eBooks Cube
Chapter 22

Stepan Arkadyevitch felt completely nonplussed by the strange
talk which he was hearing for the first time. The complexity of
Petersburg, as a rule, had a stimulating effect on him, rousing
him out of his Moscow stagnation. But he liked these
complications, and understood them only in the circles he knew
and was at home in. In these unfamiliar surroundings he was
puzzled and disconcerted, and could not get his bearings. As he
listened to Countess Lidia Ivanovna, aware of the beautiful,
artless--or perhaps artful, he could not decide which--eyes of
Landau fixed upon him, Stepan Arkadyevitch began to be conscious
of a peculiar heaviness in his head.

The most incongruous ideas were in confusion in his head. "Marie
Sanina is glad her child's dead.... How good a smoke would be
now!... To be saved, one need only believe, and the monks
don't know how the thing's to be done, but Countess Lidia
Ivanovna does know.... And why is my head so heavy? Is it the
cognac, or all this being so queer? Anyway, I fancy I've done
nothing unsuitable so far. But anyway, it won't do to ask her
now. They say they make one say one's prayers. I only hope
they won't make me! That'll be too imbecile. And what stuff it
is she's reading! but she has a good accent. Landau--Bezzubov--
what's he Bezzubov for?" All at once Stepan Arkadyevitch became
aware that his lower jaw was uncontrollably forming a yawn. He
pulled his whiskers to cover the yawn, and shook himself
together. But soon after he became aware that he was dropping
asleep and on the very point of snoring. He recovered himself at
the very moment when the voice of Countess Lidia Ivanovna was
saying "he's asleep." Stepan Arkadyevitch started with dismay,
feeling guilty and caught. But he was reassured at once by
seeing that the words "he's asleep" referred not to him, but to
Landau. The Frenchman was asleep as well as Stepan Arkadyevitch.
But Stepan Arkadyevitch's being asleep would have offended them,
as he thought (though even this, he thought, might not be so, as
everything seemed so queer), while Landau's being asleep
delighted them extremely, especially Countess Lidia Ivanovna.

"Mon ami," said Lidia Ivanovna, carefully holding the folds of
her silk gown so as not to rustle, and in her excitement calling
Karenin not Alexey Alexandrovitch, but "mon ami," "donnez-lui la
main. Vous voyez? Sh!" she hissed at the footman as he came in
again. "Not at home."

The Frenchman was asleep, or pretending to be asleep, with his
head on the back of his chair, and his moist hand, as it lay on
his knee, made faint movements, as though trying to catch
something. Alexey Alexandrovitch got up, tried to move
carefully, but stumbled against the table, went up and laid his
hand in the Frenchman's hand. Stepan Arkadyevitch got up too,
and opening his eyes wide, trying to wake himself up if he were
asleep, he looked first at one and then at the other. It was all
real. Stepan Arkadyevitch felt that his head was getting worse
and worse.

"Que la personne qui est arrivee la derniere, celle qui demande,
qu'elle sorte! Qu'elle sorte!" articulated the Frenchman,
without opening his eyes.

"Vous m'excuserez, mais vous voyez.... Revenez vers dix heures,
encore mieux demain."

"Qu'elle sorte!" repeated the Frenchman impatiently.

"C'est moi, n'est-ce pas?" And receiving an answer in the
affirmative, Stepan Arkadyevitch, forgetting the favor he had
meant to ask of Lidia Ivanovna, and forgetting his sister's
affairs, caring for nothing, but filled with the sole desire to
get away as soon as possible, went out on tiptoe and ran out into
the street as though from a plague-stricken house. For a long
while he chatted and joked with his cab-driver, trying to recover
his spirits.

At the French theater where he arrived for the last act, and
afterwards at the Tatar restaurant after his champagne, Stepan
Arkadyevitch felt a little refreshed in the atmosphere he was
used to. But still he felt quite unlike himself all that

On getting home to Pyotr Oblonsky's, where he was staying, Stepan
Arkadyevitch found a note from Betsy. She wrote to him that she
was very anxious to finish their interrupted conversation, and
begged him to come next day. He had scarcely read this note, and
frowned at its contents, when he heard below the ponderous tramp
of the servants, carrying something heavy.

Stepan Arkadyevitch went out to look. It was the rejuvenated
Pyotr Oblonsky. He was so drunk that he could not walk upstairs;
but he told them to set him on his legs when he saw Stepan
Arkadyevitch, and clinging to him, walked with him into his room
and there began telling him how he had spent the evening, and
fell asleep doing so.

Stepan Arkadyevitch was in very low spirits, which happened
rarely with him, and for a long while he could not go to sleep.
Everything he could recall to his mind, everything was
disgusting; but most disgusting of all, as if it were something
shameful, was the memory of the evening he had spent at Countess
Lidia Ivanovna's.

Next day he received from Alexey Alexandrovitch a final answer,
refusing to grant Anna's divorce, and he understood that this
decision was based on what the Frenchman had said in his real or
pretended trance.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Fiction - Russian literature
Nabou.com: the big site