flat in Moscow. The scene represents a small dining-room.Anna
Pávlovna, a stout grey-haired lady, tightly laced, is sitting alone
at the tea-table on which is a samovár. Enter nurse, carrying a
May I have a little hot water, ma'am?ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Yes. How's Baby?NURSE.
He's restless.… There's nothing worse than for a lady to nurse her
baby herself! She has her troubles, and the child must suffer. What
can her milk be like, when she lies awake crying all night?ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. But she seems quieter now.NURSE.
Quiet, indeed! It makes one ill to see her. She's been writing
something, and crying.Enter
Lisa is looking for you.NURSE.
I'm coming, I'm coming. [Exit].ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Nurse says she keeps on crying.… Why can't she control
Well really, mother, you are amazing!… A woman has left her
husband, her child's father, and you expect her to be calm!ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Well, not calm … But what's done is done! If I, her
mother, not only allowed my daughter to leave her husband, but am
even glad she has done it, that shows he deserved it. One ought to
rejoice, not to grieve, at the chance of freeing oneself from such a
Mother, why say such things? You know it's not true! He's not bad—but
on the contrary, he's a wonderful man, in spite of his weaknesses.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Yes indeed, a “wonderful” man—as soon as he has
money in his pocket—his own or other people's.…SÁSHA.
Mother! He has never taken other people's!ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Yes he has—his wife's! Where's the difference?SÁSHA.
But he gave all his property to his wife!ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Of course, when he knew that otherwise he was sure to
squander it all!SÁSHA.
Squander or not, I only know that a wife must not separate from her
husband, especially from such a one as Fédya.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Then, in your opinion she ought to wait till he has
squandered everything, and brought his gipsy mistresses into the
He has no mistresses!ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. That's the misfortune—he seems to have bewitched you
all! But not me—no! He won't come over me! I see through him, and
he knows it. Had I been in Lisa's place I should have left him a year
How lightly you say it!ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Not lightly at all. It's not a light thing for me, as a
mother, to see my daughter divorced. Believe me it's not! But yet it
is better than ruining a young life.… No, I'm thankful to God that
she has at last made up her mind, and that it is all over.SÁSHA.
Perhaps it's not all over!ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Oh! If he only consents to a divorce.…SÁSHA.
What good will that do?ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. This good; that she is young, and may again be happy.SÁSHA.
Oh mother! It's dreadful to hear you speak so! Lisa can't love
PÁVLOVNA. Why not, when she's free? Many a man a thousand times
better than your Fédya might turn up who would be only too happy to
Mother, it's not right! I know you're thinking of Victor Karénin.…ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. And why shouldn't I? He has loved her these ten years, and
she loves him.SÁSHA.
Yes, but not as a husband! They have been friends from childhood.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. We know those friendships! If only the obstacles were out
of the way!Enter
PÁVLOVNA. What is it?MAID.
The mistress has sent the porter with a note for Mr. Karénin.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. What mistress?MAID.
Mr. Karénin has sent back word that he will come round at once.ANNA
We were just speaking of him! Only I can't think why … [to
Sásha] Do you
Perhaps I do, and perhaps I don't!ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. You always have secrets!SÁSHA.
Lisa will tell you herself when she comes.ANNA
her head. To Maid]
The samovár must be made to boil again. Take it, Dounyásha.Maid
takes samovár, and exit.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA [to Sásha
who has risen and is going out]
It turns out just as I told you! She sent for him at once.…SÁSHA.
She may have sent for him for quite a different reason.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. What for, then?SÁSHA.
Now, at this moment, Karénin is the same to her as old Nurse
PÁVLOVNA. Well, you'll see.… Don't I know her? She has sent for
him to comfort her.SÁSHA.
Oh mother, how little you know her, to be able to suppose …!ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Well, we'll see!… And I am very, very glad.SÁSHA.
see! [Exit, humming
shakes her head and mutters]
It's all right, it's all right!Enter
Mr. Karénin has come.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Well then, show him in, and tell your mistress.Maid
exit by inner door. Enter Karénin, who bows to Anna Pávlovna.KARÉNIN.
Your daughter wrote to me to come. I meant to come and see you
to-night, anyhow. So I was very pleased … Is Elisabeth
PÁVLOVNA. Yes, she is well, but Baby is a bit restless. She will be
here directly. [In a
Ah yes! It is a sad time.… But you know all about it, don't you?KARÉNIN.
I do. I was here, you know, the day before yesterday, when his letter
came. But is it possible that everything is irrevocably settled?ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Why of course! Naturally! To go through it all again would
This is a case where the proverb applies: “Measure ten times before
you cut once.” … It is very painful to cut into the quick.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Of course it is; but then their marriage has long had a
rift in it, so that the tearing asunder was easier than one would
have thought. He himself sees that, after what has occurred, it is
impossible for him to return.KARÉNIN.
PÁVLOVNA. How can you expect it, after all his horrid
goings-on—after he swore it should not happen again, and that if it
did he would renounce all rights as a husband and set her perfectly
Yes, but how can a woman be free when she is bound by marriage?ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. By divorce. He promised her a divorce, and we shall insist
Yes, but Elisabeth Andréyevna loved him so.…ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Ah, but her love has suffered such trials that there can
hardly be anything left of it! Drunkenness, deception, and infidelity
… Can one love such a husband?KARÉNIN.
Nothing is impossible to love.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. You talk of love! But how can one love such a man—a
broken reed, whom one can never depend on? Don't you know what it
came to …? [Looks
round at the door, and continues hurriedly]
All his affairs in a muddle, everything pawned, nothing to pay with!
Then their uncle sends 2,000 roubles to pay the interest on their
mortgaged estates, and he takes the money and disappears. His wife is
left at home, with a sick baby, waiting for him—and at last gets a
note asking her to send him his clothes and things!KARÉNIN.
Yes, yes; I know.Enter
Lisa and Sásha.ANNA
PÁVLOVNA. Well, here is Victor Miháylovich,
obedient to your summons.KARÉNIN.
Yes, but I am sorry I was delayed for a few minutes.LISA.
Thank you. I have a great favour to ask of you, and I have no one to
turn to but you.KARÉNIN.
Anything in my power …LISA.
You know all about …?KARÉNIN.
PÁVLOVNA. Well then, I shall leave you [To
Sásha] Come, we'll
leave them alone. [Exit
Yes, he wrote to me saying that he considers everything at an end …
[struggling with her
tears] … and I
was hurt!… and so … In a word, I consented to break—I answered,
accepting his renunciation.KARÉNIN.
And now you repent?LISA.
Yes. I feel that I was wrong, and that I cannot do it. Anything is
better than to be separated from him. In short—I want you to give
him this letter.… Please, Victor, give him the letter, and tell him
… and bring him back!KARÉNIN
Yes, but how?LISA.
Tell him I ask him to forget everything, and to return. I might
simply send the letter, but I know him: his first impulse, as always,
will be the right one—but then someone will influence him, and
he'll change his mind and not do what he really wants to.…KARÉNIN.
I will do what I can.LISA.
You're surprised at my asking
No.… Yet, to tell you the truth—yes, I am surprised.LISA.
But you are not angry?KARÉNIN.
As if I could be angry with you!LISA.
I asked you because I know you care for him.KARÉNIN.
Him, and you too! You know that. I am thinking not of myself, but of
you. Thank you for trusting me! I will do what I can.LISA.
I know.… I will tell you everything. To-day I went to Afrémov's to
find out where he was. I was told he had gone to the gipsies—which
is what I feared most of all. I know he will get carried away if he
is not stopped in time—and that's what has to be done.… So you'll
Of course, and at once.LISA.
Go!… Find him, and tell him all is forgotten and I am waiting for
But where am I to look for him?LISA.
He is with the gipsies. I went there myself.… I went as far as the
porch, and wished to send in the letter, but changed my mind and
decided to ask you. Here is the address.… Well, then, tell him to
return: tell him nothing has happened … all is forgotten. Do it for
love of him, and for the sake of our friendship!KARÉNIN.
I will do all in my power! [Bows,
I can't, I can't! Anything rather than … I can't!Enter
Well, have you sent?Lisa
And he agreed?LISA.
But why just him