Anna karenina, p.139
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       Anna Karenina, p.139

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 15

  They had just come back from Moscow, and were glad to be alone. He wassitting at the writing table in his study, writing. She, wearing thedark lilac dress she had worn during the first days of their marriedlife, and put on again today, a dress particularly remembered and lovedby him, was sitting on the sofa, the same old-fashioned leather sofawhich had always stood in the study in Levin's father's andgrandfather's days. She was sewing at _broderie anglaise_. He thoughtand wrote, never losing the happy consciousness of her presence. Hiswork, both on the land and on the book, in which the principles of thenew land system were to be laid down, had not been abandoned; but justas formerly these pursuits and ideas had seemed to him petty and trivialin comparison with the darkness that overspread all life, now theyseemed as unimportant and petty in comparison with the life that laybefore him suffused with the brilliant light of happiness. He went onwith his work, but he felt now that the center of gravity of hisattention had passed to something else, and that consequently he lookedat his work quite differently and more clearly. Formerly this work hadbeen for him an escape from life. Formerly he had felt that without thiswork his life would be too gloomy. Now these pursuits were necessary forhim that life might not be too uniformly bright. Taking up hismanuscript, reading through what he had written, he found with pleasurethat the work was worth his working at. Many of his old ideas seemed tohim superfluous and extreme, but many blanks became distinct to him whenhe reviewed the whole thing in his memory. He was writing now a newchapter on the causes of the present disastrous condition of agriculturein Russia. He maintained that the poverty of Russia arises not merelyfrom the anomalous distribution of landed property and misdirectedreforms, but that what had contributed of late years to this result wasthe civilization from without abnormally grafted upon Russia, especiallyfacilities of communication, as railways, leading to centralization intowns, the development of luxury, and the consequent development ofmanufactures, credit and its accompaniment of speculation--all to thedetriment of agriculture. It seemed to him that in a normal developmentof wealth in a state all these phenomena would arise only when aconsiderable amount of labor had been put into agriculture, when it hadcome under regular, or at least definite, conditions; that the wealth ofa country ought to increase proportionally, and especially in such a waythat other sources of wealth should not outstrip agriculture; that inharmony with a certain stage of agriculture there should be means ofcommunication corresponding to it, and that in our unsettled conditionof the land, railways, called into being by political and not byeconomic needs, were premature, and instead of promoting agriculture, aswas expected of them, they were competing with agriculture and promotingthe development of manufactures and credit, and so arresting itsprogress; and that just as the one-sided and premature development ofone organ in an animal would hinder its general development, so in thegeneral development of wealth in Russia, credit, facilities ofcommunication, manufacturing activity, indubitably necessary in Europe,where they had arisen in their proper time, had with us only done harm,by throwing into the background the chief question calling forsettlement--the question of the organization of agriculture.

  While he was writing his ideas she was thinking how unnaturally cordialher husband had been to young Prince Tcharsky, who had, with great wantof tact, flirted with her the day before they left Moscow. "He'sjealous," she thought. "Goodness! how sweet and silly he is! He'sjealous of me! If he knew that I think no more of them than of Piotr thecook," she thought, looking at his head and red neck with a feeling ofpossession strange to herself. "Though it's a pity to take him from hiswork (but he has plenty of time!), I must look at his face; will he feelI'm looking at him? I wish he'd turn round ... I'll _will_ him to!" andshe opened her eyes wide, as though to intensify the influence of hergaze.

  "Yes, they draw away all the sap and give a false appearance ofprosperity," he muttered, stopping to write, and, feeling that she waslooking at him and smiling, he looked round.

  "Well?" he queried, smiling, and getting up.

  "He looked round," she thought.

  "It's nothing; I wanted you to look round," she said, watching him, andtrying to guess whether he was vexed at being interrupted or not.

  "How happy we are alone together!--I am, that is," he said, going up toher with a radiant smile of happiness.

  "I'm just as happy. I'll never go anywhere, especially not to Moscow."

  "And what were you thinking about?"

  "I? I was thinking.... No, no, go along, go on writing; don't breakoff," she said, pursing up her lips, "and I must cut out these littleholes now, do you see?"

  She took up her scissors and began cutting them out.

  "No; tell me, what was it?" he said, sitting down beside her andwatching the tiny scissors moving round.

  "Oh! what was I thinking about? I was thinking about Moscow, about theback of your head."

  "Why should I, of all people, have such happiness! It's unnatural, toogood," he said, kissing her hand.

  "I feel quite the opposite; the better things are, the more natural itseems to me."

  "And you've got a little curl loose," he said, carefully turning herhead round.

  "A little curl, oh yes. No, no, we are busy at our work!"

  Work did not progress further, and they darted apart from one anotherlike culprits when Kouzma came in to announce that tea was ready.

  "Have they come from the town?" Levin asked Kouzma.

  "They've just come; they're unpacking the things."

  "Come quickly," she said to him as she went out of the study, "or else Ishall read your letters without you."

  Left alone, after putting his manuscripts together in the new portfoliobought by her, he washed his hands at the new washstand with the elegantfittings, that had all made their appearance with her. Levin smiled athis own thoughts, and shook his head disapprovingly at those thoughts; afeeling akin to remorse fretted him. There was something shameful,effeminate, Capuan, as he called it to himself, in his present mode oflife. "It's not right to go on like this," he thought. "It'll soon bethree months, and I'm doing next to nothing. Today, almost for the firsttime, I set to work seriously, and what happened? I did nothing butbegin and throw it aside. Even my ordinary pursuits I have almost givenup. On the land I scarcely walk or drive about at all to look afterthings. Either I am loath to leave her, or I see she's dull alone. And Iused to think that, before marriage, life was nothing much, somehowdidn't count, but that after marriage, life began in earnest. And herealmost three months have passed, and I have spent my time so idly andunprofitably. No, this won't do; I must begin. Of course, it's not herfault. She's not to blame in any way. I ought myself to be firmer, tomaintain my masculine independence of action; or else I shall get intosuch ways, and she'll get used to them too.... Of course she's not toblame," he told himself.

  But it is hard for anyone who is dissatisfied not to blame someone else,and especially the person nearest of all to him, for the ground of hisdissatisfaction. And it vaguely came into Levin's mind that she herselfwas not to blame (she could not be to blame for anything), but what wasto blame was her education, too superficial and frivolous. ("That foolTcharsky: she wanted, I know, to stop him, but didn't know how to.")"Yes, apart from her interest in the house (that she has), apart fromdress and _broderie anglaise_, she has no serious interests. No interestin her work, in the estate, in the peasants, nor in music, though she'srather good at it, nor in reading. She does nothing, and is perfectlysatisfied." Levin, in his heart, censured this, and did not as yetunderstand that she was preparing for that period of activity which wasto come for her when she would at once be the wife of her husband andmistress of the house, and would bear, and nurse, and bring up children.He knew not that she was instinctively aware of this, and preparingherself for this time of terrible toil, did not reproach herself for themoments of carelessness and happiness in her love that she enjoyed nowwhile gaily building her nest for the future.

 
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