She heard the bell ring before she was ready. When she went into the drawing room it was not he, but Yashvin, who met her eyes. Vronsky was looking through the photographs of her son, which she had forgotten on the table, and he made no haste to look round at her.
“We have met already,” she said, putting her little hand into the huge hand of Yashvin, whose bashfulness was so queerly out of keeping with his immense frame and coarse face. “We met last year at the races. Give them to me,” she said, with a rapid movement snatching from Vronsky the photographs of her son, and glancing significantly at him with flashing eyes. “Were the races good this year? Instead of them I saw the races in the Corso in Rome. But you don’t care for life abroad,” she said with a cordial smile. “I know you and all your tastes, though I have seen so little of you.”
“I’m awfully sorry for that, for my tastes are mostly bad,” said Yashvin, gnawing at his left mustache.
Having talked a little while, and noticing that Vronsky glanced at the clock, Yashvin asked her whether she would be staying much longer in Petersburg, and unbending his huge figure reached after his cap.
“Not long, I think,” she said hesitatingly, glancing at Vronsky.
“So then we shan’t meet again?”
“Come and dine with me,” said Anna resolutely, angry it seemed with herself for her embarrassment, but flushing as she always did when she defined her position before a fresh person. “The dinner here is not good, but at least you will see him. There is no one of his old friends in the regiment Alexey cares for as he does for you.”
“Delighted,” said Yashvin with a smile, from which Vronsky could see that he liked Anna very much.
Yashvin said good-bye and went away; Vronsky stayed behind.
“Are you going too?” she said to him.
“I’m late already,” he answered. “Run along! I’ll catch you up in a moment,” he called to Yashvin.
She took him by the hand, and without taking her eyes off him, gazed at him while she ransacked her mind for the words to say that would keep him.
“Wait a minute, there’s something I want to say to you,” and taking his broad hand she pressed it on her neck. “Oh, was it right my asking him to dinner?”
“You did quite right,” he said with a serene smile that showed his even teeth, and he kissed her hand.
“Alexey, you have not changed to me?” she said, pressing his hand in both of hers. “Alexey, I am miserable here. When are we going away?”
“Soon, soon. You wouldn’t believe how disagreeable our way of living here is to me too,” he said, and he drew away his hand.
“Well, go, go!” she said in a tone of offense, and she walked quickly away from him.