Part 3 out of 22
happy and gay, there is a path growing narrower and narrower, and
it is delightful and alarming to enter the ballroom, bright and
splendid as it is.... Who has not been through it?"
Kitty smiled without speaking. "But how did she go through it?
How I should like to know all her love story!" thought Kitty,
recalling the unromantic appearance of Alexey Alexandrovitch, her
"I know something. Stiva told me, and I congratulate you. I
liked him so much," Anna continued. "I met Vronsky at the
"Oh, was he there?" asked Kitty, blushing. "What was it Stiva
"Stiva gossiped about it all. And I should be so glad...I
traveled yesterday with Vronsky's mother," she went on; "and his
mother talked without a pause of him, he's her favorite. I know
mothers are partial, but..."
"What did his mother tell you?"
"Oh, a great deal! And I know that he's her favorite; still one
can see how chivalrous he is.... Well, for instance, she told me
that he had wanted to give up all his property to his brother,
that he had done something extraordinary when he was quite a
child, saved a woman out of the water. He's a hero, in fact,"
said Anna, smiling and recollecting the two hundred roubles he
had given at the station.
But she did not tell Kitty about the two hundred roubles. For
some reason it was disagreeable to her to think of it. She felt
that there was something that had to do with her in it, and
something that ought not to have been.
"She pressed me very much to go and see her," Anna went on; "and
I shall be glad to go to see her tomorrow. Stiva is staying a
long while in Dolly's room, thank God," Anna added, changing the
subject, and getting up, Kitty fancied, displeased with
"No, I'm first! No, I!" screamed the children, who had finished
tea, running up to their Aunt Anna.
"All together," said Anna, and she ran laughing to meet them, and
embraced and swung round all the throng of swarming children,
shrieking with delight.
Dolly came out of her room to the tea of the grown-up people.
Stepan Arkadyevitch did not come out. He must have left his
wife's room by the other door.
"I am afraid you'll be cold upstairs," observed Dolly, addressing
Anna; "I want to move you downstairs, and we shall be nearer."
"Oh, please, don't trouble about me," answered Anna, looking
intently into Dolly's face, trying to make out whether there had
been a reconciliation or not.
"It will be lighter for you here," answered her sister-in-law.
"I assure you that I sleep everywhere, and always like a marmot."
"What's the question?" inquired Stepan Arkadyevitch, coming out
of his room and addressing his wife.
From his tone both Kitty and Anna knew that a reconciliation had
"I want to move Anna downstairs, but we must hang up blinds. No
one knows how to do it; I must see to it myself," answered Dolly
"God knows whether they are fully reconciled," thought Anna,
hearing her tone, cold and composed.
"Oh, nonsense, Dolly, always making difficulties," answered her
husband. "Come, I'll do it all, if you like..."
"Yes, They must be reconciled," thought Anna.
"I know how you do everything," answered Dolly. "You tell Matvey
to do what can't be done, and go away yourself, leaving him to
make a muddle of everything," and her habitual, mocking smile
curved the corners of Dolly's lips as she spoke.
"Full, full reconciliation, full," thought Anna; "thank God!" and
rejoicing that she was the cause of it, she went up to Dolly and
"Not at all. Why do you always look down on me and Matvey?" said
Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling hardly perceptibly, and addressing
The whole evening Dolly was, as always, a little mocking in her
tone to her husband, while Stepan Arkadyevitch was happy and
cheerful, but not so as to seem as though, having been forgiven,
he had forgotten his offense.
At half-past nine o'clock a particularly joyful and pleasant
family conversation over the tea-table at the Oblonskys' was
broken up by an apparently simple incident. But this simple
incident for some reason struck everyone as strange. Talking
about common acquaintances in Petersburg, Anna got up quickly.
"She is in my album," she said; "and, by the way, I'll show you
by Seryozha," she added, with a mother's smile of pride.
Towards ten o'clock, when she usually said good-night to her son,
and often before going to a ball put him to bed herself, she felt
depressed at being so far from him; and whatever she was talking
about, she kept coming back in thought to her curly-headed
Seryozha. She longed to look at his photograph and talk of him.
Seizing the first pretext, she got up, and with her light,
resolute step went for her album. The stairs up to her room came
out on the landing of the great warm main staircase.
Just as she was leaving the drawing room, a ring was heard in the
"Who can that be?" said Dolly
"It's early for me to be fetched, and for anyone else it's late,"
"Sure to be someone with papers for me," put in Stepan
Arkadyevitch. When Anna was passing the top of the staircase, a
servant was running up to announce the visitor, while the visitor
himself was standing under a lamp. Anna glancing down at once
recognized Vronsky, and a strange feeling of pleasure and at the
same time of dread of something stirred in her heart. He was
standing still, not taking off his coat, pulling something out of
his pocket. At the instant when she was just facing the stairs,
he raised his eyes, caught sight of her, and into the expression
of his face there passed a shade of embarrassment and dismay.
With a slight inclination of her head she passed, hearing behind
her Stepan Arkadyevitch's loud voice calling him to come up, and
the quiet, soft, and composed voice of Vronsky refusing.
When Anna returned with the album, he was already gone, and
Stepan Arkadyevitch was telling them that he had called to
inquire about the dinner they were giving next day to a celebrity
who had just arrived. "And nothing would induce him to come up.
What a queer fellow he is!" added Stepan Arkadyevitch.
Kitty blushed. She thought that she was the only person who knew
why he had come, and why he would not come up. "He has been at
home," she thought, "and didn't find me, and thought I should be
here, but he did not come up because he thought it late, and
All of them looked at each other, saying nothing, and began to
look at Anna's album.
There was nothing either exceptional or strange in a man's
calling at half-past nine on a friend to inquire details of a
proposed dinner party and not coming in, but it seemed strange to
all of them. Above all, it seemed strange and not right to Anna.
The ball was only just beginning as Kitty and her mother walked
up the great staircase, flooded with light, and lined with
flowers and footmen in powder and red coats. From the rooms came
a constant, steady hum, as from a hive, and the rustle of
movement; and while on the landing between trees they gave last
touches to their hair and dresses before the mirror, they heard
from the ballroom the careful, distinct notes of the fiddles of
the orchestra beginning the first waltz. A little old man in
civilian dress, arranging his gray curls before another mirror,
and diffusing an odor of scent, stumbled against them on the
stairs, and stood aside, evidently admiring Kitty, whom he did
not know. A beardless youth, one of those society youths whom
the old Prince Shtcherbatsky called "young bucks," in an
exceedingly open waistcoat, straightening his white tie as he
went, bowed to them, and after running by, came back to ask Kitty
for a quadrille. As the first quadrille had already been given
to Vronsky, she had to promise this youth the second. An
officer, buttoning his glove, stood aside in the doorway, and
stroking his mustache, admired rosy Kitty.
Although her dress, her coiffure, and all the preparations for
the ball had cost Kitty great trouble and consideration, at this
moment she walked into the ballroom in her elaborate tulle dress
over a pink slip as easily and simply as though all the rosettes
and lace, all the minute details of her attire, had not cost her
or her family a moment's attention, as though she had been born
in that tulle and lace, with her hair done up high on her head,
and a rose and two leaves on the top of it.
When, just before entering the ballroom, the princess, her
mother, tried to turn right side out of the ribbon of her sash,
Kitty had drawn back a little. She felt that everything must be
right of itself, and graceful, and nothing could need setting
It was one of Kitty's best days. Her dress was not
uncomfortable anywhere; her lace berthe did not droop anywhere;
her rosettes were not crushed nor torn off; her pink slippers
with high, hollowed-out heels did not pinch, but gladdened her
feet; and the thick rolls of fair chignon kept up on her head as
if they were her own hair. All the three buttons buttoned up
without tearing on the long glove that covered her hand without
concealing its lines. The black velvet of her locket nestled
with special softness round her neck. That velvet was delicious;
at home, looking at her neck in the looking glass, Kitty had felt
that that velvet was speaking. About all the rest there might be
a doubt, but the velvet was delicious. Kitty smiled here too, at
the ball, when she glanced at it in the glass. Her bare
shoulders and arms gave Kitty a sense of chill marble, a feeling
she particularly liked. Her eyes sparkled, and her rosy lips
could not keep from smiling from the consciousness of her own
attractiveness. She had scarcely entered the ballroom and
reached the throng of ladies, all tulle, ribbons, lace, and
flowers, waiting to be asked to dance--Kitty was never one of
that throng--when she was asked for a waltz, and asked by the
best partner, the first star in the hierarchy of the ballroom, a
renowned director of dances, a married man, handsome and
well-built, Yegorushka Korsunsky. He had only just left the
Countess Bonina, with whom he had danced the first half of the
waltz, and, scanning his kingdom--that is to say, a few couples
who had started dancing--he caught sight of Kitty, entering, and
flew up to her with that peculiar, easy amble which is confined
to directors of balls. Without even asking her if she cared to
dance, he put out his arm to encircle her slender waist. She
looked round for someone to give her fan to, and their hostess,
smiling to her, took it.
"How nice you've come in good time," he said to her, embracing
her waist; "such a bad habit to be late." Bending her left hand,
she laid it on his shoulder, and her little feet in their pink
slippers began swiftly, lightly, and rhythmically moving over the
slippery floor in time to the music.
"It's a rest to waltz with you," he said to her, as they fell
into the first slow steps of the waltz. "It's exquisite--such
lightness, precision." He said to her the same thing he said to
almost all his partners whom he knew well.
She smiled at his praise, and continued to look about the room
over his shoulder. She was not like a girl at her first ball,
for whom all faces in the ballroom melt into one vision of
fairyland. And she was not a girl who had gone the stale round
of balls till every face in the ballroom was familiar and
tiresome. But she was in the middle stage between these two; she
was excited, and at the same time she had sufficient
self-possession to be able to observe. In the left corner of the
ballroom she saw the cream of society gathered together.
There--incredibly naked--was the beauty Lidi, Korsunsky's wife;
there was the lady of the house; there shone the bald head of
Krivin, always to be found where the best people were. In that
direction gazed the young men, not venturing to approach. There,
too, she descried Stiva, and there she saw the exquisite figure
and head of Anna in a black velvet gown. And HE was there.
Kitty had not seen him since the evening she refused Levin. With
her long-sighted eyes, she knew him at once, and was even aware
that he was looking at her.
"Another turn, eh? You're not tired?" said Korsunsky, a little
out of breath.
"No, thank you!"
"Where shall I take you?"
"Madame Karenina's here, I think...take me to her."
"Wherever you command."
And Korsunsky began waltzing with measured steps straight towards
the group in the left corner, continually saying, "Pardon,
mesdames, pardon, pardon, mesdames"; and steering his course
through the sea of lace, tulle, and ribbon, and not disarranging
a feather, he turned his partner sharply round, so that her slim
ankles, in light transparent stockings, were exposed to view, and
her train floated out in fan shape and covered Krivin's knees.
Korsunky bowed, set straight his open shirt front, and gave her
his arm to conduct her to Anna Arkadyevna. Kitty, flushed, took
her train from Krivin's knees, and, a little giddy, looked round,
seeking Anna. Anna was not in lilac, as Kitty had so urgently
wished, but in a black, low-cut, velvet gown, showing her full
throat and shoulders, that looked as though carved in old ivory,
and her rounded arms, with tiny, slender wrists. The whole gown
was trimmed with Venetian guipure. On her head, among her black
hair--her own, with no false additions--was a little wreath of
pansies, and a bouquet of the same in the black ribbon of her
sash among white lace. Her coiffure was not striking. All that
was noticeable was the little wilful tendrils of her curly hair
that would always break free about her neck and temples. Round
her well-cut, strong neck was a thread of pearls.
Kitty had been seeing Anna every day; she adored her, and had
pictured her invariably in lilac. But now seeing her in black,
she felt that she had not fully seen her charm. She saw her now
as someone quite new and surprising to her. Now she understood
that Anna could not have been in lilac, and that her charm was
just that she always stood out against her attire, that her dress
could never be noticeable on her. And her black dress, with its
sumptuous lace, was not noticeable on her; it was only the frame,
and all that was seen was she--simple, natural, elegant, and at
the same time gay and eager.
She was standing holding herself, as always, very erect, and when
Kitty drew near the group she was speaking to the master of the
house, her head slightly turned towards him.
"No, I don't throw stones," she was saying, in answer to
something, "though I can't understand it," she went on, shrugging
her shoulders, and she turned at once with a soft smile of
protection towards Kitty. With a flying, feminine glance she
scanned her attire, and made a movement of her head, hardly
perceptible, but understood by Kitty, signifying approval of her
dress and her looks. "You came into the room dancing," she
"This is one of my most faithful supporters," said Korsunsky,
bowing to Anna Arkadyevna, whom he had not yet seen. "The
princess helps to make balls happy and successful. Anna
Arkadyevna, a waltz?" he said, bending down to her.
"Why, have yo met?" inquired their host.
"Is there anyone we have not met? My wife and I are like white
wolves--everyone knows us," answered Korsunsky. "A waltz, Anna
"I don't dance when it's possible not to dance," she said.
"But tonight it's impossible," answered Korsunsky.
At that instant Vronsky came up.
"Well, since it's impossible tonight, let us start," she said,
not noticing Vronsky's bow, and she hastily put her hand on
"What is she vexed with him about?" thought Kitty, discerning
that Anna had intentionally not responded to Vronsky's bow.
Vronsky went up to Kitty reminding her of the first quadrille,
and expressing his regret that he had not seen her all this time.
Kitty gazed in admiration at Anna waltzing, and listened to him.
She expected him to ask her for a waltz, but he did not, and she
glanced wonderingly at him. He flushed slightly, and hurriedly
asked her to waltz, but he had only just put his arm round her
waist and taken the first step when the music suddenly stopped.
Kitty looked into his face, which was so close to her own, and
long afterwards--for several years after--that look, full of
love, to which he made no response, cut her to the heart with an
agony of shame.
"Pardon! pardon! Waltz! waltz!" shouted Korsunsky from the other
side of the room, and seizing the first young lady he came across
he began dancing himself.
Vronsky and Kitty waltzed several times round the room. After
the first waltz Kitty went to her mother, and she had hardly time
to say a few words to Countess Nordston when Vronsky came up
again for the first quadrille. During the quadrille nothing of
any significance was said: there was disjointed talk between
them of the Korsunskys, husband and wife, whom he described very
amusingly, as delightful children at forty, and of the future
town theater; and only once the conversation touched her to the
quick, when he asker her about Levin, whether he was here, and
added that he liked him so much. But Kitty did not expect much
from the quadrille. She looked forward with a thrill at her
heart to the mazurka. She fancied that in the mazurka everything
must be decided. The fact that he did not during the quadrille
ask her for the mazurka did not trouble her. She felt sure she
would dance the mazurka with him as she had done at former balls,
and refused five young men, saying she was engaged for the
mazurka. The whole ball up to the last quadrille was for Kitty
an enchanted vision of delightful colors, sounds, and motions.
she only sat down when she felt too tired and begged for a rest.
But as she was dancing the last quadrille with one of the
tiresome young men whom she could not refuse, she chanced to be
vis-a-vis with Vronsky and Anna. She had not been near Anna
again since the beginning of the evening, and now again she saw
her suddenly quite new and surprising. She saw in her the signs
of that excitement of success she knew so well in herself; she
saw that she was intoxicated with the delighted admiration she
was exciting. She knew that feeling and knew its signs, and saw
them in Anna; saw the quivering, flashing light in her eyes, and
the smile of happiness and excitement unconsciously playing on
her lips, and the deliberate grace, precision, and lightness of
"Who?" she asked herself. "All or one?" And not assisting the
harassed young man she was dancing with in the conversation, the
thread of which he had lost and could not pick up again, she
obeyed with external liveliness the peremptory shouts of
Korsunsky starting them all into the grand round, and then into
the chaine, and at the same time she kept watch with a growing
pang at her heart. "No, it's not the admiration of the crowd has
intoxicated her, but the adoration of one. And that one? can it
be he?" Every time he spoke to Anna the joyous light flashed
into her eyes, and the smile of happiness curved her red lips.
she seemed to make an effort to control herself, to try not to
show these signs of delight, but they came out on her face
of themselves. "But what of him?" Kitty looked at him and was
filled with terror. What was pictured so clearly to Kitty in the
mirror of Anna's face she saw in him. What had become of his
always self-possessed resolute manner, and the carelessly serene
expression of his face? Now every time he turned to her, he bent
his head, as though he would have fallen at her feet, and in his
eyes there was nothing but humble submission and dread. "I would
not offend you," his eyes seemed every time to be saying, "but I
want to save myself, and I don't know how." On his face was a
look such as Kitty have never seen before.
They were speaking of common acquaintances, keeping up the most
trivial conversation, but to Kitty it seemed that every word they
said was determining their fate and hers. And strange it was
that they were actually talking of how absurd Ivan Ivanovitch was
with his French, and how the Eletsky girl might have made a
better match, yet these words had all the while consequence for
them, and they were feeling just as Kitty did. The whole ball,
the whole world, everything seemed lost in fog in Kitty's soul.
Nothing but the stern discipline of her bringing-up supported her
and forced her to do what was expected of her, that is, to dance,
to answer questions, to talk, even to smile. But before the
mazurka, when they were beginning to rearrange the chairs and a
few couples moved out of the smaller rooms into the big room, a
moment of despair and horror came for Kitty. She had refused
five partners, and now she was not dancing the mazurka. She had
not even a hope of being asked for it, because she was so
successful in society that the idea would never occur to anyone
that she had remained disengaged till now. She would have to
tell her mother she felt ill and go home, but she had not the
strength to do this. She felt crushed. She went to the furthest
end of the little drawing room and sank into a low chair. Her
light, transparent skirts rose like a cloud about her slender
waist; one bare, thin, soft, girlish arm, hanging listlessly, was
lost in the folds of her pink tunic; in the other she held her
fan, and with rapid, short strokes fanned her burning face. But
while she looked like a butterfly, clinging to a blade of grass,
and just about to open its rainbow wings for fresh flight, her
heart ached with a horrible despair.
"But perhaps I am wrong, perhaps it was not so?" And again she
recalled all she had seen.
"Kitty, what is it?" said Countess Nordston, stepping noiselessly
over the carpet towards her. "I don't understand it."
Kitty's lower lip began to quiver; she got up quickly.
"Kitty, you're not dancing the mazurka?"
"No, no," said Kitty in a voice shaking with tears.
"He asked her for the mazurka before me," said Countess Nordston,
knowing Kitty would understand who were "he" and "her." "She
said: 'Why, aren't you going to dance it with Princess
"Oh, I don't care!" answered Kitty.
No one but she herself understood her position; no one knew that
she had just refused the man whom perhaps she loved, and refused
him because she had put her faith in another.
Countess Nordston found Korsunsky, with whom she was to dance the
mazurka, and told him to ask Kitty.
Kitty danced in the first couple, and luckily for her she had not
to talk, because Korsunsky was all the time running about
directing the figure. Vronsky and Anna sat almost opposite her.
She saw them with her long-sighted eyes, and saw them, too, close
by, when they met in the figures, and the more she saw of them
the more convinced was she that her unhappiness was complete.
She saw that they felt themselves alone in that crowded room.
And on Vronsky's face, always so firm and independent, she saw
that look that had struck her, of bewilderment and humble
submissiveness, like the expression of an intelligent dog when it
has done wrong.
Anna smiled, and her smile was reflected by him. She grew
thoughtful, and he became serious. Some supernatural force drew
Kitty's eyes to Anna's face. She was fascinating in her simple
black dress, fascinating were her round arms with their
bracelets, fascinating was her firm neck with its thread of
pearls, fascinating the straying curls of her loose hair,
fascinating the graceful, light movements of her little feet and
hands, fascinating was that lovely face in its eagerness, but
there was something terrible and cruel in her fascination.
Kitty admired her more than ever, and more and more acute was her
suffering. Kitty felt overwhelmed, and her face showed it. When
Vronsky saw her, coming across her in the mazurka, he did not at
once recognize her, she was so changed.
"Delightful ball!" he said to her, for the sake of saying
"Yes," she answered.
In the middle of the mazurka, repeating a complicated figure,
newly invented by Korsunsky, Anna came forward into the center of
the circle, chose two gentlemen, and summoned a lady and Kitty.
Kitty gazed at her in dismay as she went up. Anna looked at her
with drooping eyelids, and smiled, pressing her had. But,
noticing that Kitty only responded to her smile by a look of
despair and amazement, she turned away from her, and began gaily
talking to the other lady.
"Yes, there is something uncanny, devilish and fascinating in
her," Kitty said to herself.
Anna did not mean to stay to supper, but the master of the house
began to press her to do so.
"Nonsense, Anna Arkadyevna," said Korsunsky, drawing her bare arm
under the sleeve of his dress coat, "I've such an idea for a
cotillion! Un bijou!"
And he moved gradually on, trying to draw her along with him.
Their hose smiled approvingly.
"No, I am not going to stay," answered Anna, smiling, but in
spite of her smile, both Korsunsky and the master of the house
saw from her resolute tone that she would not stay.
"No; why, as it is, I have danced mor at your ball in Moscow that
I have all the winter in Petersburg," said Anna, looking round at
Vronsky, who stood near her. "I must rest a little before my
"Are you certainly going tomorrow then?" asked Vronsky.
"Yes, I suppose so," answered Anna, as it were wondering at the
boldness of his question; but the irrepressible, quivering
brilliance of her eyes and her smile set him on fire as she said
Anna Arkadyevna did not stay to supper, but went home.
"Yes, there is something in me hateful, repulsive," thought Levin,
as he came away from the Shtcherbatskys', and walked in the
direction of his brother's lodgings. "And I don't get on with
other people. Pride, they say. No, I have no pride. If I had
any pride, I should not have put myself in such a position." And
he pictured to himself Vronsky, happy, good-natured, clever, and
self-possessed, certainly never placed in the awful position in
which he had been that evening. "Yes, she was bound to choose
him. So it had to be, and I cannot complain of anyone or
anything. I am myself to blame. What right had I to imagine she
would care to join her life to mine? Whom am I and what am I? A
nobody, not wanted by any one, nor of use to anybody." And he
recalled his brother Nikolay, and dwelt with pleasure on the
thought of him. "Isn't he right that everything in the world is
base and loathsome? And are we fair in our judgment of brother
Nikolay? Of course, from the point of view of Prokofy, seeing
him in a torn cloak and tipsy, he's a despicable person. But I
know him differently. I know his soul, and know that we are like
him. And I, instead of going to seek him out, went out to
dinner, and came here." Levin walked up to a lamppost, read his
brother's address, which was in his pocketbook, and called a
sledge. All the long way to his brother's, Levin vividly
recalled all the facts familiar to him of his brother Nikolay's
life. He remembered how his brother, while at the university,
and for a year afterwards, had, in spite of the jeers of his
companions, lived like a monk, strictly observing all religious
rites, services, and fasts, and avoiding every sort of pleasure,
especially women. And afterwards, how he had all at once broken
out: he had associated with the most horrible people, and rushed
into the most senseless debauchery. He remembered later the
scandal over a boy, whom he had taken from the country to bring
up, and, in a fit of rage, had so violently beaten that
proceedings were brought against him for unlawfully wounding.
Then he recalled the scandal with a sharper, to whom he had lost
money, and given a promissory note, and against whom he had
himself lodged a complaint, asserting that he had cheated him.
(This was the money Sergey Ivanovitch had paid.) Then he
remembered how he had spent a night in the lockup for disorderly
conduct in the street. He remembered the shameful proceedings he
had tried to get up against his brother Sergey Ivanovitch,
accusing him of not having paid him his share of his mother's
fortune, and the last scandal, when he had gone to a western
province in an official capacity, and there had got into trouble
for assaulting a village elder.... It was all horribly
disgusting, yet to Levin it appeared not at all in the same
disgusting light as it inevitably would to those who did not know
Nikolay, did not know all his story, did not know his heart.
Levin remembered that when Nikolay had been in the devout stage,
the period of fasts and monks and church services, when he was
seeking in religion a support and a curb for his passionate
temperament, everyone, far from encouraging him, had jeered at
him, and he, too, with the others. They had teased him, called
him Noah and Monk; and, when he had broken out, no one had helped
him, but everyone had turned away from him with horror and
Levin felt that, in spite of all the ugliness of his life, his
brother Nikolay, in his soul, in the very depths of his soul, was
no more in the wrong than the people who despised him. He was
not to blame for having been born with his unbridled temperament
and his somehow limited intelligence. But he had always wanted
to be good. "I will tell him everything, without reserve, and I
will make him speak without reserve, too, and I'll show him that
I love him, and so understand him," Levin resolved to himself,
as, towards eleven o'clock, he reached the hotel of which he had
"At the top, 12 and 13," the porter answered Levin's inquiry.
"Sure to be at home."
The door of No. 12 was half open, and there came out into the
streak of light thick fumes of cheap, poor tobacco, and the sound
of a voice, unknown to Levin; but he knew at once that his
brother was there; he heard his cough.
As he went in the door, the unknown voice was saying:
"It all depends with how much judgment and knowledge the thing's
Konstantin Levin looked in at the door, and saw that the speaker
was a young man with an immense shock of hair, wearing a Russian
jerkin, and that a pockmarked woman in a woolen gown, without
collar or cuffs, was sitting on the sofa. His brother was not to
be seen. Konstantin felt a sharp pang at his heart at the
thought of the strange company in which his brother spent his
life. No one had heard him, and Konstantin, taking off his
galoshes, listened to what the gentleman in the jerkin was
saying. He was speaking of some enterprise.
"Well, the devil flay them, the privileged classes," his
brother's voice responded, with a cough. "Masha! get us some
supper and some wine if there's any left; or else go and get
The woman rose, came out from behind the screen, and saw
"There's some gentleman, Nikolay Dmitrievitch," she said.
"Whom do you want?" said the voice of Nikolay Levin, angrily.
"It's I," answered Konstantin Levin, coming forward into the
"Who's _I_?" Nikolay's voice said again, still more angrily. He
could be heard getting up hurriedly, stumbling against something,
and Levin saw, facing him in the doorway, the big, scared eyes,
and the huge, thin, stooping figure of his brother, so familiar,
and yet astonishing in it weirdness and sickliness.
He was even thinner than three years before, when Konstantin
Levin had seen him last. He was wearing a short coat, and his
hands and big bones seemed huger than ever. His hair had grown
thinner, the same straight mustaches hid his lips, the same eyes
gazed strangely and naively at his visitor.
"Ah, Kostya!" he exclaimed suddenly, recognizing his brother, and
his eyes lit up with joy. But the same second he looked round at
the young man, and gave the nervous jerk of his head and neck
that Konstantin knew so well, as if his neckband hurt him; and a
quite different expression, wild, suffering, and cruel, rested
on his emaciated fact.
"I wrote to you and Sergey Ivanovitch both that I don't know you
and don't want to know you. What is it you want?"
He was not at all the same as Konstantin had been fancying him.
The worst and most tiresome part of his character, what made all
relations with him so difficult, had been forgotten by Konstantin
Levin when he thought of him, and now, when he saw his face, and
especially that nervous twitching of his head, he remembered it
"I didn't want to see you for anything," he answered timidly.
"I've simply come to see you."
His brother's timidity obviously softened Nikolay. His lips
"Oh, so that's it?" he said. "Well, come in; sit down. Like
some supper? Masha, bring supper for three. No, stop a minute.
Do you know who this is?" he said, addressing his brother, and
indicating the gentleman in the jerkin: "This is Mr. Kritsky, my
friend from Kiev, a very remarkable man. He's persecuted by the
police, of course, because he's not a scoundrel."
And he looked round in the way he always did at everyone in the
room. Seeing that the woman standing in the doorway was moving
to go, he shouted to her, "Wait a minute, I said." And with the
inability to express himself, the incoherence that Konstantin
knew so well, he began, with another look round at everyone, to
tell his brother Kritsky's story: how he had been expelled from
the university for starting a benefit society for the poor
students and Sunday schools; and how he had afterwards been a
teacher in a peasant school, and how he had been driven out of
that too, and had afterwards been condemned for something.
"You're of the Kiev university?" said Konstantin Levin to
Kritsky, to break the awkward silence that followed.
"Yes, I was of Kiev," Kritsky replied angrily, his face
"And this woman," Nikolay Levin interrupted him, pointing to her,
"is the partner of my life, Marya Nikolaevna. I took her out of
a bad house," and he jerked his neck saying this; "but I love her
and respect her, and any one who wants to know me," he added,
raising his voice and knitting his brows, "I beg to love her and
respect her. She's just the same as my wife, just the same. So
now you know whom you've to do with. And if you think you're
lowering yourself, well, here's the floor, there's the door."
And again his eyes traveled inquiringly over all of them.
"Why I should be lowering myself, I don't understand."
"Then, Masha, tell them to bring supper; three portions, spirits
and wine.... No, wait a minute.... No, it doesn't matter....
"So you see," pursued Nikolay Levin, painfully wrinkling his
forehead and twitching.
It was obviously difficult for him to think of what to say and
"Here, do you see?"... He pointed to some sort of iron bars,
fastened together with strings, lying in a corner of the room.
"Do you see that? That's the beginning of a new thing we're
going into. It's a productive association..."
Konstantin scarcely heard him. He looked into his sickly,
consumptive face, and he was more and more sorry for him, and he
could not force himself to listen to what his brother was telling
him about the association. He saw that this association was a
mere anchor to save him from self-contempt. Nikolay Levin went
"You know that capital oppresses the laborer. The laborers with
us, the peasants, bear all the burden of labor, and are so placed
that however much they work they can't escape from their position
of beasts of burden. All the profits of labor, on which they
might improve their position, and gain leisure for themselves,
and after that education, all the surplus values are taken from
them by the capitalists. And society's so constituted that the
harder they work, the greater the profit of the merchants and
landowners, while they stay beasts of burden to the end. And
that state of things must be changed," he finished up, and he
looked questioningly at his brother.
"Yes, of course," said Konstantin, looking at the patch of red
that had come out on his brother's projecting cheek bones.
"And so we're founding a locksmiths' association, where all the
production and profit and the chief instruments of production
will be in common."
"Where is the association to be?" asked Konstantin Levin.
"In the village of Vozdrem, Kazan government."
"But why in a village? In the villages, I think, there is plenty
of work as it is. Why a locksmiths' association in a village?"
"Why? Because the peasants are just as much slaves as they ever
were, and that's why you and Sergey Ivanovitch don't like people
to try and get them out of their slavery," said Nikolay Levin,
exasperated by the objection.
Konstantin Levin sighed, looking meanwhile about the cheerless
and dirty room. This sigh seemed to exasperate Nikolay still
"I know your and Sergey Ivanovitch's aristocratic views. I know
that he applies all the power of his intellect to justify
"No; and what do you talk of Sergey Ivanovitch for?" said Levin,
"Sergey Ivanovitch? I'll tell you what for!" Nikolay Levin
shrieked suddenly at the name of Sergey Ivanovitch. "I'll tell
you what for.... But what's the use of talking? There's only one
thing.... What did you come to me for? You look down on this,
and you're welcome to,--and go away, in God's name go away!" he
shrieked, getting up from his chair. "And go away, and go away!"
"I don't look down on it at all," said Konstantin Levin timidly.
"I don't even dispute it."
At that instant Marya Nikolaevna came back. Nikolay Levin
looked round angrily at her. She went quickly to him, and
"I'm not well; I've grown irritable," said Nikolay Levin, getting
calmer and breathing painfully; "and then you talk to me of
Sergey Ivanovitch and his article. It's such rubbish, such
lying, such self-deception. What can a man write of justice who
knows nothing of it? Have you read his article?" he asked
Kritsky, sitting down again at the table, and moving back off
half of it the scattered cigarettes, so as to clear a space.
"I've not read it," Kritsky responded gloomily, obviously not
desiring to enter into the conversation.
"Why not?" said Nikolay Levin, now turning with exasperation upon
"Because I didn't see the use of wasting my time over it."
"Oh, but excuse me, how did you know it would be wasting your
time? That article's too deep for many people--that's to say
it's over their heads. But with me, it's another thing; I see
through his ideas, and I know where its weakness lies."
Everyone was mute. Kritsky got up deliberately and reached his
"Won't you have supper? All right, good-bye! Come round
tomorrow with the locksmith."
Kritsky had hardly gone out when Nikolay Levin smiled and winked.
"He's no good either," he said. "I see, of course..."
But at that instant Kritsky, at the door, called him...
"What do you want now?" he said, and went out to him in the
passage. Left alone with Marya Nikolaevna, Levin turned to her.
"Have you been long with my brother?" he said to her.
"Yes, more than a year. Nikolay Dmitrievitch's health has become
very poor. Nikolay Dmitrievitch drinks a great deal," she said.
"That is...how does he drink?"
"Drinks vodka, and it's bad for him."
"And a great deal?" whispered Levin.
"Yes," she said, looking timidly towards the doorway, where
Nikolay Levin had reappeared.
"What were you talking about?" he said, knitting his brows, and
turning his scarred eyes from one to the other. "What was it?"
"Oh, nothing," Konstantin answered in confusion.
"Oh, if you don't want to say, don't. Only it's no good your
talking to her. She's a wench, and you're a gentleman," he said
with a jerk of the neck. "You understand everything, I see, and
have taken stock of everything, and look with commiseration on my
shortcomings," he began again, raising his voice.
"Nikolay Dmitrievitch, Nikolay Dmitrievitch," whispered Marya
Nikolaevna, again going up to him.
"Oh, very well, very well!... But where's the supper? Ah, here
it is," he said, seeing a waiter with a tray. "Here, set it
here," he added angrily, and promptly seizing the vodka, he
poured out a glassful and drank it greedily. "Like a drink?" he
turned to his brother, and at once became better humored.
"Well, enough of Sergey Ivanovitch. I'm glad to see you, anyway.
After all's said and done, we're not strangers. Come, have a
drink. Tell me what you're doing," he went on, greedily munching
a piece of bread, and pouring out another glassful. "How are you
"I live alone in the country, as I used to. I'm busy looking
after the land," answered Konstantin, watching with horror the
greediness with which his brother ate and drank, and trying to
conceal that he noticed it.
"Why don't you get married?"
"It hasn't happened so," Konstantin answered, reddening a little.
"Why not? For me now...everything's at an end! I've made a mess
of my life. But this I've said, and I say still, that if my
share had been given me when I needed it, my whole life would
have been different."
Konstantin made haste to change the conversation.
"Do you know your little Vanya's with me, a clerk in the
countinghouse at Pokrovskoe."
Nikolay jerked his neck, and sank into thought.
"Yes, tell me what's going on at Pokrovskoe. Is the house
standing still, and the birch trees, and our schoolroom? And
Philip the gardener, is he living? How I remember the arbor and
the seat! Now mind and don't alter anything in the house, but
make haste and get married, and make everything as it used to be
again. Then I'll come and see you, if your wife is nice."
"But come to me now," said Levin. "How nicely we would arrange
I'd come and see you if I were sure I should not find Sergey
"You wouldn't find him there. I live quite independently of
"Yes, but say what you like, you will have to choose between me
and him," he said, looking timidly into his brother's face.
This timidity touch Konstantin.
"If you want to hear my confession of faith on the subject, I
tell you that in your quarrel with Sergey Ivanovitch I take
neither side. You're both wrong. You're more wrong externally,
and he inwardly."
"Ah, ah! You see that, you see that!" Nikolay shouted joyfully.
"But I personally value friendly relations with you more
Konstantin could not say that he valued it more because Nikolay
was unhappy, and needed affection. But Nikolay knew that this
was just what he meant to say, and scowling he took up the vodka
"Enough, Nikolay Dmitrievitch!" said Marya Nikolaevna, stretching
out her plump, bare arm towards the decanter.
"Let it be! Don't insist! I'll beat you!" he shouted.
Marya Nikolaevna smiled a sweet and good-humored smile, which was
at once reflected on Nikolay's face, and she took the bottle.
"And do you suppose she understands nothing?" said Nikolay. "She
understands it all better than any of us. Isn't it true there's
something good and sweet in her?"
"Were you never before in Moscow?" Konstantin said to her, for
the sake of saying something.
"Only you mustn't be polite and stiff with her. It frightens
her. No one ever spoke to her so but the justices of the peace
who tried her for trying to get out of a house of ill-fame.
Mercy on us, the senselessness in the world!" he cried suddenly.
"These new institutions, these justices of the peace, rural
councils, what hideousness it all is!"
And he began to enlarge on his encounters with the new
Konstantin Levin heard him, and the disbelief in the sense of
all public institutions, which he shared with him, and often
expressed, was distasteful to him now from his brother's lips.
"In another world we shall understand it all," he said lightly.
"In another world! Ah, I don't like that other world! I don't
like it," he said, letting his scared eyes rest on his brother's
eyes. "Here one would think that to get out of all the baseness
and the mess, one's own and other people's, would be a good
thing, and yet I'm afraid of death, awfully afraid of death." He
shuddered. "But do drink something. Would you like some
champagne? Or shall we go somewhere? Let's go to the Gypsies!
Do you know I have got so fond of the Gypsies and Russian songs."
His speech had begun to falter, and he passed abruptly from one
subject to another. Konstantin with the help of Masha persuaded
him not to go out anywhere, and got him to bed hopelessly drunk.
Masha promised to write to Konstantin in case of need, and to
persuade Nikolay Levin to go and stay with his brother.
In the morning Konstantin Levin left Moscow, and towards evening
he reached home. On the journey in the train he talked to his
neighbors about politics and the new railways, and, just as in
Moscow, he was overcome by a sense of confusion of ideas,
dissatisfaction with himself, shame of something or other. But
when he got out at his own station, when he saw his one-eyed
coachman, Ignat, with the collar of his coat turned up; when, in
the dim light reflected by the station fires, he saw his own
sledge, his own horses with their tails tied up, in their harness
trimmed with rings and tassels; when the coachman Ignat, as he
put in his luggage, told him the village news, that the
contractor had arrived, and that Pava had calved,--he felt that
little by little the confusion was clearing up, and the shame and
self-dissatisfaction were passing away. He felt this at the mere
sight of Ignat and the horses; but when he had put on the
sheepskin brought for him, had sat down wrapped in the sledge,
and had driven off pondering on the work that lay before him in
the village, and staring at the side-horse, that had been his
saddle-horse, past his prime now, but a spirited beast from the
Don, he began to see what had happened to him in quite a
different light. He felt himself, and did not want to be any one
else. All he wanted now was to be better than before. In the
first place he resolved that from that day he would give up
hoping for any extraordinary happiness, such as marriage must
have given him, and consequently he would not so disdain what he
really had. Secondly, he would never again let himself give way
to low passion, the memory of which had so tortured him when he
had been making up his mind to make an offer. Then remembering
his brother Nikolay, he resolved to himself that he would never
allow himself to forget him, that he would follow him up, and not
lose sight of him, so as to be ready to help when things should
go ill with him. And that would be soon, he felt. Then, too,
his brother's talk of communism, which he had treated so lightly
at the time, now made him think. He considered a revolution in
economic conditions nonsense. But he always felt the injustice
of his own abundance in comparison with the poverty of the
peasants, and now he determined that so as to feel quite in the
right, though he had worked hard and lived by no means
luxuriously before, he would now work still harder, and would
allow himself even less luxury. And all this seemed to him so
easy a conquest over himself that he spent the whole drive in the
pleasantest daydreams. With a resolute feeling of hope in a new,
better life, he reached home before nine o'clock at night.
The snow of the little quadrangle before the house was lit up by
a light in the bedroom windows of his old nurse, Agafea
Mihalovna, who performed the duties of housekeeper in his house.
She was not yet asleep. Kouzma, waked up by her, came sidling
sleepily out onto the steps. A setter bitch, Laska, ran out too,
almost upsetting Kouzma, and whining, turned round about Levin's
knees, jumping up and longing, but not daring, to put her
forepaws on his chest.
"You're soon back again, sir," said Agafea Mihalovna.
"I got tired of it, Agafea Mihalovna. With friends, one is well;
but at home, one is better," he answered, and went into his
The study was slowly lit up as the candle was brought in. The
familiar details came out: the stag's horns, the bookshelves,
the looking-glass, the stove with its ventilator, which had long
wanted mending, his father's sofa, a large table, on the table an
open book, a broken ash tray, a manuscript book with his
handwriting. As he saw all this, there came over him for an
instant a doubt of the possibility of arranging the new life, of
which he had been dreaming on the road. All these traces of his
life seemed to clutch him, and to say to him: "No, you're not
going to get away from us, and you're not going to be different,
but you're going to be the same as you've always been; with
doubts, everlasting dissatisfaction with yourself, vain efforts
to amend, and falls, and everlasting expectation, of a happiness
which you won't get, and which isn't possible for you."
This the tings said to him, but another voice in his heart was
telling him that he must not fall under the sway of the past, and
that one can do anything with oneself. And hearing that voice,
he went into the corner where stood his two heavy dumbbells, and
began brandishing them like a gymnast, trying to restore his
confident temper. There was a creak of steps at the door. He
hastily put down the dumbbells.
The bailiff came in, and said everything, thank God, was doing
well; but informed him that the buckwheat in the new drying
machine had been a little scorched. This piece of news irritated
Levin. The new drying machine had been constructed and partly
invented by Levin. The bailiff had always been against the
drying machine, and now it was with suppressed triumph that he
announced that the buckwheat had been scorched. Levin was firmly
convinced that if the buckwheat had been scorched, it was only
because the precautions had not been taken, for which he had
hundreds of times given orders. He was annoyed, and reprimanded
the bailiff. But there had been an important and joyful event:
Pava, his best cow, an expensive beast, bought at a show, had
"Kouzma, give me my sheepskin. And you tell them to take a
lantern. I'll come and look at her," he said to the bailiff.
The cowhouse for the more valuable cows was just behind the
house. Walking across the yard, passing a snowdrift by the lilac
tree, he went into the cowhouse. There was the warm, steamy
smell of dung when the frozen door was opened, and the cows,
astonished at the unfamiliar light of the lantern, stirred on the
fresh straw. He caught a glimpse of the broad, smooth, black and
piebald back of Hollandka. Berkoot, the bull, was lying down
with his ring in his lip, and seemed about to get up, but thought
better of it, and only gave two snorts as they passed by him.
Pava, a perfect beauty, huge as a hippopotamus, with her back
turned to them, prevented their seeing the calf, as she sniffed
her all over.
Levin went into the pen, looked Pava over, and lifted the red and
spotted calf onto her long, tottering legs. Pava, uneasy, began
lowing, but when Levin put the calf close to her she was soothed,
and, sighing heavily, began licking her with her rough tongue.
The calf, fumbling, poked her nose under her mother's udder, and
stiffened her tail out straight.
"Here, bring the light, Fyodor, this way," said Levin, examining
the calf. "Like the mother! though the color takes after the
father; but that's nothing. Very good. Long and broad in the
haunch. Vassily Fedorovitch, isn't she splendid?" he said to the
bailiff, quite forgiving him for the buckwheat under the
influence of his delight in the calf.
"How could she fail to be? Oh, Semyon the contractor came the
day after you left. You must settle with him, Konstantin
Dmitrievitch," said the bailiff. "I did inform you about the
This question was enough to take Levin back to all the details of
his work on the estate, which was on a large scale, and
complicated. He went straight from the cowhouse to the counting
house, and after a little conversation with the bailiff and
Semyon the contractor, he went back to the house and straight
upstairs to the drawing room.
The house was big and old-fashioned, and Levin, though he lived
alone, had the whole house heated and used. He knew that this
was stupid, he knew that it was positively not right, and
contrary to his present new plans, but this house was a whole
world to Levin. It was the world in which his father and mother
had lived and died. They had lived just the life that to Levin
seemed the ideal of perfection, and that he had dreamed of
beginning with his wife, his family.
Levin scarcely remembered his mother. His conception of her was
for him a sacred memory, and his future wife was bound to be in
his imagination a repetition of that exquisite, holy ideal of a
woman that his mother had been.
He was so far from conceiving of love for woman apart from
marriage that he positively pictured to himself first the family,
and only secondarily the woman who would give him a family. His
ideas of marriage were, consequently, quite unlike those of the
great majority of his acquaintances, for whom getting married was
one of the numerous facts of social life. For Levin it was the
chief affair of life, on which its whole happiness turned. And
now he had to give up that.
When he had gone into the little drawing room, where he always
had tea, and had settled himself in his armchair with a book,
and Agafea Mihalovna had brought him tea, and with her usual,
"Well, I'll stay a while, sir," had taken a chair in the window,
he felt that, however strange it might be, he had not parted from
his daydreams, and that he could not live without them. Whether
with her, or with another, still it would be. He was reading a
book, and thinking of what he was reading, and stopping to listen
to Agafea Mihalovna, who gossiped away without flagging, and yet
with all that, all sorts of pictures of family life and work in
the future rose disconnectedly before his imagination. He felt
that in the depth of his soul something had been put in its
place, settled down, and laid to rest.
He heard Agafea Mihalovna talking of how Prohor had forgotten his
duty to God, and with the money Levin had given him to buy a
horse, had been drinking without stopping, and had beaten his
wife till he'd half killed her. He listened, and read his book,
and recalled the whole train of ideas suggested by his reading.
It was Tyndall's Treatise on Heat. He recalled his own
criticisms of Tyndall of his complacent satisfaction in the
cleverness of his experiments, and for his lack of philosophic
insight. And suddenly there floated into his mind the joyful
thought: "In two years' time I shall have two Dutch cows; Pava
herself will perhaps still be alive, a dozen young daughters of
Berkoot and the three others--how lovely!"
He took up his book again. "Very good, electricity and heat are
the same thing; but is it possible to substitute the one quantity
for the other in the equation for the solution of any problem?
No. Well, then what of it? The connection between all the
forces of nature is felt instinctively.... It's particulary nice
if Pava's daughter should be a red-spotted cow, and all the herd
will take after her, and the other three, too! Splendid! To go
out with my wife and visitors to meet the herd.... My wife says,
Kostya and I looked after that calf like a child.' 'How can it
interest you so much?' says a visitor. 'Everything that
interests him, interests me.' But who will she be?" And he
remembered what had happened at Moscow.... "Well, there's
nothing to be done.... It's not my fault. But now everything
shall go on in a new way. It's nonsense to pretend that life
won't let one, that the past won't let one. One must struggle to
live better, much better."... He raised his head, and fell to
dreaming. Old Laska, who had not yet fully digested her delight
at his return, and had run out into the yard to bark, came back
wagging her tail, and crept up to him, bringing in the scent of
fresh air, put her head under his hand, and whined plaintively,
asking to be stroked.
"There, who'd have thought it?" said Agafea Mihalovna. "The dog
now...why, she understands that her master's come home, and that
"Do you suppose I don't see it, sir? It's high time I should know
the gentry. Why, I've grown up from a little thing with them.
It's nothing, sir, so long as there's health and a clear
Levin looked intently at her, surprised at how well she knew his
"Shall I fetch you another cup?" said she, and taking his cup she
Laska kept poking her head under his hand. He stroked her, and
she promptly curled up at his feet, laying her head on a hindpaw.
And in token of all now being well and satisfactory, she opened
her mouth a little, smacked her lips, and settling her sticky
lips more comfortably about her old teeth, she sank into blissful
repose. Levin watched all her movements attentively.
"That's what I'll do," he said to himself; "that's what I'll do!
Nothing's amiss.... All's well."
After the ball, early next morning, Anna Arkadyevna sent her
husband a telegram that she was leaving Moscow the same day.
"No, I must go, I must go"; she explained to her sister-in-law
the change in her plans in a tone that suggested that she had to
remember so many things that there was no enumerating them: "no,
it had really better be today!"
Stepan Arkadyevitch was not dining at home, but he promised to
come and see his sister off at seven o'clock.
Kitty, too, did not come, sending a note that she had a headache.
Dolly and Anna dined alone with the children and the English
governess. Whether it was that the children were fickle, or that
they had acute senses, and felt that Anna was quite different
that day from what she had been when they had taken such a fancy
to her, that she was not now interested in them,--but they had
abruptly dropped their play with their aunt, and their love for
her, and were quite indifferent that she was going away. Anna
was absorbed the whole morning in preparations for her
departure. She wrote notes to her Moscow acquaintances, put down
her accounts, and packed. Altogether Dolly fancied she was not
in a placid state of mind, but in that worried mood, which Dolly
knew well with herself, and which does not come without cause,
and for the most part covers dissatisfaction with self. After
dinner, Anna went up to her room to dress, and Dolly followed
"How queer you are today!" Dolly said to her.
"I? Do you think so? I'm not queer, but I'm nasty. I am like
that sometimes. I keep feeling as if I could cry. It's very
stupid, but it'll pass off," said Anna quickly, and she bent her
flushed face over a tiny bag in which she was packing a nightcap
and some cambric handkerchiefs. Her eyes were particulary
bright, and were continually swimming with tears. "In the same
way I didn't want to leave Petersburg, and now I don't want to go
away from here."
"You came here and did a good deed," said Dolly, looking intently
Anna looked at her with eyes wet with tears.
"Don't say that, Dolly. I've done nothing, and could do nothing.
I often wonder why people are all in league to spoil me. What
have I done, and what could I do? In your heart there was found
love enough to forgive..."
"If it had not been for you, God knows what would have happened!
How happy you are, Anna!" said Dolly. "Everything is clear and
good in your heart."
"Every heart has its own skeletons, as the English say."
"You have no sort of skeleton, have you? Everything is so clear
"I have!" said Anna suddenly, and, unexpectedly after her tears,
a sly, ironical smile curved her lips.
"Come, he's amusing, anyway, your skeleton, and not depressing,"
said Dolly, smiling.
"No, he's depressing. Do you know why I'm going today instead of
tomorrow? It's a confession that weighs on me; I want to make it
to you," said Anna, letting herself drop definitely into an
armchair, and looking straight into Dolly's face.
And to her surprise Dolly saw that Anna was blushing up to her
ears, up to the curly black ringlets on her neck.
"Yes," Anna went on. "Do you know why Kitty didn't come to
dinner? she's jealous of me. I have spoiled...I've been the
cause of that ball being a torture to her instead of a pleasure.
But truly, truly, it's not my fault, or only my fault a little
bit," she said, daintily drawling the words "a little bit."
"Oh, how like Stiva you said that!" said Dolly, laughing.
Anna was hurt.
"Oh no, oh no! I'm not Stiva," she said, knitting her brows.
"That's why I'm telling you, just because I could never let
myself doubt myself for an instant," said Anna.
But at the very moment she was uttering the words, she felt that
they were not true. She was not merely doubting herself, she
felt emotion at the thought of Vronsky, and was going away sooner
than she had meant, simply to avoid meeting him.
"Yes, Stiva told me you danced the mazurka with him, and that
"You can't imagine how absurdly it all came about. I only meant
to be matchmaking, and all at once it turned out quite
differently. Possibly against my own will..."
She crimsoned and stopped.
"Oh, they feel it directly?" said Dolly.
"But I should be in despair if there were anything serious in it
on his side," Anna interrupted her. "And I am certain it will
all be forgotten, and Kitty will leave off hating me."
"All the same, Anna, to tell you the truth, I'm not very anxious
for this marriage for Kitty. And it's better it should come to
nothing, if he, Vronsky, is capable of falling in love with you
in a single day."
"Oh, heavens, that would be too silly!" said Anna, and again a
deep flush of pleasure came out on her face, when she heard the
idea, that absorbed her, put into words. "And so here I am going
away, having made an enemy of Kitty, whom I liked so much! Ah,
how sweet she is! But you'll make it right, Dolly? Eh?"
Dolly could scarcely suppress a smile. She loved Anna, but she
enjoyed seeing that she too had her weaknesses.
"An enemy? That can't be."
"I did so want you all to care for me, as I do for you, and now I
care for you more than ever," said Anna, with tears in her eyes.
"Ah, how silly I am today!"
She passed her handkerchief over her face and began dressing.
At the very moment of starting Stepan Arkadyevitch arrived, late,
rosy and good-humored, smelling of wine and cigars.
Anna's emotionalism infected Dolly, and when she embraced her
sister-in-law for the last time, she whispered: "Remember, Anna,
what you've done for me--I shall never forget. And remember
that I love you, and shall always love you as my dearest friend!"
"I don't know why," said Anna, kissing her and hiding her tears.
"You understood me, and you understand. Good-bye, my darling!"
"Come, it's all over, and thank God!" was the first thought that
came to Anna Arkadyevna, when she had said good-bye for the last
time to her brother, who had stood blocking up the entrance to
the carriage till the third bell rang. She sat down on her
lounge beside Annushka, and looked about her in the twilight of
the sleeping-carriage. "Thank God! tomorrow I shall see Seryozha
and Alexey Alexandrovitch, and my life will go on in the old way,
all nice and as usual."
Still in the same anxious frame of mind, as she had been all that
day, Anna took pleasure in arranging herself for the journey with
great care. With her little deft hands she opened and shut her
little red bag, took out a cushion, laid it on her knees, and
carefully wrapping up her feet, settled herself comfortably. An
invalid lady had already lain down to sleep. Two other ladies
began talking to Anna, and a stout elderly lady tucked up her
feet, and made observations about the heating of the train. Anna
answered a few words, but not foreseeing any entertainment from
the conversation, she asked Annushka to get a lamp, hooked it
onto the arm of her seat, and took from her bag a paper knife and
an English novel. At first her reading made no progress. The
fuss and bustle were disturbing; then when the train had started,
she could not help listening to the noises; then the snow beating
on the left window and sticking to the pane, and the sight of the
muffled guard passing by, covered with snow on one side, and the
conversations about the terrible snowstorm raging outside,
distracted her attention. Farther on, it was continually the
same again and again: the same shaking and rattling, the same
snow on the window, the same rapid transitions from steaming
heat to cold, and back again to heat, the same passing glimpses
of the same figures in the twilight, and the same voices, and
Anna began to read and to understand what she read. Annushka was
already dozing, the red bag on her lap, clutched by her broad
hands, in gloves, of which one was torn. Anna Arkadyevna read
and understood, but it was distasteful to her to read, that is,
to follow the reflection of other people's lives. She had too
great a desire to live herself. If she read that the heroine of
the novel was nursing a sick man, she longed to move with
noiseless steps about the room of a sick man; if she read of a
member of Parliament making a speech, she longed to be delivering
the speech; if she read of how Lady Mary had ridden after the
hounds, and had provoked her sister-in-law, and had surprised
everyone by her boldness, she too wished to be doing the same.
But there was no chance of doing anything; and twisting the
smooth paper knife in her little hands, she forced herself to
The hero of the novel was already almost reaching his English
happiness, a baronetcy and an estate, and Anna was feeling a
desire to go with him to the estate, when she suddenly felt that
HE ought to feel ashamed, and that she was ashamed of the same
thing. But what had he to be ashamed of? "What have I to be
ashamed of?" she asked herself in injured surprise. She laid
down the book and sank against the back of the chair, tightly
gripping the paper cutter in both hands. There was nothing. She
went over all her Moscow recollections. All were good, pleasant.
She remembered the ball, remembered Vronsky and his face of
slavish adoration, remembered all her conduct with him: there
was nothing shameful. And for all that, at the same point in her
memories, the feeling of shame was intensified, as though some
inner voice, just at the point when she thought of Vronsky, were
saying to her, "Warm, very warm, hot." "Well, what is it?" she
said to herself resolutely, shifting her seat in the lounge.
"What does it mean? Am I afraid to look it straight in the face?
Why, what is it? Can it be that between me and this officer boy
there exist, or can exist, any other relations than such as are
common with every acquaintance?" She laughed contemptuously and
took up her book again; but now she was definitely unable to
follow what she read. She passed the paper knife over the window
pane, then laid its smooth, cool surface to her cheek, and almost
laughed aloud at the feeling of delight that all at once without
cause came over her. She felt as though her nerves were strings
being strained tighter and tighter on some sort of screwing peg.
She felt her eyes opening wider and wider, her fingers and toes
twitching nervously, something within oppressing her breathing,
while all shapes and sounds seemed in the uncertain half-light to
strike her with unaccustomed vividness. Moments of doubt were
continually coming upon her, when she was uncertain whether the
train were going forwards or backwards, or were standing still
altogether; whether it were Annushka at her side or a stranger.
"What's that on the arm of the chair, a fur cloak or some beast?
And what am I myself? Myself or some other woman?" she was
afraid of giving way to this delirium. But something drew her
towards it, and she could yield to it or resist it at will. She
got up to rouse herself, and slipped off her plaid and the cape
of her warm dress. For a moment she regained her
self-possession, and realized that the thin peasant who had come
in wearing a long overcoat, with buttons missing from it, was the
stoveheater, that he was looking at the thermometer, that it was
the wind and snow bursting in after him at the door; but then
everything grew blurred again.... That peasant with the long
waist seemed to be gnawing something on the wall, the old lady
began stretching her legs the whole length of the carriage, and
filling it with a black cloud; then there was a fearful shrieking
and banging, as though someone were being torn to pieces; then
there was a blinding dazzle of red fire before her eyes and a
wall seemed to rise up and hide everything. Anna felt as though
she were sinking down. But it was not terrible, but delightful.
The voice of a man muffled up and covered with snow shouted
something in her ear. She got up and pulled herself together;
she realized that they had reached a station and that this was
the guard. She asked Annushka to hand her the cape she had taken
off and her shawl, put them on and moved towards the door.
"Do you wish to get out?" asked Annushka.
"Yes, I want a little air. It's very hot in here." And she
opened the door. The driving snow and the wind rushed to meet
her and struggled with her over the door. But she enjoyed the
She opened the door and went out. The wind seemed as though
lying in wait for her; with gleeful whistle it tried to snatch
her up and bear her off, but she clung to the cold door post, and
holding her skirt got down onto the platform and under the
shelter of the carriages. The wind had been powerful on the
steps, but on the platform, under the lee of the carriages, there
was a lull. With enjoyment she drew deep breaths of the frozen,
snowy air, and standing near the carriage looked about the
platform and the lighted station.
The raging tempest rushed whistling between the wheels of the
carriages, about the scaffolding, and round the corner of the
station. The carriages, posts, people, everything that was to be
seen was covered with snow on one side, and was getting more and
more thickly covered. For a moment there would come a lull in
the storm, but then it would swoop down again with such
onslaughts that it seemed impossible to stand against it.
Meanwhile men ran to and fro, talking merrily together, their
steps crackling on the platform as they continually opened and
closed the big doors. The bent shadow of a man glided by at her
feet, and she heard sounds of a hammer upon iron. "Hand over
that telegram!" came an angry voice out of the stormy darkness on
the other side. "This way! No. 28!" several different voices
shouted again, and muffled figures ran by covered with snow. Two
gentleman with lighted cigarettes passed by her. She drew one
more deep breath of the fresh air, and had just put he hand out
of her muff to take hold of the door post and get back into the
carriage, when another man in a military overcoat, quite close
beside her, stepped between her and the flickering light of the
lamp post. She looked round, and the same instant recognized
Vronsky's face. Putting his hand to the peak of his cap, he
bowed to her and asked, Was there anything she wanted? Could he
be of any service to her? She gazed rather a long while at him
without answering, and, in spite of the shadow in which he was
standing, she saw, or fancied she saw, both the expression of his
face and his eyes. It was again that expression of reverential
ecstasy which had so worked upon her the day before. More than
once she had told herself during the past few days, and again
only a few moments before, that Vronsky was for her only one of
the hundreds of young men, forever exactly the same, that are met
everywhere, that she would never allow herself to bestow a
thought upon him. But now at the first instant of meeting him,
she was seized by a feeling of joyful pride. She had no need to
ask why he had come. She knew as certainly as if he had told her
that he was here to be where she was.
"I didn't know you were going. What are you coming for?" she
said, letting fall the hand with which she had grasped the door
post. And irrepressible delight and eagerness shone in her face.
"What am I coming for?" he repeated, looking straight into her
eyes. "You know that I have come to be where you are," he said;
"I can't help it."
At that moment the wind, as it were, surmounting all obstacles,
sent the snow flying from the carriage roofs, and clanked some
sheet of iron it had torn off, while the hoarse whistle of the
engine roared in front, plaintively and gloomily. All the
awfulness of the storm seemed to her more splendid now. He had
said what her soul longed to hear, though she feared it with her
reason. She made no answer, and in her face he saw conflict.
"Forgive me, if you dislike what I said," he said humbly.
He had spoken courteously, deferentially, yet so firmly, so
stubbornly, that for a long while she could make no answer.
"It's wrong, what you say, and I beg you, if you're a good man,
to forget what you've said, as I forget it," she said at last.
"Not one word, not one gesture of yours shall I, could I, ever
"Enough, enough!" she cried trying assiduously to give a stern
expression to her face, into which he was gazing greedily. And
clutching at the cold door post, she clambered up the steps and
got rapidly into the corridor of the carriage. But in the little
corridor she paused, going over in her imagination what had
happened. Though she could not recall her own words or his, she
realized instinctively that the momentary conversation had
brought them fearfully closer; and she was panic-stricken and
blissful at it. After standing still a few seconds, she went
into the carriage and sat down in her place. The overstrained
condition which had tormented her before did not only come back,
but was intensified, and reached such a pitch that she was afraid
every minute that something would snap within her from the
excessive tension. She did not sleep all night. But in that
nervous tension, and in the visions that filled her imagination,
there was nothing disagreeable or gloomy: on the contrary there
was something blissful, glowing, and exhilarating. Towards
morning Anna sank into a doze, sitting in her place, and when she
waked it was daylight and the train was near Petersburg. At once
thoughts of home, of husband and of son, and the details of that
day and the following came upon her.
At Petersburg, as soon as the train stopped and she got out, the
first person that attracted her attention was her husband. "Oh,
mercy! why do his ears look like that?" she thought, looking at
his frigid and imposing figure, and especially the ears that
struck her at the moment as propping up the brim of his round
hat. Catching sight of her, he came to meet her, his lips
falling into their habitual sarcastic smile, and his big, tired
eyes looking straight at her. An unpleasant sensation gripped at
her heart when she met his obstinate and weary glance, as though
she had expected to see him different. She was especially struck
by the feeling of dissatisfaction with herself that she
experienced on meeting him. That feeling was an intimate,
familiar feeling, like a consciousness of hypocrisy, which she
experienced in her relations with her husband. But hitherto she
had not taken note of the feeling, now she was clearly and
painfully aware of it.
"Yes, as you see, your tender spouse, as devoted as the first
year after marriage, burned with impatience to see you," he said
in his deliberate, high-pitched voice, and in that tone which he
almost always took with her, a tone of jeering at anyone who
should say in earnest what he said.
"Is Seryozha quite well?" she asked.
"And is this all the reward," said he, "for my ardor? He's quite
Vronsky had not even tried to sleep all that night. He sat in
his armchair, looking straight before him or scanning the people
who got in and out. If he had indeed on previous occasions
struck and impressed people who did not know him by his air of
unhesitating composure, he seemed now more haughty and
self-possessed than ever. He looked at people as if they were
things. A nervous young man, a clerk in a law court, sitting
opposite him, hated him for that look. The young man asked him
for a light, and entered into conversation with him, and even
pushed against him, to make him feel that he was not a thing, but
a person. But Vronsky gazed at him exactly as he did at the
lamp, and the young man made a wry face, feeling that he was
losing his self-possession under the oppression of this refusal
to recognize him as a person.
Vronsky saw nothing and no one. He felt himself a king, not
because he believed that he had made an impression on Anna--he
did not yet believe that,--but because the impression she had
made on him gave him happiness and pride.
What would come if it all he did not know, he did not even think.
He felt that all his forces, hitherto dissipated, wasted, were
centered on one thing, and bent with fearful energy on one
blissful goal. And he was happy at it. He knew only that he had
told her the truth, that he had come where she was, that all the
happiness of his life, the only meaning in life for him, now lay
in seeing and hearing her. And when he got out of the carriage
at Bologova to get some seltzer water, and caught sight of Anna,
involuntarily his first word had told her just what he thought.
And he was glad he had told her it, that she knew it now and was
thinking of it. He did not sleep all night. When he was back in
the carriage, he kept unceasingly going over every position in
which he had seen her, every word she had uttered, and before his
fancy, making his heart faint with emotion, floated pictures of a
When he got out of the train at Petersburg, he felt after his
sleepless night as keen and fresh as after a cold bath. He
paused near his compartment, waiting for her to get out. "Once
more," he said to himself, smiling unconsciously, "once more I
shall see her walk, her face; she will say something, turn her
head, glance, smile, maybe." But before he caught sight of her,
he saw her husband, whom the station-master was deferentially
escorting through the crowd. "Ah, yes! The husband." Only now
for the first time did Vronsky realize clearly the fact that
there was a person attached to her, a husband. He knew that she
had a husband, but had hardly believed in his existence, and only
now fully believed in him, with his head and shoulders, and his
legs clad in black trousers; especially when he saw this husband
calmly take her arm with a sense of property.
Seeing Alexey Alexandrovitch with his Petersburg face and
severely self-confident figure, in his round hat, with his rather
prominent spine, he believed in him, and was aware of a
disagreeable sensation, such as a man might feel tortured by
thirst, who, on reaching a spring, should find a dog, a sheep, or
a pig, who has drunk of it and muddied the water. Alexey
Alexandrovitch's manner of walking, with a swing of the hips and
flat feet, particularly annoyed Vronsky. He could recognize in
no one but himself an indubitable right to love her. But she was
still the same, and the sight of her affected him the same way,
physically reviving him, stirring him, and filling his soul with
rapture. He told his German valet, who ran up to him from the
second class, to take his things and go on, and he himself went
up to her. He saw the first meeting between the husband and
wife, and noted with a lover's insight the signs of slight
reserve with which she spoke to her husband. "No, she does not
love him and cannot love him," he decided to himself.
At the moment when he was approaching Anna Arkadyevna he noticed
too with joy that she was conscious of his being near, and looked
round, and seeing him, turned again to her husband.
"Have you passed a good night?" he asked, bowing to her and her
husband together, and leaving it up to Alexey Alexandrovitch to
accept the bow on his own account, and to recognize it or not, as
he might see fit.
"Thank you, very good," she answered.
Her face looked weary, and there was not that play of eagerness
in it, peeping out in her smile and her eyes; but for a single
instant, as she glanced at him, there was a flash of something in
her eyes, and although the flash died away at once, he was happy
for that moment. She glanced at her husband to find out whether
he knew Vronsky. Alexey Alexandrovitch looked at Vronsky with
displeasure, vaguely recalling who this was. Vronsky's composure
and self-confidence have struck, like a scythe against a stone,
upon the cold self-confidence of Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"Count Vronsky," said Anna.
"Ah! We are acquainted, I believe," said Alexey Alexandrovitch
indifferently, giving his hand.
"You set off with the mother and you return with the son," he
said, articulating each syllable, as though each were a separate
favor he was bestowing.
"You're back from leave, I suppose?" he said, and without waiting
for a reply, he turned to his wife in his jesting tone: "Well,
were a great many tears shed at Moscow at parting?"
By addressing his wife like this he gave Vronsky to understand
that he wished to be left alone, and, turning slightly towards
him, he touched his hat; but Vronsky turned to Anna Arkadyevna.
"I hope I may have the honor of calling on you," he said.
Alexey Alexandrovitch glanced with his weary eyes at Vronsky.
"Delighted," he said coldly. "On Mondays we're at home. Most
fortunate," he said to his wife, dismissing Vronsky altogether,
"that I should just have half an hour to meet you, so that I can
prove my devotion," he went on in the same jesting tone.
"You lay too much stress on your devotion for me to value it
much," she responded in the same jesting tone, involuntarily
listening to the sound of Vronsky's steps behind them. "But what
has it to do with me?" she said to herself, and she began asking
her husband how Seryozha had got on without her.
"Oh, capitally! Mariette says he has been very good, And...I
must disappoint you...but he has not missed you as your husband
has. But once more merci, my dear, for giving me a day. Our
dear Samovar will be delighted." (He used to call the Countess
Lidia Ivanovna, well known in society, a samovar, because she was
always bubbling over with excitement.) "She has been continually
asking after you. And, do you know, if I may venture to advise
you, you should go and see her today. You know how she takes
everything to heart. Just now, with all her own cares, she's
anxious about the Oblonskys being brought together."
The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a friend of her husband's, and
the center of that one of the coteries of the Petersburg world
with which Anna was, through her husband, in the closest
"But you know I wrote to her?"
"Still she'll want to hear details. Go and see her, if you're
not too tired, my dear. Well, Kondraty will take you in the
carriage, while I go to my committee. I shall not be alone at
dinner again," Alexey Alexandrovitch went on, no longer in a
sarcastic tone. "You wouldn't believe how I've missed..." And
with a long pressure of her hand and a meaning smile, he put her
in her carriage.
The first person to meet Anna at home was her son. He dashed
down the stairs to her, in spite of the governess's call, and
with desperate joy shrieked: "Mother! mother!" Running up to
her, he hung on her neck.
"I told you it was mother!" he shouted to the governess. "I
And her son, like her husband, aroused in Anna a feeling akin to
disappointment. She had imagined him better than he was in
reality. She had to let herself drop down to the reality to
enjoy him as he really was. But even as he was, he was charming,
with his fair curls, his blue eyes, and his plump, graceful
little legs in tightly pulled-up stockings. Anna experienced
almost physical pleasure in the sensation of his nearness, and
his caresses, and moral soothing, when she met his simple,
confiding, and loving glance, and heard his naive questions.
Anna took out the presents Dolly's children had sent him, and
told her son what sort of little girl was Tanya at Moscow, and
how Tanya could read, and even taught the other children.
"Why, am I not so nice as she?" asked Seryozha.
To me you're nicer than anyone in the world."
"I know that," said Seryozha, smiling.
Anna had not had time to drink her coffee when the Countess Lidia
Ivanovna was announced. The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a tall,
stout woman, with an unhealthily sallow face and splendid,
pensive black eyes. Anna liked her, but today she seemed to be
seeing her for the first time with all her defects.
"Well, my dear, so you took the olive branch?" inquired Countess
Lidia Ivanovna, as soon as she came into the room.
"Yes, it's all over, but it was all much less serious than we had
supposed," answered Anna. "My belle-soeur is in general too
But Countess Lidia Ivanovna, though she was interested in
everything that did not concern her, had a habit of never
listening to what interested her; she interrupted Anna:
"Yes, there's plenty of sorrow and evil in the world. I am so
"Oh, why?" asked Anna, trying to suppress a smile.
"I'm beginning to be weary of fruitlessly championing the truth,
and sometimes I'm quite unhinged by it. The Society of the
Little Sisters" (this was a religiously-patriotic, philanthropic
institution) "was going splendidly, but with these gentlemen it's
impossible to do anything," added Countess Lidia Ivanovna in a
tone of ironical submission to destiny. "They pounce on the
idea, and distort it, and then work it out so pettily and
unworthily. Two or three people, your husband among them,
understand all the importance of the thing, but the others simply
drag it down. Yesterday Pravdin wrote to me..."
Pravdin was a well-known Panslavist abroad, and Countess Lidia
Ivanovna described the purport of his letter.
Then the countess told her of more disagreements and intrigues
against the work of the unification of the churches, and departed
in haste, as she had that day to be at the meeting of some
society and also at the Slavonic committee.
"It was all the same before, of course; but why was it I didn't
notice it before?" Anna asked herself. "Or has she been very
much irritated today? It's really ludicrous; her object is doing
good; she a Christian, yet she's always angry; and she always has
enemies, and always enemies in the name of Christianity and doing
After Countess Lidia Ivanovna another friend came, the wife of a
chief secretary, who told her all the news of the town. At three
o'clock she too went away, promising to come to dinner. Alexey
Alexandrovitch was at the ministry. Anna, left alone, spent the
time till dinner in assisting at her son's dinner (he dined apart
from his parents) and in putting her things in order, and in
reading and answering the notes and letters which had accumulated
on her table.
The feeling of causeless shame, which she had felt on the
journey, and her excitement, too, had completely vanished. In
the habitual conditions of her life she felt again resolute and
She recalled with wonder her state of mind on the previous day.
"What was it? Nothing. Vronsky said something silly, which it
was easy to put a stop to, and I answered as I ought to have
done. To speak of it to my husband would be unnecessary and out
of the question. To speak of it would be to attach importance to
what has no importance." She remembered how she had told her
husband of what was almost a declaration made her at Petersburg
by a young man, one of her husband's subordinates, and how Alexey
Alexandrovitch had answered that every woman living in the world
was exposed to such incidents, but that he had the fullest
confidence in her tact, and could never lower her and himself by
jealousy. "So then there's no reason to speak of it? And
indeed, thank God, there's nothing to speak of," she told
Alexey Alexandrovitch came back from the meeting of the ministers
at four o'clock, but as often happened, he had not time no come
in to her. He went into his study to see the people waiting for
him with petitions, and to sign some papers brought him by his
chief secretary. At dinner time (there were always a few people
dining with the Karenins) there arrived an old lady, a cousin of
Alexey Alexandrovitch, the chief secretary of the department and
his wife, and a young man who had been recommended to Alexey
Alexandrovitch for the service. Anna went into the drawing room
to receive these guests. Precisely at five o'clock, before the
bronze Peter the First clock had struck the fifth stroke, Alexey
Alexandrovitch came in, wearing a white tie and evening coat with
two stars, as he had to go out directly after dinner. Every
minute of Alexey Alexandrovitch's life was portioned out and
occupied. And to make time to get through all that lay before
him every day, he adhered to the strictest punctuality.
"Unhasting and unresting," was his motto. He came into the
dining hall, greeted everyone, and hurriedly sat down, smiling to
"Yes, my solitude is over. You wouldn't believe how
uncomfortable" (he laid stress on the word uncomfortable) "it is
to dine alone."
At dinner he talked a little to his wife about Moscow matters,
and, with a sarcastic smile, asked her after Stepan Arkadyevitch;
but the conversation was for the most part general, dealing with
Petersburg official and public news. After dinner he spent half
an hour with his guests, and again, with a smile, pressed his
wife's hand, withdrew, and drove off to the council. Anna did
not go out that evening either to the Princess Betsy Tverskaya,
who, hearing of her return, had invited her, nor to the theater,
where she had a box for that evening. She did not go out
principally because the dress she had reckoned upon was not
ready. Altogether, Anna, on turning, after the departure of her
guests, to the consideration of her attire, was very much
annoyed. She was generally a mistress of the art of dressing
well without great expense, and before leaving Moscow she had
given her dressmaker three dresses to transform. The dresses had
to be altered so that they could not be recognized, and they
ought to have been ready three days before. It appeared that two
dresses had not been done at all, while the other one had not
been altered as Anna had intended. The dressmaker came to
explain, declaring that it would be better as she had done it,
and Anna was so furious that she felt ashamed when she thought of
it afterwards. To regain her serenity completely she went into
the nursery, and spent the whole evening with her son, put him to
bed herself, signed him with the cross, and tucked him up. She
was glad she had not gone out anywhere, and had spent the evening
so well. She felt so light-hearted and serene, she saw so
clearly that all that had seemed to her so important on her
railway journey was only one of the common trivial incidents of
fashionable life, and that she had no reason to feel ashamed
before anyone else or before herself. Anna sat down at the
hearth with an English novel and waited for her husband. Exactly
at half-past nine she heard his ring, and he came into the room.
"Here you are at last!" she observed, holding out her hand to
He kissed her hand and sat down beside her.
"Altogether then, I see your visit was a success," he said to
"Oh, yes," she said, and she began telling him about everything
from the beginning: her journey with Countess Vronskaya, her
arrival, the accident at the station. Then she described the
pity she had felt, first for her brother, and afterwards for
"I imagine one cannot exonerate such a man from blame, though he
is your brother," said Alexey Alexandrovitch severely.
Anna smiled. She knew that he said that simply to show that
family considerations could not prevent him from expressing his
genuine opinion. She knew that characteristic in her husband,
and liked it.
"I am glad it has all ended so satisfactorily, And that you are
back again," he went on. "Come, what do they say about the new
act I have got passed in the council?"
Anna had heard nothing of this act, And she felt
conscience-stricken at having been able so readily to forget what
was to him of such importance.
"Here, on the other hand, it has made a great sensation," he
said, with a complacent smile.
She saw that Alexey Alexandrovitch wanted to tell her something
pleasant to him about it, and she brought him by questions to
telling it. With the same complacent smile he told her of the
ovations he had received in consequence of the act the had