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Anna Karenina 363


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Anna Karenina

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"weve no sense of the duties our privileges impose upon us, and so we refuse to recognize these duties." "I know no man more strict in the performance of his duties," said Darya Alexandrovna, irritated by Vronskys tone of superiority. "For my part," pursued Vronsky, who was evidently for some reason or other keenly affected by this conversation, "such as I am, I am, on the contrary, extremely grateful for the honor they have done me, thanks to Nikolay Ivanitch" (he indicated Sviazhsky), "in electing me a justice of the peace. I consider that for me the duty of being present at the session, of judging some peasants quarrel about a horse, is as important as anything I can do. And I shall regard it as an honor if they elect me for the district council. Its only in that way I can pay for the advantages I enjoy as a landowner. Unluckily they dont understand the weight that the big landowners ought to have in the state." It was strange to Darya Alexandrovna to hear how serenely confident he was of being right at his own table. She thought how Levin, who believed the opposite, was just as positive in his opinions at his own table. But she loved Levin, and so she was on his side. "So we can reckon upon you, count, for the coming elections?" said Sviazhsky. "But you must come a little beforehand, so as to be on the spot by the eighth. If you would do me the honor to stop with me." "I rather agree with your beau-frere," said Anna, "though not quite on the same ground as he," she added with a smile. "Im afraid that we have too many of these public duties in these latter days. Just as in old days there were so many government functionaries that one had to call in a functionary for every single thing, so now everyones doing some sort of public duty. Alexey has been here now six months, and hes a member, I do believe, of five or six different public bodies. _Du train que cela va,_ the whole time will be wasted on it. And Im afraid that with such a multiplicity of these bodies, theyll end in being a mere form. How many are you a member of, Nikolay Ivanitch?" she turned to Sviazhsky--"over twenty, I fancy." Anna spoke lightly, but irritation could be discerned in her tone. Darya Alexandrovna, watching Anna and Vronsky attentively, detected it instantly. She noticed, too, that as she spoke Vronskys face had immediately taken a serious and obstinate expression. Noticing this, and that Princess Varvara at once made haste to change the conversation by talking of Petersburg acquaintances, and remembering what Vronsky had without apparent connection said in the garden of his work in the country, Dolly surmised that this question of public activity was connected with some deep private disagreement between Anna and Vronsky. The dinner, the wine, the decoration of the table were all very good; but it was all like what Darya Alexandrovna had seen at formal dinners and balls which of late years had become quite unfamiliar to her; it all had the same impersonal and constrained character, and so on an ordinary day and in a little circle of friends it made a disagreeable impression on her. After dinner they sat on the terrace, then they proceeded to play lawn tennis. The players, divided into two parties, stood on opposite sides of a tightly drawn net with gilt poles on the carefully leveled and rolled croquet-ground. Darya Alexandrovna made an attempt to play, but it was a long time before she could understand the game, and by the time she did understand it, she was so tired that she sat down with Princess Varvara and simply looked on at the players. Her partner, Tushkevitch, gave up playing too, but the others kept the game up for a long time. Sviazhsky and Vronsky both played very well and seriously. They kept a sharp lookout on the balls served to them, and without haste or getting in each others way, they ran adroitly up to them, waited for the rebound, and neatly and accurately returned them over the net. Veslovsky played worse than the others. He was too eager, but he kept the players lively with his high spirits. His laughter and outcries never paused. Like the other men of the party, with the ladies permission, he took off

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