FictionForest

PART SEVEN : Chapter 28

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

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It was bright and sunny.  A fine
rain had been falling all the morning, and now it
had not long cleared up.  The iron roofs, the
flags of the roads, the flints of the pavements, the
wheels and leather, the brass and the tinplate of
the carriages ­all glistened brightly in
the May sunshine.  It was three o’clock,
and the very liveliest time in the streets.

As she sat in a corner of the comfortable
carriage, that hardly swayed on its supple springs,
while the grays trotted swiftly, in the midst of the
unceasing rattle of wheels and the changing impressions
in the pure air, Anna ran over the events of the last
days, and she saw her position quite differently from
how it had seemed at home.  Now the thought of
death seemed no longer so terrible and so clear to
her, and death itself no longer seemed so inevitable. 
Now she blamed herself for the humiliation to which
she had lowered herself.  “I entreat him
to forgive me.  I have given in to him. 
I have owned myself in fault.  What for? 
Can’t I live without him?” And leaving
unanswered the question how she was going to live
without him, she fell to reading the signs on the
shops.  “Office and warehouse.  Dental
surgeon.  Yes, I’ll tell Dolly all about
it.  She doesn’t like Vronsky.  I
shall be sick and ashamed, but I’ll tell her. 
She loves me, and I’ll follow her advice. 
I won’t give in to him; I won’t let him
train me as he pleases.  Filippov, bun shop. 
They say they send their dough to Petersburg. 
The Moscow water is so good for it.  Ah, the
springs at Mitishtchen, and the pancakes!”

And she remembered how, long, long
ago, when she was a girl of seventeen, she had gone
with her aunt to Troitsa.  “Riding, too. 
Was that really me, with red hands?  How much
that seemed to me then splendid and out of reach has
become worthless, while what I had then has gone out
of my reach forever!  Could I ever have believed
then that I could come to such humiliation?  How
conceited and self-satisfied he will be when he gets
my note!  But I will show him….  How horrid
that paint smells!  Why is it they’re always
painting and building? Modes et robes,
she read.  A man bowed to her.  It was Annushka’s
husband.  “Our parasites”; she remembered
how Vronsky had said that.  “Our? 
Why our?  What’s so awful is that one can’t
tear up the past by its roots.  One can’t
tear it out, but one can hide one’s memory of
it.  And I’ll hide it.”  And
then she thought of her past with Alexey Alexandrovitch,
of how she had blotted the memory of it out of her
life.  “Dolly will think I’m leaving
my second husband, and so I certainly must be in the
wrong.  As if I cared to be right!  I can’t
help it!” she said, and she wanted to cry. 
But at once she fell to wondering what those two
girls could be smiling about.  “Love, most
likely.  They don’t know how dreary it is,
how low….  The boulevard and the children. 
Three boys running, playing at horses.  Seryozha! 
And I’m losing everything and not getting him
back.  Yes, I’m losing everything, if he
doesn’t return.  Perhaps he was late for
the train and has come back by now.  Longing
for humiliation again!” she said to herself. 
“No, I’ll go to Dolly, and say straight
out to her, I’m unhappy, I deserve this, I’m
to blame, but still I’m unhappy, help me. 
These horses, this carriage ­how loathsome
I am to myself in this carriage ­all his;
but I won’t see them again.”

Thinking over the words in which she
would tell Dolly, and mentally working her heart up
to great bitterness, Anna went upstairs.

“Is there anyone with her?” she asked
in the hall.

“Katerina Alexandrovna Levin,” answered
the footman.

“Kitty!  Kitty, whom Vronsky
was in love with!” thought Anna, “the
girl he thinks of with love.  He’s sorry
he didn’t marry her.  But me he thinks
of with hatred, and is sorry he had anything to do
with me.”

The sisters were having a consultation
about nursing when Anna called.  Dolly went down
alone to see the visitor who had interrupted their
conversation.

“Well, so you’ve not gone
away yet?  I meant to have come to you,”
she said; “I had a letter from Stiva today.”

“We had a telegram too,”
answered Anna, looking round for Kitty.

“He writes that he can’t
make out quite what Alexey Alexandrovitch wants, but
he won’t go away without a decisive answer.”

“I thought you had someone with
you.  Can I see the letter?”

“Yes; Kitty,” said Dolly,
embarrassed.  “She stayed in the nursery. 
She has been very ill.”

“So I heard.  May I see the letter?”

“I’ll get it directly. 
But he doesn’t refuse; on the contrary, Stiva
has hopes,” said Dolly, stopping in the doorway.

“I haven’t, and indeed I don’t wish
it,” said Anna.

“What’s this?  Does
Kitty consider it degrading to meet me?” thought
Anna when she was alone.  “Perhaps she’s
right, too.  But it’s not for her, the
girl who was in love with Vronsky, it’s not
for her to show me that, even if it is true. 
I know that in my position I can’t be received
by any decent woman.  I knew that from the first
moment I sacrificed everything to him.  And this
is my reward!  Oh, how I hate him!  And what
did I come here for?  I’m worse here, more
miserable.”  She heard from the next room
the sisters’ voices in consultation.  “And
what am I going to say to Dolly now?  Amuse Kitty
by the sight of my wretchedness, submit to her patronizing? 
No; and besides, Dolly wouldn’t understand. 
And it would be no good my telling her.  It would
only be interesting to see Kitty, to show her how I
despise everyone and everything, how nothing matters
to me now.”

Dolly came in with the letter. 
Anna read it and handed it back in silence.

“I knew all that,” she
said, “and it doesn’t interest me in the
least.”

“Oh, why so?  On the contrary,
I have hopes,” said Dolly, looking inquisitively
at Anna.  She had never seen her in such a strangely
irritable condition.  “When are you going
away?” she asked.

Anna, half-closing her eyes, looked
straight before her and did not answer.

“Why does Kitty shrink from
me?” she said, looking at the door and flushing
red.

“Oh, what nonsense!  She’s
nursing, and things aren’t going right with
her, and I’ve been advising her….  She’s
delighted.  She’ll be here in a minute,”
said Dolly awkwardly, not clever at lying.  “Yes,
here she is.”

Hearing that Anna had called, Kitty
had wanted not to appear, but Dolly persuaded her. 
Rallying her forces, Kitty went in, walked up to
her, blushing, and shook hands.

“I am so glad to see you,”
she said with a trembling voice.

Kitty had been thrown into confusion
by the inward conflict between her antagonism to this
bad woman and her desire to be nice to her. 
But as soon as she saw Anna’s lovely and attractive
face, all feeling of antagonism disappeared.

“I should not have been surprised
if you had not cared to meet me.  I’m used
to everything.  You have been ill?  Yes,
you are changed,” said Anna.

Kitty felt that Anna was looking at
her with hostile eyes.  She ascribed this hostility
to the awkward position in which Anna, who had once
patronized her, must feel with her now, and she felt
sorry for her.

They talked of Kitty’s illness,
of the baby, of Stiva, but it was obvious that nothing
interested Anna.

“I came to say good-bye to you,”
she said, getting up.

“Oh, when are you going?”

But again not answering, Anna turned to Kitty.

“Yes, I am very glad to have
seen you,” she said with a smile.  “I
have heard so much of you from everyone, even from
your husband.  He came to see me, and I liked
him exceedingly,” she said, unmistakably with
malicious intent.  “Where is he?”

“He has gone back to the country,” said
Kitty, blushing.

“Remember me to him, be sure you do.”

“I’ll be sure to!”
Kitty said naively, looking compassionately into her
eyes.

“So good-bye, Dolly.” 
And kissing Dolly and shaking hands with Kitty, Anna
went out hurriedly.

“She’s just the same and
just as charming!  She’s very lovely!”
said Kitty, when she was alone with her sister. 
“But there’s something piteous about
her.  Awfully piteous!”

“Yes, there’s something
unusual about her today,” said Dolly.  “When
I went with her into the hall, I fancied she was almost
crying.”

 

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