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Chapter 21

Dolly came out of her room to the tea of the grown-up people.
Stepan Arkadyevitch did not come out. He must have left his
wife's room by the other door.

"I am afraid you'll be cold upstairs," observed Dolly, addressing
Anna; "I want to move you downstairs, and we shall be nearer."

"Oh, please, don't trouble about me," answered Anna, looking
intently into Dolly's face, trying to make out whether there had
been a reconciliation or not.

"It will be lighter for you here," answered her sister-in-law.

"I assure you that I sleep everywhere, and always like a marmot."

"What's the question?" inquired Stepan Arkadyevitch, coming out
of his room and addressing his wife.

From his tone both Kitty and Anna knew that a reconciliation had
taken place.

"I want to move Anna downstairs, but we must hang up blinds. No
one knows how to do it; I must see to it myself," answered Dolly
addressing him.

"God knows whether they are fully reconciled," thought Anna,
hearing her tone, cold and composed.

"Oh, nonsense, Dolly, always making difficulties," answered her
husband. "Come, I'll do it all, if you like..."

"Yes, They must be reconciled," thought Anna.

"I know how you do everything," answered Dolly. "You tell Matvey
to do what can't be done, and go away yourself, leaving him to
make a muddle of everything," and her habitual, mocking smile
curved the corners of Dolly's lips as she spoke.

"Full, full reconciliation, full," thought Anna; "thank God!" and
rejoicing that she was the cause of it, she went up to Dolly and
kissed her.

"Not at all. Why do you always look down on me and Matvey?" said
Stepan Arkadyevitch, smiling hardly perceptibly, and addressing
his wife.

The whole evening Dolly was, as always, a little mocking in her
tone to her husband, while Stepan Arkadyevitch was happy and
cheerful, but not so as to seem as though, having been forgiven,
he had forgotten his offense.

At half-past nine o'clock a particularly joyful and pleasant
family conversation over the tea-table at the Oblonskys' was
broken up by an apparently simple incident. But this simple
incident for some reason struck everyone as strange. Talking
about common acquaintances in Petersburg, Anna got up quickly.

"She is in my album," she said; "and, by the way, I'll show you
by Seryozha," she added, with a mother's smile of pride.

Towards ten o'clock, when she usually said good-night to her son,
and often before going to a ball put him to bed herself, she felt
depressed at being so far from him; and whatever she was talking
about, she kept coming back in thought to her curly-headed
Seryozha. She longed to look at his photograph and talk of him.
Seizing the first pretext, she got up, and with her light,
resolute step went for her album. The stairs up to her room came
out on the landing of the great warm main staircase.

Just as she was leaving the drawing room, a ring was heard in the

"Who can that be?" said Dolly

"It's early for me to be fetched, and for anyone else it's late,"
observed Kitty.

"Sure to be someone with papers for me," put in Stepan
Arkadyevitch. When Anna was passing the top of the staircase, a
servant was running up to announce the visitor, while the visitor
himself was standing under a lamp. Anna glancing down at once
recognized Vronsky, and a strange feeling of pleasure and at the
same time of dread of something stirred in her heart. He was
standing still, not taking off his coat, pulling something out of
his pocket. At the instant when she was just facing the stairs,
he raised his eyes, caught sight of her, and into the expression
of his face there passed a shade of embarrassment and dismay.
With a slight inclination of her head she passed, hearing behind
her Stepan Arkadyevitch's loud voice calling him to come up, and
the quiet, soft, and composed voice of Vronsky refusing.

When Anna returned with the album, he was already gone, and
Stepan Arkadyevitch was telling them that he had called to
inquire about the dinner they were giving next day to a celebrity
who had just arrived. "And nothing would induce him to come up.
What a queer fellow he is!" added Stepan Arkadyevitch.

Kitty blushed. She thought that she was the only person who knew
why he had come, and why he would not come up. "He has been at
home," she thought, "and didn't find me, and thought I should be
here, but he did not come up because he thought it late, and
Anna's here."

All of them looked at each other, saying nothing, and began to
look at Anna's album.

There was nothing either exceptional or strange in a man's
calling at half-past nine on a friend to inquire details of a
proposed dinner party and not coming in, but it seemed strange to
all of them. Above all, it seemed strange and not right to Anna.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Fiction - Russian literature
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