Anna karenina, p.56
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       Anna Karenina, p.56

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 22

  The rain did not last long, and by the time Vronsky arrived, hisshaft-horse trotting at full speed and dragging the trace-horsesgalloping through the mud, with their reins hanging loose, the sun hadpeeped out again, the roofs of the summer villas and the old limetreesin the gardens on both sides of the principal streets sparkled with wetbrilliance, and from the twigs came a pleasant drip and from the roofsrushing streams of water. He thought no more of the shower spoiling therace course, but was rejoicing now that--thanks to the rain--he would besure to find her at home and alone, as he knew that AlexeyAlexandrovitch, who had lately returned from a foreign watering place,had not moved from Petersburg.

  Hoping to find her alone, Vronsky alighted, as he always did, to avoidattracting attention, before crossing the bridge, and walked to thehouse. He did not go up the steps to the street door, but went into thecourt.

  "Has your master come?" he asked a gardener.

  "No, sir. The mistress is at home. But will you please go to the frontdoor; there are servants there," the gardener answered. "They'll openthe door."

  "No, I'll go in from the garden."

  And feeling satisfied that she was alone, and wanting to take her bysurprise, since he had not promised to be there today, and she wouldcertainly not expect him to come before the races, he walked, holdinghis sword and stepping cautiously over the sandy path, bordered withflowers, to the terrace that looked out upon the garden. Vronsky forgotnow all that he had thought on the way of the hardships and difficultiesof their position. He thought of nothing but that he would see herdirectly, not in imagination, but living, all of her, as she was inreality. He was just going in, stepping on his whole foot so as not tocreak, up the worn steps of the terrace, when he suddenly rememberedwhat he always forgot, and what caused the most torturing side of hisrelations with her, her son with his questioning--hostile, as hefancied--eyes.

  This boy was more often than anyone else a check upon their freedom.When he was present, both Vronsky and Anna did not merely avoid speakingof anything that they could not have repeated before everyone; they didnot even allow themselves to refer by hints to anything the boy did notunderstand. They had made no agreement about this, it had settleditself. They would have felt it wounding themselves to deceive thechild. In his presence they talked like acquaintances. But in spite ofthis caution, Vronsky often saw the child's intent, bewildered glancefixed upon him, and a strange shyness, uncertainty, at one timefriendliness, at another, coldness and reserve, in the boy's manner tohim; as though the child felt that between this man and his mother thereexisted some important bond, the significance of which he could notunderstand.

  As a fact, the boy did feel that he could not understand this relation,and he tried painfully, and was not able to make clear to himself whatfeeling he ought to have for this man. With a child's keen instinct forevery manifestation of feeling, he saw distinctly that his father, hisgoverness, his nurse,--all did not merely dislike Vronsky, but looked onhim with horror and aversion, though they never said anything about him,while his mother looked on him as her greatest friend.

  "What does it mean? Who is he? How ought I to love him? If I don't know,it's my fault; either I'm stupid or a naughty boy," thought the child.And this was what caused his dubious, inquiring, sometimes hostile,expression, and the shyness and uncertainty which Vronsky found soirksome. This child's presence always and infallibly called up inVronsky that strange feeling of inexplicable loathing which he hadexperienced of late. This child's presence called up both in Vronsky andin Anna a feeling akin to the feeling of a sailor who sees by thecompass that the direction in which he is swiftly moving is far from theright one, but that to arrest his motion is not in his power, that everyinstant is carrying him further and further away, and that to admit tohimself his deviation from the right direction is the same as admittinghis certain ruin.

  This child, with his innocent outlook upon life, was the compass thatshowed them the point to which they had departed from what they knew,but did not want to know.

  This time Seryozha was not at home, and she was completely alone. Shewas sitting on the terrace waiting for the return of her son, who hadgone out for his walk and been caught in the rain. She had sent amanservant and a maid out to look for him. Dressed in a white gown,deeply embroidered, she was sitting in a corner of the terrace behindsome flowers, and did not hear him. Bending her curly black head, shepressed her forehead against a cool watering pot that stood on theparapet, and both her lovely hands, with the rings he knew so well,clasped the pot. The beauty of her whole figure, her head, her neck, herhands, struck Vronsky every time as something new and unexpected. Hestood still, gazing at her in ecstasy. But, directly he would have madea step to come nearer to her, she was aware of his presence, pushed awaythe watering pot, and turned her flushed face towards him.

  "What's the matter? You are ill?" he said to her in French, going up toher. He would have run to her, but remembering that there might bespectators, he looked round towards the balcony door, and reddened alittle, as he always reddened, feeling that he had to be afraid and beon his guard.

  "No, I'm quite well," she said, getting up and pressing his outstretchedhand tightly. "I did not expect ... thee."

  "Mercy! what cold hands!" he said.

  "You startled me," she said. "I'm alone, and expecting Seryozha; he'sout for a walk; they'll come in from this side."

  But, in spite of her efforts to be calm, her lips were quivering.

  "Forgive me for coming, but I couldn't pass the day without seeing you,"he went on, speaking French, as he always did to avoid using the stiffRussian plural form, so impossibly frigid between them, and thedangerously intimate singular.

  "Forgive you? I'm so glad!"

  "But you're ill or worried," he went on, not letting go her hands andbending over her. "What were you thinking of?"

  "Always the same thing," she said, with a smile.

  She spoke the truth. If ever at any moment she had been asked what shewas thinking of, she could have answered truly: of the same thing, ofher happiness and her unhappiness. She was thinking, just when he cameupon her, of this: why was it, she wondered, that to others, to Betsy(she knew of her secret connection with Tushkevitch) it was all easy,while to her it was such torture? Today this thought gained specialpoignancy from certain other considerations. She asked him about theraces. He answered her questions, and, seeing that she was agitated,trying to calm her, he began telling her in the simplest tone thedetails of his preparations for the races.

  "Tell him or not tell him?" she thought, looking into his quiet,affectionate eyes. "He is so happy, so absorbed in his races that hewon't understand as he ought, he won't understand all the gravity ofthis fact to us."

  "But you haven't told me what you were thinking of when I came in," hesaid, interrupting his narrative; "please tell me!"

  She did not answer, and, bending her head a little, she lookedinquiringly at him from under her brows, her eyes shining under theirlong lashes. Her hand shook as it played with a leaf she had picked. Hesaw it, and his face expressed that utter subjection, that slavishdevotion, which had done so much to win her.

  "I see something has happened. Do you suppose I can be at peace, knowingyou have a trouble I am not sharing? Tell me, for God's sake," herepeated imploringly.

  "Yes, I shan't be able to forgive him if he does not realize all thegravity of it. Better not tell; why put him to the proof?" she thought,still staring at him in the same way, and feeling the hand that held theleaf was trembling more and more.

  "For God's sake!" he repeated, taking her hand.

  "Shall I tell you?"

  "Yes, yes, yes . . ."

  "I'm with child," she said, softly and deliberately. The leaf in herhand shook more violently, but she did not take her eyes off him,watching how he would take it. He turned white, would have saidsomething, but stopped; he dropped her hand, and his head sank on hisbreast. "Yes, he realizes all the gravity of it," she thought, andgratefully
she pressed his hand.

  But she was mistaken in thinking he realized the gravity of the fact asshe, a woman, realized it. On hearing it, he felt come upon him withtenfold intensity that strange feeling of loathing of someone. But atthe same time, he felt that the turning-point he had been longing forhad come now; that it was impossible to go on concealing things from herhusband, and it was inevitable in one way or another that they shouldsoon put an end to their unnatural position. But, besides that, heremotion physically affected him in the same way. He looked at her with alook of submissive tenderness, kissed her hand, got up, and, in silence,paced up and down the terrace.

  "Yes," he said, going up to her resolutely. "Neither you nor I havelooked on our relations as a passing amusement, and now our fate issealed. It is absolutely necessary to put an end"--he looked round as hespoke--"to the deception in which we are living."

  "Put an end? How put an end, Alexey?" she said softly.

  She was calmer now, and her face lighted up with a tender smile.

  "Leave your husband and make our life one."

  "It is one as it is," she answered, scarcely audibly.

  "Yes, but altogether; altogether."

  "But how, Alexey, tell me how?" she said in melancholy mockery at thehopelessness of her own position. "Is there any way out of such aposition? Am I not the wife of my husband?"

  "There is a way out of every position. We must take our line," he said."Anything's better than the position in which you're living. Of course,I see how you torture yourself over everything--the world and your sonand your husband."

  "Oh, not over my husband," she said, with a quiet smile. "I don't knowhim, I don't think of him. He doesn't exist."

  "You're not speaking sincerely. I know you. You worry about him too."

  "Oh, he doesn't even know," she said, and suddenly a hot flush came overher face; her cheeks, her brow, her neck crimsoned, and tears of shamecame into her eyes. "But we won't talk of him."

 

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