`And you?' he said, shaking himself.

She took his hand in both of hers, and drew it to her waist, never taking her eyes off him.

`Well, I'm glad,' he said, coldly scanning her, her hair, her dress, which he knew she had put on for him. All was charming, but how many times it had charmed him! And the stern, stony expression that she so dreaded settled upon his face.

`Well, I'm glad. And are you well?' he said, wiping his damp beard with his handkerchief and kissing her hand.

`Never mind,' she thought, `only let him be here, and so long as he's here he cannot, he dare not, cease to love me.'

The evening was spent happily and gaily in the presence of Princess Varvara, who complained to him that Anna had been taking morphine in his absence.

`What am I to do? I couldn't sleep.... My thoughts prevented me. When he's here I never take it - hardly ever.'

He told her about the election, and Anna knew how by adroit questions to bring him to what gave him most pleasure - his own success. She told him of everything that interested him at home; and all that she told him was of the most cheerful description.

But late in the evening, when they were alone, Anna, seeing that she had regained complete possession of him, wanted to erase the painful impression of the glance he had given her for her letter. She said:

`Tell me frankly, you were vexed at getting my letter, and you didn't believe me?'

As soon as she had said it, she felt that however warm his feelings were to her, he had not forgiven her for that.

`Yes,' he said, `the letter was so strange. First, Annie ill, and then you thought of coming yourself.'

`It was all the truth.'

`Oh, I don't doubt it.'

`Yes, you do doubt it. You are vexed, I see.'

`Not for one moment. I'm only vexed, that's true, that you seem somehow unwilling to admit that there are duties...'

`The duty of going to a concert....'

`But we won't talk about it,' he said.

`Why not talk about it?' she said.

`I only meant to say that matters of real importance may turn up. Now, for instance, I shall have to go to Moscow to arrange about the house.... Oh, Anna, why are you so irritable? Don't you know that I can't live without you?'

`If so,' said Anna, her voice suddenly changing, `it means that you are sick of this life.... Yes, you will come for a day and go away, as men do....'

`Anna, that's cruel. I am ready to give up my whole life.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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