While the train was stopping at the provincial town, Sergey
Ivanovitch did not go to the refreshment room, but walked up and
down the platform.
The first time he passed Vronsky's compartment he noticed that
the curtain was drawn over the window; but as he passed it the
second time he saw the old countess at the window. She beckoned
"I'm going, you see, taking him as far as Kursk," she said.
"Yes, so I heard," said Sergey Ivanovitch, standing at her window
and peeping in. "What a noble act on his part!" he added,
noticing that Vronsky was not in the compartment.
"Yes, after his misfortune, what was there for him to do?"
"What a terrible thing it was!" said Sergey Ivanovitch.
"Ah, what I have been through! But do get in.... Ah, what I
have been through!" she repeated, when Sergey Ivanovitch had got
in and sat down beside her. "You can't conceive it! For six
weeks he did not speak to anyone, and would not touch food
except when I implored him. And not for one minute could we
leave him alone. We took away everything he could have used
against himself. We lived on the ground floor, but there was no
reckoning on anything. You know, of course, that he had shot
himself once already on her account," she said, and the old
lady's eyelashes twitched at the recollection. "Yes, hers was
the fitting end for such a woman. Even the death she chose was
low and vulgar."
"It's not for us to judge, countess," said Sergey Ivanovitch;
"but I can understand that it has been very hard for you."
"Ah, don't speak of it! I was staying on my estate, and he was
with me. A note was brought him. He wrote an answer and sent it
off. We hadn't an idea that she was close by at the station. I
the evening I had only just gone to my room, when my Mary told me
a lady had thrown herself under the train. Something seemed to
strike me at once. I knew it was she. The first thing I said
was, he was not to be told. But they'd told him already. His
coachman was there and saw it all. When I ran into his room, he
was beside himself--it was fearful to see him. He didn't say a
word, but galloped off there. I don't know to this day what
happened there, but he was brought back at death's door. I
shouldn't have known him. Prostration complete, the doctor said.
And that was followed almost by madness. Oh, why talk of it!"
said the countess with a wave of her hand. "It was an awful
time! No, say what you will, she was a bad woman. Why, what is
the meaning of such desperate passions? It was all to show
herself something out of the way. Well, and that she did do.
She brought herself to ruin and two good men--her husband and my
"And what did her husband do?" asked Sergey Ivanovitch.
"He has taken her daughter. Alexey was ready to agree to
anything at first. Now it worries him terribly that he should
have given his own child away to another man. But he can't take
back his word. Karenin came to the funeral. But we tried to
prevent his meeting Alexey. For him, for her husband, it was
easier, anyway. She had set him free. But my poor son was
utterly given up to her. He had thrown up everything, his
career, me, and even then she had no mercy on him, but of set
purpose she made his ruin complete. No, say what you will, her
very death was the death of a vile woman, of no religious
feeling. God forgive me, but I can't help hating the memory of
her, when I look at my son's misery!"
"But how is he now?"
"It was a blessing from Providence for us--this Servian war. I'm
old, and I don't understand the rights and wrongs of it, but it's
come as a providential blessing to him. Of course for me, as his
mother, it's terrible; and what's worse, they say, ce n'est pas
tres bien vu a Petersbourg. But it can't be helped! It was the
one thing that could rouse him. Yashvin--a friend of his--he had
lost all he had at cards and he was going to Servia. He came to
see him and persuaded him to go. Now it's an interest for him.
Do please talk to him a little. I want to distract his mind.
He's so low-spirited. And as bad luck would have it, he has
toothache too. But he'll be delighted to see you. Please do
talk to him; he's walking up and down on that side."
Sergey Ivanovitch said he would be very glad to, and crossed over
to the other side of the station.