Anna karenina, p.198
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       Anna Karenina, p.198

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 9

  "Oblonsky's carriage!" the porter shouted in an angry bass. The carriagedrove up and both got in. It was only for the first few moments, whilethe carriage was driving out of the clubhouse gates, that Levin wasstill under the influence of the club atmosphere of repose, comfort, andunimpeachable good form. But as soon as the carriage drove out into thestreet, and he felt it jolting over the uneven road, heard the angryshout of a sledge driver coming towards them, saw in the uncertain lightthe red blind of a tavern and the shops, this impression was dissipated,and he began to think over his actions, and to wonder whether he wasdoing right in going to see Anna. What would Kitty say? But StepanArkadyevitch gave him no time for reflection, and, as though divininghis doubts, he scattered them.

  "How glad I am," he said, "that you should know her! You know Dolly haslong wished for it. And Lvov's been to see her, and often goes. Thoughshe is my sister," Stepan Arkadyevitch pursued, "I don't hesitate to saythat she's a remarkable woman. But you will see. Her position is verypainful, especially now."

  "Why especially now?"

  "We are carrying on negotiations with her husband about a divorce. Andhe's agreed; but there are difficulties in regard to the son, and thebusiness, which ought to have been arranged long ago, has been draggingon for three months past. As soon as the divorce is over, she will marryVronsky. How stupid these old ceremonies are, that no one believes in,and which only prevent people being comfortable!" Stepan Arkadyevitchput in. "Well, then their position will be as regular as mine, asyours."

  "What is the difficulty?" said Levin.

  "Oh, it's a long and tedious story! The whole business is in such ananomalous position with us. But the point is she has been for threemonths in Moscow, where everyone knows her, waiting for the divorce; shegoes out nowhere, sees no woman except Dolly, because, do youunderstand, she doesn't care to have people come as a favor. That foolPrincess Varvara, even she has left her, considering this a breach ofpropriety. Well, you see, in such a position any other woman would nothave found resources in herself. But you'll see how she has arranged herlife--how calm, how dignified she is. To the left, in the crescentopposite the church!" shouted Stepan Arkadyevitch, leaning out of thewindow. "Phew! how hot it is!" he said, in spite of twelve degrees offrost, flinging his open overcoat still wider open.

  "But she has a daughter: no doubt she's busy looking after her?" saidLevin.

  "I believe you picture every woman simply as a female, _une couveuse,_"said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "If she's occupied, it must be with herchildren. No, she brings her up capitally, I believe, but one doesn'thear about her. She's busy, in the first place, with what she writes. Isee you're smiling ironically, but you're wrong. She's writing achildren's book, and doesn't talk about it to anyone, but she read it tome and I gave the manuscript to Vorkuev ... you know the publisher ...and he's an author himself too, I fancy. He understands those things,and he says it's a remarkable piece of work. But are you fancying she'san authoress?--not a bit of it. She's a woman with a heart, beforeeverything, but you'll see. Now she has a little English girl with her,and a whole family she's looking after."

  "Oh, something in a philanthropic way?"

  "Why, you will look at everything in the worst light. It's not fromphilanthropy, it's from the heart. They--that is, Vronsky--had atrainer, an Englishman, first-rate in his own line, but a drunkard. He'scompletely given up to drink--delirium tremens--and the family were caston the world. She saw them, helped them, got more and more interested inthem, and now the whole family is on her hands. But not by way ofpatronage, you know, helping with money; she's herself preparing theboys in Russian for the high school, and she's taken the little girl tolive with her. But you'll see her for yourself."

  The carriage drove into the courtyard, and Stepan Arkadyevitch rangloudly at the entrance where sledges were standing.

  And without asking the servant who opened the door whether the lady wereat home, Stepan Arkadyevitch walked into the hall. Levin followed him,more and more doubtful whether he was doing right or wrong.

  Looking at himself in the glass, Levin noticed that he was red in theface, but he felt certain he was not drunk, and he followed StepanArkadyevitch up the carpeted stairs. At the top Stepan Arkadyevitchinquired of the footman, who bowed to him as to an intimate friend, whowas with Anna Arkadyevna, and received the answer that it was M.Vorkuev.

  "Where are they?"

  "In the study."

  Passing through the dining room, a room not very large, with dark,paneled walls, Stepan Arkadyevitch and Levin walked over the soft carpetto the half-dark study, lighted up by a single lamp with a big darkshade. Another lamp with a reflector was hanging on the wall, lightingup a big full-length portrait of a woman, which Levin could not helplooking at. It was the portrait of Anna, painted in Italy by Mihailov.While Stepan Arkadyevitch went behind the _treillage_, and the man'svoice which had been speaking paused, Levin gazed at the portrait, whichstood out from the frame in the brilliant light thrown on it, and hecould not tear himself away from it. He positively forgot where he was,and not even hearing what was said, he could not take his eyes off themarvelous portrait. It was not a picture, but a living, charming woman,with black curling hair, with bare arms and shoulders, with a pensivesmile on the lips, covered with soft down; triumphantly and softly shelooked at him with eyes that baffled him. She was not living onlybecause she was more beautiful than a living woman can be.

  "I am delighted!" He heard suddenly near him a voice, unmistakablyaddressing him, the voice of the very woman he had been admiring in theportrait. Anna had come from behind the treillage to meet him, and Levinsaw in the dim light of the study the very woman of the portrait, in adark blue shot gown, not in the same position nor with the sameexpression, but with the same perfection of beauty which the artist hadcaught in the portrait. She was less dazzling in reality, but, on theother hand, there was something fresh and seductive in the living womanwhich was not in the portrait.

 
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