They walked along the path in two couples, Anna with Sviazhsky, and Dolly with Vronsky. Dolly was a little embarrassed and anxious in the new surroundings in which she found herself. Abstractly, theoretically, she did not merely justify, she positively approved of Anna’s conduct. As is indeed not unfrequent with women of unimpeachable virtue, weary of the monotony of respectable existence, at a distance she not only excused illicit love, she positively envied it. Besides, she loved Anna with all her heart. But seeing Anna in actual life among these strangers, with this fashionable tone that was so new to Darya Alexandrovna, she felt ill at ease. What she disliked particularly was seeing Princess Varvara ready to overlook everything for the sake of the comforts she enjoyed.
As a general principle, abstractly, Dolly approved of Anna’s action; but to see the man for whose sake her action had been taken was disagreeable to her. Moreover, she had never liked Vronsky. She thought him very proud, and saw nothing in him of which he could be proud except his wealth. But against her own will, here in his own house, he overawed her more than ever, and she could not be at ease with him. She felt with him the same feeling she had had with the maid about her dressing jacket. Just as with the maid she had felt not exactly ashamed, but embarrassed at her darns, so she felt with him not exactly ashamed, but embarrassed at herself.
Dolly was ill at ease, and tried to find a subject of conversation. Even though she supposed that, through his pride, praise of his house and garden would be sure to be disagreeable to him, she did all the same tell him how much she liked his house.
“Yes, it’s a very fine building, and in the good old-fashioned style,” he said.
“I like so much the court in front of the steps. Was that always so?”
“Oh, no!” he said, and his face beamed with pleasure. “If you could only have seen that court last spring!”
And he began, at first rather diffidently, but more and more carried away by the subject as he went on, to draw her attention to the various details of the decoration of his house and garden. It was evident that, having devoted a great deal of trouble to improve and beautify his home, Vronsky felt a need to show off the improvements to a new person, and was genuinely delighted at Darya Alexandrovna’s praise.
“If you would care to look at the hospital, and are not tired, indeed, it’s not far. Shall we go?” he said, glancing into her face to convince himself that she was not bored. “Are you coming, Anna?” he turned to her.
“We will come, won’t we?” she said, addressing Sviazhsky. “Mais il ne faut pas laisser le pauvre Veslovsky et Tushkevitch se morfondre la dans le bateau. We must send and tell them.”
“Yes, this is a monument he is setting up here,” said Anna, turning to Dolly with that sly smile of comprehension with which she had previously talked about the hospital.