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Anna Karenina 172

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

importance to her than it should have been; "do tell me, please, what are her relations with Prince Kaluzhsky, Mishka, as hes called? Ive met them so little. What does it mean?" Betsy smiled with her eyes, and looked intently at Anna. "Its a new manner," she said. "Theyve all adopted that manner. Theyve flung their caps over the windmills. But there are ways and ways of flinging them." "Yes, but what are her relations precisely with Kaluzhsky?" Betsy broke into unexpectedly mirthful and irrepressible laughter, a thing which rarely happened with her. "Youre encroaching on Princess Myakayas special domain now. Thats the question of an _enfant terrible_," and Betsy obviously tried to restrain herself, but could not, and went off into peals of that infectious laughter that people laugh who do not laugh often. "Youd better ask them," she brought out, between tears of laughter. "No; you laugh," said Anna, laughing too in spite of herself, "but I never could understand it. I cant understand the husbands role in it." "The husband? Liza Merkalovas husband carries her shawl, and is always ready to be of use. But anything more than that in reality, no one cares to inquire. You know in decent society one doesnt talk or think even of certain details of the toilet. Thats how it is with this." "Will you be at Madame Rolandaks fete?" asked Anna, to change the conversation. "I dont think so," answered Betsy, and, without looking at her friend, she began filling the little transparent cups with fragrant tea. Putting a cup before Anna, she took out a cigarette, and, fitting it into a silver holder, she lighted it. "Its like this, you see: Im in a fortunate position," she began, quite serious now, as she took up her cup. "I understand you, and I understand Liza. Liza now is one of those naive natures that, like children, dont know whats good and whats bad. Anyway, she didnt comprehend it when she was very young. And now shes aware that the lack of comprehension suits her. Now, perhaps, she doesnt know on purpose," said Betsy, with a subtle smile. "But, anyway, it suits her. The very same thing, dont you see, may be looked at tragically, and turned into a misery, or it may be looked at simply and even humorously. Possibly you are inclined to look at things too tragically." "How I should like to know other people just as I know myself!" said Anna, seriously and dreamily. "Am I worse than other people, or better? I think Im worse." "_Enfant terrible, enfant terrible!_" repeated Betsy. "But here they are." Chapter 18 They heard the sound of steps and a mans voice, then a womans voice and laughter, and immediately thereafter there walked in the expected guests: Sappho Shtoltz, and a young man beaming with excess of health, the so-called Vaska. It was evident that ample supplies of beefsteak, truffles, and Burgundy never failed to reach him at the fitting hour. Vaska bowed to the two ladies, and glanced at them, but only for one second. He walked after Sappho into the drawing-room, and followed her about as though he were chained to her, keeping his sparkling eyes fixed on her as though he wanted to eat her. Sappho Shtoltz was a blonde beauty with black eyes. She walked with smart little steps in high-heeled shoes, and shook hands with the ladies vigorously like a man. Anna had never met this new star of fashion, and was struck by her beauty, the exaggerated extreme to which her dress was carried, and the boldness of her manners. On her head there was such a superstructure of soft, golden hair--her own and false mixed--that her head was equal in size to the elegantly rounded bust, of which so much was exposed in front. The impulsive abruptness of her movements was such that at every step the lines of her knees and the upper part of her legs were distinctly marked under her dress, and the question involuntarily rose to the mind where in the undulating, piled-up mountain of material at the back the real body of the woman, so small and slender, so naked in front, and so hidden behind and below, really came to an end. Betsy made haste to introduce her to Anna. "Only fancy, we all but ran over two soldiers," she began telling them at once, using her eyes, smiling and twitching away her tail, which she flung back at one

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