FictionForest

PART SEVEN : Chapter 12

Leo TolstoyAug 25, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

Light off Small Medium Large

After taking leave of her guests,
Anna did not sit down, but began walking up and down
the room.  She had unconsciously the whole evening
done her utmost to arouse in Levin a feeling of love ­as
of late she had fallen into doing with all young men ­
and she knew she had attained her aim, as far as was
possible in one evening, with a married and conscientious
man.  She liked him indeed extremely, and, in
spite of the striking difference, from the masculine
point of view, between Vronsky and Levin, as a woman
she saw something they had in common, which had made
Kitty able to love both.  Yet as soon as he was
out of the room, she ceased to think of him.

One thought, and one only, pursued
her in different forms, and refused to be shaken off. 
“If I have so much effect on others, on this
man, who loves his home and his wife, why is it he
is so cold to me?…not cold exactly, he loves me,
I know that!  But something new is drawing us
apart now.  Why wasn’t he here all the
evening?  He told Stiva to say he could not leave
Yashvin, and must watch over his play.  Is Yashvin
a child?  But supposing it’s true. 
He never tells a lie.  But there’s something
else in it if it’s true.  He is glad of
an opportunity of showing me that he has other duties;
I know that, I submit to that.  But why prove
that to me?  He wants to show me that his love
for me is not to interfere with his freedom. 
But I need no proofs, I need love.  He ought
to understand all the bitterness of this life for
me here in Moscow.  Is this life?  I am not
living, but waiting for an event, which is continually
put off and put off.  No answer again! 
And Stiva says he cannot go to Alexey Alexandrovitch. 
And I can’t write again.  I can do nothing,
can begin nothing, can alter nothing; I hold myself
in, I wait, inventing amusements for myself ­the
English family, writing, reading ­but it’s
all nothing but a sham, it’s all the same as
morphine.  He ought to feel for me,” she
said, feeling tears of self-pity coming into her eyes.

She heard Vronsky’s abrupt ring
and hurriedly dried her tears ­ not only
dried her tears, but sat down by a lamp and opened
a book, affecting composure.  She wanted to show
him that she was displeased that he had not come home
as he had promised ­ displeased only, and
not on any account to let him see her distress, and
least of all, her self-pity.  She might pity
herself, but he must not pity her.  She did not
want strife, she blamed him for wanting to quarrel,
but unconsciously put herself into an attitude of
antagonism.

“Well, you’ve not been
dull?” he said, eagerly and good-humoredly,
going up to her.  “What a terrible passion
it is ­gambling!”

“No, I’ve not been dull;
I’ve learned long ago not to be dull.  Stiva
has been here and Levin.”

“Yes, they meant to come and
see you.  Well, how did you like Levin?”
he said, sitting down beside her.

“Very much.  They have
not long been gone.  What was Yashvin doing?”

“He was winning ­seventeen
thousand.  I got him away.  He had really
started home, but he went back again, and now he’s
losing.”

“Then what did you stay for?”
she asked, suddenly lifting her eyes to him. 
The expression of her face was cold and ungracious. 
“You told Stiva you were staying on to get Yashvin
away.  And you have left him there.”

The same expression of cold readiness
for the conflict appeared on his face too.

“In the first place, I did not
ask him to give you any message; and secondly, I never
tell lies.  But what’s the chief point,
I wanted to stay, and I stayed,” he said, frowning. 
“Anna, what is it for, why will you?”
he said after a moment’s silence, bending over
towards her, and he opened his hand, hoping she would
lay hers in it.

She was glad of this appeal for tenderness. 
But some strange force of evil would not let her
give herself up to her feelings, as though the rules
of warfare would not permit her to surrender.

“Of course you wanted to stay,
and you stayed.  You do everything you want to. 
But what do you tell me that for?  With what
object?” she said, getting more and more excited. 
“Does anyone contest your rights?  But
you want to be right, and you’re welcome to
be right.”

His hand closed, he turned away, and
his face wore a still more obstinate expression.

“For you it’s a matter
of obstinacy,” she said, watching him intently
and suddenly finding the right word for that expression
that irritated her, “simply obstinacy. 
For you it’s a question of whether you keep
the upper hand of me, while for me….” 
Again she felt sorry for herself, and she almost burst
into tears.  “If you knew what it is for
me!  When I feel as I do now that you are hostile,
yes, hostile to me, if you knew what this means for
me!  If you knew how I feel on the brink of calamity
at this instant, how afraid I am of myself!”
And she turned away, hiding her sobs.

“But what are you talking about?”
he said, horrified at her expression of despair, and
again bending over her, he took her hand and kissed
it.  “What is it for?  Do I seek amusements
outside our home?  Don’t I avoid the society
of women?”

“Well, yes!  If that were all!” she
said.

“Come, tell me what I ought
to do to give you peace of mind?  I am ready
to do anything to make you happy,” he said, touched
by her expression of despair; “what wouldn’t
I do to save you from distress of any sort, as now,
Anna!” he said.

“It’s nothing, nothing!”
she said.  “I don’t know myself whether
it’s the solitary life, my nerves….  Come,
don’t let us talk of it.  What about the
race?  You haven’t told me!” she inquired,
trying to conceal her triumph at the victory, which
had anyway been on her side.

He asked for supper, and began telling
her about the races; but in his tone, in his eyes,
which became more and more cold, she saw that he did
not forgive her for her victory, that the feeling
of obstinacy with which she had been struggling had
asserted itself again in him.  He was colder
to her than before, as though he were regretting his
surrender.  And she, remembering the words that
had given her the victory, “how I feel on the
brink of calamity, how afraid I am of myself,”
saw that this weapon was a dangerous one, and that
it could not be used a second time.  And she
felt that beside the love that bound them together
there had grown up between them some evil spirit of
strife, which she could not exorcise from his, and
still less from her own heart.

 

Leave a Reply