“In that dress, with a princess only too well known to everyone, to show yourself at the theater is equivalent not merely to acknowledging your position as a fallen woman, but is flinging down a challenge to society, that is to say, cutting yourself off from it forever.”
He could not say that to her. “But how can she fail to see it, and what is going on in her?” he said to himself. He felt at the same time that his respect for her was diminished while his sense of her beauty was intensified.
He went back scowling to his rooms, and sitting down beside Yashvin, who, with his long legs stretched out on a chair, was drinking brandy and seltzer water, he ordered a glass of the same for himself.
“You were talking of Lankovsky’s Powerful. That’s a fine horse, and I would advise you to buy him,” said Yashvin, glancing at his comrade’s gloomy face. “His hind-quarters aren’t quite first-rate, but the legs and head—one couldn’t wish for anything better.”
“I think I will take him,” answered Vronsky.
Their conversation about horses interested him, but he did not for an instant forget Anna, and could not help listening to the sound of steps in the corridor and looking at the clock on the chimney piece.
“Anna Arkadyevna gave orders to announce that she has gone to the theater.”
Yashvin, tipping another glass of brandy into the bubbling water, drank it and got up, buttoning his coat.
“Well, let’s go,” he said, faintly smiling under his mustache, and showing by this smile that he knew the cause of Vronsky’s gloominess, and did not attach any significance to it.
“I’m not going,” Vronsky answered gloomily.
“Well, I must, I promised to. Good-bye, then. If you do, come to the stalls; you can take Kruzin’s stall,” added Yashvin as he went out.
“No, I’m busy.”
“A wife is a care, but it’s worse when she’s not a wife,” thought Yashvin, as he walked out of the hotel.
Vronsky, left alone, got up from his chair and began pacing up and down the room.
“And what’s today? The fourth night.... Yegor and his wife are there, and my mother, most likely. Of course all Petersburg’s there. Now she’s gone in, taken off her cloak and come into the light. Tushkevitch, Yashvin, Princess Varvara,” he pictured them to himself.... “What about me? Either that I’m frightened or have given up to Tushkevitch the right to protect her? From every point of view—stupid, stupid!... And why is she putting me in such a position?” he said with a gesture of despair.
With that gesture he knocked against the table, on which there was standing the seltzer water and the decanter of brandy, and almost upset it. He tried to catch it, let it slip, and angrily kicked the table over and rang.
“If you care to be in my service,” he said to the valet who came in, “you had better remember your duties. This shouldn’t be here. You ought to have cleared away.”