When he arrives in Petersburg, Karenin goes straight to his study and writes Anna a letter in French, requesting that she return to Petersburg and enclosing money. He sends the letter to be delivered and sits down with a French book, but he is distracted by Anna’s portrait. However, after solving a complicated business problem, he is no longer as distressed.
Karenin addresses his letter in French, the same intimate, intellectual language that Anna and Vronsky use, but Karenin’s request is formal and cold rather than warm and loving. While Karenin is distracted at first, he becomes absorbed again in his business, which allows him to detach from the affair.