The frightful storm raged and whistled between the wheels of the cars, along the posts, around the corner of the station. The cars, posts, people- everything in sight- were covered with snow on one side, and were getting more and more snowed under. For a moment there would come a lull in the storm, but then it would again swoop down with such gusts that it seemed impossible to withstand it. Meanwhile some men or other were dashing about, gaily talking to one another, making the boards of the platform creak and ceaselessly opening and shutting the big doors. A stooping human shadow glided by at her feet, and she heard a hammer tapping upon iron. "Let's have the telegram!" came an angry voice out of the stormy murk on the other side. "This way! No. 28!" other voices were also shouting, and muffled figures scurried by, plastered with snow. Two gentlemen passed by her, cigarettes glowing in their mouths. She drew in one more deep breath, and had just taken her hand out of her muff to grasp the doorpost and enter the car, when still another man in a military overcoat, quite close beside her, stepped between her and the flickering light of a lantern. She looked round, and the same instant recognized Vronsky's face. Putting his hand to the peak of his cap, he bowed to her and asked if there weren't anything she wanted, whether he could not be of some service to her? She gazed rather long at him, without any answer, and, in spite of the shadow in which he was standing, she saw (or fancied she saw) the expression both of his face and his eyes. It was again that expression of reverent rapture which had affected her so yesterday. More than once she had told herself during the past few days, and only just now, that Vronsky was for her only one of the hundreds of young men, forever exactly the same, that one meets everywhere; that she would never permit herself even to think of him; yet now at the first flush of meeting him, she was seized by an emotion of joyous pride. She had no need to ask why he was here. She knew, as surely as if he had told her, that he was here only to be where she was.
"I didn't know you were going. And why are you going?" she said, letting fall the hand which had grasped the doorpost. And irrepressible joy and animation shone in her face.
"Why am I going?" he repeated, looking straight into her eyes. "You know that I am going to be where you are," he said; "I cannot do otherwise."
And at this very point, as though it had overcome all obstacles, the wind scattered the snow from the car roofs, and began to flutter some sheet of iron it had torn off, while the low-pitched whistle of the engine set up a roar in front, dismal and lamenting. All the awesomeness of the blizzard now seemed still more splendid to her. He had uttered precisely what her soul yearned for, but which her reason dreaded. She made no answer, and in her face he beheld a struggle.
"Forgive me, if what I have said displeases you," he said humbly.
He had spoken courteously, deferentially, yet so firmly, so obdurately that, for long, she could find no answer.
"What you say is wrong, and I beg of you, if you are a good man, to forget what you have said, even as I shall forget it," she said at last.
"Not a single word of yours, nor a single gesture, shall I ever forget- nor could I forget...."
"Enough, enough!" she cried, vainly attempting to give a stern expression to her face, which he was avidly scrutinizing. Clutching at the cold doorpost, she clambered up the steps and quickly entered the corridor of the car. But in this little corridor she paused, reviewing in her imagination all that had occurred. Without recalling her own words or his, she realized instinctively that that conversation had brought them fearfully closer; and she was both frightened and made happy thereby. After standing thus a few seconds, she went into the car and sat down in her place. That tensed state which had tormented her at first was not only renewed, but grew greater and reached such a pitch that she was afraid that, at any moment, something would snap within her from the excessive tension. She did not sleep all night. But in that nervous tension, and in the reveries that filled her imagination, there was nothing unpleasant or gloomy; on the contrary, there was something joyous, glowing and exhilarating. Toward morning Anna dozed off as she sat, and when she awoke it was already light, and the train was nearing Peterburg. At once thoughts of home, of her husband and son, and the details of the day ahead, and days to follow, came thronging upon her.
At Peterburg, as soon as the train stopped and she got out, the first face that attracted her attention was that of her husband. "Oh, my God! What has happened to his ears?" she thought looking at his frigid and imposing figure, and especially the ears, that struck her so now, as they propped up the brim of his round hat. Catching sight of her he went to meet her, pursing his lips into their habitual mocking smile, and fixing her with his big, tired eyes. Some unpleasant sensation contracted her heart as she met his obdurate and tired glance, as though she had expected to see him a different man. She was particularly struck by that feeling of dissatisfaction with herself which she experienced on meeting him. This was an intimate, familiar feeling, like that state of dissimulation which she experienced in her relations with her husband; but hitherto she had not taken note of the feeling; now she was clearly and painfully aware of it.
"Yes, as you see, your tender spouse, as devoted as he was during the second year after marriage, was consumed by the desire of seeing you," he said in his dilatory, high-pitched voice, and in that tone which he almost always used to her- a tone of bantering at anyone who should speak thus in earnest.
"Is Seriozha quite well?" she asked.
"And is this all the reward," said he, "for my ardor? He's well- quite well...."