Chapter 19On the day of the races at Krasnoe Selo, Vronsky had come earlier than usual to eat beefsteak in the common messroom of the regiment. He had no need to be strict with himself, as his weight was exactly the required one; but still he had to avoid gaining flesh, and so he eschewed farinaceous and sweet dishes. He sat with his coat unbuttoned over a white waistcoat, resting both elbows on the table, and, while waiting for the steak he had ordered, was looking over a French novel that lay open on his plate. He was only looking at the book to avoid conversation with the officers coming in and out; he was thinking.
He was thinking of Anna's promise to see him today after the races. But he had not seen her for three days, and as her husband had just returned from abroad, he did not know whether she would be able to meet him today or not, and he did not know how to find out. He had had his last interview with her at his cousin Betsy's summer villa. He visited the summer villa of the Karenins as rarely as possible. Now he wanted to go there, and he pondered the question of how to do it.
`Of course I shall say Betsy has sent me to ask whether she's coming to the races. Of course, I'll go,' he decided, lifting his head from the book. And as he vividly pictured the happiness of seeing her, his face lighted up.
`Send to my house, and tell them to have out the carriage and three horses as quickly as they can,' he said to the servant, who handed him the steak on a hot silver dish, and moving the dish up toward him, he began eating.
From the adjoining billiard room came the sound of balls clicking, of talk and laughter. Two officers appeared at the entrance door: one, a young fellow with a weak, delicate face, who had lately joined the regiment from the Corps of Pages; the other, a plump, elderly officer, with a bracelet on his wrist, and little eyes, lost in fat.
Vronsky glanced at them, frowned, and looking down at his book as though he had not noticed them, he proceeded to eat and read at the same time.
`What? Fortifying yourself for your work?' said the plump officer, sitting down beside him.
`As you see,' responded Vronsky, knitting his brows, wiping his mouth, and without looking at the officer.
`So you're not afraid of getting fat? said the latter, turning a chair round for the young officer.
`What?' said Vronsky angrily, making a wry face of disgust and showing his heavy teeth.
`You're not afraid of getting fat?'
`Waiter, sherry!' said Vronsky, without replying, and moving the book to the other side of him, he went on reading.
The plump officer took up the list of wines and turned to the young officer.
`You choose what we're to drink,' he said, handing him the card, and looking at him.
`Rhine wine, please,' said the young officer, stealing a timid glance at Vronsky, and trying to pull his scarcely visible mustache. Seeing that Vronsky did not turn round, the young officer got up.
`Let's go into the billiard room,' he said.
The plump officer rose submissively, and they moved toward the door.
At that moment there walked into the room the tan and well-built Captain Iashvin. Nodding with an air of lofty contempt to the two officers, he went up to Vronsky.
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