Anna karenina, p.184
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       Anna Karenina, p.184

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 27

  The sixth day was fixed for the election of the marshal of the province.

  The rooms, large and small, were full of noblemen in all sorts ofuniforms. Many had come only for that day. Men who had not seen eachother for years, some from the Crimea, some from Petersburg, some fromabroad, met in the rooms of the Hall of Nobility. There was muchdiscussion around the governor's table under the portrait of the Tsar.

  The nobles, both in the larger and the smaller rooms, grouped themselvesin camps, and from their hostile and suspicious glances, from thesilence that fell upon them when outsiders approached a group, and fromthe way that some, whispering together, retreated to the farthercorridor, it was evident that each side had secrets from the other. Inappearance the noblemen were sharply divided into two classes: the oldand the new. The old were for the most part either in old uniforms ofthe nobility, buttoned up closely, with spurs and hats, or in their ownspecial naval, cavalry, infantry, or official uniforms. The uniforms ofthe older men were embroidered in the old-fashioned way with epaulets ontheir shoulders; they were unmistakably tight and short in the waist, asthough their wearers had grown out of them. The younger men wore theuniform of the nobility with long waists and broad shoulders, unbuttonedover white waistcoats, or uniforms with black collars and with theembroidered badges of justices of the peace. To the younger men belongedthe court uniforms that here and there brightened up the crowd.

  But the division into young and old did not correspond with the divisionof parties. Some of the young men, as Levin observed, belonged to theold party; and some of the very oldest noblemen, on the contrary, werewhispering with Sviazhsky, and were evidently ardent partisans of thenew party.

  Levin stood in the smaller room, where they were smoking and takinglight refreshments, close to his own friends, and listening to what theywere saying, he conscientiously exerted all his intelligence trying tounderstand what was said. Sergey Ivanovitch was the center round whichthe others grouped themselves. He was listening at that moment toSviazhsky and Hliustov, the marshal of another district, who belonged totheir party. Hliustov would not agree to go with his district to askSnetkov to stand, while Sviazhsky was persuading him to do so, andSergey Ivanovitch was approving of the plan. Levin could not make outwhy the opposition was to ask the marshal to stand whom they wanted tosupersede.

  Stepan Arkadyevitch, who had just been drinking and taking some lunch,came up to them in his uniform of a gentleman of the bedchamber, wipinghis lips with a perfumed handkerchief of bordered batiste.

  "We are placing our forces," he said, pulling out his whiskers, "SergeyIvanovitch!"

  And listening to the conversation, he supported Sviazhsky's contention.

  "One district's enough, and Sviazhsky's obviously of the opposition," hesaid, words evidently intelligible to all except Levin.

  "Why, Kostya, you here too! I suppose you're converted, eh?" he added,turning to Levin and drawing his arm through his. Levin would have beenglad indeed to be converted, but could not make out what the point was,and retreating a few steps from the speakers, he explained to StepanArkadyevitch his inability to understand why the marshal of the provinceshould be asked to stand.

  _"O sancta simplicitas!"_ said Stepan Arkadyevitch, and briefly andclearly he explained it to Levin. If, as at previous elections, all thedistricts asked the marshal of the province to stand, then he would beelected without a ballot. That must not be. Now eight districts hadagreed to call upon him: if two refused to do so, Snetkov might declineto stand at all; and then the old party might choose another of theirparty, which would throw them completely out in their reckoning. But ifonly one district, Sviazhsky's, did not call upon him to stand, Snetkovwould let himself be balloted for. They were even, some of them, goingto vote for him, and purposely to let him get a good many votes, so thatthe enemy might be thrown off the scent, and when a candidate of theother side was put up, they too might give him some votes. Levinunderstood to some extent, but not fully, and would have put a few morequestions, when suddenly everyone began talking and making a noise andthey moved towards the big room.

  "What is it? eh? whom?" "No guarantee? whose? what?" "They won't passhim?" "No guarantee?" "They won't let Flerov in?" "Eh, because of thecharge against him?" "Why, at this rate, they won't admit anyone. It's aswindle!" "The law!" Levin heard exclamations on all sides, and he movedinto the big room together with the others, all hurrying somewhere andafraid of missing something. Squeezed by the crowding noblemen, he drewnear the high table where the marshal of the province, Sviazhsky, andthe other leaders were hotly disputing about something.

 

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