FictionForest

PART SEVEN : Chapter 30

Leo TolstoyAug 26, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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“Here it is again!  Again
I understand it all!” Anna said to herself,
as soon as the carriage had started and swaying lightly,
rumbled over the tiny cobbles of the paved road, and
again one impression followed rapidly upon another.

“Yes; what was the last thing
I thought of so clearly?” she tried to recall
it. “’Tiutkin, coiffeur?’ ­no,
not that.  Yes, of what Yashvin says, the struggle
for existence and hatred is the one thing that holds
men together.  No, it’s a useless journey
you’re making,” she said, mentally addressing
a party in a coach and four, evidently going for an
excursion into the country.  “And the dog
you’re taking with you will be no help to you. 
You can’t get away from yourselves.” 
Turning her eyes in the direction Pyotr had turned
to look, she saw a factory hand almost dead drunk,
with hanging head, being led away by a policeman. 
“Come, he’s found a quicker way,”
she thought.  “Count Vronsky and I did
not find that happiness either, though we expected
so much from it.”  And now for the first
time Anna turned that glaring light in which she was
seeing everything on to her relations with him, which
she had hitherto avoided thinking about.  “What
was it he sought in me?  Not love so much as
the satisfaction of vanity.”  She remembered
his words, the expression of his face, that recalled
an abject setter-dog, in the early days of their connection. 
And everything now confirmed this.  “Yes,
there was the triumph of success in him.  Of
course there was love too, but the chief element was
the pride of success.  He boasted of me. 
Now that’s over.  There’s nothing
to be proud of.  Not to be proud of, but to be
ashamed of.  He has taken from me all he could,
and now I am no use to him.  He is weary of me
and is trying not to be dishonorable in his behavior
to me.  He let that out yesterday ­he
wants divorce and marriage so as to burn his ships. 
He loves me, but how?  The zest is gone, as the
English say.  That fellow wants everyone to admire
him and is very much pleased with himself,”
she thought, looking at a red-faced clerk, riding
on a riding school horse.  “Yes, there’s
not the same flavor about me for him now.  If
I go away from him, at the bottom of his heart he
will be glad.”

This was not mere supposition, she
saw it distinctly in the piercing light, which revealed
to her now the meaning of life and human relations.

“My love keeps growing more
passionate and egoistic, while his is waning and waning,
and that’s why we’re drifting apart.” 
She went on musing.  “And there’s
no help for it.  He is everything for me, and
I want him more and more to give himself up to me
entirely.  And he wants more and more to get away
from me.  We walked to meet each other up to
the time of our love, and then we have been irresistibly
drifting in different directions.  And there’s
no altering that.  He tells me I’m insanely
jealous, and I have told myself that I am insanely
jealous; but it’s not true.  I’m not
jealous, but I’m unsatisfied.  But…”
she opened her lips, and shifted her place in the
carriage in the excitement, aroused by the thought
that suddenly struck her.  “If I could be
anything but a mistress, passionately caring for nothing
but his caresses; but I can’t and I don’t
care to be anything else.  And by that desire
I rouse aversion in him, and he rouses fury in me,
and it cannot be different.  Don’t I know
that he wouldn’t deceive me, that he has no
schemes about Princess Sorokina, that he’s not
in love with Kitty, that he won’t desert me! 
I know all that, but it makes it no better for me. 
If without loving me, from duty he’ll
be good and kind to me, without what I want, that’s
a thousand times worse than unkindness!  That’s ­hell! 
And that’s just how it is.  For a long while
now he hasn’t loved me.  And where love
ends, hate begins.  I don’t know these
streets at all.  Hills it seems, and still houses,
and houses ….  And in the houses always people
and people….  How many of them, no end, and
all hating each other!  Come, let me try and
think what I want, to make me happy.  Well? 
Suppose I am divorced, and Alexey Alexandrovitch
lets me have Seryozha, and I marry Vronsky.” 
Thinking of Alexey Alexandrovitch, she at once pictured
him with extraordinary vividness as though he were
alive before her, with his mild, lifeless, dull eyes,
the blue veins in his white hands, his intonations
and the cracking of his fingers, and remembering the
feeling which had existed between them, and which
was also called love, she shuddered with loathing. 
“Well, I’m divorced, and become Vronsky’s
wife.  Well, will Kitty cease looking at me as
she looked at me today?  No.  And will Seryozha
leave off asking and wondering about my two husbands? 
And is there any new feeling I can awaken between
Vronsky and me?  Is there possible, if not happiness,
some sort of ease from misery?  No, no!”
she answered now without the slightest hesitation. 
“Impossible!  We are drawn apart by life,
and I make his unhappiness, and he mine, and there’s
no altering him or me.  Every attempt has been
made, the screw has come unscrewed.  Oh, a beggar
woman with a baby.  She thinks I’m sorry
for her.  Aren’t we all flung into the
world only to hate each other, and so to torture ourselves
and each other?  Schoolboys coming ­laughing
Seryozha?” she thought.  “I thought,
too, that I loved him, and used to be touched by my
own tenderness.  But I have lived without him,
I gave him up for another love, and did not regret
the exchange till that love was satisfied.” 
And with loathing she thought of what she meant by
that love.  And the clearness with which she
saw life now, her own and all men’s, was a pleasure
to her.  “It’s so with me and Pyotr,
and the coachman, Fyodor, and that merchant, and all
the people living along the Volga, where those placards
invite one to go, and everywhere and always,”
she thought when she had driven under the low-pitched
roof of the Nizhigorod station, and the porters ran
to meet her.

“A ticket to Obiralovka?” said Pyotr.

She had utterly forgotten where and
why she was going, and only by a great effort she
understood the question.

“Yes,” she said, handing
him her purse, and taking a little red bag in her
hand, she got out of the carriage.

Making her way through the crowd to
the first-class waiting-room, she gradually recollected
all the details of her position, and the plans between
which she was hesitating.  And again at the old
sore places, hope and then despair poisoned the wounds
of her tortured, fearfully throbbing heart. 
As she sat on the star-shaped sofa waiting for the
train, she gazed with aversion at the people coming
and going (they were all hateful to her), and thought
how she would arrive at the station, would write him
a note, and what she would write to him, and how he
was at this moment complaining to his mother of his
position, not understanding her sufferings, and how
she would go into the room, and what she would say
to him.  Then she thought that life might still
be happy, and how miserably she loved and hated him,
and how fearfully her heart was beating.

 

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