Anna karenina, p.99
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       Anna Karenina, p.99

           graf Leo Tolstoy
 

  Chapter 30

  At the end of September the timber had been carted for building thecattleyard on the land that had been allotted to the association ofpeasants, and the butter from the cows was sold and the profits divided.In practice the system worked capitally, or, at least, so it seemed toLevin. In order to work out the whole subject theoretically and tocomplete his book, which, in Levin's daydreams, was not merely to effecta revolution in political economy, but to annihilate that scienceentirely and to lay the foundation of a new science of the relation ofthe people to the soil, all that was left to do was to make a tourabroad, and to study on the spot all that had been done in the samedirection, and to collect conclusive evidence that all that had beendone there was not what was wanted. Levin was only waiting for thedelivery of his wheat to receive the money for it and go abroad. But therains began, preventing the harvesting of the corn and potatoes left inthe fields, and putting a stop to all work, even to the delivery of thewheat.

  The mud was impassable along the roads; two mills were carried away, andthe weather got worse and worse.

  On the 30th of September the sun came out in the morning, and hoping forfine weather, Levin began making final preparations for his journey. Hegave orders for the wheat to be delivered, sent the bailiff to themerchant to get the money owing him, and went out himself to give somefinal directions on the estate before setting off.

  Having finished all his business, soaked through with the streams ofwater which kept running down the leather behind his neck and hisgaiters, but in the keenest and most confident temper, Levin returnedhomewards in the evening. The weather had become worse than ever towardsevening; the hail lashed the drenched mare so cruelly that she wentalong sideways, shaking her head and ears; but Levin was all right underhis hood, and he looked cheerfully about him at the muddy streamsrunning under the wheels, at the drops hanging on every bare twig, atthe whiteness of the patch of unmelted hailstones on the planks of thebridge, at the thick layer of still juicy, fleshy leaves that lay heapedup about the stripped elm-tree. In spite of the gloominess of naturearound him, he felt peculiarly eager. The talks he had been having withthe peasants in the further village had shown that they were beginningto get used to their new position. The old servant to whose hut he hadgone to get dry evidently approved of Levin's plan, and of his ownaccord proposed to enter the partnership by the purchase of cattle.

  "I have only to go stubbornly on towards my aim, and I shall attain myend," thought Levin; "and it's something to work and take trouble for.This is not a matter of myself individually; the question of the publicwelfare comes into it. The whole system of culture, the chief element inthe condition of the people, must be completely transformed. Instead ofpoverty, general prosperity and content; instead of hostility, harmonyand unity of interests. In short, a bloodless revolution, but arevolution of the greatest magnitude, beginning in the little circle ofour district, then the province, then Russia, the whole world. Because ajust idea cannot but be fruitful. Yes, it's an aim worth working for.And its being me, Kostya Levin, who went to a ball in a black tie, andwas refused by the Shtcherbatskaya girl, and who was intrinsically sucha pitiful, worthless creature--that proves nothing; I feel sure Franklinfelt just as worthless, and he too had no faith in himself, thinking ofhimself as a whole. That means nothing. And he too, most likely, had anAgafea Mihalovna to whom he confided his secrets."

  Musing on such thoughts Levin reached home in the darkness.

  The bailiff, who had been to the merchant, had come back and broughtpart of the money for the wheat. An agreement had been made with the oldservant, and on the road the bailiff had learned that everywhere thecorn was still standing in the fields, so that his one hundred and sixtyshocks that had not been carried were nothing in comparison with thelosses of others.

  After dinner Levin was sitting, as he usually did, in an easy chair witha book, and as he read he went on thinking of the journey before him inconnection with his book. Today all the significance of his book rosebefore him with special distinctness, and whole periods rangedthemselves in his mind in illustration of his theories. "I must writethat down," he thought. "That ought to form a brief introduction, whichI thought unnecessary before." He got up to go to his writing table, andLaska, lying at his feet, got up too, stretching and looking at him asthough to inquire where to go. But he had not time to write it down, forthe head peasants had come round, and Levin went out into the hall tothem.

  After his levee, that is to say, giving directions about the labors ofthe next day, and seeing all the peasants who had business with him,Levin went back to his study and sat down to work.

  Laska lay under the table; Agafea Mihalovna settled herself in her placewith her stocking.

  After writing for a little while, Levin suddenly thought withexceptional vividness of Kitty, her refusal, and their last meeting. Hegot up and began walking about the room.

  "What's the use of being dreary?" said Agafea Mihalovna. "Come, why doyou stay on at home? You ought to go to some warm springs, especiallynow you're ready for the journey."

  "Well, I am going away the day after tomorrow, Agafea Mihalovna; I mustfinish my work."

  "There, there, your work, you say! As if you hadn't done enough for thepeasants! Why, as 'tis, they're saying, 'Your master will be gettingsome honor from the Tsar for it.' Indeed and it is a strange thing; whyneed you worry about the peasants?"

  "I'm not worrying about them; I'm doing it for my own good."

  Agafea Mihalovna knew every detail of Levin's plans for his land. Levinoften put his views before her in all their complexity, and notuncommonly he argued with her and did not agree with her comments. Buton this occasion she entirely misinterpreted what he had said.

  "Of one's soul's salvation we all know and must think before all else,"she said with a sigh. "Parfen Denisitch now, for all he was no scholar,he died a death that God grant every one of us the like," she said,referring to a servant who had died recently. "Took the sacrament andall."

  "That's not what I mean," said he. "I mean that I'm acting for my ownadvantage. It's all the better for me if the peasants do their workbetter."

  "Well, whatever you do, if he's a lazy good-for-nought, everything'll beat sixes and sevens. If he has a conscience, he'll work, and if not,there's no doing anything."

  "Oh, come, you say yourself Ivan has begun looking after the cattlebetter."

  "All I say is," answered Agafea Mihalovna, evidently not speaking atrandom, but in strict sequence of idea, "that you ought to get married,that's what I say."

  Agafea Mihalovna's allusion to the very subject he had only just beenthinking about, hurt and stung him. Levin scowled, and without answeringher, he sat down again to his work, repeating to himself all that he hadbeen thinking of the real significance of that work. Only at intervalshe listened in the stillness to the click of Agafea Mihalovna's needles,and recollecting what he did not want to remember, he frowned again.

  At nine o'clock they heard the bell and the faint vibration of acarriage over the mud.

  "Well, here's visitors come to us, and you won't be dull," said AgafeaMihalovna, getting up and going to the door. But Levin overtook her. Hiswork was not going well now, and he was glad of a visitor, whoever itmight be.

 
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