On the day of the races at Krasnoe Selo, Vronsky had come earlier
than usual to eat beefsteak in the common messroom of the
regiment. He had no need to be strict with himself, as he had
very quickly been brought down to the required light weight; but
still he had to avoid gaining flesh, and so he eschewed
farinaceous and sweet dishes. He sat with his coat unbuttoned
over a white waistcoat, resting both elbows on the table, and
while waiting for the steak he had ordered he looked at a French
novel that lay open on his plate. He was only looking at the
book to avoid conversation with the officers coming in and out;
he was thinking.
He was thinking of Anna's promise to see him that day after the
races. But he had not seen her for three days, and as her
husband had just returned from aborad, he did not know whether
she would be able to meet him today or not, and he did not know
how to find out. He had had his last interview with her at his
cousin Betsy's summer villa. He visited the Karenins' summer
villa as rarely as possible. Now he wanted to go there, and he
pondered the question how to do it.
"Of course In shall say Betsy has sent me to ask whether she's
coming to the races. Of course, I'll go," he decided, lifting
his head from the book. And as he vividly pictured the happiness
of seeing her, his face lighted up.
"Send to my house, and tell them to have out the carriage and
three horses as quick as they can," he said to the servant, who
handed him the steak on a hot silver dish, and moving the dish up
he began eating.
From the billiard room next door came the sound of balls
knocking, of talk and laughter. Two officers appeared at the
entrance-door: one, a young fellow, with a feeble, delicate
face, who had lately joined the regiment from the Corps of Pages;
the other, a plump, elderly officer, with a bracelet on his
wrist, and little eyes, lost in fat.
Vronsky glanced at them, frowned, and looking down at his book as
though he had not noticed them, he proceeded to eat and read at
the same time.