Anna karenina, p.131
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       Anna Karenina, p.131

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 7

  Vronsky and Anna had been traveling for three months together in Europe.They had visited Venice, Rome, and Naples, and had just arrived at asmall Italian town where they meant to stay some time. A handsome headwaiter, with thick pomaded hair parted from the neck upwards, an eveningcoat, a broad white cambric shirt front, and a bunch of trinkets hangingabove his rounded stomach, stood with his hands in the full curve of hispockets, looking contemptuously from under his eyelids while he gavesome frigid reply to a gentleman who had stopped him. Catching the soundof footsteps coming from the other side of the entry towards thestaircase, the head waiter turned round, and seeing the Russian count,who had taken their best rooms, he took his hands out of his pocketsdeferentially, and with a bow informed him that a courier had been, andthat the business about the palazzo had been arranged. The steward wasprepared to sign the agreement.

  "Ah! I'm glad to hear it," said Vronsky. "Is madame at home or not?"

  "Madame has been out for a walk but has returned now," answered thewaiter.

  Vronsky took off his soft, wide-brimmed hat and passed his handkerchiefover his heated brow and hair, which had grown half over his ears, andwas brushed back covering the bald patch on his head. And glancingcasually at the gentleman, who still stood there gazing intently at him,he would have gone on.

  "This gentleman is a Russian, and was inquiring after you," said thehead waiter.

  With mingled feelings of annoyance at never being able to get away fromacquaintances anywhere, and longing to find some sort of diversion fromthe monotony of his life, Vronsky looked once more at the gentleman, whohad retreated and stood still again, and at the same moment a light cameinto the eyes of both.

  "Golenishtchev!"

  "Vronsky!"

  It really was Golenishtchev, a comrade of Vronsky's in the Corps ofPages. In the corps Golenishtchev had belonged to the liberal party; heleft the corps without entering the army, and had never taken officeunder the government. Vronsky and he had gone completely different wayson leaving the corps, and had only met once since.

  At that meeting Vronsky perceived that Golenishtchev had taken up a sortof lofty, intellectually liberal line, and was consequently disposed tolook down upon Vronsky's interests and calling in life. Hence Vronskyhad met him with the chilling and haughty manner he so well knew how toassume, the meaning of which was: "You may like or dislike my way oflife, that's a matter of the most perfect indifference to me; you willhave to treat me with respect if you want to know me." Golenishtchev hadbeen contemptuously indifferent to the tone taken by Vronsky. Thissecond meeting might have been expected, one would have supposed, toestrange them still more. But now they beamed and exclaimed with delighton recognizing one another. Vronsky would never have expected to be sopleased to see Golenishtchev, but probably he was not himself aware howbored he was. He forgot the disagreeable impression of their lastmeeting, and with a face of frank delight held out his hand to his oldcomrade. The same expression of delight replaced the look of uneasinesson Golenishtchev's face.

  "How glad I am to meet you!" said Vronsky, showing his strong whiteteeth in a friendly smile.

  "I heard the name Vronsky, but I didn't know which one. I'm very, veryglad!"

  "Let's go in. Come, tell me what you're doing."

  "I've been living here for two years. I'm working."

  "Ah!" said Vronsky, with sympathy; "let's go in." And with the habitcommon with Russians, instead of saying in Russian what he wanted tokeep from the servants, he began to speak in French.

  "Do you know Madame Karenina? We are traveling together. I am going tosee her now," he said in French, carefully scrutinizing Golenishtchev'sface.

  "Ah! I did not know" (though he did know), Golenishtchev answeredcarelessly. "Have you been here long?" he added.

  "Four days," Vronsky answered, once more scrutinizing his friend's faceintently.

  "Yes, he's a decent fellow, and will look at the thing properly,"Vronsky said to himself, catching the significance of Golenishtchev'sface and the change of subject. "I can introduce him to Anna, he looksat it properly."

  During those three months that Vronsky had spent abroad with Anna, hehad always on meeting new people asked himself how the new person wouldlook at his relations with Anna, and for the most part, in men, he hadmet with the "proper" way of looking at it. But if he had been asked,and those who looked at it "properly" had been asked, exactly how theydid look at it, both he and they would have been greatly puzzled toanswer.

  In reality, those who in Vronsky's opinion had the "proper" view had nosort of view at all, but behaved in general as well-bred persons dobehave in regard to all the complex and insoluble problems with whichlife is encompassed on all sides; they behaved with propriety, avoidingallusions and unpleasant questions. They assumed an air of fullycomprehending the import and force of the situation, of accepting andeven approving of it, but of considering it superfluous and uncalled forto put all this into words.

  Vronsky at once divined that Golenishtchev was of this class, andtherefore was doubly pleased to see him. And in fact, Golenishtchev'smanner to Madame Karenina, when he was taken to call on her, was allthat Vronsky could have desired. Obviously without the slightest efforthe steered clear of all subjects which might lead to embarrassment.

  He had never met Anna before, and was struck by her beauty, and stillmore by the frankness with which she accepted her position. She blushedwhen Vronsky brought in Golenishtchev, and he was extremely charmed bythis childish blush overspreading her candid and handsome face. But whathe liked particularly was the way in which at once, as though on purposethat there might be no misunderstanding with an outsider, she calledVronsky simply Alexey, and said they were moving into a house they hadjust taken, what was here called a palazzo. Golenishtchev liked thisdirect and simple attitude to her own position. Looking at Anna's mannerof simple-hearted, spirited gaiety, and knowing Alexey Alexandrovitchand Vronsky, Golenishtchev fancied that he understood her perfectly. Hefancied that he understood what she was utterly unable to understand:how it was that, having made her husband wretched, having abandoned himand her son and lost her good name, she yet felt full of spirits,gaiety, and happiness.

  "It's in the guide-book," said Golenishtchev, referring to the palazzoVronsky had taken. "There's a first-rate Tintoretto there. One of hislatest period."

  "I tell you what: it's a lovely day, let's go and have another look atit," said Vronsky, addressing Anna.

  "I shall be very glad to; I'll go and put on my hat. Would you say it'shot?" she said, stopping short in the doorway and looking inquiringly atVronsky. And again a vivid flush overspread her face.

  Vronsky saw from her eyes that she did not know on what terms he caredto be with Golenishtchev, and so was afraid of not behaving as he wouldwish.

  He looked a long, tender look at her.

  "No, not very," he said.

  And it seemed to her that she understood everything, most of all, thathe was pleased with her; and smiling to him, she walked with her rapidstep out at the door.

  The friends glanced at one another, and a look of hesitation came intoboth faces, as though Golenishtchev, unmistakably admiring her, wouldhave liked to say something about her, and could not find the rightthing to say, while Vronsky desired and dreaded his doing so.

  "Well then," Vronsky began to start a conversation of some sort; "soyou're settled here? You're still at the same work, then?" he went on,recalling that he had been told Golenishtchev was writing something.

  "Yes, I'm writing the second part of the _Two Elements_," saidGolenishtchev, coloring with pleasure at the question--"that is, to beexact, I am not writing it yet; I am preparing, collecting materials. Itwill be of far wider scope, and will touch on almost all questions. Wein Russia refuse to see that we are the heirs of Byzantium," and helaunched into a long and heated explanation of his views.

  Vronsky at the first moment felt embarrassed at not even knowing of thefirst part of the _Two Elements_, of which the
author spoke as somethingwell known. But as Golenishtchev began to lay down his opinions andVronsky was able to follow them even without knowing the _Two Elements_,he listened to him with some interest, for Golenishtchev spoke well. ButVronsky was startled and annoyed by the nervous irascibility with whichGolenishtchev talked of the subject that engrossed him. As he went ontalking, his eyes glittered more and more angrily; he was more and morehurried in his replies to imaginary opponents, and his face grew moreand more excited and worried. Remembering Golenishtchev, a thin, lively,good-natured and well-bred boy, always at the head of the class, Vronskycould not make out the reason of his irritability, and he did not likeit. What he particularly disliked was that Golenishtchev, a manbelonging to a good set, should put himself on a level with somescribbling fellows, with whom he was irritated and angry. Was it worthit? Vronsky disliked it, yet he felt that Golenishtchev was unhappy, andwas sorry for him. Unhappiness, almost mental derangement, was visibleon his mobile, rather handsome face, while without even noticing Anna'scoming in, he went on hurriedly and hotly expressing his views.

  When Anna came in in her hat and cape, and her lovely hand rapidlyswinging her parasol, and stood beside him, it was with a feeling ofrelief that Vronsky broke away from the plaintive eyes of Golenishtchevwhich fastened persistently upon him, and with a fresh rush of lovelooked at his charming companion, full of life and happiness.Golenishtchev recovered himself with an effort, and at first wasdejected and gloomy, but Anna, disposed to feel friendly with everyoneas she was at that time, soon revived his spirits by her direct andlively manner. After trying various subjects of conversation, she gothim upon painting, of which he talked very well, and she listened to himattentively. They walked to the house they had taken, and looked overit.

  "I am very glad of one thing," said Anna to Golenishtchev when they wereon their way back, "Alexey will have a capital _atelier_. You mustcertainly take that room," she said to Vronsky in Russian, using theaffectionately familiar form as though she saw that Golenishtchev wouldbecome intimate with them in their isolation, and that there was no needof reserve before him.

  "Do you paint?" said Golenishtchev, turning round quickly to Vronsky.

  "Yes, I used to study long ago, and now I have begun to do a little,"said Vronsky, reddening.

  "He has great talent," said Anna with a delighted smile. "I'm no judge,of course. But good judges have said the same."

 
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