Anna begins preparing for departure; though she’s in a good mood, Vronsky’s mentioning that he’s going to see his mother stings her. Vronsky receives a telegram and initially hides its contents from her. Although it’s from Oblonsky, the concealment makes Anna imagine that he is communicating with other women by telegram. Anna begins quarreling with Vronsky: she is angry that, in her view, he only seems to want the divorce to protect any future children (which they will not have), and she makes cutting remarks about his mother.
Just as Levin’s emotions color the way he sees the world—when he is happy, the world is happy; when he grieves, the world grieves—Anna, in her spiral of uncontrollable passion, sees the entire world as conspiring against her: she is so consumed in her jealousy and her paranoiac zeal that her brain turns everything into evidence of Vronsky’s supposed infidelity.
Just as the argument escalates, a friend of Vronsky’s arrives, and they all chat with a forced lightness about the friend’s gambling habits. Before he leaves the house, Vronsky comes to Anna’s room to talk to her, but she is still cold to him, and he leaves in a huff. When he returns that evening, he learns that Anna has told the maid that she doesn’t want to see him.
Even in Vronsky and Anna’s volatile relationship, they’re usually able to reconcile at the end of the night and go to sleep at peace. This time, however, things are different. Anna has been at the brink of despair too often. Like the boy in the fable, she can only cry wolf so many times before Vronsky won’t believe her anymore.