CHAPTER 14

NEVER BEFORE HAD A DAY been passed in quarrel. Today was the first time. And this was not a quarrel. It was the open acknowledgment of complete coldness. Was it possible to glance at her as he had glanced when he came into the room? To look at her, see her heart was breaking with despair, and go out without a word with that face of callous composure? He was not merely cold to her, he hated her because he loved another woman-that was clear.

Remembering all the cruel words he had said, Anna supplied, too, the words that he had unmistakably wished to say and could have said to her, had their encounter unfolded just a bit differently.

“I won’t prevent you,” he might have said. “You can go where you like. You were unwilling to be divorced from your husband, no doubt so that you might go back to him. Go back to him. If you want money, I’ll give it to you. How many rubles do you want?”

All the most cruel words that a brutal man could say, she watched and heard him say as clearly as if he were projected before her on a monitor, and she could not forgive him for them, as though he had actually said them.

But didn’t he only yesterday swear he loved me, he, a truthful and sincere man? Haven’t I despaired for nothing many times already? she thought immediately.

Anna left the house and wandered the streets of Moscow, surveying the New Russia with a cold and despairing eye. No II/Lamplighter/76s lit the lamps; no II/Porter/44s swung open doors. Everywhere she turned, she saw sullen peasants performing the menial tasks that for decades had been the province of the machines: cleaning gutters, pushing brooms, opening doors. She saw too, as grim reminders of her personal grief, countless iconographs of her husband, Alexei Alexandrovich Karenin, plastered with thick glue in the alleys and in the marketplace. Strangest and most galling of all was the text accompanying each poster, hailing him as “Tsar.” Anna Karenina felt herself a stranger in a queerly altered country.

She returned home in doubts whether everything were over with Vronsky or whether there were still hope of reconciliation, whether she should go away at once or see him once more. She was expecting him the whole day, and in the evening, as she went to her own room, leaving a message with Pyotr that she still felt unwell, she said to herself, If he comes to me, in spite of what Pyotr tells him, it means that he loves me still. If not, it means that all is over, and then I will decide what I’m to do!…

In the evening she heard the rumbling of his carriage stop at the entrance, his ring, his steps, and his conversation with the servant; he believed what was told him, did not care to find out more, and went to his own room. So then everything was over.

And death again rose clearly and vividly before her mind as the sole means of bringing back love for her in his heart, of punishing him and of gaining the victory in that strife which the evil spirit in possession of her heart was waging with him. How she now regretted the surge of animal strength that had pushed her to fight back yesterday against the Honored Guest-she looked with bitterness through the shattered windowpane and wished another alien would come.

Now nothing mattered: going or not going to the moon, getting or not getting a divorce from her husband-all that did not matter. The one thing that mattered was punishing him. She lay in bed with open eyes, by the light of a single burned-down candle, marveling how this tiny thing of wax could give any light at all. She vividly pictured to herself how he would feel when she would be no more, when she would be only a Memory to him. “How could I say such cruel things to her?” he would say. “How could I go out of the room without saying anything to her? But now she is no more. She has gone away from us forever. She is…” Suddenly the flickering candlelight wavered, pounced on the whole cornice, the whole ceiling; shadows from the other side swooped to meet it, and for an instant the shadows flitted back, but then with fresh swiftness they darted forward, wavered, commingled, and all was darkness. Death! she thought. And such horror came upon her that for a long while she could not realize where she was, and for a long while her trembling hands could not find the matches and light another candle, instead of the one that had burned down and gone out. “No, anything-only to live! Why, I love him! Why, he loves me! This has been before and will pass,” she said, feeling that tears of joy at the return to life were trickling down her cheeks. And to escape from her panic she went hurriedly to his room.

He was asleep there, and sleeping soundly. She went up to him, and gazed a long while at him, holding the light above his face with care, unused to the wobbly feeling of the lit candle in her hand. Now when he was asleep, she loved him so that at the sight of him she could not keep back tears of tenderness. But she knew that if he woke up he would look at her with cold eyes, convinced that he was right, and that before telling him of her love, she would have to prove to him that he had been wrong in his treatment of her.

In the morning she was waked by that same horrible nightmare which had recurred several times in her dreams, full of singing, sad singing, the voice of the voiceless Android Karenina, singing a dirge of betrayal. From this nightmare, Anna woke moaning.

She looked silently, intently at Vronsky, standing in the middle of the room. He glanced at her, frowned for a moment, and went on reading a letter. She turned, and went deliberately out of the room. He still might have turned her back, but when she had reached the door, he was still silent, and the only sound audible was the rustling of the notepaper as he turned it.

“Oh, by the way,” he said at the very moment she was in the doorway, “the moon is now beyond our reach. It is reported to me that the Higher Branches have shut down all access to the launching station, that even now Toy Soldiers are manning gateposts on all the roads to the Cannon, turning away travelers. Our only option now, and I do not pretend the odds are in our favor, is to convince the full council of the Higher Branches to overrule Karenin. Anna, it is time to make peace with the world as it is.”

“You may, but not I,” she said, turning round to him.

“Anna, we can’t go on like this…”

“You, but not I,” she repeated.

“This is getting unbearable!”

“You… you will be sorry for this,” she said, and went out.

Frightened by the desperate expression with which these words were uttered, he jumped up and would have run after her, but on second thought he sat down and scowled, setting his teeth. This vulgar-as he thought it-threat of something vague exasperated him.

“I’ve tried everything,” he thought, “the only thing left is not to pay attention,” and he began to get ready to drive into town, resolving to take his case to the Higher Branches, and beg forgiveness, not as one half of a couple, but as his own man.

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