Anna Karenina (Part 6 – Chapter 16-20)
Darya Alexandrovna carried out her intention and went to see Anna. She was sorry to annoy her sister and to do anything Levin disliked. She quite understood how right the Levins were in not wishing to have anything to do with Vronsky. But she felt she must go and see Anna, and show her that her feelings could not be changed, in spite of the change in her position. That she might be independent of the Levins in this expedition, Darya Alexandrovna sent to the village to hire horses for the drive; but Levin learning of it went to her to protest.
“What makes you suppose that I dislike your going? But, even if I did dislike it, I should still more dislike your not taking my horses,” he said. “You never told me that you were going for certain. Hiring horses in the village is disagreeable to me, and, what’s of more importance, they’ll undertake the job and never get you there. I have horses. And if you don’t want to wound me, you’ll take mine.”
Darya Alexandrovna had to consent, and on the day fixed Levin had ready for his sister-in-law a set of four horses and relays, getting them together from the farm- and saddle-horses–not at all a smart-looking set, but capable of taking Darya Alexandrovna the whole distance in a single day. At that moment, when horses were wanted for the princess, who was going, and for the midwife, it was a difficult matter for Levin to make up the number, but the duties of hospitality would not let him allow Darya Alexandrovna to hire horses when staying in his house. Moreover, he was well aware that the twenty roubles that would be asked for the journey were a serious matter for her; Darya Alexandrovna’s pecuniary affairs, which were in a very unsatisfactory state, were taken to heart by the Levins as if they were their own.
Darya Alexandrovna, by Levin’s advice, started before daybreak. The road was good, the carriage comfortable, the horses trotted along merrily, and on the box, besides the coachman, sat the counting-house clerk, whom Levin was sending instead of a groom for greater security. Darya Alexandrovna dozed and waked up only on reaching the inn where the horses were to be changed.
After drinking tea at the same well-to-do peasant’s with whom Levin had stayed on the way to Sviazhsky’s, and chatting with the women about their children, and with the old man about Count Vronsky, whom the latter praised very highly, Darya Alexandrovna, at ten o’clock, went on again. At home, looking after her children, she had no time to think. So now, after this journey of four hours, all the thoughts she had suppressed before rushed swarming into her brain, and she thought over all her life as she never had before, and from the most different points of view. Her thoughts seemed strange even to herself. At first she thought about the children, about whom she was uneasy, although the princess and Kitty (she reckoned more upon her) had promised to look after them. “If only Masha does not begin her naughty tricks, if Grisha isn’t kicked by a horse, and Lily’s stomach isn’t upset again!” she thought. But these questions of the present were succeeded by questions of the immediate future. She began thinking how she had to get a new flat in Moscow for the coming winter, to renew the drawing room furniture, and to make her elder girl a cloak. Then questions of the more remote future occurred to her: how she was to place her children in the world. ‘The girls are all right,” she thought; “but the boys?”
“It’s very well that I’m teaching Grisha, but of course that’s only because I am free myself now, I’m not with child. Stiva, of course, there’s no counting on. And with the help of good-natured friends I can bring them up; but if there’s another baby coming?…” And the thought struck her how untruly it was said that the curse laid on woman was that in sorrow she should bring forth children.
“The birth itself, that’s nothing; but the months of carrying the child–that’s what’s so intolerable,” she thought, picturing to herself her last pregnancy, and the death of the last baby. And she recalled the conversation she had just had with the young woman at the inn. On being asked whether she had any children, the handsome young woman had answered cheerfully:
“I had a girl baby, but God set me free; I buried her last Lent.”
“Well, did you grieve very much for her?” asked Darya Alexandrovna.
“Why grieve? The old man has grandchildren enough as it is. It was only a trouble. No working, nor nothing. Only a tie.”
This answer had struck Darya Alexandrovna as revolting in spite of the good-natured and pleasing face of the young woman; but now she could not help recalling these words. In those cynical words there was indeed a grain of truth.
“Yes, altogether,” thought Darya Alexandrovna, looking back over her whole existence during those fifteen years of her married life, “pregnancy, sickness, mental incapacity, indifference to everything, and most of all–hideousness. Kitty, young and pretty as she is, even Kitty has lost her looks; and I when I’m with child become hideous, I know it. The birth, the agony, the hideous agonies, that last moment…then the nursing, the sleepless nights, the fearful pains….”
Darya Alexandrovna shuddered at the mere recollection of the pain from sore breasts which she had suffered with almost every child. “Then the children’s illnesses, that everlasting apprehension; then bringing them up; evil propensities” (she thought of little Masha’s crime among the raspberries), “education, Latin–it’s all so incomprehensible and difficult. And on the top of it all, the death of these children.” And there rose again before her imagination the cruel memory, that always tore her mother’s heart, of the death of her last little baby, who had died of croup; his funeral, the callous indifference of all at the little pink coffin, and her own torn heart, and her lonely anguish at the sight of the pale little brow with its projecting temples, and the open, wondering little mouth seen in the coffin at the moment when it was being covered with the little pink lid with a cross braided on it.
“And all this, what’s it for? What is to come of it all? That I’m wasting my life, never having a moment’s peace, either with child, or nursing a child, forever irritable, peevish, wretched myself and worrying others, repulsive to my husband, while the children are growing up unhappy, badly educated, and penniless. Even now, if it weren’t for spending the summer at the Levins’, I don’t know how we should be managing to live. Of course Kostya and Kitty have so much tact that we don’t feel it; but it can’t go on. They’ll have children, they won’t be able to keep us; it’s a drag on them as it is. How is papa, who has hardly anything left for himself, to help us? So that I can’t even bring the children up by myself, and may find it hard with the help of other people, at the cost of humiliation. Why, even if we suppose the greatest good luck, that the children don’t die, and I bring them up somehow. At the very best they’ll simply be decent people. That’s all I can hope for. And to gain simply that–what agonies, what toil!… One’s whole life ruined!” Again she recalled what the young peasant woman had said, and again she was revolted at the thought; but she could not help admitting that there was a grain of brutal truth in the words.
“Is it far now, Mihail?” Darya Alexandrovna asked the counting house clerk, to turn her mind from thoughts that were frightening her.
“From this village, they say, it’s five miles.” The carriage drove along the village street and onto a bridge. On the bridge was a crowd of peasant women with coils of ties for the sheaves on their shoulders, gaily and noisily chattering. They stood still on the bridge, staring inquisitively at the carriage. All the faces turned to Darya Alexandrovna looked to her healthy and happy, making her envious of their enjoyment of life. “They’re all living, they’re all enjoying life,” Darya Alexandrovna still mused when she had passed the peasant women and was driving uphill again at a trot, seated comfortably on the soft springs of the old carriage, “while I, let out, as it were from prison, from the world of worries that fret me to death, am only looking about me now for an instant. They all live; those peasant women and my sister Natalia and Varenka and Anna, whom I am going to see–all, but not I.
“And they attack Anna. What for? am I any better? I have, anyway, a husband I love–not as I should like to love him, still I do love him, while Anna never loved hers. How is she to blame? She wants to live. God has put that in our hearts. Very likely I should have done the same. Even to this day I don’t feel sure I did right in listening to her at that terrible time when she came to me in Moscow. I ought then to have cast off my husband and have begun my life fresh. I might have loved and have been loved in reality. And is it any better as it is? I don’t respect him. He’s necessary to me,” she thought about her husband, “and I put up with him. Is that any better? At that time I could still have been admired, I had beauty left me still,” Darya Alexandrovna pursued her thoughts, and she would have liked to look at herself in the looking glass. She had a traveling looking glass in her handbag, and she wanted to take it out; but looking at the backs of the coachman and the swaying counting house clerk, she felt that she would be ashamed if either of them were to look round, and she did not take out the glass.
But without looking in the glass, she thought that even now it was not too late; and she thought of Sergey Ivanovitch, who was always particularly attentive to her, of Stiva’s good-hearted friend, Turovtsin, who had helped her nurse her children through the scarlatina, and was in love with her. And there was someone else, a quite young man, who–her husband had told her it as a joke–thought her more beautiful than either of her sisters. And the most passionate and impossible romances rose before Darya Alexandrovna’s imagination. “Anna did quite right, and certainly I shall never reproach her for it. She is happy, she makes another person happy, and she’s not broken down as I am, but most likely just as she always was, bright, clever, open to every impression,” thought Darya Alexandrovna,–and a sly smile curved her lips, for, as she pondered on Anna’s love affair, Darya Alexandrovna constructed on parallel lines an almost identical love affair for herself, with an imaginary composite figure, the ideal man who was in love with her. She, like Anna, confessed the whole affair to her husband. And the amazement and perplexity of Stepan Arkadyevitch at this avowal made her smile.
In such daydreams she reached the turning of the highroad that led to Vozdvizhenskoe.
The coachman pulled up his four horses and looked round to the right, to a field of rye, where some peasants were sitting on a cart. The counting house clerk was just going to jump down, but on second thoughts he shouted peremptorily to the peasants instead, and beckoned to them to come up. The wind, that seemed to blow as they drove, dropped when the carriage stood still; gadflies settled on the steaming horses that angrily shook them off. The metallic clank of a whetstone against a scythe, that came to them from the cart, ceased. One of the peasants got up and came towards the carriage.
“Well, you are slow!” the counting house clerk shouted angrily to the peasant who was stepping slowly with his bare feet over the ruts of the rough dry road. “Come along, do!”
A curly-headed old man with a bit of bast tied round his hair, and his bent back dark with perspiration, came towards the carriage, quickening his steps, and took hold of the mud-guard with his sunburnt hand.
“Vozdvizhenskoe, the manor house? the count’s?” he repeated; “go on to the end of this track. Then turn to the left. Straight along the avenue and you’ll come right upon it. But whom do you want? The count himself?”
“Well, are they at home, my good man?” Darya Alexandrovna said vaguely, not knowing how to ask about Anna, even of this peasant.
“At home for sure,” said the peasant, shifting from one bare foot to the other, and leaving a distinct print of five toes and a heel in the dust. “Sure to be at home,” he repeated, evidently eager to talk. “Only yesterday visitors arrived. There’s a sight of visitors come. What do you want?” He turned round and called to a lad, who was shouting something to him from the cart. “Oh! They all rode by here not long since, to look at a reaping machine. They’ll be home by now. And who will you be belonging to?…”
“We’ve come a long way,” said the coachman, climbing onto the box. “So it’s not far?”
“I tell you, it’s just here. As soon as you get out…” he said, keeping hold all the while of the carriage.
A healthy-looking, broad-shouldered young fellow came up too.
“What, is it laborers they want for the harvest?” he asked.
“I don’t know, my boy.”
“So you keep to the left, and you’ll come right on it,” said the peasant, unmistakably loth to let the travelers go, and eager to converse.
The coachman started the horses, but they were only just turning off when the peasant shouted: “Stop! Hi, friend! Stop!” called the two voices. The coachman stopped.
“They’re coming! They’re yonder!” shouted the peasant. “See what a turn-out!” he said, pointing to four persons on horseback, and two in a char-a-banc, coming along the road.
They were Vronsky with a jockey, Veslovsky and Anna on horseback, and Princess Varvara and Sviazhsky in the char-a-banc. They had gone out to look at the working of a new reaping machine.
When the carriage stopped, the party on horseback were coming at a walking pace. Anna was in front beside Veslovsky. Anna, quietly walking her horse, a sturdy English cob with cropped mane and short tail, her beautiful head with her black hair straying loose under her high hat, her full shoulders, her slender waist in her black riding habit, and all the ease and grace of her deportment, impressed Dolly.
For the first minute it seemed to her unsuitable for Anna to be on horseback. The conception of riding on horseback for a lady was, in Darya Alexandrovna’s mind, associated with ideas of youthful flirtation and frivolity, which, in her opinion, was unbecoming in Anna’s position. But when she had scrutinized her, seeing her closer, she was at once reconciled to her riding. In spite of her elegance, everything was so simple, quiet, and dignified in the attitude, the dress and the movements of Anna, that nothing could have been more natural.
Beside Anna, on a hot-looking gray cavalry horse, was Vassenka Veslovsky in his Scotch cap with floating ribbons, his stout legs stretched out in front, obviously pleased with his own appearance. Darya Alexandrovna could not suppress a good-humored smile as she recognized him. Behind rode Vronsky on a dark bay mare, obviously heated from galloping. He was holding her in, pulling at the reins.
After him rode a little man in the dress of a jockey. Sviazhsky and Princess Varvara in a new char-a-banc with a big, raven-black trotting horse, overtook the party on horseback.
Anna’s face suddenly beamed with a joyful smile at the instant when, in the little figure huddled in a corner of the old carriage, she recognized Dolly. She uttered a cry, started in the saddle, and set her horse into a gallop. On reaching the carriage she jumped off without assistance, and holding up her riding habit, she ran up to greet Dolly.
“I thought it was you and dared not think it. How delightful! You can’t fancy how glad I am!” she said, at one moment pressing her face against Dolly and kissing her, and at the next holding her off and examining her with a smile.
“Here’s a delightful surprise, Alexey!” she said, looking round at Vronsky, who had dismounted, and was walking towards them.
Vronsky, taking off his tall gray hat, went up to Dolly.
“You wouldn’t believe how glad we are to see you,” he said, giving peculiar significance to the words, and showing his strong white teeth in a smile.
Vassenka Veslovsky, without getting off his horse, took off his cap and greeted the visitor by gleefully waving the ribbons over his head.
“That’s Princess Varvara,” Anna said in reply to a glance of inquiry from Dolly as the char-a-banc drove up.
“Ah!” said Darya Alexandrovna, and unconsciously her face betrayed her dissatisfaction.
Princess Varvara was her husband’s aunt, and she had long known her, and did not respect her. She knew that Princess Varvara had passed her whole life toadying on her rich relations, but that she should now be sponging on Vronsky, a man who was nothing to her, mortified Dolly on account of her kinship with her husband. Anna noticed Dolly’s expression, and was disconcerted by it. She blushed, dropped her riding habit, and stumbled over it.
Darya Alexandrovna went up to the char-a-banc and coldly greeted Princess Varvara. Sviazhsky too she knew. He inquired how his queer friend with the young wife was, and running his eyes over the ill-matched horses and the carriage with its patched mud-guards, proposed to the ladies that they should get into the char-a-banc.
“And I’ll get into this vehicle,” he said. “The horse is quiet, and the princess drives capitally.”
“No, stay as you were,” said Anna, coming up, “and we’ll go in the carriage,” and taking Dolly’s arm, she drew her away.
Darya Alexandrovna’s eyes were fairly dazzled by the elegant carriage of a pattern she had never seen before, the splendid horses, and the elegant and gorgeous people surrounding her. But what struck her most of all was the change that had taken place in Anna, whom she knew so well and loved. Any other woman, a less close observer, not knowing Anna before, or not having thought as Darya Alexandrovna had been thinking on the road, would not have noticed anything special in Anna. But now Dolly was struck by that temporary beauty, which is only found in women during the moments of love, and which she saw now in Anna’s face. Everything in her face, the clearly marked dimples in her cheeks and chin, the line of her lips, the smile which, as it were, fluttered about her face, the brilliance of her eyes, the grace and rapidity of her move meets, the fulness of the notes of her voice, even the manner in which, with a sort of angry friendliness, she answered Veslovsky when he asked permission to get on her cob, so as to teach it to gallop with the right leg foremost–it was all peculiarly fascinating, and it seemed as if she were herself aware of it, and rejoicing in it.
When both the women were seated in the carriage, a sudden embarrassment came over both of them. Anna was disconcerted by the intent look of inquiry Dolly fixed upon her. Dolly was embarrassed because after Sviazhsky’s phrase about “this vehicle,” she could not help feeling ashamed of the dirty old carriage in which Anna was sitting with her. The coachman Philip and the counting house clerk were experiencing the same sensation. The counting house clerk, to conceal his confusion, busied himself settling the ladies, but Philip the coachman became sullen, and was bracing himself not to be overawed in future by this external superiority. He smiled ironically, looking at the raven horse, and was already deciding in his own mind that this smart trotter in the char-a-banc was only good for promenage, and wouldn’t do thirty miles straight off in the heat.
The peasants had all got up from the cart and were inquisitively and mirthfully staring at the meeting of the friends, making their comments on it.
“They’re pleased, too; haven’t seen each other for a long while,” said the curly-headed old man with the bast round his hair.
“I say, Uncle Gerasim, if we could take that raven horse now, to cart the corn, that ‘ud be quick work!”
“Look-ee! Is that a woman in breeches?” said one of them, pointing to Vassenka Veslovsky sitting in a side saddle.
“Nay, a man! See how smartly he’s going it!”
“Eh, lads! seems we’re not going to sleep, then?”
“What chance of sleep today!” said the old man, with a sidelong look at the sun. “Midday’s past, look-ee! Get your hooks, and come along!”
Anna looked at Dolly’s thin, care-worn face, with its wrinkles filled with dust from the road, and she was on the point of saying what she was thinking, that is, that Dolly had got thinner. But, conscious that she herself had grown handsomer, and that Dolly’s eyes were telling her so, she sighed and began to speak about herself.
“You are looking at me,” she said, “and wondering how I can be happy in my position? Well! it’s shameful to confess, but I… I’m inexcusably happy. Something magical has happened to me, like a dream, when you’re frightened, panic-stricken, and all of a sudden you wake up and all the horrors are no more. I have waked up. I have lived through the misery, the dread, and now for a long while past, especially since we’ve been here, I’ve been so happy!…” she said, with a timid smile of inquiry looking at Dolly.
“How glad I am!” said Dolly smiling, involuntarily speaking more coldly than she wanted to. “I’m very glad for you. Why haven’t you written to me?”
“Why?… Because I hadn’t the courage…. You forget my position…”
“To me? Hadn’t the courage? If you knew how I…I look at…”
Darya Alexandrovna wanted to express her thoughts of the morning, but for some reason it seemed to her now out of place to do so.
“But of that we’ll talk later. What’s this, what are all these buildings?” she asked, wanting to change the conversation and pointing to the red and green roofs that came into view behind the green hedges of acacia and lilac. “Quite a little town.”
But Anna did not answer.
“No, no! How do you look at my position, what do you think of it?” she asked.
“I consider…” Darya Alexandrovna was beginning, but at that instant Vassenka Veslovsky, having brought the cob to gallop with the right leg foremost, galloped past them, bumping heavily up and down in his short jacket on the chamois leather of the side saddle. “He’s doing it, Anna Arkadyevna!” he shouted.
Anna did not even glance at him; but again it seemed to Darya Alexandrovna out of place to enter upon such a long conversation in the carriage, and so she cut short her thought.
“I don’t think anything,” she said, “but I always loved you, and if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as they are and not as one would like them to be….”
Anna, taking her eyes off her friend’s face and dropping her eyelids (this was a new habit Dolly had not seen in her before), pondered, trying to penetrate the full significance of the words. And obviously interpreting them as she would have wished, she glanced at Dolly.
“If you had any sins,” she said, “they would all be forgiven you for your coming to see me and these words.”
And Dolly saw that tears stood in her eyes. She pressed Anna’s hand in silence.
“Well, what are these buildings? How many there are of them!” After a moment’s silence she repeated her question.
“These are the servants’ houses, barns, and stables,” answered Anna. “And there the park begins. It had all gone to ruin, but Alexey had everything renewed. He is very fond of this place, and, what I never expected, he has become intensely interested in looking after it. But his is such a rich nature! Whatever he takes up, he does splendidly. So far from being bored by it, he works with passionate interest. He–with his temperament as I know it–he has become careful and businesslike, a first-rate manager, he positively reckons every penny in his management of the land. But only in that. When it’s a question of tens of thousands, he doesn’t think of money.” She spoke with that gleefully sly smile with which women often talk of the secret characteristics only known to them–of those they love. “Do you see that big building? that’s the new hospital. I believe it will cost over a hundred thousand; that’s his hobby just now. And do you know how it all came about? The peasants asked him for some meadowland, I think it was, at a cheaper rate, and he refused, and I accused him of being miserly. Of course it was not really because of that, but everything together, he began this hospital to prove, do you see, that he was not miserly about money. C’est une petitesse, if you like, but I love him all the more for it. And now you’ll see the house in a moment. It was his grandfather’s house, and he has had nothing changed outside.”
“How beautiful!” said Dolly, looking with involuntary admiration at the handsome house with columns, standing out among the different-colored greens of the old trees in the garden.
“Isn’t it fine? And from the house, from the top, the view is wonderful.”
They drove into a courtyard strewn with gravel and bright with flowers, in which two laborers were at work putting an edging of stones round the light mould of a flower bed, and drew up in a covered entry.
“Ah, they’re here already!” said Anna, looking at the saddle horses, which were just being led away from the steps. “It is a nice horse, isn’t it? It’s my cob; my favorite. Lead him here and bring me some sugar. Where is the count?” she inquired of two smart footmen who darted out. “Ah, there he is!” she said, seeing Vronsky coming to meet her with Veslovsky.
“Where are you going to put the princess?” said Vronsky in French, addressing Anna, and without waiting for a reply, he once more greeted Darya Alexandrovna, and this time he kissed her hand. “I think the big balcony room.”
“Oh, no, that’s too far off! Better in the corner room, we shall see each other more. Come, let’s go up,” said Anna, as she gave her favorite horse the sugar the footman had brought her.
“Et vous oubliez votre devoir,” she said to Veslovsky, who came out too on the steps.
“Pardon, j’en ai tout plein les poches,” he answered, smiling, putting his fingers in his waistcoat pocket.
“Mais vous venez trop tard,” she said, rubbing her handkerchief on her hand, which the horse had made wet in taking the sugar.
Anna turned to Dolly. “You can stay some time? For one day only? That’s impossible!”
“I promised to be back, and the children…” said Dolly, feeling embarrassed both because she had to get her bag out of the carriage, and because she knew her face must be covered with dust.
“No, Dolly, darling!… Well, we’ll see. Come along, come along!” and Anna led Dolly to her room.
That room was not the smart guest chamber Vronsky had suggested, but the one of which Anna had said that Dolly would excuse it. And this room, for which excuse was needed, was more full of luxury than any in which Dolly had ever stayed, a luxury that reminded her of the best hotels abroad.
“Well, darling, how happy I am!” Anna said, sitting down in her riding habit for a moment beside Dolly. “Tell me about all of you. Stiva I had only a glimpse of, and he cannot tell one about the children. How is my favorite, Tanya? Quite a big girl, I expect?”
“Yes, she’s very tall,” Darya Alexandrovna answered shortly, surprised herself that she should respond so coolly about her children. “We are having a delightful stay at the Levins’,” she added.
“Oh, if I had known,” said Anna, “that you do not despise me!… You might have all come to us. Stiva’s an old friend and a great friend of Alexey’s, you know,” she added, and suddenly she blushed.
“Yes, but we are all…” Dolly answered in confusion.
“But in my delight I’m talking nonsense. The one thing, darling, is that I am so glad to have you!” said Anna, kissing her again. “You haven’t told me yet how and what you think about me, and I keep wanting to know. But I’m glad you will see me as I am. The chief thing I shouldn’t like would be for people to imagine I want to prove anything. I don’t want to prove anything; I merely want to live, to do no one harm but myself. I have the right to do that, haven’t I? But it is a big subject, and we’ll talk over everything properly later. Now I’ll go and dress and send a maid to you.”
Left alone, Darya Alexandrovna, with a good housewife’s eye, scanned her room. All she had seen in entering the house and walking through it, and all she saw now in her room, gave her an impression of wealth and sumptuousness and of that modern European luxury of which she had only read in English novels, but had never seen in Russia and in the country. Everything was new from the new French hangings on the walls to the carpet which covered the whole floor. The bed had a spring mattress, and a special sort of bolster and silk pillowcases on the little pillows. The marble washstand, the dressing table, the little sofa, the tables, the bronze clock on the chimney piece, the window curtains, and the portieres were all new and expensive.
The smart maid, who came in to offer her services, with her hair done up high, and a gown more fashionable than Dolly’s, was as new and expensive as the whole room. Darya Alexandrovna liked her neatness, her deferential and obliging manners, but she felt ill at ease with her. She felt ashamed of her seeing the patched dressing jacket that had unluckily been packed by mistake for her. She was ashamed of the very patches and darned places of which she had been so proud at home. At home it had been so clear that for six dressing jackets there would be needed twenty-four yards of nainsook at sixteen pence the yard, which was a matter of thirty shillings besides the cutting-out and making, and these thirty shillings had been saved. But before the maid she felt, if not exactly ashamed, at least uncomfortable.
Darya Alexandrovna had a great sense of relief when Annushka, whom she had known for years, walked in. The smart maid was sent for to go to her mistress, and Annushka remained with Darya Alexandrovna.
Annushka was obviously much pleased at that lady’s arrival, and began to chatter away without a pause. Dolly observed that she was longing to express her opinion in regard to her mistress’s position, especially as to the love and devotion of the count to Anna Arkadyevna, but Dolly carefully interrupted her whenever she began to speak about this.
“I grew up with Anna Arkadyevna; my lady’s dearer to me than anything. Well, it’s not for us to judge. And, to be sure, there seems so much love…”
“Kindly pour out the water for me to wash now, please,” Darya Alexandrovna cut her short.
“Certainly. We’ve two women kept specially for washing small things, but most of the linen’s done by machinery. The count goes into everything himself. Ah, what a husband!…”
Dolly was glad when Anna came in, and by her entrance put a stop to Annushka’s gossip.
Anna had put on a very simple batiste gown. Dolly scrutinized that simple gown attentively. She knew what it meant, and the price at which such simplicity was obtained.
“An old friend,” said Anna of Annushka.
Anna was not embarrassed now. She was perfectly composed and at ease. Dolly saw that she had now completely recovered from the impression her arrival had made on her, and had assumed that superficial, careless tone which, as it were, closed the door on that compartment in which her deeper feelings and ideas were kept.
“Well, Anna, and how is your little girl?” asked Dolly.
“Annie?” (This was what she called her little daughter Anna.) “Very well. She has got on wonderfully. Would you like to see her? Come, I’ll show her to you. We had a terrible bother,” she began telling her, “over nurses. We had an Italian wet-nurse. A good creature, but so stupid! We wanted to get rid of her, but the baby is so used to her that we’ve gone on keeping her still.”
“But how have you managed?…” Dolly was beginning a question as to what name the little girl would have; but noticing a sudden frown on Anna’s face, she changed the drift of her question.
“How did you manage? have you weaned her yet?”
But Anna had understood.
“You didn’t mean to ask that? You meant to ask about her surname. Yes? That worries Alexey. She has no name–that is, she’s a Karenina,” said Anna, dropping her eyelids till nothing could be seen but the eyelashes meeting. “But we’ll talk about all that later,” her face suddenly brightening. “Come, I’ll show you her. Elle est tres gentille. She crawls now.”
In the nursery the luxury which had impressed Dolly in the whole house struck her still more. There were little go-carts ordered from England, and appliances for learning to walk, and a sofa after the fashion of a billiard table, purposely constructed for crawling, and swings and baths, all of special pattern, and modern. They were all English, solid, and of good make, and obviously very expensive. The room was large, and very light and lofty.
When they went in, the baby, with nothing on but her little smock was sitting in a little elbow chair at the table, having her dinner of broth which she was spilling all over her little chest. The baby was being fed, and the Russian nursery maid was evidently sharing her meal. Neither the wet-nurse nor the head nurse were there; they were in the next room, from which came the sound of their conversation in the queer French which was their only means of communication.
Hearing Anna’s voice, a smart, tall, English nurse with a disagreeable face and a dissolute expression walked in at the door, hurriedly shaking her fair curls, and immediately began to defend herself though Anna had not found fault with her. At every word Anna said, the English nurse said hurriedly several times, “Yes, my lady.”
The rosy baby with her black eyebrows and hair, her sturdy red little body with tight goose-flesh skin, delighted Darya Alexandrovna in spite of the cross expression with which she stared at the stranger. She positively envied the baby’s healthy appearance. She was delighted, too, at the baby’s crawling. Not one of her own children had crawled like that. When the baby was put on the carpet and its little dress tucked up behind, it was wonderfully charming. Looking round like some little wild animal at the grown-up big people with her bright black eyes, she smiled, unmistakably pleased at their admiring her, and holding her legs sideways, she pressed vigorously on her arms, and rapidly drew her whole back up after, and then made another step forward with her little arms.
But the whole atmosphere of the nursery, and especially the English nurse, Darya Alexandrovna did not like at all. It was only on the supposition that no good nurse would have entered so irregular a household as Anna’s that Darya Alexandrovna could explain to herself how Anna with her insight into people could take such an unprepossessing, disreputable-looking woman as nurse to her child.
Besides, from a few words that were dropped, Darya Alexandrovna saw at once that Anna, the two nurses, and the child had no common existence, and that the mother’s visit was something exceptional. Anna wanted to get the baby her plaything, and could not find it.
Most amazing of all was the fact that on being asked how many teeth the baby had, Anna answered wrong, and knew nothing about the two last teeth.
“I sometimes feel sorry I’m so superfluous here,” said Anna, going out of the nursery and holding up her skirt so as to escape the plaything standing in the doorway. “It was very different with my first child.”
“I expected it to be the other way,” said Darya Alexandrovna shyly.
“Oh, no! By the way, do you know I saw Seryozha?” said Anna; screwing up her eyes, as though looking at something far away. “But we’ll talk about that later. You wouldn’t believe it, I’m like a hungry beggar woman when a full dinner is set before her, and she does not know what to begin on first. The dinner is you, and the talks I have before me with you, which I could never have with anyone else; and I don’t know which subject to begin upon first. Mais je ne vous ferai grace de rien. I must have everything out with you.”
“Oh, I ought to give you a sketch of the company you will meet with us,” she went on. “I’ll begin with the ladies. Princess Varvara–you know her, and I know your opinion and Stiva’s about her. Stiva says the whole aim of her existence is to prove her superiority over Auntie Katerina Pavlovna: that’s all true; but she’s a good-natured woman, and I am so grateful to her. In Petersburg there was a moment when a chaperon was absolutely essential for me. Then she turned up. But really she is good- natured. She did a great deal to alleviate my position. I see you don’t understand all the difficulty of my position…there in Petersburg,” she added. “Here I’m perfectly at ease and happy. Well, of that later on, though. Then Sviazhsky–he’s the marshal of the district, and he’s a very good sort of a man, but he wants to get something out of Alexey. You understand, with his property, now that we are settled in the country, Alexey can exercise great influence. Then there’s Tushkevitch–you have seen him, you know–Betsy’s admirer. Now he’s been thrown over and he’s come to see us. As Alexey says, he’s one of those people who are very pleasant if one accepts them for what they try to appear to be, et puis il est comme il faut, as Princess Varvara says. Then Veslovsky…you know him. A very nice boy,” she said, and a sly smile curved her lips. “What’s this wild story about him and the Levins? Veslovsky told Alexey about it, and we don’t believe it. Il est tres gentil et naif,” she said again with the same smile. “Men need occupation, and Alexey needs a circle, so I value all these people. We have to have the house lively and gay, so that Alexey may not long for any novelty. Then you’ll see the steward–a German, a very good fellow, and he understands his work. Alexey has a very high opinion of him. Then the doctor, a young man, not quite a Nihilist perhaps, but you know, eats with his knife…but a very good doctor. Then the architect…. Une petite cour!”
“Here’s Dolly for you, princess, you were so anxious to see her,” said Anna, coming out with Darya Alexandrovna onto the stone terrace where Princess Varvara was sitting in the shade at an embroidery frame, working at a cover for Count Alexey Kirillovitch’s easy chair. “She says she doesn’t want anything before dinner, but please order some lunch for her, and I’ll go and look for Alexey and bring them all in.”
Princess Varvara gave Dolly a cordial and rather patronizing reception, and began at once explaining to her that she was living with Anna because she had always cared more for her than her sister Katerina Pavlovna, the aunt that had brought Anna up, and that now, when every onehad abandoned Anna, she thought it her duty to help her in this most difficult period of transition.
“Her husband will give her a divorce, and then I shall go back to my solitude; but now I can be of use, and I am doing my duty, however difficult it may be for me–not like some other people. And how sweet it is of you, how right of you to have come! They live like the best of married couples; it’s for God to judge them, not for us. And didn’t Biryuzovsky and Madame Avenieva…and Sam Nikandrov, and Vassiliev and Madame Mamonova, and Liza Neptunova… Did no one say anything about them? And it has ended by their being received by everyone. And then, c’est un interieur si joli, si comme il faut. Tout-a-fait a l’anglaise. On se reunit le matin au breakfast, et puis on se separe. Everyone does as he pleases till dinnertime. Dinner at seven o’clock. Stiva did very rightly to send you. He needs their support. You know that through his mother and brother he can do anything. And then they do so much good. He didn’t tell you about his hospital? Ce sera admirable–everything from Paris.”
Their conversation was interrupted by Anna, who had found the men of the party in the billiard room, and returned with them to the terrace. There was still a long time before the dinner-hour, it was exquisite weather, and so several different methods of spending the next two hours were proposed. There were very many methods of passing the time at Vozdvizhenskoe, and these were all unlike those in use at Pokrovskoe.
“Une partie de lawn-tennis,” Veslovsky proposed, with his handsome smile. “We’ll be partners again, Anna Arkadyevna.”
“No, it’s too hot; better stroll about the garden and have a row in the boat, show Darya Alexandrovna the river banks.” Vronsky proposed.
“I agree to anything,” said Sviazhsky.
“I imagine that what Dolly would like best would be a stroll– wouldn’t you? And then the boat, perhaps,” said Anna.
So it was decided. Veslovsky and Tushkevitch went off to the bathing place, promising to get the boat ready and to wait there for them.
They walked along the path in two couples, Anna with Sviazhsky, and Dolly with Vronsky. Dolly was a little embarrassed and anxious in the new surroundings in which she found herself. Abstractly, theoretically, she did not merely justify, she positively approved of Anna’s conduct. As is indeed not unfrequent with women of unimpeachable virtue, weary of the monotony of respectable existence, at a distance she not only excused illicit love, she positively envied it. Besides, she loved Anna with all her heart. But seeing Anna in actual life among these strangers, with this fashionable tone that was so new to Darya Alexandrovna, she felt ill at ease. What she disliked particularly was seeing Princess Varvara ready to overlook everything for the sake of the comforts she enjoyed.
As a general principle, abstractly, Dolly approved of Anna’s action; but to see the man for whose sake her action had been taken was disagreeable to her. Moreover, she had never liked Vronsky. She thought him very proud, and saw nothing in him of which he could be proud except his wealth. But against her own will, here in his own house, he overawed her more than ever, and she could not be at ease with him. She felt with him the same feeling she had had with the maid about her dressing jacket. Just as with the maid she had felt not exactly ashamed, but embarrassed at her darns, so she felt with him not exactly ashamed, but embarrassed at herself.
Dolly was ill at ease, and tried to find a subject of conversation. Even though she supposed that, through his pride, praise of his house and garden would be sure to be disagreeable to him, she did all the same tell him how much she liked his house.
“Yes, it’s a very fine building, and in the good old-fashioned style,” he said.
“I like so much the court in front of the steps. Was that always so?”
“Oh, no!” he said, and his face beamed with pleasure. “If you could only have seen that court last spring!”
And he began, at first rather diffidently, but more and more carried away by the subject as he went on, to draw her attention to the various details of the decoration of his house and garden. It was evident that, having devoted a great deal of trouble to improve and beautify his home, Vronsky felt a need to show off the improvements to a new person, and was genuinely delighted at Darya Alexandrovna’s praise.
“If you would care to look at the hospital, and are not tired, indeed, it’s not far. Shall we go?” he said, glancing into her face to convince himself that she was not bored. “Are you coming, Anna?” he turned to her.
“We will come, won’t we?” she said, addressing Sviazhsky. “Mais il ne faut pas laisser le pauvre Veslovsky et Tushkevitch se morfondre la dans le bateau. We must send and tell them.”
“Yes, this is a monument he is setting up here,” said Anna, turning to Dolly with that sly smile of comprehension with which she had previously talked about the hospital.
“Oh, it’s a work of real importance!” said Sviazhsky. But to show he was not trying to ingratiate himself with Vronsky, he promptly added some slightly critical remarks.
“I wonder, though, count,” he said, “that while you do so much for the health of the peasants, you take so little interest in the schools.”
“C’est devenu tellement commun les ecoles,” said Vronsky. “You understand it’s not on that account, but it just happens so, my interest has been diverted elsewhere. This way then to the hospital,” he said to Darya Alexandrovna, pointing to a turning out of the avenue.
The ladies put up their parasols and turned into the side path. After going down several turnings, and going through a little gate, Darya Alexandrovna saw standing on rising ground before her a large pretentious-looking red building, almost finished. The iron roof, which was not yet painted, shone with dazzling brightness in the sunshine. Beside the finished building another had been begun, surrounded by scaffolding. Workmen in aprons, standing on scaffolds, were laying bricks, pouring mortar out of vats, and smoothing it with trowels.
“How quickly work gets done with you!” said Sviazhsky. “When I was here last time the roof was not on.”
“By the autumn it will all be ready. Iside almost everything is done,” said Anna.
“And what’s this new building?”
“That’s the house for the doctor and the dispensary,” answered Vronsky, seeing the architect in a short jacket coming towards him; and excusing himself to the ladies, he went to meet him.
Going round a hole where the workmen were slaking lime, he stood still with the architect and began talking rather warmly.
“The front is still too low,” he said to Anna, who had asked what was the matter.
“I said the foundation ought to be raised,” said Anna.
“Yes, of course it would have been much better, Anna Arkadyevna,” said the architect, “but now it’s too late.”
“Yes, I take a great interest in it,” Anna answered Sviazhsky, who was expressing his surprise at her knowledge of architecture. “This new building ought to have been in harmony with the hospital. It was an afterthought, and was begun without a plan.”
Vronsky, having finished his talk with the architect, joined the ladies, and led them inside the hospital.
Although they were still at work on the cornices outside and were painting on the ground floor, upstairs almost all the rooms were finished. Going up the broad cast-iron staircase to the landing, they walked into the first large room. The walls were stuccoed to look like marble, the huge plate-glass windows were already in, only the parquet floor was not yet finished, and the carpenters, who were planing a block of it, left their work, taking off the bands that fastened their hair, to greet the gentry.
“This is the reception room,” said Vronsky. “Here there will be a desk, tables, and benches, and nothing more.”
“This way; let us go in here. Don’t go near the window,” said Anna, trying the paint to see if it were dry. “Alexey, the paint’s dry already,” she added.
From the reception room they went into the corridor. Here Vronsky showed them the mechanism for ventilation on a novel system. Then he showed them marble baths, and beds with extraordinary springs. Then he showed them the wards one after another, the storeroom, the linen room, then the heating stove of a new pattern, then the trolleys, which would make no noise as they carried everything needed along the corridors, and many other things. Sviazhsky, as a connoisseur in the latest mechanical improvements, appreciated everything fully. Dolly simply wondered at all she had not seen before, and, anxious to understand it all, made minute inquiries about everything, which gave Vronsky great satisfaction.
“Yes, I imagine that this will be the solitary example of a properly fitted hospital in Russia,” said Sviazhsky.
“And won’t you have a lying-in ward?” asked Dolly. “That’s so much needed in the country. I have often…”
In spite of his usual courtesy, Vronsky interrupted her.
“This is not a lying-in home, but a hospital for the sick, and is intended for all diseases, except infectious complaints,” he said. “Ah! look at this,” and he rolled up to Darya Alexandrovna an invalid chair that had just been ordered for the convalescents. “Look.” He sat down in the chair and began moving it. “The patient can’t walk–still too weak, perhaps, or something wrong with his legs, but he must have air, and he moves, rolls himself along….”
Darya Alexandrovna was interested by everything. She liked everything very much, but most of all she liked Vronsky himself with his natural, simple-hearted eagerness. “Yes, he’s a very nice, good man,” she thought several times, not hearing what he said, but looking at him and penetrating into his expression, while she mentally put herself in Anna’s place. She liked him so much just now with his eager interest that she saw how Anna could be in love with him.