NO, I think the princess is tired, and horses dont interest her, Vronsky said to Anna, who wanted to go on to the stables, where Sviazhsky wished to see the new stallion. You go on, while I escort the princess home, and well have a little talk, he said, if you would like that? he added, turning to her.
You guess that I have something I want to say to you, he said, looking at her with laughing eyes. I am not wrong in believing you to be a friend of Annas. He took off his hat, and taking out his handkerchief, wiped his head, which was growing bald.
The most diverse suppositions as to what he was about to speak of to her flashed into her brain. He is going to beg me to come to stay with them with the children, and I shall have to refuse; or to create a set that will receive Anna in Moscow. Or isnt it Vassenka Veslovsky and his relations with Anna? Or perhaps about Kitty, that he feels he was to blame? All her conjectures were unpleasant, but she did not guess what he really wanted to talk about to her.
Darya Alexandrovna looked with timid inquiry into his energetic face, which under the lime-trees was continually being lighted up in patches by the sunshine, and then passing into complete shadow again. She waited for him to say more, but he walked in silence beside her, scratching with his cane in the gravel.
You have come to see us, you, the only woman of Annas former friendsI dont count Princess Varvarabut I know that you have done this not because you regard our position as normal, but because, understanding all the difficulty of the position, you still love her and want to be a help to her. Have I understood you rightly? he asked, looking round at her.
No, he broke in, and unconsciously, oblivious of the awkward position in which he was putting his companion, he stopped abruptly, so that she had to stop short too. No one feels more deeply and intensely than I do all the difficulty of Annas position; and that you may well understand, if you do me the honour of supposing I have any heart. I am to blame for that position, and that is why I feel it.
I understand, said Darya Alexandrovna, involuntarily admiring the sincerity and firmness with which he said this. But just because you feel yourself responsible, you exaggerate it, I am afraid, she said. Her position in the world is difficult, I can well understand.
So farand it may be so alwaysyou are happy and at peace. I see in Anna that she is happy, perfectly happy, she has had time to tell me so much already, said Darya Alexandrovna, smiling; and involuntarily, as she said this, at the same moment a doubt entered her mind whether Anna really were happy.
Yes, yes, he said, I know that she has revived after all her sufferings; she is happy. She is happy in the present. But I? I am afraid of what is before us I beg your pardon, you would like to walk on?
I see that she is happy, he repeated, and the doubt whether she were happy sank more deeply into Darya Alexandrovnas mind. But can it last? Whether we have acted rightly or wrongly is another question, but the die is cast, he said, passing from Russian to French, and we are bound together for life. We are united by all the ties of love that we hold most sacred. We have a child, we may have other children. But the law and all the conditions of our position are such that thousands of complications arise which she does not see and does not want to see. And that one can well understand. But I cant help seeing them. My daughter is by law not my daughter, but Karenins. I cannot bear this falsity! he said, with a vigorous gesture of refusal, and he looked with gloomy inquiry towards Darya Alexandrovna.
One day a son may be born, my son, and he will be legally a Karenin; he will not be the heir of my name nor of my property, and however happy we may be in our home life and however many children we may have, there will be no real tie between us. They will be Karenins. You can understand the bitterness and horror of this position! I have tried to speak of this to Anna. It irritates her. She does not understand, and to her I cannot speak plainly of all this. Now look at another side. I am happy, happy in her love, but I must have occupation. I have found occupation, and am proud of what I am doing and consider it nobler than the pursuits of my former companions at court and in the army. And most certainly I would not change the work I am doing for theirs. I am working here, settled in my own place, and I am happy and contented, and we need nothing more to make us happy. I love my work here. Ce nest pas un pis-aller, on the contrary
Darya Alexandrovna noticed that at this point in his explanation he grew confused, and she did not quite understand this digression, but she felt that having once begun to speak of matters near his heart, of which he could not speak to Anna, he was now making a clean breast of everything, and that the question of his pursuits in the country fell into the same category of matters near his heart, as the question of his relations with Anna.
Well, I will go on, he said, collecting himself. The great thing is that as I work I want to have a conviction that what I am doing will not die with me, that I shall have heirs to come after me,and this I have not. Conceive the position of a man who knows that his children, the children of the woman he loves, will not be his, but will belong to some one who hates them and cares nothing about them! It is awful!
Yes, that brings me to the object of my conversation, he said, calming himself with an effort. Anna can, it depends on her Even to petition the Tsar for legitimisation, a divorce is essential. And that depends on Anna. Her husband agreed to a divorceat that time your husband had arranged it completely. And now, I know, he would not refuse it. It is only a matter of writing to him. He said plainly at that time that if she expressed the desire, he would not refuse. Of course, he said gloomily, it is one of those Pharisaical cruelties of which only such heartless men are capable. He knows what agony any recollection of him must give her, and knowing her, he must have a letter from her. I can understand that it is agony to her. But the matter is of such importance, that one must passer pardessus toutes ces finesses de sentiment. Il y va du bonheur et de lexistence dAnne et de ses enfants. I wont speak of myself, though its hard for me, very hard, he said, with an expression as though he were threatening some one for its being hard for him. And so it is, princess, that I am shamelessly clutching at you as an anchor of salvation. Help me to persuade her to write to him and ask for a divorce.
Very well, I will talk to her. But how is it she does not think of it herself? said Darya Alexandrovna, and for some reason she suddenly at that point recalled Annas strange new habit of half-closing her eyes. And she remembered that Anna drooped her eyelids just when the deeper questions of life were touched upon. Just as though she half-shut her eyes to her own life, so as not to see everything, thought Dolly. Yes, indeed, for my own sake and for hers I will talk to her, Dolly said in reply to his look of gratitude.