Anna karenina, p.63
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       Anna Karenina, p.63

           graf Leo Tolstoy

  Chapter 29

  Everyone was loudly expressing disapprobation, everyone was repeating aphrase some one had uttered--"The lions and gladiators will be the nextthing," and everyone was feeling horrified; so that when Vronsky fell tothe ground, and Anna moaned aloud, there was nothing very out of the wayin it. But afterwards a change came over Anna's face which really wasbeyond decorum. She utterly lost her head. She began fluttering like acaged bird, at one moment would have got up and moved away, at the nextturned to Betsy.

  "Let us go, let us go!" she said.

  But Betsy did not hear her. She was bending down, talking to a generalwho had come up to her.

  Alexey Alexandrovitch went up to Anna and courteously offered her hisarm.

  "Let us go, if you like," he said in French, but Anna was listening tothe general and did not notice her husband.

  "He's broken his leg too, so they say," the general was saying. "This isbeyond everything."

  Without answering her husband, Anna lifted her opera glass and gazedtowards the place where Vronsky had fallen; but it was so far off, andthere was such a crowd of people about it, that she could make outnothing. She laid down the opera glass, and would have moved away, butat that moment an officer galloped up and made some announcement to theTsar. Anna craned forward, listening.

  "Stiva! Stiva!" she cried to her brother.

  But her brother did not hear her. Again she would have moved away.

  "Once more I offer you my arm if you want to be going," said AlexeyAlexandrovitch, reaching towards her hand.

  She drew back from him with aversion, and without looking in his faceanswered:

  "No, no, let me be, I'll stay."

  She saw now that from the place of Vronsky's accident an officer wasrunning across the course towards the pavilion. Betsy waved herhandkerchief to him. The officer brought the news that the rider was notkilled, but the horse had broken its back.

  On hearing this Anna sat down hurriedly, and hid her face in her fan.Alexey Alexandrovitch saw that she was weeping, and could not controlher tears, nor even the sobs that were shaking her bosom. AlexeyAlexandrovitch stood so as to screen her, giving her time to recoverherself.

  "For the third time I offer you my arm," he said to her after a littletime, turning to her. Anna gazed at him and did not know what to say.Princess Betsy came to her rescue.

  "No, Alexey Alexandrovitch; I brought Anna and I promised to take herhome," put in Betsy.

  "Excuse me, princess," he said, smiling courteously but looking her veryfirmly in the face, "but I see that Anna's not very well, and I wish herto come home with me."

  Anna looked about her in a frightened way, got up submissively, and laidher hand on her husband's arm.

  "I'll send to him and find out, and let you know," Betsy whispered toher.

  As they left the pavilion, Alexey Alexandrovitch, as always, talked tothose he met, and Anna had, as always, to talk and answer; but she wasutterly beside herself, and moved hanging on her husband's arm as thoughin a dream.

  "Is he killed or not? Is it true? Will he come or not? Shall I see himtoday?" she was thinking.

  She took her seat in her husband's carriage in silence, and in silencedrove out of the crowd of carriages. In spite of all he had seen, AlexeyAlexandrovitch still did not allow himself to consider his wife's realcondition. He merely saw the outward symptoms. He saw that she wasbehaving unbecomingly, and considered it his duty to tell her so. But itwas very difficult for him not to say more, to tell her nothing butthat. He opened his mouth to tell her she had behaved unbecomingly, buthe could not help saying something utterly different.

  "What an inclination we all have, though, for these cruel spectacles,"he said. "I observe..."

  "Eh? I don't understand," said Anna contemptuously.

  He was offended, and at once began to say what he had meant to say.

  "I am obliged to tell you," he began.

  "So now we are to have it out," she thought, and she felt frightened.

  "I am obliged to tell you that your behavior has been unbecoming today,"he said to her in French.

  "In what way has my behavior been unbecoming?" she said aloud, turningher head swiftly and looking him straight in the face, not with thebright expression that seemed covering something, but with a look ofdetermination, under which she concealed with difficulty the dismay shewas feeling.

  "Mind," he said, pointing to the open window opposite the coachman.

  He got up and pulled up the window.

  "What did you consider unbecoming?" she repeated.

  "The despair you were unable to conceal at the accident to one of theriders."

  He waited for her to answer, but she was silent, looking straight beforeher.

  "I have already begged you so to conduct yourself in society that evenmalicious tongues can find nothing to say against you. There was a timewhen I spoke of your inward attitude, but I am not speaking of that now.Now I speak only of your external attitude. You have behaved improperly,and I would wish it not to occur again."

  She did not hear half of what he was saying; she felt panic-strickenbefore him, and was thinking whether it was true that Vronsky was notkilled. Was it of him they were speaking when they said the rider wasunhurt, but the horse had broken its back? She merely smiled with apretense of irony when he finished, and made no reply, because she hadnot heard what he said. Alexey Alexandrovitch had begun to speak boldly,but as he realized plainly what he was speaking of, the dismay she wasfeeling infected him too. He saw the smile, and a strangemisapprehension came over him.

  "She is smiling at my suspicions. Yes, she will tell me directly whatshe told me before; that there is no foundation for my suspicions, thatit's absurd."

  At that moment, when the revelation of everything was hanging over him,there was nothing he expected so much as that she would answer mockinglyas before that his suspicions were absurd and utterly groundless. Soterrible to him was what he knew that now he was ready to believeanything. But the expression of her face, scared and gloomy, did not nowpromise even deception.

  "Possibly I was mistaken," said he. "If so, I beg your pardon."

  "No, you were not mistaken," she said deliberately, looking desperatelyinto his cold face. "You were not mistaken. I was, and I could not helpbeing in despair. I hear you, but I am thinking of him. I love him, I amhis mistress; I can't bear you; I'm afraid of you, and I hate you....You can do what you like to me."

  And dropping back into the corner of the carriage, she broke into sobs,hiding her face in her hands. Alexey Alexandrovitch did not stir, andkept looking straight before him. But his whole face suddenly bore thesolemn rigidity of the dead, and his expression did not change duringthe whole time of the drive home. On reaching the house he turned hishead to her, still with the same expression.

  "Very well! But I expect a strict observance of the external forms ofpropriety till such time"--his voice shook--"as I may take measures tosecure my honor and communicate them to you."

  He got out first and helped her to get out. Before the servants hepressed her hand, took his seat in the carriage, and drove back toPetersburg. Immediately afterwards a footman came from Princess Betsyand brought Anna a note.

  "I sent to Alexey to find out how he is, and he writes me he is quitewell and unhurt, but in despair."

  "So _he_ will be here," she thought. "What a good thing I told him all!"

  She glanced at her watch. She had still three hours to wait, and thememories of their last meeting set her blood in flame.

  "My God, how light it is! It's dreadful, but I do love to see his face,and I do love this fantastic light.... My husband! Oh! yes.... Well,thank God! everything's over with him."

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