FictionForest

PART EIGHT : Chapter 4

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

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While the train was stopping at the
provincial town, Sergey Ivanovitch did not go to the
refreshment room, but walked up and down the platform.

The first time he passed Vronsky’s
compartment he noticed that the curtain was drawn
over the window; but as he passed it the second time
he saw the old countess at the window.  She beckoned
to Koznishev.

“I’m going, you see, taking
him as far as Kursk,” she said.

“Yes, so I heard,” said
Sergey Ivanovitch, standing at her window and peeping
in.  “What a noble act on his part!”
he added, noticing that Vronsky was not in the compartment.

“Yes, after his misfortune,
what was there for him to do?”

“What a terrible thing it was!”
said Sergey Ivanovitch.

“Ah, what I have been through! 
But do get in….  Ah, what I have been through!”
she repeated, when Sergey Ivanovitch had got in and
sat down beside her.  “You can’t conceive
it!  For six weeks he did not speak to anyone,
and would not touch food except when I implored him. 
And not for one minute could we leave him alone. 
We took away everything he could have used against
himself.  We lived on the ground floor, but there
was no reckoning on anything.  You know, of course,
that he had shot himself once already on her account,”
she said, and the old lady’s eyelashes twitched
at the recollection.  “Yes, hers was the
fitting end for such a woman.  Even the death
she chose was low and vulgar.”

“It’s not for us to judge,
countess,” said Sergey Ivanovitch; “but
I can understand that it has been very hard for you.”

“Ah, don’t speak of it! 
I was staying on my estate, and he was with me. 
A note was brought him.  He wrote an answer and
sent it off.  We hadn’t an idea that she
was close by at the station.  In the evening
I had only just gone to my room, when my Mary told
me a lady had thrown herself under the train. 
Something seemed to strike me at once.  I knew
it was she.  The first thing I said was, he was
not to be told.  But they’d told him already. 
His coachman was there and saw it all.  When
I ran into his room, he was beside himself ­it
was fearful to see him.  He didn’t say a
word, but galloped off there.  I don’t know
to this day what happened there, but he was brought
back at death’s door.  I shouldn’t
have known him. Prostration complete, the doctor
said.  And that was followed almost by madness. 
Oh, why talk of it!” said the countess with
a wave of her hand.  “It was an awful time! 
No, say what you will, she was a bad woman. 
Why, what is the meaning of such desperate passions? 
It was all to show herself something out of the way. 
Well, and that she did do.  She brought herself
to ruin and two good men ­her husband and
my unhappy son.”

“And what did her husband do?”
asked Sergey Ivanovitch.

“He has taken her daughter. 
Alexey was ready to agree to anything at first. 
Now it worries him terribly that he should have given
his own child away to another man.  But he can’t
take back his word.  Karenin came to the funeral. 
But we tried to prevent his meeting Alexey. 
For him, for her husband, it was easier, anyway. 
She had set him free.  But my poor son was utterly
given up to her.  He had thrown up everything,
his career, me, and even then she had no mercy on
him, but of set purpose she made his ruin complete. 
No, say what you will, her very death was the death
of a vile woman, of no religious feeling.  God
forgive me, but I can’t help hating the memory
of her, when I look at my son’s misery!”

“But how is he now?”

“It was a blessing from Providence
for us ­this Servian war.  I’m
old, and I don’t understand the rights and wrongs
of it, but it’s come as a providential blessing
to him.  Of course for me, as his mother, it’s
terrible; and what’s worse, they say, ce n’est
pas très bien vu a Petersbourg
.  But it can’t
be helped!  It was the one thing that could rouse
him.  Yashvin ­a friend of his ­he
had lost all he had at cards and he was going to Servia. 
He came to see him and persuaded him to go. 
Now it’s an interest for him.  Do please
talk to him a little.  I want to distract his
mind.  He’s so low-spirited.  And as
bad luck would have it, he has toothache too. 
But he’ll be delighted to see you.  Please
do talk to him; he’s walking up and down on
that side.”

Sergey Ivanovitch said he would be
very glad to, and crossed over to the other side of
the station.

 

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