expected. Whatever he said, whatever he proposed, was heard as though it were something long familiar, and the very thing that was not needed. But Alexei Alexandrovich was not aware of this, and, on the contrary, being cut off from direct participation in governmental activity, he saw more clearly than ever the errors and defects in the action of others, and thought it his duty to point out means for their correction. Shortly after his separation from his wife, he began writing his first note on the new judicial procedure, the first of the endless series of notes he was destined to write in the future.

Alexei Alexandrovich did not merely fail to observe his hopeless position in the official world, he was not merely free from anxiety on this head - he was positively more satisfied than ever with his own activity.

`He that is married careth for the things of the world, how he may please his wife; he that is unmarried careth for the things that belong to the Lord, how he may please the Lord,' says the Apostle Paul, and Alexei Alexandrovich, who was now guided in every action by Scripture, often recalled this text. It seemed to him that ever since he had been left without a wife, he had, in these very projects of reform, been serving the Lord more zealously than ever.

The unmistakable impatience of the member of the Council trying to get away from him did not trouble Alexei Alexandrovich; he gave up his exposition only when the member of the Council, seizing his chance when one of the Imperial family was passing, slipped away from him.

Left alone, Alexei Alexandrovich looked down, collecting his thoughts, then looked casually about him and walked toward the door, where he hoped to meet Countess Lidia Ivanovna.

`And how strong they all are - how sound physically,' thought Alexei Alexandrovich, looking at the powerfully built gentleman of the bedchamber with his well-groomed, perfumed whiskers, and at the red neck of the Prince, pinched by his tight uniform. He had to pass them on his way. `Truly is it said that all the world is evil,' he thought, with another sidelong glance at the calves of the gentleman of the bedchamber.

Moving forward deliberately, Alexei Alexandrovich bowed with his customary air of weariness and dignity to the gentleman who had been talking about him, and, looking toward the door, his eyes sought Countess Lidia Ivanovna.

`Ah! Alexei Alexandrovich!' said the little old man, with a malicious light in his eyes, at the moment when Karenin had come up to them, and was nodding with a frigid gesture. `I haven't congratulated you yet,' said the old man, pointing to his newly received ribbon.

`Thank you,' answered Alexei Alexandrovich. `What an exquisite day today,' he added, laying emphasis in his peculiar way on the word exquisite.

That they laughed at him he was well aware, but he did not expect anything but hostility from them; he was used to that by now.

Catching sight of the yellow shoulders of Lidia Ivanovna jutting out above her corset, and her fine pensive eyes summoning him to her, Alexei Alexandrovich smiled, revealing untarnished white teeth, and went toward her.

Lidia Ivanovna's dress had cost her great pains, as indeed all her dresses had done of late. Her aim in dress was now quite the reverse of what she had pursued thirty years before. Then her desire had been to adorn herself with something, and the more adorned the better. Now, on the contrary, she was perforce decked out in a way so inconsistent with her age and her figure, that her one anxiety was to contrive that the contrast between these adornments and her own exterior should not be too appalling. And as far as Alexei Alexandrovich was concerned she succeeded, and was in his eyes attractive. For him she was the one island not only of good will to him, but of love in the midst of the sea of hostility and jeering that surrounded him.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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