FictionForest

PART ONE : Chapter 31

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

Light off Small Medium Large

Vronsky had not even tried to sleep
all that night.  He sat in his armchair, looking
straight before him or scanning the people who got
in and out.  If he had indeed on previous occasions
struck and impressed people who did not know him by
his air of unhesitating composure, he seemed now more
haughty and self-possessed than ever.  He looked
at people as if they were things.  A nervous
young man, a clerk in a law court, sitting opposite
him, hated him for that look.  The young man asked
him for a light, and entered into conversation with
him, and even pushed against him, to make him feel
that he was not a thing, but a person.  But Vronsky
gazed at him exactly as he did at the lamp, and the
young man made a wry face, feeling that he was losing
his self-possession under the oppression of this refusal
to recognize him as a person.

Vronsky saw nothing and no one. 
He felt himself a king, not because he believed that
he had made an impression on Anna ­he did
not yet believe that, ­but because the impression
she had made on him gave him happiness and pride.

What would come of it all he did not
know, he did not even think.  He felt that all
his forces, hitherto dissipated, wasted, were centered
on one thing, and bent with fearful energy on one
blissful goal.  And he was happy at it. 
He knew only that he had told her the truth, that
he had come where she was, that all the happiness
of his life, the only meaning in life for him, now
lay in seeing and hearing her.  And when he got
out of the carriage at Bologova to get some seltzer
water, and caught sight of Anna, involuntarily his
first word had told her just what he thought. 
And he was glad he had told her it, that she knew it
now and was thinking of it.  He did not sleep
all night.  When he was back in the carriage,
he kept unceasingly going over every position in which
he had seen her, every word she had uttered, and before
his fancy, making his heart faint with emotion, floated
pictures of a possible future.

When he got out of the train at Petersburg,
he felt after his sleepless night as keen and fresh
as after a cold bath.  He paused near his compartment,
waiting for her to get out.  “Once more,”
he said to himself, smiling unconsciously, “once
more I shall see her walk, her face; she will say
something, turn her head, glance, smile, maybe.” 
But before he caught sight of her, he saw her husband,
whom the station-master was deferentially escorting
through the crowd.  “Ah, yes!  The
husband.”  Only now for the first time
did Vronsky realize clearly the fact that there was
a person attached to her, a husband.  He knew
that she had a husband, but had hardly believed in
his existence, and only now fully believed in him,
with his head and shoulders, and his legs clad in
black trousers; especially when he saw this husband
calmly take her arm with a sense of property.

Seeing Alexey Alexandrovitch with
his Petersburg face and severely self-confident figure,
in his round hat, with his rather prominent spine,
he believed in him, and was aware of a disagreeable
sensation, such as a man might feel tortured by thirst,
who, on reaching a spring, should find a dog, a sheep,
or a pig, who has drunk of it and muddied the water. 
Alexey Alexandrovitch’s manner of walking,
with a swing of the hips and flat feet, particularly
annoyed Vronsky.  He could recognize in no one
but himself an indubitable right to love her. 
But she was still the same, and the sight of her
affected him the same way, physically reviving him,
stirring him, and filling his soul with rapture. 
He told his German valet, who ran up to him from the
second class, to take his things and go on, and he
himself went up to her.  He saw the first meeting
between the husband and wife, and noted with a lover’s
insight the signs of slight reserve with which she
spoke to her husband.  “No, she does not
love him and cannot love him,” he decided to
himself.

At the moment when he was approaching
Anna Arkadyevna he noticed too with joy that she was
conscious of his being near, and looked round, and
seeing him, turned again to her husband.

“Have you passed a good night?”
he asked, bowing to her and her husband together,
and leaving it up to Alexey Alexandrovitch to accept
the bow on his own account, and to recognize it or
not, as he might see fit.

“Thank you, very good,” she answered.

Her face looked weary, and there was
not that play of eagerness in it, peeping out in her
smile and her eyes; but for a single instant, as she
glanced at him, there was a flash of something in
her eyes, and although the flash died away at once,
he was happy for that moment.  She glanced at
her husband to find out whether he knew Vronsky. 
Alexey Alexandrovitch looked at Vronsky with displeasure,
vaguely recalling who this was.  Vronsky’s
composure and self-confidence here struck, like a
scythe against a stone, upon the cold self-confidence
of Alexey Alexandrovitch.

“Count Vronsky,” said Anna.

“Ah!  We are acquainted,
I believe,” said Alexey Alexandrovitch indifferently,
giving his hand.

“You set off with the mother
and you return with the son,” he said, articulating
each syllable, as though each were a separate favor
he was bestowing.

“You’re back from leave,
I suppose?” he said, and without waiting for
a reply, he turned to his wife in his jesting tone: 
“Well, were a great many tears shed at Moscow
at parting?”

By addressing his wife like this he
gave Vronsky to understand that he wished to be left
alone, and, turning slightly towards him, he touched
his hat; but Vronsky turned to Anna Arkadyevna.

“I hope I may have the honor
of calling on you,” he said.

Alexey Alexandrovitch glanced with
his weary eyes at Vronsky.

“Delighted,” he said coldly. 
“On Mondays we’re at home.  Most
fortunate,” he said to his wife, dismissing Vronsky
altogether, “that I should just have half an
hour to meet you, so that I can prove my devotion,”
he went on in the same jesting tone.

“You lay too much stress on
your devotion for me to value it much,” she
responded in the same jesting tone, involuntarily
listening to the sound of Vronsky’s steps behind
them.  “But what has it to do with me?”
she said to herself, and she began asking her husband
how Seryozha had got on without her.

“Oh, capitally!  Mariette
says he has been very good, And…I must disappoint
you…but he has not missed you as your husband has. 
But once more merci, my dear, for giving me
a day.  Our dear Samovar will be delighted.”
(He used to call the Countess Lidia Ivanovna, well
known in society, a samovar, because she was always
bubbling over with excitement.) “She has been
continually asking after you.  And, do you know,
if I may venture to advise you, you should go and
see her today.  You know how she takes everything
to heart.  Just now, with all her own cares, she’s
anxious about the Oblonskys being brought together.”

The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a
friend of her husband’s, and the center of that
one of the coteries of the Petersburg world with which
Anna was, through her husband, in the closest relations.

“But you know I wrote to her?”

“Still she’ll want to
hear details.  Go and see her, if you’re
not too tired, my dear.  Well, Kondraty will take
you in the carriage, while I go to my committee. 
I shall not be alone at dinner again,” Alexey
Alexandrovitch went on, no longer in a sarcastic tone. 
“You wouldn’t believe how I’ve missed…” 
And with a long pressure of her hand and a meaning
smile, he put her in her carriage.

 

Leave a Reply