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Chapter 18


Although all Vronsky's inner life was absorbed in his passion,
his external life unalterably and inevitably followed along the
old accustomed lines of his social and regimental ties and
interests. The interests of his regiment took an important place
in Vronsky's life, both because he was fond of the regiment, and
because the regiment was fond of him. They were not only fond of
Vronsky in his regiment, they respected him too, and were proud
of him; proud that this man, with his immense wealth, his
brilliant education and abilities, and the path open before him
to every kind of success, distinction, and ambition, had
disregarded all that, and of all the interests of life had the
interests of his regiment and his comrades nearest to his heart.
Vronsky was aware of his comrades' view of him, and in addition
to his liking for the life, he felt bound to keep up that
reputation.

It need not be said that he did not speak of his love to any of
his comrades, nor did he betray his secret even in the wildest
drinking bouts (though indeed he was never so drunk as to lose
all control of himself). And he shut up any of his thoughtless
comrades who attempted to allude to his connection. But in spite
of that, his love was known to all the town; everyone guessed
with more or less confidence at his relations with Madame
Karenina. The majority of the younger men envied him for just
what was the most irksome factor in his love--the exalted
position of Karenin, and the consequent publicity of their
connection in society.

The greater number of the young women, who envied Anna and had
long been weary of hearing her called virtuous, rejoiced at the
fulfillment of their predictions, and were only waiting for a
decisive turn in public opinion to fall upon her with all the
weight of their scorn. They were already making ready their
handfuls of mud to fling at her when the right moment arrived.
The greater number of the middle-aged people and certain great
personages were displeased at the prospect of the impending
scandal in society.

Vronsky's mother, on hearing of his connection, was at first
pleased at it, because nothing to her mind gave such a finishing
touch to a brilliant young man as a liaison in the highest
society; she was pleased, too, that Madame Karenina, who had so
taken her fancy, and had talked so much of her son, was, after
all, just like all other pretty and well-bred women,--at least
according to the Countess Vronskaya's ideas. But she had heard
of late that her son had refused a position offered him of great
importance to his career, simply in order to remain in the
regiment, where he could be constantly seeing Madame Karenina.
She learned that great personages were displeased with him on
this account, and she changed her opinion. She was vexed, too,
that from all she could learn of this connection it was not that
brilliant, graceful, worldly liaison which she would have
welcomed, but a sort of Wertherish, desperate passion, so she was
told, which might well lead him into imprudence. She had not
seen him since his abrupt departure from Moscow, and she sent her
elder son to bid him come to see her.

This elder son, too, was displeased with his younger brother. He
did not distinguish what sort of love his might be, big or
little, passionate or passionless, lasting or passing (he kept a
ballet girl himself, though he was the father of a family, so he
was lenient in these matters), but he knew that this love affair
was viewed with displeasure by those whom it was necessary to
please, and therefore he did not approve of his brother's
conduct.

Besides the service and society, Vronsky had another great
interest--horses; he was passionately fond of horses.

That year races and a steeplechase had been arranged for the
officers. Vronsky had put his name down, bought a thoroughbred
English mare, and in spite of his love affair, he was looking
forward to the races with intense, though reserved, excitement...

These two passions did not interfere with one another. On the
contrary, he needed occupation and distraction quite apart from
his love, so as to recruit and rest himself from the violent
emotions that agitated him.



Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Category:
Fiction - Russian literature
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