“He has taken her daughter. Alexey was ready to agree to anything at first. Now it worries him terribly that he should have given his own child away to another man. But he can’t take back his word. Karenin came to the funeral. But we tried to prevent his meeting Alexey. For him, for her husband, it was easier, anyway. She had set him free. But my poor son was utterly given up to her. He had thrown up everything, his career, me, and even then she had no mercy on him, but of set purpose she made his ruin complete. No, say what you will, her very death was the death of a vile woman, of no religious feeling. God forgive me, but I can’t help hating the memory of her, when I look at my son’s misery!”
“But how is he now?”
“It was a blessing from Providence for us—this Servian war. I’m old, and I don’t understand the rights and wrongs of it, but it’s come as a providential blessing to him. Of course for me, as his mother, it’s terrible; and what’s worse, they say, ce n’est pas tres bien vu a Petersbourg. But it can’t be helped! It was the one thing that could rouse him. Yashvin—a friend of his—he had lost all he had at cards and he was going to Servia. He came to see him and persuaded him to go. Now it’s an interest for him. Do please talk to him a little. I want to distract his mind. He’s so low-spirited. And as bad luck would have it, he has toothache too. But he’ll be delighted to see you. Please do talk to him; he’s walking up and down on that side.”
Sergey Ivanovitch said he would be very glad to, and crossed over to the other side of the station.
In the slanting evening shadows cast by the baggage piled up on the platform, Vronsky in his long overcoat and slouch hat, with his hands in his pockets, strode up and down, like a wild beast in a cage, turning sharply after twenty paces. Sergey Ivanovitch fancied, as he approached him, that Vronsky saw him but was pretending not to see. This did not affect Sergey Ivanovitch in the slightest. He was above all personal considerations with Vronsky.
At that moment Sergey Ivanovitch looked upon Vronsky as a man taking an important part in a great cause, and Koznishev thought it his duty to encourage him and express his approval. He went up to him.
Vronsky stood still, looked intently at him, recognized him, and going a few steps forward to meet him, shook hands with him very warmly.
“Possibly you didn’t wish to see me,” said Sergey Ivanovitch, “but couldn’t I be of use to you?”
“There’s no one I should less dislike seeing than you,” said Vronsky. “Excuse me; and there’s nothing in life for me to like.”
“I quite understand, and I merely meant to offer you my services,” said Sergey Ivanovitch, scanning Vronsky’s face, full of unmistakable suffering. “Wouldn’t it be of use to you to have a letter to Ristitch—to Milan?”