Anna karenina, p.115
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       Anna Karenina, p.115

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 14

  When Kitty had gone and Levin was left alone, he felt such uneasinesswithout her, and such an impatient longing to get as quickly, as quicklyas possible, to tomorrow morning, when he would see her again and beplighted to her forever, that he felt afraid, as though of death, ofthose fourteen hours that he had to get through without her. It wasessential for him to be with someone to talk to, so as not to be leftalone, to kill time. Stepan Arkadyevitch would have been the companionmost congenial to him, but he was going out, he said, to a _soiree_, inreality to the ballet. Levin only had time to tell him he was happy, andthat he loved him, and would never, never forget what he had done forhim. The eyes and the smile of Stepan Arkadyevitch showed Levin that hecomprehended that feeling fittingly.

  "Oh, so it's not time to die yet?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, pressingLevin's hand with emotion.

  "N-n-no!" said Levin.

  Darya Alexandrovna too, as she said good-bye to him, gave him a sort ofcongratulation, saying, "How glad I am you have met Kitty again! Onemust value old friends." Levin did not like these words of DaryaAlexandrovna's. She could not understand how lofty and beyond her it allwas, and she ought not to have dared to allude to it. Levin saidgood-bye to them, but, not to be left alone, he attached himself to hisbrother.

  "Where are you going?"

  "I'm going to a meeting."

  "Well, I'll come with you. May I?"

  "What for? Yes, come along," said Sergey Ivanovitch, smiling. "What isthe matter with you today?"

  "With me? Happiness is the matter with me!" said Levin, letting down thewindow of the carriage they were driving in. "You don't mind?--it's sostifling. It's happiness is the matter with me! Why is it you have nevermarried?"

  Sergey Ivanovitch smiled.

  "I am very glad, she seems a nice gi..." Sergey Ivanovitch wasbeginning.

  "Don't say it! don't say it!" shouted Levin, clutching at the collar ofhis fur coat with both hands, and muffling him up in it. "She's a nicegirl" were such simple, humble words, so out of harmony with hisfeeling.

  Sergey Ivanovitch laughed outright a merry laugh, which was rare withhim. "Well, anyway, I may say that I'm very glad of it."

  "That you may do tomorrow, tomorrow and nothing more! Nothing, nothing,silence," said Levin, and muffling him once more in his fur coat, headded: "I do like you so! Well, is it possible for me to be present atthe meeting?"

  "Of course it is."

  "What is your discussion about today?" asked Levin, never ceasingsmiling.

  They arrived at the meeting. Levin heard the secretary hesitatingly readthe minutes which he obviously did not himself understand; but Levin sawfrom this secretary's face what a good, nice, kind-hearted person hewas. This was evident from his confusion and embarrassment in readingthe minutes. Then the discussion began. They were disputing about themisappropriation of certain sums and the laying of certain pipes, andSergey Ivanovitch was very cutting to two members, and said something atgreat length with an air of triumph; and another member, scribblingsomething on a bit of paper, began timidly at first, but afterwardsanswered him very viciously and delightfully. And then Sviazhsky (he wasthere too) said something too, very handsomely and nobly. Levin listenedto them, and saw clearly that these missing sums and these pipes werenot anything real, and that they were not at all angry, but were all thenicest, kindest people, and everything was as happy and charming aspossible among them. They did no harm to anyone, and were all enjoyingit. What struck Levin was that he could see through them all today, andfrom little, almost imperceptible signs knew the soul of each, and sawdistinctly that they were all good at heart. And Levin himself inparticular they were all extremely fond of that day. That was evidentfrom the way they spoke to him, from the friendly, affectionate way eventhose he did not know looked at him.

  "Well, did you like it?" Sergey Ivanovitch asked him.

  "Very much. I never supposed it was so interesting! Capital! Splendid!"

  Sviazhsky went up to Levin and invited him to come round to tea withhim. Levin was utterly at a loss to comprehend or recall what it was hehad disliked in Sviazhsky, what he had failed to find in him. He was aclever and wonderfully good-hearted man.

  "Most delighted," he said, and asked after his wife and sister-in-law.And from a queer association of ideas, because in his imagination theidea of Sviazhsky's sister-in-law was connected with marriage, itoccurred to him that there was no one to whom he could more suitablyspeak of his happiness, and he was very glad to go and see them.

  Sviazhsky questioned him about his improvements on his estate,presupposing, as he always did, that there was no possibility of doinganything not done already in Europe, and now this did not in the leastannoy Levin. On the contrary, he felt that Sviazhsky was right, that thewhole business was of little value, and he saw the wonderful softnessand consideration with which Sviazhsky avoided fully expressing hiscorrect view. The ladies of the Sviazhsky household were particularlydelightful. It seemed to Levin that they knew all about it already andsympathized with him, saying nothing merely from delicacy. He stayedwith them one hour, two, three, talking of all sorts of subjects but theone thing that filled his heart, and did not observe that he was boringthem dreadfully, and that it was long past their bedtime.

  Sviazhsky went with him into the hall, yawning and wondering at thestrange humor his friend was in. It was past one o'clock. Levin wentback to his hotel, and was dismayed at the thought that all alone nowwith his impatience he had ten hours still left to get through. Theservant, whose turn it was to be up all night, lighted his candles, andwould have gone away, but Levin stopped him. This servant, Yegor, whomLevin had noticed before, struck him as a very intelligent, excellent,and, above all, good-hearted man.

  "Well, Yegor, it's hard work not sleeping, isn't it?"

  "One's got to put up with it! It's part of our work, you see. In agentleman's house it's easier; but then here one makes more."

  It appeared that Yegor had a family, three boys and a daughter, asempstress, whom he wanted to marry to a cashier in a saddler's shop.

  Levin, on hearing this, informed Yegor that, in his opinion, in marriagethe great thing was love, and that with love one would always be happy,for happiness rests only on oneself. Yegor listened attentively, andobviously quite took in Levin's idea, but by way of assent to it heenunciated, greatly to Levin's surprise, the observation that when hehad lived with good masters he had always been satisfied with hismasters, and now was perfectly satisfied with his employer, though hewas a Frenchman.

  "Wonderfully good-hearted fellow!" thought Levin.

  "Well, but you yourself, Yegor, when you got married, did you love yourwife?"

  "Ay! and why not?" responded Yegor.

  And Levin saw that Yegor too was in an excited state and intending toexpress all his most heartfelt emotions.

  "My life, too, has been a wonderful one. From a child up..." he wasbeginning with flashing eyes, apparently catching Levin's enthusiasm,just as people catch yawning.

  But at that moment a ring was heard. Yegor departed, and Levin was leftalone. He had eaten scarcely anything at dinner, had refused tea andsupper at Sviazhsky's, but he was incapable of thinking of supper. Hehad not slept the previous night, but was incapable of thinking of sleepeither. His room was cold, but he was oppressed by heat. He opened boththe movable panes in his window and sat down to the table opposite theopen panes. Over the snow-covered roofs could be seen a decorated crosswith chains, and above it the rising triangle of Charles's Wain with theyellowish light of Capella. He gazed at the cross, then at the stars,drank in the fresh freezing air that flowed evenly into the room, andfollowed as though in a dream the images and memories that rose in hisimagination. At four o'clock he heard steps in the passage and peepedout at the door. It was the gambler Myaskin, whom he knew, coming fromthe club. He walked gloomily, frowning and coughing. "Poor, unluckyfellow!" thought Levin, and tears came into his eyes from love and pityfor this man. He would have talked with him, and tried to c
omfort him,but remembering that he had nothing but his shirt on, he changed hismind and sat down again at the open pane to bathe in the cold air andgaze at the exquisite lines of the cross, silent, but full of meaningfor him, and the mounting lurid yellow star. At seven o'clock there wasa noise of people polishing the floors, and bells ringing in someservants' department, and Levin felt that he was beginning to getfrozen. He closed the pane, washed, dressed, and went out into thestreet.

 
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