Darya Alexandrovna, in a dressing jacket, and with her now scanty, once
luxuriant and beautiful hair fastened up with hairpins on the nape of her neck,
with a sunken, thin face and large, startled eyes, which looked prominent from
the thinness of her face, was standing among a litter of all sorts of things
scattered all over the room, before an open bureau, from which she was taking
something. Hearing her husband's steps, she stopped, looking towards the door,
and trying assiduously to give her features a severe and contemptuous
expression. She felt she was afraid of him, and afraid of the coming interview.
She was just attempting to do what she had attempted to do ten times already in
these last three days--to sort out the children's things and her own, so as to take
them to her mother's--and again she could not bring herself to do this; but now
again, as each time before, she kept saying to herself, "that things cannot go on
like this, that she must take some step" to punish him, put him to shame, avenge
on him some little part at least of the suffering he had caused her. She still
continued to tell herself that she should leave him, but she was conscious that
this was impossible; it was impossible because she could not get out of the habit
of regarding him as her husband and loving him. Besides this, she realized that if
even here in her own house she could hardly manage to look after her five
children properly, they would be still worse off where she was going with them all.
As it was, even in the course of these three days, the youngest was unwell from
being given unwholesome soup, and the others had almost gone without their
dinner the day before. She was conscious that it was impossible to go away; but,
cheating herself, she went on all the same sorting out her things and pretending
she was going.
Seeing her husband, she dropped her hands into the drawer of the bureau as
though looking for something, and only looked round at him when he had come
quite up to her. But her face, to which she tried to give a severe and resolute
expression, betrayed bewilderment and suffering.
"Dolly!" he said in a subdued and timid voice. He bent his head towards his
shoulder and tried to look pitiful and humble, but for all that he was radiant with
freshness and health. In a rapid glance she scanned his figure that beamed with
health and freshness. "Yes, he is happy and content!" she thought; "while I....
And that disgusting good nature, which every one likes him for and praises--I
hate that good nature of his," she thought. Her mouth stiffened, the muscles of
the cheek contracted on the right side of her pale, nervous face.
"What do you want?" she said in a rapid, deep, unnatural voice.
"Dolly!" he repeated, with a quiver in his voice. "Anna is coming today."