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Anna Karenina 73

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Anna Karenina

War And Peace

her life. A celebrated singer was singing for the second time, and all the fashionable world was in the theater. Vronsky, seeing his cousin from his stall in the front row, did not wait till the entracte, but went to her box. "Why didnt you come to dinner?" she said to him. "I marvel at the second sight of lovers," she added with a smile, so that no one but he could hear; "_she wasnt there_. But come after the opera." Vronsky looked inquiringly at her. She nodded. He thanked her by a smile, and sat down beside her. "But how I remember your jeers!" continued Princess Betsy, who took a peculiar pleasure in following up this passion to a successful issue. "Whats become of all that? Youre caught, my dear boy." "Thats my one desire, to be caught," answered Vronsky, with his serene, good-humored smile. "If I complain of anything its only that Im not caught enough, to tell the truth. I begin to lose hope." "Why, whatever hope can you have?" said Betsy, offended on behalf of her friend. "_Enendons nous...._" But in her eyes there were gleams of light that betrayed that she understood perfectly and precisely as he did what hope he might have. "None whatever," said Vronsky, laughing and showing his even rows of teeth. "Excuse me," he added, taking an opera glass out of her hand, and proceeding to scrutinize, over her bare shoulder, the row of boxes facing them. "Im afraid Im becoming ridiculous." He was very well aware that he ran no risk of being ridiculous in the eyes of Betsy or any other fashionable people. He was very well aware that in their eyes the position of an unsuccessful lover of a girl, or of any woman free to marry, might be ridiculous. But the position of a man pursuing a married woman, and, regardless of everything, staking his life on drawing her into adultery, has something fine and grand about it, and can never be ridiculous; and so it was with a proud and gay smile under his mustaches that he lowered the opera glass and looked at his cousin. "But why was it you didnt come to dinner?" she said, admiring him. "I must tell you about that. I was busily employed, and doing what, do you suppose? Ill give you a hundred guesses, a thousand...youd never guess. Ive been reconciling a husband with a man whod insulted his wife. Yes, really!" "Well, did you succeed?" "Almost." "You really must tell me about it," she said, getting up. "Come to me in the next _entracte._" "I cant; Im going to the French theater." "From Nilsson?" Betsy queried in horror, though she could not herself have distinguished Nilssons voice from any chorus girls. "Cant help it. Ive an appointment there, all to do with my mission of peace." "Blessed are the peacemakers; theirs is the kingdom of heaven," said Betsy, vaguely recollecting she had heard some similar saying from someone. "Very well, then, sit down, and tell me what its all about." And she sat down again. Chapter 5 "This is rather indiscreet, but its so good its an awful temptation to tell the story," said Vronsky, looking at her with his laughing eyes. "Im not going to mention any names." "But I shall guess, so much the better." "Well, listen: two festive young men were driving--" "Officers of your regiment, of course?" "I didnt say they were officers,--two young men who had been lunching." "In other words, drinking." "Possibly. They were driving on their way to dinner with a friend in the most festive state of mind. And they beheld a pretty woman in a hired sledge; she overtakes them, looks round at them, and, so they fancy anyway, nods to them and laughs. They, of course, follow her. They gallop at full speed. To their amazement, the fair one alights at the entrance of the very house to which they were going. The fair one darts upstairs to the top story. They get a glimpse of red lips under a short veil, and exquisite little feet." "You describe it with such feeling that I fancy you must be one of the two." "And after what you said, just now! Well, the young men go in to their comrades; he was giving a farewell dinner. There they certainly did drink a little too much, as one always does at farewell dinners. And at dinner they inquire who lives at the top in

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