Anna karenina, p.234
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       Anna Karenina, p.234

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 14

  Levin looked before him and saw a herd of cattle, then he caught sightof his trap with Raven in the shafts, and the coachman, who, driving upto the herd, said something to the herdsman. Then he heard the rattle ofthe wheels and the snort of the sleek horse close by him. But he was soburied in his thoughts that he did not even wonder why the coachman hadcome for him.

  He only thought of that when the coachman had driven quite up to him andshouted to him. "The mistress sent me. Your brother has come, and somegentleman with him."

  Levin got into the trap and took the reins. As though just roused out ofsleep, for a long while Levin could not collect his faculties. He staredat the sleek horse flecked with lather between his haunches and on hisneck, where the harness rubbed, stared at Ivan the coachman sittingbeside him, and remembered that he was expecting his brother, thoughtthat his wife was most likely uneasy at his long absence, and tried toguess who was the visitor who had come with his brother. And his brotherand his wife and the unknown guest seemed to him now quite differentfrom before. He fancied that now his relations with all men would bedifferent.

  "With my brother there will be none of that aloofness there always usedto be between us, there will be no disputes; with Kitty there shallnever be quarrels; with the visitor, whoever he may be, I will befriendly and nice; with the servants, with Ivan, it will all bedifferent."

  Pulling the stiff rein and holding in the good horse that snorted withimpatience and seemed begging to be let go, Levin looked round at Ivansitting beside him, not knowing what to do with his unoccupied hand,continually pressing down his shirt as it puffed out, and he tried tofind something to start a conversation about with him. He would havesaid that Ivan had pulled the saddle-girth up too high, but that waslike blame, and he longed for friendly, warm talk. Nothing else occurredto him.

  "Your honor must keep to the right and mind that stump," said thecoachman, pulling the rein Levin held.

  "Please don't touch and don't teach me!" said Levin, angered by thisinterference. Now, as always, interference made him angry, and he feltsorrowfully at once how mistaken had been his supposition that hisspiritual condition could immediately change him in contact withreality.

  He was not a quarter of a mile from home when he saw Grisha and Tanyarunning to meet him.

  "Uncle Kostya! mamma's coming, and grandfather, and Sergey Ivanovitch,and someone else," they said, clambering up into the trap.

  "Who is he?"

  "An awfully terrible person! And he does like this with his arms," saidTanya, getting up in the trap and mimicking Katavasov.

  "Old or young?" asked Levin, laughing, reminded of someone, he did notknow whom, by Tanya's performance.

  "Oh, I hope it's not a tiresome person!" thought Levin.

  As soon as he turned, at a bend in the road, and saw the party coming,Levin recognized Katavasov in a straw hat, walking along swinging hisarms just as Tanya had shown him. Katavasov was very fond of discussingmetaphysics, having derived his notions from natural science writers whohad never studied metaphysics, and in Moscow Levin had had manyarguments with him of late.

  And one of these arguments, in which Katavasov had obviously consideredthat he came off victorious, was the first thing Levin thought of as herecognized him.

  "No, whatever I do, I won't argue and give utterance to my ideaslightly," he thought.

  Getting out of the trap and greeting his brother and Katavasov, Levinasked about his wife.

  "She has taken Mitya to Kolok" (a copse near the house). "She meant tohave him out there because it's so hot indoors," said Dolly. Levin hadalways advised his wife not to take the baby to the wood, thinking itunsafe, and he was not pleased to hear this.

  "She rushes about from place to place with him," said the prince,smiling. "I advised her to try putting him in the ice cellar."

  "She meant to come to the bee house. She thought you would be there. Weare going there," said Dolly.

  "Well, and what are you doing?" said Sergey Ivanovitch, falling backfrom the rest and walking beside him.

  "Oh, nothing special. Busy as usual with the land," answered Levin."Well, and what about you? Come for long? We have been expecting you forsuch a long time."

  "Only for a fortnight. I've a great deal to do in Moscow."

  At these words the brothers' eyes met, and Levin, in spite of the desirehe always had, stronger than ever just now, to be on affectionate andstill more open terms with his brother, felt an awkwardness in lookingat him. He dropped his eyes and did not know what to say.

  Casting over the subjects of conversation that would be pleasant toSergey Ivanovitch, and would keep him off the subject of the Servian warand the Slavonic question, at which he had hinted by the allusion towhat he had to do in Moscow, Levin began to talk of Sergey Ivanovitch'sbook.

  "Well, have there been reviews of your book?" he asked.

  Sergey Ivanovitch smiled at the intentional character of the question.

  "No one is interested in that now, and I less than anyone," he said."Just look, Darya Alexandrovna, we shall have a shower," he added,pointing with a sunshade at the white rain clouds that showed above theaspen tree-tops.

  And these words were enough to re-establish again between the brothersthat tone--hardly hostile, but chilly--which Levin had been so longingto avoid.

  Levin went up to Katavasov.

  "It was jolly of you to make up your mind to come," he said to him.

  "I've been meaning to a long while. Now we shall have some discussion,we'll see to that. Have you been reading Spencer?"

  "No, I've not finished reading him," said Levin. "But I don't need himnow."

  "How's that? that's interesting. Why so?"

  "I mean that I'm fully convinced that the solution of the problems thatinterest me I shall never find in him and his like. Now..."

  But Katavasov's serene and good-humored expression suddenly struck him,and he felt such tenderness for his own happy mood, which he wasunmistakably disturbing by this conversation, that he remembered hisresolution and stopped short.

  "But we'll talk later on," he added. "If we're going to the bee house,it's this way, along this little path," he said, addressing them all.

  Going along the narrow path to a little uncut meadow covered on one sidewith thick clumps of brilliant heart's-ease among which stood up hereand there tall, dark green tufts of hellebore, Levin settled his guestsin the dense, cool shade of the young aspens on a bench and some stumpspurposely put there for visitors to the bee house who might be afraid ofthe bees, and he went off himself to the hut to get bread, cucumbers,and fresh honey, to regale them with.

  Trying to make his movements as deliberate as possible, and listening tothe bees that buzzed more and more frequently past him, he walked alongthe little path to the hut. In the very entry one bee hummed angrily,caught in his beard, but he carefully extricated it. Going into theshady outer room, he took down from the wall his veil, that hung on apeg, and putting it on, and thrusting his hands into his pockets, hewent into the fenced-in bee-garden, where there stood in the midst of aclosely mown space in regular rows, fastened with bast on posts, all thehives he knew so well, the old stocks, each with its own history, andalong the fences the younger swarms hived that year. In front of theopenings of the hives, it made his eyes giddy to watch the bees anddrones whirling round and round about the same spot, while among themthe working bees flew in and out with spoils or in search of them,always in the same direction into the wood to the flowering lime treesand back to the hives.

  His ears were filled with the incessant hum in various notes, now thebusy hum of the working bee flying quickly off, then the blaring of thelazy drone, and the excited buzz of the bees on guard protecting theirproperty from the enemy and preparing to sting. On the farther side ofthe fence the old bee-keeper was shaving a hoop for a tub, and he didnot see Levin. Levin stood still in the midst of the beehives and didnot call him.

  He was glad of a chance to be alone to recover from the in
fluence ofordinary actual life, which had already depressed his happy mood. Hethought that he had already had time to lose his temper with Ivan, toshow coolness to his brother, and to talk flippantly with Katavasov.

  "Can it have been only a momentary mood, and will it pass and leave notrace?" he thought. But the same instant, going back to his mood, hefelt with delight that something new and important had happened to him.Real life had only for a time overcast the spiritual peace he had found,but it was still untouched within him.

  Just as the bees, whirling round him, now menacing him and distractinghis attention, prevented him from enjoying complete physical peace,forced him to restrain his movements to avoid them, so had the pettycares that had swarmed about him from the moment he got into the traprestricted his spiritual freedom; but that lasted only so long as he wasamong them. Just as his bodily strength was still unaffected, in spiteof the bees, so too was the spiritual strength that he had just becomeaware of.

 
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