Anna karenina, p.113
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       Anna Karenina, p.113

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 12

  Connected with the conversation that had sprung up on the rights ofwomen there were certain questions as to the inequality of rights inmarriage improper to discuss before the ladies. Pestsov had severaltimes during dinner touched upon these questions, but Sergey Ivanovitchand Stepan Arkadyevitch carefully drew him off them.

  When they rose from the table and the ladies had gone out, Pestsov didnot follow them, but addressing Alexey Alexandrovitch, began to expoundthe chief ground of inequality. The inequality in marriage, in hisopinion, lay in the fact that the infidelity of the wife and theinfidelity of the husband are punished unequally, both by the law and bypublic opinion. Stepan Arkadyevitch went hurriedly up to AlexeyAlexandrovitch and offered him a cigar.

  "No, I don't smoke," Alexey Alexandrovitch answered calmly, and asthough purposely wishing to show that he was not afraid of the subject,he turned to Pestsov with a chilly smile.

  "I imagine that such a view has a foundation in the very nature ofthings," he said, and would have gone on to the drawing room. But atthis point Turovtsin broke suddenly and unexpectedly into theconversation, addressing Alexey Alexandrovitch.

  "You heard, perhaps, about Pryatchnikov?" said Turovtsin, warmed up bythe champagne he had drunk, and long waiting for an opportunity to breakthe silence that had weighed on him. "Vasya Pryatchnikov," he said, witha good-natured smile on his damp, red lips, addressing himselfprincipally to the most important guest, Alexey Alexandrovitch, "theytold me today he fought a duel with Kvitsky at Tver, and has killedhim."

  Just as it always seems that one bruises oneself on a sore place, soStepan Arkadyevitch felt now that the conversation would by ill luckfall every moment on Alexey Alexandrovitch's sore spot. He would againhave got his brother-in-law away, but Alexey Alexandrovitch himselfinquired, with curiosity:

  "What did Pryatchnikov fight about?"

  "His wife. Acted like a man, he did! Called him out and shot him!"

  "Ah!" said Alexey Alexandrovitch indifferently, and lifting hiseyebrows, he went into the drawing room.

  "How glad I am you have come," Dolly said with a frightened smile,meeting him in the outer drawing room. "I must talk to you. Let's sithere."

  Alexey Alexandrovitch, with the same expression of indifference, givenhim by his lifted eyebrows, sat down beside Darya Alexandrovna, andsmiled affectedly.

  "It's fortunate," said he, "especially as I was meaning to ask you toexcuse me, and to be taking leave. I have to start tomorrow."

  Darya Alexandrovna was firmly convinced of Anna's innocence, and shefelt herself growing pale and her lips quivering with anger at thisfrigid, unfeeling man, who was so calmly intending to ruin her innocentfriend.

  "Alexey Alexandrovitch," she said, with desperate resolution looking himin the face, "I asked you about Anna, you made me no answer. How isshe?"

  "She is, I believe, quite well, Darya Alexandrovna," replied AlexeyAlexandrovitch, not looking at her.

  "Alexey Alexandrovitch, forgive me, I have no right ... but I love Annaas a sister, and esteem her; I beg, I beseech you to tell me what iswrong between you? what fault do you find with her?"

  Alexey Alexandrovitch frowned, and almost closing his eyes, dropped hishead.

  "I presume that your husband has told you the grounds on which Iconsider it necessary to change my attitude to Anna Arkadyevna?" hesaid, not looking her in the face, but eyeing with displeasureShtcherbatsky, who was walking across the drawing room.

  "I don't believe it, I don't believe it, I can't believe it!" Dollysaid, clasping her bony hands before her with a vigorous gesture. Sherose quickly, and laid her hand on Alexey Alexandrovitch's sleeve. "Weshall be disturbed here. Come this way, please."

  Dolly's agitation had an effect on Alexey Alexandrovitch. He got up andsubmissively followed her to the schoolroom. They sat down to a tablecovered with an oilcloth cut in slits by penknives.

  "I don't, I don't believe it!" Dolly said, trying to catch his glancethat avoided her.

  "One cannot disbelieve facts, Darya Alexandrovna," said he, with anemphasis on the word "facts."

  "But what has she done?" said Darya Alexandrovna. "What precisely hasshe done?"

  "She has forsaken her duty, and deceived her husband. That's what shehas done," said he.

  "No, no, it can't be! No, for God's sake, you are mistaken," said Dolly,putting her hands to her temples and closing her eyes.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch smiled coldly, with his lips alone, meaning tosignify to her and to himself the firmness of his conviction; but thiswarm defense, though it could not shake him, reopened his wound. Hebegan to speak with greater heat.

  "It is extremely difficult to be mistaken when a wife herself informsher husband of the fact--informs him that eight years of her life, and ason, all that's a mistake, and that she wants to begin life again," hesaid angrily, with a snort.

  "Anna and sin--I cannot connect them, I cannot believe it!"

  "Darya Alexandrovna," he said, now looking straight into Dolly's kindly,troubled face, and feeling that his tongue was being loosened in spiteof himself, "I would give a great deal for doubt to be still possible.When I doubted, I was miserable, but it was better than now. When Idoubted, I had hope; but now there is no hope, and still I doubt ofeverything. I am in such doubt of everything that I even hate my son,and sometimes do not believe he is my son. I am very unhappy."

  He had no need to say that. Darya Alexandrovna had seen that as soon ashe glanced into her face; and she felt sorry for him, and her faith inthe innocence of her friend began to totter.

  "Oh, this is awful, awful! But can it be true that you are resolved on adivorce?"

  "I am resolved on extreme measures. There is nothing else for me to do."

  "Nothing else to do, nothing else to do..." she replied, with tears inher eyes. "Oh no, don't say nothing else to do!" she said.

  "What is horrible in a trouble of this kind is that one cannot, as inany other--in loss, in death--bear one's trouble in peace, but that onemust act," said he, as though guessing her thought. "One must get out ofthe humiliating position in which one is placed; one can't live _atrois_."

  "I understand, I quite understand that," said Dolly, and her head sank.She was silent for a little, thinking of herself, of her own grief inher family, and all at once, with an impulsive movement, she raised herhead and clasped her hands with an imploring gesture. "But wait alittle! You are a Christian. Think of her! What will become of her, ifyou cast her off?"

  "I have thought, Darya Alexandrovna, I have thought a great deal," saidAlexey Alexandrovitch. His face turned red in patches, and his dim eyeslooked straight before him. Darya Alexandrovna at that moment pitied himwith all her heart. "That was what I did indeed when she herself madeknown to me my humiliation; I left everything as of old. I gave her achance to reform, I tried to save her. And with what result? She wouldnot regard the slightest request--that she should observe decorum," hesaid, getting heated. "One may save anyone who does not want to beruined; but if the whole nature is so corrupt, so depraved, that ruinitself seems to be her salvation, what's to be done?"

  "Anything, only not divorce!" answered Darya Alexandrovna

  "But what is anything?"

  "No, it is awful! She will be no one's wife, she will be lost!"

  "What can I do?" said Alexey Alexandrovitch, raising his shoulders andhis eyebrows. The recollection of his wife's last act had so incensedhim that he had become frigid, as at the beginning of the conversation."I am very grateful for your sympathy, but I must be going," he said,getting up.

  "No, wait a minute. You must not ruin her. Wait a little; I will tellyou about myself. I was married, and my husband deceived me; in angerand jealousy, I would have thrown up everything, I would myself.... ButI came to myself again; and who did it? Anna saved me. And here I amliving on. The children are growing up, my husband has come back to hisfamily, and feels his fault, is growing purer, better, and I live on....I have forgiven it, and you ought to forgive!"


  Alexey Alexandrovitch heard her, but her words had no effect on him now.All the hatred of that day when he had resolved on a divorce had sprungup again in his soul. He shook himself, and said in a shrill, loudvoice:--

  "Forgive I cannot, and do not wish to, and I regard it as wrong. I havedone everything for this woman, and she has trodden it all in the mud towhich she is akin. I am not a spiteful man, I have never hated anyone,but I hate her with my whole soul, and I cannot even forgive her,because I hate her too much for all the wrong she has done me!" he said,with tones of hatred in his voice.

  "Love those that hate you...." Darya Alexandrovna whispered timorously.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch smiled contemptuously. That he knew long ago, butit could not be applied to his case.

  "Love those that hate you, but to love those one hates is impossible.Forgive me for having troubled you. Everyone has enough to bear in hisown grief!" And regaining his self-possession, Alexey Alexandrovitchquietly took leave and went away.

 
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