Anna karenina, p.214
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       Anna Karenina, p.214

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 25

  Feeling that the reconciliation was complete, Anna set eagerly to workin the morning preparing for their departure. Though it was not settledwhether they should go on Monday or Tuesday, as they had each given wayto the other, Anna packed busily, feeling absolutely indifferent whetherthey went a day earlier or later. She was standing in her room over anopen box, taking things out of it, when he came in to see her earlierthan usual, dressed to go out.

  "I'm going off at once to see maman; she can send me the money byYegorov. And I shall be ready to go tomorrow," he said.

  Though she was in such a good mood, the thought of his visit to hismother's gave her a pang.

  "No, I shan't be ready by then myself," she said; and at once reflected,"so then it was possible to arrange to do as I wished." "No, do as youmeant to do. Go into the dining room, I'm coming directly. It's only toturn out those things that aren't wanted," she said, putting somethingmore on the heap of frippery that lay in Annushka's arms.

  Vronsky was eating his beefsteak when she came into the dining-room.

  "You wouldn't believe how distasteful these rooms have become to me,"she said, sitting down beside him to her coffee. "There's nothing moreawful than these _chambres garnies_. There's no individuality in them,no soul. These clocks, and curtains, and, worst of all, thewallpapers--they're a nightmare. I think of Vozdvizhenskoe as thepromised land. You're not sending the horses off yet?"

  "No, they will come after us. Where are you going to?"

  "I wanted to go to Wilson's to take some dresses to her. So it's reallyto be tomorrow?" she said in a cheerful voice; but suddenly her facechanged.

  Vronsky's valet came in to ask him to sign a receipt for a telegram fromPetersburg. There was nothing out of the way in Vronsky's getting atelegram, but he said, as though anxious to conceal something from her,that the receipt was in his study, and he turned hurriedly to her.

  "By tomorrow, without fail, I will finish it all."

  "From whom is the telegram?" she asked, not hearing him.

  "From Stiva," he answered reluctantly.

  "Why didn't you show it to me? What secret can there be between Stivaand me?"

  Vronsky called the valet back, and told him to bring the telegram.

  "I didn't want to show it to you, because Stiva has such a passion fortelegraphing: why telegraph when nothing is settled?"

  "About the divorce?"

  "Yes; but he says he has not been able to come at anything yet. He haspromised a decisive answer in a day or two. But here it is; read it."

  With trembling hands Anna took the telegram, and read what Vronsky hadtold her. At the end was added: "Little hope; but I will do everythingpossible and impossible."

  "I said yesterday that it's absolutely nothing to me when I get, orwhether I never get, a divorce," she said, flushing crimson. "There wasnot the slightest necessity to hide it from me." "So he may hide anddoes hide his correspondence with women from me," she thought.

  "Yashvin meant to come this morning with Voytov," said Vronsky; "Ibelieve he's won from Pyevtsov all and more than he can pay, about sixtythousand."

  "No," she said, irritated by his so obviously showing by this change ofsubject that he was irritated, "why did you suppose that this news wouldaffect me so, that you must even try to hide it? I said I don't want toconsider it, and I should have liked you to care as little about it as Ido."

  "I care about it because I like definiteness," he said.

  "Definiteness is not in the form but the love," she said, more and moreirritated, not by his words, but by the tone of cool composure in whichhe spoke. "What do you want it for?"

  "My God! love again," he thought, frowning.

  "Oh, you know what for; for your sake and your children's in thefuture."

  "There won't be children in the future."

  "That's a great pity," he said.

  "You want it for the children's sake, but you don't think of me?" shesaid, quite forgetting or not having heard that he had said, "_for yoursake_ and the children's."

  The question of the possibility of having children had long been asubject of dispute and irritation to her. His desire to have childrenshe interpreted as a proof he did not prize her beauty.

  "Oh, I said: for your sake. Above all for your sake," he repeated,frowning as though in pain, "because I am certain that the greater partof your irritability comes from the indefiniteness of the position."

  "Yes, now he has laid aside all pretense, and all his cold hatred for meis apparent," she thought, not hearing his words, but watching withterror the cold, cruel judge who looked mocking her out of his eyes.

  "The cause is not that," she said, "and, indeed, I don't see how thecause of my irritability, as you call it, can be that I am completely inyour power. What indefiniteness is there in the position? on thecontrary..."

  "I am very sorry that you don't care to understand," he interrupted,obstinately anxious to give utterance to his thought. "Theindefiniteness consists in your imagining that I am free."

  "On that score you can set your mind quite at rest," she said, andturning away from him, she began drinking her coffee.

  She lifted her cup, with her little finger held apart, and put it to herlips. After drinking a few sips she glanced at him, and by hisexpression, she saw clearly that he was repelled by her hand, and hergesture, and the sound made by her lips.

  "I don't care in the least what your mother thinks, and what match shewants to make for you," she said, putting the cup down with a shakinghand.

  "But we are not talking about that."

  "Yes, that's just what we are talking about. And let me tell you that aheartless woman, whether she's old or not old, your mother or anyoneelse, is of no consequence to me, and I would not consent to know her."

  "Anna, I beg you not to speak disrespectfully of my mother."

  "A woman whose heart does not tell her where her son's happiness andhonor lie has no heart."

  "I repeat my request that you will not speak disrespectfully of mymother, whom I respect," he said, raising his voice and looking sternlyat her.

  She did not answer. Looking intently at him, at his face, his hands, sherecalled all the details of their reconciliation the previous day, andhis passionate caresses. "There, just such caresses he has lavished, andwill lavish, and longs to lavish on other women!" she thought.

  "You don't love your mother. That's all talk, and talk, and talk!" shesaid, looking at him with hatred in her eyes.

  "Even if so, you must..."

  "Must decide, and I have decided," she said, and she would have goneaway, but at that moment Yashvin walked into the room. Anna greeted himand remained.

  Why, when there was a tempest in her soul, and she felt she was standingat a turning point in her life, which might have fearfulconsequences--why, at that minute, she had to keep up appearances beforean outsider, who sooner or later must know it all--she did not know. Butat once quelling the storm within her, she sat down and began talking totheir guest.

  "Well, how are you getting on? Has your debt been paid you?" she askedYashvin.

  "Oh, pretty fair; I fancy I shan't get it all, but I shall get a goodhalf. And when are you off?" said Yashvin, looking at Vronsky, andunmistakably guessing at a quarrel.

  "The day after tomorrow, I think," said Vronsky.

  "You've been meaning to go so long, though."

  "But now it's quite decided," said Anna, looking Vronsky straight in theface with a look which told him not to dream of the possibility ofreconciliation.

  "Don't you feel sorry for that unlucky Pyevtsov?" she went on, talkingto Yashvin.

  "I've never asked myself the question, Anna Arkadyevna, whether I'msorry for him or not. You see, all my fortune's here"--he touched hisbreast pocket--"and just now I'm a wealthy man. But today I'm going tothe club, and I may come out a beggar. You see, whoever sits down toplay with me--he wants to leave me without a shirt to my back, and so doI him. And so we fight it out, and that's the pleasure
of it."

  "Well, but suppose you were married," said Anna, "how would it be foryour wife?"

  Yashvin laughed.

  "That's why I'm not married, and never mean to be."

  "And Helsingfors?" said Vronsky, entering into the conversation andglancing at Anna's smiling face. Meeting his eyes, Anna's face instantlytook a coldly severe expression as though she were saying to him: "It'snot forgotten. It's all the same."

  "Were you really in love?" she said to Yashvin.

  "Oh heavens! ever so many times! But you see, some men can play but onlyso that they can always lay down their cards when the hour of a_rendezvous_ comes, while I can take up love, but only so as not to belate for my cards in the evening. That's how I manage things."

  "No, I didn't mean that, but the real thing." She would have said_Helsingfors_, but would not repeat the word used by Vronsky.

  Voytov, who was buying the horse, came in. Anna got up and went out ofthe room.

  Before leaving the house, Vronsky went into her room. She would havepretended to be looking for something on the table, but ashamed ofmaking a pretense, she looked straight in his face with cold eyes.

  "What do you want?" she asked in French.

  "To get the guarantee for Gambetta, I've sold him," he said, in a tonewhich said more clearly than words, "I've no time for discussing things,and it would lead to nothing."

  "I'm not to blame in any way," he thought. "If she will punish herself,_tant pis pour elle._" But as he was going he fancied that she saidsomething, and his heart suddenly ached with pity for her.

  "Eh, Anna?" he queried.

  "I said nothing," she answered just as coldly and calmly.

  "Oh, nothing, _tant pis_ then," he thought, feeling cold again, and heturned and went out. As he was going out he caught a glimpse in thelooking glass of her face, white, with quivering lips. He even wanted tostop and to say some comforting word to her, but his legs carried himout of the room before he could think what to say. The whole of that dayhe spent away from home, and when he came in late in the evening themaid told him that Anna Arkadyevna had a headache and begged him not togo in to her.

 

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