Whether he was uncomfortable that he, a descendant of Rurik, Prince Oblonsky, had been kept for two hours waiting to see a Jew, or that for the first time in his life he was not following the example of his ancestors in serving the government, but was turning off into a new career, anyway he was very uncomfortable. During those two hours in Volgarinov’s waiting room Stepan Arkadyevitch, stepping jauntily about the room, pulling his whiskers, entering into conversation with the other petitioners, and inventing an epigram on his position, assiduously concealed from others, and even from himself, the feeling he was experiencing.
But all the time he was uncomfortable and angry, he could not have said why—whether because he could not get his epigram just right, or from some other reason. When at last Volgarinov had received him with exaggerated politeness and unmistakable triumph at his humiliation, and had all but refused the favor asked of him, Stepan Arkadyevitch had made haste to forget it all as soon as possible. And now, at the mere recollection, he blushed.
“Now there is something I want to talk about, and you know what it is. About Anna,” Stepan Arkadyevitch said, pausing for a brief space, and shaking off the unpleasant impression.
As soon as Oblonsky uttered Anna’s name, the face of Alexey Alexandrovitch was completely transformed; all the life was gone out of it, and it looked weary and dead.
“What is it exactly that you want from me?” he said, moving in his chair and snapping his pince-nez.
“A definite settlement, Alexey Alexandrovitch, some settlement of the position. I’m appealing to you” ("not as an injured husband,” Stepan Arkadyevitch was going to say, but afraid of wrecking his negotiation by this, he changed the words) “not as a statesman” (which did not sound a propos), “but simply as a man, and a good-hearted man and a Christian. You must have pity on her,” he said.
“That is, in what way precisely?” Karenin said softly.
“Yes, pity on her. If you had seen her as I have!—I have been spending all the winter with her—you would have pity on her. Her position is awful, simply awful!”
“I had imagined,” answered Alexey Alexandrovitch in a higher, almost shrill voice, “that Anna Arkadyevna had everything she had desired for herself.”
“Oh, Alexey Alexandrovitch, for heaven’s sake, don’t let us indulge in recriminations! What is past is past, and you know what she wants and is waiting for—divorce.”
“But I believe Anna Arkadyevna refuses a divorce, if I make it a condition to leave me my son. I replied in that sense, and supposed that the matter was ended. I consider it at an end,” shrieked Alexey Alexandrovitch.