After the conversation with Alexey Alexandrovitch, Vronsky went
out onto the steps of the Karenins' house and stood still, with
difficulty remembering where he was, and where he ought to walk
or drive. He felt disgraced, humiliated, guilty, and deprived of
all possibility of washing away his humiliation. He felt thrust
out of the beaten track along which he had so proudly and lightly
walked till then. All the habits and rules of his life that had
seemed so firm, had turned out suddenly false and inapplicable.
The betrayed husband, who had figured till that time as a
pitiful creature, an incidental and somewhat ludicrous obstacle
to his happiness, had suddenly been summoned by her herself,
elevated to an awe-inspiring pinnacle, and on the pinnacle that
husband had shown himself, not malignant, not false, not
ludicrous, but kind and straightforward and large. Vronsky could
not but feel this, and the parts were suddenly reversed. Vronsky
felt his elevation and his own abasement, his truth and his own
falsehood. He felt that the husband was magnanimous even in his
sorrow, while he had been base and petty in his deceit. But this
sense of his own humiliation before the man he had unjustly
despised made up only a small part of his misery. He felt
unutterably wretched now, for his passion for Anna, which had
seemed to him of late to be growing cooler, now that he knew he
had lost her forever, was stronger than ever it had been. He had
seen all of her in her illness, had come to know her very soul,
and it seemed to him that he had never loved her till then. And
now when he had learned to know her, to love her as she should be
loved, he had been humiliated before her, and had lost her
forever, leaving with her nothing of himself but a shameful
memory. Most terrible of all had been his ludicrous, shameful
position when Alexey Alexandrovitch had pulled his hands away
from his humiliated face. He stood on the steps of the Karenins'
house like one distraught, and did not know what to do.
"A sledge, sir?" asked the porter.
"Yes, a sledge."
On getting home, after three sleepless nights, Vronsky, without
undressing, lay down fiat on the sofa, clasping his hands and
laying his head on them. His head was heavy. Images, memories,
and ideas of the strangest description followed one another with
extraordinary rapidity and vividness. First it was the medicine
he had poured out for the patient and spilt over the spoon, then
the midwife's white hands, then the queer posture of Alexey
Alexandrovitch on the floor beside the bed.