Vronsky's mother, on hearing of his connection, was at first
pleased at it, because nothing to her mind gave such a finishing
touch to a brilliant young man as a liaison in the highest
society; she was pleased, too, that Madame Karenina, who had so
taken her fancy, and had talked so much of her son, was, after
all, just like all other pretty and well-bred women,--at least
according to the Countess Vronskaya's ideas. But she had heard
of late that her son had refused a position offered him of great
importance to his career, simply in order to remain in the
regiment, where he could be constantly seeing Madame Karenina.
She learned that great personages were displeased with him on
this account, and she changed her opinion. She was vexed, too,
that from all she could learn of this connection it was not that
brilliant, graceful, worldly liaison which she would have
welcomed, but a sort of Wertherish, desperate passion, so she was
told, which might well lead him into imprudence. She had not
seen him since his abrupt departure from Moscow, and she sent her
elder son to bid him come to see her.
This elder son, too, was displeased with his younger brother. He
did not distinguish what sort of love his might be, big or
little, passionate or passionless, lasting or passing (he kept a
ballet girl himself, though he was the father of a family, so he
was lenient in these matters), but he knew that this love affair
was viewed with displeasure by those whom it was necessary to
please, and therefore he did not approve of his brother's
Besides the service and society, Vronsky had another great
interest--horses; he was passionately fond of horses.
That year races and a steeplechase had been arranged for the
officers. Vronsky had put his name down, bought a thoroughbred
English mare, and in spite of his love affair, he was looking
forward to the races with intense, though reserved, excitement...
These two passions did not interfere with one another. On the
contrary, he needed occupation and distraction quite apart from
his love, so as to recruit and rest himself from the violent
emotions that agitated him.