on their taking separate sets of rooms at Peterburg, and that even now he was not coming to her alone, as though he were trying to avoid meeting her face to face.

`But he ought to tell me so. I must know that it is so. If I knew it, then I'd know what I should do,' she said to herself, utterly unable to picture to herself the position she would be in if she were convinced of his not caring for her. She thought he had ceased to love her, she felt close upon despair, and consequently she felt exceptionally alert. She rang for her maid and went to her dressing room. As she dressed, she took more care over her appearance than she had done all these days, as though he might, if he had grown cold to her, fall in love with her again because she had dressed and arranged her hair in the way most becoming to her.

She heard the bell ring before she was ready.

When she went into the drawing room it was not he, but Iashvin, who met her eyes. Vronsky was looking through the photographs of her son, which she had forgotten on the table, and he made no haste to look round at her.

`We have met already,' she said, putting her little hand into the huge hand of Iashvin, whose bashfulness was so queerly out of keeping with his immense frame and coarse face. `We met last year at the races. Give them to me,' she said, with a rapid movement snatching from Vronsky the photographs of her son, and glancing significantly at him with flashing eyes. `Were the races good this year? Instead of them I saw the races in the Corso in Rome. But you don't care for life abroad,' she said with a cordial smile. `I know you and all your tastes, though I have seen so little of you.'

`I'm awfully sorry for that, for my tastes are mostly bad,' said Iashvin, gnawing at his left mustache.

Having talked a little while, and noticing that Vronsky glanced at the clock, Iashvin asked her whether she would be staying much longer in Peterburg, and unbending his huge figure, reached after his cap.

`Not long, I think,' she said hesitatingly, glancing at Vronsky.

`So then we shan't meet again?' said Iashvin getting up and turning to Vronsky. `Where do you have your dinner?'

`Come and dine with me,' said Anna resolutely, angry it seemed with herself for her embarrassment, but flushing as she always did when she defined her position before a fresh person. `The dinner here is not good, but at least you will see him. There is no one of his old friends in the regiment Alexei cares for as he does for you.'

`Delighted,' said Iashvin with a smile, from which Vronsky could see that he liked Anna very much.

Iashvin said good-by, and went away; Vronsky stayed behind.

`Are you going too?' she said to him.

`I'm late already,' he answered. `Run along! I'll catch up in a moment,' he called to Iashvin.

She took him by the hand, and without taking her eyes off him, gazed at him while she ransacked her mind for the words to say that would keep him.

`Wait a minute, there's something I want to say to you,' and taking his broad hand she pressed it on her neck. `Oh, was it right my asking him to dinner?'

`You did quite right,' he said with a serene smile that showed his close teeth, and he kissed her hand.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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