Anna Karenina HTML version

Chapter I.33
Alexey Alexandrovitch came back from the meeting of the ministers at four
o'clock, but as often happened, he had not time no come in to her. He went into
his study to see the people waiting for him with petitions, and to sign some
papers brought him by his chief secretary. At dinner time (there were always a
few people dining with the Karenins) there arrived an old lady, a cousin of Alexey
Alexandrovitch, the chief secretary of the department and his wife, and a young
man who had been recommended to Alexey Alexandrovitch for the service. Anna
went into the drawing room to receive these guests. Precisely at five o'clock,
before the bronze Peter the First clock had struck the fifth stroke, Alexey
Alexandrovitch came in, wearing a white tie and evening coat with two stars, as
he had to go out directly after dinner. Every minute of Alexey Alexandrovitch's life
was portioned out and occupied. And to make time to get through all that lay
before him every day, he adhered to the strictest punctuality. "Unhasting and
unresting," was his motto. He came into the dining hall, greeted everyone, and
hurriedly sat down, smiling to his wife.
"Yes, my solitude is over. You wouldn't believe how uncomfortable" (he laid
stress on the word uncomfortable) "it is to dine alone."
At dinner he talked a little to his wife about Moscow matters, and, with a sarcastic
smile, asked her after Stepan Arkadyevitch; but the conversation was for the
most part general, dealing with Petersburg official and public news. After dinner
he spent half an hour with his guests, and again, with a smile, pressed his wife's
hand, withdrew, and drove off to the council. Anna did not go out that evening
either to the Princess Betsy Tverskaya, who, hearing of her return, had invited
her, nor to the theater, where she had a box for that evening. She did not go out
principally because the dress she had reckoned upon was not ready. Altogether,
Anna, on turning, after the departure of her guests, to the consideration of her
attire, was very much annoyed. She was generally a mistress of the art of
dressing well without great expense, and before leaving Moscow she had given
her dressmaker three dresses to transform. The dresses had to be altered so
that they could not be recognized, and they ought to have been ready three days
before. It appeared that two dresses had not been done at all, while the other
one had not been altered as Anna had intended. The dressmaker came to
explain, declaring that it would be better as she had done it, and Anna was so
furious that she felt ashamed when she thought of it afterwards. To regain her
serenity completely she went into the nursery, and spent the whole evening with
her son, put him to bed herself, signed him with the cross, and tucked him up.
She was glad she had not gone out anywhere, and had spent the evening so
well. She felt so light-hearted and serene, she saw so clearly that all that had
seemed to her so important on her railway journey was only one of the common
trivial incidents of fashionable life, and that she had no reason to feel ashamed
before anyone else or before herself. Anna sat down at the hearth with an