Part 2, Chapter 25 Summary
Seventeen officers are riding in the three-mile race. The race begins two hundred yards before the track, and the first of nine obstacles is a seven-foot-wide stream. After three false starts, the race finally begins.
To the spectators, the horses appear to have all started simultaneously, but the riders are acutely aware of the fractions of seconds between them. For the first moment, Vronsky is not in control of the mare, and they are racing in third behind Gladiator and a horse named Diana, whose rider is nearly paralyzed with fear. As he and Frou-Frou are jumping the first stream, he sees a floundering Diana and her rider on the ground below them; only with great agility is his horse able to avoid trampling them.
After they land, Vronsky has complete control of his mare. Gladiator is the only horse in front of them, and as the race continues, the distance between the two horses remains constant. At the same moment he thinks they should begin to overtake Gladiator, Frou-Frou seems to be thinking the same thing and suddenly moves alongside the larger horse.
Soon they pass the lead horse, though they can still hear Gladiator’s hoofs and breathing immediately behind them as they cross the next two water barriers. Now it seems to Vronsky that he is going to win the race, and he longs to look back but cannot. Only one obstacle is left, and Vronsky tries to keep the same amount of energy in reserve for the mare that he feels Gladiator has.
Heading into the final obstacle, he feels a moment of hesitation. Frou-Frou, however, knows what he needs and wants and she rises smoothly and lands effortlessly far beyond the ditch. He hears the cheers of the men in his regiment and listens for what happens behind him. Gladiator has cleared the obstacle as well. All that remains is the final ditch, five feet wide and filled with water.
As they approach the ditch, Vronsky lets his mare have her way, feeling that she is on her last reserves but knowing she has more than enough strength to finish the race. As she sails over...
(The entire section is 551 words.)