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Anna Karenina 298

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

that she had pursued thirty years before. Then her desire had been to adorn herself with something, and the more adorned the better. Now, on the contrary, she was perforce decked out in a way so inconsistent with her age and her figure, that her one anxiety was to contrive that the contrast between these adornments and her own exterior should not be too appalling. And as far as Alexey Alexandrovitch was concerned she succeeded, and was in his eyes attractive. For him she was the one island not only of goodwill to him, but of love in the midst of the sea of hostility and jeering that surrounded him. Passing through rows of ironical eyes, he was drawn as naturally to her loving glance as a plant to the sun. "I congratulate you," she said to him, her eyes on his ribbon. Suppressing a smile of pleasure, he shrugged his shoulders, closing his eyes, as though to say that that could not be a source of joy to him. Countess Lidia Ivanovna was very well aware that it was one of his chief sources of satisfaction, though he never admitted it. "How is our angel?" said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, meaning Seryozha. "I cant say I was quite pleased with him," said Alexey Alexandrovitch, raising his eyebrows and opening his eyes. "And Sitnikov is not satisfied with him." (Sitnikov was the tutor to whom Seryozhas secular education had been intrusted.) "As I have mentioned to you, theres a sort of coldness in him towards the most important questions which ought to touch the heart of every man and every child...." Alexey Alexandrovitch began expounding his views on the sole question that interested him besides the service--the education of his son. When Alexey Alexandrovitch with Lidia Ivanovnas help had been brought back anew to life and activity, he felt it his duty to undertake the education of the son left on his hands. Having never before taken any interest in educational questions, Alexey Alexandrovitch devoted some time to the theoretical study of the subject. After reading several books on anthropology, education, and didactics, Alexey Alexandrovitch drew up a plan of education, and engaging the best tutor in Petersburg to superintend it, he set to work, and the subject continually absorbed him. "Yes, but the heart. I see in him his fathers heart, and with such a heart a child cannot go far wrong," said Lidia Ivanovna with enthusiasm. "Yes, perhaps.... As for me, I do my duty. Its all I can do." "Youre coming to me," said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, after a pause; "we have to speak of a subject painful for you. I would give anything to have spared you certain memories, but others are not of the same mind. I have received a letter from _her_. _She_ is here in Petersburg." Alexey Alexandrovitch shuddered at the allusion to his wife, but immediately his face assumed the deathlike rigidity which expressed utter helplessness in the matter. "I was expecting it," he said. Countess Lidia Ivanovna looked at him ecstatically, and tears of rapture at the greatness of his soul came into her eyes. Chapter 25 When Alexey Alexandrovitch came into the Countess Lidia Ivanovnas snug little boudoir, decorated with old china and hung with portraits, the lady herself had not yet made her appearance. She was changing her dress. A cloth was laid on a round table, and on it stood a china tea service and a silver spirit-lamp and tea kettle. Alexey Alexandrovitch looked idly about at the endless familiar portraits which adorned the room, and sitting down to the table, he opened a New Testament lying upon it. The rustle of the countesss silk skirt drew his attention off. "Well now, we can sit quietly," said Countess Lidia Ivanovna, slipping hurriedly with an agitated smile between the table and the sofa, "and talk over our tea." After some words of preparation, Countess Lidia Ivanovna, breathing hard and flushing crimson, gave into Alexey Alexandrovitchs hands the letter she had received. After reading the letter, he sat a long while in silence. "I dont think I have the right to refuse her," he said, timidly lifting his eyes. "Dear friend, you never see evil in anyone!" "On the contrary, I see that all is evil. But whether it is just..." His face showed irresolution, and a seeking for counsel, support, and guidance in a matter he did not understand. "No," Countess Lidia Ivanovna interrupted him; "there are limits to everything. I can understand immorality," she said, not quite truthfully, since she

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