Anna karenina, p.93
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       Anna Karenina, p.93

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 24

  The night spent by Levin on the haycock did not pass without result forhim. The way in which he had been managing his land revolted him and hadlost all attraction for him. In spite of the magnificent harvest, neverhad there been, or, at least, never it seemed to him, had there been somany hindrances and so many quarrels between him and the peasants asthat year, and the origin of these failures and this hostility was nowperfectly comprehensible to him. The delight he had experienced in thework itself, and the consequent greater intimacy with the peasants, theenvy he felt of them, of their life, the desire to adopt that life,which had been to him that night not a dream but an intention, theexecution of which he had thought out in detail--all this had sotransformed his view of the farming of the land as he had managed it,that he could not take his former interest in it, and could not helpseeing that unpleasant relation between him and the workpeople which wasthe foundation of it all. The herd of improved cows such as Pava, thewhole land ploughed over and enriched, the nine level fields surroundedwith hedges, the two hundred and forty acres heavily manured, the seedsown in drills, and all the rest of it--it was all splendid if only thework had been done for themselves, or for themselves andcomrades--people in sympathy with them. But he saw clearly now (his workon a book of agriculture, in which the chief element in husbandry was tohave been the laborer, greatly assisted him in this) that the sort offarming he was carrying on was nothing but a cruel and stubborn strugglebetween him and the laborers, in which there was on one side--hisside--a continual intense effort to change everything to a pattern heconsidered better; on the other side, the natural order of things. Andin this struggle he saw that with immense expenditure of force on hisside, and with no effort or even intention on the other side, all thatwas attained was that the work did not go to the liking of either side,and that splendid tools, splendid cattle and land were spoiled with nogood to anyone. Worst of all, the energy expended on this work was notsimply wasted. He could not help feeling now, since the meaning of thissystem had become clear to him, that the aim of his energy was a mostunworthy one. In reality, what was the struggle about? He was strugglingfor every farthing of his share (and he could not help it, for he hadonly to relax his efforts, and he would not have had the money to payhis laborers' wages), while they were only struggling to be able to dotheir work easily and agreeably, that is to say, as they were used todoing it. It was for his interests that every laborer should work ashard as possible, and that while doing so he should keep his wits abouthim, so as to try not to break the winnowing machines, the horse rakes,the thrashing machines, that he should attend to what he was doing. Whatthe laborer wanted was to work as pleasantly as possible, with rests,and above all, carelessly and heedlessly, without thinking. That summerLevin saw this at every step. He sent the men to mow some clover forhay, picking out the worst patches where the clover was overgrown withgrass and weeds and of no use for seed; again and again they mowed thebest acres of clover, justifying themselves by the pretense that thebailiff had told them to, and trying to pacify him with the assurancethat it would be splendid hay; but he knew that it was owing to thoseacres being so much easier to mow. He sent out a hay machine forpitching the hay--it was broken at the first row because it was dullwork for a peasant to sit on the seat in front with the great wingswaving above him. And he was told, "Don't trouble, your honor, sure, thewomenfolks will pitch it quick enough." The ploughs were practicallyuseless, because it never occurred to the laborer to raise the sharewhen he turned the plough, and forcing it round, he strained the horsesand tore up the ground, and Levin was begged not to mind about it. Thehorses were allowed to stray into the wheat because not a single laborerwould consent to be night-watchman, and in spite of orders to thecontrary, the laborers insisted on taking turns for night duty, andIvan, after working all day long, fell asleep, and was very penitent forhis fault, saying, "Do what you will to me, your honor."

  They killed three of the best calves by letting them into the cloveraftermath without care as to their drinking, and nothing would make themen believe that they had been blown out by the clover, but they toldhim, by way of consolation, that one of his neighbors had lost a hundredand twelve head of cattle in three days. All this happened, not becauseanyone felt ill-will to Levin or his farm; on the contrary, he knew thatthey liked him, thought him a simple gentleman (their highest praise);but it happened simply because all they wanted was to work merrily andcarelessly, and his interests were not only remote and incomprehensibleto them, but fatally opposed to their most just claims. Long before,Levin had felt dissatisfaction with his own position in regard to theland. He saw where his boat leaked, but he did not look for the leak,perhaps purposely deceiving himself. (Nothing would be left him if helost faith in it.) But now he could deceive himself no longer. Thefarming of the land, as he was managing it, had become not merelyunattractive but revolting to him, and he could take no further interestin it.

  To this now was joined the presence, only twenty-five miles off, ofKitty Shtcherbatskaya, whom he longed to see and could not see. DaryaAlexandrovna Oblonskaya had invited him, when he was over there, tocome; to come with the object of renewing his offer to her sister, whowould, so she gave him to understand, accept him now. Levin himself hadfelt on seeing Kitty Shtcherbatskaya that he had never ceased to loveher; but he could not go over to the Oblonskys', knowing she was there.The fact that he had made her an offer, and she had refused him, hadplaced an insuperable barrier between her and him. "I can't ask her tobe my wife merely because she can't be the wife of the man she wanted tomarry," he said to himself. The thought of this made him cold andhostile to her. "I should not be able to speak to her without a feelingof reproach; I could not look at her without resentment; and she willonly hate me all the more, as she's bound to. And besides, how can Inow, after what Darya Alexandrovna told me, go to see them? Can I helpshowing that I know what she told me? And me to go magnanimously toforgive her, and have pity on her! Me go through a performance beforeher of forgiving, and deigning to bestow my love on her!... What inducedDarya Alexandrovna to tell me that? By chance I might have seen her,then everything would have happened of itself; but, as it is, it's outof the question, out of the question!"

  Darya Alexandrovna sent him a letter, asking him for a side-saddle forKitty's use. "I'm told you have a side-saddle," she wrote to him; "Ihope you will bring it over yourself."

  This was more than he could stand. How could a woman of anyintelligence, of any delicacy, put her sister in such a humiliatingposition! He wrote ten notes, and tore them all up, and sent the saddlewithout any reply. To write that he would go was impossible, because hecould not go; to write that he could not come because somethingprevented him, or that he would be away, that was still worse. He sentthe saddle without an answer, and with a sense of having done somethingshameful; he handed over all the now revolting business of the estate tothe bailiff, and set off next day to a remote district to see his friendSviazhsky, who had splendid marshes for grouse in his neighborhood, andhad lately written to ask him to keep a long-standing promise to staywith him. The grouse-marsh, in the Surovsky district, had long temptedLevin, but he had continually put off this visit on account of his workon the estate. Now he was glad to get away from the neighborhood of theShtcherbatskys, and still more from his farm work, especially on ashooting expedition, which always in trouble served as the bestconsolation.

 

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