`Iashvin meant to come this morning with Voitov,' said Vronsky; `I believe he's won from Pievtsov all and more than he can pay - about sixty thousand.'

`No,' she said, further irritated by his so obviously showing by this change of subject that he knew she was irritated, `why did you suppose that this news would affect me so, that you must even try to hide it? I said I don't want to consider it, and I should have liked you to care as little about it as I do.'

`I care about it because I like definiteness,' he said.

`Definiteness is not in the form, but in love,' she said, more and more irritated, not by his words, but by the tone of cool composure in which he spoke. `What do you want it for?'

`My God! Love again,' he thought, frowning.

`Oh, you know what for; for your sake and your children's in the future.'

`There won't be any children in the future.'

`That's a great pity,' he said.

`You want it for the children's sake, but you don't think of me?' she said, quite forgetting, or not having heard that he had said, `For your sake and the children's.'

The question of the possibility of having children had long been a subject of dispute and irritation to her. His desire to have children she interpreted as a proof he did not prize her beauty.

`Oh, I said: for your sake. Above all for your sake,' he repeated, frowning as though in pain, `because I am certain that the greater part of your irritability comes from the indefiniteness of the position.'

`Yes, now he has laid aside all pretense, and all his cold hatred for me is apparent,' she thought, not hearing his words, but watching with terror the cold, cruel judge who, mocking her, looked out of his eyes.

`The cause isn't that,' she said, `and, indeed, I don't see how the cause of my irritability, as you call it, can be in my being completely in your power. What indefiniteness is there in the position? On the contrary.'

`I am very sorry that you don't care to understand,' he interrupted, obstinately anxious to give utterance to his thought. `The indefiniteness consists in your imagining that I am free.'

`On that score you can set your mind quite at rest,' she said, and turning away from him, she began drinking her coffee.

She lifted her cup, with her little finger held apart, and put it to her lips. After drinking a few sips she glanced at him, and by his expression she saw clearly that he was repelled by her hand, and her gesture, and the sound made by her lips.

`I don't care in the least what your mother thinks, and what match she wants to make for you,' she said, putting the cup down with a shaking hand.

`But we are not talking about that.'

`Yes, that's just what we are talking about. And let me tell you that a heartless woman, whether she's old or not old, your mother or anyone else, is of no consequence to me, and I would not consent to know her.'

`Anna, I beg you not to speak disrespectfully of my mother.'

  By PanEris using Melati.

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