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Anna Karenina 246

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

of course, one has to say thank you. But the chief thing was having to settle this." "Well, God help you!" said Betsy. After accompanying Betsy to the outside hall, once more kissing her hand above the glove, at the point where the pulse beats, and murmuring to her such unseemly nonsense that she did not know whether to laugh or be angry, Stepan Arkadyevitch went to his sister. He found her in tears. Although he happened to be bubbling over with good spirits, Stepan Arkadyevitch immediately and quite naturally fell into the sympathetic, poetically emotional tone which harmonized with her mood. He asked her how she was, and how she had spent the morning. "Very, very miserably. Today and this morning and all past days and days to come," she said. "I think youre giving way to pessimism. You must rouse yourself, you must look life in the face. I know its hard, but..." "I have heard it said that women love men even for their vices," Anna began suddenly, "but I hate him for his virtues. I cant live with him. Do you understand? the sight of him has a physical effect on me, it makes me beside myself. I cant, I cant live with him. What am I to do? I have been unhappy, and used to think one couldnt be more unhappy, but the awful state of things I am going through now, I could never have conceived. Would you believe it, that knowing hes a good man, a splendid man, that Im not worth his little finger, still I hate him. I hate him for his generosity. And theres nothing left for me but..." She would have said death, but Stepan Arkadyevitch would not let her finish. "You are ill and overwrought," he said; "believe me, youre exaggerating dreadfully. Theres nothing so terrible in it." And Stepan Arkadyevitch smiled. No one else in Stepan Arkadyevitchs place, having to do with such despair, would have ventured to smile (the smile would have seemed brutal); but in his smile there was so much of sweetness and almost feminine tenderness that his smile did not wound, but softened and soothed. His gentle, soothing words and smiles were as soothing and softening as almond oil. And Anna soon felt this. "No, Stiva," she said, "Im lost, lost! worse than lost! I cant say yet that all is over; on the contrary, I feel that its not over. Im an overstrained string that must snap. But its not ended yet...and it will have a fearful end." "No matter, we must let the string be loosened, little by little. Theres no position from which there is no way of escape." "I have thought, and thought. Only one..." Again he knew from her terrified eyes that this one way of escape in her thought was death, and he would not let her say it. "Not at all," he said. "Listen to me. You cant see your own position as I can. Let me tell you candidly my opinion." Again he smiled discreetly his almond-oil smile. "Ill begin from the beginning. You married a man twenty years older than yourself. You married him without love and not knowing what love was. It was a mistake, lets admit." "A fearful mistake!" said Anna. "But I repeat, its an accomplished fact. Then you had, let us say, the misfortune to love a man not your husband. That was a misfortune; but that, too, is an accomplished fact. And your husband knew it and forgave it." He stopped at each sentence, waiting for her to object, but she made no answer. "Thats so. Now the question is: can you go on living with your husband? Do you wish it? Does he wish it?" "I know nothing, nothing." "But you said yourself that you cant endure him." "No, I didnt say so. I deny it. I cant tell, I dont know anything about it." "Yes, but let..." "You cant understand. I feel Im lying head downwards in a sort of pit, but I ought not to save myself. And I cant . . ." "Never mind, well slip something under and pull you out. I understand you: I understand that you cant take it on yourself to express your wishes, your feelings." "Theres nothing, nothing I wish...except for it to be all over." "But he sees this and knows it. And do you

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