Anna karenina, p.155
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       Anna Karenina, p.155

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 31

  As intensely as Anna had longed to see her son, and long as she had beenthinking of it and preparing herself for it, she had not in the leastexpected that seeing him would affect her so deeply. On getting back toher lonely rooms in the hotel she could not for a long while understandwhy she was there. "Yes, it's all over, and I am again alone," she saidto herself, and without taking off her hat she sat down in a low chairby the hearth. Fixing her eyes on a bronze clock standing on a tablebetween the windows, she tried to think.

  The French maid brought from abroad came in to suggest she should dress.She gazed at her wonderingly and said, "Presently." A footman offeredher coffee. "Later on," she said.

  The Italian nurse, after having taken the baby out in her best, came inwith her, and brought her to Anna. The plump, well-fed little baby, onseeing her mother, as she always did, held out her fat little hands, andwith a smile on her toothless mouth, began, like a fish with a float,bobbing her fingers up and down the starched folds of her embroideredskirt, making them rustle. It was impossible not to smile, not to kissthe baby, impossible not to hold out a finger for her to clutch, crowingand prancing all over; impossible not to offer her a lip which shesucked into her little mouth by way of a kiss. And all this Anna did,and took her in her arms and made her dance, and kissed her fresh littlecheek and bare little elbows; but at the sight of this child it wasplainer than ever to her that the feeling she had for her could not becalled love in comparison with what she felt for Seryozha. Everything inthis baby was charming, but for some reason all this did not go deep toher heart. On her first child, though the child of an unloved father,had been concentrated all the love that had never found satisfaction.Her baby girl had been born in the most painful circumstances and hadnot had a hundredth part of the care and thought which had beenconcentrated on her first child. Besides, in the little girl everythingwas still in the future, while Seryozha was by now almost a personality,and a personality dearly loved. In him there was a conflict of thoughtand feeling; he understood her, he loved her, he judged her, shethought, recalling his words and his eyes. And she was forever--notphysically only but spiritually--divided from him, and it was impossibleto set this right.

  She gave the baby back to the nurse, let her go, and opened the locketin which there was Seryozha's portrait when he was almost of the sameage as the girl. She got up, and, taking off her hat, took up from alittle table an album in which there were photographs of her son atdifferent ages. She wanted to compare them, and began taking them out ofthe album. She took them all out except one, the latest and bestphotograph. In it he was in a white smock, sitting astride a chair, withfrowning eyes and smiling lips. It was his best, most characteristicexpression. With her little supple hands, her white, delicate fingers,that moved with a peculiar intensity today, she pulled at a corner ofthe photograph, but the photograph had caught somewhere, and she couldnot get it out. There was no paper knife on the table, and so, pullingout the photograph that was next to her son's (it was a photograph ofVronsky taken at Rome in a round hat and with long hair), she used it topush out her son's photograph. "Oh, here is he!" she said, glancing atthe portrait of Vronsky, and she suddenly recalled that he was the causeof her present misery. She had not once thought of him all the morning.But now, coming all at once upon that manly, noble face, so familiar andso dear to her, she felt a sudden rush of love for him.

  "But where is he? How is it he leaves me alone in my misery?" shethought all at once with a feeling of reproach, forgetting she hadherself kept from him everything concerning her son. She sent to ask himto come to her immediately; with a throbbing heart she awaited him,rehearsing to herself the words in which she would tell him all, and theexpressions of love with which he would console her. The messengerreturned with the answer that he had a visitor with him, but that hewould come immediately, and that he asked whether she would let himbring with him Prince Yashvin, who had just arrived in Petersburg. "He'snot coming alone, and since dinner yesterday he has not seen me," shethought; "he's not coming so that I could tell him everything, butcoming with Yashvin." And all at once a strange idea came to her: whatif he had ceased to love her?

  And going over the events of the last few days, it seemed to her thatshe saw in everything a confirmation of this terrible idea. The factthat he had not dined at home yesterday, and the fact that he hadinsisted on their taking separate sets of rooms in Petersburg, and thateven now he was not coming to her alone, as though he were trying toavoid meeting her face to face.

  "But he ought to tell me so. I must know that it is so. If I knew it,then I know what I should do," she said to herself, utterly unable topicture to herself the position she would be in if she were convinced ofhis not caring for her. She thought he had ceased to love her, she feltclose upon despair, and consequently she felt exceptionally alert. Sherang for her maid and went to her dressing room. As she dressed, shetook more care over her appearance than she had done all those days, asthough he might, if he had grown cold to her, fall in love with heragain because she had dressed and arranged her hair in the way mostbecoming to her.

  She heard the bell ring before she was ready. When she went into thedrawing room it was not he, but Yashvin, who met her eyes. Vronsky waslooking through the photographs of her son, which she had forgotten onthe table, and he made no haste to look round at her.

  "We have met already," she said, putting her little hand into the hugehand of Yashvin, whose bashfulness was so queerly out of keeping withhis immense frame and coarse face. "We met last year at the races. Givethem to me," she said, with a rapid movement snatching from Vronsky thephotographs of her son, and glancing significantly at him with flashingeyes. "Were the races good this year? Instead of them I saw the races inthe Corso in Rome. But you don't care for life abroad," she said with acordial smile. "I know you and all your tastes, though I have seen solittle of you."

  "I'm awfully sorry for that, for my tastes are mostly bad," saidYashvin, gnawing at his left mustache.

  Having talked a little while, and noticing that Vronsky glanced at theclock, Yashvin asked her whether she would be staying much longer inPetersburg, and unbending his huge figure reached after his cap.

  "Not long, I think," she said hesitatingly, glancing at Vronsky.

  "So then we shan't meet again?"

  "Come and dine with me," said Anna resolutely, angry it seemed withherself for her embarrassment, but flushing as she always did when shedefined her position before a fresh person. "The dinner here is notgood, but at least you will see him. There is no one of his old friendsin the regiment Alexey cares for as he does for you."

  "Delighted," said Yashvin with a smile, from which Vronsky could seethat he liked Anna very much.

  Yashvin said good-bye and went away; Vronsky stayed behind.

  "Are you going too?" she said to him.

  "I'm late already," he answered. "Run along! I'll catch you up in amoment," he called to Yashvin.

  She took him by the hand, and without taking her eyes off him, gazed athim while she ransacked her mind for the words to say that would keephim.

  "Wait a minute, there's something I want to say to you," and taking hisbroad hand she pressed it on her neck. "Oh, was it right my asking himto dinner?"

  "You did quite right," he said with a serene smile that showed his eventeeth, and he kissed her hand.

  "Alexey, you have not changed to me?" she said, pressing his hand inboth of hers. "Alexey, I am miserable here. When are we going away?"

  "Soon, soon. You wouldn't believe how disagreeable our way of livinghere is to me too," he said, and he drew away his hand.

  "Well, go, go!" she said in a tone of offense, and she walked quicklyaway from him.

 
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