Anna Karenina Part 3, Chapter 17 Summary
by Leo Tolstoy

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Part 3, Chapter 17 Summary

Only a few people have been invited to Princess Betsy Tverskaya’s croquet party; two of the women are part of a social circle which is “utterly hostile” to the circle in which Anna Karenina moves, and one of the men is Alexey Alexandrovitch’s political enemy. Knowing this, Anna Karenina had refused the invitation. Now she is here, arriving earlier than the other guests, hoping to see Vronsky.

While she does not see Vronsky, she does see his footman arriving with a note for Princess Betsy. Anna Karenina longs to ask the messenger where his master is, to send a letter to Vronsky with the footman, or to go herself to see him, but none of these options are available to her, and she is taken to the garden.

When Princess Betsy sees Anna Karenina, she immediately senses that something is wrong. She frees herself from one of her guests so that she can speak privately with her friend. The princess is glad to see her, but Anna Karenina insists she cannot stay long, for she must go to see old Madame Vrede. It is a lie that comes unexpectedly to her lips, for she had not given one thought to the idea before she spoke it; however, later this lie will prove to be the most “cunning device” she could have created in order to meet Vronsky.

Princess Betsy reads aloud the note from the footman explaining that Vronsky cannot attend the croquet party. Although Princess Betsy knows all about Anna Karenina's affair with Vronsky, she acts as if she does not, and both women seem to enjoy this game of concealment. Before she leaves the room, Princess Betsy says she must write Vronsky a quick note inviting him to dinner that night, for she needs another male guest at her table; as she is leaving the room, she asks Anna Karenina to seal the letter for her and give it to the messenger.

Without any hesitation, Anna Karenina adds a hasty footnote to Princess Betsy’s note. She writes that it is imperative that Vronsky meet her at the Vrede’s garden at 6:00. She seals the letter and gives it to the messenger just as Princess Betsy reenters the room. The two women have a short...

(The entire section is 554 words.)