Anna karenina, p.27
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       Anna Karenina, p.27

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 27

  The house was big and old-fashioned, and Levin, though he lived alone,had the whole house heated and used. He knew that this was stupid, heknew that it was positively not right, and contrary to his present newplans, but this house was a whole world to Levin. It was the world inwhich his father and mother had lived and died. They had lived just thelife that to Levin seemed the ideal of perfection, and that he haddreamed of beginning with his wife, his family.

  Levin scarcely remembered his mother. His conception of her was for hima sacred memory, and his future wife was bound to be in his imaginationa repetition of that exquisite, holy ideal of a woman that his motherhad been.

  He was so far from conceiving of love for woman apart from marriage thathe positively pictured to himself first the family, and only secondarilythe woman who would give him a family. His ideas of marriage were,consequently, quite unlike those of the great majority of hisacquaintances, for whom getting married was one of the numerous facts ofsocial life. For Levin it was the chief affair of life, on which itswhole happiness turned. And now he had to give up that.

  When he had gone into the little drawing room, where he always had tea,and had settled himself in his armchair with a book, and AgafeaMihalovna had brought him tea, and with her usual, "Well, I'll stay awhile, sir," had taken a chair in the window, he felt that, howeverstrange it might be, he had not parted from his daydreams, and that hecould not live without them. Whether with her, or with another, still itwould be. He was reading a book, and thinking of what he was reading,and stopping to listen to Agafea Mihalovna, who gossiped away withoutflagging, and yet with all that, all sorts of pictures of family lifeand work in the future rose disconnectedly before his imagination. Hefelt that in the depth of his soul something had been put in its place,settled down, and laid to rest.

  He heard Agafea Mihalovna talking of how Prohor had forgotten his dutyto God, and with the money Levin had given him to buy a horse, had beendrinking without stopping, and had beaten his wife till he'd half killedher. He listened, and read his book, and recalled the whole train ofideas suggested by his reading. It was Tyndall's _Treatise on Heat_. Herecalled his own criticisms of Tyndall of his complacent satisfaction inthe cleverness of his experiments, and for his lack of philosophicinsight. And suddenly there floated into his mind the joyful thought:"In two years' time I shall have two Dutch cows; Pava herself willperhaps still be alive, a dozen young daughters of Berkoot and the threeothers--how lovely!"

  He took up his book again. "Very good, electricity and heat are the samething; but is it possible to substitute the one quantity for the otherin the equation for the solution of any problem? No. Well, then what ofit? The connection between all the forces of nature is feltinstinctively.... It's particulary nice if Pava's daughter should be ared-spotted cow, and all the herd will take after her, and the otherthree, too! Splendid! To go out with my wife and visitors to meet theherd.... My wife says, 'Kostya and I looked after that calf like achild.' 'How can it interest you so much?' says a visitor. 'Everythingthat interests him, interests me.' But who will she be?" And heremembered what had happened at Moscow.... "Well, there's nothing to bedone.... It's not my fault. But now everything shall go on in a new way.It's nonsense to pretend that life won't let one, that the past won'tlet one. One must struggle to live better, much better."... He raisedhis head, and fell to dreaming. Old Laska, who had not yet fullydigested her delight at his return, and had run out into the yard tobark, came back wagging her tail, and crept up to him, bringing in thescent of fresh air, put her head under his hand, and whined plaintively,asking to be stroked.

  "There, who'd have thought it?" said Agafea Mihalovna. "The dog now ...why, she understands that her master's come home, and that he'slow-spirited."

  "Why low-spirited?"

  "Do you suppose I don't see it, sir? It's high time I should know thegentry. Why, I've grown up from a little thing with them. It's nothing,sir, so long as there's health and a clear conscience."

  Levin looked intently at her, surprised at how well she knew histhought.

  "Shall I fetch you another cup?" said she, and taking his cup she wentout.

  Laska kept poking her head under his hand. He stroked her, and shepromptly curled up at his feet, laying her head on a hindpaw. And intoken of all now being well and satisfactory, she opened her mouth alittle, smacked her lips, and settling her sticky lips more comfortablyabout her old teeth, she sank into blissful repose. Levin watched allher movements attentively.

  "That's what I'll do," he said to himself; "that's what I'll do!Nothing's amiss.... All's well."

 

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