Anna karenina, p.197
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       Anna Karenina, p.197

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 8

  Getting up from the table, Levin walked with Gagin through the loftyroom to the billiard room, feeling his arms swing as he walked with apeculiar lightness and ease. As he crossed the big room, he came uponhis father-in-law.

  "Well, how do you like our Temple of Indolence?" said the prince, takinghis arm. "Come along, come along!"

  "Yes, I wanted to walk about and look at everything. It's interesting."

  "Yes, it's interesting for you. But its interest for me is quitedifferent. You look at those little old men now," he said, pointing to aclub member with bent back and projecting lip, shuffling towards them inhis soft boots, "and imagine that they were _shlupiks_ like that fromtheir birth up."

  "How _shlupiks_?"

  "I see you don't know that name. That's our club designation. You knowthe game of rolling eggs: when one's rolled a long while it becomes a_shlupik_. So it is with us; one goes on coming and coming to the club,and ends by becoming a _shlupik_. Ah, you laugh! but we look out, forfear of dropping into it ourselves. You know Prince Tchetchensky?"inquired the prince; and Levin saw by his face that he was just going torelate something funny.

  "No, I don't know him."

  "You don't say so! Well, Prince Tchetchensky is a well-known figure. Nomatter, though. He's always playing billiards here. Only three years agohe was not a _shlupik_ and kept up his spirits and even used to callother people _shlupiks_. But one day he turns up, and our porter ... youknow Vassily? Why, that fat one; he's famous for his _bon mots_. And soPrince Tchetchensky asks him, 'Come, Vassily, who's here? Any _shlupiks_here yet?' And he says, 'You're the third.' Yes, my dear boy, that hedid!"

  Talking and greeting the friends they met, Levin and the prince walkedthrough all the rooms: the great room where tables had already been set,and the usual partners were playing for small stakes; the divan room,where they were playing chess, and Sergey Ivanovitch was sitting talkingto somebody; the billiard room, where, about a sofa in a recess, therewas a lively party drinking champagne--Gagin was one of them. Theypeeped into the "infernal regions," where a good many men were crowdinground one table, at which Yashvin was sitting. Trying not to make anoise, they walked into the dark reading room, where under the shadedlamps there sat a young man with a wrathful countenance, turning overone journal after another, and a bald general buried in a book. Theywent, too, into what the prince called the intellectual room, wherethree gentlemen were engaged in a heated discussion of the latestpolitical news.

  "Prince, please come, we're ready," said one of his card party, who hadcome to look for him, and the prince went off. Levin sat down andlistened, but recalling all the conversation of the morning he felt allof a sudden fearfully bored. He got up hurriedly, and went to look forOblonsky and Turovtsin, with whom it had been so pleasant.

  Turovtsin was one of the circle drinking in the billiard room, andStepan Arkadyevitch was talking with Vronsky near the door at thefarther corner of the room.

  "It's not that she's dull; but this undefined, this unsettled position,"Levin caught, and he was hurrying away, but Stepan Arkadyevitch calledto him.

  "Levin," said Stepan Arkadyevitch, and Levin noticed that his eyes werenot full of tears exactly, but moist, which always happened when he hadbeen drinking, or when he was touched. Just now it was due to bothcauses. "Levin, don't go," he said, and he warmly squeezed his arm abovethe elbow, obviously not at all wishing to let him go.

  "This is a true friend of mine--almost my greatest friend," he said toVronsky. "You have become even closer and dearer to me. And I want you,and I know you ought, to be friends, and great friends, because you'reboth splendid fellows."

  "Well, there's nothing for us now but to kiss and be friends," Vronskysaid, with good-natured playfulness, holding out his hand.

  Levin quickly took the offered hand, and pressed it warmly.

  "I'm very, very glad," said Levin.

  "Waiter, a bottle of champagne," said Stepan Arkadyevitch.

  "And I'm very glad," said Vronsky.

  But in spite of Stepan Arkadyevitch's desire, and their own desire, theyhad nothing to talk about, and both felt it.

  "Do you know, he has never met Anna?" Stepan Arkadyevitch said toVronsky. "And I want above everything to take him to see her. Let us go,Levin!"

  "Really?" said Vronsky. "She will be very glad to see you. I should begoing home at once," he added, "but I'm worried about Yashvin, and Iwant to stay on till he finishes."

  "Why, is he losing?"

  "He keeps losing, and I'm the only friend that can restrain him."

  "Well, what do you say to pyramids? Levin, will you play? Capital!" saidStepan Arkadyevitch. "Get the table ready," he said to the marker.

  "It has been ready a long while," answered the marker, who had alreadyset the balls in a triangle, and was knocking the red one about for hisown diversion.

  "Well, let us begin."

  After the game Vronsky and Levin sat down at Gagin's table, and atStepan Arkadyevitch's suggestion Levin took a hand in the game.

  Vronsky sat down at the table, surrounded by friends, who wereincessantly coming up to him. Every now and then he went to the"infernal" to keep an eye on Yashvin. Levin was enjoying a delightfulsense of repose after the mental fatigue of the morning. He was gladthat all hostility was at an end with Vronsky, and the sense of peace,decorum, and comfort never left him.

  When the game was over, Stepan Arkadyevitch took Levin's arm.

  "Well, let us go to Anna's, then. At once? Eh? She is at home. Ipromised her long ago to bring you. Where were you meaning to spend theevening?"

  "Oh, nowhere specially. I promised Sviazhsky to go to the Society ofAgriculture. By all means, let us go," said Levin.

  "Very good; come along. Find out if my carriage is here," StepanArkadyevitch said to the waiter.

  Levin went up to the table, paid the forty roubles he had lost; paid hisbill, the amount of which was in some mysterious way ascertained by thelittle old waiter who stood at the counter, and swinging his arms hewalked through all the rooms to the way out.

 
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