Part 4 out of 22
"I was very, very glad. It shows that at last a reasonable and
steady view of the matter is becoming prevalent among us."
Having drunk his second cup of tea with cream, and bread, Alexey
Alexandrovitch got up, and was going towards his study.
"And you've not been anywhere this evening? You've been dull, I
expect?" he said.
"Oh, no!" she answered, getting up after him and accompanying him
across the room to his study. "What are you reading now?" she
"Just now I'm reading Duc de Likke, Poesie des Enfers," he
answered. "A very remarkable book."
Anna smiled, as people smile at the weaknesses of those they
love, and, putting her hand under his, she escorted him to the
door of the study. She knew his habit, that had grown into a
necessity, of reading in the evening. She knew, too, that in
spite of his official duties, which swallowed up almost the whole
of his time, he considered it his duty to keep up with everything
of note that appeared in the intellectual world. She knew, too,
that he was really interested in books dealing with politics,
philosophy, and theology, that art was utterly foreign to his
nature; but, in spite of this, or rather, in consequence of it,
Alexey Alexandrovitch never passed over anything in the world of
art, but made it his duty to read everything. She knew that in
politics, in philosophy, in theology, Alexey Alexandrovitch often
had doubts, and made investigations; but on questions of art and
poetry, and, above all, of music, of which he was totally devoid
of understanding, he had the most distinct and decided opinions.
He was fond of talking about Shakespeare, Raphael, Beethoven, of
the significance of new schools of poetry and music, all of which
were classified by him with very conspicuous consistency.
"Well, God be with you," she said at the door of the study, where
a shaded candle and a decanter of water were already put by his
armchair. "And I'll write to Moscow."
He pressed her hand, and again kissed it.
"All the same he's a good man; truthful, good-hearted, and
remarkable in his own line," Anna said to herself going back to
her room, as though she were defending him to someone who had
attacked him and said that one could not love him. "But why is
it his ears stick out so strangely? Or has he had his hair cut?"
Precisely at twelve o'clock, when Anna was still sitting at her
writing table, finishing a letter to Dolly, she heard the sound
of measured steps in slippers, and Alexey Alexandrovitch, freshly
washed and combed, with a book under his arm, came in to her.
"It's time, it's time," said he, with a meaning smile, And he
went into their bedroom.
"And what right had he to look at him like that?" thought Anna,
recalling Vronsky's glance at Alexey Alexandrovitch.
Undressing, she went into the bedroom; but her face had none of
the eagerness which, during her stay in Moscow, had fairly
flashed from her eyes and her smile; on the contrary, now the
fire seemed quenched in her, hidden somewhere far away.
When Vronsky went to Moscow from Petersburg, he had left his
large set of rooms in Morskaia to his friend and favorite comrade
Petritsky was a young lieutenant, not particularly
well-connected, and not merely not wealthy, but always hopelessly
in debt. Towards evening he was always drunk, and he had often
been locked up after all sorts of ludicrous and disgraceful
scandals, but he was a favorite both of his comrades and his
superior officers. On arriving at twelve o'clock from the
station at his flat, Vronsky saw, at the outer door, a hired
carriage familiar to him. While still outside his own door, as
he rang, he heard masculine laughter, the lisp of a feminine
voice, and Petritsky's voice. "If that's one of the villains,
don't let him in!" Vronsky told the servant not to announce him,
and slipped quietly into the first room. Baroness Shilton, a
friend of Petritsky's, with a rosy little face and flaxen hair,
resplendent in a lilac satin gown, and filling the whole room,
like a canary, with her Parisian chatter, sat at the round table
making coffee. Petritsky, in his overcoat, and the cavalry
captain Kamerovsky, in full uniform, probably just come from
duty, were sitting each side of her.
"Bravo! Vronsky!" shouted Petritsky, jumping up, scraping his
chair. "Our host himself! Baroness, some coffee for him out of
the new coffee pot. Why, we didn't expect you! Hope you're
satisfied with the ornament of your study," he said, indicating
the baroness. "You know each other, of course?"
"I should think so," said Vronsky, with a bright smile, pressing
the baroness's little hand. "What next! I'm an old friend."
"You're home after a journey," said the baroness, "so I'm flying.
Oh, I'll be off this minute, if I'm in the way."
"You're home, wherever you are, baroness," said Vronsky. "How do
you do, Kamerovsky?" he added, coldly shaking hands with
"There, you never know how to say such pretty things," said the
baroness, turning to Petritsky.
"No; what's that for? After dinner I say things quite as good."
"After dinner there's no credit in them? Well, then, I'll make
you some coffee, so go and wash and get ready," said the
baroness, sitting down again, and anxiously turning the screw in
the new coffee pot. "Pierre, give me the coffee," she said,
addressing Petritsky, whom she called as a contraction of his
surname, making no secret of her relations with him. "I'll put
"You'll spoil it!"
"No, I won't spoil it! Well, and your wife?" said the baroness
suddenly, interrupting Vronsky's conversation with his comrade.
"We've been marrying you here. Have you brought your wife?"
"No, baroness. I was born a Bohemian, and a Bohemian I shall
"So much the better, so much the better. Shake hands on it."
And the baroness, detaining Vronsky, began telling him, with many
jokes, about her last new plans of life, asking his advice.
"He persists in refusing to give me a divorce! Well, what am I
to do?" (HE was her husband.) "Now I want to begin a suit
against him. What do you advise? Kamerovsky, look after the
coffee; it's boiling over. You see, I'm engrossed with business!
I want a lawsuit, because I must have my property. Do you
understand the folly of it, that on the pretext of my being
unfaithful to him," she said contemptuously, "he wants to get the
benefit of my fortune."
Vronsky heard with pleasure this light-hearted prattle of a
pretty woman, agreed with her, gave her half-joking counsel, and
altogether dropped at once into the tone habitual to him in
talking to such women. In his Petersburg world all people were
divided into utterly opposed classes. One, the lower class,
vulgar, stupid, and, above all, ridiculous people, who believe
that one husband ought to live with the one wife whom he has
lawfully married; that a girl should be innocent, a woman modest,
and a man manly, self-controlled, and strong; that one ought to
bring up one's children, earn one's bread, and pay one's debts;
and various similar absurdities. This was the class of
old-fashioned and ridiculous people. But there was another class
of people, the real people. To this class they all belonged, and
in it the great thing was to be elegant, generous, plucky, gay,
to abandon oneself without a blush to every passion, and to laugh
at everything else.
For the first moment only, Vronsky was startled after the
impression of a quite different world that he had brought with
him from Moscow. But immediately as though slipping his feet
into old slippers, he dropped back into the light-hearted,
pleasant world he had always lived in.
The coffee was never really made, but spluttered over every one,
and boiled away, doing just what was required of it--that is,
providing much cause for much noise and laughter, and spoiling a
costly rug and the baroness's gown.
"Well now, good-bye, or you'll never get washed, and I shall have
on my conscience the worst sin a gentleman can commit. So you
would advise a knife to his throat?"
"To be sure, and manage that your hand may not be far from his
lips. He'll kiss your hand, and all will end satisfactorily,"
"So at the Francais!" and, with a rustle of her skirts, she
Kamerovsky got up too, and Vronsky, not waiting for him to go,
shook hands and went off to his dressing room.
While he was washing, Petritsky described to him in brief
outlines his position, as far as it had changed since Vronsky had
left Petersburg. No money at all. His father said he wouldn't
give him any and pay his debts. His tailor was trying to get him
locked up, and another fellow, too, was threatening to get him
locked up. The colonel of the regiment had announced that if
these scandals did not cease he would have to leave. As for the
baroness, he was sick to death of her, especially since she'd
taken to offering continually to lend him money. But he had
found a girl--he'd show her to Vronsky--a marvel, exquisite, in
the strict Oriental style, "genre of the slave Rebecca, don't
you know." He'd had a row, too, with Berkoshov, and was going to
send seconds to him, but of course it would come to nothing.
Altogether everything was supremely amusing and jolly. And, not
letting his comrade enter into further details of his position,
Petritsky proceeded to tell him all the interesting news. As he
listened to Petritsky's familiar stories in the familiar setting
of the rooms he had spent the last three years in, Vronsky felt a
delightful sense of coming back to the careless Petersburg life
that he was used to.
"Impossible!" he cried, letting down the pedal of the washing
basin in which he had been sousing his healthy red neck.
"Impossible!" he cried, at the news that Laura had flung over
Fertinghof and had made up to Mileev. "And is he as stupid and
pleased as ever? Well, and how's Buzulukov?"
"Oh, there is a tale about Buzulukov--simply lovely!" cried
Petritsky. "You know his weakness for balls, and he never misses
a single court ball. He went to a big ball in a new helmet.
Have you seen the new helmets? Very nice, lighter. Well, so
he's standing.... No, I say, do listen."
"I am listening," answered Vronsky, rubbing himself with a rough
"Up comes the Grand Duchess with some ambassador or other, and,
as ill-luck would have it, she begins talking to him about the
new helmets. The Grand Duchess positively wanted to show the new
helmet to the ambassador. They see our friend standing there."
(Petritsky mimicked how he was standing with the helmet.) "The
Grand Duchess asked him to give her the helmet; he doesn't give
it to her. What do you think of that? Well, every one's winking
at him, nodding, frowning--give it to her, do! He doesn't give
it to her. He's mute as a fish. Only picture it!... Well,
the...what's his name, whatever he was...tries to take the helmet
from him...he won't give it up!... He pulls it from him, and
hands it to the Grand Duchess. 'Here, your Highness,' says he,
'is the new helmet.' She turned the helmet the other side up,
And--just picture it!--plop went a pear and sweetmeats out of it,
two pounds of sweetmeats!...He'd been storing them up, the
Vronsky burst into roars of laughter. And long afterwards, when
he was talking of other things, he broke out into his healthy
laugh, showing his strong, close rows of teeth, when he thought
of the helmet.
Having heard all the news, Vronsky, with the assistance of his
valet, got into his uniform, and went off to report himself. He
intended, when he had done that, to drive to his brother's and to
Betsy's and to pay several visits with a view to beginning to go
into that society where he might meet Madame Karenina. As he
always did in Petersburg, he left home not meaning to return till
late at night.
At the end of the winter, in the Shtcherbatskys' house, a
consultation was being held, which was to pronounce on the state
of Kitty's health and the measures to be taken to restore her
failing strength. She had been ill, and as spring came on she
grew worse. The family doctor gave her cod liver oil, then iron,
then nitrate of silver, but as the first and the second and the
third were alike in doing no good, and as his advice when spring
came was to go abroad, a celebrated physician was called in. The
celebrated physician, a very handsome man, still youngish, asked
to examine the patient. He maintained, with peculiar
satisfaction, it seemed, that maiden modesty is a mere relic of
barbarism, and that nothing could be more natural than for a man
still youngish to handle a young girl naked. He thought it
natural because he did it every day, and felt and thought, as it
seemed to him, no harm as he did it and consequently he
considered modesty in the girl not merely as a relic of
barbarism, but also as an insult to himself.
There was nothing for it but to submit, since, although all the
doctors had studied in the same school, had read the same books,
and learned the same science, and though some people said this
celebrated doctor was a bad doctor, in the princess's household
and circle it was for some reason accepted that this celebrated
doctor alone had some special knowledge, and that he alone could
save Kitty. After a careful examination and sounding of the
bewildered patient, dazed with shame, the celebrated doctor,
having scrupulously washed his hands, was standing in the drawing
room talking to the prince. The prince frowned and coughed,
listening to the doctor. As a man who had seen something of
life, and neither a fool nor an invalid, he had no faith in
medicine, and in his heart was furious at the whole farce,
specially as he was perhaps the only one who fully comprehended
the cause of Kitty's illness. "Conceited blockhead!" he thought,
as he listened to the celebrated doctor's chatter about his
daughter's symptoms. The doctor was meantime with difficulty
restraining the expression of his contempt for this old
gentleman, and with difficulty condescending to the level of his
intelligence. He perceived that it was no good talking to the
old man, and that the principal person in the house was the
mother. Before her he decided to scatter his pearls. At that
instant the princess came into the drawing room with the family
doctor. The prince withdrew, trying not to show how ridiculous
he thought the whole performance. The princess was distracted,
and did not know what to do. She felt she had sinned against
"Well, doctor, decide our fate," said the princess. "Tell me
"Is there hope?" she meant to say, but her lips quivered, and she
could not utter the question. "Well, doctor?"
"Immediately, princess. I will talk it over with my colleague,
And then I will have the honor of laying my opinion before you."
"So we had better leave you?"
"As you please."
The princess went out with a sigh.
When the doctors were left alone, the family doctor began timidly
explaining his opinion, that there was a commencement of
tuberculous trouble, but...and so on. The celebrated doctor
listened to him, and in the middle of his sentence looked at his
big gold watch.
"Yes," said he. "But..."
The family doctor respectfully ceased in the middle of his
"The commencement of the tuberculous process we are not, as you
are aware, able to define; till there are cavities, there is
nothing definite. But we may suspect it. And there are
indications; malnutrition, nervous excitability, and so on. The
question stands thus: in presence of indications of tuberculous
process, what is to be done to maintain nutrition?"
"But, you know, there are always moral, spiritual causes at the
back in these cases," the family doctor permitted himself to
interpolate with a subtle smile.
"Yes, that's an understood thing," responded the celebrated
physician, again glancing at his watch. "Beg pardon, is the
Yausky bridge done yet, or shall I have to drive around?" he
asked. "Ah! it is. Oh, well, then I can do it in twenty
minutes. So we were saying the problem may be put thus: to
maintain nutrition and to give tone to the nerves. The one is in
close connection with the other, one must attack both sides at
"And how about a tour abroad?" asked the family doctor.
"I've no liking for foreign tours. And take note: if there is
an early stage of tuberculous process, of which we cannot be
certain, a foreign tour will be of no use. What is wanted is
means of improving nutrition, and not for lowering it." And the
celebrated doctor expounded his plan of treatment with Soden
waters, a remedy obviously prescribed primarily on the ground
that they could do no harm.
The family doctor listened attentively and respectfully.
"But in favor of foreign travel I would urge the change of
habits, the removal from conditions calling up reminiscences.
And then the mother wishes it," he added.
"Ah! Well, in that case, to be sure, let them go. Only, those
German quacks are mischievous.... They ought to be persuaded....
Well, let them go then."
He glanced once more at his watch.
"Oh! time's up already," And he went to the door. The celebrated
doctor announced to the princess (a feeling of what was due from
him dictated his doing so) that he ought to see the patient once
"What! another examination!" cried the mother, with horror.
"Oh, no, only a few details, princess."
"Come this way."
And the mother, accompanied by the doctor, went into the drawing
room to Kitty. Wasted and flushed, with a peculiar glitter in
her eyes, left there by the agony of shame she had been put
through, Kitty stood in the middle of the room. When the doctor
came in she flushed crimson, and her eyes filled with tears. All
her illness and treatment struck her as a thing so stupid,
ludicrous even! Doctoring her seemed to her as absurd as
putting together the pieces of a broken vase. Her heart was
broken. Why would they try to cure her with pills and powders?
But she could not grieve her mother, especially as her mother
considered herself to blame.
"May I trouble you to sit down, princess?" the celebrated doctor
said to her.
He sat down with a smile, facing her, felt her pulse, and again
began asker her tiresome questions. She answered him, and all at
once got up, furious.
"Excuse me, doctor, but there is really no object in this. This
is the third time you've asked me the same thing."
The celebrated doctor did not take offense.
"Nervous irritability," he said to the princess, when Kitty had
left the room. "However, I had finished..."
And the doctor began scientifically explaining to the princess,
as an exceptionally intelligent woman, the condition of the young
princess, and concluded by insisting on the drinking of
the waters, which were certainly harmless. At the question:
Should they go abroad? the doctor plunged into deep meditation,
as though resolving a weighty problem. Finally his decision was
pronounced: they were to go abroad, but to put no faith in
foreign quacks, and to apply to him in any need.
It seemed as though some piece of good fortune had come to pass
after the doctor had gone. The mother was much more cheerful
when she went back to her daughter, and Kitty pretended to be
more cheerful. She had often, almost always, to be pretending
"Really, I'm quite well, mamma. But if you want to go abroad,
let's go!" she said, And trying to appear interested in the
proposed tour, she began talking of the preparations for the
Soon after the doctor, Dolly had arrived. She knew that there
was to be a consultation that day, and though she was only just
up after her confinement (she had another baby, a little girl,
born at the end of the winter), though she had trouble and
anxiety enough of her own, she had left her tiny baby and a sick
child, to come and hear Kitty's fate, which was to be decided
"Well, well?" she said, coming into the drawing room, without
taking off her hat. "You're all in good spirits. Good news,
They tried to tell her what the doctor had said, but it appeared
that though the doctor had talked distinctly enough and at great
length, it was utterly impossible to report what he had said.
The only point of interest was that it was settled they should go
Dolly could not help sighing. Her dearest friend, her sister,
was going away. And her life was not a cheerful one. Her
relations with Stepan Arkadyevitch after their reconciliation had
become humiliating. The union Anna had cemented turned out to be
of no solid character, and family harmony was breaking down again
at the same point. There had been nothing definite, but Stepan
Arkadyevitch was hardly ever at home; money, too, was hardly ever
forthcoming, and Dolly was continually tortured by suspicions of
infidelity, which she tried to dismiss, dreading the agonies of
jealousy she had been through already. The first onslaught of
jealousy, once lived through, could never come back again, and
even the discovery of infidelities could never now affect her as
it had the first time. Such a discovery now would only mean
breaking up family habits, and she let herself be deceived,
despising him and still more herself, for the weakness. Besides
this, the care of her large family was a constant worry to her:
first, the nursing of her young baby did not go well, then the
nurse had gone away, now one of the children had fallen ill.
"Well, how are all of you?" asked her mother.
"Ah, mamma, we have plenty of troubles of our own. Lili is ill,
And I'm afraid it's scarlatina. I have come here now to hear
about Kitty, And then I shall shut myself up entirely, if--God
forbid--it should be scarlatina."
The old prince too had come in from his study after the doctor's
departure, and after presenting his cheek to Dolly, and saying a
few words to her, he turned to his wife:
"How have you settled it? you're going? Well, and what do you
mean to do with me?"
"I suppose you had better stay here, Alexander," said his wife.
"That's as you like."
"Mamma, why shouldn't father come with us?" said Kitty. "It
would be nicer for him and for us too."
The old prince got up and stroked Kitty's hair. She lifted her
head and looked at them with a forced smile. It always seemed to
her that he understood her better than anyone in the family,
though he did not say much about her. Being the youngest, she
was her father's favorite, and she fancied that his love gave him
insight. When now her glance meet his blue kindly eyes looking
intently at her, it seemed to her that he saw right through her,
and understood all that was not good that was passing within her.
Reddening, she stretched out towards him expecting a kiss, but he
only patted her hair and said:
"These stupid chignons! There's no getting at the real daughter.
One simply strokes the bristles of dead women. Well, Dolinka,"
he turned to his elder daughter, "what's your young buck about,
"Nothing, father," answered Dolly, understanding that her husband
was meant. "He's always out; I scarcely ever see him," she could
not resist adding with a sarcastic smile.
"Why, hasn't he gone into the country yet--to see about selling
"No, he's still getting ready for the journey."
"Oh, that's it!" said the prince. "And so am I to be getting
ready for a journey too? At your service," he said to his wife,
sitting down. "And I tell you what, Katia," he went on to his
younger daughter, "you must wake up one fine day and say to
yourself: Why, I'm quite well, and merry, and going out again
with father for an early morning walk in the frost. Hey?"
What her father said seemed simple enough, yet at these words
Kitty became confused and overcome like a detected criminal.
"Yes, he sees it all, he understands it all, and in these words
he's telling me that though I'm ashamed, I must get over my
shame." She could not pluck up spirit to make any answer. She
tried to begin, and all at once burst into tears, and rushed out
of the room.
"See what comes of your jokes!" the princess pounced down on her
husband. "You're always..." she began a string of reproaches.
The prince listened to the princess's scolding rather a long
while without speaking, but his face was more and more frowning.
"She's so much to be pitied, poor child, so much to be pitied,
and you don't feel how it hurts her to hear the slightest
reference to the cause of it. Ah! to be so mistaken in people!"
said the princess, and by the change in her tone both Dolly and
the prince knew she was speaking of Vronsky. "I don't know why
there aren't laws against such base, dishonorable people."
"Ah, I can't bear to hear you!" said the prince gloomily, getting
up from his low chair, and seeming anxious to get away, yet
stopping in the doorway. "There are laws, madam, and since
you've challenged me to it, I'll tell you who's to blame for it
all: you and you, you and nobody else. Laws against such young
gallants there have always been, and there still are! Yes, if
there has been nothing that ought not to have been, old as I am,
I'd have called him out to the barrier, the young dandy. Yes,
and now you physic her and call in these quacks."
The prince apparently had plenty more to say, but as soon as the
princess heard his tone she subsided at once, and became
penitent, as she always did on serious occasions.
"Alexander, Alexander," she whispered, moving to him and
beginning to weep.
As soon as she began to cry the prince too calmed down. He went
up to her.
"There, that's enough, that's enough! You're wretched too, I
know. It can't be helped. There's no great harm done. God is
merciful...thanks..." he said, not knowing what he was saying, as
he responded to the tearful kiss of the princess that he felt on
his hand. And the prince went out of the room.
Before this, as soon as Kitty went out of the room in tears,
Dolly, with her motherly, family instincts, had promptly
perceived that here a woman's work lay before her, and she
prepared to do it. She took of her hat, and, morally speaking,
tucked up her sleeves and prepared for action. While her mother
was attacking her father, she tried to restrain her mother, so
far as filial reverence would allow. During the prince's
outburst she was silent; she felt ashamed for her mother, and
tender towards her father for so quickly being kind again. But
when her father left them she made ready for what was the chief
thing needful--to go to Kitty and console her.
"I'd been meaning to tell you something for a long while, mamma:
did you know that Levin meant to make Kitty an offer when he was
here the last time? He told Stiva so."
"Well, what then? I don't understand..."
"So did Kitty perhaps refuse him?... She didn't tell you so?"
"No, she has said nothing to me either of one or the other; she's
too proud. But I know it's all on account of the other."
"Yes, but suppose she has refused Levin, and she wouldn't have
refused him if it hadn't been for the other, I know. And then,
he has deceived her so horribly."
It was too terrible for the princess to think how she had sinned
against her daughter, and she broke out angrily.
"Oh, I really don't understand! Nowadays they will all go their
own way, and mothers haven't a word to say in anything, and
"Mamma, I'll go up to her."
"Well, do. Did I tell you not to?" said her mother.
When she went into Kitty's little room, a pretty, pink little
room, full of knick-knacks in vieux saxe, as fresh, and pink,
and white, and gay as Kitty herself had been two months ago,
Dolly remembered how they had decorated the room the year before
together, with what love and gaiety. Her heart turned cold when
she saw Kitty sitting on a low chair near the door, her eyes
fixed immovably on a corner of the rug. Kitty glanced at her
sister, and the cold, rather ill-tempered expression of her face
did not change.
"I'm just going now, and I shall have to keep in and you won't be
able to come to see me," said Dolly, sitting down beside her. "I
want to talk to you."
"What about?" Kitty asked swiftly, lifting her head in dismay.
"What should it be, but your trouble?"
"I have no trouble."
"Nonsense, Kitty. Do you suppose I could help knowing? I know
all about it. And believe me, it's of so little
consequence.... We've all been through it."
Kitty did not speak, And her face had a stern expression.
"He's not worth your grieving over him," pursued Darya
Alexandrovna, coming straight to the point.
"No, because he has treated me with contempt," said Kitty, in a
breaking voice. "Don't talk of it! Please, don't talk of it!"
"But who can have told you so? No one has said that. I'm
certain he was in love with you, and would still be in love with
you, if it hadn't...
"Oh, the most awful thing of all for me is this sympathizing!"
shrieked Kitty, suddenly flying into a passion. She turned round
on her chair, flushed crimson, and rapidly moving her fingers,
pinched the clasp of her belt first with one hand and then with
the other. Dolly knew this trick her sister had of clenching her
hands when she was much excited; she knew, too, that in moments
of excitement Kitty was capable of forgetting herself and saying
a great deal too much, and Dolly would have soothed her, but it
was too late.
"What, what is it you want to make me feel, eh?" said Kitty
quickly. "That I've been in love with a man who didn't care a
straw for me, And that I'm dying of love for him? And this is
said to me by my own sister, who imagines that...that...that
she's sympathizing with me!...I don't want these condolences And
"Kitty, you're unjust."
"Why are you tormenting me?"
"But I...quite the contrary...I see you're unhappy..."
But Kitty in her fury did not hear her.
"I've nothing to grieve over and be comforted about. I am too
proud ever to allow myself to care for a man who does not love
"Yes, I don't say so either.... Only one thing. Tell me the
truth," said Darya Alexandrovna, taking her by the hand: "tell
me, did Levin speak to you?..."
The mention of Levin's name seemed to deprive Kitty of the last
vestige of self-control. She leaped up from her chair, and
flinging her clasp on the ground, she gesticulated rapidly with
her hands and said:
"Why bring Levin in too? I can't understand what you want to
torment me for. I've told you, And I say it again, that I have
some pride, and never, NEVER would I do as you're doing--go back
to a man who's deceived you, who has cared for another woman. I
can't understand it! You may, but I can't!"
And saying these words she glanced at her sister, and seeing that
Dolly sat silent, her head mournfully bowed, Kitty, instead of
running out of the room as she had meant to do, sat down near the
door, and hid her face in her handkerchief.
The silence lasted for two minutes: Dolly was thinking of
herself. That humiliation of which she was always conscious came
back to her with a peculiar bitterness when her sister reminded
her of it. She had not looked for such cruelty in her sister,
and she was angry with her. But suddenly she heard the rustle of
a skirt, and with it the sound of heart-rending, smothered
sobbing, and felt arms about her neck. Kitty was on her knees
"Dolinka, I am so, so wretched!" she whispered penitently. And
the sweet face covered with tears hid itself in Darya
As though tears were the indispensable oil, without which the
machinery of mutual confidence could not run smoothly between the
two sisters, the sisters after their tears talked, not of what
was uppermost in their minds, but, though they talked of outside
matters, they understood each other. Kitty knew that the words
she had uttered in anger about her husband's infidelity and her
humiliating position had cut her poor sister to the heart, but
that she had forgiven her. Dolly for her part knew all she had
wanted to find out. She felt certain that her surmises were
correct; that Kitty's misery, her inconsolable misery, was due
precisely to the fact that Levin had made her an offer and she
had refused him, and Vronsky had deceived her, and that she was
fully prepared to love Levin and to detest Vronsky. Kitty said
not a word of that; she talked of nothing but her spiritual
"I have nothing to make me miserable," she said, getting calmer;
"but can you understand that everything has become hateful,
loathsome, coarse to me, and I myself most of all? You can't
imagine what loathsome thoughts I have about everything."
"Why, whatever loathsome thoughts can you have?" asked Dolly,
"The most utterly loathsome and coarse: I can't tell you. It's
not unhappiness, or low spirits, but much worse. As though
everything that was good in me was all hidden away, and nothing
was left but the most loathsome. Come, how am I to tell you?"
she went on, seeing the puzzled look in her sister's eyes.
"Father began saying something to me just now.... It seems to me
he thinks all I want is to be married. Mother takes me to a
ball: it seems to me she only takes me to get me married off as
soon as may be, and be rid of me. I know it's not the truth, but
I can't drive away such thoughts. Eligible suitors, as they call
them--I can't bear to see them. It seems to me they're taking
stock of me and summing me up. In old days to go anywhere in a
ball dress was a simple joy to me, I admired myself; now I feel
ashamed and awkward. And then! The doctor.... Then..." Kitty
hesitated; she wanted to say further that ever since this change
had taken place in her, Stepan Arkadyevitch had become
insufferably repulsive to her, and that she could not see him
without the grossest and most hideous conceptions rising before
"Oh, well, everything presents itself to me, in the coarsest,
most loathsome light," she went on. "That's my illness. Perhaps
it will pass off."
"But you mustn't think about it."
"I can't help it. I'm never happy except with the children at
"What a pity you can't be with me!"
"Oh, yes, I'm coming. I've had scarlatina, and I'll persuade
mamma to let me."
Kitty insisted on having her way, and went to stay at her
sister's and nursed the children all through the scarlatina, for
scarlatina it turned out to be. The two sisters brought all the
six children successfully through it, but Kitty was no better in
health, and in Lent the Shtcherbatskys went abroad.
The highest Petersburg society is essentially one: in it everyone
knows everyone else, everyone even visits everyone else. But
this great set has its subdivisions. Anna Arkadyevna Karenina
had friends and close ties in three different circles of this
highest society. One circle was her husband's government
official set, consisting of his colleagues and subordinates,
brought together in the most various and capricious manner, and
belonging to different social strata. Anna found it difficult
now to recall the feeling of almost awe-stricken reverence which
she had at first entertained for these persons. Now she knew all
of them as people know one another in a country town; she knew
their habits and weaknesses, and where the shoe pinched each one
of them. She knew their relations with one another and with the
head authorities, knew who was for whom, and how each one
maintained his position, and where they agreed and disagreed.
But the circle of political, masculine interests had never
interested her, in spite of countess Kidia Ivanovna's influence,
and she avoided it.
Another little set with which Anna was in close relations was the
one by means of which Alexey Alexandrovitch had made his career.
The center of this circle was the Countess Lidia Ivanovna. It
was a set made up of elderly, ugly, benevolent, and godly women,
and clever, learned, and ambitious men. One of the clever people
belonging to the set had called it "the conscience of Petersburg
society." Alexey Alexandrovitch had the highest esteem for this
circle, and Anna with her special gift for getting on with
everyone, had in the early days of her life in Petersburg made
friends in this circle also. Now, since her return from Moscow,
she had come to feel this set insufferable. It seemed to her
that both she and all of them were insincere, and she fell so
bored and ill at ease in that world that she went to see the
Countess Lidia Ivanovna as little as possible.
The third circle with which Anna had ties was preeminently the
fashionable world--the world of balls, of dinners, of sumptuous
dresses, the world that hung on to the court with one hand, so as
to avoid sinking to the level of the demi-monde. For the
demi-monde the members of that fashionable world believed that
they despised, though their tastes were not merely similar, but
in fact identical. Her connection with this circle was kept up
through Princess Betsy Tverskaya, her cousin's wife, who had an
income of a hundred and twenty thousand roubles, and who had
taken a great fancy to Anna ever since she first came out, showed
her much attention, and drew her into her set, making fun of
Countess Kidia Ivanovna's coterie.
"When I'm old and ugly I'll be the same," Betsy used to say; "but
for a pretty young woman like you it's early days for that house
Anna had at first avoided as far as she could Princess
Tverskaya's world, because it necessitated an expenditure beyond
her means, and besides in her heart she preferred the first
circle. But since her visit to Moscow she had done quite the
contrary. She avoided her serious-minded friends, and went out
into the fashionable world. There she met Vronsky, and
experienced an agitating joy at those meetings. She met Vronsky
specially often at Betsy's for Betsy was a Vronsky by birth and
his cousin. Vronsky was everywhere where he had any chance of
meeting Anna, and speaking to her, when he could, of his love.
She gave him no encouragement, but every time she met him there
surged up in her heart that same feeling of quickened life that
had come upon her that day in the railway carriage when she saw
him for the first time. She was conscious herself that her
delight sparkled in her eyes and curved her lips into a smile,
and she could not quench the expression of this delight.
At first Anna sincerely believed that she was displeased with him
for daring to pursue her. Soon after her return from Moscow, on
arriving at a soiree where she had expected to meet him, and not
finding him there, she realized distinctly from the rush of
disappointment that she had been deceiving herself, and that this
pursuit was not merely not distasteful to her, but that it made
the whole interest of her life.
A celebrated singer was singing for the second time, and all the
fashionable world was in the theater. Vronsky, seeing his
cousin from his stall in the front row, did not wait till the
entr'acte, but went to her box.
"Why didn't you come to dinner?" she said to him. "I marvel at
the second sight of lovers," she added with a smile, so that no
one but he could hear; "SHE WASN'T THERE. But come after the
Vronsky looked inquiringly at her. She nodded. He thanked her
by a smile, and sat down beside her.
"But how I remember your jeers!" continued Princess Betsy, who
took a peculiar pleasure in following up this passion to a
successful issue. "What's become of all that? You're caught, my
"That's my one desire, to be caught," answered Vronsky, with his
serene, good-humored smile. "If I complain of anything it's only
that I'm not caught enough, to tell the truth. I begin to lose
"Why, whatever hope can you have?" said Betsy, offended on behalf
of her friend. "Enendons nous...." But in her eyes there were
gleams of light that betrayed that she understood perfectly and
precisely as he did what hope he might have.
"None whatever," said Vronsky, laughing and showing his even rows
of teeth. "Excuse me," he added, taking an opera glass out of
her hand, and proceeding to scrutinize, over her bare shoulder,
the row of boxes facing them. "I'm afraid I'm becoming
He was very well aware that he ran no risk of being ridiculous in
the eyes of Betsy or any other fashionable people. He was very
well aware that in their eyes the position of an unsuccessful
lover of a girl, or of any woman free to marry, might be
ridiculous. But the position of a man pursuing a married woman,
and, regardless of everything, staking his life on drawing her
into adultery, has something fine and grand about it, and can
never be ridiculous; and so it was with a proud and gay smile
under his mustaches that he lowered the opera glass and looked at
"But why was it you didn't come to dinner?" she said, admiring
"I must tell you about that. I was busily employed, and doing
what, do you suppose? I'll give you a hundred guesses, a
thousand...you'd never guess. I've been reconciling a husband
with a man who'd insulted his wife. Yes, really!"
"Well, did you succeed?"
"You really must tell me about it," she said, getting up. "Come
to me in the next entr'acte."
"I can't; I'm going to the French theater."
"From Nilsson?" Betsy queried in horror, though she could not
herself have distinguished Nilsson's voice from any chorus
"Can't help it. I've an appointment there, all to do with my
mission of peace."
"Blessed are the peacemakers; theirs is the kingdom of heaven,'"
said Betsy, vaguely recollecting she had heard some similar
saying from someone. "Very well, then, sit down, and tell me
what it's all about."
And she sat down again.
"This is rather indiscreet, but it's so good it's an awful
temptation to tell the story," said Vronsky, looking at her with
his laughing eyes. "I'm not going to mention any names."
"But I shall guess, so much the better."
"Well, listen: two festive young men were driving-"
"Officers of your regiment, of course?"
"I didn't say they were officers,--two young men who had been
"In other words, drinking."
"Possibly. They were driving on their way to dinner with a
friend in the most festive state of mind. And they beheld a
pretty woman in a hired sledge; she overtakes them, looks round
at them, and, so they fancy anyway, nods to them and laughs.
They, of course, follow her. They gallop at full speed. To
their amazement, the fair one alights at the entrance of the very
house to which they were going. The fair one darts upstairs to
the top story. They get a glimpse of red lips under a short
veil, and exquisite little feet."
"You describe it with such feeling that I fancy you must be one
of the two."
"And after what you said, just now! Well, the young men go in to
their comrade's; he was giving a farewell dinner. There they
certainly did drink a little too much, as one always does at
farewell dinners. And at dinner they inquire who lives at the
top in that house. No one knows; only their host's valet, in
answer to their inquiry whether any 'young ladies' are living on
the top floor, answered that there were a great many of them
about there. After dinner the two young men go into their host's
study, and write a letter to the unknown fair one. They compose
an ardent epistle, a declaration in fact, and they carry the
letter upstairs themselves, so as to elucidate whatever might
appear not perfectly intelligible in the letter."
"Why are you telling me these horrible stories? Well?"
"They ring. A maidservant opens the door, they hand her the
letter, and assure the maid that they're both so in love that
they'll die on the spot at the door. The maid, stupefied,
carries in their messages. All at once a gentleman appears with
whiskers like sausages, as red as a lobster, announces that there
is no one living in the flat except his wife, and sends them both
about their business."
"How do you know he had whiskers like sausages, as you say?"
"Ah, you shall hear. I've just been to make peace between them."
"Well, and what then?"
"That's the most interesting part of the story. It appears that
it's a happy couple, a government clerk and his lady. The
government clerk lodges a complaint, and I became a mediator, and
such a mediator!... I assure you Talleyrand couldn't hold a
candle to me."
"Why, where was the difficulty?"
"Ah, you shall hear.... We apologize in due form: we are in
despair, we entreat forgiveness for the unfortunate
misunderstanding. The government clerk with the sausages begins
to melt, but he, too, desires to express his sentiments, and as
soon as ever he begins to express them, he begins to get hot and
say nasty things, and again I'm obliged to trot out all my
diplomatic talents. I allowed that their conduct was bad, but I
urged him to take into consideration their heedlessness, their
youth; then, too, the young men had only just been lunching
together. 'You understand. They regret it deeply, and beg you
to overlook their misbehavior.' The government clerk was
softened once more. 'I consent, count, and am ready to overlook
it; but you perceive that my wife--my wife's a respectable woman
--his been exposed to the persecution, and insults, and
effrontery of young upstarts, scoundrels....' And you must
understand, the young upstarts are present all the while, and I
have to keep the peace between them. Again I call out all my
diplomacy, and again as soon as the thing was about at an end,
our friend the government clerk gets hot and red, and his
sausages stand on end with wrath, and once more I launch out into
"Ah, he must tell you this story!" said Betsy, laughing, to a
lady to came into her box. "He has been making me laugh so."
"Well, bonne chance!" she added, giving Vronsky one finger of the
hand in which she held her fan, and with a shrug of her shoulders
she twitched down the bodice of her gown that had worked up, so
as to be duly naked as she moved forward towards the footlights
into the light of the gas, and the sight of all eyes.
Vronsky drove to the French theater, where he really had to see
the colonel of his regiment, who never missed a single
performance there. He wanted to see him, to report on the result
of his mediation, which had occupied and amused him for the last
three days. Petritsky, whom he liked, was implicated in the
affair, and the other culprit was a capital fellow and first-rate
comrade, who had lately joined the regiment, the young Prince
Kedrov. And what was most important, the interests of the
regiment were involved in it too.
Both the young men were in Vronsky's company. The colonel of the
regiment was waited upon by the government clerk, Venden, with a
complaint against his officers, who had insulted his wife. His
young wife, so Venden told the story--he had been married half a
year--was at church with her mother, and suddenly overcome by
indisposition, arising from her interesting condition, she could
not remain standing, she drove home in the first sledge, a
smart-looking one, she came across. On the spot the officers set
off in pursuit of her; she was alarmed, and feeling still more
unwell, ran up the staircase home. Venden himself, on returning
from his office, heard a ring at their bell and voices, went out,
and seeing the intoxicated officers with a letter, he had turned
them out. He asked for exemplary punishment.
"Yes, it's all very well," said the colonel to Vronsky, whom he
had invited to come and see him. "Petritsky's becoming
impossible. Not a week goes by without some scandal. This
government clerk won't let it drop, he'll go on with the thing."
Vronsky saw all the thanklessness of the business, and that there
could be no question of a duel in it, that everything must be
done to soften the government clerk, and hush the matter up. The
colonel had called in Vronsky just because he knew him to be an
honorable and intelligent man, and, more than all, a man who
cared for the honor of the regiment. They talked it over, and
decided that Petritsky and Kedrov must go with Vronsky to
Venden's to apologize. The colonel and Vronsky were both fully
aware that Vronsky's name and rank would be sure to contribute
greatly to softening of the injured husband's feelings.
And these two influences were not in fact without effect; though
the result remained, as Vronsky had described, uncertain.
On reaching the French theater, Vronsky retired to the foyer with
the colonel, and reported to him his success, or non-success.
The colonel, thinking it all over, made up his mind not to pursue
the matter further, but then for his own satisfaction proceeded
to cross-examine Vronsky about his interview; and it was a long
while before he could restrain his laughter, as Vronsky described
how the government clerk, after subsiding for a while, would
suddenly flare up again, as he recalled the details, and how
Vronsky, at the last half word of conciliation, skillfully
maneuvered a retreat, shoving Petritsky out before him.
"It's a disgraceful story, but killing. Kedrov really can't
fight the gentleman! Was he so awfully hot?" he commented,
laughing. "But what do you say to Claire today? She's
marvelous," he went on, speaking of a new French actress.
"However often you see her, every day she's different. It's only
the French who can to that."
Princess Betsy drove home from the theater, without waiting for
the end of the last act. She had only just time to go into her
dressing room, sprinkle her long, pale face with powder, rub it,
set her dress to rights, and order tea in the big drawing room,
when one after another carriages drove up to her huge house in
Bolshaia Morskaia. Her guests stepped out at the wide entrance,
and the stout porter, who used to read the newspapers in the
mornings behind the glass door, to the edification of the
passers-by, noiselessly opened the immense door, letting the
visitors pass by him into the house.
Almost at the same instant the hostess, with freshly arranged
coiffure and freshened face, walked in at one door and her guests
at the other door of the drawing room, a large room with dark
walls, downy rugs, and a brightly lighted table, gleaming with
the light of candles, white cloth, silver samovar, and
transparent china tea things.
The hostess sat down at the table and took off her gloves.
Chairs were set with the aid of footmen, moving almost
imperceptibly about the room; the party settled itself, divided
into two groups: one round the samovar near the hostess, the
other at the opposite end of the drawing room, round the handsome
wife of an ambassador, in black velvet, with sharply defined
black eyebrows. In both groups conversation wavered, as it
always does, for the first few minutes, broken up by meetings,
greetings, offers of tea, and as it were, feeling about for
something to rest upon.
"She's exceptionally good as an actress; one can see she's
studied Kaulbach," said a diplomatic attache in the group round
the ambassador's wife. "Did you notice how she fell down?..."
"Oh, please, don't let us talk about Nilsson! No one can
possibly say anything new about her," said a fat, red-faced,
flaxen-headed lady, without eyebrows and chignon, wearing an old
silk dress. This was Princess Myakaya, noted for her simplicity
and the roughness of her manners, and nicknamed enfant terrible.
Princess Myakaya, sitting in the middle between the two groups,
and listening to both, took part in the conversation first of one
and then of the other. "Three people have used that very phrase
about Kaulbach to me today already, just as though they had made
a compact about it. And I can't see why they liked that remark
The conversation was cut short by this observation, and a new
subject had to be thought of again.
"Do tell me something amusing but not spiteful," said the
ambassador's wife, a great proficient in the art of that elegant
conversation called by the English, small talk. She addressed
the attache, who was at a loss now what to begin upon.
"They say that that's a difficult task, that nothing's amusing
that isn't spiteful," he began with a smile. "But I'll try. Get
me a subject. It all lies in the subject. If a subject's given
me, it's easy to spin something round it. I often think that the
celebrated talkers of the last century would have found it
difficult to talk cleverly now. Everything clever is so
"That has been said long ago," the ambassador's wife interrupted
The conversation began amiably, but just because it was too
amiable, it came to a stop again. They had to have recourse to
the sure, never-failing topic--gossip.
"Don't you think there's something Louis Quinze about
Tushkevitch?" he said, glancing towards a handsome, fair-haired
young man, standing at the table.
"Oh, yes! He's in the same style as the drawing room and that's
why it is he's so often here."
This conversation was maintained, since it rested on allusions to
what could not be talked on in that room--that is to say, of the
relations of Tushkevitch with their hostess.
Round the samovar and the hostess the conversation had been
meanwhile vacillating in just the same way between three
inevitable topics: the latest piece of public news, the
theater, and scandal. It, too, came finally to rest on the last
topic, that is, ill-natured gossip.
"Have you heard the Maltishtcheva woman--the mother, not the
daughter--has ordered a costume in diable rose color?"
"Nonsense! No, that's too lovely!"
"I wonder that with her sense--for she's not a fool, you know--
that she doesn't see how funny she is."
Everyone had something to say in censure or ridicule of the
luckless Madame Maltishtcheva, and the conversation crackled
merrily, like a burning faggot-stack.
The husband of Princess Betsy, a good-natured fat man, an ardent
collector of engravings, hearing that his wife had visitors, came
into the drawing room before going to his club. Stepping
noiselessly over the thick rugs, he went up to Princess Myakaya.
"How did you like Nilsson?" he asked.
"Oh, how can you steal upon anyone like that! How you startled
me!" she responded. "Please don't talk to me about the opera;
you know nothing about music. I'd better meet you on your own
ground, and talk about your majolica and engravings. Come now,
what treasure have yo been buying lately at the old curiosity
"Would you like me to show you? But you don't understand such
"Oh, do show me! I've been learning about them at those--what's
their names?...the bankers...they've some splendid engravings.
They showed them to us."
"Why, have you been at the Schuetzburgs?" asked the hostess from
"Yes, ma chere. They asked my husband and me to dinner, and told
us the sauce at that dinner cost a hundred pounds," Princess
Myakaya said, speaking loudly, and conscious everyone was
listening; "and very nasty sauce it was, some green mess. We had
to ask them, and I made them sauce for eighteen pence, and
everybody was very much pleased with it. I can't run to
"She's unique!" said the lady of the house.
"Marvelous!" said someone.
The sensation produced by Princess Myakaya's speeches was always
unique, and the secret of the sensation she produced lay in the
fact that though she spoke not always appropriately, as now, she
said simple things with some sense in them. In the society in
which she lived such plain statements produced the effect of the
wittiest epigram. Princess Myakaya could never see why it had
that effect, but she knew it had, and took advantage of it.
As everyone had been listening while Princess Myakaya spoke, and
so the conversation around the ambassador's wife had dropped,
Princess Betsy tried to bring the whole party together, and
turned to the ambassador's wife.
"Will you really not have tea? You should come over here by us."
"No, we're very happy here," the ambassador's wife responded with
a smile, and she went on with the conversation that had been
"It was a very agreeable conversation. They were criticizing the
Karenins, husband and wife.
"Anna is quite changed since her stay in Moscow. There's
something strange about her," said her friend.
"The great change is that she brought back with her the shadow of
Alexey Vronsky," said the ambassador's wife.
"Well, what of it? There's a fable of Grimm's about a man
without a shadow, a man who's lost his shadow. And that's his
punishment for something. I never could understand how it was a
punishment. But a woman must dislike being without a shadow."
"Yes, but women with a shadow usually come to a bad end," said
"Bad luck to your tongue!" said Princess Myakaya suddenly.
"Madame Karenina's a splendid woman. I don't like her husband,
but I like her very much."
"Why don't you like her husband? He's such a remarkable man,"
said the ambassador's wife. "My husband says there are few
statesmen like him in Europe."
"And my husband tells me just the same, but I don't believe it,"
said Princess Myakaya. "If our husbands didn't talk to us, we
should see the facts as they are. Alexey Alexandrovitch, to my
thinking, is simply a fool. I say it in a whisper...but doesn't
it really make everything clear? Before, when I was told to
consider him clever, I kept looking for his ability, and thought
myself a fool for not seeing it; but directly I said, he a fool,
though only in a whisper, everything's explained, isn't it?"
"How spiteful you are today!"
"Not a bit. I'd no other way out of it. One of the two had to
be a fool. And, well, you know one can't say that of oneself."
"'No one is satisfied with his fortune, and everyone is
satisfied with his wit.'" The attache repeated the French
"That's just it, just it," Princess Myakaya turned to him. "But
the point is that I won't abandon Anna to your mercies. She's so
nice, so charming. How can she help it if they're all in love
with her, and follow her about like shadows?"
"Oh, I had no idea of blaming her for it," Anna's friend said in
"If no one follows us about like a shadow, that's no proof that
we've any right to blame her."
And having duly disposed of Anna's friend, the Princess Myakaya
got up, and together with the ambassador's wife, joined the group
at the table, where the conversation was dealing with the king of
"What wicked gossip were you talking over there?" asked Betsy.
"About the Karenins. The princess gave us a sketch of Alexey
Alexandrovitch," said the ambassador's wife with a smile, as she
sat down at the table.
"Pity we didn't hear it!" said Princess Betsy, glancing towards
the door. "Ah, here you are at last!" she said, turning with a
smile to Vronsky, as he came in.
Vronsky was not merely acquainted with all the persons whom he
was meeting here; he saw them all every day; and so he came in
with the quiet manner with which one enters a room full of people
from whom one has only just parted.
"Where do I come from?" he said, in answer to a question from the
ambassador's wife. "Well, there's no help for it, I must
confess. From the opera bouffe. I do believe I've seen it a
hundred times, and always with fresh enjoyment. It's exquisite!
I know it's disgraceful, but I go to sleep at the opera, and I
sit out the opera bouffe to the last minute, and enjoy it. This
He mentioned a French actress, and was going to tell something
about her; but the ambassador's wife, with playful horror, cut
"Please don't tell us about that horror."
"All right, I won't especially as everyone knows those horrors."
"And we should all go to see them if it were accepted as the
correct thing, like the opera," chimed in Princess Myakaya.
Steps were heard at the door, and Princess Betsy, knowing it was
Madame Karenina, glanced at Vronsky. He was looking towards the
door, and his face wore a strange new expression. Joyfully,
intently, and at the same time timidly, he gazed at the
approaching figure, and slowly he rose to his feet. Anna walked
into the drawing room. Holding herself extremely erect, as
always, looking straight before her, and moving with her swift,
resolute, and light step, that distinguished her from all other
society women, she crossed the short space to her hostess, shook
hands with her, smiled, and with the same smile looked around at
Vronsky. Vronsky bowed low and pushed a chair up for her.
She acknowledged this only by a slight nod, flushed a little, and
frowned. But immediately, while rapidly greeting her
acquaintances, and shaking the hands proffered to her, she
addressed Princess Betsy:
"I have been at Countess Lidia's, and meant to have come here
earlier, but I stayed on. Sir John was there. He's very
"Oh, that's this missionary?"
"Yes; he told us about the life in India, most interesting
The conversation, interrupted by her coming in, flickered up
again like the light of a lamp being blown out.
"Sir John! Yes, Sir John; I've seen him. He speaks well. The
Vlassieva girl's quite in love with him."
"And is it true the younger Vlassieva girl's to marry Topov?"
"Yes, they say it's quite a settled thing."
"I wonder at the parents! They say it's a marriage for love."
"For love? What antediluvian notions you have! Can one talk of
love in these days?" said the ambassador's wife.
"What's to be done? It's a foolish old fashion that's kept up
still," said Vronsky.
"So much the worse for those who keep up the fashion. The only
happy marriages I know are marriages of prudence."
"Yes, but then how often the happiness of these prudent marriages
flies away like dust just because that passion turns up that they
have refused to recognize," said Vronsky.
"But by marriages of prudence we mean those in which both parties
have sown their wild oats already. That's like scarlatina--one
has to go through it and get it over."
"Then they ought to find out how to vaccinate for love, like
"I was in love in my young days with a deacon," said the Princess
Myakaya. "I don't know that it did me any good."
"No; I imagine, joking apart, that to know love, one must make
mistakes and then correct them," said Princess Betsy.
"Even after marriage?" aid the ambassador's wife playfully.
"'It's never too late to mend.'" The attache repeated the
"Just so," Betsy agreed; "one must make mistakes and correct
them. What do you think about it?" she turned to Anna, who, with
a faintly perceptible resolute smile on her lips, was listening
in silence to the conversation.
"I think," said Anna, playing with the glove she had taken off,
"I think...if so many men, so many minds, certainly so many
hearts, so many kinds of love."
Vronsky was gazing at Anna, and with a fainting heart waiting for
what she would say. He sighed as after a danger escaped when she
uttered these words.
Anna suddenly turned to him.
"Oh, I have had a letter from Moscow. They write me that Kitty
Shtcherbatskaya's very ill."
"Really?" said Vronsky, knitting his brows.
Anna looked sternly at him.
"That doesn't interest you?"
"On the contrary, it does, very much. What was it exactly they
told you, if I may know?" he questioned.
Anna got up and went to Betsy.
"Give me a cup of tea," she said, standing at her table.
While Betsy was pouring out the tea, Vronsky went up to Anna.
"What is it they write to you?" he repeated.
"I often think men have no understanding of what's not honorable
though they're always talking of it," said Anna, without
answering him. "I've wanted to tell you so a long while," she
added, and moving a few steps away, she sat down at a table in a
corner covered with albums.
"I don't quite understand the meaning of your words," he said,
handing her the cup.
she glanced towards the sofa beside her, and he instantly sat
"Yes, I have been wanting to tell you," she said, not looking at
him. "You behaved wrongly, very wrongly."
"Do you suppose I don't know that I've acted wrongly? But who
was the cause of my doing so?"
"What do you say that to me for?" she said, glancing severely at
"You know what for," he answered boldly and joyfully, meeting her
glance and not dropping his eyes.
Not he, but she, was confused.
"That only shows you have no heart," she said. But her eyes said
that she knew he had a heat, and that was why she was afraid of
"What you spoke of just now was a mistake, and not love."
"Remember that I have forbidden you to utter that word, that
hateful word," said Anna, with a shudder. But at once she felt
that by that very word "forbidden" she had shown that she
acknowledged certain rights over him, and by that very fact was
encouraging him to speak of love. "I have long meant to tell you
this," she went on, looking resolutely into his eyes, and hot all
over from the burning flush on her cheeks. "I've come on purpose
this evening, knowing I should meet you. I have come to tell you
that this must end. I have never blushed before anyone, and you
force me to feel to blame for something."
He looked at her and was struck by a new spiritual beauty in her
"What do you wish of me?" he said simply and seriously.
"I want you to go to Moscow and ask for Kitty's forgiveness," she
"You don't wish that?" he said.
He saw she was saying what she forced herself to say, not what
she wanted to say.
"If you love me, as you say," she whispered, "do so that I may
be at peace."
His face grew radiant.
"Don't you know that you're all my life to me? But I know no
peace, and I can't give to you; all myself--and love...yes. I
can't think of you and myself apart. You and I are one to me.
And I see no chance before us of peace for me or for you. I see
a chance of despair, of wretchedness...or I see a chance of
bliss, what bliss!... Can it be there's no chance of it?" he
murmured with his lips; but she heard.
She strained every effort of her mind to say what ought to be
said. But instead of that she let her eyes rest on him, full of
love, and made no answer.
"It's come!" he thought in ecstasy. "When I was beginning to
despair, and it seemed there would be no end--it's come! she
loves me! She owns it!"
"Then do this for me: never say such things to me, and let us be
friends," she said in words; but her eyes spoke quite
"Friends we shall never be, you know that yourself. Whether we
shall be the happiest or the wretchedest of people--that's in
She would have said something, but he interrupted her.
"I ask one thing only: I ask for the right to hope, to suffer as
I do. But if even that cannot be, command me to disappear, and
I disappear. You shall not see me if my presence is distasteful
"I don't want to drive you away."
"Only don't change anything, leave everything as it is," he said
in a shaky voice. "Here's your husband."
At that instant Alexey Alexandrovitch did in fact walk into the
room with his calm, awkward gait.
Glancing at his wife and Vronsky, he went up to the lady of the
house, and sitting down for a cup of tea, began talking in his
deliberate, always audible voice, in his habitual tone of banter,
"Your Rambouillet is in full conclave," he said, looking round at
all the party; "the graces and the muses."
But Princess Betsy could not endure that tone of his--
"sneering," as she called it, using the English word, and like a
skillful hostess she at once brought him into a serious
conversation on the subject of universal conscription. Alexey
Alexandrovitch was immediately interested in the subject, and
began seriously defending the new imperial decree against
Princess Betsy, who had attacked it.
Vronsky and Anna still sat at the little table.
"This is getting indecorous," whispered one lady, with an
expressive glance at Madame Karenina, Vronsky, and her husband.
"What did I tell you?" said Anna's friend.
But not only those ladies, almost everyone in the room, even the
Princess Myakaya and Betsy herself, looked several times in the
direction of the two who had withdrawn from the general circle,
as though that were a disturbing fact. Alexey Alexandrovitch was
the only person who did not once look in that direction, and was
not diverted from the interesting discussion he had entered upon.
Noticing the disagreeable impression that was being made on
everyone, Princess Betsy slipped someone else into her place to
listen to Alexey Alexandrovitch, and went up to Anna.
"I'm always amazed at the clearness and precision of your
husband's language," she said. "The most transcendental ideas
seem to be within my grasp when he's speaking."
"Oh, yes!" said Anna, radiant with a smile of happiness, and not
understanding a word of what Betsy had said. She crossed over to
the big table and took part in the general conversation.
Alexey Alexandrovitch, after staying half an hour, went up to his
wife and suggested that they should go home together. But she
answered, not looking at him, that she was staying to supper.
Alexey Alexandrovitch made his bows and withdrew.
The fat old Tatar, Madame Karenina's coachman, was with
difficulty holding one of her pair of grays, chilled with the
cold and rearing at the entrance. A footman stood opening the
carriage door. The hall porter stood holding open the great door
of the house. Anna Arkadyevna, with her quick little hand, was
unfastening the lace of her sleeve, caught in the hook of her fur
cloak, and with bent head listening to the words Vronsky murmured
as he escorted her down.
"You've said nothing, of course, and I ask nothing," he was
saying; "but you know that friendship's not what I want: that
there's only one happiness in life for me, that word that you
dislike so...yes, love!..."
"Love," she repeated slowly, in an inner voice, and suddenly, at
the very instant she unhooked the lace, she added, "Why I don't
like the word is that it means too much to me, far more than you
can understand," and she glanced into his face. "Au revoir!"
She gave him her hand, and with her rapid, springy step she
passed by the porter and vanished into the carriage.
Her glance, the touch of her hand, set him aflame. He kissed the
palm of his hand where she had touched it, and went home, happy
in the sense that he had got nearer to the attainment of his aims
that evening than during the last two months.
Alexey Alexandrovitch had seen nothing striking or improper in
the fact that his wife was sitting with Vronsky at a table apart,
in eager conversation with him about something. But he noticed
that to the rest of the party this appeared something striking
and improper, and for that reason it seemed to him too to be
improper. He made up his mind that he must speak of it to his
On reaching home Alexey Alexandrovitch went to his study, as he
usually did, seated himself in his low chair, opened a book on
the Papacy at the place where he had laid the paper-knife in it,
and read till one o'clock, just as he usually did. But from time
to time he rubbed his high forehead and shook his head, as
though to drive away something. At his usual time he got up and
made his toilet for the night. Anna Arkadyevna had not yet come
in. With a book under his arm he went upstairs. But this
evening, instead of his usual thought and meditations upon
official details, his thoughts were absorbed by his wife and
something disagreeable connected with her. Contrary to his usual
habit, he did not get into bed, but fell to walking up and down
the rooms with his hands clasped behind his back. He could not
go to bed, feeling that it was absolutely needful for him first
to think thoroughly over the position that had just arisen.
When Alexey Alexandrovitch had made up his mind that he must talk
to his wife about it, it had seemed a very easy and simple
matter. But now, when he began to think over the question that
had just presented itself, it seemed to him very complicated and
Alexey Alexandrovitch was not jealous. Jealousy according to
his notions was an insult to one's wife, and one ought to have
confidence in one's wife. Why one ought to have confidence--
that is to say, complete conviction that his young wife would
always love him--he did not ask himself. But he had no
experience of lack of confidence, because he had confidence in
her, and told himself that he ought to have it. Now, though his
conviction that jealousy was a shameful feeling and that one
ought to feel confidence, had not broken down, he felt that he
was standing face to face with something illogical and
irrational, and did not know what was to be done. Alexey
Alexandrovitch was standing face to face with life, with the
possibility of his wife's loving someone other than himself, and
this seemed to him very irrational and incomprehensible because
it was life itself. All his life Alexey Alexandrovitch had lived
and worked in official spheres, having to do with the reflection
of life. And every time he had stumbled against life itself he
had shrunk away from it. Now he experienced a feeling akin to
that of a man who, wile calmly crossing a precipice by a bridge,
should suddenly discover that the bridge is broken, and that
there is a chasm below. That chasm was life itself, the bridge
that artificial life in which Alexey Alexandrovitch had lived.
For the first time the question presented itself to him of the
possibility of his wife's loving someone else, and he was
horrified at it.
He did not undress, but walked up and down with his regular tread
over the resounding parquet of the dining room, where one lamp
was burning, over the carpet of the dark drawing room, in which
the light was reflected on the big new portrait of himself
handing over the sofa, and across her boudoir, where two candles
burned, lighting up the portraits of her parents and woman
friends, and the pretty knick-knacks of her writing table, that
he knew so well. He walked across her boudoir to the bedroom
door, and turned back again. At each turn in his walk,
especially at the parquet of the lighted dining room, he halted
and said to himself, "Yes, this I must decide and put a stop to;
I must express my view of it and my decision." And he turned
back again. "But express what--what decision?" he said to
himself in the drawing room, and he found no reply. "But after
all," he asked himself before turning into the boudoir, "what has
occurred? Nothing. She was talking a long while with him. But
what of that? Surely women in society can talk to whom they
please. And then, jealousy means lowering both myself and her,"
he told himself as he went into her boudoir; but this dictum,
which had always had such weight with him before, had now no
weight and no meaning at all. And from the bedroom door he
turned back again; but as he entered the dark drawing room some
inner voice told him that it was not so, and that if others
noticed it that showed that there was something. And he said to
himself again in the dining room, "Yes, I must decide and put a
stop to it, and express my view of it..." And again at the turn
in the drawing room he asked himself, "Decide how?" And again
he asked himself, "What had occurred?" and answered, "Nothing,"
and recollected that jealousy was a feeling insulting to his
wife; but again in the drawing room he was convinced that
something had happened. His thoughts, like his body, went round
a complete circle, without coming upon anything new. He noticed
this, rubbed his forehead, and sat down in her boudoir.
There, looking at her table, with the malachite blotting case
lying at the top and an unfinished letter, his thoughts suddenly
changed. He began to think of her, of what she was thinking and
feeling. For the first time he pictured vividly to himself her
personal life, her ideas, her desires, and the idea that she
could and should have a separate life of her own seemed to him so
alarming that he made haste to dispel it. It was the chasm which
he was afraid to peep into. To put himself in thought and
feeling in another person's place was a spiritual exercise not
natural to Alexey Alexandrovitch. He looked on this spiritual
exercise as a harmful and dangerous abuse of the fancy.
"And the worst of it all," thought he, "is that just now, at the
very moment when my great work is approaching completion" (he was
thinking of the project he was bringing forward at the time),
"when I stand in need of all my mental peace and all my energies,
just now this stupid worry should fall foul of me. But what's to
be done? I'm not one of those men who submit to uneasiness and
worry without having the force of character to face them."
"I must think it over, come to a decision, and put it out of my
mind," he said aloud.
"The question of her feelings, of what has passed and may be
passing in her soul, that's not my affair; that's the affair of
her conscience, and falls under the head of religion," he said to
himself, feeling consolation in the sense that he had found to
which division of regulating principles this new circumstance
could be properly referred.
"And so," Alexey Alexandrovitch said to himself, "questions as to
her feelings, and so on, are questions for her conscience, with
which I can have nothing to do. My duty is clearly defined. As
the head of the family, I am a person bound in duty to guide her,
and consequently, in part the person responsible; I am bound to
point out the danger I perceive, to warn her, even to use my
authority. I ought to speak plainly to her." And everything that
he would say tonight to his wife took clear shape in Alexey
Alexandrovitch's head. Thinking over what he would say, he
somewhat regretted that he should have to use his time and mental
powers for domestic consumption, with so little to show for it,
but, in spite of that, the form and contents of the speech before
him shaped itself as clearly and distinctly in his head as a
"I must say and express fully the following points: first,
exposition of the value to be attached to public opinion and to
decorum; secondly, exposition of religious significance of
marriage; thirdly, if need be, reference to the calamity possibly
ensuing to our son; fourthly, reference to the unhappiness likely
to result to herself." And, interlacing his fingers, Alexey
Alexandrovitch stretched them, and the joints of the fingers
cracked. This trick, a bad habit, the cracking of his fingers,
always soothed him, and gave precision to his thoughts, so
needful to him at this juncture.
There was the sound of a carriage driving up to the front door.
Alexey Alexandrovitch halted in the middle of the room.
A woman's step was heard mounting the stairs. Alexey
Alexandrovitch, ready for his speech, stood compressing his
crossed fingers, waiting to see if the crack would not come
again. One joint cracked.
Already, from the sound of light steps on the stairs, he was
aware that she was close, and though he was satisfied with his
speech, he felt frightened of the explanation confronting him...
Anna came in with hanging head, playing with the tassels of her
hood. Her face was brilliant and glowing; but this glow was not
one of brightness; it suggested the fearful glow of a
conflagration in the midst of a dark night. On seeing her
husband, Anna raised her head and smiled, as though she had just
"You're not in bed? What a wonder!" she said, letting fall her
hood, and without stopping, she went on into the dressing room.
"It's late, Alexey Alexandrovitch," she said, when she had gone
through the doorway.
"Anna, it's necessary for me to have a talk with you."
"With me?" she said, wonderingly. She came out from behind the
door of the dressing room, and looked at him. "Why, what is it?
What about?" she asked, sitting down. "Well, let's talk, if it's
so necessary. But it would be better to get to sleep."
Anna said what came to her lips, and marveled, hearing herself,
at her own capacity for lying. How simple and natural were her
words, and how likely that she was simply sleepy! She felt
herself clad in an impenetrable armor of falsehood. She felt
that some unseen force had come to her aid and was supporting
"Anna, I must warn you," he began.
"Warn me?" she said. "Of what?"
She looked at him so simply, so brightly, that anyone who did
not know her as her husband knew her could not have noticed
anything unnatural, either in the sound or the sense of her
words. But to him, knowing her, knowing that whenever he went to
bed five minutes later than usual, she noticed it, and asked him
the reason; to him, knowing that every joy, every pleasure and
pain that she felt she communicated to him at once; to him, now
to see that she did not care to notice his state of mind, that
she did not care to say a word about herself, meant a great deal.
He saw that the inmost recesses of her soul, that had always
hitherto lain open before him, were closed against him. More
than that, he saw from her tone that she was not even perturbed
at that, but as it were said straight out to him: "Yes, it's shut
up, and so it must be, and will be in future." Now he
experienced a feeling such as a man might have, returning home
and finding his own house locked up. "But perhaps the key may
yet be found," thought Alexey Alexandrovitch.
"I want to warn you," he said in a low voice, "that through
thoughtlessness and lack of caution you may cause yourself to be
talked about in society. Your too animated conversation this
evening with Count Vronsky" (he enunciated the name firmly and
with deliberate emphasis) "attracted attention."
He talked and looked at her laughing eyes, which frightened him
now with their impenetrable look, and, as he talked, he felt all
the uselessness and idleness of his words.
"You're always like that," she answered as though completely
misapprehending him, and of all he had said only taking in the
last phrase. "One time you don't like my being dull, and another
time you don't like my being lively. I wasn't dull. Does that
Alexey Alexandrovitch shivered, and bent his hands to make the
"Oh, please, don't do that, I do so dislike it," she said.
"Anna, is this you?" said Alexey Alexandrovitch, quietly making
an effort over himself, and restraining the motion of his
"But what is it all about?" she said, with such genuine and droll
wonder. "What do you want of me?"
Alexey Alexandrovitch paused, and rubbed his forehead and his
eyes. He saw that instead of doing as he had intended--that is
to say, warning his wife against a mistake in the eyes of the
world--he had unconsciously become agitated over what was the
affair of her conscience, and was struggling against the barrier
he fancied between them.
"This is what I meant to say to you," he went on coldly and
composedly, "and I beg you to listen to it. I consider jealousy,
as you know, a humiliating and degrading feeling, and I shall
never allow myself to be influenced by it; but there are certain
rules of decorum which cannot be disregarded with impunity. This
evening it was not I observed it, but judging by the impression
made on the company, everyone observed that your conduct and
deportment were not altogether what could be desired."
"I positively don't understand," said Anna, shrugging her
shoulders--"He doesn't care," she thought. "But other people
noticed it, and that's what upsets him."--"You're not well,
Alexey Alexandrovitch," she added, and she got up, and would have
gone towards the door; but he moved forward as though he would
His face was ugly and forbidding, as Anna had never seen him.
She stopped, and bending her head back and on one side, began
with her rapid hand taking out her hairpins.
"Well, I'm listening to what's to come," she said, calmly and
ironically; "and indeed I listened with interest, for I should
like to understand what's the matter."
She spoke, and marveled at the confident, calm, and natural tone
in which she was speaking, and the choice of the words she used.
"To enter into all the details of your feelings I have no right,
and besides, I regard that as useless and even harmful," began
Alexey Alexandrovitch. "Ferreting in one's soul, one often
ferrets out something that might have lain there unnoticed. Your
feelings are an affair of your own conscience; but I am in duty
bound to you, to myself, and to God, to point out to you your
duties. Our life has been joined, not by man, but by God. That
union can only be severed by a crime, and a crime of that nature
brings its own chastisement."
"I don't understand a word. And, oh dear! how sleepy I am,
unluckily," she said, rapidly passing her hand through her hair,
feeling for the remaining hairpins.
"Anna, for God's sake don't speak like that!" he said gently.
"Perhaps I am mistaken, but believe me, what I say, I say as much
for myself as for you. I am your husband, and I love you."
For an instant her face fell, and the mocking gleam in her eyes
died away; but the word love threw her into revolt again. She
thought: "Love? Can he love? If he hadn't heard there was such
a thing as love, he would never have used the word. He doesn't
even know what love is."
"Alexey Alexandrovitch, really I don't understand," she said.
Define what it is you find..."
"Pardon, let me say all I have to say. I love you. But I am not
speaking of myself; the most important persons in this matter are
our son and yourself. It may very well be, I repeat, that my
words seem to you utterly unnecessary and out of place; it may be
that they are called forth by my mistaken impression. In that
case, I beg you to forgive me. But if you are conscious
yourself of even the smallest foundation for them, then I beg you
to think a little, and if your heart prompts you, to speak out to
Alexey Alexandrovitch was unconsciously saying something utterly
unlike what he had prepared.
"I have nothing to say. And besides," she said hurriedly, with
difficulty repressing a smile, "it's really time to be in bed."
Alexey Alexandrovitch sighed, and, without saying more, went into
When she came into the bedroom, he was already in bed. His lips
were sternly compressed, and his eyes looked away from her. Anna
got into her bed, and lay expecting every minute that he would
begin to speak to her again. She both feared his speaking and
wished for it. But he was silent. She waited for a long while
without moving, and had forgotten about him. She thought of that
other; she pictured him, and felt how her heart was flooded with
emotion and guilty delight at the thought of him. Suddenly she
heard an even, tranquil snore. For the first instant Alexey
Alexandrovitch seemed, as it were, appalled at his own snoring,
and ceased; but after an interval of two breathings the snore
sounded again, with a new tranquil rhythm.
"It's late, it's late," she whispered with a smile. A long while
she lay, not moving, with open eyes, whose brilliance she almost
fancied she could herself see in the darkness.
From that time a new life began for Alexey Alexandrovitch and for
his wife. Nothing special happened. Anna went out into society,
as she had always done, was particularly often at Princess
Betsy's, and met Vronsky everywhere. Alexey Alexandrovitch saw
this, but could do nothing. All his efforts to draw her into
open discussion she confronted with a barrier which he could not
penetrate, made up of a sort of amused perplexity. Outwardly
everything was the same, but their inner relations were
completely changed. Alexey Alexandrovitch, a man of great power
in the world of politics, felt himself helpless in this. Like an
ox with head bent, submissively he awaited the blow which he felt
was lifted over him. Every time he began to think about it, he
felt that he must try once more, that by kindness, tenderness,
and persuasion there was still hope of saving her, of bringing
her back to herself, and every day he made ready to talk to her.
But every time he began talking to her, he felt that the spirit
of evil and deceit, which had taken possession of her, had
possession of him too, and he talked to her in a tone quite