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PART FIVE : Chapter 33

Leo TolstoyAug 24, 2016'Command+D' Bookmark this page

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Vronsky for the first time experienced
a feeling of anger against Anna, almost a hatred for
her willfully refusing to understand her own position. 
This feeling was aggravated by his being unable to
tell her plainly the cause of his anger.  If he
had told her directly what he was thinking, he would
have said: 

“In that dress, with a princess
only too well known to everyone, to show yourself
at the theater is equivalent not merely to acknowledging
your position as a fallen woman, but is flinging down
a challenge to society, that is to say, cutting yourself
off from it forever.”

He could not say that to her. 
“But how can she fail to see it, and what is
going on in her?” he said to himself.  He
felt at the same time that his respect for her was
diminished while his sense of her beauty was intensified.

He went back scowling to his rooms,
and sitting down beside Yashvin, who, with his long
legs stretched out on a chair, was drinking brandy
and seltzer water, he ordered a glass of the same
for himself.

“You were talking of Lankovsky’s
Powerful.  That’s a fine horse, and I would
advise you to buy him,” said Yashvin, glancing
at his comrade’s gloomy face.  “His
hind-quarters aren’t quite first-rate, but the
legs and head ­one couldn’t wish for
anything better.”

“I think I will take him,” answered Vronsky.

Their conversation about horses interested
him, but he did not for an instant forget Anna, and
could not help listening to the sound of steps in
the corridor and looking at the clock on the chimney
piece.

“Anna Arkadyevna gave orders
to announce that she has gone to the theater.”

Yashvin, tipping another glass of
brandy into the bubbling water, drank it and got up,
buttoning his coat.

“Well, let’s go,”
he said, faintly smiling under his mustache, and showing
by this smile that he knew the cause of Vronsky’s
gloominess, and did not attach any significance to
it.

“I’m not going,” Vronsky answered
gloomily.

“Well, I must, I promised to. 
Good-bye, then.  If you do, come to the stalls;
you can take Kruzin’s stall,” added Yashvin
as he went out.

“No, I’m busy.”

“A wife is a care, but it’s
worse when she’s not a wife,” thought
Yashvin, as he walked out of the hotel.

Vronsky, left alone, got up from his
chair and began pacing up and down the room.

“And what’s today? 
The fourth night….  Yegor and his wife are
there, and my mother, most likely.  Of course
all Petersburg’s there.  Now she’s
gone in, taken off her cloak and come into the light. 
Tushkevitch, Yashvin, Princess Varvara,” he
pictured them to himself….  “What about
me?  Either that I’m frightened or have
given up to Tushkevitch the right to protect her? 
From every point of view ­stupid, stupid!… 
And why is she putting me in such a position?”
he said with a gesture of despair.

With that gesture he knocked against
the table, on which there was standing the seltzer
water and the decanter of brandy, and almost upset
it.  He tried to catch it, let it slip, and angrily
kicked the table over and rang.

“If you care to be in my service,”
he said to the valet who came in, “you had better
remember your duties.  This shouldn’t be
here.  You ought to have cleared away.”

The valet, conscious of his own innocence,
would have defended himself, but glancing at his master,
he saw from his face that the only thing to do was
to be silent, and hurriedly threading his way in and
out, dropped down on the carpet and began gathering
up the whole and broken glasses and bottles.

“That’s not your duty;
send the waiter to clear away, and get my dress coat
out.”

Vronsky went into the theater at half-past
eight.  The performance was in full swing. 
The little old box-keeper, recognizing Vronsky as
he helped him off with his fur coat, called him “Your
Excellency,” and suggested he should not take
a number but should simply call Fyodor.  In the
brightly lighted corridor there was no one but the
box-opener and two attendants with fur cloaks on their
arms listening at the doors.  Through the closed
doors came the sounds of the discreet staccato
accompaniment of the orchestra, and a single female
voice rendering distinctly a musical phrase. 
The door opened to let the box-opener slip through,
and the phrase drawing to the end reached Vronsky’s
hearing clearly.  But the doors were closed again
at once, and Vronsky did not hear the end of the phrase
and the cadence of the accompaniment, though he knew
from the thunder of applause that it was over. 
When he entered the hall, brilliantly lighted with
chandeliers and gas jets, the noise was still going
on.  On the stage the singer, bowing and smiling,
with bare shoulders flashing with diamonds, was, with
the help of the tenor who had given her his arm, gathering
up the bouquets that were flying awkwardly over the
footlights.  Then she went up to a gentleman
with glossy pomaded hair parted down the center, who
was stretching across the footlights holding out something
to her, and all the public in the stalls as well as
in the boxes was in excitement, craning forward, shouting
and clapping.  The conductor in his high chair
assisted in passing the offering, and straightened
his white tie.  Vronsky walked into the middle
of the stalls, and, standing still, began looking
about him.  That day less than ever was his attention
turned upon the familiar, habitual surroundings, the
stage, the noise, all the familiar, uninteresting,
particolored herd of spectators in the packed theater.

There were, as always, the same ladies
of some sort with officers of some sort in the back
of the boxes; the same gaily dressed women ­God
knows who ­and uniforms and black coats;
the same dirty crowd in the upper gallery; and among
the crowd, in the boxes and in the front rows, were
some forty of the real people.  And to
those oases Vronsky at once directed his attention,
and with them he entered at once into relation.

The act was over when he went in,
and so he did not go straight to his brother’s
box, but going up to the first row of stalls stopped
at the footlights with Serpuhovskoy, who, standing
with one knee raised and his heel on the footlights,
caught sight of him in the distance and beckoned to
him, smiling.

Vronsky had not yet seen Anna. 
He purposely avoided looking in her direction. 
But he knew by the direction of people’s eyes
where she was.  He looked round discreetly, but
he was not seeking her; expecting the worst, his eyes
sought for Alexey Alexandrovitch.  To his relief
Alexey Alexandrovitch was not in the theater that
evening.

“How little of the military
man there is left in you!” Serpuhovskoy was
saying to him.  “A diplomat, an artist,
something of that sort, one would say.”

“Yes, it was like going back
home when I put on a black coat,” answered Vronsky,
smiling and slowly taking out his opera glass.

“Well, I’ll own I envy
you there.  When I come back from abroad and
put on this,” he touched his epaulets, “I
regret my freedom.”

Serpuhovskoy had long given up all
hope of Vronsky’s career, but he liked him as
before, and was now particularly cordial to him.

“What a pity you were not in
time for the first act!”

Vronsky, listening with one ear, moved
his opera glass from the stalls and scanned the boxes. 
Near a lady in a turban and a bald old man, who seemed
to wave angrily in the moving opera glass, Vronsky
suddenly caught sight of Anna’s head, proud,
strikingly beautiful, and smiling in the frame of
lace.  She was in the fifth box, twenty paces
from him.  She was sitting in front, and slightly
turning, was saying something to Yashvin.  The
setting of her head on her handsome, broad shoulders,
and the restrained excitement and brilliance of her
eyes and her whole face reminded him of her just as
he had seen her at the ball in Moscow.  But he
felt utterly different towards her beauty now. 
In his feeling for her now there was no element of
mystery, and so her beauty, though it attracted him
even more intensely than before, gave him now a sense
of injury.  She was not looking in his direction,
but Vronsky felt that she had seen him already.

When Vronsky turned the opera glass
again in that direction, he noticed that Princess
Varvara was particularly red, and kept laughing unnaturally
and looking round at the next box.  Anna, folding
her fan and tapping it on the red velvet, was gazing
away and did not see, and obviously did not wish to
see, what was taking place in the next box. 
Yashvin’s face wore the expression which was
common when he was losing at cards.  Scowling,
he sucked the left end of his mustache further and
further into his mouth, and cast sidelong glances
at the next box.

In that box on the left were the Kartasovs. 
Vronsky knew them, and knew that Anna was acquainted
with them.  Madame Kartasova, a thin little woman,
was standing up in her box, and, her back turned upon
Anna, she was putting on a mantle that her husband
was holding for her.  Her face was pale and angry,
and she was talking excitedly.  Kartasov, a fat,
bald man, was continually looking round at Anna, while
he attempted to soothe his wife.  When the wife
had gone out, the husband lingered a long while, and
tried to catch Anna’s eye, obviously anxious
to bow to her.  But Anna, with unmistakable intention,
avoided noticing him, and talked to Yashvin, whose
cropped head was bent down to her.  Kartasov went
out without making his salutation, and the box was
left empty.

Vronsky could not understand exactly
what had passed between the Kartasovs and Anna, but
he saw that something humiliating for Anna had happened. 
He knew this both from what he had seen, and most
of all from the face of Anna, who, he could see, was
taxing every nerve to carry through the part she had
taken up.  And in maintaining this attitude of
external composure she was completely successful. 
Anyone who did not know her and her circle, who had
not heard all the utterances of the women expressive
of commiseration, indignation, and amazement, that
she should show herself in society, and show herself
so conspicuously with her lace and her beauty, would
have admired the serenity and loveliness of this woman
without a suspicion that she was undergoing the sensations
of a man in the stocks.

Knowing that something had happened,
but not knowing precisely what, Vronsky felt a thrill
of agonizing anxiety, and hoping to find out something,
he went towards his brother’s box.  Purposely
choosing the way round furthest from Anna’s box,
he jostled as he came out against the colonel of his
old regiment talking to two acquaintances.  Vronsky
heard the name of Madame Karenina, and noticed how
the colonel hastened to address Vronsky loudly by
name, with a meaning glance at his companions.

“Ah, Vronsky!  When are
you coming to the regiment?  We can’t let
you off without a supper.  You’re one of
the old set,” said the colonel of his regiment.

“I can’t stop, awfully
sorry, another time,” said Vronsky, and he ran
upstairs towards his brother’s box.

The old countess, Vronsky’s
mother, with her steel-gray curls, was in his brother’s
box.  Varya with the young Princess Sorokina
met him in the corridor.

Leaving the Princess Sorokina with
her mother, Varya held out her hand to her brother-in-law,
and began immediately to speak of what interested
him.  She was more excited than he had ever seen
her.

“I think it’s mean and
hateful, and Madame Kartasova had no right to do it. 
Madame Karenina…” she began.

“But what is it?  I don’t know.”

“What? you’ve not heard?”

“You know I should be the last person to hear
of it.”

“There isn’t a more spiteful
creature than that Madame Kartasova!”

“But what did she do?”

“My husband told me…. 
She has insulted Madame Karenina.  Her husband
began talking to her across the box, and Madame Kartasova
made a scene.  She said something aloud, he says,
something insulting, and went away.”

“Count, your maman is asking
for you,” said the young Princess Sorokina,
peeping out of the door of the box.

“I’ve been expecting you
all the while,” said his mother, smiling sarcastically. 
“You were nowhere to be seen.”

Her son saw that she could not suppress
a smile of delight.

“Good evening, maman
I have come to you,” he said coldly.

“Why aren’t you going
to faire la cour a Madame Karenina?” she
went on, when Princess Sorokina had moved away. “Elle
fait sensation.  On oublie la Patti pour elle
.”

“Maman, I have asked you not
to say anything to me of that,” he answered,
scowling.

“I’m only saying what everyone’s
saying.”

Vronsky made no reply, and saying
a few words to Princess Sorokina, he went away. 
At the door he met his brother.

“Ah, Alexey!” said his
brother.  “How disgusting!  Idiot of
a woman, nothing else….  I wanted to go straight
to her.  Let’s go together.”

Vronsky did not hear him.  With
rapid steps he went downstairs; he felt that he must
do something, but he did not know what.  Anger
with her for having put herself and him in such a false
position, together with pity for her suffering, filled
his heart.  He went down, and made straight for
Anna’s box.  At her box stood Stremov,
talking to her.

“There are no more tenors.
Le moule en est brise!

Vronsky bowed to her and stopped to greet Stremov.

“You came in late, I think,
and have missed the best song,” Anna said to
Vronsky, glancing ironically, he thought, at him.

“I am a poor judge of music,”
he said, looking sternly at her.

“Like Prince Yashvin,”
she said smiling, “who considers that Patti
sings too loud.”

“Thank you,” she said,
her little hand in its long glove taking the playbill
Vronsky picked up, and suddenly at that instant her
lovely face quivered.  She got up and went into
the interior of the box.

Noticing in the next act that her
box was empty, Vronsky, rousing indignant “hushes”
in the silent audience, went out in the middle of
a solo and drove home.

Anna was already at home.  When
Vronsky went up to her, she was in the same dress
as she had worn at the theater.  She was sitting
in the first armchair against the wall, looking straight
before her.  She looked at him, and at once resumed
her former position.

“Anna,” he said.

“You, you are to blame for everything!”
she cried, with tears of despair and hatred in her
voice, getting up.

“I begged, I implored you not
to go, I knew it would be unpleasant….”

“Unpleasant!” she cried ­“hideous! 
As long as I live I shall never forget it. 
She said it was a disgrace to sit beside me.”

“A silly woman’s chatter,”
he said:  “but why risk it, why provoke?…”

“I hate your calm.  You
ought not to have brought me to this.  If you
had loved me…”

“Anna!  How does the question of my love
come in?”

“Oh, if you loved me, as I love,
if you were tortured as I am!…” she said,
looking at him with an expression of terror.

He was sorry for her, and angry notwithstanding. 
He assured her of his love because he saw that this
was the only means of soothing her, and he did not
reproach her in words, but in his heart he reproached
her.

And the asseverations of his love,
which seemed to him so vulgar that he was ashamed
to utter them, she drank in eagerly, and gradually
became calmer.  The next day, completely reconciled,
they left for the country.

 

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