Its too early for Betsy, she thought, and glancing out of window she caught sight of the carriage and the black hat of Alexey Alexandrovitch, and the ears that she knew so well sticking up each side of it. How unlucky! Can he be going to stay the night? she wondered, and the thought of all that might come of such a chance struck her as so awful and terrible, that without dwelling on it for a moment, she went down to meet him with a bright and radiant face; and conscious of the presence of that spirit of falsehood and deceit in herself that she had come to know of late, she abandoned herself to that spirit and began talking, hardly knowing what she was saying.
Ah, how nice of you! she said, giving her husband her hand, and greeting Sludin, who was like one of the family, with a smile. Youre staying the night, I hope? was the first word the spirit of falsehood prompted her to utter; and now well go together. Only its a pity Ive promised Betsy. Shes coming for me.
Oh, Im not going to separate the inseparables, he said in his usual bantering tone. Im going with Mihail Vassilievitch. Im ordered exercise by the doctors too. Ill walk, and fancy myself at the springs again.
Bring in tea, and tell Seryozha that Alexey Alexandrovitch is here. Well, tell me, how have you been? Mihail Vassilievitch, youve not been to see me before. Look how lovely it is out on the terrace, she said, turning first to one and then to the other.
She spoke very simply and naturally, but too much and too fast. She was the more aware of this from noticing in the inquisitive look Mihail Vassilievitch turned on her that he was, as it were, keeping watch on her.
All this she said brightly, rapidly, and with a peculiar brilliance in her eyes. But Alexey Alexandrovitch did not now attach any special significance to this tone of hers. He heard only her words and gave them only the direct sense they bore. And he answered simply, though jestingly. There was nothing remarkable in all this conversation, but never after could Anna recall this brief scene without an agonising pang of shame.
Seryozha came in preceded by his governess. If Alexey Alexandrovitch had allowed himself to observe he would have noticed the timid and bewildered eyes with which Seryozha glanced first at his father and then at his mother. But he would not see anything, and he did not see it.
And he gave his hand to the scared child. Seryozha had been shy of his father before, and now, ever since Alexey Alexandrovitch had taken to calling him young man, and since that insoluble question had occurred to him whether Vronsky were a friend or a foe, he avoided his father. He looked round towards his mother as though seeking shelter. It was only with his mother that he was at ease.
Anna, who had flushed a little the instant her son came in, noticing that Seryozha was uncomfortable, got up hurriedly, took Alexey Alexandrovitchs hand from her sons shoulder, and kissing the boy, led him out on to the terrace, and quickly came back.
Yes, said Alexey Alexandrovitch, and getting up, he folded his hands and cracked his fingers. Ive come to bring you some money too, for nightingales, we know, cant live on fairy tales, he said. You want it, I expect?
Oh yes! answered Alexey Alexandrovitch. And heres the glory of Peterhof, Princess Tverskoy, he added, looking out of window at the elegant English carriage with the tiny seats placed extremely high. What elegance! Charming! Well, let us be starting too, then.
Well, au revoir, then! Youll come back for some tea; thats delightful! she said, and went out, gay and radiant. But as soon as she no longer saw him, she was aware of the spot on her hand that his lips had touched, and she shuddered with repulsion.