Anna karenina, p.212
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       Anna Karenina, p.212

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 23

  In order to carry through any undertaking in family life, there mustnecessarily be either complete division between the husband and wife, orloving agreement. When the relations of a couple are vacillating andneither one thing nor the other, no sort of enterprise can beundertaken.

  Many families remain for years in the same place, though both husbandand wife are sick of it, simply because there is neither completedivision nor agreement between them.

  Both Vronsky and Anna felt life in Moscow insupportable in the heat anddust, when the spring sunshine was followed by the glare of summer, andall the trees in the boulevards had long since been in full leaf, andthe leaves were covered with dust. But they did not go back toVozdvizhenskoe, as they had arranged to do long before; they went onstaying in Moscow, though they both loathed it, because of late therehad been no agreement between them.

  The irritability that kept them apart had no external cause, and allefforts to come to an understanding intensified it, instead of removingit. It was an inner irritation, grounded in her mind on the convictionthat his love had grown less; in his, on regret that he had put himselffor her sake in a difficult position, which she, instead of lightening,made still more difficult. Neither of them gave full utterance to theirsense of grievance, but they considered each other in the wrong, andtried on every pretext to prove this to one another.

  In her eyes the whole of him, with all his habits, ideas, desires, withall his spiritual and physical temperament, was one thing--love forwomen, and that love, she felt, ought to be entirely concentrated on heralone. That love was less; consequently, as she reasoned, he must havetransferred part of his love to other women or to another woman--and shewas jealous. She was jealous not of any particular woman but of thedecrease of his love. Not having got an object for her jealousy, she wason the lookout for it. At the slightest hint she transferred herjealousy from one object to another. At one time she was jealous ofthose low women with whom he might so easily renew his old bachelorties; then she was jealous of the society women he might meet; then shewas jealous of the imaginary girl whom he might want to marry, for whosesake he would break with her. And this last form of jealousy torturedher most of all, especially as he had unwarily told her, in a moment offrankness, that his mother knew him so little that she had had theaudacity to try and persuade him to marry the young Princess Sorokina.

  And being jealous of him, Anna was indignant against him and foundgrounds for indignation in everything. For everything that was difficultin her position she blamed him. The agonizing condition of suspense shehad passed in Moscow, the tardiness and indecision of AlexeyAlexandrovitch, her solitude--she put it all down to him. If he hadloved her he would have seen all the bitterness of her position, andwould have rescued her from it. For her being in Moscow and not in thecountry, he was to blame too. He could not live buried in the country asshe would have liked to do. He must have society, and he had put her inthis awful position, the bitterness of which he would not see. Andagain, it was his fault that she was forever separated from her son.

  Even the rare moments of tenderness that came from time to time did notsoothe her; in his tenderness now she saw a shade of complacency, ofself-confidence, which had not been of old, and which exasperated her.

  It was dusk. Anna was alone, and waiting for him to come back from abachelor dinner. She walked up and down in his study (the room where thenoise from the street was least heard), and thought over every detail oftheir yesterday's quarrel. Going back from the well-remembered,offensive words of the quarrel to what had been the ground of it, shearrived at last at its origin. For a long while she could hardly believethat their dissension had arisen from a conversation so inoffensive, ofso little moment to either. But so it actually had been. It all arosefrom his laughing at the girls' high schools, declaring they wereuseless, while she defended them. He had spoken slightingly of women'seducation in general, and had said that Hannah, Anna's English protegee,had not the slightest need to know anything of physics.

  This irritated Anna. She saw in this a contemptuous reference to heroccupations. And she bethought her of a phrase to pay him back for thepain he had given her. "I don't expect you to understand me, myfeelings, as anyone who loved me might, but simple delicacy I didexpect," she said.

  And he had actually flushed with vexation, and had said somethingunpleasant. She could not recall her answer, but at that point, with anunmistakable desire to wound her too, he had said:

  "I feel no interest in your infatuation over this girl, that's true,because I see it's unnatural."

  The cruelty with which he shattered the world she had built up forherself so laboriously to enable her to endure her hard life, theinjustice with which he had accused her of affectation, ofartificiality, aroused her.

  "I am very sorry that nothing but what's coarse and material iscomprehensible and natural to you," she said and walked out of the room.

  When he had come in to her yesterday evening, they had not referred tothe quarrel, but both felt that the quarrel had been smoothed over, butwas not at an end.

  Today he had not been at home all day, and she felt so lonely andwretched in being on bad terms with him that she wanted to forget itall, to forgive him, and be reconciled with him; she wanted to throw theblame on herself and to justify him.

  "I am myself to blame. I'm irritable, I'm insanely jealous. I will makeit up with him, and we'll go away to the country; there I shall be moreat peace."

  "Unnatural!" She suddenly recalled the word that had stung her most ofall, not so much the word itself as the intent to wound her with whichit was said. "I know what he meant; he meant--unnatural, not loving myown daughter, to love another person's child. What does he know of lovefor children, of my love for Seryozha, whom I've sacrificed for him? Butthat wish to wound me! No, he loves another woman, it must be so."

  And perceiving that, while trying to regain her peace of mind, she hadgone round the same circle that she had been round so often before, andhad come back to her former state of exasperation, she was horrified atherself. "Can it be impossible? Can it be beyond me to control myself?"she said to herself, and began again from the beginning. "He's truthful,he's honest, he loves me. I love him, and in a few days the divorce willcome. What more do I want? I want peace of mind and trust, and I willtake the blame on myself. Yes, now when he comes in, I will tell him Iwas wrong, though I was not wrong, and we will go away tomorrow."

  And to escape thinking any more, and being overcome by irritability, sherang, and ordered the boxes to be brought up for packing their thingsfor the country.

  At ten o'clock Vronsky came in.

 
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