‘GONE! Is it finished?’ said Anna to herself as she stood by the window; and in answer to that question, the impressions left by the darkness when her candle went out and by the terrible dream, merging into one, filled her heart with icy horror.
‘No, it is impossible!’ she exclaimed and, crossing the room, she rang loudly. She was so terrified at being alone that she did not wait for the servant but went out to meet him.
‘Find out where the Count has gone,’ she said.
The man replied that the Count had gone to the stables.
‘The Count told me to let you know that, in case you should wish to go out, the carriage will return very soon.’
‘Very well. Wait a moment. I will just write a note. Send Michael with it to the stables at once. Quickly!’
She sat down and wrote:
‘I was to blame. Come home. We must talk it over. For God’s sake come; I am frightened.’
She stuck it down and gave it to the man.
Then, afraid to remain alone now, she followed him out of the room, and went to the nursery.
‘How is this? That’s not it — this is not he! Where are his blue eyes and his sweet timid smile?’ was her first thought on seeing her plump, rosy little girl with curly black hair, instead of Serezha, whom, in the disorder of her mind, she had expected to find in the nursery. The little girl, sitting at the table, persistently and firmly hammered on it with the stopper of a bottle, gazing blankly at her mother with her two black-currants of eyes. Having, in answer to the questions of the English nurse, said that she was quite well and that they were going to the country next day, Anna sat down beside the child and began twirling the stopper round in front of her. But the child’s loud ringing laughter and a movement of her eyebrows reminded Anna so vividly of Vronsky, that, repressing her sobs, she rose hurriedly and left the room. ‘Is it really all over? No, it cannot be,’ she thought. ‘He will come back. But how will he explain to me that smile, and his animation after he had spoken to her? But even if he does not explain it, I will believe him all the same. If I don’t believe him, there is only one way left for me . . . and I don’t want that.’
She looked at the clock. Twelve minutes had passed. ‘Now he has received my note and is on his way back. It won’t be long; another ten minutes. . . . But supposing he does not come? No, that’s impossible! He must not find me with red eyes. I’ll go and wash them. Oh! And did I brush my hair or not?’ she asked herself; but could not remember. She felt her head with her hand. ‘Yes, my hair was done, but I don’t in the least remember when.’ She did not even trust her hand, and went up to the mirror to see whether her hair really was done or not. It was, but she could not remember doing it. ‘Who is that?’ she thought, gazing in the mirror at the feverish, frightened face with the strangely brilliant eyes looking at her. ‘Yes, that is I!’ she suddenly realized, and looking at her whole figure she suddenly felt his kisses, shuddered, and moved her shoulders. Then she raised her hand to her lips and kissed it.
‘What is it? Am I going mad?’ and she went to her bedroom, where Annushka was tidying up.
‘Annushka!’ she said, stopping before the maid and looking at her, without knowing what she would say to her.
‘You wished to go to see the Princess Oblonskaya,’ said the maid, apparently understanding her.
‘Darya Alexandrovna? Yes, I will go.’
‘A quarter of an hour there, a quarter of an hour back; he is already on the way, he will be here in a minute.’ She looked at her watch. ‘But how could he go away leaving me in this condition? How can he go on living, without having made it up with me?’ She went to the window and looked out into the street. He might have got back by this time; but her calculations might be incorrect, and again she began trying to remember when he had left, and reckoning the minutes.
Just as she was going to compare her watch with the large clock some one drove up. Glancing out of the window she saw his calèche. But no one came upstairs, and she heard voices below. Her messenger had returned in the carriage. She went down to him.
‘I did not find the Count. He had gone to the Nizhny railway station,’ he said.
‘What do you want? What is this?’ she asked the rosy, jolly-looking Michael, as he handed her back her note.
‘Oh, of course! He did not receive it,’ she remembered.
‘Go with this note to the Countess Vronskaya’s country house; do you know it? And bring back an answer at once,’ she told the man.
‘But what shall I do myself?’ she thought. ‘Yes, I will go to Dolly’s, of course, or else I shall go out of my mind! And I can telegraph as well!’ And she wrote out a telegram.
‘I must speak to you, come at once.’
Having sent off the telegram, she went to dress. Ready dressed and with her bonnet on, she again looked at Annushka’s placid and now still rounder face. Evident compassion showed plainly in those kindly little grey eyes.
‘Annushka, my dear! What am I to do?’ muttered Anna sobbing, as she sank helplessly into an arm-chair.
‘Why take it so to heart, Anna Arkadyevna? Such things will happen. Go out and get it off your mind,’ advised the maid.
‘Yes, I will go,’ said Anna, recovering and rousing herself; ‘and if a telegram comes during my absence, send it to Darya Alexandrovna’s. . . . No, I’ll come back myself.’
‘But I must not think, I must do something, go away, get out of this house at any rate,’ she said to herself, listening with horror to the terrible beating of her heart, and she hurriedly went out and got into the calèche.
‘Where to, ma’am?’ asked Peter, before getting onto the box.
‘To the Oblonskys’, on the Znamenka.’
THE weather was bright. All the morning there had been a fine drizzling rain, but it had now just cleared up. The iron roofs, the pavement flag-stones, the cobbles of the road, the wheels, the leather, brass, and tin of the carriages — all shone brightly in the May sunshine. It was three o’clock, the busiest time in the streets.
Sitting in the corner of the comfortable calèche, which rocked gently on its elastic springs to the rapid trot of the pair of greys, Anna — amid the incessant rattle of wheels and the rapidly changing impressions in the open air — again going over the events of the last days, saw her position quite differently from what it had seemed at home. Now the idea of death no longer seemed so terrible and clear, and death itself no longer seemed inevitable. She reproached herself now with the humiliation to which she had descended. ‘I entreated him to forgive me. I have surrendered to him. I have confessed that I am to blame. Why? Can I not live without him?’ She began reading the signboards. ‘ “Office and Stores, . . . Dental surgeon. . . .” Yes, I will tell Dolly everything. She is not fond of Vronsky. It will be humiliating and painful, but I will tell her everything. She is fond of me and I will follow her advice. I won’t submit to him; I won’t let him educate me. . . . “Filippov, Bakery. . . .” It is said that they send dough to Petersburg. The Moscow water is so good. Oh, and the wells in Mytishchi, and the pancakes! . . .’ And she remembered how, long, long ago, when she was only seventeen, she visited the Troitsa Monastery with her aunt. ‘We drove with horses, for there was then no railway. Can it really have been I, that girl with the red hands? How many things that then seemed to me excellent and unattainable have since become insignificant, and things that then existed are now for ever unattainable! Should I then have believed that I should descend to such humiliation? How proud and satisfied he will be to get my note! But I will show him . . . How nasty that paint smells! Why are they always painting and building? “Dressmaking and Millinery,” ’ she read. A man bowed to her. It was Annushka’s husband. ‘Our parasite,’ she remembered how Vronsky had said the words. ‘Our? Why “our”? It is dreadful that one cannot tear out the past by the roots. We cannot tear it out, but we can hide the memory of it. And I will hide it!’ At this point she recollected her past with Karenin and how she had effaced the memory of him. ‘Dolly will think I am leaving a second husband and that I am therefore certainly unjustifiable. Do I want to be justified? I can’t!’ she said to herself, and wished to cry. But she immediately began to wonder what those two young girls could be smiling at. ‘Love, probably! They don’t know how far from joyous it is, how low . . . The boulevard and children. Three boys running about playing at horses. Serezha! And I shall lose everything and shan’t get him back. Yes, I shall lose everything if he does not return. He may have missed the train and be back already. Wanting to humiliate yourself again!’ she said to herself. ‘No! I shall go to Dolly’s, and will tell her frankly: “I am unhappy, I deserve it; I am guilty, but all the same I am unhappy. Help me!” . . . These horses, this carriage, how horrid it is of me to be in this carriage — they are all his, but I shall not see them any more.’
‘Is anyone here?’ she asked in the ante-room.
‘Catherine Alexandrovna Levina,’ answered the footman.
‘Kitty! That same Kitty with whom Vronsky was in love,’ thought Anna. ‘She whom he remembered affectionately. He regrets not having married her. And of me he thinks with hate and regrets having joined himself to me!’
When Anna arrived the two sisters were consulting about feeding the baby. Dolly went out alone to meet the visitor who at that moment had come to interrupt their talk.
‘So you have not left yet? I was myself coming to see you,’ said Dolly. ‘I had a letter from Stiva to-day.’
‘We also had a telegram from him,’ replied Anna, looking round for Kitty.
‘He writes that he cannot understand what Alexis Alexandrovich really wants, but that he won’t leave without getting an answer.’
‘I thought you had a visitor. May I see the letter?’
‘Yes, Kitty,’ answered Dolly with embarrassment. ‘She is in the nursery. She has been very ill.’
‘I heard about it. May I see the letter?’
‘I will fetch it at once. But he has not refused; on the contrary, Stiva is hopeful,’ added Dolly, pausing at the door.
‘I have no hope, and don’t even desire it,’ said Anna.
‘What does it mean? Kitty considers it humiliating to meet me!’ thought Anna when she was left alone. ‘Maybe she is right. But it is not for her, who was in love with Vronsky — it is not for her to let me feel it; even if it is true! I know that no respectable woman can receive me in my position. I knew that from the first moment I sacrificed everything for him. And this is the reward! Oh, how I hate him! And why have I come here? It is still worse for me; it is harder than ever!’ She heard the voices of the sisters conferring together in the next room. ‘And what am I going to tell Dolly now? Console Kitty by letting her see that I am unhappy and letting her patronize me? No, and even Dolly would not understand. It is no use speaking to her. But it would be interesting to see Kitty and show her how I despise everybody and everything: how indifferent everything is to me.’
Dolly came back with the letter. Anna read and silently returned it.
‘I knew it all,’ she said, ‘and it does not interest me in the least.’
‘But why? I, on the contrary, am hopeful,’ said Dolly, looking at Anna with curiosity. She had never seen her in such a strange and irritable mood. ‘When are you leaving?’ she asked.
Anna, screwing up her eyes, gazed straight before her without answering.
‘Is Kitty hiding from me then?’ she asked, looking toward the door and blushing.
‘Oh, what nonsense! She is nursing her baby and has difficulty with it, and I was advising her. . . . She is very pleased. She will come directly,’ Dolly said awkwardly, not knowing how to tell an untruth. ‘Oh, here she is!’
When she heard that Anna had come Kitty did not wish to appear; but Dolly persuaded her. Having mustered up her courage, Kitty came in and, blushing, went up to Anna and held out her hand.
‘I am very pleased — ’ she began in a trembling voice.
Kitty was confused by the struggle within her between hostility toward this bad woman and a desire to be tolerant to her; but as soon as she saw Anna’s lovely and attractive face, all the hostility vanished at once.
‘I should not have been surprised if you had not wanted to see me. I have got used to everything. You have been ill? Yes, you are changed!’ said Anna.
Kitty felt that Anna looked at her with animosity. She attributed that animosity to the awkward position Anna, who had formerly patronized her, now felt herself to be in, and she was sorry for her.
They talked about Kitty’s illness, about the baby, and about Stiva; but evidently nothing interested Anna.
‘I came to say good-bye to you,’ she said, rising.
‘When are you leaving?’
But Anna again, without replying, turned to Kitty.
‘Yes, I am very glad to have seen you,’ she said with a smile. ‘I have heard so much about you from everybody, and even from your husband. He called on me and I liked him very much,’ she added, with obvious ill intent. ‘Where is he?’
‘He has gone to the country,’ answered Kitty, blushing.
‘Remember me to him; be sure you do!’
‘I will be sure to,’ repeated Kitty naïvely, looking compassionately into her eyes.
‘Well then, good-bye, Dolly!’ And kissing Dolly and pressing Kitty’s hand, Anna hurried away.
‘She is still the same and as attractive as ever. Charming!’ said Kitty when she was once more alone with her sister. ‘But there is something pathetic about her, terribly pathetic!’
‘Yes, but to-day there is something peculiar about her,’ said Dolly. ‘When I was seeing her out, there in the anteroom, I thought she was going to cry.’
ANNA reseated herself in the calèche in a state of mind even worse than when she left home. To her former torments was now added a feeling of being affronted and repudiated, of which she had been clearly sensible during the meeting with Kitty.
‘Where to, ma’am? Home?’ asked Peter.
‘Yes, home,’ she said, now not even thinking of where she was going.
‘How they looked at me, as at something dreadful, incomprehensible; and strange! . . . What can he be telling that other man so warmly?’ she thought, glancing at two pedestrians. ‘How is it possible to tell another what one feels? I meant to tell Dolly, but it’s a good thing I didn’t. How glad she would have been at my misfortune! She would have concealed it; but her chief feeling would have been joy that I am punished for the pleasures she has envied me. Kitty would have been still more pleased. How well I can read her! She knows I was more than usually amiable to her husband. She is jealous of me and hates me, and she also despises me. In her eyes I am an immoral woman. If I were immoral I could make her husband fall in love with me . . . if I wanted to. And I did want to. There is some one satisfied with himself!’ she thought, seeing a fat ruddy man who was driving past in the opposite direction, and who, taking her for an acquaintance, lifted his shiny hat above his bald and shiny head, but then discovered that he was mistaken. ‘He thought he knew me. But he knows me as little as does anyone else in the world. I don’t even know myself! “I know my appetites”, as the French say. Those boys want some of that dirty ice-cream; they know that for a certainty,’ she thought, as she saw two boys stopping an ice-cream vendor, who lifted down a tub from his head and wiped his perspiring face with the end of the cloth. ‘We all want something sweet and tasty; if we can get no bon-bons, then dirty ice-creams! And Kitty is just the same: if not Vronsky, then Levin. And she envies and hates me. And we all hate one another: Kitty me, and I Kitty! Now that is true. “Tyutkin, Coiffeur.” . . . Je me fais coiffer par Tyutkin [I have my hair dressed by Tyutkin]. . . . I shall tell him that when he comes back,’ she thought and smiled. But just then she recollected that now she had no one to tell anything funny to. ‘Besides, there is nothing amusing or merry. Everything is nasty. They are ringing for vespers, and how carefully that tradesman is crossing himself as if he were afraid of dropping something! What are those churches, that ringing, and these lies for? Only to conceal the fact that we all hate each other, like those cabmen who are so angrily swearing at one another. Yashvin says: “He wants to leave me without a shirt, and I him.” Now that’s true!’
With these thoughts, which occupied her so that she even forgot to think of her troubles, she arrived at the porch of their house. Only when she saw the hall-porter coming out to meet her did she remember that she had sent the note and the telegram.
‘Is there an answer?’ she asked.
‘I will look,’ he replied, and glancing at his desk he took up and handed her the thin square envelope of a telegram. ‘I cannot return before ten — Vronsky,’ she read.
‘And the man has not yet returned?’
‘No, ma’am,’ answered the hall-porter.
‘Well, in that case I know what I must do,’ said she to herself, and conscious of a vague sense of wrath and a desire for vengeance rising within her, she ran upstairs. ‘I shall go to him myself. Before quitting him for ever, I will tell him everything. I never hated anyone as I hate that man!’ thought she. Seeing his hat on the hat-rail, she shuddered with aversion. She did not realize that his telegram was in answer to hers and that he had not yet received her note. She imagined him now calmly conversing with his mother and the Princess Sorokina, and rejoicing at her sufferings. ‘Yes, I must go at once,’ she thought not yet sure where to go to. She wished to get away as soon as possible from the feelings she experienced in that terrible house. The servants, the walls, the things in the house, all repelled and angered her, and oppressed her like a weight.
‘Yes, I must go to the railway station, and if I don’t find him, I must go there and expose him.’ She looked at the timetable published in the daily paper. The train left at 8.02 p.m. ‘I shall have time.’ She gave the order to harness another pair of horses, and busied herself packing her handbag with things necessary for a few days. She knew she would not return. She vaguely resolved on one of the plans that passed through her mind. After what would occur at the railway station or at the Countess’s estate she would go on by the Nizhny railway to the first town and remain there.
Dinner was served. She went to the table, smelt the bread and cheese and as the smell of everything eatable revolted her, she sent for the carriage and went out. The house already threw a shadow right across the street; the evening was bright, and the sun still warm. Annushka, who came out with Anna’s things, and Peter, who put them into the carriage, and the coachman, who was evidently dissatisfied, were all objectionable to her and irritated her by their words and movements.
‘I shan’t need you, Peter.’
‘But how about your ticket?’
‘Well, as you like, I don’t care,’ she replied with annoyance.
Peter jumped up on the box, and with his arm akimbo told the coachman to drive to the station.