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Chapter 29


"Come, it's all over, and thank God!" was the first thought that
came to Anna Arkadyevna, when she had said good-bye for the last
time to her brother, who had stood blocking up the entrance to
the carriage till the third bell rang. She sat down on her
lounge beside Annushka, and looked about her in the twilight of
the sleeping-carriage. "Thank God! tomorrow I shall see Seryozha
and Alexey Alexandrovitch, and my life will go on in the old way,
all nice and as usual."

Still in the same anxious frame of mind, as she had been all that
day, Anna took pleasure in arranging herself for the journey with
great care. With her little deft hands she opened and shut her
little red bag, took out a cushion, laid it on her knees, and
carefully wrapping up her feet, settled herself comfortably. An
invalid lady had already lain down to sleep. Two other ladies
began talking to Anna, and a stout elderly lady tucked up her
feet, and made observations about the heating of the train. Anna
answered a few words, but not foreseeing any entertainment from
the conversation, she asked Annushka to get a lamp, hooked it
onto the arm of her seat, and took from her bag a paper knife and
an English novel. At first her reading made no progress. The
fuss and bustle were disturbing; then when the train had started,
she could not help listening to the noises; then the snow beating
on the left window and sticking to the pane, and the sight of the
muffled guard passing by, covered with snow on one side, and the
conversations about the terrible snowstorm raging outside,
distracted her attention. Farther on, it was continually the
same again and again: the same shaking and rattling, the same
snow on the window, the same rapid transitions from steaming
heat to cold, and back again to heat, the same passing glimpses
of the same figures in the twilight, and the same voices, and
Anna began to read and to understand what she read. Annushka was
already dozing, the red bag on her lap, clutched by her broad
hands, in gloves, of which one was torn. Anna Arkadyevna read
and understood, but it was distasteful to her to read, that is,
to follow the reflection of other people's lives. She had too
great a desire to live herself. If she read that the heroine of
the novel was nursing a sick man, she longed to move with
noiseless steps about the room of a sick man; if she read of a
member of Parliament making a speech, she longed to be delivering
the speech; if she read of how Lady Mary had ridden after the
hounds, and had provoked her sister-in-law, and had surprised
everyone by her boldness, she too wished to be doing the same.
But there was no chance of doing anything; and twisting the
smooth paper knife in her little hands, she forced herself to
read.

The hero of the novel was already almost reaching his English
happiness, a baronetcy and an estate, and Anna was feeling a
desire to go with him to the estate, when she suddenly felt that
HE ought to feel ashamed, and that she was ashamed of the same
thing. But what had he to be ashamed of? "What have I to be
ashamed of?" she asked herself in injured surprise. She laid
down the book and sank against the back of the chair, tightly
gripping the paper cutter in both hands. There was nothing. She
went over all her Moscow recollections. All were good, pleasant.
She remembered the ball, remembered Vronsky and his face of
slavish adoration, remembered all her conduct with him: there
was nothing shameful. And for all that, at the same point in her
memories, the feeling of shame was intensified, as though some
inner voice, just at the point when she thought of Vronsky, were
saying to her, "Warm, very warm, hot." "Well, what is it?" she
said to herself resolutely, shifting her seat in the lounge.
"What does it mean? Am I afraid to look it straight in the face?
Why, what is it? Can it be that between me and this officer boy
there exist, or can exist, any other relations than such as are
common with every acquaintance?" She laughed contemptuously and
took up her book again; but now she was definitely unable to
follow what she read. She passed the paper knife over the window
pane, then laid its smooth, cool surface to her cheek, and almost
laughed aloud at the feeling of delight that all at once without
cause came over her. She felt as though her nerves were strings
being strained tighter and tighter on some sort of screwing peg.
She felt her eyes opening wider and wider, her fingers and toes
twitching nervously, something within oppressing her breathing,
while all shapes and sounds seemed in the uncertain half-light to
strike her with unaccustomed vividness. Moments of doubt were
continually coming upon her, when she was uncertain whether the
train were going forwards or backwards, or were standing still
altogether; whether it were Annushka at her side or a stranger.
"What's that on the arm of the chair, a fur cloak or some beast?
And what am I myself? Myself or some other woman?" she was
afraid of giving way to this delirium. But something drew her
towards it, and she could yield to it or resist it at will. She
got up to rouse herself, and slipped off her plaid and the cape
of her warm dress. For a moment she regained her
self-possession, and realized that the thin peasant who had come
in wearing a long overcoat, with buttons missing from it, was the
stoveheater, that he was looking at the thermometer, that it was
the wind and snow bursting in after him at the door; but then
everything grew blurred again.... That peasant with the long
waist seemed to be gnawing something on the wall, the old lady
began stretching her legs the whole length of the carriage, and
filling it with a black cloud; then there was a fearful shrieking
and banging, as though someone were being torn to pieces; then
there was a blinding dazzle of red fire before her eyes and a
wall seemed to rise up and hide everything. Anna felt as though
she were sinking down. But it was not terrible, but delightful.
The voice of a man muffled up and covered with snow shouted
something in her ear. She got up and pulled herself together;
she realized that they had reached a station and that this was
the guard. She asked Annushka to hand her the cape she had taken
off and her shawl, put them on and moved towards the door.

"Do you wish to get out?" asked Annushka.

"Yes, I want a little air. It's very hot in here." And she
opened the door. The driving snow and the wind rushed to meet
her and struggled with her over the door. But she enjoyed the
struggle.

She opened the door and went out. The wind seemed as though
lying in wait for her; with gleeful whistle it tried to snatch
her up and bear her off, but she clung to the cold door post, and
holding her skirt got down onto the platform and under the
shelter of the carriages. The wind had been powerful on the
steps, but on the platform, under the lee of the carriages, there
was a lull. With enjoyment she drew deep breaths of the frozen,
snowy air, and standing near the carriage looked about the
platform and the lighted station.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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