The whole evening Dolly was, as always, a little mocking in her
tone to her husband, while Stepan Arkadyevitch was happy and
cheerful, but not so as to seem as though, having been forgiven,
he had forgotten his offense.
At half-past nine o'clock a particularly joyful and pleasant
family conversation over the tea-table at the Oblonskys' was
broken up by an apparently simple incident. But this simple
incident for some reason struck everyone as strange. Talking
about common acquaintances in Petersburg, Anna got up quickly.
"She is in my album," she said; "and, by the way, I'll show you
by Seryozha," she added, with a mother's smile of pride.
Towards ten o'clock, when she usually said good-night to her son,
and often before going to a ball put him to bed herself, she felt
depressed at being so far from him; and whatever she was talking
about, she kept coming back in thought to her curly-headed
Seryozha. She longed to look at his photograph and talk of him.
Seizing the first pretext, she got up, and with her light,
resolute step went for her album. The stairs up to her room came
out on the landing of the great warm main staircase.
Just as she was leaving the drawing room, a ring was heard in the
"Who can that be?" said Dolly
"It's early for me to be fetched, and for anyone else it's late,"
"Sure to be someone with papers for me," put in Stepan
Arkadyevitch. When Anna was passing the top of the staircase, a
servant was running up to announce the visitor, while the visitor
himself was standing under a lamp. Anna glancing down at once
recognized Vronsky, and a strange feeling of pleasure and at the
same time of dread of something stirred in her heart. He was
standing still, not taking off his coat, pulling something out of
his pocket. At the instant when she was just facing the stairs,
he raised his eyes, caught sight of her, and into the expression
of his face there passed a shade of embarrassment and dismay.
With a slight inclination of her head she passed, hearing behind
her Stepan Arkadyevitch's loud voice calling him to come up, and
the quiet, soft, and composed voice of Vronsky refusing.