Anna karenina, p.71
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       Anna Karenina, p.71

           graf Leo Tolstoy

  Chapter 2

  Early in June it happened that Agafea Mihalovna, the old nurse andhousekeeper, in carrying to the cellar a jar of mushrooms she had justpickled, slipped, fell, and sprained her wrist. The district doctor, atalkative young medical student, who had just finished his studies, cameto see her. He examined the wrist, said it was not broken, was delightedat a chance of talking to the celebrated Sergey Ivanovitch Koznishev,and to show his advanced views of things told him all the scandal of thedistrict, complaining of the poor state into which the district councilhad fallen. Sergey Ivanovitch listened attentively, asked him questions,and, roused by a new listener, he talked fluently, uttered a few keenand weighty observations, respectfully appreciated by the young doctor,and was soon in that eager frame of mind his brother knew so well, whichalways, with him, followed a brilliant and eager conversation. After thedeparture of the doctor, he wanted to go with a fishing rod to theriver. Sergey Ivanovitch was fond of angling, and was, it seemed, proudof being able to care for such a stupid occupation.

  Konstantin Levin, whose presence was needed in the plough land andmeadows, had come to take his brother in the trap.

  It was that time of the year, the turning-point of summer, when thecrops of the present year are a certainty, when one begins to think ofthe sowing for next year, and the mowing is at hand; when the rye is allin ear, though its ears are still light, not yet full, and it waves ingray-green billows in the wind; when the green oats, with tufts ofyellow grass scattered here and there among it, droop irregularly overthe late-sown fields; when the early buckwheat is already out and hidingthe ground; when the fallow lands, trodden hard as stone by the cattle,are half ploughed over, with paths left untouched by the plough; whenfrom the dry dung-heaps carted onto the fields there comes at sunset asmell of manure mixed with meadow-sweet, and on the low-lying lands theriverside meadows are a thick sea of grass waiting for the mowing, withblackened heaps of the stalks of sorrel among it.

  It was the time when there comes a brief pause in the toil of the fieldsbefore the beginning of the labors of harvest--every year recurring,every year straining every nerve of the peasants. The crop was asplendid one, and bright, hot summer days had set in with short, dewynights.

  The brothers had to drive through the woods to reach the meadows. SergeyIvanovitch was all the while admiring the beauty of the woods, whichwere a tangled mass of leaves, pointing out to his brother now an oldlime tree on the point of flowering, dark on the shady side, andbrightly spotted with yellow stipules, now the young shoots of thisyear's saplings brilliant with emerald. Konstantin Levin did not liketalking and hearing about the beauty of nature. Words for him took awaythe beauty of what he saw. He assented to what his brother said, but hecould not help beginning to think of other things. When they came out ofthe woods, all his attention was engrossed by the view of the fallowland on the upland, in parts yellow with grass, in parts trampled andcheckered with furrows, in parts dotted with ridges of dung, and inparts even ploughed. A string of carts was moving across it. Levincounted the carts, and was pleased that all that were wanted had beenbrought, and at the sight of the meadows his thoughts passed to themowing. He always felt something special moving him to the quick at thehay-making. On reaching the meadow Levin stopped the horse.

  The morning dew was still lying on the thick undergrowth of the grass,and that he might not get his feet wet, Sergey Ivanovitch asked hisbrother to drive him in the trap up to the willow tree from which thecarp was caught. Sorry as Konstantin Levin was to crush down his mowinggrass, he drove him into the meadow. The high grass softly turned aboutthe wheels and the horse's legs, leaving its seeds clinging to the wetaxles and spokes of the wheels. His brother seated himself under a bush,arranging his tackle, while Levin led the horse away, fastened him up,and walked into the vast gray-green sea of grass unstirred by the wind.The silky grass with its ripe seeds came almost to his waist in thedampest spots.

  Crossing the meadow, Konstantin Levin came out onto the road, and met anold man with a swollen eye, carrying a skep on his shoulder.

  "What? taken a stray swarm, Fomitch?" he asked.

  "No, indeed, Konstantin Dmitrich! All we can do to keep our own! This isthe second swarm that has flown away.... Luckily the lads caught them.They were ploughing your field. They unyoked the horses and gallopedafter them."

  "Well, what do you say, Fomitch--start mowing or wait a bit?"

  "Eh, well. Our way's to wait till St. Peter's Day. But you always mowsooner. Well, to be sure, please God, the hay's good. There'll be plentyfor the beasts."

  "What do you think about the weather?"

  "That's in God's hands. Maybe it will be fine."

  Levin went up to his brother.

  Sergey Ivanovitch had caught nothing, but he was not bored, and seemedin the most cheerful frame of mind. Levin saw that, stimulated by hisconversation with the doctor, he wanted to talk. Levin, on the otherhand, would have liked to get home as soon as possible to give ordersabout getting together the mowers for next day, and to set at rest hisdoubts about the mowing, which greatly absorbed him.

  "Well, let's be going," he said.

  "Why be in such a hurry? Let's stay a little. But how wet you are! Eventhough one catches nothing, it's nice. That's the best thing about everypart of sport, that one has to do with nature. How exquisite this steelywater is!" said Sergey Ivanovitch. "These riverside banks always remindme of the riddle--do you know it? 'The grass says to the water: wequiver and we quiver.'"

  "I don't know the riddle," answered Levin wearily.

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