Anna karenina, p.105
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       Anna Karenina, p.105

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 4

  Alexey Alexandrovitch, after meeting Vronsky on his own steps, drove, ashe had intended, to the Italian opera. He sat through two acts there,and saw everyone he had wanted to see. On returning home, he carefullyscrutinized the hat stand, and noticing that there was not a militaryovercoat there, he went, as usual, to his own room. But, contrary to hisusual habit, he did not go to bed, he walked up and down his study tillthree o'clock in the morning. The feeling of furious anger with hiswife, who would not observe the proprieties and keep to the onestipulation he had laid on her, not to receive her lover in her ownhome, gave him no peace. She had not complied with his request, and hewas bound to punish her and carry out his threat--obtain a divorce andtake away his son. He knew all the difficulties connected with thiscourse, but he had said he would do it, and now he must carry out histhreat. Countess Lidia Ivanovna had hinted that this was the best wayout of his position, and of late the obtaining of divorces had beenbrought to such perfection that Alexey Alexandrovitch saw a possibilityof overcoming the formal difficulties. Misfortunes never come singly,and the affairs of the reorganization of the native tribes, and of theirrigation of the lands of the Zaraisky province, had brought suchofficial worries upon Alexey Alexandrovitch that he had been of late ina continual condition of extreme irritability.

  He did not sleep the whole night, and his fury, growing in a sort ofvast, arithmetical progression, reached its highest limits in themorning. He dressed in haste, and as though carrying his cup full ofwrath, and fearing to spill any over, fearing to lose with his wrath theenergy necessary for the interview with his wife, he went into her roomdirectly he heard she was up.

  Anna, who had thought she knew her husband so well, was amazed at hisappearance when he went in to her. His brow was lowering, and his eyesstared darkly before him, avoiding her eyes; his mouth was tightly andcontemptuously shut. In his walk, in his gestures, in the sound of hisvoice there was a determination and firmness such as his wife had neverseen in him. He went into her room, and without greeting her, walkedstraight up to her writing-table, and taking her keys, opened a drawer.

  "What do you want?" she cried.

  "Your lover's letters," he said.

  "They're not here," she said, shutting the drawer; but from that actionhe saw he had guessed right, and roughly pushing away her hand, hequickly snatched a portfolio in which he knew she used to put her mostimportant papers. She tried to pull the portfolio away, but he pushedher back.

  "Sit down! I have to speak to you," he said, putting the portfolio underhis arm, and squeezing it so tightly with his elbow that his shoulderstood up. Amazed and intimidated, she gazed at him in silence.

  "I told you that I would not allow you to receive your lover in thishouse."

  "I had to see him to..."

  She stopped, not finding a reason.

  "I do not enter into the details of why a woman wants to see her lover."

  "I meant, I only..." she said, flushing hotly. This coarseness of hisangered her, and gave her courage. "Surely you must feel how easy it isfor you to insult me?" she said.

  "An honest man and an honest woman may be insulted, but to tell a thiefhe's a thief is simply _la constatation d'un fait_."

  "This cruelty is something new I did not know in you."

  "You call it cruelty for a husband to give his wife liberty, giving herthe honorable protection of his name, simply on the condition ofobserving the proprieties: is that cruelty?"

  "It's worse than cruel--it's base, if you want to know!" Anna cried, ina rush of hatred, and getting up, she was going away.

  "No!" he shrieked, in his shrill voice, which pitched a note higher thanusual even, and his big hands clutching her by the arm so violently thatred marks were left from the bracelet he was squeezing, he forcibly sather down in her place.

  "Base! If you care to use that word, what is base is to forsake husbandand child for a lover, while you eat your husband's bread!"

  She bowed her head. She did not say what she had said the evening beforeto her lover, that _he_ was her husband, and her husband wassuperfluous; she did not even think that. She felt all the justice ofhis words, and only said softly:

  "You cannot describe my position as worse than I feel it to be myself;but what are you saying all this for?"

  "What am I saying it for? what for?" he went on, as angrily. "That youmay know that since you have not carried out my wishes in regard toobserving outward decorum, I will take measures to put an end to thisstate of things."

  "Soon, very soon, it will end, anyway," she said; and again, at thethought of death near at hand and now desired, tears came into her eyes.

  "It will end sooner than you and your lover have planned! If you musthave the satisfaction of animal passion..."

  "Alexey Alexandrovitch! I won't say it's not generous, but it's not likea gentleman to strike anyone who's down."

  "Yes, you only think of yourself! But the sufferings of a man who wasyour husband have no interest for you. You don't care that his wholelife is ruined, that he is thuff ... thuff..."

  Alexey Alexandrovitch was speaking so quickly that he stammered, and wasutterly unable to articulate the word "suffering." In the end hepronounced it "thuffering." She wanted to laugh, and was immediatelyashamed that anything could amuse her at such a moment. And for thefirst time, for an instant, she felt for him, put herself in his place,and was sorry for him. But what could she say or do? Her head sank, andshe sat silent. He too was silent for some time, and then began speakingin a frigid, less shrill voice, emphasizing random words that had nospecial significance.

  "I came to tell you..." he said.

  She glanced at him. "No, it was my fancy," she thought, recalling theexpression of his face when he stumbled over the word "suffering." "No;can a man with those dull eyes, with that self-satisfied complacency,feel anything?"

  "I cannot change anything," she whispered.

  "I have come to tell you that I am going tomorrow to Moscow, and shallnot return again to this house, and you will receive notice of what Idecide through the lawyer into whose hands I shall intrust the task ofgetting a divorce. My son is going to my sister's," said AlexeyAlexandrovitch, with an effort recalling what he had meant to say abouthis son.

  "You take Seryozha to hurt me," she said, looking at him from under herbrows. "You do not love him.... Leave me Seryozha!"

  "Yes, I have lost even my affection for my son, because he is associatedwith the repulsion I feel for you. But still I shall take him. Goodbye!"

  And he was going away, but now she detained him.

  "Alexey Alexandrovitch, leave me Seryozha!" she whispered once more. "Ihave nothing else to say. Leave Seryozha till my ... I shall soon beconfined; leave him!"

  Alexey Alexandrovitch flew into a rage, and, snatching his hand fromher, he went out of the room without a word.

 

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