Alexei Alexandrovich smiled his smile, which uncovered his teeth, but revealed nothing more.
`We'll admit, Princess, that that's not superficial,' he said, `but internal. But that's not the point,' and he turned again to the general with whom he talked seriously; `we mustn't forget that those who are taking part in the race are military men, who have chosen that career, and one must allow that every calling has its disagreeable side. It forms an integral part of the duties of an officer. Low sports, such as prize fighting or Spanish bullfights, are a sign of barbarity. But specialized trials of skill are a sign of development.'
`No, I shan't come another time; it's too upsetting,' said Princess Betsy. `Isn't it, Anna?'
`It is upsetting, but one can't tear oneself away,' said another lady. `If I'd been a Roman woman I should never have missed a single circus.'
Anna said nothing, and, keeping her opera glass up, gazed always at the same spot.
At that moment a tall general walked through the pavilion. Breaking off what he was saying, Alexei Alexandrovich got up hurriedly, though with dignity, and bowed low to the general.
`You're not racing?' the officer asked, chaffing him.
`My race is a harder one,' Alexei Alexandrovich responded deferentially.
And though the answer meant nothing, the general looked as though he had heard a witty remark from a witty man, and fully relished la pointe de la sauce.
`There are two aspects,' Alexei Alexandrovich resumed: `those who take part and those who look on; and love for such spectacles is an unmistakable proof of a low degree of development in the spectator, I admit, but...'
`Any bets, Princess?' sounded Stepan Arkadyevich's voice from below, addressing Betsy. `Who's your favorite?'
`Anna and I are for Kuzovlev,' replied Betsy.
`I'm for Vronsky. A pair of gloves?'
`But it is a pretty sight, isn't it?'
Alexei Alexandrovich paused while the others were talking near him, but he began again directly.
`I admit that manly sports do not...' he made an attempt to continue.
But at that moment the racers started, and all conversation ceased. Alexei Alexandrovich also fell silent, and everyone stood up and turned toward the stream. Alexei Alexandrovich took no interest in the race, and so he did not watch the racers, but fell listlessly to scanning the spectators with his weary eyes. His eyes rested upon Anna.
Her face was white and stern. She was obviously seeing nothing and no one but one man. Her hand had convulsively clutched her fan, and she held her breath. He looked at her and hastily turned away, scrutinizing other faces.
`But here's this lady too, and others very much moved as well; it's very natural,' Alexei Alexandrovich told himself He tried not to look at her, but unconsciously his eyes were drawn to her. He examined that
|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.|