One of Anna's objects in coming back to Russia had been to see
her son. From the day she left Italy the thought of it had never
ceased to agitate her. And as she got nearer to Petersburg, the
delight and importance of this meeting grew ever greater in her
imagination. She did not even put to herself the question how to
arrange it. It seemed to her natural and simple to see her son
when she should be in the same town with him. But on her arrival
in Petersburg she was suddenly made distinctly aware of her
present position in society, and she grasped the fact that to
arrange this meeting was no easy matter.
She had now been two days in Petersburg. The thought of her son
never left her for a single instant, but she had not yet seen
him. To go straight to the house, where she might meet Alexey
Alexandrovitch, that she felt she had no right to do. She might
be refused admittance and insulted. To write and so enter into
relations with her husband--that it made her miserable to think
of doing; she could only be at peace when she did not think of
her husband. To get a glimpse of her son out walking, finding
out where and when he went out, was not enough for her; she had
so looked forward to this meeting, she had so much she must say
to him, she so longed to embrace him, to kiss him. Seryozha's
old nurse might be a help to her and show her what to do. But
the nurse was not now living in Alexey Alexandrovitch's house.
In this uncertainty, and in efforts to find the nurse, two days
had slipped by.
Hearing of the close intimacy between Alexey Alexandrovitch and
Countess Lidia Ivanovna, Anna decided on the third day to write
to her a letter, which cost her great pains, and in which she
intentionally said that permission to see her son must depend on
her husband's generosity. She knew that if the letter were shown
to her husband, he would keep up his character of magnanimity,
and would not refuse her request.