6-32 by doocter


									PART SIX
Chapter 32

Before Vronsky's departure for the elections, Anna had reflected that the
scenes constantly repeated between them each time he left home might only
make him cold to her instead of attaching him to her, and resolved to do
all she could to control herself so as to bear the parting with
composure. But the cold, severe glance with which he had looked at her
when he came to tell her he was going had wounded her, and before he had
started her peace of mind was destroyed.
In solitude, later, thinking over that glance which had expressed his
right to freedom, she came, as she always did, to the same point - the
sense of her own humiliation. `He has the right to go away when and where
he chooses. Not simply to go away, but to leave me. He has every right,
and I have none. But knowing that, he ought not to do it. What has he
done, though?... He looked at me with a cold, severe expression. Of
course that is something indefinable, impalpable, but it has never been
so before, and that glance means a great deal,' she thought. `That glance
shows the beginning of coolness.'
And though she felt sure that a coolness was beginning, there was nothing
she could do; she could not in any way alter her relations to him. Just
as before, only by love and by charm could she keep him. And so, just as
before, only by occupation in the day, by morphine at night, could she
stifle the fearful thought of what would come if he ceased to love her.
It is true there was still one means; not to keep him - for that she
wanted nothing more than his love - but to be nearer to him, to be in
such a position that he would not leave her. That means was divorce and
marriage. And she began to long for that, and made up her mind to agree
to it the first time he or Stiva approached her on the subject.
Absorbed in such thoughts, she passed five days without him, the five
days that he was to be absent.
Walks, conversation with Princess Varvara, visits to the hospital, and,
most of all, reading - reading of one book after another - filled up her
time. But on the sixth day, when the coachman came back without him, and
she felt that now she was utterly incapable of stifling the thought of
him and of what he was doing there - just at that time her little girl
was taken ill. Anna began to look after her, but even that did not
distract her mind, especially as the illness was not serious. However
hard she tried, she could not love this little child, and to feign love
was beyond her powers. Toward the evening of that day, still alone, Anna
was in such a panic about him that she decided to start for the town, but
on second thought wrote him the contradictory letter that Vronsky
received, and, without reading it through, sent it off by a special
messenger. The next morning she received his letter and regretted her
own. She dreaded a repetition of the severe look he had flung at her at
parting, especially when he would learn that the baby was not dangerously
ill. But still, she was glad she had written to him. By now Anna was
admitting to herself that she was a burden to him, that he would
relinquish his freedom regretfully to return to her, and in spite of that
she was glad he was coming. Let him weary of her, but he would be here
with her, so that she would see him, would know of every action he took.
She was sitting in the drawing room near a lamp, with a new volume of
Taine, and, as she read, listening to the sound of the wind outside, and
every minute expecting the carriage to arrive. Several times she had
fancied she heard the sound of wheels, but she had been mistaken. At last
she heard not the sound of wheels, but the coachman's shout and the dull
rumble in the covered entry. Even Princess Varvara, playing solitaire,
confirmed this, and Anna, flushing hotly, got up; but, instead of going
down, as she had done twice before, she stood still. She suddenly felt
ashamed of her duplicity, but even more she dreaded how he might meet
her. All feeling of wounded pride had passed now; she was only afraid of
the expression of his displeasure. She remembered that her child had been
perfectly well again for the last day. She felt positively vexed with her
for getting better from the very moment her letter was sent off. Then she
thought of him, that he was here - all of him, with his hands, his eyes.
She heard his voice. And forgetting everything, she ran joyfully to meet
`Well, how is Annie?' he said apprehensively from below, looking up to
Anna as she ran down to him.
He was sitting on a chair, and a footman was pulling off his warm
`Oh, she is better.'
`And you?' he said, shaking himself.
She took his hand in both of hers, and drew it to her waist, never taking
her eyes off him.
`Well, I'm glad,' he said, coldly scanning her, her hair, her dress,
which he knew she had put on for him. All was charming, but how many
times it had charmed him! And the stern, stony expression that she so
dreaded settled upon his face.
`Well, I'm glad. And are you well?' he said, wiping his damp beard with
his handkerchief and kissing her hand.
`Never mind,' she thought, `only let him be here, and so long as he's
here he cannot, he dare not, cease to love me.'
The evening was spent happily and gaily in the presence of Princess
Varvara, who complained to him that Anna had been taking morphine in his
`What am I to do? I couldn't sleep.... My thoughts prevented me. When
he's here I never take it - hardly ever.'
He told her about the election, and Anna knew how by adroit questions to
bring him to what gave him most pleasure - his own success. She told him
of everything that interested him at home; and all that she told him was
of the most cheerful description.
But late in the evening, when they were alone, Anna, seeing that she had
regained complete possession of him, wanted to erase the painful
impression of the glance he had given her for her letter. She said:
`Tell me frankly, you were vexed at getting my letter, and you didn't
believe me?'
As soon as she had said it, she felt that however warm his feelings were
to her, he had not forgiven her for that.
`Yes,' he said, `the letter was so strange. First, Annie ill, and then
you thought of coming yourself.'
`It was all the truth.'
`Oh, I don't doubt it.'
`Yes, you do doubt it. You are vexed, I see.'
`Not for one moment. I'm only vexed, that's true, that you seem somehow
unwilling to admit that there are duties...'
`The duty of going to a concert....'
`But we won't talk about it,' he said.
`Why not talk about it?' she said.
`I only meant to say that matters of real importance may turn up. Now,
for instance, I shall have to go to Moscow to arrange about the house....
Oh, Anna, why are you so irritable? Don't you know that I can't live
without you?'
`If so,' said Anna, her voice suddenly changing, `it means that you are
sick of this life.... Yes, you will come for a day and go away, as men
`Anna, that's cruel. I am ready to give up my whole life.'
But she did not hear him.
`If you go to Moscow, I will go too. I will not stay here. Either we must
separate or else live together.'
`Why, you know, that's my one desire. But to do that...'
`We must get a divorce. I will write to him. I see I cannot go on like
this.... But I will come with you to Moscow.'
`You talk as if you were threatening me. But I desire nothing so much as
never to be parted from you,' said Vronsky, smiling.
But as he said these words there gleamed in his eyes not merely a cold
look, but the vindictive look of a man persecuted and made cruel.
She saw the look and correctly divined its meaning.
`And, if things have come to such a pass, it's a calamity!' that glance
told her. It was a moment's impression, but she never forgot it.
Anna wrote to her husband asking him about a divorce, and toward the end
of November, taking leave of Princess Varvara, who wanted to go to
Peterburg, she went with Vronsky to Moscow. Expecting every day an answer
from Alexei Alexandrovich, and after that the divorce, they now
established themselves together, like married people.


? Leo Tolstoy

To top