VRONSKY had several times already, though not so resolutely as now, tried to bring her to consider their position, and every time he had been confronted by the same superficiality and triviality with which she met his appeal now. It was as though there were something in this which she could not or would not face, as though directly she began to speak of this, she, the real Anna, retreated somehow into herself, and another strange and unaccountable woman came out, whom he did not love, and whom he feared, and who was in opposition to him. But to-day he was resolved to have it out.
Whats to be done, according to you? she asked with the same frivolous irony. She who had so feared he would take her condition too lightly was now vexed with him for deducing from it the necessity of taking some step.
Very well, let us suppose I do that, she said. Do you know what the result of that would be? I can tell you it all beforehand, and a wicked light gleamed in her eyes, that had been so soft a minute before. Eh, you love another man, and have entered into criminal intrigues with him? (Mimicking her husband, she threw an emphasis on the word criminal, as Alexey Alexandrovitch did.) I warned you of the results in the religious, the civil, and the domestic relation. You have not listened to me. Now I cannot let you disgrace my name, and my son, she had meant to say, but about her son she could not jest,disgrace my name, andand more in the same style, she added. In general terms, hell say in his official manner, and with all distinctness and precision, that he cannot let me go, but will take all measures in his power to prevent scandal. And he will calmly and punctually act in accordance with his words. Thats what will happen. Hes not a man, but a machine, and a spiteful machine when hes angry, she added, recalling Alexey Alexandrovitch as she spoke, with all the peculiarities of his figure and manner of speaking, and reckoning against him every defect she could find in him, softening nothing for the great wrong she herself was doing him.
Vronsky could not understand how she, with her strong and truthful nature, could endure this state of deceit, and not long to get out of it. But he did not suspect that the chief cause of it was the wordson, which she could not bring herself to pronounce. When she thought of her son, and his future attitude to his mother, who had abandoned his father, she felt such terror at what she had done, that she could not face it; but, like a woman, could only try to comfort herself with lying assurances that everything would remain as it always had been, and that it was possible to forget the fearful question of how it would be with her son.
Never. Leave it to me. I know all the baseness, all the horror of my position; but its not so easy to arrange as you think. And leave it to me, and do what I say. Never speak to me of it. Do you promise me? No, no, promise!
I unhappy? she said, coming closer to him, and looking at him with an ecstatic smile of love. I am like a hungry man who has been given food. He may be cold, and dressed in rags, and ashamed, but he is not unhappy. I unhappy? No, this is my happiness.
She could hear the sound of her sons voice coming towards them, and, glancing swiftly round the terrace, she got up impulsively. Her eyes glowed with the fire he knew so well; with a rapid movement she raised her lovely hands, covered with rings, took his head, looked a long look into his face, and, putting up her face with smiling, parted lips, swiftly kissed his mouth and both eyes, and pushed him away. She would have gone, but he held her back.