Anna Karenina HTML version

Chapter I.2
Stepan Arkadyevitch was a truthful man in his relations with himself. He was
incapable of deceiving himself and persuading himself that he repented of his
conduct. He could not at this date repent of the fact that he, a handsome,
susceptible man of thirty-four, was not in love with his wife, the mother of five
living and two dead children, and only a year younger than himself. All he
repented of was that he had not succeeded better in hiding it from his wife. But
he felt all the difficulty of his position and was sorry for his wife, his children, and
himself. Possibly he might have managed to conceal his sins better from his wife
if he had anticipated that the knowledge of them would have had such an effect
on her. He had never clearly thought out the subject, but he had vaguely
conceived that his wife must long ago have suspected him of being unfaithful to
her, and shut her eyes to the fact. He had even supposed that she, a worn-out
woman no longer young or good-looking, and in no way remarkable or
interesting, merely a good mother, ought from a sense of fairness to take an
indulgent view. It had turned out quite the other way.
"Oh, it's awful! oh dear, oh dear! awful!" Stepan Arkadyevitch kept repeating to
himself, and he could think of nothing to be done. "And how well things were
going up till now! how well we got on! She was contented and happy in her
children; I never interfered with her in anything; I let her manage the children and
the house just as she liked. It's true it's bad HER having been a governess in our
house. That's bad! There's something common, vulgar, in flirting with one's
governess. But what a governess!" (He vividly recalled the roguish black eyes of
Mlle. Roland and her smile.) "But after all, while she was in the house, I kept
myself in hand. And the worst of it all is that she's seems as if ill-luck
would have it so! Oh, oh! But what, what is to be done?"
There was no solution, but that universal solution which life gives to all questions,
even the most complex and insoluble. That answer is: one must live in the needs
of the day--that is, forget oneself. To forget himself in sleep was impossible now,
at least till nighttime; he could not go back now to the music sung by the
decanter-women; so he must forget himself in the dream of daily life.
"Then we shall see," Stepan Arkadyevitch said to himself, and getting up he put
on a gray dressing-gown lined with blue silk, tied the tassels in a knot, and,
drawing a deep breath of air into his broad, bare chest, he walked to the window
with his usual confident step, turning out his feet that carried his full frame so
easily. He pulled up the blind and rang the bell loudly. It was at once answered
by the appearance of an old friend, his valet, Matvey, carrying his clothes, his
boots, and a telegram. Matvey was followed by the barber with all the
necessaries for shaving.