Anna karenina, p.157
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       Anna Karenina, p.157

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 33

  Vronsky for the first time experienced a feeling of anger against Anna,almost a hatred for her willfully refusing to understand her ownposition. This feeling was aggravated by his being unable to tell herplainly the cause of his anger. If he had told her directly what he wasthinking, he would have said:

  "In that dress, with a princess only too well known to everyone, to showyourself at the theater is equivalent not merely to acknowledging yourposition as a fallen woman, but is flinging down a challenge to society,that is to say, cutting yourself off from it forever."

  He could not say that to her. "But how can she fail to see it, and whatis going on in her?" he said to himself. He felt at the same time thathis respect for her was diminished while his sense of her beauty wasintensified.

  He went back scowling to his rooms, and sitting down beside Yashvin,who, with his long legs stretched out on a chair, was drinking brandyand seltzer water, he ordered a glass of the same for himself.

  "You were talking of Lankovsky's Powerful. That's a fine horse, and Iwould advise you to buy him," said Yashvin, glancing at his comrade'sgloomy face. "His hind-quarters aren't quite first-rate, but the legsand head--one couldn't wish for anything better."

  "I think I will take him," answered Vronsky.

  Their conversation about horses interested him, but he did not for aninstant forget Anna, and could not help listening to the sound of stepsin the corridor and looking at the clock on the chimney piece.

  "Anna Arkadyevna gave orders to announce that she has gone to thetheater."

  Yashvin, tipping another glass of brandy into the bubbling water, drankit and got up, buttoning his coat.

  "Well, let's go," he said, faintly smiling under his mustache, andshowing by this smile that he knew the cause of Vronsky's gloominess,and did not attach any significance to it.

  "I'm not going," Vronsky answered gloomily.

  "Well, I must, I promised to. Good-bye, then. If you do, come to thestalls; you can take Kruzin's stall," added Yashvin as he went out.

  "No, I'm busy."

  "A wife is a care, but it's worse when she's not a wife," thoughtYashvin, as he walked out of the hotel.

  Vronsky, left alone, got up from his chair and began pacing up and downthe room.

  "And what's today? The fourth night.... Yegor and his wife are there,and my mother, most likely. Of course all Petersburg's there. Now she'sgone in, taken off her cloak and come into the light. Tushkevitch,Yashvin, Princess Varvara," he pictured them to himself.... "What aboutme? Either that I'm frightened or have given up to Tushkevitch the rightto protect her? From every point of view--stupid, stupid!... And why isshe putting me in such a position?" he said with a gesture of despair.

  With that gesture he knocked against the table, on which there wasstanding the seltzer water and the decanter of brandy, and almost upsetit. He tried to catch it, let it slip, and angrily kicked the table overand rang.

  "If you care to be in my service," he said to the valet who came in,"you had better remember your duties. This shouldn't be here. You oughtto have cleared away."

  The valet, conscious of his own innocence, would have defended himself,but glancing at his master, he saw from his face that the only thing todo was to be silent, and hurriedly threading his way in and out, droppeddown on the carpet and began gathering up the whole and broken glassesand bottles.

  "That's not your duty; send the waiter to clear away, and get my dresscoat out."

  Vronsky went into the theater at half-past eight. The performance was infull swing. The little old box-keeper, recognizing Vronsky as he helpedhim off with his fur coat, called him "Your Excellency," and suggestedhe should not take a number but should simply call Fyodor. In thebrightly lighted corridor there was no one but the box-opener and twoattendants with fur cloaks on their arms listening at the doors. Throughthe closed doors came the sounds of the discreet _staccato_accompaniment of the orchestra, and a single female voice renderingdistinctly a musical phrase. The door opened to let the box-opener slipthrough, and the phrase drawing to the end reached Vronsky's hearingclearly. But the doors were closed again at once, and Vronsky did nothear the end of the phrase and the cadence of the accompaniment, thoughhe knew from the thunder of applause that it was over. When he enteredthe hall, brilliantly lighted with chandeliers and gas jets, the noisewas still going on. On the stage the singer, bowing and smiling, withbare shoulders flashing with diamonds, was, with the help of the tenorwho had given her his arm, gathering up the bouquets that were flyingawkwardly over the footlights. Then she went up to a gentleman withglossy pomaded hair parted down the center, who was stretching acrossthe footlights holding out something to her, and all the public in thestalls as well as in the boxes was in excitement, craning forward,shouting and clapping. The conductor in his high chair assisted inpassing the offering, and straightened his white tie. Vronsky walkedinto the middle of the stalls, and, standing still, began looking abouthim. That day less than ever was his attention turned upon the familiar,habitual surroundings, the stage, the noise, all the familiar,uninteresting, particolored herd of spectators in the packed theater.

  There were, as always, the same ladies of some sort with officers ofsome sort in the back of the boxes; the same gaily dressed women--Godknows who--and uniforms and black coats; the same dirty crowd in theupper gallery; and among the crowd, in the boxes and in the front rows,were some forty of the _real_ people. And to those oases Vronsky at oncedirected his attention, and with them he entered at once into relation.

  The act was over when he went in, and so he did not go straight to hisbrother's box, but going up to the first row of stalls stopped at thefootlights with Serpuhovskoy, who, standing with one knee raised and hisheel on the footlights, caught sight of him in the distance and beckonedto him, smiling.

  Vronsky had not yet seen Anna. He purposely avoided looking in herdirection. But he knew by the direction of people's eyes where she was.He looked round discreetly, but he was not seeking her; expecting theworst, his eyes sought for Alexey Alexandrovitch. To his relief AlexeyAlexandrovitch was not in the theater that evening.

  "How little of the military man there is left in you!" Serpuhovskoy wassaying to him. "A diplomat, an artist, something of that sort, one wouldsay."

  "Yes, it was like going back home when I put on a black coat," answeredVronsky, smiling and slowly taking out his opera glass.

  "Well, I'll own I envy you there. When I come back from abroad and puton this," he touched his epaulets, "I regret my freedom."

  Serpuhovskoy had long given up all hope of Vronsky's career, but heliked him as before, and was now particularly cordial to him.

  "What a pity you were not in time for the first act!"

  Vronsky, listening with one ear, moved his opera glass from the stallsand scanned the boxes. Near a lady in a turban and a bald old man, whoseemed to wave angrily in the moving opera glass, Vronsky suddenlycaught sight of Anna's head, proud, strikingly beautiful, and smiling inthe frame of lace. She was in the fifth box, twenty paces from him. Shewas sitting in front, and slightly turning, was saying something toYashvin. The setting of her head on her handsome, broad shoulders, andthe restrained excitement and brilliance of her eyes and her whole facereminded him of her just as he had seen her at the ball in Moscow. Buthe felt utterly different towards her beauty now. In his feeling for hernow there was no element of mystery, and so her beauty, though itattracted him even more intensely than before, gave him now a sense ofinjury. She was not looking in his direction, but Vronsky felt that shehad seen him already.

  When Vronsky turned the opera glass again in that direction, he noticedthat Princess Varvara was particularly red, and kept laughingunnaturally and looking round at the next box. Anna, folding her fan andtapping it on the red velvet, was gazing away and did not see, andobviously did not wish to see, what was taking place in the next box.Yashvin's face wore the expression which was common when he was losingat cards. Scowling, he sucked the left end of his mustache furth
er andfurther into his mouth, and cast sidelong glances at the next box.

  In that box on the left were the Kartasovs. Vronsky knew them, and knewthat Anna was acquainted with them. Madame Kartasova, a thin littlewoman, was standing up in her box, and, her back turned upon Anna, shewas putting on a mantle that her husband was holding for her. Her facewas pale and angry, and she was talking excitedly. Kartasov, a fat, baldman, was continually looking round at Anna, while he attempted to soothehis wife. When the wife had gone out, the husband lingered a long while,and tried to catch Anna's eye, obviously anxious to bow to her. ButAnna, with unmistakable intention, avoided noticing him, and talked toYashvin, whose cropped head was bent down to her. Kartasov went outwithout making his salutation, and the box was left empty.

  Vronsky could not understand exactly what had passed between theKartasovs and Anna, but he saw that something humiliating for Anna hadhappened. He knew this both from what he had seen, and most of all fromthe face of Anna, who, he could see, was taxing every nerve to carrythrough the part she had taken up. And in maintaining this attitude ofexternal composure she was completely successful. Anyone who did notknow her and her circle, who had not heard all the utterances of thewomen expressive of commiseration, indignation, and amazement, that sheshould show herself in society, and show herself so conspicuously withher lace and her beauty, would have admired the serenity and lovelinessof this woman without a suspicion that she was undergoing the sensationsof a man in the stocks.

  Knowing that something had happened, but not knowing precisely what,Vronsky felt a thrill of agonizing anxiety, and hoping to find outsomething, he went towards his brother's box. Purposely choosing the wayround furthest from Anna's box, he jostled as he came out against thecolonel of his old regiment talking to two acquaintances. Vronsky heardthe name of Madame Karenina, and noticed how the colonel hastened toaddress Vronsky loudly by name, with a meaning glance at his companions.

  "Ah, Vronsky! When are you coming to the regiment? We can't let you offwithout a supper. You're one of the old set," said the colonel of hisregiment.

  "I can't stop, awfully sorry, another time," said Vronsky, and he ranupstairs towards his brother's box.

  The old countess, Vronsky's mother, with her steel-gray curls, was inhis brother's box. Varya with the young Princess Sorokina met him in thecorridor.

  Leaving the Princess Sorokina with her mother, Varya held out her handto her brother-in-law, and began immediately to speak of what interestedhim. She was more excited than he had ever seen her.

  "I think it's mean and hateful, and Madame Kartasova had no right to doit. Madame Karenina..." she began.

  "But what is it? I don't know."

  "What? you've not heard?"

  "You know I should be the last person to hear of it."

  "There isn't a more spiteful creature than that Madame Kartasova!"

  "But what did she do?"

  "My husband told me.... She has insulted Madame Karenina. Her husbandbegan talking to her across the box, and Madame Kartasova made a scene.She said something aloud, he says, something insulting, and went away."

  "Count, your maman is asking for you," said the young Princess Sorokina,peeping out of the door of the box.

  "I've been expecting you all the while," said his mother, smilingsarcastically. "You were nowhere to be seen."

  Her son saw that she could not suppress a smile of delight.

  "Good evening, maman. I have come to you," he said coldly.

  "Why aren't you going to _faire la cour a Madame Karenina?_" she wenton, when Princess Sorokina had moved away. "_Elle fait sensation. Onoublie la Patti pour elle_."

  "Maman, I have asked you not to say anything to me of that," heanswered, scowling.

  "I'm only saying what everyone's saying."

  Vronsky made no reply, and saying a few words to Princess Sorokina, hewent away. At the door he met his brother.

  "Ah, Alexey!" said his brother. "How disgusting! Idiot of a woman,nothing else.... I wanted to go straight to her. Let's go together."

  Vronsky did not hear him. With rapid steps he went downstairs; he feltthat he must do something, but he did not know what. Anger with her forhaving put herself and him in such a false position, together with pityfor her suffering, filled his heart. He went down, and made straight forAnna's box. At her box stood Stremov, talking to her.

  "There are no more tenors. _Le moule en est brise!_"

  Vronsky bowed to her and stopped to greet Stremov.

  "You came in late, I think, and have missed the best song," Anna said toVronsky, glancing ironically, he thought, at him.

  "I am a poor judge of music," he said, looking sternly at her.

  "Like Prince Yashvin," she said smiling, "who considers that Patti singstoo loud."

  "Thank you," she said, her little hand in its long glove taking theplaybill Vronsky picked up, and suddenly at that instant her lovely facequivered. She got up and went into the interior of the box.

  Noticing in the next act that her box was empty, Vronsky, rousingindignant "hushes" in the silent audience, went out in the middle of asolo and drove home.

  Anna was already at home. When Vronsky went up to her, she was in thesame dress as she had worn at the theater. She was sitting in the firstarmchair against the wall, looking straight before her. She looked athim, and at once resumed her former position.

  "Anna," he said.

  "You, you are to blame for everything!" she cried, with tears of despairand hatred in her voice, getting up.

  "I begged, I implored you not to go, I knew it would be unpleasant...."

  "Unpleasant!" she cried--"hideous! As long as I live I shall neverforget it. She said it was a disgrace to sit beside me."

  "A silly woman's chatter," he said: "but why risk it, why provoke?..."

  "I hate your calm. You ought not to have brought me to this. If you hadloved me..."

  "Anna! How does the question of my love come in?"

  "Oh, if you loved me, as I love, if you were tortured as I am!..." shesaid, looking at him with an expression of terror.

  He was sorry for her, and angry notwithstanding. He assured her of hislove because he saw that this was the only means of soothing her, and hedid not reproach her in words, but in his heart he reproached her.

  And the asseverations of his love, which seemed to him so vulgar that hewas ashamed to utter them, she drank in eagerly, and gradually becamecalmer. The next day, completely reconciled, they left for the country.

 
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