Anna karenina, p.211
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       Anna Karenina, p.211

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 22

  Stepan Arkadyevitch felt completely nonplussed by the strange talk whichhe was hearing for the first time. The complexity of Petersburg, as arule, had a stimulating effect on him, rousing him out of his Moscowstagnation. But he liked these complications, and understood them onlyin the circles he knew and was at home in. In these unfamiliarsurroundings he was puzzled and disconcerted, and could not get hisbearings. As he listened to Countess Lidia Ivanovna, aware of thebeautiful, artless--or perhaps artful, he could not decide which--eyesof Landau fixed upon him, Stepan Arkadyevitch began to be conscious of apeculiar heaviness in his head.

  The most incongruous ideas were in confusion in his head. "Marie Saninais glad her child's dead.... How good a smoke would be now!... To besaved, one need only believe, and the monks don't know how the thing'sto be done, but Countess Lidia Ivanovna does know.... And why is my headso heavy? Is it the cognac, or all this being so queer? Anyway, I fancyI've done nothing unsuitable so far. But anyway, it won't do to ask hernow. They say they make one say one's prayers. I only hope they won'tmake me! That'll be too imbecile. And what stuff it is she's reading!but she has a good accent. Landau--Bezzubov--what's he Bezzubov for?"All at once Stepan Arkadyevitch became aware that his lower jaw wasuncontrollably forming a yawn. He pulled his whiskers to cover the yawn,and shook himself together. But soon after he became aware that he wasdropping asleep and on the very point of snoring. He recovered himselfat the very moment when the voice of Countess Lidia Ivanovna was saying"he's asleep." Stepan Arkadyevitch started with dismay, feeling guiltyand caught. But he was reassured at once by seeing that the words "he'sasleep" referred not to him, but to Landau. The Frenchman was asleep aswell as Stepan Arkadyevitch. But Stepan Arkadyevitch's being asleepwould have offended them, as he thought (though even this, he thought,might not be so, as everything seemed so queer), while Landau's beingasleep delighted them extremely, especially Countess Lidia Ivanovna.

  _"Mon ami,"_ said Lidia Ivanovna, carefully holding the folds of hersilk gown so as not to rustle, and in her excitement calling Karenin notAlexey Alexandrovitch, but _"mon ami," "donnez-lui la main. Vous voyez?Sh!"_ she hissed at the footman as he came in again. "Not at home."

  The Frenchman was asleep, or pretending to be asleep, with his head onthe back of his chair, and his moist hand, as it lay on his knee, madefaint movements, as though trying to catch something. AlexeyAlexandrovitch got up, tried to move carefully, but stumbled against thetable, went up and laid his hand in the Frenchman's hand. StepanArkadyevitch got up too, and opening his eyes wide, trying to wakehimself up if he were asleep, he looked first at one and then at theother. It was all real. Stepan Arkadyevitch felt that his head wasgetting worse and worse.

  "_Que la personne qui est arrivee la derniere, celle qui demande,qu'elle sorte! Qu'elle sorte!_" articulated the Frenchman, withoutopening his eyes.

  "_Vous m'excuserez, mais vous voyez.... Revenez vers dix heures, encoremieux demain._"

  "_Qu'elle sorte!_" repeated the Frenchman impatiently.

  "_C'est moi, n'est-ce pas?_" And receiving an answer in the affirmative,Stepan Arkadyevitch, forgetting the favor he had meant to ask of LidiaIvanovna, and forgetting his sister's affairs, caring for nothing, butfilled with the sole desire to get away as soon as possible, went out ontiptoe and ran out into the street as though from a plague-strickenhouse. For a long while he chatted and joked with his cab-driver, tryingto recover his spirits.

  At the French theater where he arrived for the last act, and afterwardsat the Tatar restaurant after his champagne, Stepan Arkadyevitch felt alittle refreshed in the atmosphere he was used to. But still he feltquite unlike himself all that evening.

  On getting home to Pyotr Oblonsky's, where he was staying, StepanArkadyevitch found a note from Betsy. She wrote to him that she was veryanxious to finish their interrupted conversation, and begged him to comenext day. He had scarcely read this note, and frowned at its contents,when he heard below the ponderous tramp of the servants, carryingsomething heavy.

  Stepan Arkadyevitch went out to look. It was the rejuvenated PyotrOblonsky. He was so drunk that he could not walk upstairs; but he toldthem to set him on his legs when he saw Stepan Arkadyevitch, andclinging to him, walked with him into his room and there began tellinghim how he had spent the evening, and fell asleep doing so.

  Stepan Arkadyevitch was in very low spirits, which happened rarely withhim, and for a long while he could not go to sleep. Everything he couldrecall to his mind, everything was disgusting; but most disgusting ofall, as if it were something shameful, was the memory of the evening hehad spent at Countess Lidia Ivanovna's.

  Next day he received from Alexey Alexandrovitch a final answer, refusingto grant Anna's divorce, and he understood that this decision was basedon what the Frenchman had said in his real or pretended trance.

 

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