AFTER taking leave of her guests, Anna did not sit down, but began walking up and down the room. She had unconsciously the whole evening done her utmost to arouse in Levin a feeling of loveas of late she had fallen into doing with all young menand she knew she had attained her aim, as far as was possible in one evening, with a married and conscientious man. She liked him indeed extremely, and, in spite of the striking difference, from the masculine point of view, between Vronsky and Levin, as a woman she saw something they had in common, which had made Kitty able to love both. Yet as soon as he was out of the room, she ceased to think of him.
One thought, and one only, pursued her in different forms, and refused to be shaken off. If I have so much effect on others, on this man, who loves his home and his wife, why is it he is so cold to me? not cold exactly, he loves me, I know that! But something new is drawing us apart now. Why wasnt he here all the evening? He told Stiva to say he could not leave Yashvin, and must watch over his play. Is Yashvin a child? But supposing its true. He never tells a lie. But theres something else in it if its true. He is glad of an opportunity of showing me that he has other duties; I know that, I submit to that. But why prove that to me? He wants to show me that his love for me is not to interface with his freedom. But I need no proofs, I need love. He ought to understand all the bitterness of this life for me here in Moscow. Is this life? I am not living, but waiting for an event, which is continually put off and put off. No answer again! And Stiva says he cannot go to Alexey Alexandrovitch. And I cant write again. I can do nothing, can begin nothing, can alter nothing; I hold myself in, I wait, inventing amusements for myselfthe English family, writing, readingbut its all nothing but a sham, its all the same as morphine. He ought to feel for me, she said, feeling tears of self-pity coming into her eyes.
She heard Vronskys abrupt ring and hurriedly dried her tearsnot only dried her tears, but sat down by a lamp and opened a book, affecting composure. She wanted to show him that she was displeased that he had not come home as he had promiseddispleased only, and not on any account to let him see her distress, and least of all, her self-pity.
Then what did you stay for? she asked, suddenly lifting her eyes to him. The expression of her face was cold and ungracious. You told Stiva you were staying on to get Yashvin away. And you have left him there.
In the first place, I did not ask him to give you any message; and secondly, I never tell lies. But whats the chief point, I wanted to stay, and I stayed, he said, frowning. Anna, what is it for, why will you? he said after a moments silence, bending over towards her, and he opened his hand, hoping she would lay hers in it.
Of course you wanted to stay, and you stayed. You do everything you want to. But what do you tell me that for? With what object? she said, getting more and more excited. Does any one contest your rights? But you want to be right, and youre welcome to be right.
For you its a matter of obstinacy, she said, watching him intently and suddenly finding the right word for that expression that irritated her, simply obstinacy. For you its a question of whether you keep the upper hand of me, while for me Again she felt sorry for herself, and she almost burst into tears. If you knew what it is for me! When I feel as I do now that you are hostile, yes, hostile to me, if you knew what this means for me! If you knew how I feel on the brink of calamity at this instant, how afraid I am of myself! And she turned away, hiding her sobs.
But what are you talking about? he said, horrified at her expression of despair, and again bending over her, he took her hand and kissed it. What is it for? Do I seek amusements outside our home? Dont I avoid the society of women?
Come, tell me what I ought to do to give you peace of mind? I am ready to do anything to make you happy, he said, touched by her expression of despair; what wouldnt I do to save you from distress of any sort, as now, Anna! he said.
Its nothing, nothing! she said. I dont know myself whether its the solitary life, my nerves Come, dont let us talk of it. What about the race? You havent told me! she inquired, trying to conceal her triumph at the victory, which had any way been on her side.
He asked for supper, and began telling her about the races; but in his tone, in his eyes, which became more and more cold, she saw that he did not forgive her for her victory, that the feeling of obstinacy with which she had been struggling had asserted itself again in him. He was colder to her than before, as though he were regretting his surrender. And she, remembering the words that had given her the victory, how I feel on the brink of calamity, how afraid I am of myself, saw that this weapon was a dangerous one, and that it could not be used a second time. And she felt that beside the love that bound them together there had grown up between them some evil spirit of strife, which she could not exorcise from his, and still less from her own heart.