Anna karenina, p.178
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       Anna Karenina, p.178

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 21

  "No, I think the princess is tired, and horses don't interest her,"Vronsky said to Anna, who wanted to go on to the stables, whereSviazhsky wished to see the new stallion. "You go on, while I escort theprincess home, and we'll have a little talk," he said, "if you wouldlike that?" he added, turning to her.

  "I know nothing about horses, and I shall be delighted," answered DaryaAlexandrovna, rather astonished.

  She saw by Vronsky's face that he wanted something from her. She was notmistaken. As soon as they had passed through the little gate back intothe garden, he looked in the direction Anna had taken, and having madesure that she could neither hear nor see them, he began:

  "You guess that I have something I want to say to you," he said, lookingat her with laughing eyes. "I am not wrong in believing you to be afriend of Anna's." He took off his hat, and taking out his handkerchief,wiped his head, which was growing bald.

  Darya Alexandrovna made no answer, and merely stared at him with dismay.When she was left alone with him, she suddenly felt afraid; his laughingeyes and stern expression scared her.

  The most diverse suppositions as to what he was about to speak of to herflashed into her brain. "He is going to beg me to come to stay with themwith the children, and I shall have to refuse; or to create a set thatwill receive Anna in Moscow.... Or isn't it Vassenka Veslovsky and hisrelations with Anna? Or perhaps about Kitty, that he feels he was toblame?" All her conjectures were unpleasant, but she did not guess whathe really wanted to talk about to her.

  "You have so much influence with Anna, she is so fond of you," he said;"do help me."

  Darya Alexandrovna looked with timid inquiry into his energetic face,which under the lime-trees was continually being lighted up in patchesby the sunshine, and then passing into complete shadow again. She waitedfor him to say more, but he walked in silence beside her, scratchingwith his cane in the gravel.

  "You have come to see us, you, the only woman of Anna's formerfriends--I don't count Princess Varvara--but I know that you have donethis not because you regard our position as normal, but because,understanding all the difficulty of the position, you still love her andwant to be a help to her. Have I understood you rightly?" he asked,looking round at her.

  "Oh, yes," answered Darya Alexandrovna, putting down her sunshade,"but..."

  "No," he broke in, and unconsciously, oblivious of the awkward positioninto which he was putting his companion, he stopped abruptly, so thatshe had to stop short too. "No one feels more deeply and intensely thanI do all the difficulty of Anna's position; and that you may wellunderstand, if you do me the honor of supposing I have any heart. I amto blame for that position, and that is why I feel it."

  "I understand," said Darya Alexandrovna, involuntarily admiring thesincerity and firmness with which he said this. "But just because youfeel yourself responsible, you exaggerate it, I am afraid," she said."Her position in the world is difficult, I can well understand."

  "In the world it is hell!" he brought out quickly, frowning darkly. "Youcan't imagine moral sufferings greater than what she went through inPetersburg in that fortnight ... and I beg you to believe it."

  "Yes, but here, so long as neither Anna ... nor you miss society..."

  "Society!" he said contemptuously, "how could I miss society?"

  "So far--and it may be so always--you are happy and at peace. I see inAnna that she is happy, perfectly happy, she has had time to tell me somuch already," said Darya Alexandrovna, smiling; and involuntarily, asshe said this, at the same moment a doubt entered her mind whether Annareally were happy.

  But Vronsky, it appeared, had no doubts on that score.

  "Yes, yes," he said, "I know that she has revived after all hersufferings; she is happy. She is happy in the present. But I?... I amafraid of what is before us ... I beg your pardon, you would like towalk on?"

  "No, I don't mind."

  "Well, then, let us sit here."

  Darya Alexandrovna sat down on a garden seat in a corner of the avenue.He stood up facing her.

  "I see that she is happy," he repeated, and the doubt whether she werehappy sank more deeply into Darya Alexandrovna's mind. "But can it last?Whether we have acted rightly or wrongly is another question, but thedie is cast," he said, passing from Russian to French, "and we are boundtogether for life. We are united by all the ties of love that we holdmost sacred. We have a child, we may have other children. But the lawand all the conditions of our position are such that thousands ofcomplications arise which she does not see and does not want to see. Andthat one can well understand. But I can't help seeing them. My daughteris by law not my daughter, but Karenin's. I cannot bear this falsity!"he said, with a vigorous gesture of refusal, and he looked with gloomyinquiry towards Darya Alexandrovna.

  She made no answer, but simply gazed at him. He went on:

  "One day a son may be born, my son, and he will be legally a Karenin; hewill not be the heir of my name nor of my property, and however happy wemay be in our home life and however many children we may have, therewill be no real tie between us. They will be Karenins. You canunderstand the bitterness and horror of this position! I have tried tospeak of this to Anna. It irritates her. She does not understand, and toher I cannot speak plainly of all this. Now look at another side. I amhappy, happy in her love, but I must have occupation. I have foundoccupation, and am proud of what I am doing and consider it nobler thanthe pursuits of my former companions at court and in the army. And mostcertainly I would not change the work I am doing for theirs. I amworking here, settled in my own place, and I am happy and contented, andwe need nothing more to make us happy. I love my work here. _Ce n'estpas un pis-aller,_ on the contrary..."

  Darya Alexandrovna noticed that at this point in his explanation he grewconfused, and she did not quite understand this digression, but she feltthat having once begun to speak of matters near his heart, of which hecould not speak to Anna, he was now making a clean breast of everything,and that the question of his pursuits in the country fell into the samecategory of matters near his heart, as the question of his relationswith Anna.

  "Well, I will go on," he said, collecting himself. "The great thing isthat as I work I want to have a conviction that what I am doing will notdie with me, that I shall have heirs to come after me,--and this I havenot. Conceive the position of a man who knows that his children, thechildren of the woman he loves, will not be his, but will belong tosomeone who hates them and cares nothing about them! It is awful!"

  He paused, evidently much moved.

  "Yes, indeed, I see that. But what can Anna do?" queried DaryaAlexandrovna.

  "Yes, that brings me to the object of my conversation," he said, calminghimself with an effort. "Anna can, it depends on her.... Even topetition the Tsar for legitimization, a divorce is essential. And thatdepends on Anna. Her husband agreed to a divorce--at that time yourhusband had arranged it completely. And now, I know, he would not refuseit. It is only a matter of writing to him. He said plainly at that timethat if she expressed the desire, he would not refuse. Of course," hesaid gloomily, "it is one of those Pharisaical cruelties of which onlysuch heartless men are capable. He knows what agony any recollection ofhim must give her, and knowing her, he must have a letter from her. Ican understand that it is agony to her. But the matter is of suchimportance, that one must _passer pardessus toutes ces finesses desentiment. Il y va du bonheur et de l'existence d'Anne et de sesenfants._ I won't speak of myself, though it's hard for me, very hard,"he said, with an expression as though he were threatening someone forits being hard for him. "And so it is, princess, that I am shamelesslyclutching at you as an anchor of salvation. Help me to persuade her towrite to him and ask for a divorce."

  "Yes, of course," Darya Alexandrovna said dreamily, as she vividlyrecalled her last interview with Alexey Alexandrovitch. "Yes, ofcourse," she repeated with decision, thinking of Anna.

  "Use your influence with her, make her write. I don't like--I'm almostunable to speak about this to her."
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  "Very well, I will talk to her. But how is it she does not think of itherself?" said Darya Alexandrovna, and for some reason she suddenly atthat point recalled Anna's strange new habit of half-closing her eyes.And she remembered that Anna drooped her eyelids just when the deeperquestions of life were touched upon. "Just as though she half-shut hereyes to her own life, so as not to see everything," thought Dolly. "Yes,indeed, for my own sake and for hers I will talk to her," Dolly said inreply to his look of gratitude.

  They got up and walked to the house.

 
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