Anna karenina, p.181
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       Anna Karenina, p.181

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 24

  "Then there is all the more reason for you to legalize your position, ifpossible," said Dolly.

  "Yes, if possible," said Anna, speaking all at once in an utterlydifferent tone, subdued and mournful.

  "Surely you don't mean a divorce is impossible? I was told your husbandhad consented to it."

  "Dolly, I don't want to talk about that."

  "Oh, we won't then," Darya Alexandrovna hastened to say, noticing theexpression of suffering on Anna's face. "All I see is that you take toogloomy a view of things."

  "I? Not at all! I'm always bright and happy. You see, _je fais despassions._ Veslovsky..."

  "Yes, to tell the truth, I don't like Veslovsky's tone," said DaryaAlexandrovna, anxious to change the subject.

  "Oh, that's nonsense! It amuses Alexey, and that's all; but he's a boy,and quite under my control. You know, I turn him as I please. It's justas it might be with your Grisha.... Dolly!"--she suddenly changed thesubject--"you say I take too gloomy a view of things. You can'tunderstand. It's too awful! I try not to take any view of it at all."

  "But I think you ought to. You ought to do all you can."

  "But what can I do? Nothing. You tell me to marry Alexey, and say Idon't think about it. I don't think about it!" she repeated, and a flushrose into her face. She got up, straightening her chest, and sighedheavily. With her light step she began pacing up and down the room,stopping now and then. "I don't think of it? Not a day, not an hourpasses that I don't think of it, and blame myself for thinking of it ...because thinking of that may drive me mad. Drive me mad!" she repeated."When I think of it, I can't sleep without morphine. But never mind. Letus talk quietly. They tell me, divorce. In the first place, he won'tgive me a divorce. He's under the influence of Countess Lidia Ivanovnanow."

  Darya Alexandrovna, sitting erect on a chair, turned her head, followingAnna with a face of sympathetic suffering.

  "You ought to make the attempt," she said softly.

  "Suppose I make the attempt. What does it mean?" she said, evidentlygiving utterance to a thought, a thousand times thought over and learnedby heart. "It means that I, hating him, but still recognizing that Ihave wronged him--and I consider him magnanimous--that I humiliatemyself to write to him.... Well, suppose I make the effort; I do it.Either I receive a humiliating refusal or consent.... Well, I havereceived his consent, say..." Anna was at that moment at the furthestend of the room, and she stopped there, doing something to the curtainat the window. "I receive his consent, but my ... my son? They won'tgive him up to me. He will grow up despising me, with his father, whomI've abandoned. Do you see, I love ... equally, I think, but both morethan myself--two creatures, Seryozha and Alexey."

  She came out into the middle of the room and stood facing Dolly, withher arms pressed tightly across her chest. In her white dressing gownher figure seemed more than usually grand and broad. She bent her head,and with shining, wet eyes looked from under her brows at Dolly, a thinlittle pitiful figure in her patched dressing jacket and nightcap,shaking all over with emotion.

  "It is only those two creatures that I love, and one excludes the other.I can't have them together, and that's the only thing I want. And sinceI can't have that, I don't care about the rest. I don't care aboutanything, anything. And it will end one way or another, and so I can't,I don't like to talk of it. So don't blame me, don't judge me foranything. You can't with your pure heart understand all that I'msuffering." She went up, sat down beside Dolly, and with a guilty look,peeped into her face and took her hand.

  "What are you thinking? What are you thinking about me? Don't despiseme. I don't deserve contempt. I'm simply unhappy. If anyone is unhappy,I am," she articulated, and turning away, she burst into tears.

  Left alone, Darya Alexandrovna said her prayers and went to bed. She hadfelt for Anna with all her heart while she was speaking to her, but nowshe could not force herself to think of her. The memories of home and ofher children rose up in her imagination with a peculiar charm quite newto her, with a sort of new brilliance. That world of her own seemed toher now so sweet and precious that she would not on any account spend anextra day outside it, and she made up her mind that she would certainlygo back next day.

  Anna meantime went back to her boudoir, took a wine glass and droppedinto it several drops of a medicine, of which the principal ingredientwas morphine. After drinking it off and sitting still a little while,she went into her bedroom in a soothed and more cheerful frame of mind.

  When she went into the bedroom, Vronsky looked intently at her. He waslooking for traces of the conversation which he knew that, staying solong in Dolly's room, she must have had with her. But in her expressionof restrained excitement, and of a sort of reserve, he could findnothing but the beauty that always bewitched him afresh though he wasused to it, the consciousness of it, and the desire that it shouldaffect him. He did not want to ask her what they had been talking of,but he hoped that she would tell him something of her own accord. Butshe only said:

  "I am so glad you like Dolly. You do, don't you?"

  "Oh, I've known her a long while, you know. She's very good-hearted, Isuppose, _mais excessivement terre-a-terre._ Still, I'm very glad to seeher."

  He took Anna's hand and looked inquiringly into her eyes.

  Misinterpreting the look, she smiled to him. Next morning, in spite ofthe protests of her hosts, Darya Alexandrovna prepared for her homewardjourney. Levin's coachman, in his by no means new coat and shabby hat,with his ill-matched horses and his coach with the patched mud-guards,drove with gloomy determination into the covered gravel approach.

  Darya Alexandrovna disliked taking leave of Princess Varvara and thegentlemen of the party. After a day spent together, both she and herhosts were distinctly aware that they did not get on together, and thatit was better for them not to meet. Only Anna was sad. She knew thatnow, from Dolly's departure, no one again would stir up within her soulthe feelings that had been roused by their conversation. It hurt her tostir up these feelings, but yet she knew that that was the best part ofher soul, and that that part of her soul would quickly be smothered inthe life she was leading.

  As she drove out into the open country, Darya Alexandrovna had adelightful sense of relief, and she felt tempted to ask the two men howthey had liked being at Vronsky's, when suddenly the coachman, Philip,expressed himself unasked:

  "Rolling in wealth they may be, but three pots of oats was all they gaveus. Everything cleared up till there wasn't a grain left by cockcrow.What are three pots? A mere mouthful! And oats now down to forty-fivekopecks. At our place, no fear, all comers may have as much as they caneat."

  "The master's a screw," put in the counting house clerk.

  "Well, did you like their horses?" asked Dolly.

  "The horses!--there's no two opinions about them. And the food was good.But it seemed to me sort of dreary there, Darya Alexandrovna. I don'tknow what you thought," he said, turning his handsome, good-natured faceto her.

  "I thought so too. Well, shall we get home by evening?"

  "Eh, we must!"

  On reaching home and finding everyone entirely satisfactory andparticularly charming, Darya Alexandrovna began with great livelinesstelling them how she had arrived, how warmly they had received her, ofthe luxury and good taste in which the Vronskys lived, and of theirrecreations, and she would not allow a word to be said against them.

  "One has to know Anna and Vronsky--I have got to know him better now--tosee how nice they are, and how touching," she said, speaking now withperfect sincerity, and forgetting the vague feeling of dissatisfactionand awkwardness she had experienced there.

 
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