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Anna Karenina 77


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husband and wife. "Anna is quite changed since her stay in Moscow. Theres something strange about her," said her friend. "The great change is that she brought back with her the shadow of Alexey Vronsky," said the ambassadors wife. "Well, what of it? Theres a fable of Grimms about a man without a shadow, a man whos lost his shadow. And thats his punishment for something. I never could understand how it was a punishment. But a woman must dislike being without a shadow." "Yes, but women with a shadow usually come to a bad end," said Annas friend. "Bad luck to your tongue!" said Princess Myakaya suddenly. "Madame Kareninas a splendid woman. I dont like her husband, but I like her very much." "Why dont you like her husband? Hes such a remarkable man," said the ambassadors wife. "My husband says there are few statesmen like him in Europe." "And my husband tells me just the same, but I dont believe it," said Princess Myakaya. "If our husbands didnt talk to us, we should see the facts as they are. Alexey Alexandrovitch, to my thinking, is simply a fool. I say it in a whisper...but doesnt it really make everything clear? Before, when I was told to consider him clever, I kept looking for his ability, and thought myself a fool for not seeing it; but directly I said, _hes a fool,_ though only in a whisper, everythings explained, isnt it?" "How spiteful you are today!" "Not a bit. Id no other way out of it. One of the two had to be a fool. And, well, you know one cant say that of oneself." "No one is satisfied with his fortune, and everyone is satisfied with his wit." The attache repeated the French saying. "Thats just it, just it," Princess Myakaya turned to him. "But the point is that I wont abandon Anna to your mercies. Shes so nice, so charming. How can she help it if theyre all in love with her, and follow her about like shadows?" "Oh, I had no idea of blaming her for it," Annas friend said in self-defense. "If no one follows us about like a shadow, thats no proof that weve any right to blame her." And having duly disposed of Annas friend, the Princess Myakaya got up, and together with the ambassadors wife, joined the group at the table, where the conversation was dealing with the king of Prussia. "What wicked gossip were you talking over there?" asked Betsy. "About the Karenins. The princess gave us a sketch of Alexey Alexandrovitch," said the ambassadors wife with a smile, as she sat down at the table. "Pity we didnt hear it!" said Princess Betsy, glancing towards the door. "Ah, here you are at last!" she said, turning with a smile to Vronsky, as he came in. Vronsky was not merely acquainted with all the persons whom he was meeting here; he saw them all every day; and so he came in with the quiet manner with which one enters a room full of people from whom one has only just parted. "Where do I come from?" he said, in answer to a question from the ambassadors wife. "Well, theres no help for it, I must confess. From the _opera bouffe_. I do believe Ive seen it a hundred times, and always with fresh enjoyment. Its exquisite! I know its disgraceful, but I go to sleep at the opera, and I sit out the _opera bouffe_ to the last minute, and enjoy it. This evening..." He mentioned a French actress, and was going to tell something about her; but the ambassadors wife, with playful horror, cut him short. "Please dont tell us about that horror." "All right, I wont especially as everyone knows those horrors." "And we should all go to see them if it were accepted as the correct thing, like the opera," chimed in Princess Myakaya. Chapter 7 Steps were heard at the door, and Princess Betsy, knowing it was Madame Karenina, glanced at Vronsky. He was looking towards the door, and his face wore a strange new expression. Joyfully, intently, and at the same time timidly, he gazed at the approaching figure, and slowly he rose to his feet. Anna walked into the drawing room. Holding herself extremely erect, as always, looking straight before her, and moving with her swift, resolute, and light step, that distinguished her from all other society women, she crossed the short space to her

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