"Impossible!" he cried, letting down the pedal of the washing
basin in which he had been sousing his healthy red neck.
"Impossible!" he cried, at the news that Laura had flung over
Fertinghof and had made up to Mileev. "And is he as stupid and
pleased as ever? Well, and how's Buzulukov?"
"Oh, there is a tale about Buzulukov--simply lovely!" cried
Petritsky. "You know his weakness for balls, and he never misses
a single court ball. He went to a big ball in a new helmet.
Have you seen the new helmets? Very nice, lighter. Well, so
he's standing.... No, I say, do listen."
"I am listening," answered Vronsky, rubbing himself with a rough
"Up comes the Grand Duchess with some ambassador or other, and,
as ill-luck would have it, she begins talking to him about the
new helmets. The Grand Duchess positively wanted to show the new
helmet to the ambassador. They see our friend standing there."
(Petritsky mimicked how he was standing with the helmet.) "The
Grand Duchess asked him to give her the helmet; he doesn't give
it to her. What do you think of that? Well, every one's winking
at him, nodding, frowning--give it to her, do! He doesn't give
it to her. He's mute as a fish. Only picture it!... Well,
the...what's his name, whatever he was...tries to take the helmet
from him...he won't give it up!... He pulls it from him, and
hands it to the Grand Duchess. 'Here, your Highness,' says he,
'is the new helmet.' She turned the helmet the other side up,
And--just picture it!--plop went a pear and sweetmeats out of it,
two pounds of sweetmeats!...He'd been storing them up, the
Vronsky burst into roars of laughter. And long afterwards, when
he was talking of other things, he broke out into his healthy
laugh, showing his strong, close rows of teeth, when he thought
of the helmet.
Having heard all the news, Vronsky, with the assistance of his
valet, got into his uniform, and went off to report himself. He
intended, when he had done that, to drive to his brother's and to
Betsy's and to pay several visits with a view to beginning to go
into that society where he might meet Madame Karenina. As he
always did in Petersburg, he left home not meaning to return till
late at night.