FictionForest

PART SEVEN : Chapter 26

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

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Never before had a day been passed
in quarrel.  Today was the first time. 
And this was not a quarrel.  It was the open
acknowledgment of complete coldness.  Was it possible
to glance at her as he had glanced when he came into
the room for the guarantee? ­to look at
her, see her heart was breaking with despair, and
go out without a word with that face of callous composure? 
He was not merely cold to her, he hated her because
he loved another woman ­that was clear.

And remembering all the cruel words
he had said, Anna supplied, too, the words that he
had unmistakably wished to say and could have said
to her, and she grew more and more exasperated.

“I won’t prevent you,”
he might say.  “You can go where you like. 
You were unwilling to be divorced from your husband,
no doubt so that you might go back to him.  Go
back to him.  If you want money, I’ll give
it to you.  How many roubles do you want?”

All the most cruel words that a brutal
man could say, he said to her in her imagination,
and she could not forgive him for them, as though
he had actually said them.

“But didn’t he only yesterday
swear he loved me, he, a truthful and sincere man? 
Haven’t I despaired for nothing many times
already?” she said to herself afterwards.

All that day, except for the visit
to Wilson’s, which occupied two hours, Anna
spent in doubts whether everything were over or whether
there were still hope of reconciliation, whether she
should go away at once or see him once more. 
She was expecting him the whole day, and in the evening,
as she went to her own room, leaving a message for
him that her head ached, she said to herself, “If
he comes in spite of what the maid says, it means
that he loves me still.  If not, it means that
all is over, and then I will decide what I’m
to do!…”

In the evening she heard the rumbling
of his carriage stop at the entrance, his ring, his
steps and his conversation with the servant; he believed
what was told him, did not care to find out more,
and went to his own room.  So then everything
was over.

And death rose clearly and vividly
before her mind as the sole means of bringing back
love for her in his heart, of punishing him and of
gaining the victory in that strife which the evil
spirit in possession of her heart was waging with him.

Now nothing mattered:  going or
not going to Vozdvizhenskoe, getting or not getting
a divorce from her husband ­all that did
not matter.  The one thing that mattered was punishing
him.  When she poured herself out her usual dose
of opium, and thought that she had only to drink off
the whole bottle to die, it seemed to her so simple
and easy, that she began musing with enjoyment on
how he would suffer, and repent and love her memory
when it would be too late.  She lay in bed with
open eyes, by the light of a single burned-down candle,
gazing at the carved cornice of the ceiling and at
the shadow of the screen that covered part of it,
while she vividly pictured to herself how he would
feel when she would be no more, when she would be
only a memory to him.  “How could I say
such cruel things to her?” he would say. 
“How could I go out of the room without saying
anything to her?  But now she is no more. 
She has gone away from us forever.  She is….” 
Suddenly the shadow of the screen wavered, pounced
on the whole cornice, the whole ceiling; other shadows
from the other side swooped to meet it, for an instant
the shadows flitted back, but then with fresh swiftness
they darted forward, wavered, commingled, and all
was darkness.  “Death!” she thought. 
And such horror came upon her that for a long while
she could not realize where she was, and for a long
while her trembling hands could not find the matches
and light another candle, instead of the one that
had burned down and gone out.  “No, anything ­only
to live!  Why, I love him!  Why, he loves
me!  This has been before and will pass,”
she said, feeling that tears of joy at the return
to life were trickling down her cheeks.  And to
escape from her panic she went hurriedly to his room.

He was asleep there, and sleeping
soundly.  She went up to him, and holding the
light above his face, she gazed a long while at him. 
Now when he was asleep, she loved him so that at the
sight of him she could not keep back tears of tenderness. 
But she knew that if he waked up he would look at
her with cold eyes, convinced that he was right, and
that before telling him of her love, she would have
to prove to him that he had been wrong in his treatment
of her.  Without waking him, she went back, and
after a second dose of opium she fell towards morning
into a heavy, incomplete sleep, during which she never
quite lost consciousness.

In the morning she was waked by a
horrible nightmare, which had recurred several times
in her dreams, even before her connection with Vronsky. 
A little old man with unkempt beard was doing something
bent down over some iron, muttering meaningless French
words, and she, as she always did in this nightmare
(it was what made the horror of it), felt that this
peasant was taking no notice of her, but was doing
something horrible with the iron ­ over
her.  And she waked up in a cold sweat.

When she got up, the previous day
came back to her as though veiled in mist.

“There was a quarrel. 
Just what has happened several times.  I said
I had a headache, and he did not come in to see me. 
Tomorrow we’re going away; I must see him and
get ready for the journey,” she said to herself. 
And learning that he was in his study, she went down
to him.  As she passed through the drawing room
she heard a carriage stop at the entrance, and looking
out of the window she saw the carriage, from which
a young girl in a lilac hat was leaning out giving
some direction to the footman ringing the bell. 
After a parley in the hall, someone came upstairs,
and Vronsky’s steps could be heard passing the
drawing room.  He went rapidly downstairs. 
Anna went again to the window.  She saw him
come out onto the steps without his hat and go up
to the carriage.  The young girl in the lilac
hat handed him a parcel.  Vronsky, smiling, said
something to her.  The carriage drove away, he
ran rapidly upstairs again.

The mists that had shrouded everything
in her soul parted suddenly.  The feelings of
yesterday pierced the sick heart with a fresh pang. 
She could not understand now how she could have lowered
herself by spending a whole day with him in his house. 
She went into his room to announce her determination.

“That was Madame Sorokina and
her daughter.  They came and brought me the money
and the deeds from maman.  I couldn’t
get them yesterday.  How is your head, better?”
he said quietly, not wishing to see and to understand
the gloomy and solemn expression of her face.

She looked silently, intently at him,
standing in the middle of the room.  He glanced
at her, frowned for a moment, and went on reading
a letter.  She turned, and went deliberately out
of the room.  He still might have turned her
back, but she had reached the door, he was still silent,
and the only sound audible was the rustling of the
note paper as he turned it.

“Oh, by the way,” he said
at the very moment she was in the doorway, “we’re
going tomorrow for certain, aren’t we?”

“You, but not I,” she said, turning round
to him.

“Anna, we can’t go on like this…”

“You, but not I,” she repeated.

“This is getting unbearable!”

“You…you will be sorry for this,” she
said, and went out.

Frightened by the desperate expression
with which these words were uttered, he jumped up
and would have run after her, but on second thoughts
he sat down and scowled, setting his teeth.  This
vulgar ­as he thought it ­threat
of something vague exasperated him.  “I’ve
tried everything,” he thought; “the only
thing left is not to pay attention,” and he
began to get ready to drive into town, and again to
his mother’s to get her signature to the deeds.

She heard the sound of his steps about
the study and the dining room.  At the drawing
room he stood still.  But he did not turn in
to see her, he merely gave an order that the horse
should be given to Voytov if he came while he was
away.  Then she heard the carriage brought round,
the door opened, and he came out again.  But he
went back into the porch again, and someone was running
upstairs.  It was the valet running up for his
gloves that had been forgotten.  She went to
the window and saw him take the gloves without looking,
and touching the coachman on the back he said something
to him.  Then without looking up at the window
he settled himself in his usual attitude in the carriage,
with his legs crossed, and drawing on his gloves he
vanished round the corner.

 

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