FictionForest

PART ONE : Chapter 28

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

Light off Small Medium Large

After the ball, early next morning,
Anna Arkadyevna sent her husband a telegram that she
was leaving Moscow the same day.

“No, I must go, I must go”;
she explained to her sister-in-law the change in her
plans in a tone that suggested that she had to remember
so many things that there was no enumerating them: 
“no, it had really better be today!”

Stepan Arkadyevitch was not dining
at home, but he promised to come and see his sister
off at seven o’clock.

Kitty, too, did not come, sending
a note that she had a headache.  Dolly and Anna
dined alone with the children and the English governess. 
Whether it was that the children were fickle, or that
they had acute senses, and felt that Anna was quite
different that day from what she had been when they
had taken such a fancy to her, that she was not now
interested in them, ­but they had abruptly
dropped their play with their aunt, and their love
for her, and were quite indifferent that she was going
away.  Anna was absorbed the whole morning in
preparations for her departure.  She wrote notes
to her Moscow acquaintances, put down her accounts,
and packed.  Altogether Dolly fancied she was
not in a placid state of mind, but in that worried
mood, which Dolly knew well with herself, and which
does not come without cause, and for the most part
covers dissatisfaction with self.  After dinner,
Anna went up to her room to dress, and Dolly followed
her.

“How queer you are today!” Dolly said
to her.

“I?  Do you think so? 
I’m not queer, but I’m nasty.  I am
like that sometimes.  I keep feeling as if I
could cry.  It’s very stupid, but it’ll
pass off,” said Anna quickly, and she bent her
flushed face over a tiny bag in which she was packing
a nightcap and some cambric handkerchiefs.  Her
eyes were particularly bright, and were continually
swimming with tears.  “In the same way
I didn’t want to leave Petersburg, and now I
don’t want to go away from here.”

“You came here and did a good
deed,” said Dolly, looking intently at her.

Anna looked at her with eyes wet with tears.

“Don’t say that, Dolly. 
I’ve done nothing, and could do nothing. 
I often wonder why people are all in league to spoil
me.  What have I done, and what could I do? 
In your heart there was found love enough to forgive…”

“If it had not been for you,
God knows what would have happened!  How happy
you are, Anna!” said Dolly.  “Everything
is clear and good in your heart.”

“Every heart has its own skeletons,
as the English say.”

“You have no sort of skeleton,
have you?  Everything is so clear in you.”

“I have!” said Anna suddenly,
and, unexpectedly after her tears, a sly, ironical
smile curved her lips.

“Come, he’s amusing, anyway,
your skeleton, and not depressing,” said
Dolly, smiling.

“No, he’s depressing. 
Do you know why I’m going today instead of
tomorrow?  It’s a confession that weighs
on me; I want to make it to you,” said Anna,
letting herself drop definitely into an armchair,
and looking straight into Dolly’s face.

And to her surprise Dolly saw that
Anna was blushing up to her ears, up to the curly
black ringlets on her neck.

“Yes,” Anna went on. 
“Do you know why Kitty didn’t come to
dinner?  She’s jealous of me.  I have
spoiled…I’ve been the cause of that ball being
a torture to her instead of a pleasure.  But truly,
truly, it’s not my fault, or only my fault a
little bit,” she said, daintily drawling the
words “a little bit.”

“Oh, how like Stiva you said
that!” said Dolly, laughing.

Anna was hurt.

“Oh no, oh no!  I’m
not Stiva,” she said, knitting her brows. 
“That’s why I’m telling you, just
because I could never let myself doubt myself for
an instant,” said Anna.

But at the very moment she was uttering
the words, she felt that they were not true. 
She was not merely doubting herself, she felt emotion
at the thought of Vronsky, and was going away sooner
than she had meant, simply to avoid meeting him.

“Yes, Stiva told me you danced
the mazurka with him, and that he…”

“You can’t imagine how
absurdly it all came about.  I only meant to
be matchmaking, and all at once it turned out quite
differently.  Possibly against my own will…”

She crimsoned and stopped.

“Oh, they feel it directly?” said Dolly.

“But I should be in despair
if there were anything serious in it on his side,”
Anna interrupted her.  “And I am certain
it will all be forgotten, and Kitty will leave off
hating me.”

“All the same, Anna, to tell
you the truth, I’m not very anxious for this
marriage for Kitty.  And it’s better it
should come to nothing, if he, Vronsky, is capable
of falling in love with you in a single day.”

“Oh, heavens, that would be
too silly!” said Anna, and again a deep flush
of pleasure came out on her face, when she heard the
idea, that absorbed her, put into words.  “And
so here I am going away, having made an enemy of Kitty,
whom I liked so much!  Ah, how sweet she is! 
But you’ll make it right, Dolly?  Eh?”

Dolly could scarcely suppress a smile. 
She loved Anna, but she enjoyed seeing that she too
had her weaknesses.

“An enemy?  That can’t be.”

“I did so want you all to care
for me, as I do for you, and now I care for you more
than ever,” said Anna, with tears in her eyes. 
“Ah, how silly I am today!”

She passed her handkerchief over her
face and began dressing.

At the very moment of starting Stepan
Arkadyevitch arrived, late, rosy and good-humored,
smelling of wine and cigars.

Anna’s emotionalism infected
Dolly, and when she embraced her sister-in-law for
the last time, she whispered:  “Remember,
Anna, what you’ve done for me ­I shall
never forget.  And remember that I love you,
and shall always love you as my dearest friend!”

“I don’t know why,”
said Anna, kissing her and hiding her tears.

“You understood me, and you
understand.  Good-bye, my darling!”

 

Leave a Reply