Anna karenina, p.201
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       Anna Karenina, p.201

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 12

  After taking leave of her guests, Anna did not sit down, but beganwalking up and down the room. She had unconsciously the whole eveningdone her utmost to arouse in Levin a feeling of love--as of late she hadfallen into doing with all young men--and she knew she had attained heraim, as far as was possible in one evening, with a married andconscientious man. She liked him indeed extremely, and, in spite of thestriking difference, from the masculine point of view, between Vronskyand Levin, as a woman she saw something they had in common, which hadmade Kitty able to love both. Yet as soon as he was out of the room, sheceased to think of him.

  One thought, and one only, pursued her in different forms, and refusedto be shaken off. "If I have so much effect on others, on this man, wholoves his home and his wife, why is it _he_ is so cold to me?... notcold exactly, he loves me, I know that! But something new is drawing usapart now. Why wasn't he here all the evening? He told Stiva to say hecould not leave Yashvin, and must watch over his play. Is Yashvin achild? But supposing it's true. He never tells a lie. But there'ssomething else in it if it's true. He is glad of an opportunity ofshowing me that he has other duties; I know that, I submit to that. Butwhy prove that to me? He wants to show me that his love for me is not tointerfere with his freedom. But I need no proofs, I need love. He oughtto understand all the bitterness of this life for me here in Moscow. Isthis life? I am not living, but waiting for an event, which iscontinually put off and put off. No answer again! And Stiva says hecannot go to Alexey Alexandrovitch. And I can't write again. I can donothing, can begin nothing, can alter nothing; I hold myself in, I wait,inventing amusements for myself--the English family, writing,reading--but it's all nothing but a sham, it's all the same as morphine.He ought to feel for me," she said, feeling tears of self-pity cominginto her eyes.

  She heard Vronsky's abrupt ring and hurriedly dried her tears--not onlydried her tears, but sat down by a lamp and opened a book, affectingcomposure. She wanted to show him that she was displeased that he hadnot come home as he had promised--displeased only, and not on anyaccount to let him see her distress, and least of all, her self-pity.She might pity herself, but he must not pity her. She did not wantstrife, she blamed him for wanting to quarrel, but unconsciously putherself into an attitude of antagonism.

  "Well, you've not been dull?" he said, eagerly and good-humoredly, goingup to her. "What a terrible passion it is--gambling!"

  "No, I've not been dull; I've learned long ago not to be dull. Stiva hasbeen here and Levin."

  "Yes, they meant to come and see you. Well, how did you like Levin?" hesaid, sitting down beside her.

  "Very much. They have not long been gone. What was Yashvin doing?"

  "He was winning--seventeen thousand. I got him away. He had reallystarted home, but he went back again, and now he's losing."

  "Then what did you stay for?" she asked, suddenly lifting her eyes tohim. The expression of her face was cold and ungracious. "You told Stivayou were staying on to get Yashvin away. And you have left him there."

  The same expression of cold readiness for the conflict appeared on hisface too.

  "In the first place, I did not ask him to give you any message; andsecondly, I never tell lies. But what's the chief point, I wanted tostay, and I stayed," he said, frowning. "Anna, what is it for, why willyou?" he said after a moment's silence, bending over towards her, and heopened his hand, hoping she would lay hers in it.

  She was glad of this appeal for tenderness. But some strange force ofevil would not let her give herself up to her feelings, as though therules of warfare would not permit her to surrender.

  "Of course you wanted to stay, and you stayed. You do everything youwant to. But what do you tell me that for? With what object?" she said,getting more and more excited. "Does anyone contest your rights? But youwant to be right, and you're welcome to be right."

  His hand closed, he turned away, and his face wore a still moreobstinate expression.

  "For you it's a matter of obstinacy," she said, watching him intentlyand suddenly finding the right word for that expression that irritatedher, "simply obstinacy. For you it's a question of whether you keep theupper hand of me, while for me...." Again she felt sorry for herself,and she almost burst into tears. "If you knew what it is for me! When Ifeel as I do now that you are hostile, yes, hostile to me, if you knewwhat this means for me! If you knew how I feel on the brink of calamityat this instant, how afraid I am of myself!" And she turned away, hidingher sobs.

  "But what are you talking about?" he said, horrified at her expressionof despair, and again bending over her, he took her hand and kissed it."What is it for? Do I seek amusements outside our home? Don't I avoidthe society of women?"

  "Well, yes! If that were all!" she said.

  "Come, tell me what I ought to do to give you peace of mind? I am readyto do anything to make you happy," he said, touched by her expression ofdespair; "what wouldn't I do to save you from distress of any sort, asnow, Anna!" he said.

  "It's nothing, nothing!" she said. "I don't know myself whether it's thesolitary life, my nerves.... Come, don't let us talk of it. What aboutthe race? You haven't told me!" she inquired, trying to conceal hertriumph at the victory, which had anyway been on her side.

  He asked for supper, and began telling her about the races; but in histone, in his eyes, which became more and more cold, she saw that he didnot forgive her for her victory, that the feeling of obstinacy withwhich she had been struggling had asserted itself again in him. He wascolder to her than before, as though he were regretting his surrender.And she, remembering the words that had given her the victory, "how Ifeel on the brink of calamity, how afraid I am of myself," saw that thisweapon was a dangerous one, and that it could not be used a second time.And she felt that beside the love that bound them together there hadgrown up between them some evil spirit of strife, which she could notexorcise from his, and still less from her own heart.

 
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