CHAPTER 4: AT DEATH’S DOOR
One day in Moscow, Karenin got a letter from his wife. It said that she was dying and she shall die much easier with Karenin’s forgiveness. At first, Karenin seemed slightly uncertain about whether he should continue to stay in Moscow for his business or go to see Anna. He even thought that the letter was one of Anna’s nasty(1) tricks. However, at last, he decided to go back to St.Petersberg.
When he got home, he asked the servant about Anna’s health without hesitation(2). The servant said that Anna had given birth to Vronsky’s child a day before and was very ill. Then Karenin noticed a strange hat and coat in the living room. He exlaimed: “I bet these items belongs to the child’s father.” And he was right, Vronsky was at their house, worrying about Anna’s poor health.
Karenin went upstairs and found Vronsky sitting outside Anna’s bedroom. His desperate(3) and confused face did worry Karenin. Vronsky looked at Karenin and said sadly: “There’s no hope…Anna is dying so please have mercy and let me stay here!”. Karenin didn’t even care about Vronsky so he quickly got into his wife’s bedroom.
There, lying on the bed was Anna with a pale, white face as if she really had died.
She quietly said: “Please come closer so that I can talk more easily.”.
Once again, Karenin did as his wife had said. He knelt down beside Anna’s bed, holding her hands which were as cold as ice.
Anna started: “Alexi, listen to me. I know that inside me exists another woman and I’m scared of her. She falls in love with Vronsky but I’m not that woman. I am who I am now.Please, forgive me completely so I can die peacefully.”
Karenin cried a river. The feelings of love and compassion(4) filled his harsh(5) heart. Then Anna saw Vronsky’s figure at the door. She called out in a low,dim(6) voice:” Vronsky,please do not be afraid to come in.” And Vronsky drew near. Anna also suggested that Karenin should give him a hand which, unsurprisingly, he did. “Now that everything is fine, I shall die” thought Anna.
The docter also warned Karenin that most patients in Anna’s condition(7) would die so he believed that Anna might die that night. Miraculously, she did not. The doctor thought that this would give her some hope.
Then came the meeting between the two men. Karenin took a chair and sat face to face with Vronsky. He began to tell the truth:” Honestly, I wanted to punish you and her.However, when I got her telegram(8), I had mixed feelings. On seeing her like this, I suddenly changed my view. I had completely forgiven you and her, as she would like me to do so. And I know that I must be the one who stays with her. Whenever Anna wants to see you, I will let you know promptly(9).In the meantime, I’m sorry but you should leave.”This left Vronsky wondering. He couldn’t figure out why Karenin was so calm and compassionate(10) in such a situation. Now Karenin suddenly became the perffect gentleman: handsome, kind and also honourable, unlike Vronsky. Suddenly, as he walked home Vronsky realised his own lowliness and guilt and became very desperate indeed.
That night, he came up with a solution which he believed would solve everything: he would commit suicide. He pointed a pistol(11) to his chest and shot himself. “Bang!”. Hearing the strange,loud and sudden noise, his servants quickly ran upstairs and found him lying on the floor. Although the wound was serious, his heart was still beating.
Anna started to recover and forgot all the things she had said to her husband. Every time she saw Karenin, she always wanted to turn away and avoid seeing him face to face. Her brother Stiva came to visit her. He saw how miserable(12) they all were, and made up his mind to talk with Karenin about the divorce. He found Karenin in his room writing a note for Anna. Karenin said that he knew she wasn’t comfortable when she was with him. Therefore, he wanted to know what she wanted and whatever it was, he would agree to it.
Stiva was extremely amazed at Karenin’s generosity(13) and didn’t hesitate to jump at this chance. He said that Anna would like to have a divorce and as promised, Karenin granted it in the blink of an eye.
Stiva exclaimed:” She will very appreciate this, believe me.”
When Vronsky heard of the divorce, he considered himself the luckiest man in the world. And though he had not fully recovered, he went straight to Anna’s house. On arriving there, he kissed Anna to show his undying love for her. Also, he told her about the plan to go to Europe to get away from it all. Anna was filled with excitement when she heard this.
1/nasty(adj): dirty and evil
2/hesitation(n): the feeling of uncertain
6/ dim(adj): not clear
11/miserable (adj): wretchedly unhappy, uneasy, or uncomfortable