"I want to warn you," he said in a low voice, "that through
thoughtlessness and lack of caution you may cause yourself to be
talked about in society. Your too animated conversation this
evening with Count Vronsky" (he enunciated the name firmly and
with deliberate emphasis) "attracted attention."
He talked and looked at her laughing eyes, which frightened him
now with their impenetrable look, and, as he talked, he felt all
the uselessness and idleness of his words.
"You're always like that," she answered as though completely
misapprehending him, and of all he had said only taking in the
last phrase. "One time you don't like my being dull, and another
time you don't like my being lively. I wasn't dull. Does that
Alexey Alexandrovitch shivered, and bent his hands to make the
"Oh, please, don't do that, I do so dislike it," she said.
"Anna, is this you?" said Alexey Alexandrovitch, quietly making
an effort over himself, and restraining the motion of his
"But what is it all about?" she said, with such genuine and droll
wonder. "What do you want of me?"
Alexey Alexandrovitch paused, and rubbed his forehead and his
eyes. He saw that instead of doing as he had intended--that is
to say, warning his wife against a mistake in the eyes of the
world--he had unconsciously become agitated over what was the
affair of her conscience, and was struggling against the barrier
he fancied between them.
"This is what I meant to say to you," he went on coldly and
composedly, "and I beg you to listen to it. I consider jealousy,
as you know, a humiliating and degrading feeling, and I shall
never allow myself to be influenced by it; but there are certain
rules of decorum which cannot be disregarded with impunity. This
evening it was not I observed it, but judging by the impression
made on the company, everyone observed that your conduct and
deportment were not altogether what could be desired."