After a capital dinner and a great deal of cognac drunk at Bartnyansky’s, Stepan Arkadyevitch, only a little later than the appointed time, went in to Countess Lidia Ivanovna’s.
“Who else is with the countess?—a Frenchman?” Stepan Arkadyevitch asked the hall-porter, as he glanced at the familiar overcoat of Alexey Alexandrovitch and a queer, rather artless-looking overcoat with clasps.
“Alexey Alexandrovitch Karenin and Count Bezzubov,” the porter answered severely.
“Princess Myakaya guessed right,” thought Stepan Arkadyevitch, as he went upstairs. “Curious! It would be quite as well, though, to get on friendly terms with her. She has immense influence. If she would say a word to Pomorsky, the thing would be a certainty.”
It was still quite light out-of-doors, but in Countess Lidia Ivanovna’s little drawing-room the blinds were drawn and the lamps lighted. At a round table under a lamp sat the countess and Alexey Alexandrovitch, talking softly. A short, thinnish man, very pale and handsome, with feminine hips and knock-kneed legs, with fine brilliant eyes and long hair lying on the collar of his coat, was standing at the end of the room gazing at the portraits on the wall. After greeting the lady of the house and Alexey Alexandrovitch, Stepan Arkadyevitch could not resist glancing once more at the unknown man.
“Monsieur Landau!” the countess addressed him with a softness and caution that impressed Oblonsky. And she introduced them.
Landau looked round hurriedly, came up, and smiling, laid his moist, lifeless hand in Stepan Arkadyevitch’s outstretched hand and immediately walked away and fell to gazing at the portraits again. The countess and Alexey Alexandrovitch looked at each other significantly.
“I am very glad to see you, particularly today,” said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, pointing Stepan Arkadyevitch to a seat beside Karenin.
“I introduced you to him as Landau,” she said in a soft voice, glancing at the Frenchman and again immediately after at Alexey Alexandrovitch, “but he is really Count Bezzubov, as you’re probably aware. Only he does not like the title.”
“Yes, I heard so,” answered Stepan Arkadyevitch; “they say he completely cured Countess Bezzubova.”
“She was here today, poor thing!” the countess said, turning to Alexey Alexandrovitch. “This separation is awful for her. It’s such a blow to her!”
“And he positively is going?” queried Alexey Alexandrovitch.
“Yes, he’s going to Paris. He heard a voice yesterday,” said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, looking at Stepan Arkadyevitch.
“Ah, a voice!” repeated Oblonsky, feeling that he must be as circumspect as he possibly could in this society, where something peculiar was going on, or was to go on, to which he had not the key.
A moment’s silence followed, after which Countess Lidia Ivanovna, as though approaching the main topic of conversation, said with a fine smile to Oblonsky:
“I’ve known you for a long while, and am very glad to make a closer acquaintance with you. Les amis de nos amis sont nos amis. But to be a true friend, one must enter into the spiritual state of one’s friend, and I fear that you are not doing so in the case of Alexey Alexandrovitch. You understand what I mean?” she said, lifting her fine pensive eyes.
“In part, countess, I understand the position of Alexey Alexandrovitch....” said Oblonsky. Having no clear idea what they were talking about, he wanted to confine himself to generalities.
“The change is not in his external position,” Countess Lidia Ivanovna said sternly, following with eyes of love the figure of Alexey Alexandrovitch as he got up and crossed over to Landau; “his heart is changed, a new heart has been vouchsafed him, and I fear you don’t fully apprehend the change that has taken place in him.”
“Oh, well, in general outlines I can conceive the change. We have always been friendly, and now....” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, responding with a sympathetic glance to the expression of the countess, and mentally balancing the question with which of the two ministers she was most intimate, so as to know about which to ask her to speak for him.
“The change that has taken place in him cannot lessen his love for his neighbors; on the contrary, that change can only intensify love in his heart. But I am afraid you do not understand me. Won’t you have some tea?” she said, with her eyes indicating the footman, who was handing round tea on a tray.
“Not quite, countess. Of course, his misfortune....”
“Yes, a misfortune which has proved the highest happiness, when his heart was made new, was filled full of it,” she said, gazing with eyes full of love at Stepan Arkadyevitch.
“I do believe I might ask her to speak to both of them,” thought Stepan Arkadyevitch.
“Oh, of course, countess,” he said; “but I imagine such changes are a matter so private that no one, even the most intimate friend, would care to speak of them.”
“On the contrary! We ought to speak freely and help one another.”
“Yes, undoubtedly so, but there is such a difference of convictions, and besides....” said Oblonsky with a soft smile.
“There can be no difference where it is a question of holy truth.”
“Oh, no, of course; but....” and Stepan Arkadyevitch paused in confusion. He understood at last that they were talking of religion.
“I fancy he will fall asleep immediately,” said Alexey Alexandrovitch in a whisper full of meaning, going up to Lidia Ivanovna.
Stepan Arkadyevitch looked round. Landau was sitting at the window, leaning on his elbow and the back of his chair, his head drooping. Noticing that all eyes were turned on him he raised his head and smiled a smile of childlike artlessness.
“Don’t take any notice,” said Lidia Ivanovna, and she lightly moved a chair up for Alexey Alexandrovitch. “I have observed....” she was beginning, when a footman came into the room with a letter. Lidia Ivanovna rapidly ran her eyes over the note, and excusing herself, wrote an answer with extraordinary rapidity, handed it to the man, and came back to the table. “I have observed,” she went on, “that Moscow people, especially the men, are more indifferent to religion than anyone.”
“Oh, no, countess, I thought Moscow people had the reputation of being the firmest in the faith,” answered Stepan Arkadyevitch.
“But as far as I can make out, you are unfortunately one of the indifferent ones,” said Alexey Alexandrovitch, turning to him with a weary smile.
“How anyone can be indifferent!” said Lidia Ivanovna.
“I am not so much indifferent on that subject as I am waiting in suspense,” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, with his most deprecating smile. “I hardly think that the time for such questions has come yet for me.”
Alexey Alexandrovitch and Lidia Ivanovna looked at each other.
“We can never tell whether the time has come for us or not,” said Alexey Alexandrovitch severely. “We ought not to think whether we are ready or not ready. God’s grace is not guided by human considerations: sometimes it comes not to those that strive for it, and comes to those that are unprepared, like Saul.”
“No, I believe it won’t be just yet,” said Lidia Ivanovna, who had been meanwhile watching the movements of the Frenchman. Landau got up and came to them.
“Do you allow me to listen?” he asked.
“Oh, yes; I did not want to disturb you,” said Lidia Ivanovna, gazing tenderly at him; “sit here with us.”
“One has only not to close one’s eyes to shut out the light,” Alexey Alexandrovitch went on.
“Ah, if you knew the happiness we know, feeling His presence ever in our hearts!” said Countess Lidia Ivanovna with a rapturous smile.
“But a man may feel himself unworthy sometimes to rise to that height,” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, conscious of hypocrisy in admitting this religious height, but at the same time unable to bring himself to acknowledge his free-thinking views before a person who, by a single word to Pomorsky, might procure him the coveted appointment.
“That is, you mean that sin keeps him back?” said Lidia Ivanovna. “But that is a false idea. There is no sin for believers, their sin has been atoned for. Pardon,” she added, looking at the footman, who came in again with another letter. She read it and gave a verbal answer: “Tomorrow at the Grand Duchess’s, say.” “For the believer sin is not,” she went on.
“Yes, but faith without works is dead,” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, recalling the phrase from the catechism, and only by his smile clinging to his independence.
“There you have it—from the epistle of St. James,” said Alexey Alexandrovitch, addressing Lidia Ivanovna, with a certain reproachfulness in his tone. It was unmistakably a subject they had discussed more than once before. “What harm has been done by the false interpretation of that passage! Nothing holds men back from belief like that misinterpretation. ‘I have not works, so I cannot believe,’ though all the while that is not said. But the very opposite is said.”
“Striving for God, saving the soul by fasting,” said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, with disgusted contempt, “those are the crude ideas of our monks.... Yet that is nowhere said. It is far simpler and easier,” she added, looking at Oblonsky with the same encouraging smile with which at court she encouraged youthful maids of honor, disconcerted by the new surroundings of the court.
“We are saved by Christ who suffered for us. We are saved by faith,” Alexey Alexandrovitch chimed in, with a glance of approval at her words.
“Vous comprenez l’anglais?” asked Lidia Ivanovna, and receiving a reply in the affirmative, she got up and began looking through a shelf of books.
“I want to read him ‘Safe and Happy,’ or ‘Under the Wing,’” she said, looking inquiringly at Karenin. And finding the book, and sitting down again in her place, she opened it. “It’s very short. In it is described the way by which faith can be reached, and the happiness, above all earthly bliss, with which it fills the soul. The believer cannot be unhappy because he is not alone. But you will see.” She was just settling herself to read when the footman came in again. “Madame Borozdina? Tell her, tomorrow at two o’clock. Yes,” she said, putting her finger in the place in the book, and gazing before her with her fine pensive eyes, “that is how true faith acts. You know Marie Sanina? You know about her trouble? She lost her only child. She was in despair. And what happened? She found this comforter, and she thanks God now for the death of her child. Such is the happiness faith brings!”
“Oh, yes, that is most....” said Stepan Arkadyevitch, glad they were going to read, and let him have a chance to collect his faculties. “No, I see I’d better not ask her about anything today,” he thought. “If only I can get out of this without putting my foot in it!”
“It will be dull for you,” said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, addressing Landau; “you don’t know English, but it’s short.”
“Oh, I shall understand,” said Landau, with the same smile, and he closed his eyes. Alexey Alexandrovitch and Lidia Ivanovna exchanged meaningful glances, and the reading began.
Stepan Arkadyevitch felt completely nonplussed by the strange talk which he was hearing for the first time. The complexity of Petersburg, as a rule, had a stimulating effect on him, rousing him out of his Moscow stagnation. But he liked these complications, and understood them only in the circles he knew and was at home in. In these unfamiliar surroundings he was puzzled and disconcerted, and could not get his bearings. As he listened to Countess Lidia Ivanovna, aware of the beautiful, artless—or perhaps artful, he could not decide which—eyes of Landau fixed upon him, Stepan Arkadyevitch began to be conscious of a peculiar heaviness in his head.
The most incongruous ideas were in confusion in his head. “Marie Sanina is glad her child’s dead.... How good a smoke would be now!... To be saved, one need only believe, and the monks don’t know how the thing’s to be done, but Countess Lidia Ivanovna does know.... And why is my head so heavy? Is it the cognac, or all this being so queer? Anyway, I fancy I’ve done nothing unsuitable so far. But anyway, it won’t do to ask her now. They say they make one say one’s prayers. I only hope they won’t make me! That’ll be too imbecile. And what stuff it is she’s reading! but she has a good accent. Landau—Bezzubov—what’s he Bezzubov for?” All at once Stepan Arkadyevitch became aware that his lower jaw was uncontrollably forming a yawn. He pulled his whiskers to cover the yawn, and shook himself together. But soon after he became aware that he was dropping asleep and on the very point of snoring. He recovered himself at the very moment when the voice of Countess Lidia Ivanovna was saying “he’s asleep.” Stepan Arkadyevitch started with dismay, feeling guilty and caught. But he was reassured at once by seeing that the words “he’s asleep” referred not to him, but to Landau. The Frenchman was asleep as well as Stepan Arkadyevitch. But Stepan Arkadyevitch’s being asleep would have offended them, as he thought (though even this, he thought, might not be so, as everything seemed so queer), while Landau’s being asleep delighted them extremely, especially Countess Lidia Ivanovna.
“Mon ami,” said Lidia Ivanovna, carefully holding the folds of her silk gown so as not to rustle, and in her excitement calling Karenin not Alexey Alexandrovitch, but “mon ami,” “donnez-lui la main. Vous voyez? Sh!” she hissed at the footman as he came in again. “Not at home.”
The Frenchman was asleep, or pretending to be asleep, with his head on the back of his chair, and his moist hand, as it lay on his knee, made faint movements, as though trying to catch something. Alexey Alexandrovitch got up, tried to move carefully, but stumbled against the table, went up and laid his hand in the Frenchman’s hand. Stepan Arkadyevitch got up too, and opening his eyes wide, trying to wake himself up if he were asleep, he looked first at one and then at the other. It was all real. Stepan Arkadyevitch felt that his head was getting worse and worse.
“Que la personne qui est arrivée la dernière, celle qui demande, qu’elle sorte! Qu’elle sorte!” articulated the Frenchman, without opening his eyes.
“Vous m’excuserez, mais vous voyez.... Revenez vers dix heures, encore mieux demain.”
“Qu’elle sorte!” repeated the Frenchman impatiently.
“C’est moi, n’est-ce pas?” And receiving an answer in the affirmative, Stepan Arkadyevitch, forgetting the favor he had meant to ask of Lidia Ivanovna, and forgetting his sister’s affairs, caring for nothing, but filled with the sole desire to get away as soon as possible, went out on tiptoe and ran out into the street as though from a plague-stricken house. For a long while he chatted and joked with his cab-driver, trying to recover his spirits.
At the French theater where he arrived for the last act, and afterwards at the Tatar restaurant after his champagne, Stepan Arkadyevitch felt a little refreshed in the atmosphere he was used to. But still he felt quite unlike himself all that evening.
On getting home to Pyotr Oblonsky’s, where he was staying, Stepan Arkadyevitch found a note from Betsy. She wrote to him that she was very anxious to finish their interrupted conversation, and begged him to come next day. He had scarcely read this note, and frowned at its contents, when he heard below the ponderous tramp of the servants, carrying something heavy.
Stepan Arkadyevitch went out to look. It was the rejuvenated Pyotr Oblonsky. He was so drunk that he could not walk upstairs; but he told them to set him on his legs when he saw Stepan Arkadyevitch, and clinging to him, walked with him into his room and there began telling him how he had spent the evening, and fell asleep doing so.
Stepan Arkadyevitch was in very low spirits, which happened rarely with him, and for a long while he could not go to sleep. Everything he could recall to his mind, everything was disgusting; but most disgusting of all, as if it were something shameful, was the memory of the evening he had spent at Countess Lidia Ivanovna’s.
Next day he received from Alexey Alexandrovitch a final answer, refusing to grant Anna’s divorce, and he understood that this decision was based on what the Frenchman had said in his real or pretended trance.
In order to carry through any undertaking in family life, there must necessarily be either complete division between the husband and wife, or loving agreement. When the relations of a couple are vacillating and neither one thing nor the other, no sort of enterprise can be undertaken.
Many families remain for years in the same place, though both husband and wife are sick of it, simply because there is neither complete division nor agreement between them.
Both Vronsky and Anna felt life in Moscow insupportable in the heat and dust, when the spring sunshine was followed by the glare of summer, and all the trees in the boulevards had long since been in full leaf, and the leaves were covered with dust. But they did not go back to Vozdvizhenskoe, as they had arranged to do long before; they went on staying in Moscow, though they both loathed it, because of late there had been no agreement between them.
The irritability that kept them apart had no external cause, and all efforts to come to an understanding intensified it, instead of removing it. It was an inner irritation, grounded in her mind on the conviction that his love had grown less; in his, on regret that he had put himself for her sake in a difficult position, which she, instead of lightening, made still more difficult. Neither of them gave full utterance to their sense of grievance, but they considered each other in the wrong, and tried on every pretext to prove this to one another.
In her eyes the whole of him, with all his habits, ideas, desires, with all his spiritual and physical temperament, was one thing—love for women, and that love, she felt, ought to be entirely concentrated on her alone. That love was less; consequently, as she reasoned, he must have transferred part of his love to other women or to another woman—and she was jealous. She was jealous not of any particular woman but of the decrease of his love. Not having got an object for her jealousy, she was on the lookout for it. At the slightest hint she transferred her jealousy from one object to another. At one time she was jealous of those low women with whom he might so easily renew his old bachelor ties; then she was jealous of the society women he might meet; then she was jealous of the imaginary girl whom he might want to marry, for whose sake he would break with her. And this last form of jealousy tortured her most of all, especially as he had unwarily told her, in a moment of frankness, that his mother knew him so little that she had had the audacity to try and persuade him to marry the young Princess Sorokina.
And being jealous of him, Anna was indignant against him and found grounds for indignation in everything. For everything that was difficult in her position she blamed him. The agonizing condition of suspense she had passed in Moscow, the tardiness and indecision of Alexey Alexandrovitch, her solitude—she put it all down to him. If he had loved her he would have seen all the bitterness of her position, and would have rescued her from it. For her being in Moscow and not in the country, he was to blame too. He could not live buried in the country as she would have liked to do. He must have society, and he had put her in this awful position, the bitterness of which he would not see. And again, it was his fault that she was forever separated from her son.
Even the rare moments of tenderness that came from time to time did not soothe her; in his tenderness now she saw a shade of complacency, of self-confidence, which had not been of old, and which exasperated her.
It was dusk. Anna was alone, and waiting for him to come back from a bachelor dinner. She walked up and down in his study (the room where the noise from the street was least heard), and thought over every detail of their yesterday’s quarrel. Going back from the well-remembered, offensive words of the quarrel to what had been the ground of it, she arrived at last at its origin. For a long while she could hardly believe that their dissension had arisen from a conversation so inoffensive, of so little moment to either. But so it actually had been. It all arose from his laughing at the girls’ high schools, declaring they were useless, while she defended them. He had spoken slightingly of women’s education in general, and had said that Hannah, Anna’s English protégée, had not the slightest need to know anything of physics.
This irritated Anna. She saw in this a contemptuous reference to her occupations. And she bethought her of a phrase to pay him back for the pain he had given her. “I don’t expect you to understand me, my feelings, as anyone who loved me might, but simple delicacy I did expect,” she said.
And he had actually flushed with vexation, and had said something unpleasant. She could not recall her answer, but at that point, with an unmistakable desire to wound her too, he had said:
“I feel no interest in your infatuation over this girl, that’s true, because I see it’s unnatural.”
The cruelty with which he shattered the world she had built up for herself so laboriously to enable her to endure her hard life, the injustice with which he had accused her of affectation, of artificiality, aroused her.
“I am very sorry that nothing but what’s coarse and material is comprehensible and natural to you,” she said and walked out of the room.
When he had come in to her yesterday evening, they had not referred to the quarrel, but both felt that the quarrel had been smoothed over, but was not at an end.
Today he had not been at home all day, and she felt so lonely and wretched in being on bad terms with him that she wanted to forget it all, to forgive him, and be reconciled with him; she wanted to throw the blame on herself and to justify him.
“I am myself to blame. I’m irritable, I’m insanely jealous. I will make it up with him, and we’ll go away to the country; there I shall be more at peace.”
“Unnatural!” She suddenly recalled the word that had stung her most of all, not so much the word itself as the intent to wound her with which it was said. “I know what he meant; he meant—unnatural, not loving my own daughter, to love another person’s child. What does he know of love for children, of my love for Seryozha, whom I’ve sacrificed for him? But that wish to wound me! No, he loves another woman, it must be so.”
And perceiving that, while trying to regain her peace of mind, she had gone round the same circle that she had been round so often before, and had come back to her former state of exasperation, she was horrified at herself. “Can it be impossible? Can it be beyond me to control myself?” she said to herself, and began again from the beginning. “He’s truthful, he’s honest, he loves me. I love him, and in a few days the divorce will come. What more do I want? I want peace of mind and trust, and I will take the blame on myself. Yes, now when he comes in, I will tell him I was wrong, though I was not wrong, and we will go away tomorrow.”
And to escape thinking any more, and being overcome by irritability, she rang, and ordered the boxes to be brought up for packing their things for the country.
At ten o’clock Vronsky came in.
“Well, was it nice?” she asked, coming out to meet him with a penitent and meek expression.
“Just as usual,” he answered, seeing at a glance that she was in one of her good moods. He was used by now to these transitions, and he was particularly glad to see it today, as he was in a specially good humor himself.
“What do I see? Come, that’s good!” he said, pointing to the boxes in the passage.
“Yes, we must go. I went out for a drive, and it was so fine I longed to be in the country. There’s nothing to keep you, is there?”
“It’s the one thing I desire. I’ll be back directly, and we’ll talk it over; I only want to change my coat. Order some tea.”
And he went into his room.
There was something mortifying in the way he had said “Come, that’s good,” as one says to a child when it leaves off being naughty, and still more mortifying was the contrast between her penitent and his self-confident tone; and for one instant she felt the lust of strife rising up in her again, but making an effort she conquered it, and met Vronsky as good-humoredly as before.
When he came in she told him, partly repeating phrases she had prepared beforehand, how she had spent the day, and her plans for going away.
“You know it came to me almost like an inspiration,” she said. “Why wait here for the divorce? Won’t it be just the same in the country? I can’t wait any longer! I don’t want to go on hoping, I don’t want to hear anything about the divorce. I have made up my mind it shall not have any more influence on my life. Do you agree?”
“Oh, yes!” he said, glancing uneasily at her excited face.
“What did you do? Who was there?” she said, after a pause.
Vronsky mentioned the names of the guests. “The dinner was first rate, and the boat race, and it was all pleasant enough, but in Moscow they can never do anything without something ridicule. A lady of a sort appeared on the scene, teacher of swimming to the Queen of Sweden, and gave us an exhibition of her skill.”
“How? did she swim?” asked Anna, frowning.
“In an absurd red costume de natation; she was old and hideous too. So when shall we go?”
“What an absurd fancy! Why, did she swim in some special way, then?” said Anna, not answering.
“There was absolutely nothing in it. That’s just what I say, it was awfully stupid. Well, then, when do you think of going?”
Anna shook her head as though trying to drive away some unpleasant idea.
“When? Why, the sooner the better! By tomorrow we shan’t be ready. The day after tomorrow.”
“Yes ... oh, no, wait a minute! The day after tomorrow’s Sunday, I have to be at maman’s,” said Vronsky, embarrassed, because as soon as he uttered his mother’s name he was aware of her intent, suspicious eyes. His embarrassment confirmed her suspicion. She flushed hotly and drew away from him. It was now not the Queen of Sweden’s swimming-mistress who filled Anna’s imagination, but the young Princess Sorokina. She was staying in a village near Moscow with Countess Vronskaya.
“Can’t you go tomorrow?” she said.
“Well, no! The deeds and the money for the business I’m going there for I can’t get by tomorrow,” he answered.
“If so, we won’t go at all.”
“But why so?”
“I shall not go later. Monday or never!”
“What for?” said Vronsky, as though in amazement. “Why, there’s no meaning in it!”
“There’s no meaning in it to you, because you care nothing for me. You don’t care to understand my life. The one thing that I cared for here was Hannah. You say it’s affectation. Why, you said yesterday that I don’t love my daughter, that I love this English girl, that it’s unnatural. I should like to know what life there is for me that could be natural!”
For an instant she had a clear vision of what she was doing, and was horrified at how she had fallen away from her resolution. But even though she knew it was her own ruin, she could not restrain herself, could not keep herself from proving to him that he was wrong, could not give way to him.
“I never said that; I said I did not sympathize with this sudden passion.”
“How is it, though you boast of your straightforwardness, you don’t tell the truth?”
“I never boast, and I never tell lies,” he said slowly, restraining his rising anger. “It’s a great pity if you can’t respect....”
“Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be. And if you don’t love me any more, it would be better and more honest to say so.”
“No, this is becoming unbearable!” cried Vronsky, getting up from his chair; and stopping short, facing her, he said, speaking deliberately: “What do you try my patience for?” looking as though he might have said much more, but was restraining himself. “It has limits.”
“What do you mean by that?” she cried, looking with terror at the undisguised hatred in his whole face, and especially in his cruel, menacing eyes.
“I mean to say....” he was beginning, but he checked himself. “I must ask what it is you want of me?”
“What can I want? All I can want is that you should not desert me, as you think of doing,” she said, understanding all he had not uttered. “But that I don’t want; that’s secondary. I want love, and there is none. So then all is over.”
She turned towards the door.
“Stop! sto-op!” said Vronsky, with no change in the gloomy lines of his brows, though he held her by the hand. “What is it all about? I said that we must put off going for three days, and on that you told me I was lying, that I was not an honorable man.”
“Yes, and I repeat that the man who reproaches me with having sacrificed everything for me,” she said, recalling the words of a still earlier quarrel, “that he’s worse than a dishonorable man—he’s a heartless man.”
“Oh, there are limits to endurance!” he cried, and hastily let go her hand.
“He hates me, that’s clear,” she thought, and in silence, without looking round, she walked with faltering steps out of the room. “He loves another woman, that’s even clearer,” she said to herself as she went into her own room. “I want love, and there is none. So, then, all is over.” She repeated the words she had said, “and it must be ended.”
“But how?” she asked herself, and she sat down in a low chair before the looking-glass.
Thoughts of where she would go now, whether to the aunt who had brought her up, to Dolly, or simply alone abroad, and of what he was doing now alone in his study; whether this was the final quarrel, or whether reconciliation were still possible; and of what all her old friends at Petersburg would say of her now; and of how Alexey Alexandrovitch would look at it, and many other ideas of what would happen now after this rupture, came into her head; but she did not give herself up to them with all her heart. At the bottom of her heart was some obscure idea that alone interested her, but she could not get clear sight of it. Thinking once more of Alexey Alexandrovitch, she recalled the time of her illness after her confinement, and the feeling which never left her at that time. “Why didn’t I die?” and the words and the feeling of that time came back to her. And all at once she knew what was in her soul. Yes, it was that idea which alone solved all. “Yes, to die!... And the shame and disgrace of Alexey Alexandrovitch and of Seryozha, and my awful shame, it will all be saved by death. To die! and he will feel remorse; will be sorry; will love me; he will suffer on my account.” With the trace of a smile of commiseration for herself she sat down in the armchair, taking off and putting on the rings on her left hand, vividly picturing from different sides his feelings after her death.
Approaching footsteps—his steps—distracted her attention. As though absorbed in the arrangement of her rings, she did not even turn to him.
He went up to her, and taking her by the hand, said softly:
“Anna, we’ll go the day after tomorrow, if you like. I agree to everything.”
She did not speak.
“What is it?” he urged.
“You know,” she said, and at the same instant, unable to restrain herself any longer, she burst into sobs.
“Cast me off!” she articulated between her sobs. “I’ll go away tomorrow ... I’ll do more. What am I? An immoral woman! A stone round your neck. I don’t want to make you wretched, I don’t want to! I’ll set you free. You don’t love me; you love someone else!”
Vronsky besought her to be calm, and declared that there was no trace of foundation for her jealousy; that he had never ceased, and never would cease, to love her; that he loved her more than ever.
“Anna, why distress yourself and me so?” he said to her, kissing her hands. There was tenderness now in his face, and she fancied she caught the sound of tears in his voice, and she felt them wet on her hand. And instantly Anna’s despairing jealousy changed to a despairing passion of tenderness. She put her arms round him, and covered with kisses his head, his neck, his hands.
Feeling that the reconciliation was complete, Anna set eagerly to work in the morning preparing for their departure. Though it was not settled whether they should go on Monday or Tuesday, as they had each given way to the other, Anna packed busily, feeling absolutely indifferent whether they went a day earlier or later. She was standing in her room over an open box, taking things out of it, when he came in to see her earlier than usual, dressed to go out.
“I’m going off at once to see maman; she can send me the money by Yegorov. And I shall be ready to go tomorrow,” he said.
Though she was in such a good mood, the thought of his visit to his mother’s gave her a pang.
“No, I shan’t be ready by then myself,” she said; and at once reflected, “so then it was possible to arrange to do as I wished.” “No, do as you meant to do. Go into the dining-room, I’m coming directly. It’s only to turn out those things that aren’t wanted,” she said, putting something more on the heap of frippery that lay in Annushka’s arms.
Vronsky was eating his beefsteak when she came into the dining-room.
“You wouldn’t believe how distasteful these rooms have become to me,” she said, sitting down beside him to her coffee. “There’s nothing more awful than these chambres garnies. There’s no individuality in them, no soul. These clocks, and curtains, and, worst of all, the wallpapers—they’re a nightmare. I think of Vozdvizhenskoe as the promised land. You’re not sending the horses off yet?”
“No, they will come after us. Where are you going to?”
“I wanted to go to Wilson’s to take some dresses to her. So it’s really to be tomorrow?” she said in a cheerful voice; but suddenly her face changed.
Vronsky’s valet came in to ask him to sign a receipt for a telegram from Petersburg. There was nothing out of the way in Vronsky’s getting a telegram, but he said, as though anxious to conceal something from her, that the receipt was in his study, and he turned hurriedly to her.
“By tomorrow, without fail, I will finish it all.”
“From whom is the telegram?” she asked, not hearing him.
“From Stiva,” he answered reluctantly.
“Why didn’t you show it to me? What secret can there be between Stiva and me?”
Vronsky called the valet back, and told him to bring the telegram.
“I didn’t want to show it to you, because Stiva has such a passion for telegraphing: why telegraph when nothing is settled?”
“About the divorce?”
“Yes; but he says he has not been able to come at anything yet. He has promised a decisive answer in a day or two. But here it is; read it.”
With trembling hands Anna took the telegram, and read what Vronsky had told her. At the end was added: “Little hope; but I will do everything possible and impossible.”
“I said yesterday that it’s absolutely nothing to me when I get, or whether I never get, a divorce,” she said, flushing crimson. “There was not the slightest necessity to hide it from me.” “So he may hide and does hide his correspondence with women from me,” she thought.
“Yashvin meant to come this morning with Voytov,” said Vronsky; “I believe he’s won from Pyevtsov all and more than he can pay, about sixty thousand.”
“No,” she said, irritated by his so obviously showing by this change of subject that he was irritated, “why did you suppose that this news would affect me so, that you must even try to hide it? I said I don’t want to consider it, and I should have liked you to care as little about it as I do.”
“I care about it because I like definiteness,” he said.
“Definiteness is not in the form but the love,” she said, more and more irritated, not by his words, but by the tone of cool composure in which he spoke. “What do you want it for?”
“My God! love again,” he thought, frowning.
“Oh, you know what for; for your sake and your children’s in the future.”
“There won’t be children in the future.”
“That’s a great pity,” he said.
“You want it for the children’s sake, but you don’t think of me?” she said, quite forgetting or not having heard that he had said, “For your sake and the children’s.”
The question of the possibility of having children had long been a subject of dispute and irritation to her. His desire to have children she interpreted as a proof he did not prize her beauty.
“Oh, I said: for your sake. Above all for your sake,” he repeated, frowning as though in pain, “because I am certain that the greater part of your irritability comes from the indefiniteness of the position.”
“Yes, now he has laid aside all pretense, and all his cold hatred for me is apparent,” she thought, not hearing his words, but watching with terror the cold, cruel judge who looked mocking her out of his eyes.
“The cause is not that,” she said, “and, indeed, I don’t see how the cause of my irritability, as you call it, can be that I am completely in your power. What indefiniteness is there in the position? on the contrary....”
“I am very sorry that you don’t care to understand,” he interrupted, obstinately anxious to give utterance to his thought. “The indefiniteness consists in your imagining that I am free.”
“On that score you can set your mind quite at rest,” she said, and turning away from him, she began drinking her coffee.
She lifted her cup, with her little finger held apart, and put it to her lips. After drinking a few sips she glanced at him, and by his expression, she saw clearly that he was repelled by her hand, and her gesture, and the sound made by her lips.
“I don’t care in the least what your mother thinks, and what match she wants to make for you,” she said, putting the cup down with a shaking hand.
“But we are not talking about that.”
“Yes, that’s just what we are talking about. And let me tell you that a heartless woman, whether she’s old or not old, your mother or anyone else, is of no consequence to me, and I would not consent to know her.”
“Anna, I beg you not to speak disrespectfully of my mother.”
“A woman whose heart does not tell her where her son’s happiness and honor lie has no heart.”
“I repeat my request that you will not speak disrespectfully of my mother, whom I respect,” he said, raising his voice and looking sternly at her.
She did not answer. Looking intently at him, at his face, his hands, she recalled all the details of their reconciliation the previous day, and his passionate caresses. “There, just such caresses he has lavished, and will lavish, and longs to lavish on other women!” she thought.
“You don’t love your mother. That’s all talk, and talk, and talk!” she said, looking at him with hatred in her eyes.
“Even if so, you must....”
“Must decide, and I have decided,” she said, and she would have gone away, but at that moment Yashvin walked into the room. Anna greeted him and remained.
Why, when there was a tempest in her soul, and she felt she was standing at a turning point in her life, which might have fearful consequences—why, at that minute, she had to keep up appearances before an outsider, who sooner or later must know it all—she did not know. But at once quelling the storm within her, she sat down and began talking to their guest.
“Well, how are you getting on? Has your debt been paid you?” she asked Yashvin.
“Oh, pretty fair; I fancy I shan’t get it all, but I shall get a good half. And when are you off?” said Yashvin, looking at Vronsky, and unmistakably guessing at a quarrel.
“The day after tomorrow, I think,” said Vronsky.
“You’ve been meaning to go so long, though.”
“But now it’s quite decided,” said Anna, looking Vronsky straight in the face with a look which told him not to dream of the possibility of reconciliation.
“Don’t you feel sorry for that unlucky Pyevtsov?” she went on, talking to Yashvin.
“I’ve never asked myself the question, Anna Arkadyevna, whether I’m sorry for him or not. You see, all my fortune’s here”—he touched his breast pocket—“and just now I’m a wealthy man. But today I’m going to the club, and I may come out a beggar. You see, whoever sits down to play with me—he wants to leave me without a shirt to my back, and so do I him. And so we fight it out, and that’s the pleasure of it.”
“Well, but suppose you were married,” said Anna, “how would it be for your wife?”
“That’s why I’m not married, and never mean to be.”
“And Helsingfors?” said Vronsky, entering into the conversation and glancing at Anna’s smiling face. Meeting his eyes, Anna’s face instantly took a coldly severe expression as though she were saying to him: “It’s not forgotten. It’s all the same.”
“Were you really in love?” she said to Yashvin.
“Oh heavens! ever so many times! But you see, some men can play but only so that they can always lay down their cards when the hour of a rendezvous comes, while I can take up love, but only so as not to be late for my cards in the evening. That’s how I manage things.”
“No, I didn’t mean that, but the real thing.” She would have said Helsingfors, but would not repeat the word used by Vronsky.
Voytov, who was buying the horse, came in. Anna got up and went out of the room.
Before leaving the house, Vronsky went into her room. She would have pretended to be looking for something on the table, but ashamed of making a pretense, she looked straight in his face with cold eyes.
“What do you want?” she asked in French.
“To get the guarantee for Gambetta, I’ve sold him,” he said, in a tone which said more clearly than words, “I’ve no time for discussing things, and it would lead to nothing.”
“I’m not to blame in any way,” he thought. “If she will punish herself, tant pis pour elle. But as he was going he fancied that she said something, and his heart suddenly ached with pity for her.
“Eh, Anna?” he queried.
“I said nothing,” she answered just as coldly and calmly.
“Oh, nothing, tant pis then,” he thought, feeling cold again, and he turned and went out. As he was going out he caught a glimpse in the looking-glass of her face, white, with quivering lips. He even wanted to stop and to say some comforting word to her, but his legs carried him out of the room before he could think what to say. The whole of that day he spent away from home, and when he came in late in the evening the maid told him that Anna Arkadyevna had a headache and begged him not to go in to her.
Never before had a day been passed in quarrel. Today was the first time. And this was not a quarrel. It was the open acknowledgment of complete coldness. Was it possible to glance at her as he had glanced when he came into the room for the guarantee?—to look at her, see her heart was breaking with despair, and go out without a word with that face of callous composure? He was not merely cold to her, he hated her because he loved another woman—that was clear.
And remembering all the cruel words he had said, Anna supplied, too, the words that he had unmistakably wished to say and could have said to her, and she grew more and more exasperated.
“I won’t prevent you,” he might say. “You can go where you like. You were unwilling to be divorced from your husband, no doubt so that you might go back to him. Go back to him. If you want money, I’ll give it to you. How many roubles do you want?”
All the most cruel words that a brutal man could say, he said to her in her imagination, and she could not forgive him for them, as though he had actually said them.
“But didn’t he only yesterday swear he loved me, he, a truthful and sincere man? Haven’t I despaired for nothing many times already?” she said to herself afterwards.
All that day, except for the visit to Wilson’s, which occupied two hours, Anna spent in doubts whether everything were over or whether there were still hope of reconciliation, whether she should go away at once or see him once more. She was expecting him the whole day, and in the evening, as she went to her own room, leaving a message for him that her head ached, she said to herself, “If he comes in spite of what the maid says, it means that he loves me still. If not, it means that all is over, and then I will decide what I’m to do!...”
In the evening she heard the rumbling of his carriage stop at the entrance, his ring, his steps and his conversation with the servant; he believed what was told him, did not care to find out more, and went to his own room. So then everything was over.
And death rose clearly and vividly before her mind as the sole means of bringing back love for her in his heart, of punishing him and of gaining the victory in that strife which the evil spirit in possession of her heart was waging with him.
Now nothing mattered: going or not going to Vozdvizhenskoe, getting or not getting a divorce from her husband—all that did not matter. The one thing that mattered was punishing him. When she poured herself out her usual dose of opium, and thought that she had only to drink off the whole bottle to die, it seemed to her so simple and easy, that she began musing with enjoyment on how he would suffer, and repent and love her memory when it would be too late. She lay in bed with open eyes, by the light of a single burned-down candle, gazing at the carved cornice of the ceiling and at the shadow of the screen that covered part of it, while she vividly pictured to herself how he would feel when she would be no more, when she would be only a memory to him. “How could I say such cruel things to her?” he would say. “How could I go out of the room without saying anything to her? But now she is no more. She has gone away from us forever. She is....” Suddenly the shadow of the screen wavered, pounced on the whole cornice, the whole ceiling; other shadows from the other side swooped to meet it, for an instant the shadows flitted back, but then with fresh swiftness they darted forward, wavered, commingled, and all was darkness. “Death!” she thought. And such horror came upon her that for a long while she could not realize where she was, and for a long while her trembling hands could not find the matches and light another candle, instead of the one that had burned down and gone out. “No, anything—only to live! Why, I love him! Why, he loves me! This has been before and will pass,” she said, feeling that tears of joy at the return to life were trickling down her cheeks. And to escape from her panic she went hurriedly to his room.
He was asleep there, and sleeping soundly. She went up to him, and holding the light above his face, she gazed a long while at him. Now when he was asleep, she loved him so that at the sight of him she could not keep back tears of tenderness. But she knew that if he waked up he would look at her with cold eyes, convinced that he was right, and that before telling him of her love, she would have to prove to him that he had been wrong in his treatment of her. Without waking him, she went back, and after a second dose of opium she fell towards morning into a heavy, incomplete sleep, during which she never quite lost consciousness.
In the morning she was waked by a horrible nightmare, which had recurred several times in her dreams, even before her connection with Vronsky. A little old man with unkempt beard was doing something bent down over some iron, muttering meaningless French words, and she, as she always did in this nightmare (it was what made the horror of it), felt that this peasant was taking no notice of her, but was doing something horrible with the iron—over her. And she waked up in a cold sweat.
When she got up, the previous day came back to her as though veiled in mist.
“There was a quarrel. Just what has happened several times. I said I had a headache, and he did not come in to see me. Tomorrow we’re going away; I must see him and get ready for the journey,” she said to herself. And learning that he was in his study, she went down to him. As she passed through the drawing-room she heard a carriage stop at the entrance, and looking out of the window she saw the carriage, from which a young girl in a lilac hat was leaning out giving some direction to the footman ringing the bell. After a parley in the hall, someone came upstairs, and Vronsky’s steps could be heard passing the drawing-room. He went rapidly downstairs. Anna went again to the window. She saw him come out onto the steps without his hat and go up to the carriage. The young girl in the lilac hat handed him a parcel. Vronsky, smiling, said something to her. The carriage drove away, he ran rapidly upstairs again.
The mists that had shrouded everything in her soul parted suddenly. The feelings of yesterday pierced the sick heart with a fresh pang. She could not understand now how she could have lowered herself by spending a whole day with him in his house. She went into his room to announce her determination.
“That was Madame Sorokina and her daughter. They came and brought me the money and the deeds from maman. I couldn’t get them yesterday. How is your head, better?” he said quietly, not wishing to see and to understand the gloomy and solemn expression of her face.
She looked silently, intently at him, standing in the middle of the room. He glanced at her, frowned for a moment, and went on reading a letter. She turned, and went deliberately out of the room. He still might have turned her back, but she had reached the door, he was still silent, and the only sound audible was the rustling of the note paper as he turned it.
“Oh, by the way,” he said at the very moment she was in the doorway, “we’re going tomorrow for certain, aren’t we?”
“You, but not I,” she said, turning round to him.
“Anna, we can’t go on like this....”
“You, but not I,” she repeated.
“This is getting unbearable!”
“You ... you will be sorry for this,” she said, and went out.
Frightened by the desperate expression with which these words were uttered, he jumped up and would have run after her, but on second thoughts he sat down and scowled, setting his teeth. This vulgar—as he thought it—threat of something vague exasperated him. “I’ve tried everything,” he thought; “the only thing left is not to pay attention,” and he began to get ready to drive into town, and again to his mother’s to get her signature to the deeds.
She heard the sound of his steps about the study and the dining-room. At the drawing-room he stood still. But he did not turn in to see her, he merely gave an order that the horse should be given to Voytov if he came while he was away. Then she heard the carriage brought round, the door opened, and he came out again. But he went back into the porch again, and someone was running upstairs. It was the valet running up for his gloves that had been forgotten. She went to the window and saw him take the gloves without looking, and touching the coachman on the back he said something to him. Then without looking up at the window he settled himself in his usual attitude in the carriage, with his legs crossed, and drawing on his gloves he vanished round the corner.
“He has gone! It is over!” Anna said to herself, standing at the window; and in answer to this statement the impression of the darkness when the candle had flickered out, and of her fearful dream mingling into one, filled her heart with cold terror.
“No, that cannot be!” she cried, and crossing the room she rang the bell. She was so afraid now of being alone, that without waiting for the servant to come in, she went out to meet him.
“Inquire where the count has gone,” she said. The servant answered that the count had gone to the stable.
“His honor left word that if you cared to drive out, the carriage would be back immediately.”
“Very good. Wait a minute. I’ll write a note at once. Send Mihail with the note to the stables. Make haste.”
She sat down and wrote:
“I was wrong. Come back home; I must explain. For God’s sake come! I’m afraid.”
She sealed it up and gave it to the servant.
She was afraid of being left alone now; she followed the servant out of the room, and went to the nursery.
“Why, this isn’t it, this isn’t he! Where are his blue eyes, his sweet, shy smile?” was her first thought when she saw her chubby, rosy little girl with her black, curly hair instead of Seryozha, whom in the tangle of her ideas she had expected to see in the nursery. The little girl sitting at the table was obstinately and violently battering on it with a cork, and staring aimlessly at her mother with her pitch-black eyes. Answering the English nurse that she was quite well, and that she was going to the country tomorrow, Anna sat down by the little girl and began spinning the cork to show her. But the child’s loud, ringing laugh, and the motion of her eyebrows, recalled Vronsky so vividly that she got up hurriedly, restraining her sobs, and went away. “Can it be all over? No, it cannot be!” she thought. “He will come back. But how can he explain that smile, that excitement after he had been talking to her? But even if he doesn’t explain, I will believe. If I don’t believe, there’s only one thing left for me, and I can’t.”
She looked at her watch. Twenty minutes had passed. “By now he has received the note and is coming back. Not long, ten minutes more.... But what if he doesn’t come? No, that cannot be. He mustn’t see me with tear-stained eyes. I’ll go and wash. Yes, yes; did I do my hair or not?” she asked herself. And she could not remember. She felt her head with her hand. “Yes, my hair has been done, but when I did it I can’t in the least remember.” She could not believe the evidence of her hand, and went up to the pier-glass to see whether she really had done her hair. She certainly had, but she could not think when she had done it. “Who’s that?” she thought, looking in the looking-glass at the swollen face with strangely glittering eyes, that looked in a scared way at her. “Why, it’s I!” she suddenly understood, and looking round, she seemed all at once to feel his kisses on her, and twitched her shoulders, shuddering. Then she lifted her hand to her lips and kissed it.
“What is it? Why, I’m going out of my mind!” and she went into her bedroom, where Annushka was tidying the room.
“Annushka,” she said, coming to a standstill before her, and she stared at the maid, not knowing what to say to her.
“You meant to go and see Darya Alexandrovna,” said the girl, as though she understood.
“Darya Alexandrovna? Yes, I’ll go.”
“Fifteen minutes there, fifteen minutes back. He’s coming, he’ll be here soon.” She took out her watch and looked at it. “But how could he go away, leaving me in such a state? How can he live, without making it up with me?” She went to the window and began looking into the street. Judging by the time, he might be back now. But her calculations might be wrong, and she began once more to recall when he had started and to count the minutes.
At the moment when she had moved away to the big clock to compare it with her watch, someone drove up. Glancing out of the window, she saw his carriage. But no one came upstairs, and voices could be heard below. It was the messenger who had come back in the carriage. She went down to him.
“We didn’t catch the count. The count had driven off on the lower city road.”
“What do you say? What!...” she said to the rosy, good-humored Mihail, as he handed her back her note.
“Why, then, he has never received it!” she thought.
“Go with this note to Countess Vronskaya’s place, you know? and bring an answer back immediately,” she said to the messenger.
“And I, what am I going to do?” she thought. “Yes, I’m going to Dolly’s, that’s true or else I shall go out of my mind. Yes, and I can telegraph, too.” And she wrote a telegram. “I absolutely must talk to you; come at once.” After sending off the telegram, she went to dress. When she was dressed and in her hat, she glanced again into the eyes of the plump, comfortable-looking Annushka. There was unmistakable sympathy in those good-natured little gray eyes.
“Annushka, dear, what am I to do?” said Anna, sobbing and sinking helplessly into a chair.
“Why fret yourself so, Anna Arkadyevna? Why, there’s nothing out of the way. You drive out a little, and it’ll cheer you up,” said the maid.
“Yes, I’m going,” said Anna, rousing herself and getting up. “And if there’s a telegram while I’m away, send it on to Darya Alexandrovna’s ... but no, I shall be back myself.”
“Yes, I mustn’t think, I must do something, drive somewhere, and most of all, get out of this house,” she said, feeling with terror the strange turmoil going on in her own heart, and she made haste to go out and get into the carriage.
“Where to?” asked Pyotr before getting onto the box.
“To Znamenka, the Oblonskys’.”
It was bright and sunny. A fine rain had been falling all the morning, and now it had not long cleared up. The iron roofs, the flags of the roads, the flints of the pavements, the wheels and leather, the brass and the tinplate of the carriages—all glistened brightly in the May sunshine. It was three o’clock, and the very liveliest time in the streets.
As she sat in a corner of the comfortable carriage, that hardly swayed on its supple springs, while the grays trotted swiftly, in the midst of the unceasing rattle of wheels and the changing impressions in the pure air, Anna ran over the events of the last days, and she saw her position quite differently from how it had seemed at home. Now the thought of death seemed no longer so terrible and so clear to her, and death itself no longer seemed so inevitable. Now she blamed herself for the humiliation to which she had lowered herself. “I entreat him to forgive me. I have given in to him. I have owned myself in fault. What for? Can’t I live without him?” And leaving unanswered the question how she was going to live without him, she fell to reading the signs on the shops. “Office and warehouse. Dental surgeon. Yes, I’ll tell Dolly all about it. She doesn’t like Vronsky. I shall be sick and ashamed, but I’ll tell her. She loves me, and I’ll follow her advice. I won’t give in to him; I won’t let him train me as he pleases. Filippov, bun shop. They say they send their dough to Petersburg. The Moscow water is so good for it. Ah, the springs at Mitishtchen, and the pancakes!”
And she remembered how, long, long ago, when she was a girl of seventeen, she had gone with her aunt to Troitsa. “Riding, too. Was that really me, with red hands? How much that seemed to me then splendid and out of reach has become worthless, while what I had then has gone out of my reach forever! Could I ever have believed then that I could come to such humiliation? How conceited and self-satisfied he will be when he gets my note! But I will show him.... How horrid that paint smells! Why is it they’re always painting and building? Modes et robes, she read. A man bowed to her. It was Annushka’s husband. “Our parasites”; she remembered how Vronsky had said that. “Our? Why our? What’s so awful is that one can’t tear up the past by its roots. One can’t tear it out, but one can hide one’s memory of it. And I’ll hide it.” And then she thought of her past with Alexey Alexandrovitch, of how she had blotted the memory of it out of her life. “Dolly will think I’m leaving my second husband, and so I certainly must be in the wrong. As if I cared to be right! I can’t help it!” she said, and she wanted to cry. But at once she fell to wondering what those two girls could be smiling about. “Love, most likely. They don’t know how dreary it is, how low.... The boulevard and the children. Three boys running, playing at horses. Seryozha! And I’m losing everything and not getting him back. Yes, I’m losing everything, if he doesn’t return. Perhaps he was late for the train and has come back by now. Longing for humiliation again!” she said to herself. “No, I’ll go to Dolly, and say straight out to her, I’m unhappy, I deserve this, I’m to blame, but still I’m unhappy, help me. These horses, this carriage—how loathsome I am to myself in this carriage—all his; but I won’t see them again.”
Thinking over the words in which she would tell Dolly, and mentally working her heart up to great bitterness, Anna went upstairs.
“Is there anyone with her?” she asked in the hall.
“Katerina Alexandrovna Levin,” answered the footman.
“Kitty! Kitty, whom Vronsky was in love with!” thought Anna, “the girl he thinks of with love. He’s sorry he didn’t marry her. But me he thinks of with hatred, and is sorry he had anything to do with me.”
The sisters were having a consultation about nursing when Anna called. Dolly went down alone to see the visitor who had interrupted their conversation.
“Well, so you’ve not gone away yet? I meant to have come to you,” she said; “I had a letter from Stiva today.”
“We had a telegram too,” answered Anna, looking round for Kitty.
“He writes that he can’t make out quite what Alexey Alexandrovitch wants, but he won’t go away without a decisive answer.”
“I thought you had someone with you. Can I see the letter?”
“Yes; Kitty,” said Dolly, embarrassed. “She stayed in the nursery. She has been very ill.”
“So I heard. May I see the letter?”
“I’ll get it directly. But he doesn’t refuse; on the contrary, Stiva has hopes,” said Dolly, stopping in the doorway.
“I haven’t, and indeed I don’t wish it,” said Anna.
“What’s this? Does Kitty consider it degrading to meet me?” thought Anna when she was alone. “Perhaps she’s right, too. But it’s not for her, the girl who was in love with Vronsky, it’s not for her to show me that, even if it is true. I know that in my position I can’t be received by any decent woman. I knew that from the first moment I sacrificed everything to him. And this is my reward! Oh, how I hate him! And what did I come here for? I’m worse here, more miserable.” She heard from the next room the sisters’ voices in consultation. “And what am I going to say to Dolly now? Amuse Kitty by the sight of my wretchedness, submit to her patronizing? No; and besides, Dolly wouldn’t understand. And it would be no good my telling her. It would only be interesting to see Kitty, to show her how I despise everyone and everything, how nothing matters to me now.”
Dolly came in with the letter. Anna read it and handed it back in silence.
“I knew all that,” she said, “and it doesn’t interest me in the least.”
“Oh, why so? On the contrary, I have hopes,” said Dolly, looking inquisitively at Anna. She had never seen her in such a strangely irritable condition. “When are you going away?” she asked.
Anna, half-closing her eyes, looked straight before her and did not answer.
“Why does Kitty shrink from me?” she said, looking at the door and flushing red.
“Oh, what nonsense! She’s nursing, and things aren’t going right with her, and I’ve been advising her.... She’s delighted. She’ll be here in a minute,” said Dolly awkwardly, not clever at lying. “Yes, here she is.”
Hearing that Anna had called, Kitty had wanted not to appear, but Dolly persuaded her. Rallying her forces, Kitty went in, walked up to her, blushing, and shook hands.
“I am so glad to see you,” she said with a trembling voice.
Kitty had been thrown into confusion by the inward conflict between her antagonism to this bad woman and her desire to be nice to her. But as soon as she saw Anna’s lovely and attractive face, all feeling of antagonism disappeared.
“I should not have been surprised if you had not cared to meet me. I’m used to everything. You have been ill? Yes, you are changed,” said Anna.
Kitty felt that Anna was looking at her with hostile eyes. She ascribed this hostility to the awkward position in which Anna, who had once patronized her, must feel with her now, and she felt sorry for her.
They talked of Kitty’s illness, of the baby, of Stiva, but it was obvious that nothing interested Anna.
“I came to say good-bye to you,” she said, getting up.
“Oh, when are you going?”
But again not answering, Anna turned to Kitty.
“Yes, I am very glad to have seen you,” she said with a smile. “I have heard so much of you from everyone, even from your husband. He came to see me, and I liked him exceedingly,” she said, unmistakably with malicious intent. “Where is he?”
“He has gone back to the country,” said Kitty, blushing.
“Remember me to him, be sure you do.”
“I’ll be sure to!” Kitty said naïvely, looking compassionately into her eyes.
“So good-bye, Dolly.” And kissing Dolly and shaking hands with Kitty, Anna went out hurriedly.
“She’s just the same and just as charming! She’s very lovely!” said Kitty, when she was alone with her sister. “But there’s something piteous about her. Awfully piteous!”
“Yes, there’s something unusual about her today,” said Dolly. “When I went with her into the hall, I fancied she was almost crying.”
Anna got into the carriage again in an even worse frame of mind than when she set out from home. To her previous tortures was added now that sense of mortification and of being an outcast which she had felt so distinctly on meeting Kitty.
“Where to? Home?” asked Pyotr.
“Yes, home,” she said, not even thinking now where she was going.
“How they looked at me as something dreadful, incomprehensible, and curious! What can he be telling the other with such warmth?” she thought, staring at two men who walked by. “Can one ever tell anyone what one is feeling? I meant to tell Dolly, and it’s a good thing I didn’t tell her. How pleased she would have been at my misery! She would have concealed it, but her chief feeling would have been delight at my being punished for the happiness she envied me for. Kitty, she would have been even more pleased. How I can see through her! She knows I was more than usually sweet to her husband. And she’s jealous and hates me. And she despises me. In her eyes I’m an immoral woman. If I were an immoral woman I could have made her husband fall in love with me ... if I’d cared to. And, indeed, I did care to. There’s someone who’s pleased with himself,” she thought, as she saw a fat, rubicund gentleman coming towards her. He took her for an acquaintance, and lifted his glossy hat above his bald, glossy head, and then perceived his mistake. “He thought he knew me. Well, he knows me as well as anyone in the world knows me. I don’t know myself. I know my appetites, as the French say. They want that dirty ice cream, that they do know for certain,” she thought, looking at two boys stopping an ice cream seller, who took a barrel off his head and began wiping his perspiring face with a towel. “We all want what is sweet and nice. If not sweetmeats, then a dirty ice. And Kitty’s the same—if not Vronsky, then Levin. And she envies me, and hates me. And we all hate each other. I Kitty, Kitty me. Yes, that’s the truth. ‘Tiutkin, coiffeur.’ Je me fais coiffer par Tiutkin.... I’ll tell him that when he comes,” she thought and smiled. But the same instant she remembered that she had no one now to tell anything amusing to. “And there’s nothing amusing, nothing mirthful, really. It’s all hateful. They’re singing for vespers, and how carefully that merchant crosses himself! as if he were afraid of missing something. Why these churches and this singing and this humbug? Simply to conceal that we all hate each other like these cab drivers who are abusing each other so angrily. Yashvin says, ‘He wants to strip me of my shirt, and I him of his.’ Yes, that’s the truth!”
She was plunged in these thoughts, which so engrossed her that she left off thinking of her own position, when the carriage drew up at the steps of her house. It was only when she saw the porter running out to meet her that she remembered she had sent the note and the telegram.
“Is there an answer?” she inquired.
“I’ll see this minute,” answered the porter, and glancing into his room, he took out and gave her the thin square envelope of a telegram. “I can’t come before ten o’clock.—Vronsky,” she read.
“And hasn’t the messenger come back?”
“No,” answered the porter.
“Then, since it’s so, I know what I must do,” she said, and feeling a vague fury and craving for revenge rising up within her, she ran upstairs. “I’ll go to him myself. Before going away forever, I’ll tell him all. Never have I hated anyone as I hate that man!” she thought. Seeing his hat on the rack, she shuddered with aversion. She did not consider that his telegram was an answer to her telegram and that he had not yet received her note. She pictured him to herself as talking calmly to his mother and Princess Sorokina and rejoicing at her sufferings. “Yes, I must go quickly,” she said, not knowing yet where she was going. She longed to get away as quickly as possible from the feelings she had gone through in that awful house. The servants, the walls, the things in that house—all aroused repulsion and hatred in her and lay like a weight upon her.
“Yes, I must go to the railway station, and if he’s not there, then go there and catch him.” Anna looked at the railway timetable in the newspapers. An evening train went at two minutes past eight. “Yes, I shall be in time.” She gave orders for the other horses to be put in the carriage, and packed in a traveling-bag the things needed for a few days. She knew she would never come back here again.
Among the plans that came into her head she vaguely determined that after what would happen at the station or at the countess’s house, she would go as far as the first town on the Nizhni road and stop there.
Dinner was on the table; she went up, but the smell of the bread and cheese was enough to make her feel that all food was disgusting. She ordered the carriage and went out. The house threw a shadow now right across the street, but it was a bright evening and still warm in the sunshine. Annushka, who came down with her things, and Pyotr, who put the things in the carriage, and the coachman, evidently out of humor, were all hateful to her, and irritated her by their words and actions.
“I don’t want you, Pyotr.”
“But how about the ticket?”
“Well, as you like, it doesn’t matter,” she said crossly.
Pyotr jumped on the box, and putting his arms akimbo, told the coachman to drive to the booking-office.
“Here it is again! Again I understand it all!” Anna said to herself, as soon as the carriage had started and swaying lightly, rumbled over the tiny cobbles of the paved road, and again one impression followed rapidly upon another.
“Yes; what was the last thing I thought of so clearly?” she tried to recall it. “‘Tiutkin, coiffeur?’—no, not that. Yes, of what Yashvin says, the struggle for existence and hatred is the one thing that holds men together. No, it’s a useless journey you’re making,” she said, mentally addressing a party in a coach and four, evidently going for an excursion into the country. “And the dog you’re taking with you will be no help to you. You can’t get away from yourselves.” Turning her eyes in the direction Pyotr had turned to look, she saw a factory-hand almost dead-drunk, with hanging head, being led away by a policeman. “Come, he’s found a quicker way,” she thought. “Count Vronsky and I did not find that happiness either, though we expected so much from it.” And now for the first time Anna turned that glaring light in which she was seeing everything on to her relations with him, which she had hitherto avoided thinking about. “What was it he sought in me? Not love so much as the satisfaction of vanity.” She remembered his words, the expression of his face, that recalled an abject setter-dog, in the early days of their connection. And everything now confirmed this. “Yes, there was the triumph of success in him. Of course there was love too, but the chief element was the pride of success. He boasted of me. Now that’s over. There’s nothing to be proud of. Not to be proud of, but to be ashamed of. He has taken from me all he could, and now I am no use to him. He is weary of me and is trying not to be dishonorable in his behavior to me. He let that out yesterday—he wants divorce and marriage so as to burn his ships. He loves me, but how? The zest is gone, as the English say. That fellow wants everyone to admire him and is very much pleased with himself,” she thought, looking at a red-faced clerk, riding on a riding-school horse. “Yes, there’s not the same flavor about me for him now. If I go away from him, at the bottom of his heart he will be glad.”
This was not mere supposition, she saw it distinctly in the piercing light, which revealed to her now the meaning of life and human relations.
“My love keeps growing more passionate and egoistic, while his is waning and waning, and that’s why we’re drifting apart.” She went on musing. “And there’s no help for it. He is everything for me, and I want him more and more to give himself up to me entirely. And he wants more and more to get away from me. We walked to meet each other up to the time of our love, and then we have been irresistibly drifting in different directions. And there’s no altering that. He tells me I’m insanely jealous, and I have told myself that I am insanely jealous; but it’s not true. I’m not jealous, but I’m unsatisfied. But....” she opened her lips, and shifted her place in the carriage in the excitement, aroused by the thought that suddenly struck her. “If I could be anything but a mistress, passionately caring for nothing but his caresses; but I can’t and I don’t care to be anything else. And by that desire I rouse aversion in him, and he rouses fury in me, and it cannot be different. Don’t I know that he wouldn’t deceive me, that he has no schemes about Princess Sorokina, that he’s not in love with Kitty, that he won’t desert me! I know all that, but it makes it no better for me. If without loving me, from duty he’ll be good and kind to me, without what I want, that’s a thousand times worse than unkindness! That’s—hell! And that’s just how it is. For a long while now he hasn’t loved me. And where love ends, hate begins. I don’t know these streets at all. Hills it seems, and still houses, and houses.... And in the houses always people and people.... How many of them, no end, and all hating each other! Come, let me try and think what I want, to make me happy. Well? Suppose I am divorced, and Alexey Alexandrovitch lets me have Seryozha, and I marry Vronsky.” Thinking of Alexey Alexandrovitch, she at once pictured him with extraordinary vividness as though he were alive before her, with his mild, lifeless, dull eyes, the blue veins in his white hands, his intonations and the cracking of his fingers, and remembering the feeling which had existed between them, and which was also called love, she shuddered with loathing. “Well, I’m divorced, and become Vronsky’s wife. Well, will Kitty cease looking at me as she looked at me today? No. And will Seryozha leave off asking and wondering about my two husbands? And is there any new feeling I can awaken between Vronsky and me? Is there possible, if not happiness, some sort of ease from misery? No, no!” she answered now without the slightest hesitation. “Impossible! We are drawn apart by life, and I make his unhappiness, and he mine, and there’s no altering him or me. Every attempt has been made, the screw has come unscrewed. Oh, a beggar woman with a baby. She thinks I’m sorry for her. Aren’t we all flung into the world only to hate each other, and so to torture ourselves and each other? Schoolboys coming—laughing Seryozha?” she thought. “I thought, too, that I loved him, and used to be touched by my own tenderness. But I have lived without him, I gave him up for another love, and did not regret the exchange till that love was satisfied.” And with loathing she thought of what she meant by that love. And the clearness with which she saw life now, her own and all men’s, was a pleasure to her. “It’s so with me and Pyotr, and the coachman, Fyodor, and that merchant, and all the people living along the Volga, where those placards invite one to go, and everywhere and always,” she thought when she had driven under the low-pitched roof of the Nizhigorod station, and the porters ran to meet her.
“A ticket to Obiralovka?” said Pyotr.
She had utterly forgotten where and why she was going, and only by a great effort she understood the question.
“Yes,” she said, handing him her purse, and taking a little red bag in her hand, she got out of the carriage.
Making her way through the crowd to the first-class waiting-room, she gradually recollected all the details of her position, and the plans between which she was hesitating. And again at the old sore places, hope and then despair poisoned the wounds of her tortured, fearfully throbbing heart. As she sat on the star-shaped sofa waiting for the train, she gazed with aversion at the people coming and going (they were all hateful to her), and thought how she would arrive at the station, would write him a note, and what she would write to him, and how he was at this moment complaining to his mother of his position, not understanding her sufferings, and how she would go into the room, and what she would say to him. Then she thought that life might still be happy, and how miserably she loved and hated him, and how fearfully her heart was beating.
A bell rang, some young men, ugly and impudent, and at the same time careful of the impression they were making, hurried by. Pyotr, too, crossed the room in his livery and top-boots, with his dull, animal face, and came up to her to take her to the train. Some noisy men were quiet as she passed them on the platform, and one whispered something about her to another—something vile, no doubt. She stepped up on the high step, and sat down in a carriage by herself on a dirty seat that had been white. Her bag lay beside her, shaken up and down by the springiness of the seat. With a foolish smile Pyotr raised his hat, with its colored band, at the window, in token of farewell; an impudent conductor slammed the door and the latch. A grotesque-looking lady wearing a bustle (Anna mentally undressed the woman, and was appalled at her hideousness), and a little girl laughing affectedly ran down the platform.
“Katerina Andreevna, she’s got them all, ma tante!” cried the girl.
“Even the child’s hideous and affected,” thought Anna. To avoid seeing anyone, she got up quickly and seated herself at the opposite window of the empty carriage. A misshapen-looking peasant covered with dirt, in a cap from which his tangled hair stuck out all round, passed by that window, stooping down to the carriage wheels. “There’s something familiar about that hideous peasant,” thought Anna. And remembering her dream, she moved away to the opposite door, shaking with terror. The conductor opened the door and let in a man and his wife.
“Do you wish to get out?”
Anna made no answer. The conductor and her two fellow-passengers did not notice under her veil her panic-stricken face. She went back to her corner and sat down. The couple seated themselves on the opposite side, and intently but surreptitiously scrutinized her clothes. Both husband and wife seemed repulsive to Anna. The husband asked, would she allow him to smoke, obviously not with a view to smoking but to getting into conversation with her. Receiving her assent, he said to his wife in French something about caring less to smoke than to talk. They made inane and affected remarks to one another, entirely for her benefit. Anna saw clearly that they were sick of each other, and hated each other. And no one could have helped hating such miserable monstrosities.
A second bell sounded, and was followed by moving of luggage, noise, shouting and laughter. It was so clear to Anna that there was nothing for anyone to be glad of, that this laughter irritated her agonizingly, and she would have liked to stop up her ears not to hear it. At last the third bell rang, there was a whistle and a hiss of steam, and a clank of chains, and the man in her carriage crossed himself. “It would be interesting to ask him what meaning he attaches to that,” thought Anna, looking angrily at him. She looked past the lady out of the window at the people who seemed whirling by as they ran beside the train or stood on the platform. The train, jerking at regular intervals at the junctions of the rails, rolled by the platform, past a stone wall, a signal-box, past other trains; the wheels, moving more smoothly and evenly, resounded with a slight clang on the rails. The window was lighted up by the bright evening sun, and a slight breeze fluttered the curtain. Anna forgot her fellow passengers, and to the light swaying of the train she fell to thinking again, as she breathed the fresh air.
“Yes, what did I stop at? That I couldn’t conceive a position in which life would not be a misery, that we are all created to be miserable, and that we all know it, and all invent means of deceiving each other. And when one sees the truth, what is one to do?”
“That’s what reason is given man for, to escape from what worries him,” said the lady in French, lisping affectedly, and obviously pleased with her phrase.
The words seemed an answer to Anna’s thoughts.
“To escape from what worries him,” repeated Anna. And glancing at the red-cheeked husband and the thin wife, she saw that the sickly wife considered herself misunderstood, and the husband deceived her and encouraged her in that idea of herself. Anna seemed to see all their history and all the crannies of their souls, as it were turning a light upon them. But there was nothing interesting in them, and she pursued her thought.
“Yes, I’m very much worried, and that’s what reason was given me for, to escape; so then one must escape: why not put out the light when there’s nothing more to look at, when it’s sickening to look at it all? But how? Why did the conductor run along the footboard, why are they shrieking, those young men in that train? why are they talking, why are they laughing? It’s all falsehood, all lying, all humbug, all cruelty!...”
When the train came into the station, Anna got out into the crowd of passengers, and moving apart from them as if they were lepers, she stood on the platform, trying to think what she had come here for, and what she meant to do. Everything that had seemed to her possible before was now so difficult to consider, especially in this noisy crowd of hideous people who would not leave her alone. One moment porters ran up to her proffering their services, then young men, clacking their heels on the planks of the platform and talking loudly, stared at her; people meeting her dodged past on the wrong side. Remembering that she had meant to go on further if there were no answer, she stopped a porter and asked if her coachman were not here with a note from Count Vronsky.
“Count Vronsky? They sent up here from the Vronskys just this minute, to meet Princess Sorokina and her daughter. And what is the coachman like?”
Just as she was talking to the porter, the coachman Mihail, red and cheerful in his smart blue coat and chain, evidently proud of having so successfully performed his commission, came up to her and gave her a letter. She broke it open, and her heart ached before she had read it.
“I am very sorry your note did not reach me. I will be home at ten,” Vronsky had written carelessly....
“Yes, that’s what I expected!” she said to herself with an evil smile.
“Very good, you can go home then,” she said softly, addressing Mihail. She spoke softly because the rapidity of her heart’s beating hindered her breathing. “No, I won’t let you make me miserable,” she thought menacingly, addressing not him, not herself, but the power that made her suffer, and she walked along the platform.
Two maid-servants walking along the platform turned their heads, staring at her and making some remarks about her dress. “Real,” they said of the lace she was wearing. The young men would not leave her in peace. Again they passed by, peering into her face, and with a laugh shouting something in an unnatural voice. The station-master coming up asked her whether she was going by train. A boy selling kvas never took his eyes off her. “My God! where am I to go?” she thought, going farther and farther along the platform. At the end she stopped. Some ladies and children, who had come to meet a gentleman in spectacles, paused in their loud laughter and talking, and stared at her as she reached them. She quickened her pace and walked away from them to the edge of the platform. A luggage train was coming in. The platform began to sway, and she fancied she was in the train again.
And all at once she thought of the man crushed by the train the day she had first met Vronsky, and she knew what she had to do. With a rapid, light step she went down the steps that led from the tank to the rails and stopped quite near the approaching train.
She looked at the lower part of the carriages, at the screws and chains and the tall cast-iron wheel of the first carriage slowly moving up, and trying to measure the middle between the front and back wheels, and the very minute when that middle point would be opposite her.
“There,” she said to herself, looking into the shadow of the carriage, at the sand and coal dust which covered the sleepers—“there, in the very middle, and I will punish him and escape from everyone and from myself.”
She tried to fling herself below the wheels of the first carriage as it reached her; but the red bag which she tried to drop out of her hand delayed her, and she was too late; she missed the moment. She had to wait for the next carriage. A feeling such as she had known when about to take the first plunge in bathing came upon her, and she crossed herself. That familiar gesture brought back into her soul a whole series of girlish and childish memories, and suddenly the darkness that had covered everything for her was torn apart, and life rose up before her for an instant with all its bright past joys. But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second carriage. And exactly at the moment when the space between the wheels came opposite her, she dropped the red bag, and drawing her head back into her shoulders, fell on her hands under the carriage, and lightly, as though she would rise again at once, dropped on to her knees. And at the same instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. “Where am I? What am I doing? What for?” She tried to get up, to drop backwards; but something huge and merciless struck her on the head and rolled her on her back. “Lord, forgive me all!” she said, feeling it impossible to struggle. A peasant muttering something was working at the iron above her. And the light by which she had read the book filled with troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness, flickered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever.