Anna karenina, p.4
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       Anna Karenina, p.4

           graf Leo Tolstoy

  Chapter 4

  Darya Alexandrovna, in a dressing jacket, and with her now scanty, onceluxuriant and beautiful hair fastened up with hairpins on the nape ofher neck, with a sunken, thin face and large, startled eyes, whichlooked prominent from the thinness of her face, was standing among alitter of all sorts of things scattered all over the room, before anopen bureau, from which she was taking something. Hearing her husband'ssteps, she stopped, looking towards the door, and trying assiduously togive her features a severe and contemptuous expression. She felt she wasafraid of him, and afraid of the coming interview. She was justattempting to do what she had attempted to do ten times already in theselast three days--to sort out the children's things and her own, so as totake them to her mother's--and again she could not bring herself to dothis; but now again, as each time before, she kept saying to herself,"that things cannot go on like this, that she must take some step" topunish him, put him to shame, avenge on him some little part at least ofthe suffering he had caused her. She still continued to tell herselfthat she should leave him, but she was conscious that this wasimpossible; it was impossible because she could not get out of the habitof regarding him as her husband and loving him. Besides this, sherealized that if even here in her own house she could hardly manage tolook after her five children properly, they would be still worse offwhere she was going with them all. As it was, even in the course ofthese three days, the youngest was unwell from being given unwholesomesoup, and the others had almost gone without their dinner the daybefore. She was conscious that it was impossible to go away; but,cheating herself, she went on all the same sorting out her things andpretending she was going.

  Seeing her husband, she dropped her hands into the drawer of the bureauas though looking for something, and only looked round at him when hehad come quite up to her. But her face, to which she tried to give asevere and resolute expression, betrayed bewilderment and suffering.

  "Dolly!" he said in a subdued and timid voice. He bent his head towardshis shoulder and tried to look pitiful and humble, but for all that hewas radiant with freshness and health. In a rapid glance she scanned hisfigure that beamed with health and freshness. "Yes, he is happy andcontent!" she thought; "while I.... And that disgusting good nature,which every one likes him for and praises--I hate that good nature ofhis," she thought. Her mouth stiffened, the muscles of the cheekcontracted on the right side of her pale, nervous face.

  "What do you want?" she said in a rapid, deep, unnatural voice.

  "Dolly!" he repeated, with a quiver in his voice. "Anna is comingtoday."

  "Well, what is that to me? I can't see her!" she cried.

  "But you must, really, Dolly..."

  "Go away, go away, go away!" she shrieked, not looking at him, as thoughthis shriek were called up by physical pain.

  Stepan Arkadyevitch could be calm when he thought of his wife, he couldhope that she would _come round_, as Matvey expressed it, and couldquietly go on reading his paper and drinking his coffee; but when he sawher tortured, suffering face, heard the tone of her voice, submissive tofate and full of despair, there was a catch in his breath and a lump inhis throat, and his eyes began to shine with tears.

  "My God! what have I done? Dolly! For God's sake!.... You know...." Hecould not go on; there was a sob in his throat.

  She shut the bureau with a slam, and glanced at him.

  "Dolly, what can I say?.... One thing: forgive... Remember, cannot nineyears of my life atone for an instant...."

  She dropped her eyes and listened, expecting what he would say, as itwere beseeching him in some way or other to make her believedifferently.

  "--instant of passion?" he said, and would have gone on, but at thatword, as at a pang of physical pain, her lips stiffened again, and againthe muscles of her right cheek worked.

  "Go away, go out of the room!" she shrieked still more shrilly, "anddon't talk to me of your passion and your loathsomeness."

  She tried to go out, but tottered, and clung to the back of a chair tosupport herself. His face relaxed, his lips swelled, his eyes wereswimming with tears.

  "Dolly!" he said, sobbing now; "for mercy's sake, think of the children;they are not to blame! I am to blame, and punish me, make me expiate myfault. Anything I can do, I am ready to do anything! I am to blame, nowords can express how much I am to blame! But, Dolly, forgive me!"

  She sat down. He listened to her hard, heavy breathing, and he wasunutterably sorry for her. She tried several times to begin to speak,but could not. He waited.

  "You remember the children, Stiva, to play with them; but I rememberthem, and know that this means their ruin," she said--obviously one ofthe phrases she had more than once repeated to herself in the course ofthe last few days.

  She had called him "Stiva," and he glanced at her with gratitude, andmoved to take her hand, but she drew back from him with aversion.

  "I think of the children, and for that reason I would do anything in theworld to save them, but I don't myself know how to save them. By takingthem away from their father, or by leaving them with a viciousfather--yes, a vicious father.... Tell me, after what ... has happened,can we live together? Is that possible? Tell me, eh, is it possible?"she repeated, raising her voice, "after my husband, the father of mychildren, enters into a love affair with his own children's governess?"

  "But what could I do? what could I do?" he kept saying in a pitifulvoice, not knowing what he was saying, as his head sank lower and lower.

  "You are loathsome to me, repulsive!" she shrieked, getting more andmore heated. "Your tears mean nothing! You have never loved me; you haveneither heart nor honorable feeling! You are hateful to me, disgusting,a stranger--yes, a complete stranger!" With pain and wrath she utteredthe word so terrible to herself--_stranger_.

  He looked at her, and the fury expressed in her face alarmed and amazedhim. He did not understand how his pity for her exasperated her. She sawin him sympathy for her, but not love. "No, she hates me. She will notforgive me," he thought.

  "It is awful! awful!" he said.

  At that moment in the next room a child began to cry; probably it hadfallen down. Darya Alexandrovna listened, and her face suddenlysoftened.

  She seemed to be pulling herself together for a few seconds, as thoughshe did not know where she was, and what she was doing, and getting uprapidly, she moved towards the door.

  "Well, she loves my child," he thought, noticing the change of her faceat the child's cry, "my child: how can she hate me?"

  "Dolly, one word more," he said, following her.

  "If you come near me, I will call in the servants, the children! Theymay all know you are a scoundrel! I am going away at once, and you maylive here with your mistress!"

  And she went out, slamming the door.

  Stepan Arkadyevitch sighed, wiped his face, and with a subdued treadwalked out of the room. "Matvey says she will come round; but how? Idon't see the least chance of it. Ah, oh, how horrible it is! And howvulgarly she shouted," he said to himself, remembering her shriek andthe words--"scoundrel" and "mistress." "And very likely the maids werelistening! Horribly vulgar! horrible!" Stepan Arkadyevitch stood a fewseconds alone, wiped his face, squared his chest, and walked out of theroom.

  It was Friday, and in the dining room the German watchmaker was windingup the clock. Stepan Arkadyevitch remembered his joke about thispunctual, bald watchmaker, "that the German was wound up for a wholelifetime himself, to wind up watches," and he smiled. StepanArkadyevitch was fond of a joke: "And maybe she will come round! That'sa good expression, '_come round,_'" he thought. "I must repeat that."

  "Matvey!" he shouted. "Arrange everything with Darya in the sitting roomfor Anna Arkadyevna," he said to Matvey when he came in.

  "Yes, sir."

  Stepan Arkadyevitch put on his fur coat and went out onto the steps.

  "You won't dine at home?" said Matvey, seeing him off.

  "That's as it happens. But here's for the housekeeping," he said, takingten roubles from his pocketbook.
"That'll be enough."

  "Enough or not enough, we must make it do," said Matvey, slamming thecarriage door and stepping back onto the steps.

  Darya Alexandrovna meanwhile having pacified the child, and knowing fromthe sound of the carriage that he had gone off, went back again to herbedroom. It was her solitary refuge from the household cares whichcrowded upon her directly she went out from it. Even now, in the shorttime she had been in the nursery, the English governess and MatronaPhilimonovna had succeeded in putting several questions to her, whichdid not admit of delay, and which only she could answer: "What were thechildren to put on for their walk? Should they have any milk? Should nota new cook be sent for?"

  "Ah, let me alone, let me alone!" she said, and going back to herbedroom she sat down in the same place as she had sat when talking toher husband, clasping tightly her thin hands with the rings that slippeddown on her bony fingers, and fell to going over in her memory all theconversation. "He has gone! But has he broken it off with her?" shethought. "Can it be he sees her? Why didn't I ask him! No, no,reconciliation is impossible. Even if we remain in the same house, weare strangers--strangers forever!" She repeated again with specialsignificance the word so dreadful to her. "And how I loved him! my God,how I loved him!.... How I loved him! And now don't I love him? Don't Ilove him more than before? The most horrible thing is," she began, butdid not finish her thought, because Matrona Philimonovna put her head inat the door.

  "Let us send for my brother," she said; "he can get a dinner anyway, orwe shall have the children getting nothing to eat till six again, likeyesterday."

  "Very well, I will come directly and see about it. But did you send forsome new milk?"

  And Darya Alexandrovna plunged into the duties of the day, and drownedher grief in them for a time.

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