Anna karenina, p.107
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       Anna Karenina, p.107
 

          

  Chapter 6

  Alexey Alexandrovitch had gained a brilliant victory at the sitting ofthe Commission of the 17th of August, but in the sequel this victory cutthe ground from under his feet. The new commission for the inquiry intothe condition of the native tribes in all its branches had been formedand despatched to its destination with an unusual speed and energyinspired by Alexey Alexandrovitch. Within three months a report waspresented. The condition of the native tribes was investigated in itspolitical, administrative, economic, ethnographic, material, andreligious aspects. To all these questions there were answers admirablystated, and answers admitting no shade of doubt, since they were not aproduct of human thought, always liable to error, but were all theproduct of official activity. The answers were all based on officialdata furnished by governors and heads of churches, and founded on thereports of district magistrates and ecclesiastical superintendents,founded in their turn on the reports of parochial overseers and parishpriests; and so all of these answers were unhesitating and certain. Allsuch questions as, for instance, of the cause of failure of crops, ofthe adherence of certain tribes to their ancient beliefs,etc.--questions which, but for the convenient intervention of theofficial machine, are not, and cannot be solved for ages--received full,unhesitating solution. And this solution was in favor of AlexeyAlexandrovitch's contention. But Stremov, who had felt stung to thequick at the last sitting, had, on the reception of the commission'sreport, resorted to tactics which Alexey Alexandrovitch had notanticipated. Stremov, carrying with him several members, went over toAlexey Alexandrovitch's side, and not contenting himself with warmlydefending the measure proposed by Karenin, proposed other more extrememeasures in the same direction. These measures, still furtherexaggerated in opposition to what was Alexey Alexandrovitch'sfundamental idea, were passed by the commission, and then the aim ofStremov's tactics became apparent. Carried to an extreme, the measuresseemed at once to be so absurd that the highest authorities, and publicopinion, and intellectual ladies, and the newspapers, all at the sametime fell foul of them, expressing their indignation both with themeasures and their nominal father, Alexey Alexandrovitch. Stremov drewback, affecting to have blindly followed Karenin, and to be astoundedand distressed at what had been done. This meant the defeat of AlexeyAlexandrovitch. But in spite of failing health, in spite of his domesticgriefs, he did not give in. There was a split in the commission. Somemembers, with Stremov at their head, justified their mistake on theground that they had put faith in the commission of revision, institutedby Alexey Alexandrovitch, and maintained that the report of thecommission was rubbish, and simply so much waste paper. AlexeyAlexandrovitch, with a following of those who saw the danger of sorevolutionary an attitude to official documents, persisted in upholdingthe statements obtained by the revising commission. In consequence ofthis, in the higher spheres, and even in society, all was chaos, andalthough everyone was interested, no one could tell whether the nativetribes really were becoming impoverished and ruined, or whether theywere in a flourishing condition. The position of Alexey Alexandrovitch,owing to this, and partly owing to the contempt lavished on him for hiswife's infidelity, became very precarious. And in this position he tookan important resolution. To the astonishment of the commission, heannounced that he should ask permission to go himself to investigate thequestion on the spot. And having obtained permission, AlexeyAlexandrovitch prepared to set off to these remote provinces.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch's departure made a great sensation, the more so asjust before he started he officially returned the posting-fares allowedhim for twelve horses, to drive to his destination.

  "I think it very noble," Betsy said about this to the Princess Myakaya."Why take money for posting-horses when everyone knows that there arerailways everywhere now?"

  But Princess Myakaya did not agree, and the Princess Tverskaya's opinionannoyed her indeed.

  "It's all very well for you to talk," said she, "when you have I don'tknow how many millions; but I am very glad when my husband goes on arevising tour in the summer. It's very good for him and pleasanttraveling about, and it's a settled arrangement for me to keep acarriage and coachman on the money."

  On his way to the remote provinces Alexey Alexandrovitch stopped forthree days at Moscow.

  The day after his arrival he was driving back from calling on thegovernor-general. At the crossroads by Gazetoy Place, where there arealways crowds of carriages and sledges, Alexey Alexandrovitch suddenlyheard his name called out in such a loud and cheerful voice that hecould not help looking round. At the corner of the pavement, in a short,stylish overcoat and a low-crowned fashionable hat, jauntily askew, witha smile that showed a gleam of white teeth and red lips, stood StepanArkadyevitch, radiant, young, and beaming. He called him vigorously andurgently, and insisted on his stopping. He had one arm on the window ofa carriage that was stopping at the corner, and out of the window werethrust the heads of a lady in a velvet hat, and two children. StepanArkadyevitch was smiling and beckoning to his brother-in-law. The ladysmiled a kindly smile too, and she too waved her hand to AlexeyAlexandrovitch. It was Dolly with her children.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch did not want to see anyone in Moscow, and least ofall his wife's brother. He raised his hat and would have driven on, butStepan Arkadyevitch told his coachman to stop, and ran across the snowto him.

  "Well, what a shame not to have let us know! Been here long? I was atDussot's yesterday and saw 'Karenin' on the visitors' list, but it neverentered my head that it was you," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, sticking hishead in at the window of the carriage, "or I should have looked you up.I am glad to see you!" he said, knocking one foot against the other toshake the snow off. "What a shame of you not to let us know!" herepeated.

  "I had no time; I am very busy," Alexey Alexandrovitch responded dryly.

  "Come to my wife, she does so want to see you."

  Alexey Alexandrovitch unfolded the rug in which his frozen feet werewrapped, and getting out of his carriage made his way over the snow toDarya Alexandrovna.

  "Why, Alexey Alexandrovitch, what are you cutting us like this for?"said Dolly, smiling.

  "I was very busy. Delighted to see you!" he said in a tone clearlyindicating that he was annoyed by it. "How are you?"

  "Tell me, how is my darling Anna?"

  Alexey Alexandrovitch mumbled something and would have gone on. ButStepan Arkadyevitch stopped him.

  "I tell you what we'll do tomorrow. Dolly, ask him to dinner. We'll askKoznishev and Pestsov, so as to entertain him with our Moscowcelebrities."

  "Yes, please, do come," said Dolly; "we will expect you at five, or sixo'clock, if you like. How is my darling Anna? How long..."

  "She is quite well," Alexey Alexandrovitch mumbled, frowning."Delighted!" and he moved away towards his carriage.

  "You will come?" Dolly called after him.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch said something which Dolly could not catch in thenoise of the moving carriages.

  "I shall come round tomorrow!" Stepan Arkadyevitch shouted to him.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch got into his carriage, and buried himself in it soas neither to see nor be seen.

  "Queer fish!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch to his wife, and glancing at hiswatch, he made a motion of his hand before his face, indicating a caressto his wife and children, and walked jauntily along the pavement.

  "Stiva! Stiva!" Dolly called, reddening.

  He turned round.

  "I must get coats, you know, for Grisha and Tanya. Give me the money."

  "Never mind; you tell them I'll pay the bill!" and he vanished, noddinggenially to an acquaintance who drove by.

 
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