Anna karenina, p.46
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       Anna Karenina, p.46

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 12

  In the early days after his return from Moscow, whenever Levin shudderedand grew red, remembering the disgrace of his rejection, he said tohimself: "This was just how I used to shudder and blush, thinking myselfutterly lost, when I was plucked in physics and did not get my remove;and how I thought myself utterly ruined after I had mismanaged thataffair of my sister's that was entrusted to me. And yet, now that yearshave passed, I recall it and wonder that it could distress me so much.It will be the same thing too with this trouble. Time will go by and Ishall not mind about this either."

  But three months had passed and he had not left off minding about it;and it was as painful for him to think of it as it had been those firstdays. He could not be at peace because after dreaming so long of familylife, and feeling himself so ripe for it, he was still not married, andwas further than ever from marriage. He was painfully conscious himself,as were all about him, that at his years it is not well for man to bealone. He remembered how before starting for Moscow he had once said tohis cowman Nikolay, a simple-hearted peasant, whom he liked talking to:"Well, Nikolay! I mean to get married," and how Nikolay had promptlyanswered, as of a matter on which there could be no possible doubt: "Andhigh time too, Konstantin Demitrievitch." But marriage had now becomefurther off than ever. The place was taken, and whenever he tried toimagine any of the girls he knew in that place, he felt that it wasutterly impossible. Moreover, the recollection of the rejection and thepart he had played in the affair tortured him with shame. However oftenhe told himself that he was in no wise to blame in it, thatrecollection, like other humiliating reminiscences of a similar kind,made him twinge and blush. There had been in his past, as in everyman's, actions, recognized by him as bad, for which his conscience oughtto have tormented him; but the memory of these evil actions was far fromcausing him so much suffering as those trivial but humiliatingreminiscences. These wounds never healed. And with these memories wasnow ranged his rejection and the pitiful position in which he must haveappeared to others that evening. But time and work did their part.Bitter memories were more and more covered up by the incidents--paltryin his eyes, but really important--of his country life. Every week hethought less often of Kitty. He was impatiently looking forward to thenews that she was married, or just going to be married, hoping that suchnews would, like having a tooth out, completely cure him.

  Meanwhile spring came on, beautiful and kindly, without the delays andtreacheries of spring,--one of those rare springs in which plants,beasts, and man rejoice alike. This lovely spring roused Levin stillmore, and strengthened him in his resolution of renouncing all his pastand building up his lonely life firmly and independently. Though many ofthe plans with which he had returned to the country had not been carriedout, still his most important resolution--that of purity--had been keptby him. He was free from that shame, which had usually harassed himafter a fall; and he could look everyone straight in the face. InFebruary he had received a letter from Marya Nikolaevna telling him thathis brother Nikolay's health was getting worse, but that he would nottake advice, and in consequence of this letter Levin went to Moscow tohis brother's and succeeded in persuading him to see a doctor and to goto a watering-place abroad. He succeeded so well in persuading hisbrother, and in lending him money for the journey without irritatinghim, that he was satisfied with himself in that matter. In addition tohis farming, which called for special attention in spring, and inaddition to reading, Levin had begun that winter a work on agriculture,the plan of which turned on taking into account the character of thelaborer on the land as one of the unalterable data of the question, likethe climate and the soil, and consequently deducing all the principlesof scientific culture, not simply from the data of soil and climate, butfrom the data of soil, climate, and a certain unalterable character ofthe laborer. Thus, in spite of his solitude, or in consequence of hissolitude, his life was exceedingly full. Only rarely he suffered from anunsatisfied desire to communicate his stray ideas to someone besidesAgafea Mihalovna. With her indeed he not infrequently fell intodiscussion upon physics, the theory of agriculture, and especiallyphilosophy; philosophy was Agafea Mihalovna's favorite subject.

  Spring was slow in unfolding. For the last few weeks it had beensteadily fine frosty weather. In the daytime it thawed in the sun, butat night there were even seven degrees of frost. There was such a frozensurface on the snow that they drove the wagons anywhere off the roads.Easter came in the snow. Then all of a sudden, on Easter Monday, a warmwind sprang up, storm clouds swooped down, and for three days and threenights the warm, driving rain fell in streams. On Thursday the winddropped, and a thick gray fog brooded over the land as though hiding themysteries of the transformations that were being wrought in nature.Behind the fog there was the flowing of water, the cracking and floatingof ice, the swift rush of turbid, foaming torrents; and on the followingMonday, in the evening, the fog parted, the storm clouds split up intolittle curling crests of cloud, the sky cleared, and the real spring hadcome. In the morning the sun rose brilliant and quickly wore away thethin layer of ice that covered the water, and all the warm air wasquivering with the steam that rose up from the quickened earth. The oldgrass looked greener, and the young grass thrust up its tiny blades; thebuds of the guelder-rose and of the currant and the sticky birch-budswere swollen with sap, and an exploring bee was humming about the goldenblossoms that studded the willow. Larks trilled unseen above the velvetygreen fields and the ice-covered stubble-land; peewits wailed over thelow lands and marshes flooded by the pools; cranes and wild geese flewhigh across the sky uttering their spring calls. The cattle, bald inpatches where the new hair had not grown yet, lowed in the pastures; thebowlegged lambs frisked round their bleating mothers. Nimble childrenran about the drying paths, covered with the prints of bare feet. Therewas a merry chatter of peasant women over their linen at the pond, andthe ring of axes in the yard, where the peasants were repairing ploughsand harrows. The real spring had come.

 
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