ALEXEY ALEXANDROVITCH, after meeting Vronsky on his own steps, drove, as he had intended, to the Italian opera. He sat through two acts there, and saw every one he had wanted to see. On returning home, he carefully scrutinised the hat-stand, and noticing that there was not a military overcoat there, he went, as usual, to his own room. But, contrary to his usual habit, he did not go to bed, he walked up and down his study till three oclock in the morning. The feeling of furious anger with his wife, who would not observe the proprieties and keep to the one stipulation he had laid on her, not to receive her lover in her own house, gave him no peace. She had not complied with his request, and he was bound to punish her and carry out his threatobtain a divorce and take away his son.
He knew all the difficulties connected with this course, but he had said he would do it, and now he must carry out his threat. Countess Lidia Ivanovna had hinted that this was the best way out of his position, and of late the obtaining of divorces had been brought to such perfection, that Alexey Alexandrovitch saw a possibility of overcoming the formal difficulties. Misfortunes never come singly, and the affairs of the reorganisation of the native tribes, and of the irrigation of the lands of the Zaraisky province, had brought such official worries upon Alexey Alexandrovitch, that he had been of late in a continual condition of extreme irritability.
He did not sleep the whole night, and his fury growing in a sort of vast, arithmetical progression, reached its highest limits in the morning. He dressed in haste, and as though carrying his cup full of wrath, and fearing to spill any over, fearing to lose with his wrath the energy necessary for the interview with his wife, he went into her room directly he heard she was up.
Anna, who thought she knew her husband so well, was amazed at his appearance when he went in to her. His brow was lowering, and his eyes stared darkly before him, avoiding her eyes; his mouth was tightly and contemptuously shut. In his walk, in his gestures, in the sound of his voice there was a determination and firmness such as his wife had never seen in him. He went into her room, and without greeting her, walked straight up to her writingtable, and taking her keys, opened a drawer.
Theyre not here, she said, shutting the drawer; but from that action he saw he had guessed right, and roughly pushing away her hand, he quickly snatched a portfolio in which he knew she used to put her most important papers. She tried to pull the portfolio away, but he pushed her back.
Sit down! I have to speak to you, he said, putting the portfolio under his arm, and squeezing it so tightly with his elbow that his shoulder stood up. Amazed and intimidated, she gazed at him in silence.
No! he shrieked, in his shrill voice, which pitched a note higher than usual even, and his big hands clutching her by the arm so violently that red marks were left from the bracelet he was squeezing, he forcibly sat her down in her place.
She bowed her head. She did not say what she had said the evening before to her lover, that he was her husband, and her husband was superfluous; she did not even think that. She felt all the justice of his words, and only said softly
What am I saying it for? what for? he went on, as angrily. That you may know that since you have not carried out my wishes in regard to observing outward decorum, I will take measures to put an end to this state of things.
Alexey Alexandrovitch was speaking so quickly that he stammered, and was utterly unable to articulate the word suffering. In the end he pronounced it thuffering. She wanted to laugh, and was immediately ashamed that anything could amuse her at such a moment. And for the first time, for an instant, she felt for him, put herself in his place, and was sorry for him. But what could she say or do? Her head sank, and she sat silent. He too was silent for some time, and then began speaking in a frigid, less shrill voice, emphasising random words that had no special significance.
She glanced at him. No, it was my fancy, she thought, recalling the expression of his face when he stumbled over the word suffering. No; can a man with those dull eyes, with that self-satisfied complacency, feel anything?
I have come to tell you that I am going to-morrow to Moscow, and shall not return again to this house, and you will receive notice of what I decide through the lawyer into whose hands I shall intrust the task of getting a divorce. My son is going to my sisters, said Alexey Alexandrovitch, with an effort recalling what he had meant to say about his son.