“Well, are they at home, my good man?” Darya Alexandrovna said vaguely, not knowing how to ask about Anna, even of this peasant.
“At home for sure,” said the peasant, shifting from one bare foot to the other, and leaving a distinct print of five toes and a heel in the dust. “Sure to be at home,” he repeated, evidently eager to talk. “Only yesterday visitors arrived. There’s a sight of visitors come. What do you want?” He turned round and called to a lad, who was shouting something to him from the cart. “Oh! They all rode by here not long since, to look at a reaping machine. They’ll be home by now. And who will you be belonging to?...”
“We’ve come a long way,” said the coachman, climbing onto the box. “So it’s not far?”
“I tell you, it’s just here. As soon as you get out...” he said, keeping hold all the while of the carriage.
A healthy-looking, broad-shouldered young fellow came up too.
“What, is it laborers they want for the harvest?” he asked.
“I don’t know, my boy.”
“So you keep to the left, and you’ll come right on it,” said the peasant, unmistakably loth to let the travelers go, and eager to converse.
The coachman started the horses, but they were only just turning off when the peasant shouted: “Stop! Hi, friend! Stop!” called the two voices. The coachman stopped.
“They’re coming! They’re yonder!” shouted the peasant. “See what a turn-out!” he said, pointing to four persons on horseback, and two in a char-a-banc, coming along the road.
They were Vronsky with a jockey, Veslovsky and Anna on horseback, and Princess Varvara and Sviazhsky in the char-a-banc. They had gone out to look at the working of a new reaping machine.
When the carriage stopped, the party on horseback were coming at a walking pace. Anna was in front beside Veslovsky. Anna, quietly walking her horse, a sturdy English cob with cropped mane and short tail, her beautiful head with her black hair straying loose under her high hat, her full shoulders, her slender waist in her black riding habit, and all the ease and grace of her deportment, impressed Dolly.
For the first minute it seemed to her unsuitable for Anna to be on horseback. The conception of riding on horseback for a lady was, in Darya Alexandrovna’s mind, associated with ideas of youthful flirtation and frivolity, which, in her opinion, was unbecoming in Anna’s position. But when she had scrutinized her, seeing her closer, she was at once reconciled to her riding. In spite of her elegance, everything was so simple, quiet, and dignified in the attitude, the dress and the movements of Anna, that nothing could have been more natural.
Beside Anna, on a hot-looking gray cavalry horse, was Vassenka Veslovsky in his Scotch cap with floating ribbons, his stout legs stretched out in front, obviously pleased with his own appearance. Darya Alexandrovna could not suppress a good-humored smile as she recognized him. Behind rode Vronsky on a dark bay mare, obviously heated from galloping. He was holding her in, pulling at the reins.