Vronsky's life was particularly happy in that he had a code of
principles, which defined with unfailing certitude what he ought
and what he ought not to do. This code of principles covered
only a very small circle of contingencies, but then the
principles were never doubtful, and Vronsky, as he never went
outside that circle, had never had a moment's hesitation about
doing what he ought to do. These principles laid down as
invariable rules: that one must pay a cardsharper, but need not
pay a tailor; that one must never tell a lie to a man, but one
may to a woman; that one must never cheat anyone, but one may a
husband; that one must never pardon an insult, but one may give
one and so on. These principles were possibly not reasonable and
not good, but they were of unfailing certainty, and so long as he
adhered to them, Vronsky felt that his heart was at peace and he
could hold his head up. Only quite lately in regard to his
relations with Anna, Vronsky had begun to feel that his code of
principles did not fully cover all possible contingencies, and to
foresee in the future difficulties and perplexities for which he
could find no guiding clue.
His present relation to Anna and to her husband was to his mind
clear and simple. It was clearly and precisely defined in the
code of principles by which he was guided.
she was an honorable woman who had bestowed her love upon him,
and he loved her, and therefore she was in his eyes a woman who
had a right to the same, or even more, respect than a lawful
wife. He would have had his hand chopped off before he would
have allowed himself by a word, by a hint, to humiliate her, or
even to fall short of the fullest respect a woman could look for.
His attitude to society, too, was clear. Everyone might know,
might suspect it, but no one might dare to speak of it. If any
did so, he was ready to force all who might speak to be silent
and to respect the nonexistent honor of the woman he loved.