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It was as if a surplus of something so overflowed her being that it expressed itself beyond her will, now in the brightness of her glance, now in her smile.
Vronsky waits for his mother at the train station. Before she appears, Vronsky sees a woman with gentle, shining gray eyes whose face becomes animated at the sight of him. This is Anna Karenina, whom Stiva has come to the station to meet. Anna and Vronsky briefly exchange glances. Vronsky’s mother appears and introduces Vronsky to Anna. As they are leaving the station, a worker is run over by a train and killed—whether it is suicide or an accident is unclear. Anna gloomily views the death as a bad omen.
Stiva takes Anna to his home, where Dolly, devastated by grief over her husband’s adultery, wishes to see no one. But Anna, having heard about the betrayal, insists on seeing Dolly and meets her warmly and compassionately. She does not attempt to console Dolly but is deeply sympathetic. She tells Dolly that Stiva is suffering and that he is capable of total repentance. Dolly feels much better.
Later that day, Kitty arrives at the Oblonsky residence, and Anna receives her warmly. Anna hears about Kitty’s interest in Vronsky, and says she met Vronsky at the station and liked him. At teatime, Dolly emerges from her rooms, and Kitty and Anna understand that Dolly and Stiva have been reconciled. They discuss the upcoming ball, and Kitty urges Anna to wear a lilac-colored dress. Later, Vronsky stops by the Oblonsky household and seems ashamed when he sees Anna.
At the ball held not long afterward, Vronsky dances the first dance with Kitty, who looks radiant. Anna appears, dressed not in lilac but in black, which Kitty immediately realizes is Anna’s best color. Kitty is puzzled by Anna’s refusal to respond when Vronsky bows to her. Kitty dances many waltzes with Vronsky but later finds Anna and Vronsky dancing together. Anna looks elated and triumphant. For the final mazurka, Kitty turns away her suitors, expecting Vronsky to ask her to dance. She is stunned to see that Vronsky has spurned her to dance the last dance with Anna.
Meanwhile, Levin gloomily reflects on his life after Kitty’s rejection. He decides to pay a visit to his brother Nikolai. Upon arriving, Levin finds his sickly brother much thinner than he remembered. Nikolai introduces Levin to his companion, Marya Nikolaevna, whom he saved from a whorehouse. Over dinner, Nikolai speaks at length about his socialist views. Marya privately tells Levin that Nikolai drinks too much. Levin leaves, having made Mary promise to write to him in case of need. Levin returns to his country estate, grateful for the blessings of his peaceful existence.
At the Oblonskys’, Anna and Dolly dine together by themselves. Anna is unwell, and Kitty sends word that she has a headache. Anna expresses her amazement at having danced with Vronsky. She is confident that Vronsky will still pursue Kitty, but Dolly is not so sure. Anna leaves for St. Petersburg, relieved to escape Vronsky. On the train she is tormented by self-doubt, unsure of who she is. As the train pauses at a station, Anna glimpses Vronsky on the platform and feels a joyful pride. He has followed her from Moscow.
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