"Oh, I don't regard her as fallen more than hundreds of women you
do receive!" Vronsky interrupted her still more gloomily, and he
got up in silence, understanding that his sister-in-law's
decision was not to be shaken.
"Alexey! don't be angry with me. Please understand that I'm not
to blame," began Varya, looking at him with a timid smile.
"I'm not angry with you," he said still as gloomily; "but I'm
sorry in two ways. I'm sorry, too, that this means breaking up
our friendship--if not breaking up, at least weakening it. You
will understand that for me, too, it cannot be otherwise."
And with that he left her.
Vronsky knew that further efforts were useless, and that he had
to spend these few days in Petersburg as though in a strange
town, avoiding every sort of relation with his own old circle in
order not to be exposed to the annoyances and humiliations which
were so intolerable to him. One of the most unpleasant features
of his position in Petersburg was that Alexey Alexandrovitch and
his name seemed to meet him everywhere. He could not begin to
talk of anything without the conversation turning on Alexey
Alexandrovitch; he could not go anywhere without risk of meeting
him. So at least it seemed to Vronsky, just as it seems to a man
with a sore finger that he is continually, as though on purpose,
grazing his sore finger on everything.
Their stay in Petersburg was the more painful to Vronsky that he
perceived all the time a sort of new mood that he could not
understand in Anna. At one time she would seem in love with him,
and then she would become cold, irritable, and impenetrable. She
was worrying over something, and keeping something back from him,
and did not seem to notice the humiliations which poisoned his
existence, and for her, with her delicate intuition, must have
been still more unbearable.