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Chapter 30


The raging tempest rushed whistling between the wheels of the
carriages, about the scaffolding, and round the corner of the
station. The carriages, posts, people, everything that was to be
seen was covered with snow on one side, and was getting more and
more thickly covered. For a moment there would come a lull in
the storm, but then it would swoop down again with such
onslaughts that it seemed impossible to stand against it.
Meanwhile men ran to and fro, talking merrily together, their
steps crackling on the platform as they continually opened and
closed the big doors. The bent shadow of a man glided by at her
feet, and she heard sounds of a hammer upon iron. "Hand over
that telegram!" came an angry voice out of the stormy darkness on
the other side. "This way! No. 28!" several different voices
shouted again, and muffled figures ran by covered with snow. Two
gentleman with lighted cigarettes passed by her. She drew one
more deep breath of the fresh air, and had just put he hand out
of her muff to take hold of the door post and get back into the
carriage, when another man in a military overcoat, quite close
beside her, stepped between her and the flickering light of the
lamp post. She looked round, and the same instant recognized
Vronsky's face. Putting his hand to the peak of his cap, he
bowed to her and asked, Was there anything she wanted? Could he
be of any service to her? She gazed rather a long while at him
without answering, and, in spite of the shadow in which he was
standing, she saw, or fancied she saw, both the expression of his
face and his eyes. It was again that expression of reverential
ecstasy which had so worked upon her the day before. More than
once she had told herself during the past few days, and again
only a few moments before, that Vronsky was for her only one of
the hundreds of young men, forever exactly the same, that are met
everywhere, that she would never allow herself to bestow a
thought upon him. But now at the first instant of meeting him,
she was seized by a feeling of joyful pride. She had no need to
ask why he had come. she knew as certainly as if he had told her
that he was here to be where she was.

"I didn't know you were going. What are you coming for?" she
said, letting fall the hand with which she had grasped the door
post. And irrepressible delight and eagerness shone in her face.

"What am I coming for?" he repeated, looking straight into her
eyes. "You know that I have come to be where you are," he said;
"I can't help it."

At that moment the wind, as it were, surmounting all obstacles,
sent the snow flying from the carriage roofs, and clanked some
sheet of iron it had torn off, while the hoarse whistle of the
engine roared in front, plaintively and gloomily. All the
awfulness of the storm seemed to her more splendid now. He had
said what her soul longed to hear, though she feared it with her
reason. She made no answer, and in her face he saw conflict.

"Forgive me, if you dislike what I said," he said humbly.

He had spoken courteously, deferentially, yet so firmly, so
stubbornly, that for a long while she could make no answer.

"It's wrong, what you say, and I beg you, if you're a good man,
to forget what you've said, as I forget it," she said at last.

"Not one word, not one gesture of yours shall I, could I, ever
forget..."

"Enough, enough!" she cried trying assiduously to give a stern
expression to her face, into which he was gazing greedily. And
clutching at the cold door post, she clambered up the steps and
got rapidly into the corridor of the carriage. But in the little
corridor she paused, going over in her imagination what had
happened. Though she could not recall her own words or his, she
realized instinctively that the momentary conversation had
brought them fearfully closer; and she was panic-stricken and
blissful at it. After standing still a few seconds, she went
into the carriage and sat down in her place. The overstrained
condition which had tormented her before did not only come back,
but was intensified, and reached such a pitch that she was afraid
every minute that something would snap within her from the
excessive tension. She did not sleep all night. But in that
nervous tension, and in the visions that filled her imagination,
there was nothing disagreeable or gloomy: on the contrary there
was something blissful, glowing, and exhilarating. Towards
morning Anna sank into a doze, sitting in her place, and when she
waked it was daylight and the train was near Petersburg. At once
thoughts of home, of husband and of son, and the details of that
day and the following came upon her.

At Petersburg, as soon as the train stopped and she got out, the
first person that attracted her attention was her husband. "Oh,
mercy! why do his ears look like that?" she thought, looking at
his frigid and imposing figure, and especially the ears that
struck her at the moment as propping up the brim of his round
hat. Catching sight of her, he came to meet her, his lips
falling into their habitual sarcastic smile, and his big, tired
eyes looking straight at her. An unpleasant sensation gripped at
her heart when she met his obstinate and weary glance, as though
she had expected to see him different. She was especially struck
by the feeling of dissatisfaction with herself that she
experienced on meeting him. That feeling was an intimate,
familiar feeling, like a consciousness of hypocrisy, which she
experienced in her relations with her husband. But hitherto she
had not taken note of the feeling, now she was clearly and
painfully aware of it.

"Yes, as you see, your tender spouse, as devoted as the first
year after marriage, burned with impatience to see you," he said
in his deliberate, high-pitched voice, and in that tone which he
almost always took with her, a tone of jeering at anyone who
should say in earnest what he said.

"Is Seryozha quite well?" she asked.

"And is this all the reward," said he, "for my ardor? He's quite
well..."



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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