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Anna Karenina 78


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hostess, shook hands with her, smiled, and with the same smile looked around at Vronsky. Vronsky bowed low and pushed a chair up for her. She acknowledged this only by a slight nod, flushed a little, and frowned. But immediately, while rapidly greeting her acquaintances, and shaking the hands proffered to her, she addressed Princess Betsy: "I have been at Countess Lidias, and meant to have come here earlier, but I stayed on. Sir John was there. Hes very interesting." "Oh, thats this missionary?" "Yes; he told us about the life in India, most interesting things." The conversation, interrupted by her coming in, flickered up again like the light of a lamp being blown out. "Sir John! Yes, Sir John; Ive seen him. He speaks well. The Vlassieva girls quite in love with him." "And is it true the younger Vlassieva girls to marry Topov?" "Yes, they say its quite a settled thing." "I wonder at the parents! They say its a marriage for love." "For love? What antediluvian notions you have! Can one talk of love in these days?" said the ambassadors wife. "Whats to be done? Its a foolish old fashion thats kept up still," said Vronsky. "So much the worse for those who keep up the fashion. The only happy marriages I know are marriages of prudence." "Yes, but then how often the happiness of these prudent marriages flies away like dust just because that passion turns up that they have refused to recognize," said Vronsky. "But by marriages of prudence we mean those in which both parties have sown their wild oats already. Thats like scarlatina--one has to go through it and get it over." "Then they ought to find out how to vaccinate for love, like smallpox." "I was in love in my young days with a deacon," said the Princess Myakaya. "I dont know that it did me any good." "No; I imagine, joking apart, that to know love, one must make mistakes and then correct them," said Princess Betsy. "Even after marriage?" said the ambassadors wife playfully. "Its never too late to mend." The attache repeated the English proverb. "Just so," Betsy agreed; "one must make mistakes and correct them. What do you think about it?" she turned to Anna, who, with a faintly perceptible resolute smile on her lips, was listening in silence to the conversation. "I think," said Anna, playing with the glove she had taken off, "I think...of so many men, so many minds, certainly so many hearts, so many kinds of love." Vronsky was gazing at Anna, and with a fainting heart waiting for what she would say. He sighed as after a danger escaped when she uttered these words. Anna suddenly turned to him. "Oh, I have had a letter from Moscow. They write me that Kitty Shtcherbatskayas very ill." "Really?" said Vronsky, knitting his brows. Anna looked sternly at him. "That doesnt interest you?" "On the contrary, it does, very much. What was it exactly they told you, if I may know?" he questioned. Anna got up and went to Betsy. "Give me a cup of tea," she said, standing at her table. While Betsy was pouring out the tea, Vronsky went up to Anna. "What is it they write to you?" he repeated. "I often think men have no understanding of whats not honorable though theyre always talking of it," said Anna, without answering him. "Ive wanted to tell you so a long while," she added, and moving a few steps away, she sat down at a table in a corner covered with albums. "I dont quite understand the meaning of your words," he said, handing her the cup. She glanced towards the sofa beside her, and he instantly sat down. "Yes, I have been wanting to tell you," she said, not looking at him. "You behaved wrongly, very wrongly." "Do you suppose I dont know that Ive acted wrongly? But who was the cause of my doing so?" "What do you say that to me for?" she said, glancing severely at him. "You know what for," he answered boldly and joyfully, meeting her glance and not dropping his eyes. Not he, but she, was confused. "That only shows you have no heart," she said. But her eyes said that she knew he had a heart, and that was why she was afraid of him. "What you spoke of just now was a mistake, and not love." "Remember that I have forbidden you to utter that word, that hateful word," said Anna, with a shudder. But at once she

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