Anna karenina, p.189
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       Anna Karenina, p.189

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 32

  Before Vronsky's departure for the elections, Anna had reflected thatthe scenes constantly repeated between them each time he left home,might only make him cold to her instead of attaching him to her, andresolved to do all she could to control herself so as to bear theparting with composure. But the cold, severe glance with which he hadlooked at her when he came to tell her he was going had wounded her, andbefore he had started her peace of mind was destroyed.

  In solitude afterwards, thinking over that glance which had expressedhis right to freedom, she came, as she always did, to the samepoint--the sense of her own humiliation. "He has the right to go awaywhen and where he chooses. Not simply to go away, but to leave me. Hehas every right, and I have none. But knowing that, he ought not to doit. What has he done, though?... He looked at me with a cold, severeexpression. Of course that is something indefinable, impalpable, but ithas never been so before, and that glance means a great deal," shethought. "That glance shows the beginning of indifference."

  And though she felt sure that a coldness was beginning, there wasnothing she could do, she could not in any way alter her relations tohim. Just as before, only by love and by charm could she keep him. Andso, just as before, only by occupation in the day, by morphine at night,could she stifle the fearful thought of what would be if he ceased tolove her. It is true there was still one means; not to keep him--forthat she wanted nothing more than his love--but to be nearer to him, tobe in such a position that he would not leave her. That means wasdivorce and marriage. And she began to long for that, and made up hermind to agree to it the first time he or Stiva approached her on thesubject.

  Absorbed in such thoughts, she passed five days without him, the fivedays that he was to be at the elections.

  Walks, conversation with Princess Varvara, visits to the hospital, and,most of all, reading--reading of one book after another--filled up hertime. But on the sixth day, when the coachman came back without him, shefelt that now she was utterly incapable of stifling the thought of himand of what he was doing there, just at that time her little girl wastaken ill. Anna began to look after her, but even that did not distracther mind, especially as the illness was not serious. However hard shetried, she could not love this little child, and to feign love wasbeyond her powers. Towards the evening of that day, still alone, Annawas in such a panic about him that she decided to start for the town,but on second thoughts wrote him the contradictory letter that Vronskyreceived, and without reading it through, sent it off by a specialmessenger. The next morning she received his letter and regretted herown. She dreaded a repetition of the severe look he had flung at her atparting, especially when he knew that the baby was not dangerously ill.But still she was glad she had written to him. At this moment Anna waspositively admitting to herself that she was a burden to him, that hewould relinquish his freedom regretfully to return to her, and in spiteof that she was glad he was coming. Let him weary of her, but he wouldbe here with her, so that she would see him, would know of every actionhe took.

  She was sitting in the drawing room near a lamp, with a new volume ofTaine, and as she read, listening to the sound of the wind outside, andevery minute expecting the carriage to arrive. Several times she hadfancied she heard the sound of wheels, but she had been mistaken. Atlast she heard not the sound of wheels, but the coachman's shout and thedull rumble in the covered entry. Even Princess Varvara, playingpatience, confirmed this, and Anna, flushing hotly, got up; but insteadof going down, as she had done twice before, she stood still. Shesuddenly felt ashamed of her duplicity, but even more she dreaded how hemight meet her. All feeling of wounded pride had passed now; she wasonly afraid of the expression of his displeasure. She remembered thather child had been perfectly well again for the last two days. She feltpositively vexed with her for getting better from the very moment herletter was sent off. Then she thought of him, that he was here, all ofhim, with his hands, his eyes. She heard his voice. And forgettingeverything, she ran joyfully to meet him.

  "Well, how is Annie?" he said timidly from below, looking up to Anna asshe ran down to him.

  He was sitting on a chair, and a footman was pulling off his warmover-boot.

  "Oh, she is better."

  "And you?" he said, shaking himself.

  She took his hand in both of hers, and drew it to her waist, nevertaking her eyes off him.

  "Well, I'm glad," he said, coldly scanning her, her hair, her dress,which he knew she had put on for him. All was charming, but how manytimes it had charmed him! And the stern, stony expression that she sodreaded settled upon his face.

  "Well, I'm glad. And are you well?" he said, wiping his damp beard withhis handkerchief and kissing her hand.

  "Never mind," she thought, "only let him be here, and so long as he'shere he cannot, he dare not, cease to love me."

  The evening was spent happily and gaily in the presence of PrincessVarvara, who complained to him that Anna had been taking morphine in hisabsence.

  "What am I to do? I couldn't sleep.... My thoughts prevented me. Whenhe's here I never take it--hardly ever."

  He told her about the election, and Anna knew how by adroit questions tobring him to what gave him most pleasure--his own success. She told himof everything that interested him at home; and all that she told him wasof the most cheerful description.

  But late in the evening, when they were alone, Anna, seeing that she hadregained complete possession of him, wanted to erase the painfulimpression of the glance he had given her for her letter. She said:

  "Tell me frankly, you were vexed at getting my letter, and you didn'tbelieve me?"

  As soon as she had said it, she felt that however warm his feelings wereto her, he had not forgiven her for that.

  "Yes," he said, "the letter was so strange. First, Annie ill, and thenyou thought of coming yourself."

  "It was all the truth."

  "Oh, I don't doubt it."

  "Yes, you do doubt it. You are vexed, I see."

  "Not for one moment. I'm only vexed, that's true, that you seem somehowunwilling to admit that there are duties..."

  "The duty of going to a concert..."

  "But we won't talk about it," he said.

  "Why not talk about it?" she said.

  "I only meant to say that matters of real importance may turn up. Now,for instance, I shall have to go to Moscow to arrange about thehouse.... Oh, Anna, why are you so irritable? Don't you know that Ican't live without you?"

  "If so," said Anna, her voice suddenly changing, "it means that you aresick of this life.... Yes, you will come for a day and go away, as mendo..."

  "Anna, that's cruel. I am ready to give up my whole life."

  But she did not hear him.

  "If you go to Moscow, I will go too. I will not stay here. Either wemust separate or else live together."

  "Why, you know, that's my one desire. But for that..."

  "We must get a divorce. I will write to him. I see I cannot go on likethis.... But I will come with you to Moscow."

  "You talk as if you were threatening me. But I desire nothing so much asnever to be parted from you," said Vronsky, smiling.

  But as he said these words there gleamed in his eyes not merely a coldlook, but the vindictive look of a man persecuted and made cruel.

  She saw the look and correctly divined its meaning.

  "If so, it's a calamity!" that glance told her. It was a moment'simpression, but she never forgot it.

  Anna wrote to her husband asking him about a divorce, and towards theend of November, taking leave of Princess Varvara, who wanted to go toPetersburg, she went with Vronsky to Moscow. Expecting every day ananswer from Alexey Alexandrovitch, and after that the divorce, they nowestablished themselves together like married people.

 
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