When he got home, Vronsky found there a note from Anna. She
wrote, "I am ill and unhappy. I cannot come out, but I cannot go
on longer without seeing you. Come in this evening. Alexey
Alexandrovitch goes to the council at seven and will be there
till ten." Thinking for an instant of the strangeness of her
bidding him come straight to her, in spite of her husband's
insisting on her not receiving him, he decided to go.
Vronsky had that winter got his promotion, was now a colonel, had
left the regimental quarters, and was living alone. After having
some lunch, he lay down on the sofa immediately, and in five
minutes memories of the hideous scenes he had witnessed during
the last few days were confused together and joined on to a
mental image of Anna and of the peasant who had played an
important part in the bear hunt, and Vronsky fell asleep. He
waked up in the dark, trembling with horror, and made haste to
light a candle. "What was it? What? What was the dreadful
thing I dreamed? Yes, yes; I think a little dirty man with a
disheveled beard was stooping down doing something, and all of a
sudden he began saying some strange words in French. Yes, there
was nothing else in the dream," he said to himself. "But why was
it so awful?" He vividly recalled the peasant again and those
incomprehensible French words the peasant had uttered, and a
chill of horror ran down his spine.
"What nonsense!" thought Vronsky, and glanced at his watch.
It was half-past eight already. He rang up his servant, dressed
in haste, and went out onto the steps, completely forgetting the
dream and only worried at being late. As he drove up to the
Karenins' entrance he looked at his watch and saw it was ten
minutes to nine. A high, narrow carriage with a pair of grays
was standing at the entrance. He recognized Anna's carriage.
"She is coming to me," thought Vronsky, "and better she should.
I don't like going into that house. But no matter; I can't hide
myself," he thought, and with that manner peculiar to him from
childhood, as of a man who has nothing to be ashamed of, Vronsky
got out of his sledge and went to the door. The door opened, and
the hall porter with a rug on his arm called the carriage.
Vronsky, though he did not usually notice details, noticed at
this moment the amazed expression with which the porter glanced
at him. In the very doorway Vronsky almost ran up against Alexey
Alexandrovitch. The gas jet threw its full light on the
bloodless, sunken face under the black hat and on the white
cravat, brilliant against the beaver of the coat. Karenin's
fixed, dull eyes were fastened upon Vronsky's face. Vronsky
bowed, and Alexey Alexandrovitch, chewing his lips, lifted his
hand to his hat and went on. Vronsky saw him without looking
round get into the carriage, pick up the rug and the opera-glass
at the window and disappear. Vronsky went into the hall. His
brows were scowling, and his eyes gleamed with a proud and angry
light in them.