Anna karenina, p.61
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       Anna Karenina, p.61

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 27

  Anna was upstairs, standing before the looking glass, and, withAnnushka's assistance, pinning the last ribbon on her gown when sheheard carriage wheels crunching the gravel at the entrance.

  "It's too early for Betsy," she thought, and glancing out of the windowshe caught sight of the carriage and the black hat of AlexeyAlexandrovitch, and the ears that she knew so well sticking up each sideof it. "How unlucky! Can he be going to stay the night?" she wondered,and the thought of all that might come of such a chance struck her as soawful and terrible that, without dwelling on it for a moment, she wentdown to meet him with a bright and radiant face; and conscious of thepresence of that spirit of falsehood and deceit in herself that she hadcome to know of late, she abandoned herself to that spirit and begantalking, hardly knowing what she was saying.

  "Ah, how nice of you!" she said, giving her husband her hand, andgreeting Sludin, who was like one of the family, with a smile. "You'restaying the night, I hope?" was the first word the spirit of falsehoodprompted her to utter; "and now we'll go together. Only it's a pity I'vepromised Betsy. She's coming for me."

  Alexey Alexandrovitch knit his brows at Betsy's name.

  "Oh, I'm not going to separate the inseparables," he said in his usualbantering tone. "I'm going with Mihail Vassilievitch. I'm orderedexercise by the doctors too. I'll walk, and fancy myself at the springsagain."

  "There's no hurry," said Anna. "Would you like tea?"

  She rang.

  "Bring in tea, and tell Seryozha that Alexey Alexandrovitch is here.Well, tell me, how have you been? Mihail Vassilievitch, you've not beento see me before. Look how lovely it is out on the terrace," she said,turning first to one and then to the other.

  She spoke very simply and naturally, but too much and too fast. She wasthe more aware of this from noticing in the inquisitive look MihailVassilievitch turned on her that he was, as it were, keeping watch onher.

  Mihail Vassilievitch promptly went out on the terrace.

  She sat down beside her husband.

  "You don't look quite well," she said.

  "Yes," he said; "the doctor's been with me today and wasted an hour ofmy time. I feel that some one of our friends must have sent him: myhealth's so precious, it seems."

  "No; what did he say?"

  She questioned him about his health and what he had been doing, andtried to persuade him to take a rest and come out to her.

  All this she said brightly, rapidly, and with a peculiar brilliance inher eyes. But Alexey Alexandrovitch did not now attach any specialsignificance to this tone of hers. He heard only her words and gave themonly the direct sense they bore. And he answered simply, thoughjestingly. There was nothing remarkable in all this conversation, butnever after could Anna recall this brief scene without an agonizing pangof shame.

  Seryozha came in preceded by his governess. If Alexey Alexandrovitch hadallowed himself to observe he would have noticed the timid andbewildered eyes with which Seryozha glanced first at his father and thenat his mother. But he would not see anything, and he did not see it.

  "Ah, the young man! He's grown. Really, he's getting quite a man. Howare you, young man?"

  And he gave his hand to the scared child. Seryozha had been shy of hisfather before, and now, ever since Alexey Alexandrovitch had taken tocalling him young man, and since that insoluble question had occurred tohim whether Vronsky were a friend or a foe, he avoided his father. Helooked round towards his mother as though seeking shelter. It was onlywith his mother that he was at ease. Meanwhile, Alexey Alexandrovitchwas holding his son by the shoulder while he was speaking to thegoverness, and Seryozha was so miserably uncomfortable that Anna saw hewas on the point of tears.

  Anna, who had flushed a little the instant her son came in, noticingthat Seryozha was uncomfortable, got up hurriedly, took AlexeyAlexandrovitch's hand from her son's shoulder, and kissing the boy, ledhim out onto the terrace, and quickly came back.

  "It's time to start, though," said she, glancing at her watch. "How isit Betsy doesn't come?..."

  "Yes," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, and getting up, he folded his handsand cracked his fingers. "I've come to bring you some money, too, fornightingales, we know, can't live on fairy tales," he said. "You wantit, I expect?"

  "No, I don't ... yes, I do," she said, not looking at him, andcrimsoning to the roots of her hair. "But you'll come back here afterthe races, I suppose?"

  "Oh, yes!" answered Alexey Alexandrovitch. "And here's the glory ofPeterhof, Princess Tverskaya," he added, looking out of the window atthe elegant English carriage with the tiny seats placed extremely high."What elegance! Charming! Well, let us be starting too, then."

  Princess Tverskaya did not get out of her carriage, but her groom, inhigh boots, a cape, and black hat, darted out at the entrance.

  "I'm going; good-bye!" said Anna, and kissing her son, she went up toAlexey Alexandrovitch and held out her hand to him. "It was ever so niceof you to come."

  Alexey Alexandrovitch kissed her hand.

  "Well, _au revoir_, then! You'll come back for some tea; that'sdelightful!" she said, and went out, gay and radiant. But as soon as sheno longer saw him, she was aware of the spot on her hand that his lipshad touched, and she shuddered with repulsion.

 
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