"This is rather indiscreet, but it's so good it's an awful
temptation to tell the story," said Vronsky, looking at her with
his laughing eyes. "I'm not going to mention any names."
"But I shall guess, so much the better."
"Well, listen: two festive young men were driving-"
"Officers of your regiment, of course?"
"I didn't say they were officers,--two young men who had been
"In other words, drinking."
"Possibly. They were driving on their way to dinner with a
friend in the most festive state of mind. And they beheld a
pretty woman in a hired sledge; she overtakes them, looks round
at them, and, so they fancy anyway, nods to them and laughs.
They, of course, follow her. They gallop at full speed. To
their amazement, the fair one alights at the entrance of the very
house to which they were going. The fair one darts upstairs to
the top story. They get a glimpse of red lips under a short
veil, and exquisite little feet."
"You describe it with such feeling that I fancy you must be one
of the two."
"And after what you said, just now! Well, the young men go in to
their comrade's; he was giving a farewell dinner. There they
certainly did drink a little too much, as one always does at
farewell dinners. And at dinner they inquire who lives at the
top in that house. No one knows; only their host's valet, in
answer to their inquiry whether any 'young ladies' are living on
the top floor, answered that there were a great many of them
about there. After dinner the two young men go into their host's
study, and write a letter to the unknown fair one. They compose
an ardent epistle, a declaration in fact, and they carry the
letter upstairs themselves, so as to elucidate whatever might
appear not perfectly intelligible in the letter."
"Why are you telling me these horrible stories? Well?"