Anna karenina, p.183
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       Anna Karenina, p.183

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 26

  In September Levin moved to Moscow for Kitty's confinement. He had spenta whole month in Moscow with nothing to do, when Sergey Ivanovitch, whohad property in the Kashinsky province, and took great interest in thequestion of the approaching elections, made ready to set off to theelections. He invited his brother, who had a vote in the Seleznevskydistrict, to come with him. Levin had, moreover, to transact in Kashinsome extremely important business relating to the wardship of land andto the receiving of certain redemption money for his sister, who wasabroad.

  Levin still hesitated, but Kitty, who saw that he was bored in Moscow,and urged him to go, on her own authority ordered him the propernobleman's uniform, costing seven pounds. And that seven pounds paid forthe uniform was the chief cause that finally decided Levin to go. Hewent to Kashin....

  Levin had been six days in Kashin, visiting the assembly each day, andbusily engaged about his sister's business, which still dragged on. Thedistrict marshals of nobility were all occupied with the elections, andit was impossible to get the simplest thing done that depended upon thecourt of wardship. The other matter, the payment of the sums due, wasmet too by difficulties. After long negotiations over the legal details,the money was at last ready to be paid; but the notary, a most obligingperson, could not hand over the order, because it must have thesignature of the president, and the president, though he had not givenover his duties to a deputy, was at the elections. All these worryingnegotiations, this endless going from place to place, and talking withpleasant and excellent people, who quite saw the unpleasantness of thepetitioner's position, but were powerless to assist him--all theseefforts that yielded no result, led to a feeling of misery in Levin akinto the mortifying helplessness one experiences in dreams when one triesto use physical force. He felt this frequently as he talked to his mostgood-natured solicitor. This solicitor did, it seemed, everythingpossible, and strained every nerve to get him out of his difficulties."I tell you what you might try," he said more than once; "go toso-and-so and so-and-so," and the solicitor drew up a regular plan forgetting round the fatal point that hindered everything. But he would addimmediately, "It'll mean some delay, anyway, but you might try it." AndLevin did try, and did go. Everyone was kind and civil, but the pointevaded seemed to crop up again in the end, and again to bar the way.What was particularly trying, was that Levin could not make out withwhom he was struggling, to whose interest it was that his businessshould not be done. That no one seemed to know; the solicitor certainlydid not know. If Levin could have understood why, just as he saw why onecan only approach the booking office of a railway station in singlefile, it would not have been so vexatious and tiresome to him. But withthe hindrances that confronted him in his business, no one could explainwhy they existed.

  But Levin had changed a good deal since his marriage; he was patient,and if he could not see why it was all arranged like this, he toldhimself that he could not judge without knowing all about it, and thatmost likely it must be so, and he tried not to fret.

  In attending the elections, too, and taking part in them, he tried nownot to judge, not to fall foul of them, but to comprehend as fully as hecould the question which was so earnestly and ardently absorbing honestand excellent men whom he respected. Since his marriage there had beenrevealed to Levin so many new and serious aspects of life that hadpreviously, through his frivolous attitude to them, seemed of noimportance, that in the question of the elections too he assumed andtried to find some serious significance.

  Sergey Ivanovitch explained to him the meaning and object of theproposed revolution at the elections. The marshal of the province inwhose hands the law had placed the control of so many important publicfunctions--the guardianship of wards (the very department which wasgiving Levin so much trouble just now), the disposal of large sumssubscribed by the nobility of the province, the high schools, female,male, and military, and popular instruction on the new model, andfinally, the district council--the marshal of the province, Snetkov, wasa nobleman of the old school,--dissipating an immense fortune, agood-hearted man, honest after his own fashion, but utterly without anycomprehension of the needs of modern days. He always took, in everyquestion, the side of the nobility; he was positively antagonistic tothe spread of popular education, and he succeeded in giving a purelyparty character to the district council which ought by rights to be ofsuch an immense importance. What was needed was to put in his place afresh, capable, perfectly modern man, of contemporary ideas, and toframe their policy so as from the rights conferred upon the nobles, notas the nobility, but as an element of the district council, to extractall the powers of self-government that could possibly be derived fromthem. In the wealthy Kashinsky province, which always took the lead ofother provinces in everything, there was now such a preponderance offorces that this policy, once carried through properly there, mightserve as a model for other provinces for all Russia. And hence the wholequestion was of the greatest importance. It was proposed to elect asmarshal in place of Snetkov either Sviazhsky, or, better still,Nevyedovsky, a former university professor, a man of remarkableintelligence and a great friend of Sergey Ivanovitch.

  The meeting was opened by the governor, who made a speech to the nobles,urging them to elect the public functionaries, not from regard forpersons, but for the service and welfare of their fatherland, and hopingthat the honorable nobility of the Kashinsky province would, as at allformer elections, hold their duty as sacred, and vindicate the exaltedconfidence of the monarch.

  When he had finished with his speech, the governor walked out of thehall, and the noblemen noisily and eagerly--some evenenthusiastically--followed him and thronged round him while he put onhis fur coat and conversed amicably with the marshal of the province.Levin, anxious to see into everything and not to miss anything, stoodthere too in the crowd, and heard the governor say: "Please tell MaryaIvanovna my wife is very sorry she couldn't come to the Home." Andthereupon the nobles in high good-humor sorted out their fur coats andall drove off to the cathedral.

  In the cathedral Levin, lifting his hand like the rest and repeating thewords of the archdeacon, swore with most terrible oaths to do all thegovernor had hoped they would do. Church services always affected Levin,and as he uttered the words "I kiss the cross," and glanced round at thecrowd of young and old men repeating the same, he felt touched.

  On the second and third days there was business relating to the financesof the nobility and the female high school, of no importance whatever,as Sergey Ivanovitch explained, and Levin, busy seeing after his ownaffairs, did not attend the meetings. On the fourth day the auditing ofthe marshal's accounts took place at the high table of the marshal ofthe province. And then there occurred the first skirmish between the newparty and the old. The committee who had been deputed to verify theaccounts reported to the meeting that all was in order. The marshal ofthe province got up, thanked the nobility for their confidence, and shedtears. The nobles gave him a loud welcome, and shook hands with him. Butat that instant a nobleman of Sergey Ivanovitch's party said that he hadheard that the committee had not verified the accounts, considering sucha verification an insult to the marshal of the province. One of themembers of the committee incautiously admitted this. Then a smallgentleman, very young-looking but very malignant, began to say that itwould probably be agreeable to the marshal of the province to give anaccount of his expenditures of the public moneys, and that the misplaceddelicacy of the members of the committee was depriving him of this moralsatisfaction. Then the members of the committee tried to withdraw theiradmission, and Sergey Ivanovitch began to prove that they must logicallyadmit either that they had verified the accounts or that they had not,and he developed this dilemma in detail. Sergey Ivanovitch was answeredby the spokesman of the opposite party. Then Sviazhsky spoke, and thenthe malignant gentleman again. The discussion lasted a long time andended in nothing. Levin was surprised that they should dispute upon thissubject so long, especially as, when he asked Sergey Ivanovitch whetherhe supposed that money had been
misappropriated, Sergey Ivanovitchanswered:

  "Oh, no! He's an honest man. But those old-fashioned methods of paternalfamily arrangements in the management of provincial affairs must bebroken down."

  On the fifth day came the elections of the district marshals. It wasrather a stormy day in several districts. In the Seleznevsky districtSviazhsky was elected unanimously without a ballot, and he gave a dinnerthat evening.

 
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