Chapter 24

`Well, was it amusing?' she asked, coming out to meet him with a penitent and meek expression.

`Just as usual,' he answered, seeing at a glance that she was in one of her good moods. He was used by now to these transitions, and he was particularly glad to see it today, as he was in a specially good humor himself.

`What do I see? Come, that's good!' he said, pointing to the boxes in the passage.

`Yes, we must go. I went out for a drive, and it was so fine I longed to be in the country. There's nothing to keep you, is there?'

`It's the one thing I desire. I'll be back directly, and we'll talk it over; I only want to change my coat. Order some tea.'

And he went into his room.

There was something mortifying in the way he had said `Come, that's good,' as one says to a child when it leaves off being naughty, and still more mortifying was the contrast between her penitent and his self- confident tone; and for one instant she felt the lust of strife rising up in her again, but making an effort she conquered it, and met Vronsky as good-humoredly as before.

When he came in she told him, partly repeating phrases she had prepared beforehand, how she had spent the day, and her plans for going away.

`You know, it came to me almost like an inspiration,' she said. `Why wait here for the divorce? Won't it be just the same in the country? I can't wait any longer! I don't want to go on hoping, I don't want to hear anything about the divorce. I have made up my mind it shall not have any more influence on my life. Do you agree?'

`Oh, yes!' he said, glancing uneasily at her excited face.

`What did you do? Who was there?' she said, after a pause.

Vronsky mentioned the names of the guests. `The dinner was first-rate, and the boat race, and it was all pleasant enough, but in Moscow they can never do anything without something ridicule. A lady of a sort appeared on the scene, teacher of swimming to the Queen of Sweden, and gave us an exhibition of her skill.'

`How? Did she swim?' asked Anna, frowning.

`In an absurd red costume de natation; she was old and hideous too. So when shall we go?'

`What an absurd fancy! Why, did she swim in some special way, then?' said Anna, not answering.

`There was absolutely nothing in it. That's just what I say - it was awfully stupid. Well, then, when do you think of going?'

Anna shook her head as though trying to drive away some unpleasant idea.

`When? Why, the sooner the better! By tomorrow we shan't be ready. The day after tomorrow.'

`Yes.... Oh, no, wait a minute! The day after tomorrow's Sunday - I have to be at maman's,' said Vronsky, embarrassed, because as soon as he uttered his mother's name he was aware of her intent, suspicious eyes. His embarrassment confirmed her suspicion. She flushed hotly and drew away from him. It was now not the Queen of Sweden's swimming mistress who filled Anna's imagination, but the young Princess Sorokina. She was staying in a village near Moscow with Countess Vronsky.

  By PanEris using Melati.

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