Chapter 7

Vronsky and Anna had been traveling for three months together in Europe. They had visited Venice, Rome and Naples, and had just arrived at a small Italian town where they meant to stay some time.

A handsome headwaiter, with thick pomaded hair parted from the neck upward, wearing an evening coat, a broad white cambric shirt front, and a bunch of watch charms dangling above his small bay window, stood with his hands in his pockets, looking contemptuously from under his eyelids, while he gave some frigid reply to a gentleman who had stopped still. Catching the sound of footsteps coming from the other side of the entry toward the staircase, the headwaiter turned round, and, seeing the Russian Count, who had taken their best rooms, he took his hands out of his pockets deferentially, and with a bow informed him that a courier had come, and that the business about the palazzo had been arranged. The steward was prepared to sign the agreement.

`Ah! I'm glad to hear it,' said Vronsky. `Is Madame at home or not?'

`Madame has been out for a walk but has returned now,' answered the waiter.

Vronsky took off his soft, wide-brimmed hat and passed his handkerchief over his heated brow and hair, which had grown half over his ears, and was brushed back covering the bald patch on his head. And, glancing casually at the gentleman, who still stood there gazing intently at him, he would have gone on.

`This gentleman is a Russian, and was inquiring after you,' said the headwaiter.

With mingled feelings of annoyance at never being able to get away from acquaintances anywhere, and longing to find some sort of diversion from the monotony of his life, Vronsky looked once more at the gentleman, who had retreated and stood still again, and at the same moment a light came into the eyes of both.



It really was Golenishchev, a comrade of Vronsky's in the Corps of Pages. In the Corps Golenishchev had belonged to the liberal party; he left the Corps without entering the army, and had never taken office under the government. Vronsky and he had gone completely different ways on leaving the Corps, and had only met once since.

At that meeting Vronsky perceived that Golenishchev had taken up a sort of lofty intellectually liberal line, and was consequently disposed to look down upon Vronsky's interests and calling in life. Hence Vronsky had met him with the chilling and haughty manner he so well knew how to assume, the meaning of which was: `You may like or dislike my ways of life, that's a matter of the most perfect indifference to me; you will have to treat me with respect if you want to know me.' Golenishchev had been contemptuously indifferent to the tone taken by Vronsky. That meeting might have been expected to estrange them still more. But now they beamed and exclaimed with delight on recognizing one another. Vronsky would never have expected to be so pleased to see Golenishchev, but probably he was not himself aware how bored he was. He forgot the disagreeable impression of their last meeting, and with a face of frank delight held out his hand to his old comrade. The same expression of delight replaced the look of uneasiness on Golenishchev's face.

`How glad I am to meet you!' said Vronsky, showing his strong white teeth in a friendly smile.

`I heard the name Vronsky, but I didn't know which one. I'm very, very glad!'

`Let's go in. Come, tell me what you're doing.'

`I've been living here for two years. I'm working.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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