FictionForest

PART ONE : Chapter 30

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

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The raging tempest rushed whistling
between the wheels of the carriages, about the scaffolding,
and round the corner of the station.  The carriages,
posts, people, everything that was to be seen was
covered with snow on one side, and was getting more
and more thickly covered.  For a moment there
would come a lull in the storm, but then it would
swoop down again with such onslaughts that it seemed
impossible to stand against it.  Meanwhile men
ran to and fro, talking merrily together, their steps
crackling on the platform as they continually opened
and closed the big doors.  The bent shadow of
a man glided by at her feet, and she heard sounds
of a hammer upon iron.  “Hand over that
telegram!” came an angry voice out of the stormy
darkness on the other side.  “This way! 
No. 28!” several different voices shouted
again, and muffled figures ran by covered with snow. 
Two gentlemen with lighted cigarettes passed by her. 
She drew one more deep breath of the fresh air, and
had just put her hand out of her muff to take hold
of the door post and get back into the carriage, when
another man in a military overcoat, quite close beside
her, stepped between her and the flickering light of
the lamp post.  She looked round, and the same
instant recognized Vronsky’s face.  Putting
his hand to the peak of his cap, he bowed to her and
asked, Was there anything she wanted?  Could he
be of any service to her?  She gazed rather a
long while at him without answering, and, in spite
of the shadow in which he was standing, she saw, or
fancied she saw, both the expression of his face and
his eyes.  It was again that expression of reverential
ecstasy which had so worked upon her the day before. 
More than once she had told herself during the past
few days, and again only a few moments before, that
Vronsky was for her only one of the hundreds of young
men, forever exactly the same, that are met everywhere,
that she would never allow herself to bestow a thought
upon him.  But now at the first instant of meeting
him, she was seized by a feeling of joyful pride. 
She had no need to ask why he had come.  She
knew as certainly as if he had told her that he was
here to be where she was.

“I didn’t know you were
going.  What are you coming for?” she said,
letting fall the hand with which she had grasped the
door post.  And irrepressible delight and eagerness
shone in her face.

“What am I coming for?”
he repeated, looking straight into her eyes. 
“You know that I have come to be where you are,”
he said; “I can’t help it.”

At that moment the wind, as it were,
surmounting all obstacles, sent the snow flying from
the carriage roofs, and clanked some sheet of iron
it had torn off, while the hoarse whistle of the engine
roared in front, plaintively and gloomily.  All
the awfulness of the storm seemed to her more splendid
now.  He had said what her soul longed to hear,
though she feared it with her reason.  She made
no answer, and in her face he saw conflict.

“Forgive me, if you dislike
what I said,” he said humbly.

He had spoken courteously, deferentially,
yet so firmly, so stubbornly, that for a long while
she could make no answer.

“It’s wrong, what you
say, and I beg you, if you’re a good man, to
forget what you’ve said, as I forget it,”
she said at last.

“Not one word, not one gesture
of yours shall I, could I, ever forget…”

“Enough, enough!” she
cried trying assiduously to give a stern expression
to her face, into which he was gazing greedily. 
And clutching at the cold door post, she clambered
up the steps and got rapidly into the corridor of
the carriage.  But in the little corridor she
paused, going over in her imagination what had happened. 
Though she could not recall her own words or his,
she realized instinctively that the momentary conversation
had brought them fearfully closer; and she was panic-stricken
and blissful at it.  After standing still a few
seconds, she went into the carriage and sat down in
her place.  The overstrained condition which
had tormented her before did not only come back, but
was intensified, and reached such a pitch that she
was afraid every minute that something would snap
within her from the excessive tension.  She did
not sleep all night.  But in that nervous tension,
and in the visions that filled her imagination, there
was nothing disagreeable or gloomy:  on the contrary
there was something blissful, glowing, and exhilarating. 
Towards morning Anna sank into a doze, sitting in
her place, and when she waked it was daylight and
the train was near Petersburg.  At once thoughts
of home, of husband and of son, and the details of
that day and the following came upon her.

At Petersburg, as soon as the train
stopped and she got out, the first person that attracted
her attention was her husband.  “Oh, mercy!
why do his ears look like that?” she thought,
looking at his frigid and imposing figure, and especially
the ears that struck her at the moment as propping
up the brim of his round hat.  Catching sight
of her, he came to meet her, his lips falling into
their habitual sarcastic smile, and his big, tired
eyes looking straight at her.  An unpleasant sensation
gripped at her heart when she met his obstinate and
weary glance, as though she had expected to see him
different.  She was especially struck by the
feeling of dissatisfaction with herself that she experienced
on meeting him.  That feeling was an intimate,
familiar feeling, like a consciousness of hypocrisy,
which she experienced in her relations with her husband. 
But hitherto she had not taken note of the feeling,
now she was clearly and painfully aware of it.

“Yes, as you see, your tender
spouse, as devoted as the first year after marriage,
burned with impatience to see you,” he said
in his deliberate, high-pitched voice, and in that
tone which he almost always took with her, a tone
of jeering at anyone who should say in earnest what
he said.

“Is Seryozha quite well?” she asked.

“And is this all the reward,”
said he, “for my ardor?  He’s quite
well…”

 

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