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Princess Betsy leaves the Opera House early to go home and prepare for her guests.
The guests form two distinct groups: one near Princess Betsy, and one near the wife of an ambassador.
Everyone is making idle talk. A topic of conversation has not been settled on yet. (Neither Anna, nor her husband, nor Vronsky is at the dinner party yet.)
One of the short conversations is full of subtle gossip about a young man named Tushkevich, who everyone knows is Princess Betsy's lover.
Finally, everyone begins gossiping about people they know.
The circle around the ambassador's wife is talking about the Karenins.
One of Anna's friends said that Anna has seemed changed ever since coming back from Moscow.
The ambassador's wife said that the primary change has been that Anna brought back a shadow named Alexis Vronsky.
A woman named Princess Myagky comes to Anna's defense, arguing that she loves Anna and that it's not Anna's fault if everyone falls in love with her and wants to follow her.
Vronsky comes into the room.
He says that he's just come from the very entertaining "Bouffe" (i.e., comic opera which originated in France), which Princess Myagky says everyone would attend if it were the place to see and be seen, like the opera.