Her face looked weary, and there was not that play of eagerness in it, peeping out in her smile and her eyes; but for a single instant, as she glanced at him, there was a flash of something in her eyes, and although the flash died away at once, he was happy for that moment. She glanced at her husband to find out whether he knew Vronsky. Alexey Alexandrovitch looked at Vronsky with displeasure, vaguely recalling who this was. Vronsky’s composure and self-confidence here struck, like a scythe against a stone, upon the cold self-confidence of Alexey Alexandrovitch.
“Count Vronsky,” said Anna.
“Ah! We are acquainted, I believe,” said Alexey Alexandrovitch indifferently, giving his hand.
“You set off with the mother and you return with the son,” he said, articulating each syllable, as though each were a separate favor he was bestowing.
“You’re back from leave, I suppose?” he said, and without waiting for a reply, he turned to his wife in his jesting tone: “Well, were a great many tears shed at Moscow at parting?”
By addressing his wife like this he gave Vronsky to understand that he wished to be left alone, and, turning slightly towards him, he touched his hat; but Vronsky turned to Anna Arkadyevna.
“I hope I may have the honor of calling on you,” he said.
Alexey Alexandrovitch glanced with his weary eyes at Vronsky.
“Delighted,” he said coldly. “On Mondays we’re at home. Most fortunate,” he said to his wife, dismissing Vronsky altogether, “that I should just have half an hour to meet you, so that I can prove my devotion,” he went on in the same jesting tone.
“You lay too much stress on your devotion for me to value it much,” she responded in the same jesting tone, involuntarily listening to the sound of Vronsky’s steps behind them. “But what has it to do with me?” she said to herself, and she began asking her husband how Seryozha had got on without her.
“Oh, capitally! Mariette says he has been very good, And...I must disappoint you...but he has not missed you as your husband has. But once more merci, my dear, for giving me a day. Our dear Samovar will be delighted.” (He used to call the Countess Lidia Ivanovna, well known in society, a samovar, because she was always bubbling over with excitement.) “She has been continually asking after you. And, do you know, if I may venture to advise you, you should go and see her today. You know how she takes everything to heart. Just now, with all her own cares, she’s anxious about the Oblonskys being brought together.”
The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a friend of her husband’s, and the center of that one of the coteries of the Petersburg world with which Anna was, through her husband, in the closest relations.
“But you know I wrote to her?”
“Still she’ll want to hear details. Go and see her, if you’re not too tired, my dear. Well, Kondraty will take you in the carriage, while I go to my committee. I shall not be alone at dinner again,” Alexey Alexandrovitch went on, no longer in a sarcastic tone. “You wouldn’t believe how I’ve missed...” And with a long pressure of her hand and a meaning smile, he put her in her carriage.