The commissionaire who took the letter had brought her back the
most cruel and unexpected answer, that there was no answer. She
had never felt so humiliated as at the moment when, sending for
the commissionaire, she heard from him the exact account of how
he had waited, and how afterwards he had been told there was no
answer. Anna felt humiliated, insulted, but she saw that from
her point of view Countess Lidia Ivanovna was right. Her
suffering was the more poignant that she had to bear it in
solitude. She could not and would not share it with Vronsky.
She knew that to him, although he was the primary cause of her
distress, the question of her seeing her son would seem a matter
of very little consequence. She knew that he would never be
capable of understanding all the depth of her suffering, that for
his cool tone at any allusion to it she would begin to hate him.
And she dreaded that more than anything in the world, and so she
hid from him everything that related to her son. Spending the
whole day at home she considered ways of seeing her son, and had
reached a decision to write to her husband. She was just
composing this letter when she was handed the letter from Lidia
Ivanovna. The countess's silence had subdued and depressed her,
but the letter, all that she read between the lines in it, so
exasperated her, this malice was so revolting beside her
passionate, legitimate tenderness for her son, that she turned
against other people and left off blaming herself.
"This coldness--this pretense of feeling!" she said to herself.
"They must needs insult me and torture the child, and I am to
submit to it! Not on any consideration! She is worse than I am.
I don't lie, anyway." And she decided on the spot that next day,
Seryozha's birthday, she would go straight to her husband's
house, bribe or deceive the servants, but at any cost see her son
and overturn the hideous deception with which they were
encompassing the unhappy child.
She went to a toy shop, bought toys and thought over a plan of
action. She would go early in the morning at eight o'clock, when
Alexey Alexandrovitch would be certain not to be up. She would
have money in her hand to give the hall porter and the footman,
so that they should let her in, and not raising her veil, she
would say that she had come from Seryozha's godfather to
congratulate him, and that she had been charged to leave the toys
at his bedside. She had prepared everything but the words she
should say to her son. Often as she had dreamed of it, she could
never think of anything.