ANNA looked at Dollys thin, careworn face, with its wrinkles filled with dust from the road, and she was on the point of saying what she was thinking, that is, that Dolly had got thinner. But, conscious that she herself had grown handsomer, and that Dollys eyes were telling her so, she sighed and began to speak about herself.
You are looking at me, she said, and wondering how I can be happy in my position? Well! its shameful to confess, but I Im inexcusably happy. Something magical has happened to me, like a dream, when youre frightened, panic-stricken, and all of a sudden you wake up and all the horrors are no more. I have waked up. I have lived through the misery, the dread, and now for a long while past, especially since weve been here, Ive been so happy! she said, with a timid smile of inquiry looking at Dolly.
But of that well talk later. Whats this, what are all these buildings? she asked, wanting to change the conversation and pointing to the red and green roofs that came into view behind the green hedges of acacia and lilac. Quite a little town.
I consider Darya Alexandrovna was beginning, but at that instant Vassenka Veslovsky, having brought the cob to gallop with the right leg foremost, galloped past them, bumping heavily up and down in his short jacket on the chamois leather of the side-saddle. Hes doing it, Anna Arkadyevna! he shouted.
Anna, taking her eyes off her friends face and dropping her eyelids (this was a new habit Dolly had not seen in her before), pondered, trying to penetrate the full significance of the words. And obviously interpreting them as she would have wished, she glanced at Dolly.
These are the servants houses, barns, and stables, answered Anna. And there the park begins. It had all gone to ruin, but Alexey had everything renewed. He is very fond of this place, and, what I never expected, he has become intensely interested in looking after it. But his is such a rich nature! Whatever he takes up, he does splendidly. So far from being bored by it, he works with passionate interest. Hewith his temperament as I know ithe has become careful and business-like, a first-rate manager, he positively reckons every penny in his management of the land. But only in that. When its a question of tens of thousands, he doesnt think of money. She spoke with that gleefully sly smile with which women often talk of the secret characteristics only known to themof those they love. Do you see that big building? thats the new hospital. I believe it will cost over a hundred thousand; thats his hobby just now. And do you know how it all came about? The peasants asked him for some meadow-land, I think it was, at a cheaper rate, and he refused, and I accused him of being miserly. Of course it was not really because of that, but everything together, he began this hospital to prove, do you see, that he was not miserly about money. Cest une petitesse, if you like, but I love him all the more for it. And now youll see the house in a moment. It was his grandfathers house, and he has had nothing changed outside.
They drove into a courtyard strewn with gravel and bright with flowers, in which two labourers were at work putting an edging of stones round the light mould of a flowerbed, and drew up in a covered entry.
Ah, theyre here already! said Anna, looking at the saddle horses, which were just being led away from the steps. It is a nice horse, isnt it? Its my cob; my favourite. Lead him here and bring me some sugar. Where is the count? she inquired of two smart footmen who darted out. Ah, there he is! she said, seeing Vronsky coming to meet her with Veslovsky.
Where are you going to put the princess? said Vronsky in French, addressing Anna, and without waiting for a reply, he once more greeted Darya Alexandrovna, and this time he kissed her hand. I think the big balcony room.
That room was not the smart guest-chamber Vronsky had suggested, but the one of which Anna had said that Dolly would excuse it. And this room, for which excuse was needed, was more full of luxury than any in which Dolly had ever stayed, a luxury that reminded her of the best hotels abroad.
Well, darling, how happy I am! Anna said, sitting down in her riding-habit for a moment beside Dolly. Tell me about all of you. Stiva I had only a glimpse of, and he cannot tell one about the children. How is my favourite, Tanya? Quite a big girl, I expect?
But in my delight Im talking nonsense. The one thing, darling, is that I am so glad to have you! said Anna, kissing her again. You havent told me yet how and what you think about me, and I keep wanting to know. But Im glad you will see me as I am. The chief thing I shouldnt like would be for people to imagine I want to prove anything. I dont want to prove anything; I merely want to live, to do no one harm but myself. I have the right to do that, havent I? But it is a big subject, and well talk over everything properly later. Now Ill go and dress and send a maid to you.