Chapter 4Alexei Alexandrovich, after meeting Vronsky on his own steps, drove, as he had intended, to the Italian opera. He sat through two acts there, and saw everyone he wanted to see. On returning home, he carefully scrutinized the hatstand, and noticing that there was not a military overcoat there, he went, as usual, to his own room. But, contrary to his usual habit, he did not go to bed; he walked up and down his study till three o'clock in the morning. The feeling of furious anger with his wife, who would not observe the proprieties and keep to the one stipulation he had laid on her - not to receive her lover in her own house - gave him no peace. She had not complied with his request, and he was bound to punish her and carry out his threat - obtain a divorce and take away his son. He knew all the difficulties connected with this course, but he had said he would do it, and now he must carry out his threat. Countess Lidia Ivanovna had hinted that this was the best way out of his position, and of late the obtaining of divorces had been brought to such a pitch of perfection that Alexei Alexandrovich saw a possibility of overcoming the formal difficulties. Misfortunes never come singly, and the affairs of the reorganization of the native tribes, and of the irrigation of the lands of the Zaraisky province, had brought such official worries upon Alexei Alexandrovich that he had been of late in a continual state of extreme irritability.
He did not sleep the whole night, and his fury growing in a sort of vast, arithmetical progression, reached its highest limits in the morning. He dressed in haste, and, as though carrying his cup full of wrath, and fearing to spill any over, fearing to lose with his wrath the energy necessary for the interview with his wife, he went into her room directly he heard she was up.
Anna, who had thought she knew her husband so well, was amazed at his appearance when he went in to her. His brow was lowering and his eyes stared darkly before him, avoiding her eyes; his mouth was tightly and contemptuously shut. In his walk, in his gestures, in the sound of his voice there was a determination and firmness such as his wife had never seen in him. He went into her room, and, without greeting her, walked straight up to her writing table, and, taking her keys, opened a drawer.
`What do you want?' she cried.
`Your lover's letters,' he said.
`They're not here,' she said, shutting the drawer; but from that action he saw he had guessed right, and roughly pushing away her hand, he quickly snatched a portfolio in which he knew she used to put her most important papers. She tried to pull the portfolio away, but he pushed her back.
`Sit down! I have to speak to you,' he said, putting the portfolio under his arm, and squeezing it so tightly with his elbow that his shoulder stood up.
Amazed and intimidated, she gazed at him in silence.
`I told you that I would not allow you to receive your lover in this house.'
`I had to see him to...'
She stopped, not finding a reason.
`I do not enter into the details of why a woman wants to see her lover.'
`I meant, I only...' she said, flushing hotly. This coarseness of his angered her, and gave her courage. `Surely you must feel how easy it is for you to insult me?' she said.
`An honest man and an honest woman may be insulted, but to tell a thief he's a thief is simply la constatation d'un fait.'
`This cruelty is something new - I did not know in you.'
|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.|