This child, with his innocent outlook upon life, was the compass that showed them the point at which they had departed from what they knew, yet did not want to know.
This time Seriozha was not at home, and she was completely alone. She was sitting on the terrace waiting for the return of her son, who had gone out for a stroll and had been caught in the rain. She had sent out a manservant and a maid to look for him, and was sitting here waiting for them. Dressed in a white gown, deeply embroidered, she was sitting in a corner of the terrace behind some flowers, and did not hear him. Bending her curly dark head, she pressed her forehead against a cool watering pot that stood on the parapet, and both her lovely hands, with the rings he knew so well, clasped the pot. The beauty of her whole figure, her head, her neck, her hands, struck Vronsky every time as something new and unexpected. He stood still, gazing at her in ecstasy. But, directly he would have made a step to come nearer to her, she was aware of his presence, pushed away the watering pot, and turned her flushed face toward him.
`What's the matter? Are you unwell,' he said to her in French, going up to her. He would have run to her, but remembering that there might be outsiders, he looked round toward the balcony door, and reddened, as he always reddened, feeling that he had to be afraid and be on his guard.
`No, I'm quite well,' she said, getting up and squeezing his outstretched hand tightly. `I did not expect... thee.'
`My God! what cold hands!' he said.
`You startled me,' she said. `I'm alone, and expecting Seriozha; he's out for a walk; they'll come from this direction.'
But, in spite of her efforts to be calm, her lips were quivering.
`Forgive me for coming, but I couldn't pass the day without seeing you,' he went on, speaking French, as he always did, to avoid using the stiff Russian plural form, so impossibly frigid between them, and the dangerously intimate singular.
`Forgive - for what I'm so glad!'
`But you're ill or worried,' he went on, without letting go her hands and bending over her. `What were you thinking of?'
`Always of the same thing.' she said, with a smile.
She spoke the truth. If ever at any moment she had been asked what she was thinking of, she could have answered truly: Of the same thing, of her happiness and her unhappiness. She was thinking, just when he came upon her, of this: Why was it, she wondered, that to others, to Betsy for instance (she knew of her secret connection with Tushkevich), all this was so easy, while to her it was such torture? Today this thought gained special poignancy from certain other considerations. She asked him about the races. He answered her questions, and, seeing that she was agitated, trying to calm her, he began telling her in the simplest tone the details of his preparations for the races.
`Shall I tell him, or not?' she thought, looking into his calm, affable eyes. `He is so happy, so absorbed in his races that he won't understand as he should; he won't understand all the significance of this event to us.'
`But you haven't told me what you were thinking of when I came in,' he said, interrupting his narrative; `pray, tell me!'
She did not answer, and, bending her head a little, she looked inquiringly at him from under her brows, her eyes shining under their long lashes. Her hand shook as it played with a leaf she had picked. He
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|