Anna karenina, p.154
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       Anna Karenina, p.154

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 30

  Meanwhile Vassily Lukitch had not at first understood who this lady was,and had learned from their conversation that it was no other person thanthe mother who had left her husband, and whom he had not seen, as he hadentered the house after her departure. He was in doubt whether to go inor not, or whether to communicate with Alexey Alexandrovitch. Reflectingfinally that his duty was to get Seryozha up at the hour fixed, and thatit was therefore not his business to consider who was there, the motheror anyone else, but simply to do his duty, he finished dressing, went tothe door and opened it.

  But the embraces of the mother and child, the sound of their voices, andwhat they were saying, made him change his mind.

  He shook his head, and with a sigh he closed the door. "I'll waitanother ten minutes," he said to himself, clearing his throat and wipingaway tears.

  Among the servants of the household there was intense excitement allthis time. All had heard that their mistress had come, and thatKapitonitch had let her in, and that she was even now in the nursery,and that their master always went in person to the nursery at nineo'clock, and every one fully comprehended that it was impossible for thehusband and wife to meet, and that they must prevent it. Korney, thevalet, going down to the hall porter's room, asked who had let her in,and how it was he had done so, and ascertaining that Kapitonitch hadadmitted her and shown her up, he gave the old man a talking-to. Thehall porter was doggedly silent, but when Korney told him he ought to besent away, Kapitonitch darted up to him, and waving his hands inKorney's face, began:

  "Oh yes, to be sure you'd not have let her in! After ten years' service,and never a word but of kindness, and there you'd up and say, 'Be off,go along, get away with you!' Oh yes, you're a shrewd one at politics, Idare say! You don't need to be taught how to swindle the master, and tofilch fur coats!"

  "Soldier!" said Korney contemptuously, and he turned to the nurse whowas coming in. "Here, what do you think, Marya Efimovna: he let her inwithout a word to anyone," Korney said addressing her. "AlexeyAlexandrovitch will be down immediately--and go into the nursery!"

  "A pretty business, a pretty business!" said the nurse. "You, KorneyVassilievitch, you'd best keep him some way or other, the master, whileI'll run and get her away somehow. A pretty business!"

  When the nurse went into the nursery, Seryozha was telling his motherhow he and Nadinka had had a fall in sledging downhill, and had turnedover three times. She was listening to the sound of his voice, watchinghis face and the play of expression on it, touching his hand, but shedid not follow what he was saying. She must go, she must leavehim,--this was the only thing she was thinking and feeling. She heardthe steps of Vassily Lukitch coming up to the door and coughing; sheheard, too, the steps of the nurse as she came near; but she sat likeone turned to stone, incapable of beginning to speak or to get up.

  "Mistress, darling!" began the nurse, going up to Anna and kissing herhands and shoulders. "God has brought joy indeed to our boy on hisbirthday. You aren't changed one bit."

  "Oh, nurse dear, I didn't know you were in the house," said Anna,rousing herself for a moment.

  "I'm not living here, I'm living with my daughter. I came for thebirthday, Anna Arkadyevna, darling!"

  The nurse suddenly burst into tears, and began kissing her hand again.

  Seryozha, with radiant eyes and smiles, holding his mother by one handand his nurse by the other, pattered on the rug with his fat little barefeet. The tenderness shown by his beloved nurse to his mother threw himinto an ecstasy.

  "Mother! She often comes to see me, and when she comes..." he wasbeginning, but he stopped, noticing that the nurse was saying somethingin a whisper to his mother, and that in his mother's face there was alook of dread and something like shame, which was so strangelyunbecoming to her.

  She went up to him.

  "My sweet!" she said.

  She could not say _good-bye_, but the expression on her face said it,and he understood. "Darling, darling Kootik!" she used the name by whichshe had called him when he was little, "you won't forget me? You..." butshe could not say more.

  How often afterwards she thought of words she might have said. But nowshe did not know how to say it, and could say nothing. But Seryozha knewall she wanted to say to him. He understood that she was unhappy andloved him. He understood even what the nurse had whispered. He hadcaught the words "always at nine o'clock," and he knew that this wassaid of his father, and that his father and mother could not meet. Thathe understood, but one thing he could not understand--why there shouldbe a look of dread and shame in her face?... She was not in fault, butshe was afraid of him and ashamed of something. He would have liked toput a question that would have set at rest this doubt, but he did notdare; he saw that she was miserable, and he felt for her. Silently hepressed close to her and whispered, "Don't go yet. He won't come justyet."

  The mother held him away from her to see what he was thinking, what tosay to him, and in his frightened face she read not only that he wasspeaking of his father, but, as it were, asking her what he ought tothink about his father.

  "Seryozha, my darling," she said, "love him; he's better and kinder thanI am, and I have done him wrong. When you grow up you will judge."

  "There's no one better than you!..." he cried in despair through histears, and, clutching her by the shoulders, he began squeezing her withall his force to him, his arms trembling with the strain.

  "My sweet, my little one!" said Anna, and she cried as weakly andchildishly as he.

  At that moment the door opened. Vassily Lukitch came in.

  At the other door there was the sound of steps, and the nurse in ascared whisper said, "He's coming," and gave Anna her hat.

  Seryozha sank onto the bed and sobbed, hiding his face in his hands.Anna removed his hands, once more kissed his wet face, and with rapidsteps went to the door. Alexey Alexandrovitch walked in, meeting her.Seeing her, he stopped short and bowed his head.

  Although she had just said he was better and kinder than she, in therapid glance she flung at him, taking in his whole figure in all itsdetails, feelings of repulsion and hatred for him and jealousy over herson took possession of her. With a swift gesture she put down her veil,and, quickening her pace, almost ran out of the room.

  She had not time to undo, and so carried back with her, the parcel oftoys she had chosen the day before in a toy shop with such love andsorrow.

 

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