Anna karenina, p.32
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       Anna Karenina, p.32

           graf Leo Tolstoy

  Chapter 32

  The first person to meet Anna at home was her son. He dashed down thestairs to her, in spite of the governess's call, and with desperate joyshrieked: "Mother! mother!" Running up to her, he hung on her neck.

  "I told you it was mother!" he shouted to the governess. "I knew!"

  And her son, like her husband, aroused in Anna a feeling akin todisappointment. She had imagined him better than he was in reality. Shehad to let herself drop down to the reality to enjoy him as he reallywas. But even as he was, he was charming, with his fair curls, his blueeyes, and his plump, graceful little legs in tightly pulled-upstockings. Anna experienced almost physical pleasure in the sensation ofhis nearness, and his caresses, and moral soothing, when she met hissimple, confiding, and loving glance, and heard his naive questions.Anna took out the presents Dolly's children had sent him, and told herson what sort of little girl was Tanya at Moscow, and how Tanya couldread, and even taught the other children.

  "Why, am I not so nice as she?" asked Seryozha.

  "To me you're nicer than anyone in the world."

  "I know that," said Seryozha, smiling.

  Anna had not had time to drink her coffee when the Countess LidiaIvanovna was announced. The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a tall, stoutwoman, with an unhealthily sallow face and splendid, pensive black eyes.Anna liked her, but today she seemed to be seeing her for the first timewith all her defects.

  "Well, my dear, so you took the olive branch?" inquired Countess LidiaIvanovna, as soon as she came into the room.

  "Yes, it's all over, but it was all much less serious than we hadsupposed," answered Anna. "My _belle-soeur_ is in general too hasty."

  But Countess Lidia Ivanovna, though she was interested in everythingthat did not concern her, had a habit of never listening to whatinterested her; she interrupted Anna:

  "Yes, there's plenty of sorrow and evil in the world. I am so worriedtoday."

  "Oh, why?" asked Anna, trying to suppress a smile.

  "I'm beginning to be weary of fruitlessly championing the truth, andsometimes I'm quite unhinged by it. The Society of the Little Sisters"(this was a religiously-patriotic, philanthropic institution) "was goingsplendidly, but with these gentlemen it's impossible to do anything,"added Countess Lidia Ivanovna in a tone of ironical submission todestiny. "They pounce on the idea, and distort it, and then work it outso pettily and unworthily. Two or three people, your husband among them,understand all the importance of the thing, but the others simply dragit down. Yesterday Pravdin wrote to me..."

  Pravdin was a well-known Panslavist abroad, and Countess Lidia Ivanovnadescribed the purport of his letter.

  Then the countess told her of more disagreements and intrigues againstthe work of the unification of the churches, and departed in haste, asshe had that day to be at the meeting of some society and also at theSlavonic committee.

  "It was all the same before, of course; but why was it I didn't noticeit before?" Anna asked herself. "Or has she been very much irritatedtoday? It's really ludicrous; her object is doing good; she a Christian,yet she's always angry; and she always has enemies, and always enemiesin the name of Christianity and doing good."

  After Countess Lidia Ivanovna another friend came, the wife of a chiefsecretary, who told her all the news of the town. At three o'clock shetoo went away, promising to come to dinner. Alexey Alexandrovitch was atthe ministry. Anna, left alone, spent the time till dinner in assistingat her son's dinner (he dined apart from his parents) and in putting herthings in order, and in reading and answering the notes and letterswhich had accumulated on her table.

  The feeling of causeless shame, which she had felt on the journey, andher excitement, too, had completely vanished. In the habitual conditionsof her life she felt again resolute and irreproachable.

  She recalled with wonder her state of mind on the previous day. "Whatwas it? Nothing. Vronsky said something silly, which it was easy to puta stop to, and I answered as I ought to have done. To speak of it to myhusband would be unnecessary and out of the question. To speak of itwould be to attach importance to what has no importance." She rememberedhow she had told her husband of what was almost a declaration made herat Petersburg by a young man, one of her husband's subordinates, and howAlexey Alexandrovitch had answered that every woman living in the worldwas exposed to such incidents, but that he had the fullest confidence inher tact, and could never lower her and himself by jealousy. "So thenthere's no reason to speak of it? And indeed, thank God, there's nothingto speak of," she told herself.

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