Part 8 out of 22
cash from home, was gaily and agreeably spending his days at the
races and in the summer villas. Meanwhile Dolly and the children
had moved into the country, to cut down expenses as much as
possible. She had gone to Ergushovo, the estate that had been
her dowry, and the one where in spring the forest had been sold.
It was nearly forty miles from Levin's Pokrovskoe. The big, old
house at Ergushovo had been pulled down long ago, and the old
prince had had the lodge done up and built on to. Twenty years
before, when Dolly was a child, the lodge had been roomy and
comfortable, though, like all lodges, it stood sideways to the
entrance avenue, and faced the south. But by now this lodge was
old and dilapidated. When Stepan Arkadyevitch had gone down in
the spring to sell the forest, Dolly had begged him to look over
the house and order what repairs might be needed. Stepan
Arkadyevitch, like all unfaithful husbands indeed, was very
solicitous for his wife's comfort, and he had himself looked over
the house, and given instructions about everything that he
considered necessary. What he considered necessary was to cover
all the furniture with cretonne, to put up curtains, to weed the
garden, to make a little bridge on the pond, and to plant
flowers. But he forgot many other essential matters, the want of
which greatly distressed Darya Alexandrovna later on.
In spite of Stepan Arkadyevitch's efforts to be an attentive
father and husband, he never could keep in his mind that he had a
wife and children. He had bachelor tastes, and it was in
accordance with them that he shaped his life. On his return to
Moscow he informed his wife with pride that everything was ready,
that the house would be a little paradise, and that he advised
her most certainly to go. His wife's staying away in the country
was very agreeable to Stepan Arkadyevitch from every point of
view: it did the children good, it decreased expenses, and it
left him more at liberty. Darya Alexandrovna regarded staying in
the country for the summer as essential for the children,
especially for the little girl, who had not succeeded in
regaining her strength after the scarlatina, and also as a means
of escaping the petty humiliations, the little bills owing to the
wood-merchant, the fishmonger, the shoemaker, which made her
miserable. Besides this, she was pleased to go away to the
country because she was dreaming of getting her sister Kitty to
stay with her there. Kitty was to be back from abroad in the
middle of the summer, and bathing had been prescribed for her.
Kitty wrote that no prospect was so alluring as to spend the
summer with Dolly at Ergushovo, full of childish associations for
both of them.
The first days of her existence in the country were very hard for
Dolly. She used to stay in the country as a child, and the
impression she had retained of it was that the country was a
refuge from all the unpleasantness of the town, that life there,
though not luxurious--Dolly could easily make up her mind to
that--was cheap and comfortable; that there was plenty of
everything, everything was cheap, everything could be got, and
children were happy. But now coming to the country as the head
of a family, she perceived that it was all utterly unlike what
she had fancied.
The day after their arrival there was a heavy fall of rain and in
the night the water came through in the corridor and in the
nursery, so that the beds had to be carried into the drawing
room. There was no kitchen maid to be found; of the nine cows,
it appeared from the words of the cowherd-woman that some were
about to calve, others had just calved, others were old, and
others again hard-uddered; there was not butter nor milk enough
even for the children. There were no eggs. They could get no
fowls; old, purplish, stringy cocks were all they had for
roasting and boiling. Impossible to get women to scrub the
floors--all were potato-hoeing. Driving was out of the
question, because one of the horses was restive, and bolted in
the shafts. There was no place where they could bathe; the whole
of the river-bank was trampled by the cattle and open to the
road; even walks were impossible, for the cattle strayed into the
garden through a gap in the hedge, and there was one terrible
bull, who bellowed, and therefore might be expected to gore
somebody. There were no proper cupboards for their clothes; what
cupboards there were either would not close at all, or burst open
whenever anyone passed by them. There were no pots and pans;
there was no copper in the washhouse, nor even an ironing-board
in the maids' room.
Finding instead of peace and rest all these, from her point of
view, fearful calamities, Darya Alexandrovna was at first in
despair. She exerted herself to the utmost, felt the
hopelessness of the position, and was every instant suppressing
the tears that started into her eyes. The bailiff, a retired
quartermaster, whom Stepan Arkadyevitch had taken a fancy to and
had appointed bailiff on account of his handsome and respectful
appearance as a hall-porter, showed no sympathy for Darya
Alexandrovna's woes. He said respectfully, "nothing can be done,
the peasants are such a wretched lot," and did nothing to help
The position seemed hopeless. But in the Oblonskys' household,
as in all families indeed, there was one inconspicuous but most
valuable and useful person, Marya Philimonovna. She soothed her
mistress, assured her that everything would come round (it was
her expression, and Matvey had borrowed it from her), and without
fuss or hurry proceeded to set to work herself. She had
immediately made friends with the bailiff's wife, and on the very
first day she drank tea with her and the bailiff under the
acacias, and reviewed all the circumstances of the position.
Very soon Marya Philimonovna had established her club, so to say,
under the acacias, and there it was, in this club, consisting of
the bailiff's wife, the village elder, and the counting house
clerk, that the difficulties of existence were gradually smoothed
away, and in a week's time everything actually had come round.
The roof was mended, a kitchen maid was found--a crony of the
village elder's--hens were bought, the cows began giving milk,
the garden hedge was stopped up with stakes, the carpenter made a
mangle, hooks were put in the cupboards, and they ceased to burst
open spontaneously, and an ironing-board covered with army cloth
was placed across from the arm of a chair to the chest of
drawers, and there was a smell of flatirons in the maids' room.
"Just see, now, and you were quite in despair," said Marya
Philimonovna, pointing to the ironing-board. They even rigged up
a bathing-shed of straw hurdles. Lily began to bathe, and Darya
Alexandrovna began to realize, if only in part, her expectations,
if not of a peaceful, at least of a comfortable, life in the
country. Peaceful with six children Darya Alexandrovna could not
be. One would fall ill, another might easily become so, a third
would be without something necessary, a fourth would show
symptoms of a bad disposition, and so on. Rare indeed were the
brief periods of peace. But these cares and anxieties were for
Darya Alexandrovna the sole happiness possible. Had it not been
for them, she would have been left alone to brood over her
husband who did not love her. And besides, hard though it was
for the mother to bear the dread of illness, the illnesses
themselves, and the grief of seeing signs of evil propensities in
her children--the children themselves were even now repaying her
in small joys for her sufferings. Those joys were so small that
they passed unnoticed, like gold in sand, and at bad moments she
could see nothing but the pain, nothing but sand; but there were
good moments too when she saw nothing but the joy, nothing but
Now in the solitude of the country, she began to be more and more
frequently aware of those joys. Often, looking at them, she
would make every possible effort to persuade herself that she was
mistaken, that she as a mother was partial to her children. All
the same, she could not help saying to herself that she had
charming children, all six of them in different ways, but a set
of children such as is not often to be met with, and she was
happy in them, and proud of them.
Towards the end of May, when everything had been more or less
satisfactorily arranged, she received her husband's answer to her
complaints of the disorganized state of things in the country.
He wrote begging her forgiveness for not having thought of
everything before, and promised to come down at the first chance.
This chance did not present itself, and till the beginning of
June Darya Alexandrovna stayed alone in the country.
On the Sunday in St. Peter's week Darya Alexandrovna drove to
mass for all her children to take the sacrament. Darya
Alexandrovna in her intimate, philosophical talks with her
sister, her mother, and her friends very often astonished them by
the freedom of her views in regard to religion. She had a
strange religion of transmigration of souls all her own, in which
she had firm faith, troubling herself little about the dogmas of
the Church. But in her family she was strict in carrying out all
that was required by the Church--and not merely in order to set
an example, but with all her heart in it. The fact that the
children had not been at the sacrament for nearly a year worried
her extremely, and with the full approval and sympathy of Marya
Philimonovna she decided that this should take place now in the
For several days before, Darya Alexandrovna was busily
deliberating on how to dress all the children. Frocks were made
or altered and washed, seams and flounces were let out, buttons
were sewn on, and ribbons got ready. One dress, Tanya's, which
the English governess had undertaken, cost Darya Alexandrovna
much loss of temper. The English governess in altering it had
made the seams in the wrong place, had taken up the sleeves too
much, and altogether spoilt the dress. It was so narrow on
Tanya's shoulders that it was quite painful to look at her. But
Marya Philimonovna had the happy thought of putting in gussets,
and adding a little shoulder-cape. The dress was set right, but
there was nearly a quarrel with the English governess. On the
morning, however, all was happily arranged, and towards ten
o'clock--the time at which they had asked the priest to wait for
them for the mass--the children in their new dresses, with
beaming faces stood on the step before the carriage waiting for
To the carriage, instead of the restive Raven, they had
harnessed, thanks to the representations of Marya Philimonovna,
the bailiff's horse, Brownie, and Darya Alexandrovna, delayed by
anxiety over her own attire, came out and got in, dressed in a
white muslin gown.
Darya Alexandrovna had done her hair, and dressed with care and
excitement. In the old days she had dressed for her own sake to
look pretty and be admired. Later on, as she got older, dress
became more and more distasteful to her. She saw that she was
losing her good looks. But now she began to feel pleasure and
interest in dress again. Now she did not dress for her own sake,
not for the sake of her own beauty, but simply that as the mother
of those exquisite creatures she might not spoil the general
effect. And looking at herself for the last time in the
looking-glass she was satisfied with herself. She looked nice.
Not nice as she would have wished to look nice in old days at a
ball, but nice for the object which she now had in view.
In the church there was no one but the peasants, the servants and
their women-folk. But Darya Alexandrovna saw, or fancied she
saw, the sensation produced by her children and her. The
children were not only beautiful to look at in their smart little
dresses, but they were charming in the way they behaved.
Aliosha, it is true, did not stand quite correctly; he kept
turning round, trying to look at his little jacket from behind;
but all the same he was wonderfully sweet. Tanya behaved like a
grownup person, and looked after the little ones. And the
smallest, Lily, was bewitching in her naive astonishment at
everything, and it was difficult not to smile when, after taking
the sacrament, she said in English, "Please, some more."
On the way home the children felt that something solemn had
happened, and were very sedate.
Everything went happily at home too; but at lunch Grisha began
whistling, and, what was worse, was disobedient to the English
governess, and was forbidden to have any tart. Darya
Alexandrovna would not have let things go so far on such a day
had she been present; but she had to support the English
governess's authority, and she upheld her decision that Grisha
should have no tart. This rather spoiled the general good humor.
Grisha cried, declaring that Nikolinka had whistled too, and he
was not punished, and that he wasn't crying for the tart--he
didn't care--but at being unjustly treated. This was really too
tragic, and Darya Alexandrovna made up her mind to persuade the
English governess to forgive Grisha, and she went to speak to
her. But on the way, as she passed the drawing room, she beheld
a scene, filling her heart with such pleasure that the tears came
into her eyes, and she forgave the delinquent herself.
The culprit was sitting at the window in the corner of the
drawing room; beside him was standing Tanya with a plate. On the
pretext of wanting to give some dinner to her dolls, she had
asked the governess's permission to take her share of tart to the
nursery, and had taken it instead to her brother. While still
weeping over the injustice of his punishment, he was eating the
tart, and kept saying through his sobs, "Eat yourself; let's eat
Tanya had at first been under the influence of her pity for
Grisha, then of a sense of her noble action, and tears were
standing in her eyes too; but she did not refuse, and ate her
On catching sight of their mother they were dismayed, but,
looking into her face, they saw they were not doing wrong. They
burst out laughing, and, with their mouths full of tart, they
began wiping their smiling lips with their hands, and smearing
their radiant faces all over with tears and jam.
"Mercy! Your new white frock; Tanya! Grisha!" said their
mother, trying to save the frock, but with tears in her eyes,
smiling a blissful, rapturous smile.
The new frocks were taken off, and orders were given for the
little girls to have their blouses put on, and the boys their old
jackets, and the wagonette to be harnessed; with Brownie, to the
bailiff's annoyance, again in the shafts, to drive out for
mushroom picking and bathing. A roar of delighted shrieks arose
in the nursery, and never ceased till they had set off for the
They gathered a whole basketful of mushrooms; even Lily found a
birch mushroom. It had always happened before that Miss Hoole
found them and pointed them out to her; but this time she found a
big one quite of herself, and there was a general scream of
delight, "Lily has found a mushroom!"
Then they reached the river, put the horses under the birch
trees, and went to the bathing-place. The coachman, Terenty,
fastened the horses, who kept whisking away the flies, to a tree,
and, treading down the grass, lay down in the shade of a birch
and smoked his shag, while the never-ceasing shrieks of delight
of the children floated across to him from the bathing-place.
Though it was hard work to look after all the children and
restrain their wild pranks, though it was difficult too to keep
in one's head and not mix up all the stockings, little breeches,
and shoes for the different legs, and to undo and to do up again
all the tapes and buttons, Darya Alexandrovna, who had always
liked bathing herself, and believed it to be very good for the
children, enjoyed nothing so much as bathing with all the
children. To go over all those fat little legs, pulling on their
stockings, to take in her arms and dip those little naked bodies,
and to hear their screams of delight and alarm, to see the
breathless faces with wide-open, scared, and happy eyes of all
her splashing cherubs, was a great pleasure to her.
When half the children had been dressed, some peasant women in
holiday dress, out picking herbs, came up to the bathing-shed and
stopped shyly. Marya Philimonovna called one of them and handed
her a sheet and a shirt that had dropped into the water for her
to dry them, and Darya Alexandrovna began to talk to the women.
At first they laughed behind their hands and did not understand
her questions, but soon they grew bolder and began to talk,
winning Darya Alexandrovna's heart at once by the genuine
admiration of the children that they showed.
"My, what a beauty! as white as sugar," said one, admiring
Tanitchka, and shaking her head; "but thin..."
"Yes, she has been ill."
"And so they've been bathing you too," said another to the baby.
"No; he's only three months old," answered Darya Alexandrovna
"You don't say so!"
"And have you any children?"
"I've had four; I've two living--a boy and a girl. I weaned her
"How old is she?"
"Why, two years old."
"Why did you nurse her so long?"
"It's our custom; for three fasts..."
And the conversation became most interesting to Darya
Alexandrovna. What sort of time did she have? What was the
matter with the boy? Where was her husband? Did it often
Darya Alexandrovna felt disinclined to leave the peasant women,
so interesting to her was their conversation, so completely
identical were all their interests. What pleased her most of all
was that she saw clearly what all the women admired more than
anything was her having so many children, and such fine ones.
The peasant women even made Darya Alexandrovna laugh, and
offended the English governess, because she was the cause of the
laughter she did not understand. One of the younger women kept
staring at the Englishwoman, who was dressing after all the rest,
and when she put on her third petticoat she could not refrain
from the remark, "My, she keeps putting on and putting on, and
she'll never have done!" she said, and they all went off into
On the drive home, as Darya Alexandrovna, with all her children
round her, their heads still wet from their bath, and a kerchief
tied over her own head, was getting near the house, the coachman
said, "There's some gentleman coming: the master of Pokrovskoe,
I do believe."
Darya Alexandrovna peeped out in front, and was delighted when
she recognized in the gray hat and gray coat the familiar figure
of Levin walking to meet them. She was glad to see him at any
time, but at this moment she was specially glad he should see her
in all her glory. No one was better able to appreciate her
grandeur than Levin.
Seeing her, he found himself face to face with one of the
pictures of his daydream of family life.
"You're like a hen with your chickens, Darya Alexandrovna."
"Ah, how glad I am to see you!" she said, holding out her hand
"Glad to see me, but you didn't let me know. My brother's
staying with me. I got a note from Stiva that you were here."
"From Stiva?" Darya Alexandrovna asked with surprise.
"Yes; he writes that you are here, and that he thinks you might
allow me to be of use to you," said Levin, and as he said it he
became suddenly embarrassed, and, stopping abruptly, he walked on
in silence by the wagonette, snapping off the buds of the
lime trees and nibbling them. He was embarrassed through a sense
that Darya Alexandrovna would be annoyed by receiving from an
outsider help that should by rights have come from her own
husband. Darya Alexandrovna certainly did not like this little
way of Stepan Arkadyevitch's of foisting his domestic duties on
others. And she was at once aware that Levin was aware of this.
It was just for this fineness of perception, for this delicacy,
that Darya Alexandrovna liked Levin.
"I know, of course," said Levin, "that that simply means that you
would like to see me, and I'm exceedingly glad. Though I can
fancy that, used to town housekeeping as you are, you must feel
in the wilds here, and if there's anything wanted, I'm altogether
at your disposal."
"Oh, no!" said Dolly. "At first things were rather
uncomfortable, but now we've settled everything capitally--
thanks to my old nurse," she said, indicating Marya Philimonovna,
who, seeing that they were speaking of her, smiled brightly and
cordially to Levin. She knew him, and knew that he would be a
good match for her young lady, and was very keen to see the
"Won't you get in, sir, we'll make room this side!" she said to
"No, I'll walk. Children, who'd like to race the horses with
me?" The children knew Levin very little, and could not remember
when they had seen him, but they experienced in regard to him
none of that strange feeling of shyness and hostility which
children so often experience towards hypocritical, grown-up
people, and for which they are so often and miserably punished.
Hypocrisy in anything whatever may deceive the cleverest and most
penetrating man, but the least wide-awake of children recognizes
it, and is revolted by it, however ingeniously it may be
disguised. Whatever faults Levin had, there was not a trace of
hypocrisy in him, and so the children showed him the same
friendliness that they saw in their mother's face. On his
invitation, the two elder ones at once jumped out to him and ran
with him as simply as they would have done with their nurse or
Miss Hoole or their mother. Lily, too, began begging to go to
him, and her mother handed her to him; he sat her on his shoulder
and ran along with her.
"Don't be afraid, don't be afraid, Darya Alexandrovna!" he said,
smiling good-humoredly to the mother; "there's no chance of my
hurting or dropping her."
And, looking at his strong, agile, assiduously careful and
needlessly wary movements, the mother felt her mind at rest, and
smiled gaily and approvingly as she watched him.
Here, in the country, with children, and with Darya Alexandrovna,
with whom he was in sympathy, Levin was in a mood not infrequent
with him, of childlike light-heartedness that she particularly
liked in him. As he ran with the children, he taught them
gymnastic feats, set Miss Hoole laughing with his queer English
accent, and talked to Darya Alexandrovna of his pursuits in the
After dinner, Darya Alexandrovna, sitting alone with him on the
balcony, began to speak of Kitty.
"You know, Kitty's coming here, and is going to spend the summer
"Really," he said, flushing, and at once, to change the
conversation, he said: "Then I'll send you two cows, shall I? If
you insist on a bill you shall pay me five roubles a month; but
it's really too bad of you."
"No, thank you. We can manage very well now."
"Oh, well, then, I'll have a look at your cows, and if you'll
allow me, I'll give directions about their food. Everything
depends on their food."
And Levin, to turn the conversation, explained to Darya
Alexandrovna the theory of cow-keeping, based on the principle
that the cow is simply a machine for the transformation of food
into milk, and so on.
He talked of this, and passionately longed to hear more of Kitty,
and, at the same time, was afraid of hearing it. He dreaded the
breaking up of the inward peace he had gained with such effort.
"Yes, but still all this has to be looked after, and who is there
to look after it?" Darya Alexandrovna responded, without
She had by now got her household matters so satisfactorily
arranged, thanks to Marya Philimonovna, that she was disinclined
to make any change in them; besides, she had no faith in Levin's
knowledge of farming. General principles, as to the cow being a
machine for the production of milk, she looked on with suspicion.
It seemed to her that such principles could only be a hindrance
in farm management. It all seemed to her a far simpler matter:
all that was needed, as Marya Philimonovna had explained, was to
give Brindle and Whitebreast more food and drink, and not to let
the cook carry all the kitchen slops to the laundry maid's cow.
That was clear. But general propositions as to feeding on meal
and on grass were doubtful and obscure. And, what was most
important, she wanted to talk about Kitty.
"Kitty writes to me that there's nothing she longs for so much as
quiet and solitude," Dolly said after the silence that had
"And how is she--better?" Levin asked in agitation.
"Thank God, she's quite well again. I never believed her lungs
"Oh, I'm very glad!" said Levin, and Dolly fancied she saw
something touching, helpless, in his face as he said this and
looked silently into her face.
"Let me ask you, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," said Darya
Alexandrovna, smiling her kindly and rather mocking smile, "why
is it you are angry with Kitty?"
"I? I'm not angry with her," said Levin.
"Yes, you are angry. Why was it you did not come to see us nor
them when you were in Moscow?"
"Darya Alexandrovna," he said, blushing up to the roots of his
hair, "I wonder really that with your kind heart you don't feel
this. How it is you feel no pity for me, if nothing else, when
"What do I know?"
"You know I made an offer and that I was refused," said Levin,
and all the tenderness he had been feeling for Kitty a minute
before was replaced by a feeling of anger for the slight he had
"What makes you suppose I know?"
"Because everybody knows it..."
"That's just where you are mistaken; I did not know it, though
I had guessed it was so."
"Well, now you know it."
"All I knew was that something had happened that made her
dreadfully miserable, and that she begged me never to speak of
it. And if she would not tell me, she would certainly not speak
of it to anyone else. But what did pass between you? Tell me."
"I have told you."
"When was it?"
"When I was at their house the last time."
"Do you know that," said Darya Alexandrovna, "I am awfully,
awfully sorry for her. You suffer only from pride...."
"Perhaps so," said Levin, "but..."
She interrupted him.
"But she, poor girl...I am awfully, awfully sorry for her. Now I
see it all."
"Well, Darya Alexandrovna, you must excuse me," he said, getting
up. "Good-bye, Darya Alexandrovna, till we meet again."
"No, wait a minute," she said, clutching him by the sleeve.
"Wait a minute, sit down."
"Please, please, don't let us talk of this," he said, sitting
down, and at the same time feeling rise up and stir within his
heart a hope he had believed to be buried.
"If I did not like you," she said, and tears came into her eyes;
"if I did not know you, as I do know you . . ."
The feeling that had seemed dead revived more and more, rose up
and took possession of Levin's heart.
"Yes, I understand it all now," said Darya Alexandrovna. "You
can't understand it; for you men, who are free and make your own
choice, it's always clear whom you love. But a girl's in a
position of suspense, with all a woman's or maiden's modesty, a
girl who sees you men from afar, who takes everything on trust,--
a girl may have, and often has, such a feeling that she cannot
tell what to say."
"Yes, if the heart does not speak..."
"No, the heart does speak; but just consider: you men have views
about a girl, you come to the house, you make friends, you
criticize, you wait to see if you have found what you love, and
then, when you are sure you love her, you make an offer...."
"Well, that's not quite it."
"Anyway you make an offer, when your love is ripe or when the
balance has completely turned between the two you are choosing
from. But a girl is not asked. She is expected to make her
choice, and yet she cannot choose, she can only answer 'yes' or
"Yes, to choose between me and Vronsky," thought Levin, and the
dead thing that had come to life within him died again, and only
weighed on his heart and set it aching.
"Darya Alexandrovna," he said, "that's how one chooses a new
dress or some purchase or other, not love. The choice has been
made, and so much the better.... And there can be no repeating
"Ah, pride, pride!" said Darya Alexandrovna, as though despising
him for the baseness of this feeling in comparison with that
other feeling which only women know. "At the time when you made
Kitty an offer she was just in a position in which she could not
answer. She was in doubt. Doubt between you and Vronsky. Him
she was seeing every day, and you she had not seen for a long
while. Supposing she had been older...I, for instance, in her
place could have felt no doubt. I always disliked him, and so it
has turned out."
Levin recalled Kitty's answer. She had said: "No, that cannot
"Darya Alexandrovna," he said dryly, "I appreciate your
confidence in me; I believe you are making a mistake. But
whether I am right or wrong, that pride you so despise makes any
thought of Katerina Alexandrovna out of the question for me,--
you understand, utterly out of the question."
"I will only say one thing more: you know that I am speaking of
my sister, whom I love as I love my own children. I don't say
she cared for you, all I meant to say is that her refusal at that
moment proves nothing."
"I don't know!" said Levin, jumping up. "If you only knew how
you are hurting me. It's just as if a child of yours were dead,
and they were to say to you: He would have been like this and
like that, and he might have lived, and how happy you would have
been in him. But he's dead, dead, dead!..."
"How absurd you are!" said Darya Alexandrovna, looking with
mournful tenderness at Levin's excitement. "Yes, I see it all
more and more clearly," she went on musingly. "So you won't come
to see us, then, when Kitty's here?"
"No, I shan't come. Of course I won't avoid meeting Katerina
Alexandrovna, but as far as I can, I will try to save her the
annoyance of my presence."
"You are very, very absurd," repeated Darya Alexandrovna, looking
with tenderness into his face. "Very well then, let it be as
though we had not spoken of this. What have you come for,
Tanya?" she said in French to the little girl who had come in.
"Where's my spade, mamma?"
"I speak French, and you must too."
The little girl tried to say it in French, but could not remember
the French for spade; the mother prompted her, and then told her
in French where to look for the spade. And this made a
disagreeable impression on Levin.
Everything in Darya Alexandrovna's house and children struck him
now as by no means so charming as a little while before. "And
what does she talk French with the children for?" he thought;
"how unnatural and false it is! And the children feel it so:
Learning French and unlearning sincerity," he thought to himself,
unaware that Darya Alexandrovna had thought all that over twenty
times already, and yet, even at the cost of some loss of
sincerity, believed it necessary to teach her children French in
"But why are you going? Do stay a little."
Levin stayed to tea; but his good-humor had vanished, and he felt
ill at ease.
After tea he went out into the hall to order his horses to be put
in, and, when he came back, he found Darya Alexandrovna greatly
disturbed, with a troubled face, and tears in her eyes. While
Levin had been outside, an incident had occurred which had
utterly shattered all the happiness she had been feeling that
day, and her pride in her children. Grisha and Tanya had been
fighting over a ball. Darya Alexandrovna, hearing a scream in
the nursery, ran in and saw a terrible sight. Tanya was pulling
Grisha's hair, while he, with a face hideous with rage, was
beating her with his fists wherever he could get at her.
Something snapped in Darya Alexandrovna's heart when she saw
this. It was as if darkness had swooped down upon her life; she
felt that these children of hers, that she was so proud of, were
not merely most ordinary, but positively bad, ill-bred children,
with coarse, brutal propensities--wicked children.
She could not talk or think of anything else, and she could not
speak to Levin of her misery.
Levin saw she was unhappy and tried to comfort her, saying that
it showed nothing bad, that all children fight; but, even as he
said it, he was thinking in his heart: "No, I won't be
artificial and talk French with my children; but my children
won't be like that. All one has to do is not spoil children, not
to distort their nature, and they'll be delightful. No, my
children won't be like that."
He said good-bye and drove away, and she did not try to keep him.
In the middle of July the elder of the village on Levin's
sister's estate, about fifteen miles from Pokrovskoe, came to
Levin to report on how things were going there and on the hay.
The chief source of income on his sister's estate was from the
riverside meadows. In former years the hay had been bought by
the peasants for twenty roubles the three acres. When Levin took
over the management of the estate, he thought on examining the
grasslands that they were worth more, and he fixed the price at
twenty-five roubles the three acres. The peasants would not give
that price, and, as Levin suspected, kept off other purchasers.
Then Levin had driven over himself, and arranged to have the
grass cut, partly by hired labor, partly at a payment of a
certain proportion of the crop. His own peasants put every
hindrance they could in the way of this new arrangement, but it
was carried out, and the first year the meadows had yielded a
profit almost double. The previous year--which was the third
year--the peasants had maintained the same opposition to the
arrangement, and the hay had been cut on the same system. This
year the peasants were doing all the mowing for a third of the
hay crop, and the village elder had come now to announce that the
hay had been cut, and that, fearing rain, they had invited the
counting-house clerk over, had divided the crop in his presence,
and had raked together eleven stacks as the owner's share. From
the vague answers to his question how much hay had been cut on
the principal meadow, from the hurry of the village elder who had
made the division, not asking leave, from the whole tone of the
peasant, Levin perceived that there was something wrong in the
division of the hay, and made up his mind to drive over himself
to look into the matter.
Arriving for dinner at the village, and leaving his horse at the
cottage of an old friend of his, the husband of his brother's
wet-nurse, Levin went to see the old man in his bee-house,
wanting to find out from him the truth about the hay.
Parmenitch, a talkative, comely old man, gave Levin a very warm
welcome, showed him all he was doing, told him everything about
his bees and the swarms of that year; but gave vague and
unwilling answers to Levin's inquiries about the mowing. This
confirmed Levin still more in his suspicions. He went to the
hay fields and examined the stacks. The haystacks could not
possibly contain fifty wagon-loads each, and to convict the
peasants Levin ordered the wagons that had carried the hay to be
brought up directly, to lift one stack, and carry it into the
barn. There turned out to be only thirty-two loads in the stack.
In spite of the village elder's assertions about the
compressibility of hay, and its having settled down in the
stacks, and his swearing that everything had been done in the
fear of God, Levin stuck to his point that the hay had been
divided without his orders, and that, therefore, he would not
accept that hay as fifty loads to a stack. After a prolonged
dispute the matter was decided by the peasants taking these
eleven stacks, reckoning them as fifty loads each. The arguments
and the division of the haycocks lasted the whole afternoon.
When the last of the hay had been divided, Levin, intrusting the
superintendence of the rest to the counting-house clerk, sat down
on a haycock marked off by a stake of willow, and looked
admiringly at the meadow swarming with peasants.
In front of him, in the bend of the river beyond the marsh, moved
a bright-colored line of peasant women, and the scattered hay was
being rapidly formed into gray winding rows over the pale green
stubble. After the women came the men with pitchforks, and from
the gray rows there were growing up broad, high, soft haycocks.
To the left, carts were rumbling over the meadow that had been
already cleared, and one after another the haycocks vanished,
flung up in huge forkfuls, and in their place there were rising
heavy cartloads of fragrant hay hanging over the horses'
"What weather for haying! What hay it'll be!" said an old man,
squatting down beside Levin. "It's tea, not hay! It's like
scattering grain to the ducks, the way they pick it up!" he
added, pointing to the growing haycocks. "Since dinnertime
they've carried a good half of it."
"The last load, eh?" he shouted to a young peasant, who drove by,
standing in the front of an empty cart, shaking the cord reins.
"The last, dad!" the lad shouted back, pulling in the horse, and,
smiling, he looked round at a bright, rosy-checked peasant girl
who sat in the cart smiling too, and drove on.
"Who's that? Your son?" asked Levin.
"My baby," said the old man with a tender smile.
"What a fine fellow!"
"The lad's all right."
"Yes, it's two years last St. Philip's day."
"Children indeed! Why, for over a year he was innocent as a babe
himself, and bashful too," answered the old man. "Well, the hay!
It's as fragrant as tea!" he repeated, wishing to change the
Levin looked more attentively at Ivan Parmenov and his wife.
They were loading a haycock onto the cart not far from him. Ivan
Parmenov was standing on the cart, taking, laying in place, and
stamping down the huge bundles of hay, which his pretty young
wife deftly handed up to him, at first in armfuls, and then on
the pitchfork. The young wife worked easily, merrily, and
dexterously. The close-packed hay did not once break away off
her fork. First she gathered it together, stuck the fork into
it, then with a rapid, supple movement leaned the whole weight of
her body on it, and at once with a bend of her back under the red
belt she drew herself up, and arching her full bosom under the
white smock, with a smart turn swung the fork in her arms, and
flung the bundle of hay high onto the cart. Ivan, obviously
doing his best to save her every minute of unnecessary labor,
made haste, opening his arms to clutch the bundle and lay it in
the cart. As she raked together what was left of the hay, the
young wife shook off the bits of hay that had fallen on her neck,
and straightening the red kerchief that had dropped forward over
her white brow, not browned like her face by the sun, she crept
under the cart to tie up the load. Ivan directed her how to
fasten the cord to the cross-piece, and at something she said he
laughed aloud. In the expressions of both faces was to be seen
vigorous, young, freshly awakened love.
The load was tied on. Ivan jumped down and took the quiet, sleek
horse by the bridle. The young wife flung the rake up on the
load, and with a bold step, swinging her arms, she went to join
the women, who were forming a ring for the haymakers' dance.
Ivan drove off to the road and fell into line with the other
loaded carts. The peasant women, with their rakes on their
shoulders, gay with bright flowers, and chattering with ringing,
merry voices, walked behind the hay cart. One wild untrained
female voice broke into a song, and sang it alone through a
verse, and then the same verse was taken up and repeated by half
a hundred strong healthy voices, of all sorts, coarse and fine,
singing in unison.
The women, all singing, began to come close to Levin, and he felt
as though a storm were swooping down upon him with a thunder of
merriment. The storm swooped down, enveloped him and the haycock
on which he was lying, and the other haycocks, and the
wagon-loads, and the whole meadow and distant fields all seemed
to be shaking and singing to the measures of this wild merry song
with its shouts and whistles and clapping. Levin felt envious of
this health and mirthfulness; he longed to take part in the
expression of this joy of life. But he could do nothing, and had
to lie and look on and listen. When the peasants, with their
singing, had vanished out of sight and hearing, a weary feeling
of despondency at his own isolation, his physical inactivity, his
alienation from this world, came over Levin.
Some of the very peasants who had been most active in wrangling
with him over the hay, some whom he had treated with contumely,
and who had tried to cheat him, those very peasants had greeted
him goodhumoredly, and evidently had not, were incapable of
having any feeling of rancor against him, any regret, any
recollection even of having tried to deceive him. All that was
drowned in a sea of merry common labor. God gave the day, God
gave the strength. And the day and the strength were consecrated
to labor, and that labor was its own reward. For whom the labor?
What would be its fruits? These were idle considerations--
beside the point.
Often Levin had admired this life, often he had a sense of envy
of the men who led this life; but today for the first time,
especially under the influence of what he had seen in the
attitude of Ivan Parmenov to his young wife, the idea presented
itself definitely to his mind that it was in his power to
exchange the dreary, artificial, idle, and individualistic life
he was leading for this laborious, pure, and socially delightful
The old man who had been sitting beside him had long ago gone
home; the people had all separated. Those who lived near had
gone home, while those who came from far were gathered into a
group for supper, and to spend the night in the meadow. Levin,
unobserved by the peasants, still lay on the haycock, and still
looked on and listened and mused. The peasants who remained for
the night in the meadow scarcely slept all the short summer
night. At first there was the sound of merry talk and laughing
all together over the supper, then singing again and laughter.
All the long day of toil had left no trace in them but lightness
of heart. Before the early dawn all was hushed. Nothing was to
be heard but the night sounds of the frogs that never ceased in
the marsh, and the horses snorting in the mist that rose over the
meadow before the morning. Rousing himself, Levin got up from
the haycock, and looking at the stars, he saw that the night was
"Well, what am I going to do? How am I to set about it?" he
said to himself, trying to express to himself all the thoughts
and feelings he had passed through in that brief night. All the
thoughts and feelings he had passed through fell into three
separate trains of thought. One was the renunciation of his old
life, of his utterly useless education. This renunciation gave
him satisfaction, and was easy and simple. Another series of
thoughts and mental images related to the life he longed to live
now. The simplicity, the purity, the sanity of this life he felt
clearly, and he was convinced he would find in it the content,
the peace, and the dignity, of the lack of which he was so
miserably conscious. But a third series of ideas turned upon the
question how to effect this transition from the old life to the
new. And there nothing took clear shape for him. "Have a wife?
Have work and the necessity of work? Leave Pokrovskoe? Buy
land? Become a member of a peasant community? Marry a peasant
girl? How am I to set about it?" he asked himself again, and
could not find an answer. "I haven't slept all night, though,
and I can't think it out clearly," he said to himself. "I'll
work it out later. One thing's certain, this night has decided
my fate. All my old dreams of home life were absurd, not the
real thing," he told himself. "It's all ever so much simpler and
"How beautiful!" he thought, looking at the strange, as it were,
mother-of-pearl shell of white fleecy cloudless resting right
over his head in the middle of the sky. "How exquisite it all is
in this exquisite night! And when was there time for that
cloud-shell to form? Just now I looked at the sky, and there was
nothing in it--only two white streaks. Yes, and so
imperceptibly too my views of life changed!"
He went out of the meadow and walked along the highroad towards
the village. A slight wind arose, and the sky looked gray and
sullen. The gloomy moment had come that usually precedes the
dawn, the full triumph of light over darkness.
Shrinking from the cold, Levin walked rapidly, looking at the
ground. "What's that? Someone coming," he thought, catching the
tinkle of bells, and lifting his head. Forty paces from him a
carriage with four horses harnessed abreast was driving towards
him along the grassy road on which he was walking. The
shaft-horses were tilted against the shafts by the ruts, but the
dexterous driver sitting on the box held the shaft over the ruts,
so that the wheels ran on the smooth part of the road.
This was all Levin noticed, and without wondering who it could
be, he gazed absently at the coach.
In the coach was an old lady dozing in one corner, and at the
window, evidently only just awake, sat a young girl holding in
both hands the ribbons of a white cap. With a face full of light
and thought, full of a subtle, complex inner life, that was
remote from Levin, she was gazing beyond him at the glow of the
At the very instant when this apparition was vanishing, the
truthful eyes glanced at him. She recognized him, and her face
lighted up with wondering delight.
He could not be mistaken. There were no other eyes like those in
the world. There was only one creature in the world that could
concentrate for him all the brightness and meaning of life. It
was she. It was Kitty. He understood that she was driving to
Ergushovo from the railway station. And everything that had been
stirring Levin during that sleepless night, all the resolutions
he had made, all vanished at once. He recalled with horror his
dreams of marrying a peasant girl. There only, in the carriage
that had crossed over to the other side of the road, and was
rapidly disappearing, there only could he find the solution of
the riddle of his life, which had weighed so agonizingly upon him
She did not look out again. The sound of the carriage-springs
was no longer audible, the bells could scarcely be heard. The
barking of dogs showed the carriage had reached the village, and
all that was left was the empty fields all round, the village in
front, and he himself isolated and apart from it all, wandering
lonely along the deserted highroad.
He glanced at the sky, expecting to find there the cloud shell he
had been admiring and taking as the symbol of the ideas and
feelings of that night. There was nothing in the sky in the
least like a shell. There, in the remote heights above, a
mysterious change had been accomplished. There was no trace of
shell, and there was stretched over fully half the sky an even
cover of tiny and ever tinier cloudlets. The sky had grown blue
and bright; and with the same softness, but with the same
remoteness, it met his questioning gaze.
"No," he said to himself, "however good that life of simplicity
and toil may be, I cannot go back to it. I love HER."
None but those who were most intimate with Alexey Alexandrovitch
knew that, while on the surface the coldest and most reasonable
of men, he had one weakness quite opposed to the general trend of
his character. Alexey Alexandrovitch could not hear or see a
child or woman crying without being moved. The sight of tears
threw him into a state of nervous agitation, and he utterly lost
all power of reflection. The chief secretary of his department
and his private secretary were aware of this, and used to warn
women who came with petitions on no account to give way to tears,
if they did not want to ruin their chances. "He will get angry,
and will not listen to you," they used to say. And as a fact, in
such cases the emotional disturbance set up in Alexey
Alexandrovitch by the sight of tears found expression in hasty
anger. "I can do nothing. Kindly leave the room!" he would
commonly cry in such cases.
When returning from the races Anna had informed him of her
relations with Vronsky, and immediately afterwards had burst into
tears, hiding her face in her hands, Alexey Alexandrovitch, for
all the fury aroused in him against her, was aware at the same
time of a rush of that emotional disturbance always produced in
him by tears. Conscious of it, and conscious that any expression
of his feelings at that minute would be out of keeping with the
position, he tried to suppress every manifestation of life in
himself, and so neither stirred nor looked at her. This was what
had caused that strange expression of deathlike rigidity in his
face which had so impressed Anna.
When they reached the house he helped her to get out of the
carriage, and making an effort to master himself, took leave of
her with his usual urbanity, and uttered that phrase that bound
him to nothing; he said that tomorrow he would let her know his
His wife's words, confirming his worst suspicions, had sent a
cruel pang to the heart of Alexey Alexandrovitch. That pang was
intensified by the strange feeling of physical pity for her set
up by her tears. But when he was all alone in the carriage
Alexey Alexandrovitch, to his surprise and delight, felt complete
relief both from this pity and from the doubts and agonies of
He experienced the sensations of a man who has had a tooth out
after suffering long from toothache. After a fearful agony and a
sense of something huge, bigger than the head itself, being torn
out of his jaw, the sufferer, hardly able to believe in his own
good luck, feels all at once that what has so long poisoned his
existence and enchained his attention, exists no longer, and that
he can live and think again, and take interest in other things
besides his tooth. This feeling Alexey Alexandrovitch was
experiencing. The agony had been strange and terrible, but now
it was over; he felt that he could live again and think of
something other than his wife.
"No honor, no heart, no religion; a corrupt woman. I always
knew it and always saw it, though I tried to deceive myself to
spare her," he said to himself. And it actually seemed to him
that he always had seen it: he recalled incidents of their past
life, in which he had never seen anything wrong before--now
these incidents proved clearly that she had always been a corrupt
woman. "I made a mistake in linking my life to hers; but there
was nothing wrong in my mistake, and so I cannot be unhappy.
It's not I that am to blame," he told himself, "but she. But I
have nothing to do with her. She does not exist for me..."
Everything relating to her and her son, towards whom his
sentiments were as much changed as towards her, ceased to
interest him. The only thing that interested him now was the
question of in what way he could best, with most propriety and
comfort for himself, and thus with most justice, extricate
himself from the mud with which she had spattered him in her
fall, and then proceed along his path of active, honorable, and
"I cannot be made unhappy by the fact that a contemptible woman
has committed a crime. I have only to find the best way out of
the difficult position in which she has placed me. And I shall
find it," he said to himself, frowning more and more. "I'm not
the first nor the last." And to say nothing of historical
instances dating from the "Fair Helen" of Menelaus, recently
revived in the memory of all, a whole list of contemporary
examples of husbands with unfaithful wives in the highest society
rose before Alexey Alexandrovitch's imagination. "Daryalov,
Poltavsky, Prince Karibanov, Count Paskudin, Dram.... Yes, even
Dram, such an honest, capable fellow...Semyonov, Tchagin,
Sigonin," Alexey Alexandrovitch remembered. "Admitting that a
certain quite irrational ridicule falls to the lot of these men,
yet I never saw anything but a misfortune in it, and always felt
sympathy for it," Alexey Alexandrovitch said to himself, though
indeed this was not the fact, and he had never felt sympathy for
misfortunes of that kind, but the more frequently he had heard of
instances of unfaithful wives betraying their husbands, the more
highly he had thought of himself. "It is a misfortune which may
befall anyone. And this misfortune has befallen me. The only
thing to be done is to make the best of the position."
And he began passing in review the methods of proceeding of men
who had been in the same position that he was in.
"Daryalov fought a duel...."
The duel had particularly fascinated the thoughts of Alexey
Alexandrovitch in his youth, just because he was physically a
coward, and was himself well aware of the fact. Alexey
Alexandrovitch could not without horror contemplate the idea of a
pistol aimed at himself, and never made use of any weapon in his
life. This horror had in his youth set him pondering on dueling,
and picturing himself in a position in which he would have to
expose his life to danger. Having attained success and an
established position in the world, he had long ago forgotten this
feeling; but the habitual bent of feeling reasserted itself, and
dread of his own cowardice proved even now so strong that Alexey
Alexandrovitch spent a long while thinking over the question of
dueling in all its aspects, and hugging the idea of a duel,
though he was fully aware beforehand that he would never under
any circumstances fight one.
"There's no doubt our society is still so barbarous (it's not the
same in England) that very many"--and among these were those
whose opinion Alexey Alexandrovitch particularly valued--"look
favorably on the duel; but what result is attained by it? Suppose
I call him out," Alexey Alexandrovitch went on to himself, and
vividly picturing the night he would spend after the challenge,
and the pistol aimed at him, he shuddered, and knew that he never
would do it--"suppose I call him out. Suppose I am taught," he
went on musing, "to shoot; I press the trigger," he said to
himself, closing his eyes, "and it turns out I have killed him,"
Alexey Alexandrovitch said to himself, and he shook his head as
though to dispel such silly ideas. "What sense is there in
murdering a man in order to define one's relation to a guilty
wife and son? I should still just as much have to decide what I
ought to do with her. But what is more probable and what would
doubtless occur--I should be killed or wounded. I, the
innocent person, should be the victim--killed or wounded. It's
even more senseless. But apart from that, a challenge to fight
would be an act hardly honest on my side. Don't I know perfectly
well that my friends would never allow me to fight a duel--would
never allow the life of a statesman, needed by Russia, to be
exposed to danger? Knowing perfectly well beforehand that the
matter would never come to real danger, it would amount to my
simply trying to gain a certain sham reputation by such a
challenge. That would be dishonest, that would be false, that
would be deceiving myself and others. A duel is quite
irrational, and no one expects it of me. My aim is simply to
safeguard my reputation, which is essential for the uninterrupted
pursuit of my public duties." Official duties, which had always
been of great consequence in Alexey Alexandrovitch's eyes, seemed
of special importance to his mind at this moment. Considering
and rejecting the duel, Alexey Alexandrovitch turned to
divorce--another solution selected by several of the husbands he
remembered. Passing in mental review all the instances he knew
of divorces (there were plenty of them in the very highest
society with which he was very familiar), Alexey Alexandrovitch
could not find a single example in which the object of divorce
was that which he had in view. In all these instances the
husband had practically ceded or sold his unfaithful wife, and
the very party which, being in fault, had not the right to
contract a fresh marriage, had formed counterfeit,
pseudo-matrimonial ties with a self-styled husband. In his own
case, Alexey Alexandrovitch saw that a legal divorce, that is to
say, one in which only the guilty wife would be repudiated, was
impossible of attainment. He saw that the complex conditions of
the life they led made the coarse proofs of his wife's guilt,
required by the law, out of the question; he saw that a certain
refinement in that life would not admit of such proofs being
brought forward, even if he had them, and that to bring forward
such proofs would damage him in the public estimation more than
it would her.
An attempt at divorce could lead to nothing but a public scandal,
which would be a perfect godsend to his enemies for calumny and
attacks on his high position in society. His chief object, to
define the position with the least amount of disturbance
possible, would not be attained by divorce either. Moreover, in
the event of divorce, or even of an attempt to obtain a divorce,
it was obvious that the wife broke off all relations with the
husband and threw in her lot with the lover. And in spite of the
complete, as he supposed, contempt and indifference he now felt
for his wife, at the bottom of his heart, Alexey Alexandrovitch
still had one feeling left in regard to her--a disinclination to
see her free to throw in her lot with Vronsky, so that her crime
would be to her advantage. The mere notion of this so
exasperated Alexey Alexandrovitch, that directly it rose to his
mind he groaned with inward agony, and got up and changed his
place in the carriage, and for a long while after, he sat with
scowling brows, wrapping his numbed and bony legs in the fleecy
"Apart from formal divorce, One might still do like Karibanov,
Paskudin, and that good fellow Dram--that is, separate from
one's wife," he went on thinking, when he had regained his
composure. But this step too presented the same drawback of
public scandal as a divorce, and what was more, a separation,
quite as much as a regular divorce, flung his wife into the arms
of Vronsky. "No, it's out of the question, out of the question!"
he said again, twisting his rug about him again. "I cannot be
unhappy, but neither she nor he ought to be happy."
The feeling of jealousy, which had tortured him during the period
of uncertainty, had passed away at the instant when the tooth had
been with agony extracted by his wife's words. But that feeling
had been replaced by another, the desire, not merely that she
should not be triumphant, but that she should get due punishment
for her crime. He did not acknowledge this feeling, but at the
bottom of his heart he longed for her to suffer for having
destroyed his peace of mind--his honor. And going once again
over the conditions inseparable from a duel, a divorce, a
separation, and once again rejecting them, Alexey Alexandrovitch
felt convinced that there was only one solution,--to keep her
with him, concealing what had happened from the world, and using
every measure in his power to break off the intrigue, and still
more--though this he did not admit to himself--to punish her.
"I must inform her of my conclusion, that thinking over the
terrible position in which she has placed her family, all other
solutions will be worse for both sides than an external status
quo, and that such I agree to retain, on the strict condition of
obedience on her part to my wishes, that is to say, cessation of
all intercourse with her lover." When this decision had been
finally adopted, another weighty consideration occurred to Alexey
Alexandrovitch in support of it. "By such a course only shall I
be acting in accordance with the dictates of religion," he told
himself. "In adopting this course, I am not casting off a
guilty wife, but giving her a chance of amendment; and, indeed,
difficult as the task will be to me, I shall devote part of my
energies to her reformation and salvation."
Though Alexey Alexandrovitch was perfectly aware that he could
not exert any moral influence over his wife, that such an attempt
at reformation could lead to nothing but falsity; though in
passing through these difficult moments he had not once thought
of seeking guidance in religion, yet now, when his conclusion
corresponded, as it seemed to him, with the requirements of
religion, this religious sanction to his decision gave him
complete satisfaction, and to some extent restored his peace of
mind. He was pleased to think that, even in such an important
crisis in life, no one would be able to say that he had not acted
in accordance with the principles of that religion whose banner
he had always held aloft amid the general coolness and
indifference. As he pondered over subsequent developments,
Alexey Alexandrovitch did not see, indeed, why his relations with
his wife should not remain practically the same as before. No
doubt, she could never regain his esteem, but there was not, and
there could not be, any sort of reason that his existence should
be troubled, and that he should suffer because she was a bad and
faithless wife. "Yes, time will pass; time, which arranges all
things, and the old relations will be reestablished," Alexey
Alexandrovitch told himself; "so far reestablished, that is, that
I shall not be sensible of a break in the continuity of my life.
She is bound to be unhappy, but I am not to blame, and so I
cannot be unhappy."
As he neared Petersburg, Alexey Alexandrovitch not only adhered
entirely to his decision, but was even composing in his head the
letter he would write to his wife. Going into the porter's room,
Alexey Alexandrovitch glanced at the letters and papers brought
from his office, and directed that they should be brought to him
in his study.
"The horses can be taken out and I will see no one," he said in
answer to the porter, with a certain pleasure, indicative of his
agreeable frame of mind, emphasizing the words, "see no one."
In his study Alexey Alexandrovitch walked up and down twice, and
stopped at an immense writing-table, on which six candles had
already been lighted by the valet who had preceded him. He
cracked his knuckles and sat down, sorting out his writing
appurtenances. Putting his elbows on the table, he bent his head
on one side, thought a minute, and began to write, without
pausing for a second. He wrote without using any form of address
to her, and wrote in French, making use of the plural "vous,"
which has not the same note of coldness as the corresponding
"At our last conversation, I notified you of my intention to
communicate to you my decision in regard to the subject of that
conversation. Having carefully considered everything, I am
writing now with the object of fulfilling that promise. My
decision is as follows. Whatever your conduct may have been, I
do not consider myself justified in breaking the ties in which we
are bound by a Higher Power. The family cannot be broken up by a
whim, a caprice, or even by the sin of one of the partners in the
marriage, and our life must go on as it has done in the past.
This is essential for me, for you, and for our son. I am fully
persuaded that you have repented and do repent of what has called
forth the present letter, and that you will cooperate with me in
eradicating the cause of our estrangement, and forgetting the
past. In the contrary event, you can conjecture what awaits you
and your son. All this I hope to discuss more in detail in a
personal interview. As the season is drawing to a close, I
would beg you to return to Petersburg as quickly as possible, not
later than Tuesday. All necessary preparations shall be made for
your arrival here. I beg you to note that I attach particular
significance to compliance with this request.
"P.S.--I enclose the money which may be needed for your
He read the letter through and felt pleased with it, and
especially that he had remembered to enclose money: there was
not a harsh word, not a reproach in it, nor was there undue
indulgence. Most of all, it was a golden bridge for return.
Folding the letter and smoothing it with a massive ivory knife,
and putting it in an envelope with the money, he rang the bell
with the gratification it always afforded him to use the
well arranged appointments of his writing-table.
"Give this to the courier to be delivered to Anna Arkadyevna
tomorrow at the summer villa," he said, getting up.
"Certainly, your excellency; tea to be served in the study?"
Alexey Alexandrovitch ordered tea to be brought to the study, and
playing with the massive paper-knife, he moved to his easy chair,
near which there had been placed ready for him a lamp and the
French work on Egyptian hieroglyphics that he had begun. Over
the easy chair there hung in a gold frame an oval portrait of
Anna, a fine painting by a celebrated artist. Alexey
Alexandrovitch glanced at it. The unfathomable eyes gazed
ironically and insolently at him. Insufferably insolent and
challenging was the effect in Alexey Alexandrovitch's eyes of the
black lace about the head, admirably touched in by the painter,
the black hair and handsome white hand with one finger lifted,
covered with rings. After looking at the portrait for a minute,
Alexey Alexandrovitch shuddered so that his lips quivered and he
uttered the sound "brrr," and turned away. He made haste to sit
down in his easy chair and opened the book. He tried to read,
but he could not revive the very vivid interest he had felt
before in Egyptian hieroglyphics. He looked at the book and
thought of something else. He thought not of his wife, but of a
complication that had arisen in his official life, which at the
time constituted the chief interest of it. He felt that he had
penetrated more deeply than ever before into this intricate
affair, and that he had originated a leading idea--he could say
it without self-flattery--calculated to clear up the whole
business, to strengthen him in his official career, to discomfit
his enemies, and thereby to be of the greatest benefit to the
government. Directly the servant had set the tea and left the
room, Alexey Alexandrovitch got up and went to the writing-table.
Moving into the middle of the table a portfolio of papers, with a
scarcely perceptible smile of self-satisfaction, he took a pencil
from a rack and plunged into the perusal of a complex report
relating to the present complication. The complication was of
this nature: Alexey Alexandrovitch's characteristic quality as a
politician, that special individual qualification that every
rising functionary possesses, the qualification that with his
unflagging ambition, his reserve, his honesty, and with his
self-confidence had made his career, was his contempt for red
tape, his cutting down of correspondence, his direct contact,
wherever possible, with the living fact, and his economy. It
happened that the famous Commission of the 2nd of June had set on
foot an inquiry into the irrigation of lands in the Zaraisky
province, which fell under Alexey Alexandrovitch's department,
and was a glaring example of fruitless expenditure and paper
reforms. Alexey Alexandrovitch was aware of the truth of this.
The irrigation of these lands in the Zaraisky province had been
initiated by the predecessor of Alexey Alexandrovitch's
predecessor. And vast sums of money had actually been spent and
were still being spent on this business, and utterly
unproductively, and the whole business could obviously lead to
nothing whatever. Alexey Alexandrovitch had perceived this at
once on entering office, and would have liked to lay hands on the
Board of Irrigation. But at first, when he did not yet feel
secure in his position, he knew it would affect too many
interests, and would be injudicious. Later on he had been
engrossed in other questions, and had simply forgotten the Board
of Irrigation. It went of itself, like all such boards, by the
mere force of inertia. (Many people gained their livelihood by
the Board of Irrigation, especially one highly conscientious and
musical family: all the daughters played on stringed instruments,
and Alexey Alexandrovitch knew the family and had stood godfather
to one of the elder daughters.) The raising of this question by a
hostile department was in Alexey Alexandrovitch's opinion a
dishonorable proceeding, seeing that in every department there
were things similar and worse, which no one inquired into, for
well-known reasons of official etiquette. However, now that the
glove had been thrown down to him, he had boldly picked it up and
demanded the appointment of a special commission to investigate
and verify the working of the Board of Irrigation of the lands in
the Zaraisky province. But in compensation he gave no quarter to
the enemy either. He demanded the appointment of another special
commission to inquire into the question of the Native Tribes
Organization Committee. The question of the Native Tribes had
been brought up incidentally in the Commission of the 2nd of
June, and had been pressed forward actively by Alexey
Alexandrovitch as one admitting of no delay on account of the
deplorable condition of the native tribes. In the commission
this question had been a ground of contention between several
departments. The department hostile to Alexey Alexandrovitch
proved that the condition of the native tribes was exceedingly
flourishing, that the proposed reconstruction might be the ruin
of their prosperity, and that if there were anything wrong, it
arose mainly from the failure on the part of Alexey
Alexandrovitch's department to carry out the measures prescribed
by law. Now Alexey Alexandrovitch intended to demand: First,
that a new commission should be formed which should be empowered
to investigate the condition of the native tribes on the spot;
secondly, if it should appear that the condition of the native
tribes actually was such as it appeared to be from the official
documents in the hands of the committee, that another new
scientific commission should be appointed to investigate the
deplorable condition of the native tribes from the--(1)
political, (2) administrative, (3) economic, (4) ethnographical,
(5) material, and (6) religious points of view; thirdly, that
evidence should be required from the rival department of the
measures that had been taken during the last ten years by that
department for averting the disastrous conditions in which the
native tribes were now placed; and fourthly and finally, that
that department explain why it had, as appeared from the evidence
before the committee, from No. 17,015 and 18,038, from December
5, 1863, and June 7, 1864, acted in direct contravention of the
intent of the law T...Act 18, and the note to Act 36. A flash
of eagerness suffused the face of Alexey Alexandrovitch as he
rapidly wrote out a synopsis of these ideas for his own benefit.
Having filled a sheet of paper, he got up, rang, and sent a note
to the chief secretary of his department to look up certain
necessary facts for him. Getting up and walking about the room,
he glanced again at the portrait, frowned, and smiled
contemptuously. After reading a little more of the book on
Egyptian hieroglyphics, and renewing his interest in it, Alexey
Alexandrovitch went to bed at eleven o'clock, and recollecting as
he lay in bed the incident with his wife, he saw it now in by no
means such a gloomy light.
Though Anna had obstinately and with exasperation contradicted
Vronsky when he told her their position was impossible, at the
bottom of her heart she regarded her own position as false and
dishonorable, and she longed with her whole soul to change it.
On the way home from the races she had told her husband the truth
in a moment of excitement, and in spite of the agony she had
suffered in doing so, she was glad of it. After her husband had
left her, she told herself that she was glad, that now everything
was made clear, and at least there would be no more lying and
deception. It seemed to her beyond doubt that her position was
now made clear forever. It might be bad, this new position, but
it would be clear; there would be no indefiniteness or falsehood
about it. The pain she had caused herself and her husband in
uttering those words would be rewarded now by everything being
made clear, she thought. That evening she saw Vronsky, but she
did not tell him of what had passed between her and her husband,
though, to make the position definite, it was necessary to tell
When she woke up next morning the first thing that rose to her
mind was what she had said to her husband, and those words seemed
to her so awful that she could not conceive now how she could
have brought herself to utter those strange, coarse words, and
could not imagine what would come of it. But the words were
spoken, and Alexey Alexandrovitch had gone away without saying
anything. "I saw Vronsky and did not tell him. At the very
instant he was going away I would have turned him back and told
him, but I changed my mind, because it was strange that I had
not told him the first minute. Why was it I wanted to tell him
and did not tell him?" And in answer to this question a burning
blush of shame spread over her face. She knew what had kept her
from it, she knew that she had been ashamed. Her position, which
had seemed to her simplified the night before, suddenly struck
her now as not only not simple, but as absolutely hopeless. She
felt terrified at the disgrace, of which she had not ever thought
before. Directly she thought of what her husband would do, the
most terrible ideas came to her mind. She had a vision of being
turned out of the house, of her shame being proclaimed to all the
world. She asked herself where she should go when she was turned
out of the house, and she could not find an answer.
When she thought of Vronsky, it seemed to her that he did not
love her, that he was already beginning to be tired of her, that
she could not offer herself to him, and she felt bitter against
him for it. It seemed to her that the words that she had spoken
to her husband, and had continually repeated in her imagination,
she had said to everyone, and everyone had heard them. She could
not bring herself to look those of her own household in the face.
She could not bring herself to call her maid, and still less go
downstairs and see her son and his governess.
The maid, who had been listening at her door for a long while,
came into her room of her own accord. Anna glanced inquiringly
into her face, and blushed with a scared look. The maid begged
her pardon for coming in, saying that she had fancied the bell
rang. She brought her clothes and a note. The note was from
Betsy. Betsy reminded her that Liza Merkalova and Baroness
Shtoltz were coming to play croquet with her that morning with
their adorers, Kaluzhsky and old Stremov. "Come, if only as a
study in morals. I shall expect you," she finished.
Anna read the note and heaved a deep sigh.
"Nothing, I need nothing," she said to Annushka, who was
rearranging the bottles and brushes on the dressing table. "You
can go. I'll dress at once and come down. I need nothing."
Annushka went out, but Anna did not begin dressing, and sat in
the same position, her head and hands hanging listlessly, and
every now and then she shivered all over, seemed as though she
would make some gesture, utter some word, and sank back into
lifelessness again. She repeated continually, "My God! my God!"
But neither "God" nor "my" had any meaning to her. The idea of
seeking help in her difficulty in religion was as remote from her
as seeking help from Alexey Alexandrovitch himself, although she
had never had doubts of the faith in which she had been brought
up. She knew that the support of religion was possible only upon
condition of renouncing what made up for her the whole meaning of
life. She was not simply miserable, she began to feel alarm at
the new spiritual condition, never experienced before, in which
she found herself. She felt as though everything were beginning
to be double in her soul, just as objects sometimes appear double
to over-tired eyes. She hardly knew at times what it was she
feared, and what she hoped for. Whether she feared or desired
what had happened, or what was going to happen, and exactly what
she longed for, she could not have said.
"Ah, what am I doing!" she said to herself, feeling a sudden
thrill of pain in both sides of her head. When she came to
herself, she saw that she was holding her hair in both hands,
each side of her temples, and pulling it. She jumped up, and
began walking about.
"The coffee is ready, and mademoiselle and Seryozha are waiting,"
said Annushka, coming back again and finding Anna in the same
"Seryozha? What about Seryozha?" Anna asked, with sudden
eagerness, recollecting her son's existence for the first time
"He's been naughty, I think," answered Annushka with a smile.
"In what way?"
"Some peaches were lying on the table in the corner room. I
think he slipped in and ate one of them on the sly."
The recollection of her son suddenly roused Anna from the
helpless condition in which she found herself. She recalled the
partly sincere, though greatly exaggerated, role of the mother
living for her child, which she had taken up of late years, and
she felt with joy that in the plight in which she found herself
she had a support, quite apart from her relation to her husband
or to Vronsky. This support was her son. In whatever position
she might be placed, she could not lose her son. Her husband
might put her to shame and turn her out, Vronsky might grow cold
to her and go on living his own life apart (she thought of him
again with bitterness and reproach); she could not leave her son.
She had an aim in life. And she must act; act to secure this
relation to her son, so that he might not be taken from her.
Quickly indeed, as quickly as possible, she must take action
before he was taken from her. She must take her son and go away.
Here was the one thing she had to do now. She needed
consolation. She must be calm, and get out of this insufferable
position. The thought of immediate action binding her to her
son, of going away somewhere with him, gave her this consolation.
She dressed quickly, went downstairs, and with resolute steps
walked into the drawing room, where she found, as usual, waiting
for her, the coffee, Seryozha, and his governess. Seryozha, all
in white, with his back and head bent, was standing at a table
under a looking-glass, and with an expression of intense
concentration which she knew well, and in which he resembled his
father, he was doing something to the flowers he carried.
The governess had a particularly severe expression. Seryozha
screamed shrilly, as he often did, "Ah, mamma!" and stopped,
hesitating whether to go to greet his mother and put down the
flowers, or to finish making the wreath and go with the flowers.
The governess, after saying good-morning, began a long and
detailed account of Seryozha's naughtiness, but Anna did not hear
her; she was considering whether she would take her with her or
not. "No, I won't take her," she decided. "I'll go alone with
"Yes, it's very wrong," said Anna, and taking her son by the
shoulder she looked at him, not severely, but with a timid glance
that bewildered and delighted the boy, and she kissed him.
"Leave him to me," she said to the astonished governess, and not
letting go of her son, she sat down at the table, where coffee
was set ready for her.
"Mamma! I...I...didn't..." he said, trying to make out from her
expression what was in store for him in regard to the peaches.
"Seryozha," she said, as soon as the governess had left the room,
"that was wrong, but you'll never do it again, will you?... You
She felt that the tears were coming into her eyes. "Can I help
loving him?" she said to herself, looking deeply into his scared
and at the same time delighted eyes. "And can he ever join his
father in punishing me? Is it possible he will not feel for me?"
Tears were already flowing down her face, and to hide them she
got up abruptly and almost ran out on to the terrace.
After the thunder showers of the last few days, cold, bright
weather had set in. The air was cold in the bright sun that
filtered through the freshly washed leaves.
She shivered, both from the cold and from the inward horror which
had clutched her with fresh force in the open air.
"Run along, run along to Mariette," she said to Seryozha, who had
followed her out, and she began walking up and down on the straw
matting of the terrace. "Can it be that they won't forgive me,
won't understand how it all couldn't be helped?" she said to
Standing still, and looking at the tops of the aspen trees waving
in the wind, with their freshly washed, brightly shining leaves
in the cold sunshine, she knew that they would not forgive her,
that everyone and everything would be merciless to her now as
was that sky, that green. And again she felt that everything was
split in two in her soul. "I mustn't, mustn't think," she said
to herself. "I must get ready. To go where? When? Whom to
take with me? Yes, to Moscow by the evening train. Annushka and
Seryozha, and only the most necessary things. But first I must
write to them both." She went quickly indoors into her boudoir,
sat down at the table, and wrote to her husband:--"After what
has happened, I cannot remain any longer in your house. I am
going away, and taking my son with me. I don't know the law, and
so I don't know with which of the parents the son should remain;
but I take him with me because I cannot live without him. Be
generous, leave him to me."
Up to this point she wrote rapidly and naturally, but the appeal
to his generosity, a quality she did not recognize in him, and
the necessity of winding up the letter with something touching,
pulled her up. "Of my fault and my remorse I cannot speak,
She stopped again, finding no connection in her ideas. "No," she
said to herself, "there's no need of anything," and tearing up
the letter, she wrote it again, leaving out the allusion to
generosity, and sealed it up.
Another letter had to be written to Vronsky. "I have told my
husband," she wrote, and she sat a long while unable to write
more. It was so coarse, so unfeminine. "And what more am I to
write him?" she said to herself. Again a flush of shame spread
over her face; she recalled his composure, and a feeling of anger
against him impelled her to tear the sheet with the phrase she
had written into tiny bits. "No need of anything," she said to
herself, and closing her blotting-case she went upstairs, told
the governess and the servants that she was going that day to
Moscow, and at once set to work to pack up her things.
All the rooms of the summer villa were full of porters,
gardeners, and footmen going to and fro carrying out things.
Cupboards and chests were open; twice they had sent to the shop
for cord; pieces of newspaper were tossing about on the floor.
Two trunks, some bags and strapped-up rugs, had been carried down
into the hall. The carriage and two hired cabs were waiting at
the steps. Anna, forgetting her inward agitation in the work of
packing, was standing at a table in her boudoir, packing her
traveling bag, when Annushka called her attention to the rattle
of some carriage driving up. Anna looked out of the window and
saw Alexey Alexandrovitch's courier on the steps, ringing at the
front door bell.
"Run and find out what it is," she said, and with a calm sense of
being prepared for anything, she sat down in a low chair, folding
her hands on her knees. A footman brought in a thick packet
directed in Alexey Alexandrovitch's hand.
"The courier had orders to wait for an answer," he said.
"Very well," she said, and as soon as he had left the room she
tore open the letter with trembling fingers. A roll of unfolded
notes done up in a wrapper fell out of it. She disengaged the
letter and began reading it at the end. "Preparations shall be
made for your arrival here...I attach particular significance to
compliance..." she read. She ran on, then back, read it all
through, and once more read the letter all through again from the
beginning. When she had finished, she felt that she was cold all
over, and that a fearful calamity, such as she had not expected,
had burst upon her.
In the morning she had regretted that she had spoken to her
husband, and wished for nothing so much as that those words could
be unspoken. And here this letter regarded them as unspoken, and
gave her what she had wanted. But now this letter seemed to her
more awful than anything she had been able to conceive.
"He's right!" she said; "of course, he's always right; he's a
Christian, he's generous! Yes, vile, base creature! And no one
understands it except me, and no one ever will; and I can't
explain it. They say he's so religious, so high-principled, so
upright, so clever; but they don't see what I've seen. They
don't know how he has crushed my life for eight years, crushed
everything that was living in me--he has not once even thought
that I'm a live woman who must have love. They don't know how at
every step he's humiliated me, and been just as pleased with
himself. Haven't I striven, striven with all my strength, to
find something to give meaning to my life? Haven't I struggled
to love him, to love my son when I could not love my husband?
But the time came when I knew that I couldn't cheat myself any
longer, that I was alive, that I was not to blame, that God has
made me so that I must love and live. And now what does he do?
If he'd killed me, if he'd killed him, I could have borne
anything, I could have forgiven anything; but, no, he.... How
was it I didn't guess what he would do? He's doing just what's
characteristic of his mean character. He'll keep himself in the
right, while me, in my ruin, he'll drive still lower to worse
She recalled the words from the letter. "You can conjecture what
awaits you and your son...." "That's a threat to take away my
child, and most likely by their stupid law he can. But I know
very well why he says it. He doesn't believe even in my love for
my child, or he despises it (just as he always used to ridicule
it). He despises that feeling in me, but he knows that I won't
abandon my child, that I can't abandon my child, that there
could be no life for me without my child, even with him whom I
love; but that if I abandoned my child and ran away from him, I
should be acting like the most infamous, basest of women. He
knows that, and knows that I am incapable of doing that."
She recalled another sentence in the letter. "Our life must go
on as it has done in the past...." "That life was miserable
enough in the old days; it has been awful of late. What will it
be now? And he knows all that; he knows that I can't repent that
I breathe, that I love; he knows that it can lead to nothing but
lying and deceit; but he wants to go on torturing me. I know
him; I know that he's at home and is happy in deceit, like a fish
swimming in the water. No, I won't give him that happiness.
I'll break through the spiderweb of lies in which he wants to
catch me, come what may. Anything's better than lying and
"But how? My God! my God! Was ever a woman so miserable as I
"No; I will break through it, I will break through it!" she
cried, jumping up and keeping back her tears. And she went to
the writing table to write him another letter. But at the bottom
of her heart she felt that she was not strong enough to break
through anything, that she was not strong enough to get out of
her old position, however false and dishonorable it might be.
She sat down at the writing table, but instead of writing she
clasped her hands on the table, and, laying her head on them,
burst into tears, with sobs and heaving breast like a child
crying. She was weeping that her dream of her position being
made clear and definite had been annihilated forever. She knew
beforehand that everything would go on in the old way, and far
worse, indeed, than in the old way. She felt that the position
in the world that she enjoyed, and that had seemed to her of so
little consequence in the morning, that this position was
precious to her, that she would not have the strength to exchange
it for the shameful position of a woman who has abandoned husband
and child to join her lover; that however much she might
struggle, she could not be stronger than herself. She would
never know freedom in love, but would remain forever a guilty
wife, with the menace of detection hanging over her at every
instant; deceiving her husband for the sake of a shameful
connection with a man living apart and away from her, whose life
she could never share. She knew that this was how it would be,
and at the same time it was so awful that she could not even
conceive what it would end in. And she cried without restraint,
as children cry when they are punished.
The sound of the footman's steps forced her to rouse herself, and
hiding her face from him, she pretended to be writing.
"The courier asks if there's an answer," the footman announced.
"An answer? Yes," said Anna. "Let him wait. I'll ring."
"What can I write?" she thought. "What can I decide upon
alone? What do I know? What do I want? What is there I care
for?" Again she felt that her soul was beginning to be split in
two. She was terrified again at this feeling, and clutched at
the first pretext for doing something which might divert her
thoughts from herself. "I ought to see Alexey" (so she called
Vronsky in her thoughts); "no one but he can tell me what I ought
to do. I'll go to Betsy's, perhaps I shall see him there," she
said to herself, completely forgetting that when she had told him
the day before that she was not going to Princess Tverskaya's, he
had said that in that case he should not go either. She went up
to the table, wrote to her husband, "I have received your letter.
--A."; and, ringing the bell, gave it to the footman.
"We are not going," she said to Annushka, as she came in.
"Not going at all?"
"No; don't unpack till tomorrow, and let the carriage wait. I'm
going to the princess's."
"Which dress am I to get ready?"
The croquet party to which the Princess Tverskaya had invited
Anna was to consist of two ladies and their adorers. These two
ladies were the chief representatives of a select new Petersburg
circle, nicknamed, in imitation of some imitation, les sept
merveilles du monde. These ladies belonged to a circle which,
though of the highest society, was utterly hostile to that in
which Anna moved. Moreover, Stremov, one of the most influential
people in Petersburg, and the elderly admirer of Liza Merkalova,
was Alexey Alexandrovitch's enemy in the political world. From
all these considerations Anna had not meant to go, and the hints
in Princess Tverskaya's note referred to her refusal. But now
Anna was eager to go, in the hope of seeing Vronsky.
Anna arrived at Princess Tverskaya's earlier than the other
At the same moment as she entered, Vronsky's footman, with side-
whiskers combed out like a Kammerjunker, went in too. He stopped
at the door, and, taking off his cap, let her pass. Anna
recognized him, and only then recalled that Vronsky had told her
the day before that he would not come. Most likely he was
sending a note to say so.
As she took off her outer garment in the hall, she heard the
footman, pronouncing his "r's" even like a Kammerjunker, say,
"From the count for the princess," and hand the note.
She longed to question him as to where his master was. She
longed to turn back and send him a letter to come and see her, or
to go herself to see him. But neither the first nor the second
nor the third course was possible. Already she heard bells
ringing to announce her arrival ahead of her, and Princess
Tverskaya's footman was standing at the open door waiting for her
to go forward into the inner rooms.
"The princess is in the garden; they will inform her immediately.
Would you be pleased to walk into the garden?" announced another
footman in another room.
The position of uncertainty, of indecision, was still the same as
at home--worse, in fact, since it was impossible to take any
step, impossible to see Vronsky, and she had to remain here among
outsiders, in company so uncongenial to her present mood. But
she was wearing a dress that she knew suited her. She was not
alone; all around was that luxurious setting of idleness that she
was used to, and she felt less wretched than at home. She was
not forced to think what she was to do. Everything would be done
of itself. On meeting Betsy coming towards her in a white gown
that struck her by its elegance, Anna smiled at her just as she
always did. Princess Tverskaya was walking with Tushkevitch and
a young lady, a relation, who, to the great joy of her parents in
the provinces, was spending the summer with the fashionable
There was probably something unusual about Anna, for Betsy
noticed it at once.
"I slept badly," answered Anna, looking intently at the footman
who came to meet them, and, as she supposed, brought Vronsky's
"How glad I am you've come!" said Betsy. "I'm tired, and was
just longing to have some tea before they come. You might go"--
she turned to Tushkevitch--"with Masha, and try the croquet
ground over there where they've been cutting it. We shall have
time to talk a little over tea; we'll have a cozy chat, eh?" she
said in English to Anna, with a smile, pressing the hand with
which she held a parasol.
"Yes, especially as I can't stay very long with you. I'm forced
to go on to old Madame Vrede. I've been promising to go for a
century," said Anna, to whom lying, alien as it was to her
nature, had become not merely simple and natural in society, but
a positive source of satisfaction. Why she said this, which she
had not thought of a second before, she could not have explained.
She had said it simply from the reflection that as Vronsky would
not be here, she had better secure her own freedom, and try to
see him somehow. But why she had spoken of old Madame Vrede,
whom she had to go and see, as she had to see many other people,
she could not have explained; and yet, as it afterwards turned
out, had she contrived the most cunning devices to meet Vronsky,
she could have thought of nothing better.
"No. I'm not going to let you go for anything," answered Betsy,
looking intently into Anna's face. "Really, if I were not fond
of you, I should feel offended. One would think you were afraid
my society would compromise you. Tea in the little dining room,
please," she said, half closing her eyes, as she always did when
addressing the footman.
Taking the note from him, she read it.
"Alexey's playing us false," she said in French; "he writes that
he can't come," she added in a tone as simple and natural as
though it could never enter her head that Vronsky could mean
anything more to Anna than a game of croquet. Anna knew that
Betsy knew everything, but, hearing how she spoke of Vronsky
before her, she almost felt persuaded for a minute that she knew
"Ah!" said Anna indifferently, as though not greatly interested
in the matter, and she went on smiling: "How can you or your
friends compromise anyone?"
This playing with words, this hiding of a secret, had a great
fascination for Anna, as, indeed, it has for all women. And it
was not the necessity of concealment, not the aim with which the
concealment was contrived, but the process of concealment itself
which attracted her.
"I can't be more Catholic than the Pope," she said. "Stremov
and Liza Merkalova, why, they're the cream of the cream of
society. Besides, they're received everywhere, and _I_"--she
laid special stress on the I--"have never been strict and
intolerant. It's simply that I haven't the time."
"No; you don't care, perhaps, to meet Stremov? Let him and
Alexey Alexandrovitch tilt at each other in the committee--
that's no affair of ours. But in the world, he's the most
amiable man I know, and a devoted croquet player. You shall see.
And, in spite of his absurd position as Liza's lovesick swain at
his age, you ought to see how he carries off the absurd position.
He's very nice. Sappho Shtoltz you don't know? Oh, that's a new
type, quite new."
Betsy said all this, and, at the same time, from her
good-humored, shrewd glance, Anna felt that she partly guessed
her plight, and was hatching something for her benefit. They
were in the little boudoir.
"I must write to Alexey though," and Betsy sat down to the
table, scribbled a few lines, and put the note in an envelope.
"I'm telling him to come to dinner. I've one lady extra to
dinner with me, and no man to take her in. Look what I've said,
will that persuade him? Excuse me, I must leave you for a
minute. Would you seal it up, please, and send it off?" she said
from the door; "I have to give some directions."
Without a moment's thought, Anna sat down to the table with
Betsy's letter, and, without reading it, wrote below: "It's
essential for me to see you. Come to the Vrede garden. I shall
be there at six o'clock." She sealed it up, and, Betsy coming
back, in her presence handed the note to be taken.
At tea, which was brought them on a little tea-table in the cool
little drawing room, the cozy chat promised by Princess Tverskaya
before the arrival of her visitors really did come off between
the two women. They criticized the people they were expecting,
and the conversation fell upon Liza Merkalova.
"She's very sweet, and I always liked her," said Anna.
"You ought to like her. She raves about you. Yesterday she came
up to me after the races and was in despair at not finding you.
She says you're a real heroine of romance, and that if she were a
man she would do all sorts of mad things for your sake. Stremov
says she does that as it is."
"But do tell me, please, I never could make it out," said Anna,
after being silent for some time, speaking in a tone that showed
she was not asking an idle question, but that what she was asking
was of more importance to her than it should have been; "do tell
me, please, what are her relations with Prince Kaluzhsky, Mishka,
as he's called? I've met them so little. What does it mean?"
Betsy smiled with her eyes, and looked intently at Anna.
"It's a new manner," she said. "They've all adopted that manner.
They've flung their caps over the windmills. But there are ways
and ways of flinging them."
"Yes, but what are her relations precisely with Kaluzhsky?"
Betsy broke into unexpectedly mirthful and irrepressible
laughter, a thing which rarely happened with her.
"You're encroaching on Princess Myakaya's special domain now.
That's the question of an enfant terrible," and Betsy obviously
tried to restrain herself, but could not, and went off into peals
of that infectious laughter that people laugh who do not laugh
often. "You'd better ask them," she brought out, between tears