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Anna Karenina 61


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Vronskys composure and self-confidence here struck, like a scythe against a stone, upon the cold self-confidence of Alexey Alexandrovitch. "Count Vronsky," said Anna. "Ah! We are acquainted, I believe," said Alexey Alexandrovitch indifferently, giving his hand. "You set off with the mother and you return with the son," he said, articulating each syllable, as though each were a separate favor he was bestowing. "Youre back from leave, I suppose?" he said, and without waiting for a reply, he turned to his wife in his jesting tone: "Well, were a great many tears shed at Moscow at parting?" By addressing his wife like this he gave Vronsky to understand that he wished to be left alone, and, turning slightly towards him, he touched his hat; but Vronsky turned to Anna Arkadyevna. "I hope I may have the honor of calling on you," he said. Alexey Alexandrovitch glanced with his weary eyes at Vronsky. "Delighted," he said coldly. "On Mondays were at home. Most fortunate," he said to his wife, dismissing Vronsky altogether, "that I should just have half an hour to meet you, so that I can prove my devotion," he went on in the same jesting tone. "You lay too much stress on your devotion for me to value it much," she responded in the same jesting tone, involuntarily listening to the sound of Vronskys steps behind them. "But what has it to do with me?" she said to herself, and she began asking her husband how Seryozha had got on without her. "Oh, capitally! Mariette says he has been very good, And...I must disappoint you...but he has not missed you as your husband has. But once more _merci,_ my dear, for giving me a day. Our dear _Samovar_ will be delighted." (He used to call the Countess Lidia Ivanovna, well known in society, a samovar, because she was always bubbling over with excitement.) "She has been continually asking after you. And, do you know, if I may venture to advise you, you should go and see her today. You know how she takes everything to heart. Just now, with all her own cares, shes anxious about the Oblonskys being brought together." The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a friend of her husbands, and the center of that one of the coteries of the Petersburg world with which Anna was, through her husband, in the closest relations. "But you know I wrote to her?" "Still shell want to hear details. Go and see her, if youre not too tired, my dear. Well, Kondraty will take you in the carriage, while I go to my committee. I shall not be alone at dinner again," Alexey Alexandrovitch went on, no longer in a sarcastic tone. "You wouldnt believe how Ive missed..." And with a long pressure of her hand and a meaning smile, he put her in her carriage. Chapter 32 The first person to meet Anna at home was her son. He dashed down the stairs to her, in spite of the governesss call, and with desperate joy shrieked: "Mother! mother!" Running up to her, he hung on her neck. "I told you it was mother!" he shouted to the governess. "I knew!" And her son, like her husband, aroused in Anna a feeling akin to disappointment. She had imagined him better than he was in reality. She had to let herself drop down to the reality to enjoy him as he really was. But even as he was, he was charming, with his fair curls, his blue eyes, and his plump, graceful little legs in tightly pulled-up stockings. Anna experienced almost physical pleasure in the sensation of his nearness, and his caresses, and moral soothing, when she met his simple, confiding, and loving glance, and heard his naive questions. Anna took out the presents Dollys children had sent him, and told her son what sort of little girl was Tanya at Moscow, and how Tanya could read, and even taught the other children. "Why, am I not so nice as she?" asked Seryozha. "To me youre nicer than anyone in the world." "I know that," said Seryozha, smiling. Anna had not had time to drink her coffee when the Countess Lidia Ivanovna was announced. The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a tall, stout woman, with an unhealthily sallow face and splendid, pensive black eyes. Anna liked her, but today she seemed to be seeing her for the first time with all her defects. "Well, my dear, so you took the olive branch?"

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