FictionForest

PART ONE : Chapter 16

Leo TolstoyAug 21, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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Vronsky had never had a real home
life.  His mother had been in her youth a brilliant
society woman, who had had during her married life,
and still more afterwards, many love affairs notorious
in the whole fashionable world.  His father he
scarcely remembered, and he had been educated in the
Corps of Pages.

Leaving the school very young as a
brilliant officer, he had at once got into the circle
of wealthy Petersburg army men.  Although he did
go more or less into Petersburg society, his love
affairs had always hitherto been outside it.

In Moscow he had for the first time
felt, after his luxurious and coarse life at Petersburg,
all the charm of intimacy with a sweet and innocent
girl of his own rank, who cared for him.  It never
even entered his head that there could be any harm
in his relations with Kitty.  At balls he danced
principally with her.  He was a constant visitor
at their house.  He talked to her as people commonly
do talk in society ­all sorts of nonsense,
but nonsense to which he could not help attaching
a special meaning in her case.  Although he said
nothing to her that he could not have said before
everybody, he felt that she was becoming more and
more dependent upon him, and the more he felt this,
the better he liked it, and the tenderer was
his feeling for her.  He did not know that his
mode of behavior in relation to Kitty had a definite
character, that it is courting young girls with no
intention of marriage, and that such courting is one
of the evil actions common among brilliant young men
such as he was.  It seemed to him that he was
the first who had discovered this pleasure, and he
was enjoying his discovery.

If he could have heard what her parents
were saying that evening, if he could have put himself
at the point ov view of the family and have heard
that Kitty would be unhappy if he did not marry her,
he would have been greatly astonished, and would not
have believed it.  He could not believe that
what gave such great and delicate pleasure to him,
and above all to her, could be wrong.  Still less
could he have believed that he ought to marry.

Marriage had never presented itself
to him as a possibility.  He not only disliked
family life, but a family, and especially a husband
was, in accordance with the views general in the bachelor
world in which he lived, conceived as something alien,
repellant, and, above all, ridiculous.

But though Vronsky had not the least
suspicion what the parents were saying, he felt on
coming away from the Shtcherbatskys’ that the
secret spiritual bond which existed between him and
Kitty had grown so much stronger that evening that
some step must be taken.  But what step could
and ought to be taken he could not imagine.

“What is so exquisite,”
he thought, as he returned from the Shtcherbatskys’,
carrying away with him, as he always did, a delicious
feeling of purity and freshness, arising partly from
the fact that he had not been smoking for a whole evening,
and with it a new feeling of tenderness at her love
for him ­“what is so exquisite is
that not a word has been said by me or by her, but
we understand each other so well in this unseen language
of looks and tones, that this evening more clearly
than ever she told me she loves me.  And how
secretly, simply, and most of all, how trustfully! 
I feel myself better, purer.  I feel that I have
a heart, and that there is a great deal of good in
me.  Those sweet, loving eyes!  When she
said:  Indeed I do…’

“Well, what then?  Oh,
nothing.  It’s good for me, and good for
her.”  And he began wondering where to finish
the evening.

He passed in review of the places
he might go to.  “Club? a game of bezique,
champagne with Ignatov?  No, I’m not going.
Chateau des Fleurs; there I shall find Oblonsky,
songs, the cancan.  No, I’m sick of it. 
That’s why I like the Shtcherbatskys’,
that I’m growing better.  I’ll go
home.”  He went straight to his room at
Dussot’s Hotel, ordered supper, and then undressed,
and as soon as his head touched the pillow, fell into
a sound sleep.

 

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