Anna karenina, p.196
Anna Karenina, p.196graf Leo Tolstoy
Levin reached the club just at the right time. Members and visitors weredriving up as he arrived. Levin had not been at the club for a very longwhile--not since he lived in Moscow, when he was leaving the universityand going into society. He remembered the club, the external details ofits arrangement, but he had completely forgotten the impression it hadmade on him in old days. But as soon as, driving into the widesemicircular court and getting out of the sledge, he mounted the steps,and the hall porter, adorned with a crossway scarf, noiselessly openedthe door to him with a bow; as soon as he saw in the porter's room thecloaks and galoshes of members who thought it less trouble to take themoff downstairs; as soon as he heard the mysterious ringing bell thatpreceded him as he ascended the easy, carpeted staircase, and saw thestatue on the landing, and the third porter at the top doors, a familiarfigure grown older, in the club livery, opening the door without hasteor delay, and scanning the visitors as they passed in--Levin felt theold impression of the club come back in a rush, an impression of repose,comfort, and propriety.
"Your hat, please," the porter said to Levin, who forgot the club ruleto leave his hat in the porter's room. "Long time since you've been. Theprince put your name down yesterday. Prince Stepan Arkadyevitch is nothere yet."
The porter did not only know Levin, but also all his ties andrelationships, and so immediately mentioned his intimate friends.
Passing through the outer hall, divided up by screens, and the roompartitioned on the right, where a man sits at the fruit buffet, Levinovertook an old man walking slowly in, and entered the dining room fullof noise and people.
He walked along the tables, almost all full, and looked at the visitors.He saw people of all sorts, old and young; some he knew a little, someintimate friends. There was not a single cross or worried-looking face.All seemed to have left their cares and anxieties in the porter's roomwith their hats, and were all deliberately getting ready to enjoy thematerial blessings of life. Sviazhsky was here and Shtcherbatsky,Nevyedovsky and the old prince, and Vronsky and Sergey Ivanovitch.
"Ah! why are you late?" the prince said smiling, and giving him his handover his own shoulder. "How's Kitty?" he added, smoothing out the napkinhe had tucked in at his waistcoat buttons.
"All right; they are dining at home, all the three of them."
"Ah, 'Aline-Nadine,' to be sure! There's no room with us. Go to thattable, and make haste and take a seat," said the prince, and turningaway he carefully took a plate of eel soup.
"Levin, this way!" a good-natured voice shouted a little farther on. Itwas Turovtsin. He was sitting with a young officer, and beside them weretwo chairs turned upside down. Levin gladly went up to them. He hadalways liked the good-hearted rake, Turovtsin--he was associated in hismind with memories of his courtship--and at that moment, after thestrain of intellectual conversation, the sight of Turovtsin'sgood-natured face was particularly welcome.
"For you and Oblonsky. He'll be here directly."
The young man, holding himself very erect, with eyes forever twinklingwith enjoyment, was an officer from Petersburg, Gagin. Turovtsinintroduced them.
"Oblonsky's always late."
"Ah, here he is!"
"Have you only just come?" said Oblonsky, coming quickly towards them."Good day. Had some vodka? Well, come along then."
Levin got up and went with him to the big table spread with spirits andappetizers of the most various kinds. One would have thought that out oftwo dozen delicacies one might find something to one's taste, but StepanArkadyevitch asked for something special, and one of the liveriedwaiters standing by immediately brought what was required. They drank awine glassful and returned to their table.
At once, while they were still at the soup, Gagin was served withchampagne, and told the waiter to fill four glasses. Levin did notrefuse the wine, and asked for a second bottle. He was very hungry, andate and drank with great enjoyment, and with still greater enjoymenttook part in the lively and simple conversation of his companions.Gagin, dropping his voice, told the last good story from Petersburg, andthe story, though improper and stupid, was so ludicrous that Levin brokeinto roars of laughter so loud that those near looked round.
"That's in the same style as, 'that's a thing I can't endure!' You knowthe story?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch. "Ah, that's exquisite! Anotherbottle," he said to the waiter, and he began to relate his good story.
"Pyotr Illyitch Vinovsky invites you to drink with him," a little oldwaiter interrupted Stepan Arkadyevitch, bringing two delicate glasses ofsparkling champagne, and addressing Stepan Arkadyevitch and Levin.Stepan Arkadyevitch took the glass, and looking towards a bald man withred mustaches at the other end of the table, he nodded to him, smiling.
"Who's that?" asked Levin.
"You met him once at my place, don't you remember? A good-naturedfellow."
Levin did the same as Stepan Arkadyevitch and took the glass.
Stepan Arkadyevitch's anecdote too was very amusing. Levin told hisstory, and that too was successful. Then they talked of horses, of theraces, of what they had been doing that day, and of how smartlyVronsky's Atlas had won the first prize. Levin did not notice how thetime passed at dinner.
"Ah! and here they are!" Stepan Arkadyevitch said towards the end ofdinner, leaning over the back of his chair and holding out his hand toVronsky, who came up with a tall officer of the Guards. Vronsky's facetoo beamed with the look of good-humored enjoyment that was general inthe club. He propped his elbow playfully on Stepan Arkadyevitch'sshoulder, whispering something to him, and he held out his hand to Levinwith the same good-humored smile.
"Very glad to meet you," he said. "I looked out for you at the election,but I was told you had gone away."
"Yes, I left the same day. We've just been talking of your horse. Icongratulate you," said Levin. "It was very rapidly run."
"Yes; you've race horses too, haven't you?"
"No, my father had; but I remember and know something about it."
"Where have you dined?" asked Stepan Arkadyevitch.
"We were at the second table, behind the columns."
"We've been celebrating his success," said the tall colonel. "It's hissecond Imperial prize. I wish I might have the luck at cards he has withhorses. Well, why waste the precious time? I'm going to the 'infernalregions,'" added the colonel, and he walked away.
"That's Yashvin," Vronsky said in answer to Turovtsin, and he sat downin the vacated seat beside them. He drank the glass offered him, andordered a bottle of wine. Under the influence of the club atmosphere orthe wine he had drunk, Levin chatted away to Vronsky of the best breedsof cattle, and was very glad not to feel the slightest hostility to thisman. He even told him, among other things, that he had heard from hiswife that she had met him at Princess Marya Borissovna's.
"Ah, Princess Marya Borissovna, she's exquisite!" said StepanArkadyevitch, and he told an anecdote about her which set them alllaughing. Vronsky particularly laughed with such simplehearted amusementthat Levin felt quite reconciled to him.
"Well, have we finished?" said Stepan Arkadyevitch, getting up with asmile. "Let us go."
Anna Karenina by graf Leo Tolstoy / Romance & Love have rating 5 out of 5 / Based on116 votes