The sportsman's saying, that if the first beast or the first bird is not missed, the day will be lucky, turned out correct.
At ten o'clock Levin, weary, hungry, and happy after a tramp of twenty miles, returned to his night's lodging with nineteen head of fine game and one duck, which he tied to his belt, as it would not go into the game bag. His companions had long been awake, and had had time to get hungry and have breakfast.
"Wait a bit, wait a bit, I know there are nineteen," said Levin, counting a second time over the grouse and snipe, that looked so much less important now, bent and dry and bloodstained, with heads crooked aside, than they did when they were flying.
The number was verified, and Stepan Arkadyevitch's envy pleased Levin. He was pleased too on returning to find the man sent by Kitty with a note was already there.
"I am perfectly well and happy. If you were uneasy about me, you can feel easier than ever. I've a new bodyguard, Marya Vlasyevna,"--this was the midwife, a new and important personage in Levin's domestic life. "She has come to have a look at me. She found me perfectly well, and we have kept her till you are back. All are happy and well, and please, don't be in a hurry to come back, but, if the sport is good, stay another day."
These two pleasures, his lucky shooting and the letter from his wife, were so great that two slightly disagreeable incidents passed lightly over Levin. One was that the chestnut trace horse, who had been unmistakably overworked on the previous day, was off his feed and out of sorts. The coachman said he was "Overdriven yesterday, Konstantin Dmitrievitch. Yes, indeed! driven ten miles with no sense!"
The other unpleasant incident, which for the first minute destroyed his good humor, though later he laughed at it a great deal, was to find that of all the provisions Kitty had provided in such abundance that one would have thought there was enough for a week, nothing was left. On his way back, tired and hungry from shooting, Levin had so distinct a vision of meat-pies that as he approached the hut he seemed to smell and taste them, as Laska had smelt the game, and he immediately told Philip to give him some. It appeared that there were no pies left, nor even any chicken.
"Well, this fellow's appetite!" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, laughing and pointing at Vassenka Veslovsky. "I never suffer from loss of appetite, but he's really marvelous!..."
"Well, it can't be helped," said Levin, looking gloomily at Veslovsky. "Well, Philip, give me some beef, then."
"The beef's been eaten, and the bones given to the dogs," answered Philip.
Levin was so hurt that he said, in a tone of vexation, "You might have left me something!" and he felt ready to cry.
"Then put away the game," he said in a shaking voice to Philip, trying not to look at Vassenka, "and cover them with some nettles. And you might at least ask for some milk for me."
But when he had drunk some milk, he felt ashamed immediately at having shown his annoyance to a stranger, and he began to laugh at his hungry mortification.
In the evening they went shooting again, and Veslovsky had several successful shots, and in the night they drove home.
Their homeward journey was as lively as their drive out had been. Veslovsky sang songs and related with enjoyment his adventures with the peasants, who had regaled him with vodka, and said to him, "Excuse our homely ways," and his night's adventures with kiss-in-the-ring and the servant-girl and the peasant, who had asked him was he married, and on learning that he was not, said to him, "Well, mind you don't run after other men's wives--you'd better get one of your own." These words had particularly amused Veslovsky.
"Altogether, I've enjoyed our outing awfully. And you, Levin?"
"I have, very much," Levin said quite sincerely. It was particularly delightful to him to have got rid of the hostility he had been feeling towards Vassenka Veslovsky at home, and to feel instead the most friendly disposition to him.
Next day at ten o'clock Levin, who had already gone his rounds, knocked at the room where Vassenka had been put for the night.
"_Entrez!_" Veslovsky called to him. "Excuse me, I've only just finished my ablutions," he said, smiling, standing before him in his underclothes only.
"Don't mind me, please." Levin sat down in the window. "Have you slept well?"
"Like the dead. What sort of day is it for shooting?"
"What will you take, tea or coffee?"
"Neither. I'll wait till lunch. I'm really ashamed. I suppose the ladies are down? A walk now would be capital. You show me your horses."
After walking about the garden, visiting the stable, and even doing some gymnastic exercises together on the parallel bars, Levin returned to the house with his guest, and went with him into the drawing room.
"We had splendid shooting, and so many delightful experiences!" said Veslovsky, going up to Kitty, who was sitting at the samovar. "What a pity ladies are cut off from these delights!"
"Well, I suppose he must say something to the lady of the house," Levin said to himself. Again he fancied something in the smile, in the all-conquering air with which their guest addressed Kitty....
The princess, sitting on the other side of the table with Marya Vlasyevna and Stepan Arkadyevitch, called Levin to her side, and began to talk to him about moving to Moscow for Kitty's confinement, and getting ready rooms for them. Just as Levin had disliked all the trivial preparations for his wedding, as derogatory to the grandeur of the event, now he felt still more offensive the preparations for the approaching birth, the date of which they reckoned, it seemed, on their fingers. He tried to turn a deaf ear to these discussions of the best patterns of long clothes for the coming baby; tried to turn away and avoid seeing the mysterious, endless strips of knitting, the triangles of linen, and so on, to which Dolly attached special importance. The birth of a son (he was certain it would be a son) which was promised him, but which he still could not believe in--so marvelous it seemed--presented itself to his mind, on one hand, as a happiness so immense, and therefore so incredible; on the other, as an event so mysterious, that this assumption of a definite knowledge of what would be, and consequent preparation for it, as for something ordinary that did happen to people, jarred on him as confusing and humiliating.
But the princess did not understand his feelings, and put down his reluctance to think and talk about it to carelessness and indifference, and so she gave him no peace. She had commissioned Stepan Arkadyevitch to look at a flat, and now she called Levin up.
"I know nothing about it, princess. Do as you think fit," he said.
"You must decide when you will move."
"I really don't know. I know millions of children are born away from Moscow, and doctors...why..."
"But if so..."
"Oh, no, as Kitty wishes."
"We can't talk to Kitty about it! Do you want me to frighten her? Why, this spring Natalia Golitzina died from having an ignorant doctor."
"I will do just what you say," he said gloomily.
The princess began talking to him, but he did not hear her. Though the conversation with the princess had indeed jarred upon him, he was gloomy, not on account of that conversation, but from what he saw at the samovar.
"No, it's impossible," he thought, glancing now and then at Vassenka bending over Kitty, telling her something with his charming smile, and at her, flushed and disturbed.
There was something not nice in Vassenka's attitude, in his eyes, in his smile. Levin even saw something not nice in Kitty's attitude and look. And again the light died away in his eyes. Again, as before, all of a sudden, without the slightest transition, he felt cast down from a pinnacle of happiness, peace, and dignity, into an abyss of despair, rage, and humiliation. Again everything and everyone had become hateful to him.
"You do just as you think best, princess," he said again, looking round.
"Heavy is the cap of Monomach," Stepan Arkadyevitch said playfully, hinting, evidently, not simply at the princess's conversation, but at the cause of Levin's agitation, which he had noticed.
"How late you are today, Dolly!"
Everyone got up to greet Darya Alexandrovna. Vassenka only rose for an instant, and with the lack of courtesy to ladies characteristic of the modern young man, he scarcely bowed, and resumed his conversation again, laughing at something.
"I've been worried about Masha. She did not sleep well, and is dreadfully tiresome today," said Dolly.
The conversation Vassenka had started with Kitty was running on the same lines as on the previous evening, discussing Anna, and whether love is to be put higher than worldly considerations. Kitty disliked the conversation, and she was disturbed both by the subject and the tone in which it was conducted, and also by the knowledge of the effect it would have on her husband. But she was too simple and innocent to know how to cut short this conversation, or even to conceal the superficial pleasure afforded her by the young man's very obvious admiration. She wanted to stop it, but she did not know what to do. Whatever she did she knew would be observed by her husband, and the worst interpretation put on it. And, in fact, when she asked Dolly what was wrong with Masha, and Vassenka, waiting till this uninteresting conversation was over, began to gaze indifferently at Dolly, the question struck Levin as an unnatural and disgusting piece of hypocrisy.
"What do you say, shall we go and look for mushrooms today?" said Dolly.
"By all means, please, and I shall come too," said Kitty, and she blushed. She wanted from politeness to ask Vassenka whether he would come, and she did not ask him. "Where are you going, Kostya?" she asked her husband with a guilty face, as he passed by her with a resolute step. This guilty air confirmed all his suspicions.
"The mechanician came when I was away; I haven't seen him yet," he said, not looking at her.
He went downstairs, but before he had time to leave his study he heard his wife's familiar footsteps running with reckless speed to him.
"What do you want?" he said to her shortly. "We are busy."
"I beg your pardon," she said to the German mechanician; "I want a few words with my husband."
The German would have left the room, but Levin said to him:
"Don't disturb yourself."
"The train is at three?" queried the German. "I mustn't be late."
Levin did not answer him, but walked out himself with his wife.
"Well, what have you to say to me?" he said to her in French.
He did not look her in the face, and did not care to see that she in her condition was trembling all over, and had a piteous, crushed look.
"I...I want to say that we can't go on like this; that this is misery..." she said.
"The servants are here at the sideboard," he said angrily; "don't make a scene."
"Well, let's go in here!"
They were standing in the passage. Kitty would have gone into the next room, but there the English governess was giving Tanya a lesson.
"Well, come into the garden."
In the garden they came upon a peasant weeding the path. And no longer considering that the peasant could see her tear-stained and his agitated face, that they looked like people fleeing from some disaster, they went on with rapid steps, feeling that they must speak out and clear up misunderstandings, must be alone together, and so get rid of the misery they were both feeling.
"We can't go on like this! It's misery! I am wretched; you are wretched. What for?" she said, when they had at last reached a solitary garden seat at a turn in the lime tree avenue.
"But tell me one thing: was there in his tone anything unseemly, not nice, humiliatingly horrible?" he said, standing before her again in the same position with his clenched fists on his chest, as he had stood before her that night.
"Yes," she said in a shaking voice; "but, Kostya, surely you see I'm not to blame? All the morning I've been trying to take a tone...but such people ...Why did he come? How happy we were!" she said, breathless with the sobs that shook her.
Although nothing had been pursuing them, and there was nothing to run away from, and they could not possibly have found anything very delightful on that garden seat, the gardener saw with astonishment that they passed him on their way home with comforted and radiant faces.
After escorting his wife upstairs, Levin went to Dolly's part of the house. Darya Alexandrovna, for her part, was in great distress too that day. She was walking about the room, talking angrily to a little girl, who stood in the corner roaring.
"And you shall stand all day in the corner, and have your dinner all alone, and not see one of your dolls, and I won't make you a new frock," she said, not knowing how to punish her.
"Oh, she is a disgusting child!" she turned to Levin. "Where does she get such wicked propensities?"
"Why, what has she done?" Levin said without much interest, for he had wanted to ask her advice, and so was annoyed that he had come at an unlucky moment.
"Grisha and she went into the raspberries, and there...I can't tell you really what she did. It's a thousand pities Miss Elliot's not with us. This one sees to nothing--she's a machine.... _Figurez-vous que la petite_?..."
And Darya Alexandrovna described Masha's crime.
"That proves nothing; it's not a question of evil propensities at all, it's simply mischief," Levin assured her.
"But you are upset about something? What have you come for?" asked Dolly. "What's going on there?"
And in the tone of her question Levin heard that it would be easy for him to say what he had meant to say.
"I've not been in there, I've been alone in the garden with Kitty. We've had a quarrel for the second time since...Stiva came."
Dolly looked at him with her shrewd, comprehending eyes.
"Come, tell me, honor bright, has there been...not in Kitty, but in that gentleman's behavior, a tone which might be unpleasant-- not unpleasant, but horrible, offensive to a husband?"
"You mean, how shall I say.... Stay, stay in the corner!" she said to Masha, who, detecting a faint smile in her mother's face, had been turning round. "The opinion of the world would be that he is behaving as young men do behave. _Il fait la cour à une jeune et jolie femme_, and a husband who's a man of the world should only be flattered by it."
"Yes, yes," said Levin gloomily; "but you noticed it?"
"Not only I, but Stiva noticed it. Just after breakfast he said to me in so many words, _Je crois que Veslovsky fait un petit brin de cour à Kitty_."
"Well, that's all right then; now I'm satisfied. I'll send him away," said Levin.
"What do you mean! Are you crazy?" Dolly cried in horror; "nonsense, Kostya, only think!" she said, laughing. "You can go now to Fanny," she said to Masha. "No, if you wish it, I'll speak to Stiva. He'll take him away. He can say you're expecting visitors. Altogether he doesn't fit into the house."
"No, no, I'll do it myself."
"But you'll quarrel with him?"
"Not a bit. I shall so enjoy it," Levin said, his eyes flashing with real enjoyment. "Come, forgive her, Dolly, she won't do it again," he said of the little sinner, who had not gone to Fanny, but was standing irresolutely before her mother, waiting and looking up from under her brows to catch her mother's eye.
The mother glanced at her. The child broke into sobs, hid her face on her mother's lap, and Dolly laid her thin, tender hand on her head.
"And what is there in common between us and him?" thought Levin, and he went off to look for Veslovsky.
As he passed through the passage he gave orders for the carriage to be got ready to drive to the station.
"The spring was broken yesterday," said the footman.
"Well, the covered trap, then, and make haste. Where's the visitor?"
"The gentleman's gone to his room."
Levin came upon Veslovsky at the moment when the latter, having unpacked his things from his trunk, and laid out some new songs, was putting on his gaiters to go out riding.
Whether there was something exceptional in Levin's face, or that Vassenka was himself conscious that _ce petit brin de cour_ he was making was out of place in this family, but he was somewhat (as much as a young man in society can be) disconcerted at Levin's entrance.
"You ride in gaiters?"
"Yes, it's much cleaner," said Vassenka, putting his fat leg on a chair, fastening the bottom hook, and smiling with simple-hearted good humor.
He was undoubtedly a good-natured fellow, and Levin felt sorry for him and ashamed of himself, as his host, when he saw the shy look on Vassenka's face.
On the table lay a piece of stick which they had broken together that morning, trying their strength. Levin took the fragment in his hands and began smashing it up, breaking bits off the stick, not knowing how to begin.
"I wanted...." He paused, but suddenly, remembering Kitty and everything that had happened, he said, looking him resolutely in the face: "I have ordered the horses to be put-to for you."
"How so?" Vassenka began in surprise. "To drive where?"
"For you to drive to the station," Levin said gloomily.
"Are you going away, or has something happened?"
"It happens that I expect visitors," said Levin, his strong fingers more and more rapidly breaking off the ends of the split stick. "And I'm not expecting visitors, and nothing has happened, but I beg you to go away. You can explain my rudeness as you like."
Vassenka drew himself up.
"I beg you to explain..." he said with dignity, understanding at last.
"I can't explain," Levin said softly and deliberately, trying to control the trembling of his jaw; "and you'd better not ask."
And as the split ends were all broken off, Levin clutched the thick ends in his finger, broke the stick in two, and carefully caught the end as it fell.
Probably the sight of those nervous fingers, of the muscles he had proved that morning at gymnastics, of the glittering eyes, the soft voice, and quivering jaws, convinced Vassenka better than any words. He bowed, shrugging his shoulders, and smiling contemptuously.
"Can I not see Oblonsky?"
The shrug and the smile did not irritate Levin.
"What else was there for him to do?" he thought.
"I'll send him to you at once."
"What madness is this?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said when, after hearing from his friend that he was being turned out of the house, he found Levin in the garden, where he was walking about waiting for his guest's departure. "_Mais c'est ridicule!_ What fly has stung you? _Mais c'est du dernier ridicule!_ What did you think, if a young man..."
But the place where Levin had been stung was evidently still sore, for he turned pale again, when Stepan Arkadyevitch would have enlarged on the reason, and he himself cut him short.
"Please don't go into it! I can't help it. I feel ashamed of how I'm treating you and him. But it won't be, I imagine, a great grief to him to go, and his presence was distasteful to me and to my wife."
"But it's insulting to him! _Et puis c'est ridicule_."
"And to me it's both insulting and distressing! And I'm not at fault in any way, and there's no need for me to suffer."
"Well, this I didn't expect of you! _On peut être jaloux, mais à ce point, c'est du dernier ridicule!_"
Levin turned quickly, and walked away from him into the depths of the avenue, and he went on walking up and down alone. Soon he heard the rumble of the trap, and saw from behind the trees how Vassenka, sitting in the hay (unluckily there was no seat in the trap) in his Scotch cap, was driven along the avenue, jolting up and down over the ruts.
"What's this?" Levin thought, when a footman ran out of the house and stopped the trap. It was the mechanician, whom Levin had totally forgotten. The mechanician, bowing low, said something to Veslovsky, then clambered into the trap, and they drove off together.
Stepan Arkadyevitch and the princess were much upset by Levin's action. And he himself felt not only in the highest degree _ridicule_, but also utterly guilty and disgraced. But remembering what sufferings he and his wife had been through, when he asked himself how he should act another time, he answered that he should do just the same again.
In spite of all this, towards the end of that day, everyone except the princess, who could not pardon Levin's action, became extraordinarily lively and good humored, like children after a punishment or grown-up people after a dreary, ceremonious reception, so that by the evening Vassenka's dismissal was spoken of, in the absence of the princess, as though it were some remote event. And Dolly, who had inherited her father's gift of humorous storytelling, made Varenka helpless with laughter as she related for the third and fourth time, always with fresh humorous additions, how she had only just put on her new shoes for the benefit of the visitor, and on going into the drawing room, heard suddenly the rumble of the trap. And who should be in the trap but Vassenka himself, with his Scotch cap, and his songs and his gaiters, and all, sitting in the hay.
"If only you'd ordered out the carriage! But no! and then I hear: 'Stop!' Oh, I thought they've relented. I look out, and behold a fat German being sat down by him and driving away.... And my new shoes all for nothing!..."
Darya Alexandrovna carried out her intention and went to see Anna. She was sorry to annoy her sister and to do anything Levin disliked. She quite understood how right the Levins were in not wishing to have anything to do with Vronsky. But she felt she must go and see Anna, and show her that her feelings could not be changed, in spite of the change in her position. That she might be independent of the Levins in this expedition, Darya Alexandrovna sent to the village to hire horses for the drive; but Levin learning of it went to her to protest.
"What makes you suppose that I dislike your going? But, even if I did dislike it, I should still more dislike your not taking my horses," he said. "You never told me that you were going for certain. Hiring horses in the village is disagreeable to me, and, what's of more importance, they'll undertake the job and never get you there. I have horses. And if you don't want to wound me, you'll take mine."
Darya Alexandrovna had to consent, and on the day fixed Levin had ready for his sister-in-law a set of four horses and relays, getting them together from the farm- and saddle-horses--not at all a smart-looking set, but capable of taking Darya Alexandrovna the whole distance in a single day. At that moment, when horses were wanted for the princess, who was going, and for the midwife, it was a difficult matter for Levin to make up the number, but the duties of hospitality would not let him allow Darya Alexandrovna to hire horses when staying in his house. Moreover, he was well aware that the twenty roubles that would be asked for the journey were a serious matter for her; Darya Alexandrovna's pecuniary affairs, which were in a very unsatisfactory state, were taken to heart by the Levins as if they were their own.
Darya Alexandrovna, by Levin's advice, started before daybreak. The road was good, the carriage comfortable, the horses trotted along merrily, and on the box, besides the coachman, sat the counting-house clerk, whom Levin was sending instead of a groom for greater security. Darya Alexandrovna dozed and waked up only on reaching the inn where the horses were to be changed.
After drinking tea at the same well-to-do peasant's with whom Levin had stayed on the way to Sviazhsky's, and chatting with the women about their children, and with the old man about Count Vronsky, whom the latter praised very highly, Darya Alexandrovna, at ten o'clock, went on again. At home, looking after her children, she had no time to think. So now, after this journey of four hours, all the thoughts she had suppressed before rushed swarming into her brain, and she thought over all her life as she never had before, and from the most different points of view. Her thoughts seemed strange even to herself. At first she thought about the children, about whom she was uneasy, although the princess and Kitty (she reckoned more upon her) had promised to look after them. "If only Masha does not begin her naughty tricks, if Grisha isn't kicked by a horse, and Lily's stomach isn't upset again!" she thought. But these questions of the present were succeeded by questions of the immediate future. She began thinking how she had to get a new flat in Moscow for the coming winter, to renew the drawing room furniture, and to make her elder girl a cloak. Then questions of the more remote future occurred to her: how she was to place her children in the world. "The girls are all right," she thought; "but the boys?"
"It's very well that I'm teaching Grisha, but of course that's only because I am free myself now, I'm not with child. Stiva, of course, there's no counting on. And with the help of good-natured friends I can bring them up; but if there's another baby coming?..." And the thought struck her how untruly it was said that the curse laid on woman was that in sorrow she should bring forth children.
"The birth itself, that's nothing; but the months of carrying the child--that's what's so intolerable," she thought, picturing to herself her last pregnancy, and the death of the last baby. And she recalled the conversation she had just had with the young woman at the inn. On being asked whether she had any children, the handsome young woman had answered cheerfully:
"I had a girl baby, but God set me free; I buried her last Lent."
"Well, did you grieve very much for her?" asked Darya Alexandrovna.
"Why grieve? The old man has grandchildren enough as it is. It was only a trouble. No working, nor nothing. Only a tie."
This answer had struck Darya Alexandrovna as revolting in spite of the good-natured and pleasing face of the young woman; but now she could not help recalling these words. In those cynical words there was indeed a grain of truth.
"Yes, altogether," thought Darya Alexandrovna, looking back over her whole existence during those fifteen years of her married life, "pregnancy, sickness, mental incapacity, indifference to everything, and most of all--hideousness. Kitty, young and pretty as she is, even Kitty has lost her looks; and I when I'm with child become hideous, I know it. The birth, the agony, the hideous agonies, that last moment...then the nursing, the sleepless nights, the fearful pains...."
Darya Alexandrovna shuddered at the mere recollection of the pain from sore breasts which she had suffered with almost every child. "Then the children's illnesses, that everlasting apprehension; then bringing them up; evil propensities" (she thought of little Masha's crime among the raspberries), "education, Latin--it's all so incomprehensible and difficult. And on the top of it all, the death of these children." And there rose again before her imagination the cruel memory, that always tore her mother's heart, of the death of her last little baby, who had died of croup; his funeral, the callous indifference of all at the little pink coffin, and her own torn heart, and her lonely anguish at the sight of the pale little brow with its projecting temples, and the open, wondering little mouth seen in the coffin at the moment when it was being covered with the little pink lid with a cross braided on it.
"And all this, what's it for? What is to come of it all? That I'm wasting my life, never having a moment's peace, either with child, or nursing a child, forever irritable, peevish, wretched myself and worrying others, repulsive to my husband, while the children are growing up unhappy, badly educated, and penniless. Even now, if it weren't for spending the summer at the Levins', I don't know how we should be managing to live. Of course Kostya and Kitty have so much tact that we don't feel it; but it can't go on. They'll have children, they won't be able to keep us; it's a drag on them as it is. How is papa, who has hardly anything left for himself, to help us? So that I can't even bring the children up by myself, and may find it hard with the help of other people, at the cost of humiliation. Why, even if we suppose the greatest good luck, that the children don't die, and I bring them up somehow. At the very best they'll simply be decent people. That's all I can hope for. And to gain simply that--what agonies, what toil!... One's whole life ruined!" Again she recalled what the young peasant woman had said, and again she was revolted at the thought; but she could not help admitting that there was a grain of brutal truth in the words.
"Is it far now, Mihail?" Darya Alexandrovna asked the counting house clerk, to turn her mind from thoughts that were frightening her.
"From this village, they say, it's five miles." The carriage drove along the village street and onto a bridge. On the bridge was a crowd of peasant women with coils of ties for the sheaves on their shoulders, gaily and noisily chattering. They stood still on the bridge, staring inquisitively at the carriage. All the faces turned to Darya Alexandrovna looked to her healthy and happy, making her envious of their enjoyment of life. "They're all living, they're all enjoying life," Darya Alexandrovna still mused when she had passed the peasant women and was driving uphill again at a trot, seated comfortably on the soft springs of the old carriage, "while I, let out, as it were from prison, from the world of worries that fret me to death, am only looking about me now for an instant. They all live; those peasant women and my sister Natalia and Varenka and Anna, whom I am going to see--all, but not I.
"And they attack Anna. What for? am I any better? I have, anyway, a husband I love--not as I should like to love him, still I do love him, while Anna never loved hers. How is she to blame? She wants to live. God has put that in our hearts. Very likely I should have done the same. Even to this day I don't feel sure I did right in listening to her at that terrible time when she came to me in Moscow. I ought then to have cast off my husband and have begun my life fresh. I might have loved and have been loved in reality. And is it any better as it is? I don't respect him. He's necessary to me," she thought about her husband, "and I put up with him. Is that any better? At that time I could still have been admired, I had beauty left me still," Darya Alexandrovna pursued her thoughts, and she would have liked to look at herself in the looking glass. She had a traveling looking glass in her handbag, and she wanted to take it out; but looking at the backs of the coachman and the swaying counting house clerk, she felt that she would be ashamed if either of them were to look round, and she did not take out the glass.
But without looking in the glass, she thought that even now it was not too late; and she thought of Sergey Ivanovitch, who was always particularly attentive to her, of Stiva's good-hearted friend, Turovtsin, who had helped her nurse her children through the scarlatina, and was in love with her. And there was someone else, a quite young man, who--her husband had told her it as a joke--thought her more beautiful than either of her sisters. And the most passionate and impossible romances rose before Darya Alexandrovna's imagination. "Anna did quite right, and certainly I shall never reproach her for it. She is happy, she makes another person happy, and she's not broken down as I am, but most likely just as she always was, bright, clever, open to every impression," thought Darya Alexandrovna,--and a sly smile curved her lips, for, as she pondered on Anna's love affair, Darya Alexandrovna constructed on parallel lines an almost identical love affair for herself, with an imaginary composite figure, the ideal man who was in love with her. She, like Anna, confessed the whole affair to her husband. And the amazement and perplexity of Stepan Arkadyevitch at this avowal made her smile.
In such daydreams she reached the turning of the highroad that led to Vozdvizhenskoe.
The coachman pulled up his four horses and looked round to the right, to a field of rye, where some peasants were sitting on a cart. The counting house clerk was just going to jump down, but on second thoughts he shouted peremptorily to the peasants instead, and beckoned to them to come up. The wind, that seemed to blow as they drove, dropped when the carriage stood still; gadflies settled on the steaming horses that angrily shook them off. The metallic clank of a whetstone against a scythe, that came to them from the cart, ceased. One of the peasants got up and came towards the carriage.
"Well, you are slow!" the counting house clerk shouted angrily to the peasant who was stepping slowly with his bare feet over the ruts of the rough dry road. "Come along, do!"
A curly-headed old man with a bit of bast tied round his hair, and his bent back dark with perspiration, came towards the carriage, quickening his steps, and took hold of the mud-guard with his sunburnt hand.
"Vozdvizhenskoe, the manor house? the count's?" he repeated; "go on to the end of this track. Then turn to the left. Straight along the avenue and you'll come right upon it. But whom do you want? The count himself?"
"Well, are they at home, my good man?" Darya Alexandrovna said vaguely, not knowing how to ask about Anna, even of this peasant.
"At home for sure," said the peasant, shifting from one bare foot to the other, and leaving a distinct print of five toes and a heel in the dust. "Sure to be at home," he repeated, evidently eager to talk. "Only yesterday visitors arrived. There's a sight of visitors come. What do you want?" He turned round and called to a lad, who was shouting something to him from the cart. "Oh! They all rode by here not long since, to look at a reaping machine. They'll be home by now. And who will you be belonging to?..."
"We've come a long way," said the coachman, climbing onto the box. "So it's not far?"
"I tell you, it's just here. As soon as you get out..." he said, keeping hold all the while of the carriage.
A healthy-looking, broad-shouldered young fellow came up too.
"What, is it laborers they want for the harvest?" he asked.
"I don't know, my boy."
"So you keep to the left, and you'll come right on it," said the peasant, unmistakably loth to let the travelers go, and eager to converse.
The coachman started the horses, but they were only just turning off when the peasant shouted: "Stop! Hi, friend! Stop!" called the two voices. The coachman stopped.
"They're coming! They're yonder!" shouted the peasant. "See what a turn-out!" he said, pointing to four persons on horseback, and two in a _char-à-banc_, coming along the road.
They were Vronsky with a jockey, Veslovsky and Anna on horseback, and Princess Varvara and Sviazhsky in the _char-à-banc_. They had gone out to look at the working of a new reaping machine.
When the carriage stopped, the party on horseback were coming at a walking pace. Anna was in front beside Veslovsky. Anna, quietly walking her horse, a sturdy English cob with cropped mane and short tail, her beautiful head with her black hair straying loose under her high hat, her full shoulders, her slender waist in her black riding habit, and all the ease and grace of her deportment, impressed Dolly.
For the first minute it seemed to her unsuitable for Anna to be on horseback. The conception of riding on horseback for a lady was, in Darya Alexandrovna's mind, associated with ideas of youthful flirtation and frivolity, which, in her opinion, was unbecoming in Anna's position. But when she had scrutinized her, seeing her closer, she was at once reconciled to her riding. In spite of her elegance, everything was so simple, quiet, and dignified in the attitude, the dress and the movements of Anna, that nothing could have been more natural.
Beside Anna, on a hot-looking gray cavalry horse, was Vassenka Veslovsky in his Scotch cap with floating ribbons, his stout legs stretched out in front, obviously pleased with his own appearance. Darya Alexandrovna could not suppress a good-humored smile as she recognized him. Behind rode Vronsky on a dark bay mare, obviously heated from galloping. He was holding her in, pulling at the reins.
After him rode a little man in the dress of a jockey. Sviazhsky and Princess Varvara in a new _char-à-banc_ with a big, raven-black trotting horse, overtook the party on horseback.
Anna's face suddenly beamed with a joyful smile at the instant when, in the little figure huddled in a corner of the old carriage, she recognized Dolly. She uttered a cry, started in the saddle, and set her horse into a gallop. On reaching the carriage she jumped off without assistance, and holding up her riding habit, she ran up to greet Dolly.
"I thought it was you and dared not think it. How delightful! You can't fancy how glad I am!" she said, at one moment pressing her face against Dolly and kissing her, and at the next holding her off and examining her with a smile.
"Here's a delightful surprise, Alexey!" she said, looking round at Vronsky, who had dismounted, and was walking towards them.
Vronsky, taking off his tall gray hat, went up to Dolly.
"You wouldn't believe how glad we are to see you," he said, giving peculiar significance to the words, and showing his strong white teeth in a smile.
Vassenka Veslovsky, without getting off his horse, took off his cap and greeted the visitor by gleefully waving the ribbons over his head.
"That's Princess Varvara," Anna said in reply to a glance of inquiry from Dolly as the _char-à-banc_ drove up.
"Ah!" said Darya Alexandrovna, and unconsciously her face betrayed her dissatisfaction.
Princess Varvara was her husband's aunt, and she had long known her, and did not respect her. She knew that Princess Varvara had passed her whole life toadying on her rich relations, but that she should now be sponging on Vronsky, a man who was nothing to her, mortified Dolly on account of her kinship with her husband. Anna noticed Dolly's expression, and was disconcerted by it. She blushed, dropped her riding habit, and stumbled over it.
Darya Alexandrovna went up to the _char-à-banc_ and coldly greeted Princess Varvara. Sviazhsky too she knew. He inquired how his queer friend with the young wife was, and running his eyes over the ill-matched horses and the carriage with its patched mud-guards, proposed to the ladies that they should get into the _char-à-banc_.
"And I'll get into this vehicle," he said. "The horse is quiet, and the princess drives capitally."
"No, stay as you were," said Anna, coming up, "and we'll go in the carriage," and taking Dolly's arm, she drew her away.
Darya Alexandrovna's eyes were fairly dazzled by the elegant carriage of a pattern she had never seen before, the splendid horses, and the elegant and gorgeous people surrounding her. But what struck her most of all was the change that had taken place in Anna, whom she knew so well and loved. Any other woman, a less close observer, not knowing Anna before, or not having thought as Darya Alexandrovna had been thinking on the road, would not have noticed anything special in Anna. But now Dolly was struck by that temporary beauty, which is only found in women during the moments of love, and which she saw now in Anna's face. Everything in her face, the clearly marked dimples in her cheeks and chin, the line of her lips, the smile which, as it were, fluttered about her face, the brilliance of her eyes, the grace and rapidity of her movements, the fulness of the notes of her voice, even the manner in which, with a sort of angry friendliness, she answered Veslovsky when he asked permission to get on her cob, so as to teach it to gallop with the right leg foremost--it was all peculiarly fascinating, and it seemed as if she were herself aware of it, and rejoicing in it.
When both the women were seated in the carriage, a sudden embarrassment came over both of them. Anna was disconcerted by the intent look of inquiry Dolly fixed upon her. Dolly was embarrassed because after Sviazhsky's phrase about "this vehicle," she could not help feeling ashamed of the dirty old carriage in which Anna was sitting with her. The coachman Philip and the counting house clerk were experiencing the same sensation. The counting house clerk, to conceal his confusion, busied himself settling the ladies, but Philip the coachman became sullen, and was bracing himself not to be overawed in future by this external superiority. He smiled ironically, looking at the raven horse, and was already deciding in his own mind that this smart trotter in the _char-à-banc_ was only good for _promenade_, and wouldn't do thirty miles straight off in the heat.
The peasants had all got up from the cart and were inquisitively and mirthfully staring at the meeting of the friends, making their comments on it.
"They're pleased, too; haven't seen each other for a long while," said the curly-headed old man with the bast round his hair.
"I say, Uncle Gerasim, if we could take that raven horse now, to cart the corn, that 'ud be quick work!"
"Look-ee! Is that a woman in breeches?" said one of them, pointing to Vassenka Veslovsky sitting in a side saddle.
"Nay, a man! See how smartly he's going it!"
"Eh, lads! seems we're not going to sleep, then?"
"What chance of sleep today!" said the old man, with a sidelong look at the sun. "Midday's past, look-ee! Get your hooks, and come along!"
Anna looked at Dolly's thin, care-worn face, with its wrinkles filled with dust from the road, and she was on the point of saying what she was thinking, that is, that Dolly had got thinner. But, conscious that she herself had grown handsomer, and that Dolly's eyes were telling her so, she sighed and began to speak about herself.
"You are looking at me," she said, "and wondering how I can be happy in my position? Well! it's shameful to confess, but I... I'm inexcusably happy. Something magical has happened to me, like a dream, when you're frightened, panic-stricken, and all of a sudden you wake up and all the horrors are no more. I have waked up. I have lived through the misery, the dread, and now for a long while past, especially since we've been here, I've been so happy!..." she said, with a timid smile of inquiry looking at Dolly.
"How glad I am!" said Dolly smiling, involuntarily speaking more coldly than she wanted to. "I'm very glad for you. Why haven't you written to me?"
"Why?... Because I hadn't the courage.... You forget my position..."
"To me? Hadn't the courage? If you knew how I...I look at..."
Darya Alexandrovna wanted to express her thoughts of the morning, but for some reason it seemed to her now out of place to do so.
"But of that we'll talk later. What's this, what are all these buildings?" she asked, wanting to change the conversation and pointing to the red and green roofs that came into view behind the green hedges of acacia and lilac. "Quite a little town."
But Anna did not answer.
"No, no! How do you look at my position, what do you think of it?" she asked.
"I consider..." Darya Alexandrovna was beginning, but at that instant Vassenka Veslovsky, having brought the cob to gallop with the right leg foremost, galloped past them, bumping heavily up and down in his short jacket on the chamois leather of the side saddle. "He's doing it, Anna Arkadyevna!" he shouted.
Anna did not even glance at him; but again it seemed to Darya Alexandrovna out of place to enter upon such a long conversation in the carriage, and so she cut short her thought.
"I don't think anything," she said, "but I always loved you, and if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be...."
Anna, taking her eyes off her friend's face and dropping her eyelids (this was a new habit Dolly had not seen in her before), pondered, trying to penetrate the full significance of the words. And obviously interpreting them as she would have wished, she glanced at Dolly.
"If you had any sins," she said, "they would all be forgiven you for your coming to see me and these words."
And Dolly saw that tears stood in her eyes. She pressed Anna's hand in silence.
"Well, what are these buildings? How many there are of them!" After a moment's silence she repeated her question.
"These are the servants' houses, barns, and stables," answered Anna. "And there the park begins. It had all gone to ruin, but Alexey had everything renewed. He is very fond of this place, and, what I never expected, he has become intensely interested in looking after it. But his is such a rich nature! Whatever he takes up, he does splendidly. So far from being bored by it, he works with passionate interest. He--with his temperament as I know it--he has become careful and businesslike, a first-rate manager, he positively reckons every penny in his management of the land. But only in that. When it's a question of tens of thousands, he doesn't think of money." She spoke with that gleefully sly smile with which women often talk of the secret characteristics only known to them--of those they love. "Do you see that big building? that's the new hospital. I believe it will cost over a hundred thousand; that's his hobby just now. And do you know how it all came about? The peasants asked him for some meadowland, I think it was, at a cheaper rate, and he refused, and I accused him of being miserly. Of course it was not really because of that, but everything together, he began this hospital to prove, do you see, that he was not miserly about money. _C'est une petitesse_, if you like, but I love him all the more for it. And now you'll see the house in a moment. It was his grandfather's house, and he has had nothing changed outside."
"How beautiful!" said Dolly, looking with involuntary admiration at the handsome house with columns, standing out among the different-colored greens of the old trees in the garden.
"Isn't it fine? And from the house, from the top, the view is wonderful."
They drove into a courtyard strewn with gravel and bright with flowers, in which two laborers were at work putting an edging of stones round the light mould of a flower bed, and drew up in a covered entry.
"Ah, they're here already!" said Anna, looking at the saddle horses, which were just being led away from the steps. "It is a nice horse, isn't it? It's my cob; my favorite. Lead him here and bring me some sugar. Where is the count?" she inquired of two smart footmen who darted out. "Ah, there he is!" she said, seeing Vronsky coming to meet her with Veslovsky.
"Where are you going to put the princess?" said Vronsky in French, addressing Anna, and without waiting for a reply, he once more greeted Darya Alexandrovna, and this time he kissed her hand. "I think the big balcony room."
"Oh, no, that's too far off! Better in the corner room, we shall see each other more. Come, let's go up," said Anna, as she gave her favorite horse the sugar the footman had brought her.
"_Et vous oubliez votre devoir_," she said to Veslovsky, who came out too on the steps.
"_Pardon, j'en ai tout plein les poches_," he answered, smiling, putting his fingers in his waistcoat pocket.
"_Mais vous venez trop tard_," she said, rubbing her handkerchief on her hand, which the horse had made wet in taking the sugar.
Anna turned to Dolly. "You can stay some time? For one day only? That's impossible!"
"I promised to be back, and the children..." said Dolly, feeling embarrassed both because she had to get her bag out of the carriage, and because she knew her face must be covered with dust.
"No, Dolly, darling!... Well, we'll see. Come along, come along!" and Anna led Dolly to her room.
That room was not the smart guest chamber Vronsky had suggested, but the one of which Anna had said that Dolly would excuse it. And this room, for which excuse was needed, was more full of luxury than any in which Dolly had ever stayed, a luxury that reminded her of the best hotels abroad.
"Well, darling, how happy I am!" Anna said, sitting down in her riding habit for a moment beside Dolly. "Tell me about all of you. Stiva I had only a glimpse of, and he cannot tell one about the children. How is my favorite, Tanya? Quite a big girl, I expect?"
"Yes, she's very tall," Darya Alexandrovna answered shortly, surprised herself that she should respond so coolly about her children. "We are having a delightful stay at the Levins'," she added.
"Oh, if I had known," said Anna, "that you do not despise me!... You might have all come to us. Stiva's an old friend and a great friend of Alexey's, you know," she added, and suddenly she blushed.
"Yes, but we are all..." Dolly answered in confusion.
"But in my delight I'm talking nonsense. The one thing, darling, is that I am so glad to have you!" said Anna, kissing her again. "You haven't told me yet how and what you think about me, and I keep wanting to know. But I'm glad you will see me as I am. The chief thing I shouldn't like would be for people to imagine I want to prove anything. I don't want to prove anything; I merely want to live, to do no one harm but myself. I have the right to do that, haven't I? But it is a big subject, and we'll talk over everything properly later. Now I'll go and dress and send a maid to you."
Left alone, Darya Alexandrovna, with a good housewife's eye, scanned her room. All she had seen in entering the house and walking through it, and all she saw now in her room, gave her an impression of wealth and sumptuousness and of that modern European luxury of which she had only read in English novels, but had never seen in Russia and in the country. Everything was new from the new French hangings on the walls to the carpet which covered the whole floor. The bed had a spring mattress, and a special sort of bolster and silk pillowcases on the little pillows. The marble washstand, the dressing table, the little sofa, the tables, the bronze clock on the chimney piece, the window curtains, and the _portières_ were all new and expensive.
The smart maid, who came in to offer her services, with her hair done up high, and a gown more fashionable than Dolly's, was as new and expensive as the whole room. Darya Alexandrovna liked her neatness, her deferential and obliging manners, but she felt ill at ease with her. She felt ashamed of her seeing the patched dressing jacket that had unluckily been packed by mistake for her. She was ashamed of the very patches and darned places of which she had been so proud at home. At home it had been so clear that for six dressing jackets there would be needed twenty-four yards of nainsook at sixteen pence the yard, which was a matter of thirty shillings besides the cutting-out and making, and these thirty shillings had been saved. But before the maid she felt, if not exactly ashamed, at least uncomfortable.
Darya Alexandrovna had a great sense of relief when Annushka, whom she had known for years, walked in. The smart maid was sent for to go to her mistress, and Annushka remained with Darya Alexandrovna.
Annushka was obviously much pleased at that lady's arrival, and began to chatter away without a pause. Dolly observed that she was longing to express her opinion in regard to her mistress's position, especially as to the love and devotion of the count to Anna Arkadyevna, but Dolly carefully interrupted her whenever she began to speak about this.
"I grew up with Anna Arkadyevna; my lady's dearer to me than anything. Well, it's not for us to judge. And, to be sure, there seems so much love..."
"Kindly pour out the water for me to wash now, please," Darya Alexandrovna cut her short.
"Certainly. We've two women kept specially for washing small things, but most of the linen's done by machinery. The count goes into everything himself. Ah, what a husband!..."
Dolly was glad when Anna came in, and by her entrance put a stop to Annushka's gossip.
Anna had put on a very simple batiste gown. Dolly scrutinized that simple gown attentively. She knew what it meant, and the price at which such simplicity was obtained.
"An old friend," said Anna of Annushka.
Anna was not embarrassed now. She was perfectly composed and at ease. Dolly saw that she had now completely recovered from the impression her arrival had made on her, and had assumed that superficial, careless tone which, as it were, closed the door on that compartment in which her deeper feelings and ideas were kept.
"Well, Anna, and how is your little girl?" asked Dolly.
"Annie?" (This was what she called her little daughter Anna.) "Very well. She has got on wonderfully. Would you like to see her? Come, I'll show her to you. We had a terrible bother," she began telling her, "over nurses. We had an Italian wet-nurse. A good creature, but so stupid! We wanted to get rid of her, but the baby is so used to her that we've gone on keeping her still."
"But how have you managed?..." Dolly was beginning a question as to what name the little girl would have; but noticing a sudden frown on Anna's face, she changed the drift of her question.
"How did you manage? have you weaned her yet?"
But Anna had understood.
"You didn't mean to ask that? You meant to ask about her surname. Yes? That worries Alexey. She has no name--that is, she's a Karenina," said Anna, dropping her eyelids till nothing could be seen but the eyelashes meeting. "But we'll talk about all that later," her face suddenly brightening. "Come, I'll show you her. _Elle est tres gentille_. She crawls now."
In the nursery the luxury which had impressed Dolly in the whole house struck her still more. There were little go-carts ordered from England, and appliances for learning to walk, and a sofa after the fashion of a billiard table, purposely constructed for crawling, and swings and baths, all of special pattern, and modern. They were all English, solid, and of good make, and obviously very expensive. The room was large, and very light and lofty.
When they went in, the baby, with nothing on but her little smock, was sitting in a little elbow chair at the table, having her dinner of broth, which she was spilling all over her little chest. The baby was being fed, and the Russian nursery maid was evidently sharing her meal. Neither the wet-nurse nor the head nurse were there; they were in the next room, from which came the sound of their conversation in the queer French which was their only means of communication.
Hearing Anna's voice, a smart, tall, English nurse with a disagreeable face and a dissolute expression walked in at the door, hurriedly shaking her fair curls, and immediately began to defend herself though Anna had not found fault with her. At every word Anna said, the English nurse said hurriedly several times, "Yes, my lady."
The rosy baby with her black eyebrows and hair, her sturdy red little body with tight goose-flesh skin, delighted Darya Alexandrovna in spite of the cross expression with which she stared at the stranger. She positively envied the baby's healthy appearance. She was delighted, too, at the baby's crawling. Not one of her own children had crawled like that. When the baby was put on the carpet and its little dress tucked up behind, it was wonderfully charming. Looking round like some little wild animal at the grown-up big people with her bright black eyes, she smiled, unmistakably pleased at their admiring her, and holding her legs sideways, she pressed vigorously on her arms, and rapidly drew her whole back up after, and then made another step forward with her little arms.
But the whole atmosphere of the nursery, and especially the English nurse, Darya Alexandrovna did not like at all. It was only on the supposition that no good nurse would have entered so irregular a household as Anna's that Darya Alexandrovna could explain to herself how Anna with her insight into people could take such an unprepossessing, disreputable-looking woman as nurse to her child.
Besides, from a few words that were dropped, Darya Alexandrovna saw at once that Anna, the two nurses, and the child had no common existence, and that the mother's visit was something exceptional. Anna wanted to get the baby her plaything, and could not find it.
Most amazing of all was the fact that on being asked how many teeth the baby had, Anna answered wrong, and knew nothing about the two last teeth.
"I sometimes feel sorry I'm so superfluous here," said Anna, going out of the nursery and holding up her skirt so as to escape the plaything standing in the doorway. "It was very different with my first child."
"I expected it to be the other way," said Darya Alexandrovna shyly.
"Oh, no! By the way, do you know I saw Seryozha?" said Anna, screwing up her eyes, as though looking at something far away. "But we'll talk about that later. You wouldn't believe it, I'm like a hungry beggar woman when a full dinner is set before her, and she does not know what to begin on first. The dinner is you, and the talks I have before me with you, which I could never have with anyone else; and I don't know which subject to begin upon first. _Mais je ne vous ferai grace de rien_. I must have everything out with you."
"Oh, I ought to give you a sketch of the company you will meet with us," she went on. "I'll begin with the ladies. Princess Varvara--you know her, and I know your opinion and Stiva's about her. Stiva says the whole aim of her existence is to prove her superiority over Auntie Katerina Pavlovna: that's all true; but she's a good-natured woman, and I am so grateful to her. In Petersburg there was a moment when a chaperon was absolutely essential for me. Then she turned up. But really she is good- natured. She did a great deal to alleviate my position. I see you don't understand all the difficulty of my position...there in Petersburg," she added. "Here I'm perfectly at ease and happy. Well, of that later on, though. Then Sviazhsky--he's the marshal of the district, and he's a very good sort of a man, but he wants to get something out of Alexey. You understand, with his property, now that we are settled in the country, Alexey can exercise great influence. Then there's Tushkevitch--you have seen him, you know--Betsy's admirer. Now he's been thrown over and he's come to see us. As Alexey says, he's one of those people who are very pleasant if one accepts them for what they try to appear to be, _et puis il est comme il faut_, as Princess Varvara says. Then Veslovsky...you know him. A very nice boy," she said, and a sly smile curved her lips. "What's this wild story about him and the Levins? Veslovsky told Alexey about it, and we don't believe it. _Il est très gentil et naïf_," she said again with the same smile. "Men need occupation, and Alexey needs a circle, so I value all these people. We have to have the house lively and gay, so that Alexey may not long for any novelty. Then you'll see the steward--a German, a very good fellow, and he understands his work. Alexey has a very high opinion of him. Then the doctor, a young man, not quite a Nihilist perhaps, but you know, eats with his knife...but a very good doctor. Then the architect.... _Une petite cour!_"
"Here's Dolly for you, princess, you were so anxious to see her," said Anna, coming out with Darya Alexandrovna onto the stone terrace where Princess Varvara was sitting in the shade at an embroidery frame, working at a cover for Count Alexey Kirillovitch's easy chair. "She says she doesn't want anything before dinner, but please order some lunch for her, and I'll go and look for Alexey and bring them all in."
Princess Varvara gave Dolly a cordial and rather patronizing reception, and began at once explaining to her that she was living with Anna because she had always cared more for her than her sister Katerina Pavlovna, the aunt that had brought Anna up, and that now, when every one had abandoned Anna, she thought it her duty to help her in this most difficult period of transition.
"Her husband will give her a divorce, and then I shall go back to my solitude; but now I can be of use, and I am doing my duty, however difficult it may be for me--not like some other people. And how sweet it is of you, how right of you to have come! They live like the best of married couples; it's for God to judge them, not for us. And didn't Biryuzovsky and Madame Avenieva...and Sam Nikandrov, and Vassiliev and Madame Mamonova, and Liza Neptunova... Did no one say anything about them? And it has ended by their being received by everyone. And then, _c'est un intérieur si joli, si comme il faut. Tout-à-fait à l'anglaise. On se réunit le matin au breakfast, et puis on se sépare._ Everyone does as he pleases till dinnertime. Dinner at seven o'clock. Stiva did very rightly to send you. He needs their support. You know that through his mother and brother he can do anything. And then they do so much good. He didn't tell you about his hospital? _Ce sera admirable_--everything from Paris."
Their conversation was interrupted by Anna, who had found the men of the party in the billiard room, and returned with them to the terrace. There was still a long time before the dinner-hour, it was exquisite weather, and so several different methods of spending the next two hours were proposed. There were very many methods of passing the time at Vozdvizhenskoe, and these were all unlike those in use at Pokrovskoe.
"_Une partie de lawn-tennis,_" Veslovsky proposed, with his handsome smile. "We'll be partners again, Anna Arkadyevna."
"No, it's too hot; better stroll about the garden and have a row in the boat, show Darya Alexandrovna the river banks." Vronsky proposed.
"I agree to anything," said Sviazhsky.
"I imagine that what Dolly would like best would be a stroll-- wouldn't you? And then the boat, perhaps," said Anna.
So it was decided. Veslovsky and Tushkevitch went off to the bathing place, promising to get the boat ready and to wait there for them.
They walked along the path in two couples, Anna with Sviazhsky, and Dolly with Vronsky. Dolly was a little embarrassed and anxious in the new surroundings in which she found herself. Abstractly, theoretically, she did not merely justify, she positively approved of Anna's conduct. As is indeed not unfrequent with women of unimpeachable virtue, weary of the monotony of respectable existence, at a distance she not only excused illicit love, she positively envied it. Besides, she loved Anna with all her heart. But seeing Anna in actual life among these strangers, with this fashionable tone that was so new to Darya Alexandrovna, she felt ill at ease. What she disliked particularly was seeing Princess Varvara ready to overlook everything for the sake of the comforts she enjoyed.
As a general principle, abstractly, Dolly approved of Anna's action; but to see the man for whose sake her action had been taken was disagreeable to her. Moreover, she had never liked Vronsky. She thought him very proud, and saw nothing in him of which he could be proud except his wealth. But against her own will, here in his own house, he overawed her more than ever, and she could not be at ease with him. She felt with him the same feeling she had had with the maid about her dressing jacket. Just as with the maid she had felt not exactly ashamed, but embarrassed at her darns, so she felt with him not exactly ashamed, but embarrassed at herself.
Dolly was ill at ease, and tried to find a subject of conversation. Even though she supposed that, through his pride, praise of his house and garden would be sure to be disagreeable to him, she did all the same tell him how much she liked his house.
"Yes, it's a very fine building, and in the good old-fashioned style," he said.
"I like so much the court in front of the steps. Was that always so?"
"Oh, no!" he said, and his face beamed with pleasure. "If you could only have seen that court last spring!"
And he began, at first rather diffidently, but more and more carried away by the subject as he went on, to draw her attention to the various details of the decoration of his house and garden. It was evident that, having devoted a great deal of trouble to improve and beautify his home, Vronsky felt a need to show off the improvements to a new person, and was genuinely delighted at Darya Alexandrovna's praise.
"If you would care to look at the hospital, and are not tired, indeed, it's not far. Shall we go?" he said, glancing into her face to convince himself that she was not bored. "Are you coming, Anna?" he turned to her.
"We will come, won't we?" she said, addressing Sviazhsky. "_Mais il ne faut pas laisser le pauvre Veslovsky et Tushkevitch se morfondre là dans le bateau._ We must send and tell them."
"Yes, this is a monument he is setting up here," said Anna, turning to Dolly with that sly smile of comprehension with which she had previously talked about the hospital.
"Oh, it's a work of real importance!" said Sviazhsky. But to show he was not trying to ingratiate himself with Vronsky, he promptly added some slightly critical remarks.
"I wonder, though, count," he said, "that while you do so much for the health of the peasants, you take so little interest in the schools."
"_C'est devenu tellement commun les écoles,_" said Vronsky. "You understand it's not on that account, but it just happens so, my interest has been diverted elsewhere. This way then to the hospital," he said to Darya Alexandrovna, pointing to a turning out of the avenue.
The ladies put up their parasols and turned into the side path. After going down several turnings, and going through a little gate, Darya Alexandrovna saw standing on rising ground before her a large pretentious-looking red building, almost finished. The iron roof, which was not yet painted, shone with dazzling brightness in the sunshine. Beside the finished building another had been begun, surrounded by scaffolding. Workmen in aprons, standing on scaffolds, were laying bricks, pouring mortar out of vats, and smoothing it with trowels.
"How quickly work gets done with you!" said Sviazhsky. "When I was here last time the roof was not on."
"By the autumn it will all be ready. Inside almost everything is done," said Anna.
"And what's this new building?"
"That's the house for the doctor and the dispensary," answered Vronsky, seeing the architect in a short jacket coming towards him; and excusing himself to the ladies, he went to meet him.
Going round a hole where the workmen were slaking lime, he stood still with the architect and began talking rather warmly.
"The front is still too low," he said to Anna, who had asked what was the matter.
"I said the foundation ought to be raised," said Anna.
"Yes, of course it would have been much better, Anna Arkadyevna," said the architect, "but now it's too late."
"Yes, I take a great interest in it," Anna answered Sviazhsky, who was expressing his surprise at her knowledge of architecture. "This new building ought to have been in harmony with the hospital. It was an afterthought, and was begun without a plan."
Vronsky, having finished his talk with the architect, joined the ladies, and led them inside the hospital.
Although they were still at work on the cornices outside and were painting on the ground floor, upstairs almost all the rooms were finished. Going up the broad cast-iron staircase to the landing, they walked into the first large room. The walls were stuccoed to look like marble, the huge plate-glass windows were already in, only the parquet floor was not yet finished, and the carpenters, who were planing a block of it, left their work, taking off the bands that fastened their hair, to greet the gentry.
"This is the reception room," said Vronsky. "Here there will be a desk, tables, and benches, and nothing more."
"This way; let us go in here. Don't go near the window," said Anna, trying the paint to see if it were dry. "Alexey, the paint's dry already," she added.
From the reception room they went into the corridor. Here Vronsky showed them the mechanism for ventilation on a novel system. Then he showed them marble baths, and beds with extraordinary springs. Then he showed them the wards one after another, the storeroom, the linen room, then the heating stove of a new pattern, then the trolleys, which would make no noise as they carried everything needed along the corridors, and many other things. Sviazhsky, as a connoisseur in the latest mechanical improvements, appreciated everything fully. Dolly simply wondered at all she had not seen before, and, anxious to understand it all, made minute inquiries about everything, which gave Vronsky great satisfaction.
"Yes, I imagine that this will be the solitary example of a properly fitted hospital in Russia," said Sviazhsky.
"And won't you have a lying-in ward?" asked Dolly. "That's so much needed in the country. I have often..."
In spite of his usual courtesy, Vronsky interrupted her.
"This is not a lying-in home, but a hospital for the sick, and is intended for all diseases, except infectious complaints," he said. "Ah! look at this," and he rolled up to Darya Alexandrovna an invalid chair that had just been ordered for the convalescents. "Look." He sat down in the chair and began moving it. "The patient can't walk--still too weak, perhaps, or something wrong with his legs, but he must have air, and he moves, rolls himself along...."
Darya Alexandrovna was interested by everything. She liked everything very much, but most of all she liked Vronsky himself with his natural, simple-hearted eagerness. "Yes, he's a very nice, good man," she thought several times, not hearing what he said, but looking at him and penetrating into his expression, while she mentally put herself in Anna's place. She liked him so much just now with his eager interest that she saw how Anna could be in love with him.
"No, I think the princess is tired, and horses don't interest her," Vronsky said to Anna, who wanted to go on to the stables, where Sviazhsky wished to see the new stallion. "You go on, while I escort the princess home, and we'll have a little talk," he said, "if you would like that?" he added, turning to her.
"I know nothing about horses, and I shall be delighted," answered Darya Alexandrovna, rather astonished.
She saw by Vronsky's face that he wanted something from her. She was not mistaken. As soon as they had passed through the little gate back into the garden, he looked in the direction Anna had taken, and having made sure that she could neither hear nor see them, he began:
"You guess that I have something I want to say to you," he said, looking at her with laughing eyes. "I am not wrong in believing you to be a friend of Anna's." He took off his hat, and taking out his handkerchief, wiped his head, which was growing bald.
Darya Alexandrovna made no answer, and merely stared at him with dismay. When she was left alone with him, she suddenly felt afraid; his laughing eyes and stern expression scared her.
The most diverse suppositions as to what he was about to speak of to her flashed into her brain. "He is going to beg me to come to stay with them with the children, and I shall have to refuse; or to create a set that will receive Anna in Moscow.... Or isn't it Vassenka Veslovsky and his relations with Anna? Or perhaps about Kitty, that he feels he was to blame?" All her conjectures were unpleasant, but she did not guess what he really wanted to talk about to her.
"You have so much influence with Anna, she is so fond of you," he said; "do help me."
Darya Alexandrovna looked with timid inquiry into his energetic face, which under the lime-trees was continually being lighted up in patches by the sunshine, and then passing into complete shadow again. She waited for him to say more, but he walked in silence beside her, scratching with his cane in the gravel.
"You have come to see us, you, the only woman of Anna's former friends--I don't count Princess Varvara--but I know that you have done this not because you regard our position as normal, but because, understanding all the difficulty of the position, you still love her and want to be a help to her. Have I understood you rightly?" he asked, looking round at her.
"Oh, yes," answered Darya Alexandrovna, putting down her sunshade, "but..."
"No," he broke in, and unconsciously, oblivious of the awkward position into which he was putting his companion, he stopped abruptly, so that she had to stop short too. "No one feels more deeply and intensely than I do all the difficulty of Anna's position; and that you may well understand, if you do me the honor of supposing I have any heart. I am to blame for that position, and that is why I feel it."
"I understand," said Darya Alexandrovna, involuntarily admiring the sincerity and firmness with which he said this. "But just because you feel yourself responsible, you exaggerate it, I am afraid," she said. "Her position in the world is difficult, I can well understand."
"In the world it is hell!" he brought out quickly, frowning darkly. "You can't imagine moral sufferings greater than what she went through in Petersburg in that fortnight...and I beg you to believe it."
"Yes, but here, so long as neither Anna...nor you miss society..."
"Society!" he said contemptuously, "how could I miss society?"
"So far--and it may be so always--you are happy and at peace. I see in Anna that she is happy, perfectly happy, she has had time to tell me so much already," said Darya Alexandrovna, smiling; and involuntarily, as she said this, at the same moment a doubt entered her mind whether Anna really were happy.
But Vronsky, it appeared, had no doubts on that score.
"Yes, yes," he said, "I know that she has revived after all her sufferings; she is happy. She is happy in the present. But I?... I am afraid of what is before us...I beg your pardon, you would like to walk on?"
"No, I don't mind."
"Well, then, let us sit here."
Darya Alexandrovna sat down on a garden seat in a corner of the avenue. He stood up facing her.
"I see that she is happy," he repeated, and the doubt whether she were happy sank more deeply into Darya Alexandrovna's mind. "But can it last? Whether we have acted rightly or wrongly is another question, but the die is cast," he said, passing from Russian to French, "and we are bound together for life. We are united by all the ties of love that we hold most sacred. We have a child, we may have other children. But the law and all the conditions of our position are such that thousands of complications arise which she does not see and does not want to see. And that one can well understand. But I can't help seeing them. My daughter is by law not my daughter, but Karenin's. I cannot bear this falsity!" he said, with a vigorous gesture of refusal, and he looked with gloomy inquiry towards Darya Alexandrovna.
She made no answer, but simply gazed at him. He went on:
"One day a son may be born, my son, and he will be legally a Karenin; he will not be the heir of my name nor of my property, and however happy we may be in our home life and however many children we may have, there will be no real tie between us. They will be Karenins. You can understand the bitterness and horror of this position! I have tried to speak of this to Anna. It irritates her. She does not understand, and to her I cannot speak plainly of all this. Now look at another side. I am happy, happy in her love, but I must have occupation. I have found occupation, and am proud of what I am doing and consider it nobler than the pursuits of my former companions at court and in the army. And most certainly I would not change the work I am doing for theirs. I am working here, settled in my own place, and I am happy and contented, and we need nothing more to make us happy. I love my work here. _Ce n'est pas un pis-aller,_ on the contrary..."
Darya Alexandrovna noticed that at this point in his explanation he grew confused, and she did not quite understand this digression, but she felt that having once begun to speak of matters near his heart, of which he could not speak to Anna, he was now making a clean breast of everything, and that the question of his pursuits in the country fell into the same category of matters near his heart, as the question of his relations with Anna.
"Well, I will go on," he said, collecting himself. "The great thing is that as I work I want to have a conviction that what I am doing will not die with me, that I shall have heirs to come after me,--and this I have not. Conceive the position of a man who knows that his children, the children of the woman he loves, will not be his, but will belong to someone who hates them and cares nothing about them! It is awful!"
He paused, evidently much moved.
"Yes, indeed, I see that. But what can Anna do?" queried Darya Alexandrovna.
"Yes, that brings me to the object of my conversation," he said, calming himself with an effort. "Anna can, it depends on her.... Even to petition the Tsar for legitimization, a divorce is essential. And that depends on Anna. Her husband agreed to a divorce--at that time your husband had arranged it completely. And now, I know, he would not refuse it. It is only a matter of writing to him. He said plainly at that time that if she expressed the desire, he would not refuse. Of course," he said gloomily, "it is one of those Pharisaical cruelties of which only such heartless men are capable. He knows what agony any recollection of him must give her, and knowing her, he must have a letter from her. I can understand that it is agony to her. But the matter is of such importance, that one must _passer pardessus toutes ces finesses de sentiment. Il y va du bonheur et de l'existence d'Anne et de ses enfants._ I won't speak of myself, though it's hard for me, very hard," he said, with an expression as though he were threatening someone for its being hard for him. "And so it is, princess, that I am shamelessly clutching at you as an anchor of salvation. Help me to persuade her to write to him and ask for a divorce."
"Yes, of course," Darya Alexandrovna said dreamily, as she vividly recalled her last interview with Alexey Alexandrovitch. "Yes, of course," she repeated with decision, thinking of Anna.
"Use your influence with her, make her write. I don't like--I'm almost unable to speak about this to her."
"Very well, I will talk to her. But how is it she does not think of it herself?" said Darya Alexandrovna, and for some reason she suddenly at that point recalled Anna's strange new habit of half-closing her eyes. And she remembered that Anna drooped her eyelids just when the deeper questions of life were touched upon. "Just as though she half-shut her eyes to her own life, so as not to see everything," thought Dolly. "Yes, indeed, for my own sake and for hers I will talk to her," Dolly said in reply to his look of gratitude.
They got up and walked to the house.
When Anna found Dolly at home before her, she looked intently in her eyes, as though questioning her about the talk she had had with Vronsky, but she made no inquiry in words.
"I believe it's dinner time," she said. "We've not seen each other at all yet. I am reckoning on the evening. Now I want to go and dress. I expect you do too; we all got splashed at the buildings."
Dolly went to her room and she felt amused. To change her dress was impossible, for she had already put on her best dress. But in order to signify in some way her preparation for dinner, she asked the maid to brush her dress, changed her cuffs and tie, and put some lace on her head.
"This is all I can do," she said with a smile to Anna, who came in to her in a third dress, again of extreme simplicity.
"Yes, we are too formal here," she said, as it were apologizing for her magnificence. "Alexey is delighted at your visit, as he rarely is at anything. He has completely lost his heart to you," she added. "You're not tired?"
There was no time for talking about anything before dinner. Going into the drawing room they found Princess Varvara already there, and the gentlemen of the party in black frock-coats. The architect wore a swallow-tail coat. Vronsky presented the doctor and the steward to his guest. The architect he had already introduced to her at the hospital.
A stout butler, resplendent with a smoothly shaven round chin and a starched white cravat, announced that dinner was ready, and the ladies got up. Vronsky asked Sviazhsky to take in Anna Arkadyevna, and himself offered his arm to Dolly. Veslovsky was before Tushkevitch in offering his arm to Princess Varvara, so that Tushkevitch with the steward and the doctor walked in alone.
The dinner, the dining room, the service, the waiting at table, the wine, and the food, were not simply in keeping with the general tone of modern luxury throughout all the house, but seemed even more sumptuous and modern. Darya Alexandrovna watched this luxury which was novel to her, and as a good housekeeper used to managing a household--although she never dreamed of adapting anything she saw to her own household, as it was all in a style of luxury far above her own manner of living--she could not help scrutinizing every detail, and wondering how and by whom it was all done. Vassenka Veslovsky, her husband, and even Sviazhsky, and many other people she knew, would never have considered this question, and would have readily believed what every well-bred host tries to make his guests feel, that is, that all that is well-ordered in his house has cost him, the host, no trouble whatever, but comes of itself. Darya Alexandrovna was well aware that even porridge for the children's breakfast does not come of itself, and that therefore, where so complicated and magnificent a style of luxury was maintained, someone must give earnest attention to its organization. And from the glance with which Alexey Kirillovitch scanned the table, from the way he nodded to the butler, and offered Darya Alexandrovna her choice between cold soup and hot soup, she saw that it was all organized and maintained by the care of the master of the house himself. It was evident that it all rested no more upon Anna than upon Veslovsky. She, Sviazhsky, the princess, and Veslovsky, were equally guests, with light hearts enjoying what had been arranged for them.
Anna was the hostess only in conducting the conversation. The conversation was a difficult one for the lady of the house at a small table with persons present, like the steward and the architect, belonging to a completely different world, struggling not to be overawed by an elegance to which they were unaccustomed, and unable to sustain a large share in the general conversation. But this difficult conversation Anna directed with her usual tact and naturalness, and indeed she did so with actual enjoyment, as Darya Alexandrovna observed. The conversation began about the row Tushkevitch and Veslovsky had taken alone together in the boat, and Tushkevitch began describing the last boat races in Petersburg at the Yacht Club. But Anna, seizing the first pause, at once turned to the architect to draw him out of his silence.
"Nikolay Ivanitch was struck," she said, meaning Sviazhsky, "at the progress the new building had made since he was here last; but I am there every day, and every day I wonder at the rate at which it grows."
"It's first-rate working with his excellency," said the architect with a smile (he was respectful and composed, though with a sense of his own dignity). "It's a very different matter to have to do with the district authorities. Where one would have to write out sheaves of papers, here I call upon the count, and in three words we settle the business."
"The American way of doing business," said Sviazhsky, with a smile.
"Yes, there they build in a rational fashion..."
The conversation passed to the misuse of political power in the United States, but Anna quickly brought it round to another topic, so as to draw the steward into talk.
"Have you ever seen a reaping machine?" she said, addressing Darya Alexandrovna. "We had just ridden over to look at one when we met. It's the first time I ever saw one."
"How do they work?" asked Dolly.
"Exactly like little scissors. A plank and a lot of little scissors. Like this."
Anna took a knife and fork in her beautiful white hands covered with rings, and began showing how the machine worked. It was clear that she saw nothing would be understood from her explanation; but aware that her talk was pleasant and her hands beautiful she went on explaining.
"More like little penknives," Veslovsky said playfully, never taking his eyes off her.
Anna gave a just perceptible smile, but made no answer. "Isn't it true, Karl Fedoritch, that it's just like little scissors?" she said to the steward.
"_Oh, ja,_" answered the German. _"Es it ein ganz einfaches Ding,"_ and he began to explain the construction of the machine.
"It's a pity it doesn't bind too. I saw one at the Vienna exhibition, which binds with a wire," said Sviazhsky. "They would be more profitable in use."
_"Es kommt drauf an.... Der Preis vom Draht muss ausgerechnet werden."_ And the German, roused from his taciturnity, turned to Vronsky. _"Das lässt sich ausrechnen, Erlaucht."_ The German was just feeling in the pocket where were his pencil and the notebook he always wrote in, but recollecting that he was at a dinner, and observing Vronsky's chilly glance, he checked himself. _"Zu compliziert, macht zu viel Klopot,"_ he concluded.
_"Wünscht man Dochots, so hat man auch Klopots,"_ said Vassenka Veslovsky, mimicking the German. _"J'adore l'allemand,"_ he addressed Anna again with the same smile.
_"Cessez,"_ she said with playful severity.
"We expected to find you in the fields, Vassily Semyonitch," she said to the doctor, a sickly-looking man; "have you been there?"
"I went there, but I had taken flight," the doctor answered with gloomy jocoseness.
"Then you've taken a good constitutional?"
"Well, and how was the old woman? I hope it's not typhus?"
"Typhus it is not, but it's taking a bad turn."
"What a pity!" said Anna, and having thus paid the dues of civility to her domestic circle, she turned to her own friends.
"It would be a hard task, though, to construct a machine from your description, Anna Arkadyevna," Sviazhsky said jestingly.
"Oh, no, why so?" said Anna with a smile that betrayed that she knew there was something charming in her disquisitions upon the machine that had been noticed by Sviazhsky. This new trait of girlish coquettishness made an unpleasant impression on Dolly.
"But Anna Arkadyevna's knowledge of architecture is marvelous," said Tushkevitch.
"To be sure, I heard Anna Arkadyevna talking yesterday about plinths and damp-courses," said Veslovsky. "Have I got it right?"
"There's nothing marvelous about it, when one sees and hears so much of it," said Anna. "But, I dare say, you don't even know what houses are made of?"
Darya Alexandrovna saw that Anna disliked the tone of raillery that existed between her and Veslovsky, but fell in with it against her will.
Vronsky acted in this matter quite differently from Levin. He obviously attached no significance to Veslovsky's chattering; on the contrary, he encouraged his jests.
"Come now, tell us, Veslovsky, how are the stones held together?"
"By cement, of course."
"Bravo! And what is cement?"
"Oh, some sort of paste...no, putty," said Veslovsky, raising a general laugh.
The company at dinner, with the exception of the doctor, the architect, and the steward, who remained plunged in gloomy silence, kept up a conversation that never paused, glancing off one subject, fastening on another, and at times stinging one or the other to the quick. Once Darya Alexandrovna felt wounded to the quick, and got so hot that she positively flushed and wondered afterwards whether she had said anything extreme or unpleasant. Sviazhsky began talking of Levin, describing his strange view that machinery is simply pernicious in its effects on Russian agriculture.
"I have not the pleasure of knowing this M. Levin," Vronsky said, smiling, "but most likely he has never seen the machines he condemns; or if he has seen and tried any, it must have been after a queer fashion, some Russian imitation, not a machine from abroad. What sort of views can anyone have on such a subject?"
"Turkish views, in general," Veslovsky said, turning to Anna with a smile.
"I can't defend his opinions," Darya Alexandrovna said, firing up; "but I can say that he's a highly cultivated man, and if he were here he would know very well how to answer you, though I am not capable of doing so."
"I like him extremely, and we are great friends," Sviazhsky said, smiling good-naturedly. "_Mais pardon, il est un petit peu toqué;_ he maintains, for instance, that district councils and arbitration boards are all of no use, and he is unwilling to take part in anything."
"It's our Russian apathy," said Vronsky, pouring water from an iced decanter into a delicate glass on a high stem; "we've no sense of the duties our privileges impose upon us, and so we refuse to recognize these duties."
"I know no man more strict in the performance of his duties," said Darya Alexandrovna, irritated by Vronsky's tone of superiority.
"For my part," pursued Vronsky, who was evidently for some reason or other keenly affected by this conversation, "such as I am, I am, on the contrary, extremely grateful for the honor they have done me, thanks to Nikolay Ivanitch" (he indicated Sviazhsky), "in electing me a justice of the peace. I consider that for me the duty of being present at the session, of judging some peasants' quarrel about a horse, is as important as anything I can do. And I shall regard it as an honor if they elect me for the district council. It's only in that way I can pay for the advantages I enjoy as a landowner. Unluckily they don't understand the weight that the big landowners ought to have in the state."
It was strange to Darya Alexandrovna to hear how serenely confident he was of being right at his own table. She thought how Levin, who believed the opposite, was just as positive in his opinions at his own table. But she loved Levin, and so she was on his side.
"So we can reckon upon you, count, for the coming elections?" said Sviazhsky. "But you must come a little beforehand, so as to be on the spot by the eighth. If you would do me the honor to stop with me."
"I rather agree with your beau-frère," said Anna, "though not quite on the same ground as he," she added with a smile. "I'm afraid that we have too many of these public duties in these latter days. Just as in old days there were so many government functionaries that one had to call in a functionary for every single thing, so now everyone's doing some sort of public duty. Alexey has been here now six months, and he's a member, I do believe, of five or six different public bodies. _Du train que cela va,_ the whole time will be wasted on it. And I'm afraid that with such a multiplicity of these bodies, they'll end in being a mere form. How many are you a member of, Nikolay Ivanitch?" she turned to Sviazhsky--"over twenty, I fancy."
Anna spoke lightly, but irritation could be discerned in her tone. Darya Alexandrovna, watching Anna and Vronsky attentively, detected it instantly. She noticed, too, that as she spoke Vronsky's face had immediately taken a serious and obstinate expression. Noticing this, and that Princess Varvara at once made haste to change the conversation by talking of Petersburg acquaintances, and remembering what Vronsky had without apparent connection said in the garden of his work in the country, Dolly surmised that this question of public activity was connected with some deep private disagreement between Anna and Vronsky.
The dinner, the wine, the decoration of the table were all very good; but it was all like what Darya Alexandrovna had seen at formal dinners and balls which of late years had become quite unfamiliar to her; it all had the same impersonal and constrained character, and so on an ordinary day and in a little circle of friends it made a disagreeable impression on her.
After dinner they sat on the terrace, then they proceeded to play lawn tennis. The players, divided into two parties, stood on opposite sides of a tightly drawn net with gilt poles on the carefully leveled and rolled croquet-ground. Darya Alexandrovna made an attempt to play, but it was a long time before she could understand the game, and by the time she did understand it, she was so tired that she sat down with Princess Varvara and simply looked on at the players. Her partner, Tushkevitch, gave up playing too, but the others kept the game up for a long time. Sviazhsky and Vronsky both played very well and seriously. They kept a sharp lookout on the balls served to them, and without haste or getting in each other's way, they ran adroitly up to them, waited for the rebound, and neatly and accurately returned them over the net. Veslovsky played worse than the others. He was too eager, but he kept the players lively with his high spirits. His laughter and outcries never paused. Like the other men of the party, with the ladies' permission, he took off his coat, and his solid, comely figure in his white shirt-sleeves, with his red perspiring face and his impulsive movements, made a picture that imprinted itself vividly on the memory.
When Darya Alexandrovna lay in bed that night, as soon as she closed her eyes, she saw Vassenka Veslovsky flying about the croquet ground.
During the game Darya Alexandrovna was not enjoying herself. She did not like the light tone of raillery that was kept up all the time between Vassenka Veslovsky and Anna, and the unnaturalness altogether of grown-up people, all alone without children, playing at a child's game. But to avoid breaking up the party and to get through the time somehow, after a rest she joined the game again, and pretended to be enjoying it. All that day it seemed to her as though she were acting in a theater with actors cleverer than she, and that her bad acting was spoiling the whole performance. She had come with the intention of staying two days, if all went well. But in the evening, during the game, she made up her mind that she would go home next day. The maternal cares and worries, which she had so hated on the way, now, after a day spent without them, struck her in quite another light, and tempted her back to them.
When, after evening tea and a row by night in the boat, Darya Alexandrovna went alone to her room, took off her dress, and began arranging her thin hair for the night, she had a great sense of relief.
It was positively disagreeable to her to think that Anna was coming to see her immediately. She longed to be alone with her own thoughts.
Dolly was wanting to go to bed when Anna came in to see her, attired for the night. In the course of the day Anna had several times begun to speak of matters near her heart, and every time after a few words she had stopped: "Afterwards, by ourselves, we'll talk about everything. I've got so much I want to tell you," she said.
Now they were by themselves, and Anna did not know what to talk about. She sat in the window looking at Dolly, and going over in her own mind all the stores of intimate talk which had seemed so inexhaustible beforehand, and she found nothing. At that moment it seemed to her that everything had been said already.
"Well, what of Kitty?" she said with a heavy sigh, looking penitently at Dolly. "Tell me the truth, Dolly: isn't she angry with me?"
"Angry? Oh, no!" said Darya Alexandrovna, smiling.
"But she hates me, despises me?"
"Oh, no! But you know that sort of thing isn't forgiven."
"Yes, yes," said Anna, turning away and looking out of the open window. "But I was not to blame. And who is to blame? What's the meaning of being to blame? Could it have been otherwise? What do you think? Could it possibly have happened that you didn't become the wife of Stiva?"
"Really, I don't know. But this is what I want you to tell me..."
"Yes, yes, but we've not finished about Kitty. Is she happy? He's a very nice man, they say."
"He's much more than very nice. I don't know a better man."
"Ah, how glad I am! I'm so glad! Much more than very nice," she repeated.
"But tell me about yourself. We've a great deal to talk about. And I've had a talk with..." Dolly did not know what to call him. She felt it awkward to call him either the count or Alexey Kirillovitch.
"With Alexey," said Anna, "I know what you talked about. But I wanted to ask you directly what you think of me, of my life?"
"How am I to say like that straight off? I really don't know."
"No, tell me all the same.... You see my life. But you mustn't forget that you're seeing us in the summer, when you have come to us and we are not alone.... But we came here early in the spring, lived quite alone, and shall be alone again, and I desire nothing better. But imagine me living alone without him, alone, and that will be...I see by everything that it will often be repeated, that he will be half the time away from home," she said, getting up and sitting down close by Dolly.
"Of course," she interrupted Dolly, who would have answered, "of course I won't try to keep him by force. I don't keep him indeed. The races are just coming, his horses are running, he will go. I'm very glad. But think of me, fancy my position.... But what's the use of talking about it?" She smiled. "Well, what did he talk about with you?"
"He spoke of what I want to speak about of myself, and it's easy for me to be his advocate; of whether there is not a possibility ...whether you could not..." (Darya Alexandrovna hesitated) "correct, improve your position.... You know how I look at it.... But all the same, if possible, you should get married...."
"Divorce, you mean?" said Anna. "Do you know, the only woman who came to see me in Petersburg was Betsy Tverskaya? You know her, of course? _Au fond, c'est la femme la plus depraveé qui existe._ She had an intrigue with Tushkevitch, deceiving her husband in the basest way. And she told me that she did not care to know me so long as my position was irregular. Don't imagine I would compare...I know you, darling. But I could not help remembering.... Well, so what did he say to you?" she repeated.
"He said that he was unhappy on your account and his own. Perhaps you will say that it's egoism, but what a legitimate and noble egoism. He wants first of all to legitimize his daughter, and to be your husband, to have a legal right to you."
"What wife, what slave can be so utterly a slave as I, in my position?" she put in gloomily.
"The chief thing he desires...he desires that you should not suffer."
"That's impossible. Well?"
"Well, and the most legitimate desire--he wishes that your children should have a name."
"What children?" Anna said, not looking at Dolly, and half closing her eyes.
"Annie and those to come..."
"He need not trouble on that score; I shall have no more children."
"How can you tell that you won't?"
"I shall not, because I don't wish it." And, in spite of all her emotion, Anna smiled, as she caught the naïve expression of curiosity, wonder, and horror on Dolly's face.
"The doctor told me after my illness..."
"Impossible!" said Dolly, opening her eyes wide.
For her this was one of those discoveries the consequences and deductions from which are so immense that all that one feels for the first instant is that it is impossible to take it all in, and that one will have to reflect a great, great deal upon it.
This discovery, suddenly throwing light on all those families of one or two children, which had hitherto been so incomprehensible to her, aroused so many ideas, reflections, and contradictory emotions, that she had nothing to say, and simply gazed with wide-open eyes of wonder at Anna. This was the very thing she had been dreaming of, but now learning that it was possible, she was horrified. She felt that it was too simple a solution of too complicated a problem.
_"N'est-ce pas immoral?"_ was all she said, after a brief pause.
"Why so? Think, I have a choice between two alternatives: either to be with child, that is an invalid, or to be the friend and companion of my husband--practically my husband," Anna said in a tone intentionally superficial and frivolous.
"Yes, yes," said Darya Alexandrovna, hearing the very arguments she had used to herself, and not finding the same force in them as before.
"For you, for other people," said Anna, as though divining her thoughts, "there may be reason to hesitate; but for me.... You must consider, I am not his wife; he loves me as long as he loves me. And how am I to keep his love? Not like this!"
She moved her white hands in a curve before her waist with extraordinary rapidity, as happens during moments of excitement; ideas and memories rushed into Darya Alexandrovna's head. "I," she thought, "did not keep my attraction for Stiva; he left me for others, and the first woman for whom he betrayed me did not keep him by being always pretty and lively. He deserted her and took another. And can Anna attract and keep Count Vronsky in that way? If that is what he looks for, he will find dresses and manners still more attractive and charming. And however white and beautiful her bare arms are, however beautiful her full figure and her eager face under her black curls, he will find something better still, just as my disgusting, pitiful, and charming husband does."
Dolly made no answer, she merely sighed. Anna noticed this sigh, indicating dissent, and she went on. In her armory she had other arguments so strong that no answer could be made to them.
"Do you say that it's not right? But you must consider," she went on; "you forget my position. How can I desire children? I'm not speaking of the suffering, I'm not afraid of that. Think only, what are my children to be? Ill-fated children, who will have to bear a stranger's name. For the very fact of their birth they will be forced to be ashamed of their mother, their father, their birth."
"But that is just why a divorce is necessary." But Anna did not hear her. She longed to give utterance to all the arguments with which she had so many times convinced herself.
"What is reason given me for, if I am not to use it to avoid bringing unhappy beings into the world!" She looked at Dolly, but without waiting for a reply she went on:
"I should always feel I had wronged these unhappy children," she said. "If they are not, at any rate they are not unhappy; while if they are unhappy, I alone should be to blame for it."
These were the very arguments Darya Alexandrovna had used in her own reflections; but she heard them without understanding them. "How can one wrong creatures that don't exist?" she thought. And all at once the idea struck her: could it possibly, under any circumstances, have been better for her favorite Grisha if he had never existed? And this seemed to her so wild, so strange, that she shook her head to drive away this tangle of whirling, mad ideas.
"No, I don't know; it's not right," was all she said, with an expression of disgust on her face.
"Yes, but you mustn't forget that you and I.... And besides that," added Anna, in spite of the wealth of her arguments and the poverty of Dolly's objections, seeming still to admit that it was not right, "don't forget the chief point, that I am not now in the same position as you. For you the question is: do you desire not to have any more children; while for me it is: do I desire to have them? And that's a great difference. You must see that I can't desire it in my position."
Darya Alexandrovna made no reply. She suddenly felt that she had got far away from Anna; that there lay between them a barrier of questions on which they could never agree, and about which it was better not to speak.
"Then there is all the more reason for you to legalize your position, if possible," said Dolly.
"Yes, if possible," said Anna, speaking all at once in an utterly different tone, subdued and mournful.
"Surely you don't mean a divorce is impossible? I was told your husband had consented to it."
"Dolly, I don't want to talk about that."
"Oh, we won't then," Darya Alexandrovna hastened to say, noticing the expression of suffering on Anna's face. "All I see is that you take too gloomy a view of things."
"I? Not at all! I'm always bright and happy. You see, _je fais des passions._ Veslovsky..."
"Yes, to tell the truth, I don't like Veslovsky's tone," said Darya Alexandrovna, anxious to change the subject.
"Oh, that's nonsense! It amuses Alexey, and that's all; but he's a boy, and quite under my control. You know, I turn him as I please. It's just as it might be with your Grisha.... Dolly!"-- she suddenly changed the subject--"you say I take too gloomy a view of things. You can't understand. It's too awful! I try not to take any view of it at all."
"But I think you ought to. You ought to do all you can."
"But what can I do? Nothing. You tell me to marry Alexey, and say I don't think about it. I don't think about it!" she repeated, and a flush rose into her face. She got up, straightening her chest, and sighed heavily. With her light step she began pacing up and down the room, stopping now and then. "I don't think of it? Not a day, not an hour passes that I don't think of it, and blame myself for thinking of it...because thinking of that may drive me mad. Drive me mad!" she repeated. "When I think of it, I can't sleep without morphine. But never mind. Let us talk quietly. They tell me, divorce. In the first place, he won't give me a divorce. He's under the influence of Countess Lidia Ivanovna now."
Darya Alexandrovna, sitting erect on a chair, turned her head, following Anna with a face of sympathetic suffering.
"You ought to make the attempt," she said softly.
"Suppose I make the attempt. What does it mean?" she said, evidently giving utterance to a thought, a thousand times thought over and learned by heart. "It means that I, hating him, but still recognizing that I have wronged him--and I consider him magnanimous--that I humiliate myself to write to him.... Well, suppose I make the effort; I do it. Either I receive a humiliating refusal or consent.... Well, I have received his consent, say..." Anna was at that moment at the furthest end of the room, and she stopped there, doing something to the curtain at the window. "I receive his consent, but my...my son? They won't give him up to me. He will grow up despising me, with his father, whom I've abandoned. Do you see, I love... equally, I think, but both more than myself--two creatures, Seryozha and Alexey."
She came out into the middle of the room and stood facing Dolly, with her arms pressed tightly across her chest. In her white dressing gown her figure seemed more than usually grand and broad. She bent her head, and with shining, wet eyes looked from under her brows at Dolly, a thin little pitiful figure in her patched dressing jacket and nightcap, shaking all over with emotion.
"It is only those two creatures that I love, and one excludes the other. I can't have them together, and that's the only thing I want. And since I can't have that, I don't care about the rest. I don't care about anything, anything. And it will end one way or another, and so I can't, I don't like to talk of it. So don't blame me, don't judge me for anything. You can't with your pure heart understand all that I'm suffering." She went up, sat down beside Dolly, and with a guilty look, peeped into her face and took her hand.
"What are you thinking? What are you thinking about me? Don't despise me. I don't deserve contempt. I'm simply unhappy. If anyone is unhappy, I am," she articulated, and turning away, she burst into tears.
Left alone, Darya Alexandrovna said her prayers and went to bed. She had felt for Anna with all her heart while she was speaking to her, but now she could not force herself to think of her. The memories of home and of her children rose up in her imagination with a peculiar charm quite new to her, with a sort of new brilliance. That world of her own seemed to her now so sweet and precious that she would not on any account spend an extra day outside it, and she made up her mind that she would certainly go back next day.
Anna meantime went back to her boudoir, took a wine glass and dropped into it several drops of a medicine, of which the principal ingredient was morphine. After drinking it off and sitting still a little while, she went into her bedroom in a soothed and more cheerful frame of mind.
When she went into the bedroom, Vronsky looked intently at her. He was looking for traces of the conversation which he knew that, staying so long in Dolly's room, she must have had with her. But in her expression of restrained excitement, and of a sort of reserve, he could find nothing but the beauty that always bewitched him afresh though he was used to it, the consciousness of it, and the desire that it should affect him. He did not want to ask her what they had been talking of, but he hoped that she would tell him something of her own accord. But she only said:
"I am so glad you like Dolly. You do, don't you?"
"Oh, I've known her a long while, you know. She's very good-hearted, I suppose, _mais excessivement terre-à-terre._ Still, I'm very glad to see her."
He took Anna's hand and looked inquiringly into her eyes.
Misinterpreting the look, she smiled to him. Next morning, in spite of the protests of her hosts, Darya Alexandrovna prepared for her homeward journey. Levin's coachman, in his by no means new coat and shabby hat, with his ill-matched horses and his coach with the patched mud-guards, drove with gloomy determination into the covered gravel approach.
Darya Alexandrovna disliked taking leave of Princess Varvara and the gentlemen of the party. After a day spent together, both she and her hosts were distinctly aware that they did not get on together, and that it was better for them not to meet. Only Anna was sad. She knew that now, from Dolly's departure, no one again would stir up within her soul the feelings that had been roused by their conversation. It hurt her to stir up these feelings, but yet she knew that that was the best part of her soul, and that that part of her soul would quickly be smothered in the life she was leading.
As she drove out into the open country, Darya Alexandrovna had a delightful sense of relief, and she felt tempted to ask the two men how they had liked being at Vronsky's, when suddenly the coachman, Philip, expressed himself unasked:
"Rolling in wealth they may be, but three pots of oats was all they gave us. Everything cleared up till there wasn't a grain left by cockcrow. What are three pots? A mere mouthful! And oats now down to forty-five kopecks. At our place, no fear, all comers may have as much as they can eat."
"The master's a screw," put in the counting house clerk.
"Well, did you like their horses?" asked Dolly.
"The horses!--there's no two opinions about them. And the food was good. But it seemed to me sort of dreary there, Darya Alexandrovna. I don't know what you thought," he said, turning his handsome, good-natured face to her.
"I thought so too. Well, shall we get home by evening?"
"Eh, we must!"
On reaching home and finding everyone entirely satisfactory and particularly charming, Darya Alexandrovna began with great liveliness telling them how she had arrived, how warmly they had received her, of the luxury and good taste in which the Vronskys lived, and of their recreations, and she would not allow a word to be said against them.
"One has to know Anna and Vronsky--I have got to know him better now--to see how nice they are, and how touching," she said, speaking now with perfect sincerity, and forgetting the vague feeling of dissatisfaction and awkwardness she had experienced there.