Chapter 18

Anna looked at Dolly's thin, careworn face, with its wrinkles filled with dust from the road, and she was on the point of saying what she was thinking - that is, that Dolly had grown thinner. But, conscious that she herself had grown handsomer, and that Dolly's eyes were telling her so, she sighed and began to speak about herself.

`You are looking at me,' she said, `and wondering how I can be happy in my position? Well! It's shameful to confess, but I... I'm inexcusably happy. Something magical has happened to me, like a dream, when you're frightened, panic-stricken, and all of a sudden you wake up and all the horrors are no more. I have waked up. I have lived through the misery, the dread, and now for a long while past, especially since we've been here, I've been so happy!...' she said, with a timid smile of inquiry looking at Dolly.

`How glad I am!' said Dolly smiling, involuntarily speaking more coldly than she wanted to. `I'm very glad for you. Why haven't you written to me?'

`Why?... Because I hadn't the courage.... You forget my position....'

`To me? Hadn't the courage? If you knew how I... I look at...'

Darya Alexandrovna wanted to express her thoughts of the morning, but for some reason it seemed to her now out of place to do so.

`But of that we'll talk later. What's this - what are all these buildings?' she asked, wanting to change the conversation and pointing to the red and green roofs that came into view behind the green hedges of acacia and lilac. `Quite a little town.'

But Anna did not answer.

`No, no! How do you look at my position, what do you think of it?' she asked.

`I consider...' Darya Alexandrovna was beginning, but at that instant Vassenka Veslovsky, having brought the cob to gallop with the right leg foremost, galloped past them, bumping heavily up and down in his short jacket on the chamois leather of the sidesaddle. `He's doing it, Anna Arkadyevna!' he shouted. Anna did not even glance at him; but again it seemed to Darya Alexandrovna out of place to enter upon such a long conversation in the carriage, and so she cut short her thought.

`I don't think anything,' she said, `but I always loved you, and if one loves anyone, one loves the whole person, just as that person is, and not as one would like her or him to be....'

Anna, taking her eyes off her friend's face and dropping her eyelids (this was a new habit Dolly had not seen in her before), pondered, trying to penetrate the full significance of the words. And obviously interpreting them as she would have wished, she glanced at Dolly.

`If you had any sins,' she said, `they would all be forgiven you for your coming to see me, and these words.'

And Dolly saw that the tears stood in her eyes. She pressed Anna's hand in silence.

`Well, what are these buildings? How many there are of them!' After a moment's silence she repeated her question.

`These are the servant's houses, stud farm, and stables,' answered Anna. `And there the park begins. It had all gone to ruin, but Alexei had everything renewed. He is very fond of this place, and, what I never expected, he has become intensely interested in looking after it. But his is such a rich nature! Whatever he takes up, he does splendidly. So far from being bored by it, he works with passionate interest. He - with his temperament as I know it - he has become careful and businesslike, a first-rate manager, he positively reckons every penny in his management of the land. But only in that. When it's a question of tens of thousands, he doesn't think of money.' She spoke with that gleefully sly smile with which women

  By PanEris using Melati.

Previous chapter Back Home Email this Search Discuss Bookmark Next chapter/page
Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.