Anna karenina, p.60
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       Anna Karenina, p.60

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 26

  The external relations of Alexey Alexandrovitch and his wife hadremained unchanged. The sole difference lay in the fact that he was morebusily occupied than ever. As in former years, at the beginning of thespring he had gone to a foreign watering-place for the sake of hishealth, deranged by the winter's work that every year grew heavier. Andjust as always he returned in July and at once fell to work as usualwith increased energy. As usual, too, his wife had moved for the summerto a villa out of town, while he remained in Petersburg. From the dateof their conversation after the party at Princess Tverskaya's he hadnever spoken again to Anna of his suspicions and his jealousies, andthat habitual tone of his bantering mimicry was the most convenient tonepossible for his present attitude to his wife. He was a little colder tohis wife. He simply seemed to be slightly displeased with her for thatfirst midnight conversation, which she had repelled. In his attitude toher there was a shade of vexation, but nothing more. "You would not beopen with me," he seemed to say, mentally addressing her; "so much theworse for you. Now you may beg as you please, but I won't be open withyou. So much the worse for you!" he said mentally, like a man who, aftervainly attempting to extinguish a fire, should fly in a rage with hisvain efforts and say, "Oh, very well then! you shall burn for this!"This man, so subtle and astute in official life, did not realize all thesenselessness of such an attitude to his wife. He did not realize it,because it was too terrible to him to realize his actual position, andhe shut down and locked and sealed up in his heart that secret placewhere lay hid his feelings towards his family, that is, his wife andson. He who had been such a careful father, had from the end of thatwinter become peculiarly frigid to his son, and adopted to him just thesame bantering tone he used with his wife. "Aha, young man!" was thegreeting with which he met him.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch asserted and believed that he had never in anyprevious year had so much official business as that year. But he was notaware that he sought work for himself that year, that this was one ofthe means for keeping shut that secret place where lay hid his feelingstowards his wife and son and his thoughts about them, which became moreterrible the longer they lay there. If anyone had had the right to askAlexey Alexandrovitch what he thought of his wife's behavior, the mildand peaceable Alexey Alexandrovitch would have made no answer, but hewould have been greatly angered with any man who should question him onthat subject. For this reason there positively came into AlexeyAlexandrovitch's face a look of haughtiness and severity whenever anyoneinquired after his wife's health. Alexey Alexandrovitch did not want tothink at all about his wife's behavior, and he actually succeeded in notthinking about it at all.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch's permanent summer villa was in Peterhof, and theCountess Lidia Ivanovna used as a rule to spend the summer there, closeto Anna, and constantly seeing her. That year Countess Lidia Ivanovnadeclined to settle in Peterhof, was not once at Anna Arkadyevna's, andin conversation with Alexey Alexandrovitch hinted at the unsuitabilityof Anna's close intimacy with Betsy and Vronsky. Alexey Alexandrovitchsternly cut her short, roundly declaring his wife to be above suspicion,and from that time began to avoid Countess Lidia Ivanovna. He did notwant to see, and did not see, that many people in society cast dubiousglances on his wife; he did not want to understand, and did notunderstand, why his wife had so particularly insisted on staying atTsarskoe, where Betsy was staying, and not far from the camp ofVronsky's regiment. He did not allow himself to think about it, and hedid not think about it; but all the same though he never admitted it tohimself, and had no proofs, not even suspicious evidence, in the bottomof his heart he knew beyond all doubt that he was a deceived husband,and he was profoundly miserable about it.

  How often during those eight years of happy life with his wife AlexeyAlexandrovitch had looked at other men's faithless wives and otherdeceived husbands and asked himself: "How can people descend to that?how is it they don't put an end to such a hideous position?" But now,when the misfortune had come upon himself, he was so far from thinkingof putting an end to the position that he would not recognize it at all,would not recognize it just because it was too awful, too unnatural.

  Since his return from abroad Alexey Alexandrovitch had twice been attheir country villa. Once he dined there, another time he spent theevening there with a party of friends, but he had not once stayed thenight there, as it had been his habit to do in previous years.

  The day of the races had been a very busy day for Alexey Alexandrovitch;but when mentally sketching out the day in the morning, he made up hismind to go to their country house to see his wife immediately afterdinner, and from there to the races, which all the Court were towitness, and at which he was bound to be present. He was going to seehis wife, because he had determined to see her once a week to keep upappearances. And besides, on that day, as it was the fifteenth, he hadto give his wife some money for her expenses, according to their usualarrangement.

  With his habitual control over his thoughts, though he thought all thisabout his wife, he did not let his thoughts stray further in regard toher.

  That morning was a very full one for Alexey Alexandrovitch. The eveningbefore, Countess Lidia Ivanovna had sent him a pamphlet by a celebratedtraveler in China, who was staying in Petersburg, and with it sheenclosed a note begging him to see the traveler himself, as he was anextremely interesting person from various points of view, and likely tobe useful. Alexey Alexandrovitch had not had time to read the pamphletthrough in the evening, and finished it in the morning. Then peoplebegan arriving with petitions, and there came the reports, interviews,appointments, dismissals, apportionment of rewards, pensions, grants,notes, the workaday round, as Alexey Alexandrovitch called it, thatalways took up so much time. Then there was private business of his own,a visit from the doctor and the steward who managed his property. Thesteward did not take up much time. He simply gave Alexey Alexandrovitchthe money he needed together with a brief statement of the position ofhis affairs, which was not altogether satisfactory, as it had happenedthat during that year, owing to increased expenses, more had been paidout than usual, and there was a deficit. But the doctor, a celebratedPetersburg doctor, who was an intimate acquaintance of AlexeyAlexandrovitch, took up a great deal of time. Alexey Alexandrovitch hadnot expected him that day, and was surprised at his visit, and stillmore so when the doctor questioned him very carefully about his health,listened to his breathing, and tapped at his liver. AlexeyAlexandrovitch did not know that his friend Lidia Ivanovna, noticingthat he was not as well as usual that year, had begged the doctor to goand examine him. "Do this for my sake," the Countess Lidia Ivanovna hadsaid to him.

  "I will do it for the sake of Russia, countess," replied the doctor.

  "A priceless man!" said the Countess Lidia Ivanovna.

  The doctor was extremely dissatisfied with Alexey Alexandrovitch. Hefound the liver considerably enlarged, and the digestive powersweakened, while the course of mineral waters had been quite withouteffect. He prescribed more physical exercise as far as possible, and asfar as possible less mental strain, and above all no worry--in otherwords, just what was as much out of Alexey Alexandrovitch's power asabstaining from breathing. Then he withdrew, leaving in AlexeyAlexandrovitch an unpleasant sense that something was wrong with him,and that there was no chance of curing it.

  As he was coming away, the doctor chanced to meet on the staircase anacquaintance of his, Sludin, who was secretary of AlexeyAlexandrovitch's department. They had been comrades at the university,and though they rarely met, they thought highly of each other and wereexcellent friends, and so there was no one to whom the doctor would havegiven his opinion of a patient so freely as to Sludin.

  "How glad I am you've been seeing him!" said Sludin. "He's not well, andI fancy.... Well, what do you think of him?"

  "I'll tell you," said the doctor, beckoning over Sludin's head to hiscoachman to bring the carriage round. "It's just this," said the doctor,taking a finger of his kid glove in his white hands and pulling it, "ifyou don't strain the strin
gs, and then try to break them, you'll find ita difficult job; but strain a string to its very utmost, and the mereweight of one finger on the strained string will snap it. And with hisclose assiduity, his conscientious devotion to his work, he's strainedto the utmost; and there's some outside burden weighing on him, and nota light one," concluded the doctor, raising his eyebrows significantly."Will you be at the races?" he added, as he sank into his seat in thecarriage.

  "Yes, yes, to be sure; it does waste a lot of time," the doctorresponded vaguely to some reply of Sludin's he had not caught.

  Directly after the doctor, who had taken up so much time, came thecelebrated traveler, and Alexey Alexandrovitch, by means of the pamphlethe had only just finished reading and his previous acquaintance with thesubject, impressed the traveler by the depth of his knowledge of thesubject and the breadth and enlightenment of his view of it.

  At the same time as the traveler there was announced a provincialmarshal of nobility on a visit to Petersburg, with whom AlexeyAlexandrovitch had to have some conversation. After his departure, hehad to finish the daily routine of business with his secretary, and thenhe still had to drive round to call on a certain great personage on amatter of grave and serious import. Alexey Alexandrovitch only justmanaged to be back by five o'clock, his dinner-hour, and after diningwith his secretary, he invited him to drive with him to his countryvilla and to the races.

  Though he did not acknowledge it to himself, Alexey Alexandrovitchalways tried nowadays to secure the presence of a third person in hisinterviews with his wife.

 
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