Anna karenina, p.84
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       Anna Karenina, p.84

           graf Leo Tolstoy

  Chapter 15

  Though Anna had obstinately and with exasperation contradicted Vronskywhen he told her their position was impossible, at the bottom of herheart she regarded her own position as false and dishonorable, and shelonged with her whole soul to change it. On the way home from the racesshe had told her husband the truth in a moment of excitement, and inspite of the agony she had suffered in doing so, she was glad of it.After her husband had left her, she told herself that she was glad, thatnow everything was made clear, and at least there would be no more lyingand deception. It seemed to her beyond doubt that her position was nowmade clear forever. It might be bad, this new position, but it would beclear; there would be no indefiniteness or falsehood about it. The painshe had caused herself and her husband in uttering those words would berewarded now by everything being made clear, she thought. That eveningshe saw Vronsky, but she did not tell him of what had passed between herand her husband, though, to make the position definite, it was necessaryto tell him.

  When she woke up next morning the first thing that rose to her mind waswhat she had said to her husband, and those words seemed to her so awfulthat she could not conceive now how she could have brought herself toutter those strange, coarse words, and could not imagine what would comeof it. But the words were spoken, and Alexey Alexandrovitch had goneaway without saying anything. "I saw Vronsky and did not tell him. Atthe very instant he was going away I would have turned him back and toldhim, but I changed my mind, because it was strange that I had not toldhim the first minute. Why was it I wanted to tell him and did not tellhim?" And in answer to this question a burning blush of shame spreadover her face. She knew what had kept her from it, she knew that she hadbeen ashamed. Her position, which had seemed to her simplified the nightbefore, suddenly struck her now as not only not simple, but asabsolutely hopeless. She felt terrified at the disgrace, of which shehad not ever thought before. Directly she thought of what her husbandwould do, the most terrible ideas came to her mind. She had a vision ofbeing turned out of the house, of her shame being proclaimed to all theworld. She asked herself where she should go when she was turned out ofthe house, and she could not find an answer.

  When she thought of Vronsky, it seemed to her that he did not love her,that he was already beginning to be tired of her, that she could notoffer herself to him, and she felt bitter against him for it. It seemedto her that the words that she had spoken to her husband, and hadcontinually repeated in her imagination, she had said to everyone, andeveryone had heard them. She could not bring herself to look those ofher own household in the face. She could not bring herself to call hermaid, and still less go downstairs and see her son and his governess.

  The maid, who had been listening at her door for a long while, came intoher room of her own accord. Anna glanced inquiringly into her face, andblushed with a scared look. The maid begged her pardon for coming in,saying that she had fancied the bell rang. She brought her clothes and anote. The note was from Betsy. Betsy reminded her that Liza Merkalovaand Baroness Shtoltz were coming to play croquet with her that morningwith their adorers, Kaluzhsky and old Stremov. "Come, if only as a studyin morals. I shall expect you," she finished.

  Anna read the note and heaved a deep sigh.

  "Nothing, I need nothing," she said to Annushka, who was rearranging thebottles and brushes on the dressing table. "You can go. I'll dress atonce and come down. I need nothing."

  Annushka went out, but Anna did not begin dressing, and sat in the sameposition, her head and hands hanging listlessly, and every now and thenshe shivered all over, seemed as though she would make some gesture,utter some word, and sank back into lifelessness again. She repeatedcontinually, "My God! my God!" But neither "God" nor "my" had anymeaning to her. The idea of seeking help in her difficulty in religionwas as remote from her as seeking help from Alexey Alexandrovitchhimself, although she had never had doubts of the faith in which she hadbeen brought up. She knew that the support of religion was possible onlyupon condition of renouncing what made up for her the whole meaning oflife. She was not simply miserable, she began to feel alarm at the newspiritual condition, never experienced before, in which she foundherself. She felt as though everything were beginning to be double inher soul, just as objects sometimes appear double to over-tired eyes.She hardly knew at times what it was she feared, and what she hoped for.Whether she feared or desired what had happened, or what was going tohappen, and exactly what she longed for, she could not have said.

  "Ah, what am I doing!" she said to herself, feeling a sudden thrill ofpain in both sides of her head. When she came to herself, she saw thatshe was holding her hair in both hands, each side of her temples, andpulling it. She jumped up, and began walking about.

  "The coffee is ready, and mademoiselle and Seryozha are waiting," saidAnnushka, coming back again and finding Anna in the same position.

  "Seryozha? What about Seryozha?" Anna asked, with sudden eagerness,recollecting her son's existence for the first time that morning.

  "He's been naughty, I think," answered Annushka with a smile.

  "In what way?"

  "Some peaches were lying on the table in the corner room. I think heslipped in and ate one of them on the sly."

  The recollection of her son suddenly roused Anna from the helplesscondition in which she found herself. She recalled the partly sincere,though greatly exaggerated, role of the mother living for her child,which she had taken up of late years, and she felt with joy that in theplight in which she found herself she had a support, quite apart fromher relation to her husband or to Vronsky. This support was her son. Inwhatever position she might be placed, she could not lose her son. Herhusband might put her to shame and turn her out, Vronsky might grow coldto her and go on living his own life apart (she thought of him againwith bitterness and reproach); she could not leave her son. She had anaim in life. And she must act; act to secure this relation to her son,so that he might not be taken from her. Quickly indeed, as quickly aspossible, she must take action before he was taken from her. She musttake her son and go away. Here was the one thing she had to do now. Sheneeded consolation. She must be calm, and get out of this insufferableposition. The thought of immediate action binding her to her son, ofgoing away somewhere with him, gave her this consolation.

  She dressed quickly, went downstairs, and with resolute steps walkedinto the drawing room, where she found, as usual, waiting for her, thecoffee, Seryozha, and his governess. Seryozha, all in white, with hisback and head bent, was standing at a table under a looking-glass, andwith an expression of intense concentration which she knew well, and inwhich he resembled his father, he was doing something to the flowers hecarried.

  The governess had a particularly severe expression. Seryozha screamedshrilly, as he often did, "Ah, mamma!" and stopped, hesitating whetherto go to greet his mother and put down the flowers, or to finish makingthe wreath and go with the flowers.

  The governess, after saying good-morning, began a long and detailedaccount of Seryozha's naughtiness, but Anna did not hear her; she wasconsidering whether she would take her with her or not. "No, I won'ttake her," she decided. "I'll go alone with my child."

  "Yes, it's very wrong," said Anna, and taking her son by the shouldershe looked at him, not severely, but with a timid glance that bewilderedand delighted the boy, and she kissed him. "Leave him to me," she saidto the astonished governess, and not letting go of her son, she sat downat the table, where coffee was set ready for her.

  "Mamma! I ... I ... didn't..." he said, trying to make out from herexpression what was in store for him in regard to the peaches.

  "Seryozha," she said, as soon as the governess had left the room, "thatwas wrong, but you'll never do it again, will you?... You love me?"

  She felt that the tears were coming into her eyes. "Can I help lovinghim?" she said to herself, looking deeply into his scared and at thesame time delighted eyes. "And can he ever join his father in punishingme? Is it possible he will not feel for me?" Tears were already flowingdown h
er face, and to hide them she got up abruptly and almost ran outon to the terrace.

  After the thunder showers of the last few days, cold, bright weather hadset in. The air was cold in the bright sun that filtered through thefreshly washed leaves.

  She shivered, both from the cold and from the inward horror which hadclutched her with fresh force in the open air.

  "Run along, run along to Mariette," she said to Seryozha, who hadfollowed her out, and she began walking up and down on the straw mattingof the terrace. "Can it be that they won't forgive me, won't understandhow it all couldn't be helped?" she said to herself.

  Standing still, and looking at the tops of the aspen trees waving in thewind, with their freshly washed, brightly shining leaves in the coldsunshine, she knew that they would not forgive her, that everyone andeverything would be merciless to her now as was that sky, that green.And again she felt that everything was split in two in her soul. "Imustn't, mustn't think," she said to herself. "I must get ready. To gowhere? When? Whom to take with me? Yes, to Moscow by the evening train.Annushka and Seryozha, and only the most necessary things. But first Imust write to them both." She went quickly indoors into her boudoir, satdown at the table, and wrote to her husband:--"After what has happened,I cannot remain any longer in your house. I am going away, and taking myson with me. I don't know the law, and so I don't know with which of theparents the son should remain; but I take him with me because I cannotlive without him. Be generous, leave him to me."

  Up to this point she wrote rapidly and naturally, but the appeal to hisgenerosity, a quality she did not recognize in him, and the necessity ofwinding up the letter with something touching, pulled her up. "Of myfault and my remorse I cannot speak, because..."

  She stopped again, finding no connection in her ideas. "No," she said toherself, "there's no need of anything," and tearing up the letter, shewrote it again, leaving out the allusion to generosity, and sealed itup.

  Another letter had to be written to Vronsky. "I have told my husband,"she wrote, and she sat a long while unable to write more. It was socoarse, so unfeminine. "And what more am I to write to him?" she said toherself. Again a flush of shame spread over her face; she recalled hiscomposure, and a feeling of anger against him impelled her to tear thesheet with the phrase she had written into tiny bits. "No need ofanything," she said to herself, and closing her blotting-case she wentupstairs, told the governess and the servants that she was going thatday to Moscow, and at once set to work to pack up her things.

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