Chapter 31

Vronsky had not even attempted to fall asleep all that night. He sat in his armchair, his eyes fixed before him or scanning the people who got in and out, and if he had indeed, on previous occasions, struck and aroused people who did not know him by his air of unshakable calmness, he now seemed prouder and more self-sufficient than ever. He regarded people as if they were things. A nervous young man, a clerk in a law court, who had the seat opposite his, conceived a hatred for him because of this air. The young man asked him for a light, and entered into conversation with him, and even jostled him, to make him feel that he was not a thing, but a man. But Vronsky kept on regarding him as if he were a lamppost, and the young man grimaced, feeling that he was losing his self-possession under the oppressiveness of this refusal to recognize him as a human being.

Vronsky saw nothing and no one. He felt himself a king, not because he believed that he had made any impression on Anna - he did not yet believe that - but because the impression she had made on him afforded him happiness and pride.

What would come of it all he did not know, or even think. He felt that all his forces, hitherto dissolute, scattered, were centered on one thing, and bent with fearful energy toward one blissful goal. And therein lay his happiness. He did but know that he had told her the truth, that he had come where she was, that all the happiness of life, the sole meaning in life for him, now lay in seeing her and hearing her voice. And when he got out of his car at Bologovo to get some seltzer water, and had caught sight of Anna, his very first word had involuntarily told her his very thoughts. And he was glad he had told her, that she knew now, and was thinking of it. He did not sleep all night. Back in his compartment, he incessantly kept ruminating upon every posture in which he had seen her, every word she had uttered; and, in his imagination, making his heart swoon, floated pictures of a possible future.

When he got out of the train at Peterburg, he felt after his sleepless night as lively and fresh as after a cold bath. He paused near his car, waiting for her to emerge. `Once more,' he said to himself, smiling unconsciously, `once more I shall see her walk, her face; she may say something, turn her head, glance, smile, perhaps.' But before he caught sight of her, he saw her husband, whom the stationmaster was deferentially escorting through the crowd. `Ah, yes. The husband.' Only now, for the first time, did Vronsky realize clearly the fact that there was someone attached to her - a husband. He had known that she had a husband, but had hardly believed in his existence, and only now, when he saw him, did he fully believe in him, with his head, and shoulders, and his black-trousered legs; especially when he saw this husband placidly take her arm, with a consciousness of proprietorship.

Seeing Alexei Alexandrovich with his spick-and-span Peterburg face and austerely self-confident figure, in his round hat, with his rather prominent spine, he believed in him, and was aware of a disagreeable sensation, such as might be felt by a man who, tortured by thirst, finds, on reaching a spring, a dog, a sheep or a pig therein that has not only drunk of it, but also muddied the water. Alexei Alexandrovich's manner of walking, gyrating his whole pelvis and his flat feet, was especially offensive to Vronsky. He could recognize in no one but himself an indubitable right to love her. But she was still the same, and the sight of her affected him the same way, physically reviving him, stirring him, and filling his soul with happiness. He told his German valet, who ran up to him from the second class, to take his things and go on, he himself went up to her. He saw the first meeting between the husband and wife, and noted, with a lover's insight, the sign of the slight embarrassment with which she spoke to her husband. `No, she does not love him, and cannot love him,' he decided to himself.

At the very moment that he was approaching Anna Arkadyevna from the back, he noticed with joy that she was conscious of his drawing near, and that she looked round; after which, seeing him, she turned again to her husband.

`Have you had a good night?' he said, bowing both to her and to her husband, and leaving it to Alexei Alexandrovich to accept the bow on his own account, and to return it or not, as he might see fit.

`Thank you - a very good one,' she answered.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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