Walks, conversation with Princess Varvara, visits to the
hospital, and, most of all, reading--reading of one book after
another--filled up her time. But on the sixth day, when the
coachman came back without him, she felt that now she was utterly
incapable of stifling the thought of him and of what he was doing
there, just at that time her little girl was taken ill. Anna
began to look after her, but even that did not distract her mind,
especially as the illness was not serious. However hard she
tried, she could not love this little child, and to feign love
was beyond her powers. Towards the evening of that day, still
alone, Anna was in such a panic about him that she decided to
start for the town, but on second thoughts wrote him the
contradictory letter that Vronsky received, and without reading
it through, sent it off by a special messenger. The next morning
she received his letter and regretted her own. She dreaded a
repetition of the severe look he had flung at her at parting,
especially when he knew that the baby was not dangerously ill.
But still she was glad she had written to him. At this moment
Anna was positively admitting to herself that she was a burden to
him, that he would relinquish his freedom regretfully to return
to her, and in spite of that she was glad he was coming. Let him
weary of her, but he would be here with her, so that she would
see him, would know of every action he took.
She was sitting in the drawing room near a lamp, with a new
volume of Taine, and as she read, listening to the sound of the
wind outside, and every minute expecting the carriage to arrive.
Several times she had fancied she heard the sound of wheels, but
she had been mistaken. At last she heard not the sound of
wheels, but the coachman's shout and the dull rumble in the
covered entry. Even Princess Varvara, playing patience,
confirmed this, and Anna, flushing hotly, got up; but instead of
going down, as she had done twice before, she stood still. She
suddenly felt ashamed of her duplicity, but even more she dreaded
how he might meet her. All feeling of wounded pride had passed
now; she was only afraid of the expression of his displeasure.
She remembered that her child had been perfectly well again for
the last two days. She felt positively vexed with her for
getting better from the very moment her letter was sent off.
Then she thought of him, that he was here, all of him, with his
hands, his eyes. She heard his voice. And forgetting
everything, she ran joyfully to meet him.