When Vronsky went to Moscow from Petersburg, he had left his large set of
rooms in Morskaia to his friend and favorite comrade Petritsky.
Petritsky was a young lieutenant, not particularly well-connected, and not merely
not wealthy, but always hopelessly in debt. Towards evening he was always
drunk, and he had often been locked up after all sorts of ludicrous and
disgraceful scandals, but he was a favorite both of his comrades and his superior
officers. On arriving at twelve o'clock from the station at his flat, Vronsky saw, at
the outer door, a hired carriage familiar to him. While still outside his own door,
as he rang, he heard masculine laughter, the lisp of a feminine voice, and
Petritsky's voice. "If that's one of the villains, don't let him in!" Vronsky told the
servant not to announce him, and slipped quietly into the first room. Baroness
Shilton, a friend of Petritsky's, with a rosy little face and flaxen hair, resplendent
in a lilac satin gown, and filling the whole room, like a canary, with her Parisian
chatter, sat at the round table making coffee. Petritsky, in his overcoat, and the
cavalry captain Kamerovsky, in full uniform, probably just come from duty, were
sitting each side of her.
"Bravo! Vronsky!" shouted Petritsky, jumping up, scraping his chair. "Our host
himself! Baroness, some coffee for him out of the new coffee pot. Why, we didn't
expect you! Hope you're satisfied with the ornament of your study," he said,
indicating the baroness. "You know each other, of course?"
"I should think so," said Vronsky, with a bright smile, pressing the baroness's little
hand. "What next! I'm an old friend."
"You're home after a journey," said the baroness, "so I'm flying. Oh, I'll be off this
minute, if I'm in the way."
"You're home, wherever you are, baroness," said Vronsky. "How do you do,
Kamerovsky?" he added, coldly shaking hands with Kamerovsky.
"There, you never know how to say such pretty things," said the baroness,
turning to Petritsky.
"No; what's that for? After dinner I say things quite as good."
"After dinner there's no credit in them? Well, then, I'll make you some coffee, so
go and wash and get ready," said the baroness, sitting down again, and
anxiously turning the screw in the new coffee pot. "Pierre, give me the coffee,"
she said, addressing Petritsky, whom she called as a contraction of his surname,
making no secret of her relations with him. "I'll put it in."