“Here’s Dolly for you, princess, you were so anxious to see her,” said Anna, coming out with Darya Alexandrovna onto the stone terrace where Princess Varvara was sitting in the shade at an embroidery frame, working at a cover for Count Alexey Kirillovitch’s easy chair. “She says she doesn’t want anything before dinner, but please order some lunch for her, and I’ll go and look for Alexey and bring them all in.”
Princess Varvara gave Dolly a cordial and rather patronizing reception, and began at once explaining to her that she was living with Anna because she had always cared more for her than her sister Katerina Pavlovna, the aunt that had brought Anna up, and that now, when every one had abandoned Anna, she thought it her duty to help her in this most difficult period of transition.
“Her husband will give her a divorce, and then I shall go back to my solitude; but now I can be of use, and I am doing my duty, however difficult it may be for me—not like some other people. And how sweet it is of you, how right of you to have come! They live like the best of married couples; it’s for God to judge them, not for us. And didn’t Biryuzovsky and Madame Avenieva...and Sam Nikandrov, and Vassiliev and Madame Mamonova, and Liza Neptunova... Did no one say anything about them? And it has ended by their being received by everyone. And then, c’est un interieur si joli, si comme il faut. Tout-a-fait a l’anglaise. On se reunit le matin au breakfast, et puis on se separe. Everyone does as he pleases till dinnertime. Dinner at seven o’clock. Stiva did very rightly to send you. He needs their support. You know that through his mother and brother he can do anything. And then they do so much good. He didn’t tell you about his hospital? Ce sera admirable—everything from Paris.”
Their conversation was interrupted by Anna, who had found the men of the party in the billiard room, and returned with them to the terrace. There was still a long time before the dinner-hour, it was exquisite weather, and so several different methods of spending the next two hours were proposed. There were very many methods of passing the time at Vozdvizhenskoe, and these were all unlike those in use at Pokrovskoe.
“Une partie de lawn-tennis,” Veslovsky proposed, with his handsome smile. “We’ll be partners again, Anna Arkadyevna.”
“No, it’s too hot; better stroll about the garden and have a row in the boat, show Darya Alexandrovna the river banks.” Vronsky proposed.
“I agree to anything,” said Sviazhsky.
“I imagine that what Dolly would like best would be a stroll— wouldn’t you? And then the boat, perhaps,” said Anna.
So it was decided. Veslovsky and Tushkevitch went off to the bathing place, promising to get the boat ready and to wait there for them.