Anna Karenina HTML version

Chapter I.20
The whole of that day Anna spent at home, that's to say at the Oblonskys', and
received no one, though some of her acquaintances had already heard of her
arrival, and came to call; the same day. Anna spent the whole morning with Dolly
and the children. She merely sent a brief note to her brother to tell him that he
must not fail to dine at home. "Come, God is merciful," she wrote.
Oblonsky did dine at home: the conversation was general, and his wife, speaking
to him, addressed him as "Stiva," as she had not done before. In the relations of
the husband and wife the same estrangement still remained, but there was no
talk now of separation, and Stepan Arkadyevitch saw the possibility of
explanation and reconciliation.
Immediately after dinner Kitty came in. She knew Anna Arkadyevna, but only
very slightly, and she came now to her sister's with some trepidation, at the
prospect of meeting this fashionable Petersburg lady, whom everyone spoke so
highly of. But she made a favorable impression on Anna Arkadyevna--she saw
that at once. Anna was unmistakably admiring her loveliness and her youth:
before Kitty knew where she was she found herself not merely under Anna's
sway, but in love with her, as young girls do fall in love with older and married
women. Anna was not like a fashionable lady, nor the mother of a boy of eight
years old. In the elasticity of her movements, the freshness and the unflagging
eagerness which persisted in her face, and broke out in her smile and her
glance, she would rather have passed for a girl of twenty, had it not been for a
serious and at times mournful look in her eyes, which struck and attracted Kitty.
Kitty felt that Anna was perfectly simple and was concealing nothing, but that she
had another higher world of interests inaccessible to her, complex and poetic.
After dinner, when Dolly went away to her own room, Anna rose quickly and went
up to her brother, who was just lighting a cigar.
"Stiva," she said to him, winking gaily, crossing him and glancing towards the
door, "go, and God help you."
He threw down the cigar, understanding her, and departed through the doorway.
When Stepan Arkadyevitch had disappeared, she went back to the sofa where
she had been sitting, surrounded by the children. Either because the children
saw that their mother was fond of this aunt, or that they felt a special charm in
her themselves, the two elder ones, and the younger following their lead, as
children so often do, had clung about their new aunt since before dinner, and
would not leave her side. And it had become a sort of game among them to sit a