Anna Karenina eBook

This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,033 pages of information about Anna Karenina.
one must never tell a lie to a man, but one may to a woman; that one must never cheat anyone, but one may a husband; that one must never pardon an insult, but one may give one and so on.  These principles were possibly not reasonable and not good, but they were of unfailing certainty, and so long as he adhered to them, Vronsky felt that his heart was at peace and he could hold his head up.  Only quite lately in regard to his relations with Anna, Vronsky had begun to feel that his code of principles did not fully cover all possible contingencies, and to foresee in the future difficulties and perplexities for which he could find no guiding clue.

His present relation to Anna and to her husband was to his mind clear and simple.  It was clearly and precisely defined in the code of principles by which he was guided.

She was an honorable woman who had bestowed her love upon him, and he loved her, and therefore she was in his eyes a woman who had a right to the same, or even more, respect than a lawful wife.  He would have had his hand chopped off before he would have allowed himself by a word, by a hint, to humiliate her, or even to fall short of the fullest respect a woman could look for.

His attitude to society, too, was clear.  Everyone might know, might suspect it, but no one might dare to speak of it.  If any did so, he was ready to force all who might speak to be silent and to respect the non-existent honor of the woman he loved.

His attitude to the husband was the clearest of all.  From the moment that Anna loved Vronsky, he had regarded his own right over her as the one thing unassailable.  Her husband was simply a superfluous and tiresome person.  No doubt he was in a pitiable position, but how could that be helped?  The one thing the husband had a right to was to demand satisfaction with a weapon in his hand, and Vronsky was prepared for this at any minute.

But of late new inner relations had arisen between him and her, which frightened Vronsky by their indefiniteness.  Only the day before she had told him that she was with child.  And he felt that this fact and what she expected of him called for something not fully defined in that code of principles by which he had hitherto steered his course in life.  And he had been indeed caught unawares, and at the first moment when she spoke to him of her position, his heart had prompted him to beg her to leave her husband.  He had said that, but now thinking things over he saw clearly that it would be better to manage to avoid that; and at the same time, as he told himself so, he was afraid whether it was not wrong.

“If I told her to leave her husband, that must mean uniting her life with mine; am I prepared for that?  How can I take her away now, when I have no money?  Supposing I could arrange....  But how can I take her away while I’m in the service?  If I say that—­I ought to be prepared to do it, that is, I ought to have the money and to retire from the army.”

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Anna Karenina from Project Gutenberg. Public domain.