THE WHOLE of that day Anna spent at home, thats to say at the Oblonskys, and received no one, though some of her acquaintances had already heard of her arrival, and came to call the same day. Anna spent the whole morning with Dolly and the children. She merely sent a brief note to her brother to tell him that he must not fail to dine at home. Come, God is merciful, she wrote.
Oblonsky did dine at home: the conversation was general, and his wife, in speaking to him, addressed him as Stiva, as she had not done before. In the relations of the husband and wife the same estrangements still remained, but there was no talk now of separation, and Stepan Arkadyevitch saw the possibility of explanation and reconciliation.
Immediately after dinner Kitty came in. She knew Anna Arkadyevna, but only very slightly, and she came now to her sisters with some trepidation, at the prospect of meeting this fashionable Petersburg lady, whom every one spoke so highly of. But she made a favourable impression on Anna Arkadyevnashe saw that at once. Anna was unmistakably admiring her loveliness and her youth: before Kitty knew where she was she found herself not merely under Annas sway, but in love with her, as young girls do fall in love with older and married women.
Anna was not like a fashionable lady, nor the mother of a boy eight years old. In the elasticity of her movements, the freshness and the unflagging eagerness which persisted in her face, and broke out in her smile and her glance, she would rather have passed for a girl of twenty, had it not been for a serious and at times mournful look in her eyes, which struck and attracted Kitty. Kitty felt that Anna was perfectly simple and was concealing nothing, but that she had another higher world of interests inaccessible to her, complex and poetic.
When Stepan Arkadyevitch had disappeared, she went back to the sofa where she was sitting, surrounded by the children. Either because the children saw that their mother was fond of this aunt, or that they felt a special charm in her themselves, the two elder ones, and the younger following their lead, as children so often do, had clung about their new aunt since before dinner, and would not leave her side. And it had become a sort of game among them to sit as close as possible to their aunt, to touch her, hold her little hand, kiss it, play with her ring, or even touch the flounce of her skirt.
No, my dear, for me there are no balls now where one enjoys oneself, said Anna, and Kitty detected in her eyes that mysterious world which was not open to her. For me there are some less dull and tiresome.
Any way, if I do go, I shall comfort myself with the thought that its a pleasure to you . Grisha, dont pull my hair. Its untidy enough without that, she said, putting up a straying lock, which Grisha had been playing with.
And why in lilac precisely? asked Anna, smiling. Now, children, run along, run along. Do you hear? Miss Hoole is calling you to tea, she said, tearing the children from her, and sending them off to the dining-room.
Oh! what a happy time you are at, pursued Anna. I remember, and I know that blue haze like the mist on the mountains in Switzerland. That mist which covers everything in that blissful time when childhood is just ending, and out of that vast circle, happy and gay, there is a path growing narrower and narrower, and it is delightful and alarming to enter the ballroom, bright and splendid as it is. Who has not been through it?
Stiva gossiped about it all. And I should be so glad I travelled yesterday with Vronskys mother, she went on; and his mother talked without a pause of him, hes her favourite. I know mothers are partial, but
Oh, a great deal! And I know that hes her favourite; still one can see how chivalrous he is Well, for instance, she told me that he had wanted to give up all his property to his brother, that he had done something extraordinary when he was quite a child, saved a woman out of the water. Hes a hero, in fact, said Anna, smiling and recollecting the two hundred roubles he had given at the station.
But she did not tell Kitty about the two hundred roubles. For some reason it was disagreeable to her to think of it. She felt that there was something that had to do with her in it, and something that ought not to have been.
She pressed me very much to go and see her, Anna went on; and I shall be glad to go to see her to-morrow. Stiva is staying a long while in Dollys room, thank God, Anna added; changing the subject, and getting up, Kitty fancied, displeased with something.