When Vronsky returned home, Anna was not yet home. Soon after he
had left, some lady, so they told him, had come to see her, and
she had gone out with her. That she had gone out without leaving
word where she was going, that she had not yet come back, and
that all the morning she had been going about somewhere without a
word to him--all this, together with the strange look of
excitement in her face in the morning, and the recollection of
the hostile tone with which she had before Yashvin almost
snatched her son's photographs out of his hands, made him
serious. He decided he absolutely must speak openly with her.
And he waited for her in her drawing room. But Anna did not
return alone, but brought with her her old unmarried aunt,
Princess Oblonskaya. This was the lady who had come in the
morning, and with whom Anna had gone out shopping. Anna appeared
not to notice Vronsky's worried and inquiring expression, and
began a lively account of her morning's shopping. He saw that
there was something working within her; in her flashing eyes,
when they rested for a moment on him, there was an intense
concentration, and in her words and movements there was that
nervous rapidity and grace which, during the early period of
their intimacy, had so fascinated him, but which now so disturbed
and alarmed him.
The dinner was laid for four. All were gathered together and
about to go into the little dining room when Tushkevitch made his
appearance with a message from Princess Betsy. Princess Betsy
begged her to excuse her not having come to say good-bye; she had
been indisposed, but begged Anna to come to her between half-past
six and nine o'clock. Vronsky glanced at Anna at the precise
limit of time, so suggestive of steps having been taken that she
should meet no one; but Anna appeared not to notice it.
"Very sorry that I can't come just between half-past six and
nine," she said with a faint smile.
"The princess will be very sorry."
"And so am I."
"You're going, no doubt, to hear Patti?" said Tushkevitch.