Betsy said all this, and, at the same time, from her
good-humored, shrewd glance, Anna felt that she partly guessed
her plight, and was hatching something for her benefit. They
were in the little boudoir.
"I must write to Alexey though," and Betsy sat down to the
table, scribbled a few lines, and put the note in an envelope.
"I'm telling him to come to dinner. I've one lady extra to
dinner with me, and no man to take her in. Look what I've said,
will that persuade him? Excuse me, I must leave you for a
minute. Would you seal it up, please, and send it off?" she said
from the door; "I have to give some directions."
Without a moment's thought, Anna sat down to the table with
Betsy's letter, and, without reading it, wrote below: "It's
essential for me to see you. Come to the Vrede garden. I shall
be there at six o'clock." She sealed it up, and, Betsy coming
back, in her presence handed the note to be taken.
At tea, which was brought them on a little tea-table in the cool
little drawing room, the cozy chat promised by Princess Tverskaya
before the arrival of her visitors really did come off between
the two women. They criticized the people they were expecting,
and the conversation fell upon Liza Merkalova.
"She's very sweet, and I always liked her," said Anna.
"You ought to like her. She raves about you. Yesterday she came
up to me after the races and was in despair at not finding you.
She says you're a real heroine of romance, and that if she were a
man she would do all sorts of mad things for your sake. Stremov
says she does that as it is."
"But do tell me, please, I never could make it out," said Anna,
after being silent for some time, speaking in a tone that showed
she was not asking an idle question, but that what she was asking
was of more importance to her than it should have been; "do tell
me, please, what are her relations with Prince Kaluzhsky, Mishka,
as he's called? I've met them so little. What does it mean?"