“There won’t be children in the future.”
“That’s a great pity,” he said.
“You want it for the children’s sake, but you don’t think of me?” she said, quite forgetting or not having heard that he had said, “for your sake and the children’s.”
The question of the possibility of having children had long been a subject of dispute and irritation to her. His desire to have children she interpreted as a proof he did not prize her beauty.
“Oh, I said: for your sake. Above all for your sake,” he repeated, frowning as though in pain, “because I am certain that the greater part of your irritability comes from the indefiniteness of the position.”
“Yes, now he has laid aside all pretense, and all his cold hatred for me is apparent,” she thought, not hearing his words, but watching with terror the cold, cruel judge who looked mocking her out of his eyes.
“The cause is not that,” she said, “and, indeed, I don’t see how the cause of my irritability, as you call it, can be that I am completely in your power. What indefiniteness is there in the position? on the contrary...”
“I am very sorry that you don’t care to understand,” he interrupted, obstinately anxious to give utterance to his thought. “The indefiniteness consists in your imagining that I am free.”
“On that score you can set your mind quite at rest,” she said, and turning away from him, she began drinking her coffee.
She lifted her cup, with her little finger held apart, and put it to her lips. After drinking a few sips she glanced at him, and by his expression, she saw clearly that he was repelled by her hand, and her gesture, and the sound made by her lips.
“I don’t care in the least what your mother thinks, and what match she wants to make for you,” she said, putting the cup down with a shaking hand.
“But we are not talking about that.”
“Yes, that’s just what we are talking about. And let me tell you that a heartless woman, whether she’s old or not old, your mother or anyone else, is of no consequence to me, and I would not consent to know her.”
“Anna, I beg you not to speak disrespectfully of my mother.”
“A woman whose heart does not tell her where her son’s happiness and honor lie has no heart.”
“I repeat my request that you will not speak disrespectfully of my mother, whom I respect,” he said, raising his voice and looking sternly at her.
She did not answer. Looking intently at him, at his face, his hands, she recalled all the details of their reconciliation the previous day, and his passionate caresses. “There, just such caresses he has lavished, and will lavish, and longs to lavish on other women!” she thought.
“You don’t love your mother. That’s all talk, and talk, and talk!” she said, looking at him with hatred in her eyes.
“Even if so, you must...”