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.
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