A second bell sounded, and was followed by moving of luggage, noise, shouting and laughter. It was so clear to Anna that there was nothing for anyone to be glad of, that this laughter irritated her agonizingly, and she would have liked to stop up her ears not to hear it. At last the third bell rang, there was a whistle and a hiss of steam, and a clank of chains, and the man in her carriage crossed himself. `It would be interesting to ask him what meaning he attaches to that,' thought Anna, looking angrily at him. She looked past the lady out of the window at the people who seemed whirling by, as they ran beside the train or stood on the platform. The train, jerking at regular intervals at the junctions of the rails, rolled by the platform, past a stone wall, a signal box, past other trains; the wheels, moving more smoothly and evenly, resounded with a slight clang on the rails. The window was lighted up by the bright evening sun, and a slight breeze fluttered the curtain. Anna forgot her fellow passengers, and to the light swaying of the train she fell to thinking again, as she breathed the fresh air.
`Yes, what did I stop at? That I couldn't find a condition in which life would not be a misery, that we are all created to be miserable, and that we all know it, and all invent means of deceiving each other.
And when one sees the truth, what is one to do?'
`That's why reason is given to man, to escape from what worries him,' said the lady in French, lisping affectedly, and obviously pleased with her phrase.
The words seemed an answer to Anna's thoughts.
`To escape from what worries him,' repeated Anna. And glancing at the red-cheeked husband and the thin wife, she saw that the sickly wife considered herself misunderstood, and the husband deceived her and encouraged her in that idea of herself. Anna seemed to see all their history and all the crannies of their souls, turning a light upon them, as it were. But there was nothing interesting in them, and she pursued her thought.
`Yes, I'm very much worried, and that's why reason was given me, to escape; so then, one must escape: why not put out the light when there's nothing more to look at, when it's sickening to look at it all? But how?
Why did the conductor run along the footboard, why are they shrieking, those young men in that train? Why are they talking, why are they laughing?
It's all falsehood, all lying, all humbug, all cruelty!...'
When the train came into the station, Anna got out into the crowd of passengers, and moving apart from them as if they were lepers, she stood on the platform, trying to think what she had come here for, and what she meant to do. Everything that had seemed to her possible before was now so difficult to consider, especially in this noisy crowd of hideous people who would not leave her alone. At one moment porters ran up to her proffering their services, then young men clacking their heels on the planks of the platform and talking loudly, stared at her, then people meeting her dodged past on the wrong side. Remembering that she had meant to go on farther if there was no answer, she stopped a porter and asked if her coachman were not here with a note from Count Vronsky.
`Count Vronsky? They sent up here from the Vronskys just this minute, to meet Princess Sorokina and her daughter. And what is the coachman like?'
Just as she was talking to the porter, the coachman Mikhail, red and cheerful in his smart blue coat and chain, evidently proud of having so successfully performed his commission, came up to her and gave her a letter. She broke it open, and her heart ached before she had read it.