FictionForest

PART ONE : Chapter 29

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

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“Come, it’s all over,
and thank God!” was the first thought that came
to Anna Arkadyevna, when she had said good-bye for
the last time to her brother, who had stood blocking
up the entrance to the carriage till the third bell
rang.  She sat down on her lounge beside Annushka,
and looked about her in the twilight of the sleeping-carriage. 
“Thank God! tomorrow I shall see Seryozha and
Alexey Alexandrovitch, and my life will go on in the
old way, all nice and as usual.”

Still in the same anxious frame of
mind, as she had been all that day, Anna took pleasure
in arranging herself for the journey with great care. 
With her little deft hands she opened and shut her
little red bag, took out a cushion, laid it on her
knees, and carefully wrapping up her feet, settled
herself comfortably.  An invalid lady had already
lain down to sleep.  Two other ladies began talking
to Anna, and a stout elderly lady tucked up her feet,
and made observations about the heating of the train. 
Anna answered a few words, but not foreseeing any
entertainment from the conversation, she asked Annushka
to get a lamp, hooked it onto the arm of her seat,
and took from her bag a paper knife and an English
novel.  At first her reading made no progress. 
The fuss and bustle were disturbing; then when the
train had started, she could not help listening to
the noises; then the snow beating on the left window
and sticking to the pane, and the sight of the muffled
guard passing by, covered with snow on one side, and
the conversations about the terrible snowstorm raging
outside, distracted her attention.  Farther on,
it was continually the same again and again: 
the same shaking and rattling, the same snow on the
window, the same rapid transitions from steaming heat
to cold, and back again to heat, the same passing glimpses
of the same figures in the twilight, and the same voices,
and Anna began to read and to understand what she
read.  Annushka was already dozing, the red bag
on her lap, clutched by her broad hands, in gloves,
of which one was torn.  Anna Arkadyevna read
and understood, but it was distasteful to her to read,
that is, to follow the reflection of other people’s
lives.  She had too great a desire to live herself. 
If she read that the heroine of the novel was nursing
a sick man, she longed to move with noiseless steps
about the room of a sick man; if she read of a member
of Parliament making a speech, she longed to be delivering
the speech; if she read of how Lady Mary had ridden
after the hounds, and had provoked her sister-in-law,
and had surprised everyone by her boldness, she too
wished to be doing the same.  But there was no
chance of doing anything; and twisting the smooth
paper knife in her little hands, she forced herself
to read.

The hero of the novel was already
almost reaching his English happiness, a baronetcy
and an estate, and Anna was feeling a desire to go
with him to the estate, when she suddenly felt that
he ought to feel ashamed, and that she was ashamed
of the same thing.  But what had he to be ashamed
of?  “What have I to be ashamed of?”
she asked herself in injured surprise.  She laid
down the book and sank against the back of the chair,
tightly gripping the paper cutter in both hands. 
There was nothing.  She went over all her Moscow
recollections.  All were good, pleasant. 
She remembered the ball, remembered Vronsky and his
face of slavish adoration, remembered all her conduct
with him:  there was nothing shameful.  And
for all that, at the same point in her memories, the
feeling of shame was intensified, as though some inner
voice, just at the point when she thought of Vronsky,
were saying to her, “Warm, very warm, hot.” 
“Well, what is it?” she said to herself
resolutely, shifting her seat in the lounge. 
“What does it mean?  Am I afraid to look
it straight in the face?  Why, what is it? 
Can it be that between me and this officer boy there
exist, or can exist, any other relations than such
as are common with every acquaintance?” She
laughed contemptuously and took up her book again;
but now she was definitely unable to follow what she
read.  She passed the paper knife over the window
pane, then laid its smooth, cool surface to her cheek,
and almost laughed aloud at the feeling of delight
that all at once without cause came over her. 
She felt as though her nerves were strings being
strained tighter and tighter on some sort of screwing
peg.  She felt her eyes opening wider and wider,
her fingers and toes twitching nervously, something
within oppressing her breathing, while all shapes
and sounds seemed in the uncertain half-light to strike
her with unaccustomed vividness.  Moments of doubt
were continually coming upon her, when she was uncertain
whether the train were going forwards or backwards,
or were standing still altogether; whether it were
Annushka at her side or a stranger.  “What’s
that on the arm of the chair, a fur cloak or some beast? 
And what am I myself?  Myself or some other woman?”
She was afraid of giving way to this delirium. 
But something drew her towards it, and she could
yield to it or resist it at will.  She got up
to rouse herself, and slipped off her plaid and the
cape of her warm dress.  For a moment she regained
her self-possession, and realized that the thin peasant
who had come in wearing a long overcoat, with buttons
missing from it, was the stoveheater, that he was
looking at the thermometer, that it was the wind and
snow bursting in after him at the door; but then everything
grew blurred again….  That peasant with the
long waist seemed to be gnawing something on the wall,
the old lady began stretching her legs the whole length
of the carriage, and filling it with a black cloud;
then there was a fearful shrieking and banging, as
though someone were being torn to pieces; then there
was a blinding dazzle of red fire before her eyes and
a wall seemed to rise up and hide everything. 
Anna felt as though she were sinking down. 
But it was not terrible, but delightful.  The
voice of a man muffled up and covered with snow shouted
something in her ear.  She got up and pulled herself
together; she realized that they had reached a station
and that this was the guard.  She asked Annushka
to hand her the cape she had taken off and her shawl,
put them on and moved towards the door.

“Do you wish to get out?” asked Annushka.

“Yes, I want a little air. 
It’s very hot in here.”  And she
opened the door.  The driving snow and the wind
rushed to meet her and struggled with her over the
door.  But she enjoyed the struggle.

She opened the door and went out. 
The wind seemed as though lying in wait for her;
with gleeful whistle it tried to snatch her up and
bear her off, but she clung to the cold door post,
and holding her skirt got down onto the platform and
under the shelter of the carriages.  The wind
had been powerful on the steps, but on the platform,
under the lee of the carriages, there was a lull. 
With enjoyment she drew deep breaths of the frozen,
snowy air, and standing near the carriage looked about
the platform and the lighted station.

 

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