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Anna Karenina 444


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neither giving expression to his opinion. Katavasov went back to his own carriage, and with reluctant hypocrisy reported to Sergey Ivanovitch his observations of the volunteers, from which it would appear that they were capital fellows. At a big station at a town the volunteers were again greeted with shouts and singing, again men and women with collecting boxes appeared, and provincial ladies brought bouquets to the volunteers and followed them into the refreshment room; but all this was on a much smaller and feebler scale than in Moscow. Chapter 4 While the train was stopping at the provincial town, Sergey Ivanovitch did not go to the refreshment room, but walked up and down the platform. The first time he passed Vronskys compartment he noticed that the curtain was drawn over the window; but as he passed it the second time he saw the old countess at the window. She beckoned to Koznishev. "Im going, you see, taking him as far as Kursk," she said. "Yes, so I heard," said Sergey Ivanovitch, standing at her window and peeping in. "What a noble act on his part!" he added, noticing that Vronsky was not in the compartment. "Yes, after his misfortune, what was there for him to do?" "What a terrible thing it was!" said Sergey Ivanovitch. "Ah, what I have been through! But do get in.... Ah, what I have been through!" she repeated, when Sergey Ivanovitch had got in and sat down beside her. "You cant conceive it! For six weeks he did not speak to anyone, and would not touch food except when I implored him. And not for one minute could we leave him alone. We took away everything he could have used against himself. We lived on the ground floor, but there was no reckoning on anything. You know, of course, that he had shot himself once already on her account," she said, and the old ladys eyelashes twitched at the recollection. "Yes, hers was the fitting end for such a woman. Even the death she chose was low and vulgar." "Its not for us to judge, countess," said Sergey Ivanovitch; "but I can understand that it has been very hard for you." "Ah, dont speak of it! I was staying on my estate, and he was with me. A note was brought him. He wrote an answer and sent it off. We hadnt an idea that she was close by at the station. In the evening I had only just gone to my room, when my Mary told me a lady had thrown herself under the train. Something seemed to strike me at once. I knew it was she. The first thing I said was, he was not to be told. But theyd told him already. His coachman was there and saw it all. When I ran into his room, he was beside himself--it was fearful to see him. He didnt say a word, but galloped off there. I dont know to this day what happened there, but he was brought back at deaths door. I shouldnt have known him. _Prostration complete,_ the doctor said. And that was followed almost by madness. Oh, why talk of it!" said the countess with a wave of her hand. "It was an awful time! No, say what you will, she was a bad woman. Why, what is the meaning of such desperate passions? It was all to show herself something out of the way. Well, and that she did do. She brought herself to ruin and two good men--her husband and my unhappy son." "And what did her husband do?" asked Sergey Ivanovitch. "He has taken her daughter. Alexey was ready to agree to anything at first. Now it worries him terribly that he should have given his own child away to another man. But he cant take back his word. Karenin came to the funeral. But we tried to prevent his meeting Alexey. For him, for her husband, it was easier, anyway. She had set him free. But my poor son was utterly given up to her. He had thrown up everything, his career, me, and even then she had no mercy on him, but of set purpose she made his ruin complete. No, say what you will, her very death was the death of a vile woman, of no religious feeling.

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