When Anna went into the room, Dolly was sitting in the little
drawing-room with a white-headed fat little boy, already like his
father, giving him a lesson in French reading. As the boy read,
he kept twisting and trying to tear off a button that was nearly
off his jacket. His mother had several times taken his hand from
it, but the fat little hand went back to the button again. His
mother pulled the button off and put it in her pocket.
"Keep your hands still, Grisha," she said, and she took up her
work, a coverlet she had long been making. She always set to
work on it at depressed moments, and now she knitted at it
nervously, twitching her fingers and counting the stitches.
Though she had sent word the day before to her husband that it
was nothing to her whether his sister came or not, she had made
everything ready for her arrival, and was expecting her
sister-in-law with emotion.
Dolly was crushed by her sorrow, utterly swallowed up by it.
Still she did not forget that Anna, her sister-in-law, was the
wife of one of the most important personages in Petersburg, and
was a Petersburg grande dame. And, thanks to this circumstance,
she did not carry out her threat to her husband--that is to say,
she remembered that her sister-in-law was coming. "And, after
all, Anna is in no wise to blame," thought Dolly. "I know
nothing of her except the very best, and I have seen nothing but
kindness and affection from her towards myself." It was true
that as far as she could recall her impressions at Petersburg at
the Karenins', she did not like their household itself; there was
something artificial in the whole framework of their family life.
"But why should I not receive her? If only she doesn't take it
into her head to console me!" thought Dolly. "All consolation
and counsel and Christian forgiveness, all that I have thought
over a thousand times, and it's all no use."
All these days Dolly had been alone with her children. She did
not want to talk of her sorrow, but with that sorrow in her heart
she could not talk of outside matters. She knew that in one way
or another she would tell Anna everything, and she was
alternately glad at the thought of speaking freely, and angry at
the necessity of speaking of her humiliation with her, his
sister, and of hearing her ready-made phrases of good advice and
comfort. She had been on the lookout for her, glancing at her
watch every minute, and, as so often happens, let slip just that
minute when her visitor arrived, so that she did not hear the