Anna karenina, p.31
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       Anna Karenina, p.31

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 31

  Vronsky had not even tried to sleep all that night. He sat in hisarmchair, looking straight before him or scanning the people who got inand out. If he had indeed on previous occasions struck and impressedpeople who did not know him by his air of unhesitating composure, heseemed now more haughty and self-possessed than ever. He looked atpeople as if they were things. A nervous young man, a clerk in a lawcourt, sitting opposite him, hated him for that look. The young manasked him for a light, and entered into conversation with him, and evenpushed against him, to make him feel that he was not a thing, but aperson. But Vronsky gazed at him exactly as he did at the lamp, and theyoung man made a wry face, feeling that he was losing hisself-possession under the oppression of this refusal to recognize him asa person.

  Vronsky saw nothing and no one. He felt himself a king, not because hebelieved that he had made an impression on Anna--he did not yet believethat,--but because the impression she had made on him gave him happinessand pride.

  What would come of it all he did not know, he did not even think. Hefelt that all his forces, hitherto dissipated, wasted, were centered onone thing, and bent with fearful energy on one blissful goal. And he washappy at it. He knew only that he had told her the truth, that he hadcome where she was, that all the happiness of his life, the only meaningin life for him, now lay in seeing and hearing her. And when he got outof the carriage at Bologova to get some seltzer water, and caught sightof Anna, involuntarily his first word had told her just what he thought.And he was glad he had told her it, that she knew it now and wasthinking of it. He did not sleep all night. When he was back in thecarriage, he kept unceasingly going over every position in which he hadseen her, every word she had uttered, and before his fancy, making hisheart faint with emotion, floated pictures of a possible future.

  When he got out of the train at Petersburg, he felt after his sleeplessnight as keen and fresh as after a cold bath. He paused near hiscompartment, waiting for her to get out. "Once more," he said tohimself, smiling unconsciously, "once more I shall see her walk, herface; she will say something, turn her head, glance, smile, maybe." Butbefore he caught sight of her, he saw her husband, whom thestation-master was deferentially escorting through the crowd. "Ah, yes!The husband." Only now for the first time did Vronsky realize clearlythe fact that there was a person attached to her, a husband. He knewthat she had a husband, but had hardly believed in his existence, andonly now fully believed in him, with his head and shoulders, and hislegs clad in black trousers; especially when he saw this husband calmlytake her arm with a sense of property.

  Seeing Alexey Alexandrovitch with his Petersburg face and severelyself-confident figure, in his round hat, with his rather prominentspine, he believed in him, and was aware of a disagreeable sensation,such as a man might feel tortured by thirst, who, on reaching a spring,should find a dog, a sheep, or a pig, who has drunk of it and muddiedthe water. Alexey Alexandrovitch's manner of walking, with a swing ofthe hips and flat feet, particularly annoyed Vronsky. He could recognizein no one but himself an indubitable right to love her. But she wasstill the same, and the sight of her affected him the same way,physically reviving him, stirring him, and filling his soul withrapture. He told his German valet, who ran up to him from the secondclass, to take his things and go on, and he himself went up to her. Hesaw the first meeting between the husband and wife, and noted with alover's insight the signs of slight reserve with which she spoke to herhusband. "No, she does not love him and cannot love him," he decided tohimself.

  At the moment when he was approaching Anna Arkadyevna he noticed toowith joy that she was conscious of his being near, and looked round, andseeing him, turned again to her husband.

  "Have you passed a good night?" he asked, bowing to her and her husbandtogether, and leaving it up to Alexey Alexandrovitch to accept the bowon his own account, and to recognize it or not, as he might see fit.

  "Thank you, very good," she answered.

  Her face looked weary, and there was not that play of eagerness in it,peeping out in her smile and her eyes; but for a single instant, as sheglanced at him, there was a flash of something in her eyes, and althoughthe flash died away at once, he was happy for that moment. She glancedat her husband to find out whether he knew Vronsky. AlexeyAlexandrovitch looked at Vronsky with displeasure, vaguely recalling whothis was. Vronsky's composure and self-confidence here struck, like ascythe against a stone, upon the cold self-confidence of AlexeyAlexandrovitch.

  "Count Vronsky," said Anna.

  "Ah! We are acquainted, I believe," said Alexey Alexandrovitchindifferently, giving his hand.

  "You set off with the mother and you return with the son," he said,articulating each syllable, as though each were a separate favor he wasbestowing.

  "You're back from leave, I suppose?" he said, and without waiting for areply, he turned to his wife in his jesting tone: "Well, were a greatmany tears shed at Moscow at parting?"

  By addressing his wife like this he gave Vronsky to understand that hewished to be left alone, and, turning slightly towards him, he touchedhis hat; but Vronsky turned to Anna Arkadyevna.

  "I hope I may have the honor of calling on you," he said.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch glanced with his weary eyes at Vronsky.

  "Delighted," he said coldly. "On Mondays we're at home. Most fortunate,"he said to his wife, dismissing Vronsky altogether, "that I should justhave half an hour to meet you, so that I can prove my devotion," he wenton in the same jesting tone.

  "You lay too much stress on your devotion for me to value it much," sheresponded in the same jesting tone, involuntarily listening to the soundof Vronsky's steps behind them. "But what has it to do with me?" shesaid to herself, and she began asking her husband how Seryozha had goton without her.

  "Oh, capitally! Mariette says he has been very good, And ... I mustdisappoint you ... but he has not missed you as your husband has. Butonce more _merci,_ my dear, for giving me a day. Our dear _Samovar_ willbe delighted." (He used to call the Countess Lidia Ivanovna, well knownin society, a samovar, because she was always bubbling over withexcitement.) "She has been continually asking after you. And, do youknow, if I may venture to advise you, you should go and see her today.You know how she takes everything to heart. Just now, with all her owncares, she's anxious about the Oblonskys being brought together."

  The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a friend of her husband's, and thecenter of that one of the coteries of the Petersburg world with whichAnna was, through her husband, in the closest relations.

  "But you know I wrote to her?"

  "Still she'll want to hear details. Go and see her, if you're not tootired, my dear. Well, Kondraty will take you in the carriage, while I goto my committee. I shall not be alone at dinner again," AlexeyAlexandrovitch went on, no longer in a sarcastic tone. "You wouldn'tbelieve how I've missed..." And with a long pressure of her hand and ameaning smile, he put her in her carriage.

 

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