Anna karenina, p.52
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       Anna Karenina, p.52

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 18

  Although all Vronsky's inner life was absorbed in his passion, hisexternal life unalterably and inevitably followed along the oldaccustomed lines of his social and regimental ties and interests. Theinterests of his regiment took an important place in Vronsky's life,both because he was fond of the regiment, and because the regiment wasfond of him. They were not only fond of Vronsky in his regiment, theyrespected him too, and were proud of him; proud that this man, with hisimmense wealth, his brilliant education and abilities, and the path openbefore him to every kind of success, distinction, and ambition, haddisregarded all that, and of all the interests of life had the interestsof his regiment and his comrades nearest to his heart. Vronsky was awareof his comrades' view of him, and in addition to his liking for thelife, he felt bound to keep up that reputation.

  It need not be said that he did not speak of his love to any of hiscomrades, nor did he betray his secret even in the wildest drinkingbouts (though indeed he was never so drunk as to lose all control ofhimself). And he shut up any of his thoughtless comrades who attemptedto allude to his connection. But in spite of that, his love was known toall the town; everyone guessed with more or less confidence at hisrelations with Madame Karenina. The majority of the younger men enviedhim for just what was the most irksome factor in his love--the exaltedposition of Karenin, and the consequent publicity of their connection insociety.

  The greater number of the young women, who envied Anna and had long beenweary of hearing her called _virtuous_, rejoiced at the fulfillment oftheir predictions, and were only waiting for a decisive turn in publicopinion to fall upon her with all the weight of their scorn. They werealready making ready their handfuls of mud to fling at her when theright moment arrived. The greater number of the middle-aged people andcertain great personages were displeased at the prospect of theimpending scandal in society.

  Vronsky's mother, on hearing of his connection, was at first pleased atit, because nothing to her mind gave such a finishing touch to abrilliant young man as a _liaison_ in the highest society; she waspleased, too, that Madame Karenina, who had so taken her fancy, and hadtalked so much of her son, was, after all, just like all other prettyand well-bred women,--at least according to the Countess Vronskaya'sideas. But she had heard of late that her son had refused a positionoffered him of great importance to his career, simply in order to remainin the regiment, where he could be constantly seeing Madame Karenina.She learned that great personages were displeased with him on thisaccount, and she changed her opinion. She was vexed, too, that from allshe could learn of this connection it was not that brilliant, graceful,worldly _liaison_ which she would have welcomed, but a sort ofWertherish, desperate passion, so she was told, which might well leadhim into imprudence. She had not seen him since his abrupt departurefrom Moscow, and she sent her elder son to bid him come to see her.

  This elder son, too, was displeased with his younger brother. He did notdistinguish what sort of love his might be, big or little, passionate orpassionless, lasting or passing (he kept a ballet girl himself, thoughhe was the father of a family, so he was lenient in these matters), buthe knew that this love affair was viewed with displeasure by those whomit was necessary to please, and therefore he did not approve of hisbrother's conduct.

  Besides the service and society, Vronsky had another greatinterest--horses; he was passionately fond of horses.

  That year races and a steeplechase had been arranged for the officers.Vronsky had put his name down, bought a thoroughbred English mare, andin spite of his love affair, he was looking forward to the races withintense, though reserved, excitement...

  These two passions did not interfere with one another. On the contrary,he needed occupation and distraction quite apart from his love, so as torecruit and rest himself from the violent emotions that agitated him.

 
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