Chapter 9

Anna came in with her head bent, playing with the tassels of her hood. Her face was glowing with a vivid glow; but this glow was not one of joyousness - it recalled the fearful glow of a conflagration in the midst of a dark night. On seeing her husband, Anna raised her head and smiled, as though she had just waked up.

`You're not in bed? What a miracle!' she said throwing off her hood and, without stopping, she went on into the dressing room. `It's late, Alexei Alexandrovich,' she said, from behind the door.

`Anna, I must have a talk with you.'

`With me?' she said, wonderingly. She came out from the door, and looked at him. `Why, what is it? What about?' she asked, sitting down. `Well, let's talk, if it's so necessary. But it would be better to go to sleep.'

Anna was saying whatever came to her tongue, and marveled, hearing herself, at her own capacity for lying. How simple and natural were her words, and how likely that she was simply sleepy She felt herself clad in an impenetrable armor of falsehood. She felt that some unseen force had come to her aid and was supporting her.

`Anna, I must warn you,' he began.

`Warn me? she said. `Of what?

She looked at him so simply, so brightly, that anyone who did not know her as her husband knew her could not have noticed anything unnatural, either in the sound or the sense of her words. But to him, knowing her, knowing that whenever he went to bed five minutes later than usual, she noticed it, and asked him the reason - to him, knowing that every joy, every pleasure and pain that she felt she communicated to him at once - to him it meant a great deal to see now that she did not care to notice his state of mind, that she did not care to say a word about herself. He saw that the inmost recesses of her soul, that had always hitherto lain open before him, were now closed against him. More than that, he saw from her tone that she was not even perturbed at that, but seemed to be saying straightforwardly to him: `Yes, it is closed now, which is as it should be, and will be so in future.' Now he experienced a feeling such as a man might have who, returning home, finds his own house locked up. `But perhaps the key may yet be found,' thought Alexei Alexandrovich.

`I want to warn you,' he said in a low voice, `that through thoughtlessness and lack of caution you may cause yourself to be talked about in society. Your too animated conversation this evening with Count Vronsky' (he enunciated the name firmly and with quiet intervals) `attracted attention.'

He talked and looked at her laughing eyes, which frightened him now with their impenetrable look, and, as he talked, he felt all the uselessness and futility of his words.

`You're always like that,' she answered as though completely misapprehending him, and of all he had said only taking in the last phrase. `One time you don't like my being dull, and another time you don't like my being lively. I wasn't dull. Does that offend you?'

Alexei Alexandrovich shivered, and bent his hands to make the joints crack.

`Oh, please, don't do that - I dislike it so,' she said.

`Anna, is this you?' said Alexei Alexandrovich quietly, making an effort over himself, and restraining the motion of his hands.

`But what is it all about?' she said, with such genuine and droll wonder. `What do you want of me?'

Alexei Alexandrovich paused, and rubbed his forehead and his eyes. He saw that instead of doing as he had intended - that is to say, warning his wife against a mistake in the eyes of the world - he had

  By PanEris using Melati.

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