This time Seryozha was not at home, and she was completely alone.
She was sitting on the terrace waiting for the return of her son,
who had gone out for his walk and been caught in the rain. She
had sent a manservant and a maid out to look for him. Dressed
in a white gown, deeply embroidered, she was sitting in a corner
of the terrace behind some flowers, and did not hear him.
Bending her curly black head, she pressed her forehead against a
cool watering pot that stood on the parapet, and both her lovely
hands, with the rings he knew so well, clasped the pot. The
beauty of her whole figure, her head, her neck, her hands, struck
Vronsky every time as something new and unexpected. He stood
still, gazing at her in ecstasy. But, directly he would have
made a step to come nearer to her, she was aware of his presence,
pushed away the watering pot, and turned her flushed face towards
"What's the matter? You are ill?" he said to her in French,
going up to her. He would have run to her, but remembering that
there might be spectators, he looked round towards the balcony
door, and reddened a little, as he always reddened, feeling that
he had to be afraid and be on his guard.
"No, I'm quite well," she said, getting up and pressing his
outstretched hand tightly. "I did not expect...thee."
"Mercy! what cold hands!" he said.
"You startled me," she said. "I'm alone, and expecting
Seryozha; he's out for a walk; they'll come in from this side."
But, in spite of her efforts to be calm, her lips were quivering.
"Forgive me for coming, but I couldn't pass the day without
seeing you," he went on, speaking French, as he always did to
avoid using the stiff Russian plural form, so impossibly frigid
between them, and the dangerously intimate singular.
"Forgive you? I'm so glad!"
"But you're ill or worried," he went on, not letting go her hands
and bending over her. "What were you thinking of?"