Anna karenina, p.188
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       Anna Karenina, p.188

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 31

  The newly elected marshal and many of the successful party dined thatday with Vronsky.

  Vronsky had come to the elections partly because he was bored in thecountry and wanted to show Anna his right to independence, and also torepay Sviazhsky by his support at the election for all the trouble hehad taken for Vronsky at the district council election, but chiefly inorder strictly to perform all those duties of a nobleman and landownerwhich he had taken upon himself. But he had not in the least expectedthat the election would so interest him, so keenly excite him, and thathe would be so good at this kind of thing. He was quite a new man in thecircle of the nobility of the province, but his success wasunmistakable, and he was not wrong in supposing that he had alreadyobtained a certain influence. This influence was due to his wealth andreputation, the capital house in the town lent him by his old friendShirkov, who had a post in the department of finances and was directorof a flourishing bank in Kashin; the excellent cook Vronsky had broughtfrom the country, and his friendship with the governor, who was aschoolfellow of Vronsky's--a schoolfellow he had patronized andprotected indeed. But what contributed more than all to his success washis direct, equable manner with everyone, which very quickly made themajority of the noblemen reverse the current opinion of his supposedhaughtiness. He was himself conscious that, except that whimsicalgentleman married to Kitty Shtcherbatskaya, who had _a propos de bottes_poured out a stream of irrelevant absurdities with such spiteful fury,every nobleman with whom he had made acquaintance had become hisadherent. He saw clearly, and other people recognized it, too, that hehad done a great deal to secure the success of Nevyedovsky. And now athis own table, celebrating Nevyedovsky's election, he was experiencingan agreeable sense of triumph over the success of his candidate. Theelection itself had so fascinated him that, if he could succeed ingetting married during the next three years, he began to think ofstanding himself--much as after winning a race ridden by a jockey, hehad longed to ride a race himself.

  Today he was celebrating the success of his jockey. Vronsky sat at thehead of the table, on his right hand sat the young governor, a generalof high rank. To all the rest he was the chief man in the province, whohad solemnly opened the elections with his speech, and aroused a feelingof respect and even of awe in many people, as Vronsky saw; to Vronsky hewas little Katka Maslov--that had been his nickname in the Pages'Corps--whom he felt to be shy and tried to _mettre a son aise_. On theleft hand sat Nevyedovsky with his youthful, stubborn, and malignantface. With him Vronsky was simple and deferential.

  Sviazhsky took his failure very light-heartedly. It was indeed nofailure in his eyes, as he said himself, turning, glass in hand, toNevyedovsky; they could not have found a better representative of thenew movement, which the nobility ought to follow. And so every honestperson, as he said, was on the side of today's success and was rejoicingover it.

  Stepan Arkadyevitch was glad, too, that he was having a good time, andthat everyone was pleased. The episode of the elections served as a goodoccasion for a capital dinner. Sviazhsky comically imitated the tearfuldiscourse of the marshal, and observed, addressing Nevyedovsky, that hisexcellency would have to select another more complicated method ofauditing the accounts than tears. Another nobleman jocosely describedhow footmen in stockings had been ordered for the marshal's ball, andhow now they would have to be sent back unless the new marshal wouldgive a ball with footmen in stockings.

  Continually during dinner they said of Nevyedovsky: "our marshal," and"your excellency."

  This was said with the same pleasure with which a bride is called"Madame" and her husband's name. Nevyedovsky affected to be not merelyindifferent but scornful of this appellation, but it was obvious that hewas highly delighted, and had to keep a curb on himself not to betraythe triumph which was unsuitable to their new liberal tone.

  After dinner several telegrams were sent to people interested in theresult of the election. And Stepan Arkadyevitch, who was in high goodhumor, sent Darya Alexandrovna a telegram: "Nevyedovsky elected bytwenty votes. Congratulations. Tell people." He dictated it aloud,saying: "We must let them share our rejoicing." Darya Alexandrovna,getting the message, simply sighed over the rouble wasted on it, andunderstood that it was an after-dinner affair. She knew Stiva had aweakness after dining for _faire jouer le telegraphe._

  Everything, together with the excellent dinner and the wine, not fromRussian merchants, but imported direct from abroad, was extremelydignified, simple, and enjoyable. The party--some twenty--had beenselected by Sviazhsky from among the more active new liberals, all ofthe same way of thinking, who were at the same time clever and wellbred. They drank, also half in jest, to the health of the new marshal ofthe province, of the governor, of the bank director, and of "our amiablehost."

  Vronsky was satisfied. He had never expected to find so pleasant a tonein the provinces.

  Towards the end of dinner it was still more lively. The governor askedVronsky to come to a concert for the benefit of the Servians which hiswife, who was anxious to make his acquaintance, had been getting up.

  "There'll be a ball, and you'll see the belle of the province. Worthseeing, really."

  "Not in my line," Vronsky answered. He liked that English phrase. But hesmiled, and promised to come.

  Before they rose from the table, when all of them were smoking,Vronsky's valet went up to him with a letter on a tray.

  "From Vozdvizhenskoe by special messenger," he said with a significantexpression.

  "Astonishing! how like he is to the deputy prosecutor Sventitsky," saidone of the guests in French of the valet, while Vronsky, frowning, readthe letter.

  The letter was from Anna. Before he read the letter, he knew itscontents. Expecting the elections to be over in five days, he hadpromised to be back on Friday. Today was Saturday, and he knew that theletter contained reproaches for not being back at the time fixed. Theletter he had sent the previous evening had probably not reached heryet.

  The letter was what he had expected, but the form of it was unexpected,and particularly disagreeable to him. "Annie is very ill, the doctorsays it may be inflammation. I am losing my head all alone. PrincessVarvara is no help, but a hindrance. I expected you the day beforeyesterday, and yesterday, and now I am sending to find out where you areand what you are doing. I wanted to come myself, but thought better ofit, knowing you would dislike it. Send some answer, that I may know whatto do."

  The child ill, yet she had thought of coming herself. Their daughterill, and this hostile tone.

  The innocent festivities over the election, and this gloomy, burdensomelove to which he had to return struck Vronsky by their contrast. But hehad to go, and by the first train that night he set off home.

 

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