Vronsky saw all the thanklessness of the business, and that there
could be no question of a duel in it, that everything must be
done to soften the government clerk, and hush the matter up. The
colonel had called in Vronsky just because he knew him to be an
honorable and intelligent man, and, more than all, a man who
cared for the honor of the regiment. They talked it over, and
decided that Petritsky and Kedrov must go with Vronsky to
Venden's to apologize. The colonel and Vronsky were both fully
aware that Vronsky's name and rank would be sure to contribute
greatly to softening of the injured husband's feelings.
And these two influences were not in fact without effect; though
the result remained, as Vronsky had described, uncertain.
On reaching the French theater, Vronsky retired to the foyer with
the colonel, and reported to him his success, or non-success.
The colonel, thinking it all over, made up his mind not to pursue
the matter further, but then for his own satisfaction proceeded
to cross-examine Vronsky about his interview; and it was a long
while before he could restrain his laughter, as Vronsky described
how the government clerk, after subsiding for a while, would
suddenly flare up again, as he recalled the details, and how
Vronsky, at the last half word of conciliation, skillfully
maneuvered a retreat, shoving Petritsky out before him.
"It's a disgraceful story, but killing. Kedrov really can't
fight the gentleman! Was he so awfully hot?" he commented,
laughing. "But what do you say to Claire today? She's
marvelous," he went on, speaking of a new French actress.
"However often you see her, every day she's different. It's only
the French who can to that."