Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,033 pages of information about Anna Karenina.
sharp gasps.  But he knew that she had strength left more than enough for the remaining five hundred yards.  It was only from feeling himself nearer the ground and from the peculiar smoothness of his motion that Vronsky knew how greatly the mare had quickened her pace.  She flew over the ditch as though not noticing it.  She flew over it like a bird; but at the same instant Vronsky, to his horror, felt that he had failed to keep up with the mare’s pace, that he had, he did not know how, made a fearful, unpardonable mistake, in recovering his seat in the saddle.  All at once his position had shifted and he knew that something awful had happened.  He could not yet make out what had happened, when the white legs of a chestnut horse flashed by close to him, and Mahotin passed at a swift gallop.  Vronsky was touching the ground with one foot, and his mare was sinking on that foot.  He just had time to free his leg when she fell on one side, gasping painfully, and, making vain efforts to rise with her delicate, soaking neck, she fluttered on the ground at his feet like a shot bird.  The clumsy movement made by Vronsky had broken her back.  But that he only knew much later.  At that moment he knew only that Mahotin had flown swiftly by, while he stood staggering alone on the muddy, motionless ground, and Frou-Frou lay gasping before him, bending her head back and gazing at him with her exquisite eyes.  Still unable to realize what had happened, Vronsky tugged at his mare’s reins.  Again she struggled all over like a fish, and her shoulders setting the saddle heaving, she rose on her front legs but unable to lift her back, she quivered all over and again fell on her side.  With a face hideous with passion, his lower jaw trembling, and his cheeks white, Vronsky kicked her with his heel in the stomach and again fell to tugging at the rein.  She did not stir, but thrusting her nose into the ground, she simply gazed at her master with her speaking eyes.

“A—­a—­a!” groaned Vronsky, clutching at his head.  “Ah! what have I done!” he cried.  “The race lost!  And my fault! shameful, unpardonable!  And the poor darling, ruined mare!  Ah! what have I done!”

A crowd of men, a doctor and his assistant, the officers of his regiment, ran up to him.  To his misery he felt that he was whole and unhurt.  The mare had broken her back, and it was decided to shoot her.  Vronsky could not answer questions, could not speak to anyone.  He turned, and without picking up his cap that had fallen off, walked away from the race course, not knowing where he was going.  He felt utterly wretched.  For the first time in his life he knew the bitterest sort of misfortune, misfortune beyond remedy, and caused by his own fault.

Yashvin overtook him with his cap, and led him home, and half an hour later Vronsky had regained his self-possession.  But the memory of that race remained for long in his heart, the cruelest and bitterest memory of his life.

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Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.
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