss it..." thought Laska.
But at that very instant both suddenly heard a shrill whistle which, as it were, smote on their ears, and both suddenly seized their guns and two flashes gleamed, and two bangs sounded at the very same instant. The woodcock flying high above instantly folded its wings and fell into a thicket, bending down the delicate shoots.
"Splendid! Together!" cried Levin, and he ran with Laska into the thicket to look for the woodcock.
"Oh, yes, what was it that was unpleasant?" he recollected. "Yes, Kitty's ill... Well, it can't be helped; I'm very sorry," he thought.
"She's found it! Isn't she a clever girl?" he said, taking the warm bird from Laska's mouth and packing it into the almost full gamebag. "I've got it, Stiva!" he shouted.
On the way home Levin asked all the details of Kitty's illness and of the Shcherbatskys' plans, and though he would have been ashamed to admit it, he was pleased at what he heard. He was pleased that there was still hope, and still more pleased that she, who had made him suffer, should be suffering so much. But when Stepan Arkadyevich began to speak of the causes of Kitty's illness, and mentioned Vronsky's name, Levin cut him short.
"I have no right whatever to know family matters, and, to tell the truth, no interest in them either."
Stepan Arkadyevich smiled a barely perceptible smile, catching the instantaneous change he knew so well in Levin's face, which had become as gloomy as it had been bright a minute before.
"Have you quite settled about the forest with Riabinin?" asked Levin.
"Yes, it's all settled. The price is magnificent- thirty-eight thousand. Eight straightaway, and the rest in six years. I've been bothering about it for ever so long. No one would give more."
"Then you've as good as given away your forest for nothing," said Levin gloomily.
"How do you mean- for nothing?" said Stepan Arkadyevich with a good-humored smile, knowing that nothing would be right in Levin's eyes now.
"Because the forest is worth at least five hundred roubles the dessiatina," answered Levin.
"Oh, these farmers!" said Stepan Arkadyevich playfully. "Your tone of contempt for us poor townsfolk!... But when it comes to business, we are better at it than anyone. I assure you I have reckoned it all out," he said, "and the forest is fetching a very good price- so much so that I'm afraid of this fellow's crying off, in fact. You know it's not 'timber forest,'" said Stepan Arkadyevich, hoping by this distinction to convince Levin completely of the unfairness of his doubts, "but for the most part firewood. And it won't run to more than thirty sazhenes of wood per dessiatina, and he's paying me at the rate of two hundred roubles the dessiatina."
Levin smiled contemptuously. "I know," he thought, "that fashion not only in him, but in all city people, who, after being twice in ten years in the country, pick up two or three phrases and use them in season and out of season, firmly persuaded that they know all about it. 'Timber, run to thirty sazhenes the dessiatina.' He says those words without understanding them himself."
"I wouldn't attempt to teach you what you write about in your office," said he, "and if need arose, I should come to you to ask about it. But you're so positive you know all the lore of the forest. It's difficult. Have you counted the trees?"
"How count the trees?" said Stepan Arkadyevich, laughing, still trying to draw his friend out of his ill temper. "Count sands of seas, and rays of stars, though could some higher power..."
"Oh, well, the higher power of Riabinin can. Not a single merchant ever buys a forest without counting the trees, unless they get it given them for nothing, as you're doing now. I know your forest. I go there every year shooting, and your forest's worth five hundred a dessiatina paid down, while he's giving you two hundred by installments. So that in fact you're making him a present of thirty thousand."
"Come, don't let your imagination run away with you," said Stepan Arkadyevich piteously. "Why was it none would give it, then?"
"Why, because he has an understanding with the merchants; he's bought them off. I've had to do with all of them; I know them. They're not merchants, you know; they're speculators. He wouldn't look at a bargain that gave him ten, fifteen per cent profit, but holds back to buy a rouble's worth for twenty kopecks."
"Well, enough of it! You're out of temper."
"Not in the least," said Levin gloomily, as they drove up to the house.
At the steps there stood a trap tightly covered with iron and leather, with a sleek horse tightly harnessed with broad collar straps. In the trap sat the chubby, tightly belted overseer who served Riabinin as coachman. Riabinin himself was already in the house, and met the friends in the hall. Riabinin was a tall, thinnish, middle-aged man, with mustache and a projecting clean-shaven chin, and prominent muddy-looking eyes. He was dressed in a long-skirted blue coat, with buttons below the waist at the back, and wore high boots wrinkled over the ankles and straight over the calf, with big galoshes drawn over them. He mopped his face with his handkerchief, and, wrapping himself in his coat, which sat extremely well as it was, he greeted them with a smile, holding out his hand to Stepan Arkadyevich, as though he wanted to catch something.
"So, here you are," said Stepan Arkadyevich, giving him his hand. "That's capital."
"I did not venture to disregard Your Excellency's commands, though the road was extremely bad. I positively covered the whole way at a walk, but I am here on time. Konstantin Dmitrich, my respects"; he turned to Levin, trying to seize his hand too. But Levin, scowling, made as though he did not notice his hand, and took out the woodcocks. "Your honors have been diverting yourselves with the chase? What kind of bird may it be, pray?" added Riabinin, looking contemptuously at the woodcocks: "a great delicacy, I suppose." And he shook his head disapprovingly, as though he had grave doubts whether this game were worth the candle.
"Would you like to go into my study?" Levin said in French to Stepan Arkadyevich, scowling morosely. "Go into my study; you can talk there."
"Quite so, wherever you please," said Riabinin with supercilious dignity, as though wishing to make it felt that others might be in difficulties as to how to behave, but that he could never be in any difficulty about anything.
On entering the study Riabinin looked about, as it was a habit of his, as though seeking a holy image, but, when he had found it, he did not cross himself. He scanned the bookcases and bookshelves, and with the same dubious air with which he had regarded the woodcocks, he smiled superciliously and shook his head disapprovingly, as though by no means willing to allow that this game, either, were worth the candle.
"Well, have you brought the money?" asked Oblonsky. "Sit down."
"Oh, don't trouble about the money. I've come to see you to talk it over."
"What is there to talk over? But do sit down."
"I don't mind if I do," said Riabinin, sitting down and leaning his elbows on the back of his armchair in a position of the intensest discomfort to himself. "You must knock it down a bit, Prince. It would be a sin otherwise. As for the money, it is ready definitively, to the last kopeck. As for money down, there'll be no hitch there."
Levin, who had meanwhile been putting his gun away in the cupboard, was just going out of the door, but catching the merchant's words, he stopped.
"Why, you've got the forest for nothing as it is," he said. "He came to me too late, or I'd have fixed the price for him."
Riabinin got up, and in silence, with a smile, he looked up at Levin.
"Konstantin Dmitrievich is very close," he said with a smile, turning to Stepan Arkadyevich; "there's definitively no dealing with him. I was bargaining for some wheat of him, and a pretty price I offered too."
"Why should I give you what's mine for nothing? I didn't pick it up off the ground, nor did I steal it, either."
"Mercy on us! Nowadays there's positively no chance at all of stealing. With the definitively open courts, and everything done in style, nowadays there's no question of stealing. We are just talking things over like gentlemen. His Excellency's asking too much for the forest. I can't make both ends meet over it. I must ask for a little concession."
"But is the thing settled between you or isn't it? If it's settled, it's useless haggling; but if it isn't," said Levin, "I'll buy the forest."
The smile vanished at once from Riabinin's face. A hawklike, greedy, cruel expression was left upon it. With rapid, bony fingers he unbuttoned his coat, revealing a large shirt, bronze waistcoat buttons, and a watch chain, and quickly pulled out a fat old pocketbook.
"Here you are, the forest is mine," he said, crossing himself quickly, and holding out his hand. "Take the money; it's my forest. That's Riabinin's way of doing business; he doesn't haggle over every copper," he added, scowling and waving the pocketbook.
"I wouldn't be in a hurry if I were you," said Levin.
"Come, really," said Oblonsky in surprise, "I've given my word, you know."
Levin went out of the room, slamming the door. Riabinin looked toward the door and shook his head with a smile.
"It's all youthfulness- definitively nothing but childishness. Why, I'm buying it, upon my honor, simply, believe me, for the glory of it, that Riabinin, and no one else, should have bought the copse of Oblonsky. And as to the profits, why, I must make what God gives. God's my witness. If you would kindly sign the title deed..."
Within an hour the merchant, carefully stroking his wrapper down, and hooking up his coat, with the agreement in his pocket, seated himself in his tightly covered trap, and drove homeward.
"Ugh, these gentlefolk!" he said to the overseer. "They are all made alike! they're a fine lot!"
"That's so," responded the overseer, handing him the reins and buttoning the leather apron. "But can I congratulate you on the purchase, Mikhail Ignatich?"
Stepan Arkadyevich went upstairs with his pocket bulging with notes which the merchant had paid him for three months in advance. The business of the forest was over, the money in his pocket; their shooting had been excellent, and Stepan Arkadyevich was in the happiest frame of mind, and therefore felt especially anxious to dissipate the ill-humor that had come upon Levin. He wanted to finish the day at supper as pleasantly as it had been begun.
Levin certainly was out of humor, and, in spite of all his desire to be affectionate and cordial to his charming guest, he could not control his mood. The aftereffects of the intoxication of the news that Kitty was not married had gradually begun to work upon him.
Kitty was not married, and was ill, and ill from love for a man who had slighted her. This offense, as it were, rebounded upon him. Vronsky had slighted her, and she had slighted him, Levin. Consequently Vronsky had the right to despise Levin, and therefore he was his enemy. But all this Levin did not think of. He vaguely felt that there was something in it insulting to him, and he was not angry now at what had disturbed him, but he fell foul of everything that presented itself. The stupid sale of the forest, the fraud practised upon Oblonsky and concluded in his house, exasperated him.
"Well, finished?" he said, meeting Stepan Arkadyevich upstairs. "Would you like supper?"
"Well, I wouldn't say no to it. What an appetite I get in the country! Wonderful! Why didn't you offer Riabinin something?"
"Oh, damn him!"
"Still, how you do treat him!" said Oblonsky. "You didn't even shake hands with him. Why not shake hands with him?"
"Because I don't shake hands with a waiter, and a waiter's a hundred times better than he is."
"What a reactionist you are, really! What about the amalgamation of classes?" said Oblonsky.
"Anyone who likes it is welcome to it, but it sickens me."
"You're a downright reactionist, I see."
"Really. I have never considered what I am. I am Konstantin Levin, and nothing else."
"And Konstantin Levin very much out of temper," said Stepan Arkadyevich, smiling.
"Yes, I am out of temper, and do you know why? Because- excuse me- of your stupid sale...."
Stepan Arkadyevich frowned good-humoredly, like one who feels himself teased and attacked for no fault of his own.
"Come, enough about that!" he said. "When did anybody ever sell anything without being told immediately after the sale, 'It was worth much more'? But when one wants to sell, no one will give anything.... No, I see you've a grudge against that unlucky Riabinin."
"Maybe I have. And do you know why? You'll say again that I'm a reactionist, or some other terrible word; but all the same it does annoy and anger me to see on all sides the impoverishing of the nobility to which I belong, and, in spite of the amalgamation of classes, I'm glad to belong. And their impoverishment is not due to living in luxury- that would be nothing; living in good style- that's the proper thing for noblemen: it's only the nobles who know how to do it. Now, the peasants about us buy land, and I don't mind that. The gentleman does nothing, while the peasant works and supplants the idle man. That's as it should be. And I welcome the peasant. But I do mind seeing the process of impoverishment from a sort of- I don't know what to call it- innocence. Here a Polish lessee bought for half its value a magnificent estate from a lady who lives in Nice. And there a merchant leases land, worth ten roubles in rent the dessiatina, for one rouble. Here, for no kind of reason, you've made that cheat a present of thirty thousand roubles."
"Well, what should I have done? Counted every tree?"
"Of course, they must be counted. You didn't count them, but Riabinin did. Riabinin's children will have means of livelihood and education, while yours, like as not, won't!"
"Well, you must excuse me, but there's something mean in this counting. We have our business and they have theirs, and they must make their profit. Anyway, the thing's done, and there's an end of it. And here come some fried eggs, my favorite dish. And Agathya Mikhailovna will give us that marvelous herb brandy...."
Stepan Arkadyevich sat down at the table and began jollying Agathya Mikhailovna, assuring her that it was long since he had tasted such a dinner and such a supper.
"Well, you praise it, at any rate," said Agathya Mikhailovna, "but Konstantin Dmitrievich, no matter what you give him- even a crust of bread- will just eat it and walk away."
Though Levin tried to control himself, he was gloomy and silent. He wanted to put one question to Stepan Arkadyevich, but he could not bring himself to the point, and could not find the words or the moment in which to put it. Stepan Arkadyevich had gone down to his room, undressed, again washed, and, attired in a nightshirt with goffered frills, had got into bed, but Levin still lingered in his room, talking of various trifling matters, and not daring to ask what he wanted to know.
"How wonderfully they make the soap," he said gazing at a piece of soap he was unwrapping, which Agathya Mikhailovna had placed in readiness for the guest, but a brand which Oblonsky did not use. "Just look- why, it's a work of art."
"Yes, everything's brought to such a pitch of perfection nowadays," said Stepan Arkadyevich, with a moist and blissful yawn. "The theater, for instance, and the entertainments... A-a-a!" he yawned. "The electric light everywhere... A-a-a!"
"Yes, the electric light," said Levin. "Yes. Oh, and where's Vronsky now?" he asked suddenly, laying down the soap.
"Vronsky?" said Stepan Arkadyevich, checking his yawn; "he's in Peterburg. He left soon after you did, and hasn't been once in Moscow since. And, do you know, Kostia, I'll tell you the truth," he went on, leaning his elbow on the table, and, with his hand, propping up his handsome ruddy face, in which his humid, good-natured, sleepy eyes shone like stars. "It's your own fault. You took fright at the sight of your rival. But, as I told you at the time, I couldn't say which had the better chance. Why didn't you fight it out? I told you at the time that..." He yawned inwardly, without opening his mouth.
"Does he know, or doesn't he, that I did propose?" Levin wondered gazing at him. "Yes, there's something humbugging, something diplomatic in his face." And, feeling he was blushing, he looked Stepan Arkadyevich straight in the face without speaking.
"If there was anything on her side at that time, it was nothing but a superficial attraction," pursued Oblonsky. "His being such a perfect aristocrat, you know, and his future position in society, had an influence not with her, but with her mother."
Levin scowled. The humiliation of his rejection stung him to the heart, as though it were a fresh wound he had only just received. But he was at home, and the walls of home are a support.
"Wait, wait," he began, interrupting Oblonsky. "You talk of his being an aristocrat. But allow me to ask what it consists of, that aristocracy of Vronsky or of anybody else, beside which I can be looked down upon? You consider Vronsky an aristocrat, but I don't. A man whose father crawled up from nothing at all by intrigue, and whose mother- God knows whom she wasn't mixed up with... No, excuse me, but I consider myself aristocratic, and people like me, who can point back in the past to three or four honorable generations of their family, of the highest degree of breeding (talent and intellect, of course, are another matter), and have never curried favor with anyone, never depended on anyone for anything, like my father and my grandfather. And I know many such. You think it mean of me to count the trees in my forest, while you make Riabinin a present of thirty thousand; but you get from the government your liferent, and I don't know what, while I shall not, and so I prize what's come to me from my ancestors, or has been won by hard work... We are aristocrats, and not those who can only exist by favor of the powerful ones of this earth, and who can be bought for twenty kopecks."
"Well, but whom are you attacking? I agree with you," said Stepan Arkadyevich, sincerely and genially; though he was aware that in the class of those who could be bought for twenty kopecks Levin was reckoning him as well. Levin's animation gave him genuine pleasure. "Whom are you attacking? A good deal of what you say is not true about Vronsky, of course, but I won't talk about that. I tell you straight out, if I were you, I should go back with me to Moscow, and..."
"No; I don't know whether you know it or not, but I don't care. And I tell you- I did propose, and was rejected, and Katerina Alexandrovna is nothing now to me but a painful and humiliating reminiscence."
"Why? What nonsense!"
"But we won't talk about it. Please forgive me, if I've been nasty," said Levin. Now that he had opened his heart, he became as he had been in the morning. "You're not angry with me, Stiva? Please don't be angry," he said, and, smiling, he took his hand.
"Of course not; not a bit- nor is there any reason to be. I'm glad we've spoken openly. And, do you know, stand shooting in the morning is usually good- why not go? I might go, without sleeping, straight from shooting to the station."
Although all Vronsky's inner life was absorbed in his passion, his external life unalterably and inevitably followed along the old accustomed lines of his social and regimental ties and interests. The interests of his regiment took an important place in Vronsky's life, both because he was fond of the regiment, and still more because the regiment was fond of him. They were not only fond of Vronsky in his regiment, they respected him too, and were proud of him; proud that this man, with his immense wealth, his brilliant education and abilities, and the path open before him to every kind of success, distinction and ambition, had disregarded all that, and of all the interests of life had the interests of his regiment and his comrades nearest to his heart. Vronsky was aware of his comrades' view of him, and in addition to his liking for that sort of life, he felt bound to keep up that reputation.
It need not be said that he did not speak of his love to any of his comrades, nor did he betray his secret even in the wildest drinking bouts (though indeed he was never so drunk as to lose all control of himself). And he closed the mouths of any of his thoughtless comrades who attempted to allude to his liaison. But, in spite of that, his love was known to all the town; everyone guessed with more or less certainty at his relations with Madame Karenina. The majority of the younger men envied him for just what was the most irksome factor in his love- the exalted position of Karenin, and the consequent transparency to society, of their liaison.
The greater number of the young women, who envied Anna and had long been weary of having her called righteous, rejoiced at the fulfillment of their predictions, and were only waiting for a decisive turn in public opinion to fall upon her with all the weight of their scorn. They were already making ready their handfuls of mud to cast at her when the right moment arrived. The greater number of the middle-aged people and certain great personages were displeased at the prospect of the impending scandal in society.
Vronsky's mother, on hearing of his liaison, was at first pleased by it, because nothing to her mind gave such a finishing touch to a brilliant young man as a liaison in the highest society; she was pleased, too, that Madame Karenina, who had so taken her fancy, and had talked so much of her son, was, after all, just like all the other pretty and decent women- according to the Countess Vronskaia's ideas. But she had heard of late that her son had refused a position offered him of great importance to his career, simply in order to remain in the regiment, where could be constantly seeing Madame Karenina; she heard that great personages were displeased with him on this account, and she changed her opinion. She was vexed, too, that from all she could learn of this liaison it was not that brilliant, graceful, worldly liaison which she would have welcomed, but a sort of Werther's desperate passion, so she was told, which might well lead him into follies. She had not seen him since his abrupt departure from Moscow, and she sent her elder son to bid him to come to her.
This elder brother, too, was displeased with his younger brother. He did not distinguish what sort of love his might be, big or little, passionate or passionless, pure or impure (he kept a ballet girl himself, though he was the father of a family, so he was rather indulgent), but he knew that this love displeased those whom it was necessary to please, and therefore he did not approve of his brother's conduct.
Besides the service and society, Vronsky had another great interest- horses; he was passionately fond of horses.
That year races and a steeplechase had been arranged for the officers. Vronsky had put his name down, bought a thoroughbred English mare, and in spite of his love, he was looking forward to the races with intense, though reserved, excitement....
These two passions did not interfere with one another. On the contrary, he needed occupation and distraction quite apart from his love, so as to recruit and rest himself from the violent emotions that agitated him.
On the day of the races at Krasnoe Selo, Vronsky had come earlier than usual to eat beefsteak in the common messroom of the regiment. He had no need to be strict with himself, as his weight was exactly the required one; but still he had to avoid gaining flesh, and so he eschewed farinaceous and sweet dishes. He sat with his coat unbuttoned over a white waistcoat, resting both elbows on the table, and, while waiting for the steak he had ordered, was looking over a French novel that lay open on his plate. He was only looking at the book to avoid conversation with the officers coming in and out; he was thinking.
He was thinking of Anna's promise to see him today after the races. But he had not seen her for three days, and as her husband had just returned from abroad, he did not know whether she would be able to meet him today or not, and he did not know how to find out. He had had his last interview with her at his cousin Betsy's summer villa. He visited the summer villa of the Karenins as rarely as possible. Now he wanted to go there, and he pondered the question of how to do it.
"Of course I shall say Betsy has sent me to ask whether she's coming to the races. Of course, I'll go," he decided, lifting his head from the book. And as he vividly pictured the happiness of seeing her, his face lighted up.
"Send to my house, and tell them to have out the carriage and three horses as quickly as they can," he said to the servant, who handed him the steak on a hot silver dish, and moving the dish up toward him, he began eating.
From the adjoining billiard room came the sound of balls clicking, of talk and laughter. Two officers appeared at the entrance door: one, a young fellow with a weak, delicate face, who had lately joined the regiment from the Corps of Pages; the other, a plump, elderly officer, with a bracelet on his wrist, and little eyes, lost in fat.
Vronsky glanced at them, frowned, and looking down at his book as though he had not noticed them, he proceeded to eat and read at the same time.
"What? Fortifying yourself for your work?" said the plump officer, sitting down beside him.
"As you see," responded Vronsky, knitting his brows, wiping his mouth, and without looking at the officer.
"So you're not afraid of getting fat? said the latter, turning a chair round for the young officer.
"What?" said Vronsky angrily, making a wry face of disgust and showing his heavy teeth.
"You're not afraid of getting fat?"
"Waiter, sherry!" said Vronsky, without replying, and moving the book to the other side of him, he went on reading.
The plump officer took up the list of wines and turned to the young officer.
"You choose what we're to drink," he said, handing him the card, and looking at him.
"Rhine wine, please," said the young officer, stealing a timid glance at Vronsky, and trying to pull his scarcely visible mustache. Seeing that Vronsky did not turn round, the young officer got up.
"Let's go into the billiard room," he said.
The plump officer rose submissively, and they moved toward the door.
At that moment there walked into the room the tan and well-built Captain Iashvin. Nodding with an air of lofty contempt to the two officers, he went up to Vronsky.
"Ah! Here he is!" he cried, bringing his big hand down heavily on his epaulet. Vronsky looked round angrily, but his face lighted up immediately with his characteristic expression of calm and firm friendliness.
"That's it, Aliosha," said the captain, in his loud baritone. "Have a bite and drink one tiny glass."
"Oh, I'm not very hungry."
"There go the inseparables," Iashvin dropped, glancing sarcastically at the two officers who were at that instant leaving the room. And he bent his long legs, swathed in tight riding breeches, and sat down in the chair, too low for him, so that his knees were cramped up in a sharp angle. "Why didn't you turn up at Theater at Krasnoe Selo yesterday? Numerova wasn't at all bad. Where were you?"
"I was late at the Tverskys'," said Vronsky.
"Ah!" responded Iashvin.
Iashvin, a gambler and a rake, a man not merely without any principles, but of immoral principles- Iashvin was Vronsky's greatest friend in the regiment. Vronsky liked him both for his exceptional physical strength, which he showed for the most part by being able to drink like a fish and to do without sleep without being in the slightest degree affected by it; and for his great strength of character, which he showed in his relations with his comrades and superior officers, commanding both fear and respect, and also at cards, when he would play for tens of thousands and, however much he might have drunk, always with such skill and decision that he was reckoned the best player in the English Club. Vronsky respected and liked Iashvin particularly because he felt Iashvin liked him, not for his name and his money, but for himself. And of all men he was the only one with whom Vronsky would have liked to speak of his love. He felt that Iashvin, in spite of his apparent contempt for every sort of feeling, was the only man who could, so he fancied, comprehend the intense passion which now filled his whole life. Moreover, he felt certain that Iashvin, as it was, took no delight in gossip and scandal, and interpreted his feeling rightly- that is to say, knew and believed that this passion was not a joke, not a pastime, but something more serious and important.
Vronsky had never spoken to him of his passion, but he was aware that he knew all about it, and that he put the right interpretation on it, and he was glad to see this in his eyes.
"Ah! yes," he said, to the announcement that Vronsky had been at the Tverskys'; and, his black eyes shining, he plucked at his left mustache, and began twisting it into his mouth- a bad habit he had.
"Well, and what did you do yesterday? Win anything?" asked Vronsky.
"Eight thousand. But three don't count; the chap will hardly pay up."
"Oh, then you can afford to lose over me," said Vronsky, laughing. (Iashvin had betted heavily on Vronsky in the races.)
"No chance of my losing. Makhotin's the only one who's a dangerous entrant."
And the conversation passed to forecasts of the coming race, the only thing Vronsky could think of just now.
"Come along, I've finished," said Vronsky, and getting up he went to the door. Iashvin got up too, stretching his long legs and his long back.
"It's too early for me to dine, but I must have a drink. I'll come along directly. Hi, wine!" he shouted, in his rich voice, that was so famous at drill, and set the windows shaking. "No, I don't need it!" he shouted again, immediately after. "You're going home, so I'll go with you."
And he walked out with Vronsky.
Vronsky was staying in a roomy, clean, Finnish hut, divided into two by a partition. Petritsky lived with him in camp too. Petritsky was asleep when Vronsky and Iashvin came into the hut.
"Get up, don't go on sleeping," said Iashvin, going behind the partition and giving Petritsky, who was lying with ruffled hair and with his nose in the pillow, a prod on the shoulder.
Petritsky jumped up suddenly onto his knees and looked around.
"Your brother's been here," he said to Vronsky. "He waked me up, the devil take him, and said he'd look in again." And pulling up the rug he flung himself back on the pillow. "Oh do quit that, Iashvin!" he said, getting furious with Iashvin, who was pulling the rug off him. "Quit that!" He turned over and opened his eyes. "You'd better tell me what to drink; I've such a nasty taste in my mouth that..."
"Vodka's better than anything," boomed Iashvin. "Tereshchenko! Vodka for your master and cucumbers," he shouted, obviously taking pleasure in the sound of his own voice.
"Vodka, do you think? Eh?" queried Petritsky, blinking and rubbing his eyes. "And you'll drink something? All right then, we'll have a drink together! Vronsky, have a drink?" said Petritsky, getting up and wrapping the tiger-striped bedcover round him. He went to the door of the partition wall, raised his hands, and hummed in French: "'There was a king in Thu-u-le.' Vronsky, will you have a drink?"
"Go along," said Vronsky, putting on the coat his valet handed him.
"Where are you off to?" asked Iashvin. "Oh, here is your troika," he added, seeing the carriage drive up.
"To the stables, and I've got to see Briansky, too, about the horses," said Vronsky.
Vronsky had as a fact promised to call at Briansky's, some ten verstas from Peterhof, and to bring him money owing for some horses; and he hoped to have time to get that in too. But his comrades were at once aware that that was not the only place he was going.
Petritsky, still humming, winked and made a pout with his lips, as though he would say: "Oh, yes, we know your Briansky!"
"Mind you're not late!" was Iashvin's only comment; and, to change the conversation: "How's my roan? Is he doing all right?" he inquired, looking out of the window at the shaft horse, which he had sold to Vronsky.
"Stop!" cried Petritsky to Vronsky, just as he was going out. "Your brother left a letter and a note for you. Wait a bit; where are they?"
"Well, where are they?"
"Where are they? That's just the question!" said Petritsky solemnly, sliding his forefinger upward along his nose.
"Come, tell me; this is silly!" said Vronsky smiling.
"I haven't lighted the fire. They must be here somewhere."
"Come, enough fooling! Where is the letter?"
"No, I've forgotten, really. Or was it a dream? Wait a bit, wait a bit! But what's the use of getting in a rage? If you'd drunk four bottles per man yesterday as I did, you'd forget where you were at. Wait a bit, I'll remember!"
Petritsky went behind the partition and lay down on his bed.
"Wait a bit! This was how I was lying, and this was how he was standing. Yes- yes- yes... Here it is!"- and Petritsky pulled a letter out from under the mattress, where he had hidden it.
Vronsky took the letter and his brother's note. It was the letter he was expecting- from his mother, reproaching him for not having been to see her- and the note was from his brother to say that he must have a little talk with him. Vronsky knew that it was all about the same thing. "What business is it of theirs!" thought Vronsky, and crumpling up the letters he thrust them between the buttons of his coat so as to read them carefully on the road. In the porch of the hut he was met by two officers; one of his regiment and one of another.
Vronsky's quarters were always a meeting place for all the officers.
"Where are you off to?"
"I must go to Peterhof."
"Has the mare come from Tsarskoe?"
"Yes, but I've not seen her yet."
"They say Makhotin's Gladiator's lame."
"Nonsense! However, are you going to race in this mud?" said the other.
"Here are my saviors!" cried Petritsky, seeing them come in. Before him stood the batman with vodka and pickled cucumbers on a tray. "Here's Iashvin, ordering me to drink a pick-me-up."
"Well, you did make it hot for us yesterday," said one of those who had come in; "you didn't let us get a wink of sleep all night."
"Oh, didn't we make a pretty finish!" said Petritsky. "Volkov climbed onto the roof and began telling us how sad he was. I said: 'Let's have music, the funeral march!' He fairly dropped asleep on the roof over the funeral march."
"Drink it up; you positively must drink the vodka, and then Seltzer water, and a lot of lemon," said Iashvin, standing over Petritsky like a mother making a child take medicine, "and then a little champagne- just a wee bottle."
"Come, there's some sense in that. Stop a bit, Vronsky. We'll all have a drink."
"No; good-by, all of you. I'm not going to drink today."
"Why, are you gaining weight? All right, then we must have it alone. Give us the Seltzer water and lemon."
"Vronsky!" shouted someone when he was already outside.
"You'd better get your hair cut, it'll weigh you down- especially at the bald place."
Vronsky was in fact beginning, prematurely, to get a little bald. He laughed gaily, showing his heavy teeth, and pulling his cap over the thin place, went out and got into his carriage.
"To the stables!" he said, and was just pulling out the letters to read them through, but thought better of it, and put off reading them so as not to distract his attention before looking at the mare. "Later on!..."
The temporary stable, a wooden booth, had been put up close to the racecourse, and there his mare was to have been taken the previous day. He had not yet seen her there. During the last few days he had not ridden her out for exercise himself, but had put her in the charge of the trainer, and so now he absolutely did not know in what condition his mare had arrived yesterday or was in today. He had scarcely got out of his carriage when his stableboy (groom), recognizing the carriage some way off, called the trainer. A dry-looking Englishman, in high boots and a short jacket, clean-shaven, except for a tuft below his chin, came to meet him walking with the uncouth gait of a jockey, turning his elbows out and swaying from side to side.
"Well, how's Frou-Frou?" Vronsky asked in English.
"All right, sir," the Englishman's voice responded somewhere far down in his throat. "Better not go in," he added, touching his hat. "I've put a muzzle on her, and the mare's fidgety. Better not go in, it'll excite the mare."
"No, I'm going in. I want to look at her."
"Come along, then," said the Englishman, frowning, and speaking with his mouth shut, and, with swinging elbows, he went on in front with his disjointed gait.
They went into the little yard in front of the shed. The stableboy on duty, spruce and smart in his holiday attire, met them with a broom in his hand, and followed them. In the shed there were five horses in their separate stalls, and Vronsky knew that his chief rival, Makhotin's Gladiator, a very tall chestnut horse, had been brought there, and must be standing among them. Even more than his mare, Vronsky longed to see Gladiator, whom he had never seen, but Vronsky knew that by the etiquette of the racecourse it was not merely impossible for him to see the horse, but improper even to ask questions about him. just as he was passing along the passage, the boy opened the door into the second horsebox on the left, and Vronsky caught a glimpse of a big chestnut horse with white legs. He knew that this was Gladiator, but, with the feeling of a man turning away from the sight of another man's open letter, he turned round and went into Frou-Frou's stall.
"The stall belonging to Ma-k... Mak... I never can say the name- is here," said the Englishman over his shoulder, pointing his dirty-nailed thumb toward Gladiator's stall.
"Makhotin? Yes, he's my most serious rival," said Vronsky.
"If you were riding him," said the Englishman, "I'd bet on you.
"Frou-Frou's more nervous, while the other is more powerful," said Vronsky, smiling at the compliment to his riding.
"In a steeplechase it all depends on riding and on pluck," said the Englishman.
Of pluck- that is, energy and courage- Vronsky did not merely feel that he had enough; what was of far more importance, he was firmly convinced that no one in the world could have more of this pluck than he had.
"Don't you think I want more sweating down?"
"Oh, no," answered the Englishman. "Please, don't speak loud. The mare's fidgety," he added, nodding toward the horse box, before which they were standing, and from which came the sound of restless stamping in the straw.
He opened the door, and Vronsky went into the horse box, dimly lighted by one little window. In the horse box stood a dark bay mare, with a muzzle on, shifting her feet on the fresh straw. Looking round him in the twilight of the horse box, Vronsky unconsciously took in once more in a comprehensive glance all the points of his favorite mare. Frou-Frou was an animal of medium size, not altogether free from reproach, from a breeder's point of view. She was small-boned all over; though her chest was extremely prominent in front, it was narrow. Her hindquarters were a little drooping, and in her forelegs, and still more in her hind legs, there was a noticeable curvature. The muscles of both hind legs and forelegs were not very thick; but across her shoulders the mare was exceptionally broad, a peculiarity specially striking now that she was lean from training. The bones of her legs below the knees looked no thicker than a finger from in front, but were extraordinarily thick seen from the side. She looked altogether, except across the shoulders, apparently pinched in at the sides and pressed out in depth. But she had in the highest degree the quality that makes all defects forgotten: that quality was blood, the blood that tells, as the English expression has it. The muscles stood up sharply under the network of sinews, covered with the delicate, mobile skin, soft as satin, and they were hard as bone. Her clean-cut head, with prominent, bright, spirited eyes, broadened out at the open nostrils, that showed the red blood in the cartilage within. About all her figure, and especially her head, there was a certain expression of energy, and, at the same time, of softness. She was one of those creatures which seem devoid of speech only because the mechanism of their mouths does not allow of it.
To Vronsky, at any rate, it seemed that she understood all he felt at that moment as he looked at her.
Directly Vronsky went toward her, she drew in a deep breath, and, turning back her prominent eye tin the white looked bloodshot, she started at the approaching figures from the opposite side, shaking her muzzle, and shifting lightly from one leg to the other.
"There, you see how fidgety she is," said the Englishman.
"Whoa, darling! Whoa!" said Vronsky, going up to the mare and speaking soothingly to her.
But the nearer he came, the more excited she grew. Only when he stood by her head she was suddenly quieter, while the muscles quivered under her soft, delicate coat. Vronsky patted her strong neck, straightened over her sharp withers a stray lock of her mane that had fallen on the other side, and moved his face near her dilated nostrils, transparent as a bat's wing. She drew a loud breath and snorted out through her tense nostrils, started, pricked up her sharp ear, and put out her strong, black lip toward Vronsky, as though she would nip hold of his sleeve. But remembering the muzzle, she shook it and again began restlessly stamping her shapely legs one after the other.
"Calm down, darling, calm down!" he said, patting her again over her hindquarters; and, with a glad sense that his mare was in the best possible condition, he went out of the horse box.
The mare's excitement had infected Vronsky. He felt that his heart was throbbing, and that he, too, like the mare, longed to move, to bite; it was both fearful and delicious.
"Well, I rely on you, then," he said to the Englishman, "half-past six on the ground."
"All right," said the Englishman. "Oh, where are you going, my lord?" he asked suddenly, using the title my lord, which he scarcely ever used.
Vronsky in amazement raised his head, and stared, as he knew how to stare, not into the Englishman's eyes, but at his forehead, astounded at the impertinence of his question. But realizing that in asking this the Englishman had been looking at him not as an employer, but as a jockey, he answered:
"I've got to go to Briansky's; I shall be home within an hour."
"How often I'm asked that question today!" he said to himself, and he blushed, a thing which rarely happened to him. The Englishman looked gravely at him; and, as though he, too, knew where Vronsky was going, he added:
"The great thing is to keep quiet before a race," said he; "don't get out of temper, or upset about anything."
"All right," answered Vronsky, smiling; and, jumping into his carriage, he told the man to drive to Peterhof.
Before he had driven many paces away, the dark clouds that had been threatening rain all day broke, and there was a heavy downpour of rain.
"What a pity!" thought Vronsky, putting up the roof of the carriage. "It was muddy before, now it will be a perfect swamp." As he sat in solitude in the closed carriage, he took out his mother's letter and his brother's note, and read them through.
Yes, it was the same thing over and over again. Everyone- his mother, his brother- everyone thought fit to interfere in the affairs of his heart. This interference aroused in him a feeling of angry hatred- a feeling he had rarely known before. "What business is it of theirs? Why does everybody feel called upon to concern himself about me? And why do they worry me so? Just because they see that this is something they can't understand. If it were a common, vulgar, worldly intrigue, they would have left me alone. They feel that this is something different, that this is not a mere pastime, that this woman is dearer to me than life. And this is incomprehensible, and that's why it annoys them. Whatever our destiny is or may be, we have made it ourselves, and we do not complain of it," he said, in the word we linking himself with Anna. "No, they must needs teach us how to live. They haven't an idea of what happiness is; they don't know that without our love there is for us neither happiness nor unhappiness- no life at all," he thought.
He was angry with all of them for their interference just because he felt in his soul that they, all these people, were right. He felt that the love that bound him to Anna was not a momentary impulse, which would pass, as worldly intrigues do pass, leaving no other traces in the life of either save pleasant or unpleasant memories. He felt all the torture of his own position and hers, all the difficulty in store for them, conspicuous as they were in the eye of all the world- in concealing their love, in lying and deceiving; and in lying, deceiving, feigning and continually thinking of others, when the passion that united them was so intense that they were both oblivious of everything else save their love.
He vividly recalled all the constantly recurring instances of inevitable necessity for lying and deceit, which were so against his natural bent. He recalled particularly vividly the shame he had more than once detected in her at this necessity for lying and deceit. And he experienced the strange feeling that had sometimes come upon him since his relations with Anna. This was a feeling of loathing for something- whether for Alexei Alexandrovich, or for himself, or for the whole world, he could not have said. But he always drove away this strange feeling. Now, too, he shook it off and continued the thread of his thoughts.
"Yes, she was unhappy before, but proud and at peace; and now she cannot be at peace and feel secure in her dignity, though she does not show it. Yes, we must put an end to it," he decided.
And for the first time the idea clearly presented itself that it was essential to put an end to this false position, and the sooner the better. "Abandon everything must we- she and I- and hide ourselves somewhere alone with our love," he said to himself.
The shower did not last long, and by the time Vronsky arrived, his shaft horse trotting at full speed, and dragging the off horses galloping through the mud with their reins hanging loose, the sun had peeped out again, the roofs of the summer villas and the old lime trees in the gardens on both sides of the high street sparkled with wet brilliance, and from the twigs came a pleasant drip, and, from the roofs, rushing streams of water. He thought no more of shower spoiling the racecourse, but was now rejoicing because- thanks to the rain- he would be sure to find her at home and alone, as he knew that Alexei Alexandrovich, who had lately returned from a watering place, had not moved from Peterburg.
Hoping to find her alone, Vronsky alighted, as he always did, to avoid attracting attention, before crossing the bridge, and walked to the house. He did not go up the steps to the street door, but went into the court.
"Has your master come?" he asked a gardener.
"No, sir. The mistress is at home. But will you please go to the front door; there are servants there," the gardener answered. "They'll open the door."
"No, I'll go in from the garden."
And feeling satisfied that she was alone, and wanting to take her by surprise, since he had not promised to be there today, and she would certainly not expect him to come before the races, he walked, holding his sword and stepping cautiously over the sandy path, bordered with flowers, to the terrace that looked out upon the garden. Vronsky forgot now all that he had thought on the way of the hardships and difficulties of his position. He thought of nothing but that he would see her directly, not in imagination, but living, all of her, as she was in reality. He was just going in, stepping on his whole foot so as not to make a noise, up the worn steps of the terrace, when he suddenly remembered what he always forgot, and what caused the most torturing side of his relations with her: her son, with his questioning, and, as he fancied, hostile eyes.
This boy was more often than anyone else a check upon their freedom. When he was present, both Vronsky and Anna did not merely avoid speaking of anything that they could not have repeated before everyone; they did not even allow themselves to refer by hints to anything the boy did not understand. They had made no agreement about this, it had been settled of itself. They would have felt it as wounding themselves to deceive the child. In his presence they talked like acquaintances. But, in spite of this caution, Vronsky often saw the child's intent, bewildered glance fixed upon him, and a strange shyness, uncertainty- at one time there was friendliness, at another coldness and reserve, in the boy's manner to him, as though the child felt that between this man and his mother there existed some important bond, the significance of which he could not understand.
As a matter of fact the boy did feel that he could not understand this relation, and he tried painfully, yet was unable, to make clear to himself what feeling he ought to have for this man. With a child's keen instinct for every manifestation of feeling he saw distinctly that his father, his governess, his nurse- all not merely disliked Vronsky, but looked on him with horror and aversion, though they never said anything about him; while his mother looked on him as her greatest friend.
"What does it mean? Who is he? How ought I to love him? If I don't know, it's my fault; either I'm stupid or a naughty boy," thought the child. And this was what caused his dubious, inquiring, sometimes hostile expression, and the shyness and uncertainty which Vronsky found so irksome. This child's presence always and infallibly called up in Vronsky that strange feeling of inexplicable loathing which he had experienced of late. This child's presence called up both in Vronsky and in Anna a feeling akin to the feeling of a sailor who sees by the compass that the direction in which he is swiftly moving is far from the right one, but that to arrest his motion is not in his power, that every instant is carrying him farther and farther away, and that to admit to himself his deviation from the right direction is tantamount to admitting his certain ruin.
This child, with his innocent outlook upon life, was the compass that showed them the point at which they had departed from what they knew, yet did not want to know.
This time Seriozha was not at home, and she was completely alone. She was sitting on the terrace waiting for the return of her son, who had gone out for a stroll and had been caught in the rain. She had sent out a manservant and a maid to look for him, and was sitting here waiting for them. Dressed in a white gown, deeply embroidered, she was sitting in a corner of the terrace behind some flowers, and did not hear him. Bending her curly dark head, she pressed her forehead against a cool watering pot that stood on the parapet, and both her lovely hands, with the rings he knew so well, clasped the pot. The beauty of her whole figure, her head, her neck, her hands, struck Vronsky every time as something new and unexpected. He stood still, gazing at her in ecstasy. But, directly he would have made a step to come nearer to her, she was aware of his presence, pushed away the watering pot, and turned her flushed face toward him.
"What's the matter? Are you unwell," he said to her in French, going up to her. He would have run to her, but remembering that there might be outsiders, he looked round toward the balcony door, and reddened, as he always reddened, feeling that he had to be afraid and be on his guard.
"No, I'm quite well," she said, getting up and squeezing his outstretched hand tightly. "I did not expect... thee."
"My God! what cold hands!" he said.
"You startled me," she said. "I'm alone, and expecting Seriozha; he's out for a walk; they'll come from this direction."
But, in spite of her efforts to be calm, her lips were quivering.
"Forgive me for coming, but I couldn't pass the day without seeing you," he went on, speaking French, as he always did, to avoid using the stiff Russian plural form, so impossibly frigid between them, and the dangerously intimate singular.
"Forgive- for what I'm so glad!"
"But you're ill or worried," he went on, without letting go her hands and bending over her. "What were you thinking of?"
"Always of the same thing." she said, with a smile.
She spoke the truth. If ever at any moment she had been asked what she was thinking of, she could have answered truly: Of the same thing, of her happiness and her unhappiness. She was thinking, just when he came upon her, of this: Why was it, she wondered, that to others, to Betsy for instance (she knew of her secret connection with Tushkevich), all this was so easy, while to her it was such torture? Today this thought gained special poignancy from certain other considerations. She asked him about the races. He answered her questions, and, seeing that she was agitated, trying to calm her, he began telling her in the simplest tone the details of his preparations for the races.
"Shall I tell him, or not?" she thought, looking into his calm, affable eyes. "He is so happy, so absorbed in his races that he won't understand as he should; he won't understand all the significance of this event to us."
"But you haven't told me what you were thinking of when I came in," he said, interrupting his narrative; "pray, tell me!"
She did not answer, and, bending her head a little, she looked inquiringly at him from under her brows, her eyes shining under their long lashes. Her hand shook as it played with a leaf she had picked. He saw it, and his face expressed that utter subjection, that slavish devotion, which had done so much to win her.
"I see something has happened. Do you suppose I can be at peace, knowing you have a trouble I am not sharing? Tell me, for God's sake!" he repeated imploringly.
"Yes, I shan't be able to forgive him if he does not realize all the significance of it. Better not tell; why put him to the proof?" she thought, still staring at him in the same way, and feeling that her hand that held the leaf was trembling more and more.
"For God's sake!" he repeated, taking her hand.
"Shall I tell you?"
"Yes, yes, yes..."
"I am pregnant," she said, softly and slowly.
The leaf in her hand shook more violently, but she did not take her eyes off him, watching how he would take it. He turned pale, would have said something, but stopped; he dropped her hand, and his head sank on his breast. "Yes, he realizes all the significance of the fact," she thought, and gratefully she pressed his hand.
But she was mistaken in thinking he realized the significance of the news as she, a woman, realized it. On hearing it, he felt come upon him with tenfold intensity that strange feeling of loathing of someone. But, at the same time, he realized that the turning point he had been longing for had come now; that it was impossible to go on concealing things from her husband, and it was inevitable in one way or another that they should soon put an end to their unnatural position. But, besides that, her emotion physically affected him in the same way. He looked at her with a look of submissive tenderness, kissed her hand, got up, and, in silence, paced up and down the terrace.
"Yes," he said, going up to her resolutely. "Neither you nor I have looked on our relations as a passing amusement, and now our fate is sealed. It is absolutely necessary to put an end"- he looked round as he spoke- "to the deception in which we are living."
"Put an end? Put an end how, Alexei?" she said softly.
She was calmer now, and her face lighted up with a tender smile.
"Leave your husband and make our life one."
"It is one as it is," she answered, scarcely audibly.
"Yes, but completely, completely."
"But how, Alexei- tell me how?" she said in melancholy mockery at the hopelessness of her own situation. "Is there any way out of such a situation? Am I not the wife of my husband?"
"There is a way out of every situation. We must take our stand," he said. "Anything's better than the situation in which you're living. Of course, I see how you torture yourself over everything- the world, and your son, and your husband."
"Oh, not over my husband," she said, with a plain smile. "I don't know him, I don't think of him. He doesn't exist."
"You're not speaking sincerely. I know you. You worry about him too."
"Oh, he doesn't even know," she said, and suddenly a hot flush came over her face; her cheeks, her brow, her neck crimsoned, and tears of shame came into her eyes. "But let us not even talk of him."
Vronsky had several times already, though not so resolutely as now, tried to bring her to consider her position, and every time he had been confronted by the same superficiality and frivolity with which she met his appeal now. It was as though there were something in this which she could not or would not face, as though directly she began to speak of this, she, the real Anna, retreated somehow into herself, and another strange and unaccountable woman came out, whom he did not love and whom he feared, and who was in opposition to him. But today he was resolved to have it out.
"Whether he knows or not," said Vronsky, in his usual calm and firm tone, "whether he knows or not, has nothing to do with us. We cannot... You cannot stay like this, especially now."
"What's to be done, according to you?" she asked with the same frivolous irony. She who had so feared he would take her condition too frivolously, was now vexed with him for deducing from it the necessity of taking some step.
"Tell him everything, and leave him."
"Very well, let us suppose I do that," she said. "Do you know what the result of that would be? I can tell you it all beforehand," and a wicked light gleamed in her eyes, that had been so tender a minute before. "'Eh, you love another man, and have entered into a criminal liaison with him?'" (Mimicking her husband, she threw an emphasis on the word "criminal," as Alexei Alexandrovich did.) "'I warned you of the results in the religious, the civil, and the domestic aspects. You have not listened to me. Now I cannot let you disgrace my name'"- "and my son," she had meant to say, but about her son she could not jest- "'disgrace my name, and'- and more in the same style," she added. "In general terms, he'll say in his official manner, and with all distinctness and precision, that he cannot let me go, but will take all measures in his power to prevent scandal. And he will calmly and punctiliously act in accordance with his words. That's what will happen. He's not a man, but a machine- and a spiteful machine when he's angry," she added, recalling Alexei Alexandrovich as she spoke, with all the peculiarities of his figure and manner of speaking, and reckoning against him every defect she could find in him, forgiving him nothing for the great wrong she herself was doing him.
"But, Anna," said Vronsky, in a soft and persuasive voice, trying to soothe her, "we absolutely must tell him, at any rate, and then be guided by the line he takes."
"What- run away?"
"And why not run away? I don't see how we can keep on like this. And not for my sake- I see that you suffer."
"Yes, run away, and become your mistress," she said angrily.
"Anna," he said, with reproachful tenderness.
"Yes," she went on, "become your mistress, and complete the ruin of..."
Again she would have said "my son," but she could not utter that word.
Vronsky could not understand how she, with her strong and truthful nature, could endure this state of deceit, and not long to get out of it. But he did not suspect that the chief cause of it was the word son, which she could not utter. When she thought of her son, and his future attitude to his mother, who had abandoned his father, she felt such terror at what she had done that she no longer reasoned, but, being a woman, could only try to comfort herself with lying assurances and words so that everything should remain as it always had been, and that it was possible to forget the fearful question of how it would be with her son.
"I beg you, I entreat you," she said suddenly, taking his hand, and speaking in quite a different tone, sincere and tender, "never speak to me of that!"
"Never. Leave it to me. I know all the baseness, all the horror of my position; but it's not so easy to decide as you think. Therefore leave it to me, and do what I say. Never speak to me of it. Do you promise me?... No, no, promise!..."
"I promise everything, but I can't be at peace, especially after what you have told me I can't be at peace, when you can't be at peace...."
"I?" she repeated. "Yes, I am worried sometimes; but that will pass, if you will never talk about this. When you talk about it- it's only then it worries me."
"I don't understand," he said.
"I know," she interrupted him, "how hard it is for your truthful nature to lie, and I grieve for you. I often think, how could you ruin your whole life for me."
"I was just thinking the very same thing," he said; "how could you sacrifice everything for my sake? I can't forgive myself because you're unhappy."
"I unhappy?" she said, coming closer to him, and looking at him with an ecstatic smile of love. "I am like a hungry man who has been given food. He may be cold, and dressed in rags, and ashamed, but he is not unhappy. I unhappy? No, this is my happiness...."
She could hear the sound of her son's voice coming toward them, and, glancing swiftly round the terrace, she got up impulsively. Her eyes glowed with the fire he knew so well; with a rapid movement she raised her lovely hands, covered with rings, took his head, looked into his face with a protracted gaze, and, putting up her face with smiling, parted lips, swiftly kissed his mouth and both eyes, and thrust him away. She would have gone, but he held her back.
"When?" he murmured in a whisper, gazing in ecstasy at her.
"Tonight, at one o'clock," she whispered, and, with a heavy sigh, she walked with her light, swift step to meet her son.
Seriozha had been caught by the rain in the big garden, and he and his nurse had taken shelter in a bower.
"Well, au revoir," she said to Vronsky. "I must soon be getting ready for the races. Betsy promised to fetch me."
Vronsky, looking at his watch, hurriedly drove off.
When Vronsky had looked at his watch on the Karenins' balcony, he had been so greatly agitated and lost in his thoughts that, although he saw the hands on the face of his watch, he could not take in what time it was. He came out onto the highroad and walked, picking his way carefully through the mud, to his carriage. He was so completely absorbed in his feeling for Anna, that he did not even think what o'clock it was, and whether he had time to go to Briansky's. He preserved, as often happens, only the external faculty of memory, that points out each step one has to take, one after the other. He went up to his coachman, who was dozing on the box in the shadow, already lengthening, of a thick lime tree; he admired the shifting clouds of midges circling over the hot horses, and, waking the coachman, he jumped into the carriage, and told him to drive to Briansky's. It was only after driving nearly seven verstas that he had sufficiently recovered himself to look at his watch, and realize that it was half past five, and that he was late.
There were several races set for that day: the Body Guards' race, then the officers' two-versta race, then the four-versta race, and then the race for which he was entered. He could still be in right time for his race, but if he went to Briansky's he could be only in full time, and he would arrive when the whole Court would be in their places. That would be a pity. But he had promised Briansky to come, and so he decided to drive on, telling the coachman not to spare the horses.
He reached Briansky's, spent five minutes there, and galloped back. This rapid drive calmed him. All that was painful in his relations with Anna, all the feeling of indefiniteness left by their conversation, had slipped out of his mind. He was thinking now with pleasure and excitement of the race, of his being in time after all, and now and then the thought of the happiness of this night's assignation flashed across his imagination like a dazzling light.
The excitement of the approaching race gained upon him more and more as he drove farther and farther into the atmosphere of the races, overtaking carriages driving up from the summer villas or out of Peterburg.
There was no longer anyone at home at his quarters; all were at the races, and his valet was looking out for him at the gate. While he was changing his clothes, his valet told him that the second race had begun already, that a lot of gentlemen had been to ask for him, and a boy had twice run up from the stables.
Dressing without hurry (he never hurried himself, and never lost his self-possession), Vronsky drove to the sheds. From the sheds he could see a perfect sea of carriages, and people on foot, soldiers surrounding the racecourse, and pavilions swarming with people. The second race was apparently going on, for just as he went into the sheds he heard a bell ringing. Going toward the stable, he met the white-legged chestnut, Makhotin's Gladiator, being led to the racecourse in a blue and orange horsecloth, with what looked like huge ears edged with blue.
"Where's Cord?" he asked the stableboy.
"In the stable, putting on the saddle."
In the open horse box stood Frou-Frou, saddled ready. They were just going to lead her out.
"I'm not too late?"
"All right! All right!" said the Englishman; "don't upset yourself!"
Vronsky once more took in at one glance the beautiful lines of his favorite mare, who was quivering all over, and with an effort he tore himself from the sight of her, and went out of the stable. He went toward the pavilions at the most favorable moment for escaping attention. The two-versta race was just finishing, and all eyes were fixed on the cavalry guard in front and the light hussar behind, urging their horses on with a last effort close to the winning post. From the center and outside of the ring all were crowding to the winning post, and a group of soldiers and officers of the cavalry guards were shouting loudly their delight at the expected triumph of their officer and comrade. Vronsky moved into the middle of the crowd unnoticed, almost at the very moment when the bell rang at the finish of the race, and the tall, mud-spattered cavalry guard who came in first, leaning over the saddle, let go the reins of his panting gray stallion that looked dark with sweat.
The stallion, stiffening out his legs, with an effort stopped his rapid course, and the officer of the cavalry guards looked round him like a man waking up from a heavy sleep, and just managed to smile. A crowd of friends and outsiders pressed round him.
Vronsky intentionally avoided that select crowd of upper world, which was moving and talking with discreet freedom before the pavilions. He knew that Madame Karenina was there, and Betsy, and his brother's wife, and he purposely did not go near them for fear of something distracting his attention. But he was continually met and stopped by acquaintances, who told him about the previous races, and kept asking him why he was so late.
At the time when the racers had to go to the pavilion to receive the prizes, and all attention was directed to that point, Vronsky's elder brother, Alexandre, a colonel with the shoulder knot, came up to him. He was not tall, though as broadly built as Alexei, and handsomer and rosier than he; he had a red nose, and an open, tipsy face.
"Did you get my note?" he said. "There's never any finding you."
Alexandre Vronsky, in spite of his dissolute life, and particularly his drunken habits, for which he was notorious, was quite one of the Court circle.
Now, as he talked to his brother of a matter bound to be exceedingly disagreeable to him, knowing that the eyes of many people might be fixed upon him, he kept a smiling countenance, as though he were jesting with his brother about something of little moment.
"I got it, and I really can't make out what you are worrying yourself about," said Alexei.
"I'm worrying myself because the remark has just been made to me that you weren't here, and that you were seen in Peterhof on Monday."
"There are matters which only concern those directly interested in them, and the matter you are so worried about is of that nature..."
"Yes, but if so, one does not belong in the service, one does not..."
"I beg you not to meddle, and that is all."
Alexei Vronsky's frowning face turned pale, and his prominent lower jaw quivered, which happened rarely with him. Being a man of very warm heart, he was seldom angry; but when he was angry, and when his chin quivered, then, as Alexandre Vronsky knew, he was dangerous. Alexandre Vronsky smiled gaily.
"I only wanted to give you mother's letter. Answer it and don't worry about anything just before the race. Bonne chance," he added, smiling, and he moved away from him. But after him another friendly greeting brought Vronsky to a standstill.
"So you won't recognize your friends! How are you, mon cher?" said Stepan Arkadyevich, as conspicuously brilliant in the midst of all the Peterburg brilliance as he was in Moscow, his face rosy, and his whiskers sleek and glossy. "I came up yesterday, and I'm delighted because I shall see your triumph. When shall we meet?"
"Come tomorrow to the messroom," said Vronsky, and squeezing him by the sleeve of his greatcoat, with apologies, he moved away to the center of the racecourse, where the horses were being led for the great steeplechase.
The horses who had run in the last race were being led home, steaming and exhausted, by the stableboys, and one after another the fresh horses for the coming race made their appearance, for the most part English racers, wearing horsecloths and looking with their drawn-up bellies like strange, huge birds. On the right Frou-Frou was led in, lean and beautiful, lifting up her elastic, rather long pasterns, as though moved by springs. Not far from her they were taking the caparison off the lop-cared Gladiator. The strong, exquisite, perfectly correct lines of the stallion, with his superb hindquarters and excessively short pasterns almost over his hoofs, attracted Vronsky's attention in spite of himself. He would have gone up to his mare, but he was again detained by an acquaintance.
"Oh, there's Karenin!" said the acquaintance with whom he was chatting. "He's looking for his wife, and she's in the middle of the pavilion. Didn't you see her?"
"No, I didn't," answered Vronsky, and without even glancing round toward the pavilion where his friend was pointing out Madame Karenina, he went up to his mare.
Vronsky had not had time to look at the saddle, about which he had to give some direction, when the entrants were summoned to the pavilion to receive their numbers and places in the row at starting. Seventeen officers, looking serious and severe, many with pale faces, met together in the pavilion and drew the numbers. Vronsky drew number 7. The cry was heard: "Mount!"
Feeling that, with the others riding in the race, he was the center upon which all eyes were fastened, Vronsky walked up to his mare in that state of nervous tension in which he usually became dilatory and calm in his movements. Cord, in honor of the races, had put on his best clothes, a black coat buttoned up, a stiffly starched collar, which propped up his cheeks, a black bowler and Hessian boots. He was calm and dignified as ever, and was with his own hands holding Frou-Frou by both reins, standing straight in front of her. Frou-Frou was still trembling as though in a fever. Her eye, full of fire, glanced sideways at Vronsky. Vronsky slipped his finger under the saddle girth. The mare glanced aslant at him, drew up her lip, and twitched her ear. The Englishman puckered up his lips, intending to indicate a smile that anyone should verify his saddling.
"Get up; you won't feel so excited."
Vronsky looked round for the last time at his rivals. He knew that he would not see them during the race. Two were already riding forward to the point from which they were to start. Galtsin, a friend of Vronsky's and one of his more formidable rivals, was moving round a bay horse that would not let him mount. A little hussar of the life guards in tight riding breeches rode off at a gallop, crouched up like a cat over the porridge, in imitation of English jockeys. Prince Kuzovlev sat with a white face on his thoroughbred mare from the Grabovsky stud, while an English groom led her by the bridle. Vronsky and all his comrades knew Kuzovlev and his peculiarity of "weak nerves" and terrible vanity. They knew that he was afraid of everything- afraid of riding a line horse. But now, just because it was terrible, because people broke their necks, and there was a doctor standing at each obstacle, and an ambulance with a cross on it, and a sister of mercy, he had made up his mind to take part in the race. Their eyes met, and Vronsky gave him a friendly and encouraging nod. Only one he did not see, his chief rival, Makhotin on Gladiator.
"Don't be in a hurry," said Cord to Vronsky, "and remember one thing: don't hold her in at the fences, and don't urge her on; let her go as she likes."
"All right, all right," said Vronsky, taking the reins.
"If you can, lead the race; but don't lose heart till the last minute, even if you're behind."
Before the mare had time to move, Vronsky stepped with an agile, vigorous movement into the steel-toothed stirrup, and lightly and firmly placed his compacted body on the creaking leather of the saddle. Getting his right foot in the stirrup, he with habitual moving smoothed the double reins between his fingers, and Cord let go. As though she did not know which foot to put first, Frou-Frou started, dragging at the reins with her long neck, and as though she were on springs, shaking her rider from side to side. Cord quickened his step, following him. The excited mare, trying to deceive her rider, pulled at the reins, first on one side and then the other, and Vronsky tried in vain with voice and hand to soothe her.
They were just reaching the dammed-up stream on their way to the starting point. Several of the riders were in front and several behind, when suddenly Vronsky heard the sound of a horse galloping in the behind him, and he was overtaken by Makhotin on his white-legged, lop-eared Gladiator. Makhotin smiled, showing his long teeth, but Vronsky looked at him angrily. He did not like him, and regarded him now as his most formidable rival. He was angry with him for galloping past and exciting his mare. Frou-Frou started into a gallop, her left foot forward, made two bounds, and fretting at the tightened reins, passed into a jolting trot, bumping her rider up and down. Cord, too, scowled, and followed Vronsky almost ambling.
There were seventeen officers in all riding in this race. The racecourse was a large four-versta ring in the form of an ellipse in front of the pavilion. On this course nine obstacles had been arranged: the stream, a big and solid barrier two arsheenes high, just before the pavilion, a dry ditch, a ditch full of water, a precipitous slope, an Irish barricade (one of the most difficult obstacles, consisting of a mound fenced with brushwood, beyond which was a ditch out of sight for the horses, so that the horse had to clear both obstacles or possibly be killed); then two more ditches filled with water, and one dry one; and the end of the race was just facing the pavilion. But the race began not in the ring, but a hundred arsheenes away from it, and in that part of the course was the first obstacle, a dammed-up stream, three arsheenes in breadth, which the racers could leap or wade through as they preferred.
Three times they were ranged ready to start, but each time some horse thrust itself out of line, and they had to begin again. The starter, Colonel Sestrin, was beginning to lose his temper, when at last, for the fourth time, he shouted "Away!" and the riders started.
Every eye, every opera glass, was turned on the brightly colored group of riders at the moment they were in line to start.
"They're off! They're starting!" was heard on all sides after the hush of expectation.
And little groups and solitary figures among the public began running from place to place to get a better view. In the very first minute the close group of horsemen spread out, and it could be seen that they were approaching the stream in twos and threes and one behind another. To the spectators it seemed as though they had all started simultaneously, but to the racers there were seconds of difference that had great value to them.
Frou-Frou, excited and overnervous, had lost the first moment, and several horses had started before her, but before reaching the stream, Vronsky, who was holding in the mare with all his force as she tugged at the bridle, easily overtook three, and there were left in front of him Makhotin's chestnut Gladiator, whose hindquarters were moving lightly and rhythmically up and down exactly in front of Vronsky, and, in front of all, the dainty mare Diana bearing the more dead than alive Kuzovlev.
For the first instant Vronsky was not master either of himself or his mare. Up to the first obstacle, the stream, he could not guide the motions of his mare.
Gladiator and Diana came up to it together and almost at the same instant; at a stroke they rose above the stream and flew across to the other side; Frou-Frou darted after them easily, as if flying; but at the very moment when Vronsky felt himself in the air, he suddenly saw almost under his mare's hoofs Kuzovlev, who was floundering with Diana on the further side of the stream. (Kuzovlev had let go the reins as he took the leap, and the mare had fallen together with him over her head.) Those details Vronsky learned later; at the moment all he saw was that just under him, where Frou-Frou must alight, Diana's legs or head might be in the way. But Frou-Frou drew up her legs and back in the very act of leaping, like a falling cat, and, clearing the other mare, alighted beyond her.
"Oh, you darling!" flashed through Vronsky's head.
After crossing the stream Vronsky had complete control of his mare, and began holding her in, intending to cross the great barrier behind Makhotin, and to try to overtake him in the clear ground of about two hundred sazhenes that followed it.
The great barrier stood just in front of the Imperial Pavilion. The Czar and the whole Court, and crowds of people, were all gazing at them- at him, and at Makhotin, a length ahead of him, as they drew near the "devil," as the solid barrier was called. Vronsky was aware of those eyes fastened upon him from all sides, but he saw nothing except the ears and neck of his own mare, the ground racing to meet him, and the back and white legs of Gladiator beating time swiftly before him, and keeping always the same distance ahead. Gladiator rose, with no sound of knocking against anything. With a wave of his short tail he disappeared from Vronsky's sight.
"Bravo!" cried a voice.
At the same instant, under Vronsky's eyes, right before him flashed the palings of the barrier. Without the slightest change in her action his mare flew over it; the palings vanished, and he heard only a crash behind him. The mare, excited by Gladiator's keeping ahead, had risen too soon before the barrier, and grazed it with one of her hind hoofs. But her pace never changed, and Vronsky, feeling a spatter of mud in his face, realized that he was once more the same distance from Gladiator. Once more he perceived in front of him the same back and short tail, and again the same swiftly moving white legs that got no further away.
At the very moment when Vronsky thought that now was the time to overtake Makhotin, Frou-Frou herself, understanding his thoughts, without any incitement on his part, gained considerably, and began getting alongside of Makhotin on the most favorable side, close to the inner rope. Makhotin would not let her pass that side. Vronsky had hardly formed the thought that he could perhaps pass on the outer side, when Frou-Frou shifted her pace and began overtaking him on the other side. Frou-Frou's shoulder, beginning by now to be dark with sweat, was even with Gladiator's back. For a few bounds they moved evenly. But before the obstacle they were approaching, Vronsky began working at the reins, anxious to avoid having to take the outer circle, and swiftly passed Makhotin just upon the declivity. He caught a glimpse of his mud-stained face as he flashed by. He even fancied that he smiled. Vronsky passed Makhotin, but he was immediately aware of him close upon him, and he never ceased hearing just behind him the even-thudding hoofs and the rapid and still quite fresh breathing of Gladiator.
The next two obstacles, the watercourse and the barrier, were easily crossed, but Vronsky began to hear the snorting and thud of Gladiator closer upon him. He urged on his mare, and to his delight felt that she easily quickened her pace, and the thud of Gladiator's hoofs was again heard at the same distance away.
Vronsky was at the head of the race, just as he wanted to be and as Cord had advised, and now he felt sure of being the winner. His excitement, his delight, and his tenderness for Frou-Frou grew keener and keener. He longed to look round, but he did not dare do this, and tried to be cool and not to urge on his mare, so as to keep the same reserve of force in her as he felt that Gladiator still kept. There remained only one obstacle, the most difficult; if he could cross it ahead of the others, he would come in first. He was flying toward the Irish barricade; Frou-Frou and he both together saw the barricade in the distance, and both the man and the mare had a moment's hesitation. He saw the uncertainty in the mare's ears and lifted the whip, but at the same time felt that his fears were groundless; the mare knew what was wanted. She quickened her pace and rose rhythmically, just as he had fancied she would, and as she left the ground gave herself up to the force of her rush, which carried her far beyond the ditch; and with the same rhythm, without effort, with the same leg forward, Frou-Frou fell back into her pace again.
"Bravo, Vronsky!" he heard shouts from a knot of men- he knew they were his friends and his regiment comrades- who were standing at the obstacle. He could not fail to recognize Iashvin's voice, though he did not see him.
"O my sweet!" he said inwardly to Frou-Frou, as he listened for what was happening behind. "He's cleared it!" he thought, catching the thud of Gladiator's hoofs behind him. There remained only the last ditch, filled with water and two arsheenes wide. Vronsky did not even look at it, but anxious to come in a long way ahead began sawing away at the reins, lifting the mare's head and letting it go in time with her paces. He felt that the mare was at her very last reserve of strength; not her neck and shoulders merely were wet, but the sweat was standing in drops on her mane, her head, her sharp ears, and her breath came in short, sharp gasps. But he knew that she had strength left more than enough for the remaining two hundred sazhenes. It was only from feeling himself nearer the ground and from the peculiar smoothness of his motion that Vronsky knew how greatly the mare had quickened her pace. She flew over the ditch as though not noticing it. She flew over it like a bird; but at the same instant Vronsky, to his horror, felt that failing to keep up with the mare's pace, he had, he did not know how, made an abominable, unpardonable move in recovering his seat in the saddle. All at once his position had shifted and he knew that something awful had happened. He could not yet make out what had happened, when the white legs of a chestnut horse flashed by close to him, and Makhotin passed at a swift gallop. Vronsky was touching the ground with one foot, and his mare was sinking on that foot. He just had time to free his leg when she fell on one side, gasping painfully, and, making vain efforts to rise with her delicate, soaking neck, she fluttered on the ground at his feet like a shot bird. The clumsy movement made by Vronsky had broken her back. But that he only knew much later. At that moment he knew only that Makhotin had flown swiftly by, while he stood staggering alone on the muddy, motionless ground, and Frou-Frou lay gasping before him, bending her head back and gazing at him with her exquisite eye. Still unable to realize what had happened, Vronsky tugged at his mare's reins. Again she struggled all over like a fish, and, her shoulders making the wings of the saddle crackle, she rose on her front legs; but unable to lift her back, she quivered all over and again fell on her side. With his face hideous with passion, pale, his lower jaw trembling, Vronsky kicked her with his heel in the stomach and again fell to tugging at the rein. She did not stir, but thrusting her nose into the ground, she simply gazed at her master with her speaking eyes.
"A-a-a!" groaned Vronsky, clutching at his head. "Ah! what have I done!" he cried. "The race lost! And my fault! shameful, unpardonable! And the poor darling, ruined mare! Ah, what have I done!"
A crowd of men, a doctor and his assistant, the officers of his regiment, ran up to him. To his misery he felt that he was whole and unhurt. The mare had broken her back, and it was decided to shoot her. Vronsky could not answer questions, could not speak to anyone. He turned, and without picking up his fallen cap, walked away from the racecourse, unconscious of where he was going. He felt utterly wretched. For the first time in his life he knew the bitterest sort of misfortune, misfortune beyond remedy, and caused by his own fault.
Iashvin overtook him with his cap, and led him home, and half an hour later Vronsky had regained his self-possession. But the memory of that race remained for long in his heart, the cruelest and bitterest memory of his life.
The external relations of Alexei Alexandrovich and his wife had remained unchanged. The sole difference lay in the fact that he was more busily occupied than ever. As in former years, at the beginning of the spring he had gone to a foreign watering place for the sake of his health, being deranged every year with his strenuous winter work. And just as always he returned in July and at once fell to his usual work with increased energy. Just as always, too, his wife had moved for the summer to a villa out of town, while he remained in Peterburg.
From the date of their conversation after the party at Princess Tverskaia's he had never spoken again to Anna of his suspicions and his jealousies, and that habitual tone of his of bantering mimicry was the most convenient tone possible for his present attitude to his wife. He was a little colder to his wife. He simply seemed to be slightly displeased with her for that first midnight conversation, which she had repelled. In his attitude to her there was a shade of vexation, but nothing more. "You would not be open with me," he seemed to say, mentally addressing her; "so much the worse for you. Now you may beg as you please, but I won't be open with you. So much the worse for you!" he said mentally, like a man who, after vainly attempting to extinguish a fire, should fly in a rage with his vain efforts and say, "Oh, very well then! You shall burn for this!"
This man, so subtle and astute in official life, did not realize all the insanity of such an attitude to his wife. He did not realize it, because it was too terrible to him to realize his actual position, and he shut down and locked and sealed up in his heart that secret place where lay hid his feelings toward his family- that is, his wife and son. He who had been such a considerate father, had from the end of that winter become peculiarly frigid to his son, and adopted to him just the same bantering tone as he used with his wife. "Aha, young man!" was the greeting with which he met him.
Alexei Alexandrovich asserted, and believed, that he had never in any previous year had so much official business as that year. But he was not aware that he sought work for himself that year, that this was one of the means for keeping shut that secret place where lay hid his feelings toward his wife and son, and his thoughts about them, which became more terrible the longer they lay there. If anyone had had the right to ask Alexei Alexandrovich what he thought of his wife's behavior, the mild and peaceable Alexei Alexandrovich would have made no answer, but he would have been greatly angered with any man who should question him on that subject. It was precisely for this reason that there came into Alexei Alexandrovich's face a look of haughtiness and severity whenever anyone inquired after his wife's health. Alexei Alexandrovich did not want to think at all about his wife's behavior and feelings, and he actually succeeded in not thinking about them at all.
Alexei Alexandrovich's permanent summer villa was in Peterhof, and the Countess Lidia Ivanovna used to spend the summer there, close to Anna, and constantly seeing her. That year Countess Lidia Ivanovna declined to settle in Peterhof, did not call once at Anna Arkadyevna's, and had hinted to Alexei Alexandrovich about the unsuitability of Anna's close intimacy with Betsy and Vronsky. Alexei Alexandrovich had sternly cut her short, roundly declaring his wife to be above suspicion, and from that time began to avoid Countess Lidia Ivanovna. He did not want to see, and did not see, that many people in society cast dubious glances on his wife; he did not want to understand, and did not understand, why his wife had so particularly insisted on staying at Tsarskoe, where Betsy was staying, and not far from the camp of Vronsky's regiment. He did not allow himself to think about it, and he did not think about it; but, all the same, though he never admitted it to himself, and had no proofs, nor even suspicious evidence, at the bottom of his heart he knew beyond all doubt that he was a deceived husband, and he was profoundly miserable about it.
How often during those eight years of happy life with his wife had Alexei Alexandrovich looked at other men's faithless wives and other deceived husbands and asked himself: "How can people descend to that? How is it they don't put an end to such a hideous situation?" But now, when the misfortune had come upon himself, he was so far from thinking of putting an end to the situation that he would not recognize it at all- would not recognize it just because it was too awful, too unnatural.
Since his return from abroad Alexei Alexandrovich had been twice at their country villa. Once he dined there, another time he spent the evening there with a party of friends, but he had not once stayed the night there, as it had been his habit to do in previous years.
The day of the races had been a very busy day for Alexei Alexandrovich; but when sketching out the day in the morning he made up his mind to go immediately after his early dinner, to their summer villa to see his wife and from there to the races, which all the Court were to witness, and at which he was bound to be present. He was going to see his wife, because he had determined to see her once a week to keep up appearances. And besides, on that day, as it was the fifteenth, he had to give his wife some money for her expenses, according to their usual arrangement.
With his habitual control over his thoughts, though he thought all this about his wife, he did not let his thoughts stray further in regard to her.
That morning was a very full one for Alexei Alexandrovich. The evening before, Countess Lidia Ivanovna had sent him a pamphlet by a celebrated traveler in China, who was staying in Peterburg, and with it she enclosed a note begging him to see the traveler himself, as he was an extremely interesting person from various points of view, and likely to be useful. Alexei Alexandrovich had not had time to read the pamphlet through in the evening, and finished it in the morning. Then people began arriving with petitions, and then came the reports, interviews, appointments, dismissals, apportionment of rewards, pensions, payments, papers- the workday round, as Alexei Alexandrovich called it, that always took up so much time. Then there was a private business of his own, a visit from the doctor, and from the steward who managed his property. The steward did not take up much time. He simply gave Alexei Alexandrovich the money he needed, together with a brief statement of the position of his affairs, which was not altogether satisfactory, as during that year, owing to increased expenses, more had been paid out than usual, and there was a deficit. But the doctor, a celebrated Peterburg doctor, who was an intimate acquaintance of Alexei Alexandrovich, had taken up a great deal of time. Alexei Alexandrovich had not expected him that day, and was surprised at his visit, and still more so when the doctor questioned him very carefully about his health, listened to his breathing, and tapped at his liver. Alexei Alexandrovich did not know that his friend Lidia Ivanovna, noticing that he was not as well as usual that year, had begged the doctor to go and examine him. "Do this for my sake," the Countess Lidia Ivanovna had said to him.
"I will do it for the sake of Russia, Countess," replied the doctor.
"A priceless man!" said the Countess Lidia Ivanovna.
The doctor was extremely dissatisfied with Alexei Alexandrovich. He found the liver considerably enlarged, and the digestive powers weakened, while the course of mineral waters had been quite without effect. He prescribed more physical exercise as far as possible, and as far as possible less mental strain, and above all no worry- in other words, just what was as much out of Alexei Alexandrovich's power as abstaining from breathing. Then he withdrew, leaving in Alexei Alexandrovich an unpleasant sense that something was wrong with him, and that there was no chance of curing it.
As he was coming away, the doctor chanced to meet on the steps an acquaintance of his, Sludin, who was head clerk in Alexei Alexandrovich's office. They had been comrades at the university, and, though they rarely met, they thought highly of each other and were excellent friends, and hence there was no one to whom the doctor would have given his opinion of a patient so freely as to Sludin.
"How glad I am you've been seeing him!" said Sludin. "He's not well, and I fancy... Well, what do you think of him?"
"I'll tell you," said the doctor, beckoning over Sludin's head to his coachman to bring the carriage round. "It's just this," said the doctor, taking a finger of his kid glove in his white hands and pulling it, "if you don't strain the strings, and then try to break them, you'll find it a difficult job; but strain a string to its very utmost, and the mere weight of one finger on the strained string will snap it. And with his close assiduity, his conscientious devotion to his work, he's strained to the utmost; and there's some outside burden weighing on him, and that not a light one," concluded the doctor, raising his eyebrows significantly. "Will you be at the races?" he added, as he came down to his carriage. "Yes, yes, to be sure; it does waste a lot of time," the doctor responded vaguely to some reply of Sludin's he had not caught.
Directly after the doctor, who had taken up so much time, came the celebrated traveler, and Alexei Alexandrovich, by means of the pamphlet he had only just finished reading, and his previous acquaintance with the subject, impressed the traveler by the depth of his knowledge of the subject and the breadth and enlightenment of his view of it.
At the same time with the traveler there was announced a provincial marshal of nobility on a visit to Peterburg, with whom Alexei Alexandrovich had to have some conversation. After his departure, he had to finish the daily routine of business with his head clerk, and then he still had to drive round to call on a certain personage on a matter of grave and serious import. Alexei Alexandrovich hardly managed to be back by five o'clock, his dinner hour, and, after dining with his head clerk, he invited him to drive with him to his summer villa and to the races.
Though he did not acknowledge it to himself, Alexei Alexandrovich always tried nowadays to secure the presence of a third person in his interviews with his wife.
Anna was upstairs, standing before the looking glass, and, with Annushka's assistance, pinning the last ribbon on her gown when she heard carriage wheels crunching the gravel at the entrance.
"It's too early for Betsy," she thought, and, glancing out of the window, she caught sight of the carriage and, protruded from it, the black hat of Alexei Alexandrovich, and the ears that she knew so well. "How unlucky! Can he be going to stay the night?" she wondered, and the thought of all that might come of such a chance struck her as so awful and terrible that, without dwelling on it for a moment, she went down to meet him with a bright and radiant face; and conscious of the presence of that spirit of falsehood and deceit in herself that she had come to know of late, she abandoned herself to that spirit and began talking, hardly knowing what she was saying.
"Ah, how lovely of you!" she said, giving her husband her hand, and with a smile greeting Sludin, who was like one of the family. "You're staying the night, I hope?" was the first word the spirit of falsehood prompted her to utter. "And now we'll go together. Only it's a pity I've promised Betsy. She's coming for me."
Alexei Alexandrovich knit his brows at Betsy's name.
"Oh, I'm not going to separate the inseparables," he said in his usual bantering tone. "I'm going with Mikhail Vassilyevich. Even the doctors order me to walk. I'll walk, and fancy myself at the springs again."
"There's no hurry," said Anna. "Would you like tea?"
"Bring in tea, and tell Seriozha that Alexei Alexandrovich is here. Well, tell me, how have you been? Mikhail Vassilyevich, you've not been to see me before. Look how lovely it is out on the terrace," she said, turning first to one and then to the other.
She spoke very simply and naturally, but too much and too fast. She was the more aware of this from noticing in the inquisitive look which Mikhail Vassilyevich turned on her that he was, as it were, keeping watch on her.
Mikhail Vassilyevich promptly went out on the terrace.
She sat down beside her husband.
"You don't look quite well," she said.
"Yes," he said; "the doctor's been with me today and wasted an hour of my time. I feel that some one of our friends must have sent him: my health's so precious...."
"Come: what did he say?"
She questioned him about his health, and what he had been doing, and tried to persuade him to take a rest and come out to her.
All this she said brightly, rapidly, and with a peculiar brilliance in her eyes. But Alexei Alexandrovich did not now attach any special significance to this tone of hers. He heard only her words and gave them only the direct sense they bore. And he answered simply, though jestingly. There was nothing remarkable in all this conversation, but never after could Anna recall this brief scene without an agonizing pang of shame.
Seriozha came in, preceded by his governess. If Alexei Alexandrovich had allowed himself to observe he would have noticed the timid and bewildered eyes with which Seriozha glanced first at his father and then at his mother. But he would not see anything, and he did not see it.
"Ah, the young man! He's grown. Really, he's getting quite a man. How are you, young man?"
And he gave his hand to the scared child.
Seriozha had been shy of his father before, and now, ever since Alexei Alexandrovich had taken to calling him "young man," and since that insolvable question had occurred to him as to whether Vronsky were friend or foe, he avoided his father. He looked round toward his mother, as though seeking refuge. It was only with his mother that he was at ease. Meanwhile, Alexei Alexandrovich was holding his son by the shoulder, while he was speaking to the governess, and Seriozha was so miserably uncomfortable that Anna saw he was on the point of tears.
Anna, who had flushed a little the instant her son had come in, noticing that Seriozha was uncomfortable, got up hurriedly, took Alexei Alexandrovich's hand from her son's shoulder, and, kissing the boy, led him out onto the terrace, and quickly came back.
"It's time to start, though," said she, glancing at her watch. "How is it Betsy doesn't come?..."
"Yes," said Alexei Alexandrovich, and, getting up, he folded his hands and cracked his fingers. "I've come to bring you some money, too- for nightingales, we know, can't live on fairy tales," he said. "You want it, I expect?"
"No, I don't... Yes, I do," she said, without looking at him, and crimsoning to the roots of her hair. "But you'll come back here after the races, I suppose?"
"Oh, yes!" answered Alexei Alexandrovich. "And here's the glory of Peterhof- Princess Tverskaia," he added, looking out of the window at the English harnessed carriage, with the tiny seats placed extremely high. "What elegance! Charming! Well, let us be starting too, then."
Princess Tverskaia did not get out of her carriage, but her liveryman, in spatterdashes, a cape and black high hat, jumped off at the entrance.
"I'm going; good-by!" said Anna, and, kissing her son, she went up to Alexei Alexandrovich and held out her hand to him. "It was ever so lovely of you to come."
Alexei Alexandrovich kissed her hand.
"Well, au revoir, then! You'll come back for some tea- that'll be delightful!" she said, and went out, radiant and gay. But as soon as he was out of sight, she became aware of the spot on her hand that his lips had touched, and she shuddered with repulsion.
When Alexei Alexandrovich reached the racecourse Anna was already sitting in the pavilion beside Betsy, in that pavilion where the highest society had gathered. She caught sight of her husband in the distance. Two men, her husband and her lover, were the two centers of her existence, and, unaided by her external senses, she was aware of their proximity. She was aware of her husband approaching a long way off, and she could not help following him in the surging crowd in the midst of which he was moving. She watched his progress toward the pavilion, saw him now responding condescendingly to an ingratiating bow, now exchanging friendly, nonchalant greetings with his equals, now assiduously trying to catch the eye of some great one of this world, and taking off his big round hat that pressed down the tips of his ears. All these ways of his she knew, and all were hateful to her. "Nothing but ambition, nothing but desire to get on- that's all there is in his soul," she thought; "as for his lofty ideals, love of culture, religion, they are only so many tools for getting on."
From his glances toward the ladies' pavilion (he was staring straight at her, but did not distinguish his wife in the sea of muslin, ribbons, feathers, parasols and flowers) she saw that he was looking for her, but she purposely avoided noticing him.
"Alexei Alexandrovich!" Princess Betsy called to him; "I'm sure you don't see your wife: here she is."
He smiled his chilly smile.
"There's so much splendor here that one's eyes are dazzled," he said, and he went into the pavilion. He smiled to his wife as a man should smile on meeting his wife after only just parting from her, and greeted the princess and other acquaintances, giving to each what was due- that is to say, jesting with the ladies and dealing out friendly greetings among the men. Below, near the pavilion, was standing an adjutant general of whom Alexei Alexandrovich had a high opinion, noted for his intelligence and culture. Alexei Alexandrovich entered into conversation with him.
There was an interval between the races, and so nothing hindered conversation. The adjutant general expressed his disapproval of races. Alexei Alexandrovich replied defending them. Anna heard his high, measured tones, without losing one word, and every word struck her as false, and stabbed her ears with pain.
When the four-versta steeplechase was beginning, she bent forward and gazed with fixed eyes at Vronsky as he went up to his horse and mounted, and at the same time she heard that loathsome, never-ceasing voice of her husband. She was in an agony of terror for Vronsky, but a still greater agony was the never-ceasing, as it seemed to her, stream of her husband's shrill voice with its familiar intonations.
"I'm a wicked woman, a lost woman," she thought; "but I don't like lying, I can't endure falsehood, while as for him [her husband], falsehood is the breath of life to him. He knows all about it, he sees it all; what does he care if he can talk so calmly? If he were to kill me, if he were to kill Vronsky, I might respect him. No, all he wants is falsehood and propriety," Anna said to herself, not considering exactly what it was she wanted of her husband, and how she would have liked to see him behave. She did not understand either that Alexei Alexandrovich's peculiar loquacity that day, so exasperating to her, was merely the expression of his inward distress and uneasiness. As a child that has been hurt hops about, putting all his muscles into movement to drown the pain, in the same way Alexei Alexandrovich needed mental exercise to drown the thoughts of his wife, that in her presence and in Vronsky's, and with the continual iteration of his name, would force themselves on his attention. And it is as natural for a child to hop about, as it was natural for him to talk well and cleverly. He was saying:
"Danger in the races to officers, to cavalrymen, is an essential element in the race. If England can point to the most brilliant feats of cavalry in military history, it is simply owing to the fact that she has historically developed this force both in beasts and in men. Sport has, in my opinion, a great value, and, as is always the case, we see nothing but what is most superficial."
"It's not superficial," said Princess Tverskaia. "One of the officers, they say, has broken two ribs."
Alexei Alexandrovich smiled his smile, which uncovered his teeth, but revealed nothing more.
"We'll admit, Princess, that that's not superficial," he said, "but internal. But that's not the point," and he turned again to the general with whom he talked seriously; "we mustn't forget that those who are taking part in the race are military men, who have chosen that career, and one must allow that every calling has its disagreeable side. It forms an integral part of the duties of an officer. Low sports, such as prize fighting or Spanish bullfights, are a sign of barbarity. But specialized trials of skill are a sign of development."
"No, I shan't come another time; it's too upsetting," said Princess Betsy. "Isn't it, Anna?"
"It is upsetting, but one can't tear oneself away," said another lady. "If I'd been a Roman woman I should never have missed a single circus."
Anna said nothing, and, keeping her opera glass up, gazed always at the same spot.
At that moment a tall general walked through the pavilion. Breaking off what he was saying, Alexei Alexandrovich got up hurriedly, though with dignity, and bowed low to the general.
"You're not racing?" the officer asked, chaffing him.
"My race is a harder one," Alexei Alexandrovich responded deferentially.
And though the answer meant nothing, the general looked as though he had heard a witty remark from a witty man, and fully relished la pointe de la sauce.
"There are two aspects," Alexei Alexandrovich resumed: "those who take part and those who look on; and love for such spectacles is an unmistakable proof of a low degree of development in the spectator, I admit, but..."
"Any bets, Princess?" sounded Stepan Arkadyevich's voice from below, addressing Betsy. "Who's your favorite?"
"Anna and I are for Kuzovlev," replied Betsy.
"I'm for Vronsky. A pair of gloves?"
"But it is a pretty sight, isn't it?"
Alexei Alexandrovich paused while the others were talking near him, but he began again directly.
"I admit that manly sports do not..." he made an attempt to continue.
But at that moment the racers started, and all conversation ceased. Alexei Alexandrovich also fell silent, and everyone stood up and turned toward the stream. Alexei Alexandrovich took no interest in the race, and so he did not watch the racers, but fell listlessly to scanning the spectators with his weary eyes. His eyes rested upon Anna.
Her face was white and stern. She was obviously seeing nothing and no one but one man. Her hand had convulsively clutched her fan, and she held her breath. He looked at her and hastily turned away, scrutinizing other faces.
"But here's this lady too, and others very much moved as well; it's very natural," Alexei Alexandrovich told himself He tried not to look at her, but unconsciously his eyes were drawn to her. He examined that face again, trying not to read what was so plainly written on it, and against his own will, with horror, read in it what he did not want to know.
The first fall- Kuzovlev's, at the stream- agitated everyone, but Alexei Alexandrovich saw distinctly on Anna's pale, triumphant face that the man she was watching had not fallen. When, after Makhotin and Vronsky had cleared the worst barrier, the next officer had been thrown straight on his head at it and fatally injured, and a shudder of horror passed over the whole public, Alexei Alexandrovich saw that Anna did not even notice it, and had some difficulty in realizing what they were saying around her. But more and more often, and with greater persistence, he watched her. Anna, wholly engrossed as she was with the sight of Vronsky racing, became aware of her husband's cold eyes fixed upon her from aside.
She glanced round for an instant, looked inquiringly at him, and with a slight frown turned away again.
"Ah, I don't care!" she seemed to say to him, and she did not once glance at him again.
The race was an unlucky one, and of the seventeen officers who rode in it more than half had been thrown and hurt. Toward the end of the race everyone was in a state of agitation, which was intensified by the fact that the Czar was displeased.
Everyone was loudly expressing disapprobation, everyone was repeating a phrase someone had uttered: "The lions and gladiators will be the next thing," and everyone was feeling horrified; so that when Vronsky fell to the ground, and Anna moaned aloud, there was nothing very much out of the way in it. But afterward a change came over Anna's face which really went beyond decorum. She utterly lost her head. She began fluttering like a caged bird, at one moment wanting to get up and move away, and at the next turning to Betsy.
"Let us go, let us go!" she said.
But Betsy did not hear her. She was bending down, talking to a general who had come up to her.
Alexei Alexandrovich went up to Anna and courteously offered her his arm.
"Let us go, if you like," he said in French, but Anna was listening to the general and did not notice her husband.
"He's broken his leg too, so they say," the general was saying. "This surpasses everything."
Without answering her husband, Anna lifted her opera glass and gazed toward the place where Vronsky had fallen; but it was so far off, and there was such a crowd of people about it, that she could make out nothing. She put down the opera glass, and would have moved away, but at that moment an officer galloped up and made some announcement to the Czar. Anna craned forward, listening.
"Stiva! Stiva!" she cried to her brother.
But her brother did not hear her. Again she would have moved away.
"Once more I offer you my arm if you want to be going," said Alexei Alexandrovich, reaching for her hand.
She drew back from him with aversion, and without looking at his face answered:
"No, no, leave me alone- I'll stay."
She saw now that from the place of Vronsky's accident an officer was running across the course toward the pavilion. Betsy waved her handkerchief to him. The officer brought the news that the rider was not killed, but that the back of the horse had been broken.
On hearing this Anna sat down hurriedly, and hid her face in her fan. Alexei Alexandrovich saw that she was weeping, and could not control her tears, nor even the sobs that were shaking her bosom. Alexei Alexandrovich stood so as to screen her, giving her time to recover herself.
"For the third time I offer you my arm," he said to her after a short interval, turning to her. Anna gazed at him and did not know what to say. Princess Betsy came to her rescue.
"No, Alexei Alexandrovich; I brought Anna and I promised to take her home," put in Betsy.
"Excuse me, Princess," he said smiling courteously, but looking her very firmly in the face, "but I see that Anna's not very well, and I wish her to come home with me."
Anna looked about her in a frightened way, got up submissively, and laid her hand on her husband's arm.
"I'll send to him and find out, and let you know," Betsy whispered to her.
As they left the pavilion, Alexei Alexandrovich, as always, talked to those he met, and Anna had, as always, to talk and answer; but she was utterly beside herself, and moved hanging on her husband's arm, as though in a dream.
"Is he killed or not? Is it true? Will he come or not? Shall I see him today?" she was thinking.
She took her seat in her husband's carriage in silence, and in silence drove out of the press of carriages. In spite of all he had seen, Alexei Alexandrovich still did not allow himself to consider his wife's real condition. He merely saw the outward symptoms. He saw that she was behaving unbecomingly, and considered it his duty to tell her so. But it was very difficult for him not to say more, to tell her nothing but that. He opened his mouth to tell her she had behaved unbecomingly, but he could not help saying something utterly different.
"What an inclination we all have, though, for these cruel spectacles! he said. "I observe..."
"Eh? I don't understand," said Anna contemptuously.
He was offended, and at once began to say what he had meant to say.
"I am obliged to tell you..." he began.
"So now we are to have it out," she thought, and she felt frightened.
"I am obliged to tell you that your behavior has been unbecoming today," he said to her, in French.
"In what way has my behavior been unbecoming?" she said aloud, turning her head swiftly and looking him straight in the face, not with the bright expression that seemed covering something, but with a look of determination, under which she concealed with difficulty the dismay she was feeling.
"Be careful," he said, pointing to the open window opposite the coachman.
He got up and pulled up the window.
"What did you consider unbecoming?" she repeated.
"The despair you were unable to conceal at the accident to one of the riders."
He waited for her to retort, but she was silent, looking straight before her.
"I have already begged you so to conduct yourself in society that even malicious tongues can find nothing to say against you. There was a time when I spoke of your inward attitude, but I am not speaking of that now. Now I speak only of your external attitude. You have behaved improperly, and I would wish it not to occur again."
She did not hear half of what he was saying; she felt panic-stricken before him, and was thinking whether it was true that Vronsky was not killed. Was it of him they were speaking when they said the rider was unhurt, but that the back of the horse had been broken? She merely smiled with a forced smile when he finished, and made no reply, because she had not heard what he said. Alexei Alexandrovich had begun to speak boldly, but as he realized plainly what he was speaking of, the dismay she was feeling infected him too. He saw the smile, and a strange misapprehension came over him.
"She is smiling at my suspicions. Yes, she will tell me directly what she told me before; that there is no foundation for my suspicions, that the whole thing is absurd."
At that moment, when the revelation of everything was hanging over him, there was nothing he expected so much as that she would answer mockingly, as before, that his suspicions were absurd and utterly groundless. So terrible to him was what he knew that now he was ready to believe anything. But the expression of her face, scared and gloomy, did not now promise even deception.
"Possibly I was mistaken," said he. "If so, I beg your pardon."
"No, you were not mistaken," she said slowly, looking desperately into his frigid face. "You were not mistaken. I was in despair, nor could I help being in despair. I am listening to you, but I am thinking of him. I love him, I am his mistress; I can't bear you; I'm afraid of you, and I hate you... You can do what you like to me."
And dropping back into the corner of the carriage, she broke into sobs, hiding her face in her hands. Alexei Alexandrovich did not stir, and kept looking straight before him. But his whole face suddenly bore the solemn rigidity of the dead, and his expression did not change during the whole time of the drive home. On reaching the house he turned his head to her, still with the same expression.
"Very well! But I expect a strict observance of the external forms of propriety till such time"- his voice shook- "as I may take measures to secure my honor, and communicate them to you."
He got out first and helped her to get out. Before the servants he pressed her hand, took his seat in the carriage, and drove back to Peterburg.
Immediately afterward a footman came from Princess Betsy and brought Anna a note.
"I sent to Alexei to find out how he is, and he writes me he is quite well and unhurt, but in despair."
"So he will be here," she thought. "What a good thing I told him all."
She glanced at her watch. She had still three hours to wait, and the memories of their last meeting set her blood in flame.
"My God, how light it is! It's dreadful, but I do love to see his face, and I do love this fantastic light.... My husband! Oh! yes... Well, thank God! everything's at an end with him."
In the little German watering place to which the Shcherbatskys had betaken themselves, as in all places indeed where people are gathered together, the usual process, as it were, of the crystallization of society went on, assigning to each member of that society a definite and unalterable place. Just as the particle of water in frost, definitely and unalterably, takes the special form of the crystal of snow, so each new person that arrived at the springs was at once placed in his or her peculiar place.
Furst Shcherbatsky, samt Gemahlin und Tochter, by the apartments they took, and from their name and from the friends they made, were immediately crystallized into a definite place marked out for them.
There was visiting the watering place that year a real German Furstin, in consequence of which the crystallizing process went on more vigorously than ever. Princess Shcherbatsky wished, above everything, to present her daughter to this German Princess, and the day after their arrival she duly performed this rite. Kitty made a low and graceful curtsy in the "very simple," that is to say, very elegant frock that had been ordered for her from Paris. The German Princess said, "I hope the roses will soon come back to this pretty little face," and for the Shcherbatskyg certain definite lines of existence were at once laid down, from which there was no departing. The Shcherbatskys made the acquaintance too of the family of an English lady, and of a German Countess and her son, wounded in the last war, and of a learned Swede, and of M. Canut and his sister. Yet inevitably the Shcherbatskys were thrown most into the society of a Moscow lady, Marya Eugenyevna Rtishcheva and her daughter, whom Kitty disliked, because she had fallen ill, like herself, over a love affair; and a Moscow colonel, whom Kitty had known from childhood, and had always seen in uniform and epaulets, and who now, with his little eyes and his open neck and flowered cravat, was uncommonly ridiculous and tedious, because there was no getting rid of him. When all this was so firmly established, Kitty began to be very much bored, especially as the Prince went off to Carlsbad and she was left alone with her mother. She took no interest in the people she knew, feeling that nothing fresh would come of them. Her chief mental interest in the watering place consisted in watching and making theories about the people she did not know. It was characteristic of Kitty that she always imagined everything in people in the most favorable light possible, especially so in those she did not know. And now, as she made surmises as to who people were, what were their relations to one another, and what they were like, Kitty endowed them with the most marvelous and noble characters, and found confirmation in her observations.
Of these people the one that attracted her most was a Russian girl who had come to the watering place with an invalid Russian lady, Madame Stahl, as everyone called her. Madame Stahl belonged to the highest society, but she was so ill that she could not walk, and only on exceptionally fine days made her appearance at the springs in an invalid carriage. But it was not so much from ill-health as from pride- so Princess Shcherbatskaia interpreted it- that Madame Stahl had not made the acquaintance of anyone among the Russians there. The Russian girl looked after Madame Stahl, and besides that, she was, as Kitty observed, on friendly terms with all the invalids who were seriously ill- and there were many of them at the springs- and was solicitous over them in the most natural way. This Russian girl was not, as Kitty gathered, related to Madame Stahl, nor was she a paid attendant. Madame Stahl called her Varenka, and other people called her "Mademoiselle Varenka." Apart from the interest Kitty took in this girl's relations with Madame Stahl and with other unknown persons, Kitty, as often happened, felt an inexplicable attraction to Mademoiselle Varenka, and was aware when their eyes met that she too liked her.
Of Mademoiselle Varenka one would not say that she had passed her first youth, but she was, as it were, a creature without youth; she might have been taken for nineteen or for thirty. If her features were criticized separately, she was handsome rather that plain, in spite of the sickly hue of her face. Hers would have been a good figure, too, if it had not been for her extreme thinness and the size of her head, which was too large for her medium height. But she was not likely to be attractive to men. She was like a fine flower, already past its bloom and without fragrance, though the petals were still unwithered. Moreover, she would have been unattractive to men also from the lack of just what Kitty had too much of- of the suppressed fire of vitality, and the consciousness of her own attractiveness.
She always seemed absorbed in work, beyond a doubt, and so it seemed as if she could take no interest in anything outside it. It was just this contrast with her own position that was for Kitty the great attraction of Mademoiselle Varenka. Kitty felt that in her, in her manner of life, she would find an example of what she was now so painfully seeking: interest in life, a dignity in life- apart from the worldly relations of girls with men, which so revolted Kitty, and appeared to her now as a shameful exhibition of goods in search of a purchaser. The more attentively Kitty watched her unknown friend, the more convinced she was that this girl was the perfect creature she fancied her, and the more eagerly she wished to make her acquaintance.
The two girls used to meet several times a day, and every time they met Kitty's eyes said: "Who are you? What are you? Are you really the exquisite creature I imagine you to be? But for goodness' sake don't suppose," her eyes added, "that I would force my acquaintance on you- I simply admire you and like you." "I like you too, and you're very, very sweet. And I should like you better still, if I had time," answered the eyes of the unknown girl. Kitty saw, indeed, that she was always busy. Either she was taking the children of a Russian family home from the springs, or fetching a shawl for a sick lady, and wrapping her up in it, or trying to interest an irritable invalid, or selecting and buying teacakes for someone.
Soon after the arrival of the Shcherbatskys there appeared in the morning crowd at the springs two persons who attracted universal and unfavorable attention. These were a tall man with a stooping figure and huge hands, in an old coat too short for him, with black, simple, and yet terrible eyes, and a pock-marked, kind-looking woman, very badly and tastelessly dressed. Recognizing these persons as Russians, Kitty had already in her imagination begun constructing a delightful and touching romance about them. But the Princess, having ascertained from the Kurliste that this was Nikolai Levin and Marya Nikolaevna, explained to Kitty what a bad man this Levin was, and all her fancies about these two people vanished. Not so much from what her mother told her, as from the fact that it was Konstantin's brother, this pair suddenly seemed to Kitty in the highest degree unpleasant. This Levin, with his continual twitching of his head, aroused in her now an irrepressible feeling of disgust.
It seemed to her that his big, terrible eyes, which persistently pursued her, expressed a feeling of hatred and contempt, and she tried to avoid meeting him.
It was a foul day; it had been raining all the morning, and the invalids, with their parasols, had flocked into the arcades.
Kitty was walking there with her mother and the Moscow colonel, smart and jaunty in his European coat, bought ready-made at Frankfort. They were walking on one side of the arcade, trying to avoid Levin, who was walking on the other side. Varenka, in her dark dress, in a black hat with a turndown brim, was walking up and down the whole length of the arcade with a blind Frenchwoman, and, every time she met Kitty, they exchanged friendly glances.
"Mamma, couldn't I speak to her?" said Kitty, watching her unknown friend, and noticing that she was going up to the spring, and that they might come there together.
"Oh, if you want to so much, I'll find out about her first and make her acquaintance myself," answered her mother. "What do you see in her out of the way? A companion, most probably. If you like, I'll make acquaintance with Madame Stahl; I used to know her belle-soeur," added the Princess, lifting her head haughtily.
Kitty knew that the Princess was offended because Madame Stahl had apparently avoided making her acquaintance. Kitty did not insist.
"How wonderfully sweet she is!" she said, gazing at Varenka just as she handed a glass to the Frenchwoman. "Look how natural and sweet it all is."
"It's so funny to see your engouements," said the Princess. "No, we'd better go back," she added, noticing Levin coming toward them with his companion and a German doctor, to whom he was talking very noisily and angrily.
They turned to go back, when suddenly they heard, not merely noisy talk, but actual shouting. Levin, stopping short, was shouting at the doctor, and the doctor, too, was excited. A crowd gathered about them. The Princess and Kitty beat a hasty retreat, while the colonel joined the crowd to find out what was up.
A few minutes later the colonel overtook them.
"What was it?" inquired the Princess.
"Scandalous and disgraceful!" answered the colonel. "The one thing to be dreaded is meeting Russians abroad. That tall gentleman was abusing the doctor, flinging all sorts of insults at him because he wasn't treating him quite as he liked, and he began waving his stick at him. It's simply scandalous!"
"Oh, how unpleasant!" said the Princess. "Well, and how did it end?"
"Luckily at that point that miss... the one in the mushroom hat... intervened. She is a Russian lady, I think," said the colonel.
"Mademoiselle Varenka?" Kitty asked joyously.
"Yes, yes. She came to the rescue before anyone else; she took the man by the arm and led him away."
"There, mamma," said Kitty, "yet you wonder why I'm enthusiastic about her."
The next day, as she watched her unknown friend, Kitty noticed that Mademoiselle Varenka was already on the same terms with Levin and his companion as with her other proteges. She went up to them, entered into conversation with them, and served as interpreter for the woman, who could not speak any foreign language.
Kitty began to entreat her mother still more urgently to let her make acquaintance with Varenka. And, disagreeable as it was to the Princess to seem to take the first step in wishing to make the acquaintance of Madame Stahl, who thought fit to give herself airs, she made inquiries about Varenka, and, having ascertained particulars about her tending to prove that there could he no harm, even if little good in the acquaintance, she herself approached Varenka and made acquaintance with her.
Choosing a time when her daughter had gone to the spring, while Varenka had stopped outside the baker's, the Princess approached her.
"Allow me to make your acquaintance," she said, with her dignified smile. "My daughter has lost her heart to you," she said. "Possibly you do not know me. I am..."
"That feeling is more than reciprocal, Princess," Varenka answered hurriedly.
"What a good deed you did yesterday to our poor compatriot!" said the Princess.
Varenka flushed a little.
"I don't remember. I don't think I did anything," she said.
"Why, you saved that Levin from disagreeable consequences."
"Yes, sa compagne called me, and I tried to pacify him; he's very ill, and was dissatisfied with the doctor. I'm used to looking after such invalids."
"Yes, I've heard you live at Mentone with your aunt- I think- Madame Stahl: I used to know her belle-soeur."
"No, she's not my aunt. I call her maman, but I am not related to her; I was brought up by her," answered Varenka, flushing a little again.
This was so simply said, and so sweet was the truthful and candid expression of her face, that the Princess saw why Kitty had taken such a fancy to Varenka.
"Well, and what's this Levin going to do?" asked the Princess.
"He's going away," answered Varenka.
At that instant Kitty came up from the spring beaming with delight because her mother had become acquainted with her unknown friend.
"See, Kitty, your intense desire to make friends with Mademoiselle..."
"Varenka," Varenka put in smiling, "that's what everyone calls me."
Kitty blushed with pleasure, and slowly, without speaking, squeezed her new friend's hand, which did not respond to her pressure, but lay motionless in her hand. The hand did not respond to her pressure, but the face of Mademoiselle Varenka glowed with a soft, glad, though rather mournful, smile, that showed large but handsome teeth.
"I have long wished for this too," she said.
"But "But you are so busy..."
"Oh, no I'm not at all busy," answered Varenka, but at that moment she had to leave her new friends because two little Russian girls, children of an invalid, ran up to her.
"Varenka, mamma's calling!" they cried.
And Varenka went after them.
The particulars which the Princess had learned in regard to Varenka's past and her relations with Madame Stahl were as follows:
Madame Stahl, of whom some people said that she had worried her husband out of his life, while others said it was he who had made her wretched by his immoral behavior, had always been a woman of weak health and enthusiastic temperament. When, after her separation from her husband, she gave birth to her only child, the child had died almost immediately, and the family of Madame Stahl, knowing her sensibility and fearing the news would kill her, had substituted another child, a baby born the same night and in the same house in Peterburg, the daughter of the chief cook of the Imperial Household. This was Varenka. Madame Stahl learned later on that Varenka was not her own child, but she went on bringing her up, especially as very soon afterward Varenka had not a relation of her own living.
Madame Stahl had now been living without a break, more than ten years abroad, in the south, never leaving her couch. And some people said that Madame Stahl had made her social position as a philanthropic, highly religious woman; other people said she really was at heart the highly ethical being, living for nothing but the good of her fellow creatures, which she represented herself to be. No one knew what her faith was- Catholic, Protestant, or Orthodox. But one fact was indubitable- she was in amicable relations with the highest dignitaries of all the churches and sects.
Varenka lived with her all the while abroad, and everyone who knew Madame Stahl knew and liked Mademoiselle Varenka, as everyone called her.
Having learned all these facts, the Princess found nothing to object to in her daughter's intimacy with Varenka, more especially as Varenka's breeding and education were of the best- she spoke French and English extremely well- and, what was of the most weight, brought a message from Madame Stahl expressing her regret that she had been prevented by her ill-health from making the acquaintance of the Princess.
After getting to know Varenka, Kitty became more and more fascinated by her friend, and every day she discovered new virtues in her.
The Princess, hearing that Varenka had a good voice, asked her to come and sing to them in the evening.
"Kitty plays, and we have a piano; not a good one, it's true, but you will give us so much pleasure," said the Princess with her affected smile, which Kitty disliked particularly just then, because she noticed that Varenka had no inclination to sing. Varenka came, however, in the evening, and brought a roll of music with her. The Princess had invited Marya Eugenyevna and her daughter, and the colonel.
Varenka seemed quite unaffected by the presence of persons whom she did not know, and she went directly to the piano. She could not accompany herself, but she could sing music at sight very well. Kitty, who played well, accompanied her.
"You have an extraordinary talent," the Princess said to her after Varenka had sung the first song excellently.
Marya Eugenyevna and her daughter expressed their thanks and admiration.
"Look," said the colonel, looking out of the window, "what an audience has collected to listen to you."
There actually was a considerable crowd under the windows.
"I am very glad it gives you pleasure," Varenka answered simply.
Kitty looked with pride at her friend. She was enchanted by her talent, and her voice, and her face, but most of all by her manner, by Varenka's obviously thinking nothing of her singing and being quite unmoved by their praise. She seemed only to be asking: "Am I to sing again, or is that enough?"
"If it had been I," thought Kitty, "how proud I should have been! How delighted I should have been to see that crowd under the windows! But she's utterly unmoved by it. Her only motive is to avoid refusing and to please maman. What is there about her? What is it gives her the power to look down on everything, to be calm independently of everything? How I should like to know it, and to learn it from her!" thought Kitty, gazing into her serene face. The Princess asked Varenka to sing again, and Varenka sang another song, also smoothly, distinctly, and well, standing erect at the piano and beating time on it with her thin, dark-skinned hand.
The next song in the book was an Italian one. Kitty played the opening bars, and looked round at Varenka.
"Let's skip that," said Varenka, flushing a little.
Kitty let her eyes rest on Varenka's face, with a look of dismay and inquiry.
"Very well, the next one," she said hurriedly, turning over the pages, and at once feeling that there was something connected with the song.
"No," answered Varenka with a smile, laying her hand on the music, "no, let's have that one." And she sang it just as quietly, as coolly, and as well as the others.
When she had finished, they all thanked her again, and went off to tea. Kitty and Varenka went out into the little garden that adjoined the house.
"Am I right, that you have some reminiscences connected with that song?" said Kitty. "Don't tell me," she added hastily, "only say if I'm right."
"No, why not? I'll tell you," said Varenka simply, and, without waiting for a reply, she went on: "Yes, it brings up memories, once painful ones. I cared for someone once, and I used to sing him that song."
Kitty with big, wide-open eyes gazed silently, sympathetically at Varenka.
"I cared for him, and he cared for me; but his mother was opposed, and he married another girl. He's living now not far from us, and I see him sometimes. You didn't think I had a love story, too," she said, and there was a faint gleam in her handsome face of that fire which Kitty felt must once have glowed all over her.
"I didn't think so? Why, if I were a man, I could never care for anyone else after knowing you. Only I can't understand how he could, to please his mother, forget you and make you unhappy; he had no heart."
"Oh, no, he's a very good man, and I'm not unhappy; quite the contrary- I'm very happy. Well, we shan't be singing any more now," she added, turning toward the house.
"How good you are! How good you are!" cried Kitty, and stopping her, she kissed her. "If I could only be even a little like you!"
"Why should you be like anyone? You're lovely as you are," said Varenka, smiling her gentle, weary smile.
"No, I'm not lovely at all. Come, tell me... Stop a minute, let's sit down," said Kitty, making her sit down again beside her. "Tell me, isn't it humiliating to think that a man has disdained your love, that he hasn't cared for it?..."
"But he didn't disdain it; I believe he cared for me, but he was a dutiful son...."
"Yes, but if it hadn't been on account of his mother, if it had been his own doing?..." said Kitty, feeling she was giving away her secret, and that her face, burning with the flush of shame, had betrayed her already.
"In that case he would have done wrong, and I should not have regretted him," answered Varenka, evidently realizing that they were now talking not of her, but of Kitty.
"But the humiliation," said Kitty, "the humiliation one can never forget- never!" she said, remembering her look at the last ball during the pause in the music.
"Where is the humiliation? Why, you did nothing wrong?"
"Worse than wrong- shameful."
Varenka shook her head and laid her hand on Kitty's.
"Why, what's shameful about it?" she said. "You didn't tell a man who didn't care for you, that you loved him, did you?"
"Of course not; I never said a word, but he knew it. No, no, there are looks, there are ways; I can't forget it, if I live a hundred years."
"Why so? I don't understand. The whole point is whether you love him now or not," said Varenka, who called everything by its name.
"I hate him; I can't forgive myself."
"Why, what for?"
"The shame, the humiliation!"
"Oh! if everyone were as sensitive as you are!" said Varenka. "There isn't a girl who hasn't been through the same. And it's all so unimportant."
"Why, what is important?" said Kitty, looking into her face with inquisitive wonder.
"Oh, there's so much that's important," said Varenka, smiling.
"Oh, so much that's more important," answered Varenka, not knowing what to say. But at that instant they heard the Princess's voice from the window. "Kitty, it's cold! Either get a shawl, or come indoors."
"It really is time to go in!" said Varenka, getting up. "I have to go on to Madame Berthe's; she asked me to."
Kitty held her by the hand, and with passionate curiosity and entreaty her eyes asked her: "What is it, what is this of such importance, that gives you such tranquility? You know, tell me!" But Varenka did not even know what Kitty's eyes were asking her. She merely thought that she had to go to see Madame Berthe too that evening, and to make haste home in time for maman's tea at twelve o'clock. She went indoors, collected her music, and saying good-by to everyone, was about to go.
"Allow me to see you home," said the colonel.
"Yes, how can you go alone at night like this?" chimed in the Princess. "Anyway, I'll send Parasha."
Kitty saw that Varenka could hardly restrain a smile at the idea that she needed an escort.
"No, I always go about alone and nothing ever happens to me," she said, taking her hat. And kissing Kitty once more, without saying what was important, she stepped out courageously with the music under her arm and vanished into the twilight of the summer night, bearing away with her her secret of what was important, and what gave her that calm and dignity so much to be envied.
Kitty made the acquaintance of Madame Stahl too, and this acquaintance, together with her friendship with Varenka, did not merely exercise a great influence on her- it also comforted her in her mental distress. She found this comfort through a completely new world being opened to her by means of this acquaintance, a world having nothing in common with her past; an exalted, noble world, from the height of which she could contemplate her past calmly. It was revealed to her that besides the instinctive life to which Kitty had given herself up hitherto there was a spiritual life. This life was disclosed in religion, but a religion having nothing in common with that one which Kitty had known from childhood, and which found expression in masses and evening services at the Widow's Home, where one might meet one's friends; and in learning by heart Slavonic texts with the priest. This was a lofty, mysterious religion connected with a whole series of noble thoughts and feelings, which one could not merely believe because one was told to believe, but which one could love.
Kitty found all this out not from words. Madame Stahl talked to Kitty as to a charming child that one regards with pleasure, as one regards the memory of one's youth, and only once she said in passing that in all human sorrows nothing gives comfort but love and faith, and that in the sight of Christ's compassion for us no sorrow is trifling- and immediately talked of other things. But in every gesture of Madame Stahl, in every word, in every heavenly- as Kitty called it- look; and, above all, in the whole story of her life, which she heard from Varenka, Kitty recognized that something "that was important," of which, till then, she had known nothing.
Yet, elevated as Madame Stahl's character was, touching as was her story, and exalted and moving as was her speech, Kitty could not help detecting in her some traits which perplexed her. She noticed that, when questioning her about her family, Madame Stahl had smiled contemptuously, which was not in accord with Christian meekness. Kitty noticed, too, that when she had found a Catholic priest with her, Madame Stahl had studiously kept her face in the shadow of the lamp shade and had smiled in a peculiar way. Trivial as these two observations were, they perplexed her, and she had her doubts as to Madame Stahl. But on the other hand Varenka, alone in the world, without friends or relations, with a melancholy disappointment in the past, desiring nothing, regretting nothing, was just that perfection of which Kitty dared hardly dream. In Varenka she realized that one has but to forget oneself and love others, and one will be calm, happy and good. And that was what Kitty longed to be. Seeing now clearly what was most important, Kitty was not satisfied with being enthusiastic over it; she at once gave herself up with her whole soul to the new life that was opening to her. From Varenka's accounts of the doings of Madame Stahl and other people whom she mentioned, Kitty had already constructed the plan of her own future life. She would, like Madame Stahl's niece, Aline, of whom Varenka had talked to her a great deal, seek out those who were in trouble, wherever she might be living, help them as far as she could, giving them the Gospel; she would read the Gospel to the sick, to the criminals, to the dying. The idea of reading the Gospel to criminals, as Aline did, particularly fascinated Kitty. But all these were secret dreams, of which Kitty did not talk either to her mother or to Varenka.
While awaiting the time for carrying out her plans on a large scale, however, Kitty, even then at the springs, where there were so many people ill and unhappy, readily found a chance for practicing her new principles in imitation of Varenka.
At first the Princess noticed nothing but that Kitty was much under the influence of her engouement, as she called it, for Madame Stahl, and still more for Varenka. She saw that Kitty did not merely imitate Varenka in her conduct, but unconsciously imitated her in her manner of walking, of talking, of blinking her eyes. But later on the Princess noticed that, apart from this adoration, some kind of serious spiritual change was taking place in her daughter.
The Princess saw that in the evenings Kitty read a French Testament that Madame Stahl had given her- a thing she had never done before; that she avoided society acquaintances and associated with the sick people who were under Varenka's protection, and especially one poor family, that of a sick painter, Petrov. Kitty was unmistakably proud of playing the part of a sister of mercy in that family. All this was well enough, and the Princess had nothing to say against it, especially as Petrov's wife was a perfectly respectable woman, and that the German Princess, noticing Kitty's devotion, praised her, calling her an angel of consolation. All this would have been very well, if there had been no exaggeration. But the Princess saw that her daughter was rushing into extremes, and so indeed she told her.
"Il ne faut jamais rien outrer," she said to her.
Her daughter made her no reply, but in her heart she thought that one could not talk about exaggeration where Christianity was concerned. What exaggeration could there be in the practice of a doctrine wherein one was bidden to turn the other cheek when one was smitten, and give one's shirt if one's coat were taken? But the Princess disliked this exaggeration, and disliked even more the fact that she felt her daughter did not care to show her all her heart. Kitty did in fact conceal her new views and feelings from her mother. She concealed them not because she did not respect or did not love her mother, but simply because she was her mother. She would have revealed them to anyone sooner than to her mother.
"How is it Anna Pavlovna's not been to see us for so long?" the Princess said one day, referring to Madame Petrov. "I've asked her, but she seems put out about something."
"No, I've not noticed it, maman," said Kitty, flushing hotly.
"Is it long since you've been to see them?"
"We intend making an excursion to the mountains tomorrow," answered Kitty.
"Well, you may go," answered the Princess, gazing at her daughter's embarrassed face and trying to guess the cause of her embarrassment.
That day Varenka came to dinner and told them that Anna Pavlovna had changed her mind and given up the excursion for the morrow. And the Princess noticed again that Kitty reddened.
"Kitty, haven't you had some misunderstanding with the Petrovs?" said the Princess, when they were left alone. "Why has she given up sending the children and coming to see us?"
Kitty answered that nothing had happened between them, and that she could not tell why Anna Pavlovna seemed displeased with her. Kitty answered perfectly truthfully. She did not know the reason Anna Pavlovna had changed toward her, but she guessed it. She guessed at something which she could not tell her mother, which she did not put into words to herself It was one of those things which one knows but which one can never speak of even to oneself, so terrible and shameful would it be to be mistaken.
Again and again she went over in her memory all her relations with the family. She remembered the simple delight expressed on the round, good-natured face of Anna Pavlovna at their meetings; she remembered their secret confabulations about the invalid, their plots to draw him away from the work which was forbidden him, and to get him out of doors; the devotion of the youngest boy, who used to call her "my Kitty," and would not go to bed without her. How lovely it all was! "Then she recalled the thin, terribly thin figure of Petrov, with his long neck, in his brown coat, his scant, curly hair, his questioning blue eyes that were so terrible to Kitty at first, and his painful attempts to seem hearty and lively in her presence. She recalled the efforts she had made at first to overcome the repugnance she felt for him, as for all consumptive people, and the pains it had cost her to think of things to say to him. She recalled the timid, softened look with which he gazed at her, and the strange feeling of compassion and awkwardness, and later of a sense of her own goodness, which she had felt at it. How lovely it all was! But all that was at first. Now, a few days ago, everything was suddenly spoiled. Anna Pavlovna had met Kitty with affected cordiality, and had kept continual watch on her and on her husband.
Could that touching pleasure he showed when she came near be the cause of Anna Pavlovna's coolness?
"Yes," she mused, "there was something unnatural about Anna Pavlovna, and utterly unlike her good nature, when she said angrily the day before yesterday: 'There, he will keep waiting for you; he wouldn't drink his coffee without you, though he's grown so dreadfully weak.'"
"Yes, perhaps, too, she didn't like it when I gave him the rug. It was all so simple, but he took it so awkwardly, and was so long thanking me, that I felt awkward too. And then that portrait of me he did so well. And most of all that look of confusion and tenderness! Yes, yes, that's it!" Kitty repeated to herself with horror. "No, it can't be, it oughtn't to be! He's so much to be pitied!" she said to herself directly after.
This doubt poisoned the charm of her new life.
Before the end of the water cure, Prince Shcherbatsky, who had gone on from Carlsbad to Baden and Kissingen to Russian friends- to get a breath of Russian atmosphere, as he said- came back to his wife and daughter.
The views of the Prince and of the Princess on life abroad were completely opposed. The Princess thought everything delightful, and in spite of her established position in Russian society, she tried abroad to be like a European fashionable lady, which she was not for the simple reason that she was a typical Russian gentlewoman; and so she was affected, which did not altogether suit her. The Prince, on the contrary, thought everything foreign detestable, got sick of European life, kept to his Russian habits, and purposely tried to show himself abroad less European than he was in reality.
The Prince returned thinner, with the skin hanging in loose bags on his cheeks, but in the most cheerful frame of mind. His good humor was even greater when he saw Kitty completely recovered. The news of Kitty's friendship with Madame Stahl and Varenka, and the reports the Princess gave him of some kind of change she had noticed in Kitty, troubled the Prince and aroused his habitual feeling of jealousy of everything that drew his daughter away from him, and a dread that his daughter might have got out of the reach of his influence into regions inaccessible to him. But this unpleasant news was all drowned in the sea of kindliness and good humor which was always within him, and more so than ever since his course of Carlsbad waters.
The day after his arrival the Prince, in his long overcoat, with his Russian wrinkles and baggy cheeks propped up by a starched collar, set off with his daughter to the spring in the greatest good humor.
It was a lovely morning: the tidy, cheerful houses with their little gardens, the sight of the red-faced, red-armed, beer-drinking German waitresses, working away merrily, and bright sun did one's heart good. But the nearer they got to the springs the oftener they met sick people; and their appearance seemed more pitiable than ever among the everyday conditions of prosperous German life. Kitty was no longer struck by this contrast. The bright sun, the brilliant green of the foliage, the strains of the music were for her the natural setting of all these familiar faces, with their changes to greater emaciation or to convalescence, for which she watched. But to the Prince the brightness and gaiety of the June morning, and the sound of the orchestra playing a gay waltz then in fashion, and above all, the appearance of the robust waitresses, seemed something unseemly and monstrous, in conjunction with these slowly moving cadavers gathered together from all parts of Europe.
In spite of his feeling of pride and, as it were, of the return of youth, when he walked with his favorite daughter on his arm, he felt awkward, and almost ashamed of his vigorous step and his sturdy, stout and fat limbs. He felt almost like a man not dressed in a crowd.
"Present, present me to your new friends," he said to his daughter, squeezing her hand with his elbow. "I like even your horrid Soden for making you so well again. Only it's melancholy, very melancholy here. Who's that?"
Kitty mentioned the names of all the people they met, of some with whom she was acquainted, and some with whom she was not. At the very entrance of the garden they met the blind lady, Madame Berthe, with her guide, and the Prince was delighted to see the old Frenchwoman's face light up when she heard Kitty's voice. She at once began talking to him with the exaggerated politeness of the French, applauding him for having such a delightful daughter, extolling Kitty to the skies before her face, and calling her a treasure, a pearl and a consoling angel.
"Well, she's the second angel, then," said the Prince, smiling. "She calls Mademoiselle Varenka angel number one."
"Oh! Mademoiselle Varenka- she's a real angel, allez," Madame Berthe assented.
In the arcade they met Varenka herself. She was walking rapidly toward them, carrying an elegant red bag.
"Here is papa come," Kitty said to her.
Varenka made- simply and naturally as she did everything- a movement between a bow and curtsy, and immediately began talking to the Prince, without shyness, naturally, as she talked to everyone.
"Of course I know you; I know you very well," the Prince said to her with a smile, in which Kitty detected with joy that her father liked her friend. "Where are you off to in such haste?"
"Maman's here," she said, turning to Kitty. "She has not slept all night, and the doctor advised her to go out. I'm taking her her work."
"So that's angel number one?" said the Prince when Varenka had gone on.
Kitty saw that her father had meant to make fun of Varenka, but that he could not do it because he liked her.
"Come, so we shall see all your friends," he went on, "even Madame Stahl, if she deigns to recognize me."
"Why, did you know her, papa?" Kitty asked apprehensively, catching the gleam of irony that kindled in the Prince's eyes at the mention of Madame Stahl.
"I used to know her husband, and her too a little, before she'd joined the Pietists."
"What is a Pietist, papa?" asked Kitty, dismayed to find that what she prized so highly in Madame Stahl had a name.
"I don't quite know myself. I only know that she thanks God for everything, for every misfortune, and thanks God too that her husband died. And that's rather droll, as they didn't get on together. Who's that? What a piteous face!" he asked, noticing a sick man of medium height sitting on a bench, wearing a brown overcoat and white trousers that fell in strange folds about his long, fleshless legs. This man lifted his straw hat, showed his scanty curly hair and high forehead, painfully reddened by the pressure of the hat.
"That's Petrov, an artist," answered Kitty blushing. "And that's his wife," she added, indicating Anna Pavlovna, who, as though on purpose, at the very instant they approached, walked away after a child that had run off along a path.
"Poor fellow! And what a fine face he has!" said the Prince. "Why don't you go up to him? He wanted to speak to you."
"Well, let us go, then," said Kitty, turning round resolutely. "How are you feeling today?" she asked Petrov.
Petrov got up, leaning on his stick, and looked shyly at the Prince.
"This is my daughter," said the Prince. "Let me introduce myself."
The painter bowed and smiled, showing his strangely dazzling white teeth.
"We expected you yesterday, Princess," he said to Kitty.
He staggered as he said this, and then repeated the motion, trying to make it seem as if it had been intentional.
"I meant to come, but Varenka said that Anna Pavlovna sent word you were not going."
"Not going!" said Petrov, blushing, and immediately beginning to cough, and his eyes sought his wife. "Aneta! Aneta!" he said loudly, and the swollen veins stood out like cords on his thin white neck.
Anna Pavlovna came up.
"So you sent word to the Princess that we weren't going!" he whispered to her angrily, losing his voice.
"Good morning, Princess," said Anna Pavlovna, with an assumed smile utterly unlike her former manner. "Very glad to make your acquaintance," she said to the Prince. "You've long been expected, Prince."
"Why did you send word to the Princess that we weren't going?" the artist whispered hoarsely again, still more angrily, obviously exasperated that his voice failed him so that he could not give his words the expression he would have liked to.
"Oh, mercy on us! I thought we weren't going," his wife answered crossly.
"What, when..." He coughed and waved his hand.
The Prince took off his hat and moved away with his daughter.
"Ah! ah!" he sighed deeply. "Oh, poor things!"
"Yes, papa," answered Kitty. "And you must know they've three children, no servant, and scarcely any means. He gets something from the Academy," she went on briskly, trying to drown the distress that queer change in Anna Pavlovna's manner toward her had aroused in her. "Oh, here's Madame Stahl," said Kitty, indicating an invalid carriage, where, propped on pillows, something in gray and blue was lying under a sunshade. This was Madame Stahl. Behind her stood the gloomy, robust German workman who pushed the carriage. Close by was standing a flaxen-headed Swedish Count, whom Kitty knew by name. Several invalids were lingering near the low carriage, staring at the lady as though she were some curiosity.
The Prince walked up to her, and Kitty detected that disconcerting gleam of irony in his eyes. He walked up to Madame Stahl, and addressed her with extreme courtesy and charm in that excellent French which so few speak nowadays.
"I don't know if you remember me, but I must recall myself to thank you for your kindness to my daughter," he said taking off his hat and not putting it on again.
"Prince Alexandre Shcherbatsky," said Madame Stahl, lifting upon him her heavenly eyes, in which Kitty discerned a look of annoyance. "Delighted! I have taken a great fancy to your daughter."
"You are still in weak health?"
"Yes; I'm used to it," said Madame Stahl, and she introduced the Prince to the Swedish Count.
"You are scarcely changed at all," the Prince said to her. "It's ten or eleven years since I had the honor of seeing you."
"Yes; God sends the cross and sends the strength to bear it. Often one wonders what is the goal of this life?... The other side!" she said angrily to Varenka, who had rearranged the rug over her feet not to her satisfaction.
"To do good, probably," said the Prince with a twinkle in his eye.
"That is not for us to judge," said Madame Stahl, perceiving the shade of expression on the Prince's face. "So you will send me that book, dear Count? I'm very grateful to you," she said to the young Swede.
"Ah!" cried the Prince, catching sight of the Moscow colonel standing near, and with a bow to Madame Stahl he walked away with his daughter and the Moscow colonel, who joined them.
"That's our aristocracy, Prince!" the Moscow colonel said with ironical intention. He cherished a grudge against Madame Stahl for not making his acquaintance.
"She's the same as ever," replied the Prince.
"Did you know her before her illness, Prince- that's to say, before she took to her bed?"
"Yes. She took to her bed before my eyes," said the Prince.
"They say it's ten years since she has stood on her feet."
"She doesn't stand up because her legs are too short. She has a very bad figure."
"Papa, it's not possible!" cried Kitty.
"That's what wicked tongues say, my darling. And your Varenka is to endure still," he added. "Oh, these invalid ladies!"
"Oh, no, papa!" Kitty objected warmly. "Varenka worships her. And then she does so much good! Ask anyone! Everyone knows her and Aline Stahl."
"Perhaps so," said the Prince, squeezing her hand with his elbow; "but it's better when one does good so that you may ask everyone and no one knows."
Kitty did not answer, not because she had nothing to say, but because she did not care to reveal her secret thoughts even to her father. But, strange to say, although she had made up her mind so firmly not to be influenced by her father's views, not to let him into her inmost sanctuary, she felt that the heavenly image of Madame Stahl, which she had carried for a whole month in her heart, had vanished, never to return, just as the fantastic figure made up of some clothes thrown down at random vanishes when one sees that it is only some fallen garment. All that was left was a woman with short legs, who lay down because she had a bad figure, and worried patient Varenka for not arranging her rug to her liking. And by no effort of her imagination could Kitty bring back the former Madame Stahl.
On coming back with Kitty from the springs, the Prince, who had asked the colonel, and Marya Eugenyevna, and Varenka all to come and have coffee with them, gave orders for a table and chairs to be taken into the tiny garden under the chestnut tree, and lunch to be laid there. The landlord and the servants, too, grew brisker under the influence of his good spirits. They knew his openhandedness; and half an hour later the invalid doctor from Hamburg, who lived on the top floor, looked enviously out of his window at the merry party of healthy Russians assembled under the chestnut tree. In the trembling circles of shadow cast by the leaves, at a table covered with a white cloth, and set with coffeepot, bread, butter, cheese, and cold game, sat the Princess in a high cap with lilac ribbons, distributing cups and sandwiches. At the other end sat the Prince, eating heartily, and talking loudly and merrily. The Prince had spread out near him his purchases - carved boxes, and knickknacks, and paper knives of all sorts, of which he had bought a heap at every watering place, and bestowed them upon everyone, including Lieschen, the servant girl, and the landlord, with whom he jested in his comically bad German, assuring him that it was not the water had cured Kitty, but his splendid cookery - especially his plum soup. The Princess laughed at her husband for his Russian ways, but she was more lively and good-humored than she had been all the while she had been at the waters. The colonel smiled, as he always did, at the Prince's jokes, but as far as regards Europe, of which he believed himself to be making a careful study, he took the Princess's side. The goodhearted Marya Eugenyevna simply roared with laughter at everything absurd the Prince said, and his jokes made Varenka helpless with feeble but infectious laughter, which was something Kitty had never seen before.
Kitty was glad of all this, but she could not be lighthearted. She could not solve the problem her father had unconsciously set her by his good-humored view of her friends, and of the life that had so attracted her. To this doubt there was joined the change in her relations with the Petrovs, which had been so conspicuously and unpleasantly marked that morning. Everyone was good-humored, but Kitty could not feel good-humored, and this increased her distress. She felt a feeling such as she had known in childhood, when she had been shut in her room as a punishment, and had heard her sisters' merry laughter outside.
"Well, but what did you buy this mass of things for? said the Princess, smiling, and handing her husband a cup of coffee.
"One goes for a walk, one looks in a shop, and they ask you to buy. "Erlaucht, Excellenz, Durchlaucht?" Directly they say "Durchlaucht," I can't hold out - and ten thalers are gone."
"It's simply from boredom," said the Princess.
"Of course it is. Such boredom, my dear, that one doesn't know what to do with oneself."
"How can you be bored, Prince? There's so much that's interesting now in Germany," said Marya Eugenyevna.
"But I know everything that's interesting: the plum soup I know and the pea sausages I know. I know everything."
"No, you may say what you like, Prince - there's the interest of their institutions," said the colonel.
"But what is there interesting? They're all as beaming with joy as brass halfpence; they've conquered everybody. And why am I to be pleased at that? I haven't conquered anyone; only I have myself to take off my own boots, and, besides, to expose them before the door; in the morning, get up and dress at once, and go to the coffeeroom to drink bad tea! How different it is at home! You get up in no haste, you get cross, grumble a little and come round again. You've time to think things over, and no hurry."
"But time's money, you forget that,' said the colonel.
"Time, indeed! Why, there are times one would give a month of for half a rouble, and times you wouldn't give half an hour of for any money. Isn't that so, Katenka? What is it? Why are you so depressed?"
"I'm not depressed."
"Where are you off to? Stay a little longer," he said to Varenka.
"I must be going home," said Varenka, getting up, and again she broke out laughing. When she had recovered, she said good-by, and went into the house to get her hat.
Kitty followed her. Even Varenka struck her as different. She was not inferior, but different from what she had fancied her before.
"Oh, dear! It's a long while since I've laughed so much!" said Varenka, gathering up her parasol and her handbag. "What a dear your father is!"
Kitty did not speak.
"When shall I see you again?" asked Varenka.
"Maman meant to go and see the Petrovs. Won't you be there?" said Kitty, to try Varenka.
"Yes," answered Varenka. "They're getting ready to go away, so I promised to help them pack."
"Well, I'll come too, then."
"No, why should you?"
"Why not? Why not? Why not?" said Kitty, opening her eyes wide, and clutching at Varenka's parasol, so as not to let her go. "No, wait a minute - why not?"
"Oh, nothing; your father has come, and, besides, they will feel awkward at your helping."
"No, tell me why you don't want me to be often at the Petrovs? You don't want me to - why not?"
"I didn't say that," said Varenka quietly.
"No, please tell me!"
"Tell you everything?" asked Varenka.
"Everything, everything!" Kitty assented.
"Well, there's really nothing of any consequence; only that Mikhail Alexeievich' (that was the artist's name) "had meant to leave earlier, and now he doesn't want to go away," said Varenka, smiling.
"Go on, go on!" Kitty urged impatiently, looking somberly at Varenka.
"Well, and for some reason Anna Pavlovna told him that he didn't want to go because you are here. Of course, that was nonsense; but there was a dispute over it - over you. You know how irritable these sick people are."
Kitty, scowling more than ever, kept silent, and Varenka went on speaking alone, trying to soften or soothe her, and seeing a storm coming - she did not know whether of tears or of words.
"So you'd better not go... You understand; you won't be offended?..."
"And it serves me right! And it serves me right!" Kitty cried quickly, snatching the parasol out of Varenka's hand, and avoiding looking at her friend's face.
Varenka felt inclined to smile, looking at her friend's childish fury, but she was afraid of wounding her.
"How does it serve you right? I don't understand," she said.
"It serves me right, because it was all sham; because it was all done on purpose, and not from the heart. What business had I to interfere with outsiders? And so it's come about that I'm the cause of a quarrel, and that I've done what nobody asked me to do. Because it was all a sham! A sham! A sham!..."
"A sham? With what object?" said Varenka gently.
"Oh, it's so idiotic! So hateful! There was no need whatever for me... Nothing but sham!" she said, opening and shutting the parasol.
"But with what object?"
"To seem better to people, to myself, to God; to deceive everyone. No! Now I won't descend to that. One could be bad; but anyway not a liar, not a cheat."
"But who is a cheat?" said Varenka reproachfully. "You speak as if..."
But Kitty was in one of her gusts of fury, and she would not let her finish.
"I don't talk about you - not about you at all. You're perfection. Yes, yes, I know you're all perfection; but what am I to do if I'm bad? This would never have been if I weren't bad. So let me be what I am, but not to be a sham. What have I to do with Anna Pavlovna? Let them go their way, and me go mine. I can't be different.... And yet it's not that, it's not that."
"What is it?" asked Varenka in bewilderment.
"Everything. I can't act except from the heart, and you act from principle. I simply liked you, but you most likely only wanted to save me, to improve me."
"You are unjust," said Varenka.
"But I'm not speaking of other people, I'm speaking of myself."
"Kitty," they heard her mother's voice, "come here, show papa your necklace."
Kitty, with a haughty air, without making peace with her friend, took the necklace in a little box from the table and went to her mother.
"What's the matter? Why are you so red?" her mother and father said to her with one voice.
"Nothing," she answered. "I'll be back directly," and she ran back.
"She's still here," she thought. "What am I to say to her? Oh, dear! What have I done, what have I said? Why was I rude to her? What am I to do? What am I to say to her?" thought Kitty, and she stopped in the doorway.
Varenka in her hat and with the parasol in her hands was sitting at a table examining the parasol spring which Kitty had broken. She lifted her head.
"Varenka, forgive me, do forgive me," whispered Kitty, going up to her. "I don't remember what I said. I..."
"I really didn't mean to hurt you," said Varenka, smiling.
Peace was made. But with her father's coming all the world in which she had been living was transformed for Kitty. She did not give up everything she had learned, but she became aware that she had deceived herself in supposing she could be what she wanted to be. Her eyes were, it seemed, opened; she felt all the difficulty of maintaining herself without hypocrisy and self-conceit on the pinnacle to which she had wished to mount. Moreover, she became aware of all the dreariness of the world of sorrow, of sick and dying people, in which she had been living. The efforts she had made to like it seemed to her intolerable, and she felt a longing to get back quickly into the fresh air, to Russia, to Ergushovo, where, as she knew from letters, her sister Dolly had already gone with her children.
But her affection for Varenka did not wane. Parting Kitty begged her to come to them in Russia.
"I'll come when you get married," said Varenka.
"I shall never marry."
"Well, then, I shall never come."
"Well, then, I shall be married simply for that. Mind now, remember your promise," said Kitty.
The doctor's prediction was fulfilled. Kitty returned home, to Russia, cured. She was not as gay and thoughtless as before, but she was serene. Her Moscow troubles had become a memory to her.