Chapter 12

After taking leave of her guests, Anna did not sit down, but began walking up and down the room. She had unconsciously the whole evening done her utmost to arouse in Levin a feeling of love - as of late she had fallen into doing with all young men - and she knew she had attained her aim, as far as was possible in one evening, with a married and conscientious man. She liked him very much indeed, and, in spite of the striking difference, from the masculine point of view, between Vronsky and Levin, as a woman she saw something they had in common, which had made Kitty able to love both. Yet as soon as he was out of the room, she ceased to think of him.

One thought, and one only, pursued her in different forms, and refused to be shaken off. `If I have so much effect on others, on this man, who loves his home and his wife, why is it he is so cold to me?... Not cold exactly - he loves me, I know that! But something new is drawing us apart now. Why wasn't he here all the evening? He told Stiva to say he could not leave Iashvin, and must watch over his play. Is Iashvin a child? But supposing it's true. He never tells a he. But there's something else in it if it's true. He is glad of an opportunity of showing me that he has other duties; I know that, I submit to that. But why prove that to me? He wants to show me that his love for me is not to interfere with his freedom. But I need no proofs - I need love. He ought to understand all the bitterness of this life for me here in Moscow. Is this life? I am not living, but waiting for an event, which is continually put off and put off. No answer again! And Stiva says he cannot go to Alexei Alexandrovich. And I can't write again. I can do nothing, can begin nothing, can alter nothing; I hold myself in, I wait, inventing amusements for myself - the English family, writing, reading - but it's all nothing but a sham, it's all the same as morphine. He ought to feel for me,' she said, feeling tears of self-pity coming into her eyes.

She heard Vronsky's abrupt ring and hurriedly dried her tears - not only dried her tears, but sat down by a lamp and opened a book, affecting composure. She wanted to show him that she was displeased that he had not come home as he had promised - displeased only, and not on any account to let him see her distress, and, least of all, her self-pity. She might pity herself, but he must not pity her. She did not want strife, she blamed him for wanting to quarrel, but unconsciously put herself into an attitude of antagonism.

`Well, you've not been dull?' he said, eagerly and good-humoredly, going up to her. `What a terrible passion it is - gambling!'

`No, I've not been dull; I've learned long ago not to be dull. Stiva has been here, and Levin.'

`Yes, they meant to come and see you. Well, how did you like Levin?' he said, sitting down beside her.

`Very much. They have not been gone long. What was Iashvin doing?'

`He was winning - seventeen thousand. I got him away. He had really started home, but he went back again, and now he's losing.'

`Then what did you stay for?' she asked, suddenly lifting her eyes to him. The expression of her face was cold and ungracious. `You told Stiva you were staying on to get Iashvin away. And you have left him there.'

The same expression of cold readiness for the conflict appeared on his face too.

`In the first place, I did not ask him to give you any message; and secondly, I never tell lies. But the chief point is, I wanted to stay, and I stayed,' he said, frowning. `Anna, what is it for, why will you do this?' he said after a moment's silence, bending over toward her; and he opened his hand, hoping she would lay hers in it.

She was glad of this appeal for tenderness. But some strange force of evil would not let her give herself up to her feelings, as though the rules of warfare would not permit her to surrender.

  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.