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Anna Karenina 424


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and still more mortifying was the contrast between her penitent and his self-confident tone; and for one instant she felt the lust of strife rising up in her again, but making an effort she conquered it, and met Vronsky as good-humoredly as before. When he came in she told him, partly repeating phrases she had prepared beforehand, how she had spent the day, and her plans for going away. "You know it came to me almost like an inspiration," she said. "Why wait here for the divorce? Wont it be just the same in the country? I cant wait any longer! I dont want to go on hoping, I dont want to hear anything about the divorce. I have made up my mind it shall not have any more influence on my life. Do you agree?" "Oh, yes!" he said, glancing uneasily at her excited face. "What did you do? Who was there?" she said, after a pause. Vronsky mentioned the names of the guests. "The dinner was first rate, and the boat race, and it was all pleasant enough, but in Moscow they can never do anything without something _ridicule_. A lady of a sort appeared on the scene, teacher of swimming to the Queen of Sweden, and gave us an exhibition of her skill." "How? did she swim?" asked Anna, frowning. "In an absurd red _costume de natation;_ she was old and hideous too. So when shall we go?" "What an absurd fancy! Why, did she swim in some special way, then?" said Anna, not answering. "There was absolutely nothing in it. Thats just what I say, it was awfully stupid. Well, then, when do you think of going?" Anna shook her head as though trying to drive away some unpleasant idea. "When? Why, the sooner the better! By tomorrow we shant be ready. The day after tomorrow." "Yes...oh, no, wait a minute! The day after to-morrows Sunday, I have to be at mamans," said Vronsky, embarrassed, because as soon as he uttered his mothers name he was aware of her intent, suspicious eyes. His embarrassment confirmed her suspicion. She flushed hotly and drew away from him. It was now not the Queen of Swedens swimming-mistress who filled Annas imagination, but the young Princess Sorokina. She was staying in a village near Moscow with Countess Vronskaya. "Cant you go tomorrow?" she said. "Well, no! The deeds and the money for the business Im going there for I cant get by tomorrow," he answered. "If so, we wont go at all." "But why so?" "I shall not go later. Monday or never!" "What for?" said Vronsky, as though in amazement. "Why, theres no meaning in it!" "Theres no meaning in it to you, because you care nothing for me. You dont care to understand my life. The one thing that I cared for here was Hannah. You say its affectation. Why, you said yesterday that I dont love my daughter, that I love this English girl, that its unnatural. I should like to know what life there is for me that could be natural!" For an instant she had a clear vision of what she was doing, and was horrified at how she had fallen away from her resolution. But even though she knew it was her own ruin, she could not restrain herself, could not keep herself from proving to him that he was wrong, could not give way to him. "I never said that; I said I did not sympathize with this sudden passion." "How is it, though you boast of your straightforwardness, you dont tell the truth?" "I never boast, and I never tell lies," he said slowly, restraining his rising anger. "Its a great pity if you cant respect..." "Respect was invented to cover the empty place where love should be. And if you dont love me any more, it would be better and more honest to say so." "No, this is becoming unbearable!" cried Vronsky, getting up from his chair; and stopping short, facing her, he said, speaking deliberately: "What do you try my patience for?" looking as though he might have said much more, but was restraining himself. "It has limits." "What do you mean by that?" she cried, looking with terror at the undisguised hatred in his whole face, and especially in his cruel, menacing eyes. "I mean to say..." he was beginning, but he checked himself. "I must ask what it is you want of me?" "What can I want?

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