Chapter 9

`Oblonsky's carriage!' the porter shouted in an angry bass. The carriage drove up and both got in. It was only for the first few moments, while the carriage was driving out of the clubhouse gates, that Levin was still under the influence of the club atmosphere of repose, comfort, and unimpeachable good form. But as soon as the carriage drove out into the street, and he felt it jolting over the uneven road, heard the angry shout of a driver coming toward them, saw in the uncertain light the red blind of a tavern and the shops, this impression was dissipated, and he began to think over his actions, and to wonder whether he was doing right in going to see Anna. What would Kitty say? But Stepan Arkadyevich gave him no time for reflection, and, as though divining his doubts, he dispersed them.

`How glad I am,' he said, `that you should know her! You know Dolly has long wished for it. And Lvov's been to see her, and often goes. Though she is my sister,' Stepan Arkadyevich pursued, `I don't hesitate to say that she's a remarkable woman.... But you will see. Her position is very painful, especially now.'

`Why especially now?'

`We are carrying on negotiations with her husband about a divorce. And he's agreed; but there are difficulties in regard to the son, and the business, which ought to have been arranged long ago, has been dragging on for three months past. As soon as the divorce is over, she will marry Vronsky. How stupid these old ritual forms are - ``Isaiah, rejoice!' - which no one believes in, and which only prevent people being comfortable!' Stepan Arkadyevich put in. `Well, then their position will be as regular as mine, as yours.'

`What is the difficulty?' said Levin.

`Oh, it's a long and tedious story The whole business is in such an indefinite state with us. But the point is, she has been for three months in Moscow, where everyone knows her, waiting for the divorce; she goes out nowhere, sees no woman except Dolly, because, do you understand, she doesn't care to have people come as a favor. That fool Princess Varvara, even she has left her, considering this a breach of propriety. Well, you see, in such a position any other woman would not have found resources in herself. But you'll see how she has arranged her life - how calm, how dignified she is. To the left, in the alley opposite the church!' shouted Stepan Arkadyevich, leaning out of the window of the carriage. `Phew! How hot it is!' he said, in spite of twelve degrees of frost, flinging open his unbuttoned overcoat still more.

`But she has a daughter: no doubt she's busy looking after her?' said Levin.

`I believe you picture every woman simply as a female, une couveuse,' said Stepan Arkadyevich. `If she's occupied, it must be with her children. No, she brings her up capitally, I believe, but one doesn't hear about her. She's busy, in the first place, with what she writes. I see you're smiling ironically, but you're wrong. She's writing a children's book, and doesn't talk about it to anyone, but she read it to me and I gave the manuscript to Vorkuev... you know, the publisher.... And he's an author himself too, I fancy. He understands those things, and he says it's a remarkable piece of work. But are you fancying she's a writing woman? Not a bit of it. She's a woman with a heart, before everything, but you'll see. Now she has a little English girl with her, and a whole family she's looking after.'

`Oh, something in a philanthropic way?'

`Why, you will look at everything in the worst light. It's not from philanthropy, it's from the heart. They - that is, Vronsky - had a trainer, an Englishman, first-rate in his own line, but a drunkard. He's completely given up to drink - delirium tremens - and the family were cast on the world. She saw them, helped them, got more and more interested in them, and now the whole family is on her hands. But not by way of patronage, you know, helping with money; she's herself preparing the boys in Russian for the high school, and she's taken the little girl to live with her. But you'll see her for yourself.'

The carriage drove into the courtyard, and Stepan Arkadyevich rang loudly at the entrance where a sleigh was standing.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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