Reference > Fiction > Nonfiction > Warner, et al., eds. > The Library

C.D. Warner, et al., comp.  The Library of the World’s Best Literature.
An Anthology in Thirty Volumes.  1917.
Anna Kills Herself
By Leo Tolstoy (1828–1910)
From ‘Anna Karénina’: Translation of Nathan Haskell Dole

“NOW I am myself again,—now my mind is clear,” said Anna to herself, as soon as the carriage started, and rolling a little, flew swiftly along the uneven pavement.  1
  “Da! what was that good thing that I was thinking about last? Tiutkin the coiffeur? Oh no! not that. Oh yes! what Yashvin said about the struggle for existence—and hatred, the only thing that unites men. No: we go at hap-hazard.”  2
  She saw in a carriage drawn by four horses a party of merrymakers, who had evidently come to the city for a pleasure trip.  3
  “What are you seeking under the disguise of pleasure?” she thought. “You won’t escape from yourselves;” and then, as her eye fell on a drunken workman led by a policeman, she added, “That man’s way is quicker. Count Vronsky and I did not reach this pleasure, though we expected much.”  4
  And for the first time, Anna turned upon her relations with the count this bright light which was suddenly revealing her life to her.  5
  “What did he seek in me? A satisfaction for his vanity, rather than for his love!”  6
  And she remembered Vronsky’s words, and the expression of his face, which reminded her of a submissive dog, when they first met and loved. Everything seemed a confirmation of this thought.  7
  “Da! he cared for the triumph of success above everything. Of course he loved me, but chiefly from vanity. Now that he is not proud of me any more, it is over. He is ashamed of me. He has taken from me all that he could take, and now I am of no use to him. I weigh upon him, and he does not want to be in dishonorable relationship with me. He said yesterday he wanted the divorce, so as to burn his ships. Perhaps he loves me still—but how? The zest is gone,” she said, in English, as she looked at a ruddy-faced man riding by on a hired horse. “Da! there is nothing about me any longer to his taste. If I leave him, he will rejoice in the bottom of his heart.”  8
  This was not mere hypothesis: she saw things now clearly, as by a sort of clairvoyance.  9
  “My love has been growing more and more selfish and passionate; his has been growing fainter and fainter. That is why we cannot go on together. He is all in all to me. I struggle to draw him closer and closer to me, and he wants to fly from me. Up to the time of our union, we flew to meet each other; but now we move apart. He accuses me of being absurdly jealous—and I am; and yet I am not, either. I am not jealous, but my love is no longer satisfied. But—” she opened her mouth to speak, and in the excitement caused by the stress of her thoughts, she changed her place in the carriage.  10
  “If I could, I would try to be a simple friend to him, and not a passionate mistress, whom his coldness frenzies; but I cannot transform myself. I am not mistaken. Don’t I know that he would not deceive me,—that he is no longer in love with Kitty,—that he has no intention of marrying the Princess Sorokina? I know it well, but it is none the easier for me. But what is that to me? If he is tired of my love,—if, when he does not feel for me just what I feel for him, I would a thousand times rather have him hate me,—this is—hell! And this is the case. He has long ceased to love me. When love ceases, disgust begins.—I don’t know these streets at all. What hosts of houses! and in them, people, people,—no end of them! and they all hate each other!  11
  “Nu! what could happen to me now that would give me happiness again? Suppose that Alekséi Aleksandrovitch should consent to the divorce, and would give me back Serozha, and that I should marry Vronsky?” And as she thought of Alekséi Aleksandrovitch, Anna could see him before her, with his dull, lifeless, faded eyes, his white, blue-veined hands, and his cracking joints; and the idea of their relation to one another, which had hitherto been tinged with tenderness, made her shudder.  12
  “Nu! Suppose I were married, would not Kitty still look at me as she looked at me to-day? Would not Serozha ask and wonder why I had two husbands? But between me and Vronsky what new feeling could I imagine? Is it possible that our relations might be, if not pleasanter, at least no worse than they are now? No, and no!” she replied, without the least hesitation. “Impossible! We are growing apart; and I am disagreeable to him, and he displeases me, and I cannot change him: every means has been tried….  13
  “Da! there’s a beggar with a child. She thinks she inspires pity. Were we not thrown into the world to hate each other, and to torment ourselves and everybody else? Here come the schoolboys out to play!—Serozha?” It reminded her of her son. “I used to think that I loved him, and I was touched by his gentleness. I also lived without him, gave him up for my love, and was not sorry for the change, since I was contented with him whom I loved.” And she remembered with disgust what she called that love. And the clearness in which she now saw her own life, as well as the lives of others, delighted her. “Thus am I, and Piotr, and the coachman Feodor, and that merchant, and all people from here to the Volga, wherever these remarks are applicable—and everywhere and always,” she thought, as the carriage stopped in front of the low-roofed station of the Nizhni Novgorod Railroad, and the porter came out to meet her.  14
  “Shall I book you for Obiralovki?” asked Piotr.  15
  She had entirely forgotten why she had come, and only by a great effort could she understand what he meant.  16
  “Yes,” she said, handing him her purse; and taking her little red bag, she got out of the carriage.  17
  As she entered with the throng, she reviewed all the details of her situation and the plans between which she was halting. And again hope and despair alternately filled her tortured, cruelly palpitating heart. As she sat on the stelliform divan, she looked with aversion on the people going and coming,—they were all her enemies,—and thought now of how, when she reached the station, she would write to him, and what she would write, and then how at this very moment he—not thinking of her suffering—was complaining to his mother of his position, and how she would go to his room, and what she would say to him. The thought that she might yet live happily crossed her brain; and how hard it was to love and hate him at the same time! And above all, how her heart was beating, as if to burst its bounds!  18
  A bell sounded, and some impudent young men of a flashy and vulgar appearance passed before her. Then Piotr, in his livery and top-boots, with his dull, good-natured face, crossed the waiting-room, and came up to escort her to the cars. The noisy men about the door stopped talking while she passed out upon the platform; then one of them made some remark to his neighbor, which was apparently an insult. Anna mounted the high steps, and sat down alone in the compartment on the dirty sofa which had once been white, and laid her bag beside her on the springy seat. Piotr raised his gold-laced hat, with an inane smile, for a farewell, and departed. The saucy conductor shut the door. A woman, deformed, and ridiculously dressed up, followed by a little girl laughing affectedly, passed below the car window. Anna looked at her with disgust. The little girl was speaking loud in a mixture of Russian and French.  19
  “That child is grotesque and already self-conscious,” thought Anna; and she seated herself at the opposite window of the empty apartment, to avoid seeing the people.  20
  A dirty, hunchbacked muzhik passed close to the window, and examined the car wheels; he wore a cap, from beneath which could be seen tufts of disheveled hair. “There is something familiar about that humpbacked muzhik,” thought Anna; and suddenly she remembered her nightmare, and drew back frightened towards the car door, which the conductor was just opening to admit a lady and gentleman.  21
  “Do you want to get out?”  22
  Anna did not answer; and under her veil no one could see the terror which paralyzed her. She sat down again. The couple took seats opposite her, and cast stealthy but curious glances at her dress. The husband and wife were obnoxious to her. The husband asked her if she objected to smoking,—evidently not for the sake of smoking, but as an excuse for entering into conversation with her. Having obtained her permission, he remarked to his wife in French that he felt even more inclined to talk than to smoke. They exchanged stupid remarks, with the hope of attracting Anna’s attention and drawing her into the conversation. Anna clearly saw how they bored each other, how they hated each other. It was impossible not to hate such painful monstrosities. The second gong sounded, and was followed by the rumble of baggage,—noise, shouts, laughter. Anna saw so clearly that there was nothing to rejoice at, that this laughter roused her indignation, and she longed to stop her ears. At last the third signal was given, the train started, the locomotive whistled, and the gentleman crossed himself. “It would be interesting to ask him what he meant by that,” thought Anna, looking at him angrily. Then she looked by the woman’s head out of the car window at the people standing and walking on the platform. The car in which Anna sat moved past the stone walls of the station, the switches, the other cars. The motion became more rapid; the rays of the setting sun slanted into the car window, and a light breeze played through the slats of the blinds.  23
  Forgetting her neighbors, Anna breathed in the fresh air, and took up again the course of her thoughts.  24
  “Da! What was I thinking about? I cannot imagine any situation in which my life could be anything but one long misery. We are all dedicated to unhappiness: we all know it, and only seek for ways to deceive ourselves. But when you see the truth, what is to be done?”  25
  “Reason was given to man that he might avoid what he dislikes,” remarked the woman in French, apparently delighted with her sentence.  26
  The words fitted in with Anna’s thought.  27
  “To avoid what he dislikes,” she repeated; and a glance at the handsome-faced man, and his thin better half, showed her that the woman looked upon herself as a misunderstood creature, and that her stout husband did not contradict this opinion, but took advantage of it to deceive her. Anna, as it were, read their history, and looked into the most secret depths of their hearts; but it was not interesting, and she went on with her reflections.  28
  “Yes, it is very unpleasant to me, and reason was given to avoid it; therefore it must be done. Why not extinguish the light when it shines on things disgusting to see? But how? Why does the conductor keep hurrying through the car? Why does he shout? Why are there people in this car? Why do they speak? What are they laughing at? It is all false, all a lie, all deception, all vanity and vexation.”  29
  When the train reached the station, Anna followed the other passengers, and tried to avoid too rude a contact with the bustling crowd. She hesitated on the platform, trying to recollect why she had come, and to ask herself what she meant to do. All that seemed to her possible before to do, now seemed to her difficult to execute,—especially amid this disagreeable crowd. Now the porters came to her, and offered her their services; now some young men, clattering up and down the platform, and talking loud, observed her curiously: and she knew not where to take refuge. Finally it occurred to her to stop an official, and ask him if a coachman had not been there with a letter for Count Vronsky.  30
  “The Count Vronsky? Just now some one was here. He was inquiring for the Princess Sorokina and her daughter. What kind of a looking man is this coachman?”  31
  Just then Anna espied the coachman Mikhaïl, rosy and gay in his elegant blue livery and watch-chain, coming towards her, and carrying a note, immensely proud that he had fulfilled his commission.  32
  Anna broke the seal, and her heart stood still as she read the carelessly written lines:—  33
  “I am very sorry that your note did not find me in Moscow. I shall return at ten o’clock.”  34
  “Yes, that is what I expected,” she said to herself with a sardonic smile.  35
  “Very good: you can go home,” she said to Mikhaïl. She spoke the words slowly and gently, because her heart beat so that she could scarcely breathe or speak.  36
  “No, I will not let you make me suffer so,” thought she, addressing with a threat, not Vronsky so much as the thought that was torturing her; and she moved along the platform. Two chambermaids waiting there turned to look at her, and made audible remarks about her toilet. “Just in style,” they said, referring to her lace. The young men would not leave her in peace. They stared at her, and passed her again and again,—making their jokes so that she should hear. The station-master came to her, and asked if she was going to take the train. A lad selling kvas did not take his eyes from her.  37
  “Bozhe moï! where shall I fly?” she said to herself.  38
  When she reached the end of the platform she stopped. Some women and children were there, talking with a man in spectacles, who had probably come to the station to meet them. They too stopped, and turned to see Anna pass by. She hastened her steps. A truck full of trunks rumbled by, making the floor shake so that she felt as if she were on a moving train.  39
  Suddenly she remembered the man who was run over on the day when she met Vronsky for the first time, and she knew then what was in store for her. With light and swift steps she descended the stairway which led from the pump at the end of the platform down to the rails, and stood very near the train, which was slowly passing by. She looked under the cars,—at the chains and the brake, and the high iron wheels,—and she tried to estimate with her eye the distance between the fore and back wheels, and the moment when the middle would be in front of her.  40
  “There,” she said, looking at the shadow of the car thrown upon the black coal-dust which covered the sleepers, “there, in the centre, he will be punished; and I shall be delivered from it all—and from myself.”  41
  Her little red traveling-bag caused her to lose the moment when she could throw herself under the wheels of the first car: she could not detach it from her arm. She awaited the second. A feeling like that she had experienced once, just before taking a dive in the river, came over her, and she made the sign of the cross. This familiar gesture called back to her soul, memories of youth and childhood. Life, with its elusive joys, glowed for an instant before her, but she did not take her eyes from the car; and when the middle, between the two wheels, appeared, she threw away her red bag, drawing her head between her shoulders, and with outstretched hands threw herself on her knees under the car. She had time to feel afraid. “Where am I? What am I doing? Why?” thought she, trying to draw back; but a great, inflexible mass struck her head, and threw her upon her back. “Lord, forgive me all!” she murmured, feeling the struggle to be in vain. A little muzhik was working on the railroad, mumbling in his beard. And the candle by which she read, as in a book, the fulfillment of her life’s work,—of its deceptions, its grief, and its torment,—flared up with greater brightness than she had ever known, revealing to her all that before was in darkness; then flickered, grew faint, and went out forever.  42

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