"After dinner there's no credit in them? Well, then, I'll make
you some coffee, so go and wash and get ready," said the
baroness, sitting down again, and anxiously turning the screw in
the new coffee pot. "Pierre, give me the coffee," she said,
addressing Petritsky, whom she called as a contraction of his
surname, making no secret of her relations with him. "I'll put
"You'll spoil it!"
"No, I won't spoil it! Well, and your wife?" said the baroness
suddenly, interrupting Vronsky's conversation with his comrade.
"We've been marrying you here. Have you brought your wife?"
"No, baroness. I was born a Bohemian, and a Bohemian I shall
"So much the better, so much the better. Shake hands on it."
And the baroness, detaining Vronsky, began telling him, with many
jokes, about her last new plans of life, asking his advice.
"He persists in refusing to give me a divorce! Well, what am I
to do?" (HE was her husband.) "Now I want to begin a suit
against him. What do you advise? Kamerovsky, look after the
coffee; it's boiling over. You see, I'm engrossed with business!
I want a lawsuit, because I must have my property. Do you
understand the folly of it, that on the pretext of my being
unfaithful to him," she said contemptuously, "he wants to get the
benefit of my fortune."
Vronsky heard with pleasure this light-hearted prattle of a
pretty woman, agreed with her, gave her half-joking counsel, and
altogether dropped at once into the tone habitual to him in
talking to such women. In his Petersburg world all people were
divided into utterly opposed classes. One, the lower class,
vulgar, stupid, and, above all, ridiculous people, who believe
that one husband ought to live with the one wife whom he has
lawfully married; that a girl should be innocent, a woman modest,
and a man manly, self-controlled, and strong; that one ought to
bring up one's children, earn one's bread, and pay one's debts;
and various similar absurdities. This was the class of
old-fashioned and ridiculous people. But there was another class
of people, the real people. To this class they all belonged, and
in it the great thing was to be elegant, generous, plucky, gay,
to abandon oneself without a blush to every passion, and to laugh
at everything else.