Chapter 28

After the ball, early next morning, Anna Arkadyevna sent her husband a telegram that she was leaving Moscow the same day.

`No, I must go, I must go'; she explained the change in her plans to her sister-in-law, in a tone that suggested that she had to remember so many things that there was no enumerating them: `no, really, it had better be today!'

Stepan Arkadyevich was not dining at home, but he promised to come and see his sister off at seven o'clock.

Kitty, too, did not come, sending a note that she had a headache. Dolly and Anna dined alone with the children and the English governess. Whether it was because children are fickle, or because they have acute senses, and they felt that Anna was quite different that day from what she had been when they had taken such a fancy to her, that she was not now interested in them - they had abruptly dropped their play with their aunt, and their love for her, and were quite indifferent to her leaving. Anna was absorbed the whole morning in preparations for her departure. She wrote notes to her Moscow acquaintances, jotted down her accounts, and packed. Altogether Dolly fancied she was not in a placid state of mind, but in that worried mood which Dolly knew so well in her own case, and which does not come without cause, and for the most part covers dissatisfaction with oneself. After dinner, Anna went up to her room to dress, and Dolly followed her.

`How queer you are today!' Dolly said to her.

`I? Do you think so? I'm not queer, but I'm nasty. I am like that sometimes. I keep feeling as if I could cry. It's very stupid, but it'll pass off,' said Anna quickly, and she bent her flushed face over a tiny bag in which she was packing a nightcap and some cambric handkerchiefs. Her eyes were particularly bright, and were continually dimmed with tears. `In the same way I didn't want to leave Peterburg - and now I don't want to go away from here.'

`You came here and did a good deed,' said Dolly, looking intently at her.

Anna's eyes were wet with tears as she looked at her.

`Don't say that, Dolly. I've done nothing, and could do nothing. I often wonder why people are all in league to spoil me. What have I done, and what could I do? In your heart there was found love enough to forgive....'

If it had not been for you, God knows what would have happened! How happy you are, Anna!' said Dolly. `Everything is clear and good in your heart.'

`Every heart has its own skeleton, as the English say.'

`You have no sort of skeleton, have you? Everything is so clear in you.'

`I have!' said Anna suddenly, and, unexpectedly after her tears, a sly, mocking smile puckered her lips.

`Come, he's amusing, anyway, your skeleton, and not depressing,' said Dolly, smiling.

`No, he is depressing. Do you know why I'm going today instead of tomorrow? This is a confession that weighs on me; I want to make you its recipient,' said Anna resolutely letting herself drop into an armchair, and looking straight into Dolly's face.

And to her surprise Dolly saw that Anna was blushing up to her ears, up to the curly black ringlets on her neck.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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