Anna karenina, p.182
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       Anna Karenina, p.182

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 25

  Vronsky and Anna spent the whole summer and part of the winter in thecountry, living in just the same condition, and still taking no steps toobtain a divorce. It was an understood thing between them that theyshould not go away anywhere; but both felt, the longer they lived alone,especially in the autumn, without guests in the house, that they couldnot stand this existence, and that they would have to alter it.

  Their life was apparently such that nothing better could be desired.They had the fullest abundance of everything; they had a child, and bothhad occupation. Anna devoted just as much care to her appearance whenthey had no visitors, and she did a great deal of reading, both ofnovels and of what serious literature was in fashion. She ordered allthe books that were praised in the foreign papers and reviews shereceived, and read them with that concentrated attention which is onlygiven to what is read in seclusion. Moreover, every subject that was ofinterest to Vronsky, she studied in books and special journals, so thathe often went straight to her with questions relating to agriculture orarchitecture, sometimes even with questions relating to horse-breedingor sport. He was amazed at her knowledge, her memory, and at first wasdisposed to doubt it, to ask for confirmation of her facts; and shewould find what he asked for in some book, and show it to him.

  The building of the hospital, too, interested her. She did not merelyassist, but planned and suggested a great deal herself. But her chiefthought was still of herself--how far she was dear to Vronsky, how farshe could make up to him for all he had given up. Vronsky appreciatedthis desire not only to please, but to serve him, which had become thesole aim of her existence, but at the same time he wearied of the lovingsnares in which she tried to hold him fast. As time went on, and he sawhimself more and more often held fast in these snares, he had an evergrowing desire, not so much to escape from them, as to try whether theyhindered his freedom. Had it not been for this growing desire to befree, not to have scenes every time he wanted to go to the town to ameeting or a race, Vronsky would have been perfectly satisfied with hislife. The role he had taken up, the role of a wealthy landowner, one ofthat class which ought to be the very heart of the Russian aristocracy,was entirely to his taste; and now, after spending six months in thatcharacter, he derived even greater satisfaction from it. And hismanagement of his estate, which occupied and absorbed him more and more,was most successful. In spite of the immense sums cost him by thehospital, by machinery, by cows ordered from Switzerland, and many otherthings, he was convinced that he was not wasting, but increasing hissubstance. In all matters affecting income, the sales of timber, wheat,and wool, the letting of lands, Vronsky was hard as a rock, and knewwell how to keep up prices. In all operations on a large scale on thisand his other estates, he kept to the simplest methods involving norisk, and in trifling details he was careful and exacting to an extremedegree. In spite of all the cunning and ingenuity of the German steward,who would try to tempt him into purchases by making his originalestimate always far larger than really required, and then representingto Vronsky that he might get the thing cheaper, and so make a profit,Vronsky did not give in. He listened to his steward, cross-examined him,and only agreed to his suggestions when the implement to be ordered orconstructed was the very newest, not yet known in Russia, and likely toexcite wonder. Apart from such exceptions, he resolved upon an increasedoutlay only where there was a surplus, and in making such an outlay hewent into the minutest details, and insisted on getting the very bestfor his money; so that by the method on which he managed his affairs, itwas clear that he was not wasting, but increasing his substance.

  In October there were the provincial elections in the Kashinskyprovince, where were the estates of Vronsky, Sviazhsky, Koznishev,Oblonsky, and a small part of Levin's land.

  These elections were attracting public attention from severalcircumstances connected with them, and also from the people taking partin them. There had been a great deal of talk about them, and greatpreparations were being made for them. Persons who never attended theelections were coming from Moscow, from Petersburg, and from abroad toattend these. Vronsky had long before promised Sviazhsky to go to them.Before the elections Sviazhsky, who often visited Vozdvizhenskoe, droveover to fetch Vronsky. On the day before there had been almost a quarrelbetween Vronsky and Anna over this proposed expedition. It was the verydullest autumn weather, which is so dreary in the country, and so,preparing himself for a struggle, Vronsky, with a hard and coldexpression, informed Anna of his departure as he had never spoken to herbefore. But, to his surprise, Anna accepted the information with greatcomposure, and merely asked when he would be back. He looked intently ather, at a loss to explain this composure. She smiled at his look. Heknew that way she had of withdrawing into herself, and knew that it onlyhappened when she had determined upon something without letting him knowher plans. He was afraid of this; but he was so anxious to avoid a scenethat he kept up appearances, and half sincerely believed in what helonged to believe in--her reasonableness.

  "I hope you won't be dull?"

  "I hope not," said Anna. "I got a box of books yesterday from Gautier's.No, I shan't be dull."

  "She's trying to take that tone, and so much the better," he thought,"or else it would be the same thing over and over again."

  And he set off for the elections without appealing to her for a candidexplanation. It was the first time since the beginning of their intimacythat he had parted from her without a full explanation. From one pointof view this troubled him, but on the other side he felt that it wasbetter so. "At first there will be, as this time, something undefinedkept back, and then she will get used to it. In any case I can give upanything for her, but not my masculine independence," he thought.

 
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