"My use as a man," said Vronsky, "is that life's worth nothing to
me. And that I've enough bodily energy to cut my way into their
ranks, and to trample on them or fall--I know that. I'm glad
there's something to give my life for, for it's not simply
useless but loathsome to me. Anyone's welcome to it." And his
jaw twitched impatiently from the incessant gnawing toothache,
that prevented him from even speaking with a natural expression.
"You will become another man, I predict," said Sergey
Ivanovitch, feeling touched. "To deliver one's brother-men from
bondage is an aim worth death and life. God grant you success
outwardly--and inwardly peace," he added, and he held out his
hand. Vronsky warmly pressed his outstretched hand.
"Yes, as a weapon I may be of some use. But as a man, I'm a
wreck," he jerked out.
He could hardly speak for the throbbing ache in his strong teeth,
that were like rows of ivory in his mouth. He was silent, and
his eyes rested on the wheels of the tender, slowly and smoothly
rolling along the rails.
And all at once a different pain, not an ache, but an inner
trouble, that set his whole being in anguish, made him for an
instant forget his toothache. As he glanced at the tender and
the rails, under the influence of the conversation with a friend
he had not met since his misfortune, he suddenly recalled
HER--that is, what was left of her when he had run like one
distraught into the cloak room of the railway station--on the
table, shamelessly sprawling out among strangers, the
bloodstained body so lately full of life; the head unhurt
dropping back with its weight of hair, and the curling tresses
about the temples, and the exquisite face, with red, half-opened
mouth, the strange, fixed expression, piteous on the lips and
awful in the still open eyes, that seemed to utter that fearful
phrase--that he would be sorry for it--that she had said when
they were quarreling.