Chapter 23

Dolly was just about to go to bed when Anna came in to see her, attired for the night.

In the course of the day Anna had several times begun to speak of matters near her heart, and every time after a few words she had stopped: `Afterward, by ourselves, we'll talk about everything. I've got so much I want to tell you,' she had said.

Now they were by themselves, and Anna did not know what to talk about. She sat in the window looking at Dolly, and going over in her own mind all the stores of intimate talk which had seemed so inexhaustible beforehand, and she found nothing. At that moment it seemed to her that everything had been said already.

`Well, what of Kitty?' she said with a heavy sigh, looking penitently at Dolly. `Tell me the truth, Dolly: isn't she angry with me?'

`Angry? Oh, no!' said Darya Alexandrovna, smiling.

`But she hates me, despises me?'

`Oh, no! But you know that sort of thing isn't forgiven.'

`Yes, yes,' said Anna, turning away and looking out of the open window. `But I was not to blame. And who is to blame? What's the meaning of being to blame? Could it have been otherwise? What do you think? Could it possibly have happened otherwise than that you should become the wife of Stiva?'

`Really, I don't know. But this is what I want you to tell me...'

`Yes, yes, but we've not finished about Kitty. Is she happy? He's a very fine man, they say.'

`He's much more than very fine. I don't know a better man.'

`Ah, how glad I am! I'm so glad! Much more than very fine,' she repeated.

Dolly smiled.

`But tell me about yourself. We've a great deal to talk about. And I've had a talk with...' Dolly did not know what to call him. She felt it awkward to call him either the Count or Alexei Kirillovich.

`With Alexei,' said Anna, `I know what you talked about. But I wanted to ask you directly what you think of me, of my life?'

`How am I to say anything so suddenly? I really don't know.'

`No, tell me all the same.... You see my life. But you mustn't forget that you're seeing us in the summer, when you have come to us and we are not alone.... But we came here early in the spring, lived quite alone, and shall be alone again, and I desire nothing better. But imagine me living alone without him, alone, and that will be... I see by everything that it will often be repeated, that he will be half the time away from home,' she said, getting up and sitting down close by Dolly. `Of course,' she interrupted Dolly, who would have answered, `of course I won't try to keep him by force. I don't keep him indeed. The races are just coming, his horses are running, he will go. I'm very glad. But think of me, fancy my position.... But what's the use of talking about it!' She smiled. `Well, what did he talk about with you?'

`He spoke of what I want to speak about myself, and it's easy for me to be his advocate; of whether there is not a possibility... whether you could not...' (Darya Alexandrovna hesitated) `correct, or improve your position.... You know how I look at it... But all the same, if possible, you should get married....'

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