Anna karenina, p.156
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       Anna Karenina, p.156

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 32

  When Vronsky returned home, Anna was not yet home. Soon after he hadleft, some lady, so they told him, had come to see her, and she had goneout with her. That she had gone out without leaving word where she wasgoing, that she had not yet come back, and that all the morning she hadbeen going about somewhere without a word to him--all this, togetherwith the strange look of excitement in her face in the morning, and therecollection of the hostile tone with which she had before Yashvinalmost snatched her son's photographs out of his hands, made himserious. He decided he absolutely must speak openly with her. And hewaited for her in her drawing room. But Anna did not return alone, butbrought with her her old unmarried aunt, Princess Oblonskaya. This wasthe lady who had come in the morning, and with whom Anna had gone outshopping. Anna appeared not to notice Vronsky's worried and inquiringexpression, and began a lively account of her morning's shopping. He sawthat there was something working within her; in her flashing eyes, whenthey rested for a moment on him, there was an intense concentration, andin her words and movements there was that nervous rapidity and gracewhich, during the early period of their intimacy, had so fascinated him,but which now so disturbed and alarmed him.

  The dinner was laid for four. All were gathered together and about to gointo the little dining room when Tushkevitch made his appearance with amessage from Princess Betsy. Princess Betsy begged her to excuse her nothaving come to say good-bye; she had been indisposed, but begged Anna tocome to her between half-past six and nine o'clock. Vronsky glanced atAnna at the precise limit of time, so suggestive of steps having beentaken that she should meet no one; but Anna appeared not to notice it.

  "Very sorry that I can't come just between half-past six and nine," shesaid with a faint smile.

  "The princess will be very sorry."

  "And so am I."

  "You're going, no doubt, to hear Patti?" said Tushkevitch.

  "Patti? You suggest the idea to me. I would go if it were possible toget a box."

  "I can get one," Tushkevitch offered his services.

  "I should be very, very grateful to you," said Anna. "But won't you dinewith us?"

  Vronsky gave a hardly perceptible shrug. He was at a complete loss tounderstand what Anna was about. What had she brought the old PrincessOblonskaya home for, what had she made Tushkevitch stay to dinner for,and, most amazing of all, why was she sending him for a box? Could shepossibly think in her position of going to Patti's benefit, where allthe circle of her acquaintances would be? He looked at her with seriouseyes, but she responded with that defiant, half-mirthful, half-desperatelook, the meaning of which he could not comprehend. At dinner Anna wasin aggressively high spirits--she almost flirted both with Tushkevitchand with Yashvin. When they got up from dinner and Tushkevitch had goneto get a box at the opera, Yashvin went to smoke, and Vronsky went downwith him to his own rooms. After sitting there for some time he ranupstairs. Anna was already dressed in a low-necked gown of light silkand velvet that she had had made in Paris, and with costly white lace onher head, framing her face, and particularly becoming, showing up herdazzling beauty.

  "Are you really going to the theater?" he said, trying not to look ather.

  "Why do you ask with such alarm?" she said, wounded again at his notlooking at her. "Why shouldn't I go?"

  She appeared not to understand the motive of his words.

  "Oh, of course, there's no reason whatever," he said, frowning.

  "That's just what I say," she said, willfully refusing to see the ironyof his tone, and quietly turning back her long, perfumed glove.

  "Anna, for God's sake! what is the matter with you?" he said, appealingto her exactly as once her husband had done.

  "I don't understand what you are asking."

  "You know that it's out of the question to go."

  "Why so? I'm not going alone. Princess Varvara has gone to dress, she isgoing with me."

  He shrugged his shoulders with an air of perplexity and despair.

  "But do you mean to say you don't know?..." he began.

  "But I don't care to know!" she almost shrieked. "I don't care to. Do Iregret what I have done? No, no, no! If it were all to do again from thebeginning, it would be the same. For us, for you and for me, there isonly one thing that matters, whether we love each other. Other people weneed not consider. Why are we living here apart and not seeing eachother? Why can't I go? I love you, and I don't care for anything," shesaid in Russian, glancing at him with a peculiar gleam in her eyes thathe could not understand. "If you have not changed to me, why don't youlook at me?"

  He looked at her. He saw all the beauty of her face and full dress,always so becoming to her. But now her beauty and elegance were justwhat irritated him.

  "My feeling cannot change, you know, but I beg you, I entreat you," hesaid again in French, with a note of tender supplication in his voice,but with coldness in his eyes.

  She did not hear his words, but she saw the coldness of his eyes, andanswered with irritation:

  "And I beg you to explain why I should not go."

  "Because it might cause you..." he hesitated.

  "I don't understand. Yashvin _n'est pas compromettant_, and PrincessVarvara is no worse than others. Oh, here she is!"

 
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