Anna karenina, p.17
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       Anna Karenina, p.17

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 17

  Next day at eleven o'clock in the morning Vronsky drove to the stationof the Petersburg railway to meet his mother, and the first person hecame across on the great flight of steps was Oblonsky, who was expectinghis sister by the same train.

  "Ah! your excellency!" cried Oblonsky, "whom are you meeting?"

  "My mother," Vronsky responded, smiling, as everyone did who metOblonsky. He shook hands with him, and together they ascended the steps."She is to be here from Petersburg today."

  "I was looking out for you till two o'clock last night. Where did you goafter the Shtcherbatskys'?"

  "Home," answered Vronsky. "I must own I felt so well content yesterdayafter the Shtcherbatskys' that I didn't care to go anywhere."

  "I know a gallant steed by tokens sure, And by his eyes I know a youth in love,"

  declaimed Stepan Arkadyevitch, just as he had done before to Levin.

  Vronsky smiled with a look that seemed to say that he did not deny it,but he promptly changed the subject.

  "And whom are you meeting?" he asked.

  "I? I've come to meet a pretty woman," said Oblonsky.

  "You don't say so!"

  "_Honi soit qui mal y pense!_ My sister Anna."

  "Ah! that's Madame Karenina," said Vronsky.

  "You know her, no doubt?"

  "I think I do. Or perhaps not ... I really am not sure," Vronskyanswered heedlessly, with a vague recollection of something stiff andtedious evoked by the name Karenina.

  "But Alexey Alexandrovitch, my celebrated brother-in-law, you surelymust know. All the world knows him."

  "I know him by reputation and by sight. I know that he's clever,learned, religious somewhat.... But you know that's not ... _not in myline,_" said Vronsky in English.

  "Yes, he's a very remarkable man; rather a conservative, but a splendidman," observed Stepan Arkadyevitch, "a splendid man."

  "Oh, well, so much the better for him," said Vronsky smiling. "Oh,you've come," he said, addressing a tall old footman of his mother's,standing at the door; "come here."

  Besides the charm Oblonsky had in general for everyone, Vronsky had feltof late specially drawn to him by the fact that in his imagination hewas associated with Kitty.

  "Well, what do you say? Shall we give a supper on Sunday for the_diva?_" he said to him with a smile, taking his arm.

  "Of course. I'm collecting subscriptions. Oh, did you make theacquaintance of my friend Levin?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch.

  "Yes; but he left rather early."

  "He's a capital fellow," pursued Oblonsky. "Isn't he?"

  "I don't know why it is," responded Vronsky, "in all Moscowpeople--present company of course excepted," he put in jestingly,"there's something uncompromising. They are all on the defensive, losetheir tempers, as though they all want to make one feel something..."

  "Yes, that's true, it is so," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughinggood-humoredly.

  "Will the train soon be in?" Vronsky asked a railway official.

  "The train's signaled," answered the man.

  The approach of the train was more and more evident by the preparatorybustle in the station, the rush of porters, the movement of policemenand attendants, and people meeting the train. Through the frosty vaporcould be seen workmen in short sheepskins and soft felt boots crossingthe rails of the curving line. The hiss of the boiler could be heard onthe distant rails, and the rumble of something heavy.

  "No," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, who felt a great inclination to tellVronsky of Levin's intentions in regard to Kitty. "No, you've not got atrue impression of Levin. He's a very nervous man, and is sometimes outof humor, it's true, but then he is often very nice. He's such a true,honest nature, and a heart of gold. But yesterday there were specialreasons," pursued Stepan Arkadyevitch, with a meaning smile, totallyoblivious of the genuine sympathy he had felt the day before for hisfriend, and feeling the same sympathy now, only for Vronsky. "Yes, therewere reasons why he could not help being either particularly happy orparticularly unhappy."

  Vronsky stood still and asked directly: "How so? Do you mean he madeyour _belle-soeur_ an offer yesterday?"

  "Maybe," said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "I fancied something of the sortyesterday. Yes, if he went away early, and was out of humor too, it mustmean it.... He's been so long in love, and I'm very sorry for him."

  "So that's it! I should imagine, though, she might reckon on a bettermatch," said Vronsky, drawing himself up and walking about again,"though I don't know him, of course," he added. "Yes, that is a hatefulposition! That's why most fellows prefer to have to do with Klaras. Ifyou don't succeed with them it only proves that you've not enough cash,but in this case one's dignity's at stake. But here's the train."

  The engine had already whistled in the distance. A few instants laterthe platform was quivering, and with puffs of steam hanging low in theair from the frost, the engine rolled up, with the lever of the middlewheel rhythmically moving up and down, and the stooping figure of theengine-driver covered with frost. Behind the tender, setting theplatform more and more slowly swaying, came the luggage van with a dogwhining in it. At last the passenger carriages rolled in, oscillatingbefore coming to a standstill.

  A smart guard jumped out, giving a whistle, and after him one by one theimpatient passengers began to get down: an officer of the guards,holding himself erect, and looking severely about him; a nimble littlemerchant with a satchel, smiling gaily; a peasant with a sack over hisshoulder.

  Vronsky, standing beside Oblonsky, watched the carriages and thepassengers, totally oblivious of his mother. What he had just heardabout Kitty excited and delighted him. Unconsciously he arched hischest, and his eyes flashed. He felt himself a conqueror.

  "Countess Vronskaya is in that compartment," said the smart guard, goingup to Vronsky.

  The guard's words roused him, and forced him to think of his mother andhis approaching meeting with her. He did not in his heart respect hismother, and without acknowledging it to himself, he did not love her,though in accordance with the ideas of the set in which he lived, andwith his own education, he could not have conceived of any behavior tohis mother not in the highest degree respectful and obedient, and themore externally obedient and respectful his behavior, the less in hisheart he respected and loved her.

 

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