The first person to meet Anna at home was her son. He dashed
down the stairs to her, in spite of the governess's call, and
with desperate joy shrieked: "Mother! mother!" Running up to
her, he hung on her neck.
"I told you it was mother!" he shouted to the governess. "I
And her son, like her husband, aroused in Anna a feeling akin to
disappointment. She had imagined him better than he was in
reality. She had to let herself drop down to the reality to
enjoy him as he really was. But even as he was, he was charming,
with his fair curls, his blue eyes, and his plump, graceful
little legs in tightly pulled-up stockings. Anna experienced
almost physical pleasure in the sensation of his nearness, and
his caresses, and moral soothing, when she met his simple,
confiding, and loving glance, and heard his naive questions.
Anna took out the presents Dolly's children had sent him, and
told her son what sort of little girl was Tanya at Moscow, and
how Tanya could read, and even taught the other children.
"Why, am I not so nice as she?" asked Seryozha.
To me you're nicer than anyone in the world."
"I know that," said Seryozha, smiling.
Anna had not had time to drink her coffee when the Countess Lidia
Ivanovna was announced. The Countess Lidia Ivanovna was a tall,
stout woman, with an unhealthily sallow face and splendid,
pensive black eyes. Anna liked her, but today she seemed to be
seeing her for the first time with all her defects.
"Well, my dear, so you took the olive branch?" inquired Countess
Lidia Ivanovna, as soon as she came into the room.
"Yes, it's all over, but it was all much less serious than we had
supposed," answered Anna. "My belle-soeur is in general too
But Countess Lidia Ivanovna, though she was interested in
everything that did not concern her, had a habit of never
listening to what interested her; she interrupted Anna: