Anna karenina, p.26
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       Anna Karenina, p.26

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 26

  In the morning Konstantin Levin left Moscow, and towards evening hereached home. On the journey in the train he talked to his neighborsabout politics and the new railways, and, just as in Moscow, he wasovercome by a sense of confusion of ideas, dissatisfaction with himself,shame of something or other. But when he got out at his own station,when he saw his one-eyed coachman, Ignat, with the collar of his coatturned up; when, in the dim light reflected by the station fires, he sawhis own sledge, his own horses with their tails tied up, in theirharness trimmed with rings and tassels; when the coachman Ignat, as heput in his luggage, told him the village news, that the contractor hadarrived, and that Pava had calved,--he felt that little by little theconfusion was clearing up, and the shame and self-dissatisfaction werepassing away. He felt this at the mere sight of Ignat and the horses;but when he had put on the sheepskin brought for him, had sat downwrapped up in the sledge, and had driven off pondering on the work thatlay before him in the village, and staring at the side-horse, that hadbeen his saddle-horse, past his prime now, but a spirited beast from theDon, he began to see what had happened to him in quite a differentlight. He felt himself, and did not want to be any one else. All hewanted now was to be better than before. In the first place he resolvedthat from that day he would give up hoping for any extraordinaryhappiness, such as marriage must have given him, and consequently hewould not so disdain what he really had. Secondly, he would never againlet himself give way to low passion, the memory of which had so torturedhim when he had been making up his mind to make an offer. Thenremembering his brother Nikolay, he resolved to himself that he wouldnever allow himself to forget him, that he would follow him up, and notlose sight of him, so as to be ready to help when things should go illwith him. And that would be soon, he felt. Then, too, his brother's talkof communism, which he had treated so lightly at the time, now made himthink. He considered a revolution in economic conditions nonsense. Buthe always felt the injustice of his own abundance in comparison with thepoverty of the peasants, and now he determined that so as to feel quitein the right, though he had worked hard and lived by no meansluxuriously before, he would now work still harder, and would allowhimself even less luxury. And all this seemed to him so easy a conquestover himself that he spent the whole drive in the pleasantest daydreams.With a resolute feeling of hope in a new, better life, he reached homebefore nine o'clock at night.

  The snow of the little quadrangle before the house was lit up by a lightin the bedroom windows of his old nurse, Agafea Mihalovna, who performedthe duties of housekeeper in his house. She was not yet asleep. Kouzma,waked up by her, came sidling sleepily out onto the steps. A setterbitch, Laska, ran out too, almost upsetting Kouzma, and whining, turnedround about Levin's knees, jumping up and longing, but not daring, toput her forepaws on his chest.

  "You're soon back again, sir," said Agafea Mihalovna.

  "I got tired of it, Agafea Mihalovna. With friends, one is well; but athome, one is better," he answered, and went into his study.

  The study was slowly lit up as the candle was brought in. The familiardetails came out: the stag's horns, the bookshelves, the looking-glass,the stove with its ventilator, which had long wanted mending, hisfather's sofa, a large table, on the table an open book, a broken ashtray, a manuscript book with his handwriting. As he saw all this, therecame over him for an instant a doubt of the possibility of arranging thenew life, of which he had been dreaming on the road. All these traces ofhis life seemed to clutch him, and to say to him: "No, you're not goingto get away from us, and you're not going to be different, but you'regoing to be the same as you've always been; with doubts, everlastingdissatisfaction with yourself, vain efforts to amend, and falls, andeverlasting expectation, of a happiness which you won't get, and whichisn't possible for you."

  This the things said to him, but another voice in his heart was tellinghim that he must not fall under the sway of the past, and that one cando anything with oneself. And hearing that voice, he went into thecorner where stood his two heavy dumbbells, and began brandishing themlike a gymnast, trying to restore his confident temper. There was acreak of steps at the door. He hastily put down the dumbbells.

  The bailiff came in, and said everything, thank God, was doing well; butinformed him that the buckwheat in the new drying machine had been alittle scorched. This piece of news irritated Levin. The new dryingmachine had been constructed and partly invented by Levin. The bailiffhad always been against the drying machine, and now it was withsuppressed triumph that he announced that the buckwheat had beenscorched. Levin was firmly convinced that if the buckwheat had beenscorched, it was only because the precautions had not been taken, forwhich he had hundreds of times given orders. He was annoyed, andreprimanded the bailiff. But there had been an important and joyfulevent: Pava, his best cow, an expensive beast, bought at a show, hadcalved.

  "Kouzma, give me my sheepskin. And you tell them to take a lantern. I'llcome and look at her," he said to the bailiff.

  The cowhouse for the more valuable cows was just behind the house.Walking across the yard, passing a snowdrift by the lilac tree, he wentinto the cowhouse. There was the warm, steamy smell of dung when thefrozen door was opened, and the cows, astonished at the unfamiliar lightof the lantern, stirred on the fresh straw. He caught a glimpse of thebroad, smooth, black and piebald back of Hollandka. Berkoot, the bull,was lying down with his ring in his lip, and seemed about to get up, butthought better of it, and only gave two snorts as they passed by him.Pava, a perfect beauty, huge as a hippopotamus, with her back turned tothem, prevented their seeing the calf, as she sniffed her all over.

  Levin went into the pen, looked Pava over, and lifted the red andspotted calf onto her long, tottering legs. Pava, uneasy, began lowing,but when Levin put the calf close to her she was soothed, and, sighingheavily, began licking her with her rough tongue. The calf, fumbling,poked her nose under her mother's udder, and stiffened her tail outstraight.

  "Here, bring the light, Fyodor, this way," said Levin, examining thecalf. "Like the mother! though the color takes after the father; butthat's nothing. Very good. Long and broad in the haunch. VassilyFedorovitch, isn't she splendid?" he said to the bailiff, quiteforgiving him for the buckwheat under the influence of his delight inthe calf.

  "How could she fail to be? Oh, Semyon the contractor came the day afteryou left. You must settle with him, Konstantin Dmitrievitch," said thebailiff. "I did inform you about the machine."

  This question was enough to take Levin back to all the details of hiswork on the estate, which was on a large scale, and complicated. He wentstraight from the cowhouse to the counting house, and after a littleconversation with the bailiff and Semyon the contractor, he went back tothe house and straight upstairs to the drawing room.

 

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