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Anna Karenina 296

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

to obtain a concession, told her that they had finished their business and were going away next day. Lidia Ivanovna had already begun to calm down, when the next morning a note was brought her, the handwriting of which she recognized with horror. It was the handwriting of Anna Karenina. The envelope was of paper as thick as bark; on the oblong yellow paper there was a huge monogram, and the letter smelt of agreeable scent. "Who brought it?" "A commissionaire from the hotel." It was some time before Countess Lidia Ivanovna could sit down to read the letter. Her excitement brought on an attack of asthma, to which she was subject. When she had recovered her composure, she read the following letter in French: "Madame la Comtesse, "The Christian feelings with which your heart is filled give me the, I feel, unpardonable boldness to write to you. I am miserable at being separated from my son. I entreat permission to see him once before my departure. Forgive me for recalling myself to your memory. I apply to you and not to Alexey Alexandrovitch, simply because I do not wish to cause that generous man to suffer in remembering me. Knowing your friendship for him, I know you will understand me. Could you send Seryozha to me, or should I come to the house at some fixed hour, or will you let me know when and where I could see him away from home? I do not anticipate a refusal, knowing the magnanimity of him with whom it rests. You cannot conceive the craving I have to see him, and so cannot conceive the gratitude your help will arouse in me. Anna" Everything in this letter exasperated Countess Lidia Ivanovna: its contents and the allusion to magnanimity, and especially its free and easy--as she considered--tone. "Say that there is no answer," said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, and immediately opening her blotting-book, she wrote to Alexey Alexandrovitch that she hoped to see him at one oclock at the levee. "I must talk with you of a grave and painful subject. There we will arrange where to meet. Best of all at my house, where I will order tea _as you like it_. Urgent. He lays the cross, but He gives the strength to bear it," she added, so as to give him some slight preparation. Countess Lidia Ivanovna usually wrote some two or three letters a day to Alexey Alexandrovitch. She enjoyed that form of communication, which gave opportunity for a refinement and air of mystery not afforded by their personal interviews. Chapter 24 The levee was drawing to a close. People met as they were going away, and gossiped of the latest news, of the newly bestowed honors and the changes in the positions of the higher functionaries. "If only Countess Marya Borissovna were Minister of War, and Princess Vatkovskaya were Commander-in-Chief," said a gray-headed, little old man in a gold-embroidered uniform, addressing a tall, handsome maid of honor who had questioned him about the new appointments. "And me among the adjutants," said the maid of honor, smiling. "You have an appointment already. Youre over the ecclesiastical department. And your assistants Karenin." "Good-day, prince!" said the little old man to a man who came up to him. "What were you saying of Karenin?" said the prince. "He and Putyatov have received the Alexander Nevsky." "I thought he had it already." "No. Just look at him," said the little old man, pointing with his embroidered hat to Karenin in a court uniform with the new red ribbon across his shoulders, standing in the doorway of the hall with an influential member of the Imperial Council. "Pleased and happy as a brass farthing," he added, stopping to shake hands with a handsome gentleman of the bedchamber of colossal proportions. "No; hes looking older," said the gentleman of the bedchamber. "From overwork. Hes always drawing up projects nowadays. He wont let a poor devil go nowadays till hes explained it all to him under heads." "Looking older, did you say? _Il fait des passions_. I believe Countess Lidia Ivanovnas jealous now of his wife." "Oh, come now, please dont say any harm of Countess Lidia Ivanovna." "Why, is there any harm in her being in love with Karenin?" "But is it true Madame Kareninas here?" "Well, not here in the palace, but in Petersburg. I met her yesterday with Alexey Vronsky, _bras dessous, bras dessous_, in the Morsky." "Cest un homme qui na pas..." the gentleman of the bedchamber was beginning,

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