"Yes, there's plenty of sorrow and evil in the world. I am so
"Oh, why?" asked Anna, trying to suppress a smile.
"I'm beginning to be weary of fruitlessly championing the truth,
and sometimes I'm quite unhinged by it. The Society of the
Little Sisters" (this was a religiously-patriotic, philanthropic
institution) "was going splendidly, but with these gentlemen it's
impossible to do anything," added Countess Lidia Ivanovna in a
tone of ironical submission to destiny. "They pounce on the
idea, and distort it, and then work it out so pettily and
unworthily. Two or three people, your husband among them,
understand all the importance of the thing, but the others simply
drag it down. Yesterday Pravdin wrote to me..."
Pravdin was a well-known Panslavist abroad, and Countess Lidia
Ivanovna described the purport of his letter.
Then the countess told her of more disagreements and intrigues
against the work of the unification of the churches, and departed
in haste, as she had that day to be at the meeting of some
society and also at the Slavonic committee.
"It was all the same before, of course; but why was it I didn't
notice it before?" Anna asked herself. "Or has she been very
much irritated today? It's really ludicrous; her object is doing
good; she a Christian, yet she's always angry; and she always has
enemies, and always enemies in the name of Christianity and doing
After Countess Lidia Ivanovna another friend came, the wife of a
chief secretary, who told her all the news of the town. At three
o'clock she too went away, promising to come to dinner. Alexey
Alexandrovitch was at the ministry. Anna, left alone, spent the
time till dinner in assisting at her son's dinner (he dined apart
from his parents) and in putting her things in order, and in
reading and answering the notes and letters which had accumulated
on her table.
The feeling of causeless shame, which she had felt on the
journey, and her excitement, too, had completely vanished. In
the habitual conditions of her life she felt again resolute and