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Chapter 12

After taking leave of her guests, Anna did not sit down, but
began walking up and down the room. She had unconsciously the
whole evening done her utmost to arouse in Levin a feeling of
love--as of late she had fallen into doing with all young men--
and she knew she had attained her aim, as far as was possible in
one evening, with a married and conscientious man. She liked him
indeed extremely, and, in spite of the striking difference, from
the masculine point of view, between Vronsky and Levin, as a
woman she saw something they had in common, which had made Kitty
able to love both. Yet as soon as he was out of the room, she
ceased to think of him.

One thought, and one only, pursued her in different forms, and
refused to be shaken off. "If I have so much effect on others,
on this man, who loves his home and his wife, why is it he is so
cold to me?...not cold exactly, he loves me, I know that! But
something new is drawing us apart now. Why wasn't he here all
the evening? He told Stiva to say he could not leave Yashvin,
and must watch over his play. Is Yashvin a child? But supposing
it's true. He never tells a lie. But there's something else in
it if it's true. He is glad of an opportunity of showing me that
he has other duties; I know that, I submit to that. But why
prove that to me? He wants to show me that his love for me is
not to interfere with his freedom. But I need no proofs, I need
love. He ought to understand all the bitterness of this life for
me here in Moscow. Is this life? I am not living, but waiting
for an event, which is continually put off and put off. No
answer again! And Stiva says he cannot go to Alexey
Alexandrovitch. And I can't write again. I can do nothing, can
begin nothing, can alter nothing; I hold myself in, I wait,
inventing amusements for myself--the English family, writing,
reading--but it's all nothing but a sham, it's all the same as
morphine. He ought to feel for me," she said, feeling tears of
self-pity coming into her eyes.

She heard Vronsky's abrupt ring and hurriedly dried her tears--
not only dried her tears, but sat down by a lamp and opened a
book, affecting composure. She wanted to show him that she was
displeased that he had not come home as he had promised--
displeased only, and not on any account to let him see her
distress, and least of all, her self-pity. She might pity
herself, but he must not pity her. She did not want strife, she
blamed him for wanting to quarrel, but unconsciously put herself
into an attitude of antagonism.

"Well, you've not been dull?" he said, eagerly and
good-humoredly, going up to her. "What a terrible passion it

"No, I've not been dull; I've learned long ago not to be dull.
Stiva has been here and Levin."

"Yes, they meant to come and see you. Well, how did you like
Levin?" he said, sitting down beside her.

"Very much. They have not long been gone. What was Yashvin

"He was winning--seventeen thousand. I got him away. He had
really started home, but he went back again, and now he's

"Then what did you stay for?" she asked, suddenly lifting her
eyes to him. The expression of her face was cold and ungracious.
"You told Stiva you were staying on to get Yashvin away. And you
have left him there."

The same expression of cold readiness for the conflict appeared
on his face too.

"In the first place, I did not ask him to give you any message;
and secondly, I never tell lies. But what's the chief point, I
wanted to stay, and I stayed," he said, frowning. "Anna, what
is it for, why will you?" he said after a moment's silence,
bending over towards her, and he opened his hand, hoping she
would lay hers in it.

She was glad of this appeal for tenderness. But some strange
force of evil would not let her give herself up to her feelings,
as though the rules of warfare would not permit her to surrender.

"Of course you wanted to stay, and you stayed. You do everything
you want to. But what do you tell me that for? With what
object?" she said, getting more and more excited. "Does anyone
contest your rights? But you want to be right, and you're
welcome to be right."

His hand closed, he turned away, and his face wore a still more
obstinate expression.

"For you it's a matter of obstinacy," she said, watching him
intently and suddenly finding the right word for that expression
that irritated her, "simply obstinacy. For you it's a question
of whether you keep the upper hand of me, while for me...."
Again she felt sorry for herself, and she almost burst into
tears. "If you knew what it is for me! When I feel as I do now
that you are hostile, yes, hostile to me, if you knew what this
means for me! If you knew how I feel on the brink of calamity at
this instant, how afraid I am of myself!" And she turned away,
hiding her sobs.

"But what are you talking about?" he said, horrified at her
expression of despair, and again bending over her, he took her
hand and kissed it. "What is it for? Do I seek amusements
outside our home? Don't I avoid the society of women?"

"Well, yes! If that were all!" she said.

"Come, tell me what I ought to do to give you peace of mind? I
am ready to do anything to make you happy," he said, touched by
her expression of despair; "what wouldn't I do to save you from
distress of any sort, as now, Anna!" he said.

"It's nothing, nothing!" she said. "I don't know myself whether
it's the solitary life, my nerves.... Come, don't let us talk
of it. What about the race? You haven't told me!" she inquired,
trying to conceal her triumph at the victory, which had anyway
been on her side.

He asked for supper, and began telling her about the races; but
in his tone, in his eyes, which became more and more cold, she
saw that he did not forgive her for her victory, that the feeling
of obstinacy with which she had been struggling had asserted
itself again in him. He was colder to her than before, as though
he were regretting his surrender. And she, remembering the words
that had given her the victory, "how I feel on the brink of
calamity, how afraid I am of myself," saw that this weapon was a
dangerous one, and that it could not be used a second time. And
she felt that beside the love that bound them together there had
grown up between them some evil spirit of strife, which she could
not exorcise from his, and still less from her own heart.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Fiction - Russian literature
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