Chapter 20Alexei Alexandrovich took leave of Betsy in the drawing room, and went to his wife. She was lying down, but hearing his steps she sat up hastily in her former attitude, and looked in a scared way at him. He saw she had been crying.
`I am very grateful for your confidence in me.' He repeated gently in Russian the phrase he had said in Betsy's presence in French, and sat down beside her. When he spoke to her in Russian, using the Russian `thou' of intimacy and affection, it was insufferably irritating to Anna. `And I am very grateful for your decision. I, too, imagine that since he is going away, there is no sort of necessity for Count Vronsky to come here. However, if...'
`But I've said so already, so why repeat it?' Anna suddenly interrupted him, with an irritation she could not succeed in repressing. `No sort of necessity,' she thought, `for a man to come and say good-by to the woman he loves, for whom he was ready to ruin himself, and has ruined himself, and who cannot live without him. No sort of necessity!' She compressed her lips, and dropped her burning eyes to his hands with their swollen veins. They were slowly rubbing each other. `Let us never speak of it,' she added more calmly.
`I have left this question to you to decide, and I am very glad to see...' Alexei Alexandrovich was beginning.
`That my wish coincides with your own,' she finished quickly, exasperated at his talking so slowly while she knew beforehand all he would say.
`Yes,' he assented; `and Princess Tverskaia's interference in the most difficult private affairs is utterly uncalled for. She especially...'
`I don't believe a word of what's said about her,' said Anna quickly. `I know she really cares for me.'
Alexei Alexandrovich sighed and said nothing. She played nervously with the tassel of her dressing gown, glancing at him with that torturing sensation of physical repulsion for which she blamed herself, though she could not control it. Her only desire now was to be rid of his repelling presence.
`I have just sent for the doctor,' said Alexei Alexandrovich.
`I am very well; what do I want the doctor for?'
`No - the little one cries, and they say the wet nurse hasn't enough milk.'
`Why didn't you let me nurse her, when I begged to? Anyway' (Alexei Alexandrovich knew what was meant by that `anyway'), `she's a baby, and they're killing her.' She rang the bell and ordered the baby to be brought her. `I begged to nurse her, I wasn't allowed to, and now I'm blamed for it.'
`I don't blame...'
`Yes, you do blame me! My God! Why didn't I die!' And she broke into sobs. `Forgive me, I'm nervous, I'm unjust,' she said, controlling herself, `but do go away...'
`No, it can't go on like this,' Alexei Alexandrovich said to himself resolutely as he left his wife's room.
Never had the impossibility of his position in the world's eyes, and his wife's hatred of him, and, above all, the might of that mysterious brutal force that guided his life against his spiritual inclinations and exacted conformity with its decrees and a change in his present attitude to his wife - never had it been presented to him with such distinctness as on that day. He saw clearly that all the world and Anna expected something of him, but what exactly he could not make out. He felt that this was rousing in his soul a feeling of anger destructive of his peace of mind, and of all the good of his achievement. He believed that for Anna herself it would be better to break off all relations with Vronsky; but if they all thought this out of the question, he was even ready to allow these relations to be renewed, so long as the children were
|Copyright: All texts on Bibliomania are © Bibliomania.com Ltd, and may not be reproduced in any form without our written permission. See our FAQ for more details.|