Anna karenina, p.173
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       Anna Karenina, p.173

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 16

  Darya Alexandrovna carried out her intention and went to see Anna. Shewas sorry to annoy her sister and to do anything Levin disliked. Shequite understood how right the Levins were in not wishing to haveanything to do with Vronsky. But she felt she must go and see Anna, andshow her that her feelings could not be changed, in spite of the changein her position. That she might be independent of the Levins in thisexpedition, Darya Alexandrovna sent to the village to hire horses forthe drive; but Levin learning of it went to her to protest.

  "What makes you suppose that I dislike your going? But, even if I diddislike it, I should still more dislike your not taking my horses," hesaid. "You never told me that you were going for certain. Hiring horsesin the village is disagreeable to me, and, what's of more importance,they'll undertake the job and never get you there. I have horses. And ifyou don't want to wound me, you'll take mine."

  Darya Alexandrovna had to consent, and on the day fixed Levin had readyfor his sister-in-law a set of four horses and relays, getting themtogether from the farm- and saddle-horses--not at all a smart-lookingset, but capable of taking Darya Alexandrovna the whole distance in asingle day. At that moment, when horses were wanted for the princess,who was going, and for the midwife, it was a difficult matter for Levinto make up the number, but the duties of hospitality would not let himallow Darya Alexandrovna to hire horses when staying in his house.Moreover, he was well aware that the twenty roubles that would be askedfor the journey were a serious matter for her; Darya Alexandrovna'specuniary affairs, which were in a very unsatisfactory state, were takento heart by the Levins as if they were their own.

  Darya Alexandrovna, by Levin's advice, started before daybreak. The roadwas good, the carriage comfortable, the horses trotted along merrily,and on the box, besides the coachman, sat the counting-house clerk, whomLevin was sending instead of a groom for greater security. DaryaAlexandrovna dozed and waked up only on reaching the inn where thehorses were to be changed.

  After drinking tea at the same well-to-do peasant's with whom Levin hadstayed on the way to Sviazhsky's, and chatting with the women abouttheir children, and with the old man about Count Vronsky, whom thelatter praised very highly, Darya Alexandrovna, at ten o'clock, went onagain. At home, looking after her children, she had no time to think. Sonow, after this journey of four hours, all the thoughts she hadsuppressed before rushed swarming into her brain, and she thought overall her life as she never had before, and from the most different pointsof view. Her thoughts seemed strange even to herself. At first shethought about the children, about whom she was uneasy, although theprincess and Kitty (she reckoned more upon her) had promised to lookafter them. "If only Masha does not begin her naughty tricks, if Grishaisn't kicked by a horse, and Lily's stomach isn't upset again!" shethought. But these questions of the present were succeeded by questionsof the immediate future. She began thinking how she had to get a newflat in Moscow for the coming winter, to renew the drawing roomfurniture, and to make her elder girl a cloak. Then questions of themore remote future occurred to her: how she was to place her children inthe world. "The girls are all right," she thought; "but the boys?"

  "It's very well that I'm teaching Grisha, but of course that's onlybecause I am free myself now, I'm not with child. Stiva, of course,there's no counting on. And with the help of good-natured friends I canbring them up; but if there's another baby coming?..." And the thoughtstruck her how untruly it was said that the curse laid on woman was thatin sorrow she should bring forth children.

  "The birth itself, that's nothing; but the months of carrying thechild--that's what's so intolerable," she thought, picturing to herselfher last pregnancy, and the death of the last baby. And she recalled theconversation she had just had with the young woman at the inn. On beingasked whether she had any children, the handsome young woman hadanswered cheerfully:

  "I had a girl baby, but God set me free; I buried her last Lent."

  "Well, did you grieve very much for her?" asked Darya Alexandrovna.

  "Why grieve? The old man has grandchildren enough as it is. It was onlya trouble. No working, nor nothing. Only a tie."

  This answer had struck Darya Alexandrovna as revolting in spite of thegood-natured and pleasing face of the young woman; but now she could nothelp recalling these words. In those cynical words there was indeed agrain of truth.

  "Yes, altogether," thought Darya Alexandrovna, looking back over herwhole existence during those fifteen years of her married life,"pregnancy, sickness, mental incapacity, indifference to everything, andmost of all--hideousness. Kitty, young and pretty as she is, even Kittyhas lost her looks; and I when I'm with child become hideous, I know it.The birth, the agony, the hideous agonies, that last moment ... then thenursing, the sleepless nights, the fearful pains...."

  Darya Alexandrovna shuddered at the mere recollection of the pain fromsore breasts which she had suffered with almost every child. "Then thechildren's illnesses, that everlasting apprehension; then bringing themup; evil propensities" (she thought of little Masha's crime among theraspberries), "education, Latin--it's all so incomprehensible anddifficult. And on the top of it all, the death of these children." Andthere rose again before her imagination the cruel memory, that alwaystore her mother's heart, of the death of her last little baby, who haddied of croup; his funeral, the callous indifference of all at thelittle pink coffin, and her own torn heart, and her lonely anguish atthe sight of the pale little brow with its projecting temples, and theopen, wondering little mouth seen in the coffin at the moment when itwas being covered with the little pink lid with a cross braided on it.

  "And all this, what's it for? What is to come of it all? That I'mwasting my life, never having a moment's peace, either with child, ornursing a child, forever irritable, peevish, wretched myself andworrying others, repulsive to my husband, while the children are growingup unhappy, badly educated, and penniless. Even now, if it weren't forspending the summer at the Levins', I don't know how we should bemanaging to live. Of course Kostya and Kitty have so much tact that wedon't feel it; but it can't go on. They'll have children, they won't beable to keep us; it's a drag on them as it is. How is papa, who hashardly anything left for himself, to help us? So that I can't even bringthe children up by myself, and may find it hard with the help of otherpeople, at the cost of humiliation. Why, even if we suppose the greatestgood luck, that the children don't die, and I bring them up somehow. Atthe very best they'll simply be decent people. That's all I can hopefor. And to gain simply that--what agonies, what toil!... One's wholelife ruined!" Again she recalled what the young peasant woman had said,and again she was revolted at the thought; but she could not helpadmitting that there was a grain of brutal truth in the words.

  "Is it far now, Mihail?" Darya Alexandrovna asked the counting houseclerk, to turn her mind from thoughts that were frightening her.

  "From this village, they say, it's five miles." The carriage drove alongthe village street and onto a bridge. On the bridge was a crowd ofpeasant women with coils of ties for the sheaves on their shoulders,gaily and noisily chattering. They stood still on the bridge, staringinquisitively at the carriage. All the faces turned to DaryaAlexandrovna looked to her healthy and happy, making her envious oftheir enjoyment of life. "They're all living, they're all enjoyinglife," Darya Alexandrovna still mused when she had passed the peasantwomen and was driving uphill again at a trot, seated comfortably on thesoft springs of the old carriage, "while I, let out, as it were fromprison, from the world of worries that fret me to death, am only lookingabout me now for an instant. They all live; those peasant women and mysister Natalia and Varenka and Anna, whom I am going to see--all, butnot I.

  "And they attack Anna. What for? am I any better? I have, anyway, ahusband I love--not as I should like to love him, still I do love him,while Anna never loved hers. How is she to blame? She wants to live. Godhas put that in our hearts. Very likely I should have done the same.Even to this day I don't feel sure I did right in listening to her atthat terrib
le time when she came to me in Moscow. I ought then to havecast off my husband and have begun my life fresh. I might have loved andhave been loved in reality. And is it any better as it is? I don'trespect him. He's necessary to me," she thought about her husband, "andI put up with him. Is that any better? At that time I could still havebeen admired, I had beauty left me still," Darya Alexandrovna pursuedher thoughts, and she would have liked to look at herself in the lookingglass. She had a traveling looking glass in her handbag, and she wantedto take it out; but looking at the backs of the coachman and the swayingcounting house clerk, she felt that she would be ashamed if either ofthem were to look round, and she did not take out the glass.

  But without looking in the glass, she thought that even now it was nottoo late; and she thought of Sergey Ivanovitch, who was alwaysparticularly attentive to her, of Stiva's good-hearted friend,Turovtsin, who had helped her nurse her children through the scarlatina,and was in love with her. And there was someone else, a quite young man,who--her husband had told her it as a joke--thought her more beautifulthan either of her sisters. And the most passionate and impossibleromances rose before Darya Alexandrovna's imagination. "Anna did quiteright, and certainly I shall never reproach her for it. She is happy,she makes another person happy, and she's not broken down as I am, butmost likely just as she always was, bright, clever, open to everyimpression," thought Darya Alexandrovna,--and a sly smile curved herlips, for, as she pondered on Anna's love affair, Darya Alexandrovnaconstructed on parallel lines an almost identical love affair forherself, with an imaginary composite figure, the ideal man who was inlove with her. She, like Anna, confessed the whole affair to herhusband. And the amazement and perplexity of Stepan Arkadyevitch at thisavowal made her smile.

  In such daydreams she reached the turning of the highroad that led toVozdvizhenskoe.

 

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