‘And here is my opinion for you. Women are the main stumbling block in a man’s activity. It’s hard to love a woman and do anything. For this there exists one means of loving conveniently, without hidrance — that is marriage. How can I tell you, how can I tell you what I’m thinking,’ said Serpukhovskoy, who liked comparisons, ‘wait, wait! Yes, it’s as if you’re carrying a fardeau and doing something with your hands is only possible if the fardeau is tied to your back — and that is marriage. And I felt it once I got married. I suddenly had my hands free. But dragging this fardeau around without marriage — that will make your hands so full that you won’t be able to do anything. Look at Mazankov, at Krupov. They ruined their careers on account of women.’
‘What sort of women!’ said Vronsky, recalling the Frenchwoman and the actress with whom the two men mentioned had had affairs.
‘So much the worse. The firmer a woman’s position in society, the worse it is. It’s the same as not only dragging the fardeau around in your arms, but tearing it away from someone else.’
‘You’ve never loved,’ Vronsky said softly, gazing before him and thinking of Anna.
‘Maybe not. But remember what I’ve told you. And also: women are all more material than men. We make something enourmous out of love, and they’re always terre-à-terre.’
‘Right away, right away!’ he said to a footman who came in. But the footman had not come to call them again, as he thought. The footman brought a note for Vronsky.
‘A man brought it from Princess Tverskoy.’
Vronsky unsealed the letter and flushed.
‘I have a headache, I’m going home,’ he said to Serpukhovskoy.
‘Good-bye, then. Do you give me carte blanche?’
‘We’ll talk later, I’ll look you up in Petersburg.’
— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Part 3, XXI
 Down to earth.
bq.. ‘Yes, I’ve wanted to tell you,’ she said without looking at him. ‘You acted badly — very, very badly.’
‘Don’t I know that I acted badly? But who was the cause of my acting so?’
‘Why do you say that to me?’ she said, glancing sternly at him.
‘You know why,’ he replied boldly and joyfully, meeting her eyes and continuing to look.
It was not he but she who became embarrassed.
‘That proves only that you have no heart,’ she said. But her eyes said that she knew he did have a heart, and because of it she was afraid of him.
‘What you were just talking about was a mistake, and not love.’
‘Remember, I forbade you to utter that word, that vile word,’ Anna said with a shudder; but she felt at once that by this one word ‘forbade’ she showed that she acknowledged having certain rights over him and hereby encouraging him to speak of love. ‘I’ve long wanted to tell you that,’ she went on, looking resolutely into his eyes, and all aflame with the blush that burned her face, ‘and tonight I came on purpose, knowing that I would meet you. I came to tell you that this must end. I have never blushed before anyone, but you make me feel guilty of something.’
He looked at her, struck by the new, spiritual beauty of her face.
‘What do you want of me?’ he said simply and seriously.
‘I want you to go to Moscow and ask Kitty’s forgiveness,’ she said, and a little light flickered in her eyes.
He saw that she was saying what she forced herself to say,
and not what she wanted.
‘If you love me as you say you do,’ she whispered, ‘make it so that I am
His face lit up.
‘Don’t you know that you are my whole life? But I know no peace and cannot give you any. All of myself, my love…yes. I cannot think of you and myself separately. You and I are one for me. And I do not see any possibility of peace ahead either for me or for you. I see the possibility of despair, of unhappiness…or I see the possibility of happiness, such happiness!(…Isn’t it possible?’ he added with his lips only; but she heard him.
She strained all the forces of her mind to say what she ought to say; but instead she rested her eyes on him, filled with love, and made no answer.
‘There it is)’ he thought with rapture. ‘When I was already in despair, and when it seemed there would be no end — there it is! She loves me. She’s confessed it.’
‘Then do this for me, never say these words to me, and let us be friends,’ she said in words; but her eyes were saying something quite different.
‘We won’t be friends, you know that yourself. And whether we will be the happiest or the unhappiest of people — is in your power.’
She wanted to say something, but he interrupted her.
‘I beg for only one thing, I beg for the right to hope, to be tormented, as I am now; but if that, too, is impossible, order me to disappear, and I will disappear. You will not see me, if my presence is painful for you.’
‘I don’t want to drive you away.’
‘Just don’t change anything. Leave everything as it is,’ he said in a trembling voice. ‘Here is your husband.’
— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Part Two, VII
She had not come close to Anna since her arrival, and here suddenly saw her again in a completely new and unexpected way. She saw in her a streak of the elation of success, which she knew so well herself. She could see that Anna was drunk with the wine of the rapture she inspired. She knew that feeling, knew the signs of it, and she saw them in Anna — saw the tremulous, flashing light in her eyes, the smile of happiness and excitement that involuntarily curved her lips, and the precise gracefulness, assurance and lightness of her movements.
‘No, it’s not the admiration of the crowd she’s drunk with, but the rapture of one man. And that one? can it be him?’ Each time he spoke with Anna, her eyes flashed with a joyful light and a smile of happiness curved her red lips. She seemed to be struggling with herself to keep these signs of joy from showing, yet they appeared on her face of themselves. ‘But what about him?’ Kitty looked at him and was horrified. What portrayed itself so clearly to Kitty in the mirror of Anna’s face, she also saw in him. Where was his quiet, firm manner and carefree, calm expression? No, now each time he addressed Anna, he bowed his head slightly, as if wishing to fall down before her, and in his glance there were only obedience and fear. ‘I do not want to offend you,’ his glance seemed to say each time, ‘I want to save myself but do not know how.’ There was an expression on his face that she had never seen before.
— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Part One, XXIII
He excused himself and was about to enter the carriage, but felt a need to glance at her once more — not because she was very beautiful, not because of the elegance and modest grace that could be seen in her whole figure, but because there was something especially gentle and tender in the expression of her sweet-looking face as she stepped past him. As he looked back, she also turned her head. Her shining grey eyes, which seemed dark because of their thick lashes, rested amiably and attentively on his face, as if she recognized him, and at once wandered over the approaching crowd as though looking for someone. In that brief glance Vronsky had time to notice the restrained animation that played over her face and fluttered between her shining eyes and the barely noticeable smile that curved her red lips. It was as if a surplus of something so overflowed her being that it expressed itself beyond her will, now in the brightness of her glance, now in her smile. She deliberately extinguished the light in her eyes, but it shone against her will in a barely noticeable smile.
— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina, Part One, XVIII
He stepped down, trying not to look long at her, as if she were the sun, yet he saw her, like the sun, even without looking.
‘With you I’d learn quicker; for some reason I have confidence in you,’ she said to him.
‘And I have confidence in myself when you lean on my arm,’ he said, but at once felt afraid of what he had said and blushed. Indeed, as soon as he uttered those words, her face lost all its gentleness, as if the sun had suddenly gone behind a cloud, and Levin recognized the familiar play of her face that indicated the effort of thought: a little wrinkle swelled on her smooth forehead.
When Levin again raced up to Kitty, her face was no longer stern, the look in her eyes was as truthful and gentle as ever, but is seemed to Levin that her gentleness had a special, deliberately calm tone. And he felt sad. After talking about her old governess and her quirks, she asked him about his life.
‘Is it really not boring for you in the country during the winter?’ she said.
‘No, it’s not boring, I’m very busy,’ he said, sensing that she was subjecting him to her calm tone, which he would be unable to get out of, just as had happened at the beginning of winter.
‘Have you come for long?’ Kitty asked him.
‘I don’t know,’ he replied, not thinking of what he was saying. It occurred to him that if he yielded again to this tone of calm friendship, he would again leave without having decided anything, and he decided to rebel.
‘Why don’t you know?’
‘I don’t know. That depends on you,’ he said and at once was horrified at his words.
She did not hear his words, or did not wish to hear, but seemed to stumble, tapped her foot twice, and hurriedly skated away from him.
— Leo Tolstoy, Anna Karenina