Chapter 20

`Here's Dolly for you, Princess, you were so anxious to see her,' said Anna, coming out with Darya Alexandrovna on the stone terrace where Princess Varvara was sitting in the shade at an embroidery frame, working at a cover for Count Alexei Kirillovich's easy chair. `She says she doesn't want anything before dinner, but please order some lunch for her, and I'll go look for Alexei and bring them all in.'

Princess Varvara gave Dolly a cordial and rather patronizing reception, and began at once explaining to her that she was living with Anna because she had always cared more for her than her sister, that aunt that had brought Anna up; and that now, when everyone had abandoned Anna, she thought it her duty to help her in this most difficult period of transition.

`Her husband will give her a divorce, and then I shall go back to my solitude; but now I can be of use, and I am doing my duty, however difficult it may be for me - not like some other people. And how sweet it is of you, how right of you to have come! They live like the best of married couples; it's for God to judge them, not for us. And didn't Biriuzovsky and Madame Avenieva... and Nikandrov himself, and Vassiliev with Madame Mamonova, and Liza Neptunova... Did no one say anything about them? And it has ended by their being received by everyone. And then, c'est un intérieur si joli, si comme il faut. Tout-à-fait à l'anglaise. On se reunit le matin au breakfast, et puis on se separe. Everyone does as he pleases till dinnertime. Dinner at seven o'clock. Stiva did very rightly to send you. He needs their support. You know that through his mother and brother he can do everything. And then they do so much good. He didn't tell you about his hospital? Ce sera admirable - everything from Paris.'

Their conversation was interrupted by Anna, who had found the men of the party in the billiard room, and returned with them to the terrace. There was still a long time before the dinner hour, it was exquisite weather, and so several different methods of spending the next two hours were proposed. There were very many methods of passing the time at Vozdvizhenskoe, and these were all unlike those in use at Pokrovskoe.

`Une partie de lawn tennis,' Veslovsky proposed, with his handsome smile. `We'll be partners again, Anna Arkadyevna.'

`No, it's too hot; better stroll about the garden and have a row in the boat - show Darya Alexandrovna the riverbanks,' Vronsky proposed.

`I agree to anything,' said Sviiazhsky.

`I imagine that what Dolly would like best would be a stroll - wouldn't you? And then the boat, perhaps,' said Anna.

So it was decided. Veslovsky and Tushkevich went off to the bathing place, promising to get the boat ready and to wait there for them.

They walked along the path in two couples, Anna with Sviiazhsky, and Dolly with Vronsky. Dolly was a little embarrassed and anxious in the new surroundings in which she found herself Abstractly, theoretically, she did not merely justify - she positively approved of Anna's conduct. As is indeed not infrequent with women of unimpeachable virtue, weary of the monotony of virtuous existence, at a distance she not only excused illicit love - she positively envied it. Besides, she loved Anna with all her heart. But seeing Anna in actual life among these strangers, with this fashionable tone that was so new to Darya Alexandrovna, she felt ill at ease. What she disliked particularly was seeing Princess Varvara ready to overlook everything for the sake of the comforts she enjoyed.

As a general principle, abstractly, Dolly approved of Anna's action; but to see the man for whose sake her action had been taken was disagreeable to her. Moreover, she had never liked Vronsky. She thought him very proud, and saw nothing in him of which he could be proud except his wealth. But against her own will, here in his own house, he imposed upon her more than ever, and she could not be at ease with him. She experienced with him the same feeling she had had the maid about her dressing jacket.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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