“Ah, how glad I am to see you!” she said, going up to her. “Yesterday at the races all I wanted was to get to you, but you’d gone away. I did so want to see you, yesterday especially. Wasn’t it awful?” she said, looking at Anna with eyes that seemed to lay bare all her soul.
“Yes; I had no idea it would be so thrilling,” said Anna, blushing.
The company got up at this moment to go into the garden.
“I’m not going,” said Liza, smiling and settling herself close to Anna. “You won’t go either, will you? Who wants to play croquet?”
“Oh, I like it,” said Anna.
“There, how do you manage never to be bored by things? It’s delightful to look at you. You’re alive, but I’m bored.”
“How can you be bored? Why, you live in the liveliest set in Petersburg,” said Anna.
“Possibly the people who are not of our set are even more bored; but we—I certainly—are not happy, but awfully, awfully bored.”
Sappho smoking a cigarette went off into the garden with the two young men. Betsy and Stremov remained at the tea-table.
“What, bored!” said Betsy. “Sappho says they did enjoy themselves tremendously at your house last night.”
“Ah, how dreary it all was!” said Liza Merkalova. “We all drove back to my place after the races. And always the same people, always the same. Always the same thing. We lounged about on sofas all the evening. What is there to enjoy in that? No; do tell me how you manage never to be bored?” she said, addressing Anna again. “One has but to look at you and one sees, here’s a woman who may be happy or unhappy, but isn’t bored. Tell me how you do it?”
“I do nothing,” answered Anna, blushing at these searching questions.
“That’s the best way,” Stremov put in. Stremov was a man of fifty, partly gray, but still vigorous-looking, very ugly, but with a characteristic and intelligent face. Liza Merkalova was his wife’s niece, and he spent all his leisure hours with her. On meeting Anna Karenina, as he was Alexey Alexandrovitch’s enemy in the government, he tried, like a shrewd man and a man of the world, to be particularly cordial with her, the wife of his enemy.
“‘Nothing,’” he put in with a subtle smile, “that’s the very best way. I told you long ago,” he said, turning to Liza Merkalova, “that if you don’t want to be bored, you mustn’t think you’re going to be bored. It’s just as you mustn’t be afraid of not being able to fall asleep, if you’re afraid of sleeplessness. That’s just what Anna Arkadyevna has just said.”
“I should be very glad if I had said it, for it’s not only clever but true,” said Anna, smiling.
“No, do tell me why it is one can’t go to sleep, and one can’t help being bored?”
“To sleep well one ought to work, and to enjoy oneself one ought to work too.”
“What am I to work for when my work is no use to anybody? And I can’t and won’t knowingly make a pretense about it.”