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This eBook from the Gutenberg Project consists of approximately 1,033 pages of information about Anna Karenina.

Chapter 31

The newly elected marshal and many of the successful party dined that day with Vronsky.

Vronsky had come to the elections partly because he was bored in the country and wanted to show Anna his right to independence, and also to repay Sviazhsky by his support at the election for all the trouble he had taken for Vronsky at the district council election, but chiefly in order strictly to perform all those duties of a nobleman and landowner which he had taken upon himself.  But he had not in the least expected that the election would so interest him, so keenly excite him, and that he would be so good at this kind of thing.  He was quite a new man in the circle of the nobility of the province, but his success was unmistakable, and he was not wrong in supposing that he had already obtained a certain influence.  This influence was due to his wealth and reputation, the capital house in the town lent him by his old friend Shirkov, who had a post in the department of finances and was director of a flourishing bank in Kashin; the excellent cook Vronsky had brought from the country, and his friendship with the governor, who was a schoolfellow of Vronsky’s—­a schoolfellow he had patronized and protected indeed.  But what contributed more than all to his success was his direct, equable manner with everyone, which very quickly made the majority of the noblemen reverse the current opinion of his supposed haughtiness.  He was himself conscious that, except that whimsical gentleman married to Kitty Shtcherbatskaya, who had a propos de bottes poured out a stream of irrelevant absurdities with such spiteful fury, every nobleman with whom he had made acquaintance had become his adherent.  He saw clearly, and other people recognized it, too, that he had done a great deal to secure the success of Nevyedovsky.  And now at his own table, celebrating Nevyedovsky’s election, he was experiencing an agreeable sense of triumph over the success of his candidate.  The election itself had so fascinated him that, if he could succeed in getting married during the next three years, he began to think of standing himself—­much as after winning a race ridden by a jockey, he had longed to ride a race himself.

Today he was celebrating the success of his jockey.  Vronsky sat at the head of the table, on his right hand sat the young governor, a general of high rank.  To all the rest he was the chief man in the province, who had solemnly opened the elections with his speech, and aroused a feeling of respect and even of awe in many people, as Vronsky saw; to Vronsky he was little Katka Maslov—­that had been his nickname in the Pages’ Corps—­whom he felt to be shy and tried to mettre a son aise.  On the left hand sat Nevyedovsky with his youthful, stubborn, and malignant face.  With him Vronsky was simple and deferential.

Sviazhsky took his failure very light-heartedly.  It was indeed no failure in his eyes, as he said himself, turning, glass in hand, to Nevyedovsky; they could not have found a better representative of the new movement, which the nobility ought to follow.  And so every honest person, as he said, was on the side of today’s success and was rejoicing over it.

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