Anna Karenina, v7 by Leo Tolstoy
translated by Constance Garnett
The Levins had been two months in Moscow. The date had long passed
on which, according to the most trustworthy calculations of people
learned in such matters, Kitty should have been confined. But she was
still about, and there was nothing to show that her time was any
nearer than two months ago. The doctor, the midwife, and Dolly and her
mother, and most of all Levin, who could not think of the approaching
event without terror, began to be impatient and uneasy. Kitty was the
only person who felt perfectly calm and happy.
She was distinctly conscious now of the birth of a new feeling of
love for the future child, for her to some extent actually existing
already, and she brooded blissfully over this feeling. He was not by
now altogether a part of herself, but sometimes lived his own life
independently of her. Often this separate being gave her pain, but at
the same time she wanted to laugh with a strange new joy.
All the people she loved were with her, and all were so good to
her, so attentively looking out for her, so entirely pleasant was
everything presented to her, that if she had not known and felt that
it must all soon be over, she could not have wished for a better and
pleasanter life. The only thing that spoiled the charm of this mode of
life was that here her husband was not as she loved him to be, and as
he was in the country.
She liked his serene, friendly, and hospitable manner in the
country. In the town he seemed continually uneasy and on his guard, as
though he were afraid someone would be rude to him, and, still more,
to her. At home in the country, definitely knowing himself to be in
his right place, he was never in haste to be off elsewhere, was
occupied all the time. Here in town he was in a continual hurry, as
though afraid of missing something, and yet he had nothing to do. And
she felt pity for him. To others, she knew, he did not appear an
object of pity; on the contrary, when Kitty looked at him in society,
as one sometimes looks at those one loves, trying to see him as if he
were a stranger, so as to catch the impression he must make on others,
she saw with a panic even of jealous fear that he was far indeed from
being a pitiable figure, that he was very attractive with his honesty,
his rather old-fashioned, reserved courtesy to women, his powerful
figure, and striking, as she thought, and expressive face. But she saw
him not from without, but from within; she saw that here he was not
himself; that was the only way she could define his condition to
herself. Sometimes she inwardly reproached him for his inability to
live in the town; sometimes she recognized that it was really hard for
him to order his life here so that he could be satisfied with it.
What had he to do, indeed? He did not care for cards; he did not
go to a club. Spending the time with jovial gentlemen of Oblonsky's
type——she knew now what that meant... it meant drinking, and going
somewhere after drinking. She could not think without horror of where
men went on such occasions. Was he to go into society? But she knew he
could only find satisfaction in that if he took pleasure in the
society of young women, and that she could not wish for. Should he
stay at home with her, her mother, and her sisters? But much as she
liked and enjoyed their conversations forever on the same subjects——
"Alines-Nadines," as the old Prince called the sisters' talks——she
knew it must bore him. What was there left for him to do? To go on
writing his book? He had indeed attempted to do it; and at first he
used to go to the library and make extracts and look up references for
his book, but, as he told her, the more he did nothing, the less time
he had to do anything. And besides, he complained that he had talked
too much about his book here, and that consequently all his ideas
about it were muddled and had lost their interest for him.
One advantage in this town life was that quarrels hardly ever
happened between them here in town. Whether it was that their
conditions, in town, were different, or that they had both become more
careful and sensible in that respect, they had no quarrels in Moscow
from jealousy, which they had so dreaded when they moved from the
One event, an event of great importance to both from that point of
view, did indeed happen——which was Kitty's meeting with Vronsky.
The old Princess Marya Borissovna, Kitty's godmother, who had
always been very fond of her, had insisted on seeing her. Kitty,
though she did not go into society at all on account of her condition,
went with her father to see the venerable old lady, and there met
The only thing Kitty could reproach herself for at this meeting
was that at the instant when she recognized in his civilian dress the
features once so familiar to her, her breath failed her, the blood
rushed to her heart, and a vivid blush——she felt it——overspread her
face. But this lasted only a few seconds. Before her father, who
purposely began talking in a loud voice to Vronsky, had finished, she
was perfectly ready to look at Vronsky, to speak to him, if necessary,
exactly as she spoke to Princess Marya Borissovna, and, more than
that, to do so in such a way that everything, to the faintest
intonation and smile would have been approved by her husband, whose
unseen presence she seemed to feel about her at that instant.
She said a few words to him, even smiled serenely at his joke
about the elections, which he called "our parliament." (She had to
smile to show she saw the joke.) But she turned away immediately to
Princess Marya Borissovna, and did not once glance at him till he got
up to go; then she looked at him, but evidently only because it would
be uncivil not to look at a man when he is saying good-by.
She was grateful to her father for saying nothing to her about
their meeting Vronsky, but she saw by his special warmth to her after
the visit, during their usual walk, that he was pleased with her. She
was pleased with herself. She had not expected she would have had the
power, while keeping somewhere in the bottom of her heart all the
memories of her old feeling for Vronsky, not only to seem, but to be,
perfectly indifferent and composed with him.
Levin flushed a great deal more than she when she told him she had
met Vronsky at Princess Marya Borissovna's. It was very hard for her
to tell him this, but still harder to go on speaking of the details of
the meeting, as he did not question her, but simply gazed at her with
"I am very sorry you weren't there," she said. "It wasn't so much
the fact that you weren't in the room... I couldn't have been so
natural in your presence... I am blushing now much more——much, much
more," she said, blushing till the tears came into her eyes. "But it's
a pity you couldn't have looked through a peephole."
The truthful eyes told Levin that she was satisfied with herself,
and, in spite of her blushing he was quickly reassured and began
questioning her, which was all she wanted. When he had heard
everything, even to the detail that for the first second she could not
help flushing, but that afterward she was just as direct and as much
at her ease as with any chance acquaintance, Levin was quite happy
again and said he was glad of it, and would not now behave as stupidly
as he had done at the election, but would try the first time he met
Vronsky to be as friendly as possible.
"It's so wretched to feel that there's any man who is almost your
enemy, and whom it's painful to meet," said Levin. "I'm very, very
"Do go then, please, and call on the Bols," Kitty said to her
husband, when he came in to see her at eleven o'clock before going
out. "I know you are dining at the club; papa put down your name. But
what are you going to do in the morning?"
"I am only going to Katavassov," answered Levin.
"Why so early?"
"He promised to introduce me to Metrov. I wanted to talk to him
about my work. He's a distinguished savant from Peterburg," said
"Yes; wasn't it his article you were praising so? Well, and after
that?" said Kitty.
"I shall go to the court, perhaps, about my sister's business."
"And the concert?" she queried.
"I shan't go there all alone."
"No? Do go; there are going to be some new things.... That used to
interest you so. I should certainly go."
"Well, anyway, I shall come home before dinner," he said, looking
at his watch.
"Put on your frock coat, so that you can go straight to call on
"But is it absolutely necessary?"
"Oh, absolutely! He has been to see us. Come, what is it? You go
in, sit down, talk for five minutes of the weather, get up, and go
"Oh, you wouldn't believe it! I've got so out of the way of all
this that it makes me feel positively ashamed. It's such a horrible
thing to do! A complete outsider walks in, sits down, stays on with
nothing to do, wastes their time and upsets himself, and then goes
"Why, I suppose you used to pay calls before you were married,
"Yes, I did, but I always felt ashamed, and now I'm so
unaccustomed to it that, by God, I'd sooner go two days running
without my dinner than pay this call! One's so ashamed! I feel all the
while that they're annoyed, that they're saying: What has he come
"No, they won't. I'll answer for that," said Kitty, looking into
his face with a laugh. She took his hand. "Well, good-by.... Do go,
He was just going out after kissing his wife's hand, when she
"Kostia, do you know I've only fifty roubles left?"
"Oh, all right, I'll go to the bank and get some. How much?" he
said, with the expression of dissatisfaction she knew so well.
"No, wait a minute." She held his hand. "Let's talk about it, it
worries me. I seem to spend nothing unnecessarily, but money seems
simply to fly away. We don't manage well, somehow."
"Not at all," he said with a little cough, looking at her from
under his brows.
That cough she knew well. It was a sign of intense
dissatisfaction, not with her, but with himself. He certainly was
displeased, not at so much money being spent, but at being reminded of
what he, knowing something was unsatisfactory, wanted to forget.
"I have told Sokolov to sell the wheat, and to borrow an advance
on the mill. We shall have money enough in any case."
"Yes, but I'm afraid that altogether it's too much...."
"Not at all, not at all," he repeated. "Well, good-by, darling."
"No, I'm really sorry sometimes that I listened to mamma. How nice
it would have been in the country! As it is, I'm worrying you all, and
we're wasting our money."
"Not at all, not at all. Not once since I've been married have I
said that things could have been better than they are...."
"Truly?" she said, looking into his eyes.
He had said it without thinking, simply to console her. But when
he glanced at her and saw those sweet truthful eyes fastened
questioningly on him, he repeated it with his whole heart. "I was
positively forgetting her," he thought. And he remembered what was
before them, so soon to come.
"Will it be soon? How do you feel?" he whispered, taking her two
"I have so often thought so, that now I don't think about it, or
know anything about it."
"And you're not frightened?"
She smiled contemptuously.
"Not the least little bit," she said.
"Well, if anything happens, I shall be at Katavassov's."
"No, nothing will happen, and don't think about it. I'm going for
a walk on the boulevard with papa. We're going to see Dolly. I shall
expect you before dinner. Oh, yes! Do you know that Dolly's position
is becoming utterly impossible? She's in debt all round; she hasn't a
penny. We were talking yesterday with mamma and Arsenii" (this was her
sister's husband, Lvov), "and we determined to send you with him to
talk to Stiva. It's really unbearable. One can't speak to papa about
it.... But if you and he..."
"Why, what can we do?" said Levin.
"You'll be at Arsenii's, anyway; talk to him——he will tell you
what we decided."
"Oh, I agree to everything Arsenii thinks beforehand. I'll go and
see him. By the way, if I do go to the concert, I'll go with Natalie.
On the steps Levin was stopped by his old servant Kouzma, who had
been with him before his marriage, and now looked after their
household in town.
"Little Adonis" (that was the left shaft horse brought up from the
country) "has been shod anew, but she is still lame," he said. "What
does Your Honor wish to be done?"
During the first part of their stay in Moscow, Levin had used his
own horses brought up from the country. He had tried to arrange this
part of their expenses in the best and cheapest way possible; but it
appeared that their own horses came dearer than hired horses, and they
still hired additional horses.
"Send for the veterinary——there may be a bruise."
"And for Katerina Alexandrovna?" asked Kouzma.
Levin was not by now struck as he had been at first by the fact
that to get in Moscow from the Vozdvizhenka to the Ssivtzev-Vrazhek he
had to have two powerful horses put into a heavy carriage, to take the
carriage a quarter of a versta through the snowy mush and to keep it
standing there four hours, paying five roubles every time.
Now it seemed quite natural.
"Hire a pair for our carriage from the livery stable," said he.
And so, simply and easily, thanks to the facilities of town life,
Levin settled a question which, in the country, would have called for
so much personal trouble and exertion, and, going out on the steps, he
called a sleigh, sat down, and drove to the Nikitskaia. On the way he
thought no more of money, but mused on the introduction that awaited
him to the Peterburg savant, a writer on sociology, and what he would
say to him about his book.
Only during the first days of his stay in Moscow Levin had been
struck by the expenditure, strange to one living in the country,
unproductive but inevitable, that was expected of him on every side.
But by now he had grown used to it. That had happened to him in this
matter which is said to happen to drunkards——the first glass sticks in
the throat, the second flies down like a hawk, but after the third
they're like tiny little birds. When Levin had changed his first
hundred-rouble note to pay for liveries for his footman and hall
porter he could not help reflecting that these liveries were of no use
to anyone——but they were indubitably necessary, to judge by the
amazement of the Princess and Kitty when he suggested that they might
do without liveries——that these liveries would cost the wages of two
laborers for the summer——that is, would pay for about three hundred
working days from Easter to the fast of Advent, and each a day of hard
work from early morning to late evening——and that hundred-rouble note
did stick in his throat. But the next note, changed to pay for
providing a dinner for their relations, that cost twenty-eight
roubles, though it did excite in Levin the reflection that
twenty-eight roubles meant nine chetverts of oats, which men would
with groans and sweat have reaped and bound and threshed and winnowed
and sifted and sown——this next one he parted with more easily. And now
the notes he changed no longer aroused such reflections, and they flew
off like little birds. Whether the labor devoted to obtaining the
money corresponded to the pleasure given by what was bought with it,
was a consideration he had long ago dismissed. His business
calculation that there was a certain price below which he could not
sell certain grain was forgotten too. The rye, for the price of which
he had so long held out, had been sold for fifty kopecks a chetvert
cheaper than it had been fetching a month ago. Even the consideration
that with such an expenditure he could not go on living for a year
without debt, even that had no force. Only one thing was essential: to
have money in the bank, without inquiring where it came from, so as to
know that one had the wherewithal to buy meat for tomorrow. And this
condition had hitherto been fulfilled; he had always had the money in
the bank. But now the money in the bank had gone, and he could not
quite tell where to get the next installment. And this it was which,
at the moment when Kitty had mentioned money, had disturbed him; but
he had no time to think about it. He drove off, thinking of Katavassov
and the meeting with Metrov which was before him.
Levin had on this visit to town seen a great deal of his old
friend at the university, Professor Katavassov, whom he had not seen
since his marriage. He liked in Katavassov the clearness and
simplicity of his conception of life. Levin thought that the clearness
of Katavassov's conception of life was due to the poverty of his
nature; Katavassov thought that the disconnectedness of Levin's ideas
was due to his lack of intellectual discipline; but Levin enjoyed
Katavassov's clearness, and Katavassov enjoyed the abundance of
Levin's untrained ideas, and they liked to meet and to dispute.
Levin had read to Katavassov some parts of his book, and he had
liked them. On the previous day Katavassov had met Levin at a public
lecture and told him that the celebrated Metrov, whose article Levin
had so much liked, was in Moscow, that he had been much interested by
what Katavassov had told him about Levin's work, and that he was
coming to see him tomorrow at eleven, and would be very glad to make
"You're positively a reformed character, my dear, I'm glad to
see," said Katavassov, meeting Levin in the little drawing room. "I
heard the bell and thought: Impossible! It can't be he at the exact
time!... Well, what do you say to the Montenegrins now? They're a race
"Why, what's happened?" asked Levin.
Katavassov in a few words told him the last piece of news from the
war, and, going into his study, introduced Levin to a short, thickset
man of pleasant appearance. This was Metrov. The conversation touched
for a brief space on politics and on how recent events were looked at
in the higher spheres in Peterburg. Metrov repeated a saying that had
reached him through a most trustworthy source, reported as having been
uttered on this subject by the Czar and one of the ministers.
Katavassov had heard also on excellent authority that the Czar had
said something quite different. Levin tried to imagine circumstances
in which both sayings might have been uttered, and the conversation on
that topic dropped.
"Yes, here he's practically written a book on the natural
conditions of the laborer in relation to the land," said Katavassov;
"I'm not a specialist, but I, as a student of natural science, was
pleased at his not taking mankind as something outside biological
laws; but, on the contrary, perceiving his dependence on his
surroundings, and in that dependence seeking the laws of his
"That's very interesting," said Metrov.
"To tell the truth, I began to write a book on agriculture; but,
studying the chief instrument of agriculture, the laborer," said
Levin, reddening, "I could not help coming to quite unexpected
And Levin began carefully, as though feeling his ground, to
expound his views. He knew Metrov had written an article against the
generally accepted theory of political economy, but to what extent he
could reckon on his sympathy with his own new views he did not know
and could not guess from the clever and serene face of the savant.
"But in what do you see the special characteristics of the Russian
laborer?" said Metrov; "in his biological characteristics, so to
speak, or in the condition in which he is placed?"
Levin saw that there was an idea underlying this question with
which he did not agree. But he went on explaining his own idea that
the Russian laborer has a quite special view of the land, different
from that of other people; and to support this proposition he made
haste to add that in his opinion this attitude of the Russian peasant
was due to the consciousness of his vocation to settle vast unoccupied
expanses in the East.
"One may easily be led into error in basing any conclusion on the
general vocation of a people," said Metrov, interrupting Levin. "The
condition of the laborer will always depend on his relation to the
land and to capital."
And without letting Levin finish explaining his idea, Metrov began
expounding to him the special point of his own theory.
In what the point of his theory lay, Levin did not understand,
because he did not take the trouble to understand. He saw that Metrov,
like other people, in spite of his own article, in which he had
attacked the current theory of political economy, looked at the
position of the Russian peasant simply from the point of view of
capital, wages, and rent. He would indeed have been obliged to admit
that in the eastern——much the larger——part of Russia rent was as yet
nil, that for nine-tenths of the eighty millions of the Russian
peasants wages took the form simply of food provided for themselves,
and that capital does not so far exist except in the form of the most
primitive tools. Yet it was only from that point of view that he
considered every laborer, though in many points he differed from the
economists and had his own theory of the wage fund, which he expounded
Levin listened reluctantly, and at first made objections. He would
have liked to interrupt Metrov, to explain his own thought, which in
his opinion would have rendered further exposition of Metrov's
theories superfluous. But later on, feeling convinced that they looked
at the matter so differently, that they could never understand one
another, he did not even oppose his statements, but simply listened.
Although what Metrov was saying was by now utterly devoid of interest
for him, he yet experienced a certain satisfaction in listening to
him. It flattered his vanity that such a learned man should explain
his ideas to him so eagerly, with such intensity and confidence in
Levin's understanding of the subject, sometimes with a mere hint
referring him to a whole aspect of the subject. He put this down to
his own credit, unaware that Metrov, who had already discussed his
theory over and over again with all his intimate friends, talked of it
with special eagerness to every new person, and in general was eager
to talk to anyone of any subject that interested him, even if still
obscure to himself.
"We are late though," said Katavassov, looking at his watch
directly Metrov had finished his discourse.
"Yes, there's a meeting of the Society of Amateurs today in
commemoration of the fifty-year jubilee of Svintich," said Katavassov
in answer to Levin's inquiry. "Piotr Ivanovich and I were going. I've
promised to deliver an address on his labors in zoology. Come along
with us, it's very interesting."
"Yes, and it's really time to start," said Metrov. "Come with us,
and from there, if you care to, come to my place. I should very much
like to hear your work."
"Oh, no! It's no good yet——it's unfinished. But I shall be very
glad to go to the meeting."
"I say, my dear, have you heard? He has handed in a minority
report," Katavassov called from the other room, where he was putting
on his dress coat.
And a conversation sprang up on the university question.
The university question was a very important event that winter in
Moscow. Three old professors in the council had not accepted the
opinion of the younger professors. The young ones had registered a
separate resolution. This resolution, in the judgment of some people,
was monstrous, in the judgment of others it was the simplest and most
just thing to do, and the professors were split into two parties.
One party, to which Katavassov belonged, saw in the opposite party
a scoundrelly betrayal and treachery, while the opposite party saw in
them childishness and lack of respect for the authorities. Levin,
though he did not belong to the university, had several times already
during his stay in Moscow heard and talked about this matter, and had
his own opinion on the subject. He took part in the conversation that
was continued in the street, as all three walked to the old buildings
of the university.
The meeting had already begun. Round the cloth-covered table, at
which Katavassov and Metrov seated themselves, there were some
half-dozen persons, and one of these was bending close over a
manuscript, reading something aloud. Levin sat down in one of the
empty chairs that were standing round the table, and in a whisper
asked a student sitting near what was being read. The student, eying
Levin with displeasure, said:
Though Levin was not interested in the biography, he could not
help listening, and learned some new and interesting facts about the
life of the distinguished man of science.
When the reader had finished, the chairman thanked him and read
some verses of the poet Ment, sent him on the jubilee, and said a few
words by way of thanks to the poet. Then Katavassov in his loud,
ringing voice read his address on the scientific labors of the man
whose jubilee was being kept.
When Katavassov had finished, Levin looked at his watch, saw it
was past one, and thought that there would not be time before the
concert to read his paper to Metrov, and indeed, he did not now care
to do so. During the reading he had thought over their conversation.
He saw distinctly now that though Metrov's ideas might perhaps have
value, his own ideas had a value too, and their ideas could only be
made clear and lead to something if each worked separately in his
chosen path, and that nothing would be gained by communicating these
ideas. And having made up his mind to refuse Metrov's invitation,
Levin went up to him at the end of the meeting. Metrov introduced
Levin to the chairman, with whom he was talking of the political news.
Metrov told the chairman what he had already told Levin, and Levin
made the same remarks on his news that he had already made that
morning, but for the sake of variety he expressed also a new opinion
which had only just struck him. After that the conversation turned
again on the university question. As Levin had already heard it all,
he made haste to tell Metrov that he was sorry he could not take
advantage of his invitation, took leave, and drove to Lvov's.
Lvov, the husband of Natalie, Kitty's sister, had spent all his
life in the capitals and abroad, where he had been educated, and had
been in the diplomatic service.
During the previous year he had left the diplomatic service, not
owing to any "unpleasantness" (he never had any "unpleasantness" with
anyone), and was transferred to the Palace Department in Moscow, in
order to give his two boys the best education possible.
In spite of the striking contrast in their habits and views and
the fact that Lvov was older than Levin, they had seen a great deal of
one another that winter, and had taken a great liking to each other.
Lvov was at home, and Levin went in to him unannounced.
Lvov, in a house coat with a belt and in chamois leather shoes,
was sitting in an armchair, and with a pince-nez with blue lenses he
was reading a book that stood on a reading desk, while in his
beautiful hand he held a half-burned cigar carefully away from him.
His handsome, delicate, and still youthful-looking face, to which
his curly, glistening silvery hair gave a still more aristocratic air,
lighted up with a smile when he saw Levin.
"Capital! I intended to send to you. How's Kitty? Sit here, it's
more comfortable." He got up and pushed up a rocking chair. "Have you
read the last circular in the Journal de St Petersbourg? I think it's
excellent," he said with a slight French accent.
Levin told him what he had heard from Katavassov was being said in
Peterburg, and, after talking a little about politics, he told him of
his interview with Metrov, and the learned society's meeting. To Lvov
it was very interesting.
"That's what I envy you, that you are able to mix in these
interesting scientific circles," he said. And as he talked, he passed
as usual into French, which was easier for him. "It's true I haven't
the time for it. My official work and the children leave me no time;
and then I'm not ashamed to own that my education has been too
"That I don't believe," said Levin with a smile, feeling, as he
always did, touched at Lvov's low opinion of himself, which was not in
the least put on from a desire to seem or to be modest, but was
"Oh, yes, indeed! I feel now how badly educated I am. To educate
my children I positively have to look up a great deal, and, in fact,
actually to study myself. For it's not enough to have teachers—— there
must be someone to look after them; just as on your land you want
laborers and an overseer. See what I'm reading"——he pointed to
Buslaev's Grammar on the desk——"it's expected of Misha, and it's so
difficult.... Come, explain to me.... Here he says..."
Levin tried to explain to him that it couldn't be understood, but
that it had to be taught; but Lvov would not agree with him.
"Oh, you're laughing at it!"
"On the contrary, you can't imagine how, when I look at you, I'm
always learning the task that lies before me——that is, the education
of one's children."
"Well, there's nothing for you to learn," said Lvov.
"All I know," said Levin, "is that I have never seen better
brought-up children than yours, and I wouldn't wish for children
better than yours."
Lvov visibly tried to restrain the expression of his delight, but
he was positively radiant with smiles.
"If only they're better than I! That's all I desire. You don't
know yet all the work," he said, "with boys who've been left like mine
to run wild abroad."
"You'll catch up with all that. They're such clever children. The
great thing is the education of character. That's what I learn when I
look at your children."
"You talk of the education of character. You can't imagine how
difficult that is! You have hardly succeeded in combating one tendency
when others crop up, and the struggle begins again. If one had not a
support in religion——you remember we talked about that——no father
could bring children up relying on his own strength alone, without
This subject, which always interested Levin, was cut short by the
entrance of the beauty Natalya Alexandrovna, dressed to go out.
"I didn't know you were here," she said, unmistakably feeling no
regret, but a positive pleasure, in interrupting this conversation on
a topic she had heard so much of that she was by now weary of it.
"Well, how is Kitty? I am dining with you today. I tell you what,
Arsenii," she turned to her husband, "you take the carriage."
And the husband and wife began to discuss their arrangements for
the day. As the husband had to drive to meet someone on official
business, while the wife had to go to the concert and some public
meeting of a committee on the South-Eastern Question, there was a
great deal to consider and settle. Levin had to take part in their
plans as one of themselves. It was settled that Levin should go with
Natalie to the concert and the meeting, and that from there they
should send the carriage to the office for Arsenii and he should call
for her and take her to Kitty's; or that, if he had not finished his
work, he should send the carriage back and Levin would go with her.
"He's spoiling me," Lvov said to his wife: "he assures me that our
children are splendid, when I know how much bad there is in them."
"Arsenii goes to extremes, I always say," said his wife. "If you
look for perfection, you will never be satisfied. And it's true, as
papa says——that when we were brought up there was one extreme——we were
kept in the attic, while our parents lived in the best rooms; now it's
just the other way——the parents are in the washhouse, while the
children are in the best rooms. Parents now are not expected to live
at all, but to exist altogether for their children."
"Well, what if they like it better? Lvov said, with his beautiful
smile, touching her hand. "Anyone who didn't know you would think you
were a stepmother, not a true mother."
"No, extremes are not good in anything," Natalie said serenely,
putting his paper knife straight in its proper place on the table.
"Well, come here, you perfect children," Lvov said to the two
handsome boys who came in, and, after bowing to Levin, went up to
their father, obviously wishing to ask him about something.
Levin would have liked to talk to them, to hear what they would
say to their father, but Natalie began talking to him, and then Lvov's
colleague in the service, Makhotin, walked in, wearing his Court
dress, to go with him to meet someone, and a conversation was kept up
without a break upon Herzegovina, Princess Korzinskaya, the town
council, and the sudden death of Madame Apraksina.
Levin even forgot the commission intrusted to him. He recollected
it as he was going into the hall.
"O, Kitty told me to talk to you about Oblonsky," he said, as Lvov
was standing on the stairs, seeing his wife and Levin off.
"Yes, yes, maman wants us, les beaux-freres, to attack him," he
said, blushing. "But why should I?"
"Well, then, I will attack him," said Madame Lvova, with a smile,
standing in her round white dogskin opera cloak waiting till they had
finished speaking. "Come, let us go."
At the concert in the afternoon two very interesting things were
One was a fantasia, King Lear in the Heath; the other was a
quartette dedicated to the memory of Bach. Both were new and in the
new style, and Levin was eager to form an opinion of them. After
escorting his sister-in-law to her stall, he stood against a column
and tried to listen as attentively and conscientiously as possible. He
tried not to let his attention be distracted, and not to spoil his
impression by looking at the conductor in a white tie, waving his
arms, which always disturbed his enjoyment of music so much, or the
ladies in bonnets, the ribbons of which, since it was a concert, they
had carefully tied over their ears, and all these people either
thinking of nothing at all, or thinking of all sorts of things except
the music. He tried to avoid meeting musical connoisseurs or talkative
acquaintances, and stood looking at the floor straight before him,
But the more he listened to the fantasia of King Lear the further
he felt from forming any definite opinion of it. There was, as it
were, a continual beginning, a preparation of the musical expression
of some feeling, but it fell to pieces again directly, breaking into
new musical motifs, or simply nothing but the whims of the composer——
exceedingly complex but disconnected sounds. And these fragmentary
musical expressions, though sometimes beautiful, were disagreeable,
because they were utterly unexpected and not led up to by anything.
Gaiety and grief and despair and tenderness and triumph followed one
another without any ground, like the emotions of a madman. And those
emotions, like a madman's, sprang up quite unexpectedly.
During the whole performance Levin felt like a deaf man watching
people dancing, and was in a state of complete bewilderment when the
fantasia was over, and felt a great weariness from the fruitless
strain on his attention. Loud applause resounded on all sides.
Everyone got up, moved about, and began talking. Anxious to throw some
light on his own perplexity from the impressions of others, Levin
began to walk about, looking for connoisseurs, and was glad to see a
well-known musical amateur in conversation with Pestsov, whom he knew.
"Marvelous!" Pestsov was saying in his deep bass. "How are you,
Konstantin Dmitrievich? Particularly sculpturesque and plastic, so to
say, and richly colored is that passage where you feel Cordelia's
approach, where woman, das ewig Weibliche, enters into conflict with
fate. Isn't it?"
"You mean... What has Cordelia to do with it?" Levin asked
timidly, forgetting that the fantasia was supposed to represent King
"Cordelia comes in... See here!" said Pestsov, tapping his finger
on the satiny surface of the program he held in his hand and passing
it to Levin.
Only then Levin recollected the title of the fantasia, and made
haste to read in the Russian translation the lines from Shakespeare
that were printed on the back of the program.
"You can't follow it without that," said Pestsov, addressing
Levin, as the person he had been speaking to had gone away, and he had
no one to talk to.
In the entr'acte Levin and Pestsov fell into an argument upon the
merits and defects of the music of the Wagner school. Levin maintained
that the mistake of Wagner and all his followers lay in their trying
to take music into the sphere of another art, just as poetry goes
wrong when it tries to paint a face as the art of painting ought to
do, and as an instance of this mistake he cited the sculptor who
carved in marble certain poetic phantasms flitting round the figure of
the poet on the pedestal. "These phantoms were so far from being
phantoms that they were positively clinging to the stairs," said
Levin. The comparison pleased him, but he could not remember whether
he had not used the same phrase before, and to Pestsov, too, and as he
said it he felt confused.
Pestsov maintained that art is one, and that it can attain its
highest manifestations only by the conjunction of all kinds of art.
The second piece that was performed Levin could not hear. Pestsov,
who was standing beside him, was talking to him almost all the time,
condemning the music for its excessive affected assumption of
simplicity, and comparing it with the simplicity of the
Pre-Raphaelites in painting. As he went out Levin met many more
acquaintances, with whom he talked of politics, of music, and of
common acquaintances. Among others he met Count Bol, whom he had
utterly forgotten to call upon.
"Well, go at once then," Madame Lvova said, when he told her;
"perhaps they'll not be at home, and then you can come to the meeting
to fetch me. You'll find me still there."
"Perhaps they're not at home?" said Levin, as he went into the
hall of Countess Bol's house.
"At home; please walk in," said the porter, resolutely removing
"How annoying!" thought Levin with a sigh, taking off one glove
and stroking his hat. "What did I come for? What have I to say to
As he passed through the first drawing room Levin met in the
doorway Countess Bol, with a careworn and severe face, giving some
order to a servant. On seeing Levin she smiled, and asked him to come
into the next little drawing room where he heard voices. In this room
there were sitting in armchairs the two daughters of the Countess, and
a Moscow colonel, whom Levin knew. Levin walked up, greeted them, and
sat down beside the sofa, with his hat on his knees.
"How is your wife? Have you been at the concert? We couldn't go.
Mamma had to be at the requiem."
"Yes, I heard.... What a sudden death!" said Levin.
The Countess came in, sat down on the sofa, and she too asked
after his wife and inquired about the concert.
Levin answered, and repeated an inquiry about Madame Apraksina's
"But she was always in poor health."
"Were you at the opera yesterday?"
"Yes, I was."
"Lucca was very good."
"Yes, very good," he said, and, as it was utterly of no
consequence to him what they thought of him, he began repeating what
they had heard a hundred times about the characteristics of the
singer's talent. Countess Bol pretended to be listening. Then, when he
had said enough and had paused, the colonel, who had been silent till
then, began to talk. The colonel too talked of the opera and
illumination. At last, after speaking of the proposed folle journee at
Turin's, the colonel laughed, got up noisily, and went away. Levin too
rose, but he saw by the face of the Countess that it was not yet time
for him to go. He must stay two minutes longer. He sat down.
But as he was thinking all the while how stupid it was, he could
not find a subject for conversation, and sat silent.
"You are not going to the public meeting? They say it will be very
interesting," began the Countess.
"No, I promised my belle-soeur to fetch her from it," said Levin.
A silence followed. The mother once more exchanged glances with
one of the daughters.
"Well, now I think the time has come," thought Levin, and he got
up. The ladies shook hands with him, and begged him to say mille
choses to his wife for them.
The porter asked him, as he gave him his coat: "Where is Your
Honor staying?" and immediately wrote down his address in a big
handsomely bound book.
"Of course I don't care, but still I feel ashamed and awfully
stupid," thought Levin, consoling himself with the reflection that
everyone does it. He drove to the public meeting, where he was to find
his sister-in-law, so as to drive home with her.
At the public meeting of the committee there were a great many
people, and almost all the highest society. Levin was in time for the
report which, as everyone said, was very interesting. When the reading
of the report was over, people moved about, and Levin met Sviiazhsky,
who invited him very pressingly to come that evening to a meeting of
the Society of Agriculture, where a celebrated report was to be
delivered, and Stepan Arkadyevich, who had only just come from the
races, and many other acquaintances; and Levin heard and uttered
various criticisms on the meeting, on the new play, and on a public
trial. But, probably from the mental fatigue he was beginning to feel,
he made a blunder in speaking of the trial, and this blunder he
recalled several times with vexation. Speaking of the sentence upon a
foreigner who had been condemned in Russia, and of how unfair it would
be to punish him by exile abroad, Levin repeated what he had heard the
day before in conversation from an acquaintance.
"I think sending him abroad is much the same as punishing a carp
by putting it into the water," said Levin. Then he recollected that
this idea, which he had heard from an acquaintance and uttered as his
own, came from a fable of Krilov's, and that the acquaintance had
picked it up from a newspaper article.
After driving home with his sister-in-law, and finding Kitty in
good spirits and quite well, Levin drove to the club.
Levin reached the club just at the right time. Members and
visitors were driving up as he arrived. Levin had not been at the club
for a very long while——not since he lived in Moscow, when he was
leaving the university and going into society. He remembered the club,
the external details of its arrangement, but he had completely
forgotten the impression it had made on him in old days. But as soon
as, driving into the wide semicircular court and getting out of the
cab, he mounted the steps, and the hall porter, adorned with a
crossbelt, noiselessly opened the door to him with a bow; as soon as
he saw in the porter's room the cloaks and galoshes of members who
thought it less trouble to take them off downstairs; as soon as he
heard the mysterious ringing bell that preceded him as he ascended the
low-stepped, carpeted staircase, and saw the statue on the landing,
and the third porter at the top doors, a familiar figure grown older,
in the club livery, opening the door without haste or delay, and
scanning the visitors as they passed in——Levin felt the old impression
of the club come back in a rush, an impression of repose, comfort, and
"Your hat, please," the porter said to Levin, who forgot the club
rule of checking his hat in the porter's room. "Long time since you've
been here. The Prince put your name down yesterday. Prince Stepan
Arkadyevich is not here yet."
The porter not only knew Levin, but also all his connections and
relationships, and so immediately mentioned his intimate friends.
Passing through the outer hall, divided up by screens, and the
room partitioned on the right, where a man sits at the fruit buffet,
Levin passed by a shuffling old man, and entered the dining room, full
of noise and people.
He walked along the tables, almost all full, and scrutinized the
visitors. He saw people of all sorts, old and young; some he knew a
little; some were intimate friends. There was not a single cross or
worried-looking face. All seemed to have checked their cares and
anxieties in the porter's room with their hats, and were all
deliberately getting ready to enjoy the material blessings of life.
Sviiazhsky was here and Shcherbatsky, Neviedovsky and the old Prince,
and Vronsky and Sergei Ivanovich.
"Ah! Why are you late?" the Prince said smiling, and giving him
his hand over his own shoulder. "How's Kitty?" he added, smoothing out
the napkin he had tucked in at his waistcoat buttons.
"Very well; they are dining at home, all three of them."
"Ah, 'Alines-Nadines' to be sure! There's no room with us. Go to
that table, and make haste and take a seat," said the Prince, and
turning away he carefully took a plate of burbot soup.
"Levin, this way!" a good-natured voice shouted a little farther
on. It was Turovtsin. He was sitting with a young officer, and beside
them were two chairs tipped over. Levin gladly went up to them. He had
always liked the goodhearted rake, Turovtsin——he was associated in his
mind with memories of his courtship——and at that moment, after the
strain of intellectual conversation, the sight of Turovtsin's
good-natured face was particularly welcome.
"For you and Oblonsky. He'll be here directly."
The young man, holding himself very erect, with eyes forever
twinkling with enjoyment, was an officer from Peterburg, Gaghin.
Turovtsin introduced them.
"Oblonsky's always late."
"Ah, here he is!
"Have you only just come?" said Oblonsky, coming quickly toward
them. "Good day. Had some vodka? Well, come along then."
Levin got up and went with him to the big table spread with
spirits and appetizers of the most varied kinds. One would have
thought that out of two dozen delicacies one might find something to
one's taste, but Stepan Arkadyevich asked for something special, and
one of the liveried waiters standing by immediately brought what was
required. They drank a pony each and returned to their table.
At once, while they were still at their soup, Gaghin was served
with champagne, and told the waiter to fill four glasses. Levin did
not refuse the wine, and asked for a second bottle. He was very
hungry, and ate and drank with great enjoyment, and with still greater
enjoyment took part in the lively and simple conversation of his
companions. Gaghin, dropping his voice, told the last good story from
Peterburg, and the story, though improper and stupid, was so ludicrous
that Levin broke into roars of laughter so loud that those near looked
"That's in the same style as, 'that's a thing I can't endure!' You
know the story?" said Stepan Arkadyevich. "Ah, that's exquisite!
Another bottle," he said to the waiter, and he began to relate his
"Piotr Illyich Vinovsky invites you to drink with him," a little
old waiter interrupted Stepan Arkadyevich, bringing two delicate
glasses of sparkling champagne, and addressing Stepan Arkadyevich and
Levin. Stepan Arkadyevich took the glass, and looking toward a bald
man with red mustaches at the other end of the table, he nodded to
"Who's that?" asked Levin.
"You met him once at my place, don't you remember? A good-natured
Levin did the same as Stepan Arkadyevich and took the glass.
Stepan Arkadyevich's anecdote too was very amusing. Levin told his
story, and that too was successful. Then they talked of horses, of the
races, of what they had been doing that day, and of how smartly
Vronsky's Atlas had won the first prize. Levin did not notice how the
time passed at dinner.
"Ah! And here they are!" Stepan Arkadyevich said toward the end of
dinner, leaning over the back of his chair and holding out his hand to
Vronsky, who came up with a tall colonel of the Guards. Vronsky's face
too beamed with the look of good-humored enjoyment that was general in
the club. He propped his elbow playfully on Stepan Arkadyevich's
shoulder, whispering something to him, and he held out his hand to
Levin with the same good-humored smile.
"Very glad to meet you," he said. "I looked out for you at the
election, but I was told you had gone away."
"Yes, I left the same day. We've just been talking of your horse.
I congratulate you," said Levin. "It was run in very fast time."
"Yes; you've race horses too, haven't you?"
"No, my father had; but I remember and know something about them."
"Where have you dined?" asked Stepan Arkadyevich.
"We were at the second table, behind the columns."
"We've been celebrating his success," said the tall colonel. "It's
his second Imperial prize. I wish I might have the luck at cards he
has with horses."
"Well, why waste precious time? I'm going to the 'infernal
regions,'" added the colonel, and he walked away.
"That's Iashvin," Vronsky said in answer to Turovtsin, and he sat
down in the vacated seat beside them. He drank the glass offered him,
and ordered a bottle of wine. Under the influence of the club
atmosphere or the wine he had drunk, Levin chatted away to Vronsky of
the best breeds of cattle, and was very glad not to feel the slightest
hostility to this man. He even told him, among other things, that he
had heard from his wife that she had met him at Princess Marya
"Ah, Princess Marya Borissovna——she's exquisite!" said Stepan
Arkadyevich, and he told an anecdote about her which set them all
laughing. Vronsky in particular laughed with such simplehearted
amusement that Levin felt quite reconciled to him.
"Well, have we finished?" said Stepan Arkadyevich, getting up with
a smile. "Let us go."
Getting up from the table, Levin walked with Gaghin through the
lofty rooms to the billiard room, feeling his arms swing as he walked
with a peculiar lightness and ease. As he crossed the big room, he
came upon his father-in-law.
"Well, how do you like our Temple of Indolence?" said the Prince,
taking his arm. "Come along, come along!"
"Yes, I wanted to walk about and look at everything. It's
"Yes, it's interesting for you. But its interest for me is quite
different. You look at such little ancients, now," he said, pointing
to a club member with bent back and pendulous lip, shuffling toward
them in his soft boots, "and imagine that they were shlupiks like that
from their birth up."
"I see you don't know that name. That's our club designation. You
know the game of rolling eggs: when one's rolled a long while it
becomes a shlupik. So it is with us; one goes on coming and coming to
the club, and ends by becoming a shlupik. Ah, you laugh! but we look
out, for fear of dropping into it ourselves. You know Prince
Chechensky?" inquired the Prince; and Levin saw by his face that he
was just going to relate something funny.
"No, I don't know him."
"You don't say so! Well, Prince Chechensky is a well-known figure.
No matter, though. He's always playing billiards here. Only three
years ago he was not a shlupik, and kept up his spirits, and even used
to call other people shlupiks. But one day he turns up, and our
porter... You know Vassilii? Why, that fat one; he's famous for his
bons mots. And so Prince Chechensky asks him, 'Come, Vassilii who's
here? Any shlupiks here yet?' And he says: 'You're the third.' Yes, my
dear boy, that he did!"
Talking and greeting the friends they met, Levin and the Prince
walked through all the rooms: the great room where tables had already
been set, and the usual partners were playing for small stakes; the
divan room, where they were playing chess, and Sergei Ivanovich was
sitting talking to somebody; the billiard room, where, about the sofa
in a recess, there was a lively party drinking champagne——Gaghin was
one of them. They peeped into the "infernal regions," where a good
many men were crowding round one table, at which Iashvin was sitting.
Trying not to make a noise, they walked into the dark reading room,
where under the shaded lamps there sat a young man with a wrathful
countenance, turning over one journal after another, and a bald
general buried in a book. They went, too, into what the Prince called
the intellectual room, where three gentlemen were engaged in a heated
discussion of the latest political news.
"Prince, please come, we're ready," said one of his card party,
who had come to look for him, and the Prince went off. Levin sat down
and listened, but recalling all the conversation of the morning he
felt all of a sudden fearfully bored. He got up hurriedly, and went to
look for Oblonsky and Turovtsin, with whom it had been so pleasant.
Turovtsin was one of the circle drinking in the billiard room, and
Stepan Arkadyevich was talking with Vronsky near the door at the
farther corner of the room.
"It's not that she's dull; but this undefined, this unsettled
position," Levin caught, and he was going to hurry away, but Stepan
Arkadyevich called him.
"Levin!" said Stepan Arkadyevich; and Levin noticed that his eyes
were not full of tears exactly, but moist, which always happened when
he had been drinking, or when he was touched. Today it was due to both
causes. "Levin, don't go," he said, and he warmly squeezed his arm
above the elbow, obviously not at all wishing to let him go.
"This is a true friend of mine——almost my greatest friend," he
said to Vronsky. "You also are still closer and dearer to me. And I
want you, and I know you ought, to be friends, and great friends,
because you're both splendid fellows."
"Well, there's nothing for us now but to kiss and be friends,"
Vronsky said, with good-natured playfulness, holding out his hand.
Levin quickly took the offered hand, and squeezed it warmly.
"I'm very, very glad," said Levin.
"Waiter, a bottle of champagne," said Stepan Arkadyevich.
"And I'm very glad," said Vronsky.
But in spite of Stepan Arkadyevich's desire, and their own desire,
they had nothing to talk about, and both felt it.
"Do you know, he has never met Anna?" Stepan Arkadyevich said to
Vronsky. "And I want above everything to take him to see her. Let us
"Really?" said Vronsky. "She will be very glad to see you. I
should be going home at once," he added, "but I'm worried about
Iashvin, and I want to stay on till he finishes."
"Why, is he losing?"
"He keeps losing, and I'm the only friend that can restrain him."
"Well, what do you say to pyramids? Levin, will you play?
Capital!" said Stepan Arkadyevich. "Get the table ready," he said to
"It has been ready a long while," answered the marker, who had
already set the balls in a triangle, and was knocking the red one
about for his own diversion.
"Well, let us begin."
After the game Vronsky and Levin sat down at Gaghin's table, and
at Stepan Arkadyevich's suggestion Levin took a hand in the game.
Vronsky sat down at the table, surrounded by friends, who were
incessantly coming up to him. Every now and then he went to the
"infernal" to keep an eye on Iashvin. Levin was enjoying a delightful
sense of repose after the mental fatigue of the morning. He was glad
that all hostility was at an end with Vronsky, and the sense of peace,
decorum and comfort never left him.
When the game was over, Stepan Arkadyevich took Levin's arm.
"Well, let us go to Anna's, then. At once? Eh? She is at home. I
promised her long ago to bring you. Where were you intending to spend
"Oh, nowhere specially. I promised Sviiazhsky to go to the Society
of Agriculture. By all means, let us go," said Levin.
"Very good; come along. Find out if my carriage is here," Stepan
Arkadyevich said to the waiter.
Levin went up to the table, paid the forty roubles he had lost;
paid his bill, the amount of which was in some mysterious way
ascertained by the little old waiter who stood at the counter, and,
swinging his arms, he walked through all the rooms to the exit.
"Oblonsky's carriage!" the porter shouted in an angry bass. The
carriage drove up and both got in. It was only for the first few
moments, while the carriage was driving out of the clubhouse gates,
that Levin was still under the influence of the club atmosphere of
repose, comfort, and unimpeachable good form. But as soon as the
carriage drove out into the street, and he felt it jolting over the
uneven road, heard the angry shout of a driver coming toward them, saw
in the uncertain light the red blind of a tavern and the shops, this
impression was dissipated, and he began to think over his actions, and
to wonder whether he was doing right in going to see Anna. What would
Kitty say? But Stepan Arkadyevich gave him no time for reflection,
and, as though divining his doubts, he dispersed them.
"How glad I am," he said, "that you should know her! You know
Dolly has long wished for it. And Lvov's been to see her, and often
goes. Though she is my sister," Stepan Arkadyevich pursued, "I don't
hesitate to say that she's a remarkable woman.... But you will see.
Her position is very painful, especially now."
"Why especially now?"
"We are carrying on negotiations with her husband about a divorce.
And he's agreed; but there are difficulties in regard to the son, and
the business, which ought to have been arranged long ago, has been
dragging on for three months past. As soon as the divorce is over, she
will marry Vronsky. How stupid these old ritual forms are——'Isaiah,
rejoice!'——which no one believes in, and which only prevent people
being comfortable!" Stepan Arkadyevich put in. "Well, then their
position will be as regular as mine, as yours."
"What is the difficulty?" said Levin.
"Oh, it's a long and tedious story The whole business is in such
an indefinite state with us. But the point is, she has been for three
months in Moscow, where everyone knows her, waiting for the divorce;
she goes out nowhere, sees no woman except Dolly, because, do you
understand, she doesn't care to have people come as a favor. That fool
Princess Varvara, even she has left her, considering this a breach of
propriety. Well, you see, in such a position any other woman would not
have found resources in herself. But you'll see how she has arranged
her life——how calm, how dignified she is. To the left, in the alley
opposite the church!" shouted Stepan Arkadyevich, leaning out of the
window of the carriage. "Phew! How hot it is!" he said, in spite of
twelve degrees of frost, flinging open his unbuttoned overcoat still
"But she has a daughter: no doubt she's busy looking after her?"
"I believe you picture every woman simply as a female, une
couveuse," said Stepan Arkadyevich. "If she's occupied, it must be
with her children. No, she brings her up capitally, I believe, but one
doesn't hear about her. She's busy, in the first place, with what she
writes. I see you're smiling ironically, but you're wrong. She's
writing a children's book, and doesn't talk about it to anyone, but
she read it to me and I gave the manuscript to Vorkuev... you know,
the publisher.... And he's an author himself too, I fancy. He
understands those things, and he says it's a remarkable piece of work.
But are you fancying she's a writing woman? Not a bit of it. She's a
woman with a heart, before everything, but you'll see. Now she has a
little English girl with her, and a whole family she's looking after."
"Oh, something in a philanthropic way?"
"Why, you will look at everything in the worst light. It's not
from philanthropy, it's from the heart. They——that is, Vronsky——had a
trainer, an Englishman, first-rate in his own line, but a drunkard.
He's completely given up to drink——delirium tremens——and the family
were cast on the world. She saw them, helped them, got more and more
interested in them, and now the whole family is on her hands. But not
by way of patronage, you know, helping with money; she's herself
preparing the boys in Russian for the high school, and she's taken the
little girl to live with her. But you'll see her for yourself."
The carriage drove into the courtyard, and Stepan Arkadyevich rang
loudly at the entrance where a sleigh was standing.
And, without asking the servant who opened the door whether the
lady were at home, Stepan Arkadyevich walked into the hall. Levin
followed him, more and more doubtful whether he were doing right or
Looking at himself in the glass, Levin noticed that he was red in
the face, but he felt certain he was not drunk, and he followed Stepan
Arkadyevich up the carpeted stairs. At the top Stepan Arkadyevich
inquired of the footman, who bowed to him as to an intimate friend,
who was with Anna Arkadyevna, and received the answer that it was M.
"Where are they?"
"In the study."
Passing through the dining room, a room not very large, with dark
paneled walls, Stepan Arkadyevich and Levin walked over the soft
carpet to the half-dark study, lighted up by a single lamp with a big
dark shade. Another lamp with a reflector was hanging on the wall,
lighting up a big full-length portrait of a woman, which Levin could
not help looking at. It was the portrait of Anna, painted in Italy by
Mikhailov. While Stepan Arkadyevich went behind the treillage, and the
man's voice which had been speaking paused, Levin gazed at the
portrait, which stood out from the frame in the brilliant light thrown
on it, and he could not tear himself away from it. He positively
forgot where he was, and not even hearing what was said, he could not
take his eyes off the marvelous portrait. It was not a picture, but a
living, charming woman, with black curling hair, with bare arms and
shoulders, with a pensive smile on the lips, covered with soft down;
triumphantly and softly she looked at him with eyes that baffled him.
She was not living, only because she was more beautiful than any
living woman can be.
"I am delighted." He heard suddenly near him a voice, unmistakably
addressing him, the voice of the very woman he had been admiring in
the portrait. Anna had come from behind the treillage to meet him, and
Levin saw in the dim light of the study the very woman of the
portrait, in a dark-blue gown of changeable blue, not in the same
position nor with the same expression, but with the same perfection of
beauty which the artist had caught in the portrait. She was less
dazzling in reality, but, on the other hand, there was something fresh
and seductive in the living woman which was not in the portrait.
She had risen to meet him, without concealing her pleasure at
seeing him; and in the quiet ease with which she held out her little
and vigorous hand, introduced him to Vorkuev, and indicated a
red-haired, pretty little girl who was sitting at work, calling her
her pupil, Levin recognized and liked the manners of a woman of the
great world, always self-possessed and natural.
"I am delighted, delighted," she repeated, and on her lips these
simple words took for Levin's ears a special significance. "I have
known you and liked you for a long while, both from your friendship
with Stiva and for your wife's sake.... I knew her for a very short
time, but she left on me the impression of an exquisite flower——just a
flower. And to think she will soon be a mother!"
She spoke easily and without haste, looking now and then from
Levin to her brother, and Levin felt that the impression he was making
was good, and he felt immediately at home, at ease and happy with her,
as though he had known her from childhood.
"Ivan Petrovich and I settled in Alexei's study," she said in
answer to Stepan Arkadyevich's question whether he might smoke, "just
so as to be able to smoke"——and glancing at Levin, instead of asking
whether he would smoke, she pulled closer a tortoise-shell cigarette
case and took a corn-leaf cigarette.
"How are you feeling today?" her brother asked her.
"Oh, nothing. Nerves, as usual."
"Yes, isn't it extraordinarily fine?" said Stepan Arkadyevich,
noticing that Levin was glancing at the picture.
"I have never seen a better portrait."
"And extraordinarily like, isn't it?" said Vorkuev.
Levin looked from the portrait to the original. A peculiar
brilliance lighted up Anna's face when she felt his eyes on her. Levin
flushed, and to cover his confusion would have asked whether she had
seen Darya Alexandrovna lately; but at that moment Anna spoke:
"We were just talking, Ivan Petrovich and I, of Vashchenkov's last
pictures. Have you seen them?"
"Yes, I have seen them," answered Levin.
"But, I beg your pardon, I interrupted you... You were saying?..."
Levin asked if she had seen Dolly lately.
"She was here yesterday. She was very indignant with the high
school people on Grisha's account. The Latin teacher, it seems, had
been unfair to him."
"Yes, I have seen his pictures. I didn't care for them very much,"
Levin went back to the subject she had started.
Levin talked now not at all with that purely businesslike attitude
to the subject with which he had been talking all the morning. Every
word in his conversation with her had a special significance. And
talking to her was pleasant; still pleasanter was it to listen to her.
Anna talked not merely naturally and cleverly, but cleverly and
carelessly, attaching no value to her own ideas and giving great
weight to the ideas of the person she was talking to.
The conversation turned on the new movement in art, on the new
illustrations of the Bible by a French artist. Vorkuev attacked the
artist for a realism carried to the point of coarseness. Levin said
that the French had carried conventionality further than anyone, and
that consequently they see a great merit in the return to realism. In
the fact of not lying they see poetry.
Never had anything clever said by Levin given him so much pleasure
as this remark. Anna's face lighted up at once, as she immediately
appreciated the thought. She laughed.
"I laugh," she said, "as one laughs when one sees a very true
portrait. What you said so perfectly hits off French art now,
painting——and literature too, indeed——Zola, Daudet. But perhaps it is
always so, that men form their conceptions from fictitious,
conventional types, and then——all the combinaisons made——they are
tired of the fictitious figures and begin to invent more natural, true
"That's perfectly true," said Vorkuev.
"So you've been at the club?" she said to her brother.
"Yes, yes, this a woman!" Levin thought, forgetting himself and
staring persistently at her lovely, mobile face, which at that moment
was all at once completely transformed. Levin did not hear what she
was talking of as she leaned over to her brother, but he was struck by
the change of her expression. Her face——so handsome a moment before in
its repose——suddenly wore a look of strange curiosity, anger, and
pride. But this lasted only an instant. She half-closed her eyes, as
though recollecting something.
"Oh, well, but that's of no interest to anyone," she said, and she
turned to the English girl.
"Please order the tea in the drawing room," she said in English.
The girl got up and went out.
"Well, how did she get through her examination?" asked Stepan
"Splendidly! She's a very gifted child and a sweet character."
"It will end in your loving her more than your own."
"There a man speaks. In love there's no such thing as more or
less. I love my daughter with one love, and her with another."
"I was just telling Anna Arkadyevna," said Vorkuev, "that if she
were to put a hundredth part of the energy she devotes to this English
girl to the public question of the education of Russian children, she
would be doing a great and useful work."
"Yes, but I can't help it; I couldn't do it. Count Alexei
Kirillovich urged me very much" (as she uttered the words Count Alexei
Kirillovich she glanced with appealing timidity at Levin, and he
unconsciously responded with a respectful and reassuring look), "he
urged me to take up the school in the village. I visited it several
times. The children were very dear, but I could not feel drawn to the
work. You speak of energy. Energy rests upon love; and, come as it
will, there's no forcing it. I took to this child——I could not myself
And she glanced again at Levin. And her smile and her glance——all
told him that it was to him only she was addressing her words, valuing
his good opinion, and at the same time sure beforehand that they
understood one another.
"I quite understand that," Levin answered. "It's impossible to
give one's heart to a school or such institutions in general, and I
believe that that's just why philanthropic institutions always give
such poor results."
She was silent for a while, then she smiled. "Yes, yes," she
agreed; "I never could. Je n'ai pas le coeur assez large to love a
whole asylum of horrid little girls. Cela ne m'a jamais reussi. There
are so many women who have made themselves une position sociale in
that way. And now more than ever," she said with a mournful, confiding
expression, ostensibly addressing her brother, but unmistakably
intending her words only for Levin, "now when I have such need of some
occupation, I cannot." And suddenly frowning (Levin saw that she was
frowning at herself for talking about herself) she changed the
subject. "I know about you," she said to Levin; "that you're not a
public-spirited citizen, and I have defended you to the best of my
"How have you defended me?"
"Oh, according to the attacks made on you. But won't you have some
tea?" She rose and took up a book bound in morocco.
"Give it to me, Anna Arkadyevna," said Vorkuev, indicating the
book. "It's well worth taking up."
"Oh, no, it's all so sketchy."
"I told him about it," Stepan Arkadyevich said to his sister,
nodding at Levin.
"You shouldn't have. My writing is something after the fashion of
those little baskets and carvings which Liza Mertsalova used to sell
me from the prisons. She had the direction of the prison department in
that society," she turned to Levin; "and they were miracles of
patience, the work of those poor wretches."
And Levin saw a new trait in this woman, who attracted him so
extraordinarily. Besides wit, grace, and beauty, she had truth. She
had no wish to hide from him all the bitterness of her position. As
she said that she sighed, and her face, suddenly assuming a hard
expression, looked, as it were, turned to stone. With that expression
on her face she was more beautiful than ever; but the expression was
new; it was utterly unlike that expression, radiant with happiness and
creating happiness, which had been caught by the painter in her
portrait. Levin looked more than once at the portrait and at her
figure, as taking her brother's arm she walked with him to the high
doors, and he felt for her a tenderness and pity at which he wondered
She asked Levin and Vorkuev to go into the drawing room, while she
stayed behind to say a few words to her brother. "About her divorce,
about Vronsky, and what he's doing at the club, about me?" wondered
Levin. And he was so keenly interested by the question of what she was
saying to Stepan Arkadyevich, that he scarcely heard what Vorkuev was
telling him of the qualities of the story for children Anna Arkadyevna
At tea the same pleasant sort of talk, full of interesting matter,
continued. There was not a single instant when a subject for
conversation was to seek; on the contrary, it was felt that one had
hardly time to say what one had to say, and eagerly held back to hear
what the others were saying. And all that was said, not only by her,
but by Vorkuev and Stepan Arkadyevich——all, so it seemed to Levin,
gained peculiar significance from her attention to him and her
While he followed this interesting conversation, Levin was all the
time admiring her——her beauty, her intelligence, her culture, and at
the same time her directness and her cordiality. He listened and
talked, and all the while he was thinking of her inner life, trying to
divine her feelings. And though he had judged her so severely
hitherto, now by some strange chain of reasoning he was justifying her
and also was sorry for her, and afraid that Vronsky did not fully
understand her. At ten o'clock, when Stepan Arkadyevich got up to go
(Vorkuev had left earlier), it seemed to Levin that he had only just
come. Regretfully Levin too rose.
"Good-by," she said, holding his hand and glancing into his face
with a winning look. "I am very glad que la glace est rompue."
She dropped his hand, and half-closed her eyes.
"Tell your wife that I love her as before, and that if she cannot
pardon me my position, then my wish for her is that she may never
pardon me. To pardon it, one must go through what I have gone through,
and may God spare her that."
"Certainly, yes, I will tell her..." Levin said, blushing.
"What a marvelous, sweet and unhappy woman!" he was thinking, as
he stepped out into the frosty air with Stepan Arkadyevich.
"Well, didn't I tell you?" said Stepan Arkadyevich, seeing that
Levin had been completely won over.
"Yes," said Levin pensively, "an extraordinary woman! It's not her
cleverness, but she has such wonderful depth of feeling. I'm awfully
sorry for her!"
"Now, please God everything will soon be settled. Well, well,
don't be hard on people in future," said Stepan Arkadyevich, opening
the carriage door. "Good-by; we don't go the same way."
Still thinking of Anna, of everything, even the simplest phrase in
their conversation with her, and recalling the minutest changes in her
expression, entering more and more into her position, and feeling
sympathy for her, Levin reached home.
At home Kouzma told Levin that Katerina Alexandrovna was quite
well, and that her sisters had just gone, and he handed him two
letters. Levin read them at once in the hall, that he might not
overlook them later. One was from Sokolov, his bailiff. Sokolov wrote
that the wheat could not be sold, that the price was only five and a
half roubles, and that he did not know where he had to get the money.
The other letter was from his sister. She scolded him for her business
being still unsettled.
"Well, we must sell it at five and a half if we can't get more,"
Levin decided on the spot the first question which had always before
seemed such a weighty one, with extraordinary facility. "It's
extraordinary how all one's time is taken up here," he thought,
considering the second letter. He felt himself to blame for not having
got done what his sister had asked him to do for her. "Today, again,
I've not been to court, but today I've certainly not had time." And
resolving that he would not fail to do it next day, he went up to his
wife. As he went in, Levin mentally ran rapidly through the day he had
spent. All the events of the day were conversations: conversations he
had heard and taken part in. All the conversations were upon subjects
which, if he had been alone in the country, he would never have taken
up, but here they were very interesting. And all these conversations
were right enough, only in two places there was something not quite
right. One was what he had said about the carp, the other was
something not quite the thing in the tender sympathy he was feeling
Levin found his wife low-spirited and dull. The dinner of the
three sisters had gone off very well, but then they had waited and
waited for him, all of them had felt dull, the sisters had departed,
and she had been left alone.
"Well, and what have you been doing?" she asked him, looking
straight into his eyes, which shone with rather a suspicious
brightness. But that she might not prevent his telling her everything,
she concealed her close scrutiny of him, and with an approving smile
listened to his account of how he had spent the evening.
"Well, I'm very glad I met Vronsky. I felt quite at ease and
natural with him. You understand, I shall try not to see him, but I'm
glad that this awkwardness is all over," he said, and remembering
that, by way of trying not to see him, he had immediately gone to call
on Anna, he blushed. "We talk about the peasants drinking; I don't
know who drinks most, the peasantry or our own class; the peasants do
it on holidays, but..."
But Kitty took not the slightest interest in discussing the
drinking habits of the peasants. She saw that he blushed, and she
wanted to know why.
"Well, and then where did you go?"
"Stiva urged me awfully to go and see Anna Arkadyevna."
And as he said this, Levin blushed even more, and his doubts as to
whether he had done right in going to see Anna were settled once for
all. He knew now that he ought not to have done so.
Kitty's eyes opened in a curious way and gleamed at Anna's name,
but controlling herself with an effort, she concealed her emotion and
"Oh!" was all she said.
"I'm sure you won't be angry at my going. Stiva begged me to, and
Dolly wished it," Levin went on.
"Oh, no!" she said, but he saw in her eyes a constraint that boded
him no good.
"She is a very sweet, a very, very unhappy, good woman," he said,
telling her about Anna, her occupations, and what she had told him to
say to her.
"Yes, of course, she is very much to be pitied," said Kitty, when
he had finished. "Whom was your letter from?"
He told her, and believing in her calm tone, he went to change his
Coming back, he found Kitty in the same easy chair. When he went
up to her, she glanced at him and broke into sobs.
"What? What is it?" he asked, knowing beforehand what.
"You're in love with that hateful woman; she has bewitched you! I
saw it in your eyes. Yes, yes! What can it all lead to? You were
drinking at the club, drinking and gambling, and then you went...
Where? No, we must go away... I shall go away tomorrow."
It was a long while before Levin could soothe his wife. At last he
succeeded in calming her, only by confessing that a feeling of pity,
in conjunction with the wine he had drunk, had been too much for him;
that he had succumbed to Anna's artful influence, and that he would
avoid her. One thing he did with more sincerity confess to was that
living so long in Moscow, a life of nothing but conversation, eating
and drinking, he was growing crazy. They talked till three o'clock in
the morning. Only at three o'clock were they sufficiently reconciled
to be able to go to sleep.
After taking leave of her guests, Anna did not sit down, but began
walking up and down the room. She had unconsciously the whole evening
done her utmost to arouse in Levin a feeling of love——as of late she
had fallen into doing with all young men——and she knew she had
attained her aim, as far as was possible in one evening, with a
married and conscientious man. She liked him very much indeed, and, in
spite of the striking difference, from the masculine point of view,
between Vronsky and Levin, as a woman she saw something they had in
common, which had made Kitty able to love both. Yet as soon as he was
out of the room, she ceased to think of him.
One thought, and one only, pursued her in different forms, and
refused to be shaken off. "If I have so much effect on others, on this
man, who loves his home and his wife, why is it he is so cold to
me?... Not cold exactly——he loves me, I know that! But something new
is drawing us apart now. Why wasn't he here all the evening? He told
Stiva to say he could not leave Iashvin, and must watch over his play.
Is Iashvin a child? But supposing it's true. He never tells a he. But
there's something else in it if it's true. He is glad of an
opportunity of showing me that he has other duties; I know that, I
submit to that. But why prove that to me? He wants to show me that his
love for me is not to interfere with his freedom. But I need no
proofs——I need love. He ought to understand all the bitterness of this
life for me here in Moscow. Is this life? I am not living, but waiting
for an event, which is continually put off and put off. No answer
again! And Stiva says he cannot go to Alexei Alexandrovich. And I
can't write again. I can do nothing, can begin nothing, can alter
nothing; I hold myself in, I wait, inventing amusements for myself——
the English family, writing, reading——but it's all nothing but a sham,
it's all the same as morphine. He ought to feel for me," she said,
feeling tears of self-pity coming into her eyes.
She heard Vronsky's abrupt ring and hurriedly dried her tears——not
only dried her tears, but sat down by a lamp and opened a book,
affecting composure. She wanted to show him that she was displeased
that he had not come home as he had promised——displeased only, and not
on any account to let him see her distress, and, least of all, her
self-pity. She might pity herself, but he must not pity her. She did
not want strife, she blamed him for wanting to quarrel, but
unconsciously put herself into an attitude of antagonism.
"Well, you've not been dull?" he said, eagerly and good-humoredly,
going up to her. "What a terrible passion it is——gambling!"
"No, I've not been dull; I've learned long ago not to be dull.
Stiva has been here, and Levin."
"Yes, they meant to come and see you. Well, how did you like
Levin?" he said, sitting down beside her.
"Very much. They have not been gone long. What was Iashvin doing?"
"He was winning——seventeen thousand. I got him away. He had really
started home, but he went back again, and now he's losing."
"Then what did you stay for?" she asked, suddenly lifting her eyes
to him. The expression of her face was cold and ungracious. "You told
Stiva you were staying on to get Iashvin away. And you have left him
The same expression of cold readiness for the conflict appeared on
his face too.
"In the first place, I did not ask him to give you any message;
and secondly, I never tell lies. But the chief point is, I wanted to
stay, and I stayed," he said, frowning. "Anna, what is it for, why
will you do this?" he said after a moment's silence, bending over
toward her; and he opened his hand, hoping she would lay hers in it.
She was glad of this appeal for tenderness. But some strange force
of evil would not let her give herself up to her feelings, as though
the rules of warfare would not permit her to surrender.
"Of course you wanted to stay, and you stayed. You do everything
you want to. But what do you tell me that for? With what object?" she
said, getting more and more excited. "Does anyone contest your rights?
But you want to be right, and you're welcome to be right."
His hand closed, he turned away, and his face wore a still more
"For you it's a matter of obstinacy," she said, watching him
intently and suddenly finding the right word for that expression that
irritated her, "simply obstinacy. For you it's a question of whether
you keep the upper hand of me, while for me..." Again she felt sorry
for herself, and she almost burst into tears. "If you knew what it is
for me! When I feel as I do now, that you are hostile——yes, hostile to
me——if you knew what this means for me! If you knew how I feel on the
brink of calamity at this instant, how afraid I am of myself!" And she
turned away, hiding her sobs.
"But what are you talking about?" he said, horrified at her
expression of despair and again bending over her, he took her hand and
kissed it. "What is it for? Do I seek amusements outside our home?
Don't I avoid the society of women?"
"Well, yes! If that were all!" she said.
"Come, tell me what I ought to do to give you peace of mind? I am
ready to do anything to make you happy," he said, touched by her
expression of despair; "what wouldn't I do to save you from distress
of any sort, as now, Anna!" he said.
"It's nothing, nothing!" she said. "I don't know myself whether
it's the solitary life, my nerves... Come, don't let us talk of it.
What about the race? You haven't told me!" she inquired, trying to
conceal her triumph at the victory, which had been on her side after
He asked for supper, and began telling her about the races; but in
his tone, in his eyes, which became more and more cold, she saw that
he did not forgive her for her victory, that the feeling of obstinacy
with which she had been struggling had asserted itself again in him.
He was colder to her than before, as though he were regretting his
surrender. And she, remembering the words that had given her the
victory, "how I feel on the brink of calamity, how afraid I am of
myself," saw that this weapon was a dangerous one, and that it could
not be used a second time. And she felt that beside the love that
bound them together there had grown up between them some evil spirit
of strife, which she could not exorcise from his heart, and still less
from her own.
There are no conditions to which a man cannot become used,
especially if he sees that all around him are living in the same way.
Levin could not have believed three months before that he could have
gone quietly to sleep in the state in which he was that day——that
leading an aimless, irrational life, also living beyond his means,
after drinking to excess (he could not call what happened at the club
anything else), forming inappropriately friendly relations with a man
with whom his wife had once been in love, and after a still more
inappropriate call upon a woman who could only be called a lost woman,
after being fascinated by that woman and causing his wife distress——he
could still go quietly to sleep. But under the influence of fatigue, a
sleepless night, and the wine he had drunk, his sleep was sound and
At five o'clock the creak of a door opening waked him. He jumped
up and looked round. Kitty was not in bed beside him. But there was a
light moving behind the screen, and he heard her steps.
"What is it?... What is it?" he said, half-asleep. "Kitty! What is
"Nothing," she said, coming from behind the screen with a candle
in her hand. "I felt unwell," she said, smiling a particularly sweet
and meaning smile.
"What? Has it begun?" he said in terror. "We ought to send..." and
hurriedly he reached after his clothes.
"No, no," she said, smiling and holding his hand. "It's sure to be
nothing. I was rather unwell, only a little. It's all over now."
And, getting into bed, she blew out the candle, lay down and was
still. Though he thought her stillness suspicious, as though she were
holding her breath, and still more suspicious the expression of
peculiar tenderness and excitement with which, as she came from behind
the screen, she had said "Nothing," he was so sleepy that he fell
asleep at once. Only later he remembered the stillness of her
breathing, and understood all that must have been passing in her
sweet, precious heart while she lay beside him, not stirring, in
anticipation of the greatest event in a woman's life. At seven o'clock
he was waked by the touch of her hand on his shoulder, and a gentle
whisper. She seemed struggling between regret at waking him, and the
desire to talk to him.
"Kostia, don't be frightened. It's all right. But I fancy... We
ought to send for Lizaveta Petrovna."
The candle was lighted again. She was sitting up in bed, holding
some knitting, which she had been busy upon during the last few days.
"Please, don't be frightened, it's all right. I'm not a bit
afraid," she said, seeing his scared face, and she pressed his hand to
her bosom and then to her lips.
He hurriedly jumped up, hardly awake, and kept his eyes fixed on
her, as he put on his dressing gown; then he stopped, still looking at
her. He had to go, but he could not tear himself away from her eyes.
He thought he loved her face, knew her expression, her eyes, but never
had he seen it like this. How hateful and horrible he seemed to
himself, thinking of the distress he had caused her yesterday. Her
flushed face, fringed with soft curling hair under her nightcap, was
radiant with joy and courage.
Though there was so little that was artificial or pretended in
Kitty's character in general, Levin was struck by what was revealed
now, when suddenly all disguises were thrown off and the very kernel
of her soul shone in her eyes. And in this simplicity and nakedness of
her soul, she, the very woman he loved in her, was more manifest than
ever. She looked at him, smiling; but all at once her brows twitched,
she threw up her head, and, going quickly up to him, clutched his hand
and pressed close up to him, breathing her hot breath upon him. She
was in pain and was, as it were, complaining to him of her suffering.
And for the first minute, from habit, it seemed to him that he was to
blame. But in her eyes there was a tenderness that told him that she
was far from reproaching him, that she loved him for her sufferings.
"If not I, who is to blame for it?" he thought unconsciously, seeking
someone responsible for this suffering for him to punish; but there
was no one responsible. She was suffering, complaining, and triumphing
in her sufferings, and rejoicing in them, and loving them. He saw that
something sublime was being accomplished in her soul, but what? He
could not make it out. It was beyond his understanding.
"I have sent to mamma. You go quickly to fetch Lizaveta
Petrovna.... Kostia!... Never mind——it's over."
She moved away from him and rang the bell.
"Well, go now; Pasha's coming. I am all right."
And Levin saw with astonishment that she had taken up the knitting
she had brought in in the night, and had begun working at it again.
As Levin was going out of one door, he heard the maidservant come
in at the other. He stood at the door and heard Kitty giving exact
directions to the maid, and beginning to help her move the bedstead.
He dressed, and while they were putting in his horse, as there
were no hacks about as yet, he ran again up to the bedroom, not on
tiptoe, it seemed to him, but on wings. Two maidservants were
carefully shifting something about in the bedroom. Kitty was walking
about knitting rapidly and giving directions.
"I'm going for the doctor. They have sent for Lizaveta Petrovna,
but I'll go on there too. Isn't there anything wanted? Yes——shall I go
She looked at him, obviously not hearing what he was saying.
"Yes, yes. Do go," she said quickly, frowning and waving her hand
He had just gone into the drawing room, when suddenly a plaintive
moan sounded from the bedroom, smothered instantly. He stood still,
and for a long while he could not understand.
"Yes, that is she," he said to himself, and, clutching at his
head, he ran downstairs.
"Lord have mercy on us! Forgive us! Help us!" he repeated the
words that for some reason came suddenly to his lips. And he, an
unbeliever, repeated these words not with his lips only. At that
instant he knew that all his doubts, even the impossibility of
believing with his reason, of which he was aware in himself, did not
in the least hinder his turning to God. All of that now floated out of
his soul like dust. To whom was he to turn if not to Him in whose
hands he felt himself, his soul, and his love?
The horse was not yet ready, but feeling a peculiar concentration
of his physical forces and his intellect on what he had to do, he,
losing no minute, started off on foot without waiting for the horse,
and told Kouzma to overtake him.
At the corner he met a night hack driving hurriedly. In the little
sleigh, wrapped in a velvet cloak, sat Lizaveta Petrovna with a
kerchief round her head. "Thank God! thank God!" he said, overjoyed to
recognize her little fair face which wore a peculiarly serious, even
stern expression. Telling the driver not to stop, he ran along beside
"For two hours, then? Not more?" she inquired. "You should let
Piotr Dmitrievich know, but don't hurry him. And get some opium at the
"So you think that it will go well? Lord have mercy on us and help
us!" Levin said, seeing his own horse driving out of the gate. Jumping
into the sleigh beside Kouzma, he told him to drive to the doctor's.
The doctor was not yet up, and the footman said that "he had been
up late, and had given orders not to be waked, but would get up soon."
The footman was cleaning the lamp chimneys, and seemed very busy about
them. This concentration of the footman upon his lamps, and his
indifference to what was passing in Levin, at first astounded him, but
immediately on considering the question he realized that no one knew
or was bound to know his feelings, and that it was all the more
necessary to act calmly, sensibly, and resolutely to get through this
wall of indifference and attain his aim. "Don't be in a hurry or let
anything slip," Levin said to himself, feeling a greater and greater
flow of physical energy and attention to all he had yet to do.
Having ascertained that the doctor was not getting up, Levin
considered various plans, and decided on the following one; that
Kouzma should go for another doctor, while he himself should go to the
chemist's for opium, and if, when he came back, the doctor had not yet
begun to get up, he would, either by tipping the footman, or by force,
wake the doctor at all hazards.
At the chemist's the lank pharmacist wafered a packet of powders
for a coachman who stood waiting, and refused him opium with the same
callousness with which the doctor's footman had cleaned his lamp
chimneys. Trying not to get flustered or out of temper, Levin
mentioned the names of the doctor and midwife, and explaining what the
opium was needed for, tried to persuade him. The assistant inquired in
German whether he should give it, and receiving an affirmative reply
from behind the partition, he took out a bottle and a funnel,
deliberately poured the opium from a bigger bottle into a little one,
stuck on a label, sealed it up, in spite of Levin's request that he
would not do so, and was about to wrap it up too. This was more than
Levin could stand; he took the bottle firmly out of his hands, and ran
to the big glass doors. The doctor was not even now getting up, and
the footman, busy now in putting down the rugs, refused to wake him.
Levin deliberately took out a ten-rouble note, and careful to speak
slowly, though losing no time over the business, he handed him the
note, and explained that Piotr Dmitrievich (what a great and important
personage he seemed to Levin now, this Piotr Dmitrievich, who had been
of so little consequence in his eyes before) had promised to come at
any time; that he would certainly not be angry! And that he must
therefore wake him at once.
The footman agreed, and went upstairs, taking Levin into the
Levin could hear through the door the doctor coughing, moving
about, washing, and saying something. Three minutes passed; it seemed
to Levin that more than an hour had gone by. He could not wait any
"Piotr Dmitrievich, Piotr Dmitrievich?" he said in an imploring
voice at the open door. "For God's sake, forgive me! See me as you
are. It's been going on more than two hours already."
"In a minute; in a minute!" answered a voice, and to his amazement
heard that the doctor was smiling as he spoke.
"For one instant!"...
"In a minute."
Two minutes more passed while the doctor was putting on his boots,
and two minutes more while the doctor put on his coat and combed his
"Piotr Dmitrievich!" Levin was beginning again in a plaintive
voice, just as the doctor came in, dressed and ready. "These people
have no conscience," thought Levin. "Combing his hair, while we're
"Good morning!" the doctor said to him, shaking hands, and, as it
were, teasing him with his composure. "There's no hurry. Well, now?"
Trying to be as accurate as possible, Levin began to tell him
every unnecessary detail of his wife's condition, interrupting his
account repeatedly with entreaties that the doctor would come with him
"Oh, you needn't be in any hurry. You don't understand, you know.
I'm certain I'm not wanted; still I've promised, and, if you like,
I'll come. But there's no hurry. Please sit down; won't you have some
Levin stared at him with eyes that asked whether he was laughing
at him; but the doctor had no notion of making fun of him.
"I know, I know," the doctor said, smiling; "I'm a married man
myself; and at these moments we husbands are very much to be pitied.
I've a patient whose husband always takes refuge in the stables on
"But what do you think, Piotr Dmitrievich? Do you suppose it will
go all right?"
"Everything points to a favorable issue."
"So you'll come immediately?" said Levin, looking wrathfully at
the servant who was bringing in the coffee.
"In just an hour."
"Oh, for God's sake!"
"Well, let me drink my coffee, anyway."
The doctor started upon his coffee. Both were silent.
"The Turks are really getting beaten, though. Did you read
yesterday's telegrams?" said the doctor, thoroughly masticating a
"No, I can't stand it!" said Levin, jumping up. "So you'll be with
us in a quarter of an hour?"
"In half an hour."
"On your honor?"
When Levin got home, he drove up at the same time as the Princess,
and they went up to the bedroom together. The Princess had tears in
her eyes, and her hands were shaking. Seeing Levin, she embraced him,
and burst into tears.
"Well, my dear Lizaveta Petrovna?" she queried, clasping the hand
of the midwife, who came out to meet them with a beaming and anxious
"Everything is going on well," she said; "persuade her to lie
down. She will feel easier that way."
From the moment when he had waked up and understood what was going
on, Levin had prepared his mind to bear resolutely what was before
him, and without considering or anticipating anything, to avoid
upsetting his wife, and, on the contrary, to soothe her and keep up
her courage. Without allowing himself even to think of what was to
come, of how it would end, judging from his inquiries as to the usual
duration of these ordeals, Levin had in his imagination braced himself
to bear up and to keep a tight rein on his feelings for five hours,
and it had seemed to him he could do this. But when he came back from
the doctor's and saw her sufferings again, he fell to repeating more
and more frequently: "Lord, have mercy on us, and succor us!" He
sighed, and flung his head up, and began to feel afraid he could not
bear it, that he would burst into tears or run away——such agony it was
to him. Yet only one hour had passed.
But after that hour there passed another hour, two hours, three,
the full five hours he had fixed as the furthest limit of his
sufferings, and the situation was still unchanged; and he was still
bearing it because there was nothing to be done but bear it——every
instant feeling that he had reached the utmost limits of his
endurance, and that his heart would break with sympathy and pain.
But still the minutes passed by, and the hours, and still more
hours, and his misery and horror grew and were more and more intense.
All the ordinary conditions of life, without which one can form no
conception of anything, had ceased to exist for Levin. He lost all
sense of time. Minutes——those minutes when she sent for him and he
held her moist hand, that would squeeze his hand with extraordinary
violence and then push it away——seemed to him hours, and hours seemed
to him minutes. He was surprised when Lizaveta Petrovna asked him to
light a candle behind a screen, and he found that it was five o'clock
in the afternoon. If he had been told it was only ten o'clock in the
morning he would not have been surprised. Where he was all this time,
he knew as little as the time of anything. He saw her swollen face,
sometimes bewildered and in agony, sometimes smiling and trying to
reassure him. He saw the old Princess too, flushed and overwrought,
with her gray curls in disorder, forcing herself to gulp down her
tears, biting her lips; he saw Dolly too, and the doctor, smoking
thick cigarettes, and Lizaveta Petrovna with a firm, resolute,
reassuring face, and the old Prince walking up and down the hall with
a frowning face. But why they came in and went out, where they were,
he did not know. The Princess was with the doctor in the bedroom, then
in the study, where a table set for dinner suddenly appeared; then she
was not there, but Dolly was. Then Levin remembered he had been sent
somewhere. Once he had been sent to move a table and sofa. He had done
this eagerly, thinking it had to be done for her sake, and only later
on he found it was his own bed he had been getting ready. Then he had
been sent to the study to ask the doctor something. The doctor had
answered and then had said something about the irregularities in the
municipal council. Then he had been sent to the bedroom to help the
old Princess move the holy image in its silver-gilt setting, and with
the Princess's old waiting maid he had clambered on a shelf to reach
it and had broken the lampad, and the old servant had tried to
reassure him about the lampad and about his wife, and he carried the
holy image in and set it at the head of Kitty's bed, carefully tucking
the image in behind the pillow. But where, when, and why all this had
happened, he could not tell. He did not understand why the old
Princess took his hand, and looking compassionately at him, begged him
not to worry himself, and Dolly persuaded him to eat something and led
him out of the room, and even the doctor looked seriously and with
commiseration at him, and offered him a drop of something.
All he knew and felt was that what was happening was what had
happened nearly a year before in the hotel of the country town at the
deathbed of his brother Nikolai. But that had been grief——this was
joy. Yet that grief and this joy were alike outside all the ordinary
conditions of life; they were loopholes, as it were, in that ordinary
life, through which there came glimpses of something sublime. And in
the contemplation of this sublime something the soul was exalted to
inconceivable heights of which it had before had no conception, while
reason lagged behind, unable to keep up with it.
"Lord, have mercy on us, and succor us!" he repeated to himself
incessantly, feeling, in spite of his long and, as it seemed, complete
alienation from religion, that he turned to God just as trustfully and
simply as he had in his childhood and first youth.
All this time he had two distinct moods. One was away from her,
with the doctor, who kept smoking one thick cigarette after another
and extinguishing them on the edge of a full ash tray; with Dolly, and
with the old Prince, where there was talk about dinner, about
politics, about Maria Petrovna's illness, and where Levin suddenly
forgot for a minute what was happening, and felt as though he had
waked up from sleep; the other mood was in her presence, at her
pillow, where his heart seemed breaking, and still did not break, from
sympathetic suffering, and he prayed to God without ceasing. And every
time he was brought back from a moment of oblivion by a scream
reaching him from the bedroom, he fell into the same strange terror
that had come upon him the first minute. Every time he heard a shriek,
he jumped up, ran to justify himself, remembered on the way that he
was not to blame, and he longed to defend her, to help her. But as he
looked at her, he saw again that help was impossible, and he was
filled with terror and prayed: "Lord, have mercy on us, and help us!"
And as time went on, both these moods became more intense; the calmer
he became away from her, completely forgetting her, the more agonizing
became both her sufferings and his feeling of helplessness before
them. He jumped up, would have liked to run away, but ran to her.
Sometimes, when again and again she called upon him, he blamed
her; but seeing her submissive, smiling face, and hearing the words "I
am worrying you," he threw the blame on God; but thinking of God, at
once he fell beseeching God to forgive him and have mercy.
He did not know whether it was late or early. The candles had all
burned out. Dolly had just been in the study and had suggested to the
doctor that he should lie down. Levin sat listening to the doctor's
stories of a quack mesmerizer and looking at the ashes of his
cigarette. There had been a period of repose, and he had sunk into
oblivion. He had completely forgotten what was going on now. He heard
the doctor's chat and understood it. Suddenly there came an unearthly
shriek. The shriek was so awful that Levin did not even jump up, but,
holding his breath, gazed in terrified inquiry at the doctor. The
doctor put his head on one side, listened, and smiled approvingly.
Everything was so extraordinary that nothing could strike Levin as
strange. "I suppose it must be so," he thought, and still sat where he
was. Whose scream was this? He jumped up, ran on tiptoe to the
bedroom, edged round Lizaveta Petrovna and the Princess, and took up
his position at Kitty's pillow. The scream had subsided, but there was
some change now. What it was he did not see and did not comprehend,
and he had no wish to see or comprehend. But he saw it by the face of
Lizaveta Petrovna. Lizaveta Petrovna's face was stern and pale, and
still as resolute, though her jaws were twitching, and her eyes were
fixed intently on Kitty. Kitty's swollen and agonized face, a tress of
hair clinging to her moist brow, was turned to him and sought his
eyes. Her lifted hands asked for his hands. Clutching his chill hands
in her moist ones, she began squeezing them to her face.
"Don't go, don't go! I'm not afraid, I'm not afraid!" she said
rapidly. "Mamma, take my earrings. They bother me. You're not afraid?
Soon, soon, Lizaveta Petrovna..."
She spoke quickly, very quickly, and tried to smile. But suddenly
her face was drawn——she pushed him away.
"Oh, this is awful! I'm dying, I'm dying! Go away!" she shrieked,
and again he heard that unearthly scream.
Levin clutched at his head and ran out of the room.
"It's nothing, it's nothing, it's all right," Dolly called after
But they might say what they liked, he knew now that all was over.
He stood in the next room, his head leaning against the doorpost, and
heard shrieks, howls, such as he had never heard before, and he knew
that what had been Kitty was uttering these shrieks. He had long ago
ceased to wish for the child. By now he loathed this child. He did not
even pray for her life now——all he longed for was the cessation of
this awful anguish.
"Doctor! What is it? What is it? My God!" he said, snatching at
the doctor's hand as he came up.
"It's the end," said the doctor. And the doctor's face was so
grave as he said it that Levin took the end as meaning her death.
Beside himself, he ran into the bedroom. The first thing he saw
was the face of Lizaveta Petrovna. It was even more frowning and
stern. Kitty's face he did not know. In the place where it had been
was something that was fearful in its strained distortion and in the
sounds that came from it. He fell down with his head on the wooden
framework of the bed, feeling that his heart was bursting. The awful
scream never paused, it became still more awful, and as though it had
reached the utmost limit of terror, suddenly it ceased. Levin could
not believe his ears, but there could be no doubt; the scream had
ceased and he heard a subdued stir and bustle, and hurried breathing,
and her voice, gasping, alive, tender, and blissful, uttered softly:
He lifted his head. With her hands hanging exhausted on the quilt,
looking extraordinarily lovely and serene, she looked at him in
silence and tried to smile, and could not.
And suddenly, from the mysterious and awful faraway world in which
he had been living for the last twenty-two hours, Levin felt himself
all in an instant borne back to the old everyday world, though
glorified now by such a radiance of happiness that he could not bear
it. The strained chords snapped; sobs and tears of joy which he had
never foreseen rose up with such violence that his whole body shook,
and for long they prevented him from speaking.
Falling on his knees before the bed, he held his wife's hand
before his lips and kissed it, and the hand, with a weak movement of
the fingers, responded to his kiss. And meanwhile, there at the foot
of the bed, in the deft hands of Lizaveta Petrovna, like a flickering
light in a lamp, lay the life of a human creature, which had never
existed before, and which would now with the same right, with the same
importance to itself, live and create in its own image.
"Alive! alive! And a boy too! Set your mind at rest!" Levin heard
Lizaveta Petrovna saying, as she slapped the baby's back with a
"Mamma, is it true?" said Kitty's voice.
The Princess's sobs were all the answer she could make.
And in the midst of the silence there came in unmistakable reply
to the mother's question, a voice quite unlike the subdued voices
speaking in the room. It was the bold, clamorous, self-assertive
squall of the new human being, which had so incomprehensibly appeared.
If Levin had been told before that Kitty was dead, and that he had
died with her, and that their children were angels, and that God was
standing before him, he would have been surprised at nothing. But now,
coming back to the world of reality, he had to make great mental
efforts to take in that she was alive and well, and that the creature
squalling so desperately was his son. Kitty was alive, her agony was
over. And he was unutterably happy. That he understood; and he was
completely happy in it. But the baby? Whence, why, who was he?... He
could not get used to the idea. It seemed to him something extraneous,
superfluous, to which he could not accustom himself.
At ten o'clock the old Prince, Sergei Ivanovich, and Stepan
Arkadyevich, were sitting at Levin's. Having inquired after Kitty,
they had dropped into conversation upon other subjects. Levin heard
them, and unconsciously, as they talked, going over the past, over
what they had been up to that morning, he thought of himself as he had
been yesterday till that point. It was as though a hundred years had
passed since then. He felt himself exalted to unattainable heights,
from which he studiously lowered himself so as not to wound the people
he was talking to. He talked, and was all the time thinking of his
wife, of her present condition, of his son, in whose existence he
tried to school himself into believing. The whole world of woman,
which had taken for him since his marriage a new value he had never
suspected before, was now so exalted that his imagination could not
embrace it. He heard them talk of yesterday's dinner at the club, and
thought: "What is happening with her now? Is she asleep? How is she?
What is she thinking of? Is he crying——my son Dmitrii?" And in the
middle of the conversation, in the middle of a sentence, he jumped up
and went out of the room.
"Send me word if I can see her," said the Prince.
"Very well, in a minute," answered Levin, and without stopping, he
went to her room.
She was not asleep, she was talking gently with her mother, making
plans about the christening.
Carefully set to rights, with hair well brushed, in a smart little
cap with some blue in it, her arms out on the quilt, she was lying on
her back. Meeting his eyes, her eyes drew him to her. Her face, bright
before, brightened still more as he drew near her. There was the same
change in it from earthly to unearthly that is seen in the face of the
dead. But there it means farewell——here it meant welcome. Again a rush
of emotion, such as he had felt at the moment of the child's birth,
flooded his heart. She took his hand and asked him if he had slept. He
could not answer, and turned away, realizing his weakness.
"I have had a nap, Kostia!" she said to him. "And I am so
She looked at him, but suddenly her expression changed.
"Give him to me," she said, hearing the baby's cry. "Give him to
me, Lizaveta Petrovna, and he shall look at him."
"To be sure, his papa shall look at him," said Lizaveta Petrovna,
getting up and bringing something red, and queer and wriggling. "Wait
a minute, we'll array ourselves first," and Lizaveta Petrovna laid the
red wobbling thing on the bed, began untrussing and trussing up the
baby, lifting it up and turning it over with one finger and powdering
it with something.
Levin, looking at the tiny, pitiful creature, made strenuous
efforts to discover in his heart some traces of fatherly feeling for
it. He felt nothing toward it but disgust. But when it was undressed
and he caught a glimpse of wee, wee, little hands, little feet,
saffron-colored, with little toes, too; and even with a little big toe
different from the rest, and when he saw Lizaveta Petrovna closing the
wide-open little hands, as though they were soft springs, and putting
them into linen garments, such pity for the little creature came upon
him, and such terror that she would hurt it, that he held her hand
Lizaveta Petrovna laughed.
"Don't be frightened, don't be frightened!"
When the baby had been arrayed and transformed into a solid doll,
Lizaveta Petrovna dandled it as though proud of her handiwork, and
stood a little away so that Levin might see his son in all his glory.
Kitty looked sideways in the same direction, never taking her eyes
off the baby. "Give him to me! Give him to me!" she said, and even
made as though she would sit up.
"What are you thinking of, Katerina Alexandrovna, you mustn't move
like that! Wait a minute. I'll give him to you. Here we're showing
papa what a fine fellow we are!"
And Lizaveta Petrovna, with one hand supporting the wobbling head,
lifted up on the other arm the strange, limp, red creature, whose head
was lost in its swaddling clothes. But it had a nose, too, and
slanting eyes, and smacking lips.
"A splendid baby!" said Lizaveta Petrovna.
Levin sighed with mortification. This splendid baby excited in him
no feeling but disgust and compassion. It was not at all the feeling
he had looked forward to.
He turned away while Lizaveta Petrovna put the baby to the
Suddenly laughter made him look round. The baby had taken the
"Come that's enough, that's enough!" said Lizaveta Petrovna, but
Kitty would not let the baby go. He fell asleep in her arms.
"Look, now," said Kitty, turning the baby so that he could see it.
The aged-looking little face suddenly puckered up still more, and the
Smiling, hardly able to restrain his tears, Levin kissed his wife
and went out of the dark room.
What he felt toward this little creature was utterly unlike what
he had expected. There was nothing cheerful and joyous in the feeling;
on the contrary, it was a new torture of apprehension. It was the
consciousness of a new sphere of liability to pain. And this sense was
so painful at first, the apprehension lest this helpless creature
should suffer was so intense, that it prevented him from noticing the
strange thrill of senseless joy and even pride that he had felt when
the baby had sneezed.
Stepan Arkadyevich's affairs were in a very bad way.
The money for two-thirds of the forest had all been spent already,
and he had borrowed from the merchant in advance at ten per cent
discount almost all the remaining third. The merchant would not give
more, especially as Darya Alexandrovna, for the first time that winter
insisting on her right to her own property, had refused to sign the
receipt for the payment of the last third of the forest. All his
salary went on household expenses and in payment of petty debts that
could not be put off. There was positively no money.
This was unpleasant and awkward, and in Stepan Arkadyevich's
opinion things could not go on like this. The explanation of the
position was, in his view, to be found in the fact that his salary was
too small. The post he filled had been unmistakably very good five
years ago, but it was so no longer. Petrov, the bank director, had
twelve thousand; Sventitsky, a company director, had seventeen
thousand; Mitin, who had founded a bank, received fifty thousand.
"Clearly I've been napping, and they've overlooked me," Stepan
Arkadyevich thought about himself. And he began keeping his eyes and
ears open, and toward the end of the winter he had discovered a very
good berth and had formed a plan of attack upon it, at first from
Moscow through aunts, uncles, and friends, and then, when the matter
was well advanced, in the spring, he went himself to Peterburg. It was
one of those berths (with incomes ranging from one thousand to fifty
thousand roubles), of which there are so many more nowadays than there
were snug, bribable ones in the past. It was the post of secretary of
the committee of the amalgamated agency of the Southern Railways, and
of certain banking companies. This position, like all such
appointments, called for such immense energy and such varied
qualifications, that it was difficult for them to be found united in
any one man. And since a man combining all the qualifications was not
to be found, it was at least better that the post be filled by an
honest than by a dishonest man. And Stepan Arkadyevich was not merely
an honest man, unemphatically, in the common acceptation of the word;
he was an honest man, emphatically, in that special sense which the
word has in Moscow, when they talk of an "honest" politician, an
"honest" writer, an "honest" newspaper, an "honest" institution, an
"honest" tendency, meaning not simply that the man or the institution
is not dishonest, but that they are capable on occasion of stinging
the authorities. Stepan Arkadyevich moved in those circles in Moscow
in which that expression had come into use, was regarded there as an
honest man, and so had more right to this appointment than others.
The appointment yielded an income of from seven to ten thousand a
year, and Oblonsky could fill it without giving up his government
position. It was in the hands of two ministers, one lady, and two
Jews, and all these people, though the way had been paved already with
them, Stepan Arkadyevich had to see in Peterburg. Besides this
business, Stepan Arkadyevich had promised his sister Anna to obtain
from Karenin a definite answer on the question of divorce. And begging
fifty roubles from Dolly, he set off for Peterburg.
Stepan Arkadyevich sat in Karenin's study listening to his report
on the causes of the unsatisfactory position of Russian finance, and
only waiting for the moment when he would finish to speak about his
own business or about Anna.
"Yes, that's very true," he said, when Alexei Alexandrovich took
off the pince-nez, without which he could not read now, and looked
inquiringly at his quondam brother-in-law, "that's very true in
particular cases, but still, the principle of our day is freedom."
"Yes, but I lay down another principle, embracing the principle of
freedom," said Alexei Alexandrovich, with emphasis on the word
"embracing", and he put on his pince-nez again, so as to read the
passage in which this statement was made.
And turning over the beautifully written, wide-margined
manuscript, Alexei Alexandrovich read aloud the conclusive passage
"I don't advocate protection for the sake of private interest, but
for the public weal——and for the lower and upper classes equally," he
said, looking over his pince-nez at Oblonsky. "But they cannot grasp
that, they are taken up now with personal interests, and carried away
Stepan Arkadyevich knew that when Karenin began to talk of what
they were doing and thinking, the persons who would not accept his
report and were the cause of everything wrong in Russia, that it was
coming near the end. And so now he eagerly abandoned the principle of
free trade, and fully agreed. Alexei Alexandrovich paused,
thoughtfully turning over the pages of his manuscript.
"Oh, by the way," said Stepan Arkadyevich, "I wanted to ask you,
some time when you see Pomorsky, to drop him a hint that I should be
very glad to get that new appointment of member of the committee of
the amalgamated agency of the Southern Railways and banking
companies." Stepan Arkadyevich was familiar by now with the title of
the post he coveted, and he brought it out rapidly without mistake.
Alexei Alexandrovich questioned him as to the duties of this new
committee, and pondered. He was considering whether the new committee
would not be acting in some way contrary to the views he had been
advocating. But as the influence of the new committee was of a very
complex nature, and his views were of very wide application, he could
not decide this straight off, and taking off his pince-nez, he said:
"Of course, I can mention it to him; but what is your reason
precisely for wishing to obtain the appointment?"
"It's a good salary, rising to nine thousand, and my means..."
"Nine thousand!" repeated Alexei Alexandrovich, and he frowned.
The high figure of the salary made him reflect that on that side
Stepan Arkadyevich's proposed position ran counter to the main
tendency of his own projects of reform, which always leaned toward
"I consider, and I have embodied my views in a note on the
subject, that in our day these immense salaries are evidence of the
unsound economic assiette of our finances."
"But what's to be done?" said Stepan Arkadyevich. "Suppose a bank
director gets ten thousand——well, he's worth it; or an engineer gets
twenty thousand——after all, it's a growing thing, you know!"
"I assume that a salary is the price paid for a commodity, and it
ought to conform with the law of supply and demand. If the salary is
fixed without any regard for that law, as, for instance, when I see
two engineers leaving college together, both equally well trained and
efficient, and one getting forty thousand while the other is satisfied
with two; or when I see lawyers and hussars, having no special
qualifications, appointed directors of banking companies with immense
salaries, I conclude that the salary is not fixed in accordance with
the law of supply and demand, but simply through personal interest.
And this is an abuse of great gravity in itself, and one that reacts
injuriously on the government service. I consider..."
Stepan Arkadyevich made haste to interrupt his brother-in-law.
"Yes; but you must agree that the new institution being started is
of undoubted utility. After all, you know, it's a growing thing! What
they lay particular stress on is the thing being carried on honestly,"
said Stepan Arkadyevich with emphasis.
But the Moscow significance of the word honest was lost on Alexei
"Honesty is only a negative qualification," he said.
"Well, you'll do me a great service, anyway," said Stepan
Arkadyevich, "by putting in a word to Pomorsky——just in the way of
"But I fancy it depends more on Bolgarinov," said Alexei
"Bolgarinov has fully assented, as far as he's concerned," said
Stepan Arkadyevich, turning red. Stepan Arkadyevich reddened at the
mention of that name, because he had been that morning at the Jew
Bolgarinov's, and the visit had left an unpleasant recollection.
Stepan Arkadyevich believed most positively that the committee in
which he was trying to get an appointment was a new, genuine, and
honest public body, but that morning when Bolgarinov had——
intentionally, beyond a doubt——kept him two hours waiting with other
petitioners in his waiting room, he had suddenly felt uneasy.
Whether he was uncomfortable because he, a descendant of Rurik,
Prince Oblonsky, had been kept for two hours waiting to see a Jew, or
that for the first time in his fife he was not following the example
of his ancestors in serving the government, but was turning off into a
new career——at any rate he was very uncomfortable. During those two
hours in Bolgarinov's waiting room Stepan Arkadyevich, stepping
jauntily about the room, pulling his side whiskers, entering into
conversation with the other petitioners, and inventing a calembour
dealing with his wait in the Jew's anteroom, assiduously concealed
from others, and even from himself, the feeling he was experiencing.
But all the time he was uncomfortable and perturbed, he could not
have said why——whether because he could not get his calembour just
right, or from some other reason. When at last Bolgarinov had received
him with exaggerated politeness and unmistakable triumph at his
humiliation, and had all but refused the favor asked of him, Stepan
Arkadyevich had made haste to forget it all as soon as possible. And
now, at the mere recollection, he blushed.
"Now there is something I want to talk about, and you know what it
is... about Anna," Stepan Arkadyevich said, pausing for a brief space,
and shaking off the unpleasant impression.
As soon as Oblonsky uttered Anna's name, the face of Alexei
Alexandrovich became completely transformed; all the life went out of
it, and it looked weary and dead.
"What is it exactly that you want from me?" he said, moving in his
chair and snapping his pince-nez.
"A definite settlement, Alexei Alexandrovich——some settlement of
the situation. I'm appealing to you" ("not as to an injured husband,"
Stepan Arkadyevich was going to say, but, afraid of wrecking his
negotiation by this, he changed the words) "not as to a statesman"
(which did not sound apropos), "but simply as to a man, and a
goodhearted man, and a Christian. You must have pity on her," he said.
"That is, in what way, precisely?" Karenin said softly.
"Yes, pity on her. If you had seen her as I have!——I have been
spending all the winter with her——you would have pity on her. Her
position is awful, simply awful!"
"I had imagined," answered Alexei Alexandrovich in a higher,
almost shrill voice, "that Anna Arkadyevna had everything she had
desired for herself."
"Oh, Alexei Alexandrovich, for God's sake, let's not indulge in
recriminations! What is past is past, and you know what she wants and
is waiting for——a divorce."
"But I believe Anna Arkadyevna refuses a divorce, if I make it a
condition to leave me my son. I replied in that sense, and supposed
that the matter was ended. I consider it at an end," shrieked Alexei
"But, for heaven's sake, don't get excited!" said Stepan
Arkadyevich, touching his brother-in-law's knee. "The matter is not
ended. If you will allow me to recapitulate, it was like this: when
you parted, you were as magnanimous as could possibly be; you were
ready to give her everything——freedom, even divorce. She appreciated
that. No, make no doubt. She did appreciate it——to such a degree that,
at the first moment, feeling how she had wronged you, she did not
consider and could not consider everything. She gave up everything.
But experience, time, have shown that her position is unbearable,
"The life of Anna Arkadyevna can have no interest for me," Alexei
Alexandrovich put in, raising his eyebrows.
"Allow me to disbelieve that," Stepan Arkadyevich replied gently.
"Her position is intolerable for her, and of no benefit to anyone
whatever. She has deserved it, you will say. She knows that and asks
you for nothing; she says plainly that she dare not ask you. But I,
all of us——her relatives, all who love her——beg you, entreat you. Why
should she suffer? Who is any the better for it?"
"Excuse me, you seem to put me in the position of the guilty
party," observed Alexei Alexandrovich.
"Oh, no, oh, no, not at all! Please understand me," said Stepan
Arkadyevich again touching him——this time his hand——as though feeling
sure this physical contact would soften his brother-in-law. "All I say
is this: her position is intolerable, and it might be alleviated by
you, and you will lose nothing by it. I will arrange it all for you,
so that you'll never notice it. You did promise it, you know."
"The promise was given before. And I had supposed that the
question of my son had settled the matter. Besides, I hoped that Anna
Arkadyevna had enough magnanimity..." Alexei Alexandrovich articulated
with difficulty, his lips twitching and his face white.
"She leaves it all to your magnanimity. She begs, she implores one
thing of you——to extricate her from the impossible position in which
she is placed. She does not ask for her son now. Alexei Alexandrovich,
you are a good man. Put yourself in her position for a minute. The
question of divorce for her in her position is a question of life and
death. If you had not promised it once, she would have reconciled
herself to her position, she would have gone on living in the country.
But you promised it, and she wrote to you, and moved to Moscow. And
here she's been for six months in Moscow, where every chance meeting
cuts her to the heart, every day expecting an answer. Why, it's like
keeping a condemned criminal for six months with the rope round his
neck, promising him perhaps death, perhaps mercy. Have pity on her,
and I will undertake to arrange everything.... Vos scrupules..."
"I am not talking about that, about that..." Alexei Alexandrovich
interrupted with disgust. "But, perhaps, I promised what I had no
right to promise."
"So you go back on your promise?"
"I have never refused to do all that is possible, but I want time
to consider how much of what I promised is possible."
"No, Alexei Alexandrovich!" cried Oblonsky, jumping up. "I won't
believe that! She's unhappy as only a woman can be unhappy, and you
cannot refuse in such..."
"As much of what I promised as is possible. Vous professez d'etre
libre penseur. But I, as a believer, cannot, in a matter of such
gravity, act in opposition to the Christian law."
"But in Christian societies and among us, as far as I'm aware,
divorce is allowed," said Stepan Arkadyevich. "Divorce is sanctioned
even by our church. And we see..."
"It is allowed, but not in the sense..."
"Alexei Alexandrovich, you are not like yourself," said Oblonsky,
after a brief pause. "Wasn't it you (and didn't we all appreciate it
in you?) who forgave everything, and, moved simply by Christian
feeling, were ready to make any sacrifice? You said yourself: if a man
take thy cloak, give him thy coat also, and now..."
"I beg," said Alexei Alexandrovich shrilly, getting suddenly onto
his feet, his face white and his jaws twitching, "I beg you to drop
this... to drop... this subject!"
"Oh, no! Oh, forgive me, forgive me if I have wounded you," said
Stepan Arkadyevich, holding out his hand with a smile of
embarrassment; "but like a messenger I have simply performed the
commission given me."
Alexei Alexandrovich gave him his hand, pondered a little, and
"I must think it over and seek for guidance. The day after
tomorrow I will give you a final answer," he said, after considering a
Stepan Arkadyevich was about to go away when Kornei came in to
"Who's Sergei Alexeevich?" Stepan Arkadyevich was about to ask,
but he remembered immediately.
"Ah, Seriozha!" he said aloud.——"'Sergei Alexeevich!' I thought it
was the director of some department.——Anna asked me to see him too,"
And he recalled the timid, piteous expression with which Anna had
said to him at parting: "Anyway, you will see him. Find out exactly
where he is, who is looking after him. And Stiva... If it were
possible! Could it be possible?" Stepan Arkadyevich knew what was
meant by that "if it were possible,"——if it were possible to arrange
the divorce so as to let her have her son.... Stepan Arkadyevich saw
now that it was useless to dream of that, but still he was glad to see
Alexei Alexandrovich reminded his brother-in-law that they never
spoke to the boy of his mother, and he begged him not to mention a
single word about her.
"He was very ill after that interview with his mother, which we
had not foreseen," said Alexei Alexandrovich. "Indeed, we feared for
his life. But with rational treatment, and sea bathing in the summer,
he regained his strength, and now, by the doctor's advice, I have let
him go to school. And certainly the companionship at school has had a
good effect on him, and he is perfectly well, and making good
"What a fine fellow he's grown! And he's no longer Seriozha, but
quite full-fledged——Sergei Alexeevich!" said Stepan Arkadyevich,
smiling, as he looked at the handsome, broad-shouldered lad in blue
jacket and long trousers, who walked in alertly and confidently. The
boy looked healthy and good-humored. He bowed to his uncle as to a
stranger, but, recognizing him, he blushed and turned hurriedly away
from him, as though offended and irritated at something. The boy went
up to his father and handed him a note of the marks he had gained in
"Well, that's very fair," said his father, "you may go."
"He's thinner and taller, and has grown from a child into a boy; I
like that," said Stepan Arkadyevich. "Do you remember me?"
The boy looked back quickly at his uncle.
"Yes, mon oncle," he answered, glancing at his father, and again
he looked downcast.
His uncle called him to him, and took his hand.
"Well, and how are you getting on?" he said, wanting to talk to
him, and not knowing what to say.
The boy, blushing and making no answer, cautiously drew his hand
away. As soon as Stepan Arkadyevich let go his hand, he glanced
doubtfully at his father, and, like a bird set free, he darted out of
A year had passed since the last time Seriozha had seen his
mother. Since then he had heard nothing more of her. And in the course
of that year he had gone to school, and made friends among his
schoolfellows. The dreams and memories of his mother, which had made
him ill after seeing her, did not occupy his thoughts now. When they
came back to him, he studiously drove them away, regarding them as
shameful and girlish, below the dignity of a boy and a schoolboy. He
knew that his father and mother were separated by some quarrel, he
knew that he had to remain with his father, and he tried to get used
to that idea.
He disliked seeing his uncle, so like his mother, for it called up
those memories which he was ashamed of. He disliked it all the more
as, from certain words he had caught as he waited at the study door,
and still more from the faces of his father and uncle, he had guessed
that they must have been talking of his mother. And to avoid
condemning the father with whom he lived and on whom he was dependent,
and, above all, to avoid giving way to sentimentality, which he
considered so degrading, Seriozha tried not to look at his uncle, who
had come to disturb his peace of mind, and not to think of what he
recalled to him.
But when Stepan Arkadyevich, going out after him, saw him on the
stairs, and, calling to him, asked him how he spent his playtime at
school, Seriozha talked more freely to him away from his father's
"We have a railway now," he said in answer to his uncle's
question. "It's like this, you see: two sit on a bench——they're the
passengers; and one stands up straight on the bench. And all are
harnessed to it by their arms or by their belts, and they run through
all the rooms——the doors are left open beforehand. Well, and it's
pretty hard work being the conductor!"
"That's the one that stands?" Stepan Arkadyevich inquired, smiling.
"Yes, you want pluck for it, and cleverness too, especially when
they stop all of a sudden, or someone falls down."
"Yes, that must be a serious matter," said Stepan Arkadyevich,
watching with mournful interest the eager eyes, like his mother's; not
childish now——no longer fully innocent. And though he had promised
Alexei Alexandrovich not to speak of Anna, he could not restrain
"Do you remember your mother?" he asked suddenly.
"No, I don't," Seriozha said quickly. He blushed crimson, his eyes
drooping. And his uncle could get nothing more out of him.
His Slavic tutor found his pupil on the staircase half an hour
later, and for a long while he could not make out whether he was
ill-tempered or crying.
"What is it? I expect you hurt yourself when you fell down?" said
the tutor. "I told you it was a dangerous game. And we shall have to
speak to the director."
"If I had hurt myself, nobody should have found it out, that's
"Well, what is it, then?"
"Leave me alone! If I remember, or if I don't remember?... What
business is it of his? Why should I remember? Leave me in peace!" he
said, addressing not his tutor, but the whole world.
Stepan Arkadyevich, as usual, did not waste his time in Peterburg.
In Peterburg, besides business, his sister's divorce, and his coveted
appointment, he wanted, as he always did, to freshen himself up, as he
said, after the mustiness of Moscow.
In spite of its cafes chantants and its omnibuses, Moscow was yet
a stagnant bog. Stepan Arkadyevich always felt it. After living for
some time in Moscow, especially in close relations with his family, he
was conscious of a depression of spirits. After being a long time in
Moscow without a change, he reached a point when he positively began
to be worrying himself over his wife's ill-humor and reproaches, over
his children's health and education, and the petty details of his
official work; even the fact of being in debt worried him. But he had
only to go and stay a little while in Peterburg, in the circle in
which he moved there, where people lived——really lived——instead of
vegetating as in Moscow, and all such ideas vanished and melted away
at once, like wax before the fire.
A wife?... Only that day he had been talking to Prince Chechensky.
Prince Chechensky had a wife and family, grown-up children in the
Corps of Pages.... And he had another illegitimate family of children
also. Though the first family was very fine too, Prince Chechensky
felt happier in his second family; and he used to take his eldest son
with him to his second family, and told Stepan Arkadyevich that he
thought it good for his son, enlarging his ideas. What would have been
said to that in Moscow?
Children?... In Peterburg children did not prevent their parents
from enjoying life. The children were brought up in schools, and there
was no trace of the wild idea that prevailed in Moscow, in Lvov's
household, for instance, that all the luxuries of life were for the
children, while the parents have nothing but work and anxiety. Here
people understood that a man is in duty bound to live for himself, as
every man of culture should live.
Official duties?... Official work here was not the stiff, hopeless
drudgery that it was in Moscow. Here there was some interest in
official life. A chance meeting, a service rendered, a happy phrase, a
knack of facetious mimicry, and a man's career might be made in a
trice. So it had been with Briantsev, whom Stepan Arkadyevich had met
the previous day, and who was one of the highest functionaries in
government now. There was some interest in official work like that.
The Peterburg attitude on pecuniary matters had an especially
soothing effect on Stepan Arkadyevich. Bartniansky, who must spend at
least fifty thousand to judge by the style he lived in, had made a
remarkable comment the day before on that subject.
As they were talking before dinner, Stepan Arkadyevich said to
"You're friendly, I fancy, with Mordvinsky; you might do me a
favor: say a word to him, please, for me. There's an appointment I
should like to get——member of the agency..."
"Oh, I shan't remember all that, if you tell it to me.... But what
possesses you to have to do with railways and Yids?... Take it as you
will, it's a low business."
Stepan Arkadyevich did not say to Bartniansky that it was a
"growing thing"——Bartniansky would not have understood that.
"I want the money——I've nothing to live on."
"You're living, aren't you?"
"Yes, but in debt."
"Are you, though? Heavily?" said Bartniansky sympathetically.
"Very heavily: twenty thousand."
Bartniansky broke into good-humored laughter.
"Oh, lucky fellow!" said he. "My debts mount up to a million and a
half, and I've nothing, and still I can live, as you see!"
And Stepan Arkadyevich saw the correctness of this view not in
words only but in actual fact. Zhivakhov owed three hundred thousand,
and hadn't a copper to bless himself with, and he lived, and in style
too! Count Krivtsov was considered a hopeless case by everyone, and
yet he kept two mistresses. Petrovsky had run through five millions,
and still lived in just the same style, and was even a manager in the
financial department with a salary of twenty thousand. But besides
this, Peterburg had physically an agreeable effect on Stepan
Arkadyevich. It made him younger. In Moscow he sometimes found a gray
hair in his head, dropped asleep after dinner, stretched, walked
slowly upstairs, breathing heavily, was bored by the society of young
women, and did not dance at balls. In Peterburg he always felt ten
His experience in Peterburg was exactly what had been described to
him on the previous day by Prince Piotr Oblonsky, a man of sixty, who
had just come back from abroad:
"We don't know how to live here," said Piotr Oblonsky. "I spent
the summer in Baden, and you wouldn't believe it, I felt quite a young
man. At a glimpse of a pretty woman, my thoughts... One dines and
drinks a glass of wine, and feels strong and ready for anything. I
came home to Russia——had to see my wife, and, what's more, go to my
country place; and there, you'd hardly believe it, in a fortnight I'd
got into a dressing gown and given up dressing for dinner. Needn't say
I had no thoughts left for pretty women. I became quite an old
gentleman. There was nothing left for me but to think of my eternal
salvation. I went off to Paris——I was at once as right as could be."
Stepan Arkadyevich felt exactly the difference that Piotr Oblonsky
described. In Moscow he degenerated so much that if he had had to be
there for long together, he might in good earnest have come to
considering his salvation; in Peterburg he felt himself a man of the
Between Princess Betsy Tverskaia and Stepan Arkadyevich there had
long existed rather curious relations. Stepan Arkadyevich always
flirted with her in jest, and used to say to her, also in jest, the
most unseemly things, knowing that nothing delighted her so much. The
day after his conversation with Karenin, Stepan Arkadyevich went to
see her, and felt so youthful that in this jesting flirtation and
nonsense he recklessly went so far that he did not know how to
extricate himself, as unluckily he was so far from being attracted by
her that he thought her positively disagreeable. What made it hard to
change the conversation was the fact that he was very attractive to
her. So that he was considerably relieved at the arrival of Princess
Miaghkaia, which cut short their tete-a-tete.
"Ah, so you're here!" said she when she saw him. "Well, and what
news of your poor sister? You needn't look at me like that," she
added. "Ever since they've all turned against her, all those who're a
thousand times worse than she, I've thought she did a very fine thing.
I can't forgive Vronsky for not letting me know when she was in
Peterburg. I'd have gone to see her and gone about with her
everywhere. Please give her my love. Come, tell me about her."
"Yes, her position is very difficult; she..." began Stepan
Arkadyevich, in the simplicity of his heart accepting as sterling coin
Princess Miaghkaia's words: "Tell me about her." Princess Miaghkaia
interrupted him immediately, as she always did, and began talking
"She's done what they all do, except me——only the others hide it.
But she wouldn't be deceitful, and she did a fine thing. And she did
better still in throwing up that crazy brother-in-law of yours. You
must excuse me. Everybody used to say he was so clever, so very
clever; I was the only one that said he was a fool. Now that he's so
thick with Lidia Ivanovna and Landau, they all say he's crazy, and I
should prefer not to agree with everybody, but this time I can't help
"Oh, do please explain," said Stepan Arkadyevich; "what does it
mean? Yesterday I was seeing him on my sister's behalf, and I asked
him to give me a final answer. He gave me no answer, and said he would
think it over. But this morning, instead of an answer, I received an
invitation from Countess Lidia Ivanovna for this evening."
"Ah, so that's it, that's it!" said Princess Miaghkaia gleefully,
"they're going to ask Landau what he's to say."
"Ask Landau? What for? Who or what's Landau?"
"What! you don't know Jules Landau, le fameux Jules Landau, le
clairvoyant? He's crazy too, but on him your sister's fate depends.
See what comes of living in the provinces——you know nothing about
anything. Landau, do you see, was a commis in a shop in Paris, and he
went to a doctor's; and in the doctor's waiting room he fell asleep,
and in his sleep he began giving advice to all the patients. And
wonderful advice it was! Then the wife of Iury Meledinsky——you know,
the invalid?——heard of this Landau, and had him to see her husband.
And he cures her husband, though I can't say that I see he did him
much good, for he's just as feeble a creature as ever he was, but they
believed in him, and took him along with them, and brought him to
Russia. Here there's been a general rush to him, and he's begun
doctoring everyone. He cured Countess Bezzubova, and she took such a
fancy to him that she adopted him."
"Yes, as her son. He's not Landau any more now, but Count
Bezzubov. That's neither here nor there, though; but Lidia——I'm very
fond of her, but she has a screw loose somewhere——has lost her heart
to this Landau now, and nothing is settled now in her house or Alexei
Alexandrovich's without him, and so your sister's fate is now in the
hands of Landau, alias Count Bezzubov."
After a capital dinner and a great deal of cognac drunk at
Bartniansky's, Stepan Arkadyevich, only a little later than the
appointed time, went in to Countess Lidia Ivanovna's.
"Who else is with the countess? A Frenchman?" Stepan Arkadyevich
asked the hall porter, as he glanced at the familiar overcoat of
Alexei Alexandrovich and a queer, rather naive-looking overcoat with
"Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin and Count Bezzubov," the porter
"Princess Miaghkaia guessed right," thought Stepan Arkadyevich, as
he went upstairs. "Curious! It would be quite as well, though, to get
on friendly terms with her. She has immense influence. If she would
say a word to Pomorsky, the thing would be a certainty."
It was still quite light out-of-doors, but in Countess Lidia
Ivanovna's little drawing room the blinds were drawn and the lamps
At a round table under a lamp sat the Countess and Alexei
Alexandrovich, talking softly. A short, thinnish man, very pale and
handsome, with feminine hips and knock-kneed legs, with fine brilliant
eyes and long hair lying on the collar of his coat, was standing at
the other end of the room gazing at the portraits on the wall. After
greeting the lady of the house and Alexei Alexandrovich, Stepan
Arkadyevich could not resist glancing once more at the unknown man.
"Monsieur Landau!" the Countess addressed him with a suavity and
circumspection that impressed Oblonsky. And she introduced them.
Landau looked round hurriedly, came up, and, smiling, laid his
moist, lifeless hand in Stepan Arkadyevich's outstretched hand and
immediately walked away, and fell to gazing at the portraits again.
The Countess and Alexei Alexandrovich looked at each other
"I am very glad to see you, particularly today," said Countess
Lidia Ivanovna, pointing out to Stepan Arkadyevich a seat beside
"I introduced you to him as Landau," she said in a soft voice,
glancing at the Frenchman and again immediately after at Alexei
Alexandrovich, "but he is really Count Bezzubov, as you're probably
aware. Only he does not like the title."
"Yes, I heard so," answered Stepan Arkadyevich; "they say he
completely cured Countess Bezzubova."
"She was here today, poor thing!" the Countess said, turning to
Alexei Alexandrovich. "This separation is awful for her. It's such a
blow to her!"
"And he positively is going?" queried Alexei Alexandrovich.
"Yes, he's going to Paris. He heard a voice yesterday," said
Countess Lidia Ivanovna, looking at Stepan Arkadyevich.
"Ah, a voice!" repeated Oblonsky, feeling that he must be as
circumspect as he possibly could in this society, where something
peculiar was happening, or was about to happen, to which he had not
A moment's silence followed, after which Countess Lidia Ivanovna,
as though approaching the main topic of conversation, said with a fine
smile to Oblonsky:
"I've known you for a long while, and am very glad to make a
closer acquaintance with you. Les amis de nos amis sont nos amis. But
to be a true friend, one must enter into the spiritual state of one's
friend, and I fear that you are not doing so in the case of Alexei
Alexandrovich. You understand what I mean?" she said, lifting her fine
"In part, Countess, I understand the position of Alexei
Alexandrovich..." said Oblonsky. Having no clear idea what they were
talking about, he wanted to confine himself to generalities.
"The change is not in his external position," Countess Lidia
Ivanovna said sternly, following with eyes of love the figure of
Alexei Alexandrovich as he got up and crossed over to Landau; "his
heart is changed, a new heart has been vouchsafed him, and I fear you
don't fully apprehend the change that has taken place in him."
"Oh, well, in general outlines I can conceive the change. We have
always been friendly, and now..." said Stepan Arkadyevich, responding
with a sympathetic glance to the expression of the Countess, and
mentally balancing the question with which of the two ministers she
was more intimate, so as to know which to have her speak to.
"The change that has taken place in him cannot lessen his love for
his neighbors; on the contrary, that change can only intensify love in
his heart. But I am afraid you do not understand me. Won't you have
some tea?" she said, with her eyes indicating the footman, who was
handing round tea on a tray.
"Not quite, Countess. Of course, his misfortune..."
"Yes, a misfortune which has proved the highest happiness, when
his heart was made new, was filled to the full with it," she said,
gazing with eyes full of love at Stepan Arkadyevich.
"I do believe I might ask her to speak to both of them," thought
"Oh, of course, Countess," he said; "but I imagine such changes
are a matter so private that no one, even the most intimate friend,
would care to speak of them."
"On the contrary! We ought to speak freely and help one another."
"Yes, undoubtedly so, but there is such a difference of
convictions, and besides..." said Oblonsky with a soft smile.
"There can be no difference where it is a question of holy truth."
"Oh, no, of course; but..." and Stepan Arkadyevich paused in
confusion. He understood at last that they were talking of religion.
"I fancy he will go into a trance immediately," said Alexei
Alexandrovich in a whisper full of meaning, going up to Lidia
Stepan Arkadyevich looked round. Landau was sitting at the window,
leaning on his elbow and the back of his chair, his head drooping.
Noticing that all eyes were turned on him, he raised his head and
smiled a smile of childlike artlessness.
"Don't take any notice," said Lidia Ivanovna, and she lightly
moved a chair up for Alexei Alexandrovich. "I have observed..." she
was beginning, when a footman came into the room with a letter. Lidia
Ivanovna rapidly ran her eyes over the note, and, excusing herself,
wrote an answer with extraordinary rapidity, handed it to the man, and
came back to the table. "I have observed," she went on, "that Moscow
people, especially the men, are more than all others indifferent to
"Oh, no, Countess, I thought Moscow people had the reputation of
being the firmest in the faith," answered Stepan Arkadyevich.
"But as far as I can make out, you are unfortunately one of the
indifferent ones," said Alexei Alexandrovich, turning to him with a
"How anyone can be indifferent!" said Lidia Ivanovna.
"I am not so much indifferent on that subject as I am waiting in
suspense," said Stepan Arkadyevich, with his most deprecating smile.
"I hardly think that the time for such questions has come yet for me."
Alexei Alexandrovich and Lidia Ivanovna looked at each other.
"We can never tell whether the time has come for us or not," said
Alexei Alexandrovich sternly. "We ought not to think whether we are
ready or not ready. God's grace is not guided by human considerations:
sometimes it comes not to those who strive for it, and comes to those
who are unprepared, like Saul."
"No, I believe it won't be just yet," said Lidia Ivanovna, who had
been meanwhile watching the movements of the Frenchman. Landau got up
and came to them.
"Do you allow me to listen?" he asked.
"Oh, yes; I did not want to disturb you," said Lidia Ivanovna,
gazing tenderly at him; "sit here with us."
"One has only not to close one's eyes to shut out the light,"
Alexei Alexandrovich went on.
"Ah, if you knew the happiness we know, feeling His presence ever
in our hearts!" said Countess Lidia Ivanovna with a rapturous smile.
"But a man may feel himself inapt sometimes to rise to that
height," said Stepan Arkadyevich, conscious of hypocrisy in admitting
this religious height, but at the same time unable to bring himself to
acknowledge his freethinking views before a person who, by a single
word to Pomorsky, might procure him the coveted appointment.
"That is, you mean that sin keeps him back?" said Lidia Ivanovna.
"But that is a false idea. There is no sin for believers, their sin
has been atoned for. Pardon," she added, looking at the footman, who
came in again with another letter. She read it and gave a verbal
answer: "Tomorrow at the Grand Duchess's, say.——For the believer sin
is not," she went on.
"Yes, but faith without works is dead," said Stepan Arkadyevich,
recalling the phrase from the catechism, and only by his smile
clinging to his independence.
"There you have it——from the epistle of St. James," said Alexei
Alexandrovich, addressing Lidia Ivanovna, with a certain
reproachfulness in his tone. It was unmistakably a subject they had
discussed more than once before. "What harm has been done by the false
interpretation of that passage! Nothing holds men back from belief
like that misinterpretation. 'I have not works, so I cannot believe,'
though all the while that's not what is said, but the very opposite."
"Striving for God, saving the soul by fasting," said Countess
Lidia Ivanovna, with disgusted contempt, "those are the crude ideas of
our monks.... Yet that is nowhere said. It is far simpler and easier,"
she added, looking at Oblonsky with the same encouraging smile with
which at Court she encouraged youthful maids of honor, disconcerted by
the new surroundings of the Court.
"We are saved by Christ who suffered for us. We are saved by
faith," Alexei Alexandrovich chimed in, with a glance of approval at
"Vous comprenez l'anglais?" asked Lidia Ivanovna, and receiving a
reply in the affirmative, she got up and began looking through a shelf
"I want to read him Safe and Happy, or Under the Wing," she said,
looking inquiringly at Karenin. And finding the book, and sitting down
again in her place, she opened it. "It's very short. In it is
described the way by which faith can be reached, and the happiness,
above all earthly bliss, with which it fills the soul. The believer
cannot be unhappy because he is not alone. But you will see." She was
just settling herself to read when the footman came in again. "Madame
Borozdina? Tell her tomorrow, at two o'clock. Yes," she said, marking
the place in the book by inserting a finger, and gazing before her
with her fine pensive eyes, "that is how true faith acts. You know
Marie Sanina? You know about her trouble? She lost her only child. She
was in despair. And what happened? She found this comforter, and she
thanks God now for the death of her child. Such is the happiness faith
"Oh, yes, that is most..." said Stepan Arkadyevich, glad they were
going to read, and let him have a chance to collect his faculties.
"No, I see I'd better not ask her about anything today," he thought.
"If only I can get out of this without putting my foot in it!"
"It will be dull for you," said Countess Lidia Ivanovna,
addressing Landau; "you don't know English——but it's short."
"Oh, I shall understand," said Landau, with the same smile, and he
closed his eyes.
Alexei Alexandrovich and Lidia Ivanovna exchanged meaning glances,
and the reading began.
Stepan Arkadyevich felt completely nonplused by the strange talk
which he was hearing for the first time. The complexity of Peterburg,
as a rule, had a stimulating effect on him, rousing him out of his
Moscow stagnation. But he liked these complications, and understood
them only in the circles he knew and was at home in. In these
unfamiliar surroundings he was puzzled and disconcerted, and could not
get his bearings. As he listened to Countess Lidia Ivanovna, aware of
the beautiful, naive——or perhaps knavish, he could not decide which——
eyes of Landau fixed upon him, Stepan Arkadyevich began to be
conscious of a peculiar heaviness in his head.
The most incongruous ideas were in confusion in his head. "Marie
Sanina is glad her child's dead.... How good a smoke would be now!...
To be saved, one need only believe, and the monks don't know how the
thing's to be done, but Countess Lidia Ivanovna does know.... And why
is my head so heavy? Is it the cognac, or the fact of all this being
so very queer? Anyway, I fancy I've done nothing unseemly so far. But,
anyway, it won't do to ask her now. They say they make one pray. I
only hope they won't make me! That'll be too imbecile. And what stuff
it is she's reading! But she has a good accent. Landau——Bezzubov——
what's he Bezzubov for?" All at once Stepan Arkadyevich became aware
that his lower jaw was uncontrollably forming a yawn. He pulled his
whiskers to cover the yawn, and shook himself together. But soon after
he became aware that he was dropping asleep and on the very point of
snoring. He recovered himself at the very moment when the voice of
Countess Lidia Ivanovna was saying "he's asleep."
Stepan Arkadyevich started with dismay, feeling guilty and caught.
But he was reassured at once by seeing that the words "he's asleep"
asleep referred not to him, but to Landau. The Frenchman had fallen
asleep as well as Stepan Arkadyevich. But Stepan Arkadyevich's being
asleep would have offended them, as he thought (though even this, he
thought, might not be so, as everything seemed so queer), while
Landau's being asleep delighted them extremely, especially Countess
"Mon ami," said Lidia Ivanovna, carefully holding the folds of her
silk gown so as not to rustle, and in her excitement calling Karenin
not Alexei Alexandrovich, but mon ami, "donnez-lui la main. Vous
voyez? Sh!" she hissed at the footman as he came in again. "Not at
The Frenchman was asleep, or pretending to be asleep, with his
head on the back of his chair, and his moist hand, as it lay on his
knee, made faint movements, as though trying to catch something.
Alexei Alexandrovich got up, tried to move carefully, but stumbled
against the table, drew up, and laid his hand in the Frenchman's hand.
Stepan Arkadyevich got up too, and opening his eyes wide, trying to
wake himself up if he was asleep, he looked first at one and then at
the other. It was all real. Stepan Arkadyevich felt that his head was
getting worse and worse.
"Que la personne qui est arrivee la derniere, celle qui demande,
qu'elle——sorte! Qu'elle sorte!" articulated the Frenchman, without
opening his eyes.
"Vous m'excuserez, mais vous voyez... Revenez vers dix heures,
encore mieux demain."
"Qu'elle sorte!" repeated the Frenchman impatiently.
"C'est moi, n'est-ce pas?" And receiving an answer in the
affirmative, Stepan Arkadyevich, forgetting the favor he had meant to
ask of Lidia Ivanovna, and forgetting his sister's affairs, caring for
nothing, but filled with the sole desire to escape as soon as
possible, went out on tiptoe and ran out into the street as though
from a plague-stricken house. For a long while he chatted and joked
with his driver, trying to recover his spirits.
At the French theater where he arrived for the last act, and
afterward at the Tatar restaurant after his champagne, Stepan
Arkadyevich felt a little refreshed in the atmosphere he was used to.
But still he felt quite unlike himself all that evening.
On getting home to Piotr Oblonsky's, where he was staying, Stepan
Arkadyevich found a note from Betsy. She wrote to him that she was
very anxious to finish their interrupted conversation, and begged him
to come the next day. He had scarcely read this note, and frowned at
its contents, when he heard below the ponderous tramp of the servants
carrying something heavy.
Stepan Arkadyevich went out to look. It was the rejuvenated Piotr
Oblonsky. He was so drunk that he could not walk upstairs; but he told
them to set him on his legs when he saw Stepan Arkadyevich, and,
clinging to him, walked with him into his room, and there began
telling him how he had spent the evening, and fell asleep doing so.
Stepan Arkadyevich was in very low spirits, which happened rarely
with him, and for a long while he could not go to sleep. Everything he
could recall to his mind, everything was disgusting; but, most
disgusting of all, as if it were something shameful, was the memory of
the evening he had spent at Countess Lidia Ivanovna's.
Next day he received from Alexei Alexandrovich a final answer,
refusing to grant Anna's divorce, and he understood that his decision
was based on what the Frenchman had said in his real or pretended
In order to carry through any undertaking in family life, there
must necessarily be either complete dissension between the husband and
wife, or loving agreement. When the relations of a couple are
vacillating and neither one thing nor the other, no sort of enterprise
can be undertaken.
Many families remain for years in the same place, though both
husband and wife are sick of it, simply because there is neither
complete dissension nor agreement between them.
Both Vronsky and Anna felt life in Moscow insupportable in the
heat and dust, when the spring sunshine was followed by the glare of
summer, and all the trees in the boulevards had long since been in
full leaf, and the leaves were covered with dust. But they did not go
back to Vozdvizhenskoe, as they had arranged to do long before; they
went staying on in Moscow, though they both loathed it, because of
late there had been no agreement between them.
The irritability that kept them apart had no external cause, and
all efforts to come to an understanding intensified it, instead of
removing it. It was an inner irritation, grounded in her mind on the
conviction that his love had grown less; in his, on regret that he had
put himself for her sake in a difficult position, which she, instead
of lightening, made still more difficult. Neither of them gave full
utterance to his or her sense of grievance, but they considered each
other in the wrong, and tried on every pretext to prove this to one
In her eyes the whole of him, with all his habits, ideas, desires,
with all his spiritual and physical temperament, was one thing——love
for women, and that love, as she felt, ought to be entirely
concentrated on her alone. That love was less; consequently, as she
reasoned, he must have transferred part of his love to other women or
to another woman——and she was jealous. She was jealous not of any
particular woman but of the decrease of his love. Not having found an
object for her jealousy, she was on the lookout for it. At the
slightest hint she transferred her jealousy from one object to
another. At one time she was jealous of those low women with whom he
might so easily renew his old bachelor ties; then she was jealous of
the society women he might meet; then she was jealous of the imaginary
girl whom he might want to marry, for whose sake he would break with
her. And this last form of jealousy tortured her most of all,
especially as he had unwarily told her, in a moment of frankness, that
his mother knew him so little that she had had audacity to try to
persuade him to marry the young Princess Sorokina.
And being jealous of him, Anna was indignant against him and found
grounds for indignation in everything. For everything that was
difficult in her position she blamed him. The agonizing condition of
suspense she had passed at Moscow, the tardiness and indecision of
Alexei Alexandrovich, her solitude——she put it all down to him. If he
had loved her he would have seen all the bitterness of her position,
and would have rescued her from it. For her being in Moscow and not in
the country, he was to blame too. He could not live buried in the
country as she would have liked to do. He must have society, and he
had put her in this awful position, the bitterness of which he would
not see. And again, it was his fault that she was forever separated
from her son.
Even the rare moments of tenderness that came from time to time
did not soothe her; in his tenderness now she saw a shade of
complacency, of self-confidence, which had not been of old and which
It was already dusk. Anna was alone, and waiting for him to come
back from a bachelor dinner. She walked up and down in his study (the
room where the noise from the street was least heard), and thought
over every detail of their yesterday's quarrel. Going back from the
well-remembered, offensive words of the quarrel to what had been the
ground of it, she arrived at last at its origin. For a long while she
could hardly believe that their dissension had arisen from a
conversation so inoffensive, of so little moment to either. But so it
actually had been. It all arose from his laughing at the girls' high
schools, declaring they were useless, while she defended them. He had
spoken slightingly of women's education in general, and had said that
Hannah, Anna's English protegee, had not the slightest need to know
anything of physics.
This had irritated Anna. She saw in this a contemptuous reference
to her occupations. And she had bethought her of a phrase to pay him
back for the pain he had inflicted upon her, and had uttered it.
"I don't expect you to understand me, my feelings, as anyone who
loved me might, but simple delicacy I did expect," she had said.
And he had actually flushed with vexation, and had said something
unpleasant. She could not recall her answer, but at that point, with
an unmistakable desire to wound her too, he had said:
"I feel no interest in your infatuation over this girl, that's
true, because I see it's unnatural."
The cruelty with which he shattered the world she had built up for
herself so laboriously to enable her to endure her hard life, the
injustice with which he had accused her of affectation, of
artificiality, aroused her.
"I am very sorry that nothing but the coarse and material is
comprehensible and natural to you," she had said, and walked out of
When he had come in to her yesterday evening, they had not
referred to the quarrel; both felt that the quarrel had been smoothed
over, but was not at an end.
Today he had not been at home all day, and she felt so lonely and
wretched in being on bad terms with him that she wanted to forget it
all, to forgive him, and be reconciled with him; she wanted to throw
the blame on herself and to justify him.
"I am myself to blame. I'm irritable, I'm insanely jealous. I will
make it up with him, and we'll go away to the country; there I shall
be more at peace," she said to herself.
"Unnatural!" She suddenly recalled the word that had stung her
most of all, not so much the word itself as the intent to wound her
with which it was said. "I know what he meant; he meant——unnatural,
not loving my own daughter to love another person's child. What does
he know of love for children, of my love for Seriozha, whom I've
sacrificed for him? But that wish to wound me! No, he loves another
woman, it can't be otherwise."
And perceiving that, while trying to regain her peace of mind, she
had gone round the same circle that she had been round so often
before, and had come back to her former state of exasperation, she was
horrified at herself. "Can it be impossible? Can I really take the
blame on myself?" she said to herself, and began again from the
beginning. "He's truthful, he's honest, he loves me. I love him, and
in a few days the divorce will come. What more do I want? I want peace
of mind and trust, and I will take the blame on myself. Yes, now when
he comes in, I will tell him I was wrong, though I was not wrong, and
we will go away."
And to escape thinking any more, and being overcome by
irritability, she rang and ordered the boxes to be brought up for
packing their things for the country.
At ten o'clock Vronsky came in.
"Well, was it amusing?" she asked, coming out to meet him with a
penitent and meek expression.
"Just as usual," he answered, seeing at a glance that she was in
one of her good moods. He was used by now to these transitions, and he
was particularly glad to see it today, as he was in a specially good
"What do I see? Come, that's good!" he said, pointing to the boxes
in the passage.
"Yes, we must go. I went out for a drive, and it was so fine I
longed to be in the country. There's nothing to keep you, is there?"
"It's the one thing I desire. I'll be back directly, and we'll
talk it over; I only want to change my coat. Order some tea."
And he went into his room.
There was something mortifying in the way he had said "Come,
that's good," as one says to a child when it leaves off being naughty,
and still more mortifying was the contrast between her penitent and
his self-confident tone; and for one instant she felt the lust of
strife rising up in her again, but making an effort she conquered it,
and met Vronsky as good-humoredly as before.
When he came in she told him, partly repeating phrases she had
prepared beforehand, how she had spent the day, and her plans for
"You know, it came to me almost like an inspiration," she said.
"Why wait here for the divorce? Won't it be just the same in the
country? I can't wait any longer! I don't want to go on hoping, I
don't want to hear anything about the divorce. I have made up my mind
it shall not have any more influence on my life. Do you agree?"
"Oh, yes!" he said, glancing uneasily at her excited face.
"What did you do? Who was there?" she said, after a pause.
Vronsky mentioned the names of the guests. "The dinner was
first-rate, and the boat race, and it was all pleasant enough, but in
Moscow they can never do anything without something ridicule. A lady
of a sort appeared on the scene, teacher of swimming to the Queen of
Sweden, and gave us an exhibition of her skill."
"How? Did she swim?" asked Anna, frowning.
"In an absurd red costume de natation; she was old and hideous
too. So when shall we go?"
"What an absurd fancy! Why, did she swim in some special way,
then?" said Anna, not answering.
"There was absolutely nothing in it. That's just what I say——it
was awfully stupid. Well, then, when do you think of going?"
Anna shook her head as though trying to drive away some unpleasant
"When? Why, the sooner the better! By tomorrow we shan't be ready.
The day after tomorrow."
"Yes.... Oh, no, wait a minute! The day after tomorrow's Sunday——I
have to be at maman's," said Vronsky, embarrassed, because as soon as
he uttered his mother's name he was aware of her intent, suspicious
eyes. His embarrassment confirmed her suspicion. She flushed hotly and
drew away from him. It was now not the Queen of Sweden's swimming
mistress who filled Anna's imagination, but the young Princess
Sorokina. She was staying in a village near Moscow with Countess
"Can't you go tomorrow?" she said.
"Well, no! The deeds and the money for the business I'm going
there for I can't get by tomorrow," he answered.
"If so, we won't go at all."
"But why so?"
"I shall not go later. Monday or never!"
"What for?" said Vronsky, as though in amazement. "Why, there's no
meaning in it!"
"There's no meaning in it to you, because you care nothing for me.
You don't care to understand my life. The one thing that I cared for
here was Hannah. You say it's affectation. Why, you said yesterday
that I don't love my daughter, that I love this English girl, that
it's unnatural. I should like to know what life there is for me that
could be natural!"
For an instant she had a clear vision of what she was doing, and
was horrified at how she had fallen away from her resolution. But even
though she knew it was her own ruin, she could not restrain herself,
could not keep herself from proving to him that he was wrong, could
not give way to him.
"I never said that; I said I did not sympathize with this sudden
"How is it, though you boast of your straightforwardness, you
don't tell the truth?"
"I never boast, and I never tell lies," he said slowly,
restraining his rising anger. "It's a great pity if you can't
"Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should
be.... And if you don't love me any more, it would be better and more
honest to say so."
"No, this is becoming unbearable!" cried Vronsky, getting up from
his chair; and stopping short, facing her, he said speaking
"What do you try my patience for?" looking as though he might have
said much more, but was restraining himself. "It has limits."
"What do you mean by that?" she cried, looking with terror at the
undisguised hatred in his whole face, and especially in his cruel,
"I mean to say..." he was beginning, but he checked himself. "I
must ask what it is you want of me?"
"What I can want? All I can want is that you should not desert me,
as you think of doing," she said, understanding all he had not
uttered. "But that I don't want; that's secondary. I want love, and
there is none. So then, all is at an end."
She turned toward the door.
"Stop! sto-op!" said Vronsky, with no change in the gloomy lines
of his brows, though he held her by the hand. "What is it all about? I
said that we must put off going for three days, and on that you told
me I was lying, that I was not an honorable man."
"Yes, and I repeat that the man who reproaches me with having
sacrificed everything for me," she said, recalling the words of a
still earlier quarrel, "is worse than a dishonorable man——he's a
"Oh, there are limits to endurance!" he cried, and hastily let go
"He hates me, that's clear," she thought, and in silence, without
looking round, she walked with faltering steps out of the room. "He
loves another woman, that's even clearer," she said to herself as she
went into her own room. "I want love, and there is none. So, then, all
is at an end," she repeated the words she had said, "and it must be
put to an end."
"But how?" she asked herself, and she sat down in a low chair
before the looking glass.
Thoughts of where she would go now, whether to the aunt who had
brought her up, to Dolly, or simply alone, abroad, and of what he was
doing now alone in his study; whether this was the final quarrel, or
whether reconciliation were still possible; and of what all her old
friends at Peterburg would say of her now; and of how Alexei
Alexandrovich would look at it, and many other ideas of what would
happen now after the rupture, came into her head; but she did not give
herself up to them with all her heart. At the bottom of her heart was
some obscure idea that alone interested her, but she could not get
clear sight of it. Thinking once more of Alexei Alexandrovich, she
recalled the time of her illness after her confinement, and the
feeling which never left her at that time. "Why didn't I die?" she
recalled the words and the feeling of that time. And all at once she
knew what was in her soul. Yes, it was that idea which alone solved
all. "Yes, to die!..."
"And the shame and disgrace of Alexei Alexandrovich and of
Seriozha, and my awful shame——death will be the salvation of
everything. To die! And he will feel remorse; will be sorry; will love
me; he will suffer on my account." With a fixed smile of commiseration
for herself she sat down in the armchair, taking off and putting on
the rings on her left hand, vividly picturing from different sides his
feelings after her death.
Approaching footsteps——his steps——distracted her attention. As
though absorbed in the arrangement of her rings, she did not even turn
He went up to her, and taking her by the hand, said softly:
"Anna, we'll go the day after tomorrow, if you like. I agree to
She did not speak.
"What is it?" he urged.
"You know," she said, and at the same instant, unable to restrain
herself any longer, she burst into sobs.
"Cast me off——do!"——she articulated between her sobs. "I'll go
away tomorrow.... I'll do more than that. What am I? A depraved woman!
A stone round your neck. I don't want to make you wretched; I don't
want to! I'll set you free. You don't love me; you love someone else!"
Vronsky besought her to be calm, and declared that there was no
trace of foundation for her jealousy; that he had never ceased, and
never would cease, to love her; that he loved her more than ever.
"Anna, why distress yourself and me so?" he said to her, kissing
her hands. There was tenderness now in his face, and she fancied she
caught the sound of tears in his voice, and she felt them wet on her
hand. And instantly Anna's despairing jealousy changed to a despairing
passion of tenderness. She put her arms round him, and covered with
kisses his head, his neck, his hands.
Feeling that the reconciliation was complete, Anna set eagerly to
work in the morning preparing for their departure. Though it was not
settled whether they should go on Monday or Tuesday, as they had each
given way to the other, Anna packed busily, feeling absolutely
indifferent whether they went a day earlier or later. She was standing
in her room over an open box, taking things out of it, when he came in
to see her earlier than usual, dressed to go out.
"I'm going off at once to see maman; she can send me the money by
Iegorov. And I shall be ready to go tomorrow," he said.
Though she was in such a good mood, the mention of his visit to
his mother's gave her a pang.
"No, I shan't be ready by then myself," she said; and at once
reflected, "so then it was possible to arrange to do as I wished."——
"No, do as you meant to do. Go into the dining room, I'm coming
directly. It's only to turn out those things that aren't wanted," she
said, putting something more on the heap of frippery that lay in
Vronsky was eating his beefsteak when she came into the dining
"You wouldn't believe how distasteful these rooms have become to
me," she said, sitting down beside him to her coffee. "There's nothing
more awful than these chambres garnies. There's no individuality in
them, no soul. These clocks, and curtains, and, worst of all, the
wallpapers——they're a nightmare. I think of Vozdvizhenskoe as the
promised land. You're not sending the horses off yet?"
"No, they will come after us. Where are you going to?"
"I wanted to go to Wilson's to take some dresses to her. So it's
really to be tomorrow?" she said in a cheerful voice; but suddenly her
Vronsky's valet came in to ask him to sign a receipt for a
telegram from Peterburg. There was nothing out of the way in Vronsky's
getting a telegram, but he said, as though anxious to conceal
something from her, that the receipt was in his study, and he turned
hurriedly to her.
"By tomorrow, without fail, I will finish it all."
"From whom is the telegram?" she asked, not hearing him.
"From Stiva," he answered reluctantly.
"Why didn't you show it to me? What secret can there be between
Stiva and me?"
Vronsky called the valet back, and told him to bring the telegram.
"I didn't want to show it to you, because Stiva has such a passion
for telegraphing: why telegraph when nothing is settled?"
"About the divorce?"
"Yes; but he says he has not been able to come at anything yet. He
has promised a decisive answer in a day or two. But here it is; read
With trembling hands Anna took the telegram, and read what Vronsky
had told her. At the end was added: "little hope; but I will do
everything possible and impossible."
"I said yesterday that it's absolutely nothing to me when I get a
divorce, or whether I never get it," she said, flushing crimson.
"There was not the slightest necessity to hide it from me."——"So he
may hide, and does hide, his correspondence with women from me," she
"Iashvin meant to come this morning with Voitov," said Vronsky; "I
believe he's won from Pievtsov all and more than he can pay——about
"No," she said, further irritated by his so obviously showing by
this change of subject that he knew she was irritated, "why did you
suppose that this news would affect me so, that you must even try to
hide it? I said I don't want to consider it, and I should have liked
you to care as little about it as I do."
"I care about it because I like definiteness," he said.
"Definiteness is not in the form, but in love," she said, more and
more irritated, not by his words, but by the tone of cool composure in
which he spoke. "What do you want it for?"
"My God! Love again," he thought, frowning.
"Oh, you know what for; for your sake and your children's in the
"There won't be any children in the future."
"That's a great pity," he said.
"You want it for the children's sake, but you don't think of me?"
she said, quite forgetting, or not having heard that he had said, "For
your sake and the children's."
The question of the possibility of having children had long been a
subject of dispute and irritation to her. His desire to have children
she interpreted as a proof he did not prize her beauty.
"Oh, I said: for your sake. Above all for your sake," he repeated,
frowning as though in pain, "because I am certain that the greater
part of your irritability comes from the indefiniteness of the
"Yes, now he has laid aside all pretense, and all his cold hatred
for me is apparent," she thought, not hearing his words, but watching
with terror the cold, cruel judge who, mocking her, looked out of his
"The cause isn't that," she said, "and, indeed, I don't see how
the cause of my irritability, as you call it, can be in my being
completely in your power. What indefiniteness is there in the
position? On the contrary."
"I am very sorry that you don't care to understand," he
interrupted, obstinately anxious to give utterance to his thought.
"The indefiniteness consists in your imagining that I am free."
"On that score you can set your mind quite at rest," she said, and
turning away from him, she began drinking her coffee.
She lifted her cup, with her little finger held apart, and put it
to her lips. After drinking a few sips she glanced at him, and by his
expression she saw clearly that he was repelled by her hand, and her
gesture, and the sound made by her lips.
"I don't care in the least what your mother thinks, and what match
she wants to make for you," she said, putting the cup down with a
"But we are not talking about that."
"Yes, that's just what we are talking about. And let me tell you
that a heartless woman, whether she's old or not old, your mother or
anyone else, is of no consequence to me, and I would not consent to
"Anna, I beg you not to speak disrespectfully of my mother."
"A woman whose heart does not tell her where her son's happiness
and honor lie has no heart."
"I repeat my request that you will not speak disrespectfully of my
mother, whom I respect," he said, raising his voice and looking
sternly at her.
She did not answer. Looking intently at him, at his face, his
hands, she recalled all the details of their reconciliation the
previous day, and his passionate caresses. "There, just such caresses
he has lavished, and will lavish, and longs to lavish on other women!"
"You don't love your mother. That's all talk, and talk, and talk!"
she said, looking at him with hatred in her eyes.
"Even if so, you must..."
"Must decide, and I have decided," she said, and she would have
gone away, but at that moment Iashvin walked into the room. Anna
greeted him and remained.
Why, when there was a tempest in her soul, and she felt she was
standing at a turning point in her life, which might have fearful
consequences——why, at that minute, she had to keep up appearances
before an outsider, who sooner or later must know it all——she did not
know. But at once quelling the storm within her, she sat down and
began talking to their guest.
"Well, how are you getting on? Has your debt been paid you?" she
"Oh, pretty fair; I fancy I shan't get it all, while I ought to go
on Wednesday. And when are you off?" said Iashvin, looking at Vronsky,
and unmistakably surmising a quarrel.
"The day after tomorrow, I think," said Vronsky.
"You've been intending to go so long, though."
"But now it's quite decided," said Anna, looking Vronsky straight
in the face with a look which told him not to dream of the possibility
"Don't you feel sorry for that unlucky Pievtsov?" she went on,
talking to Iashvin.
"I've never asked myself the question, Anna Arkadyevna, whether
I'm sorry for him or not. You see, all my fortune's here"——he touched
his breast pocket——"and just now I'm a wealthy man. But today I'm
going to the club, and I may come out a beggar. You see, whoever sits
down to play with me wants to leave me without a shirt to my back, and
I wish the same to him. And so we fight it out, and that's the
pleasure of it."
"Well, but suppose you were married," said Anna, "how would it be
for your wife?"
"That's to all appearance why I'm not married, and never mean to
"And Helsingfors?" said Vronsky, entering into the conversation
and glancing at Anna's smiling face. Meeting his eyes, Anna's face
instantly took a coldly severe expression as though she were saying to
him: "It's not forgotten. It's all the same."
"Were you really in love?" she said to Iashvin.
"Oh heavens! Ever so many times! But, you see, some men can play,
but only so that they can always lay down their cards when the hour of
a rendez-vous comes, while I can take up love, but only so as not to
be late for my cards in the evening. That's how I manage things."
"No, I didn't mean that, but the real thing." She would have said
Helsingfors, but would not repeat the word used by Vronsky.
Voitov, who was buying the horse, came in. Anna got up and went
out of the room.
Before leaving the house, Vronsky went into her room. She would
have pretended to be looking for something on the table, but ashamed
of making a pretense, she looked straight in his face with cold eyes.
"What do you want?" she asked in French.
"To get the guarantee for Gambetta——I've sold him," he said, in a
tone which said more clearly than words, "I've no time for discussing
things, and it would lead to nothing."
"I'm not to blame in any way," he thought. "If she will punish
herself, tant pis pour elle." But as he was going he fancied that she
said something, and his heart suddenly ached with pity for her.
"Eh, Anna?" he queried.
"I said nothing," she answered just as coldly and calmly.
"Oh, nothing, tant pis then," he thought, feeling cold again, and
he turned and went out. As he was going out he caught a glimpse in the
looking glass of her face, white, with quivering lips. He even wanted
to stop and to say some comforting word to her, but his legs carried
him out of the room before he could think what to say. The whole of
that day he spent away from home, and when he came in late in the
evening the maid told him that Anna Arkadyevna had a headache and
begged him not to go in to her.
Never before had a day been passed in quarrel. Today was the first
time. And this was not a quarrel. It was the open acknowledgment of
complete coldness. Was it possible to glance at her as he had glanced
when he came into the room for the guarantee?——to look at her, see her
heart was breaking with despair, and go out without a word with that
face of callous composure? He was not merely cold to her, he hated her
because he loved another woman——that was clear.
And remembering all the cruel words he had said, Anna supplied,
too, the words that he had unmistakably wished to say and could have
said to her, and she grew more and more exasperated.
"I won't prevent you," he might say. "You can go where you like.
You were unwilling to be divorced from your husband, no doubt so that
you might go back to him. Go back to him. If you want money, I'll give
it to you. How many roubles do you want?"
All the most cruel words that a brutal man could say, he said to
her in her imagination, and she could not forgive him for them, as
though he had actually said them.
"But didn't he only yesterday swear he loved me, he, a truthful
and sincere man? Haven't I despaired for nothing many times already?"
she said to herself right after this.
All that day, except for the visit to Wilson's, which occupied two
hours, Anna spent in doubts whether everything were over or whether
there were still hope of reconciliation; whether she should go away at
once or see him once more. She was expecting him the whole day, and in
the evening, as she went to her own room, leaving a message for him
that her head ached, she said to herself, "If he comes in spite of
what the maid says, it means that he loves me still. If not, it means
that all is over, and then I will decide what I am to do!..."
In the evening she heard the rumbling of his carriage stop at the
entrance, his ring, his steps, and his conversation with the servant;
he believed what was told him, did not care to find out more, and went
to his own room. So then, everything was at an end.
And death rose clearly and vividly before her mind as the sole
means of bringing back love for her in his heart, of punishing him and
of gaining the victory in that strife which the evil spirit in
possession of her heart was waging with him.
Now nothing mattered: going or not going to Vozdvizhenskoe,
getting or not getting a divorce from her husband——all that did not
matter. The one thing that mattered was punishing him.
When she poured herself out her usual dose of opium, and thought
that she had only to drink off the whole bottle to die, it seemed to
her so simple and easy, that she began musing with enjoyment on how he
would suffer, and repent, and love her memory when it would be too
late. She lay in bed with open eyes, by the light of a single
guttering candle, gazing at the carved cornice of the ceiling and at
the shadow of the screen that covered part of it, while she vividly
pictured to herself how he would feel when she would be no more, when
she would be only a memory to him. "How could I say such cruel things
to her?" he would say. "How could I go out of the room without saying
anything to her? But now she is no more. She has gone away from us
forever. She is..." Suddenly the shadow of the screen wavered, pounced
on the whole cornice, the whole ceiling; other shadows from the other
side swooped to meet it; for an instant the shadows flitted back, but
then with fresh swiftness they darted forward, wavered, mingled, and
all was darkness. "Death!" she thought. And such horror came upon her
that for a long while she could not realize where she was, and for a
long while her trembling hands could not find the matches and light
another candle, instead of the one that had burned down and gone out.
"No, anything——only to live! Why, I love him! Why, he loves me! This
has been before and will pass," she said, feeling that tears of joy at
the return to life were trickling down her cheeks. And to escape from
her panic she went hurriedly to his room.
He was asleep there, and sleeping soundly. She went up to him, and
holding the light above his face, she gazed a long while at him. Now
when he was asleep, she loved him so that at the sight of him she
could not keep back tears of tenderness. But she knew that if he waked
up he would look at her with cold eyes, convinced that he was right,
and that before telling him of her love, she would have to prove to
him that he had been wrong in his treatment of her. Without waking
him, she went back, and after a second dose of opium she fell toward
morning into a heavy, incomplete sleep, during which she never quite
In the morning she was waked by a horrible nightmare, which had
recurred several times in her dreams, even before her connection with
Vronsky. A little old man with unkempt beard was doing something,
stooping over some iron, muttering meaningless French words, and she,
as she always did in this nightmare (it was what made the horror of
it), felt that this peasant was taking no notice of her, but was doing
something horrible with the iron——over her. And she waked up in a cold
When she got up, the previous day came back to her as though
veiled in mist.
"There was a quarrel. Just what has happened several times. I said
I had a headache, and he did not come in to see me. Tomorrow we're
going away; I must see him and get ready for the journey," she said to
herself. And learning that he was in his study, she went down to him.
As she passed through the drawing room she heard a carriage stop at
the entrance, and looking out of the window she saw the carriage, from
which a young girl in a lilac hat was leaning out, giving some
direction to the footman who was ringing the bell. After a parley in
the hall, someone came upstairs, and Vronsky's steps could be heard
passing the drawing room. He went rapidly downstairs. Anna went again
to the window. She saw him come out on the steps without his hat and
go up to the carriage. The young girl in the lilac hat handed him a
parcel. Vronsky, smiling, said something to her. The carriage drove
away; he ran rapidly upstairs again.
The mists that had shrouded everything in her soul parted
suddenly. The feelings of yesterday pierced the sick heart with a
fresh pang. She could not understand now how she could have lowered
herself by spending a whole day with him in his house. She went into
his room to announce her determination.
"That was Madame Sorokina and her daughter. They came and brought
me the money and the deeds from maman. I couldn't get them yesterday.
How is your head, better?" he said quietly, not wishing to see and to
understand the gloomy and solemn expression of her face.
She looked silently, intently at him, standing in the middle of
the room. He glanced at her, frowned for a moment, and went on reading
a letter. She turned, and went deliberately out of the room. He still
might have turned her back, but she had reached the door, he was still
silent, and the only sound audible was the rustling of the note paper
as he turned it.
"Oh, by the way," he said at the very moment she was in the
doorway, "we're going tomorrow for certain, aren't we?"
"You, but not I," she said, turning round to him.
"Anna, we can't go on like this..."
"You, but not I," she repeated.
"This is getting unbearable!"
"You... You will be sorry for this," she said, and went out.
Frightened by the desperate expression with which these words were
uttered, he jumped up and would have run after her, but on second
thoughts he sat down and scowled, setting his teeth. This vulgar——as
he thought it——threat of something vague exasperated him. "I've tried
everything," he thought; "the only thing left is not to pay
attention," and he began to get ready to drive into town, and again to
his mother's, to get her signature to the deeds.
She heard the sound of his steps about the study and the dining
room. At the drawing room he stood still. But he did not turn in to
see her; he merely gave an order that the horse should be given to
Voitov if he came while he was away. Then she heard the carriage
brought round, the door opened, and he came out again. But he went
back into the porch again, and someone was running upstairs. It was
the valet running up for his forgotten gloves. She went to the window
and saw him take the gloves without looking, and, touching the
coachman on the back, he said something to him. Then, without looking
up at the window, he settled himself in his usual attitude in the
carriage, with his legs crossed, and, drawing on his gloves, he
vanished round the corner.
"He has gone! It is the end!" Anna said to herself, standing at
the window; and in answer to this question the impression of the
darkness when the candle had flickered out and of her fearful dream,
mingling into one, filled her heart with cold terror.
"No, that cannot be!" she cried, and crossing the room she rang
the bell. She was afraid now of being alone, that, without waiting for
the servant to come in, she went out to meet him.
"Inquire where the Count has gone," she said.
The servant answered that the Count had gone to the stable.
"His Honor left word that if you cared to drive out, the carriage
would be back immediately."
"Very good. Wait a minute. I'll write a note at once. Send Mikhail
with the note to the stables. Make haste."
She sat down and wrote:
"I was wrong. Come back home; I must explain. For God's sake come!
She sealed it up and gave it to the servant.
She was afraid of being left alone now; she followed the servant
out of the room, and went to the nursery.
"Why, this isn't it——this isn't he! Where are his blue eyes, his
sweet, shy smile?" was her first thought when she saw her chubby, rosy
little girl, with her black, curly hair, instead of Seriozha, whom in
the tangle of her ideas she had expected to see in the nursery. The
little girl sitting at the table was obstinately and violently
battering on it with a cork, and staring aimlessly at her mother with
her pitch-black eyes. Answering the English nurse that she was quite
well, and that she was going to the country tomorrow, Anna sat down by
the little girl and began spinning the cork to show her. But the
child's loud, ringing laugh, and the motion of her eyebrows, recalled
Vronsky so vividly that she got up hurriedly, restraining her sobs,
and went away. "Can it be all over? No, it cannot be!" she thought.
"He will come back. But how can he explain that smile, that excitement
after he had been talking to her? But even if he doesn't explain, I
will believe. If I don't believe, there's only one thing left for
me... and I can't do it."
She looked at her watch. Twenty minutes had passed. "By now he has
received the note and is coming back. Not long, ten minutes more....
But what if he doesn't come? No, that cannot be. He mustn't see me
with tear-stained eyes. I'll go and wash. Yes, yes; did I do my hair
or not?" she asked herself. And she could not remember. She felt her
head with her hand. "Yes, my hair has been done, but when I did it I
can't in the least remember." She could not believe the evidence of
her hand, and went up to the pier glass to see whether she really had
done her hair. She certainly had, but she could not think when she had
done it. "Who's that?" she thought, looking in the looking glass at
the swollen face with strangely glittering eyes, that looked in a
scared way at her. "Why, it's I!" she suddenly understood, and,
looking round, she seemed all at once to feel his kisses on her, and
twitched her shoulders, shuddering. Then she lifted her hand to her
lips and kissed it.
"What is it? Why, I'm going out of my mind!" And she went into her
bedroom, where Annushka was tidying the room.
"Annushka," she said, coming to a standstill before her, and she
stared at the maid, not knowing what to say to her.
"You meant to go and see Darya Alexandrovna," said the maid, as
though she understood.
"Darya Alexandrovna? Yes, I'll go."
"Fifteen minutes there, fifteen minutes back. He's coming, he'll
be here soon." She took out her watch and looked at it. "But how could
he go away, leaving me in such a state? How can he live, without
making it up with me?" She went to the window and began looking into
the street. Judging by the time, he might be back now. But her
calculations might be wrong, and she began once more to recall when he
had started and to count the minutes.
At the moment when she had moved away to the big clock to compare
it with her watch, someone drove up. Glancing out of the window, she
saw his carriage. But no one came upstairs, and voices could be heard
below. It was the messenger who had come back in the carriage. She
went down to him.
"We didn't catch the Count. The Count had driven off on the
"What do you say? What!..." she said to the rosy, good-humored
Mikhail, as he handed her back her note.
"Why, then, he has never received it!" she thought.
"Go with this note to Countess Vronsky's place in the country——do
you know where it is? And bring an answer back immediately," she said
to the messenger.
"And I——what am I going to do?" she thought. "Yes, I'm going to
Dolly's——that's best, or else I shall go out of my mind. Yes, and I
can telegraph, too." And she wrote a telegram:
"I absolutely must talk to you; come at once."
After sending off the telegram, she went to dress. When she was
dressed and in her hat, she glanced again into the eyes of the plump,
comfortable-looking Annushka. There was unmistakable sympathy in those
good-natured little gray eyes.
"Annushka, dear, what am I to do?" said Anna, sobbing and sinking
helplessly into a chair.
"Why fret yourself so, Anna Arkadyevna? Why, there's nothing out
of the way. You drive out a little, and it'll cheer you up," said the
"Yes, I'm going," said Anna, rousing herself and getting up. "And
if there's a telegram while I'm away, send it on to Darya
Alexandrovna's.... But no, I shall be back myself."
"Yes, I mustn't think; I must do something, drive somewhere, and,
most of all, get out of this house," she said, feeling with terror the
strange turmoil going on in her own heart, and she made haste to go
out, and get into the carriage.
"Where to?" asked Piotr before getting on the box.
"The Znamenka——the Oblonskys'."
It was bright and sunny. A fine rain had been falling all the
morning, and now it had not long cleared up. The iron roofs, the flags
of the sidewalks, the cobbles of the pavements, the wheels and
leather, the brass and the tinplate of the carriages——all glistened
brightly in the May sunshine. It was three o'clock, and the very
liveliest time in the streets.
As she sat in a corner of the comfortable carriage that hardly
swayed on its supple springs, while the grays trotted swiftly, in the
midst of the unceasing rattle of wheels and the changing impressions
in the pure air, Anna ran over the events of the last days, and she
saw her position quite differently from what it had seemed at home.
Now the thought of death seemed no longer so terrible and so clear to
her, and death itself no longer seemed so inevitable. Now she blamed
herself for the humiliation to which she had lowered herself. "I
entreat him to forgive me. I have given in to him. I have owned myself
in fault. What for? Can't I live without him?" And leaving unanswered
the question how she was going to live without him, she fell to
reading the signs on the shops. "Office and warehouse. Dental surgeon.
Yes, I'll tell Dolly all about it. She doesn't like Vronsky. I shall
be sick and ashamed, but I'll tell her everything. She loves me, and
I'll follow her advice. I won't give in to him; I won't let him train
me as he pleases. Filippov, 'Kalaches.' They say he sends his dough to
Peterburg. The Moscow water is so good for it. And the wells at
Mitishchy, and the pancakes." And she remembered how, long, long ago,
when she was a girl of seventeen, she had gone with her aunt to
Troitsa. "By horses at that time. Was that really me, with red hands?
How much of that which seemed to me then splendid and out of reach has
become worthless, while what I had then has gone out of my reach
forever! Could I ever have believed then that I could come to such
humiliation? How proud and satisfied he will be when he gets my note!
But I will show him.... How horrid that paint smells! Why is it
they're always painting and building? Modes et robes!" she read. A man
bowed to her. It was Annushka's husband. "Our parasites,"——she
remembered how Vronsky had said that. "Our? Why our? What's so awful
is that one can't tear up the past by its roots. One can't tear it
out, but one can hide one's memory of it. And I'll hide it." And then
she thought of her past with Alexei Alexandrovich, of how she had
blotted it out of her memory. "Dolly will think I'm leaving my second
husband, and so I certainly must be in the wrong. As if I cared to be
right! I can't help it!" she said, and she wanted to cry. But at once
she fell to wondering what those two girls could be smiling about.
"Love, most likely. They don't know how dreary it is, how low.... The
boulevard and the children. Three boys running, playing at horses.
Seriozha! And I'm losing everything and not getting him back. Yes, I'm
losing everything, if he doesn't return. Perhaps he was late for the
train and has come back by now. Longing for humiliation again!" she
said to herself. "No, I'll go to Dolly, and say straight out to her:
I'm unhappy, I deserve this, I'm to blame, but still I'm unhappy, help
me. These horses, this carriage——how loathsome I am to myself in this
carriage——all his; but I won't see them again."
Thinking over the words in which she would tell Dolly, and
intentionally working her heart up to great bitterness, Anna went
"Is there anyone with her?" she asked in the hall.
"Katerina Alexandrovna Levina," answered the footman.
"Kitty! Kitty, whom Vronsky was in love with!" thought Anna. "The
girl he thinks of with love. He's sorry he didn't marry her. But me he
thinks of with hatred, and is sorry he had anything to do with me."
The sisters were having a consultation about nursing when Anna
called. Dolly went down alone to see the visitor who had interrupted
"Well, so you've not gone away yet? I meant to have come to you,"
she said; "I had a letter from Stiva today."
"We had a telegram too," answered Anna, looking round for Kitty.
"He writes that he can't make out quite what Alexei Alexandrovich
wants, but he won't go away without a decisive answer."
"I thought you had someone with you. Can I see the letter?"
"Yes——it's Kitty," said Dolly, embarrassed. "She stayed in the
nursery. She has been very ill."
"So I heard. May I see the letter?"
"I'll get it directly. But he doesn't refuse; on the contrary,
Stiva has hopes," said Dolly, stopping in the doorway.
"I haven't, and indeed I don't wish it," said Anna.
"What's this? Does Kitty consider it degrading to meet me?"
thought Anna when she was alone. "Perhaps she's right, too. But it's
not for her, the girl who was in love with Vronsky, it's not for her
to show me that, even if it is true. I know that in my position I
can't be received by any decent woman. I knew that from the first
moment I sacrificed everything to him. And this is my reward! Oh, how
I hate him! And what did I come here for? I'm worse here, more
miserable." She heard from the next room the sisters' voices in
consultation. "And what am I going to say to Dolly now? Amuse Kitty by
the sight of my wretchedness, submit to her patronizing? No; and
besides, Dolly wouldn't understand. And it would be no good my telling
her. It would only be interesting to see Kitty, to show her how I
despise everyone and everything, how nothing matters to me now."
Dolly came in with the letter. Anna read it and handed it back in
"I knew all that," she said, "and it doesn't interest me in the
"Oh, why so? On the contrary, I have hopes," said Dolly, looking
inquisitively at Anna. She had never seen her in such a strangely
irritable condition. "When are you going away?" she asked.
Anna, half-closing her eyes, looked straight before her and did
"Why does Kitty shrink from me?" she said, looking at the door and
"Oh, what nonsense! She's nursing, and things aren't going right
with her, and I've been advising her.... She's delighted. She'll be
here in a minute," said Dolly awkwardly, not clever at lying. "Yes,
here she is."
Hearing that Anna had called, Kitty had wanted not to appear, but
Dolly persuaded her. Rallying her forces, Kitty went in, walked up to
her, blushing, and shook hands.
"I am so glad to see you," she said with a trembling voice.
Kitty had been thrown into confusion by the inward conflict
between her antagonism to this bad woman and her desire to be kind to
her. But as soon as she saw Anna's lovely and attractive face, all
feeling of antagonism disappeared.
"I should not have been surprised if you had not cared to meet me.
I'm used to everything. You have been ill? Yes, you are changed," said
Kitty felt that Anna was looking at her with hostile eyes. She
ascribed this hostility to the awkward position in which Anna, who had
once patronized her, must feel with her now, and she felt sorry for
They talked of Kitty's illness, of the baby, of Stiva, but it was
obvious that nothing interested Anna.
"I came to say good-by to you," she said, getting up.
"Oh, when are you going?"
But again not answering, Anna turned to Kitty.
"Yes, I am very glad to have seen you," she said with a smile. "I
have heard so much of you from everyone, even from your husband. He
came to see me, and I liked him very much," she said, unmistakably
with malicious intent. "Where is he?"
"He has gone back to the country," said Kitty, blushing.
"Remember me to him——be sure you do."
"I'll be sure to!" Kitty said naively, looking compassionately
into her eyes.
"Good-by, then, Dolly." And kissing Dolly and shaking hands with
Kitty, Anna went out hurriedly.
"She's just the same and just as charming! She's very lovely!"
said Kitty, when she was alone with her sister. "But there's something
piteous about her. Awfully piteous!"
"Yes, there's something unusual about her today," said Dolly.
"When I went with her into the hall, I fancied she was almost crying."
Anna got into the carriage again in an even worse frame of mind
than when she set out from home. To her previous tortures was added
now that sense of mortification and of being an outcast, which she had
felt so distinctly on meeting Kitty.
"Where to? Home?" asked Piotr.
"Yes, home," she said, not even thinking now where she was going.
"How they looked at me as something dreadful, incomprehensible,
and curious! What can he be telling the other with such warmth?" she
thought, staring at two men who walked by. "Can one ever tell anyone
what one is feeling? I meant to tell Dolly, and it's a good thing I
didn't tell her. How pleased she would have been at my misery! She
would have concealed it, but her chief feeling would have been delight
at my being punished for the happiness she envied me for. Kitty——she
would have been even more pleased. How I can see through her! She
knows I was more than usually kind to her husband. And she's jealous
and hates me. And she despises me. In her eyes I'm an immoral woman.
If I were an immoral woman I could have made her husband fall in love
with me.... If I'd cared to. And, indeed, I did care to. There's
someone who's pleased with himself," she thought, as she saw a fat,
rubicund gentleman coming toward her. He took her for an acquaintance,
and lifted his glossy hat above his bald, glossy head, and then
perceived his mistake. "He thought he knew me. Well, he knows me as
well as anyone in the world knows me. I don't know myself. I know my
appetites, as the French say. They want that hokey-pokey, that they do
know for certain," she thought, looking at two boys stopping an
ice-cream seller, who took a barrel off his head and began wiping his
perspiring face with a towel. "We all want what is sweet and tastes
good. If there are no sweetmeats, then a hokey-pokey will do. And
Kitty's the same——if not Vronsky, then Levin. And she envies me. And
hates me. And we all hate each other. I Kitty——Kitty me. Yes, that's
the truth. Tiutkin, coiffeur.... Je me fais coiffer par Tiutkin....
I'll tell him that when he comes," she thought and smiled. But the
same instant she remembered that she had no one now to tell anything
amusing to. "And there's nothing amusing, nothing mirthful, really.
It's all hateful. Vesper bells——and how carefully that merchant
crosses himself! As if he were afraid of missing something. Why these
churches, and these bells, and this humbug? Simply to conceal that we
all hate each other like these cabdrivers, who are abusing each other
so angrily. Iashvin says, 'He wants to strip me of my shirt, and I
wish him the same.' Yes, that's the truth!"
She was plunged in these thoughts, which so engrossed her that she
left off thinking of her own position, when the carriage drew up at
the steps of her house. It was only when she saw the porter running
out to meet her that she remembered she had sent the note and the
"Is there any answer?" she inquired.
"I'll see this minute," answered the porter, and, glancing into
his room, he took out and gave her the thin square envelope of a
telegram. "I can't come before ten o'clock.——Vronsky," she read.
"And hasn't the messenger come back?"
"No," answered the porter.
"Then, since it's so, I know what I must do," she said, and
feeling a vague fury and craving for revenge rising up within her, she
ran upstairs. "I'll go to him myself. Before going away forever, I'll
tell him all. Never have I hated anyone as I hate that man!" she
thought. Seeing his hat on the rack, she shuddered with aversion. She
did not consider that this telegram was an answer to her telegram and
that he had not yet received her note. She pictured him to herself as
talking calmly to his mother and Princess Sorokina, and rejoicing at
her sufferings. "Yes, I must go quickly," she said, not knowing yet
where she was going. She longed to get away as quickly as possible
from the feelings she had gone through in that awful house. The
servants, the walls, the things in that house——all aroused repulsion
and hatred in her and lay like a weight upon her.
"Yes, I must go to the railway station, and if he's not there,
then go there and catch him." Anna looked at the railway timetable in
the newspapers. An evening train went at two minutes past eight. "Yes,
I shall be in time." She gave orders for the other horses to be put in
the carriage, and packed in a traveling bag the things needed for a
few days. She knew she would never come back here again.
Among the plans that came into her head she vaguely determined
that after what would happen at the station or at the Countess's
house, she would go as far as the first town on the Nizhny-Novgorod
railway and stop there.
Dinner was on the table; she went up, but the smell of the bread
and cheese was enough to make her feel that all food was disgusting.
She ordered the carriage and went out. The house threw a shadow now
right across the street, but it was a bright evening and still warm in
the sunshine. Annushka, who came down with her things, and Piotr, who
put the things in the carriage, and the coachman, evidently out of
humor, were all hateful to her, and irritated her by their words and
"I don't want you, Piotr."
"But how about the ticket?"
"Well, as you like, it doesn't matter," she said crossly.
Piotr jumped on the box, and putting his arms akimbo, told the
coachman to drive to the station.
"Here it is again! Again I understand it all!" Anna said to
herself, as soon as the carriage had started and swaying lightly,
rumbled over the small cobbles of the paved road, and again one
impression followed rapidly upon another.
"Yes; what was the last thing I thought of so clearly?" she tried
to recall. "Tiutkin, coiffeur?——No, not that. Yes, of what Iashvin
says, the struggle for existence and hatred is all that holds men
together. No, it's a useless journey you're making," she said,
mentally addressing a party in a coach and four, evidently going for
an excursion into the country. "And the dog you're taking with you
will be no help to you. You can't get away from yourselves." Turning
her eyes in the direction Piotr had turned to look, she saw a factory
hand almost dead-drunk, with hanging head, being led away by a
policeman. "Come, he's found a quicker way," she thought. "Count
Vronsky and I did not find that happiness either, though we expected
so much from it." And now for the first time Anna turned that glaring
light in which she was seeing everything on her relations with him,
which she had hitherto avoided thinking about. "What was it he sought
in me? Not love so much as the satisfaction of vanity." She remembered
his words, the expression of his face, that recalled a submissive
setter dog, in the early days of their connection. And everything now
confirmed this. "Yes, there was the triumph of vanity in him. Of
course there was love too, but the chief element was the pride of
success. He boasted of me. Now that's over. There's nothing to be
proud of. Not to be proud of, but to be ashamed of. He has taken from
me all he could, and now I am no use to him. He is weary of me and is
trying not to be dishonorable in his behavior to me. He let that out
yesterday——he wants divorce and marriage so as to burn his ships. He
loves me, but how? The zest is gone, as the English say. That fellow
wants everyone to admire him and is very much pleased with himself,"
she thought, looking at a red-faced clerk, riding on a riding-school
horse. "Yes, there's not the same zest about me for him now. If I go
away from him, at the bottom of his heart he will be glad."
This was not mere supposition, she saw it distinctly in the
piercing light which revealed to her now the meaning of life and human
"My love keeps growing more passionate and egoistic, while his is
waning and waning, and that's why we're drifting apart." She went on
musing. "And there's no help for it. He is everything for me, and I
want him more and more to give himself up to me entirely. And he wants
more and more to get away from me. Precisely: we went to meet one
another up to the time of our liaison, and since then we have been
irresistibly drifting in different directions. And there's no altering
that. He tells me I'm insanely jealous, and I have told myself that I
am insanely jealous; but it's not true. I'm not jealous, but I'm
unsatisfied. But..." she opened her lips, and shifted her place in the
carriage in the excitement, aroused by the thought that suddenly
struck her. "If I could be anything but a mistress, passionately
caring for nothing but his caresses; but I can't, and I don't care to
be anything else. And by that desire I rouse aversion in him, and he
rouses fury in me, and it cannot be different. Don't I know that he
wouldn't deceive me, that he has no schemes about Princess Sorokina,
that he's not in love with Kitty, that he won't desert me! I know all
that, but it makes it no better for me. If without loving me, from
duty, he'll be good and kind to me, without what I want——that's a
thousand times worse than unkindness! That's hell! And that's just how
it is. For a long while now he hasn't loved me. And where love ends,
hate begins. I don't know these streets at all. Hills, apparently, and
still houses, and houses.... And in the houses always people and
people.... How many of them——no end, and all hating each other! Come,
let me try and think what I want to make me happy. Well? Suppose I am
divorced, and Alexei Alexandrovich lets me have Seriozha, and I marry
Vronsky." Thinking of Alexei Alexandrovich, she at once pictured him
with extraordinary vividness as though he were alive before her, with
his mild, lifeless, dull eyes, the blue veins on his white hands, his
intonations, and the cracking of his fingers, and remembering the
feeling which had existed between them, and which was also called
love, she shuddered with loathing. "Well, I'm divorced, and become
Vronsky's wife. Well, will Kitty cease looking at me as she looked at
me today? No. And will Seriozha leave off asking and wondering about
my two husbands? And is there any new feeling I can awaken between
Vronsky and me? Is there possible, if not happiness, some sort of ease
from misery? No, no!" she answered now without the slightest
hesitation. "Impossible! We are drawn apart by life, and I make his
unhappiness, and he mine, and there's no altering him or me. Every
attempt has been made, the screw has come unscrewed. Oh, a beggar
woman with a baby. She thinks I'm sorry for her. Aren't we all flung
into the world only to hate each other, and so to torture ourselves
and each other? Schoolboys coming——laughing——Seriozha?" she thought.
"I thought, too, that I loved him, and used to be touched by my own
tenderness. But I have lived without him, I gave him up for another
love, and did not regret the exchange till that love was satisfied."
And with loathing she thought of what she meant by that love. And the
clearness with which she saw life now, her own and all men's was a
pleasure to her. "It's so with me and Piotr, and Fiodor the coachman,
and that merchant, and all the people living along the Volga, where
those placards invite one to go, and everywhere and always," she
thought when she had driven under the low-pitched roof of the
Nizhny-Novgorod station and the porters ran to meet her.
"A ticket to Obiralovka?" said Piotr.
She had utterly forgotten where and why she was going, and only by
a great effort she understood the question.
"Yes," she said, handing him her purse, and, taking a little red
bag in her hand, she got out of the carriage.
Making her way through the crowd to the first-class waiting room,
she gradually recollected all the details of her position, and the
plans between which she was hesitating. And again at the old sore
places, hope and then despair scraped the wounds of her tortured,
fearfully throbbing heart. As she sat on the star-shaped sofa waiting
for the train, she gazed with aversion at the people coming and going
(they were all hateful to her), and thought how she would arrive at
the station, would write him a note, and what she would write to him,
and how he was at this moment complaining to his mother of his
position, not understanding her sufferings, and how she would go into
the room, and what she would say to him. Then she thought that life
might still be happy, and how miserably she loved and hated him, and
how fearfully her heart was beating.
A bell rang, some young men, ugly and impudent, and at the same
time careful of the impression they were making, hurried by. Piotr,
too, crossed the room in his livery and spatterdashes with his dull,
brutish face, and came up to her to take her to the train. The noisy
young men were quiet as she passed them on the platform, and one
whispered something about her to another——something vile, no doubt.
She stepped up on the high step, and sat down in a carriage by herself
on a dirty spring seat that had once been white. Her bag lay beside
her, shaken up and down by the springiness of the seat. With a foolish
smile Piotr raised his hat, with its gallooned band, at the window, in
token of farewell; an impudent conductor slammed the door and the
latch. A grotesque-looking lady wearing a bustle (Anna mentally
undressed the woman, and was appalled at her hideousness), and a
little girl laughing affectedly, ran down the platform.
"Katerina Andreevna, she's got them all, ma tante!" cried the girl.
"Even the child's hideous and affected," thought Anna. To avoid
seeing anyone, she got up quickly and seated herself at the opposite
window of the empty carriage. A misshapen-looking peasant covered with
dirt, in a cap from which his tangled hair stuck out all around,
passed by that window, stooping down to the carriage wheels. "There's
something familiar about that hideous peasant," thought Anna. And
remembering her dream, she moved away to the opposite door, shaking
with terror. The conductor opened the door and let in a man and his
"Do you wish to get out?"
Anna made no answer. The conductor and her two fellow passengers
did not notice under her veil her panic-stricken face. She went back
to her corner and sat down. The couple seated themselves on the
opposite side, and intently but surreptitiously scrutinized her
clothes. Both husband and wife seemed repulsive to Anna. The husband
asked if she would allow him to smoke, obviously not with a view to
smoking, but to getting into conversation with her. Receiving her
assent, he said to his wife in French something about caring less to
smoke than to talk. They made inane and affected remarks to one
another, entirely for her benefit. Anna saw clearly that they were
sick of each other, and hated each other. And no one could have helped
hating such miserable monstrosities.
A second bell sounded, and was followed by moving of luggage,
noise, shouting and laughter. It was so clear to Anna that there was
nothing for anyone to be glad of, that this laughter irritated her
agonizingly, and she would have liked to stop up her ears not to hear
it. At last the third bell rang, there was a whistle and a hiss of
steam, and a clank of chains, and the man in her carriage crossed
himself. "It would be interesting to ask him what meaning he attaches
to that," thought Anna, looking angrily at him. She looked past the
lady out of the window at the people who seemed whirling by, as they
ran beside the train or stood on the platform. The train, jerking at
regular intervals at the junctions of the rails, rolled by the
platform, past a stone wall, a signal box, past other trains; the
wheels, moving more smoothly and evenly, resounded with a slight clang
on the rails. The window was lighted up by the bright evening sun, and
a slight breeze fluttered the curtain. Anna forgot her fellow
passengers, and to the light swaying of the train she fell to thinking
again, as she breathed the fresh air.
"Yes, what did I stop at? That I couldn't find a condition in
which life would not be a misery, that we are all created to be
miserable, and that we all know it, and all invent means of deceiving
each other. And when one sees the truth, what is one to do?"
"That's why reason is given to man, to escape from what worries
him," said the lady in French, lisping affectedly, and obviously
pleased with her phrase.
The words seemed an answer to Anna's thoughts.
"To escape from what worries him," repeated Anna. And glancing at
the red-cheeked husband and the thin wife, she saw that the sickly
wife considered herself misunderstood, and the husband deceived her
and encouraged her in that idea of herself. Anna seemed to see all
their history and all the crannies of their souls, turning a light
upon them, as it were. But there was nothing interesting in them, and
she pursued her thought.
"Yes, I'm very much worried, and that's why reason was given me,
to escape; so then, one must escape: why not put out the light when
there's nothing more to look at, when it's sickening to look at it
all? But how? Why did the conductor run along the footboard, why are
they shrieking, those young men in that train? Why are they talking,
why are they laughing? It's all falsehood, all lying, all humbug, all
When the train came into the station, Anna got out into the crowd
of passengers, and moving apart from them as if they were lepers, she
stood on the platform, trying to think what she had come here for, and
what she meant to do. Everything that had seemed to her possible
before was now so difficult to consider, especially in this noisy
crowd of hideous people who would not leave her alone. At one moment
porters ran up to her proffering their services, then young men
clacking their heels on the planks of the platform and talking loudly,
stared at her, then people meeting her dodged past on the wrong side.
Remembering that she had meant to go on farther if there was no
answer, she stopped a porter and asked if her coachman were not here
with a note from Count Vronsky.
"Count Vronsky? They sent up here from the Vronskys just this
minute, to meet Princess Sorokina and her daughter. And what is the
Just as she was talking to the porter, the coachman Mikhail, red
and cheerful in his smart blue coat and chain, evidently proud of
having so successfully performed his commission, came up to her and
gave her a letter. She broke it open, and her heart ached before she
had read it.
"I am very sorry your note did not reach me. I will be home at
ten," Vronsky had written carelessly.
"Yes, that's what I expected!" she said to herself with an evil
"Very good, you can go home now," she said softly, addressing
Mikhail. She spoke softly because the rapidity of her heart's beating
hindered her breathing. "No, I won't let Thee make me miserable," she
thought menacingly, addressing not him, not herself, but the power
that made her suffer, and she walked along the platform.
Two maidservants walking along the platform turned their heads,
staring at her and making some remarks about her dress. "Real," they
said of the lace she was wearing. The young men would not leave her in
peace. Again they passed by, peering into her face, and with a laugh
shouting something in an unnatural voice. The stationmaster coming up
asked her whether she was going by the train. A boy selling kvass
never took his eyes off her. "My God! Where am I to go?" she thought,
going farther and farther along the platform. At the end she stopped.
Some ladies and children, who had come to meet a gentleman in
spectacles, paused in their loud laughter and talking, and stared at
her as she reached them. She quickened her pace and walked away from
them to the edge of the platform. A goods train was coming in. The
platform began to sway, and she fancied she was in the train again.
And all at once she thought of the man crushed by the train the
day she had first met Vronsky, and she knew what she had to do. With a
rapid, light step she went down the steps that led from the platform
to the rails and stopped quite near the approaching train. She looked
at the lower part of the carriages, at the screws and chains, and the
tall cast-iron wheel of the first carriage slowly moving up, and tried
to measure the middle between the front and back wheels, and the very
minute when that middle point would be opposite her.
"There," she said to herself, looking into the shadow of the
carriage, at the sand and coal dust which covered the sleepers——
"there, in the very middle, and I will punish him and escape from
everyone and from myself."
She tried to fling herself below the wheels of the first car as it
reached her; but the red bag which she tried to drop out of her hand
delayed her, and she was too late; she missed the middle of the car.
She had to wait for the next one. A feeling such as she had known when
about to take the first plunge in bathing came upon her, and she
crossed herself. That familiar gesture of crossing brought back into
her soul a whole series of girlish and childish memories, and suddenly
the darkness that had covered everything for her was torn apart, and
life rose up before her for an instant with all its bright past joys.
But she did not take her eyes from the wheels of the second car. And
exactly at the moment when the space between the wheels came opposite
her, she dropped the red bag, and drawing her head back into her
shoulders, fell on her hands under the car, and lightly, as though she
would rise again at once, dropped onto her knees. And at the same
instant she was terror-stricken at what she was doing. "Where am I?
What am I doing? What for?" She tried to get up, to drop backward; but
something huge and merciless struck her on the head and drew along on
her back. "Lord, forgive me all!" she said, feeling it impossible to
struggle. A peasant, muttering something, was working at the iron. And
the candle by which she had been reading the book filled with
troubles, falsehoods, sorrow, and evil, flared up more brightly than
ever before, lighted up for her all that had been in darkness,
sputtered, began to grow dim, and was quenched forever.