Anna came in with hanging head, playing with the tassels of her
hood. Her face was brilliant and glowing; but this glow was not
one of brightness; it suggested the fearful glow of a
conflagration in the midst of a dark night. On seeing her
husband, Anna raised her head and smiled, as though she had just
"You're not in bed? What a wonder!" she said, letting fall her
hood, and without stopping, she went on into the dressing room.
"It's late, Alexey Alexandrovitch," she said, when she had gone
through the doorway.
"Anna, it's necessary for me to have a talk with you."
"With me?" she said, wonderingly. She came out from behind the
door of the dressing room, and looked at him. "Why, what is it?
What about?" she asked, sitting down. "Well, let's talk, if it's
so necessary. But it would be better to get to sleep."
Anna said what came to her lips, and marveled, hearing herself,
at her own capacity for lying. How simple and natural were her
words, and how likely that she was simply sleepy! She felt
herself clad in an impenetrable armor of falsehood. She felt
that some unseen force had come to her aid and was supporting
"Anna, I must warn you," he began.
"Warn me?" she said. "Of what?"
She looked at him so simply, so brightly, that anyone who did
not know her as her husband knew her could not have noticed
anything unnatural, either in the sound or the sense of her
words. But to him, knowing her, knowing that whenever he went to
bed five minutes later than usual, she noticed it, and asked him
the reason; to him, knowing that every joy, every pleasure and
pain that she felt she communicated to him at once; to him, now
to see that she did not care to notice his state of mind, that
she did not care to say a word about herself, meant a great deal.
He saw that the inmost recesses of her soul, that had always
hitherto lain open before him, were closed against him. More
than that, he saw from her tone that she was not even perturbed
at that, but as it were said straight out to him: "Yes, it's shut
up, and so it must be, and will be in future." Now he
experienced a feeling such as a man might have, returning home
and finding his own house locked up. "But perhaps the key may
yet be found," thought Alexey Alexandrovitch.