Anna karenina, p.175
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       Anna Karenina, p.175

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 18

  Anna looked at Dolly's thin, care-worn face, with its wrinkles filledwith dust from the road, and she was on the point of saying what she wasthinking, that is, that Dolly had got thinner. But, conscious that sheherself had grown handsomer, and that Dolly's eyes were telling her so,she sighed and began to speak about herself.

  "You are looking at me," she said, "and wondering how I can be happy inmy position? Well! it's shameful to confess, but I ... I'm inexcusablyhappy. Something magical has happened to me, like a dream, when you'refrightened, panic-stricken, and all of a sudden you wake up and all thehorrors are no more. I have waked up. I have lived through the misery,the dread, and now for a long while past, especially since we've beenhere, I've been so happy!..." she said, with a timid smile of inquirylooking at Dolly.

  "How glad I am!" said Dolly smiling, involuntarily speaking more coldlythan she wanted to. "I'm very glad for you. Why haven't you written tome?"

  "Why?... Because I hadn't the courage.... You forget my position..."

  "To me? Hadn't the courage? If you knew how I ... I look at..."

  Darya Alexandrovna wanted to express her thoughts of the morning, butfor some reason it seemed to her now out of place to do so.

  "But of that we'll talk later. What's this, what are all thesebuildings?" she asked, wanting to change the conversation and pointingto the red and green roofs that came into view behind the green hedgesof acacia and lilac. "Quite a little town."

  But Anna did not answer.

  "No, no! How do you look at my position, what do you think of it?" sheasked.

  "I consider..." Darya Alexandrovna was beginning, but at that instantVassenka Veslovsky, having brought the cob to gallop with the right legforemost, galloped past them, bumping heavily up and down in his shortjacket on the chamois leather of the side saddle. "He's doing it, AnnaArkadyevna!" he shouted.

  Anna did not even glance at him; but again it seemed to DaryaAlexandrovna out of place to enter upon such a long conversation in thecarriage, and so she cut short her thought.

  "I don't think anything," she said, "but I always loved you, and if oneloves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not asone would like them to be...."

  Anna, taking her eyes off her friend's face and dropping her eyelids(this was a new habit Dolly had not seen in her before), pondered,trying to penetrate the full significance of the words. And obviouslyinterpreting them as she would have wished, she glanced at Dolly.

  "If you had any sins," she said, "they would all be forgiven you foryour coming to see me and these words."

  And Dolly saw that tears stood in her eyes. She pressed Anna's hand insilence.

  "Well, what are these buildings? How many there are of them!" After amoment's silence she repeated her question.

  "These are the servants' houses, barns, and stables," answered Anna."And there the park begins. It had all gone to ruin, but Alexey hadeverything renewed. He is very fond of this place, and, what I neverexpected, he has become intensely interested in looking after it. Buthis is such a rich nature! Whatever he takes up, he does splendidly. Sofar from being bored by it, he works with passionate interest. He--withhis temperament as I know it--he has become careful and businesslike, afirst-rate manager, he positively reckons every penny in his managementof the land. But only in that. When it's a question of tens ofthousands, he doesn't think of money." She spoke with that gleefully slysmile with which women often talk of the secret characteristics onlyknown to them--of those they love. "Do you see that big building? that'sthe new hospital. I believe it will cost over a hundred thousand; that'shis hobby just now. And do you know how it all came about? The peasantsasked him for some meadowland, I think it was, at a cheaper rate, and herefused, and I accused him of being miserly. Of course it was not reallybecause of that, but everything together, he began this hospital toprove, do you see, that he was not miserly about money. _C'est unepetitesse_, if you like, but I love him all the more for it. And nowyou'll see the house in a moment. It was his grandfather's house, and hehas had nothing changed outside."

  "How beautiful!" said Dolly, looking with involuntary admiration at thehandsome house with columns, standing out among the different-coloredgreens of the old trees in the garden.

  "Isn't it fine? And from the house, from the top, the view iswonderful."

  They drove into a courtyard strewn with gravel and bright with flowers,in which two laborers were at work putting an edging of stones round thelight mould of a flower bed, and drew up in a covered entry.

  "Ah, they're here already!" said Anna, looking at the saddle horses,which were just being led away from the steps. "It is a nice horse,isn't it? It's my cob; my favorite. Lead him here and bring me somesugar. Where is the count?" she inquired of two smart footmen who dartedout. "Ah, there he is!" she said, seeing Vronsky coming to meet her withVeslovsky.

  "Where are you going to put the princess?" said Vronsky in French,addressing Anna, and without waiting for a reply, he once more greetedDarya Alexandrovna, and this time he kissed her hand. "I think the bigbalcony room."

  "Oh, no, that's too far off! Better in the corner room, we shall seeeach other more. Come, let's go up," said Anna, as she gave her favoritehorse the sugar the footman had brought her.

  "_Et vous oubliez votre devoir_," she said to Veslovsky, who came outtoo on the steps.

  "_Pardon, j'en ai tout plein les poches_," he answered, smiling, puttinghis fingers in his waistcoat pocket.

  "_Mais vous venez trop tard_," she said, rubbing her handkerchief on herhand, which the horse had made wet in taking the sugar.

  Anna turned to Dolly. "You can stay some time? For one day only? That'simpossible!"

  "I promised to be back, and the children..." said Dolly, feelingembarrassed both because she had to get her bag out of the carriage, andbecause she knew her face must be covered with dust.

  "No, Dolly, darling!... Well, we'll see. Come along, come along!" andAnna led Dolly to her room.

  That room was not the smart guest chamber Vronsky had suggested, but theone of which Anna had said that Dolly would excuse it. And this room,for which excuse was needed, was more full of luxury than any in whichDolly had ever stayed, a luxury that reminded her of the best hotelsabroad.

  "Well, darling, how happy I am!" Anna said, sitting down in her ridinghabit for a moment beside Dolly. "Tell me about all of you. Stiva I hadonly a glimpse of, and he cannot tell one about the children. How is myfavorite, Tanya? Quite a big girl, I expect?"

  "Yes, she's very tall," Darya Alexandrovna answered shortly, surprisedherself that she should respond so coolly about her children. "We arehaving a delightful stay at the Levins'," she added.

  "Oh, if I had known," said Anna, "that you do not despise me!... Youmight have all come to us. Stiva's an old friend and a great friend ofAlexey's, you know," she added, and suddenly she blushed.

  "Yes, but we are all..." Dolly answered in confusion.

  "But in my delight I'm talking nonsense. The one thing, darling, is thatI am so glad to have you!" said Anna, kissing her again. "You haven'ttold me yet how and what you think about me, and I keep wanting to know.But I'm glad you will see me as I am. The chief thing I shouldn't likewould be for people to imagine I want to prove anything. I don't want toprove anything; I merely want to live, to do no one harm but myself. Ihave the right to do that, haven't I? But it is a big subject, and we'lltalk over everything properly later. Now I'll go and dress and send amaid to you."

 

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