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Anna Karenina 445

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

God forgive me, but I cant help hating the memory of her, when I look at my sons misery!" "But how is he now?" "It was a blessing from Providence for us--this Servian war. Im old, and I dont understand the rights and wrongs of it, but its come as a providential blessing to him. Of course for me, as his mother, its terrible; and whats worse, they say, _ce nest pas tres bien vu a Petersbourg_. But it cant be helped! It was the one thing that could rouse him. Yashvin--a friend of his--he had lost all he had at cards and he was going to Servia. He came to see him and persuaded him to go. Now its an interest for him. Do please talk to him a little. I want to distract his mind. Hes so low-spirited. And as bad luck would have it, he has toothache too. But hell be delighted to see you. Please do talk to him; hes walking up and down on that side." Sergey Ivanovitch said he would be very glad to, and crossed over to the other side of the station. Chapter 5 In the slanting evening shadows cast by the baggage piled up on the platform, Vronsky in his long overcoat and slouch hat, with his hands in his pockets, strode up and down, like a wild beast in a cage, turning sharply after twenty paces. Sergey Ivanovitch fancied, as he approached him, that Vronsky saw him but was pretending not to see. This did not affect Sergey Ivanovitch in the slightest. He was above all personal considerations with Vronsky. At that moment Sergey Ivanovitch looked upon Vronsky as a man taking an important part in a great cause, and Koznishev thought it his duty to encourage him and express his approval. He went up to him. Vronsky stood still, looked intently at him, recognized him, and going a few steps forward to meet him, shook hands with him very warmly. "Possibly you didnt wish to see me," said Sergey Ivanovitch, "but couldnt I be of use to you?" "Theres no one I should less dislike seeing than you," said Vronsky. "Excuse me; and theres nothing in life for me to like." "I quite understand, and I merely meant to offer you my services," said Sergey Ivanovitch, scanning Vronskys face, full of unmistakable suffering. "Wouldnt it be of use to you to have a letter to Ristitch--to Milan?" "Oh, no!" Vronsky said, seeming to understand him with difficulty. "If you dont mind, lets walk on. Its so stuffy among the carriages. A letter? No, thank you; to meet death one needs no letters of introduction. Nor for the Turks..." he said, with a smile that was merely of the lips. His eyes still kept their look of angry suffering. "Yes; but you might find it easier to get into relations, which are after all essential, with anyone prepared to see you. But thats as you like. I was very glad to hear of your intention. There have been so many attacks made on the volunteers, and a man like you raises them in public estimation." "My use as a man," said Vronsky, "is that lifes worth nothing to me. And that Ive enough bodily energy to cut my way into their ranks, and to trample on them or fall--I know that. Im glad theres something to give my life for, for its not simply useless but loathsome to me. Anyones welcome to it." And his jaw twitched impatiently from the incessant gnawing toothache, that prevented him from even speaking with a natural expression. "You will become another man, I predict," said Sergey Ivanovitch, feeling touched. "To deliver ones brother-men from bondage is an aim worth death and life. God grant you success outwardly--and inwardly peace," he added, and he held out his hand. Vronsky warmly pressed his outstretched hand. "Yes, as a weapon I may be of some use. But as a man, Im a wreck," he jerked out. He could hardly speak for the throbbing ache in his strong teeth, that were like rows of ivory in his mouth. He was silent, and his eyes rested on the wheels of the tender, slowly and smoothly rolling along the rails. And all at once a different pain, not an ache, but an inner trouble, that set his whole being in anguish, made him for an instant forget his toothache.

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