Chapter 40 – The Lively Youth (1)
It was the day of the tea party. Anna had learned everything she could from Karenin and felt ready to face everyone, everyone but making a choice of what to wear. She tore through all of her dresses in the closet like a bullet, hastily throwing them on the bed. She was having a hard time imagining herself in any of them, they just didn’t feel right, so she kept flicking through.
She saw Karenin enter the room and stop short at the sight of the mountainous pile of clothes on the bed. His eyes widened for a second before his face settled into a frown.
Anna knew that for someone accustomed to discipline, cleanliness and tidiness, this would seem like a horror. Dirtiness and sloppiness were like a squirrel, tearing apart his perfect acorn like the greatest, most terrifying machine gun. In this case, she was responsible for the breach in his disciplined life.
Anna finally picked out a dress, rather randomly, and smiled at Karenin, walking over to him.
“Don’t frown, I’ll clean it up.” She reached up and kissed Karenin.
Karenin had been surprised. He didn’t remember the last time he had seen this room be so messy. He was caught off guard and for the first time in a long time had no words in his brain. He paused in his steps in silence.
Karenin couldn’t understand why women needed so many clothes and why they always seemed to feel like there was still something missing from their closet. His wife was different from other ladies; he had observed that she was more loving, forgiving and, optimistic. But it seemed like some things couldn’t be changed.
Anna had chosen a long, burnt umber colored velvet dress. The fabric was extremely soft, light but warm. She had to alter it a bit in size as she was a bit thinner than before. She wrapped a black cloak around herself. The fox-fur wrap was extremely beautiful, light and fluffy, giving a polished look.
She brushed her hair until it was neat. She had wanted to leave them curly but they had been straightened by her Osmanthus-scented hair oil, so she left them as they were. She also wore a little suede hat. It was simple, but extremely exquisite.
Patsy’s house wasn’t that far away from Anna’s, but she chose to go in the carriage, not wanting to walk there all dressed-up. She stepped off the carriage, and Patsy’s housekeeper welcomed her into the house.
“Let me see you Anna. Oh, you’re always so beautiful.” Patsy greeted her.
She was wearing a bright dress. Her waist was cinched in thinly, but her face was rosy and red. She held Anna’s hands, looking her up and down with affectionate eyes, not showing the slightest hint of envy.
“How pretty you are. Did you find a good tailor in Petersburg?” Patsy asked enthusiastically upon seeing her well-fitted dress.
“I fixed it myself. I found that I had lost a bit of weight lately, but thought that it was too much work to have the tailor fix it. Sometimes, they don’t understand what style I want.” Anna smiled as she spoke, easing herself into her environment like a natural.
“I didn’t know that you had a talent like this.” Patsy smiled suspiciously.
It was clear she hadn’t believed her, but she didn’t press on with this topic. Opening a decorative fan made of ostrich feathers in her right hand, she pulled Anna along with her other hand, and brought her to the ball room where the party was being held.
Men and women had already gathered, and the room was gratuitously filled for a tea party. Anna silently sized up each of them, trying to understand their backgrounds, and the classes according to which Karenin had classified them.
Patsy was the chief representative of their circle and also the host. She sat Anna next to her, and affectionately introduced her to everyone there.
The flaxen haired, large breasted woman was the Duchess of Miyahki. Although she wasn’t attractive, her words carried a lot of weight. There were also other noble women, and the men all came from some sort of nobility, though they weren’t extremely significant. Using their attractive faces, these young men circled around the crowd of noble women, trying to take advantage of their class.
“Is everyone here?” A voice came from the other side of the living room. It sounded extremely young, that of a youthful boy.
Anna looked up. A young man walked towards them in a fitted uniform. His shiny brown hair flopped with each step, and his face held the trademark liveliness of youth. Behind him was a stout man, Anna’s cousin.
“You’ve come, Anna.” Anna’s cousin embraced her, then kissed her cheeks in greeting. “Now, everyone is here! What’s next is up to you, my darling.” He said with a huge smile.
Patsy accepted her husband’s praise with a giggle and teased him.
“You’re saying this like you did something to help.” She laughed. “Alright, go do what you want to do. Just don’t speak to me about potteries anymore.”
Anna’s cousin was obsessed with collecting pottery and engravings. He was a Duke, and though he wasn’t interested in the slightest in governmental affairs, at least he was still fulfilling his duties.
“Come here, I’ve reserved for you a good seat, Vronsky.” Patsy began calling the lively, smiling youth.