Part 15 out of 22
On arriving in Petersburg, Vronsky and Anna stayed at one of the
best hotels; Vronsky apart in a lower story, Anna above with
her child, its nurse, and her maid, in a large suite of four
On the day of his arrival Vronsky went to his brother's. There
he found his mother, who had come from Moscow on business. His
mother and sister-in-law greeted him as usual: they asked him
about his stay abroad, and talked of their common acquaintances,
but did not let drop a single word in allusion to his connection
with Anna. His brother came the next morning to see Vronsky, and
of his own accord asked him about her, and Alexey Vronsky told
him directly that he looked upon his connection with Madame
Karenina as marriage; that he hoped to arrange a divorce, and
then to marry her, and until then he considered her as much a
wife as any other wife, and he begged him to tell their mother
and his wife so.
"If the world disapproves, I don't care," said Vronsky; "but if
my relations want to be on terms of relationship with me, they
will have to be on the same terms with my wife."
The elder brother, who had always a respect for his younger
brother's judgment, could not well tell whether he was right or
not till the world had decided the question; for his part he had
nothing against it, and with Alexey he went up to see Anna.
Before his brother, as before everyone, Vronsky addressed Anna
with a certain formality, treating her as he might a very
intimate friend, but it was understood that his brother knew
their real relations, and they talked about Anna's going to
In spite of all his social experience Vronsky was, in consequence
of the new position in which he was placed, laboring under a
strange misapprehension. One would have thought he must have
understood that society was closed for him and Anna; but now some
vague ideas had sprung up in his brain that this was only the
case in old-fashioned days, and that now with the rapidity of
modern progress (he had unconsciously become by now a partisan of
every sort of progress) the views of society had changed, and
that the question whether they would be received in society was
not a foregone conclusion. "Of course," he thought, "she would
not be received at court, but intimate friends can and must look
at it in the proper light." One may sit for several hours at a
stretch with one's legs crossed in the same position, if one
knows that there's nothing to prevent one's changing one's
position; but if a man knows that he must remain sitting so with
crossed legs, then cramps come on, the legs begin to twitch and
to strain towards the spot to which one would like to draw them.
This was what Vronsky was experiencing in regard to the world.
Though at the bottom of his heart he knew that the world was shut
on them, he put it to the test whether the world had not changed
by now and would not receive them. But he very quickly perceived
that though the world was open for him personally, it was closed
for Anna. Just as in the game of cat and mouse, the hands raised
for him were dropped to bar the way for Anna.
One of the first ladies of Petersburg society whom Vronsky saw
was his cousin Betsy.
"At last!" she greeted him joyfully. "And Anna? How glad I am!
Where are you stopping? I can fancy after your delightful
travels you must find our poor Petersburg horrid. I can fancy
your honeymoon in Rome. How about the divorce? Is that all
Vronsky noticed that Betsy's enthusiasm waned when she learned
that no divorce had as yet taken place.
"People will throw stones at me, I know," she said, "but I shall
come and see Anna; yes, I shall certainly come. You won't be
here long, I suppose?"
And she did certainly come to see Anna the same day, but her tone
was not at all the same as in former days. She unmistakably
prided herself on her courage, and wished Anna to appreciate the
fidelity of her friendship. She only stayed ten minutes, talking
of society gossip, and on leaving she said:
"You've never told me when the divorce is to be? Supposing I'm
ready to fling my cap over the mill, other starchy people will
give you the cold shoulder until you're married. And that's so
simple nowadays. Ca se fait. So you're going on Friday? Sorry
we shan't see each other again."
From Betsy's tone Vronsky might have grasped what he had to
expect from the world; but he made another effort in his own
family. His mother he did not reckon upon. He knew that his
mother, who had been so enthusiastic over Anna at their first
acquaintance, would have no mercy on her now for having ruined
her son's career. But he had more hope of Varya, his brother's
wife. He fancied she would not throw stones, and would go simply
and directly to see Anna, and would receive her in her own
The day after his arrival Vronsky went to her, and finding her
alone, expressed his wishes directly.
"You know, Alexey," she said after hearing him, "how fond I am of
you, and how ready I am to do anything for you; but I have not
spoken, because I knew I could be of no use to you and to Anna
Arkadyevna," she said, articulating the name "Anna Arkadyevna"
with particular care. "Don't suppose, please, that I judge her.
Never; perhaps in her place I should have done the same. I don't
and can't enter into that," she said, glancing timidly at his
gloomy face. "But one must call things by their names. You want
me to go and see her, to ask her here, and to rehabilitate her in
society; but do understand that I CANNOT do so. I have daughters
growing up, and I must live in the world for my husband's sake.
Well, I'm ready to come and see Anna Arkadyevna: she will
understand that I can't ask her here, or I should have to do so
in such a way that she would not meet people who look at things
differently; that would offend her. I can't raise her..."
"Oh, I don't regard her as fallen more than hundreds of women you
do receive!" Vronsky interrupted her still more gloomily, and he
got up in silence, understanding that his sister-in-law's
decision was not to be shaken.
"Alexey! don't be angry with me. Please understand that I'm not
to blame," began Varya, looking at him with a timid smile.
"I'm not angry with you," he said still as gloomily; "but I'm
sorry in two ways. I'm sorry, too, that this means breaking up
our friendship--if not breaking up, at least weakening it. You
will understand that for me, too, it cannot be otherwise."
And with that he left her.
Vronsky knew that further efforts were useless, and that he had
to spend these few days in Petersburg as though in a strange
town, avoiding every sort of relation with his own old circle in
order not to be exposed to the annoyances and humiliations which
were so intolerable to him. One of the most unpleasant features
of his position in Petersburg was that Alexey Alexandrovitch and
his name seemed to meet him everywhere. He could not begin to
talk of anything without the conversation turning on Alexey
Alexandrovitch; he could not go anywhere without risk of meeting
him. So at least it seemed to Vronsky, just as it seems to a man
with a sore finger that he is continually, as though on purpose,
grazing his sore finger on everything.
Their stay in Petersburg was the more painful to Vronsky that he
perceived all the time a sort of new mood that he could not
understand in Anna. At one time she would seem in love with him,
and then she would become cold, irritable, and impenetrable. She
was worrying over something, and keeping something back from him,
and did not seem to notice the humiliations which poisoned his
existence, and for her, with her delicate intuition, must have
been still more unbearable.
One of Anna's objects in coming back to Russia had been to see
her son. From the day she left Italy the thought of it had never
ceased to agitate her. And as she got nearer to Petersburg, the
delight and importance of this meeting grew ever greater in her
imagination. She did not even put to herself the question how to
arrange it. It seemed to her natural and simple to see her son
when she should be in the same town with him. But on her arrival
in Petersburg she was suddenly made distinctly aware of her
present position in society, and she grasped the fact that to
arrange this meeting was no easy matter.
She had now been two days in Petersburg. The thought of her son
never left her for a single instant, but she had not yet seen
him. To go straight to the house, where she might meet Alexey
Alexandrovitch, that she felt she had no right to do. She might
be refused admittance and insulted. To write and so enter into
relations with her husband--that it made her miserable to think
of doing; she could only be at peace when she did not think of
her husband. To get a glimpse of her son out walking, finding
out where and when he went out, was not enough for her; she had
so looked forward to this meeting, she had so much she must say
to him, she so longed to embrace him, to kiss him. Seryozha's
old nurse might be a help to her and show her what to do. But
the nurse was not now living in Alexey Alexandrovitch's house.
In this uncertainty, and in efforts to find the nurse, two days
had slipped by.
Hearing of the close intimacy between Alexey Alexandrovitch and
Countess Lidia Ivanovna, Anna decided on the third day to write
to her a letter, which cost her great pains, and in which she
intentionally said that permission to see her son must depend on
her husband's generosity. She knew that if the letter were shown
to her husband, he would keep up his character of magnanimity,
and would not refuse her request.
The commissionaire who took the letter had brought her back the
most cruel and unexpected answer, that there was no answer. She
had never felt so humiliated as at the moment when, sending for
the commissionaire, she heard from him the exact account of how
he had waited, and how afterwards he had been told there was no
answer. Anna felt humiliated, insulted, but she saw that from
her point of view Countess Lidia Ivanovna was right. Her
suffering was the more poignant that she had to bear it in
solitude. She could not and would not share it with Vronsky.
She knew that to him, although he was the primary cause of her
distress, the question of her seeing her son would seem a matter
of very little consequence. She knew that he would never be
capable of understanding all the depth of her suffering, that for
his cool tone at any allusion to it she would begin to hate him.
And she dreaded that more than anything in the world, and so she
hid from him everything that related to her son. Spending the
whole day at home she considered ways of seeing her son, and had
reached a decision to write to her husband. She was just
composing this letter when she was handed the letter from Lidia
Ivanovna. The countess's silence had subdued and depressed her,
but the letter, all that she read between the lines in it, so
exasperated her, this malice was so revolting beside her
passionate, legitimate tenderness for her son, that she turned
against other people and left off blaming herself.
"This coldness--this pretense of feeling!" she said to herself.
"They must needs insult me and torture the child, and I am to
submit to it! Not on any consideration! She is worse than I am.
I don't lie, anyway." And she decided on the spot that next day,
Seryozha's birthday, she would go straight to her husband's
house, bribe or deceive the servants, but at any cost see her son
and overturn the hideous deception with which they were
encompassing the unhappy child.
She went to a toy shop, bought toys and thought over a plan of
action. She would go early in the morning at eight o'clock, when
Alexey Alexandrovitch would be certain not to be up. She would
have money in her hand to give the hall porter and the footman,
so that they should let her in, and not raising her veil, she
would say that she had come from Seryozha's godfather to
congratulate him, and that she had been charged to leave the toys
at his bedside. She had prepared everything but the words she
should say to her son. Often as she had dreamed of it, she could
never think of anything.
The next day, at eight o'clock in the morning, Anna got out of a
hired sledge and rang at the front entrance of her former home.
"Run and see what's wanted. Some lady," said Kapitonitch, who,
not yet dressed, in his overcoat and galoshes, had peeped out of
the window and seen a lady in a veil standing close up to the
door. His assistant, a lad Anna did not know, had no sooner
opened the door to her than she came in, and pulling a
three-rouble note out of her muff put it hurriedly into his hand.
"Seryozha--Sergey Alexeitch," she said, and was going on.
Scrutinizing the note, the porter's assistant stopped her at the
second glass door.
"Whom do you want?" he asked.
She did not hear his words and made no answer.
Noticing the embarrassment of the unknown lady, Kapitonitch went
out to her, opened the second door for her, and asked her what
she was pleased to want.
"From Prince Skorodumov for Sergey Alexeitch," she said.
"His honor's not up yet," said the porter, looking at her
Anna had not anticipated that the absolutely unchanged hall of
the house where she had lived for nine years would so greatly
affect her. Memories sweet and painful rose one after another in
her heart, and for a moment she forgot what she was here for.
"Would you kindly wait?" said Kapitonitch, taking off her fur
As he took off the cloak, Kapitonitch glanced at her face,
recognized her, and made her a low bow in silence.
"Please walk in, your excellency," he said to her.
She tried to say something, but her voice refused to utter any
sound; with a guilty and imploring glance at the old man she went
with light, swift steps up the stairs. Bent double, and his
galoshes catching in the steps, Kapitonitch ran after her, trying
to overtake her.
"The tutor's there; maybe he's not dressed. I'll let him know."
Anna still mounted the familiar staircase, not understanding what
the old man was saying.
"This way, to the left, if you please. Excuse its not being
tidy. His honor's in the old parlor now," the hall porter said,
panting. "Excuse me, wait a little, your excellency; I'll just
see," he said, and overtaking her, he opened the high door and
disappeared behind it. Anna stood still waiting. "He's only
just awake," said the hall porter, coming out. And at the very
instant the porter said this, Anna caught the sound of a childish
yawn. From the sound of this yawn alone she knew her son and
seemed to see him living before her eyes.
"Let me in; go away!" she said, and went in through the high
doorway. On the right of the door stood a bed, and sitting up in
the bed was the boy. His little body bent forward with his
nightshirt unbuttoned, he was stretching and still yawning. The
instant his lips came together they curved into a blissfully
sleepy smile, and with that smile he slowly and deliciously
rolled back again.
"Seryozha!" she whispered, going noiselessly up to him.
When she was parted from him, and all this latter time when she
had been feeling a fresh rush of love for him, she had pictured
him as he was at four years old, when she had loved him most of
all. Now he was not even the same as when she had left him; he
was still further from the four-year-old baby, more grown and
thinner. How thin his face was, how short his hair was! What
long hands! How he had changed since she left him! But it was
he with his head, his lips, his soft neck and broad little
"Seryozha!" she repeated just in the child's ear.
He raised himself again on his elbow, turned his tangled head
from side to side as though looking for something, and opened his
eyes. Slowly and inquiringly he looked for several seconds at
his mother standing motionless before him, then all at once he
smiled a blissful smile, and shutting his eyes, rolled not
backwards but towards her into her arms.
"Seryozha! my darling boy!" she said, breathing hard and putting
her arms round his plump little body. "Mother!" he said,
wriggling about in her arms so as to touch her hands with
different parts of him.
Smiling sleepily still with closed eyes, he flung fat little arms
round her shoulders, rolled towards her, with the delicious
sleepy warmth and fragrance that is only found in children, and
began rubbing his face against her neck and shoulders.
"I know," he said, opening his eyes; "it's my birthday today. I
knew you'd come. I'll get up directly."
And saying that he dropped asleep.
Anna looked at him hungrily; she saw how he had grown and changed
in her absence. She knew, and did not know, the bare legs so
long now, that were thrust out below the quilt, those
short-cropped curls on his neck in which she had so often kissed
him. She touched all this and could say nothing; tears choked
"What are you crying for, mother?" he said, waking completely up.
"Mother, what are you crying for?" he cried in a tearful voice.
"I won't cry...I'm crying for joy. It's so long since I've seen
you. I won't, I won't," she said, gulping down her tears and
turning away. "Come, it's time for you to dress now," she added,
after a pause, and, never letting go his hands, she sat down by
his bedside on the chair, where his clothes were put ready for
"How do you dress without me? How..." she tried to begin talking
simply and cheerfully, but she could not, and again she turned
"I don't have a cold bath, papa didn't order it. And you've not
seen Vassily Lukitch? He'll come in soon. Why, you're sitting
on my clothes!"
And Seryozha went off into a peal of laughter. She looked at him
"Mother, darling, sweet one!" he shouted, flinging himself on her
again and hugging her. It was as though only now, on seeing her
smile, he fully grasped what had happened.
"I don't want that on," he said, taking off her hat. And as it
were, seeing her afresh without her hat, he fell to kissing her
"But what did you think about me? You didn't think I was dead?"
"I never believed it."
"You didn't believe it, my sweet?"
"I knew, I knew!" he repeated his favorite phrase, and snatching
the hand that was stroking his hair, he pressed the open palm to
his mouth and kissed it.
Meanwhile Vassily Lukitch had not at first understood who this
lady was, and had learned from their conversation that it was no
other person than the mother who had left her husband, and whom
he had not seen, as he had entered the house after her departure.
He was in doubt whether to go in or not, or whether to
communicate with Alexey Alexandrovitch. Reflecting finally that
his duty was to get Seryozha up at the hour fixed, and that it
was therefore not his business to consider who was there, the
mother or anyone else, but simply to do his duty, he finished
dressing, went to the door and opened it.
But the embraces of the mother and child, the sound of their
voices, and what they were saying, made him change his mind.
He shook his head, and with a sigh he closed the door. "I'll
wait another ten minutes," he said to himself, clearing his
throat and wiping away tears.
Among the servants of the household there was intense excitement
all this time. All had heard that their mistress had come, and
that Kapitonitch had let her in, and that she was even now in the
nursery, and that their master always went in person to the
nursery at nine o'clock, and every one fully comprehended that it
was impossible for the husband and wife to meet, and that they
must prevent it. Korney, the valet, going down to the
hall porter's room, asked who had let her in, and how it was he
had done so, and ascertaining that Kapitonitch had admitted her
and shown her up, he gave the old man a talking-to. The
hall porter was doggedly silent, but when Korney told him he
ought to be sent away, Kapitonitch darted up to him, and waving
his hands in Korney's face, began:
"Oh yes, to be sure you'd not have let her in! After ten years'
service, and never a word but of kindness, and there you'd up and
say, 'Be off, go along, get away with you!' Oh yes, you're a
shrewd one at politics, I dare say! You don't need to be taught
how to swindle the master, and to filch fur coats!"
"Soldier!" said Korney contemptuously, and he turned to the nurse
who was coming in. "Here, what do you think, Marya Efimovna: he
let her in without a word to anyone," Korney said addressing
her. "Alexey Alexandrovitch will be down immediately--and go
into the nursery!"
"A pretty business, a pretty business!" said the nurse. "You,
Korney Vassilievitch, you'd best keep him some way or other, the
master, while I'll run and get her away somehow. A pretty
When the nurse went into the nursery, Seryozha was telling his
mother how he and Nadinka had had a fall in sledging downhill,
and had turned over three times. She was listening to the sound
of his voice, watching his face and the play of expression on it,
touching his hand, but she did not follow what he was saying.
She must go, she must leave him,--this was the only thing she was
thinking and feeling. She heard the steps of Vassily Lukitch
coming up to the door and coughing; she heard, too, the steps of
the nurse as she came near; but she sat like one turned to stone,
incapable of beginning to speak or to get up.
"Mistress, darling!" began the nurse, going up to Anna and
kissing her hands and shoulders. "God has brought joy indeed to
our boy on his birthday. You aren't changed one bit."
"Oh, nurse dear, I didn't know you were in the house," said Anna,
rousing herself for a moment.
"I'm not living here, I'm living with my daughter. I came for
the birthday, Anna Arkadyevna, darling!"
The nurse suddenly burst into tears, and began kissing her hand
Seryozha, with radiant eyes and smiles, holding his mother by one
hand and his nurse by the other, pattered on the rug with his fat
little bare feet. The tenderness shown by his beloved nurse to
his mother threw him into an ecstasy.
"Mother! She often comes to see me, and when she comes..." he
was beginning, but he stopped, noticing that the nurse was saying
something in a whisper to his mother, and that in his mother's
face there was a look of dread and something like shame, which
was so strangely unbecoming to her.
She went up to him.
"My sweet!" she said.
She could not say good-bye, but the expression on her face said
it, and he understood. "Darling, darling Kootik!" she used the
name by which she had called him when he was little, "you won't
forget me? You..." but she could not say more.
How often afterwards she thought of words she might have said.
But now she did not know how to say it, and could say nothing.
But Seryozha knew all she wanted to say to him. He understood
that she was unhappy and loved him. He understood even what the
nurse had whispered. He had caught the words "always at nine
o'clock," and he knew that this was said of his father, and that
his father and mother could not meet. That he understood, but
one thing he could not understand--why there should be a look of
dread and shame in her face?... She was not in fault, but she
was afraid of him and ashamed of something. He would have liked
to put a question that would have set at rest this doubt, but he
did not dare; he saw that she was miserable, and he felt for her.
Silently he pressed close to her and whispered, "Don't go yet.
He won't come just yet."
The mother held him away from her to see what he was thinking,
what to say to him, and in his frightened face she read not only
that he was speaking of his father, but, as it were, asking her
what he ought to think about his father.
"Seryozha, my darling," she said, "love him; he's better and
kinder than I am, and I have done him wrong. When you grow up
you will judge."
"There's no one better than you!..." he cried in despair through
his tears, and, clutching her by the shoulders, he began
squeezing her with all his force to him, his arms trembling with
"My sweet, my little one!" said Anna, and she cried as weakly and
childishly as he.
At that moment the door opened. Vassily Lukitch came in.
At the other door there was the sound of steps, and the nurse in
a scared whisper said, "He's coming," and gave Anna her hat.
Seryozha sank onto the bed and sobbed, hiding his face in his
hands. Anna removed his hands, once more kissed his wet face,
and with rapid steps went to the door. Alexey Alexandrovitch
walked in, meeting her. Seeing her, he stopped short and bowed
Although she had just said he was better and kinder than she, in
the rapid glance she flung at him, taking in his whole figure in
all its details, feelings of repulsion and hatred for him and
jealousy over her son took possession of her. With a swift
gesture she put down her veil, and, quickening her pace, almost
ran out of the room.
She had not time to undo, and so carried back with her, the
parcel of toys she had chosen the day before in a toy shop with
such love and sorrow.
As intensely as Anna had longed to see her son, and long as she
had been thinking of it and preparing herself for it, she had
not in the least expected that seeing him would affect her so
deeply. On getting back to her lonely rooms in the hotel she
could not for a long while understand why she was there. "Yes,
it's all over, and I am again alone," she said to herself, and
without taking off her hat she sat down in a low chair by the
hearth. Fixing her eyes on a bronze clock standing on a table
between the windows, she tried to think.
The French maid brought from abroad came in to suggest she should
dress. She gazed at her wonderingly and said, "Presently." A
footman offered her coffee. "Later on," she said.
The Italian nurse, after having taken the baby out in her best,
came in with her, and brought her to Anna. The plump, well-fed
little baby, on seeing her mother, as she always did, held out
her fat little hands, and with a smile on her toothless mouth,
began, like a fish with a float, bobbing her fingers up and down
the starched folds of her embroidered skirt, making them rustle.
It was impossible not to smile, not to kiss the baby, impossible
not to hold out a finger for her to clutch, crowing and prancing
all over; impossible not to offer her a lip which she sucked into
her little mouth by way of a kiss. And all this Anna did, and
took her in her arms and made her dance, and kissed her fresh
little cheek and bare little elbows; but at the sight of this
child it was plainer than ever to her that the feeling she had
for her could not be called love in comparison with what she felt
for Seryozha. Everything in this baby was charming, but for some
reason all this did not go deep to her heart. On her first
child, though the child of an unloved father, had been
concentrated all the love that had never found satisfaction. Her
baby girl had been born in the most painful circumstances and had
not had a hundredth part of the care and thought which had been
concentrated on her first child. Besides, in the little girl
everything was still in the future, while Seryozha was by now
almost a personality, and a personality dearly loved. In him
there was a conflict of thought and feeling; he understood her,
he loved her, he judged her, she thought, recalling his words and
his eyes. And she was forever--not physically only but
spiritually--divided from him, and it was impossible to set this
She gave the baby back to the nurse, let her go, and opened the
locket in which there was Seryozha's portrait when he was almost
of the same age as the girl. She got up, and, taking off her
hat, took up from a little table an album in which there were
photographs of her son at different ages. She wanted to compare
them, and began taking them out of the album. She took them all
out except one, the latest and best photograph. In it he was in
a white smock, sitting astride a chair, with frowning eyes and
smiling lips. It was his best, most characteristic expression.
With her little supple hands, her white, delicate fingers, that
moved with a peculiar intensity today, she pulled at a corner of
the photograph, but the photograph had caught somewhere, and she
could not get it out. There was no paper knife on the table, and
so, pulling out the photograph that was next to her son's (it was
a photograph of Vronsky taken at Rome in a round hat and with
long hair), she used it to push out her son's photograph. "Oh,
here is he!" she said, glancing at the portrait of Vronsky, and
she suddenly recalled that he was the cause of her present
misery. She had not once thought of him all the morning. But
now, coming all at once upon that manly, noble face, so familiar
and so dear to her, she felt a sudden rush of love for him.
"But where is he? How is it he leaves me alone in my misery?"
she thought all at once with a feeling of reproach, forgetting
she had herself kept from him everything concerning her son. She
sent to ask him to come to her immediately; with a throbbing
heart she awaited him, rehearsing to herself the words in which
she would tell him all, and the expressions of love with which he
would console her. The messenger returned with the answer that
he had a visitor with him, but that he would come immediately,
and that he asked whether she would let him bring with him Prince
Yashvin, who had just arrived in Petersburg. "He's not coming
alone, and since dinner yesterday he has not seen me," she
thought; "he's not coming so that I could tell him everything,
but coming with Yashvin." And all at once a strange idea came to
her: what if he had ceased to love her?
And going over the events of the last few days, it seemed to her
that she saw in everything a confirmation of this terrible idea.
The fact that he had not dined at home yesterday, and the fact
that he had insisted on their taking separate sets of rooms in
Petersburg, and that even now he was not coming to her alone, as
though he were trying to avoid meeting her face to face.
"But he ought to tell me so. I must know that it is so. If I
knew it, then I know what I should do," she said to herself,
utterly unable to picture to herself the position she would be in
if she were convinced of his not caring for her. She thought he
had ceased to love her, she felt close upon despair, and
consequently she felt exceptionally alert. She rang for her maid
and went to her dressing room. As she dressed, she took more
care over her appearance than she had done all those days, as
though he might, if he had grown cold to her, fall in love with
her again because she had dressed and arranged her hair in the
way most becoming to her.
She heard the bell ring before she was ready. When she went into
the drawing room it was not he, but Yashvin, who met her eyes.
Vronsky was looking through the photographs of her son, which she
had forgotten on the table, and he made no haste to look round at
"We have met already," she said, putting her little hand into the
huge hand of Yashvin, whose bashfulness was so queerly out of
keeping with his immense frame and coarse face. "We met last
year at the races. Give them to me," she said, with a rapid
movement snatching from Vronsky the photographs of her son, and
glancing significantly at him with flashing eyes. "Were the
races good this year? Instead of them I saw the races in the
Corso in Rome. But you don't care for life abroad," she said
with a cordial smile. "I know you and all your tastes, though I
have seen so little of you."
"I'm awfully sorry for that, for my tastes are mostly bad," said
Yashvin, gnawing at his left mustache.
Having talked a little while, and noticing that Vronsky glanced
at the clock, Yashvin asked her whether she would be staying much
longer in Petersburg, and unbending his huge figure reached after
"Not long, I think," she said hesitatingly, glancing at Vronsky.
"So then we shan't meet again?"
"Come and dine with me," said Anna resolutely, angry it seemed
with herself for her embarrassment, but flushing as she always
did when she defined her position before a fresh person. "The
dinner here is not good, but at least you will see him. There is
no one of his old friends in the regiment Alexey cares for as he
does for you."
"Delighted," said Yashvin with a smile, from which Vronsky could
see that he liked Anna very much.
Yashvin said good-bye and went away; Vronsky stayed behind.
"Are you going too?" she said to him.
"I'm late already," he answered. "Run along! I'll catch you up
in a moment," he called to Yashvin.
She took him by the hand, and without taking her eyes off him,
gazed at him while she ransacked her mind for the words to say
that would keep him.
"Wait a minute, there's something I want to say to you," and
taking his broad hand she pressed it on her neck. "Oh, was it
right my asking him to dinner?"
"You did quite right," he said with a serene smile that showed
his even teeth, and he kissed her hand.
"Alexey, you have not changed to me?" she said, pressing his hand
in both of hers. "Alexey, I am miserable here. When are we
"Soon, soon. You wouldn't believe how disagreeable our way of
living here is to me too," he said, and he drew away his hand.
"Well, go, go!" she said in a tone of offense, and she walked
quickly away from him.
When Vronsky returned home, Anna was not yet home. Soon after he
had left, some lady, so they told him, had come to see her, and
she had gone out with her. That she had gone out without leaving
word where she was going, that she had not yet come back, and
that all the morning she had been going about somewhere without a
word to him--all this, together with the strange look of
excitement in her face in the morning, and the recollection of
the hostile tone with which she had before Yashvin almost
snatched her son's photographs out of his hands, made him
serious. He decided he absolutely must speak openly with her.
And he waited for her in her drawing room. But Anna did not
return alone, but brought with her her old unmarried aunt,
Princess Oblonskaya. This was the lady who had come in the
morning, and with whom Anna had gone out shopping. Anna appeared
not to notice Vronsky's worried and inquiring expression, and
began a lively account of her morning's shopping. He saw that
there was something working within her; in her flashing eyes,
when they rested for a moment on him, there was an intense
concentration, and in her words and movements there was that
nervous rapidity and grace which, during the early period of
their intimacy, had so fascinated him, but which now so disturbed
and alarmed him.
The dinner was laid for four. All were gathered together and
about to go into the little dining room when Tushkevitch made his
appearance with a message from Princess Betsy. Princess Betsy
begged her to excuse her not having come to say good-bye; she had
been indisposed, but begged Anna to come to her between half-past
six and nine o'clock. Vronsky glanced at Anna at the precise
limit of time, so suggestive of steps having been taken that she
should meet no one; but Anna appeared not to notice it.
"Very sorry that I can't come just between half-past six and
nine," she said with a faint smile.
"The princess will be very sorry."
"And so am I."
"You're going, no doubt, to hear Patti?" said Tushkevitch.
"Patti? You suggest the idea to me. I would go if it were
possible to get a box."
"I can get one," Tushkevitch offered his services.
"I should be very, very grateful to you," said Anna. "But won't
you dine with us?"
Vronsky gave a hardly perceptible shrug. He was at a complete
loss to understand what Anna was about. What had she brought the
old Princess Oblonskaya home for, what had she made Tushkevitch
stay to dinner for, and, most amazing of all, why was she sending
him for a box? Could she possibly think in her position of going
to Patti's benefit, where all the circle of her acquaintances
would be? He looked at her with serious eyes, but she responded
with that defiant, half-mirthful, half-desperate look, the
meaning of which he could not comprehend. At dinner Anna was in
aggressively high spirits--she almost flirted both with
Tushkevitch and with Yashvin. When they got up from dinner and
Tushkevitch had gone to get a box at the opera, Yashvin went to
smoke, and Vronsky went down with him to his own rooms. After
sitting there for some time he ran upstairs. Anna was already
dressed in a low-necked gown of light silk and velvet that she
had had made in Paris, and with costly white lace on her head,
framing her face, and particularly becoming, showing up her
"Are you really going to the theater?" he said, trying not to
look at her.
"Why do you ask with such alarm?" she said, wounded again at his
not looking at her. "Why shouldn't I go?"
She appeared not to understand the motive of his words.
"Oh, of course, there's no reason whatever," he said, frowning.
"That's just what I say," she said, willfully refusing to see the
irony of his tone, and quietly turning back her long, perfumed
"Anna, for God's sake! what is the matter with you?" he said,
appealing to her exactly as once her husband had done.
"I don't understand what you are asking."
"You know that it's out of the question to go."
"Why so? I'm not going alone. Princess Varvara has gone to
dress, she is going with me."
He shrugged his shoulders with an air of perplexity and despair.
"But do you mean to say you don't know?..." he began.
"But I don't care to know!" she almost shrieked. "I don't care
to. Do I regret what I have done? No, no, no! If it were all
to do again from the beginning, it would be the same. For us,
for you and for me, there is only one thing that matters, whether
we love each other. Other people we need not consider. Why are
we living here apart and not seeing each other? Why can't I go?
I love you, and I don't care for anything," she said in Russian,
glancing at him with a peculiar gleam in her eyes that he could
not understand. "If you have not changed to me, why don't you
look at me?"
He looked at her. He saw all the beauty of her face and full
dress, always so becoming to her. But now her beauty and
elegance were just what irritated him.
"My feeling cannot change, you know, but I beg you, I entreat
you," he said again in French, with a note of tender supplication
in his voice, but with coldness in his eyes.
She did not hear his words, but she saw the coldness of his eyes,
and answered with irritation:
"And I beg you to explain why I should not go."
"Because it might cause you..." he hesitated.
"I don't understand. Yashvin n'est pas compromettant, and
Princess Varvara is no worse than others. Oh, here she is!"
Vronsky for the first time experienced a feeling of anger against
Anna, almost a hatred for her willfully refusing to understand
her own position. This feeling was aggravated by his being
unable to tell her plainly the cause of his anger. If he had
told her directly what he was thinking, he would have said:
"In that dress, with a princess only too well known to everyone,
to show yourself at the theater is equivalent not merely to
acknowledging your position as a fallen woman, but is flinging
down a challenge to society, that is to say, cutting yourself off
from it forever."
He could not say that to her. "But how can she fail to see it,
and what is going on in her?" he said to himself. He felt at the
same time that his respect for her was diminished while his sense
of her beauty was intensified.
He went back scowling to his rooms, and sitting down beside
Yashvin, who, with his long legs stretched out on a chair, was
drinking brandy and seltzer water, he ordered a glass of the same
"You were talking of Lankovsky's Powerful. That's a fine horse,
and I would advise you to buy him," said Yashvin, glancing at
his comrade's gloomy face. "His hind-quarters aren't quite
first-rate, but the legs and head--one couldn't wish for anything
"I think I will take him," answered Vronsky.
Their conversation about horses interested him, but he did not
for an instant forget Anna, and could not help listening to the
sound of steps in the corridor and looking at the clock on the
"Anna Arkadyevna gave orders to announce that she has gone to the
Yashvin, tipping another glass of brandy into the bubbling water,
drank it and got up, buttoning his coat.
"Well, let's go," he said, faintly smiling under his mustache,
and showing by this smile that he knew the cause of Vronsky's
gloominess, and did not attach any significance to it.
"I'm not going," Vronsky answered gloomily.
"Well, I must, I promised to. Good-bye, then. If you do, come
to the stalls; you can take Kruzin's stall," added Yashvin as he
"No, I'm busy."
"A wife is a care, but it's worse when she's not a wife," thought
Yashvin, as he walked out of the hotel.
Vronsky, left alone, got up from his chair and began pacing up
and down the room.
"And what's today? The fourth night.... Yegor and his wife are
there, and my mother, most likely. Of course all Petersburg's
there. Now she's gone in, taken off her cloak and come into the
light. Tushkevitch, Yashvin, Princess Varvara," he pictured them
to himself.... "What about me? Either that I'm frightened or
have given up to Tushkevitch the right to protect her? From
every point of view--stupid, stupid!... And why is she putting
me in such a position?" he said with a gesture of despair.
With that gesture he knocked against the table, on which there
was standing the seltzer water and the decanter of brandy, and
almost upset it. He tried to catch it, let it slip, and angrily
kicked the table over and rang.
"If you care to be in my service," he said to the valet who came
in, "you had better remember your duties. This shouldn't be
here. You ought to have cleared away."
The valet, conscious of his own innocence, would have defended
himself, but glancing at his master, he saw from his face that
the only thing to do was to be silent, and hurriedly threading
his way in and out, dropped down on the carpet and began
gathering up the whole and broken glasses and bottles.
"That's not your duty; send the waiter to clear away, and get my
dress coat out."
Vronsky went into the theater at half-past eight. The
performance was in full swing. The little old box-keeper,
recognizing Vronsky as he helped him off with his fur coat,
called him "Your Excellency," and suggested he should not take a
number but should simply call Fyodor. In the brightly lighted
corridor there was no one but the box-opener and two attendants
with fur cloaks on their arms listening at the doors. Through
the closed doors came the sounds of the discreet staccato
accompaniment of the orchestra, and a single female voice
rendering distinctly a musical phrase. The door opened to let
the box-opener slip through, and the phrase drawing to the end
reached Vronsky's hearing clearly. But the doors were closed
again at once, and Vronsky did not hear the end of the phrase and
the cadence of the accompaniment, though he knew from the thunder
of applause that it was over. When he entered the hall,
brilliantly lighted with chandeliers and gas jets, the noise was
still going on. On the stage the singer, bowing and smiling,
with bare shoulders flashing with diamonds, was, with the help of
the tenor who had given her his arm, gathering up the bouquets
that were flying awkwardly over the footlights. Then she went up
to a gentleman with glossy pomaded hair parted down the center,
who was stretching across the footlights holding out something to
her, and all the public in the stalls as well as in the boxes was
in excitement, craning forward, shouting and clapping. The
conductor in his high chair assisted in passing the offering, and
straightened his white tie. Vronsky walked into the middle of
the stalls, and, standing still, began looking about him. That
day less than ever was his attention turned upon the familiar,
habitual surroundings, the stage, the noise, all the familiar,
uninteresting, particolored herd of spectators in the packed
There were, as always, the same ladies of some sort with officers
of some sort in the back of the boxes; the same gaily dressed
women--God knows who--and uniforms and black coats; the same
dirty crowd in the upper gallery; and among the crowd, in the
boxes and in the front rows, were some forty of the REAL people.
And to those oases Vronsky at once directed his attention, and
with them he entered at once into relation.
The act was over when he went in, and so he did not go straight
to his brother's box, but going up to the first row of stalls
stopped at the footlights with Serpuhovskoy, who, standing with
one knee raised and his heel on the footlights, caught sight of
him in the distance and beckoned to him, smiling.
Vronsky had not yet seen Anna. He purposely avoided looking in
her direction. But he knew by the direction of people's eyes
where she was. He looked round discreetly, but he was not
seeking her; expecting the worst, his eyes sought for Alexey
Alexandrovitch. To his relief Alexey Alexandrovitch was not in
the theater that evening.
"How little of the military man there is left in you!"
Serpuhovskoy was saying to him. "A diplomat, an artist,
something of that sort, one would say."
"Yes, it was like going back home when I put on a black coat,"
answered Vronsky, smiling and slowly taking out his opera glass.
"Well, I'll own I envy you there. When I come back from abroad
and put on this," he touched his epaulets, "I regret my
Serpuhovskoy had long given up all hope of Vronsky's career, but
he liked him as before, and was now particularly cordial to him.
"What a pity you were not in time for the first act!"
Vronsky, listening with one ear, moved his opera glass from the
stalls and scanned the boxes. Near a lady in a turban and a bald
old man, who seemed to wave angrily in the moving opera glass,
Vronsky suddenly caught sight of Anna's head, proud, strikingly
beautiful, and smiling in the frame of lace. She was in the
fifth box, twenty paces from him. She was sitting in front, and
slightly turning, was saying something to Yashvin. The setting
of her head on her handsome, broad shoulders, and the restrained
excitement and brilliance of her eyes and her whole face reminded
him of her just as he had seen her at the ball in Moscow. But he
felt utterly different towards her beauty now. In his feeling
for her now there was no element of mystery, and so her beauty,
though it attracted him even more intensely than before, gave him
now a sense of injury. She was not looking in his direction, but
Vronsky felt that she had seen him already.
When Vronsky turned the opera glass again in that direction, he
noticed that Princess Varvara was particularly red, and kept
laughing unnaturally and looking round at the next box. Anna,
folding her fan and tapping it on the red velvet, was gazing away
and did not see, and obviously did not wish to see, what was
taking place in the next box. Yashvin's face wore the expression
which was common when he was losing at cards. Scowling, he
sucked the left end of his mustache further and further into his
mouth, and cast sidelong glances at the next box.
In that box on the left were the Kartasovs. Vronsky knew them,
and knew that Anna was acquainted with them. Madame Kartasova, a
thin little woman, was standing up in her box, and, her back
turned upon Anna, she was putting on a mantle that her husband
was holding for her. Her face was pale and angry, and she was
talking excitedly. Kartasov, a fat, bald man, was continually
looking round at Anna, while he attempted to soothe his wife.
When the wife had gone out, the husband lingered a long while,
and tried to catch Anna's eye, obviously anxious to bow to her.
But Anna, with unmistakable intention, avoided noticing him, and
talked to Yashvin, whose cropped head was bent down to her.
Kartasov went out without making his salutation, and the box was
Vronsky could not understand exactly what had passed between the
Kartasovs and Anna, but he saw that something humiliating for
Anna had happened. He knew this both from what he had seen, and
most of all from the face of Anna, who, he could see, was taxing
every nerve to carry through the part she had taken up. And in
maintaining this attitude of external composure she was
completely successful. Anyone who did not know her and her
circle, who had not heard all the utterances of the women
expressive of commiseration, indignation, and amazement, that she
should show herself in society, and show herself so conspicuously
with her lace and her beauty, would have admired the serenity and
loveliness of this woman without a suspicion that she was
undergoing the sensations of a man in the stocks.
Knowing that something had happened, but not knowing precisely
what, Vronsky felt a thrill of agonizing anxiety, and hoping to
find out something, he went towards his brother's box. Purposely
choosing the way round furthest from Anna's box, he jostled as he
came out against the colonel of his old regiment talking to two
acquaintances. Vronsky heard the name of Madame Karenina, and
noticed how the colonel hastened to address Vronsky loudly by
name, with a meaning glance at his companions.
"Ah, Vronsky! When are you coming to the regiment? We can't let
you off without a supper. You're one of the old set," said the
colonel of his regiment.
"I can't stop, awfully sorry, another time," said Vronsky, and
he ran upstairs towards his brother's box.
The old countess, Vronsky's mother, with her steel-gray curls,
was in his brother's box. Varya with the young Princess Sorokina
met him in the corridor.
Leaving the Princess Sorokina with her mother, Varya held out her
hand to her brother-in-law, and began immediately to speak of
what interested him. She was more excited than he had ever seen
"I think it's mean and hateful, and Madame Kartasova had no
right to do it. Madame Karenina..." she began.
"But what is it? I don't know."
"What? you've not heard?"
"You know I should be the last person to hear of it."
"There isn't a more spiteful creature than that Madame
"But what did she do?"
"My husband told me.... She has insulted Madame Karenina. Her
husband began talking to her across the box, and Madame Kartasova
made a scene. She said something aloud, he says, something
insulting, and went away."
"Count, your maman is asking for you," said the young Princess
Sorokina, peeping out of the door of the box.
"I've been expecting you all the while," said his mother, smiling
sarcastically. "You were nowhere to be seen."
Her son saw that she could not suppress a smile of delight.
"Good evening, maman. I have come to you," he said coldly.
"Why aren't you going to faire la cour a Madame Karenina?" she
went on, when Princess Sorokina had moved away. "Elle fait
sensation. On oublie la Patti pour elle."
"Maman, I have asked you not to say anything to me of that," he
"I'm only saying what everyone's saying."
Vronsky made no reply, and saying a few words to Princess
Sorokina, he went away. At the door he met his brother.
"Ah, Alexey!" said his brother. "How disgusting! Idiot of a
woman, nothing else.... I wanted to go straight to her. Let's
Vronsky did not hear him. With rapid steps he went downstairs;
he felt that he must do something, but he did not know what.
Anger with her for having put herself and him in such a false
position, together with pity for her suffering, filled his heart.
He went down, and made straight for Anna's box. At her box stood
Stremov, talking to her.
"There are no more tenors. Le moule en est brise!"
Vronsky bowed to her and stopped to greet Stremov.
"You came in late, I think, and have missed the best song," Anna
said to Vronsky, glancing ironically, he thought, at him.
"I am a poor judge of music," he said, looking sternly at her.
"Like Prince Yashvin," she said smiling, "who considers that
Patti sings too loud."
"Thank you," she said, her little hand in its long glove taking
the playbill Vronsky picked up, and suddenly at that instant her
lovely face quivered. She got up and went into the interior of
Noticing in the next act that her box was empty, Vronsky, rousing
indignant "hushes" in the silent audience, went out in the middle
of a solo and drove home.
Anna was already at home. When Vronsky went up to her, she was
in the same dress as she had worn at the theater. She was
sitting in the first armchair against the wall, looking straight
before her. She looked at him, and at once resumed her former
"Anna," he said.
"You, you are to blame for everything!" she cried, with tears of
despair and hatred in her voice, getting up.
"I begged, I implored you not to go, I knew it would be
"Unpleasant!" she cried--"hideous! As long as I live I shall
never forget it. She said it was a disgrace to sit beside me."
"A silly woman's chatter," he said: "but why risk it, why
"I hate your calm. You ought not to have brought me to this. If
you had loved me..."
"Anna! How does the question of my love come in?"
"Oh, if you loved me, as I love, if you were tortured as I
am!..." she said, looking at him with an expression of terror.
He was sorry for her, and angry notwithstanding. He assured her
of his love because he saw that this was the only means of
soothing her, and he did not reproach her in words, but in his
heart he reproached her.
And the asseverations of his love, which seemed to him so vulgar
that he was ashamed to utter them, she drank in eagerly, and
gradually became calmer. The next day, completely reconciled,
they left for the country.
Darya Alexandrovna spent the summer with her children at
Pokrovskoe, at her sister Kitty Levin's. The house on her own
estate was quite in ruins, and Levin and his wife had persuaded
her to spend the summer with them. Stepan Arkadyevitch greatly
approved of the arrangement. He said he was very sorry his
official duties prevented him from spending the summer in the
country with his family, which would have been the greatest
happiness for him; and remaining in Moscow, he came down to the
country from time to time for a day or two. Besides the
Oblonskys, with all their children and their governess, the old
princess too came to stay that summer with the Levins, as she
considered it her duty to watch over her inexperienced daughter
in her INTERESTING CONDITION. Moreover, Varenka, Kitty's friend
abroad, kept her promise to come to Kitty when she was married,
and stayed with her friend. All of these were friends or
relations of Levin's wife. And though he liked them all, he
rather regretted his own Levin world and ways, which was
smothered by this influx of the "Shtcherbatsky element," as he
called it to himself. Of his own relations there stayed with him
only Sergey Ivanovitch, but he too was a man of the Koznishev and
not the Levin stamp, so that the Levin spirit was utterly
In the Levins' house, so long deserted, there were now so many
people that almost all the rooms were occupied, and almost every
day it happened that the old princess, sitting down to table,
counted them all over, and put the thirteenth grandson or
granddaughter at a separate table. And Kitty, with her careful
housekeeping, had no little trouble to get all the chickens,
turkeys, and geese, of which so many were needed to satisfy the
summer appetites of the visitors and children.
The whole family were sitting at dinner. Dolly's children, with
their governess and Varenka, were making plans for going to look
for mushrooms. Sergey Ivanovitch, who was looked up to by all
the party for his intellect and learning, with a respect that
almost amounted to awe, surprised everyone by joining in the
conversation about mushrooms.
"Take me with you. I am very fond of picking mushrooms," he
said, looking at Varenka; "I think it's a very nice occupation."
"Oh, we shall be delighted," answered Varenka, coloring a little.
Kitty exchanged meaningful glances with Dolly. The proposal of
the learned and intellectual Sergey Ivanovitch to go looking for
mushrooms with Varenka confirmed certain theories of Kitty's with
which her mind had been very busy of late. She made haste to
address some remark to her mother, so that her look should not be
noticed. After dinner Sergey Ivanovitch sat with his cup of
coffee at the drawing-room window, and while he took part in a
conversation he had begun with his brother, he watched the door
through which the children would start on the mushroom-picking
expedition. Levin was sitting in the window near his brother.
Kitty stood beside her husband, evidently awaiting the end of a
conversation that had no interest for her, in order to tell him
"You have changed in many respects since your marriage, and for
the better," said Sergey Ivanovitch, smiling to Kitty, and
obviously little interested in the conversation, "but you have
remained true to your passion for defending the most paradoxical
"Katya, it's not good for you to stand," her husband said to her,
putting a chair for her and looking significantly at her.
"Oh, and there's no time either," added Sergey Ivanovitch, seeing
the children running out.
At the head of them all Tanya galloped sideways, in her tightly-
drawn stockings, and waving a basket and Sergey Ivanovitch's hat,
she ran straight up to him.
Boldly running up to Sergey Ivanovitch with shining eyes, so like
her father's fine eyes, she handed him his hat and made as though
she would put it on for him, softening her freedom by a shy and
"Varenka's waiting," she said, carefully putting his hat on,
seeing from Sergey Ivanovitch's smile that she might do so.
Varenka was standing at the door, dressed in a yellow print gown,
with a white kerchief on her head.
"I'm coming, I'm coming, Varvara Andreevna," said Sergey
Ivanovitch, finishing his cup of coffee, and putting into their
separate pockets his handkerchief and cigar-case.
"And how sweet my Varenka is! eh?" said Kitty to her husband, as
soon as Sergey Ivanovitch rose. She spoke so that Sergey
Ivanovitch could hear, and it was clear that she meant him to do
so. "And how good-looking she is--such a refined beauty!
Varenka!" Kitty shouted. "Shall you be in the mill copse? We'll
come out to you."
"You certainly forget your condition, Kitty," said the old
princess, hurriedly coming out at the door. "You mustn't shout
Varenka, hearing Kitty's voice and her mother's reprimand, went
with light, rapid steps up to Kitty. The rapidity of her
movement, her flushed and eager face, everything betrayed that
something out of the common was going on in her. Kitty knew what
this was, and had been watching her intently. She called Varenka
at that moment merely in order mentally to give her a blessing
for the important event which, as Kitty fancied, was bound to
come to pass that day after dinner in the wood.
"Varenka, I should be very happy if a certain something were to
happen," she whispered as she kissed her.
"And are you coming with us?" Varenka said to Levin in confusion,
pretending not to have heard what had been said.
"I am coming, but only as far as the threshing-floor, and there I
"Why, what do you want there?" said Kitty.
"I must go to have a look at the new wagons, and to check the
invoice," said Levin; "and where will you be?"
"On the terrace."
On the terrace were assembled all the ladies of the party. They
always liked sitting there after dinner, and that day they had
work to do there too. Besides the sewing and knitting of
baby clothes, with which all of them were busy, that afternoon
jam was being made on the terrace by a method new to Agafea
Mihalovna, without the addition of water. Kitty had introduced
this new method, which had been in use in her home. Agafea
Mihalovna, to whom the task of jam-making had always been
intrusted, considering that what had been done in the Levin
household could not be amiss, had nevertheless put water with the
strawberries, maintaining that the jam could not be made without
it. She had been caught in the act, and was now making jam
before everyone, and it was to be proved to her conclusively that
jam could be very well made without water.
Agafea Mihalovna, her face heated and angry, her hair untidy, and
her thin arms bare to the elbows, was turning the preserving-pan
over the charcoal stove, looking darkly at the raspberries and
devoutly hoping they would stick and not cook properly. The
princess, conscious that Agafea Mihalovna's wrath must be chiefly
directed against her, as the person responsible for the raspberry
jam-making, tried to appear to be absorbed in other things and
not interested in the jam, talked of other matters, but cast
stealthy glances in the direction of the stove.
"I always buy my maids' dresses myself, of some cheap material,"
the princess said, continuing the previous conversation. "Isn't
it time to skim it, my dear?" she added, addressing Agafea
Mihalovna. "There's not the slightest need for you to do it, and
it's hot for you," she said, stopping Kitty.
"I'll do it," said Dolly, and getting up, she carefully passed
the spoon over the frothing sugar, and from time to time shook
off the clinging jam from the spoon by knocking it on a plate
that was covered with yellow-red scum and blood-colored syrup.
"How they'll enjoy this at tea-time!" she thought of her
children, remembering how she herself as a child had wondered how
it was the grown-up people did not eat what was best of all--the
scum of the jam.
"Stiva says it's much better to give money." Dolly took up
meanwhile the weighty subject under discussion, what presents
should be made to servants. "But..."
"Money's out of the question!" the princess and Kitty exclaimed
with one voice. "They appreciate a present..."
"Well, last year, for instance, I bought our Matrona Semyenovna,
not a poplin, but something of that sort," said the princess.
"I remember she was wearing it on your nameday."
"A charming pattern--so simple and refined,--I should have liked
it myself, if she hadn't had it. Something like Varenka's. So
pretty and inexpensive."
"Well, now I think it's done," said Dolly, dropping the syrup
from the spoon.
"When it sets as it drops, it's ready. Cook it a little longer,
"The flies!" said Agafea Mihalovna angrily. "It'll be just the
same," she added.
"Ah! how sweet it is! don't frighten it!" Kitty said suddenly,
looking at a sparrow that had settled on the step and was pecking
at the center of a raspberry.
"Yes, but you keep a little further from the stove," said her
"A propos de Varenka," said Kitty, speaking in French, as they
had been doing all the while, so that Agafea Mihalovna should not
understand them, "you know, mamma, I somehow expect things to be
settled today. You know what I mean. How splendid it would be!"
"But what a famous matchmaker she is!" said Dolly. "How
carefully and cleverly she throws them together!..."
"No; tell me, mamma, what do you think?"
"Why, what is one to think? He" (HE meant Sergey Ivanovitch)
"might at any time have been a match for anyone in Russia; now,
of course, he's not quite a young man, still I know ever so many
girls would be glad to marry him even now.... She's a very nice
girl, but he might..."
"Oh, no, mamma, do understand why, for him and for her too,
nothing better could be imagined. In the first place, she's
charming!" said Kitty, crooking one of her fingers.
"He thinks her very attractive, that's certain," assented Dolly.
"Then he occupies such a position in society that he has no need
to look for either fortune or position in his wife. All he needs
is a good, sweet wife--a restful one."
"Well, with her he would certainly be restful," Dolly assented.
"Thirdly, that she should love him. And so it is...that is,
it would be so splendid!...I look forward to seeing them
coming out of the forest--and everything settled. I shall see at
once by their eyes. I should be so delighted! What do you
"But don't excite yourself. It's not at all the thing for you to
be excited," said her mother.
"Oh, I'm not excited, mamma. I fancy he will make her an offer
"Ah, that's so strange, how and when a man makes an offer!...
There is a sort of barrier, and all at once it's broken down,"
said Dolly, smiling pensively and recalling her past with Stepan
"Mamma, how did papa make you an offer?" Kitty asked suddenly.
"There was nothing out of the way, it was very simple," answered
the princess, but her face beamed all over at the recollection.
"Oh, but how was it? You loved him, anyway, before you were
allowed to speak?"
Kitty felt a peculiar pleasure in being able now to talk to her
mother on equal terms about those questions of such paramount
interest in a woman's life.
"Of course I did; he had come to stay with us in the country."
"But how was it settled between you, mamma?"
"You imagine, I dare say, that you invented something quite new?
It's always just the same: it was settled by the eyes, by
"How nicely you said that, mamma! It's just by the eyes, by
smiles that it's done," Dolly assented.
"But what words did he say?"
"What did Kostya say to you?"
"He wrote it in chalk. It was wonderful.... How long ago it
seems!" she said.
And the three women all fell to musing on the same thing. Kitty
was the first to break the silence. She remembered all that last
winter before her marriage, and her passion for Vronsky.
"There's one thing ...that old love affair of Varenka's," she
said, a natural chain of ideas bringing her to this point. "I
should have liked to say something to Sergey Ivanovitch, to
prepare him. They're all--all men, I mean," she added, "awfully
jealous over our past."
"Not all," said Dolly. "You judge by your own husband. It makes
him miserable even now to remember Vronsky. Eh? that's true,
"Yes," Kitty answered, a pensive smile in her eyes.
"But I really don't know," the mother put in in defense of her
motherly care of her daughter, "what there was in your past that
could worry him? That Vronsky paid you attentions--that happens
to every girl."
"Oh, yes, but we didn't mean that," Kitty said, flushing a
"No, let me speak," her mother went on, "why, you yourself would
not let me have a talk to Vronsky. Don't you remember?"
"Oh, mamma!" said Kitty, with an expression of suffering.
"There's no keeping you young people in check nowadays.... Your
friendship could not have gone beyond what was suitable. I
should myself have called upon him to explain himself. But, my
darling, it's not right for you to be agitated. Please remember
that, and calm yourself."
"I'm perfectly calm, maman."
"How happy it was for Kitty that Anna came then," said Dolly,
"and how unhappy for her. It turned out quite the opposite," she
said, struck by her own ideas. "Then Anna was so happy, and
Kitty thought herself unhappy. Now it is just the opposite. I
often think of her."
"A nice person to think about! Horrid, repulsive woman--no
heart," said her mother, who could not forget that Kitty had
married not Vronsky, but Levin.
"What do you want to talk of it for?" Kitty said with annoyance.
"I never think about it, and I don't want to think of it....
And I don't want to think of it," she said, catching the sound of
her husband's well-known step on the steps of the terrace.
"What's that you don't want to think about?" inquired Levin,
coming onto the terrace.
But no one answered him, and he did not repeat the question.
"I'm sorry I've broken in on your feminine parliament," he said,
looking round on every one discontentedly, and perceiving that
they had been talking of something which they would not talk
about before him.
For a second he felt that he was sharing the feeling of Agafea
Mihalovna, vexation at their making jam without water, and
altogether at the outside Shtcherbatsky element. He smiled,
however, and went up to Kitty.
"Well, how are you?" he asked her, looking at her with the
expression with which everyone looked at her now.
"Oh, very well," said Kitty, smiling, "and how have things gone
"The wagons held three times as much as the old carts did. Well,
are we going for the children? I've ordered the horses to be put
"What! you want to take Kitty in the wagonette?" her mother said
"Yes, at a walking pace, princess."
Levin never called the princess "maman" as men often do call
their mothers-in-law, and the princess disliked his not doing so.
But though he liked and respected the princess, Levin could not
call her so without a sense of profaning his feeling for his dead
"Come with us, maman," said Kitty.
"I don't like to see such imprudence."
"Well, I'll walk then, I'm so well." Kitty got up and went to her
husband and took his hand.
"You may be well, but everything in moderation," said the
"Well, Agafea Mihalovna, is the jam done?" said Levin, smiling to
Agafea Mihalovna, and trying to cheer her up. "Is it all right
in the new way?"
"I suppose it's all right. For our notions it's boiled too
"It'll be all the better, Agafea Mihalovna, it won't mildew, even
though our ice has begun to thaw already, so that we've no cool
cellar to store it," said Kitty, at once divining her husband's
motive, and addressing the old housekeeper with the same feeling;
"but your pickle's so good, that mamma says she never tasted any
like it," she added, smiling, and putting her kerchief straight.
Agafea Mihalovna looked angrily at Kitty.
"You needn't try to console me, mistress. I need only to look at
you with him, and I feel happy," she said, and something in the
rough familiarity of that with him touched Kitty.
"Come along with us to look for mushrooms, you will show us the
nest places." Agafea Mihalovna smiled and shook her head, as
though to say: "I should like to be angry with you too, but I
"Do it, please, by my receipt," said the princess; "put some
paper over the jam, and moisten it with a little rum, and without
even ice, it will never go mildewy."
Kitty was particularly glad of a chance of being alone with her
husband, for she had noticed the shade of mortification that
had passed over his face--always so quick to reflect every
feeling--at the moment when he had come onto the terrace and
asked what they were talking of, and had got no answer.
When they had set off on foot ahead of the others, and had come
out of sight of the house onto the beaten dusty road, marked with
rusty wheels and sprinkled with grains of corn, she clung faster
to his arm and pressed it closer to her. He had quite forgotten
the momentary unpleasant impression, and alone with her he felt,
now that the thought of her approaching motherhood was never for
a moment absent from his mind, a new and delicious bliss, quite
pure from all alloy of sense, in the being near to the woman he
loved. There was no need of speech, yet he longed to hear the
sound of her voice, which like her eyes had changed since she had
been with child. In her voice, as in her eyes, there was that
softness and gravity which is found in people continually
concentrated on some cherished pursuit.
"So you're not tired? Lean more on me," said he.
"No, I'm so glad of a chance of being alone with you, and I must
own, though I'm happy with them, I do regret our winter evenings
"That was good, but this is even better. Both are better," he
said, squeezing her hand.
"Do you know what we were talking about when you came in?"
"Oh, yes, about jam too; but afterwards, about how men make
"Ah!" said Levin, listening more to the sound of her voice than
to the words she was saying, and all the while paying attention
to the road, which passed now through the forest, and avoiding
places where she might make a false step.
"And about Sergey Ivanovitch and Varenka. You've noticed?...
I'm very anxious for it," she went on. "What do you think about
it?" And she peeped into his face.
"I don't know what to think," Levin answered, smiling. "Sergey
seems very strange to me in that way. I told you, you know..."
"Yes, that he was in love with that girl who died...."
"That was when I was a child; I know about it from hearsay and
tradition. I remember him then. He was wonderfully sweet. But
I've watched him since with women; he is friendly, some of them
he likes, but one feels that to him they're simply people, not
"Yes, but now with Varenka...I fancy there's something..."
"Perhaps there is.... But one has to know him.... He's a
peculiar, wonderful person. He lives a spiritual life only.
He's too pure, too exalted a nature."
"Why? Would this lower him, then?"
"No, but he's so used to a spiritual life that he can't reconcile
himself with actual fact, and Varenka is after all fact."
Levin had grown used by now to uttering his thought boldly,
without taking the trouble of clothing it in exact language. He
knew that his wife, in such moments of loving tenderness as now,
would understand what he meant to say from a hint, and she did
"Yes, but there's not so much of that actual fact about her as
about me. I can see that he would never have cared for me. She
is altogether spiritual."
"Oh, no, he is so fond of you, and I am always so glad when my
people like you...."
"Yes, he's very nice to me; but..."
"It's not as it was with poor Nikolay...you really cared for
each other," Levin finished. "Why not speak of him?" he added.
"I sometimes blame myself for not; it ends in one's forgetting.
Ah, how terrible and dear he was!... Yes, what were we talking
about?" Levin said, after a pause.
"You think he can't fall in love," said Kitty, translating into
her own language.
"It's not so much that he can't fall in love," Levin said,
smiling, "but he has not the weakness necessary.... I've always
envied him, and even now, when I'm so happy, I still envy him."
"You envy him for not being able to fall in love?"
"I envy him for being better than I," said Levin. "He does not
live for himself. His whole life is subordinated to his duty.
And that's why he can be calm and contented."
"And you?" Kitty asked, with an ironical and loving smile.
She could never have explained the chain of thought that made her
smile; but the last link in it was that her husband, in exalting
his brother and abasing himself, was not quite sincere. Kitty
knew that this insincerity came from his love for his brother,
from his sense of shame at being too happy, and above all from
his unflagging craving to be better--she loved it in him, and so
"And you? What are you dissatisfied with?" she asked, with the
Her disbelief in his self-dissatisfaction delighted him, and
unconsciously he tried to draw her into giving utterance to the
grounds of her disbelief.
"I am happy, but dissatisfied with myself..." he said.
"Why, how can you be dissatisfied with yourself if you are
"Well, how shall I say?... In my heart I really care for nothing
whatever but that you should not stumble--see? Oh, but really
you mustn't skip about like that!" he cried, breaking off to
scold her for too agile a movement in stepping over a branch that
lay in the path. "But when I think about myself, and compare
myself with others, especially with my brother, I feel I'm a poor
"But in what way?" Kitty pursued with the same smile. "Don't you
too work for others? What about your co-operative settlement,
and your work on the estate, and your book?..."
"Oh, but I feel, and particularly just now--it's your fault," he
said, pressing her hand--"that all that doesn't count. I do it
in a way halfheartedly. If I could care for all that as I care
for you!... Instead of that, I do it in these days like a task
that is set me."
"Well, what would you say about papa?" asked Kitty. "Is he a
poor creature then, as he does nothing for the public good?"
"He?--no! But then one must have the simplicity, the
straightforwardness, the goodness of your father: and I haven't
got that. I do nothing, and I fret about it. It's all your
doing. Before there was you--and THIS too," he added with a
glance towards her waist that she understood--"I put all my
energies into work; now I can't, and I'm ashamed; I do it just as
though it were a task set me, I'm pretending...."
"Well, but would you like to change this minute with Sergey
Ivanovitch?" said Kitty. "Would you like to do this work for the
general good, and to love the task set you, as he does, and
"Of course not," said Levin. "But I'm so happy that I don't
understand anything. So you think he'll make her an offer
today?" he added after a brief silence.
"I think so, and I don't think so. Only, I'm awfully anxious for
it. Here, wait a minute." she stooped down and picked a wild
camomile at the edge of the path. "Come, count: he does propose,
he doesn't," she said, giving him the flower.
"He does, he doesn't," said Levin, tearing off the white petals.
"No, no!" Kitty, snatching at his hand, stopped him. She had
been watching his fingers with interest. "You picked off two."
"Oh, but see, this little one shan't count to make up," said
Levin, tearing off a little half-grown petal. "Here's the
wagonette overtaking us."
"Aren't you tired, Kitty?" called the princess.
"Not in the least."
"If you are you can get in, as the horses are quiet and walking."
But it was not worth while to get in, they were quite near the
place, and all walked on together.
Varenka, with her white kerchief on her black hair, surrounded
by the children, gaily and good-humoredly looking after them, and
at the same time visibly excited at the possibility of receiving
a declaration from the man she cared for, was very attractive.
Sergey Ivanovitch walked beside her, and never left off admiring
her. Looking at her, he recalled all the delightful things he
had heard from her lips, all the good he knew about her, and
became more and more conscious that the feeling he had for her
was something special that he had felt long, long ago, and only
once, in his early youth. The feeling of happiness in being near
her continually grew, and at last reached such a point that, as
he put a huge, slender-stalked agaric fungus in her basket, he
looked straight into her face, and noticing the flush of glad and
alarmed excitement that overspread her face, he was confused
himself, and smiled to her in silence a smile that said too much.
"If so," he said to himself, "I ought to think it over and make
up my mind, and not give way like a boy to the impulse of a
"I'm going to pick by myself apart from all the rest, or else my
efforts will make no show," he said, and he left the edge of the
forest where they were walking on low silky grass between old
birch trees standing far apart, and went more into the heart of
the wood, where between the white birch trunks there were gray
trunks of aspen and dark bushes of hazel. Walking some forty
paces away, Sergey Ivanovitch, knowing he was out of sight, stood
still behind a bushy spindle-tree in full flower with its rosy
red catkins. It was perfectly still all round him. Only
overhead in the birches under which he stood, the flies, like a
swarm of bees, buzzed unceasingly, and from time to time the
children's voices were floated across to him. All at once he
heard, not far from the edge of the wood, the sound of Varenka's
contralto voice, calling Grisha, and a smile of delight passed
over Sergey Ivanovitch's face. Conscious of this smile, he shook
his head disapprovingly at his own condition, and taking out a
cigar, he began lighting it. For a long while he could not get a
match to light against the trunk of a birch tree. The soft
scales of the white bark rubbed off the phosphorus, and the light
went out. At last one of the matches burned, and the fragrant
cigar smoke, hovering uncertainly in flat, wide coils, stretched
away forwards and upwards over a bush under the overhanging
branches of a birch tree. Watching the streak of smoke, Sergey
Ivanovitch walked gently on, deliberating on his position.
"Why not?" he thought. "If it were only a passing fancy or a
passion, if it were only this attraction--this mutual attraction
(I can call it a MUTUAL attraction), but if I felt that it was in
contradiction with the whole bent of my life--if I felt that in
giving way to this attraction I should be false to my vocation
and my duty...but it's not so. The only thing I can say
against it is that, when I lost Marie, I said to myself that I
would remain faithful to her memory. That's the only thing I can
say against my feeling.... That's a great thing," Sergey
Ivanovitch said to himself, feeling at the same time that this
consideration had not the slightest importance for him
personally, but would only perhaps detract from his romantic
character in the eyes of others. "But apart from that, however
much I searched, I should never find anything to say against my
feeling. If I were choosing by considerations of suitability
alone, I could not have found anything better."
However many women and girls he thought of whom he knew, he could
not think of a girl who united to such a degree all, positively
all, the qualities he would wish to see in his wife. She had all
the charm and freshness of youth, but she was not a child; and if
she loved him, she loved him consciously as a woman ought to
love; that was one thing. Another point: she was not only far
from being worldly, but had an unmistakable distaste for worldly
society, and at the same time she knew the world, and had all the
ways of a woman of the best society, which were absolutely
essential to Sergey Ivanovitch's conception of the woman who was
to share his life. Thirdly: she was religious, and not like a
child, unconsciously religious and good, as Kitty, for example,
was, but her life was founded on religious principles. Even in
trifling matters, Sergey Ivanovitch found in her all that he
wanted in his wife: she was poor and alone in the world, so she
would not bring with her a mass of relations and their influence
into her husband's house, as he saw now in Kitty's case. She
would owe everything to her husband, which was what he had always
desired too for his future family life. And this girl, who
united all these qualities, loved him. He was a modest man, but
he could not help seeing it. And he loved her. There was one
consideration against it--his age. But he came of a long-lived
family, he had not a single gray hair, no one would have taken
him for forty, and he remembered Varenka's saying that it was
only in Russia that men of fifty thought themselves old, and that
in France a man of fifty considers himself dans la force de
l'age, while a man of forty is un jeune homme. But what did the
mere reckoning of years matter when he felt as young in heart as
he had been twenty years ago? Was it not youth to feel as he
felt now, when coming from the other side to the edge of the wood
he saw in the glowing light of the slanting sunbeams the gracious
figure of Varenka in her yellow gown with her basket, walking
lightly by the trunk of an old birch tree, and when this
impression of the sight of Varenka blended so harmoniously with
the beauty of the view, of the yellow oatfield lying bathed in
the slanting sunshine, and beyond it the distant ancient forest
flecked with yellow and melting into the blue of the distance?
His heart throbbed joyously. A softened feeling came over him.
He felt that he had made up his mind. Varenka, who had just
crouched down to pick a mushroom, rose with a supple movement and
looked round. Flinging away the cigar, Sergey Ivanovitch
advanced with resolute steps towards her.
"Varvara Andreevna, when I was very young, I set before myself
the ideal of the women I loved and should be happy to call my
wife. I have lived through a long life, and now for the first
time I have met what I sought--in you. I love you, and offer you
Sergey Ivanovitch was saying this to himself while he was ten
paces from Varvara. Kneeling down, with her hands over the
mushrooms to guard them from Grisha, she was calling little
"Come here, little ones! There are so many!" she was saying in
her sweet, deep voice.
Seeing Sergey Ivanovitch approaching, she did not get up and did
not change her position, but everything told him that she felt
his presence and was glad of it.
"Well, did you find some?" she asked from under the white
kerchief, turning her handsome, gently smiling face to him.
"Not one," said Sergey Ivanovitch. "Did you?"
She did not answer, busy with the children who thronged about
"That one too, near the twig," she pointed out to little Masha a
little fungus, split in half across its rosy cap by the dry grass
from under which it thrust itself. Varenka got up while Masha
picked the fungus, breaking it into two white halves. "This
brings back my childhood," she added, moving apart from the
children beside Sergey Ivanovitch.
They walked on for some steps in silence. Varenka saw that he
wanted to speak; she guessed of what, and felt faint with joy and
panic. They had walked so far away that no one could hear them
now, but still he did not begin to speak. It would have been
better for Varenka to be silent. After a silence it would have
been easier for them to say what they wanted to say than after
talking about mushrooms. But against her own will, as it were
accidentally, Varenka said:
"So you found nothing? In the middle of the wood there are
always fewer, though." Sergey Ivanovitch sighed and made no
answer. He was annoyed that she had spoken about the mushrooms.
He wanted to bring her back to the first words she had uttered
about her childhood; but after a pause of some length, as though
against his own will, he made an observation in response to her
"I have heard that the white edible funguses are found
principally at the edge of the wood, though I can't tell them
Some minutes more passed, they moved still further away from the
children, and were quite alone. Varenka's heart throbbed so that
she heard it beating, and felt that she was turning red and pale
and red again.
To be the wife of a man like Koznishev, after her position with
Madame Stahl, was to her imagination the height of happiness.
Besides, she was almost certain that she was in love with him.
And this moment it would have to be decided. She felt
frightened. She dreaded both his speaking and his not speaking.
Now or never it must be said--that Sergey Ivanovitch felt too.
Everything in the expression, the flushed cheeks and the downcast
eyes of Varenka betrayed a painful suspense. Sergey Ivanovitch
saw it and felt sorry for her. He felt even that to say nothing
now would be a slight to her. Rapidly in his own mind he ran
over all the arguments in support of his decision. He even said
over to himself the words in which he meant to put his offer, but
instead of those words, some utterly unexpected reflection that
occurred to him made him ask:
"What is the difference between the 'birch' mushroom and the
Varenka's lips quivered with emotion as she answered:
"In the top part there is scarcely any difference, it's in the
And as soon as these words were uttered, both he and she felt