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Chapter 19

In spite of Vronsky's apparently frivolous life in society, he
was a man who hated irregularity. In early youth in the Corps of
Pages, he had experienced the humiliation of a refusal, when he
had tried, being in difficulties, to borrow money, and since then
he had never once put himself in the same position again.

In order to keep his affairs in some sort of order, he used about
five times a year (more or less frequently, according to
circumstances) to shut himself up alone and put all his affairs
into definite shape. This he used to call his day of reckoning
or faire la lessive.

On waking up the day after the races, Vronsky put on a white
linen coat, and without shaving or taking his bath, he
distributed about the table moneys, bills, and letters, and set
to work. Petritsky, who knew he was ill-tempered on such
occasions, on waking up and seeing his comrade at the
writing-table, quietly dressed and went out without getting in
his way.

Every man who knows to the minutest details all the complexity of
the conditions surrounding him, cannot help imagining that the
complexity of these conditions, and the difficulty of making them
clear, is something exceptional and personal, peculiar to
himself, and never supposes that others are surrounded by just as
complicated an array of personal affairs as he is. So indeed it
seemed to Vronsky. And not with out inward pride, and not
without reason, he thought that any other man would long ago have
been in difficulties, would have been forced to some dishonorable
course, if he had found himself in such a difficult position.
But Vronsky felt that now especially it was essential for him to
clear up and define his position if he were to avoid getting into

What Vronsky attacked first as being the easiest was his
pecuniary position. Writing out on note paper in his minute hand
all that he owed, he added up the amount and found that his debts
amounted to seventeen thousand and some odd hundreds, which he
left out for the sake of clearness. Reckoning up his money and
his bank book, he found that he had left one thousand eight
hundred roubles, and nothing coming in before the New Year.
Reckoning over again his list of debts, Vronsky copied it,
dividing it into three classes. In the first class he put the
debts which he would have to pay at once, or for which he must in
any case have the money ready so that on demand for payment there
could not be a moment's delay in paying. Such debts amounted to
about four thousand: one thousand five hundred for a horse, and
two thousand five hundred as surety for a young comrade,
Venovsky, who had lost that sum to a cardsharper in Vronsky's
presence. Vronsky had wanted to pay the money at the time (he
had that amount then), but Venovsky and Yashvin had insisted that
they would pay and not Vronsky, who had not played. That was so
far well, but Vronsky knew that in this dirty business, though
his only share in it was undertaking by word of mouth to be
surety for Venovsky, it was absolutely necessary for him to have
the two thousand five hundred roubles so as to be able to fling
it at the swindler, and have no more words with him. And so for
this first and most important division he must have four thousand
roubles. The second class--eight thousand roubles--consisted
of less important debts. These were principally accounts owing
in connection with his race horses, to the purveyor of oats and
hay, the English saddler, and so on. He would have to pay some
two thousand roubles on these debts too, in order to be quite
free from anxiety. The last class of debts--to shops, to
hotels, to his tailor--were such as need not be considered. So
that he needed at least six thousand roubles for current
expenses, and he only had one thousand eight hundred. For a man
with one hundred thousand roubles of revenue, which was what
everyone fixed as Vronsky's income, such debts, one would
suppose, could hardly be embarrassing; but the fact was that he
was far from having one hundred thousand. His father's immense
property, which alone yielded a yearly income of two hundred
thousand, was left undivided between the brothers. At the time
when the elder brother, with a mass of debts, married Princess
Varya Tchirkova, the daughter of a Decembrist without any fortune
whatever, Alexey had given up to his elder brother almost the
whole income from his father's estate, reserving for himself only
twenty-five thousand a year from it. Alexey had said at the time
to his brother that that sum would be sufficient for him until he
married, which he probably never would do. And his brother, who
was in command of one of the most expensive regiments, and was
only just married, could not decline the gift. His mother, who
had her own separate property, had allowed Alexey every year
twenty thousand in addition to the twenty-five thousand he had
reserved, and Alexey had spent it all. Of late his mother,
incensed with him on account of his love affair and his leaving
Moscow, had given up sending him the money. And in consequence
of this, Vronsky, who had been in the habit of living on the
scale of forty-five thousand a year, having only received twenty
thousand that year, found himself now in difficulties. To get
out of these difficulties, he could not apply to his mother for
money. Her last letter, which he had received the day before,
had particularly exasperated him by the hints in it that she was
quite ready to help him to succeed in the world and in the army,
but not to lead a life which was a scandal to all good society.
His mother's attempt to buy him stung him to the quick and made
him feel colder than ever to her. But he could not draw back
from the generous word when it was once uttered, even though he
felt now, vaguely foreseeing certain eventualities in his
intrigue with Madame Karenina, that this generous word had been
spoken thoughtlessly, and that even though he were not married he
might need all the hundred thousand of income. But it was
impossible to draw back. He had only to recall his brother's
wife, to remember how that sweet, delightful Varya sought, at
every convenient opportunity, to remind him that she remembered
his generosity and appreciated it, to grasp the impossibility of
taking back his gift. It was as impossible as beating a woman,
stealing, or lying. One thing only could and ought to be done,
and Vronsky determined upon it without an instant's hesitation:
to borrow money from a money-lender, ten thousand roubles, a
proceeding which presented no difficulty, to cut down his
expenses generally, and to sell his race horses. Resolving on
this, he promptly wrote a note to Rolandak, who had more than
once sent to him with offers to buy horses from him. Then he
sent for the Englishman and the money-lender, and divided what
money he had according to the accounts he intended to pay.
Having finished this business, he wrote a cold and cutting answer
to his mother. Then he took out of his notebook three notes of
Anna's, read them again, burned them, and remembering their
conversation on the previous day, he sank into meditation.

Anna Karenina by Leo Tolstoy
Fiction - Russian literature
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