Anna karenina, p.75
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       Anna Karenina, p.75

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 6

  Mashkin Upland was mown, the last row finished, the peasants had put ontheir coats and were gaily trudging home. Levin got on his horse and,parting regretfully from the peasants, rode homewards. On the hillsidehe looked back; he could not see them in the mist that had risen fromthe valley; he could only hear rough, good-humored voices, laughter, andthe sound of clanking scythes.

  Sergey Ivanovitch had long ago finished dinner, and was drinking icedlemon and water in his own room, looking through the reviews and paperswhich he had only just received by post, when Levin rushed into theroom, talking merrily, with his wet and matted hair sticking to hisforehead, and his back and chest grimed and moist.

  "We mowed the whole meadow! Oh, it is nice, delicious! And how have youbeen getting on?" said Levin, completely forgetting the disagreeableconversation of the previous day.

  "Mercy! what do you look like!" said Sergey Ivanovitch, for the firstmoment looking round with some dissatisfaction. "And the door, do shutthe door!" he cried. "You must have let in a dozen at least."

  Sergey Ivanovitch could not endure flies, and in his own room he neveropened the window except at night, and carefully kept the door shut.

  "Not one, on my honor. But if I have, I'll catch them. You wouldn'tbelieve what a pleasure it is! How have you spent the day?"

  "Very well. But have you really been mowing the whole day? I expectyou're as hungry as a wolf. Kouzma has got everything ready for you."

  "No, I don't feel hungry even. I had something to eat there. But I'll goand wash."

  "Yes, go along, go along, and I'll come to you directly," said SergeyIvanovitch, shaking his head as he looked at his brother. "Go along,make haste," he added smiling, and gathering up his books, he preparedto go too. He, too, felt suddenly good-humored and disinclined to leavehis brother's side. "But what did you do while it was raining?"

  "Rain? Why, there was scarcely a drop. I'll come directly. So you had anice day too? That's first-rate." And Levin went off to change hisclothes.

  Five minutes later the brothers met in the dining room. Although itseemed to Levin that he was not hungry, and he sat down to dinner simplyso as not to hurt Kouzma's feelings, yet when he began to eat the dinnerstruck him as extraordinarily good. Sergey Ivanovitch watched him with asmile.

  "Oh, by the way, there's a letter for you," said he. "Kouzma, bring itdown, please. And mind you shut the doors."

  The letter was from Oblonsky. Levin read it aloud. Oblonsky wrote to himfrom Petersburg: "I have had a letter from Dolly; she's at Ergushovo,and everything seems going wrong there. Do ride over and see her,please; help her with advice; you know all about it. She will be so gladto see you. She's quite alone, poor thing. My mother-in-law and all ofthem are still abroad."

  "That's capital! I will certainly ride over to her," said Levin. "Orwe'll go together. She's such a splendid woman, isn't she?"

  "They're not far from here, then?"

  "Twenty-five miles. Or perhaps it is thirty. But a capital road.Capital, we'll drive over."

  "I shall be delighted," said Sergey Ivanovitch, still smiling. The sightof his younger brother's appearance had immediately put him in a goodhumor.

  "Well, you have an appetite!" he said, looking at his dark-red, sunburntface and neck bent over the plate.

  "Splendid! You can't imagine what an effectual remedy it is for everysort of foolishness. I want to enrich medicine with a new word:_Arbeitskur_."

  "Well, but you don't need it, I should fancy."

  "No, but for all sorts of nervous invalids."

  "Yes, it ought to be tried. I had meant to come to the mowing to look atyou, but it was so unbearably hot that I got no further than the forest.I sat there a little, and went on by the forest to the village, met yourold nurse, and sounded her as to the peasants' view of you. As far as Ican make out, they don't approve of this. She said: 'It's not agentleman's work.' Altogether, I fancy that in the people's ideas thereare very clear and definite notions of certain, as they call it,'gentlemanly' lines of action. And they don't sanction the gentry'smoving outside bounds clearly laid down in their ideas."

  "Maybe so; but anyway it's a pleasure such as I have never known in mylife. And there's no harm in it, you know. Is there?" answered Levin. "Ican't help it if they don't like it. Though I do believe it's all right.Eh?"

  "Altogether," pursued Sergey Ivanovitch, "you're satisfied with yourday?"

  "Quite satisfied. We cut the whole meadow. And such a splendid old man Imade friends with there! You can't fancy how delightful he was!"

  "Well, so you're content with your day. And so am I. First, I solved twochess problems, and one a very pretty one--a pawn opening. I'll show ityou. And then--I thought over our conversation yesterday."

  "Eh! our conversation yesterday?" said Levin, blissfully dropping hiseyelids and drawing deep breaths after finishing his dinner, andabsolutely incapable of recalling what their conversation yesterday wasabout.

  "I think you are partly right. Our difference of opinion amounts tothis, that you make the mainspring self-interest, while I suppose thatinterest in the common weal is bound to exist in every man of a certaindegree of advancement. Possibly you are right too, that action foundedon material interest would be more desirable. You are altogether, as theFrench say, too _primesautiere_ a nature; you must have intense,energetic action, or nothing."

  Levin listened to his brother and did not understand a single word, anddid not want to understand. He was only afraid his brother might ask himsome question which would make it evident he had not heard.

  "So that's what I think it is, my dear boy," said Sergey Ivanovitch,touching him on the shoulder.

  "Yes, of course. But, do you know? I won't stand up for my view,"answered Levin, with a guilty, childlike smile. "Whatever was it I wasdisputing about?" he wondered. "Of course, I'm right, and he's right,and it's all first-rate. Only I must go round to the counting house andsee to things." He got up, stretching and smiling. Sergey Ivanovitchsmiled too.

  "If you want to go out, let's go together," he said, disinclined to beparted from his brother, who seemed positively breathing out freshnessand energy. "Come, we'll go to the counting house, if you have to gothere."

  "Oh, heavens!" shouted Levin, so loudly that Sergey Ivanovitch was quitefrightened.

  "What, what is the matter?"

  "How's Agafea Mihalovna's hand?" said Levin, slapping himself on thehead. "I'd positively forgotten her even."

  "It's much better."

  "Well, anyway I'll run down to her. Before you've time to get your haton, I'll be back."

  And he ran downstairs, clattering with his heels like a spring-rattle.

 

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